Muslim databases and ‘rabid dogs’: Trump, Carson and GOP in explosion of rhetoric over Syrians

Trump suggests tracking all Muslims in the US, while Carsons comments mark further low point after House vote singles out people fleeing Middle East conflict

The race for the Republican nomination for the White House took a new turn in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks on Thursday as the front-runner, Donald Trump, called for a database to track Muslims living in the United States, while his closest rival, Ben Carson, suggested refugees of the Syrian conflict should be screened as they might be rabid dogs.

As the rhetoric exploded, the House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming majority to stiffen requirements to vet Syrian refugees seeking to enter the United States, and CNN, the cable news network, suspended a reporter for two weeks for reporting the news on Twitter with the comment: Statue of Liberty bows head in anguish.

Elise Labott (@eliselabottcnn) November 19, 2015

House passes bill that could limit Syrian refugees. Statue of Liberty bows head in anguish @CNNPolitics https://t.co/5RvZwVftgD

A week after attackers linked with the Islamic State group killed 132 people in Paris, the simmering political debate in the United States rose to a boil, with Trump, Carson, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and others floating new proposals they said would protect the United States from such an event.

Earlier in the week Cruz and Bush proposed a religious test for refugees from Syria only about 2,200 of whom have entered the United States in the last four years after extensive security vetting saying that Christian applicants should be prioritized.

By Thursday a religious test for refugees had become a religious test for all Americans for one Republican candidate, with Trump telling reporters he would absolutely implement a database of American Muslims and unspecified other measures.

I would certainly implement that. Absolutely, Trump told NBC between town hall appearances in Iowa. There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases, he added. We should have a lot of systems. And today you can do it.

Asked whether there would be a sign-up at mosques, Trump said: Different places. You sign them up at different places. Its all about management.

Asked how the practice of registering Muslims would be different from registering Jews in Nazi Germany, Trump said: You tell me.

Earlier he told Yahoo: Certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy.

Asked whether this might mean registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion, the candidate would not rule it out.

Were going to have to look at a lot of things very closely, Trump said. Were going to have to look at the mosques. Were going to have to look very, very carefully.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum was moved to join the debate on Thursday with an extraordinary statement.

The US governors who are rejecting refugees

Acutely aware of the consequences to Jews who were unable to flee Nazism, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum looks with concern upon the current refugee crisis, the statement began. While recognizing that security concerns must be fully addressed, we should not turn our backs on the thousands of legitimate refugees.

A spokesperson for the museum said the statement was not released based on any one statement from a presidential candidate or on the House vote.

We have been evaluating the situation over the past days and weeks, said museum spokesman Andrew Hollinger in an email to the Guardian. The statement was not timed with a specific announcement. It was released when we evaluated the situation and felt that we needed to contribute to the conversations.

On Thursday, Carson, who has opposed all new entries for Syrian refugees, sought to explain his position at a campaign stop in Alabama with an analogy about rabid dogs.

If theres a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, youre probably not going to assume something good about that dog, Carson said. And youre probably going to put your children out of the way. That doesnt mean that you hate all dogs. The retired neurosurgeon later insisted that his statement only referred to terrorists.

The clamor stateside followed sharp criticism of the Republican position on Tuesday from Barack Obama, speaking in the Philippines where he was attending a regional summit.

We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic, Obama said. We dont make good decisions if its based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.

Barack Obama criticises Republicans over Syrian refugees

The House vote was widely seen as a symbolic acknowledgment of national angst in the wake of the latest brazen terror attack on a world capital.

Democrat Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, who opposed the House bill, told reporters: People are scared it has nothing to do with party affiliation, but people in this country right now are frightened over what they see as a flawed immigration system.

He said any politician who disregarded the legitimate and very real fear thats out there, were going to get slapped around. However he insisted the bill was simply designed to make people feel better about a vetting process that was already very rigorous and would never become law.

Cleaver echoed the thoughts of Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Tennessee senator told reporters that he thought the administration was undermining its own attempts to convince the American public that Syrian refugees should continue to be admitted.

Someone needs to explain clearly to American people the processes that we go through before we admit refugees, Corker said. To browbeat someone because they are concerned about their kids is not a productive process.

Additional reporting by Alan Yuhas in New York

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

The truth about cats and Trump’s dogs: civil discourse needed

Digested week: When Trump called Omarosa Manigault Newman a dog on Twitter, some still managed to be shocked

Monday

The question of how to cover the revelations of Omarosa Manigault Newman, a woman who sorely tests the principle of my enemys enemy is my friend, twisted US journalists into caveat-issuing pretzels this week. She is an unreliable witness with a huge axe to grind; she is, as those who watched her on The Apprentice may recall, highly vindictive. She was also prepared to tolerate Donald Trumps sexism and racism as long as he was paying her salary.

And yet. Watching her this week, it has been hard not to be impressed at some level. Those Trump has savaged have spoken of the sheer terror of being attacked from the worlds most powerful office. The vast majority of them Megyn Kelly, Mika Brzezinski, Khizr Khan didnt go looking for a fight, at least not one that went beyond the boundaries of ordinary political discourse.

Thus, there is something breathtaking about her sheer cheek, not only for bringing the fight but pursuing it to a second and third round. Her actions may be rooted in psychopathic self-interest, but still, you have to hand it to the woman secretly recording John Kelly (and, as it turned out later, Lara Trump), then throwing the recordings in the presidents face, takes much greater nerve than, say, Michael Wolffs humid lurking. It also demonstrates precisely why Manigault Newman should never have been in the Situation Room. The line she pushed in her book, Trumps use of the n-word which if true comes as no surprise; the man could goose-step down Pennsylvania Avenue at this stage and it wouldnt unnerve his base was in some ways the weakest. The real story is the sheer lunacy of a president who would hire someone like her.

Tuesday

Still, when Trump fought back, calling Manigault Newman a dog on Twitter, some still managed to be shocked, possibly because unlike other women he has called dogs, he once professed to be fond of her, and because it reads as a racial slur.

In one of those out-of-body experiences that suggest this administration hasnt been entirely normalised, Sarah Sanders clarified from the briefing room that when the president used dog to describe his ex-staffer, this has absolutely nothing to do with race and everything to do with the president calling out someones lack of integrity the fact is the presidents an equal opportunity person that calls things like he sees it.

In this, at least, Sanders may for once have been speaking the truth. When Gail Collins, the New York Times columnist, poked fun at Trumps wealth (she called him a thousandaire) he sent her a note observing she was a dog and a liar with a face like a pig. He called Kristen Stewart a dog when offering commentary on her relationship with Robert Pattinson (she cheated on him like a dog), and of Arianna Huffington he once said: She is a dog who wrongfully comments on me. He has also called men dogs, among them Mitt Romney (choked like a dog) and NBCs Chuck Todd (fired like a dog). That insults can mean different things depending on to whom they are said bitch falls differently when it is directed at a gay man than at a woman is one of the few subtleties one imagines Trump understands well.

Wednesday

A new subcategory of degree course has sprung up across US universities, in what the Wall Street Journal summarised mid-week as civil discourse the art of talking to people with different political opinions, without either demonising them or taking mortal offence. Courses named argument and inquiry and studies into polarisation are proliferating, not just as an effort to address Trump, but also to heal divisions and bridge ideological divides. The paper quoted a 2017 Knight Foundation survey, which found 61% of students said their place of learning clamped down on what might be regarded as offensive speech, up from 54% the previous year. The new courses also seek to coach students in when to engage and when to walk away from opinions they find offensive. Theres no course in existence that gives counsel on what to do when theres a buffoon at the top.

Thursday

Celebrations of Madonnas 60th were a shaft of joy in the weeks news. Madge has more than a whiff of Vivienne Westwood about her these days, and her raging against ageism is a reminder of why we loved her in the first place. It was also a reminder of what we talk about when we talk about Madonna. Like most people who have been famous for so long, Madonna is, I often find myself saying, more than likely completely insane. This might very well be true but thats not the point. The point is its an assessment one never makes about Mick Jagger or Rod Stewart.

Friday

You can call a woman a dog from the White House, but in the world of childrens publishing, the words one uses to describe women are subject to severe review. I sat down with my daughters to read a new edition of Cinderella this week to find that the ugly sisters have become the bossy sisters because, of course, it is wrong to equate beauty with moral virtue. Sadly, the production team hadnt received the memo that Sheryl Sandberg (among others) has launched a war against the word bossy for discouraging female leadership. Im not sure where that leaves us. I suppose Horrible Sisters might work, but then again, given the entire point of Cinderella is to get married to a prince and settle down for a life of indolent castle-dwelling, the whole female respect thing is a bit like deckchairs on the Titanic.

Digested week, digested

The enemy of my enemy is still probably a weasel

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Whitey Bulger’s guns, rings and cat paraphernalia net more than $100,000

Auctions proceeds and cash found in 2011 raid of gangsters apartment will be split between the estates of murder victims and three extortion victims

It could have been the final scene of a horror flick or an episode of Hoarders.

You can walk in Whiteys shoes, imagine that? the auctioneer declared, breaking his rhythmic call for a beat and a half, before diving back in, pushing up the bid for a pair of new white, size 9.5 Asics sneakers, while his assistants shrieked and yelped to mark each new offer.

When James Whitey Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig were arrested in Santa Monica on 22 June 2011, they had in their apartment 30 guns and $822,198 cash. Also, as was revealed in the Boston auction Saturday: 10 pairs of white sneakers, a plethora of cat paraphernalia, 27 pairs of used womens sunglasses, a skull ring, a skull belt, a diamond claddagh ring, books about the second world war , books about cowboys, a portrait of a poodle, and a mug shaped like a beady-eyed rat.

Auctioneer
Auctioneer Bob Sheehan reaches for a silver skull ring, which is on display next to a diamond claddagh ring,. Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP

The story of the South Boston gangster has been told many times over, in many different forms. At first it was told between neighbors, in the 70s and 80s when he was hailed as a kind of Robin Hood for the Irish community in Boston. This story was based on the premise that he was a good bad guy who played by certain bad guy rules: he did not kill women, he kept drugs out of South Boston, and he was not a rat. None of which was true.

Bulgers cash, as well as the more than $100,000 in proceeds from the auction held by the US marshals office on Saturday, are being split between the estates of 20 murder victims and three extortion victims.

The government has only proved Bulger committed 11 murders, so this number includes the murder victims cases the government couldnt make stick. For instance, Deborah Davis, the 26-year-old girlfriend of one of Bulgers cohorts, who was strangled to death and had her teeth removed before she was buried by the Neponset river in Quincy. The jury issued a no finding in her case, but her family will receive a share of the money. Her brother, Steven, was at the auction Saturday.

Steven Davis is critical of those who still glamorize the serial killer, which for him includes the film Black Mass. The film-makers did not consult with the victims families. Its almost like we got kicked in the face by Johnny Depp, said Davis, of the actor who played the man he says killed his sister.

But on Saturday, Bulgers notoriety would help give a little something back to the victims. Davis brought his friends and lashed a few bids, to keep the rates high, he said.

Some of the stuff, it makes me a little sick, said Davis, imagining someone putting their foot into one of Bulgers old shoes. But ultimately, he is says he is in favor of the auction. It will help the families.

US
US marshals keep watch on a room full of personal items belonging to James Whitey Bulger and Catherine Greig. Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP

To a certain extent, its sort of distasteful, said Carmen Ortiz, the US attorney in Massachusetts, who said the office was selective about what ultimately hit the auction. Bulgers weapons were not for sale. Nor was his manuscript, a sort of autobiography Bulger was penning at the time of his arrest. A lot of the writing had references to violent acts, Ortiz said.

What is left exhibits what their interests were, Ortiz said.

He bought certain items in bulk, she said. Its clear she really liked the cats.

John Gibbons, US marshal for the district of Massachusetts, says the hoarding, sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats were indicative of how they lived. They were fugitives, he explained. They were under the radar.

Bulger was 81 years old; hed been on the lam for 16 years when he was arrested, after being tipped off about his imminent arrest by a Boston FBI agent, John Connolly, whom Bulger had been feeding information to. Connolly is currently serving time for racketeering, obstruction of justice and murder charges. His supervisor, John Morris, received immunity. Bulgers brother, William, once the president of the state senate, was forced to resign his position as the president of the University of Massachusetts after he refused to cooperate in the search for his fugitive brother.

John Kelley, 54, a who owns a limousine company in Andover, won the first bid of the day, the punching-bag mannequin Bulger left by his window so people would think someone was home, complete with a tan wide-brimmed hat. Kelley took it home for $4,900.

A
A selection of cat mugs are among items belonging to James Whitey Bulger and Catherine Greig. Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP

Kelley approached Davis shortly afterward. Sorry for your loss, said Kelley, shaking his hand. Davis gave him a hug.

He came up, he felt bad, he didnt want to feel like he insulted me for what he did, said Davis. Its almost like he donated.

He almost had a tear in his eye, he added.

Later Kelley bought the skull ring for $5,200. Kelley, who grew up in Lynn, said hes heard stories about Bulger his whole life. When we grew up, he was a hero, but we were kids, when youre older you realize what he did.

A woman leaving the auction with two cat statuettes, said she felt like she purchased a piece of Bostons history, Plus hes probably pissed that everyone has his stuff.

The days highest bidding item, a 14-carat diamond claddagh ring, went to real estate developer Colm Dunphy, 52, from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, whos been living in Boston for the last 30 years. It cost him $23,000.

Because I like it, and its my birthday, Dunphy replied when asked why he bought the ring. Im going to wear it myself.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

America’s horrifying new plan for animals: highspeed slaughterhouses | Scott David

There is still time to stop an imminent program that would allow facilities to increase slaughter speeds, while reducing the number of trained government inspectors

If you care about animal welfare or food safety, this news will concern you: the nationwide expansion of a risky US Department of Agriculture (USDA) high-speed slaughter program is imminent. But the good news is there is still time to stop it.

The USDA is now accepting public comments on its proposed rule that it euphemistically dubbed the Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection. As a former undercover investigator who worked inside a pig slaughterhouse operating under the pilot project that was, at the time, called HIMP, Ive seen firsthand the hazardous and cruel nature of this controversial program and can say with certainty that its anything but modern.

This expanded program, formally called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), would allow facilities to increase slaughter speeds, while reducing the number of trained government inspectors on the lines. In other words, the responsibility of food safety oversight is largely shifted into the hands of slaughter plant employees. Combine this with faster speeds on the kill floor and the result is problems that can and do go unnoticed.

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For nearly six months, I worked undercover inside Quality Pork Processors (QPP), no typical pig slaughterhouse. An exclusive Hormel Foods supplier, QPP kills about 1,300 pigs every hour operating under the high-speed pilot program. Thats more than 21 pigs per minute, making QPP one of the fastest pig-killing facilities in the nation.

QPP has widely been considered a model for the USDAs nationwide expansion of the pilot program through NSIS, but when no one thought the public or USDA was watching, behind the slaughterhouses closed doors, I documented pig carcasses covered in feces and abscesses being processed for human consumption, and workers under intense pressure to keep up with high line speeds beating, dragging, and electrically prodding pigs to make them move faster.

NSIS may also allow higher numbers of sick and injured pigs too weak even to stand (known as downers) to be slaughtered for food. As documented on my hidden camera, these animals endured particularly horrific abuses as they were forced to the kill floor in a desperate attempt to keep the slaughter lines moving as fast as possible.

I even documented a supervisor sleeping on the job when he was in charge of overseeing the stunning process to ensure pigs were effectively rendered unconscious before their throats were slit.

One QPP employee even said to me on camera, If the USDA is around, they could shut us down.

That, in a nutshell, is the underlying problem with this initiative: its a program that largely allows the slaughterhouse to police itself.

Though Ive witnessed these horrors firsthand, Im far from the only one warning of the dangers of NSIS. USDA whistleblowers, labor unions, and even members of Congress have expressed their objections to this program.

A 2013 report by the USDAs own Office of the Inspector General stated that since FSIS did not provide adequate oversight, HIMP plants may have a higher potential for food safety risks, concluding that this program has shown no measurable improvement to the inspection process.

In 2016, a letter from 60 members of Congress to the USDA stated the available evidence suggests the hog HIMP will undermine food safety, and that rapid line speeds present some of the greatest risks of inhumane treatment as workers are often pressured to take violent shortcuts to keep up. The letter further states: We are concerned that these new rules are being pushed by the industry to increase profits at the expense of public health.

More than a quarter of a million people have signed a petition against the pilot programs expansion through NSIS, and earlier this month, a coalition of 35 animal, worker, environmental, and consumer protection organizations also urged the USDA to drop the proposal.

At a time when consumers are rightfully demanding more transparency in the food industry, the USDAs so-called Modernization program is a big step backward.

Halting the expansion of the dangerous pilot program and bringing it to an immediate end is the only conscientious and compassionate choice for the USDA, a federal agency that has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to put animals, consumers, and workers above powerful pork industry interests.

To sum it all up in the words of a USDA whistleblower who worked as an inspector at QPP: Its no longer meaningful for consumers to see that mark indicating that their product has been USDA-inspected.

  • Scott David is a former undercover investigator and current investigations associate at Compassion Over Killing, a national animal protection organization based in Washington DC.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

‘Its like we’re seen as animals’: black men on their vulnerability and resilience

American black men have historically been depicted as violent, and the racist fear that has resulted means theyre actually constantly at risk and deeply fragile

In the fall of 2013, very shortly after moving to Detroit, I covered the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Renisha McBride. It was a disturbingly grim story. McBride, a 19-year-old black woman from Detroit, had crashed her car in the middle of the night in the white suburb of Dearborn Heights. Seeking help, she ventured to nearby homes and banged on the door of a white middle-aged man, Theodore Wafer. He responded by shooting her dead through his unopened screen door.

The day I got my brief from editors in New York, I was due to meet with my family friend Justin, a Detroit native who, at the time, was working in the lines at Ford. Feeling a responsibility for me, and knowing me to be so far from home, Justin had quickly taken on a brotherly role with me. I liked to refer to him as my fairy godmother.

We made for an eclectic pair. Justin is 6ft 5in, weighs 300lb and looks like he could be a former American football player. He is black. I am a medium-sized white woman, with peroxide hair and a very British accent. He offered to drive me around as I spoke to neighbors of the shooter, community members, the police and activists.

But as we entered Dearborn Heights, a white suburb, I noticed Justin would let me out of the car but never come with me. When we got to the police station, he shrunk in his car. We had lunch together, and the white waitress scowled when we declared we would share the soup.

What you dont see, Rose, he said to me, is that I am in danger here.

It turns out, despite working down the road, Dearborn Heights was a place Justin made sure to never come through. Driving through carried the threat of being pulled over, at the very least. Citing a history of housing discrimination, Justin said he knew he wasnt welcome there. Detroit activists later referred to Dearborn Heights as a sundown town a place black people would historically know they shouldnt get caught after dark. Little had changed, they said.

At the police station, white officers welcomed me with open arms. They laughed and made jokes when I told then I lived in the heart of Detroit, a city as overwhelmingly black as their suburb was overwhelmingly white. Was I safe there? they asked me.

There I was, a single young white woman, and everyone near and far was concerned for my safety. But it was the 300lb man next to me, Justin, who was constantly shrinking, silently modifying his behavior to remain safe. To protect his life. He was the body that was unsafe. Constructs and prejudice meant that black and male was a dangerous combination for him.

The killings last week of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, at the hands of police, reminded me of the lessons from that day.

In America, black men have historically been depicted as aggressive, hypersexual and violent to be controlled, to be exploited, to be tamed. The result of that construct and the accompanying racist fear and forced subjugation it justifies has been counterintuitive: black men in America are in fact deeply fragile and constantly at risk.

The emotional connection I have [to the news] is that it could be me at any time, any day it could be me, says William Jones, a 22-year-old New Yorker who works in high-end retail.

Every single black man I spoke to for the purpose of this article echoed Joness feelings.

Every day, I live and operate with that feeling of fragility, that feeling that I could be taken out at any time. I am a chokehold away from being Eric Garner, says Ben Saunders, a 37-year-old professor of psychology at Long Island University.

Up until now, Saunders says that he has been vigilant with himself in public. He makes sure to avoid causing a fuss, even if a fuss is warranted. He suppresses any strong feelings of anger. He doesnt speak up. His white wife sometimes wonders why not. Black people have been killed for saying less than that, he says he responds to her.

The consequence of having to modify his behavior in such a way? A loss of dignity, he says.

Josh
Josh Lott: I know I am a potential target. Photograph: Nick Oza

Joshua Lott, a 37-year-old industry-renowned photojournalist who has traveled across the United States on assignment for the worlds biggest news organizations, says that experience has taught him to always be on edge when he arrives in a new place to work.

I am extremely cautious, especially when I go into a place where there arent many minorities. I know I am a potential target. I am a target because I am a journalist, because I am a black man, I am tall and I wear colors.

People have called the police on him while he has been on assignment, he says. He recalls sirens and police cars racing towards him in a quiet neighborhood in Arizona where he was covering the housing crisis. A woman had told him he didnt belong there and called 911.

On top of his usual press credentials, Lott always carries a copy of the New York Times with him, featuring one of his credited photos on the front page. It is a frustrating reality that he knows is a necessary one to keep him safe.

I shouldnt have to keep newspapers to tell people what I am doing and what I am about.

Lott says he has had his fair share of unprovoked police encounters, including one very bad case of police brutality that occurred while he was covering a demonstration in Chicago and that was settled out of court, but he considers himself lucky.

I am extremely fortunate, the cops could have pulled a gun on me and killed me. They could have made up any old thing.

Michael Oppenheimer, a 39-year-old public defender who has practiced in New York City, Washington DC and Baltimore, says that it is the norm in his job to meet a black or brown man who has just been arrested on a misdemeanor and has suffered a broken nose, stitches or a black eye at the hands of police.

There is little that can be done to seek justice for these men, he says. The three charges, especially in New York, that ring a bell are disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and assaulting of a police officer thats code for the cops beat you up and now they have to figure out a way to justify it.

Oppenheimer says that part of what drew him to a career as a public defender is the knowledge that as a black man, however well educated or well dressed you can be, however well you behave, you can be mistreated. There is no escaping it.

This is not black people saying we feel we are being discriminated against. It is statistical, he says, referring to data showing a disproportionate number of people killed or subjected to force by police are black.

Oppenheimer has had a policeman draw a gun on him while he was paying for a yellow cab in New York with his credit card after a night out at a restaurant. The policeman, after talking with the cab driver and realizing his mistake that the lawyer was not in fact robbing the cabbie told him you know how it is around here by way of explanation.

His response was basically, you know what, black man, you should be used to this. My role in that instance is to shut up and take it. But I was freaked out. You dont know whats in other peoples hearts. He could have fired a shot.

Everyone has a story. It becomes almost like this perverse rite of passage for black men in America.

Saunders, the psychology professor, says that in any given situation, he makes sure to always be aware of whether there is a police officer around. If one is around, he makes sure to modify his own behavior and be in tune with how he might be perceived at any given moment.

William Jones, the 22-year-old, is 6ft 6in. He says he knows he can be perceived as threatening. He says that is simply not fair. No one is born racist, he points out: racism is taught, and it should be untaught.

Jones knows his historical facts and informs me, sitting on a sidewalk in south Harlem, that not that many years ago I would not have been allowed to interview him. Its not just that we wouldnt have been able to talk, its that I could be killed for you talking to me, Jones says, explaining that history is not that far away. In 1955, 14-year-old African American Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi after he interacted with a white woman in a grocery store.

Its like we are seen as animals. Treated like animals. Its not easy.

Joness words recall the way in which the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson who shot black teenager Michael Brown to death, described perceiving Brown as aggressive, angry and like a demon just moments before he ended the 18-year-olds life.

A psychology study from 2014 authored by Phillip Goff at the University of California found that black children were consistently perceived by police officers as older and less innocent than their white peers.

We found evidence that overestimating age and culpability based on racial differences was linked to dehumanizing stereotypes, Goff said of the study.

Stereotypes always undermine the experience of an individual, or of being in a group, Saunders, the psychology professor, says. This past week, as he has sought community and to make sense of the events in the news, he says he has witnessed many of his black male friends break down in tears.

The reluctance to view black men as being fragile is something that has been projected on African American men through stereotyping and prejudice.

People think about black men, they do not think of vulnerability. There is not even an opportunity for black men to show vulnerability, he continues.

But for Saunders, this moment marks a turning point.

The outrage and despair he feels have made him rethink his way of interacting with the world.

Philando Castile was killed for cooperating. I realized you can be killed for cooperating. That was liberating because I dont need to focus on cooperating as much, he says, referring to the fact that Castile was shot by a police officer as he reached for his identification.

Referring to a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, Wearing The Mask, he says he is done with the wearing of a mask.

Through having this unconscious cooperative mindset, I have built good credit with all these people, white people. They have thought of me as the good negro. I am ready to cash every chip that I have in this fight for social justice. Whether or not it means pushing people away. I am willing to cash it all in for this, he says.

I always try and approach social justice issues from a place of cooperation, now I am approaching social justice issues from a place of demands.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Indian child star of new movie Lion ‘denied US visa to attend premiere’

Eight-year-old Sunny Pawar plays a key role in film but has reportedly not been given a visa to attend Los Angeles and New York screenings of the movie

The eight-year-old Indian star of a film starring Nicole Kidman has reportedly been denied a US visa he needed to attend its New York premiere.

The Weinstein Company, which is distributing the film, says Sunny Pawar was due to fly with his father to Los Angeles and New York for screenings of the film Lion, which also stars Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara.

Sunny plays Saroo Brierley, a young Indian boy who becomes lost on the streets of Kolkata and ends up in an orphanage before being adopted by an Australian couple. 25 years later, the adult Saroo now played by Dev Patel uses Google Earth to find the family from which he was separated.

The Weinstein Company is attempting to obtain a last-minute visa for Sunny and his father, but fear that it may have been denied due to immigration concerns. We are doing everything we can to fight this, Weinstein Company president David Glasser said.

We believe it must be the effect of immigration paranoia. He, of course, poses absolutely no threat to anyone. We want him to be a part of the celebration of this film and his performance. We fully intend to go through the proper resources and appeal with the state department for assistance.

It was not immediately clear when Sunnys visa had been applied for. He did not attend the films screening at the Toronto film festival.

The US consulate in Mumbai has been contacted for comment.

Lion is released in the US on 25 November, Australia on 19 January and the UK on 20 January.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

US surfer survives crocodile attack after friend fights off reptile

The man suffered serious injuries after being attacked while crossing a river at a popular tourist beach in Costa Rica

An American surfer has survived a crocodile attack in Costa Rica after his friend fought off the reptile with his bare hands, according to emergency workers.

The man was in a serious but stable condition after he was attacked by a large crocodile at a popular tourist beach on Friday.

Pat McNulty, who works as a consultant and is a certified trained lifeguard in Tamarindo, a northwestern town favored by surfers and eco-tourists, said the man was crossing a river with the friend when the crocodile struck.

He was bitten several times in the leg as well as the head, McNulty told Associated Press by phone from Costa Rica. They were able to get him free, swim him to safety and then trained lifeguards responded … and we administered first aid and called an ambulance.

McNulty said the victim remained lucid after the attack and was taken to Liberia, the provincial capital, where he underwent surgery. McNulty declined to give specifics about the mans injuries other than to say he suffered lower leg trauma and his condition was serious but stable.

His friend saved his life … and then we the lifeguards helped keep him alive, McNulty said. It was a very traumatic scene, and all individuals attending him did a tremendous job.

Costa Rican media reported that the victim suffered partial amputation of his right ankle and most of his calf muscle was stripped.

McNulty declined to identify him publicly by name but described him as a surfer from Colorado who maintains a residence in the village. Family members were travelling to be with him, McNulty added.

The US Embassy in Costa Rica said in a statement that it was aware of the case and that consular officers help US citizens when they are injured overseas, but declined to comment further citing privacy considerations.

Earlier, Costa Rican press reports had said the man was from Arizona.

Community, wildlife and tourism officials met after Fridays attack to consider strategies for relocating crocodiles and making sure theres proper signage to keep people safe.

McNulty said a few months ago there was a minor incident involving a smaller crocodile. We live in a country where theres large crocodiles, and people take for granted that when you go into a river that youre safe, the lifeguard said. But the fact of the matter is that you need to be aware of your environment. … Were in their world.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

School’s out for puma: mountain lion puts LA high school on pause

A Los Angeles high school was sealed off by police Friday afternoon after a visit from a cougar, which was later tranquilized and returned to nearby mountains

A mountain lion has been apprehended after it wandered into a Los Angeles high school on Friday afternoon, causing the school to be placed on lockdown.

The cougar, estimated to weigh around 90lb, was seen strolling around the John F Kennedy high school in the Granada Hills district of LA around noon. Teachers and students retreated to classrooms as police sealed off the area.

After police arrived, the mountain lion bounded a wall of the school and fled to the yard of a nearby home.

I closed my door, but he was ready to go inside my house, resident Armando Blainea told KTLA5.

Officials from Californias department of fish and wildlife managed to tranquilize the animal, load it on to a truck and release it in the nearby Santa Susana Mountains. The department posted a video showing the groggy mountain lion recovering from the sedation and hauling itself into the vegetation.

He was fighting the drugs, kind of rare. I havent seen a lion fight the drugs that much, said JC Healy of the California department, who shot the mountain lion as it roamed a flower bed.

I darted him again and then we actually used a hand stick. We loaded up a syringe with some little more drugs because we dont want him to overheat, so what I would rather do is play it safer, get him down as fast as he can.

Wildlife officials said the mountain lion is aged around two to three years old and was probably chasing a deer or rabbit when it became disorientated and ended up in the school. The high schools mascot is a golden cougar.

Granada Hills is on the edge of LA, next to areas of wilderness where mountain lions are found. There are an estimated 6,000 mountain lions in California.

The incident is the latest unexpected encounter with a mountain lion for residents of LA, a city that teems with a surprising amount of wildlife. A mountain lion known as P-22 has prowled the Hollywood Hills for some time and gained further fame after gorging itself on a koala named Killarney at Los Angeles Zoo last month.

LA Zoo said it did not want to avenge Killarneys death by killing P-22 and has instead taken measures to further protect its animals, such as moving vulnerable creatures indoors at night.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Pot-loving dogs: why cannabis extract is the new trend for our pets

Advocates say CBD, a cannabis extract, can be used as medical marijuana for ill or anxious dogs

High summer is hell for my goldendoodle, Monty. At the park, grass seeds and burrs catch in his woolly mop of black fur. The pollen and dust set off his skin allergies.

The heat more severe every year in the Pacific north-west cuts fetch time in half. Worst of all, in our hometown of Portland, Oregon, July is the month of fireworks. Monty is usually affable and calm. But in the weeks around the 4th, and even sometimes into early August, hes regularly sent skittering down the stairs to the garage by the pop of a rocket or the sizzle of a fountain of sparks. Sometimes hell stay down there in the dark for hours, resisting treats even bacon.

At my local bar, where Monty is allowed on the patio, one of the staff told me months ago that she fed her pomeranian treats made from CBD, an extract from cannabis plants. She used them around the 4th to calm him down and beat the heat.

No stranger to the products of Oregons burgeoning pot industry myself, I wondered if her prescription might work with a rather larger dog.

Internet searches seemed promising. Advocates, entrepreneurs and even scientists have advocated CBD as a treatment for a wide range of canine and feline maladies from allergies to anxiety. There are widely-repeated industry claims that the pet market for CBD doubled between 2008 and 2014, with further projections of 3-5% annual growth in the market.

CBD is not psychoactive in humans, unlike THC, the compound that gets people and other animals high.

Max
Max Daddy ponders the big questions. Photograph: Jason Wilson for The Guardian

But like THC and other compounds in cannabis plants, CBD interacts with the human and mammalian endocannabinoid system. The precise effects of CBD on our bodies are a matter of extensive ongoing research, but advocates of marijuana as a medicine have long held that CBD can treat epilepsy, chronic pain, anxiety and other maladies.

A selection of recent findings suggest that it may be useful for humans in treating problems like PTSD, chronic pain and the psychological effects of long-term cannabis use.

CBD also supposedly moderates the effect of THC, so it has been deliberately cultivated in certain strains and introduced into extracts on the theory that it creates a smoother high. (Informal testing supports this view.)

I wanted to find out more about how CBD could help Monty. My first port of call was with another Portland resident an English bulldog named Max Daddy, who is the face of a newly launched range of CBD remedies.

Max Daddy is no stranger to commerce, and this is not his first brush with fame. He is the live-in associate of another English bulldog, Zelda, who may be one of the best-known dogs in the country.

The current Zelda is the third in a line of dogs with the same name owned by Carol Gardner, a serial entrepreneur, author and former advertising executive. She started a company called Zelda Wisdom in 2000, which put pictures of Zelda the first in costume on greeting cards.

Hallmark sells 75m [Zelda] greeting cards every year, Gardner says at her home in Portlands west hills.

Zeldas fame has made her a hometown hero a statue of Zelda dressed as a Beefeater sits at the entrance of Portlands upscale Heathman hotel.

When Zelda the third came along, Gardner added a male rescue bulldog, Otis. When he died, Gardner says, Zelda was devastated. So they rescued a second male, Max Daddy, who had previously been imprisoned at a puppy mill.

He was kept in a cage for his first five years. He was kept for breeding, all they wanted from him was money.

Max
Max Daddy studies a spot on the floor intensely. Photograph: Jason Wilson for The Guardian

Max Daddys health issues were worse than Gardner realized. He had severe joint problems and significant pain. His patellas are not really attached to anything, Gardner says.

When she picked him up in Illinois, he came with a fistful of drugs, from Prozac to painkillers. Gardner thought there had to be a better way.

She started researching CBD and tried it out on Max Daddy. It was natural, it didnt have the side effects of drugs, she says.

She liked the results but found the products inconsistent. She decided to hire chemists and develop her own line. Now, she says, Max Daddy is off his prescription meds and seemingly doing well. Zelda also takes it, and Gardner says it has reduced her anxiety.

When I met Max Daddy, he certainly seemed relaxed. He cheerfully submitted to yet another photo session, then jumped on the couch and drifted into a snore-filled sleep. Gardner credits it all to the CBD.

This year, Gardner and her business partners started selling the treats she has developed at fireworks stands in the Pacific north-west ahead of the 4th.

We have been amazed by the results, Gardner says. She plans to go national with a treatment she says is a near-panacea.

But what does the science say? At Colorado State University, the veterinary school has the wheels turning on a long-term study of the effects of CBD on pets, including any therapeutic benefits. So far, the results are encouraging.

A team led by Dr Stephanie McGrath found an 89% reduction in epileptic seizures for dogs treated with CBD. They are moving on to study CBD as a treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs, and are recruiting for a larger epilepsy study.

When I got home I tried Max Daddys treats on Monty. (Although Gardner says they offer a more consistent dose than other products, the treats, made with organic ingredients, are still very minimal doses for a 55lb pet.)

Although no fireworks have exploded recently, I did notice that Montys preternatural chill seemed to deepen after taking them. When we went to the park to play fetch, he didnt drag me in the way he usually does. A beloved visitor was not jumped on in the way the visitor usually is. Monty stopped scratching as much.

Max
Max Daddy becomes inexplicably hungry. Photograph: Jason Wilson for The Guardian

While the jury is still out on the stronger claims of the CBD sellers, for now it appears that the treats do little harm, and there is emerging evidence that they may well do some good for certain conditions.

There is still, however, the delicate matter of the law.

Although marijuana has been legalized in the west coast states, Colorado and elsewhere, it is still illegal under federal law; as a consequence, pot products cannot be carried across state lines, and weed businesses still have problems with banking.

Many people in the burgeoning medical industry think CBD is different, based on their interpretations of the Drug Enforcement Administrations public advisories on the matter. The DEA says otherwise. A DEA spokesman, Special Agent Wade Sparks, says: CBD is a schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning as far as the federal government is concerned CBD remains in the same legal category as meth or heroin.

If there is limited enforcement, its because of the varying prosecutorial stances of federal prosecutors, especially in states where pot is legal, and the priorities forced on the DEA by epidemics of meth and opioid use.

I think reasonable taxpayers understand that we devote our resources to the most pressing issues in the community, Sparks says.

Although CBD products are widely available even in states where pot is not legal, people possessing or using it, as well as anyone shipping it across a state line, are taking a calculated legal risk.

Nevertheless, CBD has long been used in medical marijuana for humans. The legalization of recreational and medical pot up and down the western seaboard of the US, and now in Canada, means that it has become a key product of a massive international growth industry.

Urban dog owners ask a lot of the animals who live with them. Our environments are full of objects and situations that stress dogs out.

Our schedules dont always match up with our dogs needs for affection, attention and exercise. And our neighborhoods are full of humans who, for reasons best known to themselves, enjoy explosions. All of these things are a source of anxiety for our animals.

If CBD is proven to be as useful as its advocates believe it is, it may be revolutionary. In the meantime, it could at least be a salve for owners who, like me, cant stand to see their dogs in distress.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Boy, 11, guilty of murdering girl, 8, after she refused to let him see puppies

A judge in Tennessee jailed the boy until he is 19, saying in a judgment published by US media that a child murderer cannot be turned loose willy-nilly

An 11-year-old boy has been found guilty of murdering an eight-year-old girl after she and her sister refused to let him see their puppies.

WATE-TV reports that judge Dennis Roach this week found the boy guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to custody in Tennessee until he turns 19.

In his order, which WATE posted online, Roach said the state should use all reasonable resources to determine why the boy shot the girl, and he should be treated and rehabilitated so this never happens again.

A child who commits first-degree murder cannot be willy-nilly turned loose into society, Roach wrote.

The boy, who has been identified by US media, was in detention and being evaluated as to where he should be placed, said Rob Johnson, a spokesman for Tennessees department of childrens services. Like any other child who comes into custody, he would need a thorough assessment and evaluation to determine the best placement, Johnson said.

At this time, it would likely be at an intensive treatment program at one of our private providers.

The boy has five siblings three brothers and two sisters who have been placed with relatives and the state, Johnson said.

The boy and his victim, eight-year-old MaKayla Dyer, lived in the same mobile home park in White Pine, Tennessee. MaKayla, her 11-year-old sister and another girl, also 11, were playing outside and talking to the boy while he was sitting at his bedroom window on 3 October 2015. He asked the sisters to fetch their puppies, the judges order said, and when they refused he got a 12-gauge shotgun and a BB gun and told the girls he had guns. According to the judges description of the events, McKayla laughed at him and responded that the guns were not real.

The boy then made certain the gun was loaded, cocked the hammer on the gun and shot the victim just above the heart at a downward trajectory, the judge wrote.

The girl fell backward, quickly lost consciousness, and was later confirmed dead, the judge wrote, adding that three witnesses saw McKayla within one minute after she was shot.

The mother of the child knelt on the ground and picked her up, placing her child in her arms as she passed away.

The boy had been trained in firearm safety and had hunted with his father and grandfather, the judge noted.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Jaguar kills eight other animals after escaping from zoo enclosure

Big cat kills five alpacas, two foxes and an emu at Audubon zoo in New Orleans

Eight animals have died after a jaguar escaped from its habitat at the Audubon zoo in New Orleans and mauled them.

An alpaca and fox died on Sunday, the day after the male jaguar killed four alpacas, one emu and one fox, Nola.com reported. The jaguar was captured and returned to its night house after being sedated by a vet team.

No people were hurt and the zoo reopened on Sunday.
The zoo acquired the alpacas in March from farms in Alabama and Mississippi. The alpaca that died on Sunday was the zoos last living alpaca.

One injured fox continues to be monitored.

It is not immediately clear how the animal escaped. Zoo officials say inspections found that the roof was compromised, and initial findings concluded keeper error was not a factor.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

America, stop visiting roadside zoos they make money from the inhumane treatment of animals

While conventional zoos have moved to enclosures for animals for at least part of the day, animals at some roadside zoos can spend their entire lives in a cage

I have driven by many roadside zoos in my time, but have never stopped at one. It seemed unlikely they could be any less depressing than a conventional zoo in fact, it seemed likely that they could be even more depressing.

Roadside zoos generally provide less enrichment for the animals and less education for their public. While conventional zoos have moved to enclosures for animals for at least part of the day, animals at some roadside zoos can spend their entire lives in a cage. The difference between the two is not euphemistic. At a roadside zoo, a single chimpanzee might live its entire life behind bars on concrete. Half a dozen wolves pace a cage smaller than a studio apartment. Tigers might appear to be surrounded by trees, but there are no trees in their cages they are only a backdrop used to trick the tourist into thinking that the animals live out their lives in a space that is as wooded and lush as the one the tourists are visiting. Roadside zoos are, in many ways, the way conventional zoos used to be before zoo visitors demanded more.

In 2012, a group of organizations the Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, Detroit Zoological Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Born Free USA, Big Cat Rescue, Fund for Animals and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries filed a legal petition with the US government to prohibit public contact with big cats, bears and non-human primates. Earlier this year, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) finally responded with guidance about that makes it clear that exhibitors violate the Animal Welfare Act by allowing members of the public to handle or feed infant exotic cats like tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars or leopards. But these groups believe further action beyond just guidance is necessary.

You might have thought that bottle feeding bears, cuddling chimpanzees and swimming with tigers are not things you would be allowed to do, even if you wanted to. But at least 75 roadside zoos in the US sell interactions with dangerous animals, such as tigers, lions, primates and bears.

This information comes from a report put together earlier this year by myself and my colleagues at New York University for the Humane Society. The report which is not publicly available summarized roadside zoos that offered interactions with dangerous animals. Searching both online text and images, we found 77 distinct facilities that allow human interactions with endangered wildlife. Florida alone has 15 roadside zoos that offer these interactions, while California has a dozen. While federal laws regulate animal exhibition facilities, state and local laws dictate whether individuals can possess dangerous animals. So, I decided to visit one of the more notorious roadside zoos that sells these interactions with dangerous animals.

When I arrived, I was asked if I was part of an animal activist group, and was warned to not talk about in person, internet, mail, fax or in any way about the visit, and to not record video or audio. Is there another family activity that refuses these basic vacation rights? (I cant say which zoo because I signed the nondisclosure agreement sent to me as a condition of my visit. An NDA is required for all visitors.)

In exchange for abiding by the NDA, roadside zoos and their visitors do not need to abide by other rules common at conventional zoos. The main difference, of course, is the possibility to interact with animals, including dangerous ones. Visitors to roadside zoos want to be free to feed, to hold, to snuggle, to smile for $100 photograph but not free enough to get hurt, so the babies of dangerous animals are the moneymakers. At an Idaho roadside zoo, visitors pay $45 to bottle feed baby bears. At a roadside zoo in South Carolina, visitors can cuddle up and get hands on with a baby tiger and a young ape while they sit on [their] lap.

What about swimming? A roadside zoo charges $200 to swim with baby tigers. Even without the swim component, the Humane Society estimates that a single baby tiger can bring in $65,000 in one summer (assuming 30 photo sessions at $50 per photo and five private interactive sessions at $300 per day, as was documented at one roadside zoo in Virginia). Often, the money is in photographs of the tourists interacting with those baby animals, the preservation of the experience being at least as important as the experience itself.

Bad things can happen to humans at zoos, and roadside zoos are no exception. In 2009, a jaguar at a roadside zoo in Maryland attacked a worker and bit her face and torso. In 2015, a black bear in Florida mauled a woman.

But life for the zoo animals is arguably more dangerous. The Animal Welfare Act is the federal law that is supposed to protect these animals from poor living conditions, except that it is too weak and infrequently enforced, with inspectors usually visiting facilities once a year. The law also does not extend to all animals reptiles are exempt, for instance, which explains the reviewer who reported that you can pay $5 at a roadside zoo in Florida to get a photograph with a small alligator with its mouth taped shut.

Although government inspections of roadside zoos are rare and the database of the inspection reports is not easy to search, the evidence suggests widespread negligence and cruelty. A 2014 report from a roadside zoo in Arkansas documented a spider monkey that lost the tips of its fingers and several baboons that lost the ends of their tails, reportedly from frostbite. These sorts of reports seem less about documenting enforcement than about formalizing a record of complacency.

Grittier, long term investigations have been done by civil society groups like the Humane Society, which is probably why some roadside zoos, like the one I visited, have become wary of visitors who are sympathetic toward the animal cause. In 2014, the society placed an undercover worker at Tiger Safari in Tuttle, Oklahoma one of the roadside zoos that offers interactions with dangerous animals, including tiger feedings at birthday parties. A white tiger, Maximus, was born at Tiger Safari that spring. He was quickly taken from his mother and his three littermates were sent to another roadside zoo in South Carolina. When Maximus was three weeks old he became a photo opportunity. According to the Humane Societys report, when he would not cooperate, the white tiger was punched, slapped, dragged, choked, suspended by his legs and tail and tossed into his cage and onto the laps of patrons. Just a year and a half later, in 2016, Maximus died. According to Tiger Safari, he choked on a deer bone.

It is clear that roadside zoos need a major overhaul if they are going to reflect the broader social values about animals in captivity. The Barnum & Bailey Circus recently announced the end of elephants in their shows and SeaWorld is now phasing out the use of captive orca whales in performances. Todays public is too educated about animal behavior to enjoy watching animals perform and also to enjoy feeding desperate babies.

That is why one of the first steps to improving roadside zoos is to ban dangerous interactions at the federal level. These would make these animals less valuable and therefore less likely to be bred, mistreated and commoditized. There is currently a petition under evaluation by the government to amend the Animal Welfare Act Regulations and prohibit public contact with big cats, bears and primates of any age.

Contrary to how it might feel, fondling dangerous animals only accentuates the divide between us and them. Havent we done enough to force that divide already?

That any roadside zoo would ask visitors to choose between advocating for animals and entering their zoo only underlines on which side of the fence I would rather be.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Pets, debts and e-cigarettes: how millennials spend their pay cheques

Life is far from hedonistic for most as tight budgets collapse with one cough of a car engine and dreams of property are weighed against the price of a takeout

The millennial lifestyle cord-cutting, wasteful, feckless and more concerned with ordering an Uber than the death of the auto industry has been the subject of much criticism.

While there is no question that millennial habits are reshaping the global economy, it is also shaping them: finding a job after college is not guaranteed and many struggle to repay student loans.

We wanted to get a closer look at the lifestyles of millennials around North America and find out if they are really as financially flippant as they have been made out. Are they concerned about saving or buying a house? Or would they rather just order Seamless and binge on Netflix? Here, six people from around the US and Canada tell us how they make ends meet.

Nectar Odabashian, 23, $35,000

  • Receptionist at Fage Yogurt, Gloversville, New York

Nectar,
Nectar, Rob and their cat, pictured in the apartment they share in Gloversville, New York. Photograph: Yuliya Peshkova for the Guardian

How Nectar spends her money

Nectar moved to Gloversville, New York, with her boyfriend, Rob, after graduating from Rutgers University in 2014. The couple, originally from New Jersey, chose the upstate mountain city because rent was cheap and they wanted to save money to travel.

People thought I was weird, she says.

Living away from the city allows Nectar to save, which is a priority for her and Rob. The couple live together and pool their money to cover expenses. Rob, 27, works nights at a convenience store and makes about $800 per month. They share a 1997 Subaru Outback that Nectar says has seen better days.

Living upstate makes her an anomaly among her friends as most of them moved to Jersey City or other urban areas after college. They live a very nightlife-y lifestyle, having huge blowouts on the weekends, going to shows all the time.

Nectar describes herself as a nervous shopper and constantly questions how each purchase she makes will affect her budget.

Recently, we were at Walmart and we had some extra money, and we needed a humidifier for our apartment because the air is so dry, she says. So Rob said: Why dont we spend $25 on a humidifier? And I was like: Do we really need it? I try to be as methodical as possible.

The couple stretch their income as far as possible. This means packing lunches for work, staying in instead of going out, and sticking to a budget. Extra money goes towards beer for the weekends and stuff for Nectars cats. Our spare room is the cats room, she says. She also spends about $50 a month on e-juice for her vape. She started smoking in 2009 and quit in 2014.

The big reason we moved up to the mountains was to be able to save up for things, Nectar says. We want to travel and buy property and get a tiny home and be able to live off the land. Were so young, we sort of have the whole future ahead of us, and were open to what we want to do at this point.

Christine Odunlami, 24, $0

  • Unemployed, Toronto, Canada

Christine
Christine Odunlami has a takeout sushi dinner at her home in Toronto, Canada. Photograph: Jennifer Roberts for the Guardian

How Christine spends her money

Christine is living off her savings account and credit card, having lost her job as an intern for a marketing company in December.

Im not really satisfied and its because I dont have a job, she says. I hate being in debt, I hate owing money. Once Im working permanently, I will be better.

Being unemployed, Christine says it is challenging to live off her meagre savings. Before she lost her job, she was making between $400 and $600 a month and now has access to a line of credit, which is seeing her through until she finds a new job. She is living with her sister as she looks for a job in the US. Her parents cover her rent.

Its hard because if my parents didnt pay my rent, I would be homeless, she says.

Each day, Christine sets a budget for between $30 and $40 to spend on food, coffee and entertainment. A self-described foodie, she says she loves splurging on takeouts.

I have no inhibition when it comes to food, she says. I will spend as much as I possibly can to have good food.

For other items, Christine says she relies on a rewards debit card that gives her free movie tickets and discounts at stores, and coupons to help offset the cost of everything she buys. Since tracking her spending, she noticed unexpected costs, such as toiletries and hair appointments.

Being black, its hard to find hairdressers that are cheap, she says. I go to one lady a couple of towns over who charges $50 for a wash and a trim.

Originally from Maryland, Christine attended the University of Toronto. She says living in Canada has opened her eyes to subsidized healthcare. She does not have to spend money on healthcare but does have to pay $240 a month for anti-inflammatory steroids to stave off a hormone allergy.

I guess the great thing in Canada is there is universal healthcare, so I dont have to pay for the doctor, but the medication is expensive.

Brian Staub, 28, $30,000

  • Sheet metal worker at Rays Metal Works, Jacksonville, Florida

Brian
Brian Staub lives with his wife, who waits tables, and his four-year-old daughter in Jacksonville, Florida. Photograph: Rick Wilson for the Guardian

How Brian spends his money?

As the father to a four-year-old girl, Brian spends $520 of his monthly paycheck on daycare. Its a struggle, he says.

After that, he and his wife, Stephanie, are not left with much. We have to get groceries and stuff like that, too, and gas to get us through the week, Brian says. We pay the daycare, we pay the groceries for the week and hopefully we can cover one of our bills.

Sometimes, they do not have the extra money. In those moments, Brian and his wife, who waits tables for about four to six hours a week, look for extra shifts. Stephanie brings in about $500 to $600 every two weeks.

Its always kind of a gamble. We roll the dice and pay the bill that makes sense at the time, he says. Its always kind of shooting from the hip, as they say, as far as which bill we pay first.

Brian is the only one of his friends (all a bunch of heathens) who has a child, making his lifestyle a little different.

My spending habits are definitely on the middle-aged side, he says. Last year, he had to spend about $3,000 for repairs on his truck and says he wishes he could buy a new one. Once he has paid off Stephanies jeep he hopes to buy a new truck for himself.

I dont even want the vehicle, but Jacksonville is not a city that affords public transportation, he says.

At the moment he is not concerned about having enough money, but having extra money. He was in the army, posted in Germany, when he got married, and spent most of his savings on bringing his wife to the US in 2011.

Ive had to work some pretty crappy jobs since 2011 before she could get her green card, he says.

Every six months, Brian, who is originally from Pittsburgh, receives a raise at work, which helps him pay down debts and stay on track to pay bills.

I have no savings right now, and when I do have something it goes toward paying something I already needed to pay off, he says. But where we stand right now, we have everything we need.

Natalia Martinez, 29, $130,000

  • General manager, Cambridge Innovation Center, Miami, Florida

Natalia
Natalia Martinez has found a balance between responsibility and fun, and saves about $1,000 per month. Photograph: Mary Beth Koeth for the Guardian

How Natalia spends her money

For years, Natalia fluctuated in terms of how she spent her money. Some years she focused on saving and paying down her student loans from attending Harvard and Columbia, while in other years she was less thrifty.

Its taken most of my 20s to come to a more balanced approach, she says. Finding it has come in ebbs and flows.

Having found the balance between responsibility (such as saving enough to be able to buy property) and having fun, Natalia is comfortable in her spending. Extra income goes towards what she calls experiential expenses such as travel and attending operas, concerts and plays. She also belongs to a couple of members clubs that require annual fees.

Natalia moved to Miami last year to run the expansion of the Cambridge Innovation Center, a high-profile startup-focused organisation that started out in the Boston area.

I end up having a lot of work meetings around things that entail food, so eating out doesnt generally come out of my budget, she says.

Compared with her friends, Natalia says she has been a bit more experimental in the way she lives and spends money. Born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Mexico, Natalia travels more frequently than most people she knows. She has moved cities often, having lived in Boston, New York and Miami.

Natalia saves approximately $1,000 per month and says she would like to have the flexibility to buy an apartment one day, though she is not looking at the moment.

I have some friends who were very responsible and conservative, and they are at this point doing things like buying property and doing these things that we perceive as very settled, she says. I am definitely not in a position to do that.

Aaron Tipping, 23, $33,000

  • Teacher, Micro, North Carolina

Middle
Middle school teacher Aaron Tipping and his new puppy, Luna. Photograph: Lissa Gotwals for the Guardian

How Aaron spends his money

Since graduating from Pennsylvanias Edinboro University in 2015 and starting to repay his student loans, Aaron has developed a conservative attitude towards how he spends money.

Im at this point where I have a good job as a teacher, but when I started paying my loans recently, I realised I needed to be a bit better with my money, he says.

For Aaron, spending comes down to groceries, gas and the occasional coffee after work. Recent splurges include dinners out with his girlfriend, Lacey, and a dog they adopted. Aaron and Lacey live in an apartment in Micro, North Carolina, about half an hour out of Raleigh, and the couple often go to the city on weekends to go to restaurants and bars.

When I think about my spending when I was in school, I see how much of a difference there is, he says.

For now, he is pretty satisfied with his spending, although he would like to spend more on things he wants. Im building up savings, pay my bills, pay my rent, he says.

In college, Aaron used Amazon Prime to shop, something he still does, although on a smaller scale since he has to put more towards student loan repayments.

I get into this thing where Ill get on Amazon and theyll list what you can look at, he says. And Im like: Ooh, two-day shipping! I should just get that. Ill get books and movies digitally. Then Ill regret it.

Aaron worries about how to allocate his money, especially recently, having moved away from his home town in Pennsylvania. I tend to stress and think of the worst-case scenario like with the car or my job, he says. I tend to worry about it a lot more now.

He worries in particular about his car, and wishes he could afford a new one. If something were to happen to it, he is concerned he would not be able to afford the repair. It would be nice to not panic every time the engine makes a sound, he says.

However, Aaron knows he is not alone. He says many of his friends, especially those who just graduated from college, go through the same thing.

Its very common, especially with people around our age, he says. Its weird because Im teaching at this school and there are teachers who have been there for 15 years with kids and mortgages on their houses, and I cant even imagine how that is.

Zack Desmond, 25, $38,000

  • Programme director, Brave Heart Volunteers, Sitka, Alaska

Zack
Zack Desmond. Photograph: Tim C Shobe for the Guardian

How Zack spends his money

Sitka, with a population of about 8,000, affords Zack a slightly different lifestyle to millennials who move to cities for work. He does not have internet, Netflix, a car or a long train commute.

A lot of people who live here are aiming to live pretty simply, he says.

What he saves on city living goes towards his passion for travel. Last year, Zack, who is from Seattle and graduated from Boston College, went to New York, Washington DC, Seattle, Boston and Florida. This year, he plans to save money for plane tickets, as he has a few weddings to attend this summer.

I know I need to get across the country at least twice this summer, he says. My friends arent mostly from Alaska. So if we want to go home and visit people, you gotta get on a plane. Most people do it once a year, sometimes more. Its just valuable to get off this island, especially in the winter.

Alaska is known for its dark, cold winters. Apart from air fares, Zack spends money on the gym and other physical activities to keep in good spirits.

I just feel like if I didnt have somewhere to be then I wouldnt go outside, he says. He does yoga and is part of an aerial silk dance troupe. It keeps me strong, and gets me moving, which is great.

A huge chunk of Zacks money goes toward student loans. Despite being in debt, he recently gave money to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders campaign $11 a month for six months.

Zack, who admires the Vermont senator for only taking money from humans, says he gave more than he can afford, adding: I never thought I would, but there was an exception in this case.

For this project, each subject was asked to track his or her expenses and share them with the Guardian.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

The new Pizza Rat? New York squirrel filmed snacking on avocado

In viral video, rodent displays pricey hipster tastes on citys wealthy Upper West Side

A New York squirrel has been dubbed the new Pizza Rat after being filmed munching on an avocado in a flower planter on the Upper West Side. Henry Zhang spotted the squirrel on Thursday and uploaded the video to social media, where it is proceeding to go viral.

Zhang told the Guardian that it was actually his dog, Almond, who first noticed the squirrel and tugged on his leash to alert his owner to the excitement. The planter is next to a street vendor selling fruits and his van. I assume an avocado dropped from his van or stand, and the squirrel scavenged it.

While the squirrel is to be commended for eating heart-healthy fats rather than a slice of pizza, one does hope it knows that its choice of treat is extremely uneconomical. If only the squirrel had skipped the avocado, it might have saved enough money to buy a house instead of living in a tree.

The last few years have been a fruitful time for viral vermin aficionados; Avocado Squirrel joins an illustrious roster of city critters caught snacking.

Pizza Rat

Exotic animals disappear from Florida wildlife sanctuary after fake ad

Owners fear for health of lemurs, marmosets, monkeys, birds and tortoises removed from site in incident police are treating as theft

The advertisement on Craigslist was specific: Free exotic animals. Were a sanctuary going out of business. Go around back and help yourself.

Early on Sunday morning, somebody did just that, driving a truck up to the rear gate of the We Care Wildlife Sanctuary in Miami and loading up seven ring-tailed lemurs, five marmosets, four monkeys, seven birds and 13 tortoises.

The internet posting, however, was a fake. Now the sanctuary owners want their animals back, fearing they could die in days without the specialist care they need.

Weve been violated, a sanctuary volunteer, Cindy Robert, said of the disappearance of the valuable animals, which is being treated by the Miami-Dade police department as a theft.

I dont think these animals are going to be taken care of. The stress alone could give some of them heart attacks.

Detectives are looking into the theory that the entire episode was carefully planned, targeting those animals that would bring in the best return from dealers or collectors who trade in exotic species.

They took the dollar animals. They knew exactly what they wanted, said Robert, adding that the combined value of the lost animals would run to thousands of dollars.

They left the raccoons, they left the horses, they left the goats, and there were some birds nesting in the tree that they didnt see because it was pitch black. We did get to keep those, at least.

Theyd have had to chase the animals around and net them, and put them in cages, and that puts them under even more stress. We have a tortoise thats on antibiotics for a cold and needs needs injections every three days.

Theres an umbrella cockatoo with food regression because the original owners werent taught how to wean her, and if you dont feed her properly and soak her food she wont eat shell starve to death in a few days. Were just heartbroken.

Robert suspected the thieves used inside knowledge to set up an elaborate internet hoax that began with the hacking of We Cares Facebook site a week ago and culminated in the fake Craigslist posting, which used the claim that the sanctuary was going out of business as a smokescreen.

Far from closing down, Robert said, the sanctuary is expanding, with the joint owners, Armando Mendez and Josue Santiago, having just moved most of the animals to larger premises.

The thieves, who removed bolts from a fence to gain access instead of breaking locks on the gate, probably knew that the new site was under construction and that security cameras had not yet been installed, Robert said.

Theres a bit of history the owners had been receiving threats. The detectives are going over all that and looking at pictures, she said.

The Miami-Dade police department confirmed it was investigating the case but was unable to provide any more details. A reward of $1,000 has been offered to anyone who can help restore the lost animals to the sanctuary, and the Miami volunteers are reaching out to contacts from states as far away as Texas and Maryland to learn of anybody trying to offload those that were stolen.

Spotters will also be at Floridas next exotic pet amnesty day in Poinciana, near Kissimmee, later this month to see if any of the stolen animals are turned in. The state has strict regulations on the keeping and care of non-native species kept in captivity and fines for those without licences.

The owners cant even talk about it, theyre so upset. The two of them are just basket cases, Robert said.

One cant stop crying, hes so attached to these animals. Its a huge labour of love to these animals to protect them.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Tucker the gassy sea turtle treated for the bends so he can dive

Rescued olive ridley sea turtle is too buoyant to be able to dive for food but experts hope to change that with decompression treatment

Vets have put a rescued sea turtle into ahyperbaric chamber, usually used to treat human divers suffering the bends, in a bid to remove gas bubbles in its body that stop it diving.

Experts from Seattle will test the buoyancy of Tucker the 20-year-old endangered olive ridley sea turtle on Friday in the hope that they can one day release him back into the ocean.

The 32kg animal was found in December clinging to life along the coast of Oregon, far from his species usual warm-water habitat off southern California and Mexico, said Seattle Aquarium officials.

He has recovered from pneumonia and other complications from hypothermia but still has a buoyancy issue caused by internal gas bubbles in his body that prevent the reptile from diving or remaining underwater.

Its almost like the turtle is wearing a life preserver, Seattle Aquarium spokesman Tim Kuniholm said on Thursday.

Aquarium vets brought Tucker to Virginia Mason hospital on Monday for a session in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber there, making him the first non-human patient to visit the pressurised facility and the first sea turtle in the US to undergo such a treatment for buoyancy problems.

Tucker will undergo testing on Friday to determine if further sessions in the chamber are needed, Kuniholm said.

Kuniholm said Tucker must be able to regulate his buoyancy in order to survive in the wild, where he needs to dive for food and avoid predators as well as hazards such as boats.

He could remain in human care, but thats not our goal, he added.

The hyperbaric treatment involves the turtle breathing 100% oxygen for more than two hours, hospital officials said. Tucker was sedated and observed closely while hooked up to a heart monitor and breathing tube.

James Holm, the medical director at the center for hyperbaric medicine, said:We have treated many scuba divers over the years for a gas bubble disease known as decompression sickness, which is also called the bends. This is the first time we have been asked to assist in the care of a sea turtle, which are excellent divers themselves.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Don’t call it a wholphin: first sighting of rare whale-dolphin hybrid

Scientists have identified a creature that they believe to be a hybrid of a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin

Scientists are touting the first sighting of a hybrid between a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin in the ocean off Hawaii. But dont call it a wholphin, they say.

The melon-headed whale is one of the various species thats called a whale but is technically a dolphin.

Calling it something like a wholphin doesnt make any sense, said one of the studys authors, Robin Baird, a Hawaii research biologist with Washington state-based Cascadia Research Collective. I think calling it a wholphin just confuses the situation more than it already is.

In a study published last week, scientists say the animal spotted off the island of Kauai in August 2017 appears to be the first record of a hybrid involving either species. Its also only the third confirmed instance of a wild-born hybrid between species in the Delphinidae family.

The label wholphin has stuck for a hybrid born in 1985 at Hawaiis Sea Life Park of a false killer whale and an Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin. The hybrid named Kekaimalu still lives at the marine mammal park, where she helps teach children about genetics. News of the hybrid spotted in the wild during navy-funded research to study the effects of sonar, proves the genetic diversity of the ocean, said Sea Life park curator Jeff Pawloski. To know she has cousins out there in the ocean is an amazing thing to know.

While some news organisations have described the melon-headed whale and rough-toothed dolphin hybrid as a new species, in order for that to happen other things need to occur, including more widespread hybridisation, Baird said.

That isnt the case, although there are examples where hybridisation has resulted in a new species, he said. Theres no evidence to suggest its leading toward anything like species formation.

The male hybrid presents an opportunity to look for others. Hybrids generally occur when there is a decline in the population in one of the parental species, so scientists will be looking out for such a decline.

A likely scenario for how the hybrid came to be is a melon-headed whale getting separated from its group and ending up traveling with rough-toothed dolphins.
Scientists do not know how old it is, but believe it is close to adult age.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Obama runs wild with Bear Grylls to promote action on climate change

US president treks across a glacier and eats a bloody salmon discarded by a bear on British adventurers reality TV show

He declined to drink urine but Barack Obama did make tea from glacier water and munch on a bloody salmon previously chewed by a bear in his wilderness bromance with Bear Grylls.

The US president trekked through a remote part of Alaska to promote action on climate change and show a more human side in a special episode of the British adventurers reality show, Running Wild With Bear Grylls.

The hour-long programme, which aired on NBC on Thursday, showed the duo bonding as they hiked on Exit glacier in the Kenai mountains, bantering over fatherhood and the environment as well as flatulence and bellybutton fluff.

Im skinny but tougher than I look, said Obama, after the former soldier complimented his physical fitness. It was a moment to make Sarah Palin howl.

The president drank tea made from catkins and melting glacier water and munched on a ravaged salmon, which Grylls said had been discarded by a bear and still bore bear breath.

Barack Obama discusses climate change in first video on Facebook

Grylls has persuaded previous celebrity guests to drink their own urine but the commander in chief demurred. I suppose, in extremis, its something that I would do if the alternative was death, he said. Its not something Id make a habit of. And I probably wouldnt do it just for a TV show.

It was the White Houses idea to pair the professorial president with a rugged survivalist as part of a strategy of unorthodox methods and stunts to project his agenda.

It was an Obama seldom seen on television: loose, personal, stripped of pomp, just a guy out hiking with another guy.

Of course, it was also an illusion. According to Grylls dozens of staff, secret service agents and a food taster hovered just off-screen, along with snipers in the hills and a military helicopter overhead.

Perhaps to offset any comparisons with Russian President Vladimir Putins swaggering wilderness photo-ops, Obama made several references to the invisible chaperones, including when he fumbled using a borrowed smartphone to take a selfie with Grylls.

Im in whats called the bubble and secret service makes sure that Im always out of danger, which I very much appreciate but it can be a little confining, he said, addressing the camera directly. So to be with Bear in the woods: it doesnt get any better than that.

Both men cited the retreating glacier as evidence of the urgency in addressing climate change. Ive two daughters, and I dont want grandkids too soon, but eventually I hope to have some, said Obama. And I want to make sure that this is there for them, not just us.

He said action on climate change was vital to his presidency. I think it will have a more significant impact on the lives of future generations as just about anything. And were still a long way from getting it right but its something that, working together, I think we can make a difference on.

The show aired at a delicate time for the president, who is riding high on the climate deal agreed in Paris last week but defensive over Republican claims that he is weak on Islamist terrorism. On Friday he is due to visit the relatives of victims of this months San Bernardino massacre.

Obama played the straight man, noting Gryllss reputation for extreme cuisine. Bears a mediocre cook, but the fact that we ate something recognisable was encouraging. Now, the fact that he told me this was a leftover fish from a bear, I dont know if that was necessary. He could have just left that out.

The Briton commended the president on nimbly starting a fire, obviating need to use bellybutton fluff as kindling. He also recommended the catkins tea as a remedy for flatulence. Its not a problem I have but maybe you do, Obama replied.

When Grylls warned that bears were especially dangerous when you surprised them fornicating, Obama joked that the same could be said for humans.

Clearly smitten, Grylls, an evangelical Christian, ended their outing with a riverside prayer calling on God to bless the presidents work. They hugged and went their separate ways.

He said it was one of the best days of his presidency, Grylls told reporters earlier this week, according to Reuters. There were times along the route I had to pinch myself and think, actually, this is the president of America.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

US police shoot and kill 6ft boa constrictor that crushed puppy to death

Snake humanely killed after it escaped from tank and wrapped itself round eight-month-old puppy in Amherst, Massachusetts

Police in Massachusetts say they shot and killed a pet boa constrictor after it fatally crushed a puppy.

Amherst animal welfare officer Carol Hepburn says a pet sitter called police at about 4.30pm on Wednesday to report that the snake, which she estimates was at least 6ft long, had escaped from its tank and wrapped it itself around the eight-month-old puppy.

Police tried unsuccessfully to pull the snake off the dog, and Hepburn says the dog was dead by the time she arrived. The pet sitter contacted the animals owner, who was overseas, and got permission for police to humanely kill the snake.

Hepburn dragged it from the house first.

It is not illegal to own boa constrictors in Massachusetts and no charges are expected.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Dallas dog loyally stands by stray friend killed by car

A photo was taken of a Great Pyrenees watching over another dogs body after apparently dragging it out of the road near Dallas-Forth Worth national cemetery

A photo of one dog standing guard over another which was hit by a car on a roadside in south-west Dallas has warmed hearts across the US.

The dog, a Great Pyrenees, stood by his friend near the Dallas-Fort Worth national cemetery until volunteers rushed to rescue him, after a photo of the two surfaced on Facebook. Posted by Samuel Flores, the photo showed the dog standing over his friend, who was hit by a car and killed.

He was just kind of sitting guard, like a statue, just sitting there watching over his friends body, animal advocate Julie Fennell told a local NBC affiliate.

It really looks like she was hit in the road, you can see the blood in the road, and it looks like he [dragged] her up on to the grass out of the road.

apaMag in English (@CapaMagENG) November 10, 2015

Great Pyrenees refusing to leave the side of his friend who appears to have been hit by a car in Dallas. pic.twitter.com/6T0SiuwC13

Volunteers could not determine the dogs history, or why he was dedicated to protecting the other dog, but said he was very calm and loving when rescued.

He made a friend, Fennell said. Whether it was his companion in his yard at home or whether they met up as strays, but something made him stay by her side.

The Great Pyrenees was taken to Dallas animal services. If no owners come forward, he will be released to SPIN Rescue, a group focused on the rescue of Great Pyrenees dogs.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats

David Teie from University of Maryland creates Music for Cats featuring purring, suckling noises and cello to calm felines

They are a particularly tough audience picky, moody, often impossible to please but cats represent an untapped music market, according to one of the worlds biggest record labels.

Universal Music has announced it will be the first major label to release an album that is not for human consumption although, until cats get bank accounts, humans will have to pay for it.

David Teie, an American cellist and music researcher based at the University of Maryland, has created Music for Cats, saying it is an absolutely serious undertaking . He said: It is the biggest challenge with this, people think it is silly. But I think it is the way the brain works . If I look at a door and say thats a fish, you are going to say thats a door . Everybody knows what music is and animals are not included. If you really look into it, whats silly is the idea that only one species could have music available for it.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Defiant Ted Cruz tells Texas delegates he’s not ‘a servile puppy dog’ to Trump

Senator says he told Donald Trump campaign he would not endorse himand insists speech said nothing negative about Trump

Ted Cruz pointedly and repeatedly refused to endorse Donald Trump on Thursday morning, saying that he was not a servile puppy dog.

Just hours after the Texas senator was loudly booed from the floor of the Republican convention when he did not embrace his partys nominee, Cruz faced an impassioned audience as he took questions from his states delegation during a breakfast.

The runner-up in the Republican presidential primary expressed his wonderment that rabid Trump supporters would object to his statement that Americans should vote their conscience. The Texas senator insisted in that speech last night I did not say a single negative word about Donald Trump and Ill tell you this morning and going forward I dont intend to say negative things about Donald Trump.

Some Texas delegates disagreed. While Cruz received repeated standing ovations, he also was subject to constant heckles and one Texas delegate stood through the first few minutes of his speech by holding a hand-drawn sign saying Clinton Cruz 2020.

Cruz pushed back against audience members who brought the pledge that he and other Republican candidates had made to support the eventual GOP nominee, saying that that promise was abrogated when Trump attacked his family. I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and my father, he said.

That pledge is not a blanket commitment [that] if you go slander and attack Heidi I am nonetheless going to come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father. The Texas senator added: This is not politics Right and wrong matters.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Lions next in line of fire as US rolls back curbs on African hunting trophies

The Trump administrations lifting of restrictions on importing elephant body parts from Zimbabwe and Zambia is not the last gift to hunting interests

Hunting interests have scored a major victory with the Trump administrations decision to allow Americans to bring home body parts of elephants shot for sport in Africa. Another totemic species now looks set to follow suit lions.

As the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) was announcing it was lifting a ban on the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, it also quietly published new guidelines that showed lions shot in the two African countries will also be eligible to adorn American homes.

This all suggests that rather than being the protectors of wildlife, the federal government is now a promoter of trophy hunting, said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.

They are rolling out the red carpet to the next Walter Palmer, and that same sort of situation will happen all over again, Pacelle added, referencing the Minnesota dentist who sparked an international furore after he shot and killed Cecil, a famous black-maned lion that was lured from a protected reserve in Zimbabwe.

In 2014, American hunters were barred from bringing home parts of elephants shot in Zimbabwe because of concerns over the conservation of the animals in the country. Last year, the FWS, under the Obama administration, also listed the lion as a threatened species and placed tighter restrictions on bringing back heads, paws and other body parts.

The Trump administration has begun to peel away this legacy in unusual fashion by announcing the lifting to the elephant ban at the African Wildlife Consultative Forum, a pro-hunting event held in Tanzania, rather than on its website or in the federal register.

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The event is co-hosted by Safari Club International, an Arizona-based group that lobbies against hunting restrictions and auctions off trips to members to head to Africa to hunt the big five lions, rhinos, elephants, Cape buffalo and leopards. SCI joined with the National Rifle Association (NRA) to legally challenge the ban on elephant trophies.

Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRAs Institute for Legislative Action, said the Trump administration had backed sound scientific wildlife management and regulated hunting through its decision. Conservation groups fear the administration is now held in the sway of SCI and the NRA to the detriment of species such as lions and elephants both of which have suffered sharp declines in recent years.

This is political fealty to the NRA and SCI, said Pacelle. Here we are telling black Africans they cant kill elephants for tusks but its OK for rich white people to show up and shoot them. Its the height of hypocrisy.

Pacelle said it was a farce that Zimbabwe was now considered a responsible steward for elephants in the midst of an apparent coup by the military against Robert Mugabe, the 93-year-old president who celebrated a birthday in 2015 by feasting upon a baby elephant.

Zimbabwes elephant population has dropped in recent years with a spate of poaching, including cyanide poisonings, killing thousands of the animals. However, the FWS said the lifting of the trophy import ban was rooted in science and that the situation has changed and improved since 2014.

The agency said Zimbabwe had a new management plan that includes a hunting quota of 500 elephants, with money from wealthy western hunters distributed to rural communities.

There has been a fierce battle between some conservationists and hunting groups over whether funds from shooting trips actually improve the fortunes of endangered species or local communities, but it is clear that the trajectory of almost all megafauna in Africa is one of rapid decline.

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A family group of elephants in Hwange national park in Zimbabwe. All African megafauna are facing rapid decline. Photograph: Alamy

The pro-hunting outlook of the Trump administration has a champion in Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior. Zinke, whose agency also oversees the FWS, has pushed for greater hunting access to public land, reversed a ban on lead ammunition that is linked to the poisonings of bald eagles and is attempting to open a vast wildlife refuge in Alaska to oil drilling.

This agenda dovetails with Republicans in Congress who have taken aim at endangered species protections, putting forward bills that would allow the trapping of wolves in the US and remove non-native species such as lions and elephants from protected status.

The presidents sons are also both keen hunters, with pictures emerging in 2012 of Eric and Donald Trump Jr with a dead elephant, buffalo and other animals while on safari. Donald Jr posed holding a severed elephants tail while the two brothers beamed at the camera while clutching a dead leopard.

Donald Trump Jr, the presidents eldest son, has said he is known as the Fifth Avenue redneck by friends due to his love of hunting and estimates he has killed 15 or 16 species in Africa.

Last year, Donald Jr said the FWS should be encouraging American hunters legally and ethically hunting abroad, not hindering them.

We have to make sure were heard, he said. Lately, weve been a forgotten group. I want to change that now and forever.

And we are going to do whatever we can to make sure that any kind of Trump presidency is going to be the best since Theodore Roosevelt for outdoorsmen, for hunters, for our public lands, and for this country as it relates to anything in the great outdoors.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Canadian smuggler had 51 turtles in his pants when he tried to cross border

Kai Xu pleads guilty after being caught with turtles taped around his legs as part of alleged efforts to sneak more than 1,600 of them out of the US

A Canadian college student caught at a border checkpoint with 51 live turtles in his pants has pleaded guilty to six smuggling charges in the US.

Kai Xu, 27, of Windsor, Ontario, admitted to smuggling or trying to smuggle more than 1,600 turtles of different species out of the United States from April 2014 until his arrest in September 2014. Each of the six counts carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

In August 2014 Xu crossed the US-Canada border into Detroit and was watched by US agents as he picked up a package at a parcel center, then appeared to transfer items before heading back to the border, according to a criminal complaint.

When he passed back through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, Xu was stopped by Canadian Border Services, which found and seized 41 live turtles taped to his legs and 10 hidden between his legs, the district court in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was told.

The day of his arrest Xu packed more than 1,000 turtles into suitcases that he sent with a runner he had hired to fly them to Shanghai from Detroit, prosecutors said.

US District Judge John Corbett OMeara scheduled sentencing for next April in Ann Arbor. Xu has been held in federal custody since his arrest.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Polar bears could become extinct faster than was feared, study says

The animals facing an increasing struggle to find enough food to survive as climate change steadily transforms their environment

Polar bears could become extinct faster than was feared, study says

The animals facing an increasing struggle to find enough food to survive as climate change steadily transforms their environment

Polar bears could be sliding towards extinction faster than previously feared, with the animals facing an increasing struggle to find enough food to survive as climate change steadily transforms their environment.

New research has unearthed fresh insights into polar bear habits, revealing that the Arctic predators have far higher metabolisms than previously thought. This means they need more prey, primarily seals, to meet their energy demands at a time when receding sea ice is making hunting increasingly difficult for the animals.

A study of nine polar bears over a three-year period by the US Geological Survey and UC Santa Cruz found that the animals require at least one adult, or three juvenile, ringed seals every 10 days to sustain them. Five of the nine bears were unable to achieve this during the research, resulting in plummeting body weight as much as 20kg during a 10-day study period.

We found a feast and famine lifestyle if they missed out on seals it had a pretty dramatic effect on them, said Anthony Pagano, a USGS biologist who led the research, published in Science.

polar bear map

We were surprised to see such big changes in body masses, at a time when they should be putting on bulk to sustain them during the year. This and other studies suggest that polar bears arent able to meet their bodily demands like they once were.

Paganos team studied the bears in a period during April over the course of three years, from 2014 to 2016, in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska. They fitted the bears with GPS collars with video cameras to measure activity levels. Blood chemistry was also taken from the bears.

Previously, polar bears were thought to expend relatively little energy during days where they often wait for hours beside holes in the ice, which seals emerge from in order to breathe. But the researchers found that they actually have an average metabolism 50% higher than prior estimates.

With previous studies showing recent drops in polar bear numbers, survival rates and body condition, scientists said the new research suggests the species is facing an even worse predicament than was feared.

The Arctic is warming twice as rapidly as the global average, diminishing the sea ice that polar bears rely upon for food and forcing many to embark from water on to land where they desperately forage for goose eggs or rubbish from bins in far-flung towns.

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Footage of starving polar bear exposes climate change impact video

A recent widely-shared video of an emaciated polar bear is a horrible scene that we will see more of in the future and more quickly than we thought, according to Dr Steven Amstrup, who led polar bear research for 30 years in Alaska.

This is an excellent paper that fills in a lot of missing information about polar bears, said Amstrup, who was not involved in the USGS research. Every piece of evidence shows that polar bears are dependent on sea ice and if we dont change the trajectory of sea ice decline, polar bears will ultimately disappear.

They face the choice of coming on to land or floating off with the ice as it recedes, out to the deep ocean where there is little food. We will see more bears starving and more of them on land, where they will get into trouble by interacting with humans.

Polar bears are listed by the US government as a threatened species but the Trump administration has reversed measures that tackle climate change, with the president himself seemingly unaware of the situation in the Arctic.

During an interview on Sunday, Donald Trump said that the ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now theyre setting records. Theyre at a record levels.

In fact, when measured at its September minimum, Arctic sea ice has declined by around 13% per decade since 1979. Last year was the eighth lowest minimum extent in the 38-year satellite record.

The huge glacial ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are reacting more slowly to the warming atmosphere and oceans but scientists are watching them closely as they will heavily influence sea level rise if theres significant melting. In just the past decade, Greenland has lost two trillion tons of its ice mass.

I hope we will have an awakening, but we havent really done much to save polar bears over the past decade, said Amstrup. With this administration, Im not exactly confident well see a major switch in that.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Professional distance runner outpaces two bears while training in Maine woods

Moninda Marube ran into two bears just after passing a vacant house near Auburn Lake on his morning run a house that would ultimately save his life

A professional runner from Kenya says he had to outrun two charging bears while training in the woods of Maine.

Moninda Marube went for a run early Wednesday on a nature trail near his home in Auburn. The Lewiston Sun Journal reported he ran into two black bears just after passing a vacant house near Auburn Lake.

Moninda Marube recounts his brush with two black bears.

I had to think very fast, Marube, who has lived in the United States since 2010, told the newspaper. In my head, I know I cant swim. I fear swimming. I fear water.

Marube says he froze and engaged in a stare-down with the bears. He says he thought his only option was to run away. I knew I could not climb up a tree because bears can climb a tree, he said. The only solution I had at that time was to be able to run.

He says he ran back toward the vacant house and got inside its screened porch with the bears about 10 yards behind him, screaming as he went. He says the bears just looked at him through the screening and then wandered off. Its not the house that helped me, he said. Its God.

Marube, a student at the University of Maine at Farmington who finished third in the 2012 Maine Marathon and won the 2013 half-marathon, said hed once encountered a leopard perched in a tree while alone in Africa. I dont fear lions, he said. But a bear is scary.

He said he learned an important lesson from his close encounter with Maines wildlife: Just make peace with people. You never know when your day comes.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Feline sad: cat who was ‘mayor’ of Alaskan town for 20 years dies

Stubbs, who liked to drink water and catnip from a margarita glass, was elected mayor of Talkeetna in 1998

Stubbs, the honorary feline mayor of the Alaska town of Talkeetna, has died at the age of 20.

The animals owners announced the cats death late on Saturday in a statement.

Stubbs lived for 20 years and 3 months, the family wrote.

He was a trooper until the very last day of his life; meowing at us throughout the day to pet him or to come sit on the bed with him and let him snuggle and purr for hours in our lap .

According to Stubbs family, Mayor Stubbs, as the cat was most commonly known, went to bed Thursday and died overnight, KTVA-TV reports.

Talkeetna, a town with a population of about 900, elected the yellow cat mayor in a write-in campaign in 1998. Stubbs, who liked to drink water and catnip from a margarita glass, quickly became a tourist attraction.

There is no human mayor in the town.

Stubbs had survived an attack by a dog in 2013 and a false report of his death last year. But by late 2016, he was largely staying at home instead of being out and about at local Nagleys General Store.

Although Stubbs is gone, one of his owners kittens might be ready to take up his mayoral mantle.

Amazingly, Denali has the exact personality as Stubbs, the family wrote of the kitten.

He loves the attention, hes like a little puppy when hes around people. We couldnt have asked for a better understudy than Denali he really has followed in Stubbs pawprints in just about everything.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Pet dogs are the new must-have accessory at the smarter office

Companies are using animal magnetism to reduce stress in the workplace and hang on to staff

After a half-hour walk to work each morning, Joy likes to grab a drink and head to her desk where she promptly curls up underneath it and has a nap.

Joy is an eight-month-old golden retriever and she goes to the office with her owner, Carol DuPuis. These days, especially at tech companies, youre as likely to find a dog in the office as you are a pot plant or watercooler. For startups particularly, allowing dogs is an easy, cheap way of attracting and retaining millennials, on top of the free snacks, pinball machines and gym membership.

The Google code of conduct states affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. At Amazon, around 2,000 employees have registered their pets at its headquarters in Seattle so they can take them in reception desks are stocked with biscuits, some water fountains are set at dog height, and theres an off-leash park also open to the public where staff can exercise their pets.

DuPuis is a partnerships manager at ReachNow, a US car-sharing app. My favourite part about bringing Joy into the office is the joy she brings to my colleagues pun intended. Its tough not to love the puppy energy, it just feels so nice, she said. Joy spends part of her day sleeping, but she also joins DuPuis for meetings and likes to sniff around for bits of peanut butter pretzel that have fallen on the floor.

Gemma Huckle, head of content and culture at London brands agency Rooster Punk, knows all about the pleasure dogs can bring. Her French bulldog, Amelie, has changed the mood in the office since her arrival two years ago.

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Dogs in the canine play areas at Amazons headquarters in Seattle. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

Huckle said: Shes made it feel like a home from home: the atmosphere is warmer and more sociable. If someones feeling a bit down in the dumps or stressed out, they usually come and see the dog. Just five minutes pampering or playing with her seems to perk everyone up. Having the dog is also great for our physical health, as it gives everyone an excuse to get out of the office and get some air.

Amelie was crowned StartPup 2016 after Rooster Punk shot a video of her in the office and entered her in the worlds first competition to find the best dog belonging to a startup. Huckle recommends having dogs at work. It helps staff bond and I think it reinforces positive work behaviours people seem to be more friendly and approachable.

Around 8% of US and UK employers allow dogs at work. A 2016 survey by Banfield pet hospital found that 82% of employees feel a greater sense of loyalty to pet-friendly companies, 88% think pets at work improve morale and 86% say they reduce stress.

Laura Wolf, global content manager at digital creative agency Possible, based in Seattle, said her chihuahua-dachshund mix, Boomer, is a real morale booster. She also helps break the ice with new colleagues. You get to know people through your dog, people stop to cuddle her. Shell sit on my lap during meetings; sleep next to my desk while Im working; visit colleagues she knows wholl give her a treat.

Being able to take dogs to work was a major perk, Wolf said. Younger people are getting married way later and choosing to have a pet instead of a child early on. Doggy daycare is expensive and its great to have that flexibility of being able to take your dog around with you.

Its beneficial to the company as well. The likelihood of people having to leave to get home to their dog or come in late because theyre walking their dog is much less.

Companies have rules to ensure workplaces are safe, especially for staff or clients with allergies. At Possible, for example, dogs must be vaccinated, they cant be aggressive or run around off-leash, and they are asked not to return if they foul the office more than three times.

Amelie
Amelie the French bulldog at London digital agency Rooster Punk.

In the UK, dogs have long been going into offices in the pet sector, such as Pets at Home, Mars Petcare and the charity Blue Cross, and they are becoming welcome at other types of businesses too, for example model agency Next Management and online retailer Firebox.

In the US firms such as Ben & Jerrys and Build-a-Bear Workshop allow dogs, and the idea is spreading to the public sector. The department of the interior is to trial take-your-dog-to-work days, the first federal government office to do so. Dogs are also becoming more common in places such as dental surgeries, boutiques and hair salons.

Dentist Cameron Garrett and his wife Debra, a hygienist, take their elderly rescue dog, Karma, to their practice in Corte Madera, California. Debra said: Some of our patients are dental-phobic and say that having Karma on their lap makes all the difference and many more just like dogs.

Karma keeps me calm too and makes my day feel that much nicer. Im dental-phobic myself. I needed a filling recently and bought Karma with me and it does help. I know from both sides of the chair.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Dog gone: United Airlines mistakenly flies family German shepherd to Japan

German shepherd, 10, was meant to fly from Oregon to Kansas City and airline is investigating after family were instead handed a great Dane

United Airlines is investigating after mistakenly flying a Kansas familys dog to Japan.

KCTV reports that Kara Swindle and her two children flew from Oregon to Kansas City, Missouri, on Tuesday on a United flight.

They went to a cargo facility to pick up 10-year-old Irgo, a German shepherd, but were instead given a great Dane.

Swindle, of Wichita, Kansas, learned Irgo had been put on a flight to Japan, where the great Dane was supposed to go.

Airline officials in Japan put Irgo on a flight back to Kansas City.

It was not clear when the dog would arrive.

The news of Irgos unplanned odyssey comes as United admits another dog died after a flight attendant forced it to travel in an overhead bin on a Houston-to-New York flight.

On United Flight 1284 on Monday, a woman who was flying with children and a small dog was pressured by a flight attendant to put her dog in overhead storage during the three-and-a-half-hour flight.

According to fellow passenger Maggie Gremminger, the woman wanted to keep the dog, which was in a small carrying bag, under her seat, but the flight attendant insisted that she put the animal overhead.

At the end of the flight, the woman found her dog, deceased. She sat in the airplane aisle on the floor crying, and all of surrounding passengers were utterly stunned, Gremminger wrote in a series of tweets alongside a picture of the woman and her children.

United called the incident a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin.

This is not the first time United has come under scrutiny for its treatment of animals. Last year, the carrier was sued by the owners of a giant rabbit that died on one of its flights.

Some 24 pets died while flying with US carriers last year, 18 of them with United, according to the Department of Transportation.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

US surfer survives crocodile attack after friend fights off reptile

The man suffered serious injuries after being attacked while crossing a river at a popular tourist beach in Costa Rica

An American surfer has survived a crocodile attack in Costa Rica after his friend fought off the reptile with his bare hands, according to emergency workers.

The man was in a serious but stable condition after he was attacked by a large crocodile at a popular tourist beach on Friday.

Pat McNulty, who works as a consultant and is a certified trained lifeguard in Tamarindo, a northwestern town favored by surfers and eco-tourists, said the man was crossing a river with the friend when the crocodile struck.

He was bitten several times in the leg as well as the head, McNulty told Associated Press by phone from Costa Rica. They were able to get him free, swim him to safety and then trained lifeguards responded … and we administered first aid and called an ambulance.

McNulty said the victim remained lucid after the attack and was taken to Liberia, the provincial capital, where he underwent surgery. McNulty declined to give specifics about the mans injuries other than to say he suffered lower leg trauma and his condition was serious but stable.

His friend saved his life … and then we the lifeguards helped keep him alive, McNulty said. It was a very traumatic scene, and all individuals attending him did a tremendous job.

Costa Rican media reported that the victim suffered partial amputation of his right ankle and most of his calf muscle was stripped.

McNulty declined to identify him publicly by name but described him as a surfer from Colorado who maintains a residence in the village. Family members were travelling to be with him, McNulty added.

The US Embassy in Costa Rica said in a statement that it was aware of the case and that consular officers help US citizens when they are injured overseas, but declined to comment further citing privacy considerations.

Earlier, Costa Rican press reports had said the man was from Arizona.

Community, wildlife and tourism officials met after Fridays attack to consider strategies for relocating crocodiles and making sure theres proper signage to keep people safe.

McNulty said a few months ago there was a minor incident involving a smaller crocodile. We live in a country where theres large crocodiles, and people take for granted that when you go into a river that youre safe, the lifeguard said. But the fact of the matter is that you need to be aware of your environment. … Were in their world.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Homeless people on their pets: ‘She saved me as much as I saved her’

Four people share stories of animal companions as experts say they take better care of pets than those with housing

Heather, 22, Seattle

Before we found Poppy, I didnt feel like I had anything to wake up for. I was going through a rough time in my life and didnt care about myself. Id been homeless since my parents told me to leave our family house in June 2016 and was so miserable in my situation. Everywhere I go people shun me and tell me to leave.

outside in america series description

Then, last March, I was walking around downtown Seattle with my boyfriend when we saw a group of guys with two dogs. They were yelling at one of them and she was shivering and obviously scared. I went into a store and when I came out my boyfriend had the dog. I was confused. He said to me: I made a life choice without you; were keeping the dog. Hed paid the guys $5 for her.

It was an eye-opening moment for me to look at her properly. She raised her head with a look that said: Please dont hurt me. She had protruding ribs, fleas, missing patches of fur and couldnt walk properly. I wrapped her in my jacket like a little baby and promised Id never let anybody hurt her again. And thats my promise to her for the rest of her life. We named her Poppy after a poppy seed muffin she was trying to eat off the sidewalk.

Heather
Heather on Poppy: Seeing her like that reminds me to stay happy for simple things too. Photograph: Annabel Clark for the Guardian

We moved from sleeping in a doorway to a tent. I stopped stealing food from stores when we were desperate; I didnt want to go to jail for something dumb and risk losing her. Ive applied for food stamps and now have a case manager helping me get on a housing list and get Poppy registered as a service animal so that were protected from being split up [by the Federal Housing Act].

People comment about how I shouldnt be on the street with a dog. But they probably have a misconception that shes not being taken care of. Twice a month the Union Gospel Mission does free pet care. I feed her at specific times with foods that the vet has told me will keep her healthy. I get money for her food from panhandling. Shes literally with me 247. She wakes up so excited every morning and gets so happy about the littlest thing, like rolling around in the grass or even just the weather being nice. Seeing her like that reminds me to stay happy for simple things too. In my mind shes a little angel that saved me as much as I saved her.

Kate Fraser Daley, 39, Portland, Oregon

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Kate Fraser Daley with her dog, Tenny, and her daughter in Portland, Oregon. Photograph: Annabel Clark for the Guardian

When my family became homeless last June, some of the time we had Tenny, our four-year old chihuahua-terrier mix, with us, and some of the time he was with friends of the family. But he was so sad when we were apart. There were times when he wouldnt eat and just wanted to sleep. His happy-go-lucky self wasnt there.

Wed been in the same apartment for 10 years so the change was really hard on everyone. We decided to send our two cats, Snowflake and Mittens, to another friends house. Within the first week, Snowflake got out and ran away. My husband was absolutely heartbroken. A year on and just mentioning her name is still very emotional for him. Mittens passed away when our friends moved.

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Kate Fraser Daley: I said to my husband: We dont give up on our family. Photograph: Annabel Clark for the Guardian

When we moved into a shelter, Tenny became extremely protective of all of us. Being part of a mobile family unit is difficult for a dog, because everywhere becomes their territory to protect and theres no actual home. Were in a 25-family shelter at the moment. All the families sleep on bunks in one large room and we can only be there from 6pm to 8am. But Tenny is never satisfied with our surroundings. His barking has become incessant and hes being snippety. I dont think hes going to calm down until we get back into an apartment. Then he wont have to be running all over town trying to freakishly protect his family from the world, which is not the job of a dog.

I know its unfair on him. We try to give him all the love we can and help him work through it. My husband and I actually talked about whether we are going to have to take him back to the pound. We cant afford a lawsuit and we dont want to risk him being put down if he bites somebody. But I said to my husband: We dont give up on our family. Were working on getting into an apartment and will see how he calms down when he has his own space to protect again.

Richard Dyer, 52, Seattle

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Richard Dyer with his pet ferrets Ricky and Tiny in Seattle. Photograph: Annabel Clark for the Guardian

My two ferrets are called Ricky and Tiny. Ive had Ricky for five years. I rescued him when I saw somebody walking him on the street and yanking him around on a chain. And Ive had Tiny for almost three years and rescued him after someone threw him out in the woods. They were both skittish at first because of the way they had been treated, but now theyre leash- and litter box-trained.

I had wanted ferrets as pets since I was a kid. I grew up in Fort Payne, Alabama, and we had them on our land, but they were so fast you could never catch them.

Ive been homeless a little over a year; its not the first time, but its the first time in a long time. My wife and I were living in an apartment and the rent went up by $150. We couldnt afford it and didnt have any place to go so we had no option. Right now were staying in a tent. I come downtown when the ferrets are out of food.

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Richard Dyer: They come up to me every time I call and Tiny is always on my heels, he never lets me out of his sight. Photograph: Annabel Clark for the Guardian

Most shelters dont allow animals. But I wouldnt subject my family to one anyway they are full of drugs and disease and lice. Were in a sanctioned camp thats supported by several agencies and we have electricity. We pay $60 a month to be there and our neighbors at the camp love the ferrets.

A while ago I was diagnosed with bipolar [disorder] and was suicidal. But since having these ferrets, I havent had any suicidal tendencies. They ease my stress. They come up to me every time I call and Tiny is always on my heels, he never lets me out of his sight. My favorite thing about them is how they play with each other. They cant be apart from each other; their bond is magnificent.

Ryan Mikesell, 37, Hillsboro, Oregon

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Ryan Mikesell lives with his pets in an RV parked in Hillsboro, Oregon. Photograph: Annabel Clark for the Guardian

When Im feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, my mini Labradoodle, Josie, climbs on my chest to calm me down. She wont take no for an answer. Shell be like, Go ahead, tell me to get off. I dont care. I have PTSD and her doing that is a grounding mechanism for me. I feel things and she just senses it. Shes like my soulmate in dog form. My therapist loves her.

My animals are my family. The oldest is Jamie, a Jack Russell-chihuahua I got eleven years ago when I was living in a house with my ex-partner. Jamie has had two litters and Ive kept three of her puppies. In total, I have five dogs and my cat, Buddy, who I found abandoned in an alley nine years ago.

Ive been homeless for eight years. I grew up in Olympia, Washington, but my parents were very abusive and I didnt want to be anywhere near them, so I left for Oregon. I have agoraphobia and severe anxiety. I also have diabetes and need to have a refrigeratorso I can keep eating healthily. I live in a motorhome that I have nowhere to permanently park. It used to be that as long as you regularly moved your vehicle, you could park in lots of places. But since the new mayor of Portland came into office, you can get a ticket and be towed in 20 minutes. I put a call out on Facebook saying I needed somewhere to park for six months and a woman offered me her driveway, which is where I am now.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Connections, community and cute-ass cats: in praise of real-life bodegas

As the inventors of Bodega learned yesterday, real corner shops actually matter to cities in a way supermarket chains and automated cabinets never can

The Saturday before Christmas 1971, my grandparents worked like crazy making enough corned starch for hundreds of friends in East Oakland. Together theyd invented a secret cornmeal masa recipe to sell at their corner store, El Progreso, in order to make the tastiest tortillas and tamales in the region. Dozens lined up when the store opened, some coming from way out of town, and the whole weekend was a lively scene of people from the community buying, commiserating, gossiping, and laughing. My mother, Irma, remembers families even bringing them food.

By late evening on Sunday, she had to announce to friends still waiting that they were out of masa. Though sad she couldnt give them what they were looking for, she and my grandmother Isabel were amazed at their good fortune, sweating from a full day of honest work as my grandfather Anastasio drank beer in the back room to celebrate with his bakers.

Years earlier, the scene had not been so joyful. When my grandparents bought a small corner store and the surrounding property from an Italian immigrant, their ticket to prosperity seemed unlikely. They eked out a living: raising three children, working multiple jobs, and learning about market pricing and budgeting. The first day they opened the store, they only made $12.43 (9.30). They often went to bed wondering if their purchase had been worth it.

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A publicity shot for Bodega, a Silicon Valley startup that sparked Twitter uproar with its stated desire to make real bodegas obsolete. Photograph: Ellian Raffoul for Moanalani Jeffrey Photography

But hard work, innovation and a deep connection to their Oakland community eventually made the store more than a modest success. Towards the end of their near 25-year run, they were known for having the best Mexican bread and the cosiest customer service in town. Years after the store closed, my familys connection to the community remained strong, far beyond racial or other tribal boundaries which, if you know anything about radically open-minded Oakland, makes perfect sense. To this day, my mother is constantly stopped on the street by people of all races who remember her when she worked at the store as a child.

I know what youre thinking. If El Progreso was so successful and beloved by the community, it would still be around. But truth is complicated. The rise of the ruthless efficiency curves of supermarkets and the one-click shopping of the internet has diminished the role of the corner stores, no question. But theyre not gone. And neither is the publics love and concern for them.

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A 1920s grocery store. Corner stores have been run by successions of immigrants. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Yesterday a couple of young entrepreneurs launched a new business called Bodega: small, automated cabinets that sell a variety of goods in public places, and which can track items sold and send orders for restocking. The Twitter backlash was immediate, particularly due to the name, which many considered offensive as it appeared to appropriate a type of establishment that had thrived under Spanish-speaking immigrants, like my grandparents, while apparently contriving to put those very establishments out of business.

One Oakland resident, Kathryn Walters, put it succinctly:

[In NYC], if I had a day where I really didnt want to go anywhere or see anyone I still made time to go to my corner bodega cause those dudes were *rad* and their cat was cute as fuck. Highly doubt youd get a cute ass cat stuffed in a cabinet to simulate that authentic bodega experience. I predict/hope for failure.

The reaction to Bodega might seem harsh, but its understandable. Technological changes happen so fast now, and often so brazenly without regard to community, that the most human reaction is: Will you stop to think about what youre doing? Seen in the larger scope of peoples growing understanding of techs rattling effect on important institutions (See: democracy, Facebook, Russian ads, Trump), any wish for real, cute, Bodega-creeping cats is expected.

Convenience
Convenience store owner Ephrame Kassay talks with a customer outside his shop in southeast Washington DC. Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Ann Satterthwaite, an author and city planner, has argued that community backlash against new projects that affect places of gathering such as corner stores and beer halls are driven not by Nimbyism or fear of the future, but by a desire to understand the effect. They dont want to impede progress or return to a sentimental dream of the past, only to, as Satterthwaite writes, realistically and comprehensively [understand] the options for retailing as they relate to the long-term national goals of providing vital communities.

Corner stores do exactly that. And above all, they help immigrants get a leg up. Today, most bodegas in the US and by no means is this a uniquely American phenomenon are run by immigrant families of Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian descent, who followed in the footsteps of the Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants who preceded them. Bodegas offer something chain stores or robot cabinets cant: real, friendly, localised service, not to mention ethnic specialities and connections with people who might not be like you.

Times change. But people are angry. Maybe its the lack of understanding that it takes real people and real sweat to make the products we buy. Most of the time, we cant see the real people many of them immigrants, or in another country entirely who are breaking their backs to give us something extra. We know humans are working hard putting together those iPhone Xs, but does it really sink in? In a corner shop, however, you see it: hardworking immigrants building a world for themselves by selling you what you need for yours.

My grandparents worked from before dawn to the far end of dusk. There was heavy lifting. There was attention to detail and social graces, and an unforgiving, hour-by-hour accounting of their life. People could see their work on their faces, every day, and appreciated them for it. I dont know the future of the corner store. All I have are my familys memories. But, whatever the future, if it involves the startup tech world, I would urge them to begin at the place where all of us, it appears, want and need to: in a community. Maybe that means stop asking how to automate away an institution, and start thinking about how to help them.

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Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Guggenheim Museum pulls three artworks featuring animals after threats of violence

Works in an exhibition of Chinese art that included reptiles eating insects and dogs on a treadmill are removed from show in New York following outcry

New Yorks Guggenheim Museum will remove three art pieces from an upcoming show featuring Chinese conceptual artists, amid accusations of animal cruelty and repeated threats of violence.

The museum will not exhibit three pieces during Art and China after 1989: Theatre of the World two videos featuring live animals and a sculpture that includes live insects and lizards over concern for the safety of its staff, visitors and participating artists.

The Guggenheim has been embroiled in controversy since the show was publicised, with animal rights groups calling for the the works to be pulled and a chorus of celebrities condemning the museum.

One of the videos, titled Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other, is a recording of a 2003 live performance in which two pairs of pit bulls faced each other on treadmills, held back by harnesses so they could never make contact. Over the course of the video, created by artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, the dogs grow weary and can be seen salivating more and more.

Although these works have been exhibited in museums in Asia, Europe, and the United States, the Guggenheim regrets that explicit and repeated threats of violence have made our decision necessary, the museum said. As an arts institution committed to presenting a multiplicity of voices, we are dismayed that we must withhold works of art.

The shows signature piece Theatre of the World involves an enclosure housing hundreds of insects and reptiles that devour each other over the course of the show. A reference to the animals eating each other was removed from the Guggenheims website.

The artist, Huang Yong Ping, withdrew the artwork from a show in Vancouver in 2007 after a local animal rights group requested modifications.

A second video, A Case Study of Transference, made in 1994 by Xu Bing, features a boar and a sow mating, both stamped with gibberish made by mixing Chinese characters and the Roman alphabet and is meant to represent the contrast between complex writing systems and the wild nature of the animals.

The three artworks are a tiny fraction of the roughly 150 pieces that are part of the exhibition, which is set to open in October.

Just last week the Guggenheim defended showing Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other, saying it was an intentionally challenging and provocative artwork that seeks to examine and critique systems of power and control.

Contrary to some reports, no fighting occurred in the original performance, it added.

But those comments failed to assuage the anger of animal rights activists, with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals saying the performance caused the dogs pain and distress.

Such treadmills are typical of brutal dog fighting training regimens, and the mere positioning of animals to face each other and encourage aggression often meets the definition of illegal dog-fighting in most states, the ASPCA said in a statement.

A petition condemning the exhibition had over 550,000 signatures by the time the Guggenheim decided to pull the works and accused the institution of several distinct instances of unmistakable cruelty against animals in the name of art.

Only sick individuals would enjoy watching Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other and the Guggenheim should not cater to their twisted whims, Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), wrote in an open letter to the museum.

Celebrities including comedian Ricky Gervais and singer Richard Marx also accused the museum of animal cruelty.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Lynching memorial leaves some quietly seething: ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’

The brutal new memorial to the souths dark side has left some in Alabama frustrated and angry at its insistence on confronting the past

Black men were lynched for standing around, for annoying white girls, for failing to call a policeman mister. Those are just a few of the horrific stories on display at a new national memorial to lynching victims in Montgomery, Alabama.

One mile away, another historical monument tells a very different tale about the American south: the First White House of the Confederacy celebrates the life of renowned American patriot Jefferson Davis, who served as the president of the Confederate states, while making virtually no mention of the hundreds of black people he and his family enslaved.

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The contradictions of Montgomerys historical narratives were on full display this week as thousands of tourists and progressive activists flocked to the city to mark the opening of the countrys first memorial to lynching victims while some locals quietly seethed, saying they resented the new museum for dredging up the past and feared it would incite anger and backlash within black communities.

Its going to cause an uproar and open old wounds, said Mikki Keenan, a 58-year-old longtime Montgomery resident, who was eating lunch at a southern country-style restaurant a mile from the memorial. Local residents, she said, feel its a waste of money, a waste of space and its bringing up bullshit.

It keeps putting the emphasis on discrimination and cruelty, chimed in her friend, who asked not to be named for fear that her child would disapprove of her remarks. The memorial, she added, could spark violence.

The angry and in some cases blatantly racist reactions to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and accompanying Legacy Museum provided a window into some white Americans deep resistance to confronting the nations brutal history of racial violence, from slavery to mass incarceration.

While celebrities and civil rights icons lauded the memorial as a powerful symbol of Americas shame and a turning point toward healing, some conservatives in Alabama rolled their eyes at the project, saying they were more concerned with saving Confederate monuments, now under threat from leftwing activists.

Alabamas Republican governor, Kay Ivey, wasnt present at the memorial launch, but did release a video promoting her efforts to preserve Confederate monuments a week prior.

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A sculpture depicting the slave trade at the entrance of the National Memorial for Peace And Justice. Photograph: Bob Miller/Getty Images

Seated at the front porch of the First White House on a sunny morning, curator Bob Wieland said he supported the Legacy Museum, but felt strongly that Confederate landmarks be preserved, especially as the city is changing and the sleepy old cotton south falls away. That means, he said, keeping this museum [the First White House] just to have a positive taste, an old south taste, as the new comes up.

Asked about criticisms that the state-funded First White House whitewashes the evils of slavery, Wieland said, We could certainly tone down the celebration [of Davis], but it is part of civil war history. Discussing the lack of references to slavery, he said the museum was more of a political military history than a social history.

While some of the most vocal Alabama defenders of Confederate monuments said they broadly backed the concept of a lynching memorial, they also expressed anxiety about its impact, some reverting to racist stereotypes of African American rioters.

Bring that stuff to light, and let it be there, but dont dwell on it, said Tommy Rhodes, a member of the Alabama Sons of Confederate Veterans. We have moved past it You dont want to entice them and feed any fuel to the fire.

Randall Hughey, another member who also owns a local radio station, emphasized his support of the museum but also repeatedly questioned the veracity of its facts.

They have every right to have the memorial, if its accurate, he said, adding that he was perplexed by reports of more than 4,000 lynchings. That seems pretty incredible to me that there would be that many documented lynchings That was not the norm.

Equal Justice Initiative, the group behind the memorial and lynching data, did six years of research and made extensive visits to southern sites.

Mary Massey, a 58-year-old nurse on her way to lunch in Montgomery, expressed disdain at the project: We didnt have nothing to do with that. I think they just need to leave it alone. Its just stirring up something.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Mountain lion kitten spotted near Los Angeles fuels conservation hopes

National Wildlife Federation spokesperson cites cause for celebration as young animal is observed among population hemmed in by freeways

Conservationists are celebrating after sighting a young mountain lion they did not know existed amid a tiny, threatened population of the animals in the hills around Los Angeles.

Wildlife experts were amazed both that they had not previously spotted the animal and that it was alive at all. The kitten survived a spate of recent deaths that killed its four siblings.

On Friday, the National Park Service (NPS) released video footage of the mountain lion kitten in the wild, mewing and approaching the carcass of a deer killed by the its mother.

The kittens siblings, from a litter born earlier this year, came to a grisly end, two being cannibalized by an adult male and the other two apparently killed by unspecified predators, the Los Angeles Times reported.

But conservationists followed the mother and discovered her surviving offspring just days ago, having set up motion-activated cameras.

The small community of mountain lions, also known as cougars or pumas, in the Santa Monica mountains is essentially trapped on a fragment of preserved wild land bounded by freeways, including the 10-lane Interstate 101.

The population was believed to be only around 15 strong. But as of Saturday, it is understood to be at least 16.

Its a cause for celebration because there is one more to count in that struggling population, Beth Pratt-Bergstrom of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) told the Guardian on Saturday.

Pratt-Bergstrom works on a conservation project to save the lions and is running a campaign to try to fund the biggest wildlife bridge in the world, which will allow the animals to cross the 10-lane freeway that currently stops them seeking the territory they instinctively need to thrive.

The group is threatened by inbreeding, highway deaths and rat poison, Pratt-Bergstrom said, adding that the lack of sufficient territory leads to incest and males killing offspring, further weakening the gene pool.

This happens among mountain lions, but much more so in this group, she said. The mountain lion population in California in general is OK, but this group of lions is not OK.

It has not yet been established whether the newly sighted kitten is male or female. Experts will now attempt to capture the youngster briefly, so it can be injected with a tracking chip and released.

A video posted to Facebook by the Santa Monica Mountains national recreation area (click for playback). Contains some grisly images of a deer.

Fatal clashes between the mountain lions and humans are rare. Three people have been killed by mountain lions in California in the last 30 years Pratt-Bergstrom pointed out that 700 people die every year in traffic accidents, just in LA County.

The NWF, NPS and an agency called the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy are working with the state transportation authority and numerous other partners to try to raise the $50m that will be needed to construct the wildlife bridge.

Pratt-Bergstrom hopes the Santa Monica mountain lion group will survive to see it come to fruition, ideally within five years. The group has an estimated three adult males.

Without this corridor, the population could collapse and we are watching closely to see if it can survive long enough, without losing more individuals, especially the males, she said.

Pratt-Bergstrom said she hoped the kitten might be a male, to add to the gene pool.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

America’s horrifying new plan for animals: highspeed slaughterhouses | Scott David

There is still time to stop an imminent program that would allow facilities to increase slaughter speeds, while reducing the number of trained government inspectors

If you care about animal welfare or food safety, this news will concern you: the nationwide expansion of a risky US Department of Agriculture (USDA) high-speed slaughter program is imminent. But the good news is there is still time to stop it.

The USDA is now accepting public comments on its proposed rule that it euphemistically dubbed the Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection. As a former undercover investigator who worked inside a pig slaughterhouse operating under the pilot project that was, at the time, called HIMP, Ive seen firsthand the hazardous and cruel nature of this controversial program and can say with certainty that its anything but modern.

This expanded program, formally called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), would allow facilities to increase slaughter speeds, while reducing the number of trained government inspectors on the lines. In other words, the responsibility of food safety oversight is largely shifted into the hands of slaughter plant employees. Combine this with faster speeds on the kill floor and the result is problems that can and do go unnoticed.

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For nearly six months, I worked undercover inside Quality Pork Processors (QPP), no typical pig slaughterhouse. An exclusive Hormel Foods supplier, QPP kills about 1,300 pigs every hour operating under the high-speed pilot program. Thats more than 21 pigs per minute, making QPP one of the fastest pig-killing facilities in the nation.

QPP has widely been considered a model for the USDAs nationwide expansion of the pilot program through NSIS, but when no one thought the public or USDA was watching, behind the slaughterhouses closed doors, I documented pig carcasses covered in feces and abscesses being processed for human consumption, and workers under intense pressure to keep up with high line speeds beating, dragging, and electrically prodding pigs to make them move faster.

NSIS may also allow higher numbers of sick and injured pigs too weak even to stand (known as downers) to be slaughtered for food. As documented on my hidden camera, these animals endured particularly horrific abuses as they were forced to the kill floor in a desperate attempt to keep the slaughter lines moving as fast as possible.

I even documented a supervisor sleeping on the job when he was in charge of overseeing the stunning process to ensure pigs were effectively rendered unconscious before their throats were slit.

One QPP employee even said to me on camera, If the USDA is around, they could shut us down.

That, in a nutshell, is the underlying problem with this initiative: its a program that largely allows the slaughterhouse to police itself.

Though Ive witnessed these horrors firsthand, Im far from the only one warning of the dangers of NSIS. USDA whistleblowers, labor unions, and even members of Congress have expressed their objections to this program.

A 2013 report by the USDAs own Office of the Inspector General stated that since FSIS did not provide adequate oversight, HIMP plants may have a higher potential for food safety risks, concluding that this program has shown no measurable improvement to the inspection process.

In 2016, a letter from 60 members of Congress to the USDA stated the available evidence suggests the hog HIMP will undermine food safety, and that rapid line speeds present some of the greatest risks of inhumane treatment as workers are often pressured to take violent shortcuts to keep up. The letter further states: We are concerned that these new rules are being pushed by the industry to increase profits at the expense of public health.

More than a quarter of a million people have signed a petition against the pilot programs expansion through NSIS, and earlier this month, a coalition of 35 animal, worker, environmental, and consumer protection organizations also urged the USDA to drop the proposal.

At a time when consumers are rightfully demanding more transparency in the food industry, the USDAs so-called Modernization program is a big step backward.

Halting the expansion of the dangerous pilot program and bringing it to an immediate end is the only conscientious and compassionate choice for the USDA, a federal agency that has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to put animals, consumers, and workers above powerful pork industry interests.

To sum it all up in the words of a USDA whistleblower who worked as an inspector at QPP: Its no longer meaningful for consumers to see that mark indicating that their product has been USDA-inspected.

  • Scott David is a former undercover investigator and current investigations associate at Compassion Over Killing, a national animal protection organization based in Washington DC.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

The new Pizza Rat? New York squirrel filmed snacking on avocado

In viral video, rodent displays pricey hipster tastes on citys wealthy Upper West Side

A New York squirrel has been dubbed the new Pizza Rat after being filmed munching on an avocado in a flower planter on the Upper West Side. Henry Zhang spotted the squirrel on Thursday and uploaded the video to social media, where it is proceeding to go viral.

Zhang told the Guardian that it was actually his dog, Almond, who first noticed the squirrel and tugged on his leash to alert his owner to the excitement. The planter is next to a street vendor selling fruits and his van. I assume an avocado dropped from his van or stand, and the squirrel scavenged it.

While the squirrel is to be commended for eating heart-healthy fats rather than a slice of pizza, one does hope it knows that its choice of treat is extremely uneconomical. If only the squirrel had skipped the avocado, it might have saved enough money to buy a house instead of living in a tree.

The last few years have been a fruitful time for viral vermin aficionados; Avocado Squirrel joins an illustrious roster of city critters caught snacking.

Pizza Rat

Your choices for president: an android, a creationist neurosurgeon or a postcoital cat | Frankie Boyle

The US election feels a bit like The X Factor theyve thrown in a few wildcards in the early rounds to keep it entertaining but well soon be back to two candidates belting out the same tired standards

The absurdly long run-up to the US election has begun. This will be the first election fought under new rules where there are no limits to campaign donations: a change brought in on the grounds of free speech, when the supreme court decided that the Koch brothers not being able to say, We own the president, infringed their rights under the first amendment. Personally, I think Obama will be quite lonely once its all over, not least because he has allowed the police to kill most of the other black people.

Differences between the candidates are usually so slight that what the Democratic frontrunner thinks is pretty much just what the Republican frontrunner thinks on the days that he remembers to take his meds. But in something of a format twist, Bernie Sanders an old-school socialist has crowdfunded himself into a credible position for the Democratic nomination. I sincerely hope he wins, if only so that we see the first inauguration speech made from inside a giant, bulletproof hamster ball. The Democratic frontrunner is Hillary Clinton, a ruthless, steel-haired troll doll. Hers is the face that would haunt a lot of Libyans nightmares, if they were still alive. Unfortunately for her election prospects, Hillary has never quite learned to introduce humour or compassion into her speaking voice and on a good day sounds like an android trying to trick the last human out of a bunker.

At last weeks Republican debate, the candidates accused CNBC of displaying liberal bias. One reading would be that the GOP candidates are now so rightwing that they make a giant media conglomerate look liberal. Lets not forget that the essential message of a Republican candidate is a tricky sell. That you love America, but hate all the groups that make up America. That you love democracy, but hate people. Donald Trump, who at best looks like a plughole in an orangutan sanctuary, is probably only running for president because this dimension doesnt have a Superman he can give a hard time to. His hair, looking like a slovenly, postcoital cat, is actually one of the least weird things about him. He is lacking in charm or wit and is almost ferociously inarticulate. The US public has identified with him strongly. It seems that the electorate, possibly bored with rational thought, is toying with the idea of cutting out the middleman and just electing one of the business class through sheer force of Stockholm syndrome.

The old politics is dull, and what could be more exciting than electing a man who might declare war on the sea? His plans to build a giant wall sealing the US border with Mexico are entertaining, not least because it would be interesting to see a nation as heavily armed as America go into cocaine withdrawal. Somehow, I always imagine that Trump spends the evenings with his forehead pressed against the cold glass of an aquarium, talking telepathically to the tormented albino squid in which he has hidden his soul.

Indeed, the whole Republican field offers a bracing challenge to conventional notions of sanity. The current poll leader is Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who happens to be a Seventh Day Adventist and creationist. Creationists have often made me doubt evolution, but probably not in the way they think. His taxation policy is based on Biblical tithing, taking economic pointers from people who had a GDP of one golden calf.

Why do both parties rage against bias in what is actually a laughably servile media? Maybe its because the political class have an instinctive contempt for asking the public to decide anything meaningful, such as policy. So their campaigns have to be largely symbolic affairs about hope or hard work or whatever flavour of horseshit is polling well. Most campaign spending goes on advertising (65% of Obamas grassroots campaign of 2012 was media spend) and advertising speaks in symbolism. Thus the parties may actually distrust any kind of rational inquiry, as what theyre saying doesnt, and cant, make any sense. Or maybe the reality of what theyre voting on is something nobody dare express. Theyre voting on the exact speed of the drift toward a future of armies run by corporations corralling permanently travelling communities of cooks, cleaners and sex workers, as they underbid each other outside the entrances to gated communities to ensure theyre the ones let inside to service the fortunate. A future where the pursuit of happiness will make about as much sense as mounting an expedition to reach the horizon.

Of course it could be that the whole election is a bit like The X Factor, and they put a few lunatics in the early rounds to lure us into something we promised wed never engage with again. By the end well be back to two corporate glove puppets belting out the same tired standards. And no matter how bad the choice is, well always have a preference. Clinton will be offering an expanded kill list of official enemies, secret corporate courts, and her first speech about Palestine will sound like it was written by the Hulk. A lot of otherwise rational minds will be praying for her to win.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Woman searches for missing 78-year-old turtle she’s had since she was five

Moses, a red-eared slider turtle, went missing more than two weeks ago from a kiddie pool in the yard of 83-year-old Maryland resident Gloria Todd

The police are at a loss. The elderly couple desperate. Their beloved companion still gone though they hope not far.

Moses, a 78-year-old red-eared slider turtle, went missing more than two weeks ago from the yard of Maryland resident Gloria Todd, who has turned to the media in a last-ditch plea to bring him home.

I was shocked that he was gone, Todd, 83, told the Baltimore Sun. I couldnt believe that someone would come on to my property and take something that did not belong to them, especially a living thing.

The turtle, one of two turtles Todd was given as a five-year-old girl, is of unusual longevity. According to PetCo, captive red-eared sliders can live up to four decades, making Moses ancient, even in chelonian years.

In all that time, Todd said, hes never gone missing which is why she and her husband of 60 years, Pete, are convinced that foul play is involved.

On private property, you dont expect something like that, Pete Todd said.

A decade ago, the couple had been instructed by a veterinarian to give Moses more sunlight, andthey took to leaving him in a kiddie pool outside for hour-long stretches on temperate days.

The pool, the Todds said, is too high for a simple turtle to climb out of, leading them to assume Moses was pilfered from their yard. The couple have contacted local law enforcement, to little avail.

They didnt seem too interested, Gloria Todd said. They report bicycles and lawn mowers and this turtle is much more important to me than a bicycle or a lawn mower.

Pet theft, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, can have numerous motivations. Dogfighters occasionally steal dogs or cats from unsuspecting owners for use as bait animals, though this scenario is improbable, in the case of a turtle. Other, less nefarious motivations for pet theft are also common. Neighbors irritated by noisy or disruptive pets again, not the most likely reason for Moses disappearance ransom, or pet hoarding can play a role.

But with no demands in exchange for the safe return of the wizened reptile, local law enforcement has little to go on. Despite the odds, Todd still holds out hope that her turtle will be returned to her.

I miss him terribly, she said.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Minnesota Vikings’ new glass-plated stadium becomes ‘death trap’ for birds

US Bank Stadium study shows birds are flying into its clear glass and conservation groups want authorities to take steps to prevent collisions

The US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which opened last June and cost more than $1bn of mostly taxpayer money, is beautiful, large, glassy and deadly to birds.

A new report from a trio of conservation groups reveals that for wildlife, at least vast swathes of the new home of the Minnesota Vikings are indistinguishable from the sky and birds are being killed by flying straight into the stadiums 200,000 sq ft of gleaming, clear glass.

As CityPages, a local Twin Cities newspaper, put it: Creatures crash into it like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Over an 11-week period in the autumn, bird enthusiasts undertook regular circuits of the stadium, and discovered 60 dead birds, and another 14 stunned from flying into the glass. The report said that would project to at least 360 deaths over a three-year period, but that number significantly underestimates true mortality at the stadium complex, because it does not include birds removed by maintenance staff, security guards, and scavengers.

In 2014, the Audubon Society predicted that the stadiums distinctive clear glass would prove to be a death trap for Minnesotas local and migratory birds. The society pushed authorities to introduce changes so the birds could distinguish between the stadium and the sky. We know the people of Minnesota do not want their money killing birds, the society said.

But the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which owns the stadium, declined to take any steps, such such as installing glass with a visible pattern, as happened at the Javits Center in Manhattan. The Javits changes quickly led a 90% decrease in bird collisions.

Jim Sharpsteen, a volunteer who helped to conduct the stadium study, told CityPages: We knew that the glass would be highly confusing to the birds. They see a reflection of a blue sky in the glass, they think its a blue sky. They see reflections of trees, they think they can land in those reflections of trees. This confirmed what we already believed would be bad.

Sharpsteen said: We want them to either replace the glass with a less reflective glass or put a coating on the glass that would make it more bird friendly. I think the more realistic would be to apply coating to the outside of the glass.

Another study is being commissioned, but that wont be finished until 2019. Failure to act will establish US Bank Stadium as the top bird-killing building in the Twin Cities, the report said.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

US police shoot and kill 6ft boa constrictor that crushed puppy to death

Snake humanely killed after it escaped from tank and wrapped itself round eight-month-old puppy in Amherst, Massachusetts

Police in Massachusetts say they shot and killed a pet boa constrictor after it fatally crushed a puppy.

Amherst animal welfare officer Carol Hepburn says a pet sitter called police at about 4.30pm on Wednesday to report that the snake, which she estimates was at least 6ft long, had escaped from its tank and wrapped it itself around the eight-month-old puppy.

Police tried unsuccessfully to pull the snake off the dog, and Hepburn says the dog was dead by the time she arrived. The pet sitter contacted the animals owner, who was overseas, and got permission for police to humanely kill the snake.

Hepburn dragged it from the house first.

It is not illegal to own boa constrictors in Massachusetts and no charges are expected.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

‘Hunt a lion’ raffle scrapped after protests

Zimbabwe hunter Martin Nel axes plan to sell 100 raffle tickets for $1,500 each after outcry from animal rights groups

A professional hunter in Zimbabwe has cancelled a plan to raffle a lion hunt in the US after protests from activists.

Martin Nel said he was scrapping the raffle at a hunters convention, in which he had hoped to sell 100 raffle tickets for $1,500 (1,000) each in Las Vegas next month.

LionAid, a group based in Britain, had expressed shock at the proposal, which focused attention on the heated debate about whether hunting hurts vulnerable species or can help them by raising funds for conservation.

In a statement this month, Nel said the raffle winner could also have chosen to have a lion collared for research, and that the project was designed to raise funds for conservation studies at Zimbabwes Bubye Valley Conservancy.

The conservancy defended its record, saying cattle ranchers had wiped out lions, rhinos, elephants and other wildlife in the area decades ago. Established in 1994, the conservancy reintroduced lions in 1999 and had a population of nearly 500 currently as well as a significant number of endangered black rhinos, it said.

WildCRU, a wildlife research group based at Oxford University in Britain, operates at Bubye. It said it did not endorse any proposal to auction a lion hunt and would not accept any donation from such an event.

Last year, an American killed a lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe in an allegedly illegal hunt, causing an international outcry. The number of wild lions in Africa has been dwindling for many years.

In his statement, Nel said there were more lions in Zimbabwes hunting areas than in the countrys national parks. Without well-managed hunting operations, he added, many hunting areas would go back to goats and cattle at the expense of the wildlife and their habitat how can that be considered a win for conservation?

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats

David Teie from University of Maryland creates Music for Cats featuring purring, suckling noises and cello to calm felines

They are a particularly tough audience picky, moody, often impossible to please but cats represent an untapped music market, according to one of the worlds biggest record labels.

Universal Music has announced it will be the first major label to release an album that is not for human consumption although, until cats get bank accounts, humans will have to pay for it.

David Teie, an American cellist and music researcher based at the University of Maryland, has created Music for Cats, saying it is an absolutely serious undertaking . He said: It is the biggest challenge with this, people think it is silly. But I think it is the way the brain works . If I look at a door and say thats a fish, you are going to say thats a door . Everybody knows what music is and animals are not included. If you really look into it, whats silly is the idea that only one species could have music available for it.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Defiant Ted Cruz tells Texas delegates he’s not ‘a servile puppy dog’ to Trump

Senator says he told Donald Trump campaign he would not endorse himand insists speech said nothing negative about Trump

Ted Cruz pointedly and repeatedly refused to endorse Donald Trump on Thursday morning, saying that he was not a servile puppy dog.

Just hours after the Texas senator was loudly booed from the floor of the Republican convention when he did not embrace his partys nominee, Cruz faced an impassioned audience as he took questions from his states delegation during a breakfast.

The runner-up in the Republican presidential primary expressed his wonderment that rabid Trump supporters would object to his statement that Americans should vote their conscience. The Texas senator insisted in that speech last night I did not say a single negative word about Donald Trump and Ill tell you this morning and going forward I dont intend to say negative things about Donald Trump.

Some Texas delegates disagreed. While Cruz received repeated standing ovations, he also was subject to constant heckles and one Texas delegate stood through the first few minutes of his speech by holding a hand-drawn sign saying Clinton Cruz 2020.

Cruz pushed back against audience members who brought the pledge that he and other Republican candidates had made to support the eventual GOP nominee, saying that that promise was abrogated when Trump attacked his family. I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and my father, he said.

That pledge is not a blanket commitment [that] if you go slander and attack Heidi I am nonetheless going to come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father. The Texas senator added: This is not politics Right and wrong matters.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Obama runs wild with Bear Grylls to promote action on climate change

US president treks across a glacier and eats a bloody salmon discarded by a bear on British adventurers reality TV show

He declined to drink urine but Barack Obama did make tea from glacier water and munch on a bloody salmon previously chewed by a bear in his wilderness bromance with Bear Grylls.

The US president trekked through a remote part of Alaska to promote action on climate change and show a more human side in a special episode of the British adventurers reality show, Running Wild With Bear Grylls.

The hour-long programme, which aired on NBC on Thursday, showed the duo bonding as they hiked on Exit glacier in the Kenai mountains, bantering over fatherhood and the environment as well as flatulence and bellybutton fluff.

Im skinny but tougher than I look, said Obama, after the former soldier complimented his physical fitness. It was a moment to make Sarah Palin howl.

The president drank tea made from catkins and melting glacier water and munched on a ravaged salmon, which Grylls said had been discarded by a bear and still bore bear breath.

Barack Obama discusses climate change in first video on Facebook

Grylls has persuaded previous celebrity guests to drink their own urine but the commander in chief demurred. I suppose, in extremis, its something that I would do if the alternative was death, he said. Its not something Id make a habit of. And I probably wouldnt do it just for a TV show.

It was the White Houses idea to pair the professorial president with a rugged survivalist as part of a strategy of unorthodox methods and stunts to project his agenda.

It was an Obama seldom seen on television: loose, personal, stripped of pomp, just a guy out hiking with another guy.

Of course, it was also an illusion. According to Grylls dozens of staff, secret service agents and a food taster hovered just off-screen, along with snipers in the hills and a military helicopter overhead.

Perhaps to offset any comparisons with Russian President Vladimir Putins swaggering wilderness photo-ops, Obama made several references to the invisible chaperones, including when he fumbled using a borrowed smartphone to take a selfie with Grylls.

Im in whats called the bubble and secret service makes sure that Im always out of danger, which I very much appreciate but it can be a little confining, he said, addressing the camera directly. So to be with Bear in the woods: it doesnt get any better than that.

Both men cited the retreating glacier as evidence of the urgency in addressing climate change. Ive two daughters, and I dont want grandkids too soon, but eventually I hope to have some, said Obama. And I want to make sure that this is there for them, not just us.

He said action on climate change was vital to his presidency. I think it will have a more significant impact on the lives of future generations as just about anything. And were still a long way from getting it right but its something that, working together, I think we can make a difference on.

The show aired at a delicate time for the president, who is riding high on the climate deal agreed in Paris last week but defensive over Republican claims that he is weak on Islamist terrorism. On Friday he is due to visit the relatives of victims of this months San Bernardino massacre.

Obama played the straight man, noting Gryllss reputation for extreme cuisine. Bears a mediocre cook, but the fact that we ate something recognisable was encouraging. Now, the fact that he told me this was a leftover fish from a bear, I dont know if that was necessary. He could have just left that out.

The Briton commended the president on nimbly starting a fire, obviating need to use bellybutton fluff as kindling. He also recommended the catkins tea as a remedy for flatulence. Its not a problem I have but maybe you do, Obama replied.

When Grylls warned that bears were especially dangerous when you surprised them fornicating, Obama joked that the same could be said for humans.

Clearly smitten, Grylls, an evangelical Christian, ended their outing with a riverside prayer calling on God to bless the presidents work. They hugged and went their separate ways.

He said it was one of the best days of his presidency, Grylls told reporters earlier this week, according to Reuters. There were times along the route I had to pinch myself and think, actually, this is the president of America.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Pets, debts and e-cigarettes: how millennials spend their pay cheques

Life is far from hedonistic for most as tight budgets collapse with one cough of a car engine and dreams of property are weighed against the price of a takeout

The millennial lifestyle cord-cutting, wasteful, feckless and more concerned with ordering an Uber than the death of the auto industry has been the subject of much criticism.

While there is no question that millennial habits are reshaping the global economy, it is also shaping them: finding a job after college is not guaranteed and many struggle to repay student loans.

We wanted to get a closer look at the lifestyles of millennials around North America and find out if they are really as financially flippant as they have been made out. Are they concerned about saving or buying a house? Or would they rather just order Seamless and binge on Netflix? Here, six people from around the US and Canada tell us how they make ends meet.

Nectar Odabashian, 23, $35,000

  • Receptionist at Fage Yogurt, Gloversville, New York

Nectar,
Nectar, Rob and their cat, pictured in the apartment they share in Gloversville, New York. Photograph: Yuliya Peshkova for the Guardian

How Nectar spends her money

Nectar moved to Gloversville, New York, with her boyfriend, Rob, after graduating from Rutgers University in 2014. The couple, originally from New Jersey, chose the upstate mountain city because rent was cheap and they wanted to save money to travel.

People thought I was weird, she says.

Living away from the city allows Nectar to save, which is a priority for her and Rob. The couple live together and pool their money to cover expenses. Rob, 27, works nights at a convenience store and makes about $800 per month. They share a 1997 Subaru Outback that Nectar says has seen better days.

Living upstate makes her an anomaly among her friends as most of them moved to Jersey City or other urban areas after college. They live a very nightlife-y lifestyle, having huge blowouts on the weekends, going to shows all the time.

Nectar describes herself as a nervous shopper and constantly questions how each purchase she makes will affect her budget.

Recently, we were at Walmart and we had some extra money, and we needed a humidifier for our apartment because the air is so dry, she says. So Rob said: Why dont we spend $25 on a humidifier? And I was like: Do we really need it? I try to be as methodical as possible.

The couple stretch their income as far as possible. This means packing lunches for work, staying in instead of going out, and sticking to a budget. Extra money goes towards beer for the weekends and stuff for Nectars cats. Our spare room is the cats room, she says. She also spends about $50 a month on e-juice for her vape. She started smoking in 2009 and quit in 2014.

The big reason we moved up to the mountains was to be able to save up for things, Nectar says. We want to travel and buy property and get a tiny home and be able to live off the land. Were so young, we sort of have the whole future ahead of us, and were open to what we want to do at this point.

Christine Odunlami, 24, $0

  • Unemployed, Toronto, Canada

Christine
Christine Odunlami has a takeout sushi dinner at her home in Toronto, Canada. Photograph: Jennifer Roberts for the Guardian

How Christine spends her money

Christine is living off her savings account and credit card, having lost her job as an intern for a marketing company in December.

Im not really satisfied and its because I dont have a job, she says. I hate being in debt, I hate owing money. Once Im working permanently, I will be better.

Being unemployed, Christine says it is challenging to live off her meagre savings. Before she lost her job, she was making between $400 and $600 a month and now has access to a line of credit, which is seeing her through until she finds a new job. She is living with her sister as she looks for a job in the US. Her parents cover her rent.

Its hard because if my parents didnt pay my rent, I would be homeless, she says.

Each day, Christine sets a budget for between $30 and $40 to spend on food, coffee and entertainment. A self-described foodie, she says she loves splurging on takeouts.

I have no inhibition when it comes to food, she says. I will spend as much as I possibly can to have good food.

For other items, Christine says she relies on a rewards debit card that gives her free movie tickets and discounts at stores, and coupons to help offset the cost of everything she buys. Since tracking her spending, she noticed unexpected costs, such as toiletries and hair appointments.

Being black, its hard to find hairdressers that are cheap, she says. I go to one lady a couple of towns over who charges $50 for a wash and a trim.

Originally from Maryland, Christine attended the University of Toronto. She says living in Canada has opened her eyes to subsidized healthcare. She does not have to spend money on healthcare but does have to pay $240 a month for anti-inflammatory steroids to stave off a hormone allergy.

I guess the great thing in Canada is there is universal healthcare, so I dont have to pay for the doctor, but the medication is expensive.

Brian Staub, 28, $30,000

  • Sheet metal worker at Rays Metal Works, Jacksonville, Florida

Brian
Brian Staub lives with his wife, who waits tables, and his four-year-old daughter in Jacksonville, Florida. Photograph: Rick Wilson for the Guardian

How Brian spends his money?

As the father to a four-year-old girl, Brian spends $520 of his monthly paycheck on daycare. Its a struggle, he says.

After that, he and his wife, Stephanie, are not left with much. We have to get groceries and stuff like that, too, and gas to get us through the week, Brian says. We pay the daycare, we pay the groceries for the week and hopefully we can cover one of our bills.

Sometimes, they do not have the extra money. In those moments, Brian and his wife, who waits tables for about four to six hours a week, look for extra shifts. Stephanie brings in about $500 to $600 every two weeks.

Its always kind of a gamble. We roll the dice and pay the bill that makes sense at the time, he says. Its always kind of shooting from the hip, as they say, as far as which bill we pay first.

Brian is the only one of his friends (all a bunch of heathens) who has a child, making his lifestyle a little different.

My spending habits are definitely on the middle-aged side, he says. Last year, he had to spend about $3,000 for repairs on his truck and says he wishes he could buy a new one. Once he has paid off Stephanies jeep he hopes to buy a new truck for himself.

I dont even want the vehicle, but Jacksonville is not a city that affords public transportation, he says.

At the moment he is not concerned about having enough money, but having extra money. He was in the army, posted in Germany, when he got married, and spent most of his savings on bringing his wife to the US in 2011.

Ive had to work some pretty crappy jobs since 2011 before she could get her green card, he says.

Every six months, Brian, who is originally from Pittsburgh, receives a raise at work, which helps him pay down debts and stay on track to pay bills.

I have no savings right now, and when I do have something it goes toward paying something I already needed to pay off, he says. But where we stand right now, we have everything we need.

Natalia Martinez, 29, $130,000

  • General manager, Cambridge Innovation Center, Miami, Florida

Natalia
Natalia Martinez has found a balance between responsibility and fun, and saves about $1,000 per month. Photograph: Mary Beth Koeth for the Guardian

How Natalia spends her money

For years, Natalia fluctuated in terms of how she spent her money. Some years she focused on saving and paying down her student loans from attending Harvard and Columbia, while in other years she was less thrifty.

Its taken most of my 20s to come to a more balanced approach, she says. Finding it has come in ebbs and flows.

Having found the balance between responsibility (such as saving enough to be able to buy property) and having fun, Natalia is comfortable in her spending. Extra income goes towards what she calls experiential expenses such as travel and attending operas, concerts and plays. She also belongs to a couple of members clubs that require annual fees.

Natalia moved to Miami last year to run the expansion of the Cambridge Innovation Center, a high-profile startup-focused organisation that started out in the Boston area.

I end up having a lot of work meetings around things that entail food, so eating out doesnt generally come out of my budget, she says.

Compared with her friends, Natalia says she has been a bit more experimental in the way she lives and spends money. Born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Mexico, Natalia travels more frequently than most people she knows. She has moved cities often, having lived in Boston, New York and Miami.

Natalia saves approximately $1,000 per month and says she would like to have the flexibility to buy an apartment one day, though she is not looking at the moment.

I have some friends who were very responsible and conservative, and they are at this point doing things like buying property and doing these things that we perceive as very settled, she says. I am definitely not in a position to do that.

Aaron Tipping, 23, $33,000

  • Teacher, Micro, North Carolina

Middle
Middle school teacher Aaron Tipping and his new puppy, Luna. Photograph: Lissa Gotwals for the Guardian

How Aaron spends his money

Since graduating from Pennsylvanias Edinboro University in 2015 and starting to repay his student loans, Aaron has developed a conservative attitude towards how he spends money.

Im at this point where I have a good job as a teacher, but when I started paying my loans recently, I realised I needed to be a bit better with my money, he says.

For Aaron, spending comes down to groceries, gas and the occasional coffee after work. Recent splurges include dinners out with his girlfriend, Lacey, and a dog they adopted. Aaron and Lacey live in an apartment in Micro, North Carolina, about half an hour out of Raleigh, and the couple often go to the city on weekends to go to restaurants and bars.

When I think about my spending when I was in school, I see how much of a difference there is, he says.

For now, he is pretty satisfied with his spending, although he would like to spend more on things he wants. Im building up savings, pay my bills, pay my rent, he says.

In college, Aaron used Amazon Prime to shop, something he still does, although on a smaller scale since he has to put more towards student loan repayments.

I get into this thing where Ill get on Amazon and theyll list what you can look at, he says. And Im like: Ooh, two-day shipping! I should just get that. Ill get books and movies digitally. Then Ill regret it.

Aaron worries about how to allocate his money, especially recently, having moved away from his home town in Pennsylvania. I tend to stress and think of the worst-case scenario like with the car or my job, he says. I tend to worry about it a lot more now.

He worries in particular about his car, and wishes he could afford a new one. If something were to happen to it, he is concerned he would not be able to afford the repair. It would be nice to not panic every time the engine makes a sound, he says.

However, Aaron knows he is not alone. He says many of his friends, especially those who just graduated from college, go through the same thing.

Its very common, especially with people around our age, he says. Its weird because Im teaching at this school and there are teachers who have been there for 15 years with kids and mortgages on their houses, and I cant even imagine how that is.

Zack Desmond, 25, $38,000

  • Programme director, Brave Heart Volunteers, Sitka, Alaska

Zack
Zack Desmond. Photograph: Tim C Shobe for the Guardian

How Zack spends his money

Sitka, with a population of about 8,000, affords Zack a slightly different lifestyle to millennials who move to cities for work. He does not have internet, Netflix, a car or a long train commute.

A lot of people who live here are aiming to live pretty simply, he says.

What he saves on city living goes towards his passion for travel. Last year, Zack, who is from Seattle and graduated from Boston College, went to New York, Washington DC, Seattle, Boston and Florida. This year, he plans to save money for plane tickets, as he has a few weddings to attend this summer.

I know I need to get across the country at least twice this summer, he says. My friends arent mostly from Alaska. So if we want to go home and visit people, you gotta get on a plane. Most people do it once a year, sometimes more. Its just valuable to get off this island, especially in the winter.

Alaska is known for its dark, cold winters. Apart from air fares, Zack spends money on the gym and other physical activities to keep in good spirits.

I just feel like if I didnt have somewhere to be then I wouldnt go outside, he says. He does yoga and is part of an aerial silk dance troupe. It keeps me strong, and gets me moving, which is great.

A huge chunk of Zacks money goes toward student loans. Despite being in debt, he recently gave money to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders campaign $11 a month for six months.

Zack, who admires the Vermont senator for only taking money from humans, says he gave more than he can afford, adding: I never thought I would, but there was an exception in this case.

For this project, each subject was asked to track his or her expenses and share them with the Guardian.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Trump slashes size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments in Utah

President signs two proclamations slashing protections for Utah monuments, representing a triumph for fossil fuel industries, ranchers and Republicans

Donald Trump was widely condemned on Monday for drastically shrinking two national monuments, representing the biggest elimination of public lands protection in US history.

The president modified designations for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, potentially opening the land to big corporate developers and the oil and gas industry. The move a repudiation of past presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton seems certain to be challenged in court.

Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington, Trump said at the state capitol in Salt Lake City. And guess what? Theyre wrong.

The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the best, and you know the best how to take care of your land. You know how to protect it, and you know best how to conserve this land for many, many generations to come.

Bears Ears will be slashed from nearly 1.5m acres to 228,784 acres, while Staircase will be halved from around 2m acres to 1,006,341 acres.

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A man walks over a natural bridge at Butler Wash in Bears Ears near Blanding, Utah. Photograph: Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Trump, who has focused intently on undoing Barack Obamas legacy, described his predecessors Antiquities Act designations as a threat to peoples way of life, imposing restrictions on hunting, ranching and economic development. As many of you know, past administrations have severely abused the purpose, spirit and intent of a century-old law known as the Antiquities Act, he continued.

This law requires that only the smallest necessary area be set aside for special protection as national monuments. Unfortunately, previous administrations have ignored the standard and used the law to lock up hundreds of millions of acres of land and water under strict government control.

Trump claimed: With the action Im taking today, we will not only give back your voice over the use of this land, we will also restore your access and your enjoyment. Public lands will once again be for public use because we know that people who are free to use their land and enjoy their land are the people most determined to conserve their land.

But his move to shrink the national monuments represents a triumph for fossil fuel industries, ranchers and Republicans, particularly those representing Utah, who have pushed the president to undo protections put in place by previous administrations that curb activities such as oil drilling and cattle grazing.

In April, promising to end another egregious use of government power, Trump ordered a review of national monuments declared since the 1990s.

The interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, who has been a vocal proponent of allowing greater development including mining on public lands, recommended shrinking six monuments and altering the management plans of a further four.

If Trump follows through with all those recommendations, protected areas in Nevada, Oregon and California would be resized, as well as two vast marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean. The areas could be remodeled to allow activities such as timber production, grazing or commercial fishing.

Zinke told reporters on Air Force One that no one loves public land more than I do and he is a steadfast believer in public lands for public use but added: When a monument is used to prevent rather than protect, the president is right to take action.

In the case of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Zinke said the whole Utah congressional delegation supports Trumps move, as well as the governor and commissioner that represents the Navajo districts.

He insisted that this was not an energy issue, claiming that there was no oil and gas in Bears Ears, though this is not clearcut. There are dozens of abandoned mines in Bears Ears but none has been operational for at least 20 years and national monument designation has placed restrictions on new energy development.

However, there is oil and gas production clustered near the northern and eastern borders of the monument and some companies believe there is potential for more. Since 2013, energy firms have unsuccessfully asked the federal Bureau of Land Management to lease more than 100,000 acres for oil and gas drilling either near or within what is now Bears Ears boundaries.

While the Trump administration has touted an economic boon from an influx of development, opponents point out that the tourism and local business stimulated by monument declarations is often far more valuable. Companies such as Patagonia, the clothing firm, have railed against Trumps plan.

In Utah, the presidents decision prompted protests before his arrival to announce it. On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators converged on the steps of the Utah state capitol.

Theres nothing in our data thatd say, politically, that this is popular, Lori Weigel, a Republican pollster in Denver, told the Associated Press of efforts to trim monuments.

I cant say why Utah elected officials have taken this on more than in other states. But we see widespread recognition that designation of protected land is valued.

The monuments provide a bulwark for intrinsic values such as natural beauty, endangered species and, importantly to local tribes, heritage. Bears Ears, named after two towering buttes in the heart of the protected area, has around 100,000 archaeological sites, including Native American ceremonial grounds, graves and rock art.

The five Native American tribes that form the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition say legal action is likely against Trumps decisions on monuments in Utah. Shaun Chapoose, a member of the Ute Indian Tribe business committee, told the Guardian this week Trumps policy was another slap in the face in the overall relationship between the federal government and the tribes, and local people.

US presidents are given sweeping power to protect land and waters under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which was signed by Theodore Roosevelt, an avowed hunter and conservationist. Since then, more than 150 sites have been unilaterally designated monuments by presidents, including the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon.

Obama frequently wielded this power amid Republican howls about executive overreach, creating or expanding 34 national monuments, including Bears Ears last December. Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated by Clinton in 1996.

The Trump administrations attempt to scale back this legacy will almost certainly encounter a thicket of legal action from enraged environmental groups.

This is a shameful and illegal attack on our nations protected lands, said Jamie Rappaport Clark, a former director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and now head of Defenders of Wildlife. Teddy Roosevelt is rolling in his grave. Well be seeing President Trump in court.

Ben Schreiber, senior political strategist at Friends of the Earth, said: Donald Trump is overseeing the largest elimination of protected areas in US history. Dismantling these monuments is Trumps latest gift to the corporate interests who backed his campaign. This action is unprecedented and will end up in court.

Public lands are to be managed for the public, not plundered by private interests that want to make billions off public resources. The majority of Americans want to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

The White House noted that presidents have modified the boundaries to remove lands from monuments 18 times in the past. It said the most significant reduction occurred in 1915 when President Woodrow Wilson halved Mount Olympus national monument, which is now a national park.

But Democrats were also swift to condemn Trumps action. Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate energy and natural resources committee, said: Veterans, sportsmen, climbers, hikers and the outdoor economy all depend on open space.

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante have been driving a vibrant outdoor economy for years. Now President Trump is using unlawful authority to pollute these special places. His administration deserves an F for stewardship.

Ral Grijalva, ranking Democrat on the House natural resources committee, added: This order to destroy our national monuments is as legally sound as the Muslim ban. Mr Trump seems to take a perverse joy in ignoring federal law and dismissing the wishes of Native American tribes, conservation leaders and millions of everyday Americans.

Presidents dont have the power to wipe existing monuments off the map and Republicans know it. This is an unpopular president making unpopular decisions without proper legal authority on behalf of ideological extremists and the oil and gas industry. This is the damage that results when we leave Republicans in charge.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

North Atlantic right whales may face extinction after no new births recorded

Declining fertility and rising mortality, exacerbated by fishing industry, prompts experts to warn whales could be extinct by 2040

The dwindling North Atlantic right whale population is on track to finish its breeding season without any new births, prompting experts to warn again that without human intervention, the species will face extinction.

Scientists observing the whale community off the US east coast have not recorded a single mother-calf pair this winter. Last year saw a record number of deaths in the population. Threats to the whales include entanglement in lobster fishing ropes and an increasing struggle to find food in abnormally warm waters.

The combination of rising mortality and declining fertility is now seen as potentially catastrophic. There are estimated to be as few as 430 North Atlantic right whales left in the world, including just 100 potential mothers.

At the rate we are killing them off, this 100 females will be gone in 20 years, said Mark Baumgartner, a marine ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Without action, he warned, North Atlantic right whales will be functionally extinct by 2040.

Quick guide

Why are whales still endangered?

Population recovery will take decades

Commercial whaling on a large scale took place for three centuries until banned in 1986. Most whale populations had been reduced to such low levels that it will take decades for many of them to recover. Additional problems of entanglement, pollution, climate change and ship strikes are also curtailing their recovery.

Other threatened species include: the vaquita, a rare species of porpoise found in the gulf of California and rated the most endangered cetacean in the world it is thought that only 30 or so remain in the wild; the blue whale, pictured, the largest animal ever known to have existed between 10,000 and 25,000 remain; and the sei whale, the third-largest whale, with a population of around 80,000.

Photograph: Franco Banfi/WaterFrame RM

A 10-year-old female was found dead off the Virginia coast in January, entangled in fishing gear, in the first recorded death of 2018. That followed a record 18 premature deaths in 2017, Baumgartner said.

Woods Hole and other groups, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have been tracing right whale numbers in earnest since the mid-1980s.

Federal research suggests 82% of premature deaths are caused by entanglement in fishing line. The prime culprit is the New England lobster industry. Crab fishing in Canadian waters is another cause of such deaths.

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A lobster fisherman in Maine. Right whales can become entangled in the ropes used for fishing. Photograph: Daniel Grill/Tetra Images/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Baumgartner said that until about seven years ago, the population of North Atlantic right whales was healthy. But then lobster fishermen began greatly increasing the strength of ropes used to attach lobster pots to marker buoys.

Whales becoming entangled are now far less able to break free, Baumgartner said. Some are killed outright, others cannot swim properly, causing them to starve or to lose so much blubber that females become infertile.

Lobster and crab fishing and whales are able to comfortably co-exist, Baumgartner said. We are trying to propose solutions, its urgent.

Baumgartner said the US government should intervene to regulate fishing gear. He also said the industry should explore technology enabling fishermen to track and gather lobster pots without using roped buoys.

The whales migrate seasonally between New England and Florida, calving off Florida and Georgia from November to February. They primarily feed on phytoplankton. Scientists believe rapid warming of the Gulf of Maine, linked to climate change, is drastically depleting that food source.

Past measures to prevent ship collisions and to safeguard feeding areas have helped. Several environmental groups have sued the federal government, demanding greater protection for right whales.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Smile! Grumpy Cat wins 500,000 over copyright breach

Owners of internet sensation with permanently gloomy face win payout from US coffee group

Smile! Grumpy Cat wins 500,000 over copyright breach

Owners of internet favourite with permanently gloomy face win payout from US coffee group

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Colombian vet accused of ‘cruel’ surgery to turn puppies into drug mules

Andres Lopez Elorez faces US court for implanting dogs with heroin after being extradited from Spain

A veterinarian is accused of implanting liquid heroin in puppies to turn them into drug mules for a Colombian trafficking ring.

Colombian-born Andres Lopez Elorez appeared in a US federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday after being extradited from Spain, where he was arrested in 2015.

Lopez Elorez, 38, who also goes by the surname Lopez Elorza, fled in 2005 when authorities arrested about two dozen suspected traffickers in Colombia.

His arrest was part of a 12-year Drug Enforcement Administration investigation. If convicted on conspiracy charges, he risks spending at least 10 years and potentially life behind bars.

Authorities allege that between September 2004 and January 2005 Elorez was a member of a Colombian ring smuggling heroin into the US using various methods, including human and dog couriers.

It is believed the dogs were sent on commercial flights to New York, where the drugs were cut out of them. Investigators believe the puppies would have died in the process, but it was unknown how many were involved.

As alleged in the indictment, Elorez is not only a drug trafficker, he also betrayed a veterinarians pledge to prevent animal suffering when he used his surgical skills in a cruel scheme to smuggle heroin in the abdomens of puppies, US attorney Richard Donoghue said. Dogs are mans best friend and, as the defendant is about to learn, we are drug dealers worst enemy.

Ten puppies were found during a 2005 raid on a farm in Colombia, DEA officials said. Five ended up running away, three died from infection and two were adopted, including one that became a drug-sniffing dog for Colombian police, officials said.

Over time, drug organisations unquenchable thirst for profit leads them to do unthinkable crimes like using innocent puppies for drug concealment, the head of the DEAs New York division, James Hunt, said.

Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us