Friday, May 29, 2015

'Toontime: A Masterpiece of Deception

credit: Jim Morin, Miami Herald
BC Idowanna sez:  Me have'm pig-in-poke sell you!

US Person did not say this, but the guy who created the ubiquitous "Hope" poster for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. You know the one, a multicolored tinge of a black-and-white Obama appearing vaguely reminiscent of a sixties civil rights leader. The artist Shepard Fairey, who also voted for the guy, said Obama is "not even close" to living up to his image. No wonder, when Obama shills for the plutocracy's cheap labor, ecosystem killing treaties* like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It's free trade for corporations only.

Determined to win his war of propaganda, POTUS has taken to issuing "tweets". Only small minds read tweets, limited to 140 words, but his latest 3 part twit concerns Shell's Arctic drilling program. In the twit he says, "we can't prevent oil exploration completely in region" which is true as far as it goes since Gazprom is already producing oil from the Arctic. However the drilling in the US Arctic is entirely under the Executive Branch's control. It issues necessary permissions through its agencies, primarily the Department of Interior. Far from the "highest possible standards" imposed on Shell, its Polar Pioneer rig, intended for use in the Chukchi Sea has already failed routine Coast Guard inspection in warmer waters this year. Shell's Kulluk(Thunder) platform that ran aground in a storm off Kodiak Island had to be scrapped. Why is Shell so hell-bent on drilling in the Arctic? The simple answer is starkly revealing of the international oil business. Shell got caught overstating its proven oil reserves by 4.47bn barrels or 22%. Shell stock dropped 10% overnight. Its chariman forced to resign. The company was fined by American and British financial regulators $150m for the mistatement. It needs more reserves to satisfy the financial markets regardless of the risk to sentient beings and their habitats. Shell will chose the independent auditor required by the government to operate in Arctic seas this summer--so much for standards in more than 140 words.

*Mexico's major accompishment under NAFTA was to win the removal of "dolphin safe" labels from canned tuna as an unfair competition practice. Its fleets do not practice dolphin safe harvesting. Next time you are in the store buying tuna look for the label--you won't find it.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

More Police Murder in Florida

A young man was drunk in bed in a gated community of St. Augustine, FL after loosing his job and being on the wagon for only five weeks.  His live-in girl friend took the bottle of vodka away from him and called a police emergency number to get him into a hospital.  He had a large, serrated knife in his hand, threatening to hurt himself.  The girlfriend told the police she did not feel threatened, but was only trying to help her boyfriend get to a hospital.

She  made a mistake calling the police. Moments after sheriff's deputies armed with assault rifles arrived, Justin Way was shot to death becuase he did not  drop the knife as ordered.  A detective told Justin's mom, "That's what we do."  He also helpfully imparted information about a new 'trend' in law enforcement--suicide by cop.  As far as the allegation that Justin threatened the deputies with the knife is concerned, the evidence at the scene is not consistent with a knife attack by a 6'4" alcohol-razed man.  All of Justin's blood was confined to his mattress and a bullet allegedly dug out of it, indicating he was shot were he laid in a state of mental crisis.  One of the deputies involved posted on Facebook the following: "Most people respect the badge. Everyone respects the gun."  The other deputy involved fatally shot a knife-wielding man five months ago. Yes Hannah, that is what the cleaners do in a police state, mop up the useless debris and let the system back their action regardless of how outrageous the official conduct.  So US Person advises: next time you have a crisis in your home, try handling it yourself unless you want your loved one dead from 'suicide by cop'.

Monarch Decline Blamed on Neonicotinoid

Department of Agriculture has released a study finding the neonicotinoid pesticide, clothianidin, is likely to be contributing to the drastic decline of Monarch butterflies in North America. The study was published in the journal "Science and Nature" This is the first research linking neonicotinoids to butterfly declines.  The class of systemic pesticides has already found to be killing honeybees.  Monarch numbers will be down by almost 30% as they begin their epic annual journey from their Mexican breeding grounds across North America.  Decade of declines in Monarch populations is tied to the destruction of  milkweed, the only plant on which the female will lay her eggs.  Habitat loss because of farming and development is pervasive, one estimate is 100 million acres that will no longer support Monarch butterflies.

The rise in the use of clothianidin and other neonicotinoids is mostly caused by the use of genetically modified soybean and corn seed that are treated with pesticides.  When this form of treatment was taken into account, pesticide use has risen dramatically since the mid-2000.  In fact one chemical company has marketed its popular pesticide in conjunction with genetically modified seed that can tolerate high levels of pesticide application.  Its marketing strategy has proved very effective in addicting farmers to pesticide use rather than more labor intensive methods of weed and insect control.  An entomologist at Penn State University said neonicotinoids are being overused as a crop 'insurance policy' rather than in response to an identified infestation.

Once numbering the billions, only 56.5 million Monarchs were counted in January at their Mexican refuge, the second lowest total ever.  NRDC filed suit in February to force the EPA to act on a petition to limit the use of another herbicide, glyphosate, that is destroying Monarch habitat.  As if these threats to the Monarch migration were not enough, another giant chemical company, Dow, is ready to release new pesticide, Enlist Duo, that will also destroy milkweed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cleveland Cop Gets Off

Update: After letting off one of their killer cops for participating in the fusillade that killed two unarmed blacks in a car, the Cleveland police settled with the US Justice Department and agreed to abide by strict regulations for the use of force. Justice officials called Cleveland's law enforcement flawed by a "pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force". Justice found that Cleveland cops used stun guns inappropropriately, shot at innocent civilians, and beat unarmed suspects. The new rules prohibit Cleveland police from even unholstering their weapon unless there is a reasonable belief lethal force may become necessary. Every time a weapon is drawn the incident must be documented. There is nothing cops hate more than paperwork. Nor can they pistol-whip a suspect (that prohibition speaks volumes), fire 'warning shots', or use neck holds. An independent monitor will be established to document Cleveland's progress towards community policing and away from its paramilitary assaults on citizens.

{24.05.15}In a demonstration of how the American criminal justice system can be manipulated to serve the state, a white male judge found Cleveland cop Michael Brelo not guilty of two counts of manslaughter. The reason: lack of evidence of causation beyond reasonable doubt. Unpacking the legal terminology means that the state did not prove Brelo, who fired 15 rounds into the windshield of Chevy Malibu after he climbed onto the hood of the stopped vehicle, actually hit and killed the two unarmed black occupants beyond a reasonable doubt. Involuntary manslaughter may be committed when legal acts that are inherently dangerous--such as discharging a weapon without sufficient justification--result in the victim's death.

Timothy Russell's Malibu came to a stop after a high-speed chase across the city. The car was surrounded by 13 Cleveland cops who opened fire without ordering the driver and his passenger out of the vehicle. 137 bullets were fired into the car, thus the problem with causation. Brelo, however, was the only cop who climbed onto the car's hood and shot 15 more times at close range after the threat to public safety was over. It strains credulity to conclude none of the seven-year veteran's close-range shots hit the two people in the front seat. The judge used conflicting forensic testimony to justify his fastidious conclusion that multiple officers could have fired fatal shots; sometimes logic trumps common sense. In this case the cop's defenders made a shrewd decision to have Brelo's guilt determined by a white city judge, not a mixed-race jury (city of Cleveland is 65% non-white). The other officers involved in the melee face misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty; no trial dates have been set. Cleveland was relatively calm after the astonishing verdict was announced.

COTW: How the Rich Get Richer

These graphs sum up the process of money printing by the US private central bank that flows to the benefit of the financial plutocracy in control of US economic policy. The first graph shows the growth in world-wide paper assets since the Great Financial Panic of 2008. Reinflation of the financial bubble that burst with the failure of Lehman Bros. has continued unabated by a low-interest rate policy and purchase of financial assets (debt) by the Federal Reserve and other central banks.

The second graph shows that most of the financial assets in the United States are owned by the richest 20% of citizens. These are corporate owners and executives, people with inherited wealth, and a relatively few entrepenuers and entertainers.

The last graph shows that the money flowing to the rich is leveraged in the stock casino with debt, or buying stocks on margin, completing the circle of fiat money inflation.  Money does not grow on trees, but lines the pavement of Wall Street.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Seattle Turns Out to Protest Drilling

credit: Elliot Johnson
Kayakers used their small crafts to protest the presence of Shell's huge Polar Pioneer drilling rig in the Port of Seattle on Saturday.  Calling the water born protest, the "Paddle in Seattle", hundreds floated outside a 100-yard exclusion zone holding signs and making noise to delay Shell's plans and hopefully make the company miss its limited window of good weather.  A coalition of activists now realise that the Port of Seattle's decision to lease public facilities to Foss Maritime is a potential choke point in big oil's efforts to exploit Arctic fossil fuel.  The City of Seattle, that does not control the port facilities, declared the vessel did not have a proper permit, in response to public outcry over the Port's decision.  New research published in Nature concludes that Arctic oil must remain unexploited in order to keep global temperature increase below 2 ℃.

credit: Greenpeace, "Climate Justice Now"
The water in Seattle's Elliot Bay is already heavily polluted. One paddler said the water felt greasy to the touch.  Imagine the damage an oil spill in the Chukchi Sea would do to Arctic wildlife.   On Monday, about 700 demonstrators took a land route to Terminal 5 where the massive rig is moored.  No protestors were arrested by the dozen police on watch.  A Shell Oil company spokesperson said the protests will not alter its preparations for drilling this summer.  Previously the company used Seattle's private shipyards to refurbish and maintain drilling rigs.  They have the attention of the city's activists now.

California's Latest Oil Spill

Update:  The oil slick from the Refugio pipeline rupture is headed towards Coal Oil Point Reserve, home to twenty-five nesting pairs of Western Snowy Plovers, a threatened shorebird under the Endangered Species Act.  Governor Brown has declared a state of emergency and volunteers have begun cleaning fouled wild creatures.

{23.05.15}Not since the Santa Barbara oil spill in '69 caused by a well blowout has there been a spill as damaging as the one that hit Refugio State Beach this week. A pipeline installed in 1987 ruptured spilling 105,000 gallons of crude on Tuesday. The Coast Guard said oil slicks extend for nine miles. The pipe is owned by Plains All American Pipeline of Houston and is part of a network centered in Kern County. Fishing and shellfish harvesting have been suspended for a mile either side of Refugio Beach, a popular recreation site. The area is rich in wildlife including sea lions, shorebirds, and migrating whales.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Creature Feature: Crow or Raven?

You are outside more now that the weather is warming, perhaps doing some spring cleaning or gardening. Big black birds seem to be everywhere, some making a terrific racket. Have you wondered if these birds are crows or ravens? How do you tell the difference? The most apparent difference is that ravens are larger. Large male ravens can approach the size of a small chicken, and be very obvious if he struts across your mowed lawn looking for worms and insects disturbed by your mower. Crows often travel in groups, whereas ravens are usually seen in bonded pairs or with a adolescent. When the black birds fly low overhead, look at the tail. Crows have fan-shaped tails while ravens have wedge-shaped ones. Using your ears is a more sophisticated way to make the distinction as this video from the Cornell Ornithology Lab explains:

'Toontime: ISIS Ascending

credit: Tom Toles
Wackydoodle sez: It's just a flesh wound!

What do you expect the Current Occupant to say? His "tactical setback" is in reality a strategic defeat. Not only does the capture of Ramadi unequivocally demonstrate the inadequacies of the the Iraqi army, supposedly trained and equipped by the United States, but it exposes the fundamental problem in Iraq since the dictator Saddam Hussein was deposed by a meddling foreign power: the absence of national cohesion. Iraq is an unnatural creation of European imperialism after World War I. Originally the region was composed of three provinces of the Ottomans. Now, the 'trend' is to return to a tripartite division along sectarian and ethnic divisions. Who are we to argue with history?

credit: Michael Ramirez
BC Idonwanna sez:  Hard to tell Buffalo Solider from white man!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

NOAA Says Dolphins Died From Spill

The federal government has finally admitted that dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico are caused by the largest oil spill in US history, BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster. A study published Wednesday concluded that lesions found in dead bottlenose dolphins stranded on Gulf beaches betwen June 2010 and December 2012 are consistent with cronic exposure to petroleum after an oil spill. The study provides additional evidence of a scientific link between mass dolphin deaths in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi and the oil spill in 2010. A federal judge in New Orleans is still considering the dollar amount of the damages to be assessed against British Petroleum under the Clean Water Act.

The researchers analysed tissue samples collected from 46 dead dolphins in the area of the spill and compared them to 106 other dolphins that died elsewhere at different times. The oil damaged a third of the mammals' adrenal glands. Damaged adrenal glands cannot produce essential hormones and is fatal. A fifth of the Gulf dolphins had lung lesions caused by bacterial pneumonia. Inhalation of oil fumes is one of the most common causes of chemical injury to other animals. One of the veteranarians involved in the study said, "These dolphins had some of the most severe lung lesions I have ever seen in wild dolphins throughout the United States." Despite the latest scientific study, the grossly negligent company continues to deny that oil caused an increase in dolphin mortality. Some people deny the Holocaust--you decide which is more reprehensible.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

'Toontime: Dying Time Again

Latest: ISIS has taken the Syrian town of Palmyra, site of a world-class ancient city. There are fears the fundamentalist extremists will not respect the cultural value of the antiquities or loot them for their own gain. The victory is the second in a week for the terror army coming at the opposite end of a desert battlefield that sprawls across two modern nations. Syrian government said it would protect the ancient city ruins, but its forces were routed Wednesday as were the Iraqis in Ramadi on Sunday. Despite setbacks at Kobani and Tikrit, ISIS has hardly slowed down its pace of territorial conquest, motivated by a zelous desire to re-establish the Caliphate. Palmyra was founded as a caravan crossroads and it still stituated at the hub of major highways across the desert. Palmyra Airbase sits opposite the ruins. Air strikes against ISIS would benefit the forces of Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad whom the US opposes in the civil war. In this case, the enemy of your enemy is not your friend.

More:{19.05.15}The scale of the defeat in Ramadi is beginning to set in on the generals in Washington. Regardless of the claimed successful raid that killed the ISIS oil chief, the loss of Ramadi is a strategic defeat equal to the loss of Mosul because the town in on the road to Baghdad only 70 miles to the west, and elite units of the Iraqi army, trained by the United States, were routed from the town. The so-called "Golden Division", considered the Iraqi army's best unit, streamed out of Ramadi leaving more armour and heavy weapons behind. The Iraqis were also supported by US airstrikes. Without an air force, ISIS made effective use of kamakazi car bombs, blowing up fighting positions, buildings and barriers. A local politician described the situation as "total collapse". About 114,000 residents of Ramadi have fled. Baghdad will now be forced to deploy Hashd Shaabi, Shia paramilitaries trained and equipped by Iran to stave off an assualt on the center of power; that development will be a severe blow to US influence in Iraq. The Popular Mobilization milita was the unit that helped retake what is left of Tikrit from ISIS. Washington said it will not support Iranian-backed units.

Iraq's army had been fighting for the province of Anbar since early 2014 when the militants took Fallujah. Five divisions were unable to reclaim the province, but had held on to the administrative center in Ramadi until Sunday when ISIS attacked the last pockets of resistence in the Malaad district. There are reports of desertions among Iraqi's elite units numbering about 5,000 who have been rushed from crisis to crisis in the war against ISIS. The terror army will portray its victory in Ramadi as proof of divine guidance which will probably rally more Sunni jihadists to its black flag. It now controls about a third of the land area of Iraq.

Update:{15.05.15}Selon l'Observatoire Syrien des Droits de l'Homme, vingt-trois civils ont été executés par les extrémistes islamiques pour "collaboration avec le regime" vendredi. Cela porte a quarante-cinq personnes tueé en deux jours pres de la ville antique Palmyre.

{15.05.15}Iraq's western desert to the Syrian border is now mostly under the control of the terror army ISIS. The group took control of the provincial capital of Ramadi's main government building Friday. Mortars and suicide car bombs were used in the attack. At least 50 government officers were captured; there are reports the were summarily executed. This defeat comes after Shitte militia and US airstrikes forced ISIS to with draw from Tikrit earlier this year. Ramadi was the target of 165 airstrikes in the last month.  Anbar Province is strategically important since it gives the group control of cross-border highway links with fighters in Syria. If it hangs on to Ramadi, ISIS effectively control's Iraq's largest province, and the only region that is predominately Sunni. US troops fought for Anbar Province for eight years with a major battle to take Falluja in 2004, where thousands died in devastating urban warfare. An-Bar was eventually put under tenuous government control when Sunni tribe leaders agreed to stop fighting in return for cash, a bribe euphemistically referred to as the "Sunni Awakening", but the conflict was merely put on hold regardless of the US claiming victory. When US ground forces departed in 2011, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, once led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, resumed fighting the Baghdad government. AQI has since morphed and expanded into ISIS [BBC interactive].

A Unesco World Heritage site found in the middle of the Syrian desert, the ancient 2nd-3rd century ruins of Palmyra [photos], is also under threat from ISIS which has destroyed cultural treasures in Nimrod, Hatra and Mosul. Syrian officials said the ancient city is protected by the army and that the extremists have not reached the site yet. However, there is intense fighting in the adjacent modern town of Tadmor. The site lies on a strategic road between Damascus and the contested city of Deir al-Zour, and runs past a large military base and gas fields.  Apparently, the situation on the ground will again "require precise and targeting military action".

credit: Michael Ramiez
Wackydoodle axes: Them Romans back?

Nicaragua's Canal, A Disaster in the Making

Chris Kraul a freelance writer based in Bogatá, Columbia says work has already begun on Nicaragua's 'bigger and better' canal to connect two
oceans. The 173 mile canal--three times the size of the Panama Canal which is too small for today's superships--is wildly ambitious and guaranteed to cause an environmental disaster. It is backed by a Chinese businessman Wang Jing and the Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Damage to Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest body of freshwater and a source of drinking water, will be tremendous. The amount of dredging across the width of the lake would cover the state of Connecticut to a depth of one foot. Fish and other freshwater species will die from the suspended silt and brackish water invasion. Mangroves on the Pacific Coast that are habitat for sea turtles and a host of other species will be eradicated to make room for a port capable of handling huge container ships bringing cheap product from Asia. On the Caribbean side of the 100 foot deep canal is the 250 square mile Colombian Biosphere Reserve protecting the second largest coral reef in the Caribbean. Marine traffic will certainly impact this reef at a time when reefs are dying around the world.  The proposed Mesoamerican Biological Corridor which would connects reserves and other natural lands from Panama to Mexico would be cut [map]. Wildlife use this network of natural lands to migrate and disperse, insuring biodiversity in a biologically rich region of the world. About 400,000 hectares of rainforest and wetlands will be destroyed to contruct the canal. Multiple indigenous communities will be also be dispossesed along the route.

The canal is not an economic sure thing. Its cost is so high, currently estimated at $50 billion, and the potential use so uncertain that the canal is best described as a national bet against the odds. The directly competitive Panama Canal is undergoing a $5.25 billion expansion to increase its capacity. Nevertheless the government has granted HKND Group, a Hong Kong company, a fifty year concession, renewable for another fifty years. The concession includes the right to develop related projects in the zone such as an airport near Rivas, a free trade zone resembling the one in Colon, Panama and tourist resorts initially built as worker housing. One of the 'resorts' is planned for picturesque Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua. The government has yet to publicly release economic studies or the company's environmental assessments of the project. Yet the concession sailed through the National Assembly with little debate. One consulting US ecologist said, the project has "more staying power than one might have expected....It is a great example of how a bad ideas never go away." {10.06.13} The consulting firm making the environmental assessment was given only one year to assess the impacts of a development project so gigantic that a proper assessment should take several years to complete. The company study's objectivity has been questioned by independent scientists.

An astronomical amount of sludge dug from the lake bed will kill numerous populations of freshwater and marine fish found nowhere else. The lake is home to 40 endemic species of fish.  Invasive species introduced bt bilge water and ship hulls are a major concern. Cichlid fish [image below] are an important species in evolutionary research, generating dozens of research papers from around the world. The arrival of non-native species can have a devasting impact as demonstrated by the decline in Lake Nicaragua's cichlid populations since the introduction of tilapia from Africa.  The InterAmerican Network of Academies of Sciences is attempting to produce an independent impact report, one that will not minimize the threats to endangered wildlife and human dislocation.

The dream of a Nicaraguan canal connecting the Pacific and Carribean is as old as the Spanish Conquistadors.  Even an American robber baron, Cornelius Vanderbilt, had plans for a canal. There are valid reasons it was never built. Such a long canal over very difficult terrain is prohibitively expensive if no longer beyond technology. HKND implausibly plans to dig a canal that is 27.6m deep and 520 meters wide. A shorter and less expensive route across the isthmus of Panama, completed in 1914 sealed the the fate of Nicaragua's canal until Wang Jing re-sold the idea to an impoverished nation. Understandably, for a country facing difficult economic challenges as its population grows 37% by 2050, the siren songs of international speculators promising wealth and solutions  are difficult to resist. It seems Daniel Ortega [photo above left], the once-upon-a-time revolutionary hero, never awakened from destructive dreams of vast wealth.  Unrestrained development on a finite planet is a bad bet anywhere in the universe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Koch Bros. Take Kansas

In their very personal war against a sustainable future for the planet, the reactionary billionaires, Koch Brothers have compelled the Kansas legislature to revoke the state's mandantory renewable energy portfolio and replace it with a voluntary one. Not surprising since the headquarters for Koch [fossil fuel] Industries is in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle noted that the Koch lobbyist was present at the press conference announcing the defeat for clean energy. The bill is certain to be signed by the Repugnant governor of the state. The deal to replace the mandantory 20% by 2020 standard was reached in private with representatives of the Kansas [star] Chamber of Commerce and Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. Wind industry representatives managed to prevent a 4.33% excise tax on wind energy production; tax breaks were trimmed down from lifetime to ten years.  Fossil fuel hacks said the bill will "allow investment to continue in Kansas", as if alternatives provide none. Kansas joins Ohio and West Virginia, coal states, in marching under the Kochs back to the past. Pew Charitable Trusts reports Ohio's decision to freeze its mandantory renewables goals is driving clean energy investment out of the state. ALEC's "Electricity Freedom Act", as the rollback effort is called, is the prime example of the "free market" double-think espoused by Kochs and their anti-environment allies.

Kansas already is a leader (3rd) in wind-generated energy. Last year wind provided more than 21.7% of the state's energy, created 12,000 jobs and attracted $8 billion in investment. It is a mistake to assume the Kochs will not come back and demand an excise tax on wind energy in the future when wind energy becomes cheaper than coal, oil, or even gas. Clearly the free marketeers who imposed this backroom deal on the citizens of the state do not realize they are not in Kansas anymore.

Monday, May 18, 2015

COTW: US Honeybees in Big Trouble

United States Department of Agriculture found in its latest annual study that the US honeybee population has fallen a drastic 42%. That loss rate is too high for the honeybee to survive. The rate of loss since April 2014 is the second highest lost rate in nine years, and the first time entomologists have seen more bees die in the summer than in winter. Beekeepers spilt their colonies to recover bee losses, so the number of hives is up to 2.74 million from 2.64 million in 2014.  But that says nothing about bee health which is declining.  Some states experienced hive loss of over 60% and included unusual losses of queen bees.

Most scientists believe the bees are dying due to a combination of stress factors: mite infestation, poor nutrition and pesticides, especially neonicotinoids. The systemic pesticides affects the bees' nervous system, interfering with food gathering. The EU has banned use of the three most common neonicotinoid pesticides in 2013; the EPA has yet to take action banning neonicotinoid use. It has announced a moratorium on new registrations of the pesticide class while it completes its new assessment of the risk to pollinators. To any sober-minded person whose economic welfare does not depend on Bayer, Monsanto or Syngenta, the answer to the disasterous bee die-off is to stop poisoning the environment with ever-larger doses of chemicals and return to organic agriculture practices in use before the chemical revolution.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Repugnants Renew Attack on Endangered Species Act

The handmaidens of corporatocracy in Congress have long desired emasculation of the Endangered Species Act.  The Act passed in 1973 is the most effective piece of legislation to protect wildlife and their habitat under threat from man's exploitation of the planet.  It has prevented the extinction of numerous species including our nation's symbol, the Bald Eagle. Hundreds more are still imperiled and proposed species listings are backlogged. Corporatists see these proposals as a threat to their profits as the planet's exploitable resources are steadily exhausted. Their reaction has been mean and virulent.

Since January over thirty bills and amendments have been introduced to dismantle or effectively repeal the Act including eight extreme measures that recently received committee hearings, an important step toward passage. Senate Bill 855, sponsored by presidential candidate Rand Paul, would remove at least half of all species from the ESA and would automatically de-list all species after five years regardless of their status. Another attempt to emasculate the science-based critical habitat designation process is S112, which would require consideration of unnecessary economic analysis already taken into account under current provisions. The people in Congress need to hear from Americans who think the Endangered Species is an inspired piece of legislation that should not be deconstructed by those who can only see the bottom line. US Person asks you to write or call your designated poltiican today about protecting Earth and its creatures today.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

An Obituary for The Great Barrier Reef?

credit: Australian Museum of Natural History
Australia's conservative government is "getting lively" in its lobbying effort to stop UNESCO from listing the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger". If only it could actually do something about the real threats to the reef's health such as curtailing plans to open huge new coal mines and expand a coal port at Abbot Point in Queensland adjacent to the reef. The world's largest reef system has lost 50% of its coral over the past 30 years. Australian ministers and diplomats have visited 19 countries that provide members to the UN's World Heritage committee in an effort to stave off the internationally embarrassing blacklisting. Not only embarrassing but highly problematic for mining companies that want to open a massive underground coal deposit in the Galilee Basin. Most major financial institution have signed the Equator Principles, a set of standards that deter funding of development projects that harm world heritage sites. Eleven international banks including Barclays and HSBC have distance themselves from Galilee projects. Nine mines are planned for the Basin and at capacity could cause greenhouse emissions to top 700m, making it the seventh largest contributor of CO₂ behind the entire nation of Germany.

An Australian Green senator told the Guardian that what "the reef needs right now is action, not overseas lobbying trips". US Person agrees. Instead of discussing actor Johnny Depp's dogs avoiding quarantine, Australians should be lobbying their government to stop the carbon bomb at Galilee Basin. To be fair to Australians, there are fourteen giant fossil fuel projects around the world that if brought to completion will bust any realistic chance of achieving a global temperature rise below a 2℃. They would consume one-third of the budget. Prime Minister Abbot has said coal is "good for humanity". Actually coal was good for humanity and is still good for profit, although the price of coal has halved since the boom started five years ago. The reef supports a $6.4 billion tourism industry and 64,000 jobs, but he is not talking about that economic fact or the adverse impact on fishing, the region's first industry.   All of the development plans are aimed not a domestic energy market, but for export to China and India.  Development of the Galilee Basin is Australia's Keystone Pipeline, amplified many times.

credit: National Geographic
To create a deep water port at Abbot Point, 5 million tons of seabed must be dredged.  Incredibly the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, created to protect the Reef environment has given approval to dump the spoil on the Reef, smothering sea grasses and corals. Scientists say that even if the limit of 2 degress of warming is met, it will be too much for some corals to survive.  At 4 degrees, the Reef will be regretted history. Moreover, some indigenous people are objecting to the mines from a spiritual standpoint. The Wangan and Jagalingou people say their connections to the land goes back tens of thousands of years. A spokesman said all memory of his tribe would be wiped out by mining because nature is inseparable from their cultural identity. View this Guardian interactive to learn more about the Great Barrier Reef and its endangered future.

Abbotabad Raid Largely Myth

The raid by Navy SEALs that killed Bin Laden was fictitiously portrayed by Hollywood hacks in a movie that predictably won an Oscar. Understandably no one has blamed Hollywood for being unpatriotic since the 50s. However, as Alexander Cockburn wrote at Counterpunch four days after OBL's death, even the official version of the nighttime raid in Abbotabad, Pakistan is mostly lies. The most poisonous lie of all is that the official narrative is still presented as justification for torture.

At the time of the May Day 2011 raid Bin Laden, an invalid because of his kidney and liver diseases, was practically under house arrest. He was watched by Pakistani intelligence, ISI, around the clock. Abbotabad is basically a cantonment--home to four regimental centers and the military academy--so the 24/7 surveillance was easily accomplished. The CIA was alerted to OBL's presence in the town by a "walk-in" informant, not a tortured Al-Qaeda courier as claimed by torture apologists. The informant eventually collected part of the $25 million reward offered by the US government. ISI obtained DNA evidence from Bin Laden's doctor, an ISI agent, to confirm the suspect's identity. CIA alerted ISI before the raid. The Pakistani agency arranged for electric power to Abbatobad to be cut off and cleared a flight path to the compound for US helicopters. The intelligence agency even provided an on-the-ground guide through the house. SEALs were under orders to execute Bin Laden on sight. There was no resistance from the occupants, and no significant intelligence was obtained by the raiders. Neither were the two alleged couriers among the dead.

A former Pakistani military officer, Shaukat Qadir, confirmed the above facts reported by Seymour Hersh in his latest book. The compound was under surveillance while it was being constructed according to Qadir and was raided by the ISI first in 2003 when they narrowly missed capturing the al-Qaeda leader's most trusted courier, Abu al-Libi. Thanks to the Pakistanis the trail to Abbotabad was known to CIA at least since 2005 when al-Libi was captured by them near Mardan. When unredacted WikiLeaks files surfaced, CIA assumed OBL would become aware his 'hideaway' had been betrayed to the Americans and flee. So the tool Obama sent in the amphetamine-enhanced assassins with due haste and in time for his re-election bid to begin. What was the Current Occupant watching so intently on the video screens at the White House? It might have been NBA basketball playoffs; it was NOT a live video of the assassination. That fact has been established on no less authority than Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense, who told journalists the live video link stopped working before the assassins reached OBL's compound--hardly the stuff of military glory.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

First Solar Road A Success in Netherlands--Oil Business as Usual in US

When you think about how much of the Earth's surface is covered in cement or asphalt, this idea makes a huge amount of sense. The Netherlands is home to the world's first solar road, and it is performing better than its builders expected. The 230 foot road between Krommenie and Wormerveer, suburbs of Amsterdam, was built for bike traffic only in a nation that loves bicycles. Still the road produced more than 70kwh/m² per year, the upper limit of laboratory tests.

The road is embedded with solar cells protected by two layers of safety glass and could withstand heavier traffic according to developers. They are working on cells that can withstand buses and trucks. Although road emplacements do not produce as much energy as solar arrays on buildings and fields, they take up less room and therefore can be installed in heavily populated areas. The Federal Highway Administration is yet to be convinced that a solar road is appropriate for all vehicular traffic. Cost of solar road installation is also a concern. Since November of last year, the Dutch solar road has produced 3,000 kwh of clean energy or enough to power a small household for one year.

Shell's Kulluk rig aground 12-31-2012
Update: On Tuesday the Port of Seattle asked that the arrival of Shell's drilling rigs be delayed, but the board did not rescind the lease signed earlier this year that allows Shell to use a 50 acred site near downtown. The decision to lease Terminal 5 has aroused considerable opposition among Seattle's activists. The city's progressive council has denounced the lease, but it does not control the port. Foss Maritime, Shell's contractor said the request will not delay preparations for the arrival of two large drilling rigs. Activists say they will use kayaks to block the company's operations.

In contrast to Netherlands' innovative approach to alternative energy is the current administration's business as usual with fossil fuel companies. On Tuesday the BOEM announced that Royal Dutch Shell would be allowed to resume offshore exploration in the Arctic. Environmental groups immediately criticized the decision as making a large oil spill in the unforgiving conditions of the Arctic inevitable. Even the captured regulator, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management put the chances of one or more major spills in the near future at 75% with 44-62% of the spilled crude staying in what is now a largely unpolluted marine ecosystem thirty days after the spill. Unlike the Gulf of Mexico's warm temperatures, volatile fractions will not evaporate in the cold Arctic climate. No company in the West has yet demonstrated an ability to clean up a spill, so essentially the federal government is saying the potential energy to be recovered is worth an environmental disaster.  The company still need seven more permits before exploration in the Chukchi Sea can begin.  A dispute is also brewing with the City of Seattle where Shell plans to dock its Arctic drilling rigs.

Ocean experts say such a irresponsible approach to stewardship is unfathomable when the energy in place (estimated at 24bn barrels) will be there one hundred years from now when methodology and infrastructure has improved. Currently the land area near the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea leases has only one road, no rail system, limited airport facilities, and the nearest Coast Guard station with spill equipment is more than a thousand miles away. Not only is there a lack of facilities, but by 2040 scientists say the Arctic Sea wil be ice-free in summer. Earthjustice, a public interest law firm specializing in environmental cases and which has filed suit against the use of Seattle port facilities, said the decision puts big oil before people. US Person says profit trumps common sense every time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"Proper" El Niño Arrives

red indicates warmer water moving west to east
If global warming was not enough to disturb your weather, try an El Niño event on top of it. US meteorologists said the effect arrived in April but characterized it as "weak". Australian scientists disagree saying their models suggests the the event could strengthen from September onwards bringing severe weather, mostly in the form of intense precipitation in some areas (US) and intense drought (Australia) in others, around the globe. Australia's manager of climate monitoring and prediction at the Bureau of Meteorology told reporters, "This is a proper El Niño effect, not a weak one". Models, which use telemetry from ocean buoys measuring winds, currents and temperatures, can predict the occurrence but not predict the intensity, duration or regions that will be affected. By summer scientists should be able to predict this year's El Niño before it has made its major impact in winter. Warming of the Pacific Ocean near the equator [map above] that affects the atmosphere's temperature and wind patterns cycles every two years to seven years. One positive aspect of El Niño is that there are usually fewer North Atlantic hurricanes during a season.

Monday, May 11, 2015

COTW: A Tale of Two Maps

The United Kingdom's Labour Party is mired in its past. Under former leader Ed Milliband the party failed to attract votes from the "aspirational, middle class" and was reduced to its core constituency, the remnants of the traditional British working class. The chart tells the story with UK coalfields located on the left and the seats (232) won by Labour in the 2015 election located on the right:

Labour was accused of being too centrist prior to the election, so Ed Milliband distanced the party from Tony Blair's "New Labour". This analysis was given by Alan Johnson, who served as Home Secretary, Health Secretary and Education Secretary in the last three Labour governements. Labour peer, Peter Mandelson also called Milliband's embrace of the left-wing a "giant political experiment" that went wrong. Another New Labour peer, Lord Hutton, called Milliband's social manifesto an "old-school socialist menu". The scale of Labour's loss to the Tories was a shock not seen since Margaret Thatcher, but it was the collapse of the coalition party, Liberal Democrats, and suport for the Scotish Nationalist Party (SNP), that allowed the Conservatives to gain an overall majority. LibDems won only 8 seats while the left SNP won 56.

Labour actually increased its share of the popular vote from 29% under Blair to 30.4%. There has been discussion in the UK to move to proportional representation similar to that used on the Continent, but "proportional lite" was rejected in a 2011 referendum. UKIP won 12.6% of the 2015 popular vote, but only gained 1 MP while SNP won 4.7% of the popular vote, but gained 56 seats according to the current winner-take-all system similar to the United State's Congress.  Conservatives' majority is wafer thin without the coalition Lib Dem's 58 seats.  It is down to ten now.  One item on Cameron's agenda: a referendum on UK's European Union membership.

Nepal Achieves Zero Poaching, Twice

Poaching is a social problem that reflects the fragility of a nation-state. From official corruption, weak laws, and organized crime to hunger and poverty, poaching is a symptom of wider ills. A developing nation, Nepal has nevertheless shown Asia and the rest of the world that something can be done to stop the destruction of our fellow creatures on our planet. Twice the Bhuddist nation has gone 365 days without a single poaching incident: in 2011 for rhinos and in 2014 for rhinos, tigers, and elephants. That is a major accomplishment for a poor, mountainous country whose GDP of $19.3 billion is drawfed by its neighbors China and India, and only barely above the value of the global trade in wildlife estimated at $19 billion.

Nepal has the political will and religious ethic to stop poaching. That committment is shared down the line by army, police, rangers, communities and judiciary in a coordinated response. In order to stop a sophisticated, professional trade worth billions, the response must be the same quality, noted WWF-Nepal's official monitoring wildlife trade.

Nepal's multi-pronged approach was developed in cooperation with WWF and contains six key types of law enforcement activities: on the ground assessments and monitoring of wildlife populations; use of best available technologies; adequate training and care of rangers; engagement and education of local communities; sound prosecutorial process; and information sharing with international anti-poaching efforts. No one prong is more important than the others. If Nepal can do it, so can other nations in Asia suffering a epidemic of wildlife crime and alarming declines in native species. Nepal was able to recently announce the arrest of Rajkumar Praja, the nation's most wanted rhino poacher because of cooperation among the Nepal's police, army, Malyasian authorities and INTERPOL. At a recent symposium hosted by Nepal's minister of forests and WWF, 13 nations discussed how Nepal's success can be achieved elsewhere. All of the anti-poaching experts attending adopted the "Zero Poaching Toolkit". The goal of zero poaching incidents is now not just one country's success story, but a regional aspiration. Perhaps it also the beginning of the end of the immoral wildlife trade in Asia.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Obama Shills for Nike, Inc.

The Current Occupant came to Nike's headquarters this week to tout the latest wage slavery deal for corporate America. Even though it added 2000 professional jobs at its headquarters to fulfill its obligation under a controversial tax break served on gold plate by desperate legislators, most of Nike's manufacturing work is done overseas in low-wage zones. Americans make only 1% of the products that produced $27.8 billion in revenue. Last year a third of Nike's remaining 13,922 American production workers were laid off. The corporate search for lower wage costs across the globe is relentless. When wages went up in China, Nike switched most of its production to Vietnam. Vietnamese production workers earn less than 60¢/hr. About 340,000 workers slave for Nike in Vietnam.

The downward pressure on American wages will be even greater if the Trans Pacific Partnership goes through. Vietnam would be a member state of the trade agreement. As the capitalist Cato Instute puts it, such trade pacts "lower the risk premium" on offshoring jobs. Americans displaced from better-paying manufacturing jobs are forced to compete in the labor surplus for domestic employment at lower wages (translation: McJobs) according to government statistics. Nike is undoubtably pushing for TPP because it would get yet another tax break in the form of reduced tariffs on Vietnamese and Malaysian-made goods. As if the company needed more subsidies. Right now Nike pays less than $10 to produce a shoe it sells for over $100 according to labor expert, Professor Robert Reich. How many American export goods can a Vietnamese worker at sixty cents an hour afford? Obviously the answer is not many, if any. But cheap labor can never get too sweet for the corporate fat cats and their political front men.

Tru'merica: The Ballad of Joe Hill

Sung by activist, Paul Robeson.

This modern ballad by Phil Ochs tells more of the life and death of the lengendary labor organizer and martyr in the war against wage slavery. Enjoy your weekend? Thank Joe Hill and his union colleagues!

Friday, May 08, 2015

'Toontime: 'Merica's Choice

credit: Gary Varvel, Indianapolis Star
Wackydoodle axes: How much for a date with Chelsea?

credit: Nick Anderson
BC Idowanna sez: White man wear war bonnet!
In a world that blames blue whales for ship collisions, the absurd stunts of politicians have lost their ability to inflame or even draw one's attention. So US Person chooses to focus this post on the ability of baleen whales to get out of the way of ships. To put it shortly: it is not very good. Between 1998 and 2012, there were 100 documented collisions. NOAA believes the large majority of whale collisions are unreported. Blue whales, the largest of the baleen whales, can weigh as much as 420,000 pounds and be as much as 82 feet long. They hardly worry about predators or ships as they siphon up tons of plankton with their baleen plates. Evolution has not equipped them with avoidance behavior since they were never prayed upon except by man for a few hundred years. When confronted by a ship, they do not perform a crash dive, but sink horizontally at about half a meter per second according to a recent study. Whales often have to submerge 30 meters below the surface to avoid a ship's hull and its deadly propellers.  So the blues' "startle response" results in a lot of near-misses. Man insists that his ways should dominate Earth without accommodating his fellow inhabitants. Arrogance is the apt description for his overbearing behavior. But there is hope for Earth's largest animal. The number of blue whales off the West Coast are reaching historic levels. Blue whales in this area of the Pacific are estimated at 2200 up from a low of 951 in 1913. They were hunted in the North Pacific until 1971.

North Atlantic right whales are not so lucky. Although protected since 1970, they number only 450. Ship strikes are a major cause of mortality since they inhabit the North Atlantic in busy sea lanes. Federal officials have proposed a critical habitat zone of 39,655 miles along the East Coast to save them from extinction. Southern right whales are experiencing a die-off. Over the past decade 400 whale calves have died for unexplained reasons. Researchers are tagging southern right whales in order to follow their movements in the vast South Atlantic more closely. Hopefully the satellite telemetry will help explain the increased calf mortality rate. Southern rights are still the most abundant of the three species of right whale, rebounding at 7% a year from the end of commercial whaling.

North Atlantic right whales

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Sarawak Minister Makes Surprise Declaration

The Chief Minister of the Borneo state of Sarawak on his first official visit overseas in London asked NGOs to help his state preserve remaining forest and fight logging corruption. Pronouncing "cucup" (enough) he said no more timber concessions are given out and there is enough palm oil. The Minister said he values forests for their own sake and is determined to fight corruption until, "the last log is accounted for." He thus distanced himself considerably from his predecessor in office who enriched himself and his family members during his 33 years as Chief Minister. An independent investigation found that the former Chief Minister's company, CMS, gained $1.4 billion during his tenure in office. At his visit to the Malaysian High Commission, Adenam Satem was approached by the leader of the indigenous Penan delegation with a petition asking official approval of the Penan Peace Park, a nature reserve established in the interior of Borneo by indigenous people. He also welcomed a journalist who was one the fiercest critics of the previous regime.

Whether the new Minister will follow through on his public sentiments remains to be determined. He his not off to a good start. Ominously, Malaysia's Home Ministry seized a book exposing the corrupt timber industry in Sarawak. All copies of "Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia" was seized at the Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair on Thursday. The author, Lukas Straumann, reacted with disbelief at the seizure. His research was painstaking, and his work has already made headlines before its publication. Former Chief Minister Taib Mahmud threatened to sue Amazon and Bergli Books, Switzerland if they distributed the book. Malaysian readers will still have access to the exposé either as a e-book or by mail from Bergli in Basel.

Even more disturbing is Satem's decision to sell to Taib Mahmud's family a 50% interest in Sacofa, a state-owned telecommunications company for $50 million. Sacofa owns a twenty-year concession for communication towers in Sarawak. Opposition politicians object to the sale of one of the state's most lucrative business ventures at a bargain price.

Craig's List Harbors Ivory Traffickers

That darling of the internet crowd, Craigslist, harbors ivory traffickers according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The trade is florishing. Investigators found 615 items from dead elephants in 28 locations over 38 days of listings. The activity amounted to $1.5 million in value. What the study shows is that illegal ivory trade is alive and well in the US; it cannot point the righteous finger at China until the nation cleans up its own act. Activists want Craigslist to specifically prohibit trading in ivory and other body parts from endangered species. Right now elephants are only listed as vulnerable on the Red List but that was in 2008 before the recent spike in poaching. No distinction is made between savannah and forest elephants, now considered by some scientists as separate species. Poaching is being used by criminal syndicates and terrorist to finance their operations.

India Cancels Coca-Cola Plant

It's hot in India, so people drink a lot of beverages and Coca-Cola cashed in on the demand. But local farmers and politicians feared the new plant approved by the government for Erode District in Tamil Nudu state near Perundurai would make water supply shortages worst and bring more pollution. Opponents of the plant said Coca-Cola had a bad environmental track record in India. The government listened this time and revoked Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages' alloted land site. Coca-Cola claimed it would be a good corporate citizen, but its assurances did not satisfy locals. There has been a conflict over sharing the waters of River Cauvery between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Water water there is is heavily polluted. The grounwater from Perundurai is colored dark red--the blood of Mother Earth--from industrial pollution. A strike organized by environmental activists in protest of the plant was very successful. A another plant owned by Coca-Cola in Kerala state was closed by the state government in 2004 because of toxic pollution from the plant. Legislation is pending to make it liable for $47 million in damages. Two more plants were also rejected in 2014 by local citizens, on of which, the Uttar Pradesh plant, was fully built at the cost of $25 million. Challenges to the international corporate behemoth are expected to increase as Indian water quality and quantity deteriorates. The corporation is facing declining sales in industrialized countries, so it is attempting to expand aggressively in developing nations. Not good news for Mr. Buffett, a major stockholder.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

COTW: Propaganda Versus Reality

The United States is conducting a full-blown propaganda war against Russia as well as imposing economic sanctions for its support of ethnic Russian separatists fighting in Ukraine's civil war. But as with all propaganda, the reality of the US-Russia relationship is all together different. This chart shows why:

Russia is the second largest non-OPEC source of petroleum products behind Canada! Obviously the so-called sanctions regime is much more about public posturing than motivating Russia to withold military aid and give up Crimea. Rules are for the little people, n'est pas?

The graphic below demonstrates the disparity between 'Merica's official rhetoric dipicting itself as the democratic "land of the free, home of the brave" and the harsh reality of its economically stratified society from a perspective closer to home. Freddie Gray lived in the poor Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore. He suffered from lead poisoning like many poor children. As little as 5 micrograms of lead per decilitre of blood can stunt the mental development of a child and cause ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. When Freddie was 22 months old his blood carried 37 micrograms. It is a demonstrated fact that high levels of environmental toxins are associated with poverty. Poor Freddie, dead at the age of 25, he never had a chance.

source: Washington Post

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Mexico Agrees to Protect Jaguars

Mexico has signed a historic agreement with the international feline protection group, Panthera, to work towards protecting the jaguar. Senator Gabriela Cuevas, President of the Foreign Relations Committee, signed the agreement with Panthera's co-founder and CEO Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. Although the jaguar has deep roots in Mexican native culture its historic range has been reduced by 50% and is now endangered. The Mexican government will formulate a recovery plan for the big cat and Panthera will develop a plan to work with conservation activities in the country and take action to implement measures that are part of its Jaguar Corridor Initiative in 13 other Latin American countries.  That initiative aims to connect core jaguar populations unrestrained by political boundaries from northern Argentina to Mexico. [map] Senator Cuevas said at the signing in April that the jaguar is the most representative American feline and is a icon of biodiversity.

Jaguars currently inhabit 18 countries in Latin America and they occasionally inhabit the borderlands of the US southwest. The Jaguar Corridor covers about six million square kilometers and can include a ranch, a plantation or even someone's homestead as long as a jaguar can safely pass through it. Recently the US Fish & Wildlife Service proposed designating some areas of New Mexico and Arizona as jaguar habitat. The cat once made its home in the US but was driven out by agriculturalists and hunters. The project of re-establishing America's largest feline and only member of the genus Panthera cannot be considered complete until the Jaguar Corridor crosses the US border. As an apex predator, saving the jaguar from extinction insures the health of ecosystems in which humans and other wildlife live.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Rhino Baby Boom in KwaZulu-Natal

WWF: black rhino mom & her calf
WWF tells us that one bright spot in the otherwise dark future of the southern African rhinocerous is in KwaZulu-Natal, a homeland province surrounded by South Africa. South Africa is the home of 90% of extant white rhinos and 40% of black rhinos, but 1,215 animals were poached in 2014 alone, the highest number in a decade. In stark contrast, KwaZulu-Natal has experience a rhino baby boom. It now has 500 rhinos, up from 411 in 2004. A relocation initiative started by the world conservation organization has allowed a stable population to expand. Nine new black rhino populations have been established, and only five adults have been lost to poaching. The protection has given the rhinos a chance to produce 70 new calves. Once again, science proves all creatures respond to proper stewardship.

Last Wednesday the presidents of Republic of Congo and Chad set fire to five tons of confiscated ivory using illegally harvested timber as fuel. The Congo's minister of forestry called the confiscated ivory a "dirty product" and that the liquidation was necessary to "draw a line". That line can be drawn, but only if market states like the US and China put an end to the sale of ivory in any form. Only certified antique objets d'arts should be exception to the no sale rule, and only then if the ivory objects have proper provenance certified by experts. Higher demand for ivory is motivating poachers across the continent. In 1980 Africa held 1 million elephants, now that number is down to 450,000 according to Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou N'Guesso.

Friday, May 01, 2015

'Toontime: Police Did It

Update: Maryland's top prosecutor said today there was probable cause to bring charges against six officers implicated in the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray. Marilyn Mosby said the death was a homicide and his arrest illegal. The state's findings were "comprehensive, thorough and independent". Citizens across Baltimore broke into celebration upon hearing of the investigation's results. Gray died while shackled inside a police van but not restrained by a seat belt during what could have been a "rough ride". The driver of the van, Caesar Goodson, faces the most serious charge of second degree murder. The others are charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault, false imprisonment, and official misconduct. Gray was arrested for allegedly carrying an illegal switchblade knife. The knife in his possession was actually a legal pocketknife.
credit: Tom Toles, Washington Post
Wackydoodle sez: Guess that make's ya'll thugs, doan it!
For every anecdote about a cop injured or killed in the line of duty there are ten more abused or dead citizens in the naked city. The fact is Americans have made their armed society one of the most dangerous in the world. Little wonder fallible humans charged with keeping the lid on often make inappropriate use of lethal force when they know the system is predisposed to protect them from responsibility for their crimes.

credit: Jim Morin, Miami Herald