Tag: NBC News

A good news story!

We welcome with open arms this change in the law!

From the BBC.

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Californian law change means pet shops can sell only rescued animals

December 30th, 2018.

It is hoped the law will encourage pet adoptions.

California is set to become the first state in the US to ban the sale of non-rescue animals in pet shops.

The new law, known as AB 485, takes effect on 1 January. Any businesses violating it face a $500 (£400) fine.

The change means cats, dogs and rabbits sold by retailers cannot be sourced from breeders, only from animal shelters.

Animal rights groups have heralded it as a step forward against so-called “kitten factories” and “puppy mills”.

They say the current “high-volume” industries, where pets are bred for profit, can lead to inhumane treatment and long-term emotional and physical health problems in some animals.

The new state-wide law, approved in late 2017, will now require shops to maintain sufficient records of where they sourced each animal, for periodic checks by authorities.

It does not, however, affect sales from private breeders or owner-to-owner sales.

Some Californian shop owners have raised concern the law could put them out of business. The measure has also seen resistance from the American Kennel Club, which said it limits pet owners.

According to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates, more than 6.5 million pets enter shelters across the country every year, of which about 1.5 million are put down.

It is estimated that more than than 860,000 cats are euthanised in the US every year

The California assembly member who introduced the legislation, Patrick O’Donnell, has insisted the legislation is not just “a big win” for “four-legged friends”, but for California taxpayers too, as they spend hundreds of millions on sheltering animals across the state.

A couple hoping to adopt a cat from a San Diego shelter on Friday, told NBC News the move was a step forward for the state.

“It takes the emphasis off the profit of animals and puts the emphasis back on caring for and getting these cats and dogs a good home,” prospective owner Mitch Kentdotson said.

AB 485 is the first state-wide law of its kind, although other places have enacted similar regulations on pet sales on a local level.

Earlier this month, a similar ban on third-party puppy and kitten sales was confirmed in England.

Lucy’s law, named after a mistreated cavalier King Charles spaniel, also aims to combat low-welfare animal breeding.

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Slowly but surely we are recognising that these animals are more, much more, than ‘belongings‘.

Dogs save us in many ways.

With the recent earthquakes in Mexico being a glorious example of that!

Nobody would have missed out on the news of the terrible catastrophe of the  recent earthquakes in Mexico.

As seen on the NBC news site.

Mexico Earthquake Death Toll Climbs as Dozens Sleep on Streets

JUCHITAN, Mexico — The death toll from one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in Mexico rose to at least 61 early Saturday as workers scrambled to respond to the destruction just as Hurricane Katia struck its coastline.

The 8.1 quake off the southern Pacific coast just before midnight Thursday toppled hundreds of buildings in several states. Hardest-hit was Juchitan, Oaxaca, where 36 people died and a third of the city’s homes collapsed or were otherwise rendered uninhabitable, President Enrique Pena Nieto said late Friday in an interview with the Televisa news network.

It’s impossible to truly appreciate the terror of such an event unless one has had the misfortune of already living through such an earthquake. Likewise, almost as difficult to appreciate the terror of being trapped.

But thank goodness for dogs that are trained to sniff out those trapped persons. Such as Frida who saved so many lives down in Mexico. Here’s the account of Frida’s special deeds as carried on the Care2 site.

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Frida, the Heroic Rescue Dog, Saves Lives After Mexico’s Earthquake

By: Laura Goldman,   September 25, 2017

About Laura   Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

Photos and videos of a rescue dog named Frida have gone viral — complete with her cute-yet-necessary work uniform: doggie goggles, vest and four protective, Velco-strapped booties. She has become a four-legged symbol of hope during these dark times in Mexico.

Although, contrary to some early news reports, Frida didn’t really rescue 52 people after the devastating 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico Sept. 19, the 7-year-old yellow Labrador retriever has nonetheless become a media sensation.

What’s true is that prior to the earthquake, Frida (she’s named after the artist Frida Kahlo) had helped rescue 12 people and recover the bodies of 40 people during her career as a disaster rescue dog with the Mexican Navy’s (SEMAR) Canine Unit.

Working with 14 other dogs in the unit, she has located 12 victims of the Sept. 19 quake so far.

Frida’s first mission after the earthquake struck was to find survivors at the Enrique Rebsamen School in Mexico City. Eleven children were found alive by other emergency workers. Tragically, 19 children and six adults did not survive.

Frida suffered from exhaustion after searching the school Sept. 20, her handler, Israel Arauz Salinas, told the Los Angeles Times. After napping and drinking plenty of water with electrolytes, she was in better spirits the following day and ready to go back to work.

Frida has two colleagues in the Canine Unit, Evil and Echo, who are both one-year-old Belgian Malinois dogs. Because Frida is getting on in years, Evil and Echo enter collapsed buildings before she does. If they find someone, Frida enters and spends no longer than 20 minutes inside the building.

The disaster rescue dogs can reach areas that are inaccessible to human responders, including spaces that are less than 20 inches high. When they find a victim who’s alive, the dogs bark. Otherwise they stop and slowly approach the body. “They act afraid,” Salinas told the L.A. Times. “That indicates to us that there is a cadaver.”

Like the other dogs in the Canine Unit, Frida began training when she was just two months old. The skills the dogs show in training determine whether they will go on to detect people, narcotics or explosives.

To train dogs to find people, they are first taught to fetch toys and balls. Once they learn how to do that, their trainers run with the toy or ball in their hands. The dogs learn to associate the smell of the person with the reward of the ball, Salinas told the L.A. Times. Before they’re ready to be dispatched to disaster areas, the dogs train for about three hours a day for a year.

Just two weeks before the Sept. 19 earthquake, Frida helped locate the body of a policeman after a massive 8.1 quake struck Juchitan. She also worked in Ecuador after an earthquake there in April last year.

Before Frida won the hearts of the rest of the world, even the president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, was a fan of hers (or at least the person in charge of his official Twitter account was).

“She is @Frida, belongs to the #SEMAR_mx and has helped save 52 lives in various natural disasters at the national and international levels,” says a @PresidenciaMX tweet on Sept. 13.

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I’m going to finish off today’s post with a recent video aired by Quebec News. (Actually, a series of still photographs.)

Quebec NEWS Published on Sep 21, 2017

Thousands of emergency services, military, and civilians are currently searching through rubble across the country for survivors. Among them are Frida, a rescue dog who has saved 52 people throughout her career, according to the office of Mexico’s President. Frida’s adorable outfit has a purpose. The goggles are to protect her eyes from smoke and debris, while the boots protect her feet from rough terrain. A massive 7.1 earthquake rocked Mexico earlier this week,It was the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks

 

Progressing Wisdom – the essay.

What is wisdom?

On May 11th, Patrice Ayme published an essay entitled Science: Progressing Wisdom.  I found it deeply engaging. At the same time, I was frustrated because there was a part of me that wanted to know more about “Patrice”.

For some time, I had known that Patrice Ayme was a nom-de-plume and that his, or her, identity was carefully protected. Still that part of me that wanted to relate to the real person, for want of a better description, still wouldn’t quieten down.  I offered the following comment:

Patrice, you have demonstrated an amazing breadth of knowledge across your many essays. However, I did wonder if you would be happy to declare your educational experience? As in your specialisation at a degree or Doctorate level (I suspect you do hold a PhD!)? Best wishes, Paul

Patrice’s reply, which you are encouraged to read in full, opened, thus:

You are so funny, Paul! You have an Obsession-Compulsion about “qualifications”.

One of my main ideas, idea #956, is that the authority principle is severely abused. People with Philosophiae Doctor have nothing sacred about them. Goebbels had one (in humanities).

Do you think Goebbels’ authority in humanities is to be “declared”? There were even not just PhDs, but Nobel Laureates, who became Nazis, BEFORE Hitler (who had been sent to spy on them).

No doubt Hitler, a simple caporal, and gifted painter (he lived off it), was super-impressed when he met some of the most educated people in the world, and they were Nazis… Full of PhDs.

One should not confuse the message’s content and her bearer.

This site is about learning to think better. That’s why I go back to the basics.

The idea that, say, those with PhDs is Idionomics, are the only ones qualified to speak about idiocy, is, well, idiotic.

Another reader of Patrice’s essay, gmax, said this, in part:

You have to learn to judge knowledge, not just follow oligarchs like a bleating sheep to learn what’s true and what is not.

That really made me sit up and think! For the first time in my life (I’m 70 later this year), I realised that my own ragged educational experience, as offered yesterday, had left in its wake a personal insecurity over my education, and a consequential weakness in evaluating knowledge with me somehow needing to know the identity of anonymous authors. When Patrice wrote, “Please do not hesitate to make it a post, Paul! I was thinking of it myself, but, as it is, right now, I don’t seem to have the time.“, I couldn’t resist.

Here is my essay.

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Wisdom, knowledge and authority.

Abstract: Wisdom requires clarity of knowledge; no more and no less.

On Tuesday evening, Jean and I rented a movie.  We watched the film American Hustle.

american-hustle-poster
The film tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld, who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso. DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down.

The film has received rave reviews (here’s a typical one in the Guardian newspaper) and was fun to watch; albeit somewhat confusing for much of the first half. At one point towards the end, the hero of the film, Irving Rosenfeld, reflects that, “People see and hear what they want to believe!“.

Bingo!

That is the challenge about accruing wisdom. How to be analytical and wise in learning new thinking and new ideas. In other words, in acquiring knowledge!

If the subject is simple (well on the surface!) as, for example, the effect of the Earth’s gravitational field then that’s fine and dandy.  It’s easy to become wise to the fact that falling off a tall building is likely to kill you.

But take an extremely complex, and highly current matter, that of Planet Earth’s changing climate, and it is extremely difficult for the average person without a scientific background to determine the truth.  Really, when I use the phrase “to determine the truth” in the context of this essay I should have written ‘to gain knowledge‘.

To illustrate that, my good Californian friend of more than 35 years, Dan Gomez, is highly sceptical about climate change as a product of man’s activities.  Recently, I sent him an email with a link to the NBC News report: American Doomsday: White House Warns of Climate CatastrophesThis was Dan’s email reply:

Think about it, Paul.

1. Consider the source and the timing of these new headlines i.e. the left-thinking Obama regime and current unfavorable political challenges.
2. A deflection from mainline issues confronting us today i.e., jobs, economy, healthcare, upcoming elections, Benghazi and IRS political issues.
3. Major opportunity to raise taxes unilaterally without Congress involved.
4. Major opportunity to redistribute corporate wealth from private sector to public sector.
5. Refocus of competitive, free-market energy sector to controlled renewables managed by a few very wealthy political contributors. A lot of money at stake.
6. Man, is empowered via a political party to “save the world” by changing the Weather. The only problem is, there is no solution, no global will and no participants to make anything significant happen i.e., China, Southeast Asia and another billion people scattered about.
7. Euro Zone and USA have already cut CO2 emissions by over 30% each to no avail. In fact, they say it is getting worse after hundreds of billions of dollars already diverted from private sector to public sector with no results. They are now asking for trillions.
8. Average person is not willing to give up his car, nor spend more for battery power (peel back the onion on the battery manufacturing and recycling industry vis a vis CO2 contributions). Much fewer cars, trains, tractors, jets, etc. to make anything work. Sacrifice begins at home.
9. Cows vent 20 times the CO2 emissions in the form of methane than man-made artifacts.  Just saying….
10. Check out the bacteria challenge facing Man. This will help put priorities in order for you.

As always, follow the money and you’ll get your answers…..

I am unable to respond to Dan in an analytical and precise manner. I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to so do. Having an emotional response is fine – but it does not advance my personal wisdom.

On the 6th May, I posted an item that featured a TED Talk by scientist Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist no less.  His view is that, “You can’t understand climate change in pieces. It’s the whole, or it’s nothing.”  The TED Talk explains how the big picture of climate change illustrates the endlessly complex interactions of small-scale environmental events.

Just a few days ago, Jean and I had the pleasure of a couple of hours at the home of Leon Hunsaker, renowned meteorologist who has claimed that the 1862 Californian flood could happen again.

Leon Hunsaker has done the math, and he thinks Sacramento isn’t prepared for another series of storms like the ones that hit the state in January 1862.
Leon Hunsaker has done the math, and he thinks Sacramento isn’t prepared for another series of storms like the ones that hit the state in January 1862.

Leon lives less than 5 minutes from us here in Southern Oregon. I asked him what he thought of climate change and he said that the planet’s atmosphere was like a large chocolate cake and man’s activities were no more than the icing on the cake.

So there you are: a range of opinions about this particular, potentially very important, subject. Although in my own (emotional) mind the weight of evidence is in favour of the argument that man is having a deepening and worsening effect on our planet.

Take, for example, the report issued yesterday about significant melting of Antarctica’s glaciers now unstoppable. (Patrice has just released an informative post on the subject!)

People see and hear what they want to believe!” comes immediately back to mind. Dan wants to believe that the planet is going through normal cycles of change.  I want to believe that mankind can make a difference; for the sake of my children and grandson.

Let me turn to the subject of anonymous authors, my Obsession-Compulsion about qualifications!

I have admitted the flaw in my thinking. Here’s the rationale for my change of opinion.

Just two days ago, Tom Engelhardt published his latest TomDispatch, a guest essay by Glenn Greenwald coinciding with the publication of Greenwald’s new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State. In that essay, Glenn Greenwald says:

On December 1, 2012, I received my first communication from Edward Snowden, although I had no idea at the time that it was from him.

The contact came in the form of an email from someone calling himself Cincinnatus, a reference to Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the Roman farmer who, in the fifth century BC, was appointed dictator of Rome to defend the city against attack. He is most remembered for what he did after vanquishing Rome’s enemies: he immediately and voluntarily gave up political power and returned to farming life. Hailed as a “model of civic virtue,” Cincinnatus has become a symbol of the use of political power in the public interest and the worth of limiting or even relinquishing individual power for the greater good.

The world now knows what Glenn Greenwald (and Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker) knew long before.  That Snowden’s anonymity was critically important in the run-up to his knowledge being made widely known.

I was convinced. What is important is not the name and identity of the author of knowledge.  What is important is the knowledge itself. No one would deny Snowden’s right to privacy. Indeed, millions of us would opt for email privacy if we fully realised the ease and extent with which our emails, indeed our communications in general, can be intercepted.

Many know that Patrice is a frequent, outspoken voice about the dangers of plutocracy and the slip-sliding away of democracy in the United States. His, or her, personal safety is the highest need of all. Patrice has a perfect right to privacy.

Which leads on to the final, obvious question. If we do not know the identity of the author of knowledge then how can we be certain that the knowledge is valid?

Answer: Through testing!

Of course!

In the best traditions of research, especially scientific research, testing the validity of a claim is the only certain way of determining the validity of knowledge; of being able to derive wisdom from that knowledge.

Let me give you a clear example.

Commercial aviation is incredibly safe. Many countries operate an equivalent to the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch. That UK AAIB website proclaims:

The purpose of the AAIB is:

To improve aviation safety by determining the causes of air accidents and serious incidents and making safety recommendations intended to prevent recurrence
…It is not to apportion blame or liability.

Keith Conradi, Chief Inspector

Critical to that purpose of improving safety (aka improving knowledge) is looking for trends. Any trends or patterns would be impossible to discover without testing and debate.

Thus what makes aviation safer is no different to what makes all of knowledge reliable: the testing of ideas and of the hypotheses behind those ideas. The identity of the author of those ideas, per se, is irrelevant.

Thus it is clear to me, clear now beyond doubt, that wisdom is the application of knowledge disconnected from the person who is the author of that knowledge. One might see it as a marriage of knowledge and intellect. Nothing more and nothing less!

All aspects of wisdom depend on trust, on the confidence that the knowledge is ‘reliable‘. Reliability gained from debate and testing.

Never forgetting that in the final analysis, as Patrice wrote it:

“Nature is the only authority worth respecting always.”

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In every which way that one can imagine, we have to return to the principles of fairness and balance so beautifully demonstrated to man by the breadth of Nature.  We have to embrace Nature’s wisdom.

In other words, we have to learn from dogs!

Dogs and Man: an eternity of a relationship

New research shows the beauty of the bond between dog and man.

I was doing some research for another writing project and came across this on the NBC News website:

What prehistoric dog burials tell us about owners

By Jennifer Viegas

An analysis of ancient dog burials finds that the typical prehistoric dog owner ate a lot of seafood, had spiritual beliefs, and wore jewelry that sometimes wound up on the dog.

The study, published in PLoS ONE, is one of the first to directly test if there was a clear relationship between the practice of dog burial and human behaviors. The answer is yes.

Photo - Robert Losey. The ancient dog was buried in a resting position. It was part of a study to directly test if there was a clear relationship between the practice of dog burial and human behaviors. The answer is yes.
Photo – Robert Losey.
The ancient dog was buried in a resting position. It was part of a study to directly test if there was a clear relationship between the practice of dog burial and human behaviors. The answer is yes.

That PLOS ONE study, published March 2013, found that “dog domestication predates the beginning of agriculture about 10,000 years ago.”

Dr. Losey and his dog, Guiness

Dr. Robert Losey, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta and the lead author, explained that,

Dog burials appear to be more common in areas where diets were rich in aquatic foods because these same areas also appear to have had the densest human populations and the most cemeteries,

If the practice of burying dogs was solely related to their importance in procuring terrestrial game, we would expect to see them in the Early Holocene (around 9,000 years ago), when human subsistence practices were focused on these animals.

Robert Losey continued.

Further, we would expect to see them in later periods in areas where fish were never really major components of the diet and deer were the primary focus, but they are rare or absent in these regions.

The PLOS ONE paper went on to report that researchers found that most of the dog burials occurred during the Early Neolithic period, some 7,000-8,000 years ago, and that “dogs were only buried when human hunter-gatherers were also being buried.”  Dr. Losey went on to say,

I think the hunter-gatherers here saw some of their dogs as being nearly the same as themselves, even at a spiritual level. At this time, dogs were the only animals living closely with humans, and they were likely known at an individual level, far more so than any other animal people encountered. People came to know them as unique, special individuals.

Those interested in the research paper may find it here, and read the Abstract:

Ancient DNA Analysis Affirms the Canid from Altai as a Primitive Dog

Abstract

The origin of domestic dogs remains controversial, with genetic data indicating a separation between modern dogs and wolves in the Late Pleistocene. However, only a few dog-like fossils are found prior to the Last Glacial Maximum, and it is widely accepted that the dog domestication predates the beginning of agriculture about 10,000 years ago. In order to evaluate the genetic relationship of one of the oldest dogs, we have isolated ancient DNA from the recently described putative 33,000-year old Pleistocene dog from Altai and analysed 413 nucleotides of the mitochondrial control region. Our analyses reveal that the unique haplotype of the Altai dog is more closely related to modern dogs and prehistoric New World canids than it is to contemporary wolves. Further genetic analyses of ancient canids may reveal a more exact date and centre of domestication.

DNA testing indicates that the evolutionary split between dogs and wolves was around 100,000 years ago or more. The value of dogs to early human hunter-gatherers led to them quickly becoming ubiquitous across world cultures.

Thus it is in the order of 90,000 years, possibly a couple of decades longer, from the point where a bond was made between early man and the wolf to the era when man evolved from a tribal hunter-gatherer existence to farming the resources of the planet. Thousands and thousands of years of dogs being the greatest animal relationship we humans have ever experienced.

Back to that NBC news item:

Erik Axelsson, a researcher at Uppsala University’s Science for Life Laboratory, has also studied prehistoric dogs. He too found that human and dog diets, burial practices and more often paralleled each other, revealing how close the dog-human bond has been for thousands of years.

Axelsson said, “Dogs and humans share the same environment, we eat similar food and we get similar diseases.

Based on the number of burials, we also often spend eternity together too.

Eons of time.

A hundred, thousand years of knowing man, and it shows in the eyes.