Sunday, June 28, 2015

Obama sings "Amazing Grace" (video)

I've not always been in sync with President Obama's leadership, but watching his eulogy for Sen. Pinckney and hearing him sing "Amazing Grace" was a powerful moment and one I - and I'm sure millions of other Americans - will long remember:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Congress takes its war on wildlife to new and frightenling level

Hi Katalusis friends, I'm in a transitional care unit at an extended care facility where I'm recovering from surgery. But regardless of my circumstances I'm responding to Jamie Rappaport Clark's call to action and I'm taking a stand for our wildlife. Please join me!         

Reply-To: "Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife"

Take Action!

Attacks on Wildlife Are Intensifying!
Gray Wolf, © M. Quinton
Congress has taken their war on wildlife to a new and frightening level!
Take Action

Dear Virginia,
Leaving behind any shred of decency or moderation, Congress has taken their war on wildlife to a new and frightening level – and it’s moving forward at an alarming pace!
In particular, the spending bill for the Interior Department is loaded with a toxic array of riders – with even more amendments attacking wildlife expected this week. Together they amount to a wholesale retreat from this nation’s commitment to protect and restore wildlife and wild habitats.
Just how bad is it? Judge for yourself. Here’s just a sampling:
A cascade of anti-wildlife fervor. The bill already contains language that undermines the Endangered Species Act (ESA), weakens efforts to protect elephants from ivory poachers and weakens safeguards for wildlife. And we expect another round of attacks during what could well be an amendment free-for-all later this week.
More dead wolves. One rider forces gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes off the Endangered Species List. That’s a veritable death sentence for hundreds, if not thousands of wolves. In the last year alone, more than 700 wolves were killed in these states.
Just say yes to elephant poaching. An African elephant dies every 15 minutes at the hands of ivory poachers. But that hasn’t stopped the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its allies from inserting a rider to block tougher restrictions on the importation and domestic sale of ivory. This proposal benefits elephant poachers and ivory smugglers at the cost of elephant lives.
A savage attack on the ESA. Yet another provision would prohibit a potential listing of the greater sage-grouse. Additional amendments may be offered on the House floor that would prevent overdue listings of imperiled species or remove protections for species such as the lesser prairie chicken, the American burying beetle or others that still need ESA protection.
Make no mistake – this is not what Americans want. These provisions are the handiwork of special interests who have effectively taken control of one and maybe both Houses of Congress. They can be stopped. And it’s up to all of us to stop them.
Thanks for being a critical ally in this very important fight!
Jaime Rappaport Clark
Jamie Rappaport Clark
President, Defenders of Wildlife

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hillary Clinton - dynamic leader for America!

Sitting here at my kitchen table watching Hillary Clinton articulate the major concerns of the American people while simultaneously offering strong leadership and viable solutions lifted my spirits as nothing much in the political arena has done in recent years. And every time the crowd roared in response to her vision of our country - it roared often - it brought a smile to my lips.

If you missed the official launching of Hillary's campaign at Roosevelt Island today, you owe it to yourself to watch the video.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"Green energy is likely to displace hydrocarbons in 15-20 years"

Guantanamo Bay windmills (
Not so very long ago the notion that solar and wind power would one day displace coal, oil, and gas sounded crazy to most of us. That was true even though our better judgment told us what good news it would be for our planet if indeed it came to pass.

Now comes yet another informed comment from Juan Cole, who, unlike many of his media colleagues, appears to enjoy digging around for the facts pertaining to his topic of the day, which just happens to be green energy. And leave it to Cole to make windmills and solar panels the stuff of excitement and adventure. He bursts on the scene with this startling announcement:

The adoption of wind and solar for electricity generation around the world is happening at a growing pace, and the likelihood is that it will displace hydrocarbons in fifteen to twenty years (decades sooner than Big Coal, Big Oil and Big Gas expect). Here are some stories illustrating that stepped-up pace.

Got that, Katalusis readers? Green energy is likely to displace hydrocarbons in fifteen to twenty years. Here's the thing:

Germany’s wind power output is up by a third in the first five months of 2015 over the same period the previous year. In part, some offshore projects that had been delayed have started coming on line, adding 3 gigawatts of capacity. In part, Germany’s government plans to reduce incentives for wind and has already done so for solar, on the theory that these are now mature industries. The planned changes caused owners of planned wind turbine plants to rush to finish them so as to benefit from the more generous current policies. In 2015, it is expected that for the first time, Germany will generate more electricity via renewables like wind and solar than by its aging set of 8 nuclear reactors. The cost of electricity in Germany is historically low this year as a result of the wind and solar installations in the country, and is half what it is in Britain.

China added 5 gigawatts of new solar capacity in the first three months of 2015! That is nearly equivalent to all the solar installations ever built in Spain. China is going for 17 gigawatts of new solar capacity in 2015. That will make it about tied with Germany, currently the leading solar power in the world, with 33 gigawatts of installed coapacity.

And there's more:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Five things that make elephants special

Courtesy of Defenders of Wildlife.
I'm grateful this morning to Don Barry of Defenders of Wildlife for providing this fascinating information about elephants - awe-inspiring animals with characteristics that remind us of our kinship with this species and inspire us as well to learn more about other members of the ecological web of relationships to which we human beings belong.

In this morning's email, Barry writes:

Dear Virginia,
Elephants capture our imagination, and for good reason!
The largest living land animals, elephants live complex social lives which we are only beginning to understand. Here are just five of the things that make elephants special.
  1. A male Asian elephant named Koshik – can imitate human speech – matching Korean speech format frequencies in such detail that Korean native speakers can readily understand and transcribe the imitations.
  2. Elephants are the only non-human species known to mourn their dead. Researchers have documented many instances of death rituals at which elephants will somberly visit the bones of other dead elephants.
  3. You know that old saying about how an elephant never forgets? Well, it’s amazing what they can remember. Research has shown than an elephant matriarch can keep track of up to 30 herd-mates at a time. Researcher Richard Byrne concludes that elephant memories are "far in advance of anything other animals have been shown to have."
  4. Elephants are capable of expressing complex thoughts such as warning others of danger, reconciling differences and communicating needs and desires using a system of visual and acoustic signals. Amazingly, recent discoveries show that most vocal calls are at a frequency that humans can’t even hear!
  5. Overhunting by humans is believed to be a factor in both mastodon and mammoth extinctions. Stopping poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking in elephant ivory will be essential in order to stop Asian and African elephants from suffering the same fate.
Elephants are truly incredible creatures! That’s why it’s so important that we do everything we can to protect them from illegal wildlife trafficking, which includes stopping the demand for Ivory right here in the U.S.
Donald Barry
Don Barry Senior Vice President, Conservation Programs
Defenders of Wildlife

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Getting fired for feeding a hungry child

So True. Maybe that's what Della Curry was thinking.
Can we agree that a school child with a comfortably full stomach will outperform a starving classmate  struggling to concentrate despite his or her hunger pains? That might explain in part why children of the wealthy tend to find success in their adult lives; whereas, children of the poor too often wind up in the same financial straights as their parents.

It's hard to  know what Della Curry was thinking when she violated her school's policy by giving free lunches to hungry children who couldn't afford to pay for them. We do know that Della is blessed with empathy and compassion - that's more than we can say for the school officials who fired her:
Della Curry is out of work, and unashamed, after being fired by the Cherry Creek School District. A married mother of two, Curry is the former kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colo. She lost her job on Friday after giving school lunches to students who didn’t have lunch money. 
What do you do when a child doesn’t qualify for free or reduced lunch, but doesn’t have enough money to pay for a meal at school?

Della Curry, an elementary school kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colo., opted to give such children free lunches. Her decision was a violation of school policy and she was fired.

“I had a first grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn’t have enough money for lunch. Yes, I gave her lunch,” Curry said.

Read More:

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Are you shocked by the FBI's surveillance flights over our cities?

Via Fire Dog Lake.
I guess I should be glad I still have the capacity to be shocked by our government's support of activities that once would have created an uproar amongst our citizenry, e.g., the torture of terrorist suspects, kill lists issued by the Oval Office, violation of the boundaries of other nations with drone flights, etc. and making the news most recently, the increasingly aggressive surveillance of our everyday activities. Have we as a nation become immune to such outrageous infringements on the rights of others around the globe as well as our own rights? It would seem so. How are we to respond to this latest violation of our rights as U.S. citizens by the FBI?

Kevin Gosztola at Fire Dog Lake summarizes this unconscionable FBI surveillance program:

The Associated Press reported new details on secret surveillance flights being conducted by the FBI, including how the agency registers aircrafts with fake companies to conceal their role.

A recent review conducted by the AP found that over a “recent 30-day period” the FBI flew over 100 flights over 30 cities in 11 states and the District of Columbia. 

Most of the missions were with Cessna 182T Skylane aircrafts. They were flown over Boston, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle and parts of Southern California. 

The planes carried video surveillance equipment as well as Stingray surveillance equipment or cell-site simulator gear, which creates a dragnet and enables the FBI to trick cellphones in a given area into providing identification information to agents.

Unlike the agency’s drone fleet, piloted aircraft is not subject to the Justice Department’s policy barring drones from being used to monitor “First Amendment activities,” which may partly explain why the secret flights have been spotted over cities where communities have protested killings by police. 

Read more:

Monday, June 1, 2015

The greed-motivated slaughter of African elephants

Help Stop the African Elephant Slaughter!
elephant (c) Al Peabody
The United States is the
second largest consumer of illegal ivory in the world.
Donate Now Button
 Hi Katalusis friends,

Although I've long been in awe of elephants, I'd never given much thought to genuine ivory or how it's obtained until Jamie Rappaport Clark started cluing me in to the greed-motivated slaughter of these legendary, dignified, and intelligent beasts. Read the email below that I just received from Jamie, and you'll be as shocked as I was to learn of our nation's role in this travesty.

Dear Virginia,
As you read this, an African elephant lies dying – yet another victim of a poacher's rifle. Her ivory tusks will be hacked off her still-warm body to fuel an illegal international ivory trade worth millions of dollars.
This is the gruesome reality behind the illegal ivory trade – but you can help stop it.
Between 2010 and 2012, poachers slaughtered an estimated 100,000 elephants for their ivory. That's roughly one elephant butchered every 15 minutes.
The United States is the second largest consumer of illegal ivory in the world. But even as President Obama seeks to end U.S. trade in ivory and other illegal wildlife, Congress is introducing legislation to relax restrictions on importing, exporting and selling ivory in the United States!
Your urgent support will help us raise our voices for embattled elephants by helping us:
  • Keep the pressure on the White House to follow through on plans to end the domestic trade in ivory;
  • Mobilize against Congressional efforts to weaken ivory import, export and sale restrictions;
  • At the grassroots level, help enact state-wide ivory bans in key consuming states; and
  • Ensure U.S. conservation leadership at international wildlife fora such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
As America’s leading voice for imperiled wildlife, Defenders has a critical role to play in stopping the deadly scourge of elephant poaching by shutting down illegal ivory trafficking into and within the United States. And it’s not just elephants – illegal international trade in wildlife is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Tigers, rhinos and sea turtles are also being decimated to fuel these illicit markets.
There’s no time to lose. Stand with me today so that our children can experience the wonder of elephants in their world.
Jaime Rappaport Clark
Jamie Rappaport Clark
President, Defenders of Wildlife