Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Creature Feature: Le retour de Henri, le chat noir

Avez-vous peut-être soufrir de paralysie auto doute? Regardez ensuite Henri partage ses sentiments intérieurs sur Halloween:
Thank you, Will Braden for your wonderful video series. Oú decouvrez-vous un chat de tuxedo qui lit Camus? Formidable.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Entanglement Tortures Whales

cutting to the bone
Scientists think that 82% of whales living in the crowded North Atlantic between Nova Scotia and and Cape Cod are entangled in fishing gear at some point in their lives. Some manage to free themselves, a few are helped by humans to get free, and the unlucky ones die a death that can be slow and very painful. Call it torture for whales. A study published in Conservation Biology examined 1762 documented deaths and serious injuries in eight large whale species between 1970 and 2009. Forty-three percent of the deaths were caused by entanglement. The problem is well known along the North American coast but the problem is world-wide. A line can take up to four months to work its way through thick whale blubber to the bone. Such an injury will kill a large whale in six months by drowning, starvation, infection, or hemorrhage. Assuming fishing gear will be lost or simply dumped overboard as long as humans eat fish, the question arises: is it morally right to euthanize a whale that cannot be disentangled? Trying to free a thrashing multi-ton whale at sea is dangerous for humans. But if the whale species is critically endangered, like the North Atlantic right whale, who number less than five hundred individuals, euthanizing an individual contributes to the extinction of the species. The suffering is stopped but the end is advanced.

"Noc" attempted human speech
Of course neither euthanasia nor disentanglement fixes the problem. Prevention is the key. One reason prevention is not effective is because individual accountability is lacking for gear that traps a whale. Along the East Coast gillnets and pot fishing appear to be the worse offenders. Current regulations have modified fishing gear in the hopes whales can break free of it or have kept it out of critical areas. What needs to be added is indelible identifying information so that individual fishermen or companies whose gear takes a whale can be held accountable. Equipment modifications and restrictions have been expensive and onerous according to fishermen representatives. The National Marine Fisheries Service and an advisory group are now considering how to limit the amount of vertical rope and the use of sinking ground lines. Labeling gear seems a draconian measure for an industry that already faces great risk for sometimes little reward, but whales species are recovering only slowly despite a global moratorium on whaling largely in effect. Seafood consumers were able to alter the way tuna fishing mangled and killed thousands of dolphins each years.  They could do the same for whales.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chart of the Week: Two Maps to Win

US Person suggests there are two maps the Obamarama has to pay attention to in the last week before Election Day. One of these the last Occupant ignored and it cost him re-election:
[credit: AP]

The map above is fairly obvious. Obama must hang on to Ohio while a win in fence-sitting Colorado would help him breath easier. The bottom map is also self-explanatory, but as the Charlatan found out, it's political implications are no less important:

US Person does not think it an exaggeration to posit the outcome of this presidential election depends in great part on the size, speed, and efficiency of the federal government's disaster response to a storm rivaling in destructive scope the great 1938 hurricane. Sandy came ashore near Atlantic City, N.J. on Monday evening bringing a tremendous storm surge with it. The President has already declared New York and Massachusetts eligible for federal disaster aid. Hurricane Katrina was a huge natural disaster exacerbated by a federal administration that prided itself on allowing poor people to fend for themselves. The "horror dome" and New Orleans police anarchy were the result of his totally inadequate social philosophy. Does the Currant Occupant need to be reminded that if his administration does another "hell of a job" in the aftermath of this frankenstorm, he will be looking for new digs in Chicago come the New Year? Sandy is an "October surprise" of another kind.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekend Edition: UK Badgers Get Reprieve

The British government gave the go-ahead for a badger cull over year ago, but the killing was delayed by the Olympic Games according to officials. Now it appears badgers in the two target areas of Gloucestershire and Somerset will be safe for the rest of this year at least. Planners have realized that it would be impossible to achieve the 70% kill rate for the cull to be considered successful. New estimates of badger populations indicate 5,530 badgers would have to be killed within six weeks. Farmer organizations have asked the government to postpone the cull until the summer of 2013. Conservationists have taken the opportunity to step up their bovine TB vaccination programs. The results so far indicate vaccination is a viable alternative to culling. The head of the RSPCA said the postponement should not be a temporary reprieve since "a cull is no answer to bovine TB."

Virunga Rangers Die Protecting Gorillas

Mai Mai rebels attacked a ranger patrol in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo on the morning of October 25th killing two rangers and a soldier. Three other soldiers were wounded, one critically. The civil war has brought the battle zone into the Park threatening the safety of the local human population and poaching the 200 endangered mountain gorillas and other forest animals that live within its boundaries. The ambush took place at Mwiga Bay near the fishing village of Vitshumbi on Lake Edward. Virunga is Africa's oldest national park established in 1925 and has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979. The Park has set up a fund to assist the widows and orphans of rangers killed in the line of duty. The United States and the EU contributed to starting the fund. One of the rangers killed leaves behind a six month old son and 14 year old daughter, both orphaned since their mother died in childbirth. From the beginning of the civil war in 1996, 130 rangers have been killed on duty protecting the 790 mountain gorillas remaining in the world. Since September the Mikeno sector of the Park has been under rebel control and Park authorities have been prevented from monitoring the gorillas. Chief Warden de Merode asked for donations to support the rangers families.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Toontime: Strange Partners

[credit: Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

The Commander-in-Chief has an obvious advantage going into a foreign policy debate in which his opponent never commanded anything more than a state militia. So Romney spent a lot of time in the final debate agreeing with the Obamarama. The President's single most important foreign policy accomplishment, if you can call it that, was the execution of America's worst nightmare, Osama Bin Laden, after a decade of war that has alienated most of the Muslum world and sacrificed American morale, if not its civil liberties. His foray into Libya has come back to haunt him with the death of the American ambassador in Benghazi; he has been unable to obtain the support of Russia to end the Syrian Civil War, he has increased the killing of civilians in northern Pakistan by remote control; and his China bashing has done nothing to stop the bleeding of jobs from the American economy. Only against an opponent as disingenuous and inexperienced as Mitt Romney could he appear to be a poised leader of a great nation.  And in a game where content does not matter, appearances are everything.

[Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch]
Wackydoodle sez:  Ya done bombed out their hearts and minds!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The End of the 13th B'ak'tun

Guatemalan Maya people are protesting the commercialization and exploitation of their "long count" calendar by western business and entertainment interests. US Person posted about the 13th B'ak'tun ending on December 21, 2012, the winter solstice. According to popularized interpretations of the Popol Vuh corpus from the western highlands of Guatemala (known through the 18th century manuscript of Father Francisco Ximénez, left) and the Mayan codex Chilam Balam, December 21st is characterized as "doomsday". Modern Mayans object to this characterization, thinking it a distortion of their cultural tradition. Native objections have not stopped the government's plan to cash in on popular expectations by organizing a huge fiesta in Guatemala City where as many as 90,000 are expected to await the predicted end of the "fourth world". A leader of the Guatemalan Maya said all the Mayan time cycle predicts are "big changes on the personal, family and community level so there is harmony and balance between man and nature." Some interpretations of the relevant glyphs at Tortuguero, Mexico indicate the end of the 13 B'ak'tun when the diety B'olon Yorke' ascends to power will occur on December 23rd, not the 21st.  Recently, archeologists discovered astronomical tables on a wall in Xultun, Guatemala which calculate the movements of the moon and other heavenly bodies over 17 B'ak'tuns, hardly consistent with an earlier date for the end of time. Whichever date appeals to your western new age notions, let us hope the modern Mayans are correct because mother Earth is in sore need of more harmony and balance.

Chili Bombs Repel Elephants

Cosmos Kakwenga demonstrates
World Wildlife Fund tells us how farmers in Zambia [photo: WWF] are using a non-lethal method to repel elephants from eating their maize crops. It is not immediately apparent that the world's largest land mammal can be dissuaded from raiding free food by smell; elephant's noses are not only large but very sensitive. They can smell water from a mile away, so a maize field is no problem for a hungry elephant to find. The Kakwenga family farms in the Sioma Ngwezi National Park at the heart of a 109 million acre transnational conservation area that includes territory in Namibia, Zambia, Angola, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Farmers tried a lot of different methods including the offensive vuvuzela horns that annoy many World Cup soccer fans. Only chili bombs seem to work well. They are easy to make too. One part elephant dung and one part crushed chillies mixed with water to hold the bomb together. Dung is readily available. Chilies cost money, so WWF is assisting with making chili a cash crop. WWF and villagers are also working to create corridors so elephants can avoid populated areas on their cross country perambulations in search of food and water.

The news for elephants living in Tanzania and Kenya is not as hopeful. Hong Kong authorities seized the largest illegal shipments of elephant tusks in its history representing over 600 poached elephants.  The two shipments together weighed over 8,000 pounds. The seizure is especially embarrassing for Tanzania which is petitioning CITES to selloff its stockpile of contraband ivory that it says is worth $55.5 million. Tanzania says it would use the money for increased anti-poaching efforts, but critics say the sale would further inflame the Asia lust for ivory. Statistics show poaching levels increased after previous government sales of confiscated ivory.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Creature Feature: Echidna Puggle

From Western Australia comes this adorable "puggle" or baby short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). This puggle is being hand raised at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital since it was found abandoned on a walking trail. It is estimated to be 40 days old and its sex is yet to be determined. Echidnas can live up to 50 years in captivity:

COTW: The Real Fiscal Cliff

After the last debate on Monday night, we know both candidates for President ("Obamney") are willing to fight a war on behalf of Israel that could easily end in nuclear holocaust. Perhaps a dose of the reality charted here will make our militarized foreign policy less glibly justified:
By 2040 over twenty percent of the US population will be over 65 with fewer working age people between 20 and 64. That means the number of workers paying into Social Security for each beneficiary will go from 3 to 2. The number of adults aged 85 and older, the group most in need of medical care, will nearly quadruple between 2000 and 2040. The chart below shows the fiscal impact of these demographic changes:
Social Security will not experience a cash deficit until 2017 based on the 2007 Trustees' Report. Medicare Part A went into deficit in 2007. Projections show that the cash deficits will only get worse into the future because payroll tax revenues dedicated to these programs are insufficient to cover costs. The federal government will have to find a way to fund these programs and reduce costs. A single payer system is the best way to reduce healthcare costs as the Department of Veterans Affairs has demonstrated in bringing down the price it pays for prescription drugs. Cuts in other programs such as military spending, the largest category except entitlements will be necessary.

Payroll taxes are regressive, subject to cyclical reductions and impact the working classes the most. If the entitlement programs are to remain in existence, other tax revenues will have to be used. Romney wants to privatize social security by allowing people to speculate with their retirement funds in the Wall Street casino. Obamarama wants to reduce the deficits by inflation, a strategy which reduces the purchasing power of the non-capitalist. US Person wants to increase revenues by taxing the rich with a surcharge on extreme wealth, a transaction tax on Wall Street, and cut costs by ending the military Keynesianism on which our current economic system is run. In short, the "Washington consensus" will bankrupt our nation.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Justice Denied II: Hiroshima Revisited

Many of PNG's readers probably received the same indoctrination that US Person did about America's use of atomic weapons against Japan in World War II. We were taught in school that President Truman decided to bomb a prostrate Japan with the newly developed nuclear device in order to prevent as many as a million allied casualties and perhaps even more civilian casualties in an invasion of the Japanese homeland. That official dogma is no longer unquestioningly accepted by historians who have researched declassified documents and cables from the end of the war. Those documents reveal many high ranking American military and political leaders thought the use of an atomic bomb not necessary to eventually convince Japan to surrender, or if additional motivation was needed, a demonstration should be made first in the interest of humanity.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower in his memoir, Mandate for Change, recalled he told Secretary of War Stimson during his visit to the General's European headquarters he had "grave misgivings" about dropping the bomb since Japan was already defeated and using it to save American lives was no longer mandatory. He further believed that Japan would surrender shortly if a way was found to allow Japan "to surrender with a minimum loss of face". Eisenhower felt the Secretary was deeply perturbed by his opinion. Eisenhower's view was shared by the highest ranking Navy man at the time, Admiral William Leahy, who wrote the "barbarous weapon used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan." He thought the use of conventional weapons, i.e. the B-29 incendiary raids that killed more Japanese than the two atomic attacks combined and a complete naval blockade, were sufficient to bring Japan to the brink of surrender. Leahy wrote after the fact that using the weapon brought America's ethical standards down to those of the Dark Ages. Theater commander General Douglas MacArthur, who was not consulted about the atomic weapon, pointed out if Japan had been given the opportunity to retain their emperor as part of the Potsdam declaration instead of the rubric of "unconditional surrender" which resonated with the American public, the war would have ended weeks before the attack on Hiroshima. In any event, the surrender was conditional, the emperor allowed to retain his throne despite the Potsdam ultimatum which Japan rejected. He sits on the throne of Japan to this day. MacCarthy believed, rightly, for the Japanese people to submit to American occupation, the Emperor was needed as a cooperative figurehead leader. General Curtis LeMay, who commanded the devastating incendiary bomb raids over Japan's cities, agreed the atomic bomb had nothing to do with wining the war against Japan.

Intelligence estimates at the time of the Potsdam Conference in July 1945 show President Truman was advised by American and British intelligence that Japan was actively seeking a peace settlement with Russia, then neutral towards Japan, acting as a mediator. Intelligence officials estimated when Russia entered the Pacific War on August 8th as planned by invading Manchuria, Japan's last hope for a negotiated peace would be gone. Interestingly, America's atomic attacks on cities not strategically worthy of destruction by conventional bombing raids on August 6th and 9th coincided with Russia's scheduled entry into the war. The American-British homeland invasion was not to occur until November 1st, 1945 allowing more than enough time to drop atomic bombs if the invasion of Manchuria, the last stronghold of the Japanese Imperial Army, was insufficient to make Japan surrender. General Carter Clarke, the military intelligence officer responsible for summarizing the decoding of Japanese cables for Truman said, "we didn't need to do it, and when we knew we didn't need to do it....we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs." Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence, Ellis Zacharias wrote, "I submit that it was the wrong decision. It was wrong on strategic grounds. And it was wrong on humanitarian grounds." Apparently very little thought was given by political leaders to warning the Japanese the US possessed atomic weapons, and then demonstrating the bomb's potential lethality by dropping it in Tokyo Bay near shore, for example. The US had already successfully tested the uranium bomb at Alamagordo, and several more atomic bombs in were in production. Therefore, the chance of an unsuccessful demonstration was small.

So why was the bomb used, and used twice, if it was not a military necessity? The consequences of the decision to deploy atomic weapons in wartime has been America's exclusive provenance. The decision has been fraught with unintended consequences ever since. There is a consensus among scholars that the bomb was not needed to end the war, and that clear alternatives were known to our political leaders at the time. The decision cannot not be put down to scientific hubris since most scientists including those at the Manhattan Project opposed the bomb's use. Manhattan scientists wrote directly to the Secretary of Defense in 1945 saying the early use of the weapon was "inadvisable" and would "precipitate the race of armaments and prejudice the possibility of reaching an international agreement on the future control of such weapons." If the bomb were to be deployed, the scientists recommended a demonstration on an unpopulated area. So much for good advice. Newer historical studies based on archival research by Kuznick, Selden, Bernstein, Hasegawa and others offer the explanation that the decision to drop atomic weapons on a defeated enemy was a political one intended to impress upon the communist Soviet Union, the only other major power emerging from the destruction of World War II, the United State's military might and resolve going forward. American leaders preferred to end the war with American technology rather than communist tanks. Bombing with atomic weapons in August 1945 was the therefore the first blow of the Cold War. General Leslie Groves, director of the bomb project testified, "There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis." The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman expressed his satisfaction with "the overwhelming success" of "the experiment".

The United State's modus operandi of employing devastating advanced weapons to achieve desired geopolitical goals regardless of the human cost or moral consequences did not end in the radioactive ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki over sixty years ago. The carpet bombing of North Vietnam and the use of chemical defoliants in South Vietnam are later examples. A new report from Stanford and NYU Schools of Law, "Living Under the Drones", is based on interviews with more than 130 victims and witnesses of the drone war in northwest Pakistan. Drone strikes have not suppressed terrorism, but are enraging Pakistanis. Seventy-four percent of Pakistanis now consider the United States to be an enemy. Despite official claims of "surgical strikes" the best estimate of civilian deaths is anywhere from 474 to 884, and a thousand or more injuries, contrary to official claims of "single digit" civilian deaths. Kills of top level militants make the corporate mass media headlines, but they represent less than 2% of deaths by drone. The drone war is America's technological version of terrorism in which villagers live in constant fear of sudden death from the sky. It has altered the behavior of innocent people who are powerless to protect themselves from sudden attack. The specter of Hiroshima has returned.

Justice Denied I: Prosecuting the Banksters

The commission appointed by the President to investigate mortgage fraud brought its first civil fraud case against one of the banks 'too big to fail'. When the Obamarama was asked why banksters have not been prosecuted for the the rampant greed that nearly sank the US economy his reply was a rather tepid remark that a lot of what they did was not illegal. Apparently New York Attorney General Rick Schneiderman disagrees with the President's estimation of bankster activity. Schneiderman charged JP Morgan-Chase with widespread fraud in the sale of mortgage-backed securities for the actions of Bear-Stearns  investment bank which JP Morgan bought in a government brokered deal just before the Panic of 2008. According to the indictment Bear Stearns bankers knowingly sold defective loans and mortgage securities while concealing from their customers the true nature of the securities they sold. Inside the banks these investments were widely considered to be "crap".

The US Attorney in Manhattan has also filed suits alleging fraud by big banks arising from the Panic of 2008. Wells Fargo is alleged in a suit against it to have certified risky mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration for more than a decade, costing the government hundred of millions in insurance payouts. Wells Fargo allegedly failed to properly underwrite more than 100,000 loans it certified to be eligible for FHA insurance. This case is the fifth brought by the US Attorney's office against a major lender. Three cases have been settled this year: CitiMortgage Inc. for $158.3 million; Flagstar Bank FSB for $132.8 million and Deutsche BAnk for $202.3 million. What is missing in all this legal activity are criminal prosecutions for what is now apparent: criminal fraud on a wide scale among banksters only interested in generating more profit from the low-interest real estate boom that ended in 2007. The FBI predicted in September of 2004 that the developing epidemic of mortgage fraud would cause a financial crisis if not stopped.  The Federal Housing Finance Administration has filed fraud complaints against seventeen financial entities some of which are the largest financial institutions in the world.

But the current de facto amnesty for bankers implicated by fraudulent transactions leading up to the crisis that crashed the US economy is in stark contrast to the over 10,000 criminal referrals and over 1,000 felony cases brought during the S&L Crisis of 1988-1994.  If anything the current crisis, for it has not yet played out in full, is much larger in terms of money than the S&L imbroglio. 348 banks during the period 2008 through March 2011 failed, taking with them $80.1 billion in federal deposit insurance. Attorney General Holder vowed at one point, "We will investigate you [unscrupulous executives], we will prosecute you, and we will incarcerate you".  Lots of tough talk, but too few banksters walking the walk.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Brazil Fails Amazon Rainforest

Update: Brazil's President, Dilma Rudolph, signed into law the controversial revision of the country's {Forest Code} but vetoed some of the most controversial changes proposed by exploiters of the Amazon rainforest. She signed the law late Thursday while vetoing nine clauses. The revised code retains the provision for private forest landowners to maintain forest cover of 80%, a provision deemed critical by conservationists. However, the manner in which the 80% figure is calculated has been relaxed. Now, owners can count forest along rivers and hillsides, key to preventing disastrous erosion of thin soils by tropical rains as part of their required reserve. Previously these areas where preservation is mandatory was in addition to the 80% set aside. The revised Code also requires owners to replant areas in excess of the new limits, and provide ownership coordinates to a rural environmental registry. Brazil is increasingly employing satellite telemetry to keep watch on Amazon land use. Environmentalists see the revisions as too lenient; agricultural interests see them as unconstitutional. The agricultural caucus in congress has promised to challenge the law in court. Revising the Forest Code proved to be a controversial issue between the President who promised to enforce environmental regulations during her campaign for office and a Chamber of Deputies dominated by agribusiness interests.

{27.14.12}The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies voted to relax conservation restrictions of the nation's forest code over strong opposition from conservationists and indigenous peoples. Farmers supported the changes, arguing uncertainty undermined investment in agriculture that accounts for 5.8 percent of the nation's GDP. Conservationists say the {forest code} allowed deforestation to be slowed. The legislation reduces the amount of forest that must be preserved by farmers and provides an amnesty from fines for illegal clearing. Under the previous law landowners had to preserve as much as 80% of their land in the Amazon. The new provisions allow development closer to riverbanks and hilltops which are vulnerable to erosion when trees are removed. The bill now goes to President Dilma Rousseff who has fifteen days to sign it into law. She made pledges to uphold environmental protection during her election campaign, but is also seeking outside support for Brazil's economic development. Brazilian legal experts predict that the forest code's constitutionality will be eventually ruled upon by the Brazilian Supreme Court. There are no precedents for two aspects of the law, the social function of property clause in the consititution and the common use nature of Brazil's swampland. $4.8 billion in fines for acreage cleared illegally before 2008 will have to be forfeited if the measure becomes law, but even more significant is the loss of up to 190 million acres of forest which is the equivalent of adding 28 billion tons of CO₂ to the atmosphere.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Weekend Edition: British Wildlife Minister Refuses to Outlaw Poison

credit: The Independent
UK's minister of wildlife owns a grouse moor in Scotland and a pheasant hunt in Berkshire as well as being a millionaire landowner as the great, great grandson of Lord Salisbury[photo, right]. He has been criticized as "the gamekeepers friend", and his true aristocratic colors have come through when he refused to make the possession of carbofuran, a banned poison particularly deadly to raptors, a criminal offense. Richard Benyon's refusal to make possession of a poison with no legitimate use a crime has enraged senior MPs who requested the change in law to conform with Scotland's; they say his refusal to act is a shocking confirmation of his "cosy links to the shooting lobby". A former director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds called the Minister's inaction "astounding". A report by the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee firmly links cases of raptor poisoning to shooting interests. There were 633 confirmed bird of prey poisoning incidents between 2002 and 2011 in the UK. Raptor species destroyed by poisoning ranged from golden eagles to peregrine falcons and carbofuran was the poison of choice in 50% of the cases. One grain of carbofuran is enough to kill a large eagle. Most of the perpetrators convicted of offenses against raptors were gamekeepers on private estates. Benyon said in response to criticism of his obvious conflict of interest that outlawing the chemical might not be a "proportionate course of action".

Benyon has run afoul of wildlife advocates before. In 2010 he proposed studying common buzzard (Buteo buteo)[photo, left] predation on young pheasants by blasting buzzard nests with shotguns. Forty million young pheasants are bred each year and then released on private estates for the shooting sport. A consulting firm commissioned by the British Association for Shooting & Conservation concluded that only 1-2% of poults (young pheasants) are killed by birds of prey. More are killed by vehicle collisions. The plan was dropped by Downing Street when the press derided the idea as bird-brained. When owners of a grouse shoot on Walshaw Moor were being investigated for damage to a protected bog, the prosecution was suddenly dropped in March without explanation. Benyon is the minister in charge of Natural England, the government's wildlife protection agency. His boss, Prime Minister David Cameron, is also a shooter.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Win for Arctic Wildlife

Francis at NRDC tells US that the administration listened to pleas from concerned Americans to protect areas within the Western Arctic Reserve. The Bureau of Land Management selected conservation's preferred management plan (B-2) that should protect key wildlife habitat from oil and gas development, some 11 million acres out of a total of about 23 million. Secretary Salazar was under significant pressure from oil and gas companies to allow unrestricted exploration in one of the largest expanses of untouched wilderness remaining in the United States, but that was designated a National Petroleum Reserve when it was created almost a century ago. The selected designation includes Teshekpuk Lake and Kasegaluk Lagoon both of which are extremely significant habitats for wildlife. The Teshekpuk Lake area is calving grounds for a large caribou heard and Kasegaluk is a nursery for thousands of beluga whales. Millions of birds return to these areas annually in their long distance migrations south. The cliffs along the Colville River are dense with nesting raptors and will also be protected if B-2 becomes final. Green Kudos to Secretary Ken Salazar for making the right choice for wild America.

Toontime: Mitt in a Binder

Romney succeeded in handing the incumbent back the momentum with his "binders full of women" job applicant remark. Barry'O deserves some credit for what most pundits see as his narrow victory in the second debate; he was dribbling up the floor this time and got a stunning assist from moderator Candy Crowley[video]who checked Mitty's fact in real time. But what happened outside the Hofstra auditorium was more revealing of American presidential politics than the 'gotchas' inside. The Green Party's candidate for President, Dr. Jill Stein and her running mate were forcibly removed from the area when they walked toward the venue with supporters at 2:00pm. They were met by ranks of Nassau County and campus police. When Dr. Stein continued to walk toward the debate venue and sat down on the street, police arrested her and her running mate for "obstructing traffic". The Green Party candidates are receiving federal matching funds and consistently rate between 2 and 3% in national polls. Their names will appear on ballots throughout the United States. Also excluded from the debate was the Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson who is on the ballot in every state except Michigan and Oklahoma. Obviously, the Commission on Presidential Debates* has no interest in sharing its forum with anyone except the two major party candidates who are funded and approved by Amerika's plutocrats. Bottom line: Obama: 291.6 electoral votes; Romney 246.4 electoral votes. Needed to win: 270.

 *a private corporation financed by Anheuser-Busch and other large corporations. It was created by the two major parties to take the presidential debates away from the League of Women Voters. In 1988 Michael Dukakis and George Bush attempted to impose an agreed upon format for their debates on the League. It balked at the idea and released the contract to the public during a press conference at which they accused the major parties of hoodwinking the American people. The Commission has controlled the debates since.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Native People Blockade Dam Projects

In two rainforests on either side of Earth, indigenous people are taking action to stop dam projects from eradicating their traditional way of life. The Penan people are blockading the Murum dam in Sarawak, Malaysia to prevent construction supplies from reaching the construction site. The blockade started with 200 people on September 26th, now it has grown to 300 participants. Both the main route and an alternative one used by China's Three Gorges Project Corporation are occupied. According to the Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment [photo: SCANE]drivers are abandoning their trucks on the roadside, while blockade participants have set up camps nearby. The Penan are protesting the 900MW project that will flood 24,000 hectares of native land (95 square miles) and the forced resettlement of seven native villages. The Penan claim they have not been properly consulted about the details of the resettlement plan. Sarawak already produces more energy than it can use. The recently completed Bakun dam produces double the amount consumed by the state of Sarawak during peak energy demand. The 200MW Bakun dam forced the resettlement of 10,000 people. The energy surplus leads critics to allege the projects are not about producing energy, but producing graft for government officials.

In the Amazon, construction of the Belo Monte dam has been halted after local people occupied the earthen cofferdams at Pimental, Brazil. Indigenous people and local fishermen have been protesting the dam for 24 days straight. Protesters believe the dam will destroy the Xingu River and with it their lives. About 900 workers have been sent home. This is the second occupation in six months. The first attempt this summer ended with little progress in two days of talks with Norte Energia, the dam builder. Belo Monte dam is actually a complex of two dams and, if completed, would be the world's third largest flooding 40,000 hectares of rainforest and displacing an estimated 16,000 native people. An estimated 80% of the river's flow would be redirected. Despite the devastating impacts on the environment, the dam is supported by Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, and legal challenges to the dam have been unsuccessful. Hydroelectric projects are often seen as green solutions for energy production. But in the tropics dam projects produce huge amounts of methane gas as flooded forests decompose. For example, the Balbina Reservoir near Manaus, Brazil flooded some 920 square miles of forest land. Vegetation decays in low oxygen conditions at the bottom of the reservoir and submerged soil releases carbon. Dam turbines draw water from the lower levels of its reservoir allowing the methane and carbon dioxide to escape to the atmosphere. Critics note that dam builders such as ELECTROBAS underestimate greenhouse gas emissions by 300% or more. It is calculated that Balbina released 23,750 tons of carbon dioxide and 140,000 tons of methane in its first three years of existence.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chart of the Week: We Spend More, Get Less

One of the inconvenient truths that might be considered during the town hall format for the second presidential debate is the ever rising cost of health care in America. The truth is we as a nation spend the most for health care in the world, but the result as measured in life expectancy is only mediocre. These two charts show the current situation:

In general living longer means more health care costs. Japan has the highest life expectancy of over 81 years versus 77 years for the United States. Logically, one would assume that per capita health care costs would be less in the United States since older citizens tend to need more care. Nevertheless, the United States exceeds Japan's per capita cost of health care by a wide margin (purple line). Cuba, a poor socialist country, has the same average life expectancy as the United States. Yet it spends less than $200.00 per capita, one of the lowest amounts in the world to achieve the same measure of success. The chart below shows how policies can lead to better health care apart from just spending money. Cuba has limited resources, but has made health care a national priority; it has universal health care and one of the highest doctor to patient ratios in the world while the United States has the world's largest military establishment:
Granted, it can be argued that Cuba is an inapposite example given its command economy. Switzerland, a rich social democracy, spends the second largest per capita amount on health care of $3300 compared to $4500 in the United States. It also achieves a life expectancy in excess of the US average life span as do the major countries of the European Union, Canada and Australia. One reason we get such poor results may be found in this flow chart of our current system (click for a larger version):
[credit: Jon Cohn, New Republic]

Monday, October 15, 2012

UK Charges Royal Marines with Murder

Five Royal Marines from 3 Commando Brigade were charged with murder Sunday. The charges stem from a 2011 incident in which a captured and wounded Taliban fighter was killed. A video of the incident was found on a marine's laptop computer that was seized during an arrest on an unrelated incident in the UK. The video reportedly shows a marine patrol standing around an injured Taliban fighter discussing what to do with the prisoner. The video ends with the captive still alive, but Royal Marine officials confirm the Taliban fighter died. The four arrested commandos are in detention awaiting a courts martial. During their six month service in Helmand Province last year 3 Commando lost seven men. MoD Secretary Philip Hammond said during a TV interview that the Ministry was determined UK troops follow the rules of engagement which they carry on cards in their uniforms.

In the US, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accused of killing 16 civilians will face a pretrial hearing, or Article 32 hearing under the UCMJ, scheduled for November 5th to determine if he should face a courts martial trial. The hearing will take place at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington state, but will feature video testimony from villagers who will travel to Kandahar Air Base in southern Afghanistan to testify. Bales is accused of going on a rampage in which he walked to two villages during the night and killed women and children sleeping in their homes. The massacre occurred during his third deployment to a war zone. He is also accused of burning the bodies, drinking on duty, and taking illegal steroids. Bales is being held at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend Edition: Interior Dept. Approves Wind Farm

The largerst US wind farm to date, a 1,000 turbine installation south of Rawlins, Wyoming has been approved by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. When signing the record of decision on October 9th the Secretary said the project fulfills the goal set by the President of 10,000 renewable megawatts on public land before the end of the year. The project uses about equal amounts of public land and private land owned by The Overland Trail Cattle Co and will be built by the Anschutz Corporation based in Denver. About 300 construction jobs and 100 operational jobs will be involved. The BLM's final EIS was released in July after four years of data-gathering and analysis, and the government emphasized that the project avoids critical sage-grouse habitat. The sage grouse is disappearing from the High Plains primarily because of livestock grazing has replaced native species of grasses and sage. Conservationists are attempting to get the bird listed as an endangered species, but a decision from the US Fish & Wildlife Service until 2015.

courtesy: USF&W
Alternative fuels are not necessarily green fuels if they are not produced with consideration of their inevitable impacts on Earth's natural resources. Wyoming environmentalists have criticized the Sierra Madre-Chokecherry Wind Farm for siting on prime sage grouse and golden eagle habitats. An activist responding to the decision in favor of construction pointed out that Miller Hill was once designated a Sage Grouse Core Areabut that designation was changed to exclude the Hill through pressure from Anschutz Corp. The wind farm is expected to kill 46 to 64 golden eagles a year according to BLM estimates. The sage grouse is on the edge of extinction in northeast Wyoming due to gas field development that has had a whopping 30,000 wells and associated infrastructure constructed in just a few years. According to the BLM Powder River field office the sage grouse will never fully recover from the energy development.

Anschutz's wholly owned subsidiary, Power Company of Wyoming, says each of the thousand turbines will be precisely placed to avoid impacting birds using the scientific data collected to a finer degree than has ever been done before for an energy project. Considering most energy projects are underway with very little or no environmental analysis, the quality of Anshcutz's studies will be determined in real time. The BLM has gone on record promising more eagle mitigation strategies will be recommended to fulfill requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act

Friday, October 12, 2012

Toontime: He Says What He Means

Since irony is dead, US Person is at a lost for a word to describe the situation the Democrats faced going into last night vice-presidential debate: depending on a politician of the old school who has a reputation of being syntaxtually challenged (There he goes again!). But last night Joe did not let his boss down. He got in the best zinger of the night while appearing animated and engaged. When Congressman Ryan told the Vice President he had difficulty saying what he means on occasion, Biden quipped immediately, "But I always mean what I say!" Of course, he was waiting for that criticism. Biden has a genuine pugnaciousness (Repuglian spin: obnoxiously rude) that was on display last night and which the dispassionately detached Obamatron so conspicuously lacks. The last time around the Obamanator has to not act like a "stoner" and take it seriously.
[Randy Bish, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
Wackydoodle sez, "An' global-warming, austerity riots, fracking, Syria...."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

France Moves Ahead with Electric Cars

Regardless of less than expected sales and suspended production of electric cars in the United States, France is redoubling its investment in electric car infrastructure and tax preferences. A new 50 million Euro investment was announced on October 3rd to support the purchase of zero and low-emmission vehicle and cover the costs of deploying charging stations on highways, public parking lots and parks. Electric cars will also benefit from preferential fees and tolls. The consumer bonus for purchasing an electric vehicle will be increased from €5,000 to €7,000 in 2013, and hybrid bonuses doubled to €4,000. French officials admitted that the French auto industry is in trouble and needs the investment. It produced only 2 million cars in 2012 compared with 3.5 million in 2005. In the United States, GM has suspended the production of it long range electric vehicle, the Chevy Volt because of lower than projected sales. The Nissan Leaf has also not sold as well as expected, and Toyota announced plans to scale back the release of its all electric eQ. But no one in the fossil-fueled mainstream press seems to remember the taxpayer funded bailout of the US auto industry just a few years ago

As part of its overall its overall automotive industrial plan by the Minister of Industrial Renewal, the GRIEVE (Groupement pour L'Itinérance des Recharges Électrique de Véhicules) system is established to promote commonality for recharging electric vehicles, thus assuring French motorists that they can use and locate charging stations regardless of who owns them. One of the major reasons attributed to lack of consumer acceptance of electric vehicles in the United States is the lack of widespread charging infrastructure as well as limited vehicle range.  An analyst with the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan said, "Electric vehicles make no more sense than they did in 1912". Of course he made that statement before someone he got the memo about global warming and its effects on climate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chevron Loses at Supreme Court

Texaco waste site, credit: Kayana
Chevron lost its Supreme Court plea to block global enforcement of a $9bn judgment lodged against it by an Ecuadorian court for contamination of the Amazon rainforest. {Chevon}. The decision to decline review of a US Second Circuit Court of Appeals order overturning an injunction against enforcement came without an opinion of the Court. The decision is somewhat surprising to Court observers who have noted the conservative Court's willingness to protect international corporations from damage suits. In addition Chevron's case was briefed by a former Solicitor General of the United States that has built a record of success representing corporate clients before the highest federal court. The US Chamber of Commerce, Halliburton and the the National Association of Manufacturers filed briefs in support of the oil company giant. Chevron has mounted an multi-forum, international assault against the judgment, one of the largest ever assessed against a corporation for environmental damages. It was issued in 2011 after an eight-year trial in an oil town court that found Texaco, purchased by Chevron in 2001, deliberately dumped more than 16 billion gallons of toxic waste into Amazonian waterways from 1964 to 1992. 900 waste pits were dug into the rainforest floor, filled with oil sludge and abandoned by Texaco. Expert testimony estimated the amount of toxic material in these pits exceeds 5.6 million cubic meters. These pits continue to leech heavy metals and other toxins into the soil and water. The contamination has caused cancer and decimated indigenous people who rely on the water for drinking bathing and fishing. The decision was upheld on appeal in Ecuador, but Chevron refused to pay alleging fraud at the trial proceedings. Not a single US court in 23 separate actions has accepted Chevron's fraud allegations as true. Thirty thousand plaintiffs hired lawyers to file seizure actions targeting Chevron assets around the world to enforce the trial court's judgment in their favor. Chevron's latest failure to stop enforcement actions even before courts favorable to corporate litigants indicates it may have to pay for the damage done afterall.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Russian, US Activists Willing to Help Polar Bear

Update: Conscious of the votes of Americans who want polar bears to survive global warming, the Administration has announced that it will propose an upgrade in international protection for the great white bear. Russia's natural resource ministry said it would support the upgrade at the upcoming CITES conference.
cub plays in ANWR, credit: Steve Kazlowski
{02.10.12}Facing an unprecedented threat to its existence from the melting of sea ice habitat, the great white bear (Ursus maritimus) is receiving unusual cooperation from Russian and American conservationists. The Guardian reports Russian ministry of natural resources has sent a letter to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) assuring support for an initiative that American activists want tabled by the United States in advance of the CITES conference set for early next year. Under the CITES convention trade in skins and trophy hunting remains legal. Hundreds of bears die every year because of this unsustainable human exploitation. Russian support is seen as crucial for the proposal to gain a two-thirds vote among the 176 member nations. As polar bears become more scarce, the price for their hides is going up. In a Moscow shop, a large hide was selling for 1.6m rubles or $51,480. A black market has popped up on-line selling CITES certificates that indicate a legal killing under Canada's hunting quota. Activists say Russian poachers use the illegal certificates to kill an average of 200 bears a year. An estimated 6,000 bears have been killed between 2001 and 2010 according to the IFAW. The US Geological Survey estimates that two-thirds of the estimated 20,000 remaining bears could die as a result of melting Arctic sea ice. Obviously the math is undeniable. If the polar bear is to survive in a warming world, it must have protection from human predation.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Washington Exterminates Wedge Pack

Bad news is sometimes slow to be passed along. On September 27th the state of Washington by an agent in a helicopter killed the alpha male of the Wedge Pack. Wedge pack was living just south of the Canadian border in Steven County, but it is no more. The alpha female was among six other killed in the previous three days. The justification for the pack's extermination was "its persistent attack on livestock from the heard of the Diamond M Ranch." The pack was made responsible for the killing or injuring of 17 calves and cows. Some of these predations were not corroborated by evidence. These animals, as well as the rest of the herd, are feeding on public forest land. Conservationists think wolves have an equal right, if not greater right, to exist on public lands than subsidized cattle. The chair of the Washington State Senate committee that oversees the Department of Fish & Wildlife issued a letter to the agency saying the decision to exterminate the pack was a "serious failure". The letter noted that the Diamond M ranch owner "refused to participate" in wolf attack prevention efforts. Other area ranchers had adopted a range riding program to reduce wolf predation. If a ranch owner insists on using public forest land to feed his livestock, the owner should be required to protect his property from wolf attack using modern, non-lethal methods such as canine guardians that are used successfully elsewhere in the world. But here in the United States where private property is protected regardless of social costs, (e,g, Gulf of Mexico) the ranch owner has chosen to go on a media offensive instead, claiming that radical groups have deliberately introduced wolves to drive ranchers off public lands. Once again the ploy, when feeling threaten blame unspecified "radicals", seems to have carried the day.

Meanwhile, a lone Oregon wolf known as OR-7 or "Journey" has wandered out of Oregon that has proved itself none too friendly to wolves and reached temporary safety in California where the California Department of Fish & Game voted to make the grey wolf a candidate for permanent protection under the state's endangered species act. The department will make a one-year status review to decide if the grey wolf will be given long-term protection in California.

Friday, October 05, 2012

BP's Macondo Well May Leak for Years

After numerous reports of oil slicks in the area of the blow-out well that caused the biggest accidental spill in history, a noted engineering expert Dr. Robert Bea said in an interview that because of the unstable geology in the area of the Macondo well it may leak for years. Scripps Institute mapped seeps in the area prior to the blowout. Some of the natural seeps penetrate to 10,000 and 15,000 feet below the surface. The Macondo drilling operation started in separate, nearby location before the well was finished, but that bore had to be abandoned because the bottom of the well split open. Despite the enormity of the disaster, and evidence that unreasonable risks were taken during operations {Deepwater Horizon}, no executive of the oil company or its contractors have been prosecuted. BP's drilling in the fractured salt formation may have disturbed natural seeps in the Earth causing more oil to reach the surface. There is also speculation the nearby Rigel gas deposit may be migrating into the Macondo drill bore since it was never completely closed off. [graphic] What appears to be the case from uncorroborated reports is that there are at least two leaks, one 400 feet west of the present well's surface location and another 3 miles to the west of the well.

'Toontime: Barry-O Bombs

[credit: Jimmy Margulies, The Record]
Give him credit, Alibama said preparing for the debates was a drag and his performance in Denver certainly revealed his lack of engagement in the process. Even Al Gore had to go out on a limb and blame lack of oxygen for his party leader's lackluster, even diffident performance. Alibama may be ahead in a few swing states but someone should tell him that in the nation's current political mood his leads could evaporate overnight. Unfortunately, campaigning for President in the age of mass media has become largely a matter of managing perceptions [below]. If undecided voters come to the conclusion that Alibama is not overly interested in living in the bubble for four more years while Mitt channels the Gipper, they are willing to put in the substitute.

[credit: Joel Pett]

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Did US Army Dump Radioactive Dust on St. Louis?

A disturbing report written by a community college sociology professor and released last month is raising eyebrows in Washington. So far, the US Army is not responding to requests for information. Lisa Martino-Taylor researched testing that took place in a St. Louis neighborhood described by the Army as a "densely populated slum district". The testing, which involved the blowing of zinc cadmium sulfide from a Pruitt-Igoe high-rise and station wagons was described by the Army as a test of a "smoke screen" to shield St. Louis from aerial observation. In 1994, the government altered its story claiming the tests that took place in the mid-fifties and again in the sixties were part of a biological weapons program and that St. Louis was chosen for its resemblance to Russian cities that were potential targets for US weapons. The new research is raising questions about the exact nature of the fluorescent powder and its long term health impacts. Did the powder contain a radioactive isotope of cadmium or other radioisotopes mixed in the powder? Government documents show that in 1953 alone the military conducted 16 tests that involved 35 separate releases of zinc cadmium sulfide mixed with fluorescent particles so the dispersal pattern could be observed.

One person who is wondering is a woman, now 68, who lived in the mixed race neighborhood when the spraying occurred. She recalls playing in the street when low-flying planes dropped a powdery substance. She was covered in the powder and went inside to wash it off her face and arms. As a child she gave the incident little thought, but since then she has battled four types of cancer--breast, thyroid, skin and uterine. Another woman was born in the top floor apartment of the high-rise used by the Army to spew the substance into the air in 1955. Three months later her father died. Four of her eleven siblings also died relatively young of cancer.

The secret testing was exposed in 1994, and in 1997 the National Research Council concluded the tests did not expose residents to toxic amounts of the chemical. However the reviewing committee also recommended follow-up studies. Martino-Taylor thinks the follow-up testing was never done, and the Army refuses comment. She also believes based on her research that the tests were part of the Manhattan Project's research into radioactive fallout and radiological weapons, the so-called "dirty bomb". Documents show personnel links between the St. Louis chemical spraying and the atomic bomb building project. She also found the aerosol particles were milled so as to be easily absorbed into the lungs, a characteristic of weaponized aerosols. Congressional inquiry in 1993 confirmed radiological testing in Tennessee and parts of the West during the Cold War. Both Missouri senators are now asking the Army if radiological testing was involved in the St. Louis experiments.

Monday, October 01, 2012

COFTW: War By Central Bank

That a quantifiable link between war-making and central bank inflation exists is taken by many economists as a given. Ludwig Von Mises, the Austrian School economist (The Theory of Money and Credit), said of WWI in 1919, "One can say without exaggeration that inflation is an indispensable means of militarism. Without it, repercussions of war on welfare become obvious much more quickly and penetratingly; war weariness would set in much earlier." The chart above is primarily about stock price moves (blue line), but the grey shaded rectangles show that during periods of war inflation increases: 110% for WWI, 74% during WWII; 207% during Vietnam; steady inflation increase (pink line) during the so-called War on Terror. Professor Fischer says during the Korean War, despite increases in taxation, wholesale prices increased by 12% in the US in 1950.

The United States was been at war except for inter-war hiatuses of about twenty-five years in total since the end of World War II, a period of six decades.  The periods of relative peace are punctuated by various military excursions of varying intensity.  To fight wars governments must have money to pay soldiers and purchase equipment and supplies, not the least of which for modern armies, is oil. Governments can raise funds in three ways: taxation, borrowing, or creating fiat money via the central bank. Taxation is politically unpopular and too much of it can lead to revolt. Borrowing is less obvious but gets expensive as interest rates go up in competition with the private sector for a limited supply of money. Creating it, as only the government can do, is relatively painless since the burdens placed on a population are insidious as their money declines in value. Congressman Ron Paul explains, "Congress and the Federal Reserve has a cozy, unspoken arrangement that makes war easier to finance...The Federal Reserve, however, is happy to accommodate deficit spending by creating new money through the Treasury Department. In exchange, Congress leaves the Fed alone to operate free of pesky oversight and free of political scrutiny."

Ancien regimes debased coin since paper money was not then used as a medium of exchange. But nowadays the process of devaluing currency is achieved through the operations of a central bank. A government is able to sell its securities--bonds--despite existing indebtedness because buyers know the central bank will buy back the bonds. Of course the government is obligated to pay interest on the bonds even if they are in the hands of the Federal Reserve, but those interest payments go into the Treasury minus relatively trivial operating expenses. So much for interest expense. Principal payments can easily be pushed into the future by issuing new series of bonds to pay off the old indebtedness with new. It is an almost magical process, but for the effect on ordinary citizens who can only make money if they engage in productive enterprise. The Vietnam War that lasted almost a decade was largely fought because the Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon administrations were able to pay for it and Great Society programs through deficit spending. The stag-flation of the '70s [chart, top] was the economic cost of that war, besides the number of dead and crippled soldiers, and an alienated youth generation.
The chart above shows that the federal government's debt is relatively highest during war years, as the peaks during and after the Civil War, WWI, WWII and Korea, Vietnam, and the latest, longest war in the Middle East. Of special interest is the bump in the mid-eighties caused by Reagan's Cold War armament build-up intended to crash the Soviet economic system, a form of warfare.

This decade's neo-imperial wars are no exception to the rule that inflation enables warmongering. Comparing the amount of public debt purchased by the Federal Reserve and each year's current war expenditures gives one an idea of the central bank's role. Despite a $200 billion deficit, $9 trillion in pubic debt, and falling tax receipts, the Charlatan committed the United States to wars, without very much debate in Congresss, that have cost so far more than $525 trillion or $4,681 per household. The cost could exceed $20,000 per household by the time the last combat boot is removed from foreign soil. The current Second Great Contraction is an economic cost of the most recent wars enabled by a central bank. Will this obvious malaise be debated by the presidential candidates? You bet your life not.

New List from IUCN

US Person knows that conservation news can sometimes be depressing to read and write about because so much concerns negative impacts on endangered species. But the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is starting a new list, the "Green List" which will inform us which species are doing well or are "fully conserved". The list will provide a measure of how successful conservation actions and investments are as well as provide incentives for more conservation measures. It will compliment the now famous "Red List" that names those species threatened with extinction. Years will be required to compile the new category since no agreed upon criteria exist among scientists for declaring a species safe, or in the green zone of assured survival at or near their habitat carrying capacity. The idea was approved at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, South Korea this month. Motions to set up a Green and Red list for Ecosystems was also approved