KEEPING WATCH - INTERRUPTION - US FALLS BEHIND IN CIVIL LIBERTIES
GLOBAL — 2/12/2014
"The United States did not live up last year to the promise of the First Amendment, “far from it,” sinking to 46th in global press freedom rankings, a respected international non-profit group said Wednesday.
The US plummeted 13 slots to 46th overall “amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks,” Reporters Without Borders warned in an annual report.
Israel was 96th.
Here, in order of rank, starting with #1 Finland: Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden, Estonia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Jamaica, Canada, Poland, Slovakia, Costa Rica, Namibia, Belgium, Cap Verde, Cyprus, Uruguay, Ghana, Australia, Belize, Portugal, Suriname, Lithuania, Britain, Slovenia, Spain, Antigue and Barbuda, Lativa, El Salvador, France, Samoa, Botswana, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Papua New Guinea, and Romania."
This... this... shouldn't this be... unthinkable? The land of the free and the home of the brave comes in 46th !?
And to think, as a child growing up here, I thought - nobody does freedom like we do. I thought transparency in government was a no brainer, just comes natural, especially at the local level. I thought... but well.. obviously, not very clearly.
What I learn at 65! When I ran for county supervisor I ran hard on transparency and enhanced representation and conservation because I thought... well never mind what I thought, I lost and now I see much more clearly why.
Thanks to everyone who voted for me. It was an eye opening experience. The question is, did I learn my lesson and did You?
2505 COLD AND HUNGRY GEESE ON THE HOME POND
Well over half of the geese came from the east this morning. Open water at Oakland is getting to be in short supply. Joy and I did not see any swans on the river today. There were some geese and three common mergansers. We did not see the eagles either. We certainly need a break in the weather and there are rumors one is on the way.
I enjoyed my visit with Curt Swarm and wanted to share with You in pictures what I shared with him. Thanks Curt for a great article.
Sorry about the size of the pictures. Used to be that You could click on them and blow them up, big not boom.
The yellow neck banded gander is pretty well centered in the right half of the open water. He is following a cute little lady and facing off with a mallard duck.
The fourth deer is standing so close to the deer next to it on the far right that they look like one big deer.
Ok. So I need a reach out lens! I guess buying corn is more important until it warms us any way.
Any way, You get the picture and some day I promise You much better ones.
1/30/2014 MONARCH BUTTERFLY MIGRATION COMING TO A DEAD END?
"The decline in the Monarch population now marks a statistical long-term trend and can no longer be seen as a combination of yearly or seasonal events, experts say.
The announcement followed on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which saw the United States, Mexico and Canada signing environmental accords to protect migratory species such as the Monarch. At the time, the butterfly was adopted as the symbol of trilateral cooperation.
"Twenty years after the signing of NAFTA, the Monarch migration, the symbol of the three countries' cooperation, is at serious risk of disappearing," said Omar Vidal, Omar Vidal, the World Wildlife Fund director in Mexico.
Lincoln Brower, a leading entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, wrote that "the migration is definitely proving to be an endangered biological phenomenon."
"The main culprit is now GMO herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops and herbicides in the USA," which "leads to the wholesale killing of the monarch's principal food plant, common milkweed," Dr. Brower wrote in an email."
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PEACE ON THE POND AND GEESE ON THE ICE
The Old Man and his Lady are still on the pond. Buddy is being confined to the front yard until he cools off.
Joy and I watched the ten swans come in at Oakland last night a little after 5PM. Awesome.
There was one male Common Merganser among the geese.
Some eagle watchers said they estimated 40 eagles at the peak of activity yesterday.
The geese are back on the home pond this morning in full force. They came in yesterday, but continued to be spooky. Today, everything is pretty much back to normal. No more abstract corn designs on the pond and no trips out onto the ice after day break and the appetites of chillygeese have all played a part.
A KNOCK DOWN FIGHT ON THE HOME POND
BUDDY VS THE OLD MAN
Yesterday afternoon a fight broke out on the home pond. Buddy, the young buck bachelor swan, decided to make a move on Lady who is paired with the Old Man. The move took the form of picking a fight with the Old Man. It was quickly apparent that The Old Man was not up to the fight. He was smart enough to hug the ground and wedge himself in between a couple of willows and thus to escape the blows of Buddy’s wings. I have taken a beating a few times from swans over the years and it is not for brittle bones or sensitive shins. When Buddy could no longer beat on the Old Man he began to jab at him with his bill. Joy and I got worried but what to do?
The pond was covered with geese, but they had quit eating and many were taking off to go find more spacious accommodations on a nice afternoon. So Joy and I dared to step out on the deck and yell across the pond at Buddy. Our voices have a very different effect on Buddy. Joy is Buddy’s only friend in the world and I am his primary competitor. My voice gave him pause but it was Joy’s voice that beckoned him to consider coming over to the house for a visit.
As Buddy came our way the Old Man remained wedged in between the willows. I decided he could be injured and that a trip to evaluate his condition was in order. As I started to move slowly out on to the pond ice the geese began to take off in flocks of a hundred or so. Each time a group would rise I would stop and wait for the air to clear. Then I would move on again. By the time I was close enough to assess the Old Man’s condition (his pride is hurt but otherwise he appears to be OK) there were maybe 250 geese still on the pond. On my return trip most of them left and only fifty remained by the time I was off the pond.
Buddy followed Joy into the front yard and I closed the gate behind them.
I got up early this morning and spread corn on the ice as per usual, except I circled around the open water while dodging a couple of cripples that had spent the night . The effect was something that ended up looking like a drawing of a goose head with the open water being its glistening eye.
As the morning wore on flock after flock flew over but they all acted spooked and none of them came in. Were they thinking about last night, or did the corn drawing spook them or were they just thinking it was too nice of a day to sit on some silly little pond when they could be spread out up at Oakland along the growing channels of opening water? Whatever the reason, no geese came in today. The silence is certainly spooky. Before noon I went out onto the ice and with a push broom I broke up the pattern I had created. This afternoon - still no geese and several bushels of corn on the pond sinking into the pocked surface of the ice that was crafted yesterday by the footprints of a thousand geese to be frozen in the slush overnight. Perhaps the corn will appear again out of the ice some warm day before the geese get restless and more north but for now it appears to be lost.
The Old Man and his Lady are nowhere to be seen this afternoon. I will have to go and see if he decided to go back up on hill to his frozen wetland. I hope he did not hop the fence and is sitting back in the cove.
Tomorrow I will create only straight lines of corn and see if that makes a difference. The coming snow and cold will quickly turn into hunger for the geese.
I am not sure what all of the lessons of yesterday were as of yet, but we are paying close attention.
As I went past Oakland late this morning I got there just in time to see all 10 swans. There were six in the air and four still on the water. My timing was both accidental and excellent.
1/19/2014 ALL PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR
I got to Oakland a bit late this morning and the eagles were already actively fishing so getting a really good count on them was not possible. A few crows and some mallards were in the riffle and the wintering flock of Canada Geese was enjoying the open water from the riffle down almost to the bend.
The 10 Trumpeter Swans were there again this morning but they were hard to see over the high bank.
1/18/2014 10 TRUMPETERS, 25 BALD EAGLES AND A BEAUTIFUL BUNCH OF CANADA'S
7:30 AM Oakland Mills
10 Trumpeter Swans, 9 adults - 1 cygnet
Nice bunch of Canada Geese mainly below the riffle for 1/2 mi.
25 Bald Eagles roosting along the river from Oakland to Faulkner's.
The geese started flying out to breakfast at the home pond at 7:40 - about the same time the eagles started fishing for breakfast.
1/17/2014 SWANS ARE BACK
Joy called at dusk to say the swans are back at Oakland. (10?) Sounds like a great viewing opportunity for tomorrow morning with eagles and swans and before the breakfast flights begin, hundreds, if not well over a thousand geese. I will have to get up early to serve breakfast on the ice and then head up river. The geese coming to the Home Pond in the mornings for breakfast come down from Oakland ( from the west) but too from the east and the south and further west. Still on any given morning 500 to 1000 can be expected to come from Oakland.
15 BALD EAGLES BETWEEN FAULKNER'S AND OAKLAND
I spotted 15 eagles (two immature) between Faulkner's Access and the Oakland Mills Dam. There were maybe 300 Canada Geese on the river mostly below the riffle. No swans. 1 Crow. We are wondering if the swans are alternating between Heron Bend in Lee County and Oakland. There always seems to be a few Mallard Ducks at Oakland.
The home pond is attracting somewhere between 1500 and 2000+ Canada Geese for a breakfast of Iowa corn every morning. A few days ago an immature Bald Eagle swooped in to give the pond a close inspection. A wounded Canada had died that morning and she was floating in the small circle of open water surrounding the bubbler. The geese on the pond all panicked and tried to get off the ice and into the open water all at once. Where 200 might fit 2000 were attempting to. I am not sure what the eagle thought about the significance of this display but he went on his way.
1/15/2014 10 SWANS BELOW OAKLAND RIFFLE
10 Trumpeter Swans, 9 white adults and 1 cygnet are enjoying the open water below the riffle at Oakland this afternoon. A nice flock of several hundred Canada Geese have moved up quite close to the dam. The 5 Common Mergansers that have been regulars a week ago where nowhere to be seen.