Vietnam’s Tiger Farms Are Trafficking Hubs

Originally posted on Ann Novek--With the Sky as the Ceiling and the Heart Outdoors:

The Oklahoman2012-07-28:                        By MIKE IVES, Associated Press | AN BINH, VietnamNineteen tigers prowl outdoor cages the size of dormitory rooms, nibbling frayed wire fences and roaring at a caretaker who taunts them with his sandal. It looks like a zoo, but it’s closed to the public. The facility breeds tigers, but has never supplied a conservation program with any animals nor sold any to zoos. Conservationists allege that Vietnam’s 11 registered tiger farms, including this one, are fronts for a thriving illegal market in tiger parts, highly prized for purported — if unproven — medicinal qualities….                  more »

 

A Bengal tigress with her cubs at the Bandhavgarh National Park, India.3Photo: Creative Commons

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Tigers Gallery: worldwildlife.org

 link to slideshow                                                                                Tigers Gallery.

“OUT OF SYNC” – SEASONS ARE SHIFTING, BUT SOME CREATURES AND LAWS AREN’T

By Shannon McNeeley

ATMOS NEWS

Ah, spring. From ancient civilizations on, what poet hasn’t greeted the season of longer days, increasing warmth, melting snow, and blooming flowers? But today’s poets may have to revise their odes.
Many signs of spring have shifted earlier and earlier, out of sync with the lengthening days. Warmer weather, snowmelt, and flowers, for example, are now arriving during what used to be winter in many parts of the globe. Evidence is growing that some animals and insects aren’t adapting fast enough to the changes in timing of the seasonal signs, and that the consequences of that failure can be disastrous.
Legislators have also greeted the seasons, typically with regulations governing water use, hunting, grazing on public lands, and other seasonal activities. And like other creatures, people are beginning to feel the effects of the increasing disconnect between the permanent dates written into these laws and the changing seasons.
It’s taken scientists a while to respond to the issue—sometimes referred to as seasonal asynchrony—which has a distinct set of consequences beyond those of more commonly recognized indicators of global climate change. Specific populations are being put at risk, including migratory animals and people governed by date-specific laws that no longer match reality.
Biologists only began researching the effects on vulnerable animal populations in the early 2000s. A few social scientists have recently begun looking at how human populations are also being affected, particularly in Alaska, one of the fastest-warming places on Earth. And just within the last decade, experts in environmental law have began questioning the consequences of outdated policies on agriculture and water supplies.
This area of study is so new, according to NCAR postdoctoral researcher Shannon McNeeley, that it’s suffering from a lack of a comprehensive view.
“Some people focus on changing seasonality from either a biological or a climate point of view, and a small but growing community study the links between changing seasonality and policies,” McNeeley says. “There aren’t many yet who do truly comprehensive social and natural science research from a systems point of view by integrating social science, climatology, and ecology to understand how this affects vulnerable livelihoods on the ground.”
Here’s a brief overview of research emerging on the effects of seasonal mistiming.

EVIDENCE FROM THE NATURAL WORLD

Warmth governs the ability of seeds to germinate, the dates of snowmelt, and other triggers of the growing season.
There’s copious documentation that plant growth is shifting earlier in response to a warmer climate. The U.K.’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has been tracking first flowering dates for some 100 species since the 1950s; snowdrops are now flowering 10 days earlier on average, and spring narcissus almost two weeks earlier. In the United States, the flowering date for winter wheat, a major crop of the High Plains, has advanced by one to two weeks since World War II, marching forward 0.8–1.8 days per decade over the last 70 years.
Among animals and insects, however, the situation isn’t so straightforward. Researchers have been aware for some time that warming is changing the geographic range of species. For example, a 1996 study by Camille Parmesan (University of Texas) noted the range shift of a California butterfly northward and to higher altitudes.
Migratory and hibernating animals may take their cues to move from increasing or decreasing sunlight or from temperature changes in their current habitat (spring warming in their wintering grounds, for example). In either case, the migrators may arrive at their destination habitat to find that it’s out of sync with their needs if climate change is producing different results there. When that happens, the consequences ripple through entire ecosystems.
The full extent to which the seasonal drift is putting plants and animals at risk is not yet known. One of the first studies of multiple species was a 2005 paper by Dutch ecologists. Searching for long-term datasets covering both vulnerable species and their food sources, the authors found adequate information for only 11 species. In this small sample, however, 8 species—including birds, insects, and zooplankton—had changed their behavior either too little or too much, so they were out of sync with their food sources. Only 3 species were adapting in sync.

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14 years old: Too young for life in prison?

By Sevil Omer, msnbc.com

Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson are lifers, condemned at 14 to spend their lives in prison without the possibility of parole for their involvement in separate murders. Their backers say their sentences are cruel and unusual, leaving them without the second chance the young are so often given. They hope the U.S. Supreme Court agrees.
Next Tuesday, the court will hear arguments in their cases and its ruling could have far-reaching effects. More than 2,200 people nationwide have been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles — defined as 17 or younger — according to the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., a civil rights group that represents Miller and Jackson.
The group hopes the companion cases will be another victory for juvenile criminals, who have found some relief before the Supreme Court over the past seven years. In 2005, the court abolished executions for juvenile offenders. Then, two years ago, the court ruled that it is unconstitutional to impose life sentences on juveniles convicted of crimes that do not involve homicide.
Lawyers for Miller, now 23, and Jackson, now 26, contend that juveniles are works in progress and will argue that forensic evidence shows adolescent brains are not fully developed. “Condemning an immature, vulnerable, and not-yet-fully-formed adolescent to life in prison – no matter the crime – is constitutionally a disproportionate punishment,” they say in their petition to the court. The Equal Justice Initiative declined to discuss the case because of the pending hearing.
Kim Taylor-Thompson, a professor of clinical law at the New York University School of Law, has studied juvenile offenders for nearly a decade and agrees with the group. “No one is excusing the fact of what happened,” she said. “What we are saying is: Did these two young men engage in thought processes that would make us say today they’re the type of individuals who can never be rehabilitated, never change and be locked up to never see the light of day?

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Grandchildren of John Tyler, America’s 10th president, are still alive

While most U.S. presidents become associated with important legislation or significant policies, what stands out for former President John Tyler, America’s 10th commander in chief, is his impressive lineage.
It turns out two of Tyler’s grandsons — yes grandsons — are still alive.
The men, Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler, born in 1928, are the sons of Lyon Gardiner Tyler, one of President Tyler’s 15 children.
President Tyler was 63 when his son, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, was born, according to records obtained by FoxNews.com. And Lyon had his children even later; he was in his 70s when his sons were born. The boys’ mother, Sue Ruffin, was the second wife of Lyon Sr., who died in 1935.
In an interview with FoxNews.com, Harrison Tyler said he and his wife still live near Virginia’s Sherwood Forest — the house they reside in is the only presidential home in America lived in by direct descendants of the president. Now retired, Harrison and his wife work to preserve the forest, keeping it full of deer and turkey.
When asked what people should remember about John Tyler’s presidency, Harrison said the peace conference of 1861.
“He was the principal promoter,” he told FoxNews.com. “He brought together states not part of the Union, including Pennsylvania and Ohio, southern states, and Virginia who was trying to decide what to do.”
The conference was obviously not a success, as it was followed by the Civil War.
“But he really tried and made so much effort,” Harrison said. “I don’t get why there are wars — people should just talk about things and everything will work out.”
Harrison Tyler’s father died when he was 5 and Lyon was 9, but Harrison remembers him as a prolific author who wrote all kinds of books and was responsible for reopening the College of William and Mary in 1888 after the Civil War. Lyon Sr. eventually went on to be the president of the college for 31 years.
Harrison entered William and Mary at age 16 after graduating from high school early. He was required to take a science course during his freshman year and fell in love with chemistry.

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Walt Whitman – Biography

Walt Whitman was born into a family that settled in North America in the first half of the 17th century. His ancestry was typical of the region: his mother, Louisa Van Velsor, was Dutch, and his father, Walter Whitman, was of English descent. They were simple farm people, with little formal education. The Whitman family had at one time owned a large tract of land, but it was so diminished by the time Walt was born that his father had taken up carpentering, though the family still lived on a small section of the ancestral estate. In 1823 Walter Whitman, Sr., moved his growing family to Brooklyn, which was enjoying a boom. There he speculated in real estate and built cheap houses for artisans, but he was a poor manager and had difficulty in providing for his family, which increased to nine children.
Walt, the second child, attended public school in Brooklyn, began working at the age of 12, and learned the printing trade. He was employed as a printer in Brooklyn and New York City, taught in country schools on Long Island, and became a journalist. At the age of 23 he edited a daily newspaper in New York, and in 1846 he became editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a fairly important newspaper of the time. Discharged from the Eagle early in 1848 because of his support for the Free Soil faction of the Democratic Party, he went to New Orleans, La., where he worked for three months on the Crescent before returning to New York via the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. After another abortive attempt at Free Soil journalism, he built houses and dabbled in real estate in New York from about 1850 until 1855.
Whitman had spent a great deal of his 36 years walking and observing in New York City and Long Island. He had visited the theatre frequently and seen many plays of William Shakespeare, and he had developed a strong love of music, especially opera. During these years he had also read extensively at home and in the New York libraries, and he began experimenting with a new style of poetry. While a schoolteacher, printer, and journalist he had published sentimental stories and poems in newspapers and popular magazines, but they showed almost no literary promise.

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‘Academically Adrift’: The News Gets Worse and Worse

In the last few months of 2010, rumors began circulating among higher-education policy geeks that the University of Chicago Press was about to publish a new book written by a pair of very smart sociologists who were trying to answer a question to which most people thought they already knew the answer: How much do students learn while they’re in college? Their findings, one heard, were … interesting.
The book, Academically Adrift, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, fulfilled that promise—and then some. It was no surprise that The Chronicle gave prominent coverage to the conclusion that “American higher education is characterized by limited or no learning for a large proportion of students,” but few people anticipated that the book would become the rare piece of serious academic scholarship that jumps the fence and roams free into the larger culture.
Vanity Fair used space normally allotted to Kennedy hagiography to call it a “crushing exposé of the heretofore secret society known as ‘college.’” The gossip mavens at Gawker ran the book through their patented Internet cynicism machine and wrote that “To get a college degree, you must go into a soul-crushing amount of debt. And what do yThe New Yorker featured Academically Adrift in a typically brilliant essay by Louis Menand. In one of her nationally syndicated columns, Kathleen Parker called the book a “dense tome” while opining that the failure of higher education constituted a “dot-connecting exercise for Uncle Shoulda, who someday will say—in Chinese—’How could we have let this happen?’” Her response proved that Kathleen Parker has a gift for phrasing and did not actually read the book, whose main text runs to only 144 concise and well-argued pages.
But the definitive evidence of Academically Adrift’s ascension to the very small group of social-science studies whose findings shape conventional wisdom came when President King, the world-weary cynic and longtime leader of Walden College, sipped a martini and reacted to the book’s documentation of declining student work by explaining, “That’s why they come! As long as we give them good grades and a degree, their parents are happy too! Who cares if they can’t reason?”ou get for all that money? Not learning.”

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