Africa Lost At Least 745 Rhinos To Poachers in 2012

Rhino Poaching Up Drastically

Almost three percent of Africa’s rhino population was killed by poachers in 2012. The trend appears to be rising even faster. Experts predict that if poaching continues to increase at this rate, rhino populations could be wiped out within 10 years.

“Well-organized and well-funded crime syndicates are continuing to feed the growing black market with rhino horn,” says Mike Knight, Chairman of the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, a group of rhino experts within IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “Over the past few years, consumer use of rhino horn has shifted from traditional Asian medicine practices to new uses, such as to convey status. High levels of consumption – especially the escalating demand in Vietnam – threaten to soon reverse the considerable conservation gains achieved over the last two decades.”

wildlife conservation Africa

There are currently 5,055 Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and 20,405 White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) in Africa. Although these numbers have increased slightly over the last two years, there is no room for complacency. In 2012, at least 745 rhinos were poached throughout Africa – the highest number in two decades – with a record 668 rhinos killed in South Africa alone. In 2013, one rhino has been lost to poaching every 11 hours since the beginning of the year – a rate that is higher than the average for 2012.

Illegal trade in rhino horn is coordinated by well-organized criminal syndicates which transport the horns primarily to Vietnam and China. Mozambique has also been identified as a key driver of poaching activities, with poachers making cross-border raids into the South African Kruger National Park, home to the world’s largest rhino population. Mozambique is also a major transit point for illegal horn to Asia.

IUCN experts call upon the international community – especially the key consumer and transit states such as Vietnam, China, Laos and Mozambique – to urgently address the crisis by strengthening and enforcing regional and international trade laws, particularly in relation to rhino horn.

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“The rhino community is encouraged by the signing of a recent Memorandum of Understanding between South Africa and Viet Nam to address the rhino poaching epidemic as well as other conservation issues,” says Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “However, it needs to be reinforced with tangible government action on both sides. International and regional collaboration needs to be strengthened, as does sharing of information, intelligence and expertise to address wildlife crime issues.”

Updated facts on the rhino crisis come on the eve of the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that will take place from March 3-14 in Bangkok, Thailand. Illegal rhino horn trade will be one of the many issues discussed at the meeting.

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Firearm Debate Missing Key Points

Corruption Killing United States

It’s easy to blame violence in America on guns. It’s an easy target after a long series of massacres waged upon kids. It’s easy to blame violence on people with mental illness—sick people are another easy target. Unfortunately, guns and violence are just symptoms of a democratic system that is broke and a sick nation that is under siege on many fronts. Before we can end the violence, we need to remove barriers to a healthier nation.

gun control in America

Other symptoms of a sick society include suicide among our kids, elderly and veterans. The list also includes homelessness, drunk driving, substance abuse, and child abuse. We can’t afford to overlook white-collar crime, mortgage fraud, and corruption. And we can’t ignore the battles waged against law enforcement officers and their families. Wars waged (and lives lost) for phantom enemies and the enrichment of banks and defense contractors. Don’t forget the terror felt by families that have no health insurance. Or the threat of contaminated food, air and water.

In my opinion, violence in America is a symptom of weak citizens and an unhealthy government–a government that no longer serves its citizens and perpetuates injustice and tolerates fraud. The U.S. has pointed at similar conditions in other countries as fascist. Therefore, let’s defend this great nation from such a threat–real or perceived. We can’t afford to let this nation devolve into a state where majority no longer rules and the will of the people is often ignored. Healthy capitalism and free-market competition are becoming myths and illusions. Further erosion of our economic strength and national health are unacceptable.

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Misguided corporations that serve only shareholder wealth and growth are forcing this country and others into moral bankruptcy. We can’t afford to fund our schools and healthcare systems, but we can bail out fraudulent banks. We can’t defend our citizens from Wall Street fraud, but we can buy bullets and bombs and wage war and spread our perverted version of democracy around the world. We recruit soldiers with lies and let them commit suicide on the streets when they return home. With values such as these, what exactly are we defending?

A handful of corrupt companies that our country defends so viciously are dictating the outcomes of elections and the agendas under our capitol domes. The people (including our kids, seniors and veterans) are caught in the crossfire of this injustice and the symptoms are exploding in classrooms, emergency rooms, neighborhoods and the workplace. Wall Street is creating a nightmare on Main Street. Only the stakeholders and shareholders can fix the problem. We need to demand reason, justice, fairness and a return to the American way–the values that our forefathers fought for so bravely.

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It’s easy to point blame, but we have met the enemy and it’s us. We are all guilty for believing lies and not standing up for justice and democracy at every turn. We are all guilty for chasing the American dream and taking a few wrong turns. Greed, fear, complacency and misplaced trust are killing this great nation. If Wall Street has become the only barometer of a healthy nation, may god help us all.

I wish that guns were the problem and that gun reforms were the solution, but the current debate is off target, narrow-minded and reckless. In fact, this misguided discussion runs the risk of causing more harm than good. Given the present tone and ignorance, people who need to seek help with an emerging mental health issue are likely to suffer in silence to avoid being labeled “crazy” and “violent” or exposing themselves to bias, discrimination and possible violence. Anything that stands in the way of effective treatment will just compound the problems and contribute to an unhealthy country. Anything that stands in the way of a healthier nation must be confronted–whether it’s policy, greed, ignorance or funding. Obstructions to common sense and common will are unacceptable.

For example, people with mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of violence than perpetrators. Unfortunately, millions of our friends, family and neighbors with mental illness go undiagnosed and untreated because of the stigma generated by reckless and ignorant conversations. In addition, our healthcare system as a whole is too fragmented to identify most of our friends and neighbors with mental health issues and it’s improperly funded to help the majority of those who want help. Unfortunately, special interest groups have obstructed meaningful reforms that can save money, save lives and provide earlier intervention and better outcomes. Meanwhile, people shooting from the hip with reckless statements and solutions will drive people away from the behavioral health systems that can help them. We can’t afford any obstructions to a healthier America.

Furthermore, privacy laws protect the identities of a person who has been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Secondly, stigma, inadequate funding, poor integration of healthcare services and ignorance within our communities prevents millions of people with emerging or persistent mental health conditions from ever being diagnosed.

Therefore, universal background checks are not the silver bullet prescribed by some of those who are dominating the debate over responsible gun ownership. However, we should do everything within our power to keep guns out of the hands of all dangerous people, especially convicted criminals. Background checks and closing gun-show loopholes might help. I’ll let the experts wrestle with those issues. However, I challenge those who are rabid about defending the second amendment to defend our entire democracy, not just pieces of it.

government corruption

I don’t have all of the answers, but we can use the gun-reform conversation to again highlight the problem with our government and with ourselves. For example, according to a CBS News/New York Times polls, a common-sense measure such as universal background checks on gun buyers is favored by 92 percent of Americans. And that number includes 89 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of households with NRA members.

Meanwhile, a handful of so-called leaders—our state and national legislators—are holding the nation hostage on the orders of special interest groups and corporations. Why is the will of the people no longer part of the deliberative process in America the Beautiful? Why are the people tolerating this obstruction to a reasonable conversation and a vote?

These same leaders are obstructing constructive reforms in many aspects of government, including sustainable energy, safe food and water, and other common-sense solutions to pressing problems. As a result, our nation is getting sicker and poorer everyday. People are slipping through the cracks of this unresponsive system. Have we all lost our backbone for better and healthier government?

We all have blood on our hands and we all are victims for mismanaging this great democracy. Homeland security is a myth if we don’t defend our rights and speak out for our needs and for our neighbors. Homeland security is a myth if we don’t hold parents responsible for their own homes, including the acts (and health) of their children.

Fortunately, in modern society, we don’t have to exercise the second amendment to get our democracy back on track. The pen is mightier than the sword (and the gun) in our pursuit of a healthier America.

If we take care of our nation, our neighbors and our own families, violence will take care of itself. Step up on all levels. Be a responsible parent and an active patriot. Sign petitions. Write to your elected officials and your local media. Run for office. Demand inclusiveness, accountability, transparency and reform on all fronts. Demand responsiveness and less favoritism. Don’t tolerate fraud or corruption at any level. defend the entire constitution and the entire nation.

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If we want peace, health and prosperity, we must demand more from our leaders and from ourselves. Make elected and appointed leaders enforce the laws that we have and don’t let anyone stand above those laws. Silence is acceptance.

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Wild Horses Ripped From Nevada Rangeland

Nevada Ground Zero In Public Land War

The U.S. government continues to waste taxpayer dollars terrorizing wildlife on public lands. Federal land “managers” have concluded another roundup of wild horses in Northern Nevada with the removal of about 800 animals–some 200 more than planned–citing their poor health and risk of starvation, but the latest such cleansing drew additional criticism. How many of these animals will be sent to slaughter and toward the plates of consumers who think they are eating beef?

wild horse roundup Nevada

Nearly 800 horses were removed from the Diamond Complex north of Eureka during the recent stampede, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials said. The agency claims that it was forced to exceed the original target of about 600 horses because of reduced forage due to last year’s drought as well as stress from recent snowstorms, officials said.

Doug Furtado, manager of the BLM’s Battle Mountain District, said last month’s string of storms forced horses off the mountain and into lower areas that lacked forage.

“Unfortunately, based on the overall poor body condition and lack of forage, and understanding that more than six weeks of winter remains, we decided to remove horses that were struggling or suffering,” he said. “We did the right thing for the well-being of the horses.”

But Anne Novak of California-based Protect Mustangs was skeptical. “They always have some excuse to take wild horses off the range – to make it easier to industrialize our open space,” she said. “They have already taken way too many off the range. If we don’t have enough wild horses on the range we risk losing herds.”

BLM officials said the roundup was necessary to prevent further deterioration of the range and to protect an “overpopulation” of horses that face limited food and water.

Horses removed from the range are supposedly transported to BLM facilities in Nevada and Utah, where they are prepared for adoption or transferred to long-term pastures in the Midwest. Some horses, however, are unaccounted for and are feared to have been sent to slaughter in Mexico or Canada. Horses slaughtered in those countries are destined for the plates of consumers, who don’t always know what they are eating, as documented recently by the horse-meat scandal sweeping Europe.

About half of the estimated 37,000 horses and burros on federal lands are in Nevada.

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Criminal Puts Bad Beef Into Food Supply

The following case demonstrates how farmers are willing and able to ignore food safety laws around the world, while regulators have little leverage over the situation and the judicial system slaps them on the wrist for taking deadly risks with the health of millions of people. Prion mismanagement is a serious threat to life as we know it.

Another Case Of Prion Mismanagement

Carlisle Crown Court heard that the crimes committed by David Holmes, 52, led to the disappearance of 33 cattle. They likely became hamburgers and pot roast for unsuspecting families across the UK and could have contaminated the entire production chain.

mad cow disease and prions

Many of the cows were born before 1996, meaning that they posed a potential risk to humans if they ever got into the food chain. Infected meat has been blamed for causing most of the 170 deaths in the UK from the brain disease variant CJD, the human form of BSE, also known as mad cow disease.

Some of Holmes’ animals were at Crook Farm, Roadhead, north of Carlisle.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Davies told the farmer: “I am satisfied that these offenses were committed deliberately for commercial profit.” The judge said that it was imperative that diseased cattle were not provided for human consumption.

Holmes flouted the regulations, deliberately obstructing the authorities and failing to keep proper records.

As a result, 33 of the defendant’s cattle could not be traced, having been sold “at great risk to the public”, said Judge Davies, who added: “It was a cynical pattern of offending, without consideration for the public.”

The court heard there was no evidence that any infected meat had actually entered the human food chain.

At an earlier hearing, Holmes, now living at Nutholm Farm, Lockerbie, admitted 30 counts of contravening cattle identification and movement regulations. He repeatedly failed to notify the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) that he was moving cattle between different locations.

The offences included failing to keep a proper register of his herds, using an ear tag on a cow previously that identified another animal, and giving officials misleading information about his cows.

The crimes were committed on a continuous basis between 2009 and 2011. They happened at the farm near Carlisle, and at others in Northumberland, Staffordshire, and Derbyshire.

Holmes has previous convictions which date back to the 1980s, including a number of animal cruelty offenses.

The farmer’s barrister pointed out he had given up cattle dealing, and the company he ran for that purpose – D&A Livestock Limited – was in liquidation and would not be resurrected.

The judge said figures showed the defendant’s business generated just short of £143,000 in the last nine months, while his remaining cattle are valued at between £30,000 and £45,000, so there was no reason for Holmes not to pay costs.

The judge imposed a fine of £3,000 and prosecution costs of £6,600. Holmes will have to serve three months in jail if he fails to pay up.

In addition he was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years, and told to do 150 hours of unpaid work in the community.

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Wall Street Criminals Walking Free and Easy

Wall Street Corruption Goes Unpunished

The corruption on Wall Street allows insiders to make money on the way up–and even more on the way down.

So far, not a single Wall-Street junkie has gone to jail. The so-called war on terrorism seems to have a blind spot. When we all know who pulled the trigger and who looked the other way, why is it that not one of these crooks has been arrested? Yet, Elliot Spitzer, who was hot on their trail, got knocked to his knees over ethical misconduct.

election 2016 USA

PBS’s Frontline explores the issue in a report, (watch in full here). The show found that the Department of Justice made minimal effort to bring those responsible for Wall Street’s fraudulent activity to justice.

The longstanding excuse from the White House is that there is not enough evidence to secure convictions against these executives. Although DOJ Criminal Chief Lanny Breuer claims the Obama administration would love to bring cases against those who committed such felonies, he insists he simply must back off.

While it seems fair to avoid losing trials, what is preposterous is the notion that out of hundreds of such potential cases against Wall Street heads, not a single one was deemed to have sufficient evidence. This excuse is proven even more ludicrous when Frontline interviews reporters who found employees who were willing to blow the whistle to prove criminal intent, as well as people who worked for the DOJ who saw specific Wall Street cases with more than adequate evidence that were not pursued anyway.

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Furthermore, it’s not as if the Department of Justice has a pristine reputation for only pursuing the most clear cut of cases. As Forbes points out, just last year, the DOJ prosecutors moved forward on a weak case against baseball pitcher Roger Clemens that resulted in a not guilty verdict. “The loss should be a wake-up call for the Department of Justice, which has failed at times to use prosecutorial discretion and good judgment in high-profile cases in recent years,” said the Forbes article, which outlines a whole series of DOJ misfires.

In other words, it’s a joke for the White House to pretend it only pursues slam-dunk cases.  Skipping over all Wall Street felonies shows a disturbing bias. The DOJ can tell Frontline that it is merely a “professional decision,” but it is remarkable that it is choosing to exercise unprecedented “professionalism” in the face of Wall Street tossing aside ethics for the sake of profits.

Perhaps most telling was a speech Breuer gave saying he lost sleep at night contemplating the possible ramifications that prosecuting a large financial institution could have on the overall economy. When Frontline asked whether he should be have taken into account outside factors when deciding cases to prosecute, Breuer agreed, citing a “responsibility” to bring negative consequences on those who had nothing to do with the banks’ mistakes.

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However, the job of a federal prosecutor is to prosecute criminal activity, not worry about the fate of the banks. Besides, if Breuer is primarily concerned with the welfare of the general population as he suggests, it leaves the question why is he valuing a potential harm to Americans over the certain suffering that occurred because of bank fraud? Why let that go unpunished?

When no steps are taken to punish this criminal behavior, it sends a clear message to the elite: you are immune from prosecution and the rules do not apply to you.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has said that it does not like its portrayal on the Frontline story and refuses to cooperate with the show in the future. One would assume that it would continue to cooperate with the bankers, however.

Also, since the airing of Frontline’s report, it has been announced that Breuer will step down from his role with the Department of Justice. Maybe he can get a cushy Wall Street job as a thank you for his lack of vigilance like so many politicians before him.

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