Nel's New Day

February 21, 2019

Sue Hardesty: The Wall Continues 

In a poll taken since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced that he was building a wall at the southern U.S. border because of a “national emergency,” polls indicate a disagreement from the people of the United States:

  • 61 percent do not approve of the “emergency.”
  • 58 percent believe an “emergency” does not exist.
  • 58 percent think that DDT misused his power by redirecting funds toward the wall.

Sue Hardesty shows from her FB writings that she’s in the majority of people not approving of an “emergency” and believing that there is no emergency and DDT misused his powers. A few pieces from the past month (lightly edited). She wrote these pieces after her first commentary on walls.

Did you know that for the year of 2015 the IRS reported 4.4 million workers (mostly undocumented immigrants) without a Social Security number paid $23.6 billion in income taxes? And that these same undocumented workers pay $7 billion each year into Social Security. The tragic thing is they are paying all these taxes for benefits they cannot even use like Medicare and Social Security. The reason they did file is that paying taxes leave a paper trail proving how long the immigrant has been in the U.S., one of the requirements toward becoming a citizen. The half of the undocumented workers who did not file still paid taxes which adds billions more every year. These workers are also doing critical jobs, especially in the food industry, that natural born whites refuse to do.

  *  *  *

Sorry. My political side is back. I received so many responses to my page on Trump’s wall that I decided to continue the debate. On crime committed by immigrants, I found that “the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. tripled between the 1990s and 2013, while violent crime declined 48% and property crime fell 41% over that period.” Recent research sources on immigration and crime concluded:

“There are two broad types of studies that investigate immigrant criminality. The first type uses Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data from the institutionalized population and broadly concludes that immigrants are less crime prone than the native-born population. It is important to note that immigrants convicted of crimes serve their sentences before being deported with few exceptions.”

Not only have immigrants committed less crime, there is an abundance of research that immigrants even bring the crime rate down. The second type of research at a macro level analysis generally found, “increased immigration does not increase crime and sometimes even causes crime rates to fall.”

I guess what breaks my heart are the asylum seekers caught in a war we likely caused and are only asking to live. Tell me we have room for them.

Another of Sue’s entries after she read about how private prison conglomerates take cash from immigrants seeking asylum:

I think the government should never hire outside contractors for any job having to do with taking care of any living thing because greed usually wins, especially when rich corporations such as GeoGroup and CoreCivic are involved. On the average, ICE pays around $62 dollars a day for each detainee, giving $38 million to CoreCivic alone last year. When it comes to corporations and the bottom profit line, anything is never enough. In addition to starving prisoners so that they have to work for as little as $1.00 a day, they are overcharged for anything they buy such as a can of tuna, paying four times what it cost outside. Or a dollar’s worth of Dove soap $2.44. Companies also take ten percent of money from inmates waiting for asylum for “fees.” One more nail of shame.

In response from one of Sue’s readers, an 11-minute video about the effect of the wall on Arizona’s Tohono o’odham, whose land is approximately the size of Connecticut [transcript included]. Full one-hour PBS presentation.

A comprehensive view of Arizona’s Tohono o’odham dilemma from the Smithsonian American Indian Magazine. 

Addenda from Nel:

DDT started the wall as a memory device to remind him to talk about his hatred for immigrants; now he says that his Space Patrol started as joke. “I was not really serious,” he said about his first mention. Now he has ordered the DOD to establish a new military branch for the purpose of fighting threats in space—which the Pentagon already does in a Space Command. DDT still needs congressional approval.

DDT demanded the wall because of his “gut feeling” that drugs don’t come through ports of entry. ICE disagreed because drug smuggling has turned to large truckloads—such as the 254 pounds of Fentanyl that Customs found a few weeks ago “under the rear floor of a tractor-trailer.” The discovery didn’t deter DDT’s claims, but facts disprove his false claims again. Yesterday, Customs announced the find of 906 pounds of meth hidden in a trailer with frozen strawberries. A wall would not have blocked either of these enormous drug shipments.

Last week, DDT said the wall wasn’t being built; this week he says the wall is being built—but it’s only a renovation of an existing wall approved in 2017. The video that he parades is almost two years old.

DDT said he would be sued over the wall, and he’s right.

  • A coalition of 16 states filed a federal lawsuit to block DDT’s building the wall without congressional permission.
  • The Sierra Club, the ACLU, and a coalition of environmental groups have filed suits in two other jurisdictions.
  • Three Texas landowners are suing to keep their land on the border from DDT’s wall. One of them said she had never seen undocumented immigrants crossing the border in 40 years.
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a suit seeking documents about DDT’s legal reasoning for declaring the emergency.
  • El Paso County has joined the Border Network for Human Rights to sue DDT in a lawsuit designed to prevent the wall. They argue that the emergency declaration damages the city’s reputation and economy.

Arguments against the constitutionality of DDT’s emergency include no emergency exists (DDT waited two years until he got a Democratic House), the Congress refused the money, apprehensions of undocumented immigrants are down, immigrants aren’t responsible for massive crimes, and drug trafficking won’t be blocked by a wall.

More opposition:

  • The House is preparing to vote on a bill opposing the “emergency.”
  • More than one-third of the money said he would take from other federal programs will probably be unavailable. DOD said only $85 million remains unspent in the $2.5 billion anti-drug funds that DDT targeted.
  • At least eight GOP senators and possibly more, openly oppose the emergency declaration and DDT’s taking money from military construction funds because military bases won’t get the renovation that they need.
  • Representatives are equally unhappy, even our Trumpist Greg Walden (R-OR).

For now, the law that gave DDT only $1.375 billion for a barrier that can’t be concrete has protected areas in the Rio Grande Valley:

  • The National Butterfly Center, an ecotourism destination.
  • Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, an international area for bird watching.
  • Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, exempted in last year’s budget.
  • La Lomita, an historic Catholic chapel that lost a court fight a week ago.
  • Area designated for the commercial spaceport for SpaceX, a space transportation company designed by Tesla founder Elon Musk.
  • Starr County, second-poorest county in Texas, permitted mandatory “mutual agreements” with DHS about barriers.

Losers are the 154-year-old Eli Jackson cemetery, an indigenous burial ground, and 600 owners of private land that can be taken by eminent domain. Every protection is gone if DDT’s “national emergency” succeeds.

DDT is increasing human trafficking by transferring money from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to ICE that focuses on low-level “coyotes” and finding law-abiding undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for decades. HSI investigations have dropped by other 50 percent because of less than half its former staff in DDT’s first full fiscal year. Although the number of people charged with “bringing in and harboring certain aliens rose statistically by 18 percent, DDT had lowered the standards for smuggling.

Taxpayers are paying $12,000 for DDT’s wall around his Florida golf course to block the press’s view. Last year, he put journalists in basements and covered windows with black plastic so that they couldn’t see his frequent golf games. Taxpayers have already given DDT $17,000 to build a wall at Mar-a-Lago.

January 29, 2019

Sue Hardesty: Hagfish Slime

Filed under: Sue Hardesty — trp2011 @ 8:17 PM
Tags: , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) plans a coup in Venezuela and contemplates his next government shutdown in less than three weeks. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin favors friends who financially benefited him by lifting sanctions on Russian oligarchs and Vladimir Putin who helped DDT get elected in 2016. Bill Barr hopes to be the next DOJ AG so that he can protect DDT from his legal problems emanating from his corruption. GOP legislators ridicule the idea of “global warming” because they can’t tell the difference between weather and climate.

In the past year, the United States lost four points in the Corruption Perceptions Index, dropping to a score of 71, and moving down to # in the world. Full democracies averaged 75 on the corruption index, flawed democracies averaged 49, and autocratic regimes averaged 30. Since 2012, only 20 countries improved their scores, some of them staying in the area of autocracies, and 16 declined, including Chile which dropped from 72 to 67. The U.S. is now 22 out of 180 nations.

All this in the past week and much more make Sue Hardesty’s latest Facebook entry timely. It’s on slime. From Sue Hardesty:

I’ve often heard the two best days in a boat owner’s life are the day they bought the boat and the day they sold it. I don’t know how true this is, so I have another fish story for you. Whether you’re fly fishing, baitcasting or spinning, our Yaquina River is a popular place to play. Among the edible fish you might expect to catch are bass, chinook, steelhead, cabezon, perch, rockfish, greenling, salmon, sturgeon, herring and crab. And a real slime-ball called hagfish. When you pick these little suckers up, they secrete snotty slime any time they feel threatened. Mixed in with water the slime quickly turns it into a sticky, thick gel.

The hagfish can clean itself by simply tying itself into a knot, scraping the slime away as it twists from the head to its tail. Considered one of the ugliest of sea animals, the hagfish has an eel body, no skeleton except for a skull, up to 14 pairs of gill pores, five hearts, strong jaws with sharp teeth, and a stomach. They are scaleless and blind. Traced back to the Paleozoic era, the evolving era of fish, it is a scavenger found mostly on soft mud bottoms and is caught using rakes and plastic baited traps. Their unusual feeding habits and their slime-producing abilities have led scientists to recognize them as the most ‘disgusting’ of all sea creatures.

Yet these ugly creatures and their eggs are a big delicacy in Japan and other Asian countries. Koreans even consider the hagfish an aphrodisiac. I understand that hagfish slime is pure protein and could be a great substitute for eggs. Anybody for scrambled? Not to put too strong a point on it, I really think grilled hagfish would be the ickiest food I’d never put in my mouth. But, some say, all things that swim are edible unless proven otherwise.

In other practical areas, hagfish skin is processed into various leather goods and sold throughout the world. Research into hagfish slime is investigating possible hagfish uses in biodegradable polymers, space-filling gels – even a means of stopping blood flow in accident victims and surgery, ballistics protection, firefighting, anti-fouling, diver protection, and anti-shark spray. The tough, stretchy fibers can also be used for fabric. Hard to think about wearing fish, especially knowing it’s slimy snot.

My fish story, super-starring our very own hagfish, would have me selling my boat, too. On July 14, 2017, a truck full of hagfish destined for South Korea overturned on Oregon Highway 101, strewing the animals across a stretch of highway, covering the road and an unfortunate car in slime. It was funny at the time. Unless it was your car.

[Notes: This is a very brief description of the creatures. If your curiosity is piqued, check out these sources:

For those with a strong stomach, I highly recommend this three-minute video. And think about the United States government while you do. A big difference between DDT’s administration and hagfish is that hagfish benefits people.]


January 7, 2019

Sue Hardesty: Sea Stars Gradually Disappear

Filed under: Sue Hardesty — trp2011 @ 8:55 PM
Tags: , , ,

When I was young, these creatures were called starfish. The name was changed in the United States during the past five decades to sea stars because they are echinoderms, not fish, and closely related to sea urchins and sand dollars. No matter what the name, they are disappearing because of environmental problems. This Sea Grant video shows how scientists at the Oregon Coast Aquarium are developing a blood panel for ochre sea stars to help treat them before they die off from Sea Star Wasting Syndrome.

Below, Sue Hardesty’s Facebook entry about the gradual extinction:

I want to talk about my favorite sea thingy, that wondrous little creature, the sea star, that’s nearly impossible to kill. Until now. September 18, 2016, I posted on my Facebook. “Spent yesterday morning walking the tide pools on my favorite beach, looking for my favorite ocean friends, the sea stars. There should have been hundreds. I found three. All sick. They all had bubbling and swelling in their centers and the curling limbs, eventually turning into a smearing mess. This is the fourth year. How much longer before they are all gone?” So, I went looking.

The tragic fact is that we are presently witnessing the largest wildlife die-off in recorded history—and we don’t know why. It is suspected they are another victim of global warming, but the research is still sketchy. Even though this little sea creature has no fins, or brain, or teeth, or even bones, and circulates sea water through their systems instead of blood, they are still tough little guys of wondrous colors and shapes, and, remarkably, they have eyes at the end of each arm, can produce millions of eggs at one time, replace lost arms, and change gender from male to female at will. They can even create glue with their feet. Did I mention how beautiful they are, dressed up in all kinds of colors and shaped with many arms? The loss of the sea star is a true disaster because, unlike the 80 or so extinct mammal species whose demise we are already responsible for, this little guy is one of our major keystone species.

When a major keystone species becomes extinct, its habitat and the living creatures in it are seriously affected and often simply disappear. What makes the sea star a keystone species is that it eats sea urchins which have the bad habit of “clear-cutting” kelp beds destroying cover as well as oxygen and food for many other species, including prawns and fish. Sea stars also eat mussels which, if left unintended, clean the water so well no food is left for the small fishes. Other examples of keystone species presently in danger are bees whose pollination is critical for plant survival, and, in turn, provide food and shelter for bugs who are eaten by birds. Then there is the predator such as bears, lions, tigers, wolves, cougars, and good ol’ man who keep the population of various species in check.

A new report from the Coastal Ocean Research Institute, November 26, 2018, has cited a disease called the “sea star wasting syndrome” as the killer of millions of sea stars from Mexico to Alaska. Like the perfect storm, this disease could be a combination of elevated sea water temperatures with an imbalance of microbiome, or just as likely several microbe pathogens.” The report also discussed the 2014/2015 “unusual boom” in juvenile sea stars of several species which gave so many of us hope. “Unfortunately, the abundance was short-lived,” wrote Schultz. “The juveniles disappeared over a period of weeks to months, and no evidence of their abundance has so far been reflected in adult populations…it’s not uncommon at all to observe a sea star healthy one day and in pieces and near death the next morning,” said UVM co-author Melanie Lloyd. “If this disease was happening in humans, it would be the making of a Stephen King novel.”




January 1, 2019

Sue Hardesty: Crabbing on the Oregon Coast

Filed under: Sue Hardesty — trp2011 @ 8:50 PM
Tags: , ,

On the first day of 2019, I am planning to add a blogger to Nels New Day. My partner of almost 50 years, Sue Hardesty, began a series of commentaries, complete with photographs, on her Facebook page. I enjoy her posts and want people who don’t participate in FB to enjoy these entries. You can follow Hardesty here.

We live in a fishing town that lands the 11th highest quantity of commercial fish in the country. An important part of that product is the Dungeness crab with the harvesting typically beginning on December 1. Our house is above the bay, and we watch the boats loading crab pots, leaving in the middle of the night, and bringing back the take a few days later—many times in the stormiest weather of the year.

In some years the fishing for crabs is delayed because of either the crabs’ low meat or their toxins–or both. This year, the boats couldn’t to out until the end of December, leaving on New Year’s Eve. The lack of sales over the busy Christmas vacation on the coast dearly cost the people in the fishing industry. Fortunately, they were able to get out in good weather. A video of crabs filling the pots.

From Sue Hardesty:

Through all the years that I have lived above docks filled with fishing boats, I have always enjoyed the beginning of crab season the most. Starting in early November, I watch the boats fill to the rafters with crab pots that are stored on the banks of the river waiting to be needed. Although they cannot crab until midnight of December first, they are allowed to drop their pots 64 hours before the first. You can imagine the exodus of nearly two hundred boats. Suddenly, over a few hours the docks are empty and, like a string of ants, the boats have all gone to claim a place to drop their pots. Just as suddenly they are home again, waiting for midnight, December 1st. Then they are gone again. During the next three months I can see their lights far out to sea as they head for home with (hopefully) a full belly in their hold. Then the unloading begins with bags of ice and huge crates in a semi-circle for the crane, unloading the boats, to fill.

Even though a crabber needs a commercial fishing license, a Master license, U.S. Coast Guard licensure, and first aid/CPR certificate, along with special equipment like boots and gloves, crab fishing is one of those jobs that the main qualification is a strong back rather than a whole lot of education. Along with getting up at 4:00 a.m. and not stopping for thirteen or more hours, wild and crazy storms with swells 20 feet or higher, bitter cold weather and sideways heavy rain slapping you in the face, crab pots that weigh as much as 800 pounds pulled up over and over dumping up to 150,000 pounds of crab in the hold, living the life is a snap. And the pay ain’t bad either.  $25,000 to $100,00 salary for three months work, depending on experience and crabs caught which can wholesale for around $2.00 or more a pound. Do the math. That’s $300,000.00 a load. Usually boats fill their hold several times during a season.

This year, however, Christmas is upon us and the crab boats are still tied up to the docks with very few filled with pots because the crabs are too small. I’m beginning to think it’s time for crabbers to find another job, especially for those who like to live on the sharp edge. Like one crabber described, “It’s one of the last things where you can wake up in the morning and you have no idea what’s going to happen,” he says. “It’s the last cowboy-ish thing to do.” Or he could drive a truck on ice roads. The average pay is $2,000 for round-trip taking about 20 hours driving during which you cannot stop or rest because sinking through the ice is as real as it gets. Or if you don’t like driving on ice, you could be a storm chaser and get a TV station to pay $500 for storm footage and, if you want company, passengers will often pay as high as $3,500 for the trip. I think I would forget about the filming and hire a bus. So many fun choices.

So, Huston, we have a problem, and the problem is not with the crabs.

I have heard several reasons for the poor quality of crab such as the greedy fishermen have over-crabbed. Or the polluted run-off from farm caused deadly domoic acid in crabs. Then there are always the conspiracy theorists who say a small group of rich men is controlling the whole coast and calling all the shots. Or the one I agree with—global warming of the ocean waters has caused low oxygen which is now striking a big swath of “hot spots” off the West Coast causing extreme hypoxia, killing the crab and anything else. Even scarier is that low oxygen is no longer just at the seafloor; it has climbed up to half of the water column. Or so the NOAA Coastal Hypoxia Research Program has reported. One crabber dropped 120 pots and brought up four live crabs. Another pulled up gobs of dead crab and a few miles away pulled up gobs of healthy ones. This phenomenon has become so common in the last few years we now have a hypoxia season. Fire Season, Hypoxia Season, what’s next? Annihilation Season?

There is hope. As NOAA researches the effects of hypoxia, OSU Hatfield Center is dropping 40 “dissolved oxygen” sensors on crab pots to determine how rapidly hypoxia develops, and where. There is also a bill (H.R. 6267) in Oregon Congress attempting to deal with ocean acidification. And a lawsuit was filed in San Francisco County Superior Court where commercial crabbers in Oregon and California are suing 30 fossil fuel companies, accusing them of raising ocean temperatures and causing algal blooms that have shortened the crab season the past three years that will likely will continue to do so. “We believe it’s a substantiated claim that harm has been done by one industry to another and the industry that caused that harm should pay,” said Noah Oppenheim, the association’s executive director. He went on to say that “climate science has advanced to the point that the connection between fossil fuel use and domoic acid closures is “crystal clear.” Crab is the most valuable single species commercial fishery in Oregon, with an average harvest of 16 million pounds per season, all caught with Oregon’s fleet of 424 boats.



Photos by Sue Hardesty.


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