OnSafari: Wisconsin

OnSafari: Wisconsin

I was sitting in our breakfast room, the corner of the house all windowed, overlooking the lake when a red Corolla with a red canoe on top raced down our driveway and a tall lanky man with wading boots and a funny hat jumped out and ran to the edge of the lake.

When he raised his binoculars my concern turned to relief. I walked out barefoot in my jammies into the 45F spectacularly clear morning and introduced myself, but I all I did was manage to agitate him as he muttered, “Yellow over red. No… pink over red.”

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Back to The Past

Back to The Past

More and more we can foreshadow global futures by following South African politics. Read my many previous blogs comparing the impeached Jacob Zuma with the yet to be ousted Donald Trump and the established political parties and their fiery challengers.

As I write this today 75% of the votes have been certified in Wednesday’s national election. The outcome is close to what the polls predicted, so unlike earlier elections. And the outcome suggests a return to an older status quo, a failure for significant change but with an overall (if counterproductively slow) movement towards more progressive policies.

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Vapid Voting

Vapid Voting

So far no surprises in the South African elections and quite possibly an affirmation that pre-election polling was correct.

Actual results won’t be known until tomorrow but there is incredible news: once again, nearly 70% of voting age South Africans actually voted. This is a vibrant democracy and it gives Americans pause to rethink exactly what we are.

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Culling Politicians

Culling Politicians

Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe claim to have 250,000 elephants – which is a bit high – and their Heads of State met yesterday to decide how to handle “too many elephants.”

Botswana has a hotly contested election in five months. Elephants are a hot button issue in that election with the president decrying “too many elephants” and offering absolutely useless but provocative methods to reduce them. He hopes this glitzy gathering of mostly unpopular Heads of State will help his cause.

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Spineless Science

Spineless Science

So even scientists have been coopted, now. Today in Paris most all of the most famous scientists in the world issued an 1800-page much anticipated report detailing what the rapid loss of biodiversity is doing to us:

Killing us, essentially. By the way, what did you think about that last Game of Thrones episode? Pretty cool, isn’t it, that Alex Cora is skipping the White House meeting? Is it possible that climate change has something to do with the decline in biodiversity?

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No Press Today

No Press Today

The State of the World, or … the fight between Nadler and Trump, is beautifully encapsulated by the volumes of reports being issued to mark this World Press Day:

We’re losing control of truth. Worse, we’re ceding our individual determinations of truth to media and the political leaders they support. This trend is most dramatic in Africa where in a mere five years the majority who vigorously supported press freedom no longer do.

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Militarism in Africa

Militarism in Africa

Populism is not some lonesome social condition. Populism controls democracy, and populism brings down and sets up autocratic regimes. It’s not conservative or progressive, capitalist or communist. It’s not necessarily based on truth. It’s knee-jerk support for – or against – individuals wielding power. Why? How is it harnessed?

East Africa gives us some insight: Ten years ago Kenya hardly had an army. Ten years ago Kenya was in incredible social turmoil, very close to a civil war. Today Kenya is a military powerhouse, rivaling the two other area powerhouses, Ethiopia and Rwanda. And today Kenya’s stable society thrives on a growing populism.

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Paltering Polls

Paltering Polls

I regularly answer pollsters who call uninvited the exact opposite of what I believe. This isn’t because I advocate lying. In fact whenever a pollster as has happened asks if I’m certain, or telling the truth, I own up to my facade. Rather, it’s to participate in how inaccurate polling is.

Remember the polls for the last couple elections? Well just as a week-from-tomorrow’s grand election in South Africa is an absolute marker for what may happen in 2020 here in America, let’s now start gauging their polls. Perhaps that, too, can be a marker for America.

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Sail Away

Sail Away

This week’s 70th anniversary of the formation of the Chinese Navy was marked by the arrival of a huge new naval fleet in the Red Sea off Somalia.

With the withdrawal of U.S. and U.K. forces from Africa China has stepped in. Chinese warships have provided a safe escort in the Red Sea for more than 6,600 vessels in the last decade, without any further justification required from those vessels than a call for assistance. Only a few years ago it was U.S. and U.K. warships that provided these safe escorts.

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Good Deeds

Good Deeds

Sometimes good acts prevail even after evil-doers reverse them:

The previous Republican controlled Congress and current Trump administration wiped out Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Bill, the “Rule on Conflict Minerals.” But that rule had such a powerful effect when first passed by Congress that the world embraced it and has continued to strengthen it despite the official reversal by the United States.

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Much Discovered

Much Discovered

So let’s say you’re running for national office. And let’s say you’re an incredible progressive promoting aggressive implementation of climate change remedies and reforms including a moratorium on any new development of fossil fuels.

And then let’s say that less than a few months before the election an oil-equivalent billion barrels of gas are discovered in your country. What do you do? This is exactly what’s happened in South Africa, elections on May 8.

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Simbakubwa

Simbakubwa

Sometimes you unearth amazing discoveries in the deep masquerading shade under an arch of limestone in the scorching fossil fields of a desert in Kenya. Other times it’s in the backside of a drawer!

What Ohio University scientists Nancy Stevens and Matthew Borths have discovered is no less impressive just because they didn’t get their hands dirty finding it! Intending to study the bones of ancient hyaenas tucked away in hundreds of drawers of the Nairobi National Museum, Nancy discovered the world’s biggest ever lion!

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Super Tuskers

Super Tuskers

Last month one of the last known super tuskers died. The last time I saw one was in April, 2008. A “Super Tusker” is somewhat arbitrarily defined as an elephant with two tusks each at least 1½ meters long and each weighing at least 80 kilos. It was sipping water from a pool in Ngorongoro Crater.

Looking for super tuskers isn’t just a fun hobby. Elephant survival is directly linked to the size and weight of their tusks. Unfortunately, this is also the singular characteristic that attracts poachers.

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Random Ransom?

Random Ransom?

The Trump Administration has reversed a long-standing policy of the American government to refuse to ransom kidnapped Americans. The policy was enacted in 1973 under then Sec. of State Henry Kissinger who vowed no “blood money” for terrorists.

Uganda’s junior tourism minister, Godfrey Kiwanda Ssubi, told Ugandan-State TV Sunday that the ransom asked by the kidnappers for the release of American Kimberley Sue Endicott was paid “with the help of the U.S. government. Whatever these people (kidnappers) demanded for was paid,” Ssubi said.

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