Archive | October, 2011

Rally for environment in Miami a Success

24 Oct


crossposted from Miami Herald

By Jon Silman

Maybe the best way to air out your environmental grievances is by rallying for a group of environmental journalists.

“We’re preaching to the choir here,” said Ana Campos, 41, a community organizer for the Clean Energy Coalition of South Florida, “but we’re asking the choir to sing louder.”

According to a police estimate, between 75 to 100 people, and numerous environmental groups buoyed in numbers by the Occupy Miami movement, turned out for the Society of Environmental Journalists Convention at the InterContinental Hotel on 100 Chopin Plaza in Miami. The groups stood with signs, forming a unified line, facing the hotel across the street behind a long strip of yellow police tape.

There was the “Millions against Monsanto” group, who want to end genetically modified foods. The “Save Lolita” group, who want to free the killer whale from the Miami Seaquarium. And the “Save the Frogs” group, who use the tagline “Frogs are cool!”

During the rally, a group of musicians played bongos and tambourines and danced while waving signs. A man with a beard and green shoelaces on his Chuck Taylors named Nathan Pim said opposing corporate tyranny is something he can get behind. He said he’s part of the occupy movement, but he’s a proponent for environmental issues as well, so the idea of unifying the two groups made sense.

“We kind of got married today,” said Kimo Nour, a member of the occupy movement and a student at FAU. He said occupy bolstered the number of attendees at the rally by a lot.

Journalists with name tags attending the conference mingled among the ralliers, taking fliers and notes. Joseph B. Treaster, editor of TheMiamiPlanet.org, said he welcomes the addition of voices to the environmental dialogue.

“For reporters, this is one more voice,” he said, “this is one more thing to consider when you’re writing about these subjects.”

Around 3:15 p.m., the rally started to die down, and a group of musicians played a song about rebels and “sighting for the light.” People crowded into a circle around them, and it turned into an impromptu sing-along. While the band played, a man bounced his “end the fed” sign along to the music, and a woman went around and picked up trash.

After the song, dozens of the ralliers marched back to the government center, to continue the fight.

One fruit’s story of modern civilization

22 Oct

A review of Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed our Most Alluring Fruit, by Barry Estebrook, 2011, Andrews McMeel Publishing

The following are excerpts from a full book review, by Sasha, featured in the EF! Newswire’s growing ‘Reviews’ section:

Author Barry Estabrook shows us the pesticide-ridden fields, he meets the workers who toil in the fields for a less-than-living wage under constant threat of injury, slavery and even death, and he discusses law and direct action with the Coalition of Immokalee Farm Workers.

As industrial agriculture has taken hold, it has destroyed the tomato. Distilling the genes that comprise its smell, taste and shape from biotech labs, major transnational corporations like Monsanto create the seeds that are planted. The plants are then saturated with methyl bromide, a potent toxin that causes birth defects in the migrant farm workers who use them daily, picked before they are ripe, sprayed with a chemical to make them red, refrigerated and trucked to the store where you buy them.

Far from being a natural process, the tomato farming business has adulterated Earth and its plants to make a cheap buck—and the farmers who apparently run this business are not making money; thanks to NAFTA and the composition of the modern economy, the Monsantos, banks and transnational middle-men have skimmed off the top so that even with migrant labor literally turning into captive slavery, farmers are barely able to make ends meet…

At this period in history, with anti-immigrant laws passing throughout the US, a book like Tomatoland is like an oasis of honesty and sincerity.

More blockades at proposed gas hub in Walmadan, Western Australia

22 Oct

PROTEST: Scott Daines has tied himself 30m up a tower at the proposed James Price Point gas hub, similar to this aerial protest last month. Picture: WA Police Source: PerthNow

Source: Perth Now

A PROTESTER has tied himself to a communications tower near a proposed gas hub site in the Kimberley in a bid to stop survey work for the controversial project.

The protester scaled the 30-metre tower at around 4am today and is suspended by a rope between the top of the tower and the ground near James Price Point [Walmadan]. Anti-gas hub protester Joseph Roe has told AAP the rope crosses an access road and any attempt to cut it to allow Woodside Petroleum contractors in would endanger the protester.

Police are at the site about 60km north of Broome where protesters have gathered to support the man up the tower. “If they cut the rope there will be a terrible accident. The police don’t know what to do,” said Mr Roe, a Jabirr Jabirr-Goolarabooloo man who has pursued extensive legal action against the project.

The protester up the tower, Scott Daines, has said he would stay there “for as long as it takes for Woodside to leave”.

Woodside contractors have been carrying out geotechnical survey work around the site of the proposed $30 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) precinct, with protesters keeping a constant vigil on the access road.

Mr Roe said he wanted answers from the Broome shire council about approvals for the tower to be changed from a weather observation station to a communications point for the Woodside project.

He said the gas hub project was a land grab by WA Premier Colin Barnett who was “hell-bent on industrialising our traditional lands”.

Picture: Colin Murty Source: PerthNow

The Kimberley Land Council, on behalf of traditional landowners, has signed off on the deal which would deliver $1.5 billion in benefits to the region’s Aboriginal communities.

But the proposed gas hub has divided the Kimberley Aboriginal community and Broome residents. A final sign-off for the project by Woodside and its joint venture partners is expected by the middle of next year.

Two Florida Species Declared Extinct

21 Oct

South Florida Rainbow Snake: © JD Willson, 2006, Discoverlife.org

Earlier this month, October 5, 2011, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that two Florida species, the South Florida rainbow snake and the Florida fairy shrimp, have been determined to be extinct. The finding came in response to a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2010 seeking Endangered Species Act protection for the rainbow snake, fairy shrimp and more than 400 aquatic species in the southeastern United States. Last week the Service announced that 374 other freshwater species in the petition, including 114 in Florida, may warrant protection under Act. All of those species will now get an in-depth review.

The South Florida rainbow snake was known only from Fisheating Creek, which flows into the west side of Lake Okeechobee. The snake was iridescent bluish-black with red stripes on its back and sides, red and yellow patches on its belly and throat, and a yellow chin. Adults were more than four feet long. It was last seen in 1952.

The Florida fairy shrimp was known from a single pond just south of Gainesville. The pond was destroyed by development, and the species hasn’t been detected elsewhere.

The full statement from Center for Biological Diversity can be found here.

Defend this Forest: A teaser for the upcoming documentary on the devlopment of Scripps’ Biotech City in Palm Beach County, Florida

20 Oct

Police Gun Down Exotic Animals in Ohio; Grizzy, Tiger and Monkey Still on the Loose

19 Oct

Police have murdered dozens of escaped animals in Ohio including this lion.

Flashing signs on the highways in eastern Ohio warned motorists Wednesday: “Caution. Exotic animals.”

Schools shuttered and some frightened residents said they were keeping to their homes as sheriff’s deputies hunted lions, tigers, leopards and grizzly bears that escaped from a preserve after the death of the owner.

Terry Thompson, 62, was found dead and authorities were waiting on the results of an autopsy, Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said. But he added that preliminary investigations indicated Thompson released his animals and then died from a self-inflicted wound. He had pried open cages and left the farm’s fences open.

Thompson owned between 48 and 51 exotic animals. Lutz said most of them had been accounted for, but at least three — a mountain lion, a grizzly bear and a monkey — were still missing. Most of those that had escaped from their pens were put down.

Lutz said his deputies, who found themselves in a volatile situation, had to shoot some of the animals at close range. A Bengal tiger was put down after it got agitated from a tranquilizer shot.

“We are not talking about your normal everyday house cat or dog,” Lutz said. “These are 300-pound Bengal tigers that we have had to put down. “When we got here, obviously, public safety was my number one concern. We could not have animals running loose in this county.”

Zanesville Mayor Howard Zwelling said he received calls from people who were concerned that the animals had been killed. He said authorities were trying to use tranquilizers whenever possible to save their lives.

Sheriff’s deputies used night vision equipment until daylight Wednesday to continue their search, which was hampered by rain. Lutz said deputies, armed with shotguns, were patrolling areas in pickup trucks.

 

Cross posted from CNN.com

Read and see more videos here

Satellite Views of Toxic Algae Bloom

19 Oct

The green scum shown in this image is the worst algae bloom Lake Erie has experienced in decades. Such blooms were common in the lake’s shallow western basin in the 1950s and 60s. Phosphorus from farms, sewage, and industry fertilized the waters so that huge algae blooms developed year after year. The blooms subsided a bit starting in the 1970s, when regulations and improvements in agriculture and sewage treatment limited the amount of phosphorus that reached the lake. But in 2011, a giant bloom spread across the western basin once again. The reasons for the bloom are complex, but may be related to a rainy spring and invasive mussels.

The Landsat-5 satellite acquired the top image on October 5, 2011. Vibrant green filaments extend out from the northern shore. The bloom is primarily microcystis aeruginosa, an algae that is toxic to mammals, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Several days of calm winds and warm temperatures allowed the algae to gather on the surface. The bloom intensified after October 5, and by October 9—when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite acquired the lower image—the bloom covered much of the western basin.

Microcystis aeruginosa produces a liver toxin, microcystin, that commonly kills dogs swimming in infected water and causes skin irritation for people. Richard Stumpf, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, measured 50 times more microcystin in Lake Erie in the summer of 2011 than the World Health Organization recommends for safe recreation.

“This is considered the worst bloom in decades, and may have been influenced by the wet spring,” says Stumpf. Heavy snow fell in the winter and spring, followed by record-setting rainfall in parts of the Lake Erie watershed in April. The rain and melting snow ran off fields, yards, and paved surfaces, carrying an array of pollutants into streams and rivers—including phosphorus from fertilizers. More rain and runoff resulted in more phosphorus, and as in earlier decades, that nutrient nourished the algae in the lake.

But the rainy spring may not be the whole story, says Colleen Mouw, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lake Erie has been invaded by zebra- and quagga mussels, carried into the lake in the ballast of ships. The mussels are bottom feeders, and they do a good job cleaning the water. They remove so many particles that Lake Erie is very clear in the spring and early summer. But zebra and quagga mussels don’t like microcystis. “They selectively feed on other phytoplankton species, removing competitors so microcystis can thrive,” says Mouw. As the mussels digest, they release phosphate and ammonia into the water, and these nutrients give microcystis an additional boost. When microcystis blooms develop, they create a green scum on the surface of the water that is visible from space.

Though not directly toxic to fish, the bloom isn’t good for marine life. After the algae dies, bacteria break it down. The decay process consumes oxygen, so the decay of a large bloom can leave “dead zones,” low oxygen areas where fish can’t survive. If ingested, the algae can cause flu-like symptoms in people and death in pets.

See more here

 

New Zealand Oil Spill Decimating Bird Population

18 Oct

According to the New Zealand government an oil spill from a grounded container ship in the Bay of Plenty has killed 1,250 seabirds with hundreds of others in rescue centers. However, conservationists say the avian death-toll is far higher with most contaminated birds simply vanishing in the sea.

“The number of birds being found washed up on the beaches will be a very small proportion of the birds being affected,” explained Karen Baird, Seabird Conservation Advocate with NGO Forest & Bird. “A lot of oil-covered birds will simply sink at sea and some of the more lightly oiled birds will be flying back to their colonies.”

After grounding itself on a reef, the container ship, MV Rena, released 350 tons into New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, polluting some of the nation’s favorite beaches and decimating wildlife in the area.

Baird has warned that the oil disaster could injure and kill seabird chicks as well as adults. Since it is breeding season, adult birds may be unwittingly bringing oil back to their nests. Many chicks are also expected to starve when their parents don’t return.

New Zealand’s Environment Minister, Nick Smith, has already called the spill the nation’s ‘worst environmental disaster’. But it may not be over: the ship still contains 1,400 tons of oil that could spill if the vessel breaks up on the reef. Currently, efforts are underway for a salvage crew to pump the leftover oil out of the ship before this happens.

For complete article click here.

Walter Bond sentenced to another 7 years in prison

18 Oct

Last week, October 13, 2011, Walter Bond was sentenced to 87 months in prison for Animal Liberation Front arsons in Utah. This new sentencing will run consecutive with his time in Colorado, giving Walter a total of 12 years for his actions as the ALF Lone Wolf. In his final statement to the court, Bond had this to say:

“I’m here today because of the arsons I committed at the Tandy Leather Factory in Salt Lake City and the Tiburon restaurant in Sandy, Utah, which sells the incredibly cruel product foie gras. The U.S. attorney wants to give me the maximum sentence and beyond not because of my “crimes” but because I am unrepentant and outspoken. My intuition tells me that this court is not going to show me mercy because I become suddenly sorry. So instead of lying to the court in a feeble attempt to save myself, as I’m certain many do when they face their sentencing day, allow me instead to tell you what I am sorry for.

“I am sorry that when I was 19 years old I built two slaughterhouses that are still killing animals even now as I speak. I am sorry that Tandy Leather sells skin that has been ripped from the dead, and often live bodies of such animals as cows, ostriches, rabbits, snakes and pigs. I am sorry that the leather tanneries that supply Tandy Leather Factory poison the Earth with dangerous chemicals. I am sorry that the restaurant Tiburon profits from the force feeding of geese and ducks until their livers explode so that rich people can then use that as a pate for crackers and bread. I am sorry that they make a living from the dead bodies of wild and exotic animals. I am sorry that we live in a day and age where you can rape a child or beat a woman unconscious and receive less prison time than an animal liberation activist that attacked property instead of people.

“I am sorry that my brother was so desperate to get out of debt that he flew from Iowa to Colorado just to get me in a taped and monitored conversation for reward money. I am sorry I am biologically related to such a worthless little snitch. I am sorry that I waited so long to become an Animal Liberation Front operative. For all of these things I will always have some regret. But as far as the arsons at the Leather Factory and Tiburon, I have no remorse.

“I realize that the laws of the land favor a businesses ability to make a profit over an animals right to life. It also used to favor white business owners ability to profit from a black persons slavery. It also used to favor a husbands ability to viciously attack his wife and act on her as if she were an object. Those who broke the law and damaged property to stand against those oppressions were also called “terrorists” and “fanatics” in their time but that did not change the fact that society progressed and is still progressing along those lines.”

In a statement expressing her full support for her son, Bond’s mother, Mickie Coyote, had this to say about her son: “Walter Bond was born a warrior; he did not choose it because he found a worthy or righteous cause. A warrior is born with a fire inside and a need to right wrongs. He is born with a compassion and caring rooted so deeply that it is difficult to walk away from any sort of cruelty, whether it involves the people, the Animal Nations, the oceans and seas or the whole of Mother Earth and Father Sky.”

In an earlier statement from Bond, he explained that his brother, who’s name is redacted from legal documents, had been working for the ATF since July 1st, 2010. If anyone has any further public information regarding Bond’s brother and the extent of his cooperation, please post it as a comment to the Earth First! Newsire’s Informant Tracking service.

Updated information on sending letters or donations to Bond can be found at his support website: SupportWalter.org

Recent Surge in Sea Turtle Deaths Prompts Lawsuit

17 Oct

With sea turtle deaths in the Gulf of Mexico and the southern Atlantic spiking to levels not seen in recent decades, conservation groups last week filed a legal complaint that would force the National Marine Fisheries Service to strengthen protection for the endangered turtles.

The Fisheries Service has linked these “strandings” to drowning in shrimp fishing nets. Despite this rise in sea turtle strandings and the devastating impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, the conservation groups say the agency has not fulfilled its duty to protect the imperiled animals from harm.

Recent federal reports show the number of drownings in the Gulf alone likely exceeds the allowable take for the Gulf and Atlantic shrimp fisheries combined, and also indicate significant noncompliance with existing regulations. The lawsuit aims to force the Fisheries Service to complete the required studies and adopt interim measures to protect turtles.

“Sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico are still reeling from the impacts of last year’s oil spill, and they simply can’t withstand the chronic threat of drowning in shrimp nets,” said Jacyln Lopez, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The government’s own data show that record numbers of sea turtles have perished in the Gulf of Mexico this year, yet the Fisheries Service has not taken protective measures to prevent sea turtles from dying in the shrimp-trawl fishery.”

The Endangered Species Act requires the Fisheries Service to ensure that its actions do not jeopardize the continued existence of endangered species and to respond to evidence of new threats to their survival. The lawsuit challenges the agency’s failure to protect sea turtles in the wake of a huge increase in strandings and seeks to establish protections for the turtles, including increased enforcement and observer coverage to reduce turtle deaths from shrimp trawls; closure of sensitive areas to shrimp trawling; and broader requirements for shrimp boats to use turtle-excluder devices to allow turtles to escape drowning in all types of trawl gear.

Conservation groups filing the suit include the Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network, Defenders of Wildlife, and Sea Turtle Conservancy.

Full article click here.