Friday, September 30, 2016

Washington State Exterminates Profanity Peak Pack

US Person, in his never-ending efforts to bring you news from the REAL world, missed this tragic story of the Profanity Peak wolf pack. Thanks to the bloggers at The Wildlife News for bringing it to his attention. Back in August a rancher with a history of wolf conflict to his dubious credit plopped his cows on the denning range of the Profanity Peak pack. Doubtless this choice of graze within his public land allotment was intended to force state wildlife authorities to act when the inevitable happened: predation. Act they did, by exterminating six members of the pack. Government agents are out there now seeking to trap and kill the remaining animals. Wolf management is not about biology, but politics. Wolves are the favorite target of predator haters, whose bigotry is culturally ingrained.

On August 4, 2016 AP reported that state wildlife officials permitted the killing of some of the Profanity Peak wolves in Ferry County after a calf had been taken. This was the third time the state had authorized the killing of wolves since they began recolonizing the state a decade ago. [map] State rules require that there be four confirmed incidents of wolf predation before lethal action is taken. Two adult females were shot from a helicopter including the breeding female. At that point in time the pack had eleven members. By the end of August, six more wolves were shot.  The Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife then announced it would kill the entire pack because of predation, the second time an entire wolf pack in the state would be eliminated. The Wedge Pack was eliminated for the same reason, predation on the same rancher's livestock. The fact that ranchers use inappropriate timbered forest areas on public land [photo below] is apparently irrelevant to the political decision to placate a powerful special interest group. Grazing activity in forests drive off deer and elk, the wolves natural prey animals. Radio collar data on both elk and wolves confirm this relationship.

In the case of the Profanity Peak pack, telemetry showed that the rancher involved in this needless slaughter set his stock near their den where members where concentrating their pup raising activities. Near is a relative term when it comes to wolf foraging trips. They often range up to twenty to thirty miles in search of food. Three cattle kills took place within one mile of the den. Ten others were within two to ten miles of wolf activity centers according to a state wildlife official. Salt blocks were dispersed near wolf territory to attract livestock. According to Robert Wielgus, a researcher at Washington State University who monitored the pack in Colville National Forest, "the livestock operator elected to put his cows directly on top of their den site; we have picture of cows swamping it". This is the behavior of a rancher operating with a grudge against wolves. A conclusion supported by the fact that Washington agriculturalists are compensation for confirmed wolf predation on their stock. Wielgus was later publicly rebuked by his employers for his candid comment.

Colville forest wolf; credit Colville Indian tribe
The fact the state used lethal means to placate a constituent is beyond tragic but complicity in an culturally induced, irrational bias against predators. Wolves have feelings beyond mere pain. They experience terror, and feel loss of fellow pack members, not surprising in a tightly knit social hierarchy. Non-lethal controls work well as have been repeatedly demonstrated elsewhere in the world. In fact Washington officials turned down an offer from a Californian nature preserve to relocate the Profanity Peak wolves to friendlier space. They stated relocation, "was not feasible" even though the relocation would not cost the state a nickle. And so there you have it dear reader, an inhumane slaughter of an entire family of ecologically important predators to unfairly protect the subsidized property of one bigoted human. The unreality of it all boggles the rational mind.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Obama Vetos Bill Allowing 9/11 Families to Sue

Regan meets the Mujaheddin
Update:  Obama's veto overruled  Wednesday.

{26.09.16} In a rare display of bipartisanship, Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill allowing families of 9/11 terror victims to sue Saudi Arabia for its role in funding the terrorists that brought down New York City's Trade Center.  But the Current Occupant vetoed the bill claiming it was an "uncoordinated" way to determine foreign government involvement in the terror attacks. There is mounting evidence the Saudi government acquiesced funding of Osama Bin Ladin's Al Qaeda.  Bin Laden himself was a member of a family with close connections to the Saudi royal family. His father founded Saudi BinLadin Group, a construction firm that owned exclusive rights to all construction projects in the Kingdom prior to King Faisal's death in 1975.  A survivor's group responded that the President's veto was "outrageous" and founded on "unconvincing and unsupportable" reasoning.  Hillary Clinton says she supports the measure, and her opponent called his veto, "shameful".

However, the veto very much represents the wishes of the Pentagon and national intelligence apparatus which has backed the Saudi Royal Family since the end of WWI despite their documented connection to funding extremists including the jihadists that drove off the Soviets in Afghanistan.  Bin Ladin's terrorist organization grew out of this group of disaffected fighters.  Fifteen of the nineteen identified members of the organization that attacked the Pentagon and Trade Towers were Saudis. The Saudi government has opposed the legislation from its inception, citing the principle of sovereign immunity.  Currently the Saudis are backing the Syrian rebels, some of whom are Islamic extremists, locked in a disastrous civil war to overthrow dictator Bashar al Assad.

Although the President has used his veto power sparingly, in just eleven pieces of legislation none of which have been overridden, he may face a veto override with the 9/11 families bill. The Republican Senate Majority Leader and the bill's Democratic co-sponsor both told reporters they believe the necessary support to override the President is present.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bakken Pipeline Protests Turn Violent

Latest: The UN envoy for aboriginal rights called on the US government to stop construction of the Bakken oil pipeline that has disturbed native sacred sites. Twelve hundred archeologists joined the call Friday in a letter to the President protesting the disturbance of aboriginal sacred sites that contain stone cairns, prayer rings and burials. On September 3rd company construction crews showed up with their equipment after the site locations were revealed in court documents. They bulldozed the areas.

{13.09.16}The current administration has called for a partial halt to construction of the Bakken oil pipeline that has sprung a concerted protest movement led by Native Americans. Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, David Archambault II told local media that Americans should be looking to renewable sources of energy, not more crude oil extracted using an environmentally damaging technology (hydraulic fracturing). Over two hundred thousand Americans agree with him and his people. Eight pipelines already cross the Missouri River. The plan is for the new pipeline to tunnel under the river. The Texas company head executive vowed to continue building the pipeline despite its unpopularity, saying the fears of water supply contamination are "unfounded". On Tuesday, company workers removed 27 pieces of construction equipment from a site five miles east of St. Anthony, ND which the company claims were damaged by protestors. The pipeline is sixty percent constructed. Activists called for a "day of action" around the country to protest the project's completion. Former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and others addressed a rally in Washington, DC. urging the administration to stop the project permanently.

09.09.16 A federal judge has refused to block construction of the Bakken oil pipeline that is planned to span four states. Judge Jame Bosberg issued and emergency restraining order over last weekend halting construction after peaceful native protests erupted in violence. In his ruling he found that the construction permits issued by the US Army were likely to be found valid. Shortly after the ruling, the federal government asked owner Energy Transfer Partners to voluntarily halt construction under Lake Oahe. An easement from the federal government is required before that construction can take place and the company's application is under review. Native Americans are concerned the pipeline--dubbed the "black snake"--which is intended to transport 570,000 barrels of crude a day will adversely impact water quality.  Tribal spokesmen asked for continued non-violent opposition.

In a minor development, the Green Party candidate for President, Jill Stein was charged with criminal trespass and mischief after spray painting a bulldozer owned by the construction company building the pipeline. Stein wrote graffiti saying she approved of the protests against building the pipeline.  A state judge issued an arrest warrant for the presidential candidate.  She later told reporters that the pipeline itself "was vandalism on steroids."No word on whether she would voluntarily submit to the court's jurisdiction.

07.09.16 Members of the Sioux Nation encountered a violent response from pipeline company agents as they protested against the construction of a Bakken field oil pipeline upstream from their reservation on Saturday morning. According to a historic preservation officer for the Standing Rock Sioux, construction bulldozers went twenty miles out of their right-of-way to demolish sites sacred to the Tribe. Energy Transfer Partners, owner of the pipeline used agents equipped with pepper spray and dogs to subdue protesters. Injuries occurred on both sides including a child bitten by a dog; two dogs were taken to a veterinarian clinic. Protests against the $3.8 billion project have been growing, particularly in North Dakota. For months, thousands of indigenous activists have set up resistance camps along the pipeline route in a historic demonstration of nonviolent resistance. Construction has also halted at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers while a federal court decision is pending.  The Tribe filed a federal suit against the project in July arguing that it had received inadequate environmental review and tribal consultation.

another scar on the land, credit: D. Samson II
On Sunday, the Tribe succeeded in convincing a federal judge to issue an emergency order stopping pipe construction on some of the 1100 mile pipeline intended to carry oil from shale deposits to a hub in Illinois.  The construction will allow higher production from the Bakken field, one of the first shale deposits to be commercially fracked.  Construction continues on private land.  In other court action, protesters in Iowa [photo] defeated an attempt by the company to obtain an injunction against a planned protest that has not yet occurred.  The owners will be back in court on Friday.  Three million dollars in damage to pipeline construction equipment was reported in two Iowa counties after an alleged arson attack.  So far environmentalists have failed to stop progress on the pipeline in Iowa as state officials have sided with the owners.

CITES Conference Begins in South Africa

Update: The proposals to allow some ivory trade in a misguided effort to reduce the atrocity of African elephant poaching have fortunately been rejected by CITES members meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa. The debate was reportedly heated, and opposition was led by delegates from Burkino Faso, Kenya, Congo and Chad. A mechanism for discussion of regularizing ivory trade was mandated by the Standing Committee in 2007, but according to conservationists those discussions have been "going around in circles" without agreeing on any mechanism. US Person thinks that the only mechanism that will save African elephants is a complete and total ban on world ivory trade, and the deployment of national armies, if necessary, against criminal crime syndicates operating with heavy firepower to protect defenseless elephants.  Costs of such mobilizations should be shared with wealthy member nations.  The mandate to extend the ivory trade discussions failed to pass, but could be renewed at the conference's plenary session.  Observers say that the conference seems to predisposed to vote for more protection for the elephant, not less.

More legal protection is also needed for the Asian pangolin, facing extinction due to human consumption.  According to one conservation organization, pangolins are the most trafficked animal in the world, with over a million taken from the wild in the last decade.  Just last month, 657 dead pangolins were found vacuumed-packed and frozen in five large freezers at an Indonesian home.  Seizures of African pangolin carcasses and remains are also increasing.  Evidence shows that the pangolin trade closely follows the same routes used by ivory traffickers.  The ICUN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) wants eight species of pangolin moved to Appendix I of the CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) treaty, banning all legal trade.  In 2008, only two pangolin species were considered endangered, the Sunda and Chinese pangolin.  Pangolins are acutely sensitive to the stress of captivity and due to their specialized diets generally do not survive well.  But because in some Asian countries their meat is considered a luxury and their scales have 'medicinal' qualities, pangolin populations are dwindling rapidly.  Not good news for an ancient, nocturnal animal whose major defense against predators is to roll up in a scaly ball [photo].

{19.09.16}The major international organization to combat a thriving illegal trade in endangered species, CITES, will hold its annual conference in South Africa. One hundred eighty two nations will gather for twelve days of negotiation and information exchange. This is the first time the conference has been held in Africa. There are many proposals to increase protections for endangered species relatively unfamiliar to animal lovers including the pangolin. {20.02.15, Pangolins Still on Dinner Tables}

However, prominently on the agenda are proposals from Zimbabwe and Namibia to allow a legal trade in African elephant ivory. Both countries believe that by allowing a legitimate and regulated trade, illegal poaching will be reduced.   Many countries delegations oppose these two proposal. TRAFFIC, the international non-profit monitor of international wildlife trade, considers the proposals counterproductive to elephant conservation and would expose elephants to even greater risk of extinction.  Incredibly the European Union is on the fence again about protecting elephants.  In its official statement on the proposals, the Union said it was "premature to agree on a resumption of trade" given the high levels of poaching decimating African elephant populations, but at the same time hedged saying, "Nambia efforts to combat poaching should be recognized and encouraged".  It left unexplained how increasing elephant mortality could encourage a country like Namibia to continue its elephant conservation efforts.  The EU's position is important to the outcome of these proposals since it votes as a bloc and therefore controls 27 votes; two-thirds majority is needed to pass a proposal.  When a member country, Denmark, wanted to continue polar bear hunting in Greenland in 2013 despite the peril global warming poses, all other members of the bloc abstained, and hunting continues today.

Another group of African nations has proposed banning all trade in ivory by placing it in Appendix 1 of the treaty.  Signatory countries agree that trade in animals or their body parts will be allowed only through a system of import/export permits.  Each country must establish an authority to manage permit issuance and study the effects of the trade on protected species. In the United States, the US Fish and Wildlife Service performs both functions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

'COTW: The REAL Solution

The candidates spent a good part of their air time last time delivering well rehearsed messages on how to reinvigorate the domestic economy, sandwiched between zingers about unpaid contractors, tax audits, and classified material leaks. One wants to increase income taxes and the other wants to reduce them. Both are proposals that will benefit their vested interests--segments of the plutocracy, one corporate, the other inherited. Both proposals miss the mark as this chart so clearly demonstrates:

The American economy in the 21st century is still driven by consumer spending. Over 70% of GDP is accounted for by expenditures from what used to be the great middle classes, which now should be called the unwealthy, or perhaps the unworthy. If the politicos really want to rebuild America and not just trickle on the unwealthy, they should support economic proposals to put more money in their pockets. Corporations used to pay $1 out of every three in taxes. Now, corporations pay only $1 of every $9 collected by the federal government at a time when they have never been so profitable. "Increasing corporate income taxes will hurt job creation", you moan. NOT. Corporations will pass along modest increases in costs to their customers as they always have. Despite higher prices, consumers with more disposable income will buy more and thereby create demand for more product, causing businesses to expand. The government will be able to use the increased revenues to provide needed social programs and rebuild infrastructure. That is how it is supposed to work in a market economy. "Too late for this stage of capitalism", you eruditely complain? Perhaps, but it is worth a try, instead more failed economic policies from Regan's reign.

Friday, September 23, 2016

'Toontime: When the Unfit Rule

Wackydoodle sez: Y'all owe me a cat too! 
 credit: Daryl Cagle
Seems US Person is not the only one who is "NOT the best qualified" for a high paying job with benefits! 'Mericans are adopting the three-monkeys pose as Hillary and Don stumble across the national stage. It's the "deplorables" versus the "crooks" with no air time for vision or even clarity. Foreign policy? Who needs it, as long as we got an Air Force? Where is Aleppo, by the way? Social justice, who's concerned about that besides the "deadenders", and Bernie is long gone into the irrelevant abyss of "movement politics" with nary a sound bite. Yes, folks its bidness as usual in 'Merica, and its uglier than ever.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Clothes Are the New Recyclable

'Mericans dispose of 12.8 metric tons of old clothes annually according to the EPA, but that wasteful fact of the 'disposable society' may be changing.  A fast growing retailer, H&M with stores in 62 countries, has embarked on a new concept in clothing: recyclable.  The Swedish fashion giant sold billions in clothes last year, but took 12,000 tons back to be recycled.   It shows a celebrity studded ad campaign that proudly announcing but one rule fashion--recycle your old clothes.  Recycling has become a hot concept in the clothes industry, so the company has invested in a concern that develops textile recycling technology.  Its all part of a greater vision called the circular economy as opposed to the current linear paradigm in which most consumer products are made, sold, used, and then disposed.  In order to be effective at reducing man's consumption of natural resources the circular economy has to be implemented on a large scale.

H&M is joined in the effort by other recognizable brands like Nike, Levi Strauss, North Face, Patagonia and American Eagle Outfitters.  These companies collect used textiles and chemically process them into new fabric.  The process can transform natural fibers such as cotton as well as synthetic fibers such as polyester.  Environmentalists are pressuring the industry to change its wasteful ways because of the enormous volume of usable textiles that end up in landfills despite the efforts of re-sale organizations like Goodwill.  NRDC says it takes up to 200 tons of water to make a ton of fabric, and the amount of chemical waste generated is significant.  Non-organic cotton as currently grown requires enormous amounts of chemical fertilizers and accounts for 24% of global sales in insecticides.   One retailer called her industry the most polluting after oil.  The global apparel industry is growing at a fast rate; by one estimate it generates $2.5 trillion in annual revenue and is expected to double that in the next decade.

Re-selling old clothes is not the answer to the problem.  Re-sellers tend to be very selective about the clothes they are willing to take into their stores.  Even though there is an active re-sale market in the US, the nation exported $705 million in used clothes abroad.  One reason you see African villagers sporting t-shirts with American popular culture and corporate logos emblazoned on their chests.  Unsalable clothes become rags, or feedstock for other industrial processes, or end up in landfills.  Up until the now, the technological problem has been the degradation of fibers in reprocessing, but that issue is being addressed on the molecular level.  Levi Strauss and its partner Evrnu has successfully created a pair of denim jeans--world famous for their tough wearability--using reprocessed fabric.  Evrnu purifies cotton waste, converts it to a pulp, and extrudes a new fiber that is stronger and softer than the original. The process reduces water use by 98% says a company executive.  That is good news for textile countries like China, India and Pakistan facing water shortages in the new age of global warming.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

NREPA Reaches Senate Floor

US Person urged his US Senator at a town hall meeting this summer to support Senate Bill 3022, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) that would preserve twenty-three million acres of roadless landscape in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.  This bill, which is precendential in scope for it proposes to keep in-tact for perpetuity an entire forest and mountain ecosystem that is the last wild refuge for many large mammals in the contiguous United States, was introduced into the Senate for the first time.  S. 3022 has seven co-sponsor including the Minority Leader, Harry Reid.  More importantly the bill intends to connect areas of wild land with wild corridors through which animals can travel unmolested in search of food and mates.  The problem of too little space for migrating animals and visiting humans is especially acute in Yellowstone National Park.  NREPA will essentially expand the Park's protected boundaries, thus allowing the growing bison heard to forage and expand with being slaughtered in an inhumane annual cull. [map] There are some logging road in the proposed reserves that would need to be deconstructed and remediated, but this activity will provide jobs.

Tanzania and Kenya have the Serengeti which attracts thousands of international tourists every year.  America will have the Northern Rockies, a region of incredible iconic beauty and natural bounty.  The headwaters of several major river systems begin here.  Protecting them from development and pollution will insure millions of Americans have clean drinking water as well as water for agriculture and industry.  But preservation does not only mean tourism and wildlife conservation, it also means economic opportunity.  Statistics show that counties with protected wild lands have more economic activity and higher incomes than counties without.  Humans put a premium on living near natural landscapes that provide need recreation and relaxation.

The bill has already been introduced in the House and many co-sponsors.  Add your voice to the chorus that supports the first major effort at conservation in the United States on its proper biological scale.  Contact your Senator today and ask for support of Senate Bill 3022, NREPA.  Now is the time!

Friday, September 16, 2016

'Toontime: Priorities

credit: Steve Kelly
BC Idonwanna sez: Trump has incurable narcissism!
Writing of priorities, Wells Fargo has amply demonstrated wherein its real interests lay. The mega bank is fined $185 million by a federal regulator for creating sham accounts in order to meet aggressive revenue goals. The bank management pressured employees to create 2 million unauthorized accounts using forged signatures and fake email addresses. The bank told workers anyone failing to meet sales targets for two months would be fired.  CEO Stumpf eventually fired 5300 of his wage slaves.  The executive who oversaw the scam as head of "community banking" retired in July with a 'golden parachute' of $125 million.  Go figure, folks.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

COTW: Pants on Fire

This chart comes to PNG via What it shows is just how far the plutocracy and their media handmaidens are willing to go to distort data in support of their chosen, albeit diseased, candidate for 'Prezidint'. The Los Angeles Times ran this chart of a rise in median income (the largest since 1967) and it is worthy of COTW here at PNG. The clue to deciphering this propaganda is to read the circled fine print at the bottom:

The discerning among you will realize that the official bean counters are at it again, manipulating statistical measurements to improve the picture of an essentially stagnant economy rigged to funnel wealth to the top 1% of the pile.  When scrutinized by the New York Post, the chart revealed data relied upon has not had enough time in grade and is skewed by a temporary drop in gasoline prices.  Gasoline prices have rebounded since 2015 which is the last year available for the data.  Also, the Census Bureau started to tinker with the income data methodology in 2013 by changing the questions asked households--the usual dodge employed to tweak economic performance measurement.  Still the rigged numbers did not prevent the political hucksters sent by Wall Street from touting the 'good news' to US Person & the Oppressed Classes.  Here is a much more accurate representation of the change in median income over time provided by Doug Short at

Nominal income reflects an upward trend since the depths of the Great Recession, but the bottom line is the blue line that shows a flat income curve when adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. It shows a decrease of 1.1% in median household income instead of the largest increase since records began. Gee, what a difference the truth makes!  Thanks, Mr. President!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Giraffes are Actually Four Species

what species are these?
One of the first things you learn on safari in Africa is how to distinguish the different types of giraffes from each other by the color pattern on their hides.  In southern Africa you will see many southern giraffe, but not as many reticulated. (less distinct, irregular patches of lighter brown versus distinct borders outlining more regular dark brown patches)  What US Person did not know is that modern genetic science has recently determined that what were once considered subspecies of Giraffa cameloparadis are actually four species separated by millions of years with no crossbreeding evident in their genomes. This genetic study of giraffe DNA published in the journal Current Biology has rewritten the guide books and has significant implications for future conservation.  In the past 15 years giraffe populations have declined by forty percent to about 90,000 giraffes, but with four distinct species now recognized by science, each could be fairing very differently.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation asked for the study to be conducted.  A scientific team from the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center studied giraffes in Namibia and found their genomes indicated four separate species of giraffe instead of one species divided into geographic subspecies.  The current understanding of the relationship between the four distinct species is similar to that between the polar bear and brown bear.  Both are bears but their long-term genetic development in response to different habitats has produced two distinct types of bears within the same genus of bears.  The four giraffe species are: the southern giraffe (Giraffa giraffa); the northern giraffe (Giraffa cameloparadis); the Masai giraffe (Giraffa tippleskirchi); and the reticulated giraffe (Giraffa reticulata).  The differences suggest the speciation is the result of adaptation to distinct environments and food sources.

Answer: reticulated

Friday, September 09, 2016

Federal Court Sides with Lynx

The endangered Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis) got some first aid from a Montana federal court on Wednesday.  The court ruled that the US Fish & Wildlife failed to analyze whether several areas in northern forests qualified as critical habitat for the lynx's survival in the lower 48.  This ruling was handed down despite the lynx's designation as endangered sixteen years ago (March 24, 2000), but the agency did not designate enough habitat for the animal's protection and full recovery.  The exact number of lynx remaining in the Northern Rockies is not known, but biologists believe their numbers are declining because of habitat fragmentation and the impact of global warming on its almost exclusive prey, the snowshoe hare.  This suit was brought in November 2014 by the Wild Rockies Alliance and is the second court victory that group has gained in support of the lynx.  A federal judge ordered the agency to reconsider its lack of habitat designation for the endangered feline in 2010, but the agency came back with new rationales for excluding the same areas it declined to designate at first. {09.03.09}

That the lynx can be re-established in its forest home if given the opportunity has been proven in Colorado.  The feline became extinct in that state in the 1970s.  But after intensive conservation efforts lasting ten years, self-sustaining populations have been reestablished in the San Juans, and lynx have been seen as far north as Summit County.  Spain and Portugal have also had success breeding and releasing Iberian lynx into remaining woodland habitat.

Toontime: Trump Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Donald has more sides than a Chinese checkerboard, and apparently this has been notice by some of the nation's top political cartoonists:

credit: Mike Luckovich
And he has a "secret plan" for ending the Syrian Civil War which has become a battleground between the superpowers by proxy.  'Tricky Dick' Nixon said the same thing about ending the Vietnam War in 1968. Trump is just about as trustworthy.  Politicians are never above using an old shtick, especially if it works.  The fact is that both major party candidates are under the influence of the military-intelligence establishment that has grown more potent since the successful terrorists bombings of September 11th, the new Pearl Harbor of 'Merican history.  The military forum recently held in New York is testament to the deplorable militarization of our entire society and economy. Of course this condition of military priority is completely out of step with the concept of civilian control of military forces enshrined in our Constitution.  'Merica did not even own a standing army until after the Revolution, and it was not an entirely professional--i.e., mercenary--army until after Vietnam. On a less serious subject--notice his tiny hands!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

COTW: The State of Play

The election will be a blow-out or NOT depending on which pundit is bloviating.  Granted there is a lot of special pleading going on. Here is the electoral map according to the WaPo.  US Person has already expressed his tuppence worth, writing that the election will be close as 'the Donald' makes a move on Hillary from behind. The recent presidential elections have been decided by the so-called "battleground states" that have large electoral counts and a split electorate. In this map they are colored tan, perhaps a cryptic nod to the emerging importance of the Latino vote.
Of interest is the 'Lone Star' State, Texas, that has recently become competitive in the polling. Clinton leads that state by only one point. States where the margin is greater than ten are considered safe and colored appropriately. States that are only leaning towards one candidate are colored a lighter shade. According to WaPo Trump is catching up in the Upper Midwest, but Clinton still holds leads in the usual big-vote battlegrounds giving her a large electoral college advantage.  Third-party candidates are on the ballot in over forty states, so their supporters may have a role in deciding the contest between the two 'mainstream' candidates.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

No Love Lost at G-20 Summit

Our Nobel Peace Prize laureate and President was apparently unable to put aside personal animosity toward the Russian President at the G-20 meeting in China to achieve a breakthrough negotiating a comprehensive cease fire in the Syrian civil war. [photos]  That five year conflict, in which the two powers are backing opposing belligerents, has killed upwards of 500,000 Syrians.  There appears to be no end in sight. Obama cited "gaps of trust" for his inability to make a deal with the Russian leader.  Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov have been negotiating an agreement for weeks without progress.   The US is resisting military cooperation with the Russians for a joint effort against Islamist extremists operating in Syria.  The US backs rebels attempting to overthrow the regime of Bashad al-Assad.  The war has become a confused, three-sided conflict endlessly complicated by superpower politics and sectarian rivalries.

To make matters worse, US security experts are blaming the Russians for attempted hacks of Democratic National Committee databases, something President Putin denies.  The level of official paranoia not seen since the Cold War allegedly ended is increasing despite Russian denials, as national intelligence agencies intend to probe claimed Russian influence in the US election.  Mr. Putin has accused the United States of much the same thing in the past, especially in Ukrainian elections and subsequent coup in that country which led to Russia's annexation of the Crimea.  Nevertheless, Mr. Putin made an optimistic statement on Monday that an agreement with the US to reduce the mounting Syrian death toll could be reached shortly. For his part, Obama moves on for a visit to Laos, the scene of one of the most egregious American war crimes of the 20th century:  "Operation Steel Tiger", the secret bombing of Laos.

Coastal Flooding Already Here

Deniers of Climate Change like to argue that all the dire scientific predictions are just that, predictions that are not inevitalbe.  Unfortunately for 'Merica their head in their sand approach to the problem conveniently ignores the facts on the ground in the interest of profit.  The New York Times tells us that coast flooding is already a verifiable fact along the Atlantic seaboard.  In Norfolk, VA flood rulers are sprouting beside low spots in the roads so drivers can judge if they want to risk crossing the floods that inundate the roads several times a year.  Farther down the coast, Tybee Island, GA dissapears beneath the waves several times a year, cutting off the island residents from dry land.  Ft. Lauderdale, FL is sending millions retrofitting infrastructure to repair and protect it from saltwater.  Miami Beach is spending $400 million to elevate streets, seawalls and install pumps.

These fair weather floods are symptomatic of the predictions scientist have been issuing for the last decade or more:  global warming will increase sea levels to the point that a brisk wind will flood human development.  The flooding is not deep, a foot or two, but the regular incursions of saltwater is enough to damage homes, streets, sewers and lawns.  Louisiana is the latest example of higher water levels contributing to flooding caused by heavier precipitation, also predicted to be a symptom of global warming.  Local jurisdictions are already pleading for federal aid to combat the increased flooding, but incredibly Congress, under the domination of conservative deniers is thumbing its collective nose at hard-pressed officials.  A Repugnant from landlocked Colorado called the requests, including some from the military, "part of a radical climate change agenda". 

Speaking of radicals, how this legislator can issue such a deliberately obstinate statement boggles the rational mind.  Equally insane is the federal policy that subsidizes individuals who choose to build or rebuild next to the waterline.  Dauphin Island, AL is a case study of ridiculous federal largest.  Since 1979 a dozen storms have inundated the barrier island causing millions of dollars in damage.  Yet the federal government pays residents to rebuild in the same vulnerable location under the Stafford Act which pays for 75% or more to replace damaged infrastructure.  One geologist responded to the apparent disconnect by boasting, "We are Americans, damn it, we don't retreat"  US Person can think of some other descriptors, perhaps more cogent.  They are not flattering, but then it is a well-known allegation that he is rude and impertinent.

Perhaps this costly denial of reality will end if the Pentagon becomes impacted by a relentless natural enemy that disrespects ideological cant.  Naval bases are built close to the water for obvious reasons.  Several studies have concluded that Norfolk Naval Base, one of the largest in the world, is profoundly threatened by the rising Atlantic Ocean.  The Navy has started to install some flood control equipment, but its requests for more money to be spent on the problem has met fierce resistance in the Repugnant controlled House of Representatives.  Perhaps the flood waters from the Potomac River need to reach Capital Hill before the politicos come to their senses.  Washington DC was once a swamp, it can be again.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

'Toontime: Hillary's Domain of Lies

credit: Gary Varvel, Indianapolis Star 
BC Idonwanna sez: Orange one, extremely dangerous!
The latest release of information about Hillary's "extremely careless" handling of official classified information on her personal server shows just how threadbare the FBI's rationale is for not asking for an indictment. 'Merica's top federal law enforcement officials claimed they could not prove Hillary intended to violate the laws governing unlawful dissemination of classified information. There are at least two facts wrong with that explanation, and they are major. First, not all applicable federal statutes on the subject require proof of intent, in fact the most relevant statute only requires a degree of negligence. Second, intent is often proved with nothing but circumstantial evidence.The FBI's investigative report released this week shows that State warned its employees not to use personal email accounts to conduct official business. This warning went out over Secretary Clinton's imprimatur, and she ignored her own warning. Emails containing classified information contained the usual [C] mark meaning the information in the marked paragraph was classified. Ms. Clinton told the FBI interviewers she thought the [C] was a form of alphabetizing! Perhaps in the past she has tried to sell the Brooklyn Bridge too.

credit: Gary Varvel, Indianapolis Star
Wackydoodle axes: Can yu'al type?

Friday, September 02, 2016

Bees 'Nuked' in South Carolina

Man's mismanagement of Earth is too rudely obscene to ignore any longer.  We are endangering our own survival as a species.  Sure, even some of the dinosaurs transformed into birds to live past their cataclysmic destruction by an asteroid the size of Mount Everest, but are you willing to take bets on surviving the anthropomorphic cataclysm of climate change to come?  Probably not.

The latest episode testifying to nature's fundamental imbalance is this story from South Carolina.  The state responded to the emerging Zika virus threat by spraying pesticide aimed at mosquitoes that could be carrying the disease.  On Sunday, honeybees, already decimated by sudden colony collapse syndrome, began dyeing in clumps at the entrance to their hives.  The pattern of mass deaths of all ages of workers indicated acute pesticide poisoning.  At one apiary in Summerville, SC, forty-six hives died off representing a population of 2.5 million bees.  A Clemson scientist collected soil samples on Monday and the samples were tested.  The cause of death was confirmed: Dorchester County's efforts to eradicate Zika-carrying mosquitoes by aerial spraying tragically misfired.  There are four confirmed cases of Zika infection in the county, but the state reports no confirmed cases of infection are from local mosquitoes.  Registered bee owners were supposed to be warned prior to the spraying, so they could have a chance to shield their hives, but some were not reached by the county.

County officials have apologized for the mistake of raining death from the air.  Naled was sprayed Sunday morning, departing from the usual method of dispensing pesticides from tanker trucks.  Cornell University warns on its chemical database that Naled is extremely toxic to bees.  Spraying at night when bees are sleeping in their hives is a less toxic method of pesticide application. Because the weather was warm, bees gathered in groups called "beards" at the entrance to their hives to cool down on Sunday morning.  Then came the plane dispensing Naled.  They did not have a chance.

Pope Francis Turns Green

Pope Francis wowed conservationists with his encyclical Laudato Si' last year. {20.06.15} They are absolutely ecstatic about his latest pronouncement on the "Care of Creation".  The leader of the world's 1.254 billion Catholics told us that our "sins against God's creation" require his forgiveness because we should have a "loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion."  For deep insight such as this, the Holy Father was booed off the stage of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.  To his credit, he does not argue against the howling insanity of the climate change deniers who are fundamentally motivated by the sin of human greed.  He has embraced environmentalism from its deepest point of access, Christian respect and stewardship for Creation.  Francis is definitely green!

The Pope offers hope in his message by telling us each to offer ways to ending the abuse of our only home in the universe. He suggests small acts of mercy such as turning off lights and equipment, using less plastic, recycling, and eating organic foods that have tremendous impact in the aggregate.  He writes, "We must not think that these efforts are too small to improve our world".  Once again Pope Francis hits the spiritual nail on the head; no wonder ordinary Roman Catholics such as US Person are so proud of their spiritual leader.  If only our political leaders measured up to the moral standards he sets.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Yellowstone River Closed

Montana officials closed a section of the once pristine Yellowstone River to recreation last week due to a fish kill.  A parasite is believed to be responsible for killing salmonid fish in the river.  Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae causes fish to die of kidney disease.  State officials also admit the high water temperature and low flow have contributed to the extent of the die off since both of these conditions stress fish.  The decision to close part of the river to recreation was made to prevent the parasite from spreading down river and into Yellowstone National Park.  Montana's outdoor recreation industry contributes $6 billion annually to the state's economy.  Temporarily ending human activity in the river will give fish the best chance to recover, say wildlife officials.  Over 4,000 dead whitefish and smaller numbers of trout have been counted.  The closure will be re-evaluated every three days based on the latest test results and observations. Contact with dead fish by pets and humans should be avoided although the parasite is not known to cause disease in humans.  Regarding the closure, Montana's governor Bullock said, "We must be guided by science".  Amen to that, brother.

COTW: African Elephants Facing Extinction From Poaching

 source: CITES MIKE Program
A new study, the Great Elephant Census and reported by the BBC says that African elephants are still dying at an alarming rate.  A third of the African population has died off in just seven years, and half of the remaining elephants may be gone within nine years if something drastic is not done to stop the devastation of poaching. In Cameroon there are only 148 elephants still living.  Elephants know they are under threat from man.  Before elephants in southern Africa would cross four national boundaries in their migrations, now they stop at the Botswana boarder where they were relatively safe.  Satellite telemetry demonstrates this radical change in their behavior.  But the two year census shows that Botswana is rapidly loosing its safe haven status as poachers begin to target the elephants living there.  Elephants require a large living space and the greater number of refugees is putting increasing pressure on the environment while bringing them into conflict with humans.  Elephants Without Boarders has recently counted 21 fresh elephant carcasses in Botswana, the first recorded major incidents of poaching in the country. As the chart above shows, the loss of elephants is greater than their natural rate of reproduction (red line) and has been so for this century.  Such decimation cannot continue if the elephant is to survive in the wild.