Monday, December 24, 2018

HAPPY HOLIDAZE
from
PERSONA NON GRATA !


Come back to this space in the New Year for more high impact* Blog from 
**US PERSON**


*Wall Street had its worse December since 1931.  The broad market S&P Five Hundred index is officially in bear territory, twenty percent off this year's high point.  Something worth more than gold: the truth.  Get your truth commercial-free from Persona Non Grata, since 2006!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

United Kingdom Bans Ivory Sales

ivory where it belongs
Conservationists see the ban signed into law last week by Queen Elisabeth II as an influential development in a global effort to save elephants from extinction in the wild by rampant poaching for their ivory.  The UK ban, to take effect in 2019, is strict banning all trade in items containing ivory regardless of age.  There are a few exceptions for musical instruments containing small amounts of ivory, artifacts of historical or artistic significance, and trade between museums.  Penalties range from significant fines to possible imprisonment.  UK's domestic ivory market is one of the largest in the world, but dwarfed by China and the United States.

erotic Hercules in ivory
UK's environment minister has established a coalition of government leaders, conservationists and others to work toward reducing the killing of elephants by one-third by 2020 and two-thirds by 2024.  Ending worldwide demand for their tusks is a key component of achieving this goal.  Conservationists Will Travers and Virginia McKenna, of Born Free fame, pointed out that poaching needs to be attacked on all fronts, including anti-poaching operations in the field, intelligence gathering, interception of international trafficking, deterrent law enforcement in range countries, and public education in market countries.  A representative of World Wildlife Funds said the UK ban shows decisive leadership needed to eventually eliminate the brutal trade, but China, the major destination for illegal ivory needs to resolutely enforce its own trade ban.  The EU and Japan also continue to allow ivory trading. The rule is simple and easy to understand: ivory belongs to elephants, NOT humans.

Friday, December 21, 2018

"Toontime: Uncovering the Depth of Corruption

The public is just beginning to know the depth of Individual I's corruption.  US Person thinks it reasonable to say that this scamming, opportunistic merchant of greed is the most corrupt to ever occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  He has exceeded some mighty competition in that category.  How is this situation possible in the 21st century you ask?  The short answer is: he was elected.  So perhaps his occupation of the land's most powerful office is an indicator of how decrepit our 'democracy' has become.  Individual I is the poster boy of dysfunction; his betrayal of America by aiding and abetting a foreign power is historic.

Individual I was forced to shut down his 'charitable' foundation by the New York State Attorney General this week.  She said the foundation was "little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests" which operated in "a shocking pattern of illegality".  The agreed shutdown was announced Tuesday.The remaining lawsuit against the Trump Organization seeks to bar him and his three oldest children from serving on the boards of other New York charitable organizations as well as millions in restitution and penalties.

Perhaps more importantly, the Attorney General sent letters of referral to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission concerning violations of federal law. According to the Attorney General, Trump used the foundation's assets to pay off legal obligations, to promote hotels and other business interests, to make personal purchases, and to provide extensive financial support for his presidential campaign.  He raised $2.8m through a televised foundation fundraiser he attended instead of participating in the Iowa presidential primary debate.  The funds were directed to selected non-profits by the senior leaders of his campaign organization in violation of federal law.

At least five $100,000 grants were made days before the Iowa caucuses. [photo].The foundation substantially existed in name only. Its board had not met since 1999. Individual I controlled the decision making alone; none of the foundations expenditures or activities were approved by the board of directors. It did not set policy or procedures regarding grants, or approve the ones made by Individual I. Casey Lewandowski, a Trump campaign manager, wrote in an email days before the Iowa primary, "Is there anyway we can make disbursements [from the charity funds] this week while in Iowa?" Trump has made repeated annual representations to the IRS in tax filings that his foundation was not engaged in any political activity.

Individual I also engaged in several self-dealing transactions for which the foundation was belatedly reimbursed after an investigation into the foundation was begun. A $100,000 payment was made to settle legal claims against his Mar-A-Largo resort. A $158,000 payment was made to settle more legal claims against Trump's National Golf Club. And he purchased a $10,000 artwork which was displayed at another business event in Miami. The White House refused to comment on the foundation's shut down. New York's Attorney General said she would continue to move the state lawsuit forward after the foundation closure to ensure that Trump and his associates are held accountable for their repeated violations of state and federal law*. Al Capone is having a good laugh right now.

credit: Sean Delonas
Wackydoodle axes, Not even if he shows you his subpoena?

*This week in the Russian Connection investigation former national security advisor of 24 days, Michael Flynn, was chastised by the federal judge determining his sentence. The judge offered him one more opportunity to cooperate in order to avoid jail time. Flynn accepted. General Flynn has been talking to the Special Counsel, but apparently not enough to satisfy the judiciary. It is difficult to say exactly what he has revealed since most of his cooperative testimony has been redacted before made public. But he operated at the highest level of the regime, so he probably shed light on the issue of obstruction in firing FBI Director Comey. What inquiring minds want to know: is Individual I's abrupt withdrawal of US forces from Syria a quid pro quo for Russian aid in the election?  Ask General Mattis.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Trump's Radical, Anti-Planet Agenda

Great egret, courtesy Audubon Society
Another example of the Trump regimes disdain for the natural world if you need anymore,
is its decision to withdraw enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, one of the nation's oldest environmental protection laws. The 100-year-old treaty originally codified an agreement between the United States and Canada to help ensure the preservation and protection of migratory birds from both intentional and incidental mortality caused by human activities. Over the years, the Act has broadened to include similar agreements with Mexico, Japan, and Russia.  It protects migratory birds, included the nation's symbol, the bald eagle, from human depredation that had nearly wiped out populations of wild migratory birds such as ducks, geese, swans and egrets when it was enacted in 1918.

Subsequent administrations of both camps have interpreted the Act to protect birds from human installations such as wind farms, power lines, and oil waste pits that are responsible for high bird mortality.  The current regime proposes to rewrite the law to eliminate those protections.  In December of last year, it issued a legal opinion stating that Act would not be enforced for the killing of birds that occurred during otherwise lawful activities such as oil drilling.  California recently joined New York and the National Resources Defense Counsel and Audubon Society in law suits maintaining the reinterpretation is arbitrary,  capricious, and an abuse of discretion.  The rollback of protections are all part of the regime's "bad for business" mantra.

California went a necessary step further last month when the state's Fish & Wildlife Department announced it would continue to protect birds under the state's laws and would include prohibiting so-called "incidental" killings.  Its legal advisory states, “California law contains a number of provisions prohibiting the 'take' of migratory birds.”  It also includes an extensive listing of California law allowing state officials to protect migratory birds in the absence of federal involvement.  Protecting wildlife is not "out of bounds" but good for sustainable business and the very survival of our own species.

Monday, December 17, 2018

COTW: Where the Poor Are

The holy market has had two significant drops recently, wiping out the year's advance.  401K watchers might be interested in this map courtesy of Visual Capitalist:


The red dots congregate in the Deep South.  No surprise there.  There is also a significant concentration in the southwest where there are large Native American populations, and in Appalachia where unemployment is endemic.  What the chart does not reveal is that these regions invariable vote for Repugnant politicians who support economic policies directly opposed to their interests.  It is the paradox of 'Merican politics: socially conservative poor whites voting for white plutocrats whose main interest is perpetuating the widening social inequities.  Contrast this delusional disconnect to the Gilete Jaune movement in France were the leaderless 99% have risen up via social media and taken to the streets to protest the unfair share of the welath claimed by the 1% that rules. (In 2008 French motorists were required to have a yellow vest in their car for roadside emergencies.)  Will this grassroots movement it lead to permanent change, or will it muddle its way to oblivion like the Occupy movement? Unknown. But at least the working French are making it clear they are as, "mad as hell, and are not going to take it anymore."  Louis XVII got the message too.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

COTW: It Is Not Over Yet

credit: Chris Weyant, Boston Globe
It was a busy and significant week for the investigation that will not stop. Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison and three years supervised probation on Wednesday for the crimes committed on behalf the proto-fascist* now know to history as Individual I. He was also ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution, forfeited $500,000 and fined $50,000 for lying to Congress. In return for his cooperation he was sentenced to the minimum security prison camp at Otisville, NY where his punishment will consist mostly of boredom.  More importantly however, he told interviewers what the nation has come to understand: the President of the United States is not telling the truth about his Russian Connection, and that he knew the hush money paid to the notorious women he laid with were illegal. Individual I was in the room when Cohen and National Inquirer publisher David Pecker discussed a $150,000 payment to a Playboy model for her story in what is usually referred to as a “catch and kill” offer on August 25 2016. This evidence is fatal to Individual I's repeated defense that he relied on his attorney to act in accordance with federal campaign financing laws. The admitted statement of facts at Cohen's sentencing reads, "the principle purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman's [Karen McDougal's] story so as to prevent it from influencing the election."

Cohen is not known for his veracity; but rest assured that his version of events has been corroborated by independent evidence diligently gathered by the Special Prosecutor. In a politically charged, extremely high profile investigation such as his, it would be career suicide to do otherwise. Mr. Mueller is a career professional who does not strike US Person as emotionally unstable.

US Person is not a stock picker, but after eighteen months of closely following the steady progress made by Mr. Mueller, he will pick one here: Individual I will be impeached in the House of Representatives. The charges could range from making false statements, illegal campaign payments, conspiracy with foreign agents to influence the election, and obstruction of justice to possibly tax evasion and fraud. Mr. Mueller is known to be in possession of Individual I’s tax records as well as the Trump Foundation’s records. The breath of his Russian Connection investigation is breathtaking: it extends from the 2016 campaign and the election through inauguration and transition to the presidency.

Whether Individual I will be convicted in the Senate is a political calculation that hinges on the number and severity of his high crimes and misdemeanors, which cannot be plausibly denied. Repugnants will have to weigh defending a bombastic, unpopular nabob against the future electoral success of their exclusive plutocratic club. The potential bill of particulars against Individual I pales Bill Clinton's impeachment for a false statement made during a deposition in connection with the Monica Lewinsky affair; he only escaped conviction by a single vote. As one shrewd citizen observed, Trump made the big mistake of running the government like he runs his business.

*When Democratic leadership balked at paying for Trump's Folly--the border wall-- during a meeting attended by the press, Mr. Yuge played to the mob by threatening to shut down the government again, saying he would be "proud" to do so, or use the US military to complete the construction. What's the next step, Donito Trumpalini, marital law?

credit: Ed Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune
BC Idonwanna sez:  He make small rocks from yuge rocks soon! 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Earth, the Trashed Planet

One of the salient characteristics of human industrial civilization is the large amount of waste, toxic and otherwise, it disposes.  Are oceans are filling up with plastic; near space is crowded with technojunk ranging from defunct satellites, spent rockets, to fragments.  Man has been shooting objects into orbit since US Person was in elementary school; understandably there is quite a build-up of detritus that could endanger future space missions.  Now there is an effort underway to develop a capability to remove junk in orbit around the planet sponsored by a consortium of space companies, headed by the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.

Last spring the group launched a Space Falcon 9 rocket carrying the RemoveDebris satellite to the International Space Station.  It successfully arrived at the Station were it began testing technology used to capture debris.  The satellite is supposed to launch its own debris in experiments intended to demonstrate capture of targets using a net or harpoon.  It will also demonstrate navigational capabilities needed to rendezvous with targeted objects.  When finished with its mission the satellite will de-orbit using a large drag sail.  The mission is not intended to be a prototype of future clean up missions, but only a low-cost feasibility project.

based on actual data, size not to scale, European Space Agency
The European Space program recognized that the proliferation of various types of orbiting systems used for navigation, weather observation and communication since the dawning of the space age sixty years ago poses a problem for the operational safety of future space exploration.  Significant collisions have already occurred according to the director of the Surrey Space Center.  Since 1957 when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, more than 5,250 launches have occurred creating more than 23,000 tracked debris in orbit.  The situation is not quite as bad as depicted in the artist's rendition [right], but it gives the reader an idea of the magnitude of the potential danger posed by junk in orbit.

Three countries are responsible for most of the junk in space: US, Russia and China.  There is evidence that fewer than half of the satellites put into space  are commanded to de-orbit and incinerate in the atmosphere at the end of their usefulness.  Even a tiny piece, such a paint chip, could present a danger to fragile, expensive equipment launched into space.  In low Earth orbit, objects travel at four miles per second, creating enough kinetic energy to impact with a force equivalent to a 550 lb object traveling 60mph.
  

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Trump Regime Allows Seismic Blasting

North Atlantic Wright whale and her calf, credit S. Hanlan
Update:  Major aquariums along the east coast have expressed their opposition to five permits issued by the regime to allow seismic blasting in the search for more oil.  Scientists said that allowing more exploitation of an already stressed ecosystem was not a good idea.  The five aquariums include the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  They say the limitation on blasts imposed by NOAA when granting the permits are insufficient to protect vulnerable wildlife like the Wright whale. Seismic exploration has been shown to reduce singing in humpback whales, displace finback whales by hundreds of miles and disrupt activities vital to foraging and reproduction over vast ocean areas. Zooplankton declines by 64 percent within 4,000 feet of seismic blasts.  Zooplankton, the foundation of the ocean food chain declines by 64 percent within 4,000 feet of seismic blasts.  Noise in excess of a jet engine at 100 ft (>140dB) travel for hundreds of miles underwater.

The aquariums said they stand with 300 municipalities and 2,000 local officials that have expressed their disapproval of offshore drilling and exploration.  Every governor with the exception of those from Maine and Georgia are against the plan to exploit the Atlantic exclusive economic zone that extends 200 mile out from the US coastline.  A Democratic congressman from New Jersey will chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee in January. Congressman Frank Pallone Jr said members from both sides of the divide will fight the "reckless decision" to allow seismic testing.
 
 {04/12/18} The regime in Washington will allow oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast using a technique known to harm marine wildlife, especially those mammals that use echo location for finding food and navigation.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has granted permits to five companies to use seismic air gun blasts while searching for oil and gas deposits offshore.  The permits allow "incidental" harassment of marine mammals during the survey work.  The federal government itself estimates that airgun blasts could harm thousands of marine mammals including the critically endangered North Atlantic wright whale of which only 440 individuals survive.  The blasts send seismic shock waves through the water that travel 2500 miles.  Blasts of high energy occur every 10-12 seconds for weeks or even months on end.  The sound reaches levels of 260 decibels, equivalent to a grenade blast that would rupture a human eardrum.

Scientists have warned against the extreme disruption caused by seismic surveys using air guns for a wide range of species from whales to zooplankton, the foundation of the ocean food chain.  Under the permit conditions, operators will have to watch for marine life while testing, and shut down operations if sensitive species are observed in the area, but only intentional harm is prohibited, perhaps making a distinction without a practical difference.  Under the previous government, drilling was not allowed within fifty miles of the coast.  That limit has been reduced to three.  Environmental groups vow to fight back against renewed efforts to exploit offshore resources in the Atlantic ocean given support by the current regime in Washington.  The governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia  and New York have opposed offshore oil and gas development backed by popular and business support. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Vaquita Saved in Court

a drowned sentient being, NOT "by catch"
The Vaquita, Phocoena sinus, the smallest member of the porpoise family is very near extinction in the wild.  Fifteen individuals remain. Its home in the northern Gulf of California has been invaded by fisherman using fine mesh gill nets nets it cannot see. {28.03.16}The United States has failed to enforce a ban on fish products that harm vaquitas, a protected species under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, so conservation organizations including NRDC, sued the federal government.  The Federal Circuit appeals court responded by siding with conservationists against the incredible Trump regime to uphold the ban.  It is the third US court to do so.

The legal odyssey for the vaquita began in the US Court for International Trade in March where its human advocates secured a preliminary injunction against vaquita killing seafoods.  The Commerce, Homeland Security, and Treasury Departments had attempted to modify or undo the ban three times.  A US wildlife biologist for the Animal Welfare Institute said the US government is wasting time by continuing to oppose the court orders.  Mexico has attempted to restrict gill net use near the vaquitas' home range without much success.  It it is undisputed that gill net fishing in the northern Gulf is driving the species over the edge of existence.  Over the past 20 years, 95 percent of the population has been lost, and gill netting contributes to 50% or more of vaquita deaths.  Scientists predict that the small porpoise will be extinct soon, possibly even by 2021, if Mexican fishing practices and law enforcement efforts remain unchanged.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

"Toontime: The Shoe Drops

credit: Chris Weyant, Boston Globe
Wackydoodle sez: Putin's on his nice list!

Federal prosecutors in New York have finally linked Individual I to federal crimes in court documents filed for lawyer Michael Cohen's sentencing proceedings. The filings affirm Cohen's allegation that he paid off women to keep quite about their sexual encounters with Individual I at the height of his presidential campaign. These payments unambiguously constitute illegal campaign payments in the opinion of prosecutors. Federal law requires that any payments made "for the purposes of influencing" an election must be reported in campaign finance disclosures. These payments are likely to become the target of House Democrats when they take control of the House in January. A Democratic leader said the court filings "outline serious criminal wrongdoing." Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on Saturday. "And now you have a third [charge] — that the president was at the center of a massive fraud against the American people.” Nothing like calling the kettle black when it is a dirtball.

In addition to the illegal campaign finance activity, Cohen kept his boss informed of his efforts to speed Kremlin support for a tower development in Moscow well into his bosses' campaign for president. His Russian contact was an assistant to Putin's press secretary. Mueller states that this is important because the efforts to seal a deal, “came at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.” The Special Counsel goes on to emphasize, “The Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government,” One Russian individual who sought to influence the presidential candidate through Cohen was probably Russian Olympic weightlifter, Dmitry Klokov, who offered to provide the Trump campaign with 'political synergy' and 'synergy on a government level'. Despite the mounting circumstantial evidence, Individual I continues to twit weekly, sometimes in CAPITAL LETTERS, that there was "no collusion" between him and Russian government officials.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight federal crimes including campaign finance violations. Regardless of his subsequent cooperation with federal investigators, the aggressive Southern District of New York prosecutors are recommending to the court that Cohen serve four years in federal prison. Trump continues to deny he had any knowledge of the payments made to Stephanie Clifford, aka porn star Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, a Playboy model. Whether Individual I knew the payments to the women were illegal under federal campaign law is a critical question left unanswered by prosecutors in the documents filed so far. Clearly a connected attorney like Cohen, who had political campaign experience, should have known the payments were illegal, and he had an ethical duty to inform his client of the possibility. Cohen steadfastly maintains the payments were made at the direction of Individual I. If true, that would make the sitting President an accessory to the commission of two federal felonies.

credit: John Darkow, Columbia Missourian
BJ Idowanna sez: Me use smoke signals.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

In Memorium: P-64

US Person posted previously about the LA mountain lions that manage to survive in one of humanity's largest metropolis.  Their lives are immensely difficult due to marginal habitat fragment by rivers of steel and concrete--freeways. {18.09.15} One of these intrepid lions, P-64, became famous for her numerous crossings of Hwy 101 and 114. He successfully crossed them 41 times in the nine months the National Park Service tracked her through a GPS collar. The secret of his successful forays was in the use of a 640 ft long drainage tunnel with no light at the end because of bends in the pipe under 101.  Using this pipe at Liberty Canyon in the Agoura Hills, often filled with water required fortitude, and a strong instinct to occupy his territory. P-64 was photographed using the culvert [below] and became know as "the Culvert cat".

But death by vehicle impact was not P-64's fate. The devastating wildlfires  claimed him; his body was found with burnt paws. Cully was in the Simi Hills when the fire broke out on November 8th and traveled several miles through the fire before stopping in a remote place. Cully had two choices: either enter a populated area full of noisy humans fighting the fires, or enter the burning landscape in hopes of surviving.  He chose the latter, and lost a charmed life that had surpassed so many human imposed challenges before.

The Park Service tracks 13 cougars, eleven of which were near the perimeter of the Simi fire. Nine are moving around and appear to have survived their ordeal. Another young cougar, P-74, appears to have perished in the flames. Cully's death vividly demonstrates the need to give wildlife a chance to survive in a landscape altered almost beyond recognition. A wildlife crossing can be built over the freeway at Liberty Canyon to allow animals to forage and mate successfully--not force them to choose death trapped in a dark, water filled tunnel or death crushed beneath a speeding vehicle.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Creature Feature: Central Park Mandarin

credit: AP

No, not a high Chinese official assigned to the UN, but the little duck attracting big attention in Central Park.  New Yorkers appreciate flair and even a little bling, but this kaleidoscopic duck resembles modern art with his flashy display.  The male Mandarin is most likely an escapee from a private collection; they are native to east Asia.  Photographers and gawkers have been gathering for months for a glimpse of the exotic Aix galericulata.  In terms of crowd, appeal it out performs our own native colorist, the wood duck, to which it is closely related.  An admirer said the mandarin resembled a "living box of crayons", brightening the environs of a predominantly grey cityscape in winter.

This week the duck, who has a streak of showmanship, chose to display in front of the iconic Plaza Hotel where he was sure to attract a big audience.  He wowed them: preening his vibrant sunset array, strutting his assets upon the banks, or gliding regally across his adopted pond.  The Asian duck is not intimidated by the locals either, taking pecks at the other waterfowl as deemed necessary. His carefree attitude has enraptured hardened New Yorkers. In traditional Chinese culture mandarins are regarded as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity, and are frequently featured in Chinese art. If he rolls the dice right, this little mandarin will live to hybridize with the wood ducks, mallards, northern pintails, and black ducks that also call Gotham's Central Park home.


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

COTW: The Relentless Rise of Carbon Emissions

source: EPA
This year has had the greatest increase in carbon emissions in seven years.  Since 1970, CO₂ emissions have increased by about 90% over the amount emitted at the beginning of the previous century.  The world is going backward, not forward, which is to be expected under reactionary politicians in power who refuse to respect good-faith, international efforts to do something about the global warming crisis.  China is now the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, but it also has the world's largest population.  On a per capita basis, the United States emits the most destructive carbon pollution.

Friday, November 30, 2018

'Toontime: Individual I

credit: Rick McKee
Now that he has been named in court documents with an official alias, it is reasonable to conclude that "Individual I" is the central person of interest in the Russian Connection investigation.  He is portrayed in Robert Mueller's court filings as the central figure involved in efforts to make a deal on a Moscow tower development well beyond the date in which he publicly stated during his campaign that he had "no business dealings with Russia." He kept in close contacts with his agents who were reaching out to Moscow, and to Wikileaks, all the way up to the day before Wikileaks released the DNC emails hacked by Russian agents.

Two bombshells went off this week: Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was back in federal court to plead guilty to more federal crimes, Thursday. Those crimes included lying to Congress about his business contacts with Russians on behalf of Trump. He kept Trump family members and “Individual I” informed of his negotiations. "Individual I" responded to the damaging development by attacking Cohen as a “weak individual”, and “not very smart”. Cohen has now agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. His previous pleas were made without benefit of such an agreement. Cohen has sat for 70 hours of interrogation by investigators, and he represents a politically existential threat to Individual I, who was also contact with right-wing Trump supporter, Roger Stone. Stone was told by Jerome Corsi, who knows co-founder Julian Assange, that Wikileaks planned to release stolen emails in an “October surprise”. Corsi also knew Stone was in regular contact with Individual 1. According to the WaPo, Stone spoke to Individual I the day after he got the inside information from Corsi.

The second bombshell: Paul Manafort was supposed to be cooperating with the Special Counsel pursuant to an agreement. However, Robert Mueller filed court papers Friday alleging that Manfort repeatedly lied to investigators since he entered into the plea deal. Prosecutors at a court hearing said they are weighing charging Manafort with new crimes, as well as retrying him on federal charges that resulted in a hung jury this summer.  Manafort was convicted of tax and bank fraud charges in August. The federal district court judge presiding over Manafort’s sentencing set a tentative court date of March 5th. Investigators will file a detailed explanation of Manafort’s mendacity on December 7th.

The revelations from Cohen and Corsi come significantly after Individual I provided written answers to interrogatories submitted to the White House by Mr. Mueller. The potential for contradiction is obvious, but his latest front man, Rudi ‘Gouly’ Gouliani told reporters Trump's answers are consistent with Cohen’s testimony.  Supporters claim all of these developments are just smoke, with no hard evidence of criminal offenses committed by Individual I, but this new information definitely provides context and motive for the widespread allegations of lying, money laundering, and illegal campaign activity. As one House Democrat put it, they want to "cross the Ts and dot the Is" on Trump's continued obfuscation of his lucrative Russian connection, and his obstruction of justice. Certainly, a president beholding to the authoritarian leader of the country’s most dangerous competitor is no security risk in which to be allegedly framed. Enemies of Trump may not be able to muster 67 votes in the Senate for his conviction--unless he fires Robert Mueller--but it may become politically untenable for continuing his regime. After all 'Tricky" Dick, impeached by the House, was not convicted in the Senate, either.

Wackydoodle sez: Must be kin folks!
BC Idowanna sez: Orange man fake fascist!

Spider Zombies

Spiders are not usually considered social creatures.  Usually you find them alone--spinning their webs or searching for food. But there are about twenty-five social spider species worldwide. One, Anelosimus eximius [photo below] lives in the Ecuadorian Amazon where it lives in large colonies sharing prey and parental duties with colony members. That is until a colony member is victimized by the newly discovered Zatypota wasp. This wasp has a uniquely gruesome method of reproduction: an adult female lays an egg on the spider's abdomen where the larvae hatches and feeds on the spider's body fluids growing larger and slowly taking over the spider's body and controlling its behavior. The zombie-spider leaves its colony--something a normal Anelosimus would never do--to weave a completely unusual cocoon-like web. There it obliviously waits to be killed and consumed by the larvae. The wasp larvae then enters the cocoon built by its deceased slave were it metamorphoses into a fully grown wasp. Gruesome is perhaps an understatement.


There are other examples of wasp parasites on spiders, but these usually involve a solitary species like orb spiders, and the parasitically induced behavior are within the normal behavioral repertoire. But Zaytypota causes spider behavior completely outside the normal. Researchers do not know how the wasp hijacks the spider's brain and body, but suspect that hormones are injected into the spider's system causing it to function differently.  Zaytypota has been observed victimizing large spider colonies where it can be assured of a stable supply of potential zombies.  Nature can be unforgiving in the struggle for survival.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

COTW: The Sixth Extinction

There have been six great extinction events in the Earth's 4.5 billion year history.  The most renowned is the extinction of the dinosaurs at 66 million years ago. Scientists think this was the result of a massive asteroid strike and its aftermath.  Another occurred more recently at the end of the Pleistocene 13,000 to 8,000 BCE, when the Earth lost most of its megafauna such as mammoths, probably due to climate change and human predation.  In terms of the number of organisms lost, the greatest extinction is the Permian-Triassic, or the Great Dying, that affected primarily marine organisms and terrestrial invertibrates, 252 million years ago. During this extinction event ocean surface temperatures reached 40℃; it was simply too hot for anything to survive.  Earth lost some 90% of it's species.

Extinction is not just ancient history.  There is another great extinction taking place right now, and this chart from the Center for Biological Diversity shows the grim fact:


The current crisis in the natural world is fundamentally different because this event is almost entirely caused by human activity that is driving habitat loss and global warming.  In the past 500 years there have been known extinctions of 1000 species from passenger pigeons to woodland bison.  The truth is no one knows exactly how many species have been lost.  Many have disappeared before science was able to identify them.  In the US alone a leading wildlife expert estimates there are 14 to 35 thousand endangered species.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Mountain Gorillas Increase

it's all about family, credit WWF
Conservation success stories are becoming fewer in the age of the Sixth Great Extinction. But there are stories that bring hope and spur more efforts to save animals endangered by man's abuse of his only home in the universe. One of these is the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) living in the highlands of central Africa. After years of effort midst warfare and violent poaching--six rangers were killed in April--the population of these peaceful, intelligent primates has increased by 25% since 2010 in the Virunga Massif.

Conservationist and UN Ambassador,Sir Richard Attenborough, who first visited the gorillas in 1979, said of his first encounter, “There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than any other animal I know-–they are so like us.” He praised the work of conservation groups which have succeeded in bringing our relative back from the brink of extinction. The new survey was undertaken in difficult terrain conditions by 12 teams of surveyors covering 2,000 km² of mountainous forest in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Virunga's population has risen to 604 from 480 counted in the previous survey of 2010. Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable national park contains the remaining mountain gorilla population; in 2012 over 400 gorillas were counted there. The increase in numbers can be directly attributed to human protection and care, but wire snares set by locals to capture bush meat still pose a deadly threat to gorillas. The survey team destroyed 380 snares including one that contained a dead gorilla--truly a horrible and painful death.

Another recent survey found that there are double the number of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) than previously estimated. There are now estimated to be 360,000 of this subspecies, or 99% of all extant gorillas. This population has fallen by 20% in eight years due to threats summarized by researchers as guns, germs and greed.

Three Countries Block Antarctic Sanctuary

China, Russia and Norway have blocked an effort to create the world's largest wildlife sanctuary in Antartica. Twenty-two other countries were ready to approve the designation, but it needed unanimous approval in talks at Hobart, Tasmania. The sanctuary would have been the size of Sudan or 1.8 million km² giving all of Antarctica's unique wildlife a chance to survive. WWF says that 70% of the world's remaining wilderness exists in just five countries. The designation would have also helped soak up some of the carbon dioxide produced by combustion that is warming our planet catastrophically. A spokesperson for Greenpeace says that thirty percent of our oceans need to be protected to insure habitat, and thereby protect food sources. Less than 10% is now protected from damage. Unfortunately the historic opportunity to reverse this deadly trend was lost to filibustering and obstruction intended only to prevent unanimity. These countries appear to be more interested in expanding exploitative commercial fishing than giving the planet a change to recover from 300 years of industrial pollution according to observers.The Antarctic Ocean Commission under Russia's chairmanship in 2016 made progress when the Commission declared the Ross Sea would be protected, but Russia has failed to enforce the agreement pursuing instead opportunities to expand fishing in the Southern Ocean. The failed deal would have protected the Weddell and parts of the biologically rich Antarctic Peninsula. The next chance to protect Antarctica's seas will come at the UN which is negotiating a global ocean treaty. Those negotiation could reach a conclusion by 2020

Monday, November 26, 2018

Taylor Energy Order to Clean Up Act

US Person posted recently about an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that has the potential to be bigger than the Deepwater Horizon disaster. {30.10.18}A production platform that capsized after a submarine landslide has been leaking for fourteen years. The Coast Guard has now demanded that Taylor Energy Co., owner of the OCS lease, to clean up the spill or face fines of $40,000 day according to the Washington Post. The platform was destroyed during Hurricane Ivan in 2004; it has been leaking oil at an estimated rate of 700 barrels a day since then. That estimate is based on analysis by independent experts hired by the Justice Department for pending litigation against the Interior Department. Previous government estimates based on company supplied data put the amount at 55 barrels per day. Deepwater Horizon which was destroy by a blowout and subsequent fire spewed an estimated 4 million barrel of crude into the Gulf. The spill so far from the Taylor Energy ruins is now estimated at 1.5 to 3.5 million barrels.

Taylor was instructed to present a clean up plan by November 9th. It presented a plan on the 8th, but it was rejected by Interior in favor of a plan submitted by another contractor. Taylor has plugged eight of the 28 wells once connected to the platform that was pushed off its moorings by a landslide. Oil sheens are visible on the surface for miles. At one point they were mistaken as emanating from the Deepwater Horizon site to the north by disaster monitors. It was these oil slicks that lead environmentalists to the re-discovery of the leaks Taylor Energy sought to conceal or minimize. As reported by the Post, "[the] spill was hidden for years as the company and the Coast Guard declined to inform the public that it existed. Environmental groups that monitor the gulf were unaware that the broken wells were leaking for six years — until the catastrophic BP Deepwater oil spill in April 2010." Environmental groups brought suit against the government and Taylor for the concealment, which they allege is inconsistent with the provisions of the Clean Water Act, which provides for citizen participation in water policy.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

'Toontime: An Alternative Modernity?


credit: Jeffery Koterba
Wackydoodle sez: Too much leftover turkey.


Another minion of the malodorous misrule that is the Trump regime is prepared to cut a deal with Robert Mueller's unending quest to lay bare the Russian Connection. Jerome Corsi, a confidant of Robert Stone, the right-wing operative and Trump supporter, told the AP Friday that he is in plea negotiations with the Special Counsel. Investigators are zeroing in on Stone's connections to Wikileaks, which published the DNC's hacked emails.  The material was provided by Russian intelligence, according to US intelligence's assessment of what occurred during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Stone, and other campaign associates of Trump, are alleged to have had advanced knowledge of Wikileaks' plan to publicly leak the private communications. Stone, however, has publicly denied any insider knowledge of the release. Corsi recently said his plea negotiations have "blown-up", so that he fully expects to be indicted by the Special Counsel.

credit: John Day
BC Idonwanna sez: Me like'm high on hog, no turkey.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

COTW: Green Energy America

This chart from Visual Capitalist, shows the percentage of power generated from renewable resources in each state.  The red states are red because they are still burning fossil fuels to produce energy.  For example, look at the coal belt in the Appalachian and Ohio valley region. The blue states at the county's northern corners are appropriately blue because they use predominantly renewable resources for electric power generation:


The chart shows that there is a long way to go before the US reaches a point where it can genuinely declare itself to be "energy independent".

Saturday, November 17, 2018

"Toontime: Killer Prince, Friend of 'Merica

credit: Pat Bagley
BC Idonwanna sez:  Me like fake news, not Trump news!
Calling Saudi Arabia a "spectacular ally" on the day the enemy of the people--the press--reports the CIA has concluded the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman ordered the murder of a journalist does not do much for Mr. Yuge's already shredded credibility.  The CIA has told Trump that it has high confidence in the accuracy of its conclusion based on multiple intelligence resources, including an intercepted telephone call from the Prince's brother, Khalid bin Salman telling journalist Jamal Khashoggi it was safe for him to go to the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents he needed for his marriage.

Khashoggi was murder with an overdose of sedative by a hit squad in the consulate. Then his body was dismembered and removed from the premises. Turkish officials had placed a listening device in the consulate, and turned over the recording of Khashoggi's murder to western ntelligence.  The CIA's conclusion is unlikely to alter Salman's accession to the throne in an authoritarian monarchy where he already controls down to the minutest details, according to the intelligence agency. One suggested motive for the assassination is that Prince Salman considered Khashoggi a security risk because of his close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Saudi Arabia has announced it will seek the death penalty for those convicted in the murder, but as one US official said, that event "could happen overnight or take twenty years". According to the Kingdom's public prosecutor office, eleven people have been charged with involvement in the murder.


credit: Petar Pismestrovic


Meanwhile, when Mr Yuge is not praising brutal fuedal monarchs, he is berating the Russian Connection investigation, writing that Robert Mueller's staff, "has gone absolutely nuts", adding they "are a disgrace to the nation".  Mr. Yuge has recently been sequestered with his lawyers as they answer some 140-odd questions submitted to him by the Special Counsel's office.   Mr. Yuge's move to replace Jeff Sessions with a loyalist is already drawing bi-partisan criticism and a lawsuit from the state of Maryland.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Persecuting the Wolf, Again

Washington wolf, credit: C. Monnette
Repugnants are not good loosers. They lost control of the House of Representatives in the mid-term, so how do they vent their ire?; By pushing through a bill to remove legal protection for the grey wolf.  Not bills on taxes or immigrants, but persecuted wolf.  Is that the epitome of pettiness?  US Person thinks so.  A vote to remove the wolf's protection under the Endangered Species Act in the lower forty-eight states is set to occur as early as Friday.  The lame-duck session will last for the month of December, minus the holidays.

The chairman of the House Rules Committee which put the bill on the agenda said it has bipartisan support especially in the west. Not all western representatives are enthusiastic about removing the wolf's protection. Wolf populations are just beginning to recover in most west coast states. Currently the US Forest Service is under legal obligation to protect wolf dens and habitat from human activity such as logging and grazing. Still wolves are killed in significant numbers for acts of predation on livestock. {09/30/2016}; {09/17/2017} Livestock owners and their lobby groups have pressured Repugnant representatives to remove protection for the predators, which are supported by "activist litigants" who "used the judicial system to circumvent sound science" to restore protections under the ESA removed in 2013. Of course these subsidized ranchers neglect to mention that scientific evidence supports the continued protection of grey wolves from persecution; their respect for the judicial system is such that they also want the bill stripping wolves of their legal lifeline exempted from judicial review.

The Center for Biological Diversity says wolves are missing from 90% of their historic range in the lower forty-eight states. The US Fish & Wildlife is currently studying the status of wolf recovery and could recommend again removing grey wolves from endangered status.; The Center sued the agency recently for failing to provide a nationwide management plan for the species. If you want to see wolves given a decent chance to recover from three hundred years of human persecution, write or call your representative in Congress and tell them to give wolves a chance to survive into the 21st century.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

COTW: It Is Climate Change, Stupid!

Hair Further was quick to blame bad forest management--a capitalist code phrase for logging--as the reason for California's devastating wildfires.  He was just as quickly contradicted by professional firefighters.  The president of the International Association of Firefighters said his twits on the subject were "reckless and insulting" to firefighters and victims of the flames.  The facts are that the deadly Camp Fire that wiped out the town of Paradise Valley started in a forest that was thinned by fire ten years ago.  The Woolsey Fire that has devastated the affluent living in Malibu, started on a hillside, not a forest.  If he must bloviate on social media, he owes it to the country to do it accurately.

Three factors are contributing to the intensity of the fires:  One is that California is tinder dry.  The state is still recovering from a historic drought, and Santa Ana winds, which occur every year, are blowing strong.  Second, the fire season is now 78 days longer on average than in the past due to climate change. A long-term trend of warmer summers and drier falls has helped desiccate California's vegetation to kindling.  Third, human habitation is increasingly encroaching on wild lands where fires begin. 

This chart shows the largest wildfires in California's history.  Unfortunately there are more giant fires to come due to the factors mentioned.  Gov. Jerry Brown called this fire season, the "new normal":


The Mendocino Complex, formed when two fires merged, has burned 440 square miles of Northern California.  The Camp fire is the state's most deadly having killed 58 people as fire raged through the small town in the middle of forest land.  Some were burned in their vehicles trying to escape the inferno. Seven thousand structures were destroyed. There are still missing persons in the hundreds.  The state spent $505 million fighting fires in 2017.  That amount will certainly be exceeded this year. Harvard researchers have concluded that by 2050 the number of wildfires in the US will double.

As can be seen from this chart the trend in the size of wild fires is also increasing over time.  Think about that Mr. Yuge the next time you deny the effects of climate change:




Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The End of the War to End Wars

the advent of air power--SPAD XIII
Historians still dispute the causes of the first great war in Europe. The results are indisputable. The war was particularly deadly for both combatants and civilians since the adversaries first used mechanized equipment on an industrial scale to kill en mass. The means descended into the horrible use of chemical weapons. An estimated 16 million people died in the conflict. The war to end war did not accomplish that laudable goal; in fact, historians think the ensuing peace that imposed ruinous financial burdens on Germany set the stage for the rise of fascism; barely a generation passed before conflagration erupted again. Empires fell. A generation was traumatized for life. The armistice that brought peace to the continent on November, 11th one hundred years ago was remembered across Europe this Sunday.


in the mud at Passchendaele
Of course a superficial review of the historical events leading to war will conclude that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by a Serbian terrorist precipitated conflict. But it was the web of military alliances that drew nations into belligerence. Leaders had come to accept inevitable war as a legitimate means of achieving national ends.  The continent was divided into two camps of major powers, the Triple Entente of Britain, France and Russia, and the Triple Alliance of German, Austria-Hungary and Italy.  When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia a month after the assassination, the other powers were required to come to the aid of their allies by treaty. German declared war on France, August 3, 1914. When Germany advanced on Belgium, Britain declared war on Germany. 

A less apparent causative factor was an intense arms race between Britain and Germany in which Germany intended to create a blue water navy that could rival the world's leading naval power. Kaiser Wilhelm II began building battleships of immense tonnage and firepower in 1898. Britain's economy relied on sea-borne trade, so any challenge to its navy's hegemony was viewed with alarm, provoking a response in kind. Developments in technology such as steam turbines and large-bore guns mounted in turrets made older vessels obsolete.  By 1906 Britain gained a technological advantage with its dreadnought class of battleships. Unable to keep up with the spending of the world's largest industrial economy of the time, Germany turned its attention to the army. The damage done to relations between the two countries by the naval arms race was irreparable.
industrial capacity was key to victory

Deteriorating family relations may have also had a causative role.  The three emperors, George V, Tsar Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm II were first cousins who knew each other well.  The oldest grandchild of Queen Victoria, Wilhelm nevertheless  developed an antipathy towards everything British probably due to a difficult relationship with his mother. A historian wrote of his conflicted attitude toward the British: From the outset, the half-German side of him was at war with the half-English side. He was wildly jealous of the British, wanting to be British, wanting to be better at being British than the British were, while at the same time hating them and resenting them because he never could be fully accepted by them." While she was alive, Queen Victoria attempted to reconcile the cousins, but when she died relations between the branches of her extended royal family became more strained. A recent book reviewer wrote, the events leading up to the conflict are "a study in the envy, insincerity, festering rancor and muddle that only families can manage". Unlike ordinary families, however, the royal rancor had tragic geopolitical consequences for the world.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Trump Rejected: Federal Judge Blocks Keystone Pipeline

Judge Brian Morris of the Federal District Court of Montana ruled that the federal government failed to account for the pipeline's contribution to the world's climate disaster, saying it "simply discarded" the significant effects.  The EPA estimated in February that construction of the pipeline would contribute an extra one billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.  Hair Further lamely labeled the decision "politcal" and a "disgrace".  Judge Morris is an Obama appointee.  Citing Supreme Court precedent, the judge wrote, “An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate.”

The 1179 mile large diameter pipe would carry 800,00 per day south to refiners in the Gulf Coast region.  Exploiters have typically emphasized the minuscule economic benefit in the form of jobs, while turning a blind eye to the environmental damage the additional burning of fossil fuel will cause.  The legal problem for the regime is a detailed, fact-based explanation, in light of contrary findings by the previous administration, for reversal of the previous policy denying State Department permission for the international pipe's construction.  Two days after he took office, Mr. Yuge issued a fiat reversing Obama's decsion against the project, elevating the project to a political cause celebre, a symbol of 'Making America Great Again (MAGA). What his decision making on the project does is isolate the United States from the international community of nations who have signed the Paris Climate Accords, and indeed reject mainstream scientific thinking on climate change. The Trump regime has sought the reversal of 76 rules related to protecting the environment.

Experts think that the impact of the pipeline on the nation's economy is out of proportion to the political upheaval created over its permiting.  The pipeline will primarily benefit Canada's oil shale operators by giving them an outlet to coastal refineries for their land-product.  Their product is low-grade crude which requires huge amounts of water and fuel to process.  The State Department estimated that 42,000 temporary jobs for two years — about 3,900 of them in construction and the rest through indirect support, like food service — but only 35 permanent jobs would be created. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

'Toontime: Session Over

The longer the Russian Connection investigation continues, the more Hair Further resembles 'Tricky' Dick Nixon.  Nixon, readers may recall, fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox [photo] who was investigating the Watergate break-in by former FBI and CIA agents hired by the White House.  Hair Further has gone one better and fired his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from overseeing Robert Mueller's activities on Wednesday.  In his place he has inserted a loyalist minion, Mathew Whitaker, who now has authority to control the scope of Mueller's investigation, prohibit the publication of Mueller's investigative report, or even fire him.   Democrats warn that Whitaker will try to slowly “strangle” the Russian Connection investigation by cutting its funding or limiting it in other ways. “It is, in effect, a slow-motion Saturday Night Massacre,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, a member of the Judiciary Committee, referring to Cox's termination. “The reason that they are doing this in a slow-motion way is to avoid that uproar and uprising.”  Democrats have objected to Whitaker's appointment on ethical grounds, citing potential conflicts of interest.  Whitaker was the campaign chairman for an investigation witness who unsuccessfully ran for office in Iowa.  The decision to fire Sessions will certainly add impetusl to the effort to impeach Mr. Yuge in the House of Representatives, now controlled by Democrats.  The new Congress begins in January.

The announcement of Session's firing came during a chaotic press conference in which the would-be dictator publicly chastised a reporter from CNN for exercising his First Amendment rights.  Jim Acosta refused to release the microphone to a female White House aide while asking the man follow-up questions.  Hair Further called him a "rude", "terrible person" and suggested he should be fired for touching the female aide.   After the conference, the White House yanked Acosta's press credentials, drawing protests from across the Fifth Estate.  Histrionics aside, Mr. Yuge should remember his history:  firing Cox did not work out well for Nixon.  The firing intensified efforts in Congress to widen and continue the investigation of the President's high crimes and misdemeanors, headed by Cox's replacement, Leon Jarowski.  Nixon was eventually forced to resign in disgrace after the House voted for a bill of impeachment.

 credit: Marion Kamenski
Wackdoodle sez: "You're fired!

Thursday, November 08, 2018

COTW: A House Divided by Race

The midterm election results are in, and its a mixed bag: Democrats now control the lower chamber while Repugnants increased their majority by three seats in the upper chamber.  Turnout was heavy with the largest percentage of eligible voters participating in a mid-term election since 1970 at 47%  These charts, courtesy of the BBC tell the story, or as US Person's barber is fond of saying, "res ipsa loquitor":





It is not because some white people are greedy, Mr. Yuge.  The reason for the nation’s disunity is some white people like those in the charts above still cling to the foundation myth of 13 English colonies immersed in the dirty business of slavery: white supremacy.*  But it is evident from your political rhetoric you already know that.
*Horne, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism p 47, 157-59, 190-191 (2018)  Horne’s thesis is that policy makers in London and colonies consciously chose to employ a “synthetic whiteness” to counter the threat of rebellion and social unrest in colonial settlements outnumbered by slaves of imported African blacks and displaced indigenous Americans.  Ethnicity and religion became secondary considerations to combating disruption of lucrative trade made possible by slave labor.  The concept of “white” was therefore expanded to include immigrants from Iberia to the Urals.  America’s “unpardonable sin” was committed in the name of profit. 

The profits generated by the slave trade, notably conducted from ports in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, were astronomical-- reaching a 1600% return. In turn the southern colonies' sugar, cotton and tobacco industries depended almost entirely on enslaved Africans.  Indentured Europeans were too expensive.  Deregulation of the British slave trade after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 insured the accumulation of wealth generated by slavery was held in private hands, and not the crown's.  But frequent slave rebellions in the Caribbean drove many slave-owning entrepreneurs north to the mainland, particularly to Carolina.   Thus, it may fairly be said that the development of capitalism in North America has its roots mired in slavery.

 

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Is It the End for a Giant of the Forest?

Conservationists are increasingly concerned for the fate of a giant Peruvian rain forest tree, the shihuahuaco. (Dipteryx sp.)  A slow growing tree that can reach 60m high and a diameter of 1m over the course of its 700 year life span.  Logging pressure on this tree puts in the same class of mahogany and ceder as  threatened by human exploitation; the wood is valued for appearance and durability.  However, mahogany and cedar have both received legal protection under CITES which Peru joined in 1975 and is still a member of the international convention.  So far, the shihuahuaco remains unprotected.  Peru's rules covering at risk flora say classification should be updated every four years.  The last update was in 2006.

This tree is part of the framework of the forest.  Its crown and girth provide shade and shelter.  When one falls, a significant gap in the canopy is created.  Birds and bats, including the giant and increasingly rare harpy eagle nest in it. [photo]  Agotis live among its buttress roots. Human residents of the forests collect seeds for consumption.  When toasted, they taste like a combination of cashews and peanuts.  The bark is used for purple die and medicinal purposes.  These traditional uses may be the tree's salvation from extinction.  Scientific efforts to save the shihuahuaco have failed so far.

In 2015, the National Forestry and Wild Fauna Service, known as SEFOR formed a working group of specialists to recommend how to save threatened trees.  Its published final study included the shihuahuaco among the 61 species considered to be in critical danger. It was forwarded to environment minister Fabiola Muñoz.  The report silently disappeared into the bureaucracy. A investigator familiar with the study and the workings of Peruvian government has a typical opinion of what happened to the scientific recommendation for protection.  He told an interviewer that the lumber industry succeeded in quashing SEFOR's study.  Their opinion simply carries more weight with government officials.  According to the agency that supervises wildlife and forest resources, OSIFOR, the most logged tree species are the Peruvian pine (9% of the total), lupuna (8.8 %), cumula (8.6%) and, in fourth place, shihuahuaco (5.5%). Most of the lumber is destined for Mexico and the US where it is turned into furniture and parquet flooring.

dried shihuahuaco fruit, credit: D. Requena Suarez
Smallholders could play a significant role in the conservation of the shihuahuaco.  There seed gathering is demand and provides motivation to protect and cultivate the species.  Currently, Peruvian conservation policies leave out small holders who cannot own natural forests, but nonetheless utilize is resources.  As a recent visitor to the forest in the Ucayali Region observed, "After visiting eleven villages and interviewing over a hundred seed collectors, I can say that not only do these breath-taking trees still exist in Ucayali; but that they are closely related to and cared for by the people that surround them."