Saturday Reads, Politics Overload Edition

Good Morning!!

I’m a little burned out on politics at the moment, so I’m going to focus other kinds of news. I’ve got some nature stories and a few other odds and ends.

The photo above shows a rare baby white bison that was born in Connecticut last month.

[W]hen Bison No. 7 on Peter Fay’s farm gave birth to a white, 30-pound bull calf a month ago, it made the Fay farm below Mohawk Mountain, for the moment at least, the unlikely epicenter of the bison universe.

For Mr. Fay, what happened was an astoundingly unexpected oddity — white bison are so rare that each birth is viewed as akin to a historic event.

For Marian White Mouse of Wanblee, S.D., and other American Indians, it is a supremely auspicious message from the spirits. She will fly with her family to Connecticut for naming ceremonies at the end of the month that are expected to draw large crowds.

….

Mr. Fay said his Indian friends had told him that a white bison was considered the most sacred thing imaginable — its birth viewed as something like the Second Coming….Mrs. White Mouse, a member of the Oglala Lakota people, said a white bison was believed to be a manifestation of the White Buffalo Calf Maiden, or Ptesan Wi. She is revered as a prophet, who in a time of famine taught the Lakotas seven sacred rituals and gave them their most important symbol of worship, the sacred pipe.

“They are very rare, and when a white bison is born there is a reason for each one to be here,” Mrs. White Mouse said.

Only one in ten million bison are albinos. You can watch some videos of the baby bison here.

Two snow leopard moms and their cubs were located recently in Mongolia and were filmed for the first time ever.

Snow leopard dens are difficult to find because of the animals’ secretive, elusive nature and the difficult, mountainous terrain in which they live. Finding the dens is an important step in learning more about the reproductive behavior and the young of this endangered species.

“We have spent years trying to determine when and where snow leopards give birth, the size of their litters, and the chances a cub has of surviving into adulthood,” said Tom McCarthy, executive director of the snow leopard program at Panthera, a wild cat conservation organization….

The dens were discovered in Mongolia’s Tost Mountains, where locals refer to the creatures as “Asia’s Mountain Ghost.”

A team of scientists from Panthera and the Snow Leopard Trust entered the dens when the mothers were away hunting. They found that the first had two cubs and the second, one. All three cubs were weighed, measured and photographed and handled with extreme care, according to a Panthera release. Two were fixed with tiny microchip ID tags (about the size of a grain of rice) that were placed under their skin for future identification.

Here’s the video:

A little three-month-old kitten stowed away in a shipping container and traveled from Shanghai to Los Angeles, somehow surviving the trip without food or water.

The orange-and-white short-haired kitten traveled 6,500 miles before arriving Wednesday.

It was unclear how many days the kitten was in the container. The trip can take as long as 21 days, according to freighter-travel.com.

The stowaway was retrieved from the container at a Compton-area business where it was delivered.

Los Angeles County animal control officers are cautiously watching his health.

Poor little thing. I hope he survives and finds a home.

Next, a silly story involving a tree (including video): Devout see Virgin Mary in N.J. tree trunk, erect shrine around it

Some people walk past the tree in suburban New Jersey and see … well, a tree. Others walk past it and see what they say is a miracle — an image of the Virgin Mary in the trunk, which has become the centerpiece of a shrine rising on the hot pavement.

“It’s amazing,” Dile Marku, part of the throng surrounding the tree, told WABC, the local ABC affiliate, on Friday, after news of the wondrous piece of wood spread through the city of West New York. “I cannot explain because that’s God’s work, but I know how I feel and what I’ve seen people feeling here for three days. It’s amazing. It is amazing.”

The mayor of West New York, a city of about 49,000 people across the Hudson River from Midtown Manhattan, said he had received calls from around the world from people wanting to come and see the “miracle” for themselves. Mayor Felix Roque said the attention had led to a shrine so large that he wants to make it permanent, in hopes of drawing visitors to an avenue whose fast-food shops, nail salons and cellphone stores don’t scream “vacation spot.” ….

Locals say the image appeared this week after a man was killed in a car crash in the area. Eva Copantitla, who lives in West New York, was the first to notice the image and alerted the mayor, the Jersey Journal reported.

A California photojournalist was surprised when he found there was a hive containing 50,000 bees in his home. Instead of having them exterminated, he decided to find a bee expert to relocate them. There’s video at the link.

Larry Chen, 27, initially didn’t notice the bees. According to the hired beekeeper, the hive was an estimated six to eights months old.

However, one month ago, Chen began noticing bees buzzing in and out of his window, and he decided to investigate. According to Chen, the bees only came out during a 30-minute window in the day.
“I’m not really terrified of the bees… I just remained calm, and I figured they wouldn’t bother me too much… I got stung once, but I was more curious about how big the hive actually was. I figured it was just a small clump of 1,000 or so,” Chen said.

After his initial investigation, he spent a month on the road, traveling for work. When he returned, Chen found time to call a professional to assess the situation. He explained that he recently saw a documentary about the endangerment of bees, so he wanted to save—not exterminate—them.

He found a man on Craigslist, who goes by the name Mike Bee, who would safely remove the bees. He is a member of the rescue organization Backwards Beekeepers, a group that works with HoneyLove.org in order to educate the public about bees.

Read the rest to learn how the bees were relocated.

Attention gun and pop culture collectors: the guns used by Bonnie and Clyde during their infamous 1930s crime spree will be auctioned off in New Hampshire in September.

She kept a Colt .38-caliber revolver close, while he preferred a .45-caliber pistol from the same maker.

But neither weapon was enough to save American outlaws and lovers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow during a 1934 ambush by law enforcement officers.

After the duo was dead, authorities recovered the revolver Bonnie had secured to an inner thigh with white medical tape.

They also seized the handgun Clyde had tucked into his waistband.

Nearly 80 years later, those guns and other items connected to the infamous gangsters will be going up for auction in New Hampshire on Sept. 30. An auction official estimated Thursday that each Bonnie and Clyde weapon could bring between $100,000 and $200,000.

Also to be auctioned off are

a gold pocket watch Clyde was wearing when he died, and a cosmetics case Bonnie was using to carry lipstick, Coty face powder and a powder puff. The brown leatherette box was inside the Ford automobile the gangsters were riding in when a posse of lawmen riddled it with bullets on a Louisiana road.

Also in the auction is a letter that Clyde wrote to his brother L.C. Barrow on the back of a photo showing a house on a platform surrounded by water. He signed it “bud,” his code name when he was on the run.

On Tuesday at Comic-Con, Hyundai introduced the “zombie survival machine.”

Korean automaker Hyundai unveiled its latest model – the unlikely Elantra Coupe Zombie Survival Machine – at an unlikely venue Tuesday night, Comic-Con International 2012 in San Diego.

Built to withstand the rigors of the coming zombie apocalypse, it features such essential undead-eliminating armaments as a front-end spiked zombie plow, armored window coverings, a roof hatch that enables passengers to fend off attacking walkers, a trunk laden with electric and pneumatic weaponry, front and rear-mounted floodlights and spiked all-terrain/rally type tires.

The heavily customized version of the automaker’s new compact coupe was designed by creator/writer of The Walking Dead TV show and graphic novel series Robert Kirkman, and was fabricated by Design Craft Fabrication in Westminster, Calif.

Video at the link.

Finally, don’t forget that Sunday July 15 is National Ice Cream Day. MSNBC offers some suggestions of where to celebrate.

Those are my non-politics news selections. Feel free to discuss politics or anything else in the comments. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Saturday: Solidarity, Sisterhood

Good morning, gleaners!

Grab your morning brew, and let’s go!

Wisconsin

  • It’s farmer-labor day today at the WI Capitol building, starting at noon, complete with a “tractorcade.”

Hillaryland

(second link will take you to an AFP report on Hillary’s remarks at Friday’s Women in the World conference in NY. See also her remarks at the 2011 Women of Courage event for more.)

  • This week–on International Women’s day no less–our advocate-in-chief helped to launch a Global Partnership on Maternal and Child Health, bringing a long-neglected development goal further out of the shadows. Brava, Madam Secretary!

(see also Hillary’s 100 Women Initiative. If you don’t know what it is, click and find out.)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, introducing the president of Kyrgyzstan at a State Department event.

Women’s Rights

  • See here for RH Reality Check’s exhaustive coverage of the latest developments from yesterday. Also, Minkoff Minx wrote to her Georgia state representative, Stephen Allison (R-8) and received a letter from Rep. Allison that you might find of interest. Scroll to the end of the post to see it.
  • My $0.02 on Allison’s response: The excuse that the most draconian of these bills will never pass is baloney. The rise of mini-Stupaks in states across the country has built up a momentum in the war against women, and that momentum is helping to get other horrible versions of these bills passed. Furthermore, the preponderance of such nonsense legislation clearly indicates a concerted effort to use women and their civil rights as a tool of division and distraction from the economy, degrading those rights in the process and blocking unfettered access to reproductive healthcare for women–all women. The rich will get their safe abortions on demand one way or another, and we all know it.

Tired of hearing about Charlie Sheen?

Economy

  • Bernie Sanders introduces The Emergency Deficit Reduction Act. Sanders’ press release says the bill would a) create a 5.4% surtax on millionaires, yielding up to $50 billion annually for the US Treasury, and b) end tax breaks for Big Oil, yielding about $3.5 billion a year in new revenue. Thank you, Bernie Sanders!

CLICK TO GO TO ECONOMIX

US Politics: 2012

  • US News & World Report says wedge issues are back just in time for the 2012 electoral cycle. In other news… Water? Yep, wet as ever. (When did wedge issues ever leave?)
  • Here’s a derivative piece if ever there was one… Cameron Lynch says Barack Obama is the “Surprisingly Silent President.” This echoes Ruth Marcus last week suddenly discovering that Obama is the “Where’s Waldo” president. Obama told America who he was from 2004 to 2008. The creative clueless class was too busy chattering away and creating “a different kind of politician” narrative to take note that Obama was telegraphing very clearly that he would make an indifferent kind of president.

Civil Liberties

King hearings

  • Adam Serwer (via the American Prospect) has an important read up that puts it all in perspective… Good Cop, Bad Cop: “On counterterrorism, the only difference between Republicans and Obama is rhetorical.”

Disaster in Japan and Elsewhere

(Also, Crowley confirmed his comments about Manning to The Cable:”What I said was my personal opinion. It does not reflect an official USG policy position. I defer to the Department of Defense regarding the treatment of Bradley Manning.”)

  • See the NYT’s photojournalism blog — Lens — for dramatic shots of the devastation from the 8.9 quake and tsunami in Japan, as well as other harrowing pictures from around the world yesterday, that tell the story of tragedy and strife.

Environment

  • “The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century. Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people.”

–Achim Steiner, the executive director of UN Environment Programme

This Day in History (March 12)

  • First fireside chat: “It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail.” –FDR, 1933 (even FDR sounds like he’s saying Solidarity forever!)

What Kind of Liberal are You?

  • Take the quiz. I’m a “Working Class Warrior.” How about you?
  • I mostly linked to this silly quiz so I could share this priceless bumper sticker quote from the first question: “May the fetus you save be gay.”

Song of Protest for Saturday

Extra verse added to the PPM version: “Show me the famine, show me the frail, eyes with no future that show how we failed, and I’ll show you the children with so many reasons why there but for fortune, go you or I.”

I’m turning the Saturday reads over to you in the comments… Take the quiz and let us know how you score, share a song, link us to what’s on your blogging list this weekend…and have a great day!

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Taylor Marsh and Liberal Rapture]


More GM Fun, Now with Bees!

I recently commented that I thought GM crops had more to do with colony collapse disorder in the European Honey Bee than is normally suspected. I want to expand on that comment. But first, we need to go over colony collapse disorder.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) first appeared in North America in 2005/2006. It has also been reported from Europe and from Taiwan in 2007. It is characterized by the disappearance of the worker bees in a typical honey bee colony, leaving the baby bees to die a slow death. Once the workers are gone, the colony collapses. This could be a good lesson for conservatives, come to think of it.

A Bee on Borage

A Bee on Borage in my Garden

The causes are unknown at this point. It seems that colonies collapse from a variety of reasons; diseases, pesticides, viruses, pathogens and parasites and cell phones have all been implicated.

The reason CCD is important is that honey bees pollinate a lot of our crops. Now, European honey bees are not native to North America, and there are native pollinators that do well here. But they don’t pollinate with the vigor and fecundity of the honey bee. Modern agricultural honey bees are managed something like livestock, and their colonies are moved around the agricultural areas of the country to provide pollination during the specific times that crops need their services. Almonds, for example, are entirely pollinated by bees. Oranges, peaches, cotton, blueberries, corn and other crops are also partly or almost completely pollinated by the sturdy little workers. The movement of the bee hives, of course, stresses the colony but normally the colonies survive such stress. The advent of CCD has changed this.
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