Monday, 23 October 2017

Cross-species communication

Something to lift the heart at the end of the weekend

Dying Chimp Receives One Last Visit From Old Friend

Oregon shore crabs exposed to prozac in water!

Prozac in ocean water a possible threat to sea life

October 20, 2017

Source: Portland State University


Oregon shore crabs exhibit risky behavior when they're exposed to the antidepressant Prozac, making it easier for predators to catch them, according to a new study.

Oregon shore crabs exhibit risky behavior when they're exposed to the antidepressant Prozac, making it easier for predators to catch them, according to a new study from Portland State University (PSU).

The study, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, illustrates how concentrations of pharmaceuticals found in the environment could pose a risk to animal survival.
For years, tests of seawater near areas of human habitation have shown trace levels of everything from caffeine to prescription medicines. The chemicals are flushed from homes or medical facilities, go into the sewage system, and eventually make their way to the ocean.
In a laboratory, the PSU team exposed Oregon shore crabs to traces of fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac. They found that the crabs increased their foraging behavior, showing less concern for predators than they normally would. They even did so during the day, when they would normally be in hiding.
They also fought more with members of their own species, often either killing their foe or getting killed in the process.
"The changes we observed in their behaviors may mean that crabs living in harbors and estuaries contaminated with fluoxetine are at greater risk of predation and mortality," said researcher Elise Granek, a professor in PSU's department of Environmental Sciences and Management.
The team received funding from Oregon Sea Grant.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Portland State UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. Joseph R. Peters, Elise F. Granek, Catherine E. de Rivera, Matthew Rollins. Prozac in the water: Chronic fluoxetine exposure and predation risk interact to shape behaviors in an estuarine crabEcology and Evolution, 2017; DOI:10.1002/ece3.3453

Wildfires in California and Portugal

New Fire Danger Threatens to Worsen Most Disastrous Wildfire Season in California History

Dr. Jeff Masters  
October 20, 2017, 11:48 AM EDT
Above: A firefighter holds a water hose while fighting a wildfire Saturday, Oct. 14, 
2017, in Santa Rosa, Calif. Image credit: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez.

A record-breaking heat wave will build over Southern California over the weekend and peak on Tuesday, bringing triple-digit temperatures that could set marks for the hottest temperatures ever recorded so late in the year in the Los Angeles area. Accompanying the heat will be the notorious Santa Ana winds, which will bring a multi-day period of critical fire danger, Saturday through Tuesday.

According to NOAA, the hottest temperatures ever recorded after October 23 in Southern California (along with the Weather Underground forecast for Tuesday) were:

105°F Riverside, 10/28/1915 (WU forecast for Tuesday: 100°F)
LAX Airport, 11/1/1966 (WU forecast for Tuesday: 96°F)
Longbeach, 11/1/1966 (WU forecast for Tuesday: 100°F)
Downtown Los Angeles, 11/1/1966 (WU forecast for Tuesday: 101°F)
Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena, 10/26/2003 (WU forecast for Tuesday: 99°F)
San Diego, 11/4/2010 (WU forecast for Tuesday: 91°F)
Bakersfield, 10/27/1906 (WU forecast for Tuesday: 90°F)

The heat wave and Santa Ana winds will be caused by a large near-record-strength dome of high pressure expected to settle in over the Great Basin, a few hundred miles northeast of Los Angeles. The difference in pressure between this high-pressure system and lower pressure over Southern California will drive gusty northeast winds over Southern California. Since these winds will originate over desert areas, they will be hot and dry. As the air descends from the mountains to the coast, the air will get hotter and drier, due to adiabatic compression—the process whereby the pressure on a parcel of air increases as it descends, decreasing its volume, and thus increasing its temperature as work is done on it.

Fire danger
Figure 1. Fire weather outlooks for Saturday, October 21, issued by the 
NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center at midday Friday(left), and into next week 
(Days 3-8) issued late Thursday (right). The Day 3-8 outlooks do not indicate risk 
level, but forecasters noted: "A prolonged period of at least moderate offshore 
winds and critical fire weather conditions will be likely across much of southern 
CA from Day 3/Saturday through Day 6/Tuesday." Image credit: NOAA/NWS/SPC.

A four-day period of critical fire danger

As of 11 am EDT Friday, fire weather conditions are predicted by the NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center to be in the “elevated” to “critical” range Saturday through Tuesday across the coastal mountain ranges and foothills north of the Los Angeles Basin (fire weather alert levels come in three levels of severity: “elevated”, “critical”, and “extreme”.) Wind gusts of 35 – 50 mph will be capable of causing rapid spread of any fires that might ignite, though these winds will not be as strong as the ones that created the deadly firestorm in California’s wine country earlier this month. The fire danger increases through Tuesday, as the heat builds, and relative humidities below 10% are expected in many areas. 

Conditions at night will not help firefighting efforts much, as temperatures will only cool down to the mid-70s, with low humidity and strong winds. By Wednesday, the heat and fire danger will begin to diminish as the Santa Ana winds die down and cooler, more humid air moves in, but temperatures will still be in the mid-90s in the Los Angeles area. Such a long period of extreme heat and Santa Ana winds mean that any fires that do ignite will be difficult to control and will potentially burn a large area.

Fire stats
Figure 2. There have been six billion-dollar wildfires in modern world history up 
 until 2016 (measured in 2017 dollars.) Four of these were in California, one in 
Canada, and one in Australia. The October 2017 California wildfire event is likely 
to top $3 billion in damage, making it the most expensive wildfire event in world 
history. Image credit: Aon Benfield.

The October 2017 wildfires: deadliest in California history and most expensive in world history

The death toll in California’s October 2017 wildfire event stands at 42, with 50 listed as missing in Sonoma County, and 4 in Napa county. This death toll surpasses the Griffith Fire in Los Angeles on October 3, 1933 (29 killed) as the deadliest fire in California history, and makes it the deadliest U.S. wildfire in 99 years. The last deadlier U.S. wildfire was theCloquet, Minnesota fire of October 12, 1918, which killed over 400 people.

Acres burned
Figure 3. The number of acres burned in California has been increasing since 
 1970, due to a warmer and drier climate, in combination with fire suppression 
policies that have left more fuel to burn. As we wrote in our October 13 post
 human-driven climate change and development patterns are making destructive 
firestorms more likely. The average length of the wildfire season in the western U.S. is more than 3 months longer than in 1970, largely due to climate change, according to Climate 

According to insurance broker Aon Benfield, there have only been six billion-dollar fire events in modern world history, with the most expensive of these being the Oakland, California fire of 1991. California state officials estimate that the damage from the October 2017 California fires are already at $3 billion, and Aon Benfield stated that this total “was expected to grow as assessments remained ongoing, and the business interruption component continued.” This makes it likely that the October 2017 California fires will be the costliest wildfire event in modern world history. (A number of urban fires up through the 19th century—such as London’s Great Fire of 1666 and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871—were hugely catastrophic in terms of their impact on the societies and economies of their time, though.)

According to Thursday’s summary from Calfire, a total of 6,900 homes, businesses, and other structures were destroyed across northern and southern California. The fires have burned over 245,000 acres of land, bringing the total area burned in California this year to 1.1 million acres, the most since 2008. Nationally, 8.8 million acres have burned in 2017, says the National Interagency Fire Center, putting this year in fifth place for largest annual area burned since 1960. With over two months to go in the year, 2017 is likely to move up several places on that list.

Fire damage
Figure 4. A burnt car remains inside a house in the village of Vila Nova, near 
 Vouzela, on October 16, 2017 in Viseu region, Portugal. Image credit: Pablo 
Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images.

Dozens killed in Portugal/Spain wildfires fed by Hurricane Ophelia’s winds

Last Sunday, October 15, brought one of the worst fire disasters on record connected to a hurricane. As Hurricane Ophelia transitioned into a post-tropical cyclone and headed toward Ireland on a very unusual path, it pulled hot Saharan air across the Iberian Peninsula, which has been plagued for months by intense drought and record-hot temperatures. More than 400 fires broke out across Portugal and Spain on Sunday, killing at least 42 people in Portugal and another 4 people in northeast Spain. According to a report from the insurance broker Aon Benfield, satellite data indicate that more than 440,000 acres may have burned on Sunday across the Iberian Peninsula.

This was Portugal’s second wildfire catastrophe of the year. On June 17, a series of fast-spreading fires swept across parts of central Portugal. Though the fires were not as widespread as Sunday’s, they killed at least 64 people and injured more than 200, many of them trapped in their cars as fire swept across a roadway near the city of Pedrógão Grande. The June fire was the deadliest in Portugal’s history. All told, the fires of 2017 have consumed more than a half-million acres in what has been called the nation’s worst natural disaster in living memory. The Portuguese government has come under increasing pressure to boost the nation’s resilience to wildfire. On Wednesday, interior minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa resigned, stating “After this summer, nothing can remain the same as before.”

A warming climate is lengthening Portugal’s wildfire season and adding to the country’s vulnerability. Thomas Curt, of France’s National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture, noted after the June disaster: “During the last fifty years, the fire season, before reduced to July and August, is extended from June to October.” Much like California, Portugal experienced unprecedented summer heat this year. In data going back to 1931, the period from April to September and the month of September were both the hottest on record, according to the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA). Severe drought extended across 81% of mainland Portugal at the end of September.
Europe temperatures
Figure 5. Temperatures at midday Sunday (18Z), October 15, 2017, were 
10-16°C (18-29°F) above average over most of Portugal and northwest Spain. 
Sunday’s high temperature of 34°C (93.2°F) in Lisbon was close to the all-time 
monthly record of 34.6°C (94.3°F) and far above the average daily high of 22.5°C
 (72.5°F). Image credit:
Bob Henson co-wrote this post.

Nearly 400,000 Gallons of Oil Spew Into Gulf of Mexico

Nearly 400,000 Gallons of Oil Spew Into Gulf of Mexico, Could Be Largest Spill Since Deepwater Horizon

17 October, 2017

Last week, a pipe owned by offshore oil and gas operator LLOG Exploration Company, LLC spilled up to 393,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, reminding many observers of the Deepwater Horizon explosion seven years ago that spewed approximately 210 million gallons of crude into familiar territory.

Now, a report from Bloomberg suggests that the LLOG spill could be the largest in the U.S. since the 2010 BP blowout, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

While at a much smaller scale than the nation's worst accidental oil spill, the Delta House floating production facility, located about 40 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, released between 7,950 to 9,350 barrels starting from Wednesday to Thursday due to a fractured pipeline.

The flow has been contained and cleanup is underway, according to LLOG officials. No shoreline impacts have been reported and there are no reports of personnel injuries, BSEE noted.

On Monday, BSEE Gulf of Mexico Region Director Lars Herbst initiated a five-member panel of inspectors, engineers and accident investigators into the oil release.

"BSEE places great emphasis on making certain all oil and gas operations on America's Outer Continental Shelf are safe," Herbst said. "This panel investigation is a critical step in ensuring BSEE determines the cause, or causes, of the incident and develops recommendations to prevent similar events from occurring in the future."

A national tragedy: 10 attempted suicides a day in Canterbury

A tragedy and a national disgrace. The crowning achievement of a neo-liberal government. New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the OECD

Canterbury police are being called to 10 attempted suicides a day
Psychiatrist warns 'nothing' is working in bid to address suicide rates

Carl and Margaret visit their son Jonny's grave after he died by suspected suicide in June.
23 October, 2017

Canterbury police are being called to 10 attempted suicides a day as a leading psychiatrist warns "nothing anybody is doing" has proved effective at cutting suicide rates.

According to police figures, suicide attempts in the region have increased 60 per cent in the past five years, compared to a 52 per cent increase nationwide.

Canterbury police have been called to 2752 suicide attempts this year, a 10 per cent increase on the same period last year.

An additional 923 call-outs were related to mental health.

"We don't think it's going to be lower this year.

"It is really worrying that nothing anyone is doing is managing to bring it down."

Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price said police were "very concerned" by the number of attempted and suspected suicides in the region.

Carl and Margaret say they want their son Jonny's story to be a wake-up call for authorities.

Mental health made up 22 per cent of the police's workload in the district.

There were weeks where police were called to a suicide a day in Canterbury, he said.

Price said it was "really hard" on the officers involved. "These are terrible events and ... they take a toll on our staff as well."

Police met almost daily with agencies, including the district health board, to discuss ways to combat the issue.

In the 2016-17 year, 79 people within the region appear to have taken their own lives, according to provisional statistics. Nationally, 606 Kiwis died by suspected suicide in that year.

One of those was a 32-year-old, suspected of taking his own life in June just two days after leaving Hillmorton Hospital. He leaves behind a young daughter.

One of the last photos taken of Christchurch man Jonny before he died by suspected suicide in June 2017.
One of the last photos taken of Christchurch man Jonny before he died by suspected suicide in June 2017.

Jonny (not his real name) was one of the 178 mental health patients nationwide who died by suspected suicide in that year, including 26 Canterbury patients.

His family believe the system failed him and are sharing his story in a bid to "wake up the powers that be".

His mother said she was lodging a complaint with the Health and Disability Commissioner about Jonny's care.

Renison said about 300 people were seen by Christchurch's crisis resolution teams each week, most of them experiencing suicidal ideation.

"That's over 10,000 people a year. You can't put them all in hospital and you can't put a [suicidal] young person in hospital indefinitely."

While concerns had been raised about the number of hospital beds available, Renison said the decision to admit someone was "never about whether there are beds" and people stayed "as long as they need to".

"The question is how long do you keep them in hospital."

A compulsory treatment order, obtained through court, allowed enforced treatment for 30 days after an assessment.

Some families sought to have their loved ones kept in hospital for longer but Renison said clinicians had to balance patient safety with human rights.

Keeping people in hospital "was not helpful", making it harder for them to cope in the community.

A family's desire to be involved in a loved one's care had to be balanced with a patient's right to privacy. This would only be breached if someone was considered to be at immediate risk, Renison said.

"It's an incredibly difficult position to be in because we need people to have confidence that when they tell us stuff and they don't want it shared, that that's going to be the case.

"Otherwise they are going to stop telling us stuff."

Renison said the CDHB had a target of zero suicides. "We don't accept that it's OK for people to kill themselves and that it's unavoidable."

But she said there was no proven method for reducing suicide rates. "Everything everyone does is aspirational and experimental."

Moral decline at the end of Empire

Depravity, Frivolity, And Dissent: Are We Watching The End Of An Empire?

22 October, , 2017

A 40-year-old essay predicted the end of an empire and current events sure make it look like we’re watching it happen in real time.

I spend a fair bit of time scanning the news every day for my site, Preppers Daily News. And some days, I just have to shake my head as I realize that people are so desperate for…something…that they just keep going to further and further extremes to try and find that elusive thing their lives are missing.

The more I read, the more likeness I see to Sir John Glubb’s essay, The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival. (It’s only 24 pages and you should definitely read it – it’s brilliant.) Sir Glubb wrote this outstanding work when he was 79 years old, after a lifetime of being a soldier, traveling the world, and analyzing history. It’s well worth a read as he goes into detail about the fall of empires past.

The final stage of the end of an empire is the Age of Decadence.

Some signs of this age are political dissensions (Antifa, anyone?), an influx of foreigners (Europe, anyone?), the welfare state (America, anyone?), despair (350 million people diagnosed), depravity (see below), and the rise of frivolity as people try to fill lives that have less and less meaning.
Sound familiar?

This video is a brief synopsis of the signs of an empire that is near its end.

synopsis I read makes Glubb’s theory entirely applicable to modern society:

In the age of decadence many people choose to behave in ways that are unsustainable, apparently unaware of the consequences. They indulge in excessive, often conspicuous, consumption. An absurdly wealthy elite emerges, but instead of repelling the masses it is admired and celebrated. Those outside the elite aspire to similar levels of consumption, and are encouraged by the availability of cheap credit. People become convinced that increased consumption is the key to happiness, but in its pursuit they become measurably less happy. As David Morgan says, you can never get enough of what you don’t need.”

At this point in the life cycle of an empire frivolity, as Glubb calls it, comes to the fore. In order to distract people from what’s really going on, the economy creates diversions. Voyeurism becomes central to culture: the gladiatorial spectacles in decadent Rome are mirrored in today’s ‘reality’ television. People become fixated on celebrity as the genuinely noteworthty become understandably camera shy. These invented celebrities are ‘famous’ just for being famous…

Debauchery is another recurring theme at the end of empire. Society develops a strangely immature obsession with sex. People drink themselves to the point of unconsciousness and shamelessly collapse in the street. In Roman times, binge drinkers were left to their fate. Today’s debauchery is supervised by the police; its ‘victims’ are taken care of by hard-pressed health care professionals, placing further pressure on the public purse. And, all the while, supermarkets and corporations make a killing selling discounted booze to people barely old enough to buy it. This is our modern-day bread and circuses, with obese citizens literally becoming a burden on the state.

But the small can never satisfy the large. Cheap pleasures fail to compensate for the absence of meaning in so many people’s lives. A hankering for something greater remains…growing numbers are denied access to work; they can find no meaningful involvement in their community, so their potential goes unfulfilled. When people are prevented from fulfilling their potential, they often self-destruct. (source)

By “Empire,” I’m not referring specifically just to the United States in particular, but Western Civilization in general. We’re watching our friends in Europe go down the same path. How can anyone look at the following stories and think that we are all okay and that this is sustainable?

NOTE: The story below isn’t pretty and there is adult content. If you are offended by adult content, take my word for it and do not read on. If you do read on, don’t get mad that you read adult content and complain in the comments. Thanks. DL


Never have America and Europe seen their citizens more at odds. Here in the United States, the last election caused more division than any other in history. Friendships and family relationships ended over who people’s voting choices. Once Trump was inaugurated, things didn’t settle down. There are still groups who want to overthrow the “Trump-Pence regime.” Some studentscan’t even tolerate the existence of those with opposite beliefs.

The education system doesn’t help. Some professors are actually encouraging violent revolt. Californians are talking aboutseceding from the United States because Trump won.

In Europe, the UK voted to leave the European Union and Catalonia voted to leave Spain.  People are firmly divided between welcoming immigrants and banishing immigrants.

Chaos is everywhere and there is little middle ground.

Unfathomable crimes

Crimes are becoming more horrific and mindboggling. A 17-year-old girl was trying to walk home through a “no-go zone” in the UK and was sexually assaulted 3 separate times in one hour. A man in Pennsylvania tried to strangle his girlfriend to deathbecause she changed the passcode to the IPad. A Georgia woman murdered her two toddler sons by putting them in the oven and then video-chatted their father.

A Hollywood fixture has been accused of assaulting and harassing dozens of women, which led thousands of other women to share their horror stories with a #MeToo hashtag on Twitter. I have seen report after report recently of teachers having sex with their high school student.

Premature Sexuality

Sexuality is being introduced to our children far too early, For example, libraries around the country are having “Drag Queen Story Hour.” A picture is worth a thousand words.

What’s the purpose of this? Here’s a quote from a magazine write up entitled “An amazing demon drag queen has entertained children in Michelle Obama’s library” that explains:

Drag Queen Story Hour aims to give young children “glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models,” according to the programme’s website…
The Drag Queen Story Hour site explains that the event “captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood”.
In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.
The programme “happens regularly in LA, New York, and San Francisco, and events are popping up all over the world!”

I actually don’t have an issue with adults who are drag queens – heck, I sang along at a show in Vegas, and as a libertarian, I believe that consenting adults can do what they want. I have not raised my kids to mistreat others because of their sexuality. They’d be in massive trouble if they did. I did, however, manage to teach them to be kind individuals without taking them to Drag Queen Story Hour when they were 3.

Let me be absolutely clear that while I don’t think Drag Queen Story Hour is an attempt to sexually abuse children, it does lead me to the over-sexualization of kids. I don’t even know the names of all the genders and sexualities that are being claimed and LBGT keeps adding so many initials, I can’t keep up. No wonder kids are confused. I’m confused and I’m a grown-up.

Decades ago, anything on TV before 9 o’clock was pretty innocent. We didn’t have laptops and cell phones that allowed us to learn way too much, way too soon. We didn’t take quizzes on Buzzfeed to see if we were ready to have anal sex that night and we didn’t turn to Teen Vogue to learn about oral sex. These days, Teen Vogue is racier than Cosmo was in the early 80s. How do we protect our children’s innocence in this environment? How do we let them just be kids and find their own ways? Heck, even in Disney movies, everyone’s gotta have a love interest. Why?

Normalization of pedophilia

Children are exposed to far too much, far too young. This makes them ripe targets for pedophiles. Let me be clear on this too. Pedophilia is always, always wrong and extraordinarily harmful to children.

To make matters worse, there is a sick attempt to normalize pedophilia. Salon magazine had published numerous articles with titles like, “I’m a pedophile but I’m not a monster” which has since been deleted due to the public outcry. There are even forums about “moral pedophilia.” Here’s a quote:

Our website is intended to reduce the stigma attached to pedophilia by letting people know that a substantial number of pedophiles DO NOT molest children, and to provide peer support and information about available resources to help virtuous pedophiles remain law-abiding, and lead happy, productive lives.  These are our stories.  There are brief bios of the two founders of the site and collections of other personal stories. (source)

I keep wondering, are the people in charge of media trying to normalize this so that when they inevitably get outed for molesting children, no one will care? Watch this video about the rampant pedophilia in the entertainment industry – and then remember, these are the people who influence the views of the folks who idolize celebrities.

Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, was spotlighted for his incredibly disturbing art collection that showed the torture and murder of children. (Here is a shocking post with images found using “Tony and Heather Podesta’s art collection” as a search term.) And who can forget that sick “spirit cooking” scandal during the election? There are some things we simply cannot unsee.

The mainstream wants to blame the collapse of civilization on Trump, but they ignore the fact that in this administration, more than 1500 pedophilia-related arrests took place in the first full month of his presidency. Just last week, 84 children were rescued from a sex-trafficking ring, with the youngest of those sweet angels only 3 months old. A THREE-MONTH-OLD BABY WAS FOR SALE FOR $600!!!!


Speaking of “art,” a Slovenian woman just won a prestigious art award for being “in seclusion” with her dogs for 3 months. Of course, for some of us, just hanging with pets sounds awesome, but we don’t hang out with pets like Maja Smrekar does. She breastfed a puppy and fertilized one of her eggs with what she says was a “fat cell” from another of her dogs. Mmm hmm. This video that documents her “art” is another thing to add to the can’t-ever-unsee-it list. The jury that awarded her the prize saidWhat is making this artwork so special is the total commitment of the artist.” Apparently, I just don’t understand art. Or commitment. 

Or what cool people do with their pet.

They’ve had to make laws in numerous states to combat an apparent uptick in bestiality. One guy was arrested for sneaking into a neighbor’s yard and doing it with their donkey. Numerous times. This lady says she’s literally married to her dog. All of these people (Can’t-Unsee Warning) also claim to have romantic relationships with animals.

Bestiality is actually legal in these US states: Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. Apparently, parties are organized where people can engage in sex acts with animals. Publicly.

Not to be outdone, this gal is done with humanity altogether and says she now is…a cat. I wasn’t sure if this went in the bestiality section or where.

The emptiness of society

Perhaps people should first examine the depravity and frivolity that passes for art and entertainment these days.  A walk in the woods to look at fall leaves will not suffice for much of the population.

People are so desperate for that rush of endorphins that they’re constantly seeking something more and more outrageous to give it to them. Normal things no longer give them that fleeting feeling of joy. Their own lives are so empty that they focus on the lives of people famous for being famous to fill them up.

When society is more interested in reality television than actual reality, how can we expect that same society will be invested in our future?