Friday, November 17, 2017

Keystone Pipeline Leaks in La-la Land

courtesy: Trans Canada
Just days before the Nebraska utility commission is expected to decide right of way requests for an expansion of the Keystone Pipeline through the state, it leaked 210,000 gallons of bitumen onto agricultural land in Marshall County, South Dakota Thursday morning.  Trump approved the expansion after his predecessor in office decided against granting necessary federal permits.  The spill is relatively small--there have been 17 larger ones since 2010 according to AP-- and the owner, Trans Canada Corp., was quick to point out that no groundwater was contaminated.  One of the major objections to the pipeline's expansion across Nebraska is the potential contamination of water aquifers.  In September Trump declared the pipeline would be "environmentally better".

Another classic example of greed motivated double-think from the so-called administration in Washington: his gang announced that it would reverse the ban on importation of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe.  Obama's government banned importation from that chaotic country because elephant's were endangered by lack of conservation efforts.  Trump functionaries announced that dropping the ban would actually help endangered elephants, “by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation.” Mugabe's pockets are already swelling.

Corruption does not stop at the White House door.  The US House approved with a bipartisan vote an out-of-control  appropriations bill of $700 billion to fund the warmongers at the Pentagon.  It aims to increase their military spending by $80 billion.  The rationale: the increased spending is needed to protect the country from an arrogant, unstable President--talk about sick!  The bill includes spending for 28 more anti-ballistic missiles stationed in Alaska that presumably could be used to shoot down a North Korean ICBM. The increase is more than enough to pay for Medicare for All and free college education which are routinely dismissed by reactionary politicians as 'too expensive'.  Insane?  Just ask the people of Flint, MI who still do not have potable drinking water.
Representatives approved with bipartisan support an

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hunter's Story Does Not Hold Up

courtesy: Oregon State Police
An Oregon "meat hunter" shot an killed Oregon Wolf OR-25 last month while hunting near La Grande, Oregon.  He claims he saw three wolves together. One  wolf charged him, so from a distance of 27 yards, he raised his rifle and shot it in self defense.  The Oregon State Police accepted his story with little investigation of the facts.  No necropsy was performed and the body disposed of before any independent anaylsis could be performed. Perhaps the state police were anxious to close the case quickly because of an institutional bias for which law enforcement agencies are well known.

Photographs of the dead wolf show that the animal was shot in the side, with the exit wound at the left front shoulder.  This fact would directly contradict the claim that the animal was coming directly at the hunter.  An experienced wolf biologist who has worked for the state said the shot was well placed, indicating a stationary target, not a running snap shot.  The wolf was a small female about 83 pounds, one that would have almost certainly have fled from an armed human. Nor was she suffering from an obvious diseases such as rabies.  It is illegal to kill a wolf in Oregon except in self defense or if there is substantial evidence of wolf predation on livestock. The Oregon Wolf Coalition has asked Governor Brown to reopen the investigation to determine what actually happened.  The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife is expected to release its new wolf management plan for public comment shortly.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Creature Feature: Team Lifting

Human managers like to talk a lot about "teamwork". Little do they know that other creatures on Earth practice this virtue regularly without complaint or direction.  Clown fish have a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones in which they make their homes. Here on BBC's Blue Planet, the little clown fish of the subfamily Amphiprioninae demonstrates the concept of team lifting:

Monday, November 13, 2017

Palm Oil Company Clears More Land Despite Ban

credit: Rainforest Action Network
The Indonesian island of Sumatra faces a ecological crisis created by the burgeoning palm oil industry.  There is huge demand for the product as a common food additive.  PepsiCo, for example, is a major user of palm oil.  Producer PT Tualand Raya has cleared a total of 205 hectares of rain forest since the government banned new clearances in 2016.  Its concession is located in the Leuser ecosystem which is considered prime remaining habitat for the Sumatran elephant, Elephas maximus sumatranus, a species on the brink of extinction in the wild. Between 1980 and 2005, 69% of their habitat has been lost to development.  In two provinces Riau and Lampung entire populations have been lost due to habitat destruction. Plantation expansion interferes with migration along routes that have been used for centuries by elephants.  Herds rely on these paths to find water, food and each other.  Destruction of their paths increases the likelihood of human conflict and resulting elephant mortality.

credit: N. Sujana
The Trump government has proposed cutting US support of wildlife conservation programs abroad by 32%.  This money represents vital support of programs such as anti-trafficking efforts and community conservation initiatives in Africa and elsewhere. US Fish & Wildlife Services International Species Program would go from a modest $9.15 million in funding, compared to the Pentagon's billions, to zero.  This program funds conservation efforts to help elephants, great apes, migratory birds, tigers, rhinos and other iconic species under threat of extinction.  Funding to protect new species under the US Endangered Species Act would be cut by 17%.  The photo, left above, shows a sick elephant calf separated from his mother in an East Aceh palm oil plantation.  Perhaps he is asking for man's help to survive in a world not of his making.  He certainly needs it.  For He fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome... Wisdom 1:14

Thursday, November 09, 2017

COTW: Armed and Dangerous

credit: Guns & Ammo

'Merica, epitomized by Trump's callousness, has apparently decided to solve its "mental health problems" with more guns. The corporate mass media has endlessly touted the intervention of a bystander in the Texas church shooting who was also equipped with a rifle. But the fact is he did not stop the massacre from taking placed. The shooter died from a self-inflicted gunshot. The chart shows the spike in gun sales by type of weapon. Variants of the A-15, a civilian semi-automatic version of a military weapon is the blue line, exceeded by sales of high capacity magazines and matching ammo. In 2013 when this chart ends, the gun industry had its best sales year in history. The demand for weapons has outstripped supply, sending gun prices up as illustrated below. The FBI reported a record number of back ground checks on Black Friday of 2012 (154,873) exceed the previous year's total in one day in anticipation of a lame duck President doing something about the gun fetish in 'Merica. The problem is profit-making, not mental health (although US Person is not willing to dispute there is a metal health crisis in the country). Any excuse to keep the cash coming in by preventing a ban on non-sporting arms and stiring up another war is good enough for the plutocrats.