A “California” solution to a legal problem

Stephen Ausmus/USDA

Bumblebees are eligible for protection as endangered or threatened “fish” under California law, a state appeals court held in a win for environmental groups and the state’s Fish and Game Commission.

The Sacramento-based California Court of Appeal reversed a lower court’s ruling Tuesday for seven agricultural groups who argued that the California Endangered Species Act…expressly protects only “birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and plants” – not insects.

While “fish” is “commonly understood to refer to aquatic species, the term of art employed by the Legislature … is not so limited,” Associate Justice Ronald Robie wrote for the appeals court…

“Accordingly, a terrestrial invertebrate, like each of the four bumblebee species, may be listed as an endangered or threatened species,” Robie wrote, joined by Acting Presiding Justice Cole Blease and Associate Justice Andrea Lynn Hoch.

Matthew Sanders of Stanford Law School’s Environmental Law Clinic hailed the decision as “a win for the bumblebees, all imperiled invertebrates in California, and the California Endangered Species Act.”

Of course. And it’s easier than trying to nudge California legislators into doing something useful.

Our oceans hold the key to sustainability

Although 97 percent of the earth’s surface water is made up of oceans, humans use only a small percentage of the sea for food. Instead most people, especially those in Western cultures, rely heavily on land-based agriculture for food that result in deforestation, soil degradation, greenhouse gases, and depletion of freshwater supplies. In the August issue of Food Technology magazine…senior editor/writer Toni Tarver writes about how the oceans are an untapped resource for food that is not only more eco-friendly but, in some cases, more nutritious than land-based foods.

Fish and marine animals contain several nutritional benefits. Rich in vitamins A and D, selenium, zinc, iodine and iron, fish also contain essential omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which support proper brain functioning. In Asian and Nordic countries, where seafood is a dominant part of the cuisine, the life expectancy of both men and women is four to seven years longer than in Western cultures where seafood is consumed on average once a week. In addition rates of obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are much lower.

Although there are between 300 and 500 different species of fish sold for human consumption, only three types make up more than 50 percent of all seafood consumed: shrimp, tuna and salmon… Americans could benefit from expanding their seafood palate to include mackerel, mullet, sardines, oysters, mussels, clams, lionfish, and other unidentified edible species.

And that’s not even getting into seaweed – something many Asian and Pacific cultures are fond of.

You can check out Toni Tarver’s original article over here.

Salvadoran mass murderer may be deported from the country which paid for his services – the United States

Mothers and families of El Salvador’s assassinated, disappeared 40,000 citizens
Mike Goldwater photo

An immigration judge in Florida has cleared the way for the deportation from the United States of Gen. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, a former defense minister of El Salvador, finding that he assisted in acts of torture and murder committed by soldiers under his command during the civil war there, including several notorious killings of Americans.

The decision by Judge James Grim of immigration court in Orlando is the first time that federal immigration prosecutors have established that a top-ranking foreign military commander can be deported based on human rights violations under a law passed in 2004, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, intended to bar human rights violators from coming to or living in the United States.

Judge Grim found that General Vides assisted in the killings of four American churchwomen on a rural road in El Salvador in 1980, a crime that caused shock there and in Washington and presaged the bloody violence that would engulf the Central American nation for the next decade. The immigration judge’s ruling is the first time General Vides has been held responsible for those deaths in a court of law.

Five soldiers from the Salvadoran National Guard were eventually convicted of the killings and served long prison sentences. General Vides was the commander of the National Guard at the time of the murders.

The effort by Department of Homeland Security officials to seek the deportation of General Vides, who was El Salvador’s defense minister from 1983 to 1989, is a turnabout in American foreign policy. He was a close ally of Washington throughout the war against leftist guerrillas in the 1980s, and was embraced as a reformer despite rampant rights violations by the armed forces under his command.

Judge Grim also determined that General Vides had assisted in the torture of two Salvadorans, Juan Romagoza and Daniel Alvarado, who testified against him in hearings last spring in the immigration court in Orlando.

“This is the first case where the Department of Homeland Security has taken this relatively new law and applied it to the highest military commander of their country to seek their removal,” said Carolyn Patty Blum, senior legal adviser for the Center for Justice and Accountability, a nonprofit legal group in San Francisco that represented several torture victims in the case. She called the decision “hugely significant” for future efforts to bring immigration cases for human rights abuses against the highest-level military commanders and government officials.

Republicans and Democrats alike have always justified the Murder, Incorporated style of American foreign policy as expedient during the Cold War. The ending of the Cold War has done nothing to change the style and substance of those policies. And, frankly, this case is surprising in its challenge to established strategy.

I have to wonder if the DOJ/DHS managed to offer a conscience separate from the White House or if Obama has cracked the door open to legitimate human rights concerns?

I presume you know that Congress as presently constituted will offer no such change. In fact, I imagine some of the most fascist-minded creeps will call for committee hearings on “America growing soft on terrorism” or something reflecting the corruption of what passes for conservatism in America.

They could recall Dick Cheney, secretary of War under Bush the Elder – who declared no involvement of the United States or Salvadoran political thugs in any of these murders.

Court orders automakers to compensate German company

That’s the NeoPlan StarLiner on the left – the A9 Coach copy on the right

The First Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing has ordered three Chinese automakers to pay $2.92 million compensation and $169,000 in legal costs to Germany auto company Neoplan which had successfully sued them for patent infringement.

The court said the A9 coach produced by Zhongwei Passenger Bus Company and Zhongda Industrial Group China has essentially the same design as the Neoplan Starliner. The companies have been ordered to stop producing the A9 and Beijing Zhongtong Xinghua Auto Sales Company has been ordered to halt sales of the vehicles.

The Neoplan Starliner was developed in 2005 by well known German coachmaker Neoplan Bus GmbH and was covered by patents. The company discovered in 2006 that the A9 coach produced by the Zhongwei Passenger Bus Company was almost identical with the Starliner…

Neoplan Starliner coaches are produced both in Germany and in southeast China’s Zhejiang Province by the Youngman Coach Company. The selling price in China is around $292,000. Youngman said that the appearance of the A9 coach on the market had not affected sales of the Starliner.

Step by step, the longest march, shall be won. Singly none.

Brits caught on video dumping catch of protected fish

A British trawler has sparked an international incident after being filmed taking a boatload of endangered fish caught in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea and then dumping the majority overboard in UK waters.

Norwegian government coastguards filmed the crew of the Prolific, a Shetland-based trawler, openly discarding more than 5,000 kg of cod and other dead white fish, or nearly 80% of its catch…

It is illegal to discard fish in Norwegian waters, but boats are forced to do so in European Union waters if they have caught the wrong species of fish or fish that are too small. Last year the EU estimated that between 40% and 60% of all fish caught by trawlers in the North sea is discarded. The practice of dumping is widely recognised as unsustainable but inevitable given the present EU quota system.

Norwegian minister for fisheries and coastal affairs Helga Pedersen, speaking to angry fishing communities in northern Norway who had seen the film, said she would press for review of the EU fishing policy and wanted to ban any boat discarding fish that were caught in Norwegian waters.

This is one of those sleazy practices accepted by commercial trawlers of most nations – for decades.

I grew up with subsistence fishing. I’ve resented the environmental disaster these creeps commit on an every day basis – my whole life. I sincerely hope they’re banned from more than Norwegian waters.