Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tru'merica: "In Control of the Facists"

Update:  Thousands hit the streets across America in solidarity with Baltimore protestors who rioted in objection to the mistreatment of Freddie Gray while in police custody.  He died of an unspecified spinal injury that the city administration has yet to fully explain.  An officer was seen kneeling on Gray's neck pinning him face down to the ground  while he was handcuffed.  The brutality against Gray is just one of a string of incidents around the country involving excessive or inappropriate use of force by police.  Can all these Americans all be "thugs", Mr. President?

{29.04.15}The City of Baltimore has promised "overwhelming force" in reaction to the violent demostrations racking the city after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a young black man whose neck was broken while in Baltimore police custody. The state has called out National Guard and state troopers to patrol the city after "thugs"attacked police Monday[photos]. Almost beyond the belief, the same police violence under "control of the facists" according to Malcolm X, and which motivated the formation of the Black Panther Party in 1966 by a criminally violent Huey Newton, is re-occurring five decades later. This brief video shows the beginnings of the black power organization dedicated to resisting police-state aggression against black citizens.

Twenty-nine Panthers died in the "prelude to the revolution" by 1969. But Panthers played into the hands of their oppressors.  One of their earliest weapon providers, Richard Aoki [below], was an undercover FBI informant, part of the agency's "imaginative and hard-hitting counter-intelligence" efforts against the Party.

Even Mr. Law Enforcement himself, Richard Nixon, said in a 1968 campaign speech, nobody is above the law, and that should include the state.

Bull Elephant Kills Hunter

After being stalked for five hours by a professional hunter, a bull elephant in musth turned on the killer and killed him.  Chifuti Safaris' Ian Gibson was killed in Zimbabwe when a bull spotted his pursuers, turned instantly and charged.  Gibson got off one shot before he was trampled to death.  It is a testament to the elephant's essentially peaceful nature that this sort of behavior, provoked by man, does not occur more often.

On another front of the elephant wars, Thai officials seized four tons of ivory in Bangkok.  The 739 tusks, estimated to be worth about $6.2 million were reportedly smuggled from the Democratic of Congo.  The seizure was the last day for Thai citizens to declare their personal ivory holdings or be fined up to 3 million baht for illegal possession.  So far only 150 tons has been declared.  The world-wide illegal trade in ivory is one of the most lucrative on globe behind drugs, humans, oils and counterfeiting.  Most illegal ivory is headed for China where it is used as an investment vehicle coveted as "white gold".

Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has introduced legislation that would impose US economic sanctions on countries such as Thailand that facilitate ivory and horn trafficking. DeFazio says the illegal trade funds crime syndicates and terrorist groups.  Twenty thousand elephants and 1200 rhinos were killed in 2014 he said while introducing his TUSKER Act (Targeting Use of Sanctions for Killing Elephants and Rhinoceros)  Even if the legislation does not survive the reactionary majority in Congress, he deserves kudos for his elegantly contrived acronym.

Rio's Brown Stain

Now, some sports news.  A Rio de Janeiro beach has been removed from the list of venues for a pro surfing competition in May, the governing body said Wednesday.  The reason?  Too much sewage in the water.  São Conrado beach receives the untreated sewage from two hillside barrios.  In recent days a main sewage pipe  reputured spewing foul, untreated waste down a rocky outcropping and into the water, creating a huge brown stain.  Imagine how the 'sewagefall' would look on TV!  So the surfers will perform in the nearby high-rent district, Barra da Tijuca, where event officials say they will be excellent surf conditions.  Barra da Tijuca is near the where the sewage and trash filled Jacarepagua lagoon meets the Atlantic.  When tide conditions are right, wind can spread the brown, contaminated water to Barra da Tijuca.

Pollution problems in Brazil, the result of chaotic development and shoddy infrastructure, is also proving to be an issue in the upcoming Olympics.  An extensive clean up of aquatic sites was promised, but local officials have failed to deliver.  Atheletes have begun to grumble about health and safety.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lake Mead Sinks Lower

credit: Reuters
Not since 1937 when the reservior was filling behind Hoover Dam has Lake Mead been this low. The reservior has fallen to 1080 ft, 18 ft above sea level. The record-setting 14 year drought in California and the southwest has left a wide "bathtub ring" on the surrounding clifts. The nation's largest reservoir is now at 38% of capacity and experts predict it could breach 1070 ft by next April. The water level is approaching the 1075 mark which will trigger a federal declaration of a water shortage under which water rationing will be required in Las Vegas, NV. The heavily developed Las Vegas Valley draws 90% of its water needs from Lake Mead. One of its two main intake pipes will stop working if lake water sinks to 1050 feet above sea level.

Snowfall in the Rockies that feeds the Colorado River has fallen precipitously. Burea of Reclaimation statistics show in 2013 the runoff was 47% of normal. Colorado River basin temperatures are projected to increase by five to six degrees (℉) during this century; mean annual runoff is expected to decrease 8.5% by 2050. Nearly all the water in Lake Mead comes from this snow pack runoff. Governor Jerry Brown of California told the press at Echo Summit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, "People should realize we are living in a new era. The idea of your nice little green lawn getting lots of water every day, that's going to be a thing of the past."

Re-Wilding Island Royale National Park

There are only three. One of those is so crippled by inbreeding he may not survive another winter.  There are only three wolves alive on Island Royale in Lake Superior.  Should humans prevent the inevitable and introduce new wolves from mainland Minnesota? That is not a simple question for several reasons, Gary Wockner writes at EcoWatch.  Wolves are not endemic to Island Royale as far as humans know. A pack crossed an ice bridge in the 1940's and established themselves on the island, feeding on island moose. The wolf and moose population cycled since then. Thirty wolves was their peak number.

Wockner argues that because man is warming the planet by his economic activity perhaps beyond redemption, no place on the planet is absolutely natural wilderness. Man is responsible for the decline of wolves on the island, and because ice pack is shrinking rapidly, another pack may not reach the island again. The park is classified as wilderness by the Park Service, and its legal mandate is to protect the park as undisturbed by man.  If the Service re-introduces wolves to the island, the entire ecosystem will be affected down to the types of plants that survive browsing by moose that survive the wolves.

Climate change is an undeniable fact except for those maintaining official ignorance for monetary gain. Temperatures in northern Minnesota are warming up and the ice bridge to the island appears less often each winter. As climate change increases, the bridge will probably cease to exist in nature. So the Park Service should perform what it calls "genetic rescue" and re-introduce wolves to the island. Such intervention is not unprecedented. The California condor was only saved from certain extinction in the wild through intensive captive breeding. Humans, because of their adaptability, technology, and anthropocentricity are in control of the entire planet. We are not ready for this responsibility, although we insist on the benefits of a manipulated reality, usually deludedly referred to as "progress". Every ecosystem on Earth is imperiled by catastrophic climate change. We are in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction. This one is unique because it is anthropogenic. It is the 'Big One'.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Creature Feature: Ilona, Borya and Kuzya Released to Wild Siberia

These three very lucky Amur tigers were released into the Siberian wild thanks to the International Fund for Wildlife and their Russian partners. Only 360 of these magnificent felines survive in the wild.  Watch this inspirational moment captured on video:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Deepwater Horizon: Five Years Later

Five years after the historic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the gross negligence of British Petroleum, wildlife in the Gulf is still suffering the consequences. The National Wildlife Foundation details the effects in its report,Five Years and Counting. Among the findings:
  • dolphins continue to die from disease at four times the historic rate;
  • Kemp's ridley sea turtle were increasing in population, but that trend ended in 2010. Now there are a declining number of nests;
  • exposure to oil and dispersant causes abnormal development in fish [photo];
  • computer modeling estimates 12% of brown pelicans died and 32% of laughing gulls died as a result of the spill;
  • oil and dispersant compounds have been found in the eggs of white pelicans nesting in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois;
  • spotted seatrout spawned less frequently in 2011 in Louisiana and Mississippi;
  •  red snapper numbers are at the lowest levels in the eastern Gulf since 1994;
  • sperm whales spend less time foraging near the leaking wellhead;
  • oil has been found covering the deep sea bed in a 1200 mile area around the abandoned Macondo well.
BP seems to be more interested in attacking scientists who study and report the effects of its lack of responsibility according to NWF's scientist in charge of Gulf restoration efforts.  Ryan Fikes said, "it's time for BP to quit stalling so we can restore the Gulf."  Federal District Court in New Orleans has yet to decide the final amount of the fine BP must pay.  There are 47 projects identified by NWF that could recieve some of the fines under the RESTORE act passed in 2012.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

'Toontime: Fog Between the Ears

This time the civilians killed by a US drone happened to be American citizens. Their families at least got an apology and an admission of responsibility from the Chief Occupant unlike the survivors of 2400 other unintended targets (including eight Americans) in the CO's five-year, covert drone war.  Warren Weinstein was a development worker and Giovanni Lo Porto was an aid worker, both working in Pakistan. Both were taken hostage there by al-Qaeda. The White House said compensation would be paid to the families of the dead hostages. The raid also killed Ahmed Farouq (born in the US), an alleged al-Qaeda leader. Adam Gadahn, an American from Oregon who was once a spokesperson for the terror organization [AFP photo], was killed in a separate attack. He had a $1 million bounty on his head and was charged with treason by the US.

credit: Michael Ramirez, Investors Business Daily
Wackydoodle sez: You betcha, it's called the "fog of war"

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Manatees Harrassed by Humans

manatees @ Three Sisters Spring, Crystal River, FL
Agency records posted on-line by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) show Florida manatees are subjected to human harassment that is "out of control". One wildlife refuge manager wrote, "I believe the amount of unregulated [human] activity is likely to result in a take of manatees." A "take" is a legal term that includes direct or indirect actions that adversely affect a protected animal. For example, unregulated human "swimming with manatees" tours that bring hundreds of humans to narrow, shallow springs inhabited by manatee could constitute a "take" under the Endangered Species Act since the invasions could interfere with normal animal activities such as resting, feeding and breeding. Amateur flash photography is "out-of-hand" at Three Sister Springs [photo credit: Cynthia Taylor]. The manager goes on to write that despite "herculean education efforts" the visitor is failing to understand proper behavior near a protected animal or even becomes abusive towards volunteers or refuge staff when warned concerning the needs of manatees. Some local idiots enter the refuges at night to evade staff and disturb sleeping manatees. The manager goes so far as to recommend the springs be closed to prevent a take of manatee. PEER has filed a notice of intent to sue the Fish & Wildlife Service concerning the lack of effective control over human swimming activity in warm springs manatees need to survive. Despite spending their entire life in water, the animals have relatively thin fat layers and cannot survive for long in water below 68℉. They return regularly to warm water or even power plant outlfows to warm up in winter.

The Service has received thousands of complaints about manatee harassment in Florida over the years, but has done little about controlling human interaction with the shy mammal. Since establishing a dedicated e-mail address for receiving public complaints it has issued just eight citations and has not analysed the extent or nature of manatee-human interactions. Conservationist characterize the agency's handling of manatee protection as a "head-in-the-sand" approach that invites lawsuits. US Person could suggest a more descriptive location for the agency's head, but it would be "rude".

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015

On this Earth Day, the fossil fuel state of Oklahoma chose to reverse its official ignorance and admit fracking or hydraulic fracturing, and more specifically the injection of waste water into the ground from such operations, is causing damaging seismic activity in the state.  It even created a website with an interactive map detailing the scientific evidence collected so far.  The state Geological Survey concludes that it is "very likely" wastewater injection wells are causing the majority of Oklahoma's earthquakes.  Sparks, Oklahoma experienced magnitude 5.0 tremors in 2011 that caused millions of dollars in property damage.

A recently as last fall Repugnant Governor Mary Fallin suggested that the relationship between seismicity and the state's most profitable industry was speculation.  The Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association still disputes the connection even after the Geological Survey's reluctant conclusion.  The most intense seismic activity is taking place over about 15% of the state's land area in central and north central Oklahoma coinciding with significant increase in waste water disposal volumes over the last several years.  Hydraulic fracturing as the name implies is a water intensive operation using hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per well.  Before the fracking boom Oklahoma experienced only about one and half magnitude 3.0 tremors per year on average.  Last year the state recorded 585 quakes of 3.0 or greater and is on course for over 900 such tremors this year.  Only Alaska has more seismic activity.

According to a group of leading scientists three-quarters of the known fossil fuel reserves must be left unexploited if Earth is to escape the worst consequences of global climate change.  The group also specified what a climate treaty at the UN climate summit in Paris later this years should include.  Governments must adopt a goal of reducing economies' carbon emission to zero by mid-century, put a price on carbon and put the onus of the most aggressive cuts on the richest countries.  Of course that said, convincing people like Mary Fallin whose livelihood depends directly on the fossil fuel industry will be more than difficult.  According to the group's statement on the issue failing to act is equivalent to a 10% chance that global temperature will rise by more than 6℃ by the end of this century, a guaranteed catastrophe.   Already leading climate negotiators who will be at the Paris summit such as the EU's Miguel Arias Canete are downplaying the possibility of reaching the two degree goal.

Significantly reducing carbon emissions is not a impossible dream, but given sufficient political will an achievable reality.  A WWF report in collaboration with Australia's National University maintains that country could produce 100% of its power needs by 2050 if stable national policies were in place to support alternative energy investment.  The current official commitment is puny in comparison--only a cut of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020.  The report synthesizes existing research to highlight the fact that alternative energy making it cheaper to cut carbon emissions.  Solar and wind energy costs have fallen much faster than anticipated citing as an example large scale solar panel power stations already cost only half what the government's 2008 and 2011 modeling studies predicted they would be by 2030.  The reports author, Professor Frank Jotzo, said Australia is one of "best-placed countries in the world for moving to a fully renewable electric energy supply". Australia has abundant sunshine, wind, and large open spaces.  It only lacks an ambitious long-term plan for reducing carbon pollution that includes alternative energy investment subsidies.

COTW: The Greek Agony Continues

This chart shows a disturbing truth about Greece's ongoing economic tragedy. Years of painful austerity and record unemployment have not produced the turn-around promised by the international banksters who have lent the nation billions in Euros. Given the current trend in GDP it will take Greece another ten years to simply regain its pre-crisis peak:

The Greek economy has contracted by a whopping 25% since 2008, so last year's expansion of economic output for the first time in eight years is drawfed by the amount of lost growth. That fact makes the ratio of debt to production higher than at the start of the crisis. Greece has Europe's second highest unemployment rate behind Spain and Greeks are exiting the country to take advantage of employment opportunities elsewhere in the EU. The country is experiencing a real deflation of 2.5%. Hardly signs of an economic recovery.

Greece owes billions to the IMF and German banks, but does not have the means to pay it back.  Hungary's solution to a similar problem was drastic, but might offer the Greeks a useable scenario. Hungary did not join the euro zone, but much Hungarian debt, public and private, was denominated in euros. When the debts spiraled higher in terms of forints, the Hungarian currency, the government stepped in to declare all debts were payable in forints--not exactly an outright default but it allowed the country to reduce the amount of debt in terms of its devalued domestic currency. Greece could unilaterally declare its debts payable in devalued drachmas without withdrawing from the EU and euros could still circulate. If Greece pursued this course, however, it might be thrown out of the union by irrate lenders.

Most Greeks want to remain united with the rest of Europe, but are fed up with foreign banker-imposed austerity. That is why they elected a socialist government. But if Greeks cannot pay their way, some countries want Greece out. The question of Greek survival in the EU has come down to whether an elected government in the cradle of democracy has any legitimacy left if its policies are to be dictated by foreign economic powers. The EU was built as a free trade zone that sould benefit all of its member states. The Greek national meltdown and German trade dominance has brought this underlying assumption into question.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A New Form of Slavery

Zimbabwe was once a example of socialist progress, now its economy in tatters, the corrupt regime of Robert Mugabe constantly hits new moral lows in an endless search for mo' money. Their latest despicable scheme: selling baby elephants to China. The photos are too gross to be displayed. After a hundred thousand elephants have been killed by poachers in Africa, Zimbabwe authorities have taken 80 eighty elephant calves from their mothers and families in the wild and imprisoned them in two heavily guarded compounds in Hwange National Park, where they await shipment to China. Their fate in that country is unknown. Two distressed calves are thought to have already died. Both government incredibly deny the traffic in elephant babies. According to the international elephant protection group, Global Action Ending Wild Capture that has been reliably informed China has purchased 200 calves. National Geographic also confirms the compounds exist. The information and photos comes from a reliable inside source. Elephant experts who have examined the photos say the young animals postures and expressions indicate they are frightened and undernourished.

It is obvious to a compansionate human being that an extremely intelligent and social animal may not suvive being kidnapped from its family and subjected to deprivations and cruelty associated with animal trafficking. The Zimbabwe government considers the shipment into slavery a legitimate exploitation of a natural resource and a better alternative to culling according to a Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate paper. Officials think elephant calves can be sold for $40,000 to $60,000 each. Elephants Without Borders, another conservation group, admantly opposes the sales, calling it a "gross violation of animal welfare". Chinese zoos, circuses and tourist attractions are clamoring for their own elephants. Elephants are trained to perform through 'negative reinforcement'. Translated into plain English that means beatings. On average Asian elephants die before they reach the age of eighteen, decades sooner than a wild elephant. If this is such a normal use of a natural resource, why is Zimbabwe hiding these animals in a national park, and denying the transactions with China? The answer is obvious as it is cruel.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dangerous Skies over Malta

Update: Times of Malta has reported the first convictions for illegally shooting birds during the island nation's annual bird hunt. One convicted hunter was caught on camera shooting and then hinding the body of a cuckoo. The hunter told police he shot the cuckoo by mistake; only turtle doves and quail are legal quarry. He was fined 2500£ and his hunting license suspended for three years. His shotgun and ammunition was also confiscated. A second hunter shot and injured a lapwing. He was sentenced to three months imprisonment. His gun and ammo was also confiscated. The government warned that if flagrant illegalities took place, the legal hunt would be closed. Conservationists are taking the field in greater numbers to indentify illegal shooting, energized by their recent defeat in the nation's hunting referendum by 2200 votes.

{14.04.15}The island nation of Malta is once again providing an ugly example of how an entrenched interest group can continually defeat legal protection for wildlife dispite majority support for such measures. The annual bird hunt for migrating turtle doves and quail is about to begin. It is the only country in the EU bloc that allows an annual hunt of migrating species. Although the hunt is regulated, critics argue many other migrating birds are also killed by trigger-happy nimrods during the season that lasts until the end of April. Conservationists say European turtle dove populations have declined by 80% since 1980. Birds killed in Malta are the ones that have survived winter in northern Africa and are returing to Europe to breed.So loses in Malta have a heavy impact on a species total population. Hunters say their hunt is "sustainable".

There are ten thousand licenses hunters on Malta and more than a few unlicensed ones. Although there are stiff penalties for violations, enforcement is difficult and sometimes lacadaisical. The tiny islands main newspaper, Times of Malta, says the government is under continuous pressure and the hunters have political backing. So a special interest of about 10-12,000 people are able hold sway over a population of just over 400,000. In 2008 the European Court of Justice ordered the Maltese government to ban the spring hunt and stop bird trapping. Successive Maltese governments continue to pass legislation allowing for EU exemptions to apply to the directive. Malta is a country with one person for every 1200 square kilometer. So when thousands of hunters take the field in April, blasting away at anything that flies overhead, there is no space for those inhabitants and visitors who only want to marvel at the birds.

FBI Admits Bogus Hair Analysis

FBI forensic analysts provided erroneous information in 96% of criminal cases that relied on analysis of hair found at crime scenes. Their flawed testimony helped convict defendants in 268 trials reviewed so far in the country's largest post conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The analyses were done in the three decades before DNA analysis of genetic material extracted from human hair. The hair evidence was only analysed at the microscopic level, comparing gross features such as color, thickness, and other visible patterns. The cases reviewed include 32 defendants sentenced to death. Fourteen of those have died in prison either by execution or natural causes. Four defendants have been exonerated. There has been long-suspected problems with forensic evidence in courtrooms. While having the appearence of indisputabilty backed by scientific credence, such evidence is actually subject to human biases, lack of consensus standards, and lack of scientific method according to a report by the National Academy of Sciences. So once again reality is nowhere near the pablum spewed out by Hollywood and other corporate-controlled media upon gullible hero worshipers. At a bear minimum to insure necessary impartiality, state forensic laboratories must be removed from the control of the police.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tru'merica: June 1, 2015 Is the New D-Day

This date is critical to 'Merica's continuing facade of democratic government because it is the day on which the Patriot Act ends, if it is not renewed. Under Section 215 of that act, 'Mericans have no privacy when they use digital communications; in the 21st century that is everyday of your life. Forget about the Bill of Rights, that is so 18th century and written with quill pens for pity's sake. So if you are only obsessed about your "dic pics" being seen by government agents ("dic sheriffs") without your permission, as John Oliver apparently is, you need to watch his video interview of Edward Snowden in Moscow:

Friday, April 17, 2015

'Toontime: Cops at Large

credit: Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal
Wackydoodle sez:  Y'al left out manslaughter.
It is not enough they are using their pistols to take down citizens, deranged or NOT, cops are using their cruisers as lethal weapons too! They got no respect, Mike. Cop murder has become the latest TV reality show.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

COTW: Estate Tax Blues

Repugnants have almost zero creditbility with most working 'Mericans because it is too obvious that they cater to the filthy rich. The latest example is their proposal to eliminate the federal estate tax, a favorite hobby-horse of the inherited wealth crowd. No one except the extremely rich pays federal estate tax as this chart shows (green segment):

source: Tax Policy Center
US Person agrees that the US tax code, which has been used and abused as a tool of social policy since its inception, is too complex and loaded with special interest loopholes. But eliminating the estate tax is just another special interest exemption. As current law stands the estate tax does not effect estates below $5,340,000!  The income tax was always intended to be progressive, but the payroll tax hits the middle and lower classes disproportionately hard (red segments).  If Congress wants to make federal taxes more fair, they should remove the wage cap on Social Security tax, or eliminate the lower tax rate for capital gains.  After all, it is the same boat, right?

Paris says hello

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Creature Feature: Chimp vs. Drone

The official score in this smack down is: Chimp 1, Drone 0.  A beautiful example of tool use too!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

WHO Says Roundup Probably Carcinogenic

More: Monsanto runs its own propaganda office that targets experts daring to criticize its popular herbicide, "Roundup". A recent post at cited a Monsanto employee, Dr. William Moar, whose job is to provide seminars on the safety of Monsanto products, as admitting the company "has an entire department" dedicated to "debunking" experts responsible for negative press coverage. Dr. Goebbels would be proud. The company has a long way to go debunking the respected British journal of medicine, The Lancet. Because Roundup is such a huge money-maker, it has little choice but to dispute the findings of WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Company vice president for regulatory affairs is questioning the quality of the assessment that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic, demanding the WHO "explain" its findings.

{26.03.15}The most popular herbicide in the world, Monsanto's Roundup used by farmers and homeowners alike, is now classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans". That assessment was made of glyphosate, Roundup's active ingredient, in new research published in The LancetOncology journal. Traces of the weed killer can be found in farmworkers' blood and urine. This condition increases the risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. There is also evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer in laboratory animals. A study done by the US Geological Survey on the Mississippi Delta agricultural region found the herbicide present in 75% of air and rainfall test samples. Use of genetically modified corn and soybeans has dramatically increased the use of glyphosate. The World Health Organization report focused on the industrial use of the herbicide. Home users are throught to be at little risk due to their exposure to small amounts of glyphosate.

Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, invented Roundup in 1974 after DDT was largely banned around the world. Monsanto deliberately used a marketing strategy that chemically linked Round-up to genetically engineered seeds that could tolerate the herbicide in high doses. In a "lazy uncle Joe" approach to agriculture, farmers could plant Monsanto's modified seeds, spray their fields with thousands of gallons of Roundup and sit back to watch the corn grow, environmental health be damned. Besides cancer glyphosate has been linked to many health problems including kidney disease and Parkinsons. By US government standards the chemical to be safe for agricultural use.  Monsanto requested and received approval from the EPA for increased exposure levels for glyphosate.

Monday, April 13, 2015

New World Monkey Discovered

Another New World monkey species has been discovered in the Amazon and Callicebus miltoni (c) is already at risk of extinction. It lives in a small area of lowland forest between the Roosevelt and Aripuanã Rivers subject to development. The new species of "titi" monkey in the genus Callicebus is distinguished by its ocher sideburns and orange tail [image credit: Stephan D. Nash]. These monkeys live in small, monogamous family groups, often seen siting closely together with their tails intertwined [photo below]. Recent genetic sampling has clarified the number of speparate species in Callicebus, with six new species desribed in the last fifteen years. The genus is the most diverse group of neotropical monkeys with 32 recognized species. The latest discovery was reported in "Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia", a peer-reviewed journal of the University of São Paulo; this titi is named in honor of Dr. Milton Thiago de Mello, the dean of Brazilian primatology and a founder of the Brazilian Primatology Society. Milton's titi was first noticed in 2010 during a scientific expedition to the region supported by WWF. Locals know it as the "fire tailed Zogue-zogue". In 2013 another expedition was launched specifically to bring back data about the animal. About 57% of the forest area inhabited by Milton's titi is protected or within indigenous people's lands. But because it is unable to swim or cross hilly terrain, it is restricted to a small area bounded by rivers and hills where illegal logging is intense. The Brazilian government also has plans for a new hydroelectric dam that may adversely impact the primate. Primate infants are often sought after as pets by both locals and outside persons; the monkey is not yet preyed up by indigenous people for food.

credit: A. Gambarini
It was a titi monkey kept in captivity at University of California-Davis' Primate Research Center that transmitted a pneumonia virus to staff in May, 2009. Within two months 19 titis died and three humans sickened. Comparison of antibodies in humans and monkeys showed a match, suggesting the disease was transmitted interspecies similar to avian influenza virus. Scientists think that the primate's adenovirusis, TMAdV, may be useful as a vehicle for delivering gene therapy. Since TMAdV is unknown to the human immune system, it could be genetically engineered to deliver genes coded to fight cancer tumors. A patent for such a gene therapy device is pending.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Spring Break for PNG!

US Person is taking a well-deserved break. Come back next week for more high-impact blog at PNG. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

COTW: The Buffet Indicator

The "Oracle of Omaha", better known as Warren Buffett, has made himself and a lot of his investors filthy rich picking stocks. In fact he has a stock market indicator named after him and that is the subject of this week's chart:

The ratio of total market capitalization to gross national product is charted above.  Currently it is 127%  Buffett told us in Fortune to buy stocks when the ratio is in the 70 to 80% region, meaning that relative to the economy valued by GNP stocks are inexpensive.  When stocks are expensive relative to economic activity, over 100, and the ratio approaches 200%, he said "you are playing with fire."  Whatever you think of Buffett who is the epitome of a modern financial capitalist (his company Berkshire Hathaway does not make anything because it is a stock holding company) he practices what he preaches.  He buys low and sells high [misnamed chart below].  Because he is an insider with more information than you dear reader, his stock plays are often profitable Right now Berkshire is sitting on its largest accumulation of cash and cash equivalents ever.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Pass the Olive Oil, Please

Mediterraneans are noted for a lower incidence of heart disease and cancer than Northern Europeans and thier progeny in the United States. this advantage has been long been attributed to their diet which is high in olive oil among other factors. A recent laboratory investigation reported in the journal "Molecular and Cellular Oncology" shows that a compound in olive oil, oleocanthal, ruptures certain cancer cell structures that releases enzymes causing cell death. While oleocanthal was known to kill cancer cells previously, the mechanism was not understood by science. Oleocanthal ruptures lysosomes that store waste products. Lysosomes are larger in cancer cells than in normal ones. When a lysosome ruptures, enzymes are released that cause the cancer cell to die within thirty minutes to an hour. Oleocanthal does not harm normal cells. It stops a normal cell's life cycle temporarily, but a day after exposure normal cells resume their cycle. Why oleocanthal has this desirable selective lethality is not yet known. Hundreds of milions of dollars have been invested by drug companies synthesizing cancer drugs to obtain this characteristic.

Researchers hope to go beyond the petri dish to find if oleocanthal can kill cancer cells in living animals. Olive oil contains more than thirty compounds which have antioxidant and anti-inflamatory effects. These benefits have been seen in population studies of the Mediterranean diet. A Turkish study published in the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" concluded that consumption of extra virgin olive oils, which are rich in phenolic antioxidants, squalene and oleic acid, affords considerable protection against colon, breast, and skin cancers as well as coronary disease.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Court Rules for Whales

NRDC, a powerful partner in worldwide conservation, informs US Person that a federal court judge has ruled the Navy's upcoming RIMPAC exercises violate the Marine Mammal Protection Act because essentially a deaf whale is a dead whale. It has been shown beyond controversy that military sonar emissions inflict harm on marine mammals, damaging their echo-location sense and even causing death. The military's own data showed that the latest RIMPAC plan would be a 1100% increase in incidents of harm to whales and dolphins.

credit: Pacific Whale Foundation
A coalition of conservation group sued the National Marine Fisheries Service for failing to meet its obligations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The groups want the Navy to take marine mammal protection seriously by establishing better safeguards and even declaring areas out-of-bounds when whales are seen mating or feeding. The Navy points to a tiny 3.12 mile long area of ocean it set aside for humpbacks near the Hawaiian coast while claiming its needs 2.7 million square nautical miles for its exercises, an area larger than the continental US. Despite the token provisions to protect intelligent mammals from harm, the NMFS approved the Navy's plan.

The court battle is only half over. The judge must still rule on what steps the NMFS must take to bring itself into compliance. Even a federal judge cannot ignore the Navy's training needs, so the exercises will take place. That ruling will take months. Until then, Pacific whales and dolphins can go on living peacefully in their ocean home.

'Toontime: Ma Sticks Her Neck Out

credit: Glenn McCoy
'Ma' Clinton has slipped in the polls a little as a result of the e-mail scandal, but she still has to go some to drop behind the leading Repugnant candidates, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Her lead in must-win Pennsylvania has dropped to only one point over Rand Paul. She is expected to belatedly announce her candidacy for Presidency this month. So the choice appears to be more hypocritical neo-liberals fronting for Korporate Amerika and the neo-con gang that brought us the longest wars in 'Merican history. Its enough to make you immigrate.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Polar Bears Face Starvation

credit: Edward J. Cox
Scientists at the US Geological Survey (USGS) say polar bears are unlikely to adapt to a terrestrial diet. Survival rates in western Hudson Bay where the lack of sea ice is forcing bears to stay on land, are dropping despite observed feeding on land. This is not surprising news. Most animals evolve biologically into relationship along with their prey. Polar bears depend heavily on energy-rich, fatty seal meat. Their prey targets do not haul out onto land, so when their is no sea ice to provide a hunting platform, the great white bear lives on its stored fat. While polar bears have been observed feeding on land since the 1400s, caribou carcasses, the occassional whale carcass, goose eggs and berries cannot provide enough energy. The study states that all of the goose eggs in the Hudson Bay region could only support the 900 local bears for a day and a half. On land polar bears must compete with an evolved land-based preditor, the brown bear. Despite being twice their size, brown bears have been seen chasing a polar bar away from a carcass. The government study published in Frontiers of Ecology confirms findings made earlier by Polar Bears International, a conservation group. While polar bears may be feeding on land, what they are eating is not as nutritionally valuable as seal meat. It is generally expected that two-thirds of the world's polar bears will die by midcentury if humans do not mitigate the rise in greenhouse gases.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

COTW: Iceland Considers End to Fractional Reserve Banking

Iceland of all the countries that were impacted by the Panic of 2008 and ensuing depression, did the most to hold fraudulent banksters accountable. {24.04.12} Three of its major banks collapsed and Iceland had to appeal to the International Monetary Fund for help recovering its economy. This forward-looking country--the government provided a household debt relief program to help its citizens out of financial straits--is considering a permanent fix to the problem: an end to fractional reserve banking[video]. The plan is to allow a committee of the central bank to fix the money supply. According to a study by four central bankers, Iceland has suffered 20 financial crises of various types since 1875 with six serious crises occurring every 15 years on average, most due to credit booms--quite a record of failure for private money creation. So Iceland proposes to replace it with a committee setting the supply of money. The "Sovereign Money" proposal is candid enough to admit the panel cannot be infallible, but neither is that cabal of private bankers known as the Fed. Critically the allocation of money is kept separate from the power to create money. Iceland's elected parliament decides how money is to be allocated in its state budget.

As PNG readers may know by now, fractional reserve banking is the globally adopted system that allows private banks to lend money into existence. They do this by lending out more money than they have in deposits and assets, their reserves being only the so-called fraction of credits.  Operating this system, which is very profitable for commercial banks, gives private bankers a great deal of control over a nation's economic policy. Creation of more central bank money may not result in more commercial bank money being available since banks are not required to lend at all. This happened in the alleged recovery [chart below] from the Greatest Recession. Almost all economists defend the system by referring to the theory of "money multiplier", meaning the ratio between commercial bank money (loans) and central bank fiat money. (M/R≦R×1/RR where 1/RR is the multiplier, M central bank money, R commercial bank money and RR the reserve ratio. The money multiplier  increases the economic effect of each dollar loaned. [chart above]

Icelandic banks would continue to manage money through accounts and payments, and also would continue to serve as intermediaries between savers and lenders. Unlike other commodoties where, in general, more is better because it leads to a higher standard of living, more money is not always a good thing because it leads to price inflation. More money may make us relatively rich for a moment, but with more money chasing the same amount of widgets, the price of widgets goes up.