Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sweden Blocks Wolf Hunt

A Swedish court gave animal right activists a temporary victory and saved the lives of countless wolves when it ordered a temporary ban on wolf hunting in parts of the country.  Activists were fighting a decision to authorize the culling of 46 wolves.  Two courts in Karlstad and Falun must evaluate whether the hunting permits are in conformity with EU environmental protections.  The country's EPA estimates there are 400 wolves in Sweden and recommends the population be controlled at that level by regulated hunting.  The season was set to begin January 2 and end on February 15th. Hunters argue the wolves are decimating other game animals such as moose and killing domestic animals.

The wolf has been protected in Sweden and is making a healthy resurgence.  So much so, farmers are fearing for their livestock.  The government compensates farmers for their losses and subsidizes protective (electric) fencing.  The dispute over wolves and their place in modern Sweden is prominent enough to reach televised political debates.  When Sweden went ahead with its most recent cull of 44 wolves, it received a warning letter from the European Commission.  The EU's executive body says Sweden has not adequately considered alternatives and failed to show controlled hunts do not pose a threat to the species long-term survival.

Two intrepid wolves from Russia made the arduous journey from Finland or Russia looking for a suitable home in the 1980s.  They were joined by others in 2007 or 2008.  Their numbers grew over the years from just five animals to the point farmers began protesting their presence.  The first hunt began in 2010.  EPA officials maintain that only the genetically weak are culled; they claim they have DNA from about 90% of Swedish wolves, but such reassurances are dismissed by advocates who say a sustainable wolf population should number 1500 to 3,000 to insure healthy genetic diversity.  They refer to stories of  wolf threat as "Little Red Riding Hood" tales; a human has not been killed by a wolf in 200 years in Sweden.  A spokesman for the Wolf Association of Sweden says, "the hate against the animal, a species such as the wolf, is like racism in people--it is absolute the same process of mind."  Indeed.

Monday, December 28, 2015

File Under Global Warming Myth

Why the box office earnings of the latest computerized fantasy from Hollywood should be making the national news is a bit of a paradox for US Person when stories like this are buried in the back pages. But then he is insolent! Forty-three people lost their lives in violent storms over the holidaze. States of emergency have been declared in several Midwestern states. Eleven were killed in Texas by tornadoes. Dallas County was particularly hard hit with more than 100 homes damaged or destroyed by winds in excess of 200mph. Thirteen people are dead from flash floods in New Mexico. Bad weather is expected to continue Monday with heavy snow forecast from New Mexico to Iowa along with high winds, rain and ice storms.

COTW: The Middle Class Squeeze, Continued

This map shows the shocking amount of hourly wage, considering the federal minimum is just $7.25/hr., needed to afford a two-bedroom rental in each of the fifty states:

You would think that a working class in such dire straits would naturally gravitate toward a socialist presidential candidate offering the chance for real structural reform instead of the inflammatory bigotry of a faux-populist business man running interference for the plutocracy (Trump: 'the minimum wage is already too high'). The key to understanding the disconnect between Bernie Sanders and poor white workers is its historical context as thoroughly explained by Theodore W. Allen in his Invention of the White Race. to combat any natural class solidarity between slaves and poor working whites, plutocrats embedded white workers (often bond servants themselves) with a sense of inbred superiority using a combination of legal and social policy preferences as well as racist propaganda. A similar technique was successfully employed previously in Ireland by British overlords to suppress Irish Catholics' campaign for Ireland's separation by giving preferential treatment in industrial employment and landowning to Irish Protestants to engender their loyalty to the Crown Of England.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

'Toontime: Schlongfest 2016

credit: John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune
Wackydoodle sez:  Takes one to know one!

The quality of political debate in 'Merica has reached a new nadir with the candidacy of Donald Trump. One thing he is good at besides making lucrative real estate deals with local politicians, is he knows how to manipulate the attention of the CMM that will substitute anything, including insults, for informed policy debate. For example, Bernie Sanders proposed reforming the private Federal Reserve which serves the interests of Wall Street banksters in a New York Times editorial. For all the attention it received in the mainstream press, he might as well have been handing out resumes on a street corner.
credit: John Coe, Scranton Times-Tribune
BC Idonwanna sez:  Too much beer and football rot brain!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

PNG wishes its readers season's greetings!

Japan To Restart Two More Reactors

Despite protests from residents, Japan has decided to restart two of its nuclear reactors in the quake-prone country. Kansai Electric Power company will restart Takahama No.3 and 4 early next year. The Fukui District Court removed an injunction preventing the restarts on Thursday. The two units will be the third and fourth plants to resume operations after the Fukushima Dai-Ichi meltdowns. Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai No.1 and 2 on Kyushu Island have already resumed operations under the new rules. The company announced it will begin loading MOX fuel into Takahama No.3 on Christmas Day. The restarts will be a big boost to the company's bottom line since Kansai is the utility most dependent on nuclear power generation. Reuters found in a survey that of the other 42 operable reactors, about seven are likely to be restarted in the next few years. Nine are unlikely to be put back into service according to the news service. Companies have applied to the nation's nuclear regulatory authority to restart twenty-five plants. Japan has been relying on record imports of liquefied natural gas to make up for its 26% loss in capacity during the nuclear moratorium. The Abe government has yet to find an acceptable site for disposal of highly-radioactive spent fuel waste.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Was Hot!

a future possibility?
Right now New York City is fourteen degrees above normal and the entire east coast is expected to experience record setting warm temperatures this holidaze weekend. A fitting exclamation mark to the hottest year on record according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. Last November was a record setter for warm temperatures, the seventh month in a row for records; thirteen of the fourteen hottest years have occurred in the 21st century.  Record keeping began in 1880. Certainly this data is not mere coincidence, but is consistent with the predicted effects of climate change. This year is one of the strongest El Niños recorded, so that is also contributing to the strange winter weather affecting the US. When asked by the New York Times Bill McKibben, a well-known climate activist, said "We're are living through history, and not of a good kind."

One only has to travel to the Greenland ice sheet to know climate change is a reality. Greenland's ice sheet, supported by land, is literally melting away and rushing into the sea in fast rivers of flowing water.[video]  A complete melt down could raise sea levels by twenty feet. The federal government spends about $1 billion a year studying the changing conditions in the Arctic and Antarctic. It is money well spent because computer modeling of climate cannot give scientists a full understanding of the phenomenon that will affect the world for centuries. Incredibly that relatively modest amount of funding is under attack from climate deniers in Congress. Representative Lamar Smith of Texas is leading the fight to cut NASA climate research budget by $300 million, and began an investigation into fifty National Science Foundation grants. We will pay the price of deliberate ignorance.

Fishers Return to Washington State

Rewilding is a concept much in vogue among wildlife conservationists. As some habitats are better protected and even expanding, wildlife advocates search for ways to reintroduce native species to the recovery process. This month Washington state wildlife officials released seven fishers, Martes pennanti, into Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the South Cascades where they have benn mission for more than seventy years. A member of the weasel family, fishers were wiped out in Washington by the mid-1990s. Prized by trappers for their lush fur, the state belatedly declared the species endangered in 1998. After planning and consultation the Washington state wildlife department began relocating fishers from British Columbia to the old growth forest in Olympic National Park in 2008. A total of 90 animals were released, and according to state biologists the mustelids have dispersed and reproduced successfully in the wild.

After a successful reintroduction, attention turned to other suitable forest habitats. Canadian fur trappers are paid $600 for each animal, considerably more than what the would receive for just a pelt. The large weasels are fed donated roadkill in an animal sanctuary where their health is evaluated and they are implanted with a tracking device. Washington plans to release a total of 80 fishers into Gifford Pinchot and Mount Rainier national parks in the next two years, then move on to the North Cascades. The fisher is currently proposed for inclusion on the federal Endangered Species Act through its range, but the reintroductions in Washington seem headed toward repopulating the northwest's forests with their characteristic mammalian species after being devastated by mans' greed. Fishers are relatively small and do not create much opposition from exploiters of public lands.  The crunch will come when wildlife advocates attempt to return the grizzly bear to northwest forests.

Monday, December 21, 2015

US Extends Protection to African Lions

credit: UK Guardian
Five months after an American dentist caused an international incident by killing a collared lion outside the boundaries of a national park in Zimbabwe, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is poised to extend protections under the Endangered Species Act to African lions. Lions in Africa face a catastrophic population decline due to poaching, habitat destruction and human conflict so the change in legal status is long overdue. Under the proposed rules lions in southern and eastern Africa will be classified as "'threatened" and lions in central and western Africa will be classified at the highest level of protection, "endangered". The change in legal status will place tight restriction on the importation of carcasses as trophies into the US.  Although the US cannot regulate hunting in other soverign nations, it is closing down a market in the United States. Half of all lion hunting is conducted by American citizens.  Under the new rules, hunters will have to prove their 'souvenirs' were legally obtained in a country that has a "scientifically sound management program" in place that benefits lions in the wild.

That may be a difficult burden since studies show that African lion populations have plummeted to half since 1993 and another 50% loss in the next twenty years for populations in west, central and east Africa. Only in southern Africa are lion populations increasing under a program of intensive management.  the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates there are only 20,000 lions remaining in the wild. The US will join France which banned importation of lion trophies in November, Australia which banned lion parts in March and the UK which pledges a similar ban by 2017 if the hunting industry does not improve its conservation performance.

All of this action comes to late to protect a beloved lion king, Cecil [photo]. But the good news is his line continues in Hwange where his son, Xanda, has been seen mating. Cecil's grand-cubs are expected in March. May they live long and prosper!

Friday, December 18, 2015

'Toontime: Its All About Bernie (Really!)

credit: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune
BC Idonwanna sez:  Bernie make big smoke!

If you can tear yourself away from the talking heads on the CMM (Corporate Mass Media) US Person suggests the presidential race is really about whether Bernie Sanders can mount a credible campaign (translation: money) that can withstand the capitalist naysayers in the Democratic establishment. He hopes the Repugnants are reactionary enough to nominate the bigot Trump because that will make a Democratic victory in November easier to achieve.

credit: Michael Ramirez, Investors Business Daily
Wackydoodle sez: Ms. Hillary drank too much Benghazi Punch!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Peru Shuts Down Notorious Wildlife Market

credit: NPC via Mongabay.com
Bellavista Street has operated as a flourishing wildlife market for over twenty years where wild animals were held captive in unsanitary, cramped conditions until they met an even worse fate after being sold. Think of it as a nightmarish concentration camp for animals. Activists and health officials have finally succeeded in closing Bellavista. The market, located in the city of Pucalpa, was razed to the ground by bulldozers last month [photo]. Veterinarians and members of Wildlife Conservation Society's Wildlife Health Policy Program visited the market repeatedly 2007 and 2012. What they found was abhorrent. They eventually convinced vendors to let them collect dead animals, collect samples from those still alive, and count the captives.

Despite that selling wildlife is strictly prohibited under Peruvian law, the market sold on average 42 animals a week, some of which are endangered species. The investigators discovered a wide range of diseases in the market ranging from yellow fever and hemorrhagic fever. Some of these were found in monkeys which could easily spread to humans because of our shared genetic heritage. One of the reasons officials belated decided to act is because of the threat the market posed to public health. Vendors show a extreme lack of human care for their living inventory. The market also served as a sort of callous showcase for animals secretly stored elsewhere in the city. At least four warehouses were known to researchers who avoided entering them to preserve their undercover work. It was clear to the researchers from their 'body counts' that corrupt officials were allowing some animals to 'disappear' into a shadow world of rapacious wildlife merchants who business it is to provide any rare species to a willing buyer. The fact that Bellavista was allowed to operate in the open on municipal land for over twenty years speaks testaments about the integrity of Peru's officials as well as the attitude of Peruvians towards their wild heritage. Although the market was destroyed in the middle of the night, no vendors were arrested.

A new market has been opened, but vendors must be registered, comply with rules, and the market is covered with a single entrance making illegal sales more difficult. The overdue destruction of Bellavista is a welcomed development, but Peru's participation in a robust, illegal and international wildlife trade is by no means at an end. For pictures of some the rescued animals go to Mongabay.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

COTW: Your Future Beneath the Sea

In a stunning series of maps, cartographer Jeffery Linn shows us what some cities could look like if all the world's ice sheets melted--something is that nor just science fantasy: it is a sobering glimpse into a radical possibility. What was once Portland, Oregon is a peninsula jutting out into shallow seas-- the Sea of Tualatin and Willamette Sea--full of islands named for dry locals:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a sea level rise of between 1.7 and 3.2 feet. Some scientists predict 10 feet by 2300. So these maps depict an extreme scenario. Nevertheless, it is sobering to think what even a 2 foot rise could do to coastal cities around the world.  Below what was once the dry-land megalopolis of Los Angeles is completely submerged below the waters of the "Bay of LA" and the "Sea of Orange County".  Knots Berry Farm is now "Knots Oyster Farm".  LAX becomes "Ex-LAX".  Hilarious, if not scary.

Monday, December 14, 2015

'Toontime: Public Relations-In-Chief

More: According to one observer a technical error almost derailed approval of the agreement and a change had to be made from the podium to prevent the Repugnants in the US Congress from vetoing the agreement. The error would have made carbon reduction goals legally binding instead of just aspirational.  That provision would have made the agreement subject to a politically motivated veto by Repugnants in an election year.  The lack of legally enforceable emission standards is the biggest criticism coming out of the Paris negotiating marathon. Holding the world to a temperature rise of just 1.5℃ will be difficult without an enforcement mechanism. Such an ambitious goal will require more reductions than represented by the current post 2020 proposals put forward by 189 countries, recognized by the agreement itself in paragraph 17. The agreement contemplates follow-up "dialogues" to facilitate further reductions in Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). A piece of good news is that the cost of renewable energy technologies is coming down very fast. For example, the cost of energy-efficient LED lightbulbs has shrunk from $5 each to a little over $1 in 17 months in India. Best of all the agreement represents a global "no" to the fossil fuel industry and their political handmaidens in Congress which has been doing their level best to sow doubt in the public's mind about the existence of climate change and dire consequences of unlimited burning of fossil fuels.

{13.12.15}Latest: A deal has been reached in Paris, but some critics say it is full of promises and very little action. James Henson, the former NASA scientist that irked the right-wing with his early climate change witness, told interviewers that the Paris agreement is a "fraud really, a fake, it's just bullshit..." According to Hansen without a universal tax or fee for burning carbon, the planet cannot avoid the worse ravages of global warming. He fully expects sea levels in some places to rise in excess of five meters putting half the world's coastal cities at risk of flooding because of the melting Antarctic ice sheet. In a July paper Hansen and his co-authors call the 2℃ target "highly dangerous". Other scientists are not so quick to dismiss the Paris accord. In is in fact a historic moment when 195 nations can come together and agree on anything, no less than refraining from using the world's predominant source of energy that has been fueling industrial development for 300 years. Hansen is obviously disappointed in his own country's leaders on both sides of the political divide.  He says Obama has not "been particularly good" at explaining to the public the need for a fee on carbon, while Repugnants like Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have been simply "embarrassing" Hansen adds, "after a while you realize as a scientist that politicians don't act rationally."  Hansen is pinning his hopes on China, whose air pollution problem is so bad their leadership, mostly trained as engineers, scientists, and technicians cannot ignore it.  The Paris accord can be a beginning to a sustainable tomorrow for Earth.  It may just be the planet's last, best chance, but the devil is in the agreement's implementation.

Update: The Current Occupant called his Chinese counterpart in an attempt to squeeze out a climate deal in Paris. Negotiators have switched to behind closed door sessions and put off a plenary session that could become uncontrollable. The deadline for an agreement is now Saturday when activists plan to hold more peaceful demonstrations in support of a global agreement to reduce warming. Despite the direct contact between the US and China, deep divisions reported remain between the US, India and China. The UK's Guardian newspaper identifies six key obstacles to an agreement.

Negotiators in Paris are working through the night in an attempt to finalize an agreement on limiting climate change. The draft has about fifty provision that remain to be negotiated, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the climate conference chair, expressed confidence negotiators will be able to close the remaining gaps in the twenty-seven page draft. Some climate advocates are already disappointed in the proposal, saying it denies "climate justice" to poor countries. Others are more positive saying the agreement affirms the need for quantifiable funding goals for the years after 2020. It is hoped that a final agreement will be reached on Friday at a plenary session. Now is definitely not the time for half-measures as satirized in this cartoon because catastrophic climate change is as large a threat to global security as terrorism is.
credit: Brian McFadden, Daily Kos

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Japan Resumes Whaling

After a temporary setback last year in the International Court of Justice that declared its alleged research whaling program unscientific, Japan has resumed commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean under a new rubric. Whale advocates thought the decision represented the end of commercial whaling by Japan--not. Instead of the illegal JARPA II program, Japan cynically created another acronym NEWREP-A to describe a research program that is commercial whaling by any other name. Experts from the international Whaling Commission have already said their is not enough information in the documents to determine if the program is acceptable under international standards. Japan countered by unilaterally declaring the proposal sufficient to proceed with whaling. Japan's defiant response has been declared "a slap in the face of the International Commission." Nevertheless, sale of whale meat that is harvested under lethal scientific research programs is legal under IWC rules. Japan is exploiting this loophole to the maximum extent. In October Japan said it would no longer accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice on maritime resources to avoid more embarrassing litigation over its whaling activities. Opposition is bound to heat up over the Japan's controversial hunting.

Australian courts have been somewhat sympathetic to whaling opponents. The Australian Federal Court fined Japan $1 million for breaching an earlier injunction covering Australia's declared whale sanctuary. Japan, however, does not recognize Australian jurisdiction over part of the Southern Ocean within its declared exclusive economic zone. Australian greens have called for Australia's navy to shadow the whaling fleet and collect evidence of any illegal activities. The Australian government is unlikely to comply with this demand for direct intervention, choosing instead to engage Japan on this issue at the diplomatic level.

Without a legal platform Japan is willing to accept, there is little except direct action that can bring Japan's whale hunting to an end. The conservation group Sea Shepard has mounted harassment campaigns in the past that have reduced the size of the catch substantially. Recently computer hackers told the press that they crashed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official website to protest the resumption of whaling. Japan's fleet left port on December 2nd bound for the Southern Ocean. The whaling fleet plans to take 333 minke whales--a lower quota than in previous years. No public word yet on what Sea Shepard's response will be this season.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

New Wolf Pack in Washington State

 curious member of the Lookout Pack, credit: High Country News
Washington state now has its seventeenth wolf pack that moved into the state from Idaho and Montana.  Once again nature proves that if given half a chance, it will restore balance to the land. The new pack has taken up residence near the towns of Twisp and Omak in Okanogan County. Federal and state wildlife officials confirmed the pack's location after a flurry of wolf sightings from the public. They will attempt to collar a pack member this summer in order to follow their travels. A least six wolves are estimated to be traveling together. The state recently counted a minimum of 68 wolves, up from 27 just four years ago. Recovery obviously depends on human reaction to their presence; gray wolves are protected by the state east of Highway 97 and federally protected in the western two-thirds. Nevertheless, at least a half dozen wolves have been poached since 2012.

It is encouraging to note that some ranchers are taken a proactive approach to potential conflicts.  Range riders are helping to track wolves and livestock to get  more reality-based data on clashes between wolves and livestock. Undeniably the natural return of the wolf after decades of persecution has opened up a deep political divide in Washington. A survey conducted by the Washington wildlife department found that almost two-thirds of respondents favored wolf recovery, but the same survey showed those supporters are from the liberal corridor along the Interstate 5 corridor.

The rural, conservative east side of the state are where the wolves now live and people are more ambivalent about their presence. Washington's wolves had to cross hundreds of miles of agricultural land to reach the dense forests of the south central Cascades where elk still roam. In order to help the wolves reach undeveloped areas where they are at least tolerated, state wildlife officials have placed emphasis on non-letha control methods such as subsidizing the ranger rider activity, guard dogs and and other methods. But only 14 ranchers have signed on to the program. Wolves are still killed by Washington state if they are confirmed to be cow killers. It takes at lot less for private citizens to resort to killing wolves. As one cattleman from Stevens County put it, " I don't like them [wolves] and I think the state has too many of them." State biologist think there will not be enough wolves--15 breeding pairs for at least three consecutive years--in the state until 2021 to remove them from the endangered species list. Meanwhile, trigger fingers are getting very itchy.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Beijing Issues Red Alert for Air Pollution

credit: Getty Images
The city of Beijing issued its first "red alert" for air quality on Tuesday lasting until noon, December 10th. It is the first such red alert issued by the government for a city with notoriously bad air quality. Some industrial activity will be curtailed and school cancelled. Citizens are advised to curtail outdoor activity. The pollution is less intense than last week when government officials kept the warning level at orange despite the level of particulates reaching 666 micrograms of PM 2.5 in Tiananmen Square [photo]. That is twenty-five times the World Health Organization's recommended levels. The smog is expected to peak Wednesday. Vehicular traffic is Beijing's main smog source because emissions levels are exceeded by about 10 or more of the city's traffic.

Friday, December 04, 2015

'Toontime: Disarraied States of America

credit: Bob Englehart, Hartford Courant

The radicalized Muslim couple in San Bernardino who slaughtered fourteen colleagues were able to amass an arsenal of weapons in their home with only their co-conspirators knowing about it. Such a situation in only possible in 'Merica where its citizens are willing to put up with regular mayhem in their schools, workplaces and homes. 'Mericans are paying in blood for an 18th century ideal that is no longer fits in a 21st century world.  Our politicians are simply reduced to on-lookers who spend their time searching for scapegoats.

credit: Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News
Wackydoodle axes: Wanna hold my machine gun, boy?

Update: The Current Occupant has decided he can no longer safely ignore the slaughter that is occuring in 'Merican cities practically eveyday (the statistic: over 365 shooting incidents since last January). He has an uphill battle against the entrenched gun lobby in an election year in his attempt to convince his fellow citizens that the right to amass private arsenals is not constitutionally protected, at least not in an age of mult-trilion dollar standing armies. The Second Amendment was written to insure that nacent nation would have a source of armed men available for national defense because the Continental Army was only a temporary organization that always had difficulty raising men and munitions from the states. The Supreme Court, in deciding that the amendment represents a personal right and not a artifice of national soverignty made an ideologically driven misinterpretation of history that is costing us blood. It can only get worse as the "Long War" drags on into its fifteenth year.

To end this post on a positive note, US Person encourages his readers to sign this petition supporting Bernie Sanders' proposal to reinstate postal banks. US has written before about the benefits of a source of low-cost, convenient credit not under the direct control of Wall Street available at your local post office. {23.02.15} It appears Bernie agrees.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Climate Deniers Winning Battle?

A recent government funded study by Michigan State University of 1600 persons shown conflicting news articles about global warming reveal skeptics are swayed more by stories also skeptical of the existence of the man-made phenomenon. The study confirms anecdotal evidence. A Fox News poll only 3 percent of voters listed global warming as their top concern.  It is no surprise that terrorism tops the list. Conservatives have successfull framed the issue as a conspiracy of the left against business interests.  But there is no denying that 14 of the last 15 years have been the hottest in recorded history; nevertheless right wing politicians like Ted Cruz were able to cherry-pick available data in the 2013 IPCC assessment report to declare a warming hiatus after 1998. The discrepancy most climate scientist think  can be put down to an underestimate of the warming that has already occurred and gaps in data. In fact an updated analysis of global surface temperatures in Science shows actual warming trends are higher than estimated by the IPCC, possible double the previous assessment.  Since the late 19th century temperatures have risen about 1.6F and could rise another 10 degrees by the end of the century.  According to large multinational study,Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective, of twenty-eight large climate events that occurred in 2014, fully half are attributable to man-made climate change.

For decades social psychologists have emphasized the effect of "motivated reasoning" If people are motivated--in this case profit--to not believe something, they will work hard to find a way not to believe it. Conservatives who consider the bottom line sacred, are doing just that and taking the rest of us lemmings with them over the climate cliff.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Arizona Border Recon Upholds Vigilante Tradition

credit: J. Milano
America's west has a long history of vigilante action. It was once a lawless frontier and peaceful citizens  needed substitute for the lack of official law enforcement. Hardly the case nowadays, but Arizona's Border Recon, an armed
group of ex-servicemen and law enforcers is keeping the tradition alive. These men perceive a need to patrol the desert wastes along the Mexican border that is often marked by nothing more than a waist-high metal fence backed with barbed wire--hardly enough to keep out a determined jihadist bent on bringing terrorism to US soil once again.

The group of about 200 men was started by Tim "Nailer" Foley, who "got off the couch" to do something about what he sees as a serious problem-- an insecure southern border. Foley lives about 400 yards from the border.  He dismisses the usual criticisms of being a "gun-nut" and a nativist extremist, by referring to the recent terror attacks in Paris. His group patrols a six to eight mile perimeter 24/7 armed and equipped with night vision equipment. Foley claims they have video of non-Mexicans crossing illegally into the US.  He identifies them as "Pakistanis and Afghanis". Of course the official Border Patrol does not endorse the private action of armed civilians, and "strongly encourages" private citizens to contact official law enforcement agencies. Official records list three Afghans and twenty-six Pakistanis attempting to cross illegal in the period FY2013-2015 (July). Recently the FBI confirmed that five men from Pakistan and one from Afghanistan were captured trying to cross the border, but found no derogatory information on their records. So the amateurs consider themselves to be rendering more service to their country in a time of war. Foley points out that people who want to participate in their patrols must pass a background check and abide by strict rules of engagement. Foley was checked out by FBI when someone tipped the bureau in 2011 that Foley had been accused of leaving pie bombs on heavily trafficked trails. The sheriff of Santa Cruz County told Al Jazeera America Foley is a troublemaker and too gung-ho. His organization attracts a "lot of crackpots" according to that sheriff, and Foley is, "going to get us into a lot of trouble".

Foley, who lost his comfortable life as a construction foreman earning $40/hr in Phoenix after the crash, formed Arizona Border Recon in 2011 as a response to corruption. Since then the group has run five missions a year in which it has detained hundreds of people at the border. They concentrate on trails under less official surveillance, often used by drug mules. When asked if he would ever return to a more routine life in Phoenix, he replied "I've taken the red pill" in a reference to the popular science fiction flim, "The Matrix". "You know why they call it the American Dream, Foley asked his interviewer, "Because you have got to be asleep to believe it."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tru'merica: The "Monster Fraud"

Just one of the reasons other countries find it difficult to cooperate with the United States on issues of global concern such as climate change and global jhad is its self-righteous attitude about its purported democratic form of government. Other countries see themselves as democratic or at least as democratic as the United States, but face a profound disdain from our leaders when asked to cooperate in areas of mutual concern. Is this "American exceptionalism" justified by our historical record? US Person thinks not.

One only has to return to the disputed election of 2000 to see the triumph of plutocratic diktat when George W. Bush was installed by a conservative, unelected Supreme Court despite Al Gore's popular vote victory both nationwide and in the disputed state of Florida. Essentially, the case of Bush v. Gore was a coup d'état. But the ability of political elites' ability to manipulate the American election process was even more flagrantly displayed in the contested election of 1876, when a single disputed Electoral College vote allowed a Republican Congress voting along party lines to award disputed electoral votes from Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana (still not under home rule) to Rutherford B. Hayes as president. The popular election of Democrat Samuel J. Tilden by more than 50% of the vote was voided by the nation's elite. In the so-called "Compromise of 1877" Tilden conceded in a hotel-room deal in return for the removal of federal troops from the South which sealed the failure of Reconstruction to dismantle its agrarian, white plutocracy. The lecture at the Flagler Museum below discusses the most disputed election in American history in its historical context. Skip the first four and half minutes to avoid  introductions and credits.

There is a modern lesson from the centennial deal that compromised American democracy irrevocably. Given our current federal election system, it can happen again in a close election where the results are contested. This election cycle is shaping into such a potentially indecisive and disruptive contest between a Wall Street hack and a dangerous, racist demagogue who seems to have concluded the road to more personal fame and fortune is through agitation of nativist reaction similar to the bloody shirt tactics employed by Republicans in 1876.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, such irresponsible rhetoric by so-called political leaders indirectly contributes to the goal of ISIS to provoke the west into a cataclysmic  crusade against the world's 1.6billion Muslims.  For arrogant America finds it much easier to drop bombs than wage peace.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Caught Power Napping?

No worries!  Persona Non Grata brings you the news worth repeating as well as original commentary about what really matters to the future of Earth and its creatures.  US Person will be away from his desk for three weeks, so come back in late November for more high-impact blog at this address.

Friday, October 23, 2015

'Toontime: Benghazi Ad Nauseam

credit Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Wackydoodle sez: Hillary feels the force!
The Repugnants are managing to keep Sec. Hillary Clinton under an unfavorable lime light with their interminable Benghazi hearings. The former Secretary of State took the witness seat today and told the Congressmen that she took responsibility for the Benghazi attacks that resulted in four dead State Department officials. Forty-four percent of the American people according to one prominent poll do not trust Mrs. Clinton to tell the truth about the circumstances surrounding the attacks and the inadequate American response. But all that given the hearings are simply a prominent political platform from which to attack the leading Democratic presidential candidate at taxpayer expense (14.7m).

They questioned Mrs. Clinton for most of the day and into the night, but made little new inroads into her defense of her performance during the crisis including her assertion that she never personally approved or denied extra security for the compound were the American officials were housed. A 2012 by the government accountability review board sharply criticized the State Department for its "grossly insufficient" security in Benghazi despite upgrade requests from Ambassador Stevens, killed in the attack.  The most heated exchange of the day occurred between two Democratic panel members and the Republican chair over their focus on her e-mail exchanges with Sidney Blumenthal, a former  aide to her husband and a personal friend.
credit:  Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune
BC idonwanna sez:  Coyote only one with brains!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Indonesia's Peat Fires Burn Uncontrolled

Indonesia is producing more greenhouse gas from its uncontrolled peat fires than Japan produces in year [chart]. Attempts to control the deliberately set fires to clear land for monoculture have proved feeble to non-existent. Toxic smoke from the carbon-rich peat--a geologic precursor to coal--is choking Southeast Asia. Officials estimate the smoke will last into 2016. New hotspots are erupting faster than meagerly equipped firefighters can put them out. The problem being that peat burns underground and is difficult to reach. Also dry El Niño conditions delaying the wet season are contributing to the problem. Indonesia has asked help from foreign governments.  Australia contributed a water bomber aircraft for a week and proposes to lease more. Russia contributed two water bomber aircraft bringing the total number of fixed-wing and helicopters to just twenty-eight.

Indonesia has revoked the licenses of Mega Alam Sentosa and Dyera Hutan Sestari the forest ministry told reporters Monday.  Four companies were ordered to suspend operations for allegedly causing the fires. Satellites have detected 1,729 fires across Indonesia on Wednesday more than any other single day in two years. Most are feeding on peat lands in South Sumatra, South and Central Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua. Indonesia is covered in a thick haze according to reports.  Fire related economic costs are expected to exceed $14bn

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

There's Good News Tonight: Shell Stops Arctic Drilling!

Latest:  The Administration took a low political risk to protect the Arctic from oil exploitation by canceling all lease sales for the next two years in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.  But the move is little more than PR because this administration will announce it's new five year plan for 2017-2020 which will probably include the Arctic as well as the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Georgia.

The Paddle in Seattle, credit: Getty Images
{28.09.15} Royal Dutch Shell suspends Arctic drilling indefinitely. The announcement came this early this morning Eastern Time befitting the fact that "money never sleeps". This news is good, but its not because the international oil giant has suddenly decided to listen to Americans who do not want the Arctic despoiled by a catastrophic oil spill almost certain to happen. No friends, the decision is the result of hard econometrics. Shell did not find sufficient indications of gas and oil under its leases to justify the tremendous expense of offshore drilling in Arctic waters prone to some of the harshest climatic conditions on the planet.

Shell joins ExxonMobil in giving up on the Arctic for now. It found oil in Russia's Kara Sea, but geopolitics got in the way of its discovery as sanctions have been imposed on trade with Russia. A half a dozen other companies have already put their plans on ice. Shell's Burger J prospect lies 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska, the closest supply base. It sent 30 vessels in addition to the two large sea-going drilling rigs [photo] to attempt to locate economic quantities of oil and gas during the brief Arctic summer. The logistics alone are hugely expensive, and the company was prevented from simultaneously drilling a second exploratory well nine miles away because of the noise impact on marine mammals.  However, Berger J was the best prospect the company had among its Chukchi Sea leases.

Shell will take a large a charge-off on its investment of $3.0 billion, most of which will be tax-deductible. It has already spent $7 billion on exploration in the Alaskan Arctic. Not only does the decision reflect the extreme difficulty of operating in a remote and still harsh climate, but also the huge subsidies oil companies receive from the federal government for exploration. It is not unknown for companies to drill a well they know will not produce just to received the tax benefits of such an operation*. A Shell spokesperson said that "only more exploration will [prove] this basin. But that exploration in not in our immediate future. The whales, walruses and polar bears that still live on the melting sea ice would be thankful for that decision and the many humans that made it possible.

*this scenario actually occurred while US Person was a landman in Getty Oil's Offshore Division in Houston, Texas.

COTW: The Crisis in Iraq

The nation's short attention span has been diverted by football and the recent US war crime in Afghanistan, but the crisis in Iraq deepens anyway. American troops barely disguised as advisors are fighting on the ground to help its inept creation, the Iraqi army, hold on to territory against ISIS. ISIS was able to rise to power in the region by the temporary absence of US military forces and, more importantly, a region this fundamentally divided along religious lines. There are forces at work that want to redraw the colonial-era boundaries imposed on the inhabitants. The region is trending towards something like this:

credit: Vox.com
The map shows the lines of underlying sectarian division driving the various regional military forces on the ground. The two regional powers Saudi Arabia which is majority Sunni, and Iran which is majority Shia are funding the conflict in Syria. Right now the situation is what miltary analysts refer to as "fluid" In reality that means civilians are displaced and fleeing the heaviest fighting. This map shows the approximate level of civilian deaths in Iraq up to last year:

The iraqbodycount.org database estimates about 150,000 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives in the conflict. Why is the United States government and other foreign powers willing to embroil themselves in a regional civil war they walked away from in December, 2011? The answer is fundamentally simple, control of the globe's fifth largest oil reserves as shown here:

credit: Vox.com

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Million Stand for Elephants

An unprecedented million and more people helped WWF petitioned the US Fish & Wildlife Service to adopt a proposed rule preventing illegal African elephant ivory from being imported and sold in the US.  Several states, notably California, have already passed bans or partial bans.  The large number of signers marks the single most successful petition drive in the United States, and the first time ever in the history of the USFWS it can confirm they received more than a million public comments on a rule making.

COTW: The Longest War Just Got Longer

America's fourteen year war in Afghanistan just got longer yesterday when the Obamanator announced that the current troop level of 9800 will remain the same for "most of 2016" and that about 5500 will remain in 2017. He had promised repeatedly to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. But faced with the negative results of US troop evacuation in Iraq, the predominance of ISIS, he reneged on that promise. American advisers apparently do not think Afghan government forces can hang on to their country without prolonged US intervention. This decision comes after the rules of engagement for US forces was deliberately violated when a charity hospital run by Doctors Without Borders was destroyed by a gunship attack in Kunduz. Pentagon officials say the attack was a mistake, but that explanation barely passes plausible deniability. US troops were in possession of the well-known hospitals GPS coordinates at the time an AC-130 gunship orbited overhead incinerating the facility with heavy cannon fire.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Antarctic Ice Sheets Will Collapse

So says a group of Antarctic researchers if drastic cuts in greenhouse emissions are not achieved.  Their study published in the respected journal, Nature, concludes that a global temperature increase of only 5.4℉ (3℃) above the pre-industrial norm will cause ice shelves to melt. These huge floating slabs of ice hold back the even more enormous continental ice sheets which would be loss over the next few centuries. The great melting means that sea levels will rise catastrophically for thousands of year, contributing as much as 9 meters to long term sea rise.

The study by Golledge et al is not all gloom, if humanity acts to save itself.  If temperatures remain with 3.6℉ (2℃) the collapse will stabilize and the ice sheets remain mostly intact. To achieve this, the planet as a whole must follow the IPCCs lowest emissions scenario. Under this scenario global emissions will peak around 2020 and decline to zero or below by 2100. Nations attending the Paris climate conference next month have submitted pledges to cut and reduce emissions. But those are not enough according to one analysis. They cause a 2.7℃ warming, not enough to avoid collapse.

In 2014 Eric Rignot working for NASA discovered that the massive west Antarctic ice sheet is already slipping into the ocean.  Global sea levels have risen roughly 8 inches over the past century, most of it from natural expansion of warming oceans. But if the ice sheets give way the rise in sea levels will be dramatic because the size of Antarctica's two ice sheets cover an area the size of the United States and Mexico. They are held in place on the continent by buttressing ice shelves. Satellite surveys show the floating shelves are losing 310km² of ice every year. If lost completely, seas would rise 60 meters according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center. Goodbye New York, New Orleans and Miami.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

COTW: Lurching Ever Rightward

House GOP members are now farther to the right of the political spectrum as measured by the DW Nominate scale than the House Republican caucus of 1967. There is almost no overlap as shown in this histogram posted at Daily Kos. They are endangering their relevance with political extremists who see any compromise--once considered the art of politics--with the other party as treasonous.
It is a process that began with the 'Newt Gingrich revolution' of 1994 that wiped out conservative southern Democrats who provided a significant ideological overlap between Democrat and Republican. Today there is no overlap, only a gap, between the two parties in the House.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

California Bans Microplastic

Fish, seabirds and other marine life are ingesting it by the tons, threatening their survival. Microplastic beads used in numerous consumer product processes are a little know source of toxic pollution, but California is leading the nation again by banning most uses of the substance. From toothpaste to cleaning scrubs the micro-sized pellets are becoming ubiquitous in the world's seas rinsed down the drain by unconscious consumers. Their micron size often allows micro beads to escape filtration at waste treatment facilities. They attract chemicals to their ionized surfaces such as PCBs and flame retardants. AB 888 was crafted by Assembly Member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) to avoid the loopholes that exist in other state's regulations of microplastics. California's ban extends to microbeads that are supposedly made of biodegradable plastic, but the industry will have to prove these form of beads are safe for the environment. Two companies, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble were citied as fighting the legislation at every step of the process. Watch this video to learn more about the stuff:

Five Gyres Institute, a leading research group studying the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans discovered as many as 466,000 microplastics per square kilometer in the Great Lakes. The institute estimates 471 million microbeads are dumped into San Francisco Bay every day. These beads are added to facial scrubs, toothpastes and and other personal care products as exfoliants or colorants to the extent f 350,000 beads per product. What is more important is that the effects these artificial additives achieve can be accomplished with natural products such as apricot shells and cocoa beans. To the see what plastics in general are doing to the world's marine environments watch this video from Australian Broadcast Company:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Government By the Rich, For the Rich

This single story explains more about the state of 'Merican democracy than any other: The New York Times found in an investigation that 358 families have donated to the presidential election so far, contributing more than half of all campaign donations. 158 have given more than $250,000 each. These people are overwhelmingly Republican, white, older and male who have made fortunes in energy or finance. Most of these huge donations have been made possible by the erroneous decision in Citizens' United. The case should be renamed Plutocrats United. Just one egregious example from the donor's list is hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin, who earns about $68.5 million a month, according to his divorce filing made by his former wife, gave $300,000 to Republican candidates.
Houston's exclusive River Oaks neighborhood¹

Uniformly these plutocrats, who inhabit a geographically small world behind locked gates, support laissez faire capitalism² which they see as responsible for their own success and preserving a system that theoretically allows any Joe Blow to prosper. They donate to right-wing candidates who pledge to cut back regulation, cut taxes and preserve preferential provisions, while shrinking social programs that help the middle class and poor lead decent lives. All of this corporatist agenda is being pushed in the face of increasing support for more social spending, not less. 'Mericans support by two-thirds higher taxes on people earning more than $1 million/year. 60% favor more government intervention to reduce the gap between rich and poor, while 70% favor preserving Social Security and Medicare as they are. One political expert now describes the campaign finance system after Citizens' United as a "countervailing force" to the way the majority wants the country governed.  This state of political affairs will come as no surprise to Chief Justice Roberts.

1. map legend:  1. Hildebrand family, $250,000; 2. Nau family, $500,000; 3. Sarofim family, $530,000; 4. Flores family, $250,000; 5. McNair family, $2 million; 6. Ansary family $2 million; 7. Kinder family $2 million; 8. Krohn family $250,000.

2. Charles Koch, multibillionaire backer of the extremist tea party faction, wrote in the 1970's Libertarian Review that business leaders had been "hoodwinked" into accepting regulation being in the public's interest. He advocated the "barest possible obedience" to regulation and told his readers, "Do not cooperate voluntarily, instead resist whenever and to whatever extent you legally can in the name of justice".  The record of his petrochemical empire while under his command certainly bears out this radical philosophy.  Across its industries the Koch Empire generates an estimated 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. In March Koch Industries was forced to sign a consent agreement to spend $40 million to bring its Port Arthur refinery into environmental compliance after fouling the city's ground water supplies and air.  Koch's business ethics are not any cleaner.  The company once pleaded guilty to five felony counts for rigging offshore lease lotteries with frontmen who would turn over any leases they won in the lottery to Koch Industries. His company stole $31 million worth of oil from Native Americans lands by under-reporting the volumes produced.  The list of his company's outrages in the name of capitalism goes on and on.

Friday, October 09, 2015

'Toontime: Tales of Francis, Secret Marxist

US has news for you, so is the Dali Lama!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Chile Creates New Marine Sanctuaries

pristine sea floor, credit: Nat Geo
Chile has created three new marine sanctuaries off its long Pacific coast. The Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park in the Oceanic islands will cover a surface area of 114,872 square miles. Oceana and National Geographic conducted a survey of the region in 2013, one of the last pristine ocean environments around South America. The researchers found a wealth of marine species with no signs of human impacts on the ocean floor. The area is inhabited by a relict population of Juan Fernandez fur seal, once thought extinct. Trawling operations often leave the ocean floor denuded of life.

President Bachelet also announced a marine protected area surrounding the island of Rapa Nui or Easter Island.  Islanders help design the sanctuary's boundaries covering 243,630 square miles of ocean.    They will be able to continue their traditional fishing practices; commercial fishing will be banned. The waters are spawning ground for tuna, shark, marlin and swordfish.

plastic debris in Norway, credit: B. Eide
A network of marine parks will be established in the remote Juan Fernandez archipelago protecting a series of seamounts called Crusoe-Selkirk. Chile is one of the world's primary fishing countries, but with the creation of these new parks it is also becoming a world leader in marine conservation. Mr. Obama addressed Valparaiso's second annual conference of Our Ocean by video link. He contributed two new National Marine Sanctuaries, Mallows Bay in the Potomac River and a 875 square mile of Lake Michigan, both containing important habitat for marine species as well numerous shipwrecks. Secretary Kerry in Valparaiso said the US will begin a program called "Sea Scout" that will provide new technological tools and assistance to detect and target illegal fishing. A satellite based sensor named VIIRS can detect boats a night using lights to attract fish. Secretary Kerry told the conference that human use of the ocean was unsustainable and they are being rapidly degraded through pollution and acidification.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Toontime: When the Wheels Come Off

Update: VW's US executive was told in 2014 that there was "possible non-compliance" with emission standards after a West Virginia University study was published. However, in testimony to Congress he stated it was not until September 3rd this year that Volkswagen told regulators about the testing "defeat device". The scandal affects about half-million cars in the US. Michael Horn also said that the responsible parties will be identified and held accountable. The company announced a massive recall of diesel powered cars to begin in January and completed by the end of 2016. The fix will be approved by the German government. A software update will be sufficient for most cars, but other vehicles will require new fuel injection and catalytic converters. The EA189 engine was used widely in several models with country-specific variations. The effort will be hugely expensive for VW. The new CEO Matthais Müller warned workers in Wolfburg, the company would try to avoid layoffs, but that its entire 86 billion expansion plans were under review. The company will take a charge-off of $7.33 billion to pay for repairs. The damage done to the VW brand is incalculable.

{2.09.15}A corporate brand that stands for reliability and value got a rude shock this week when it was revealed Volkswagen cheated on emissions test to get its popular diesel engine models accepted by regulators. The company's CEO, Martin Winterkorn has already resigned and more resignations by company executives are expected. The cheating is international in scale with as many as 11 million diesel vehicles containing software that allowed the company to evade pollution standards in the United States. An independent investigation by CAFEE, Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emission detected the software "fix" when it was asked to study US models of European diesels under US conditions since these vehicles were emitting 4-7 more pollution than permitted under less stringent European standards. The US Justice Department is now beginning a criminal investigation.

The New York Times reports that VW diesel engine models as well as Audi models made by VW contained programs for detecting when the engine was undergoing emissions testing. The programming turned on all of the vehicles exhaust scrubbing mechanisms to insure a passing score and then turned them off when testing was completed, allowing significantly more pollution to enter the atmosphere than detected. The standard at issue is the NOx, or nitrous oxide emissions that is noticeably more stringent in the US than Europe (0.04g/km compared to 25g/km). Nitrous oxides are responsible for creating smog and depleting the ozone layer.

credit: Jeff Stahler
Wackydoodle sez: An' a bad case of dirty oil too!

COTW: The Increasing Frenzy

It is a testament to the extent of mental illness in this society that it has become more enamored with the grotesque rituals that surround each mass shooting in America than actually formulating political will to do something to reduce the number of guns at large. The emotionally unstable and guns do not mix as US Person has written before {21.07.12, The Joker Comes Down}. The United States is plagued by both. There was no legitimate reason for the Roseburg killer to amass thirteen rifles, many semi-automatic, other than to eventually use them against his fellow human beings. Roseburg is rabid gun country.   But no hunter worth the name needs that many weapons to kill an occasional deer or elk for sport. As Pope Francis has said publicly, arms manufacture is a international big business, so the supply will not stop anytime soon. Only the United States has done very little in comparison to other developed nations to keep them out of the hands of the deranged and criminal. The nation hides behind a historical anachronism that has little relevance in modern society while the cash registers keep ringing up gun sales. The frequency of mass shootings is higher in the US than anywhere else in the world and increasing; mass shootings do happen in other countries but only the US has such a permissive culture when it comes to using deadly force. Even when accounting for disparity in population, the US still makes the upper half of the list surpassing China, Canada, Australia, England, France, Germany and Mexico. Finland, Switzerland and Norway have higher rates of mass shootings than the US, but only because each small country suffered a horrific mass slaughter since 2000. In Norway, a gunman killed 67 people in one rampage. Perhaps the easy sentiment so publicly on display and parsing of homicide statistics will finally wear thin and the 'Merican people will say enough is enough.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Kunduz War Crime

ISIS is not the only group committing war crimes these days. ISIS toppled its third ancient ruin in Palmyra, a roman arch that stood for 2000 years. But contrary to Obama's often repeated promise to remove US combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014, US advisors are still fighting on the ground against a resilient Tailban. In an effort to retake Kunduz, largely in the hands of insurgents, US advisors called in an airstrike by a Spectre gunship [photo] against a hospital manned by Médicines Sans Frontières, one of the few still operating in the country. The strike killed 22 people including 12 members of staff. Some were burned alive in their beds by the cannon rounds. At first the American military said the hospital was occupied by Taliban firing on US soldiers. That cover story did not live long. An American general testifying before Congress yesterday about the incident called it "a mistake". MSF officials also flatly reject that explanation, saying the hospital was identified by GPS coordinates which were given to all sides. It also had a signal repeater on its roof; everyone in the area knew it was a working hospital. The gunship attack continued for thirty minutes after the hospital was again identified to American and Afghan military officials. A deliberate attack on a hospital would qualify as a war crime under international law. Médicines Sans Frontières is demanding a full, transparent (international) investigation of the incident.

The charity organization ran afoul of the Afghan military in July. Afghan special forces raided the hospital when they learned a terrorist operative was being treated there. MSF says no Taliban were on the hospital grounds when the attack occurred; even if a protected facility is being abused by the enemy, a retaliatory attack must be proportional. The AC-130 gunship employed 40 and 120mm automatic cannon rounds to completely destroy the hospital. This latest outrage epitomizes the unqualified failure of the American expedition in Afghanistan, one that could have been predicted at the outset. After killing Osama Bin Laden, the American purpose there was fulfilled and troop withdrawn. In an effort to prop-up a failed state, the United States has only become more deeply embroiled in a region that is historically ungovernable. The pressure for results in the longest war of America's war strew history is immense. Incredibly, Pentagon generals are now calling for a reintroduction of American soldiers to fend off the Taliban. Troop levels are now scheduled to decline to 1000 by 2017. Here is what former President Jimmy Carter said about US foreign policy in the last half of the 20th century, "...it's generally accepted that the most intense warmonger for the last 35 or 40 years has been the United States of America. We're the country in the forefront of almost every war that has started....eager to go to war to resolve differences. We have proven that, as you know, in a number of cases for a long time. When we went into Korea, when we went into Vietnam, when we went in to Iraq both times. I think all those wars were unnecessary."

Monday, October 05, 2015

California Bans All Ivory

California under Governor Jerry Brown has taken decisive action to ban virtually all trade in ivory and rhino horn in the state. The Governor signed AB96 into law on Sunday. Owners can sell ivory and rhino horn up until the deadline of July 1, 2016 After that penalties for violations reach up to $50,000 fine and a year in prison, a felony crime. The legislation was hailed by elephant conservationist working desperately to save the planets remaining pachyderms from the ruthless onslaught of poachers. California was among the world's major consumer markets for ivory. California joins New York and New Jersey as states that have passed a comprehensive trade ban. Washington state may be next as Microsoft founder Paul Allen has funded an initiative to ban ivory, horn and body parts from trade. These bans need to be extended nationwide so the United States can take the lead in eradicating this despicable predation without moral justification. The recent African Elephant Summit in Botswanna issued a statement saying that African elephants may go extinct in the next ten years if draconian measure are not taken to save Earth's most majestic and wise land animal. People who want the elephant to survive can help by touring those dwindling areas of the world that are wild. US Person tells you it will be beautiful experience, and well worth the expense. Safaris pay the bills that keep game parks and their wild inhabitants secure. Kenyan wildlife expert Jonathan Scott says, "if we abandon tourism, we abandon conservation."

Friday, October 02, 2015

US Wastes Seafood

Fishing stocks are plummeting around the globe leaving the seas empty, but the United States wastes around 40-47% of the seafood it harvests annually according to recent calculations. That is enough protein to feed about 10 million men. Researchers published in Global Environmental Change concluded about 2.3 billion pounds of seafood go to waste in the supply change from fishing boat to table between 2009 and 2013. Total annual supply was estimated at 4.7 billion pounds.  Consumers throw away the most--51 to 63%--while bycatch counted for 16-32%. The size of the loss concerns the study's authors because of the impact on ecological systems and treating aquatic systems as though they were limitless is detrimental to public health and the environment. They recommend stricter bycatch reduction programs, more consumption of parts not typically eaten, and marketing seafood in smaller packages.

Toontime: The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Redux

credit: Robert Ariail
Wackydoodle sez: Y'al never knows when ya need a good ploy!
One could call it the death by a thousand e-mails: the death of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. Right wing activists are making sure this story does not go away anytime soon. According to Bloomberg there are 30 FOIA suits pending against Ms. Clinton because of her ill-advised use of a private internet server for official government business while she headed the State Department She really has her self to blame for this persistent torment by giving her adversaries such as easy target. Requested records concern the Benghazi attack. potential conflicts of interest between her husband's foundation seeking donations from foreign leaders, and her aide's employment for the Clinton foundation and the federal government. The dispute has become a daily distraction for the campaign and has allowed her socialist rival to gain ground as well as entice more competition from Vice President Joe Biden. A federal judge has ordered Clinton to turn overs some 30,000 work-related correspondence on a rolling basis by the end of January. The right-wing Scaife Foundation of Pittsburg is partially funding Judicial Watch, the organization behind most of the e-mail requests. It has an annual budget of $30 million.

Ms. Clinton was apparently warned of the potential problems of using a private server by her staff according to released communications. The former Secretary of State was concerned about a 2011 hacking of Google's Gmail which prompted her switch to a private server in New York.  Suspected Chinese hackers tried to steal the passwords for hundreds of Gmail accounts held by senior officials.  She discussed her concerns with State Department staff who were not unanimous in supporting her decision to use a private facility, her chief of staff among those recommending caution. So far 403 classified e-mails have been found in the released documents, including three marked "secret".

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Police Homicide, Inc.: More Unlawful Killings

Think US Person is exaggerating the police brutality trend? Just look at this video in which Delaware police kill a man in a wheelchair. The victim ignored or was unable to put his hands up. Someone shouts, "What gun?" in response to police orders. Go to this link to read the latest about the latest police killings in September that totaled 99. The police in this country are becoming the corporatist sweepers of a dystopian future in which their job has become little more than disposing of the mentally ill, the unwanted, or disruptive:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

COTW: Inhumane Drug Prices

No wonder 'Mericans are angered by prescription drug prices.  This table compares US prices with four other developed countries that have socialized medicine:

In every case US prices are considerably higher. Similar price differentials exist for common diagnostic and surgery procedures. Former hedge fund head Martin Shkreli hiked the price of Enbrel, used to treat AIDs cases and toxoplasmosis, 5500% overnight. Daraprim (generic name) cost about $1 per pill to make and has been in the pharmacopia for sixty years. When Shkreli acquired the drug the price for a bottle when from $405 to $22,500. Other examples of price gouging are those by Valeant Pharmaceuticals which increased the price for two heart drugs, 515% and 212% the same day they were acquired.  An antibiotic, Doxycyclene, was increased in price from $20 to $1849 within a six month period, but the real story is that drug prices have going up rapidly for the past 10 years despite passage of the Affordable Care Act. Cash buyers in the US face the highest prices of all, often these are the poorest citizens without drug coverage. The federal institutional buyers such as the Veterans Administration and the Defense Department pay the lowest prices in the country at 58% of the cash price. Other instituional buyers such as hospitals, Medicare Part D and HMOs pay 5-30% less. Once again the economic leverage exerted by a single payer is demonstrated in these statistics. So US Person says one more time: Medicare for All!