Sunday, October 14, 2018

This Makes Me Ill

Officer Who Killed 12 Year Old Tamir Rice REHIRED

The Young Turks Oct 14, 2018  3 min. 38. sec
If It's Just A 'Few Bad Apples'...Why Are You REHIRING THEM?
 

The Pallas Cat

Pallas’s Cat: The Original Grumpy Cat

Animalogic Oct 12, 2018  8 min. 6 sec.
Pallas’ Cats may look like cute and lazy house cats, but don’t let that fool you.

Dark Compartments


Miyu Kojima’s room box of a home where a solitary death occurred in a bathtub. A rapid change in body temperature while taking a bath can lead to a stroke or heart failure, especially among elderly people. (Naoko Kawamura)

Messy miniature room boxes built to shed light on solitary deaths


The Asahi Shimbun  by NAOKO KAWAMURA/ Staff Writer  October 14, 2018

One miniature room model is cluttered with garbage strewn across furniture. Another tiny room box contains layers of trash and bottles of urine.

The miniatures symbolize solitary death sites where the bodies of occupants are often not found for extended periods.

Miyu Kojima produces such room boxes from memory.

The 26-year-old works for a Tokyo-based cleaning service provider that specializes in sorting and disposing of belongings left by the deceased.

A room box of a trash hoarder’s apartment room, produced by Miyu Kojima (Naoko Kawamura)
 
Kojima said she creates the miniature rooms, each of them based loosely on a number of cases, not to shock people but to generate feelings of compassion.

“I would like many people to know the reality,” she said. “I want people to stop thinking that solitary deaths have nothing to do with them. I hope people will think about what they can do to prevent solitary deaths.”

Over the past few decades, an increasing number of elderly people, and even relatively young single people, have been dying alone at their homes. Their bodies are often left to decompose because there are no people around to check up on the occupants.

Kojima said clients, who are usually relatives of the deceased, often express shame or embarrassment over the messy conditions of the rooms.

Snack packages, empty beverage cans, magazines, and plastic bottles and bags containing urine are among the items covering the floor of a room of a hoarder. Amid the trash was a resume for job hunting. (Naoko Kawamura)

She said she hopes the miniatures will show people that dirty or cluttered homes are “nothing special.”

“I don’t want people to be worried, thinking their (relatives’) homes are the only ones that are so messy,” she said.

Kojima said that hoarding, the compulsion to collect things excessively and the refusal to discard belongings, can afflict anyone.

“What if we lose someone close, or have psychological stress, and don’t feel like doing anything for days?” she said. “What if the situation gets out of hand before anyone else notices?”

Miyu Kojima produced this room box to show that clutter is nothing special. (Naoko Kawamura)  

Her room boxes are based on such themes as “solitary death” and “trash-hoarders’ room.”

At her work sites, she has seen piles of notices left by delivery drivers whose calls at the front door went unanswered. At one home, the body of the lone occupant was not discovered for months.

Kojima creates the miniatures by herself at the company’s office after finishing her cleanup work. For the room boxes, and based on her memory, she stains wallpaper bought from a hardware store and uses photocopiers to downsize packages of real products.

It takes about a month for Kojima to complete one room box.

She first publicly displayed her work at an industrial fair for funeral and burial-related businesses in 2016.

A resident's body was found on futon a few months after the solitary death. (Naoko Kawamura)  
 
Kojima said people usually shy away from looking at actual photos of the sites of death, but she notices that they stare intently at her room boxes.

 The top view of a room box of another trash hoarder’s home (Naoko Kawamura)

 Miyu Kojima’s room box of a toilet (Naoko Kawamura)

LSD’s Long Strange Trip

A portrait of the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman, created on a sheet of blotting paper used for LSD, is displayed at an exhibition at the Swiss National Library in Bern on Sept. 21. | AFP-JIJI
 

75 years from ‘problem child’ to ‘prodigy’


The Japan Times  AFP-JIJI

Lysergic acid diethylamide was labeled a “problem child” by the man who discovered its hallucinogenic properties in 1943. As it turns 75, the drug known as LSD may now be changing its image.

The late Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann famously learned of LSD’s psychedelic effects when he inadvertently took a small dose while doing lab work for the pharmaceutical company Sandoz.

He wanted the drug to be medically researched, convinced it could be a valuable psychiatric tool and lead to a deeper understanding of human consciousness.

But through the 1960s, LSD became synonymous with counterculture and anti-authority protests.

By the early 1970s, it had been widely criminalized in the West, prompting Hofmann to publish his 1979 memoir, “LSD: My Problem Child.”

The book, in which Hofmann sought to reassert LSD’s potential medical benefits, is featured in an exhibition at the Swiss National Library in the capital, Bern, to mark 75 years since the discovery.

Hofmann died in 2008 at the age of 102 but he likely would have been pleased by a series of recent developments.

After decades as a medical outcast, LSD has attracted renewed clinical interest, and there has been evidence that it can help treat anxiety and depression.

Such developments were what Hofmann was hoping for at the time of writing “My Problem Child.”
“If we can better understand how to use it, in medical practice related to meditation and LSD’s ability to promote visionary experiences under certain circumstances, then I think that this ‘problem child’ could become a prodigy,” he wrote.

He had discovered LSD while working with a fungus called ergot, which attacks cereal grains like rye and had previously been used for a variety of medical purposes. At the time, Sandoz was using it to make migraine medication.

Hofmann unknowingly created LSD when he combined the main active agent in ergot — lysergic acid — with diethylamide. After accidentally ingesting a trace of LSD, he began to feel strange, and later on deliberately took larger amounts to better understand the drug’s effects.

In a best-selling book published in May, “How to Change Your Mind,” the renowned American author Michael Pollan notes that LSD was the subject of widespread experimental research through the 1950s and 1960s and attracted the interest of leading psychiatrists.

But the situation changed.

“When Hofmann published his book in 1979, LSD was completely prohibited. There was no research,” said Hannes Mangold, curator of the National Library exhibit, called “Problem Child LSD turns 75.”

“What’s interesting is that for the last 10 to 15 years, research has once again been authorized and LSD as medicine has re-emerged.”

A nonprofit organization that has been at the forefront of driving the new wave of research is the California-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in Santa Cruz.
MAPS receives mostly private funding from large and small donors to support medical research into controlled substances.

Brad Burge, director of strategic communications at MAPS, said that the organization had raised nearly $30 million for further research to build on a Phase II LSD study which, he said, found positive indications that the drug can successfully treat anxiety.

MAPS funded the Swiss psychiatrist Peter Gasser to conduct the Phase II study, which was published in 2014 and was the first controlled study of LSD in more than four decades.

“We kind of brought it full circle, back there (to Switzerland),” Burge said.

He said that in the early years following Hofmann’s discovery, Sandoz had sent out batches of LSD to any interested researcher, hoping someone would define a clear, marketable purpose for the drug.

“It was 1950s crowd-sourcing,” Burge said.

In 1970, the administration of U.S. President Richard Nixon listed LSD as a Schedule 1 narcotic, a classification given to drugs that Washington considers highly dangerous with no medical benefit.

MAPS and others have argued that the decision was more about politics than public health; Nixon was interested in cracking down on various groups with which LSD had — accurately or not — become linked, including hippies and opponents of the Vietnam War.

But the effect of the Schedule 1 designation was to bring serious research on LSD to a halt, both in the United States and among foreign laboratories worried about American reprisals, Burge said.

Mangold said the LSD research landscape was effectively dormant for nearly four decades and only began to change following a 2006 conference in the Swiss city of Basel to mark Hofmann’s 100th birthday.

Scientists from numerous countries left the Basel symposium resolved to pursue new research and asked their regulatory authorities for permission to work with LSD.

Burge said that a key finding of the Phase II MAPS trial was that none of the 12 patients who participated had adverse reactions.

Given the risks of taking a powerful psychotropic in an unsupervised context, proving that LSD could be safely administered by medical professionals was essential to advancing further research, he said.

In the study, Gasser focused on patients diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, who participated in LSD-assisted psychotherapy during which they were guided in confronting anxieties and painful experiences while under the influence.

The qualitative results of the study showed participants experienced a reduction in anxiety, but found that further research was needed to define model medical uses for LSD.

“It’s still early, but it is now conceivable that LSD could make a comeback as a (therapeutic) drug,” Mangold said.

An Ounce of Prevention?

The Ground Self-Defense Force's amphibious troop unit conducts its first joint exercise in Japan with U.S. Marines on Sunday on the island of Tanegashima in Kagoshima Prefecture, as part of joint training for operations to retake control of an enemy-held remote island. | KYODO

GSDF amphibious unit, U.S. Marines hold first drill in Japan to retake remote islands

The Japan Times  Kyodo

The Ground Self-Defense Force’s amphibious troop unit conducted its first joint exercise in Japan with U.S. Marines on Sunday in Kagoshima Prefecture, part of training for operations to retake control of enemy-held remote islands.

The drill, held on the island of Tanegashima, was aimed at strengthening coordination between the allies amid China’s growing maritime assertiveness around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The islands are also claimed by China, where they are known as the Diaoyu.

At around 6 a.m., five boats carrying members of the GSDF’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade left the transport ship Osumi off Tanegashima and landed on the island. The drill was open to the media.

Japanese and U.S. forces also conducted training to regain control of an enemy-held airport on the island, with GSDF and U.S. military personnel deploying from an SDF CH-47 helicopter.

The members, carrying unloaded rifles, acted out an engagement with an assumed enemy.

Sunday’s exercise, involving around 220 GSDF members and 10 U.S. Marines, was the first amphibious drill conducted in Japan and follows one in Hawaii this summer. The joint drill is scheduled to run through Friday.

“We improved our ability to conduct amphibious missions and the exercise was satisfying,” Maj. Keisuke Komatsu, who commanded the Japanese amphibious unit that conducted the drill at the airport, said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters, Col. Mark Clingan, assistant division commander of the 3rd Marine Division, expressed hopes of deepening coordination with the Japanese amphibious unit.

The SDF’s amphibious brigade started off with about 2,100 members and is stationed at the GSDF Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture.

Despite a recent thaw in Sino-Japanese relations, the two countries remain at odds over the Senkakus, with China routinely sending government vessels into the vicinity of the islets.

Product Wars




             Mature

More  H1Plus 8 min. 49 sec.
Genetically engineered mascots become the latest craze in this all too possible future.

Watch it HERE



 
An IP proof of concept by the creators of True Skin and Pastel

Written and Directed by: Stephan Zlotescu (stephanzlotescu@gmail.com)
Cinematographer: H1 (info@H1FILMS.com)
Produced by: Stephan Zlotescu, H1, Vlad Caprini, Steve Tzirlin
Associate Producers: Mihai & Adrian Pircalabu, Omar A. Said
Executive Producer: Patrick Jean
Music: Out Alive - by J-Punch and Dave Moonshine - j-punch.bandcamp.com/album/product-wars-short-film-soundtrack

(mini series being developed by Blackpills)
Production Companies:
Punkcity Productions
H1FILMS
Opticflavor VFX Studio
Blackpills

Saturday, October 13, 2018

That's Just SILLY!

"SEAGULLS! (Stop It Now)" -- A Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back

Bad Lip Reading Nov 25, 2016  3 min. 56 sec.


Yoda is not fond of seagulls. Full-length version of the song first seen here: https://youtu.be/UkiI2vM2lfA

Slippery stairs - A Japanese games show

Amazing OrFunny Nov 17, 2017  8 min. 52 sec.
Can you climb these Slippery stairs? Slippery stairs - A Japanese games show

OK. So I do find some weird shit on You Tube late at night... 

The Same Old Story

Justin King sets out to debunk theory about Islamic State… and fails

Author’s Note: For readers who are unfamiliar with my work, I pride myself on providing rational explanations and debunking conspiracy theories because I feel they distract from the real threats that humanity faces. From Jade Helm 15 to the Charlie Hebdo shooting all the way back to the original ISIS beheading videos, I was the guy telling everyone to calm down and to ignore the conspiracy theories. Now that I’ve established my credentials as a rational person and complete skeptic, it’s time to put on your tinfoil hats because it’s about to get weird.

With the notable exception of the Kurds, militant groups from all over the Middle East have always shared one common enemy: the West. That is actually the only thing most of the groups have shared. They speak different languages, belong to different religious sects, and have different goals. Now suddenly the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the al-Qassam Brigades, the PFLP, and the Badr Organization all have something else in common: they are currently at war with the Islamic State.

It is completely illogical for organizations that are opposed to the West to go to war with another organization opposed to Western interests. Unless, of course, they know something we don’t. So, what do we know about the Islamic State? The Islamic State went through several name changes over the years. For the sake of continuity, it will simply be referred to as “the Islamic State” or “IS.”

In 2006, the group that would become the Islamic State was a half-baked insurgent group in Iraq that was barely on the radar. They were so ineffective that most military documents from the time don’t even mention them. They were just one of many groups attempting to fill the void left when Saddam Hussein was ousted by the United States. They accomplished nothing notable during the war in Iraq, but they migrated to Syria to take part in that conflict.

Once there, the Islamic State sat on the sidelines while the US armed, trained, and funded the Free Syrian Army (FSA). For some inexplicable reason, once the FSA had been brought to combat-ready status, entire brigades of troops deserted and left the FSA to join a group that had been completely unsuccessful in all of its previous endeavors. Many of the defectors claimed to have Central Intelligence Agency ties.

The Islamic State along with their US-supplied weapons, cash, and training headed back into Iraq and promptly began taking large sections of the country. Currently the Islamic State is on the run, but only because of the efforts of the other militant groups mentioned above.


“WaziriyaAutobombeIrak” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eli J. Medellin

Obviously the Islamic State is more extreme than other brands of Middle Eastern militants, but that really isn’t enough to prompt a war with a who’s who of militant groups. So, the US funded, armed, and trained the Islamic State forces. That is fact. Of course, it was just an accident. It’s not like the US has any ties to the leadership of the Islamic State.


Go get more tinfoil.

The charismatic leader of the Islamic State is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Sometime in 2003 or 2004, Baghdadi was picked up by US forces and interned at Camp Bucca. Some believe he was part of the group interned by mistake. Anybody attempting to obtain actual dates for the entirety of Baghdadi’s stay runs into problems because the documents are either missing, lost, destroyed, or the US government simply won’t release them. When the Department of Defense or military personnel do comment on his time in prison, they never give the same timeframe. Numerous large mainstream outlets have attempted to pin down the exact timeframe. None were given the documents (I never even got a call back). So we have to go off testimony of guards (who also can’t remember exactly when he was there) and prisoners who provide some interesting details about his treatment by US forces.

Abu Ahmed was in Camp Bucca with Baghdadi and was part of the core group that founded IS. He described Baghdadi by saying:
“Every time there was a problem in the camp, he was at the centre of it. He wanted to be the head of the prison – and when I look back now, he was using a policy of conquer and divide to get what he wanted, which was status. And it worked.”  
Obviously somebody who was at the center of problems in the camp would be singled out by American forces and placed into isolation, right? Wrong. In fact, US forces basically allowed him to do whatever he wanted. Ahmed goes on:
“He was respected very much by the US Army. If he wanted to visit people in another camp he could, but we couldn’t.”
Ahmed stated that he laid the groundwork for the Islamic State inside the prison. Even though he was a troublemaker, he was allowed to communicate and even visit people in other camps. Or at least he told his fellow prisoners he was visiting people in other camps when he left with US forces.
Ahmed had another recollection about Baghdadi that was notable:
“I got a feeling from him that he was hiding something inside, a darkness that he did not want to show other people. He was the opposite of other princes [leaders in the prison] who were far easier to deal with. He was remote, far from us all.”
After his release from prison (whenever exactly that was) he began working with a collective of terrorist groups inside Iraq that he would eventually absorb and control. By 2010, he was head of the Islamic State. He is now seen as the successor to Osama Bin Laden. That may be true in more ways than we know. Both ran organizations initially trained, supplied, and funded by the US government. Both were presumed dead only to resurface when the US needed to rally support. It also seems likely that Baghdadi, like Bin Laden, was (at some point) a US asset.

There is no smoking gun that will allow me to draw any factual conclusions. All we have is a mountain of circumstantial evidence that includes Western intelligence agencies being busted helping the Islamic State, accidental airdrops to the Islamic State in the days of GPS, and massive delays in US assistance to those fighting the Islamic State.

The truth behind this is something we will probably never find out until it’s been so long that nobody cares. It will be like the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or the real reason behind the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or the fact that the US government was implicated in the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr (that was a finding of a federal court). I can’t say that the US created the Islamic State as controlled opposition in the Middle East. What I can say is that for the first time, I can’t debunk a conspiracy theory.

Ben Swann put together a great 12-minute film on the subject of the Islamic State’s origins. He makes some pretty damning conclusions. He may not have gone far enough.

Truth in Media: Origin of ISIS

wandal Feb 27, 2015 12 min. 10 sec.
Credit: Ben Swann. Published on Feb 25, 2015
 
 
In addition to the questions posed by Swann, I would add:
 Why can’t we obtain clear records about Baghdadi’s incarceration?
Why did scores of FSA fighters flock to an unsuccessful group?
Why was Baghdadi permitted to leave his prison camp?
Most importantly to understanding this fiasco, why has every single militant group in the Middle East declared war on an organization that should be their ally?

 

Yikes!

To the ladies of the alt-right

The Fifth Column Dec 4, 2017 14 min. 52 sec.

California Tenants Take Rent Control Fight to the Ballot Box

A rally in San Francisco by supporters of Proposition 10, a ballot initiative that would loosen California’s restraints on local rent control laws.CreditCreditBrian L. Frank for The New York Times
The New York Times  by Conor Dougherty 

LOS ANGELES — From pulpits across Los Angeles, Pastor Kelvin Sauls has spent the past few months delivering sermons on the spiritual benefits of fasting. The food in the sermon is rent, and landlords need less of it. “My role is to bring a moral perspective to what we are dealing with around the housing crisis,” Pastor Sauls explained.

In addition to a Sunday lesson, this is an Election Day pitch. Pastor Sauls is part of the campaign for Proposition 10, a ballot initiative that would loosen state restraints on local rent control laws. The effort has stoked a battle that has already consumed close to $60 million in political spending, a sizable figure even in a state known for heavily funded campaigns.

Depending on which side is talking, Proposition 10 is either a much-needed tool to help cities solve a housing crisis or a radically misguided idea that will only make things worse. Specifically, it would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prevents cities from applying rent control laws to single-family homes and apartments built after 1995.

The initiative drive builds on the growing momentum of local efforts to expand tenant protections. “In the midst of the worst housing and homeless crisis that our country has ever seen, how does a bill that restricts local government’s ability to address it go untouched?” asked Damien Goodmon, director of the Yes on 10 campaign, which is primarily funded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles.

A view of Los Angeles from the office of Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Until the foundation’s intervention, there had been no sustained effort capable of funding a statewide political campaign to challenge barriers to rent control.CreditPhilip Cheung for The New York Times
Proposition 10 has won prominent endorsements from backers including the California Democratic Party and The Los Angeles Times. But opponents have also amassed editorials and broad support, mainly from a coalition of construction unions, nonprofit housing developers and local chambers of commerce.

Among those fighting the initiative is a relatively recent class of landlords — private equity firms like Blackstone Group, which accumulated a vast residential real estate portfolio after the housing market collapse a decade ago. Landlords warn that repealing the Costa-Hawkins law would create deep uncertainty among developers, making California’s housing shortage worse by discouraging construction.

“This is a serious problem, but the solution to that problem should not land solely on the rental housing industry,” said Tom Bannon, president of the California Apartment Association, a landlords’ group.

The California fight reflects a renters’ rights movement that is bubbling up in churches and community centers across the country, a semi-coordinated stand of low-income tenants against the gentrifying American city. Last month in the Roxbury section of Boston, about 300 people gathered for an afternoon assembly on how to blunt evictions and economic displacement. The event offered free child care and had organizers speaking English, Spanish and Cantonese.
Many of these groups are affiliated with a housing and racial justice group called Right to the City Alliance, whose Homes for All campaign has organized tenants in about 50 cities. Even outside California, Homes for All members are closely following the Proposition 10 campaign.

“We’re both watching and learning from how they are building this broad-based movement,” said Lisa Owens, executive director of City Life/Vida Urbana, a tenants’ rights group in Boston.

In California and elsewhere, the problem is a lack of affordable housing that has led to cramped households, longer commutes and rising homelessness. About a quarter of the nation’s tenants paid more than half of their income in rent in 2016, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard.

With housing prices rising in places like Oakland, Calif., private equity firms have been buying up single-family homes and turning them into rentals.CreditBrian L. Frank for The New York Times
Among the contributing factors are rising construction costs and increasingly stringent land-use regulations that have slowed construction and held back the supply of lower-cost rental housing. New building has skewed toward the upper end of the market, while the share of the overall housing stock affordable to lower-income renters has declined.

Homeownership has historically been the pressure-release valve for rising rents. But home prices have grown beyond what most people can afford, and private equity firms have turned single-family-home renting into a larger and more concentrated sector.

Private equity firms like Blackstone — which has a stake of about 40 percent in Invitation Homes, with about 82,000 homes in 17 markets — have become something of a foil for the Proposition 10 campaign. “Meet Donald Trump’s uber-rich buddies” begins a “Yes on 10” ad, which proceeds to detail the personal connections among private-equity landlords like Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone’s multibillionaire chief executive, and President Trump.

Eva Jimenez, who lives with her husband and four children in an Invitation Homes property in Oakland, answered her door in a “Yes on 10” T-shirt (“Because the rent is too damn high,” it said on the back). With rents rising, tenants who live in single-family homes that are ineligible for rent control, like Ms. Jimenez, have become active in the Proposition 10 campaign, and she is a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, which is running the “Yes on 10” Campaign with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Eva Jimenez with one of her four children, Raymond, in the Oakland house that she and her husband rent from a company that has 82,000 homes in 17 markets.CreditBrian L. Frank for The New York Times
Given how confusing it can be to explain the Costa-Hawkins law and how the ballot initiative would change things, Ms. Jimenez said that when she distilled her pitch to “everything is about rent control,” it resonated deeply with neighbors.

Economists have an almost universally dim view of rent control laws, and a number have supported the landlords’ contention that Proposition 10 could make California’s housing problems worse. 

Under current law, California landlords can raise their rent as much as they like after a rent-controlled tenant leaves. If the Costa-Hawkins law is repealed, cities could write laws that barred them from ever raising their rents to market rates. That could prompt landlords to convert apartments into owner-occupied housing, worsening the shortage of affordable rentals.

This does not, however, mean that economists are against providing low-income renters with relief. A number of scholars, including Rebecca Diamond, a Stanford economist, have found that rent control laws slow displacement, particularly among poor or older tenants, but also accelerate gentrification. A stronger support system, such as tax credits that insure against increasing rents, could offer protection without distorting the housing market.

Tax credits are expensive to the state budget, however, and have little chance of becoming law any time soon. Rent control, by contrast, doesn’t cost taxpayers anything in dollars, at least not right away, and despite the long-term concerns of economists, it has the potential to help tenants now.

Repealing the Costa-Hawkins law has been a goal of tenant advocates almost since it was enacted in 1995. But given the shoestring budgets of community groups, there had been no sustained effort capable of funding a statewide political campaign.

Enter Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles. The foundation, the world’s largest AIDS charity, is on a pace to generate some $2 billion a year in revenue in 2020, most of it from a chain of nonprofit pharmacies.

While nonprofits are barred from engaging in partisan political spending, they are free to run voter initiatives. Mr. Weinstein has become widely known for his willingness to bankroll state and local ballot measures, including an anti-development ordinance in Los Angeles, a statewide initiative to reduce the price California pays for pharmaceuticals and another that would have required condoms in pornography. All failed.
Mr. Weinstein, in the AIDS Healthcare Foundation office, said that if Proposition 10 failed, he’d try again, possibly in 2020.CreditPhilip Cheung for The New York Times
So far the “Yes on 10” campaign has raised about $17 million, virtually all of it from the foundation. The landlords have raised $42 million. Support for the measure is trailing opposition among likely voters, according to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Regardless of the outcome, the rent control battle seems unlikely to subside soon. Separate from Proposition 10, tenant activists have put rent control measures on the 2018 ballot in several California cities, and are gathering signatures for more after that.

And Mr. Weinstein said that win or lose, he was not going away. If Proposition 10 fails, he has promised to pay for another bid to repeal the Costa-Hawkins law, possibly in 2020. “I’m kind of like gum on your shoe,” he said.

Lauren Hepler contributed reporting from Oakland, Calif.

There's Still Beauty Left...

Snorkelling in the shallow waters of the Bora Bora lagoon, Moorea, French Polynesia

Why Marine Animals Can't Stop Eating Plastic

Yes, it's ugly.  Read the article anyway.  Make better buying/ disposal choices.  Their lives, and the health of the planet depend upon your actions. 
Laysan Albatross. Photo: Chris Jordan

BBC Earth  by Josh Gabbatiss

Plastic doesn’t just look like food, it smells, feels and even sounds like food.

In a recent interview about Blue Planet II, David Attenborough describes a sequence in which an albatross arrives at its nest to feed its young.

“And what comes out of the mouth?” he says. “Not fish, and not squid – which is what they mostly eat. Plastic.”

It is, as Attenborough says, heartbreaking. It’s also strange. Albatrosses forage over thousands of kilometres in search of their preferred prey, which they pluck from the water with ease. How can such capable birds be so easily fooled, and come back from their long voyages with nothing but a mouthful of plastic?

It’s small comfort to discover that albatrosses are not alone. At least 180 species of marine animals have been documented consuming plastic, from tiny plankton to gigantic whales. Plastic has been found inside the guts of a third of UK-caught fish, including species that we regularly consume as food. It has also been found in other mealtime favourites like mussels and lobsters. In short, animals of all shapes and sizes are eating plastic, and with 12.7 million tons of the stuff entering the oceans every year, there’s plenty to go around.

1 min 37 sec.

Many marine animals rely primarily on their sense of smell, leading them to be attracted to plastic debris in the ocean.
The prevalence of plastic consumption is partly a consequence of this sheer quantity. In zooplankton, for example, it corresponds with the concentration of tiny plastic particles in the water because their feeding appendages are designed to handle particles of a certain size. “If the particle falls into this size range it must be food,” says Moira Galbraith, a plankton ecologist at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Canada.

Like zooplankton, the tentacled, cylindrical creatures known as sea cucumbers don’t seem too fussy about what they eat as they crawl around the ocean beds, scooping sediment into their mouths to extract edible matter. However, one analysis suggested that these bottom-dwellers can consume up to 138 times as much plastic as would be expected, given its distribution in the sediment.

For sea cucumbers, plastic particles may simply be larger and easier to grab with their feeding tentacles than more conventional food items, but in other species there are indications that plastic consumption is more than just a passive process. Many animals appear to be choosing this diet. To understand why animals find plastic so appealing, we need to appreciate how they perceive the world.
“Animals have very different sensory, perceptive abilities to us. In some cases they’re better and in some cases they’re worse, but in all cases they’re different,” says Matthew Savoca at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Monterey, California.

One explanation is that animals simply mistake plastic for familiar food items – plastic pellets, for example, are thought to resemble tasty fish eggs. But as humans we are biased by our own senses. To appreciate animals’ love of plastic, scientists must try to view the world as they do.
Many animals appear to be choosing a plastic diet (Credit: BBC 2017)
Many animals appear to be choosing a plastic diet (Credit: BBC 2017)
Humans are visual creatures, but when foraging many marine animals, including albatrosses, rely primarily on their sense of smell. Savoca and his colleagues have conducted experiments suggesting that some species of seabirds and fish are attracted to plastic by its odour. Specifically, they implicated dimethyl sulfide (DMS), a compound known to attract foraging birds, as the chemical cue emanating from plastic. Essentially, algae grows on floating plastic, and when that algae is eaten by krill – a major marine food source – it releases DMS, attracting birds and fish that then munch on the plastic instead of the krill they came for.

Even for vision, we can’t jump to conclusions when considering the appeal of plastic. Like humans, marine turtles rely primarily on their vision to search for food. However, they are also thought to possess the capacity to see UV light, making their vision quite different from our own.

Qamar Schuyler at The University of Queensland, Australia, has got into turtles’ heads by modelling their visual capabilities and then measuring the visual characteristics of plastics as turtles see them. She has also examined the stomach contents of deceased turtles to get a sense of their preferred plastics. Her conclusion is that while young turtles are relatively indiscriminate, older turtles preferentially target soft, translucent plastic. Schuyler thinks her results confirm a long-held idea that turtles mistake plastic bags for delicious jellyfish.

Colour is also thought to factor into plastic consumption, although preference varies between species. Young turtles prefer white plastic, while Schuyler and her colleagues found that seabirds called shearwaters opt for red plastic.
Every year, around 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean (Credit: BBC 2017)
Every year, around 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean (Credit: BBC 2017)
Besides sight and smell, there are other senses animals use to find food. Many marine animals hunt by echolocation, notably toothed whales and dolphins. Echolocation is known to be incredibly sensitive, and yet dozens of sperm whales and other toothed whales have been found dead with stomachs full of plastic bags, car parts and other human detritus. Savoca says it’s likely their echolocation misidentifies these objects as food.

“There’s this misconception that these animals are dumb and just eat plastic because it is around them, but that is not true,” says Savoca. The tragedy is that all these animals are highly accomplished hunters and foragers, possessing senses honed by millennia of evolution to target what is often a very narrow range of prey items. “Plastics have really only been around for a tiny fraction of that time,” says Schuyler. In that time, they have somehow found themselves into the category marked ‘food’.

Because plastic has something for everyone. It doesn’t just look like food, it smells, feels and even sounds like food. Our rubbish comes in such a range of shapes, sizes and colours that it appeals to a similarly diverse array of animals, and this is the problem. Schuyler recalls someone asking, “why don't we make all the plastics blue?”, seeing as experiments suggest this colour is less popular among turtles. But other studies have shown that for other species the opposite is true.

So if there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, no aspect of plastic that we can easily change to prevent animals from eating it, then what can we take from our foray into the minds of plastic-eaters? Savoca hopes that tragic stories like Attenborough’s albatross will help to turn the consumer tide against disposable plastics and encourage people to empathise with these animals. Ultimately this will help to cut off the supply of junk food pouring into the oceans.

Our Blue Planet is a digital project to get people talking about our Oceans. It is a collaboration between BBC Earth and Alucia Productions, bringing you incredible stories, videos, photography and more from the alien and often unbelievable world of the blue planet. Join the conversation at #OurBluePlanet and discover more at https://ourblueplanet.bbcearth.com/

Albatrosses Swallow Plastic Waste | Hawaii: Message in the Waves | BBC Earth

BBC Earth Oct 29, 2009 3 min. 4 sec.