Tuesday, April 28, 2009

White-Nosed Bat Die Off Hits Virgina

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: 25 Apr 2009
Source: Daily News Record [edited]

Samples of bats found in the Endless Caverns show cave suspected of
having the deadly white-nose syndrome (WNS) have been sent to a
federal testing facility, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland
Fisheries (VDGIF) confirmed Friday [24 Apr 2009].

If the tests come back positive, it will be the 1st confirmed case in
Rockingham County of the mysterious disease that has wiped out
hundreds of thousands of bats in the northeast. The disease showed up
in Virginia for the 1st time earlier this year [2009], but until now,
no bats in the central valley had been suspected of having the illness.

White-nose syndrome is named for the ring of white fungus that
typically appears on infected bats' snouts and sometimes on other body
parts such as wings.

Besides the fungus, infected bats typically have low body fat, are
dehydrated and demonstrate abnormal behavior, such as searching for
food during the winter.

Rick Reynolds, a wildlife biologist with the VDGIF, said Virginia Cave
Board members discovered bats showing signs of the disease during a
tour of Endless Caverns on Saturday [25 Apr 2009]. Endless Caverns is
a commercial show cave located near New Market. The caverns, along
with several similar caves in the central valley, are a popular
tourist attraction.

Reynolds visited the caverns on Tuesday [21 Apr 2009] to take samples
of the bats, which he sent to the U.S. Geological Survey's National
Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin to be tested. The results
should come back in 2 to 3 weeks, he said.

The bats in Endless Caverns "were probably in the very early stages of
showing the fungus," Reynolds said. "It was not as prominent as some
of the pictures that you see. It was just kind of spotty on the wings."

No one was available at Endless Caverns on Friday [24 Apr 2009] to
talk about the suspected case, but Reynolds said officials there have
been cooperative and are taking steps to prevent spreading the
disease. Biologists suspect that white-nose syndrome may be caused in
part by human activity in the caves and mines where bats live and

Endless Caverns officials are adding an educational component to their
tour, alerting people to the fact that bats in the cave may have
white-nose syndrome, he said.

They also are setting up a station where guests can sanitize their
footwear after touring the caverns, and they are encouraging visitors
to shower and wash their clothes before entering another cave,
Reynolds said.

"Most of those people probably go into one cave, and that's it. That
type of caver is not really going to spread it," he said. "We have not
asked [Endless Caverns' officials] to change their operations."

In addition to Endless Caverns, state biologists recently found
suspected cases of white-nose syndrome in bats in Bland and Cumberland
counties, Reynolds said.

Biologists discovered bats in a cave in Bland County this past weekend
that showed signs of the disease, and they returned to the cave on
Friday [24 Apr 2009] to take samples of the bats.

In Cumberland County, a single bat on the side of a building showed
signs of the disease, and biologists sent the animal to be tested
about a week ago, Reynolds said.

He added that it's not clear where that bat came from because
Cumberland County doesn't have caves. VDGIF is working with the
Department of Mines and Minerals to determine whether the bat came
from one of the county's mines, he said.

The 1st cases of white-nose syndrome in Virginia were confirmed
earlier this month [April 2009] in Breathing Cave in Bath County and
Clover Hollow Cave in Giles County.

At that time, VDGIF officials began asking caving enthusiasts to stay
out of caves, and it closed caves in its management areas in hopes of
slowing the spread of the disease that has scientists baffled.

Biologists say they don't know what's causing the syndrome, exactly
how it's spread, or how to stop it from infecting more bats, which, in
most cases, are naturally disease resilient.

Biologists say they are not surprised by these new suspected cases.
"It probably means what we expected all along, that it's going to grow
and develop over time," Reynolds said. "As time moves on, we're just
going to find more counties with the disease showing up unless we get
a handle on it."

The country's 1st cases of white-nose syndrome were identified about 3
years ago in bats in several caves near Albany, N.Y. Since then, the
disease has been confirmed in other parts of New York as well as the
neighboring states of Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and
Pennsylvania. It also has been confirmed in New Hampshire, New Jersey,
and just recently, West Virginia and Virginia.

The disease has wiped out 75 to 90 percent of the bat population in
New York and more than 400,000 bats in the region, records show.

Reduced bat populations could be detrimental for many reasons,
including the fact that bats eat many insects, such as cucumber
beetles and corn borer moths, which can ruin crops.

[Byline: Jenny Jones]


Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring has Sprung, bats are gone, BUGS are Out - Oh My, its going to be a long hot summer

Without the bug-eating bats around, and living near the water, its going to be a very buggy summer. Already they are out in force. I got the feeling these two equines (Paco, the donkey & Lightning, the pony) will be spending the summer in the nice cool barn parked in-front of the fans; Dont they look cute with their new fly-masks on? They love wearing them so much, they practically walk into them for me.

They are both on diets. Lightning I call the Snuffleupagus cause man that little horse (or pony) can eat, he was fat when I got him and that huge belly you see has actually gone down since I have had him. Paco, well, he was starved so he has a tendency to overdo a little yet when allowed to "eat at will,"...and, they tell me, the last thing you want to do is let your donkey get fat. I have noticed that the first place they start to store their fat is in the crest of their neck, and if it gets too fatty, it will actually fall over. They call it a "broken crest" and once it breaks over its never coming back up again and it aint pretty! Also I am told because of their tiny little feet it is not good to let them get to heavy. Soooo, Paco goes on a diet too. They are doing "the buddy system." I give them hay three times a day spread out so they have to walk around.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This is Why We Cannot Condone Torture

ABC News Exclusive: Torture Tape Implicates UAE Royal Sheikh
Police in Uniform Join In as Victim Is Whipped, Beaten, Electrocuted, Run Over by SUV

April 22, 2009

A video tape smuggled out of the United Arab Emirates shows a member of the country's royal family mercilessly torturing a man with whips, electric cattle prods and wooden planks with protruding nails.

Brian Ross Investigates
A man in a UAE police uniform is seen on the tape tying the victim's arms and legs, and later holding him down as the Sheikh pours salt on the man's wounds and then drives over him with his Mercedes SUV.

In a statement to ABC News, the UAE Ministry of the Interior said it had reviewed the tape and acknowledged the involvement of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, brother of the country's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed.

"The incidents depicted in the video tapes were not part of a pattern of behavior," the Interior Ministry's statement declared.

The Minister of the Interior is also one of Sheikh Issa's brother.

The government statement said its review found "all rules, policies and procedures were followed correctly by the Police Department."


Taliban Video: Girl Beaten for 'Adultery'

WATCH: Dubai's Dirty Little Secret

More from Brian Ross and the Investigative Team
"If this is their complete reply, then sadly it's a scam and it's a sham," said Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch.

"It is the state that is torturing them," she said, "if the government does not investigate and prosecute these officers, and those commanding those officers."

The 45-minute long tape was smuggled out of the country by Bassam Nabulsi, of Houston, Texas, a former business associate of Sheikh Issa.

Nabulsi is now suing the Sheikh in federal court in Houston, alleging he also was tortured by UAE police when he refused to turn over the videos to the Sheikh following their falling out.

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"They were my security, really, to make my case that this man is capable of doing what I say he can do," said Nabulsi in an interview to be broadcast Wednesday on the ABC News program Nightline.

Nabulsi says the video tapes were recorded by his brother, on orders from the Sheikh who liked to watch the torture sessions later in his royal palace.

The Sheikh begins by stuffing sand down the man's mouth, as the police officers restrains the victim.

Then he fires bullets from an automatic rifle around him as the man howls incomprehensibly.

Click on title above for full article and to see vid;

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Are We Ready for a Solar Katrina?

Severe Solar Storms Could Harm Power Grid, Navigational Systems and Spacecraft, Scientists Say

April 21, 2009

More than a million people without power. The distribution of drinkable water disrupted. Transportation, communication and banking upset. Trillions of dollars in damage.

Solar storms could have devastating consequences on Earth, scientists warn.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)
Hurricanes, blizzards and other earthly tempests aren't the only natural forces with the potential to sow catastrophe.

Severe weather in the sun's outer atmosphere could knock out much of the country's power grid, incapacitate navigational systems and jeopardize spacecraft, scientists say.

While the odds of a solar disaster are relatively small, scientists warn that we need to ramp up our defenses against solar storms, especially given our increasing dependence on technology that is so susceptible to radiation from the sun.

"It's one of those events that is of low probability but high consequence," Dr. Roberta Balstad, a research scientist with Columbia University's Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. "The consequences could be extreme."


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Exposing Greed Series: Goldman-Sucks

Liddy Should Sell Goldman Sachs Stake, Lawmakers Say

By Mark Pittman and Hugh Son

April 17 (Bloomberg) -- American International Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Edward Liddy should sell his $3.3 million stake in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. because it represents a conflict of interest, members of Congress said.

The AIG chief owns 27,129 Goldman Sachs shares, the bank said in a regulatory filing last year. Liddy got most of the shares over five years as a board member of New York-based Goldman Sachs. AIG, also based in New York, said in a Nov. 25 statement that Liddy would be paid a salary of $1 a year plus an unspecified stock grant.

AIG received a government bailout now valued at $182.5 billion, the largest in the nation’s history, and paid Goldman Sachs $12.9 billion after receiving U.S. funds. The payments helped settle transactions including credit-default swaps backed by AIG. Goldman Sachs was the biggest recipient of AIG payments after the bailout, and lawmakers including Representative Elijah Cummings have questioned why the insurer didn’t get better terms in the settlement.

“It turns out that he has a personal multimillion-dollar stake in what turns out to be the biggest counterparty of AIG and the company that has received the largest amount of the bailout money given to AIG, namely Goldman Sachs,” U.S. Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat and a member of the House Financial Services Committee, said yesterday in a phone interview.

Liddy, 63, stepped down from the Goldman Sachs board last September to become AIG’s chief executive. Henry Paulson, then- Treasury Secretary and a former Goldman Sachs CEO, had asked Liddy to run AIG during the government rescue. Liddy was paid mostly in Goldman Sachs shares during his time at the bank, AIG has said. He declined to comment yesterday.

‘Public Service’

“While we are sorry he can no longer serve on our board, we are proud that Ed is taking on such an important responsibility during this critical time,” said Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, in a Sept. 26 statement. “His judgment, financial acumen and deep interest in the culture of our firm have benefited our people and our shareholders.”

Liddy “views his role as CEO in essence as a public service,” according to an e-mailed statement from AIG spokeswoman Christina Pretto. “In September, he was asked by the government to step in and restructure the company, and the company has made substantial progress in doing so.”

‘Good Corporate Citizen’

Liddy’s “initial compensation will consist entirely of equity grants, showing his confidence in AIG and its team,” AIG said in the November 25 statement. He won’t receive an annual bonus for 2008 and 2009, and may be eligible for a special bonus for extraordinary performance payable in 2010, the company said.

The executive hasn’t received any equity grants, Mark Herr, an AIG spokesman, said today in an interview.

“He’s not doing this for the money,” said Robert Haines, an analyst at CreditSights Inc. “He’s been rewarded handsomely by working in the insurance industry and he wanted to be a good corporate citizen.”

Liddy led Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer, for eight years through 2006. He joined Allstate in 1994 to oversee the spinoff from retailer Sears Roebuck & Co., where he had been chief financial officer.

Liddy owned 1.9 million shares of the insurer as of January 2008, according to an Allstate filing from April 2008.

‘Disastrous Public Relations’

AIG’s payments didn’t affect Goldman Sachs’s profit, Goldman Sachs Chief Financial Officer David Viniar said April 14. Goldman has said that it had cash and liquid securities as collateral against its exposure to AIG and had bought credit- default swaps as protection in some cases. Michael Duvally, a spokesman for the bank, declined to comment.

“I don’t think there was any double-dealing to help Goldman Sachs, but AIG has suffered such disastrous public relations over the past several months,” said Haines. “Anything that could be construed as negative or sinister is going to be brought up.”

Liddy faced criticism from Congress, the public and President Barack Obama earlier this year amid revelations of bonuses being paid to AIG employees. Liddy defended his record in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in March.

‘Thriving Businesses’

“My only goals are to have AIG repay, with interest, to the maximum extent possible, the assistance the American taxpayers have given it, and to continue AIG’s main insurance companies as strong, thriving businesses and contributors to the economy,” Liddy wrote. “My only stake is my reputation.”

AIG said it owed about $46 billion of a $60 billion federal credit line as of April 2. The bailout package includes a commitment for $70 billion in capital, plus loans and asset guarantees.

About two-thirds of Liddy’s Goldman Sachs shares are restricted from being sold until May 31, according to an April 2009 filing. The stock’s value shrank to as little as $1.4 million on Nov. 20 when Goldman Sachs shares plummeted to $52, the lowest price since the company went public in May 1999. Since then the shares have rebounded to more that $120, and the stake has risen by about $180,000 since he took the AIG job.

The amount of his stock grant was reported this week in the online Washington Examiner.

“If I knew about it when Liddy came to testify, I would have definitely had a lot of questions,” Grayson said, referring to congressional hearings held in March. “Nobody is that rich that they don’t care about $3 million.”

Inspector General

Goldman Sachs, based in New York, paid Liddy a retainer of $62,500, a committee chair fee of $20,833 and $190,385 in lieu of stock for his final partial year of service, the April filing showed. Liddy received a total of $273,718 when he resigned as a director in September 2008.

Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is probing whether AIG paid more than necessary to banks including Goldman Sachs. Barofsky is trying to determine whether AIG or the government sought to reduce the payments, according to an April 3 letter to Cummings. The Maryland Democrat requested the probe along with 26 other members of Congress.

“Even the appearance of conflict of interest is a reason for alarm,” Cummings said yesterday in a statement about Liddy’s Goldman Sachs stock.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Pittman in New York at mpittman@bloomberg.net; Hugh Son in New York at hson1@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: April 17, 2009 16:08 EDT



A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Fri 17 Apr 2009
From: Kevin Hynes

In late March and early April 2009, cultures from 3 pine siskins from
Warren County and one house sparrow from Putnam County, New York,
have yielded _Salmonella typhimurium_. In years past we have found
common redpolls and pine siskins to be the most frequent victims of
salmonellosis at bird feeders in the late winter and early spring.

Kevin Hynes
Biologist 1
Wildlife Pathology Unit
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
108 Game Farm Road
Delmar, New York 12054

[Thanks to Kevin for this useful information but it raises a
question: Do we discover the salmonella because the birds
die/defecate in full view next to feeders or is it because the feed
is contaminated ab initio? - Mod.MHJ]

[See also:
Salmonellosis, wild birds - USA: (ID) 20090417.1456]

Friday, April 17, 2009

SOS for Wolves: Action Needed by May 4, 2009

When you see this short video of wolf pups playing in the Northern Rockies, I know you will agree that we must do everything in our power to protect them. (Click on title above to see the vid.)

Otherwise, in just 2 weeks -- on May 4 -- their federal protections will be lifted and government agents will be free to open fire on them in Idaho and Montana.

If the Obama Administration persists in its decision to resume the Bush-era "war on wolves," then not even newborn wolf pups or their nursing mothers will be spared.

Please support NRDC's campaign to call off the guns by making a contribution today.

Right now, we are going all out to protect these wolves on two separate fronts: First, our wildlife defense team is filing suit in federal court to restore their endangered species protection. Second, we're ramping up our Big Howl campaign to generate a national outcry against the mass killing of wolves.

Our goal is to raise at least $100,000 to mount the strongest possible defense for the wolves -- and to alert Americans everywhere that these treasured icons of western wilderness are in mortal danger.

The clock is ticking. We're counting on you to help fund this 11th-hour wolf-saving effort by giving an emergency contribution now.

The next generation of wolves is in peril. Over the past year, the wolf population in Yellowstone National Park declined by 27 percent, with more than 70 percent of the park's wolf pups succumbing to disease.

One pack alone lost all 24 of its pups.

Outside the national parks, defenseless wolf pups could either be gunned down ... or left orphaned in their dens with no chance of survival if their mothers and the rest of the pack are killed.

Today, we are their last line of defense ... and we must rush to their aid.

That's why I'm asking you to dig a little deeper now while we can still give these wolf pups a chance at a future.


Frances Beinecke
Natural Resources Defense Council

P.S. Sadly, some of the wolf pups born this spring may not even live until summer unless we act now to call off the guns before May 4. So please give now to help NRDC ramp up our wolf-saving campaign during the critical 2 weeks ahead.

Click on title above to see video;

Salmonella outbreak killing wild birds, feeder hygene issue?

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: 17 Apr 2009
Source: Idaho Mountain Express and Guide [edited]

Salmonella outbreak kills birds
Reports have surfaced of a small outbreak of salmonella among birds
in the Wood River Valley [Idaho]. The affected birds are pine
siskins, small creatures that are considered susceptible to salmonella.

Information on the birds' deaths 1st came from Jeramie Dreyfuss, a
Hailey resident and bird enthusiast who said she found some 30 dead
birds in her backyard. Dreyfuss sent the birds to Mark Drew, wildlife
veterinarian for Idaho Fish and Game's Bureau of Wildlife, who
performed an autopsy. Drew said that the autopsy showed traces of
salmonella in the birds. He did not yet know what strain of
salmonella killed the birds or what caused the outbreak. "We don't
know the source," he said. "But my thoughts right now are that it's a
feeder hygiene situation where there are a lot of feeders out and a
lot of contaminated seed that's old and wet." Drew recommended people
clean their bird feeders and maybe go as far as to stop feeding the
birds for the next week or 2.

Krysten Schuler, wildlife disease specialist for the U.S. Geological
Survey National Wildlife Health Center, agreed. "We are having
national reports of salmonellosis that is specific to birds," Schuler
said. "The message to get out about this disease is that it is common
to backyard birdfeeders, as they can easily become contaminated. So
it's important for people to clean their feeders using a 10 percent
bleach solution, and while outbreaks are going on like this, it is
better to take down their feeders for about 2 weeks so the birds
don't congregate."

Despite the die-off in Hailey, Schuler and Drew are not particularly
concerned. "This is not a problem that is unanticipated," Drew said.
"We've seen the problem before, and it is happening in other places
in the country." In addition, Drew said the death of 30 birds is a
very small and localized mortality event. "Thirty birds out of a said
population of 3000 is very small, even if there may well be other
incidents of death," he said. Drew noted that people should pay
attention to hygiene habits in their homes, especially for dogs, cats
and young children, who can pick up contaminated seeds or bird feces.

[Byline: Della Sentilles, Express Staff Writer]

Communicated by:
HealthMap Alerts via ProMED-mail

[It would be interesting to know the serotype(s) recovered from these
backyard wild birds. I would remind our members that the USA has had
recalls in relation to salmonella contaminated peanuts and pistachio
nuts. If it can get into those I am sure it can find its way into
sunflower seeds and other products used in bird feeders. Damp and wet
feed will enable multiplication when it is warm enough. We look
forward to hearing which serotype(s) are recovered. While it could be
a totally separate event, it would be interesting if this event is an
epidemiological canary. (Canaries were kept in coal mines as
sentinels for various poisonous gases and when they died, the miners
headed out quickly.) - Mod.MHJ]

[The state of Idaho can be located in the HealthMap/ProMED-mail
interactive map at: - CopyEd.EJP]

[see also:
Salmonella, avian - USA: (WI), bird feeders 20090329.1213
Salmonella, bird food - USA: (NC) recall 20090313.1044
Salmonellosis, avian - Sweden: RFI 20070206.0474
Salmonellosis, pine siskins - USA (CA) 20050213.0492
Salmonella, birds, humans - New Zealand 20011225.3113
Salmonella, birds - New Zealand (02) 20001003.1703
Salmonella, birds - New Zealand 20000927.1675
Salmonellosis, songbirds - USA & Canada (02) 20000525.0829
Salmonellosis, songbirds - USA & Canada 20000519.0785
Salmonella, common redpolls - Canada 20000512.0726]

Horse Murder in my Backyard

A 25-year-old man from Hoosick Falls, NY and his 17-year-old girlfriend from Watervliet have been arrested for allegedly slaughtering a horse at a Hoosick farm back in December, State Police announced Tuesday.

State Police arrested Michael Lohnes and Alyna O'Donovan after an investigation into the Dec. 22nd incident. The owner of a farm located on Hill Road had contacted police to report a burglary and a horse boarded on the property stabbed to death.

Investigators determined Lohnes a suspect based on physical evidence left at the scene, police said. Lohnes was the subject of several active arrest warrants at the time.

Police executed a search warrant at Lohnes's Third St. home on Dec. 23rd, and seized several personal items believed to link Lohnes to the crimes.

Nearly a week later, on Dec. 29th, O'Donovan, who was on probation with the Rensselaer County Probation Department, contacted probation officials to tell them she had cut off her monitoring bracelet because she was traveling with her boyfriend, who was wanted by police.

Investigators conducted interviews from Vermont to Virginia and searched several homes to locate Lohnes, police said.

Lohnes has been charged with burglary, criminal mischief and cruelty to animals. O'Donovan has been charged with criminal mischief, criminal impersonation and hindering prosecution.

Lohnes and O'Donovan were arraigned in Hoosick Town Court. Both were sent to Rensselaer County Jail without bail
Friends of Equines FOES of Equine Slaughter plans on being there in person for any and all court appearances, and invite other animal advocates to join us if you are able. We will be listing the court date here soon, along with the judges name and case index number.

The prosecutor in charge of the case is Laura C. Kruegler, and she can be reached at (518) 270-4040. Please DO call and let her know your feelings about the seriousness of this case, and ask for full prosecution for the offenders..

Burgularizing a home is bad enough in itself, but compounding the injury by the murder of a innocent living animal calls for increased punishment, particularly since both offenders were already on probation or parole when this crime was committed. We are asking that no lieniency be showed by the court for heartless criminals such as this. Studies have shown a distinctive link between people who abuse animals and violent crime against humans. These studies show that a vast majority of violent offenders started out by torturing and/or killing helpless animals.

The message is clear: crimes against animals are to be taken seriously not only for the sake of the animals but for the overall well-being of society in general.

If we get enough signatures on this petition we will print it up and present it to the court, asking them Please dont give these offenders any more breaks, no more probation or extended parole,....throw the book at them! Sentence accordingly persuant to our repeat / habitual / violent offender statutes.

Thank you in advance for any consideration you may give this matter.

Friends of Equines FOES of Equine Slaughter
"Because We Care"

Click on title above to see and sign petition; http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/old_1259869___article.html/year_hoosick.html

Obama Disappoints Animals, Props Up Breeders

by Stephanie Ernst

Published April 13, 2009 @ 05:30AM PST

No one in the AR community expected President Barack Obama to make animal rights one of his priorities. His positions and personal choices didn't give us a reason to expect that. But there was great hope in two areas: (1) the Endangered Species Act protections that the Bush administration worked to weaken and (2) the promotion of adoption of animals from shelters rather than the purchase of animals from breeders. But despite restoring some endangered species protections, he also chose hunting-happy Salazar as his Secretary of Interior and isn't challenging his pick's decision to delist the gray wolves--the same decision that was widely criticized by conservation and animal advocacy groups when Bush tried it, multiple times--and now he has done a great disservice to the millions of animals languishing and dying in shelters, by knowingly passing on the chance to set the most high-profile of examples.

There was great hope that Barack Obama was going to listen to the throngs of people--individuals and organizations--who begged him and his family, for months, to make their family dog a rescue dog, to make that responsible personal choice and set that very important example, to do what he could for the millions of dogs and cats killed in shelters each year. There were even several statements from Obama and family indicating they would indeed adopt a rescue dog.

This weekend, we learned otherwise.

This weekend, we learned that Obama has thrown support to the irresponsible, profit-driven animal-breeding industry by accepting a dog from a "prominent" Texas breeder. The story is that the breeder sold now-6-month-old Charlie to someone else earlier, and that person then returned him to the breeder. Now the breeder has "re-homed" the dog with the Obamas, with the help of the Kennedys, who themselves have purchased dogs from the breeder in the past. And that makes this a rescue? No. It doesn't. Charlie (who is being renamed "Bo" by the family) wasn't one of the millions of dogs one step away from unnecessary death in this country. He's a dog who would have been sold to another less prominent buyer. I'm glad this dog gets a great home. But he would have ended up with a home regardless. The real winners in this situation are breeders. And the losers are shelter dogs.

Yes, there are allergies in the Obama household. But there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog, regardless of what breeders might tell you. There are certain factors to consider, and some dog breeds and some characteristics are more likely to trigger allergies than others, but there are plenty of dogs in shelters who would fit the "hypoallergenic" bill as much as a purebred Portuguese water dog from a breeder.

I'm terribly disappointed, as are countless other animal advocates across the country, that Obama made this choice, especially after all the constant discussion about how much good he could do by adopting a rescue dog and after the outrage that followed VP Biden's purchase of a dog from a breeder.

The Obamas' needs may have been more specific than Biden's because of the allergy issue, but they were just as capable of getting a dog from a shelter as he was. It was not that they could not adopt a true rescue dog. It was not that they could not find a dog with hypoallergenic-leaning qualities like those of a Portuguese water dog in one of the countless U.S. shelters. They chose not to. They made the choice to limit themselves to a specific, hard-to-find pure breed and to, as I understand it, a fairly young puppy. And they chose to take a dog from a breeder.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Tax Breaks for the Filthy Rich?

The Beat Goes On.

Robert L. Borosage, HuffPost: Tax Day.

Fox News is flogging Astroturf "tea parties" underwritten by corporate lobbyists, while its pundits warn that raising the top income tax rate to the level it was under Bill Clinton constitutes "socialism." The Wall Street Journal editorializes about the evils of the estate tax. Ari Fleischer, Daddy Bush's old flack, is trotted out to complain that "redistribution of income" through the tax code "is getting out of hand." Really? Here's the grim reality. Since 1980, when the conservative era began, inequality has reached Gilded Age extremes - while top end tax rates have been cut. The wealthiest few captured ever more of the nation's income while successfully lowering their tax rates.
And worse - this is still going on. This month, every Republican Senator - joined bizarrely by 10 Democrats - pushed for yet another tax break for the super-rich - those with fortunes over $7 million. Apparently worried that the heirs of the Paris Hilton class might not be able to keep the yacht clubs humming, Republican Senators voted in lockstep to direct the Congress to raise the full exemption of estates from $7 to $10 million per couple, and drop the top rate from 45% to 35%. Over a decade when fully in effect, this represents a bauble worth about $90 billion to the 1 in 400 estates (one-fourth of one percent) that reach that level.

Fleischer would suggest this is a small, but inadequate step to curb the confiscatory redistribution of the tax code. But he's peddling bull.

In 1980, as "Gilded Age Taxation," a study by the Institute for America's Future shows, the richest 1% of Americans captured fully 7.7% of the nation's after-tax income. The middle sixty percent captured about 50.9%. By 2006, the latest CBO figures show the opulent 1% -- making an average $1.3 million -- captured a staggering 16.3% of the nation's income after all that tax code redistribution. While the middle sixty percent garnered only 44.1%. If class war is being waged, the rich are on the march.

The Institute for Policy Studies details the staggering contrast to the Eisenhower years. In 1955, the top 400 taxpayers averaged about $12.3 million in income (2006 dollars) and paid, after exploiting every loophole imaginable, 51.2% of that in federal income tax. A half century later, the richest 400 average a breath-taking $263.3 million in income each, and pay a mere 17.2% of that in federal income taxes. (A lower tax rate than paid by most of their secretaries).

If those 400 taxpayers had paid at the same rate in 2006 as a half century earlier, the federal treasury would have collected $35.9 billion more in revenue, or enough to double the energy and transportation budget combined. No wonder Ike, clearly a stealth "socialist", could afford to build the interstate transport system.

So why do Republican Senators en mass and 10 wayward Democrats - Max Baucus, Evan Bayh, Maria Cantwell, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Patty Murray, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson and Jon Testor - think the wealthiest one-fourth of one percent of Americans need another tax break? They wax eloquent about saving family farms and small businesses. But upon sober review, the New York Times editorial board provided a tempered evaluation of the argument: "That is swill." Opponents of the estate tax haven't been able to dig up a family that was forced to liquidate its farm or business due to the tax because these folks simply do not exist.

The sad reality is that conservative dominance over the last decades has had profound effects. One of these is that income inequality grew to Gilded Age extremes, while top end tax rates were slashed. Fleischer is right. We did witness a lot of redistribution. But it went from the middle class to the very top, not the other way around.

(Incidentally the new tax break isn't a done deal. A conference committee will decide its fate in the next week or two. You might want to call or write Republican Senators or the wayward Democratic 10 and tell them enough already.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The New American Super Party

Are you fed up with a Congress and President who voted for a $500 billion tax bill without even reading it, passing trillions of dollars in debt to our great-grandchildren, giving special interest groups billions of dollars in earmarks to help get themselves re-elected, taking your hard-earned money and redistributing it to others, and demanding that doctors perform abortions against their will?

We are. That's why The Patriot Depot is doing everything we can to support the various Tax Day Tea Parties scheduled in cities around the country on April 15th. In fact, we're launching a national campaign to give our popular T.E.A. (Taxed Enough Already) bumper sticker away for free. To cover the cost of shipping and handling for each sticker, we are asking for an additional 87 cents. Our goal is to send a powerful message to Washington and blanket America with these bumper stickers. We also have T.E.A. yard and picket signs. And forward this email to your friends and family!

RETAIL $5.95 • ONLY $.87 Shipping & Handling • ORDER FREE T.E.A. Sticker!

RETAIL $25.00 • ONLY $19.95!

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ORDER COMPLETE T.E.A. PARTY PACK! (3 Bumper Stickers, 1 Yard Sign, 2 Picket

Click on title above to order yours

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Animal Control Officer on Charges for Stealing Dogs

Unfortunately, this is happening in my own backyard! Hoosic Falls is the next town about 5 miles down the road, and is nortorious for lawlessness. See also, "Horse Murdered During Robbery in Hoosic Falls" petition;


Animal control officer arrested for keeping seized dogs
March 26, 2009 - 12:16 PM
CBS 6 News

A Hoosick Falls animal control officer has been arrested for allegedly taking three dogs from a town resident.

According to State Police, animal control officer Matthew Beck responded to a call from a woman reporting that three dogs had taken shelter in her barn. Those dogs had been reported missing earlier by town resident April Stevens.

Beck, who is also a dairy farmer, allegedly took two of the dogs back to his dairy farm where he keeps stray animals. The third dog made it back to Stevens' home.

When contacted by Stevens, Beck claimed the dogs he had picked up were not hers and that they had been returned to their owner, Stevens said.

Left without any answers, Stevens passed out fliers during the local St. Patrick's Day parade showing her two missing dogs. The woman who had found the dogs in her barn and called animal control happened to see the flier and told Stevens the dogs had been picked up by an animal control officer, Stevens told CBS 6.

At Stevens's request, State Police initiated an investigation; Beck will face charges tonight at Hoosick Falls Town Court for giving a false statement, petit larceny, official misconduct and forgery.

It's still unclear where exactly the missing dogs are.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Extra Extra Read all about it: IOUSA


The acclaimed documentary I.O.U.S.A. (Critics' Choice Nominee, Best Documentary), which examines the U.S. government’s fiscal health and the consequences for our national economy, is now available on DVD and is the DVD pick of the week from Ben Lyons on At The Movies.

Since its theatrical debut, the nonpartisan film has inspired a unique groundswell of interest and grassroots activity. Through hundreds of screenings across the nation, educators, community leaders and college students have used the film to raise awareness of issues crucial to our future economic well-being.

The newly released DVD, with 125 minutes of bonus material, now enables even more concerned citizens to learn about the state of our country’s finances and take action!
Bonus materials include:

An Update from PGPF President and CEO David M. Walker
Panel at the Premiere with Warren Buffett and Others
More from Leading Experts on the Topics "Why Deficits Matter" and "The Way Forward"
An Economics Classroom and Library of Graphics
Audio Commentary on the Making of I.O.U.S.A.
And More!
Available at a local retailer near you or online at:


Click on title above to visit IOUSA website and to view 30 min trailer;

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Madeleine’s Response to the BLM’s Statement

March 31, 2009

The Bureau of Land Management just released a statement regarding my plan for the wild horses. I am gratified to see that the BLM is taking my offer seriously. The current handling of the wild horses is a serious problem, and it deserves the immediate attention of the BLM.

In the BLM’s response, they concede my proposal would save the taxpayers millions of dollars, but raise several legalisms that the BLM says would prevent them from accepting my proposal without Congressional authorization, and they also point out that most of their contracts are awarded by competitive bidding.

I strongly favor competition for government contracts to assure that the process by which our taxpayer dollars are spent is open and transparent. I hope that the BLM will join with me to ask Congress to authorize an open competition to provide a solution for the wild horses that is more humane and cost effective than the alternatives that the BLM has identified under existing law.

I will be happy to submit my proposal under a competitive process to select the most humane, cost effective solution to this problem. I expect to meet with Congressional staff and the acting director of the BLM later this week to discuss how this can be done.