Australia Sues Japan Over Whaling

ROD MCGUIRK | 05/28/10 06:21 AM | AP

Japan Whaling
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia said Friday it will challenge Japan's whale hunting in the Antarctic at the International Court of Justice, a major legal escalation in its campaign to ban the practice despite Tokyo's insistence on the right to so-called scientific whaling.
Japan's Foreign Ministry called the action regrettable at a time when 88 member-nations of the International Whaling Commission were discussing a proposal that could allow some limited whaling for the first time in 25 years.
"We will continue to explain that the scientific whaling that we are conducting is lawful in accordance with Article 8 of the international convention for the regulation of whaling," said Japan's Foreign Ministry Deputy Press Secretary Hidenobu Sobashima. "If it goes to the court, we are prepared to explain that."
Japan, Norway and Iceland, which harpoon around 2,000 whales annually, argue that many species are abundant enough to continue hunting them. They are backed by around half of the whaling commission's members.
Australia has declared the southern seas a whale sanctuary and has long lobbied for an end to whaling there. The government says Japan's hunt is in breach of international obligations, but has declined to release any details of how it will argue its case before the court in The Hague.
The whaling commission has proposed a plan that would allow hunting without specifying whether it is for commercial or other purposes – but under strict quotas that are lower than the current number of hunted whales.
Commission Chairman Cristian Maquieira expressed optimism Thursday in Washington that the issue could be resolved at a meeting next month in Morocco. But senior U.S. official Monica Medina said the current proposal would allow the hunting of too many whales, signaling difficult negotiations ahead.
Australia could argue that Japan is abusing its rights under the whaling commission's 1946 Convention, which allows scientific whaling, said Don Anton, an international law professor at The Australian National University in Canberra. It could claim that the number of whales Japan kills each year is far more than necessary, that nonlethal research alternatives exist and that there is a commercial aspect to the scientific program.
Australia could also argue that Japan has failed to conduct an adequate environmental impact assessment before engaging in whaling.
A panel of lawyers and conservationists reported to the Australian and New Zealand governments last year that Japanese whaling in the Antarctic could be stopped if Japan were held accountable for dumping waste and for undertaking hazardous refueling at sea. The Canberra Panel claims that activity violates the 46-member Antarctic Treaty System, to which Japan belongs.
Australia will lodge its claim with the court next week. It is likely then to seek an international injunction to stop any Japanese whaling during the 2010-2011 whaling season, said Don Rothwell, an international law professor at ANU who chaired the Canberra Panel. An injunction ruling could take three to six months, and it could be another four to seven years before the case is settled, he said.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said his government will decide within weeks whether it will also file a case against Japan.
Sobashima and Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the dispute should not jeopardize the countries' overall good relations, with both governments treating the matter as an independent legal arbitration.
Australia's move also fulfills a 2007 campaign promise by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's center-left Labor Party.
Associated Press writers Kristen Gelineau in Sydney and Malcolm J. Foster in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Pet Tag sold salmonella infected bones, irradiated them, and did not use radiation label according to article

FDA finds Petag products have salmonella
by Animal Advocate Thursday May 27th, 2010 7:52 PM
The FDA found that Petag's rawhide products had salmonella. Petag stated they sent the salmonella infected products to be radiated. A sampling of the products still showed they were "out of line." The FDA told Petag they must put radiation warnings on the labels. Petag asked the FDA to release their products to them.

dograwhide.jpg dograwhide.jpg

Petag admitted the rawhide products came from overseas. In their website Petag states that all products and ingredients domestic. George Gill CEO and President stated they used oversea supplies because "they are cheaper from overseas." The FDA told Petag they "needed to establish good controls at the foreign supplier sites." The FDA investigation started because as per FDA a "sampling in 2004 was positive for salmonella which generated an FDA Import Alert."

From the report. "Mr. Gill said that we know there is a radiation symbol required, but that competitors are not placing them on their products where they should be. The "header" might be too busy on the PetAg labels for the radiation symbol to go there. He asked if it would be possible to place the symbol else where on the label or on the back or side of the product rather than the label panel itself."

In other documents it was revealed that Petag does not manufacture their products. They are a packager. Their websites states they manufacture all of their own products.

This information about Petag came to light through a recent Freedom of Information Act Request about problems with their other products. It is from a March 8, 2006 meeting. Please, see attached file.

Petag is the number one seller of puppy and kitten milk replacer. They also sell dog bones, cat and dog treats and bird toys.
Go to the link above to see the meeting minutes.

Can Anyone Help This Little Girl Out?

Excellent Story From a Volunteer at Tompkins County About Its Transition to No Kill Under Winograd

The story is too long to post here, but it is heart-rendering and should be read, especially by those who have axes to grind toward Winograd.

Carville Blasts Obama's Lack of Response

Democratic strategist and New Orleans resident James Carville is not relenting from his frenzied plea for President Obama to take a more direct and active role in addressing the Gulf oil blowout.
"The President of the United States could've come down here, he could've been involved with the families of these 11 people" who died on the rig after an explosion, Carville said on ABC's Good Morning America. "He could be commandeering tankers and making BP bring tankers in and clean this up. They could be deploying people to the coast right now. He could be with the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard...doing something about these regulations. These people are crying, they're begging for something down here, and it just looks like he's not involved in this."
His voice rising, Carville cried out, "Man, you got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving! We're about to die down here!"
Later, Carville said the administration needs "to launch a criminal investigation -- the Attorney General needs to investigate criminal negligence on the part of BP and what went on at MMS (the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling). There's a thousand things that he could do. He just needs to get down here and start doing something, people are dying."

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that President Obama "is expected to announce on Thursday that the government will impose tougher safety requirements and more rigorous inspections on offshore drilling operations."

Latest BP Leak Estimates

Estimates now range between 70,000 and 120,000 barrels a day. BP sticks to 5,000 even though recently they claimed their 4" pipe tap was capturing 5,000 barrels a day, and the gushing oil was still wide open. 

The plume now is as large as Delaware and New Hampshire combined. Cuba is preparing to fight the oil approaching their shores.

Some experts now say it may be impossible to stop the leak. What will stop it eventually is that ALL the oil will have gushed out of the reserve, a talk that won't end for 9,000 days, or over 25 years!!!

Yet, the Obama administration has ok'd more than a dozen drilling permits since the leak began.



WASHINGTON — Days after the Gulf Coast oil spill, the Obama administration pledged to keep its "boot on the throat" of BP to make sure the company did all it could to cap the gushing leak and clean up the spill.
But a month after the April 20 explosion, anger is growing about why BP PLC is still in charge of the response.
"I'm tired of being nice. I'm tired of working as a team," said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana.
"The government should have stepped in and not just taken BP's word," declared Wayne Stone of Marathon, Fla., an avid diver who worries about the spill's effect on the ecosystem.
That sense of frustration is shared by an increasing number of Gulf Coast residents, elected officials and environmental groups who have called for the government to simply take over.
In fact, the government is overseeing things. But the official responsible for that says he still understands the discontent.
"If anybody is frustrated with this response, I would tell them their symptoms are normal, because I'm frustrated, too," said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen.
"Nobody likes to have a feeling that you can't do something about a very big problem," Allen told The Associated Press Friday.
Still, as simple as it may seem for the government to just take over, the law prevents it, Allen said.
Story continues below
After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, Congress dictated that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents – including paying for all cleanup – with oversight by federal agencies. Spills on land are overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, offshore spills by the Coast Guard.
"The basic notion is you hold the responsible party accountable, with regime oversight" from the government, Allen said. "BP has not been relieved of that responsibility, nor have they been relieved for penalties or for oversight."
He and Coast Guard Adm. Mary Landry, the federal onsite coordinator, direct virtually everything BP does in response to the spill – and with a few exceptions have received full cooperation, Allen said.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was even more emphatic.
"There's nothing that we think can and should be done that isn't being done. Nothing," Gibbs said Friday during a lengthy, often testy exchange with reporters about the response to the oil disaster.
There are no powers of intervention that the federal government has available but has opted not to use, Gibbs said.
Asked if President Barack Obama had confidence in BP, Gibbs said only: "We are continuing to push BP to do everything that they can."

Long Post by Peter Wolf on the Anti-TNR Lies and Exagerations--Especially Longcore

The Work Speaks—Part 1: Lost in Translation

In April, Conservation Biology published a comment authored by Christopher A. LepczykNico DauphinéDavid M. BirdSheila ConantRobert J. CooperDavid C. DuffyPamela Jo Hatley,Peter P. MarraElizabeth Stone, and Stanley A. Temple. In it, the authors “applaud the recent essay by Longcore et al. (2009) in raising the awareness about trap-neuter-return (TNR) to the conservation community,” [1] and puzzle at the lack of TNR opposition among the larger scientific community:
“…it may be that conservation biologists and wildlife ecologists believe the issue of feral cats has already been studied enough and that the work speaks for itself, suggesting that no further research is needed.”
In fact, “the work”—taken as a whole—is neither as rigorous nor as conclusive as Lepczyk et al. suggest. And far too much of it is plagued by exaggerations, misrepresentations, errors, and obvious bias. For the next few posts, I’m going to present a sampling of its more serious flaws, beginning with how some researchers “reinterpret” work of others to suit their own purposes.
Tell It Like It Is
Studies of cat predation frequently cite the work of William G. George, who, in 1974, published a paper documenting his meticulous observations of the hunting behavior of three cats on his southern Illinois farm. “The results,” wrote George, “established a basis for examining the possibility that cat predation may result in depleted winter populations of microtine rodents and other prey of Red-tailed Hawks, Marsh Hawks, and American Kestrels.” [1]
Thirty years later, Jessup interpreted things rather differently, giving George’s work an additional—and unwarranted—degree of certainty. Gone are the doubts that George expressed—first, regarding the impact of cat predation on rodent and other prey populations; second, regarding the relationship between these populations and the raptors that feed on them. For Jessup—who offers no additional evidence—it’s all very straightforward: “Feral cats also indirectly kill native predators by removing their food base.” [2]
More recently, Guttilla and Stapp seem to prefer Jessup’s take: “Human-subsidized cats… can spill over into less densely populated wildland areas where they reduce prey for native predators (George 1974).” [3]
If any additional work has been done on the subject (surely there are more cats in the area these days; how are the voles and raptors faring?), it seems to have gone unnoticed. Instead, Jessup, Guttilla, and Stapp (and others, too, no doubt) have simply rewritten George’s conclusion to suit their own purposes. Perhaps their version makes for a better story, but it’s rather poor science.
Credit Where Little/None Is Due
the Lancet recently retracted a 1998 paper linking vaccinations to autism in children—“research” that sparked the ongoing backlash against vaccinations—it was headline news. The move prompted this criticism from one member of the British Parliament: “The Lancet article should never have been published, and its peer review system failed. The article should now be expunged from the academic record…”
At the risk of drawing too many parallels between the two papers, I think the same can be said for Coleman and Temple’s infamous “Wisconsin Study.” (On the other hand, it doesserve a useful purpose as a red flag.) Actually, as Goldstein et al. point out, Coleman and Temple’s paper was never peer-reviewed (not necessarily a deal-breaker in my book, but such publications do warrant additional scrutiny), but achieved its mythical status by being cited ad nauseam in peer-reviewed journals, as well as the mainstream media.
Does anybody actually believe the numbers suggested by Coleman and Temple? Stanley Temple (one of the co-authors of the recent anti-feral cat/TNR comment in Conservation Biology) himself admitted their published figures “aren’t actual data; that was just our projection to show how bad it might be.” [4]
I don’t think Longcore et al. [5] or the editors at Conservation Biology put much stock in the Wisconsin Study—so why continue to publish “projections” that have been so thoroughly discredited? Because doing so strengthens their case, at least among those who don’t know any better—especially people outside the scientific community, including many journalists, policy makers, judges, and the general public.
In their recent comment, Lepczyk et al. suggest that conservation biologists and wildlife ecologists “look to the evolutionary biology community” [1] for an example of how to influence policy:
“When local policies or regulations are put forth that promote the teaching of creationism or intelligent design, the evolutionary biologists have responded in force from across the nation and world.” [1]
Let’s set aside for the moment all the baggage associated with their analogy. My question is this: Is the evolutionary biology community still publishing bogus “projections” from 13 years ago? I doubt it.
Check Your Premises
In their recent paper (available for 
download via the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) website), Dauphiné and Cooper arrive at their absurd figure of “117–157 million free-ranging cats in the United States,” in part, by way of Jessup’s “estimated 60 to 100 million feral and abandoned cats in the United States.” [2]
So where does Jessup’s figure come from? We have no idea—there’s no citation. And Jessup is no authority on the subject—having conducted no studies or reviews of studies that quantify the feral cat population. What’s more, his “estimation” is among the highest figures published. Yet this is the shaky foundation upon which Dauphiné and Cooper attempt to build their subsequent argument.
The authors then add to the (dubious) number of feral cats the proportion of pet cats allowed outdoors. They refer to a 2004 paper by Linda Winter, director of ABC’s Cats Indoors! campaign, in which it was reported, “A 1997 nationwide random telephone survey indicated that 66% of cat owners let their cats outdoors some or all of the time.” [6]
That’s an interesting way to put it—Winter makes it sound like two-thirds of pet cats are essentially outdoor cats. But the surveycommissioned by ABC!—actually indicates that “35% keep their cats indoors all of the time” and “31% keep them indoors mostly with some outside access.” [3] The difference in wording is subtle, and hampered by imprecision—it all comes down to the meaning of some.
Winter’s 2004 paper implies that there are twice as many outdoor pet cats as was indicated in the original survey—an interpretation Dauphiné and Cooper seem to embrace. Had they looked further—and to a less biased source—they might have been able to get a better handle on the degree of outdoor access. For example: a 2003 survey conducted by Clancy, Moore, and Bertone [7] revealing that nearly half of the cats with outdoor access were outside for two or fewer hours a day. And 29% were outdoors for less than an hour each day.
Do these “part-timers” have the same impact on wildlife as feral cats? Dauphiné and Cooper would have us believe they do.
[Note: For a closer look at the flaws in Dauphiné and Cooper’s paper, download “One Billion Birds,” by Laurie D. Goldstein.]
The lesson? Credible research begins with a solid foundation; a weak foundation—one plagued with unsubstantiated claims—on the other hand, leads to pseudoscience.
Or worse. ABC’s Senior Policy Advisor, Steve Holmer, cited Dauphiné and Cooper’s bogus numbers when he spoke to the Los Angeles Times about his organization’s involvement with the legal battle against TNR. It’s like the Wisconsin Study all over again.
When All Else Fails, Look It Up
Though this would seem to be utterly obvious, it apparently bears repeating: 
Don’t cite work you haven’t actually read.
Isn’t this emphasized in all graduate (indeed, undergraduate, too) programs? What grad student isn’t, at one time or another, tempted to take the easy way out—ride the coattails of somebody else who’s (presumably) done the real work? In addition to the ethical implications, such shortcuts tend to invite more immediate troubles, too. Again, George’s work (described above) provides an excellent case study. Below are some examples of how his work has been referenced in the cat predation literature:
“It is very unlikely that cats bring home all of the prey that they capture. What proportion they bring home has been little studied. George (1974) on a farm in Illinois USA found that three house cats, all adequately fed, brought home about 50% of the prey that they killed.” [8]
“George found that about 50% of prey were indeed brought home, with the other 50% being eaten, scavenged by other animals or simply not found.” [9]
“These approximations are probably underestimates, assuming that cats do not bring back all the prey that they kill.” [10]
Trouble is, George never said these things; what he said was:
“… the cats never ate or deposited prey where caught but instead carried it into a “delivery area,” consisting of the house and lawn. The exclusive use of this delivery area was verified in 18 to 70 mammal captures per cat, as witnessed between early 1967 and 1971.” [1]
In 2000, Fitzgerald and Turner pointed out the fact that George’s work was being misrepresented, noting that the erroneous 50% figure “has been reported widely, though it is unfounded.” [11] Nevertheless, the myth persists—even in 2010.
“In Illinois, George (1974) found that only about half of animals killed by cats were provided to their owners, and in upstate New York, Kays and DeWan (2004) found that observed cat predation rates were 3.3 times higher than predation rates measured through prey returns to owners. Thus, predation rates measured through prey returns may represent one half to less than one third of what pet cats actually kill…” [12]
As Dauphiné and Cooper demonstrate, the “reinterpreted” version of George’s work makes for a very convenient multiplier—suddenly, every kill reported is doubled (or tripled, if Kays and DeWan are to be believed—and they’re not, but that’s a topic for another post). Never mind the fact that it has no basis in actual fact.
Getting a copy of George’s study isn’t difficult, especially with the inter-library loan services available today. To reference it—to use George’s work so that your own appears more credible—without ever having actually read it, is simply inexcusable. But citing it blindly suggests more than laziness—it points to a certain coziness that has no place in scientific discourse. Too much Kool-Aid drinking, and not enough honest research.
*     *     *
Scientists can (and do) look at identical results and come to very different conclusions. But misinterpreting, misrepresenting, or dismissing the conclusions of others, is something else altogether. As the above examples (and there are many, many more!) illustrate, this happens far too often in the feral cat/TNR literature. And if we can’t believe what researchers are saying about the work of others, why would we believe what they say about their own work?
Next, I’ll look at the questionable methodologies employed by some of these same researchers…
1. George, W., “Domestic cats as predators and factors in winter shortages of raptor prey
.”The Wilson Bulletin. 1974. 86(4): p. 384–396.
2. Jessup, D.A., “The welfare of feral cats and wildlife.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2004. 225(9): p. 1377-1383.
3. Guttilla, D.A. and Stapp, P., “Effects of sterilization on movements of feral cats at a wildland-urban interface.” Journal of Mammalogy. 2010. 91(2): p. 482-489.
4. Elliott, J., The Accused, in The Sonoma County Independent. 1994. p. 1, 10
5. Longcore, T., Rich, C., and Sullivan, L.M., “Critical Assessment of Claims Regarding Management of Feral Cats by Trap–Neuter–Return.” Conservation Biology. 2009. 23(4): p. 887–894.
6. Winter, L., “Trap-neuter-release programs: the reality and the impacts.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2004. 225(9): p. 1369-1376.
7. Clancy, E.A., Moore, A.S., and Bertone, E.R., “Evaluation of cat and owner characteristics and their relationships to outdoor access of owned cats.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2003. 222(11): p. 1541-1545.
8. Churcher, P.B. and Lawton, J.H., “Predation by domestic cats in an English village.”Journal of Zoology. 1987. 212(3): p. 439-455.
9. May, R.M., “Control of feline delinquency.” Nature. 1988. 332(March): p. 392-393.
10. Crooks, K.R. and Soulé, M.E., “Mesopredator release and avifaunal extinctions in a fragmented system.” Nature. 1999. 400( 6744): p. 563.
11. Fitzgerald, B.M. and Turner, D.C., Hunting Behaviour of domestic cats and their impact on prey populations, in The Domestic Cat: The biology of its behaviour, D.C. Turner and P.P.G. Bateson, Editors. 2000, Cambridge University Press. p. 151–175.
12. Dauphiné, N. and Cooper, R.J., Impacts of Free-ranging Domestic Cats (Felis catus) on birds in the United States: A review of recent research with conservation and management recommendations, in Fourth International Partners in Flight Conference: Tundra to Tropics. 2010. p. 205–219

Brad Jensen's Requests for Public Records Re the GM Hiring Process

Here's an update on my LA City and LAAS public records requests. Even with the 2 week extension (a total of 24 days) Mr. Pool has failed to produce a log sheet showing public records requests that were made and when they were completed. Previously, a request for this log sheet was provided in about 5 days. Pool said he needed the extra time in order to compile information from several different files BUT in an email exchange regarding another public records request (not one of mine) Linda Barth wrote; "Ross, please log Laura Beth's CPRA request and handle accordingly." So it appears there is a log for public records being requested.

A cd arrived in the mail with PDF copies of pra logs for 2008, 2009 and 2010. Why these files were not sent via email is a bit puzzling. It cost the Department $0.78 to mail the cd with a total file size of only 31Kb. The Department has a documented history of excuses for ignoring public records requests, failing to provide public information in the time allowed by law and failing to provide all the information requested. In this case, the department failed to provide all the information requested. However the pra log sheets do show the requests it received recently on the GM selection process.

The original LAAS Public Records Log Sheets (which are a mess) and my work in combining all of them into a single MS Excel worksheet can be found here:

Regarding information requested on the GM selection, a request was made to Bruce Whiddle with Personnel and a copy sent to the Mayor's Office asking for the names of all applicants, names of all applicants interviewd only one time, names of applicants interviewed or selected to be interviewed a second time and questions asked of each applicant interviewed only one time.

Response from Bruce Whidden was made in 4 days. His response was that "names of candidates applying for a position with the City of Los Angeles are exempt from release under the protections granted in Government Code Section 6255 because the public interest in releasing these records is clearly outweighed by the public interest in withholding these records. The responsive documents are therefore exempt from release under the California Public Records Act. Further, questions, scoring keyes, and other examination data used to administer an examination or interview for employment are likewise exempt under Government Code Section 6254(g) and 6255 because the public interest in releasing these records is clearly outweighed by the public interest in withholding these records."

Response from Gregg Kettles who is Deputy Counsel to the Mayor was made in 18 days. His response was that "responsive documents are exempt and being withheld because their disclosure would reveal either our office's deliberate process, or data used to administer an examination for employment, or both. Government Code Sections 6254(g) and 6255 permit non-disclosure because the public interest served by withholding this information clearly outweighs the public interest served by their disclosure.

In February 2010, letter from the Mayor was being circulated asking for more feedback and help on the GM selection. His letter requested public input on questions that might be asked of candidates during the "semi-final" and "final" interviews that would be taking place in the upcoming weeks. But what, if any, of those questions were actually used to interview candidates?

Government Code Section 6254(g) states, "Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination  data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examination, except as provided for in Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 99150) of Part 65 of Division 14 of Title 3 of  the Education Code."

So it appears that the City of Los Angeles has conveniently interpreted the law to mean that interview questions should be regarded as test questions and exempt from public disclosure when in fact, they are not.

Withholding the names of applicants for the GM position could possibly be challenged but to my knowledge, no court has yet addressed the issue of what kind of information about government job applicants is public record.

Letter from Bruce Whidden, Personnel Department

Letter from Gregg Kittles, Deputy Counsel to the Mayor

And my public records log sheets for:

PR085 - LAAS PRA Log Sheet

PR086 - GM Selection

Brad Jensen

Cypress, CA