Author Archive | Easy Rider

USDA’s Wildlife Services Has Killed Over 50,000 Harmless Animals (Including Bald Eagles)

Fair to say there is a serious problem within government when it accidentally kills a symbol of its country…? Disturbing report from Tom Knudson in the Sacramento Bee:

…in most cases, they have officially revealed little or no detail about where the creatures were killed, or why. But a Bee investigation has found the agency’s practices to be indiscriminate, at odds with science, inhumane and sometimes illegal.

The Bee’s findings include:

• With steel traps, wire snares and poison, agency employees have accidentally killed more than 50,000 animals since 2000 that were not problems, including federally protected golden and bald eagles; more than 1,100 dogs, including family pets; and several species considered rare or imperiled by wildlife biologists.

• Since 1987, at least 18 employees and several members of the public have been exposed to cyanide when they triggered spring-loaded cartridges laced with poison meant to kill coyotes. They survived – but 10 people have died and many others have been injured in crashes during agency aerial gunning operations over the same time period.

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Where’s The Beef? Meat-Seeking Early Humans Wiped Out Most of the Prehistoric Large Animals

SmilodonAnn Gibbons writes on Science:

When human ancestors began scavenging for meat regularly on the open plains of Africa about 2.5 million years ago, they apparently took more than their fair share of flesh. Within a million years, most of the large carnivores in the region—from saber-toothed cats to bear-size otters—had gone extinct, leaving just a few “hypercarnivores” alive, according to a study presented here last week at a workshop on climate change and human evolution at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Humans have driven thousands of species extinct over the millennia, ranging from moas—giant, flightless birds that lived in New Zealand—to most lemurs in Madagascar. But just when we began to have such a major impact is less clear. Researchers have long known that many African carnivores died out by 1.5 million years ago, and they blamed our ancestor, Homo erectus, for overhunting with its new stone tools.

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Mexican Drug Cartel Kingpin Revealed As FBI Informant

Cocaine BricksRichard A. Serrano writes in the LA Times:
Police and federal agents pulled the car over in a suburb north of Denver. An FBI agent showed his badge. The driver appeared not startled at all. "My friend," he said, "I have been waiting for you." And with that, Jesus Audel Miramontes-Varela stepped out of his white 2002 BMW X5 and into the arms of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Over the next several days at his ranch in Colorado and an FBI safe house in Albuquerque, the Mexican cartel chieftain — who had reputedly fed one of his victims to lions in Mexico — was transformed into one of the FBI's top informants on the Southwest border. Around a dining room table in August 2010, an FBI camera whirring above, the 34-year-old Miramontes-Varela confessed his leadership in the Juarez cartel, according to 75 pages of confidential FBI interview reports obtained by The Times/Tribune Washington Bureau.
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Marijuana Legalization Could Save U.S. $13.7 Billion Per Year

Via the Huffington Post:
More than 300 economists, including three nobel laureates, have signed a petition calling attention to the findings of a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which suggests that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by not having to enforce the current prohibition on the drug. The report added that legalization would save an additional $6 billion per year if the government taxed marijuana at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco. That's as much as $13.7 billion per year, but it's still minimal when compared to the federal deficit, which hit $1.5 trillion last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. While the economists don't directly call for pot legalization, the petition asks advocates on both sides to engage in an "open and honest debate" about the benefits of pot prohibition.
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Porn Can ‘Shut Down’ Part of Your Brain

Dead BulbPorn, children, it's just a click away / It's just a click away ... As Stephanie Pappas writes on LiveScience:
Watching pornography would seem to be a vision-intensive task. But new research finds that looking at erotic movies can actually quiet the part of the brain that processes visual stimuli. Most of the time, watching movies or conducting any other visual task sends extra blood flow to this brain region. Not so when the movies are explicit, the researchers found. Instead, the brain seems to shunt blood — and therefore energy — elsewhere, perhaps to regions of the brain responsible for sexual arousal. Turns out, the brain may not need to take in all the visual details of a sex scene, said study researcher Gert Holstege, a uroneurologist at the University of Groningen Medical Center in the Netherlands.
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The U.S. Government Is Committed to Keeping the Drug Market As Dangerous As Possible

Online DrugsJacob Sullum writes on Reason:

Yesterday the Justice Department unsealed an indictment that charges eight men from three countries with running “a sophisticated online drug marketplace that sold everything from marijuana to mescaline to some 3,000 people around the world,” AP reports:

“The Farmer’s Market”…allowed suppliers of drugs—including LSD, Ecstasy and ketamine—to anonymously sell their wares online. They hooked up with buyers in 34 countries and accepted various forms of payment, including cash, Western Union and PayPal transactions, the indictment claims….

The market “provided a controlled substances storefront, order forms, online forums, customer service, and payment methods for the different sources of supply” and charged the suppliers a commission based upon the value of the order, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

“For customers, the operators screened all sources of supply and guaranteed delivery of the illegal drugs,” the statement said …. The marketplace allegedly used the Tor network, which spreads website and email communications through a volunteer network of servers around the world in order to mask Internet address information…”

Read More: Reason

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A Timothy Leary for the Viral Video Age

Jason SilvaRoss Andersen writes in the Atlantic:
I want to introduce you to Jason Silva, but first I want you to watch this short video that he made. It will only take two minutes, and watching it will give you a good idea if it's worth your time to read the extensive interview that follows. If you ever wondered what would happen if a young Timothy Leary was wormholed into 2012, complete with a film degree and a Vimeo account, you have your answer: Jason Silva. If Silva, who was born in Venezuela, seems to have natural screen presence, it's because he's no stranger to media; he worked for six years as a host at Current TV before leaving the network last year to become a part-time filmmaker and full-time walking, talking TEDTalk.
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Radioactive Particles from Japan Detected in California Kelp

Kelp ForestReports Victoria Kim in the LA Times:

Radioactive particles released in the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami were detected in giant kelp along the California coast, according to a recently published study.

Radioactive iodine was found in samples collected from beds of kelp in locations along the coast from Laguna Beach to as far north as Santa Cruz about a month after the explosion, according to the study by two marine biologists at Cal State Long Beach.

The levels, while most likely not harmful to humans, were significantly higher than measurements prior to the explosion and comparable to those found in British Columbia, Canada, and northern Washington state following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, according to the study published in March in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Giant kelp, or Macrocystis pyrifera, is a particularly good measure of radioactive material in the environment because it accumulates iodine, researchers said.

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Factory-Farmed Chickens Fed Prozac, Caffeine and Banned Antibiotics

Factory-Farmed ChickensSara Novak writes on Treehugger:

It’s no surprise that conventionally factory farmed chickens aren’t fed the best diet. We already knew that they were routinely fed arsenic. In fact, a 2004 study from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy showed that more than half of store-bought and fast-food chickens contained elevated levels of arsenic. Roughly 2.2 million pounds of it are being used every year to produce 43 billion pounds of poultry. It’s called roxarsone and it’s used to fight parasites and increase growth in chickens.

New research not only confirms use of arsenic, but finds the addition of a frightening elixir of drugs that includes caffeine, banned antibiotics, and even Prozac. Researchers started off testing just for banned antibiotics but went ahead and looked for other substances because it didn’t add to the cost of the test. What they found even surprised them, according to a story in The New York Times.

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