This is a fascinating video from Minnesota of what the family is calling an “ice Tsunami.” It is remarkably slow moving but does cause damage to the house.
Archive for the 'Environment' Category
While I hardly relish the death of any person, this is a story that represents a rare victory of an elephant versus a poacher. Solomon Manjoro was one of many poachers who are killing off whole species to sell ivory or animal parts to willing buyers. Police say that he and accomplice Noluck Tafuruka, 29, went to the protected Charara safari area in Zimbabwe to kill an elephant but Manjoro ended up being trampled by his prey.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
Sometimes I’ll be watching something and a thought will occur to me and it will stick in my mind and lead me into a meditation on a more global idea that remains with me as I try to puzzle it out. A train of thought set off this week was a TV program in which a person had to deal with aging and it was clear that their fear of their own mortality that controlled their actions. The program is forgotten and unimportant in this piece, but it did start me spending much time extrapolating the implications from that situation. This represents the rude beginnings of a theory I’ve developed, sans research, on why many people respond the way they do to the world, especially in a sociopolitical sense. Feel free to attack it, because it is merely a product of my tangled thought processes and in truth I don’t even know if it is particularly original, or the result of my synthesis of much I’ve learned and read through the years.
Noticeable human development began at least a million years ago in an apelike creature that was small and relatively weak, considering the predatory creatures that surrounded it. Life was a tricky proposition for that creature and the act of merely staying alive consumed its time. I would think that almost all of its day was spent in a state of fear, causing adrenalin rushes and hyper sensitivity to its environment. Those with the most fear, sensitivity and intelligence survived enough to pass on their genes to the coming generations, thus continuing the evolutionary cycle. As time and evolution passed enormous changes in brain size and other factors turned this fragile being into an omnivore predator that mastered the food chain. Yet still remaining were the instincts of fear and hyper-vigilance, since life even at the top of the food chain remained brutal and short. Those instincts protected us well until a next evolutionary step that took us to a whole new level, leaving us as unquestioned masters of life on this planet. That step is what some are calling a social evolutionary process. When humans began to band together into larger groups their place in the world increased exponentially. This “social evolution” changed the Earth and continues today, but nevertheless we are still primarily ruled by fear and by hyper-vigilance. Let me take you where this thought has led me and perhaps you can show me the flaws in my nascent “theory” and provide me with respite from its repetition in my brain. Continue reading ‘A Meditation on Fear’
China’s runaway pollution is close to forcing one of the most beautiful creatures into extinction. The Hong Kong Dolphin Society is reporting that the population of rare Chinese white dolphins (known as pink dolphins for their unique color) are almost wiped out. A tragic picture was captured recently of one of the few remaining mothers trying to support her dead calf in the waters outside of Hong Kong — the victim of extreme pollution in the Pearl River Delta.
We have previously discussed the unhealthy pollution in China, particularly air pollution that has set records in the last couple years in Beijing. The situation is little better in Taipei, where a recent report found that more than 20 percent of first-graders suffer from asthma and 50 percent have allergic rhinitis, the inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose. The findings of the Taiwan Association of Asthma Education reflect the human cost — particularly among children — of pollution — a cost often ignored even in this country by politicians who espouse economic over environmental values.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
My opinion of the situation in this country is obviously grim if one looks at the themes I tend to write on. As I see it we are either fast becoming a Corporate Feudal Police State, or already have achieved that dubious distinction. I am in favor of a movement towards reversing this situation. There are some issues that can resonate with most Americans and any movement seeking to reverse the anti-Constitutional trends afoot in the U.S. today must find the means to go beyond the falseness of the Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative ideological inanity. We have a corporate two party system, run by an oligarchic elite, whose base disagreement is how to treat those 99% of us, who in their view are the American Peasantry. The Republican Corporatists in effect believe that the majority of Americans should be left to their own devices, while the Democratic Corporatists mildly look for palliatives that won’t disturb their benefactors who are really in charge. Some may say my viewpoint is a radical one and this is possibly so, though the definitions of “radical” have blurred through the years. In my life I’ve spent a number of years as a political activist in one form or another and as I approach the age of 70, I think that my experiences have taught me much about political activism and the potential dangers it brings to the people at large. Right now I find two issues that frighten me for the sake of the future and how my progeny will experience it. The first is the notion of a coming police state and the second is the prospect of a violent, revolutionary upheaval in reaction to it. In other words I see we the People of the United States being between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”. Continue reading ‘You Say You Want a Revolution?’
Just when you thought that you could not get more shocking news from China’s environmental and food safety scandals, like thousands of dead pigs floating down a major river, you stand corrected. Chinese officials have found dozens of traders in Eastern China selling huge amounts of rat and mink flesh as mutton. This is not a couple pounds. The meat was sold for $1.6 million. Six suspects in Guizhou Province were found with 8.8 tons of “toxic chicken feet.”
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
I must begin this guest blog with a bit of a confession. When I first started posting on Jonathan’s blog many years ago I found that he had recognized me in one of his end of the year posts. He wrote words to the effect that what he found appealing in my comments was my tendency to reveal much about myself in the course of them. He had seen into the essence of not only my writing style, but also of the way I interpret the world around me. For me it always starts from my personal emotions about an issue and then I work to try to see how my personal experiences can apply to the world around me. It is the key to my empathy, which allows extrapolating my personal experience into a more global view of the world I live in. I imagine that is how it is for most people, but we all live in the isolation of our own consciousness. It is in truth not the best writing style and certainly not the most creative one, but at least limited by my own ability to be self critical, it is the most honest writing that I am capable of producing.
With that caveat in mind, let’s talk about my own health care experiences. I was genetically endowed with the predisposition towards heart disease. Both my parents and many of their siblings died in their early fifties from variations of heart disease. My Mother had perhaps four heart attacks (MI’s) and three strokes. My father had two heart attacks. As a family we were far from wealthy, struggling to maintain ourselves at the lower end of the middle-class, but my father had prescience that kept us from disaster. He always paid for good medical coverage and back then and most importantly medical coverage was affordable. Given my seeing so many medical issues as a boy my families medical insurance made a big impression on me. As a civil servant in New York City in lieu of an adequate salary I was covered by good health insurance and always elected to have the best, most costly plan. Up until the age of 36 this “Cadillac” (to use the current verbiage) plan wasn’t necessary because I seemed to be in good health, although the high blood pressure that kept me out of the Viet Nam draft was a concern to Doctors, but then I rarely needed to see Doctors. Six months after I married though at age 37, I suffered my first massive heart attack. With the help of my wife who nursed me through the recovery I seemed to return to normal. The hospital costs were huge and would have bankrupted me but for my health insurance. As my life progressed I had two more MI’s and then finally Congestive Heart Failure so bad that it led to me being put on an artificial heart device LVAD to keep me alive and finally a heart transplant to give me a new life. http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/22/from-the-bottom-of-my-new-heart/
Thanks to my Medicare and my secondary health insurance I am alive today and nearing 70 years. My health insurance has probably paid out many millions to keep me alive and I sm grateful for that and in truth very lucky that I chose to be an underpaid Civil Servant.
My personal experience with the health care system came to mind when the Boston Marathon bombing occurred leaving so many victims with dire health care problems, many with loss of limbs. I can remember that day thinking what the costs of these patients treatment would be and how many of them would pay for it, even with the Massachusetts Health Insurance system. You see even though my Heart Transplant was covered, it is estimated that costs to the transplant patient are $30,000 for the first year after the transplant. I can’t cry poverty, but let’s say that those ancillary costs wiped out most of my savings. The loss of a limb and the rehabilitation from it can take many years and is costly. Prosthetics wear out and must be replaced. Depending on ones occupation their income can be adversely affected and their family lives severely disrupted as a consequence. While it is true that thus far some $23 million dollars has been raised purportedly for the victims how far will that money go towards allowing them to return to their normal lives? Given this what are the implications of the response to this particular act of horror in terms of the entire health care debate that is far from settled in this country? Continue reading ‘Health Care, Boston and the Luck of the Draw’
I was struck this week with two remarkable breakthroughs in the use of bacteria. While once the scourge of parents and doctors, the simple bacteria is being enlisted as an ally in new scientific work. Researchers in New York have discovered a way to use radioactive bacteria to kill cancer, using bacteria as a uniquely effective vehicle to find and attack cancer cells. In the meantime, a team from the University of Exeter has discovered a way to use bacteria to make bio-diesel.
Continue reading ‘In Praise of Bacteria: New Scientific Breakthroughs Find Unexpected Ally’
The cultural appetite of Chinese for exotic and endangered animals has long fueled the global black market for such products and sustained an army of poachers who are forcing various species into extinction. This cultural taste is combined with China’s unrivaled anti-environmental record. Those elements came together this week when a Chinese vessel, the F/N Min Long Yu ran aground in a protected coral reef in the southwestern Philippines. Not only did the vessel damage the protected area, but it turned out to be illegally present in the area and loaded with more than 22,000 pounds of meat from a protected species, the pangolin or scaly anteater. The Chinese crew then allegedly tried to bride the Filipino coast guard to just look the other way — a common practice in China.
The Kansas legislature appears intent in stacking out the most hostile environmental record in the nation. Sponsors have introduced Kansas House Bill 2366 to ban any funds to be used to “promote or implement sustainable development.” The anti-environmental legislation is meant to prevent measures designed to balance development with the sustaining of natural resources. The main sponsor, Republican Rep. Dennis Hedke has close ties with oil and gas companies.
Tags: Arkansas, environment, Exxon-Mobil, FAA, Mayflower, oil spill, Peagasus Pipeline, pollution
Submitted by Charlton Stanley, guest blogger
This is my first post as a Guest Blogger. I am honored and humbled to be invited to post at one of the most respected legal opinion blogs on the ‘net. I will try to maintain the high standards already set by the heavy hitters already posting here. Thank you, Professor Turley, and all the other guest bloggers and regulars here. I have been posting here and on other blogs under the username Otteray Scribe. Otteray is the Cherokee name for the Blue Ridge Mountains where I live. When in the fourth grade, I learned about the scribes of old Europe. The idea of someone actually having a job writing things down for people who were illiterate fascinated me. My username combined two of my favorite words. Blue Ridge writer. That’s me.
Just a bit of background about me. I am a forensic psychologist with about 41 years of trying to get it right. I am passionate about my work, aviation, photography and my family. Other interests include law enforcement and corrections. In future stories, I plan to write about all those subjects. Hopefully, over the past four decades I learned a few things worth sharing.
For my first effort, I wanted to focus on how people who know little of aviation get a news story, and then mangle it into something that it is not. This is not new. There was a time not long ago when any kind of general aviation airplane crashed, it was described in the press as a, “Piper Cub.” Cubs are seldom seen these days, so that descriptor has evolved to a, “small Cessna.” Perhaps this story will set the record straight, and tamp down some of the ‘Hair-On-Fire’ hyperbole about flight restrictions over the oil spill in Arkansas. This environmental disaster is personal to me. At one time, I lived and worked only a few miles from Mayflower, and have flown in and out of the Conway airport many times.
Misinformation, hyperbole and conspiracy theories have been rampant about the flight restrictions around the oil spill at Mayflower, Arkansas. The problem started when local news media referred to Exxon-Mobil getting the FAA to establish a “no-fly” zone around the oil spill. To be clear, this is a completely different issue than what is happening on the ground. Links to some of those stories are at the end of this piece.
An unnamed 20-year-old man succeeded last week in combining trafficking in the infamous ivory trade with the destruction of historical artifacts to become one of the truly vile humans on Earth. The man broke into the Paris National History museum and cut off the tusk of the famous Louis XIV elephant with a chainsaw. An alert neighbor heard the sound of the chainsaw and called police. The man was arrested as he tried to make his escape.
Continue reading ‘Thief Cuts Off Tusk From Louis XIV’s Elephant With Chainsaw’
Despite the rain, Easter was a smashing success at the Turley house including a soggy but fun neighborhood Easter Egg hunt around our house. Environmentalists however are hoping that these good feelings could translate into some support to save the erstwhile mascot of the holiday: the New England cottontail. The rabbit species faces potential extinction because its needed scrub land is being eradicated by many of those same Easter-loving humans.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
To some of us the transition from slave to citizenship by those Africans brought in chains to these shores for economic exploitation and horrific abuse ended with the “Emancipation Proclamation”. To others its’ end might have been marked by “Brown v. Board of Education”, or by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Those of somewhat more insightful bent may have said that the true emancipation occurred when Barack Obama was elected President in 2008. In my view, as much of an impact as all those milestones (and more such as Jackie Robinson i.e.) made to American consciousness, Black people in the United States clearly still lack the benefits and rewards of citizenship. I would go further and say that in the United States, at this time; most Black people still suffer the degradation and challenges brought about by both institutional and emotional racism. This is not to say that in our country other groups, such as Latino’s and Native Americans are free of oppressive prejudice, but to assert that given their history in this country Black people are slotted into the bottom of the economic and social ladder and are still struggling to obtain even those most minimal of rights that most Americans see as their birthright. Continue reading ‘The Myth of Black Freedom in the U.S.’
Chinese Restaurant Owner Found With Dozens of Threatened Turtles Killed For Soup But Is Allowed To Simply Pay FinePublished 1, March 29, 2013 Animals , Criminal law , Environment , International 34 Comments
The spiny freshwater turtle population is less than 1000 according to Canadian reports, but they found a windfall of dozens of the turtles recently. The problem is that they were dead and on a Chinese menu. Yet, the Chinese owner will face only a relatively small fine for this violation. In killing and sell these turtles for soup (and contributing to the possible loss of a species) the owner will face less of a penalty than a car theft or bad check.
Ecuador To Sell China More Than Three Million Hectares Of Pristine Amazonian Rainforest For Oil DevelopmentPublished 1, March 28, 2013 Environment , International , Science , Society 28 Comments
We have long followed the horrific record of China on the environment. The Chinese regime has continued to push for high production rates as the number of “cancer villages” and lethal pollution rises across the country. This record has made China the worse environmental violator in the world. Now, greed has combined with power to make for what could be one of the greatest single environmental losses with China expanding its destructive record to Latin America. Ecuador has announced a plan to auction off more than three million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies. The loss of such pristine areas (and unique species within it) will cause incalculable damage to feed China’s insatiable demand for energy.
While we have been recently discussing the environmental meltdown in China, including unimaginable river pollution, it is important to keep in mind our own environmental problems. A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency captures how bad the situation is for our surface water. Fifty-five percent of U.S. river and stream lengths were found to be in poor condition for aquatic life due to fertilizers and other runoff.
I woke this morning to find this Spring scene in my backyard. While I do not mind snow, it is a bitter pill for my kids who get a snow day while on Spring break when there is no school. At five this morning, I ran out to bring in the Spring plantings that we bought two days ago. I acted on the best of advice: Punxsutawney Phil assured me of an early Spring and once again the world’s most famous living rodent was wrong. The late Winter has already resulted in calls for beheadings and criminal charges for Phil.
We previously discussed how the number of dead pigs in Chinese rivers leading to Shanghai has increased from a few hundred to just under 1000. The number is now 16,000 and counting. Yet, Chinese officials insist they have no idea who dumped over 16,000 pigs into the water but that the rivers, used for drinking water, is completely safe.
Continue reading ’16,000 and Counting: Chinese Continue To Pull Out Dead Pigs From River Used By Shanghai Residents’
Dead Pig Count Now Past 6000 In Shanghai River But Chinese Officials Insist Water Is Fine For DrinkingPublished 1, March 14, 2013 Animals , Criminal law , Environment , International 58 Comments
We previously saw how Chinese environmental officials are struggling to pull dead pigs out of the river in Shanghai while assuring people that the tsunami of dead pigs has no effect on drinking the water. Now the body count is up from 900 to 6000 and some articles suggest the number is more like 9000. Yet, Chinese officials insist that they are unable to locate the source.
The environmental problems in China continue to grow worse as the regime spurs industry to keep up production numbers in an economic downturn. We have recently seen environmentalists attacked for criticizing Communist officials for the dismal condition of rivers in China. Now, one city that uses a polluted river for drinking water woke up to find more than 900 dead pigs floating down their river. Chinese officials insist that it is not a case of dumping but curiously say that they have no idea how it happened or where the animals came from.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
This blog, like many others has an internal search function that will lead you to past stories. It is located beneath the smiling countenance of our proprietor on the upper right. If you enter SWAT into search, you see that the first archive page shows 19 stories involving SWAT raids that were unnecessary and/or unwarranted. In those raids 4 people and 9 dogs were shot in error by the SWAT Team. Just a catalog of the shootings belies the terror that these raids can instill in people who are merely residing within their homes. Many of the articles detail doors suddenly smashed open, flash grenades and gas grenades tossed into the home, people thrown to the floor handcuffed and left for hours in that position, by invading SWAT teams that either had the wrong house, faulty leads and or in some cases enforcing what were clearly civil warrants. In one instance in California a SWAT raid was carried out due to the suspicion of a defaulted student loan. http://jonathanturley.org/2011/06/08/california-family-hit-with-swat-raid-ordered-by-the-department-of-education/
I believe that the rise of these SWAT teams is leading this country towards martial law and what we all commonly understand is a “police state” as repressive as any we’ve seen in the past century. We have seen constant encroachment on our citizens Constitutional protections and a continued erosion of “the Bill of Rights”. Free Speech, the right to peacefully assemble, Habeas Corpus and safety from unwarranted intrusion in our own homes, among others, have been steadily eroded under various guises, be it the drug war, or national security. In my opinion the SWAT team concept, which militarizes our police forces, is leading this nation to what I see as a state of Martial Law. Despite ones place on the currently inflamed political spectrum, this is a problem that I think concerns us all as citizens, not as partisans. I will present to you sufficient proof of my belief, the majority of which will come from what can be fairly described as a “Libertarian Think Tank” and which was founded by Charles Koch, among others. When I find myself on the same side on an issue as the Cato Institute, then I know with certainty that my fears are well grounded and unrelated to any personal partisanship of my own. Continue reading ‘SWAT: Is America Coming Under Martial Law?’
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
One of America’s greatest novels in my opinion is “The Great Gatsby” and I think many literary critics feel the same. If you’re not familiar with it, the short synopsis is that it is the tale of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious figure of self made wealth who arrives on Long Island’s North Shore, known as the “Gold Coast”, back in the “Roaring Twenties”. His life intertwines with Tom and Daisy Buchanan, a “golden” young couple with inherited wealth and the best social pedigrees. The interplay between these three leads to ultimate tragedy for Gatsby and more than a few other characters swept into the social vortex surrounding the Buchanan’s. On the last page of this magnificently crafted book, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the narrator Nick runs into Tom and Daisy who are gaily embarking on a trip to Europe after some cataclysmic events of their causing and he says of them:
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Continue reading ‘“The rich are not like the rest of us”’
We previously discussed how a local businessman shamed the Chinese government by offering to pay the top environmental official 200,000 yuan (around £20,000) to swim in the disgusting river near Rui’an City. The same dare was made by two Chinese environmentalists, including Chen Yuqian, a 60-year-old resident of Pailian village in Zhejiang province. It was a modest suggestion given the rampant environmental hazards and choking pollution in the country, including the dozens of cancer villages (which only this week were acknowledged by the government). However, he received his answer this week. Forty men came to his house and beat him for embarrassing the government — a standard response for Chinese environmentalists and villagers who succeeded in drawing attention to the dire plight of Chinese citizens.
Something about this just does not sound like a good idea. In the coming months, toxic mice will rain down on the jungles in Guam. They are the solution to the intrusion of the brown tree snake which has wiped out much of Guam’s native bird species after first arriving on the island in U.S. naval ships after World War II. With an estimated 2 million of the snakes on the island, the military has decided to carpet bomb the island with dead mice laced with lethal painkillers. Italy carpet bombed one its islands with poison to combat a similar rat problem. The brown tree snakes have been cutting power lines and even biting residents. However, there is the obvious problem of other animals eating the mice. To reduce this problem, the scientists have developed a flotation device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed. Yet, if anything goes wrong, we have replaced a brown tree snake problem with an army of airborne paratrooping zombie toxic mice with addiction problems.
This morning, our blog passed our 15,000,000 viewers. Since just a few weeks ago that we passed the 14,000,000 mark, it is obvious that the blog continues to grow at an impressive rate. We continue to rank in the top ten most viewed legal blogs in the world and I would like to think that our civility policy adds to the appeal of the blog for new viewers.
A high-ranking EPA official, Region 8 Administrator James Martin, will resign after weeks of scrutiny over allegations that he used a personal email account to conduct “official business.” Martin was accused of using his private me.com account to confirm a meeting with the general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. That would not appear a catastrophic event, but what truly interests me is the Senator who has been leading the charge: Louisiana Senator David Vitter. It was Vitter who used his official cellphone to arrange liaisons with prostitutes from the Senate floor. He first attacked reporters and witnesses as liars before reluctantly admitting the truth and claiming to have been forgiven for his sins. He then demanded to use campaign funds to pay for his legal fees. He was not only not charged but reelected to the Senate.
The Chinese Crawl: Wealthy Businessman Offers Chinese Official Fortune To Swim In River For Twenty MinutesPublished 1, February 19, 2013 Environment , International , Uncategorized 17 Comments
How standards have changed. First there was Mao’s famous Yangtze River swim where he set a world record by swimming 15 km in 65 min. Now a wealthy Chinese businessman is offering 200,000 yuan [HK$246,000] to get a Chinese official to simply swim for 20 minutes in a river without success. It is not the result of diminishing physical stamina (or propaganda) in China as much as the river in question. Jin Zengmin, chief executive of a Hangzhou eyeglasses retailer, wants Ruian’s environmental protection bureau chief, Bao Zhenmin, to swim in the river in the small-town Ruian, which is virtually solid garbage. He could literally do a crawl on the surface. Not the Australian crawl, mind you, but the Chinese crawl on a surface of refuse.
There should be extra points awarded in world skiing competition for sheer guts or at least a medal for the best performance in the worst conditions. Skier Sverre Liliequist was competing in the 2012 Swatch Skiers Cup when his run tripped off an avalanche. Liliequist continued to ski in front of the avalanche and then finished a flip as his final feature virtually on top of the avalanche. Now get up and go to work, campers.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
In August 2011 I wrote a guest blog titled: Tea Party and the Myth of a Grassroots Movement”. Using various newspaper and internet sources I showed that the meme created about the “Tea Party” that it was a “grassroots uprising” of ordinary citizens to take back their country from the out of control liberals, was simply not true. The “Tea Party” is a movement fabricated by certain plutocratic corporate interests to maintain themselves as relatively tax free and maintain control over the fiscal state of our country. I’m revisiting it today because of the guest blog I’ve just submitted about CNN and the rest of the news media, in light of a post by Al Gore at Huffington Post, publicizing his new book which deals with the back-story of the creation of the “Tea Party” and its negative influence upon our country. Some of Al Gores’ evidence and that forming the basis of my original guest blog overlap, but the important difference is he’s Al Gore, former Vice President and a centrist. I on the other hand am merely an aging ex-hippy, who remains a political radical. The truth of the “Tea Party’s” inception is not hidden from view and the facts are blatantly out there. What is important though is that the cable news media, press and the Washington punditry continue to describe the “Tea Party” in terms of its meme and myth as a grassroots entity and thus are complacent in a deception of the American people.
Daily we see stories about these “Tea Party” legislators elected to office on all levels of our government. They are falsely portrayed as populists, who are “fed up” and ran for office to “change things” and return to our Constitution. Large percentages of “Tea Party people in polls still believe that Barack Obama was born in Africa and is a Muslim intent on destroying Christianity and America. They see him as a communist, socialist and fascist simultaneously intent on dismantling our capitalist way of life and crushing American exceptionalism. I understand that one can be a reasonable person an oppose Barack Obama’s activity as President. I oppose some of his positions strongly and I voted for him. However, if you believe the “birthers” and those who call him radical names, then I must say in my opinion you are delusional. He is a slightly right of center Democrat, hawkish on foreign policy and deferential to the Corporate Plutocracy. He may be a Constitutional Scholar, but he certainly hasn’t done enough to protect our Constitutional Freedoms. Yet we see this ultra right wing faction of the Republican Party thinking Obama as the anti-Christ and believing they are part of a spontaneous revolution performed in the interests of “protecting” America. Here’s why that isn’t true. Continue reading ‘Tea Party: A Phony Movement Mantled as Legitimate’
While we often criticize our government on this blog, it is important to remember that there remains great differences between this government and those around the world in areas like the environment. In an extraordinary decision, the United States Navy has decided to disassemble the $277 million USS Guardian, an important minesweeper, rather than further damage a coral reef by pulling it off the reef. This follows an equally impressive approach to drilling in the Antarctic by U.S. explorers.
Ok, this has nothing to do with the law or politics, but I cannot resist. Brit Ken Wilman, 50, is a wealthy man after his dog Madge starting playing with a smelly rock on the beach. It turned out to be a rare piece of whale vomit. However, that is not the interesting thing about the story. What is interesting is that the whale vomit is worth more than £100,000.
We have previously discussed the cruelty shown by Chinese to animals in zoos and circuses. The article below offers a further glimpse into this national and cultural disgrace after a man strangled an ostrich to death in a zoo. Another report shows that a zoo in Shenzen is down to just two crocodiles from a dozen because people are killing them by throwing rocks at them and garbage into their pools.
While I have enjoyed my trips to China, I always hesitate to accept invitations due to the incredible pollution levels, particularly in Beijing. Every visit, I assume that it cannot get worse but it does — often you cannot see across a street due to the pollution. Many foreigners in Beijing often use the U.S. embassy’s pollution index to determine whether to go outside because of the Chinese government’s consistent underreporting of pollution data. It is common for people to remain inside all day because the pollution levels are so dangerous. Last week, even the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website that the density of PM2.5 particulates had surpassed 700 micrograms per cubic meter in many parts of the city. The World Health Organization considers a safe daily level to be 25 micrograms per cubic meter. The level of pollution in the city is now beyond the measurements of standard pollution devices.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Those who’ve read my comments here through the last two Presidential elections, know that I supported and voted for Barack Obama twice. Yet President Obama has been a disappointment to me throughout his Administration. His continuing support of what I consider extra-Constitutional intelligence gathering is a terrible thing. That Guantanamo Bay is still functioning is a continuing human rights violation. The continued American troop presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan is as disgraceful as the reasons that caused us to be there in the first place. Bradley Manning is an American hero that this country is illegally torturing with this President’s approval. The entire issue of the rising deficit and of a mythical “Fiscal Cliff” is one the President gives credit to, thus making it seem real to the public, while those decrying it merely are using it as a means of destroying America’s already frayed “social safety net”. The escape from criminal prosecution of the Bush Administration for War Crimes time has passed. The financial titans who collapsed our economy with their fraudulent manipulations will not be brought to justice, only become wealthier. The continuance of prosecuting the “War on Drugs” after we’ve seen marvelous public initiatives legalizing marijuana at State Levels, is a cruel hoax that destroys the lives of people in the name of protecting the citizenry. Need I go on to make the point of how disappointing this Administration has been? It would take tens of thousands of more words to do so, but then in this erudite group of those readers of this blog, it would be unnecessary, because so many here could do it on their own and perhaps better than I can.
Where I get confused at times here is in the continuing surprise that is expressed with each new violation of our rights, with each new foreign incursion and with the continued militarization of this country as it “goosesteps” towards the creation of an Empire. I get confused because I fail to understand why people who know better, would think that someone else as President could prevent all of these atrocious occurrences. This confusion is re-enforced by the fact that this blog has continually presented evidence that this country is no longer, if indeed it has been, under the aegis of our beloved Constitution. Leading the evidence presented here was Jonathan Turley’s blog post ”10 Reasons The U.S. Is No Longer The Land Of The Free”. http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/15/10-reasons-the-u-s-is-no-longer-the-land-of-the-free/ As our esteemed proprietor followed up this post was selected as one of the top ten articles in the Washington Post’s Outlook Section for 2012. At the end of this piece I will give links to my own guest blogs which have also reinforced the idea that we are no longer the country of freedom that our establishment claims we represent. Thus comes my somewhat confused question as to why would we the denizens of this blog think that barring action by the people, that our President, or any other governmental officials could single-highhandedly return us to the ideals of our constitution. Continue reading ‘President Obama Disappoints, Why the Surprise?’
Submitted by: Mike Spindell. guest blogger
On New Year’s Eve my wife and I saw the movie “Les Miserables”. We’d seen the musical on Broadway and had been enchanted by it. The music from it is superb and this musical fully deserves all the acclaim it has received through the years. As much as I loved the stage version of “Le Mis”, the movie took all of the greatness of the stage and added something to the mix that lifted it into subversive social commentary. That is what I’m going to write about, but first for those who are unfamiliar with either the source book, or the musical adaptation, a very brief synopsis is needed to set the scene.
The story begins after the French Revolution and the defeat of Napoleon. The Royal Dynasty has been restored to power and the freedoms of the Revolution have been lost. The protagonist of this work is Jean Valjean. He was sentenced to twenty years of hard labor because of the ramifications of his stealing a loaf of bread for his starving sister. Imprisoned he is noticed by one of his Jailers, Javert, who notes Valjean for his almost super-human feats of strength. Valjean is paroled after serving his time and subsequently breaks parole. He is chased by Javert for the rest of the tale. The plot of the 1,900 page (in French) novel is summarized in detail at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Mis%C3%A9rables Details of the play and the movie are available here: http://www.lesmis.com/.
The ingredient added to the movie, which couldn’t have been done on stage were scenes depicting the abject poverty of the common people and the poor. With the visual nature of film and what will probably be Academy Award makeup, costuming and art direction, you can see a recreation of the life of the French lower classes in the 18th Century. These descriptions run true to the original novel which was so rich with detail. The book “Les Miserables” was intentionally revolutionary for its time as best summed up by the author Victor Hugo in the preface to the novel:
“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”
Hugo’s eloquence above and its implications for our current time is the subject that I want to discuss. Continue reading ‘“Les Miserables” and the Shape of Things to Come’
Best wishes to everyone celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah. Continue reading ‘Merry Christmas!!!’
One hour ago, our blog passed the 14,000,000 viewer. The fact that we only recently passed the 13,000,000 viewer mark reflects the impressive growth of this blog. Congratulations everyone. Now if we could only get .000001 of those viewers to vote for us on the ABA blog competition we could crush the competition! If you (are any distant relative, incompetent ward, or pet) has not voted, you can vote here and cast your vote today!
The ABA Journal has released its list of the top 100 legal blogs in the world and we are once again in this august group of blogs. Congratulations to all of our regulars contributors and weekend bloggers. We have previously taken the top spot under the opinion category in the past but the ABA has now eliminated that category. Even more ominous was the decision to put the largest blogs in direct competition under an expanded “News/Analysis” category. This includes the long dominant “Above the Law” site. We would have to punch considerably above our weight to beat “Above the Law,” which is ranking regularly in the top two most visited legal sites in the world. Frankly, it is like a dingy going up against a battleship. However, we have never flinched in the face of superior numbers. So it is time to vote! It takes a very quick registration. Just click here and cast your vote today!
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
As a visceral person who loves film, I am easily moved when I watch productions that connect the struggles of human beings with the vicissitudes of life. This week I watched such a creation and its’ genius was that it led me to thoughts larger than the particular subject of the program. Hubris is an ancient Greek word that can be thought of as indicating: “a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris . To the ancient Greeks, hubris played an important part in their philosophy and in their philosophic expression in Greek dramas. In those times sexuality was also deeply intertwined in its examples. However: “In its modern use, hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance; it is often associated with a lack of humility, though not always with the lack of knowledge.” I intend to extrapolate from one desperate time in American history a sense of what fault it exposes in a macro-cosmic human sense.
Along with the “Great Depression” in the United States, an ecological disaster occurred and added to the general economic misery of the country. This was the advent of the “Dust Bowl” in the agricultural “heartland” of our country. The documentary I watched was “Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl” which I’ll link at the end of this guest blog. From 1930 through 1940 immense dust storms, with ever increasing frequency, began to plague this area along with a parching drought, devastating this formerly fertile region. As the farming economy shrank, children died and farm folk were driven into despair, it became apparent that this ecological disaster was brought about by the people who had worked the land into becoming among the most productive farmlands in the world. I watched this documentary, tearing up frequently at the human misery I saw and clenching my jaw in anger at the sheer cupidity that caused it. I was rediscovering a part of our history that I had known little about except for where it happened. By retelling this tale though I want to make a larger point. The Greeks had it right about humanity in general, in that as we have become masters of this planet, so many of us have so often been laid low by the hubris of thinking ourselves completely in control of our world and immune to the effects of nature. Continue reading ‘Humanity’s Hubris’
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This is my favorite holiday with all of the essential elements of joy: food, friends, and football. Continue reading ‘HAPPY THANKSGIVING!’
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Normally, when I work on a guest blog it takes me some hours of research and writing since I type slowly and try to be as accurate as I can be. This one will be a little different because it is written mainly to refer you to the transcript and/or podcast of a fantastic interview with the investigative journalists Donald L.Bartlett and James B. Steele. The interview was conducted by Rob Kall, whose OpEdNews website http://www.opednews.com/ is one that I look to for interesting insight into the political issues of the day. The interview deals with these authors’s current book which is called: The Betrayal of the American Dream”.
Rob Kall’s interview with the author’s is lengthy and so rather than my usual effort to provide a synopsis and relevant quotes of a position that I endorse, I’m going to give you a hint of what this interview contains and the provide you the links so that you can make your decision on the author’s thesis and hopefully be informed on some very important issues for all of us. Readers here know I supported President Obama for re-election, but have been critical of many of his policies. This interview and the book that it is about, demonstrate that the forces at play in the rapid decline of the American Middle Class seem beyond the power of our government to control, simply because they are backed by an elite that not only finances election campaigns, but that has also dominated the discussion with so much false propaganda, that today’s politicians who were born later than 1960 are not even familiar with the reality of how much our economic landscape has changed. Because of this unfamiliarity many don’t even have the conceptualization that things used to be different and why they’ve changed so drastically. In that sense this is less about conspiracy and more about the effect poor education, corporate media and propaganda can accomplish. When I say that the problem is beyond government’s power to fix, it is with the caveat that if the issues presented here were first understood, then maybe we could combat them. In some sense we are all blind men, hypothesizing the nature of an elephant by touching different parts. This interview and the book it is about can miraculously cure the blindness and start the discussion on how we can deal with this 3,000 pound elephant in the room we call America.
I will mention two, among many, of the major factors in the decline of the American Middle Class laid out by the authors. The first is that until the 1970’s our Income Tax was really graduated to the point that government had ample revenue to do its job. The second is that one of the major revenue sources for the Federal Government was tariffs. It was the dismantling of the graduated Income Tax and the proliferation of trade agreements reducing tariffs (and tariff revenue) that have been major pieces in the shipping of jobs overseas, increasing our national debt and destroying what was the greatest industrial economy in the World. For me, a child born to politically aware parents, before the end of World War II, I’ve lived through this history and watched in dismay as these changes took effect. Most Americans though, except for those most prescient, have no idea of what was done, simply because these changes took effect before they were born, or in their early youth. This election past and the polling of attitudes that went with it, show that the majority of Americans perceive that they are being cheated, but often their perception of how, has been skewed by the disinformation that is rampant to the extent that they blame it on the wrong source. If you read either the transcript of this article: “The Selling Out of the Middle Class is No Accident” at this link: http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/The-Selling-Out-of-the-Mid-by-Rob-Kall-121017-79.html or listen to the interview at this podcast: http://www.opednews.com/Podcast/Applying-Investigative-Jou-by-Rob-Kall-120915-680.html
I deeply believe that it will be time well spent.
President Barack Obama is reportedly considering a tax on carbon emissions to help cut the U.S. budget deficit. As many know, I am leery of the use of higher taxes in this country and countries like France in the midst of this economic crisis. However, this is one tax that I have long favored — not as a method of deficit reduction but as an effort to force companies to internalize some of the costs of pollution. The key, however, is to allow companies to reduce such taxes by reducing their emissions, creating an incentive to decrease pollution.
Despite the fact that the weather was mild on Sunday and Monday morning in Washington, US Airways cancelled our flights. It was very frustrating to speak to friends in Washington and hear how the weather was fine. The cancellations appeared to be decisions based on the location of equipment, but thousands of passengers could have made it home. The main problem however at US Airways was the virtual collapse of any customer assistance that continued to Monday. We had to wait literally hours on the telephone to get through and then had to wait over an hour on hold to reach anyone. US Airways then told us that we would have to buy a separate ticket to go to closer airports like Charlotte (it didn’t matter since those were cancelled as well.) I remain furious with US Airways which (despite plenty of forewarning) did not appear to set up sufficient personnel or resources to assist passengers. We literally spent 24 hours from Sunday to Monday trying to reach someone at the airline, which has a message that repeatedly cut off calls and told them to call back.
With four kids with our sitter in Virginia, we could not wait any longer so I rented a four-wheel drive jeep and set out Sunday morning from New Orleans. We made it 700 miles when we were hit last night with a blinding blizzard storm in the mountains of Virginia. Visibility dropped quickly to virtually zero and we barely got off the highway. We found a motel in a tiny town called Marion, Virginia and bunkered down.
We are going to set out again shortly to try to get to the kids. A lot of roads are cut off with debris and winds remain high in McLean at 37 miles per hour. However, there are signs of it winding down. The kids are fine and still remarkably have electricity. We are prepared however. In Alabama, we bought boxes of water and Moon Pies (which we can’t get around us in McLean). If anything goes wrong, we can survive on Moon Pies for days in the mountains!
I hope all of our regulars on the East Coast are safe and sound today.
Leslie and I are still stuck in New Orleans. As I noted yesterday, we have been stranded by US Airways which cancelled flights to Washington yesterday despite the relatively mild weather in the city. It appears that the airline simply did not want aircraft in Washington when the storm hit. My complaint has not been that decision but the lack of consumer support after trying for hours to reach anyone at the airline. We have little choice but to try to drive back to Virginia since we have four kids who are being watched over by our sitter (I also have classes to teach on Tuesday and Wednesday). We intend to be highly cautious and stop if it gets to dicey. However, we cannot leave the kids any longer in this storm.
Man Shoots Eight-Year-Old Cousin in Halloween Costume After Mistaking Her For A Skunk At A Family BonfirePublished 1, October 23, 2012 Animals , Criminal law , Environment , Torts 31 Comments
There is a bizarre case out of Pennsylvania that raises both potential tort and criminal liability. At a family Halloween bonfire, Janet Grant spotted a skunk and told her son Thomas Grant to fetch a shotgun and shoot it. When he returned, Janet Grant shined a flashlight on the animal while her son shot it. It was only then that they discovered that Thomas Grant had just shot his eight-year-old cousin in her black and white Halloween costume. What is amazing is that authorities say that they are considering possible animal gaming charges.
We have often discussed the disconnect of the two major parties with their bases. For Democrats, it is the disgraceful record on civil liberties left by Democratic leadership, including President Obama. For Republicans, it is often the environment. Polls show a high number of Republican voters are in favor of environmental laws that are routinely undermined by GOP leaders. Now a new Pew poll shows that roughly half of Republicans say there is “solid evidence” of global warming — a remarkable jump of 37 percent jump from 2009.
Two University of California, Berkeley, law students have been accuse of a disgusting crime in which they tore the head off a 14-year-old Helmeted guinea fowl in the Flamingo’s wildlife habitat and then laughed about it. Security cameras reportedly caught Eric Cuellar, 24, and Justin Teixeir, 24, chasing the bird into the trees and then carrying out its body and severed head as some type of hilarious joke.