You loved Sam Grant’s photos of Casper and Scotland. Learn more about her.
Last Sunday my Picture Parade was primarily a recent item that appeared on the BBC website.
Meet Scotland’s ‘most well-travelled dog’
By Ewan Murrie, BBC Scotland news website, 3rd June 2017
After photographs of her West Highland Terrier received more “likes” on social media than even the most stunning Glencoe landscapes she could capture, Sam Grant conceded that “the wee white dug” should star in her Scottish travel blog.
I went on to republish a wonderful set of photographs that had been taken by Sam. You all loved them and that led me to ask Sam if I could republish her About Me page on her blog. Sam very kindly said that would be fine.
Scotland with the Wee White Dug
A Scottish travel blog showcasing the best of Scotland. Scotland with the Wee White Dug is a comprehensive and informative guide to Scotland, covering history, outdoor activities, events, visitor attractions, accommodation, eating out and more.
A little bit about me
Hello and welcome to my Scottish travel blog which I hope you’ll find informative and interesting, but most of all fun.
I’m Samantha but am generally known as Sam, Mrs G or Mum. I’m married to Alex (Mr G) and we live in Edinburgh with a well travelled wee white dug called Casper. We also share our home with the The Teen, Casper’s sloth like and gadget obsessed big sister.
All of my free time is spent road-tripping around Scotland. I’ve travelled extensively throughout the country and never tire of its jawdropping and diverse beauty.
I have a vast knowledge of where to stay, eat and what to do in Scotland. Whether it be an afternoon out, a day trip or an extended tour. I also know all of the best places to go with your four legged friend.
I’m a Visit Scotland Ambassador and I helped launch their online Community in the spring of 2016. The Community is a Scottish travel forum for sharing insider hints and tips about visiting Scotland. Visit Scotland’s Ambassadors were selected for their expert knowledge of the country.
In January 2017 I took up the role of resident blogger for East Lothian Council on their Visit East Lothian website. I write a fortnightly post for their blog, highlighting the delights of East Lothian.
I’m passionate about the history, language, literature, customs and myths of Scotland. I read History at the University of Edinburgh and during my time there I studied Scottish History, Literature and Politics which gave me an excellent understanding of how Scotland became the country that it is today.
I absolutely adore the great outdoors – it’s my happy place. I love hiking, have been known to summit a Munro or two and am happiest when surrounded by lochs, moors and mountains.
I’ve been an avid hobby photographer since joining Instagram several years ago. I’m part of a diverse group of Scottish Instagrammers with a passion for sharing Scotland with the World.
My feed @bean_nighe has appeared on Instagram’s prestigious Suggested User list. You’ll find the Wee White Dug on Instagram too @theweewhitedug. His feed is also dedicated to sharing our Scottish travels.
My photos appear regularly on various social media channels including those of Canon UK, BBC, Skyscanners, Scottish Memories Magazine, Scotrail, Historic Scotland, Visit Scotland and The Guardian.
I share my Scottish travels on Facebook and Twitter too so if you’re on those sites stop by and say hello.
I’m passionate about promoting Scotland as a wonderful place to visit. It’s a country with a rich history and heritage. A country full of stories just waiting to be told.
I appreciate you taking the time to stop by my blog to join me on my travels. I hope ‘Scotland with the Wee White Dug’ inspires you to visit Scotland, helps you to plan for a forthcoming trip or makes you reminisce fondly about a past visit.
If you’re interested in working with me you can find out more here.
The smoke from the forest fires in Oregon and California has been thick in the air here in Merlin for days.
As can be seen in the photograph below. The photograph is as it was captured by the camera at 7:15 am yesterday morning. No changes by me made at all. The middle tree line is at the Eastern end of our property about a 1/4 mile away.
We are fed up with the smoke and the terrible air conditions.
But what drew me to grab the camera and take the photograph was that the image had some sort of, Oh, I don’t know, some sort of end of the world feeling about it.
The media avoids the subject of climate breakdown – to do otherwise is to bring the entire infrastructure of thought crashing down
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 29 August 2017
It is not only Donald Trump’s government that censors the discussion of climate change; it is the entire body of polite opinion. This is why, though the links are clear and obvious, the majority of news reports on Hurricane Harvey have made no mention of the human contribution.
In 2016, the United States elected a president who believes that human-driven global warming is a hoax. It was the hottest year on record, in which the US was hammered by a series of climate-related disasters. Yet the total combined coverage for the entire year on the evening and Sunday news programmes on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News amounted to 50 minutes. Our greatest predicament, the issue that will define our lives, has been blotted from our minds.
This is not an accident. But nor (with the exception of Fox News) is it likely to be a matter of policy. It reflects a deeply ingrained and scarcely conscious self-censorship. Reporters and editors ignore the subject because they have an instinct for avoiding trouble. To talk about climate breakdown (which in my view is a better term than the curiously bland labels we attach to this crisis) is to question not only Donald Trump, not only current environmental policy, not only current economic policy, but the entire political and economic system.
It is to expose a programme that relies on robbing the future to fuel the present, that demands perpetual growth on a finite planet. It is to challenge the very basis of capitalism; to inform us that our lives are dominated by a system that cannot be sustained, a system that is destined, if it is not replaced, to destroy everything.
To claim that there is no link between climate breakdown and the severity of Hurricane Harvey is like claiming that there is no link between the warm summer we have experienced and the end of the last ice age. Every aspect of our weather is affected by the fact that global temperatures rose by around 4° between the ice age and the 19th Century. And every aspect of our weather is affected by the 1° of global warming caused by human activities. While no weather event can be blamed solely on human-driven warming, no weather event is unaffected by it.
We know that the severity and impact of hurricanes on coastal cities are exacerbated by at least two factors: higher sea levels, caused primarily by the thermal expansion of seawater, and greater storm intensity, caused by higher sea temperatures and the ability of warm air to hold more water than cold air.
Before it reached the Gulf of Mexico, Harvey had been demoted from a tropical storm to a tropical wave. But as it reached the Gulf, whose temperatures this month have been far above average, it was upgraded first to a tropical depression, then to a category 1 hurricane. It might have been expected to weaken as it approached the coast, as hurricanes churn the sea, bringing cooler waters to the surface. But the water it brought up from 100 metres and more was also unusually warm. By the time it reached land, Harvey had intensified to a category 4 hurricane.
We were warned about this. In June, for example, Robert Kopp, a professor of earth sciences, predicted that “In the absence of major efforts to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience, the Gulf Coast will take a massive hit. Its exposure to sea-level rise – made worse by potentially stronger hurricanes – poses a major risk to its communities.”
To raise this issue, I’ve been told on social media, is to politicise Hurricane Harvey. It is an insult to the victims and a distraction from their urgent need. The proper time to discuss it is when people have rebuilt their homes, and scientists have been able to conduct an analysis of just how great the contribution from climate breakdown might have been. In other words, talk about it only when it’s out of the news. When researchers determined, 9 years on, that human activity had made a significant contribution to Hurricane Katrina, the information scarcely registered.
I believe it is the silence that’s political. To report the storm as if it were a entirely natural phenomenon, like last week’s eclipse of the sun, is to take a position. By failing to make the obvious link and talk about climate breakdown, media organisations ensure that our greatest challenge goes unanswered. They help push the world towards catastrophe.
Hurricane Harvey offers a glimpse of a likely global future; a future whose average temperatures are as different from ours as ours are from those of the last ice age. It is a future in which emergency becomes the norm and no state has the capacity to respond. It is a future in which, as a paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters notes, disasters like Houston’s occur in some cities several times a year. It is a future that, for people in countries such as Bangladesh, has already arrived, almost unremarked by the rich world’s media. It is the act of not talking that makes this nightmare likely to materialise.
In Texas, the connection could scarcely be more apparent. The storm ripped through the oil fields, forcing rigs and refineries to shut down, including those owned by some of the 25 companies that have produced over half the greenhouse gas emissions humans have released since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Hurricane Harvey has devastated a place in which climate breakdown is generated, and in which the policies that prevent it from being addressed are formulated.
This is not, however, a story of mortal justice. In Houston, as everywhere else, it is generally the poorer communities, that are least responsible for the problem, who are hit first and hit worst. But the connection between cause and effect should appeal to even the slowest minds.
The problem is not confined to the United States. Across the world, the issue that hangs over every aspect of our lives is marginalised, except on the rare occasions on which world leaders gather to discuss it in sombre tones (then sombrely agree to do almost nothing), whereupon the instinct to follow the machinations of power overrides the instinct to avoid a troubling subject. When they do cover the issue, they tend to mangle it. In the UK, the BBC distinguished itself in customary fashion this month, by yet again inviting the climate change denier Lord Lawson onto the Today programme, in the mistaken belief that impartiality requires a balance between correct facts and false ones. They seldom make such a mess of other topics, because they take them more seriously.
When Trump’s enforcers instruct officials and scientists to purge any mention of climate change from their publications, we are scandalised. But when the media does it, without the need for a memo, we let it pass. This censorship is invisible even to the perpetrators, woven into the fabric of organisations that are constitutionally destined to leave the major questions of our times unasked. To acknowledge this issue is to challenge everything. To challenge everything is to become an outcast.
Dear people, I sat staring at the screen for 10 minutes and then went off when Jeannie called lunchtime. Returned to the screen a little after 2pm yesterday and still couldn’t come up with a closing thought that merited being shared with you all.
Despite recommendations by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s own scientists, they have released a highly politicized Draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, which we fear will lead these severally endangered wolves to extinction.
Of course I wrote in support of the Lobo! And was delighted to notice that Action Network had set a goal of 3,200 letters and, as of yesterday morning, only a further 275 letters were needed to make that goal.
All you good people who stick with this blog know that the majority of the posts are to do with dogs or cats in one form or another.
Yet, I am cognizant of the fact that no one can completely hide, metaphorically speaking, in the warm fur of our favourite dog or cat and let the rest of the world go tits up. From time to time I read an article or an essay that touches on something fundamentally important to a civil society and am compelled to share same with you.
Regulars know that I am a great admirer of the writings of essayist George Monbiot. He is a very regular contributor to The Guardian newspaper. Just a few days ago, Mr. Monbiot published an essay that really does need to be read as widely as possible. It is called Missing Link and is republished here with George Monbiot’s very kind permission.
21st July 2017
How a secretive network built around a Nobel prizewinner set out to curtail our freedoms
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 19th July 2017
It’s the missing chapter: a key to understanding the politics of the past half century. To read Nancy MacLean’s new book Democracy in Chains: the deep history of the radical right’s stealth plan for America is to see what was previously invisible.
The history professor’s work on the subject began by accident. In 2013 she stumbled across a deserted clapboard house on the campus of George Mason University in Virginia. It was stuffed with the unsorted archives of a man who had died that year, whose name is probably unfamiliar to you: James McGill Buchanan. She writes that the first thing she picked up was a stack of confidential letters concerning millions of dollars transferred to the university by the billionaire Charles Koch.
Her discoveries in that house of horrors reveal how Buchanan, in collaboration with business tycoons and the institutes they founded, developed a hidden programme for suppressing democracy on behalf of the very rich. The programme is now reshaping politics, and not just in the US.
Buchanan was strongly influenced by both the neoliberalism of Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises and the property supremacism of John C Calhoun, who argued, in the first half of the 19th century, that freedom consists of the absolute right to use your property – including your slaves – however you may wish. Any institution that impinges on this right is an agent of oppression, exploiting men of property on behalf of the undeserving masses.
James Buchanan brought these influences together to create what he called “public choice theory”. He argued that a society could not be considered free unless every citizen has the right to veto its decisions. What he meant by this was that no one should be taxed against their will. But the rich were being exploited by people who use their votes to demand money that others have earned, through involuntary taxes to support public spending and welfare. Allowing workers to form trade unions and imposing graduated income taxes are forms of “differential or discriminatory legislation” against the owners of capital.
Any clash between what he called “freedom” (allowing the rich to do as they wished) and democracy should be resolved in favour of freedom. In his book The Limits of Liberty, he noted that “despotism may be the only organisational alternative to the political structure that we observe.” Despotism in defence of freedom.
His prescription was what he called a “constitutional revolution”: creating irrevocable restraints to limit democratic choice. Sponsored throughout his working life by wealthy foundations, billionaires and corporations, he develop both a theoretical account of what this constitutional revolution would look like and a strategy for implementing it.
He explained how attempts to desegregate schooling in the American South could be frustrated by setting up a network of state-sponsored private schools. It was he who first proposed the privatisation of universities and the imposition of full tuition fees on students: his original purpose was to crush student activism. He urged the privatisation of Social Security and of many other functions of the state. He sought to break the links between people and government and demolish trust in public institutions. He aimed, in short, to save capitalism from democracy.
In 1980, he was able to put the programme into action. He was invited to Chile, where he helped the Pinochet dictatorship to write a new constitution, which, partly through the clever devices Buchanan proposed, has proved impossible to reverse in its entirety. Amid the torture and killings, he advised the government to extend its programmes of privatisation, austerity, monetary restraint, deregulation and the destruction of trade unions: a package that helped trigger economic collapse in 1982.
None of this troubled the Swedish Academy, that, through his devotee at Stockholm University, Assar Lindbeck, in 1986 awarded James Buchanan the Nobel Memorial Prize for economics. It is one of several decisions that have turned this prize toxic.
But his power really began to be felt when Charles Koch, currently the seventh richest man in the US, decided that Buchanan held the key to the transformation he sought. Koch saw even such ideologues as Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan as “sellouts”, as they sought to improve the efficiency of government rather than destroying it altogether. But Buchanan took it all the way.
MacLean says that Charles Koch poured millions into Buchanan’s work at George Mason University, whose law and economics departments look as much like corporate-funded thinktanks as they do academic faculties. He employed the economist to select the revolutionary “cadre” that would implement his programme (Murray Rothbard, at the Cato Institute that Koch founded, had urged the billionaire to study Lenin’s techniques and apply them to the libertarian cause). Between them, they began to develop a programme for changing the rules.
The papers Nancy Maclean discovered show that Buchanan saw stealth as crucial. He told his collaborators that “conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential.” Instead of revealing their ultimate destination, they would proceed by incremental steps. For example, in seeking to destroy the Social Security system, they would claim to be saving it, arguing that it would fail without a series of radical “reforms”. (The same argument is used by those attacking the NHS over here). Gradually they would build a “counter-intelligentsia”, allied to a “vast network of political power” that would eventually become the new establishment.
Through the network of thinktanks that Koch and other billionaires have sponsored, through their transformation of the Republican Party, and the hundreds of millions they have poured into state congressional and judicial races, through the mass colonisation of Trump’s administration by members of this network and lethally effective campaigns against everything from public health to action on climate change, it would be fair to say that Buchanan’s vision is maturing in the USA.
But not just there. Reading this book felt like a demisting of the window through which I see British politics. The bonfire of regulations highlighted by the Grenfell Tower disaster, the destruction of state architecture through austerity, the budgeting rules, the dismantling of public services, tuition fees and the control of schools: all these measures follow Buchanan’s programme to the letter. I wonder how many people are aware that David Cameron’s free schools project originated with an attempt to hamper racial desegregation in the American South.
In one respect, Buchanan was right: there is an inherent conflict between what he called “economic freedom” and political liberty. Complete freedom for billionaires means poverty, insecurity, pollution and collapsing public services for everyone else. Because we will not vote for this, it can be delivered only through deception and authoritarian control. The choice we face is between unfettered capitalism and democracy. You cannot have both.
Buchanan’s programme amounts to a prescription for totalitarian capitalism. And his disciples have only begun to implement it. But at least, thanks to Maclean’s discoveries, we can now apprehend the agenda. One of the first rules of politics is know your enemy. We’re getting there.
I found it very difficult to write these closing thoughts; as is obvious as you read this sentence!
Looking up quotations online under the headings of fairness or equality brought up many that could have worked here. Yet they seemed too trite, too obvious, too remote from the reality of what Mr. Monbiot describes here today.
So let me leave you with this: US income inequality is the highest it’s been since 1928. (Source: Pew Research.) But worse than that, US wealth inequality is even greater than income inequality. (Source: Pew Research.) (I’m certain that this is not exclusive to the USA.)
A fair question one might think. Because this blog is primarily about what we humans should be learning from our dogs. Well, I do see a connection, a message of learning for us. Stay with me for a while.
Here’s a silly story that made me laugh when I first came across it.
A man in a casino walks past three men and a dog playing poker.
“Wow!” he says, “That’s a very clever dog.“
“He’s not that clever,” replies one of the other players.
“Every time he gets a good hand he wags his tail.“
This clever dog couldn’t hide his happiness and had to share it by wagging his tail. OK, it was a little bit of fictional fun but we all recognise that inherent quality in our dogs, how they share so much of themselves in such an easy and natural fashion.
Now if one was being pedantic one would say that sharing is not the same as equality. Yet I see them as two separate seats in life’s common carriage.
Many lovers of dogs know that when they lived a life in the wild, slowly evolving from the grey wolf, they replicated, naturally, the pack characteristics of wolves. As in the pack size was around 25 to 30 animals. Yes, there was a hierarchy in the pack but that really only presented itself in the status of three animals: the female ‘alpha’ dog; the male ‘beta’ dog; the ‘omega’ dog that could be of either gender. Ninety percent of the pack were animals on equal standing. If only that was how we humans lived.
Let me emphasize this: “A homeless camp in Los Angeles, where homelessness has risen 23 percent in the past year, in May 2017.”
Here are two small extracts from that article:
Author: Shervin Assari Research Investigator of Psychiatry, Public Health, and Poverty Solutions, University of Michigan
As someone who studies poverty solutions and social and health inequalities, I am convinced by the academic literature that the biggest reason for poverty is how a society is structured. Without structural changes, it may be very difficult if not impossible to eliminate disparities and poverty.
About 13.5 percent of Americans are living in poverty. Many of these people do not have insurance, and efforts to help them gain insurance, be it through Medicaid or private insurance, have been stymied. Medicaid provides insurance for the disabled, people in nursing homes and the poor.
Four states recently asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for permission to require Medicaid recipients in their states who are not disabled or elderly to work.
This request is reflective of the fact that many Americans believe that poverty is, by and large, the result of laziness, immorality and irresponsibility.
First, in response to Colin saying “That pic really says it all doesn’t it!”, I replied:
No question. Indeed, one might ‘read’ that picture at many levels. From the level of providing a smile for the day all the way through to a very profound observation on life itself.
Colin then replied to me:
I ‘ll go straight for the profound perspective! As I recently noted on another blog, I cannot recall anybody from history who became famous for their material possessions. In fact, I recently read an article written after an individual had surveyed a few thousand gravestones… and they drew the same conclusion. There was not a single epitaph which alluded to a material possession. Dogs know all that intuitively, so why does our superior (?) mind have trouble grasping such a simple perspective?
I then responded by saying that I thought it would make a fabulous introduction to today’s post. The heart of which I am now coming to.
Here in our local city, Grants Pass, there is a Freethinkers and Humanists group. They meet once a month. Jerry Reed from that group some time ago recommended to me reading the book The Spirit Level authored by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.
Jerry and I were exchanging emails in the last couple of days and he reminded me of that book.
There it was sitting on my bookshelf with a bookmark in at page 62. For reasons that escape me, I had become distracted and forgotten to stay with the book. Despite me being very interested in the proposition.
I said as much in an email reply to Jerry. He then replied to my email with this:
Hey, that happens to me a lot too, very frequently. So, I frequently settle for a video that might capture the essence of the book in considerably less time, while also maintaining my attention much better.
So, if you want a video about what Wilkinson has to say, here’s the one I recommend:
Here is that video. It is a little under 17 minutes long. Please watch it.
Published on Oct 24, 2011
http://www.ted.com We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.
I haven’t got anything profound to say by way of closing today’s post.
But what I will say is that if our societies, especially in certain countries not a million miles from home, more closely emulated the sharing and caring that we see in our dogs then that really would be wonderful.
Abused animals in Connecticut now have a voice in court, thanks to a new law passed by the state in late 2016.
Connecticut lawmakers passed “Desmond’s Law” in response to the horrific death of a sweet shelter dog called Desmond in 2012. The man who adopted him, Alex Wullaert, reportedly rarely fed Desmond and often beat him.
Ultimately, Wullaert killed the dog by hanging him, after Desmond made the mistake of urinating on Wullaert’s leg. Then he dumped the body in a garbage bag and left it on the street.
When prosecuted for the crime, Wullaert admitted what he’d done. The prosecutor recommended that he spend time behind bars for this shocking offense. Despite this recommendation, the court gave him nothing more than Accelerated Rehabilitation. That meant upon successful completion of probation, Wullaert’s record would be wiped clean.
That result outraged the animal-loving citizens of Connecticut. And they enacted “Desmond’s Law” to ensure that court decisions offer a better measure of justice following animal-related crimes.
Seven attorneys, a law professor and her law students are part of the program statewide. The law authorizes qualified pro-bono lawyers and volunteer law students to:
[P]rovide investigative insight not readily available to the court, resulting in a more fair and efficient process and more meaningful outcomes in animal abuse cases. It is intended to shine a bright light on the full extent of crimes committed under the animal cruelty statute.
In a nutshell, these animal advocates help the prosecution or defense team with tasks it often has no time for, especially in animal cases. The volunteers investigate, research issues and conduct interviews with veterinarians and other witnesses. As official parties to the case, they also write briefs, make arguments in court and submit recommendations to the judge.
A judge has to approve the participation of the animal advocates, who must be requested by either the prosecution or defense.
“The hope [of the law] was that providing courts with an extra resource to help handle these cases, at no cost, [is] that the cases could be more thoroughly handled,” University of Connecticut law professor Jessica Rubin told the Hartford Courant.
Prosecutors in Connecticut already commend the animal advocates for helping them do a better job in these cases. Often, they barely have time to do much of this legwork for cases involving human victims. We all know that when time is precious, the human cases will take precedence over those involving animals. Now, with professionals in place solely for the animal cases, that won’t be a problem anymore.
“We hope with this law in place, we will start to see much better procedural outcomes [in animal abuse cases],” Annie Hornish, director for the Humane Society of the United States in Connecticut, told the AP. “We are very excited that judges seem to be taking advantage of it.”
This is an incredible step forward for animal victims. In particular, it helps overburdened courts provide the same level of investigation and consideration to animal victims that they give to human victims.
Connecticut has given animals a legitimate, recognized voice in the state court system. Why can’t every other state do the same thing? From Maine to California, every state has animal-loving lawyers and law students who would be grateful and eager to volunteer their time as animal advocates.
Lawmakers from other states are reaching out to Rubin to request information on how they might be able to pass a similar law. There’s interest out there, and animal activists can help fan this flame.
It’s time for every jurisdiction to pass its own version of Desmond’s Law.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
Once again everyone: It’s time for every jurisdiction to pass its own version of Desmond’s Law.
In the vast majority of countries our pet animals have few, in any, legal rights.
Thus it was a wonderful reminder of another example of how the Swiss government sets the lead in so many ways to read on the Care 2 site how that country looks after their animals. Laura Burge offers the details in this republication of an essay on Care 2.
10 Reasons Switzerland Is a Great Place to Be a Pet
Switzerland is a fairly small country, but it stills boasts an estimated seven million pets living there, not including the farm animals that dot the countryside. Although far from perfect, it has a long history of improving the working and living conditions for animals within the country, including landmark legislation in 1992 when it became the first country to include animal rights in their constitution. Specifically, it included a provision that allowed for the protection of animal dignity.
Then, in 2008, Switzerland introduced a bevy of new animal rights regulations that went even further. With that in mind, here are some of the more interesting laws that Switzerland has put in place to improve the lives of animals in their midst.
1. Guinea pigs must live with or have regular playdates with other members of their species. They can get lonely if they don’t have a companion. Since guinea pigs often don’t live the exact same amount of time, matchmaking services have sprouted up in the country to make sure they are not alone.
2. The Swiss have your cat’s social life in mind, too — if a cat doesn’t have a feline companion at home, he or she must be able to go outside to socialize with others, or at the very least, be able to see other cats from home.
3. Surprisingly, goldfish must also have friends to swim around with. The Swiss believe it is cruel to have them live alone in a small fish bowl, as they are actually social animals.
4. Rabbits’ enclosures must have a dark area that they can retreat to, if they feel the need. Rabbits are very particular about their space, and having a dark area of their enclosure helps ensure that bunnies are happy and less stressed.
5. Fish must live in aquariums that experience natural day and night cycles, and have at least one opaque side.
6. Before bringing a dog into a new home, a person must provide a certificate of competence demonstrating that they know how to deal with and treat dogs. If they can prove that they’ve already had a dog, though, they’re off the hook.
7. Dogs have to be exercised daily, according to what they need, and, as much as possible, off leash. Everyone knows that different dogs have different levels of energy, so whether someone has a lazy Great Dane who just wants to walk around the block, or a bouncing terrier who needs to run, the law accounts for it.
8. Dogs that are tied up must be able to run around freely for at least five hours a day, and the rest of the time, must be able to move around in at least 20 square meters of space. While this may not seem ideal, since dogs are still allowed to be tied up, it means that there’s a national law on the side of the pet if the owner is using a choke chain or the dog is not getting time to run around freely.
9. Parrots, also considered social creatures, are required to have a companion to spend their days with. The legislation can be eye-opening in how many creatures need others of their own kind to have a relaxed and happy life as a companion to people.
10. Clipping the ears or tails of dogs is not allowed. It is considered undue pain and damage, and dogs get to live out their days with their natural floppy ears and wagging tails.
While Switzerland, like most other countries, are far from achieving perfect animal welfare laws and enforcement, they have made some good progress that other countries would do well to keep an eye on.
Photo credit: Laura Burge, author
Did you spot that four out of those ten laws that were described in the article were for the well-being of dogs!
And even better than that is a State in the USA that also comes to the rescue, legally, of abused animals. Tune in tomorrow for the full story.
I am referring to the result of the British election that was held last Thursday.
Now I am well aware that many readers will not have the same relationship with the outcomes of British elections as your faithful scribe. But I am also aware that we live in a very connected world. I am also acutely aware that for many, many years I was a devoted listener to the 15-minute weekly radio broadcast on the BBC by Alistair Cooke Letter from America.
So for me, and many others I don’t doubt, the views of America as to what goes on across the pond are just as fascinating today as they have always been.
How populism explains May’s stunning UK election upset: Experts react
June 9, 2017 6.04am EDT
Editor’s note: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s election gamble failed badly as her Conservatives lost 12 seats, leaving them with 318, shy of a majority. It was a stunning loss for a party earlier projected to gain dozens of seats. Without a majority, the Conservatives will have to rely on another party to govern – known as a hung Parliament. If they’re unable to forge a coalition, rival Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – whose party gained 31 seats – would be able to give it a go. We asked two experts to offer their insights on what Americans should make of the election and its results.
The results of this election show how similar, and yet how different, British politics are from what is happening in America.
As in the United States, there has been an explosion of populism in Britain, most recently evidenced by the Brexit referendum. This new political force is translating into less liberal policies from the major parties.
In continental Europe, the new populism is mostly embodied by the resurgent far right. But in Britain, as in America, it is being filtered through the existing two-party system – though the U.K.‘s smaller parties do complicate the electoral map.
To accommodate the political winds, May and her Conservatives decided to shift their electoral strategy away from Margaret Thatcher’s pro-market economic approach toward a greater focus on immigration, security and economic nationalism.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, for his part, deserted the more centrist “New Labour” ideas of Tony Blair in favor of a more robust form of social democracy.
The American left, like its British counterpart, has also become increasingly skeptical of unbridled markets. But among Republicans, a traditional hostility to “big government” makes pro-worker redistributive policies, some of which the Tories have adopted to win votes, hard to stomach. For this reason, populism on the American right has mostly taken the form of protectionist and anti-immigrant policies, as embodied by Donald Trump.
Yesterday’s results were devastating for May and indicate that the Conservatives were ultimately unable to balance their new populist message with their traditional support for neo-liberal policies.
Corbyn, for his part, will use this unexpected victory (of sorts) to solidify his hold over the Labour Party and to move it further to the left.
It remains to be seen whether the election will result in a minority or a coalition government, or whether the parties will be well and truly deadlocked. Whatever happens, the British electorate, like its cousin across the pond, has shown itself to be highly polarized.
Still, at a minimum, Britain’s parliamentary structure, along with the ability of the Labour leadership to co-opt disillusioned voters, seems to have spared Britain the fate of America – the takeover of government by a populist insurgent.
May took a calculated political risk and lost. While the market reaction has been severe, with the pound plunging, it’s nothing new to companies, which take calculated risks like that every day – some pay off and some do not.
So first of all, U.S. corporate executives will need to take a deep breath. Assuming a combination of other parties do not cobble together at least 322 seats – despite winning seven seats, Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein will not send MPs to London – the Conservatives will dominate a coalition government and have considerable sway over policy.
This means a “hard Brexit,” as outlined by May in January, and as seen in the European Union’s tough negotiating guidelines, is unlikely to change. But this is what most U.S. companies have been planning for anyway since last June’s Brexit vote. Many companies, particularly banks and financial institutions, are already planning to move some of their U.K. operations to other EU countries to take advantage of the single market rules.
This process will continue no matter who’s in power, since only the low-polling Liberal Democrat and Green parties promised a Brexit revote.
Second, a weakened Conservative Party will need more foreign friends, and that includes U.S. companies. Since Brexit, some foreign businesses have threatened to downsize or close their U.K. operations as leverage for obtaining government subsidies. Expect more companies to use this strategy with a weaker U.K. government.
As I argue in my recent book, the business environment of Europe is much more than the U.K. market, and U.S. companies have become increasingly aware of this since Brexit.
In other words, it’s business as usual, and that means the continued segmenting of companies’ U.K. and EU strategies, regardless of who is governing in London.
Expect things to continue to be interesting for some time. Or as more eloquently put by Tariq Ramadan “Times have changed; so must the lenses through which we see the political future.”
Back to Alistair Cooke. There are many of his broadcasts available on the BBC Radio website and on YouTube.
I’m closing with just a small part of Charlie Rose interviewing Alistair Cooke in May, 1996.
Uploaded on Sep 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 7, 1996
Charlie Rose: An interview with Alistair Cooke
Alistair Cooke celebrates the 50 year anniversary of his BBC broadcast, “Letter from America”, a 15-minute talk about life in America for British listeners.
Recorded some twenty-one years ago. Somethings don’t seem to change!
Why can’t we leave nature to do what’s best for our world!
Now, I would be the first to ‘tut-tut’ a little over my sub-heading. For here I am sitting in front of a computer in a room in a reasonably-sized home that undoubtedly has denuded the natural world formerly underneath the present foundations.
Plus, as the property boundary shown on the above picture confirms, about 50% of our acreage is no longer wilderness.
Ergo, it is impossible for humans to live on this planet without there being consequences that conflict with the natural order of the wild.
But homes to live in are one thing. A planned madness for the Lake District in Northern England is another thing altogether.
The attempt to turn the Lake District into a World Heritage site would be a disaster
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 9th May 2017
If this bid for power succeeds, the consequences for Britain will be irreversible. It will privilege special interests over the public good, shut out the voices of opposition and damage the fabric of the nation, perhaps indefinitely. No, I’m not writing about the election.
In the next few weeks Unesco, the UN’s cultural organisation, will decide whether or not to grant World Heritage status to the Lake District. Once the decision is made, it is effectively irreversible.
Shouldn’t we be proud that this grand scenery, that plays such a prominent role in our perceptions of nationhood, will achieve official global recognition? On the contrary, we should raise our voices against it. World Heritage status would lock the Lake District into its current, shocking state, ensuring that recovery becomes almost impossible.
Stand back from the fells and valleys and try to judge this vista as you would a landscape in any other part of the world. What you will see is the great damage farming has inflicted: wet deserts grazed down to turf and rock; erosion gullies from which piles of stones spill; woods in which no new trees have grown for 80 years, as every seedling has been nibbled out by sheep; dredged and canalised rivers, empty of wildlife and dangerous to the people living downstream; tracts of bare mountainside on which every spring is a silent one. Anyone with ecological knowledge should recoil from this scene.
The documents supporting the bid for world heritage status are lavishly illustrated with photos, that inadvertently reveal what has happened to the national park. But this slow-burning disaster goes almost unmentioned in the text. On the contrary, the bid repeatedly claims that the park is in “good physical condition”, and that the relationship between grazing and wildlife is “harmonious”. Only on page 535, buried in a table, is the reality acknowledged: 75% of the sites that are meant to be protected for nature are in “unfavourable condition”.
This great national property has degenerated into a sheepwrecked wasteland. And the national park partnership, that submitted the bid, wants to keep it this way: this is the explicit purpose of its attempt to achieve world heritage status. It wants to preserve the Lake District as a “cultural landscape”. But whose culture? Whose landscape? There are only 1080 remaining farms in the district. Should the entire national park be managed for their benefit? If so, why? The question isn’t raised, let alone answered.
I can see the value and beauty of the traditional shepherding culture in the Lake District. I can also see that the farming there, reliant on subsidies, quad bikes and steel barns, now bears little relationship to traditional practice. As the size of landholdings has increased, it looks ever more like ranching and ever less like the old system the bid describes. The bid’s claim that farming there is “wholly authentic in terms of … its traditions, techniques and management systems” is neither intelligible nor true. Remnants of the old shepherding culture tend to be represented ceremonially, as its customs are mostly disconnected from the farm economy.
Shepherding is not the only cultural legacy in play. The other is that the Lake District is the birthplace of the modern conservation movement. Inspired by the Picturesque and Romantic movements, much of our environmental ethic and the groups representing it, such as the National Trust, originated here. Attempts to preserve natural beauty in the district began in the mid-18th century, with complaints against the felling of trees around Derwent Water. Today, the national park cares so little for this legacy that, as the bid admits, “there are no data available” on the condition of the Lake District’s woodlands.
The small group favoured by this bid sees environmental protection as anathema. Farmers’ organisations in the Lake District have fought tooth and nail against conservation measures. They revile the National Trust and the RSPB, whose mild efforts to protect the land from overgrazing are, with the help of a lazy and compliant media, treated like bubonic plague. As one of these farming groups exults, world heritage status “gives us a powerful weapon” that they can wield against those who seek to limit their impacts. If the plan is approved, this world heritage site would be a 230,000-hectare monument to overgrazing and ecological destruction.
This is not the only sense in which the bid is unsustainable. Nowhere in its 700 pages is Brexit mentioned. It was obviously written before the referendum, and has not been updated. Yet the entire vision relies, as the bid admits, on the economic viability of the farming system, which depends in turn on subsidies from the European Union.
Without these payments, there would be no sheep farming in the Lake District: it operates at a major loss. European subsidies counteract this loss, delivering an average net farm income of £9,600. Unsurprisingly, people are leaving the industry in droves: the number of farms in the national park is declining by 2% a year. And this is before the payments cease.
What is the national park partnership, that prepared this bid, going to do – march people onto the fells at gunpoint and demand they continue farming? Or does it hope that the government, amid the massacre of public investment that will follow Brexit, will not only match but exceed the £3bn of public money currently being passed to UK farmers by the European Union? Your guess is as good as mine. This omission alone should disqualify the bid.
The failure to mention this fatal issue looks to me like one of many attempts to pull the Herdwick wool over Unesco’s eyes. The entire bid is based on a fairy tale, a pretence that the rural economy of the Lake District hasn’t changed for 200 years. If Unesco grants world heritage status on these grounds, it will inflict irreparable harm on both our natural heritage and its own good standing.
The hills, whose clothes so many profess to admire, are naked. The narrative we are being asked to support is false. The attempt to ensure that the ecological disaster zone we call the Lake District National Park can never recover from its sheepwrecking is one long exercise in woolly thinking.
When one reads this one is left with a feeling of great sadness. A sadness that our ‘movers and shakers’ can’t resist the urge to meddle. Can’t understand the beauty that is found in nature in the raw.
Earlier on I illustrated how our own property has ‘interfered’ with the wilderness of this most beautiful Oregonian countryside. But as I hope to show you with the following photographs taken on our property back in 2014 that wild beauty can be hung on to in some measure.
I have sent a message to Unesco asking if the views of the public are being taken into account and, if so, how those views are to be communicated to Unesco. If you wish to contact them then the details are on this page: http://whc.unesco.org/en/world-heritage-centre/
Any replies from Unesco will be posted here.
UPDATE 0815 PDT May 22nd.
My email yesterday to Unesco was ‘bounced back’ as an invalid email address (despite me using the email address on the Unesco website!!).
But following George Monbiot’s reply to me, giving me the name of James Bridge (email@example.com) at Unesco, I have now sent Mr. Bridge the following email:
Dear Mr. Bridge,
I write as a British citizen, born a Londoner in 1944, to protest in the strongest possible terms to the proposal to turn the English Lake District into a World Heritage Site. This is your Tentative List reference http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5673/.
Would you please provide me with the details of where or whom within Unesco I can write setting out in detail my objections to this proposal?
Your soonest reply would be very much appreciated.
I won’t hold my breath over getting a quick reply.
It is very hard to avoid hyperbole when one speaks of global warming.
I am indebted to The Nation magazine, May 8/15 Issue, in which is included a feature article authored by Bill McKibben. My sub-heading is much of what Bill wrote in his first line.
It is hard to avoid hyperbole when you talk about global warming. It is, after all, the biggest thing humans have ever done, and by a very large margin.
A few sentences later, Bill offers this:
In the drought-stricken territories around the Sahara, we’ve helped kick off what The New York Times called “one of the biggest humanitarian disasters since World War II.” We’ve melted ice at the poles at a record pace, because our emissions trap extra heat from the sun that’s equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima-size explosions a day.
Yet what scares me, scares me beyond comprehension, is the almost universal disregard being shown by Governments and those with power and influence right across the world to what in anyone’s language is the most pressing catastrophe heading down the tracks. Not next year; not tomorrow, but now!
Or in Mr. McKibben’s words, once more from that Nation article:
But as scientists have finally begun to realize, there’s nothing rational about the world we currently inhabit. We’re not having an argument about climate change, to be swayed by more studies and journal articles and symposia. That argument is long since won, but the fight is mostly lost—the fight about the money and power that’s kept us from taking action and that is now being used to shut down large parts of the scientific enterprise. As Trump budget chief Mick Mulvaney said in March, “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.” In a case this extreme, scientists have little choice but to be citizens as well. And given their credibility, it will matter: 76 percent of Americans trust scientists to act in the public interest, compared with 27 percent who think the same thing about elected officials.
Whatever your response is to what I have already presented, the one thing that I do know is that you have been aware of humanity’s effect on our atmosphere for many, many years. Indeed, Bill McKibben wrote his first book twenty-eight years ago!
His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books.
But I would be the first to acknowledge that back in 1989 while I did become aware of Bill McKibben and did purchase and read that book of his, I didn’t see the effects he prophesied. In addition, I didn’t understand the mechanisms that would bring those effects into place.
Now, today, it’s very difficult to deny that global weather systems are behaving in ways that most do not understand albeit we do understand how those weather changes are affecting our lives.
One person who did, and still does even more, understand the physics involved in our changing weather, is Patrice Ayme. For some nineteen years after Bill McKibben’s first book, Patrice published a post on his blog. I have been following Patrice’s blog for some years and while I would be the first to stick my hand in the air and declare that some of his posts are a little beyond me, there’s no question of the integrity of his writings and his bravery in spelling out the truth of these present times. (OK, the truth a la Monsieur Aymes but I would place a decent bet of PA being closer to the core truth of many issues than Joe Public.)
I am indebted to Patrice for granting me permission to republish that post. Please read it. Don’t be put off by terms that may not be familiar to you. Read it to the end – the message is very clear.
Applying Equipartition Of Energy To Climate Change PREDICTS WILD WEATHER.
By Patrice Ayme, March 8th, 2008.
Lately, the world weather has been especially perplexing, influenced by the cold ocean temperatures of a La Niña current in the equatorial Pacific. For Earth’s land areas, 2007 was the warmest year on record.
This year, record cold is more the norm. Global land-surface temperatures so far are below the 20th-century mean for the first time since 1982, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Last month in China, snowstorms stranded millions of people, while in Mumbai, officials reported the coldest day in 46 years.
Yet, England basked in its fourth-warmest January since 1914, the British Met Office reported. The crocus and narcissus at the U.K.’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew flowered a week earlier than last year — 11 days ahead of their average for the decade and weeks ahead of their pattern in the 1980s. In Prague, New Year’s Day was the warmest since 1775.
“It is difficult to judge the significance of what we are seeing this year,” said Kew researcher Sandra Bell. “Is it a glitch or is it the beginning of something more sinister and alarming?”” (Robert Lee Hotz, Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2008).
Many scientists have pondered this question, as if they did not know the answer, but it is a straightforward application of thermodynamics.
A basic theorem of equilibrium thermodynamics, the EQUIPARTITION OF ENERGY theorem, says that the same amount of energy should be present in all degrees of freedom into which energy can spill.
(How does one demonstrate this theorem? Basically, heat is agitation, kinetic energy at the scale of atoms and molecules. This agitation can spill in a more organized manner, in great ensembles, such as vast low and high pressure systems, or large scale dynamics. See the note on entropy and negative temperatures.)
In the case of meteorology, this implies, oversimplifying a bit, that only one-third of the energy should go into heat (and everybody focuses on the augmentation of temperature). Now, of course, since the energy enters the system as heat, non equilibrium thermodynamics imposes more than one-third of the energy will be heat.
As time goes by, though, the other two degrees of freedom, potential energy (represented as the geometry of gradients of pressures, high and low pressure systems, hurricanes) and dynamics (wind speed and vast movements of air masses of varying temperatures and/or pressure; and the same for sea currents) will also store energy.
Thus the new heat created in the lower atmosphere by the increased CO2 greenhouse will be transformed in all sorts of weather weirdness: heat, cold, high and low pressures, wind, and big moves of big things. Big things such as vast re-arrangements of low and high pressure systems, as observed in the Northern Hemisphere, or the re-arrangement of sea currents as apparently also observed, and certainly as it is expected. Since it happened in the past (flash ice age of the Younger Dryas over Europe, 18,000 years ago).
As cold and warm air masses get thrown about, the variability of temperatures will augment all over.
In other words, record snow and cold in the Alps and record warmth simultaneously in England is a manifestation of the equipartition of energy theorem applied to the greenhouse warming we are experiencing. It is not mysterious at all, and brutal variations such as these, including sudden cold episodes, are to be expected, as more and more energy gets stuffed in the planetary climate, and yanks it away from its previous equilibrium.
Wind speed augmentations have already had a spectacular effect: by shaking the waters of the Austral ocean with increasingly violent waves, carbon dioxyde is being removed as if out of a shaken carbonated drink. Thus the Austral ocean is now a net emitter of CO2 (other oceans absorb CO2, and transform it into carbonic acid).
Hence the observed variations are the beginning of something more sinister and alarming. Climate change is changing speed. Up, up, and away.
Note on entropy: Some may object that transforming heat into collective behavior of vast masses of air or sea violates the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, namely that entropy augments always, in any natural process. Well, first of all, the genius of the genus Homo, not to say of all of life itself, rests on local violations of the Second Law. Secondly, the most recent physics recognizes that fundamental considerations allow systems where increased energy lead to increased order (such a system is said to be in a negative temperature state).
Even more revealingly, a massive greenhouse on planet Earth would lead, as happened in the past, to a much more uniform heat, all around the planet, that is, a more ordered state. Meanwhile, the transition to the present order of a temperate climate to the completely different order of an over-heated Earth will bring complete disorder, as observed.
Going to leave you with a picture taken from weather.com
Please, please, please: make a difference! Environmentally, domestically and politically, please make a difference.