Month: August 2008

US Police State Update

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with sub-machine guns drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff’s department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than “fire code violations,” and early this morning, the Sheriff’s department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis – Glenn Greenwald –

These “police” seem to be massively insecure. I have met many people similar to those arrested and they are the most harmless people not really known for anything more than their earnestness to protest! I don’t want to be too harsh on them because they are good people and mean well, but they are not really that radical, or in my opinion, willing enough to disturb the peace sufficiently to stage an effective protest. So, to send SWAT teams at them in a transparently obvious attempt to intimidate and frighten reeks of Soviet era police tactics. Shameful, but what you expect from the Republican party.

Here’s a video of interviews in the aftermath of the raid.


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Tuesdays with Turtles – Wednesday Hook Edition

WWF – Fishing Technology That’s Letting Turtles Off the Hook –

Turns out that a small change in hook design can save a lot of turtles from getting caught in longline hooks. But the story’s not really about the shape of the hook. I’ve written about this before. The issue is rarely one of technology. The solutions have been developed and exist because a lot of work has gone into developing technological solutions. Implementation on the ground (or sea!) has lagged because it is much harder to effect change where it counts when you attempt to impose technology in a top-down fashion. Small scale fishers (new english here, to avoid the whole fishermen/fisherwoman/fisherperson nonsense, take out the gender specific suffix to every occupation describing verb! – Try it, it’s not weldman, or plumbwoman!) are in a world of hurt with declining fish stocks and widespread fisheries piracy by the so called “developed world”. Without developing and implementing the solution with the full participation of the people who have the most potential to be affected, the change will not be successful.

What did the WWF do differently this time?

Together with fishermen we are building a culture for sustainable fishing practices that will guarantee fish stocks in the long term

They emphasized the people, not the solution. And the results were great, 90% reduction in turtle catch, >95% of the turtles caught were released safely, and the fish yields were not affected. Everyone wins, right?

Good stuff. Those turtles are still endangered and we’ll run out of wild edible fish in 50 years, but hey, more like this and there’s a bit of hope.

Recycling better than landfilling even to China

Sending old newspapers and plastic bottles 10,000 miles for recycling in China produces more carbon savings than landfilling it in Britain and making new goods, reveals a study from the government body charged with reducing UK waste.In the last 10 years annual exports of paper, mainly to India, China and Indonesia, have risen from 470,000 tonnes to 4.7m tonnes, while exports of old plastic bottles have gone from under 40,000 tonnes to half a million tonnes.Now the counterintuitive conclusions of the report from the Waste Resources Action Programme (Wrap) suggest that the advantage of recycling over landfilling is so great that it makes environmental sense to ship waste right round the world if it can be used again.

Waste Resources Action Programme reveals recycling in China saves carbon emissions | Environment |

One of the issues with carbon footprint calculations like these is that they are very dependent on the assumptions made and the calculations used. So, without going through the study line by line, I don’t know if this is true or not, but it is good to know that sending recycling waste many thousands of miles at least does not result in increased resource use. However, the environmental justice implications are still weighted against the receiving country, especially in the recycling of toxic electronic waste. This particular study only dealt with plastic and paper, so the toxic implications were fewer.

Of course, reducing the stuff you use and reusing your stuff always beats recycling, oh ye iphone lusters, let your old phone die first!

Clothianidin and the Colony Collapse Disorder

Clothianidin is the pesticide at the center of controversy. It is used to coat corn, sugar beet and sorghum seeds and is part of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The pesticide was blamed for bee deaths in France and Germany, which also is dealing with a colony collapse. Those two countries have suspended its use until further study. An EPA fact sheet from 2003 says clothianidin has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other pollinators, through residues in nectar and pollen.

Lawsuit seeks EPA pesticide data

Interesting story. For more on the Colony Collapse Disorder...

Tuesdays with Turtles – Triumphant Return

So, blogging has been light this summer as Olive Ridley’s partner made her way to Canada and is settling in. Also, it is summer in BC and beautiful as hell, so the prospect of sitting down and typing on a computer with brains that are only half working, well, ain’t so hot! Also, Canada is just a much calmer place than the U.S. As I looked back at my many posts, most of them are bitter fulminations against American politics or the various shenanigans of the Emperor. Anyway, I am not under his rule any more, and while he’s gutting the Endangered Species Act as we speak, he will be history soon.

While Canadian policy debates are equally interesting, they are generally civil in comparison, except the occasional kerfluffle where old white men want their female opponents to go back to making tea, charming…

Anyway, I felt the blogging itch again and as always, it’s nice to get back with a story about turtles.

Researchers say they have figured out why sea turtles that normally feed and breed in shallow water or on land will, very rarely, go deep sea diving: the reptiles are on reconnaissance.

Sea Turtles Dive to Depths for Reconnaissance : Discovery News

Leatherbacks have amazing diving capabilities and can get up to a kilometre below the surface. Why? for food, of course! More precisely, the promise of future food. Turns out that jellyfish (or jellyfish like animals) hang out in the deep during day time and surface at night. Leatherbacks go looking for them during the daytime down in the deeps so they can get them on the surface for dinner. It’s akin to you taking a leisurely walk around downtown looking for the perfect dinner spot.

Interesting. As always, very fascinating and sexy creatures, and critically endangered.

Expect more regularly scheduled blogging just in time for the late summer sweeps!

Pakistan helped Kabul terrorist act on Indian Embassy

American intelligence agencies have concluded that members of Pakistan’s powerful spy service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to United States government officials.The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region.

Pakistanis Aided Attack in Kabul, U.S. Officials Say –

Not terribly surprising, but it’s the first time they’ve actually been caught on tape helping terrorists. Countries have been invaded on far flimsier pretexts. Luckily, no Americans were harmed in the filming of this movie. So the ISI will just get a slap on the wrist. Of course, as you read the rest of the article, you find out that the mastermind of these attacks, just like most of the other senior militants, was funded and trained by the CIA in the 1980s. So, what good will come out of further American meddling is at this point in time, uncertain.