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Offline RE

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Re: Peter Fonda, star of 'Easy Rider,' dies at age 79
« Reply #13740 on: August 16, 2019, 07:14:16 PM »
Ode to Peter & Dennis.  Peter has gone to Fire Lake.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ld1l4Ud7jp8" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/Ld1l4Ud7jp8</a>

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Offline Surly1

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Re: Denmark Offers to Buy U.S.
« Reply #13741 on: August 17, 2019, 02:21:14 AM »


COPENHAGEN (The Borowitz Report)—After rebuffing Donald J. Trump’s hypothetical proposal to purchase Greenland, the government of Denmark has announced that it would be interested in buying the United States instead.

//
If Denmark’s bid for the United States is accepted, the Scandinavian nation has ambitious plans for its new acquisition. “We believe that, by giving the U.S. an educational system and national health care, it could be transformed from a vast land mass into a great nation,” the spokesperson said.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/denmark-offers-to-buy-us/amp

Perfect.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Data confirms growing dead zone in Chesapeake Bay
« Reply #13742 on: August 17, 2019, 02:27:04 AM »
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland scientists have been warning of a growing “dead zone” in the Chesapeake Bay. Now the numbers are in, confirming their dire warnings were correct.

Natural Resources Department data shows an area with little to no oxygen spread to 2 cubic miles (8 cubic kilometers) by late July, making it one of the worst in decades. By comparison, July dead zones averaged about 1.35 cubic miles (6 cubic kilometers) for the past 35 years. The worst section includes the lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers and much of the Bay, from Baltimore to the mouth of the York River.

University of Maryland environmental scientists say heavy rains washed wastewater and agricultural runoff into the bay and produced oxygen-stealing algae. Scientists fear it could harm crabs, oysters and the state’s seafood industry.

https://www.apnews.com/06f445d2f08f4705b0ad6bc0c38119cb

Nearly 30 years ago I produced a documentary about the health of the Chesapeake Bay and the dangers to it. No one will be surprised to learn that the issues then are the same as the issues today. Agricultural runoff promotes algae blooms, which smother the oxygen-giving seagrasses, which destroys habitat for crabs, oysters, etc.  dead zones were an issue 30 years ago and will remain so TFN.

Nothing ever changes, especially human intransigence.
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A jury found a grocery clerk guilty of killing a 17-year-old boy who ran out of the store with a beer he didn't pay for in Memphis, authorities said.
Anwar Ghazali was convicted of second-degree murder after a four-day trial, Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said Friday. He will be sentenced on September 23.
"This defendant took it upon himself to be the judge and jury and the executioner over a $2 beer," prosecutor Lora Fowler said, according to CNN affiliate WMC.
The shooting happened in March 2018, after Dorian Harris walked out of the Top Stop Shop with a beer without paying, Weirich said.

Ghazali pulled out a handgun and followed him, firing several times. He didn't call the police, but told a witness as he returned to the store, "I think I shot him."
Harris was shot at least three times and was left to bleed out, Fowler said. His body was found two days later in a yard near the store with gunshots in the back of his thigh, Weirich said.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/17/us/grocery-clerk-convicted-killing-teen-beer-trnd/index.html
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Maryland Court Rules Marijuana Odor Not Enough To Search A Person
« Reply #13744 on: August 17, 2019, 07:42:42 AM »
t turns out that in Maryland, reeking of marijuana is not sufficient probable cause for police to arrest and search a person.

In a unanimous ruling earlier this week, the state's Court of Appeals determined two police officers violated a man's Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an unreasonable warrantless search of his person, after police found him in a car that smelled like pot.

"In the post-decriminalization era, the mere odor of marijuana coupled with possession of what is clearly less than ten grams of marijuana, absent other circumstances, does not grant officers probable cause to effectuate an arrest and conduct a search," court documents state.

In 2014, Maryland decriminalized possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, and possession of less than that amount is now considered a civil offense that carries a $100 fine.

The decision stems from a case involving officers from the Montgomery County Police Department — identified only as Groger and Heffley in court papers — who came across Michael Pacheco, sitting in a Chevrolet Trailblazer in an otherwise empty parking lot one night.

As they got closer to the car, the officers say they detected the smell of "fresh burnt" marijuana. They also noticed a joint sitting in the center console; that's when they asked Pacheco to step out of the car and they searched him. They found cocaine in his left front pocket. Then they moved on to the car, where they found a marijuana stem and two packets of rolling papers.

Pacheco was ultimately arrested and cited with a ticket for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana and charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

According to the court's decision, had the officers merely asked him to step out of the car and searched the vehicle, they would have been perfectly within the limits of the law. But searching Pacheco himself, based on the discovery of such a small amount of pot in the car, was going too far, making the discovery of the narcotic unusable in court.

https://www.npr.org/2019/08/16/751783763/maryland-court-rules-marijuana-odor-not-enough-to-search-a-person
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The water is so hot in Alaska it's killing large numbers of salmon
« Reply #13745 on: August 17, 2019, 07:50:00 AM »


Alaska has been in the throes of an unprecedented heat wave this summer, and the heat stress is killing salmon in large numbers.
Scientists have observed die-offs of several varieties of Alaskan salmon, including sockeye, chum and pink salmon.
Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, director of the Yukon Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, told CNN she took a group of scientists on an expedition along Alaska's Koyokuk River at the end of July, after locals alerted her to salmon die-offs on the stream.
She and the other scientists counted 850 dead unspawned salmon on that expedition, although they estimated the total was likely four to 10 times larger.

They looked for signs of lesions, parasites and infections, but came up empty. Nearly all the salmon they found had "beautiful eggs still inside them," she said. Because the die-off coincided with the heat wave, they concluded that heat stress was the cause of the mass deaths.
Quinn-Davidson said she'd been working as a scientist for eight years and had "never heard of anything to this extent before."
"I'm not sure people expected how large a die-off we'd see on these rivers," she said.
The heat decreases the amount of oxygen in the water, causing salmon to suffocate.

The heat wave is higher than climate change models predicted
The water temperatures have breaking records at the same time as the air temperatures, according to Sue Mauger, the science director for the Cook Inletkeeper.
Scientists have been tracking stream temperatures around the Cook Inlet, located south of Anchorage, since 2002. They've never recorded a temperature above 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Until now.
On July 7, a major salmon stream on the west side of the Cook Inlet registered 81.7 degrees.
Mauger said she and her team published a study in 2016, creating models outlining moderate and pessimistic projections for how climate change would drive temperatures in Alaska's streams.
"2019 exceeded the value we expected for the worst-case scenario in 2069," she said.
Mauger said that the warm temperatures are affecting salmon in various ways, depending on the stream.
"Physiologically, the fish can't get oxygen moving through their bellies," Mauger said. In other places in the state, the salmon "didn't have the energy to spawn and died with healthy eggs in their bellies."
With so many salmon dying before having a chance to spawn, scientists will have to keep tabs for the next few years to see if this year&#39;s heat-related deaths have longer term effects on the state&#39;s salmon population.
With so many salmon dying before having a chance to spawn, scientists will have to keep tabs for the next few years to see if this year's heat-related deaths have longer term effects on the state's salmon population.

Salmon under threat

Salmon populations are under stress from other angles as well.
Overfishing is threatening salmon further south in southwestern Canada and northwestern Washington. Orca whales, which are themselves endangered, feed on salmon.
With fewer salmon to eat, populations of orca whales have steadily declined over the past decades.
And last week the Environmental Protection Agency told staff scientists it would no longer oppose a mining project in Alaska that had the potential to devastate one of the world's most valuable wild salmon fisheries, just after President Trump met with Alaska's Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
But in other areas, things are looking up. "Salmon are very resilient. They've overcome a lot," said Mary Catharine Martin, a spokeswoman for the non-profit Salmon State.

Alaska's Bristol Bay, the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, is annually seeing boom times for salmon returns, and in 2016 celebrated the 2 billionth salmon caught in its waters, after more than a century of commercial fishing.
"That's very good," she said. "Salmon have sustained the way of life of the people of Alaska for thousands of years."

https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/16/us/alaska-salmon-hot-water-trnd/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_latest+%28RSS%3A+CNN+-+Most+Recent%29


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Hong Kong’s divide: Protests for democracy, rally for China
« Reply #13746 on: August 17, 2019, 08:03:39 AM »



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Hong Kong’s divide: Protests for democracy, rally for China
World Aug 17, 2019 10:01 AM EDT

HONG KONG — Pro-democracy protesters marched on one side of Hong Kong’s famous harbor on Saturday to demand the government heed their demands. Across the water, a pro-government rally called for an end to the often violent protests.

The dueling demonstrations highlighted the political divide in the semiautonomous Chinese territory, which for 10 weeks has been rocked by protests that show no signs of relenting.

“The government right now doesn’t listen to the people, and the police are too violent,” said Bobby Tse, a 76-year-old retiree who watched the pro-democracy march from a bridge. “It didn’t used to be like this. We didn’t have to protest every week. But now even though we have protests every week, the government still gives no response.”

At the pro-government rally, speakers on a stage said they love both Hong Kong and China and asked the protesters why they are afraid of China. Supporters gave a thumbs-up to police officers and posed for photos with them. Leo Chen, a 47-year-old driver, said he came out because he wants peace in his city of 7.4 million people.

“Before, everyone in Hong Kong helped each other, it was very harmonious,” he said. “Now to see it become like this, I’m not happy, so I’ve come out to show a little strength.”

Earlier Saturday, thousands of schoolteachers marched to the official residence of Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, to show support for the protesters, who have taken to the streets since early June and include many students.

Carrying signs that read “Protect the next generation” and umbrellas to ward off intermittent downpours, the teachers tied white ribbons to a metal fence near Government House. They said the government should answer the protesters’ demands and stop using what they called police violence to disperse demonstrators who have taken over streets and besieged and defaced government buildings.

“We want to protect our students, our youngsters, so teachers are willing to come out and speak for the youngsters, and also, to stand by them so they are not alone,” said Fung Wai-wah, president of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, which organized the march.

The movement’s demands include Lam’s resignation, democratic elections and an independent investigation into police use of force. A rally in Victoria Park has been called for Sunday by a pro-democracy group that has organized three massive marches through central Hong Kong since June.

“Even though we’re all scared of getting arrested, we have to keep going,” said Minnie Lee, a 31-year-old logistics worker who joined the pro-democracy march. “What we are fighting for is democracy and our rights. We’re not doing anything wrong. If we stop now, things will only get worse.”

Tensions rose briefly after the march, with riot police deployed to chase down a group of pro-democracy protesters they said were assembling illegally outside their station, shining laser pointers and throwing eggs.

Officers formed a line on a nearby street, thumping their batons on their shields before charging.

But by that time, most protesters had already melted away into the city’s densely populated Mong Kok district, leaving officers to face angry local residents, who told them to leave and accused them of being members of crime gangs. The police eventually left without firing tear gas.

Members of China’s paramilitary People’s Armed Police force have been training this week across the border in Shenzhen, fueling speculation that they could be sent in to suppress the protests. Officers didn’t appear to hold major drills on Saturday, but could be seen doing jumping jacks and stretching inside a sports stadium. Dozens of army-green armored carriers and trucks were parked inside and outside the facility.

The Hong Kong police, however, have said they are capable of handling the protests.

“I can tell you we’re confident the police have the capability to maintain law and order,” Yeung Man-pun, commander of the Kowloon City district, said Friday when asked about the possibility of a deployment of mainland security forces.

Outside of Hong Kong, demonstrations were held in support of both the pro-democracy movement and China.

In Australia, at least 200 protesters descended on Sydney Town Hall, chanting “Long live China” and singing the Chinese national anthem, while a protest in support of the pro-democracy movement continued in Melbourne.

The Melbourne rally had turned ugly on Friday night, with police moving in to separate some 100 pro-China protesters from those sympathetic to Hong Kong. Saturday’s protest in the southern city was peaceful.

In Taiwan, people held a flash mob demonstration in Taipei, the island’s capital, in support of the Hong Kong protests.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/hong-kongs-divide-protests-for-democracy-rally-for-china
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Famous dugong dies after eating plastic
« Reply #13747 on: August 17, 2019, 08:17:14 AM »

Mariam the dugong died from an infection caused by bit of plastic in her stomach

An orphaned dugong, made famous after it was rescued earlier this year in Thailand, has died.

The animal named Mariam died on Saturday from an infection that was exacerbated by bits of plastic lining her stomach, according to officials.

Mariam became an internet star after images showed her nuzzling into rescuers when she became stranded on a beach in April.

There are only a few hundred of the sea mammals left in Thailand.

The eight-month-old dugong was found ill a week ago and refused to eat. She died around midnight on Saturday after going into shock. Efforts to resuscitate her failed.

Chaiyapruk Werawong, head of Trang province marine park, told AFP: "She died from a blood infection and pus in her stomach."

During an autopsy, several pieces of plastic including one measuring 20cm (eight inches) were found inside her stomach.

Nantarika Chansue, one of the vets who looked at Mariam, said: "Everyone is saddened by the loss, but it reiterates that we need to save the environment to save these rare animals."

Mariam featured in live webcasts alongside Jamil, another dugong rescued shortly after her. The webcasts showed her being fed and receiving treatment from vets.

Many people have shared their sadness at her death on social media.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-49380633
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Mistrial in religious objection to filing tax returns case
« Reply #13748 on: August 17, 2019, 04:55:49 PM »
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A mistrial was declared in the federal prosecution of a Columbia City man accused of willfully failing to file income tax returns from 2011 and 2014. Michael E. Bowman said he objected to funding Planned Parenthood and paying for abortion and withheld his taxes on religious grounds.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the jury, made up of eight women and four men, couldn’t come to a consensus this week after deliberating over two days. They were stuck on the key question of whether Bowman intentionally failed to follow the law.

To prove willfulness, prosecutors had to show that Bowman deliberately didn’t file tax returns even though he knew it was against the law.

Bowman and his lawyer, Matthew Schindler, argued Bowman held a “good faith belief” that the First Amendment, the Oregon Constitution and the federal Religious Freedom Reformation Act permitted his religious objection.

https://www.apnews.com/5fb4df9d9b7b451a834ce11956dbbe13
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U.S. Geological Study research in Colorado finds “plastic is everywhere”


This photograph taken with a binocular microscope shows colorful plastic fibers and fragments filtered from Colorado Front Range rain water and snow samples.

Scientists testing rainwater around metro Denver and high in the Front Range mountains found microscopic bits of colored plastic in more than 90% of their samples — adding to growing evidence that plastics have contaminated the planet far more deeply than people can see.

This research led by U.S. Geological Survey research chemist Greg Wetherbee is raising questions about the possible impact on people and ecosystems. It’s unclear, for example, whether metro Denver drinking water treatment plants remove these tiny plastic fibers and shards.

“People might be seeing a lot of plastic in the oceans, on the ground, at the supermarket. But there is more plastic in the environment than meets the eye,” Wetherbee said in an interview Thursday. “Plastic is everywhere. It is in the rain and snow.”

The findings are summarized in a federal research report titled “It Is Raining Plastic” that was published in July after passing a four-stage, peer-review process. It’s based on analysis of 300 rainwater samples collected weekly in 2017 at six urban sites in the Denver-Boulder area and two in the mountains, including a seemingly isolated site in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lab analysis using microscopes found water from the Colorado collection sites contaminated with blue, red, silver, purple and green fragments from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic.

There are no limits in place, or standards, for this type of pollution, and federal scientists suggested the “microplastics” come from clothing through laundry drier vents, household materials such as tarps, and packaging that degrades, releasing bits that blow in the wind and wash into water — and presumably are evaporated into the atmosphere.

USGS scientists found more plastic particles in water samples drawn from the urban sites — which followed a line from the National Jewish Hospital in east Denver through downtown to Arvada, the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus and Boulder Canyon.

But Wetherbee and his team also found frequent plastics contamination in water samples drawn at a mountain site near Nederland and at a relatively isolated Loch Vale site at an elevation of 10,364 feet above sea level beneath towering peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park — a watershed that scientists have monitored for more than 20 years for chemical contamination from wind and rain.

The scientists concluded that plastics contamination of water “is ubiquitous and not just an urban condition,” the report said.

These results fit into recent research by European scientists who detected plastics contamination of water in the Arctic. A Utah State University scientist has been conducting studies focused on pollutants inside U.S. national parks.

Plastics fragments often are so small that they slip through water-cleaning filters and spread into rivers and oceans.

After revelations that many U.S. personal care products including soaps and toothpastes contained plastic “micro-beads” for scouring, Congressional lawmakers in 2015 began trying to prevent companies from making those projects in the United States. A phase-out was to begin in 2017. Several states, including California and New Jersey, passed laws requiring a total phase-out of micro-bead products by 2020. These are but one source of plastics pollution. Oceans around the world contain floating heaps of plastics, and larger pieces splinter over time into tiny bits.

The fragments detected in Colorado water are considerably smaller, scientists said. The consequences for human health and ecosystems are largely un-studied.

“An emerging contaminant issue”

Drinking water impacts are “a good question,” said Denver-based USGS research hydrologist William Battaglin, founder of the Consortium for Research and Education on Emerging Contaminants, a group of metro water professionals and scientists who meet regularly to discuss water pollutants that remain mostly uncontrolled.

“This is an emerging contaminant issue. It is something we should be aware of,” Battaglin said. “It is another impact of human society on the landscape that we were unaware of until recently.”

When Wetherbee began his research, he was looking for nitrogen pollution of water as part of a four-decade National Atmospheric Deposition Program that began with investigations of acid rain and broadened in 1978 to encompass other pollutants that spread from people into the natural environment.

Water samples were sent to a central lab in Wisconsin. Wetherbee asked to have filters sent back after testing. He wanted to see whether they’d caught heavy metals from possible industrial sources in Denver.

“I thought I’d better look at these things just to see what is on them. Then the data will make more sense.” He photographed each filter to preserve a record.

“I started to notice there were these pieces of plastic. Was it that surprising to see these plastics in the urban environment? Then, when I saw them in Rocky Mountain National Park, it started to be very surprising.”

Depending on funding, future USGS research in Denver, where the agency’s national water quality lab is located, will focus on measuring how much microplastic is spreading around the planet.

“Second, it is up to the ecological community to find out what the effects on ecosystems might be,” Wetherbee said. “It might not matter as much as we might suspect. It may be something we really need to worry about.”

Denver Water to monitor research

At Denver Water on Thursday, utility officials familiar with the federal findings said they didn’t know whether microplastics are present in drinking water but would monitor research and adjust treatment processes accordingly.

“Denver Water is fortunate to have watersheds that are in great health, consisting of more remote mountain sites that provide us with high-quality snow runoff. Denver’s drinking supply does not come from the metro Denver area that the USGS study sampled,” utility spokesman Travis Thompson said in an emailed response to queries from The Denver Post.

“As Denver Water’s scientists learn more about emerging issues like this, we use that to inform monitoring programs, management of our watersheds and treatment processes to ensure Denver’s tap water always meets or goes above and beyond the strict federal regulations and water quality standards.”

https://www.denverpost.com/2019/08/16/raining-plastic-colorado/
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7 people shot at Snapchat "instant party" at Houston house, police say
« Reply #13750 on: August 17, 2019, 05:14:08 PM »
HOUSTON, Texas -- Police said seven people were shot at an "instant party" at a house in Houston, Texas.

According to authorities invitations were sent at random via Snapchat, a messaging app that allows users to exchange pictures and videos that disappear after they're viewed.

It's unclear what caused the shooting around 2 a.m. Saturday, but a detective on the scene told our sister station KTRK-TV that it began as a verbal altercation at the party.

Authorities said Several people tried to get away from the shooting and took off in a car.

The suspect began following them and shot inside their car, striking three people.

Police said three additional people were found shot at the home when they arrived.

The seventh shooting victim showed up at the hospital.

The house party included between 30 to 50 guests and were all teens and young adults, according to police.

Police believe there were up to three shooters involved. They described the suspect's vehicle as a tan, newer-model SUV, larger in size.

All seven victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries and are expected to survive.

People who live in the neighborhood said they heard between 20 and 25 gunshots.

Witnesses said a shooting victim showed up at a gas station a few blocks from the scene looking for help.

Carlos Ramirez said he heard a young woman crying outside of his home and yelling on the phone. He learned she had been shot in the hand and called her an ambulance.

"I came outside, and I heard this lady crying and she was yelling on her phone so I peeked and looked and the gunshot was going on. I told her to come inside and wash her hands because you don't know if the people are still out there," he said.

The incident remains under investigation.

https://6abc.com/police-7-people-shot-at-snapchat-instant-party-at-houston-house/5474567/
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All but 15 of the world's 195 countries attend endangered wildlife conference
« Reply #13751 on: August 17, 2019, 05:19:15 PM »
All but 15 of the world's 195 countries have discussed how to better protect the world's vulnerable species at a wildlife conference in Geneva.

The World Wildlife Conference on Trade in Endangered Species, known as CITES, takes place every three years.

"Business as usual is no longer an option," Ivonne Higuero, Secretary-General of CITES said on the conference's opening day on Saturday.

"The rate of wildlife extinction is accelerating with experts affirming that up to one million species are now threatened," she added.

One of the most popular animals remains endangered; there are about 400,000 elephants left in the wild but poachers kill between 20,000-30,000 each year.

Markets in Asia buy a lot of ivory and some African states with large elephant populations such as Namibia and Zimbabwe are keen to sell their stockpiles of it.

One charity, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, or IFAW, is concerned that there might be more sales of stockpiled ivory.

"We saw the last sale back in 2008, and the following decade we've lost a hundred thousand savanna elephants, 60% of the forest elephants in Africa, following that stockpile sale," IFAW's International Policy Director Matthew Collis said.

"And this has primarily been because these legal markets have opened up avenues for criminals to traffic illegal ivory into those markets and sell it," he added.

The conference ends on August 28, with key decisions expected to be finalised in the last two days.

The gathering followed three months after the first comprehensive UN report on biodiversity warned that extinction is looming for over 1 million species of plants and animals.

It also comes just days after the Trump administration announced plans to water down the US Endangered Species Act — a message that could echo among attendees at the CITES conference, even if the US move is more about domestic policy than international trade.

CITES bans trade in some products entirely, while permitting international trade in other species provided it doesn't hurt their numbers in the wild.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Anderson reaffirmed that "regulated and sustainable trade works."

She mentioned crocodiles as an example, saying that as a result of regulation, "the illegal trade has all but vanished and crocodiles are far more abundant than they were 50 years ago."

The meeting's agenda contains 56 proposals to change — mostly strengthen — the level of protection among vulnerable or endangered species.

But some argue that protections should be downgraded because the relevant populations have stabilised or even increased.

Officials say the decisions are to be based on science, not political or other considerations.

https://www.euronews.com/2019/08/17/all-but-15-of-the-world-s-195-countries-attend-endangered-wildlife-conference?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A%20euronews%2Fen%2Fhome%20(euronews%20-%20home%20-%20en)
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At least 277 plant and animal species have gone extinct in North America since the 1700s, data show


Areas in red show where indigenous organism populations have dropped below the "safe" limit of ecological stability, according to a 2016 study.

This week, the Trump administration finalized changes intended to weaken key provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

The list of the fallen includes some relatively familiar creatures, such as the passenger pigeon and the Steller’s sea cow. But it’s composed primarily of mollusks, insects and other more obscure organisms. Most importantly, it’s egregiously incomplete: Biologists estimate that only about 10 percent of the world’s plant and animal species has been identified and categorized, meaning that many are being killed off before humans are even aware of their existence.

“We’re obliterating landscapes before we’ve even had a chance to catalogue the species that lived there,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. The true number of species that we’ve wiped out, she says, is “completely unknown.”

We do know, however, that the current rate of species extinction is orders of magnitude above what the geological record indicates is normal. “The rate of species extinction is already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years, and it is set to rise sharply still further unless drivers are reduced,” according to a U.N. report released in May.

In the past 500 years, humans have wiped out nearly 2½ percent of amphibian species, 2 percent of mammals and birds, and about 1 percent of reptiles and fish. At a geological scale that’s a stunning rate of extinction in a vanishingly brief period of time. Before mass extinction “events” in the Earth’s history unspooled over hundreds of thousands of years. Geologically speaking, the human era resembles one of these catastrophic events more than anything else.

The U.N. report warns that human activity is pushing more than a million of earth’s species toward extinction. Beyond that, “as many as half a million terrestrial species of animal and plant may already be doomed to extinction because of habitat loss and deterioration that have already taken place,” according to the report.

Biologists say this would be nothing short of a calamity — not just for biodiversity, but for humankind. “Our destiny is intertwined” with the plants and animals we share the planet with,” Curry says. “We can’t survive on this planet without the services that wildlife and plants provide for us — pollination, water and soil cleaning, pest control, oxygen.”

Even the loss of less charismatic species, such as the mussels and snails that make up the bulk of known North American extinctions, will cause significant spillover effects. Each freshwater mussel, for instance, filters eight to 10 gallons of water a day, according to Curry, easing the burden of water purification for cities and towns. “While we are sleeping, they are working for us,” she says.

The U.N. report warns that as dire as the situation is, it would be even worse were it not for ongoing conservation efforts like the Endangered Species Act, the 1973 wildlife conservation law that protects threatened species and the habitats in which they are found.

“This new rule will result in less protection for America’s threatened wildlife and a higher likelihood of losing species forever as Earth’s sixth mass extinction occurs,” wrote Jacob Carter, a research scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Rebecca Riley of the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote that the change demonstrates “willful ignorance from the Trump Administration about the looming impacts climate change will have on the American landscape.”

For Curry, the issue is deeply personal. She became active in conservation biology, she says, after growing up in Appalachia and watching a coal company raze forests in which she had played as a child. “The mining ruined our well water, it cracked the foundation of our house,” she said. “The mountains were blown up for coal and the forests were taken down to dirt.”

One of the Trump administration’s changes to the Endangered Species Act would put economic costs at the forefront of public discussion over whether to protect a species. That’s one reason industry groups, like home builders and energy producers, have embraced the move.

But biologists like Curry say the dollars and cents are beside the point when you’re talking about life on the only planet known to support it. “We have a moral obligation to preserve life on earth,” she says. She cites Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, which says that “each creature reflects something of God,” something that “human beings have no right to ignore.”

Meanwhile, the sixth mass extinction rolls on. While the Trump administration was rewriting the Endangered Species Act earlier this year, the Fish and Wildlife Service was preparing a separate action to remove 23 plant and animal species, including the ivory-billed woodpecker, from the endangered list.

The reason? They’ve gone extinct.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/16/scientists-decry-ignorance-rolling-back-species-protections-midst-mass-extinction/#click=https://t.co/0jG7KxIWwT

As Darryl Fears writes for The Washington Post, the changes would “allow the administration to reduce the amount of habitat set aside for wildlife and remove tools that officials use to predict future harm to species as a result of climate change. It would also reveal for the first time in the law’s 45-year history the financial costs of protecting them."

The changes have drawn widespread condemnation from the scientific community, including complaints the administration is weakening protections for vulnerable species just as scientific consensus is converging on the idea that Earth is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction event, a man-made disaster with radically destabilizing consequences.

In North America alone, at least 277 plant and animal species have gone extinct since Europeans first arrived on the continent, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, regarded by scientists as the gold standard for data on threatened and endangered species.


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Plane crashes into home in upstate New York, killing 1 on board and 1 on ground
« Reply #13753 on: August 18, 2019, 07:13:00 AM »
 Two people are dead after a small plane crashed into a home in upstate New York on Saturday. A person on the plane was killed as well as one person on the ground, officials said.

The Cessna 303 aircraft crashed into the home at about 4:30 p.m. in Union Vale, New York, near Poughkeepsie. There were three people on board the plane, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and three people in the house, New York State Police Capt. Paul DeQuarto said.
(MORE: 'My heart is shattered': New Orleans TV reporter Nancy Parker dies in stunt plane crash during filming)

"The aircraft departed from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y., and was headed to Sky Acres Airport in LaGrangeville, N.Y.,” a statement from the FAA said.

Two people on the plane survived the crash, but one on board was killed, according to officials.



 "I saw the house completely engulfed in flames," neighbor Rick Plambeck said. "There was a woman in the house and she jumped out of the window onto a ladder with her dog and she told us that there was a man in the house, which was her father. But we didn't know, or see him at all.

"The plane was in the back of the house, on the back porch."

 DeQuarto initially said there were three people inside the house, with one uninjured, one suffering life-threatening injuries and another that was unaccounted for. Hours later, a New York State Police spokesperson said one of the people inside the house had died.

The spokesperson was unsure if it was the person with life-threatening injuries or the missing person who was dead.

The FAA is investigating the accident, while the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the cause.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/plane-crashes-home-upstate-york-killing-passenger-person/story?id=65039846&cid=clicksource_81_null_headlines_hed
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Thousands of veterans fear "burn pits" exposed them to lethal disease
« Reply #13754 on: August 18, 2019, 07:16:58 AM »
Over 1.5 million American troops were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011. Many returned with visible scars of war – but for some, their injury is hidden. At some of the military bases throughout those regions, waste materials were disposed of in so-called "burn pits." Breathing fumes from the burn pit fires appears to have damaged the health of countless veterans.

Air Force veteran Dan Jentik struggles with what most don't even think about: taking a breath. Jentik is part of a lung study at the National Jewish hospital in Denver. But he's also part of a much larger group: he was one of thousands of men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who may be sick or dying because they inhaled smoke from massive burn pits next to their bases.

Jentik said the pits smelled acrid, like "when you burn plastic." He said, "you just constantly saw the smoke or you smelled it, pretty much everyday, all day."

Batteries, chemicals, heavy metals and arsenic all went into the burn pits, among other things.

"It is indefensible that U.S. military personnel, who are already at risk of serious injury and death when fighting the enemy, were put at further risk from the potentially harmful emissions from the use of open-air burn pits," said a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

The report also said that millions of dollars were spent on incinerators to properly dispose of waste, but that many sat idle next to the active burn pits.

Jentik was deployed at Balad Air Base in Iraq, where an Air Force expert issued a warning about the burn pits and said that "it is amazing that this burn pit has been able to operate without restrictions over the past few years."


Dan Jentik struggles to breathe after spending time stationed near a burn pit in Iraq

Occupational medicine doctor and pulmonologist Dr. Cecile Rose is the principal investigator of a five-year lung study funded by the Department of Defense. 

"I think our study is really designed to understand what the spectrum of lung diseases are that can occur following these inhalational hazardous exposures," she said.

Dr. Rose has already obtained some results. "We have described a spectrum of diseases that are related to deployment," she said. "They weren't there before, and they are clearly there after people have returned from these arid and extreme environments."
 
But it's not easy to identify the burn pits as the culprit. Dr. Rose said that there are many other potential lung hazards, including desert dust, intense sandstorms, and "a huge amount" of diesel exhaust.
 
The Veterans Administration has established a voluntary burn pit registry, and more than 180,000 people have signed up. But of the 12,000 claims filed to the VA connected to burn pits, only about 2,500 have been accepted – and a victims' lawsuit against contractors who oversaw some of the pits was rejected by the Supreme Court.
 
One of the denied VA claims came from Jennifer Kepner, who believed her fatal pancreatic cancer was caused by burn pit exposure in Iraq. Her congressman, Raul Ruiz from California, got her family survivor benefits. But he didn't stop there: a Harvard-trained emergency room doctor, Ruiz has launched a legislative blitz to get sick veterans benefits without waiting for more years of studies.

"There is enough! There is enough to act on it," Ruiz said. "When people are exposed to an illness, and they come in dying on a gurney in the emergency department, you don't have to wait for that pristine science to determine that this patient is sick, and they're dying, and you need to act on it and take care of the veteran — the patient. That should be our common sense approach when you put veterans in the center of the VA system."
 
Ruiz sees a parallel in American history: the use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. Some veterans who were exposed to the powerful herbicide, which was sprayed widely to kill jungle foliage, got sick years later. They fought the VA for benefits in a battle that took decades to win. 
 
"Be accountable. Be responsible. Do what's right for our veterans," Ruiz said. "[The VA should] give them the care that they need -- and if they don't, then they should be held accountable."

His worry, he said, is that the veterans will die before they receive their benefits. "We cannot let burn pit exposure veterans be the 'Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange' of our generation. We can't do that."

In April, the U.S. Central Command reported nine burn pits creating toxic smoke. The Command said that 13 burn pits are currently burning non-hazardous waste, but they also said that could change at any time if battlefield conditions change. A Department of Defense spokeswoman added that "We are concerned that toxins from burn pit emissions may pose health risks, and we are assessing potential long-term impacts."

A skeptical Ruiz is worried that newly deployed soldiers are still at risk. "It's still going on. It's still going on…" he said. "And when you think that the military is willing to expose men and women -- our young sons, and daughters, and brothers, and sisters -- to burn pits, simply because they say it is inconvenient and not cost-effective for them. It's shameful. It's shameful." 

Regardless of whether he gets benefits, Jentik said that his health will never be the same. "I used to be very active," he said. "Dirt bike riding, mountain bike riding, hiking with the family. [I was] very active with the kids. Now I don't do any of that." 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/burn-pit-military-lung-disease-thousands-of-veterans-fear-burn-pits-exposed-them-to-lethal-disease-2019-08-17/
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