Monthly Archives: October 2007

Monks marching again in Burma

Bless those guys..they don’t give up. AP story here. This just made my day I tell ya!

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The face of a doomed species

I try not to cut and paste articles. I want to add my usual two cents on how I feel about it. But this time..I have no words, just sadness and despair that we, the universal we, can fuck shit up this bad..that an entire magnificent species will probably disappear in my lifetime, save for zoo’s exhibits and special labs where they try in vain to breed these wonderful beasts and bring them back from extinction..From The Independent:(all emphasis mine)

The face of a doomed species
Tigers driven to edge of extinction by poachers and loss of habitat
By Andrew Buncombe in Delhi
Published: 31 October 2007

The disastrous impact of poaching and the destruction of the natural habitat of one of the planet’s most threatened animals will be made clear tomorrow when the Indian government is told that its remaining tiger population could be as low as 1,300.

The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, will be told that drastic action has to be taken against the two forces threatening the big cat’s chance of survival.

“That size of a population is scientifically not viable,” said Valmik Thapar, a tiger expert and member of the National Board of Wildlife, which is due to convene in Delhi for a meeting chaired by Mr Singh. “But in the real world you have to try as hard as you can.”

Along with the polar bear, the tiger symbolises perhaps more than any other large creature the majesty and power of the natural world. At the same time the tawdry story of the tiger’s decline – not just in India but in other countries where it clings on desperately – is a stark indictment of mankind’s apparent inability to preserve the natural habitats on which it depends.

No one knows precisely how many tigers are left in India, home to perhaps 80 per cent of the world’s remaining animals and which, at the turn of the 20th century, was estimated to have up to 100,000 animals. It is believed there were about 5,000 at the start of the decade.

The most recent census, conducted in 2001 and 2002, put the figure at 3,642. But many experts questioned the way in which that count was handled and a new census was carried out by the government-run Wildlife Institute of India using a more scientifically robust method. While the findings will not be formally announced until the end of the year, preliminary results of the new count have put the population at between 1,300 and 1,500.

“The new figures and facts came as no surprise to conservationists, although the government is still recovering from the shock,” said Belinda Wright, executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, which has several tiger programmes. “In Madhya Pradesh – which is known as the Tiger State – the study has shown a loss of 61 per cent on the figures of the previous tiger census. The state of Maharashtra has shown a loss of 57 per cent.”

She added: “In the past census… many tigers were found outside the tiger reserves. The new study shows virtually no tigers outside the tiger reserves.”

Experts say the reasons for the decline of the tiger are simple. Not enough is being done to halt the continued poaching of the animals, which are highly prized in China and other parts of east Asia for their pelts and body parts. A tiger skin can fetch up to £5,300 while tiger penises – traditionally believed to have near-magical properties – can fetch £14,000 per kilo.

The tiger has suffered from a loss of its habitat as a result of large-scale mining and hydro-power dam projects. The loss of habitat and prey encourages tigers, pure carnivores, to seize domestic livestock which in turn aggravates local farmers. The tiger is the national symbol but, in the past five years, poachers have been killing them at the rate of one a day, campaigners believe.

Debbie Banks of the Environmental Investigations Agency, a London-based campaign group, said development projects often resulted in the displacement of communities who are left with a choice of moving to the slums of large cities or into the forests. “Living in the forests brings them into conflict with wildlife and the under-resourced, under-trained, ill-equipped forest department staff,” she said.

Mr Thapar, 55, who has written 15 books about tigers during three decades working with the animals, has said it would now “take a miracle” to save them. He warned of the impact of the Recognition of Forest Rights Act, a piece of legislation passed last year and expected to become law in the coming months, which grants some of India’s most impoverished communities the right to own and live in the forests.

The problem, he said, was that all evidence showed humans and tigers could not co-exist. “If you are not going to set aside habitats where there are no humans then you cannot have tigers,” he said.

The decline of the tiger is not isolated to India. In the past century, tiger populations across the world have slumped by 95 per cent and, across a broad chunk of Asia, tigers are now confronting extinction. Indeed, of the nine known sub-species of tiger, three (the Caspian, Javanese and Balinese) are already extinct while another, the South China tiger, is nearing extinction in the wild with perhaps fewer than 30 surviving.

An estimated 4,000 of the South China sub-species – the only one native to central and southern China –roamed the country 50 years ago but its habitat has been dramatically reduced by the country’s rapid economic growth and the sub-species was declared officially extinct in 2003. Just this week, the Chinese authorities banned hunting in a mountainous area of Shaanxi province of north-west China where a young South China tiger was apparently sighted by a farmer. The sighting has generated much excitement among conservationists and a team of experts has been set up to conduct a search.

Ms Wright said that, in India, there may now only be two genetically viable populations of Bengal tiger, as the country’s sub-species is known. Those live in the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttaranchal and the Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, which is said to haveinspired Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book.

There have been the occasional pieces of good news. Last month about 20 tigers were discovered in a mountainous forest range in the western state of Maharashtra from where they were thought to have long disappeared. But among such rare flashes of hope, experts say the evidence of the tiger’s ongoing decline have been all too clear. In February 2005, it was revealed all the tigers in the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan had been killed by poachers. Meanwhile, the size of the continuing trade in illegal tiger parts has been revealed by activists working undercover in places such as Tibet where there is flourishing business.

A senior official in India’s Environment Ministry said tomorrow’s meeting would evaluate progress at implementing recommendations made at the last meeting 18 months ago.

“Everyone is waiting for the [official] tiger report – even the Prime Minister,” the official told the Asian Age newspaper.

“It is only after the report is tabled that we will get the real picture, which we know is not going to be rosy. We know that we have lost large numbers of our big cats.”

How Kern County representatives voted last week

I get a nifty lil email from Megavote. It shows me all the bills voted on by the fuckwits that represent us in DC. Here is the latest..check out DiFi..the bitch voted FOR Southwick. I can’t believe it..but she did. As FDL points out here about DiFi: “Bush invited Sen. Dianne Feinstein to join him on Air Force One during his trip. It may not have been coincidence that less than 24 hours earlier, Feinstein played a pivotal role in allowing Judge Leslie Southwick, a target of liberal groups, to be confirmed to an appeals court when she voted to block a filibuster and support the president’s nomination.

With a 7:40 a.m. Thursday departure from Andrews Air Force Base, Feinstein found herself seated in the rear of the plane with a handful of Southern California congressional representatives. After a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and French toast, Bush popped back for what the senator described as a frank two-hour conversation, mostly about foreign policy.”

Here is the vote tally:

Recent Senate Votes

Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Act, FY2008 – Vote Passed (75-19, 6 Not Voting)

The Senate voted in favor of this $605.5 billion bill funding the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education for the 2008 fiscal year.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein voted YES……
Sen. Barbara Boxer voted YES……

Nomination of Leslie Southwick to be U.S. Circuit Judge – Vote Confirmed (59-38, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed Mississippi Appeals Court Judge Leslie Southwick to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein voted YES……
Sen. Barbara Boxer voted Not Voting……

Recent House Votes

Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act – Vote Passed (261-153, 18 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would allow Native Hawaiians to form an Interim Governing Council which would have the power to negotiate with the federal government.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy voted NO……

Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act – Vote Passed (265-142, 26 Not Voting)

A new bill to reauthorize and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program was passed by the House, a week after the chamber failed to override President Bush’s veto of the previous version of the bill.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy voted NO

Nice to know McCarthy hates kids..hope the fuckwits that voted for him realize that too.

Will Gore take part in civil disobedience?


From Alternet we get this article about Al Gore possibly considering a civil disobedience protest:

Rainforest Action Network issued the invitation to the former U.S. vice president, according to RAN executive director Michael Brune. The San Francisco-based group has a twenty year history of protesting against destructive logging practices and other causes of climate change; it specializes in targeting corporations as much as governments.

*snip*

Gore’s office confirmed that the former vice president had received RAN’s invitation and was considering it, though no decision has been made. “He has not accepted any of their offers to date,” Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Gore, said of the RAN offer. Kreider did not deny that this phrasing leaves open the possibility of Gore saying yes down the road.

I would have SO much more respect for Al Gore if he participates. I already support his cause of global warming..but other than that, he is a big fan of the corporatocracy, just like all the Rethugs, Hillary and most of the Democratic Candidates.

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Saturday’s National Antiwar protests


Of course the majority of the MSM has little to say on the topic. But IndyMedia, Boston.com, LAT and IndyBay.org have good writeups on the protests held in 11 major American cities. The events were organized by UnitedForPeaceAndJustice, their site has a great section on each city with reports and pictures. A few of the writeups:

On Saturday, Oct. 27, anti-war protesters in Philadelphia formed a human chain from the Veteran’s Hospital in West Philadelphia all the way into Center City, and then proceeded to march down to the the Liberty Bell and Constitution Center. Initiated by United for Peace and Justice, eleven different cities around the nation, including Philadelphia, mobilized Saturday against the war. Read Rich Gardner’s photoessay from the day.

Local media estimated the crowd at over 10,000 in a protest highlighted by a mass die-in during which protestors laid down on Market Street, San Francisco’s principal throughfare. The protest received page B1 coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle (Thousands “die” in anti-war protest on Market St. in SF).

Dynamic, fast-paced, dramatic video of Saturday’s march in Seattle beginning with IVAW’s Chanan Suarez Diaz in Pioneer Square. NYC’s Demonstration via a YouTube vid. More of NYC’s demonstration here via YouTube. 45,000 from throughout New York City, New York State and northern New Jersey withstood the rain to rally and march for peace in Manhattan. Jon Flanders has an excellent photogallery of the NYC march.

As an antiwar rally waged behind her on swampy Boston Common yesterday, Linda Tobin and her two children crouched over a pair of dusty black boots, one of 156 pairs representing each New England casualty of the Iraq war. Despite the rain, over 10,000 people gathered on the Common to listen to speakers, including historian Howard Zinn and Councilor Felix Arroyo, and march to Copley Square and back.

My wife and I attended the Orlando, Florida rally and march today and we’re overjoyed to report that the wet weather did not dampen the spirit of the enthusiastic crowd. We listened to a number of speakers for a few hours before we hit the street to protest the war in Iraq. We sang pacifist songs and chanted antiwar slogans as we marched through the rain drenched streets of downtown Orlando. Our crowd was estimated by the local media at over 2000 people. Picture gallery here.

Salt Lake City’s Peace Potato’s has a YouTube up of their well-attended march.

The marches took place on Saturday in Chicago, Jonesborough, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle. Twenty four other peace demonstrations were held in solidarity across the United States on Saturday calling to END THE WAR NOW with mass demonstrations across Canada, Italy, London, Denmark and the Netherlands.

For more pictures and writeup’s by each city, UFPJ’s site has each one and links to their videos and picture galleries. The Antiwar citizens were well-represented across the nation and several other countries..check it out.

Edit: Robert at Left of Centrist has two great videos up here and here of the Chicago march which he attended.

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