Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Brightly Colored Birds (7) - Photos

And, finally, the end of the brightly colored bird photos...

Painted bunting

Paradise Huppe

 Paradise Tanager

Pink pigeon


Purple gallinule


Racket-tailed roller

Raggiana bird of paradise

Rainbow lorikeet

"Screw It" Pruitt - aka EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

I worked for several years for the Environmental Protection Agency under the leadership of Carol Browner, whom I loved, and Christine Todd Whitman, whom I disliked.   (I didn't like the directive to address her as "Governor Whitman," actually.)  The current Administrator is the 14th, and he was appointed by the 45th President; I completely loathe both of these men.
  (Edward) Scott Pruitt was born in Danville, Kentucky in May 1968; his family moved to Lexington, Kentucky when he was a boy.  He was awarded an athletic scholarship to the University of Kentucky, but moved on to Georgetown College after a year, where he graduated with degrees in political science and communication.  He then moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he earned his Juris Doctor law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1993.
  After law school, Pruitt started a solo legal practice in Tulsa that he named "Christian Legal Services," which focused on defending Christians in religious liberty cases. He worked out of that office for 5 years before running for the Oklahoma state senate, and he won the election, representing Tulsa and Wagoner counties for two terms.
   After two years in the state senate, Pruitt was selected to serve as the Republican whip from 2001 to 2003.  He was then selected to serve as the Republican Assistant Floor Leader, until 2006.  During that time, he also sat as chairman of a task force for the American Legislative Exchange Council.  There, he sponsored a workers'-compensation reform bill that sought to impose drug tests on workers who were involved in on-the-job injuries or accidents.  In 2005, Pruitt told a radio interviewer that there are "not sufficient scientific facts to establish the theory of evolution."
  In 2010, Pruitt was elected the Attorney General of Oklahoma.  In that role, he opposed abortion rights, same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act, and almost all environmental regulations as a self-described "leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda."  In his campaigns for Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt received major corporate and employee campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry, taking at least $215,574 between 2010 and 2014, even though he ran unopposed in 2014.  In his role as Attorney General of Oklahoma, he sued the Environmental Protection Agency at least 14 times.  Pruitt was elected as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association in 2012, and was re-elected for a second term in 2013.
  Administrator Pruitt rejects the scientific consensus that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are a primary contributor to climate change; and has falsely claimed there is no scientific consensus on climate change.  As EPA leader, Pruitt has reversed and delayed numerous environmental rules, relaxed enforcement of existing rules, and has halted the agency's efforts to combat climate change.
Pruitt assumed the office of EPA Administrator on 17 February 2017.
  By the middle of this month, April 2018, Pruitt is under 10 (ten) separate investigations by the Government Accountability Office, the EPA's Inspector General, the White House Office of Management and Budget, and two Congressional House committees over his spending habits, conflicts of interest and management practices.  His spending extravagances include having spent over $3 million for his personal security team of 20+, which has included security at the Rose Bowl, Disneyland, basketball games and family vacations.  He has spent $43,000 for a "sound proof phone booth" inside his office, plus has greatly exceeded the budget for bullet-proof vests, ammunition, art loans from the Smithsonian Institute, and the framing of  a flag in his office.  He also made frequent use of first class air flights, as well as frequent charter and specially scheduled military flights.
   Pruitt has had private, undisclosed meetings with heads of industries; and special concerns have been raised concerning those meetings with coal miners and an appearance in a video promoting the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.  He has been caught using four e-mail addresses, only two of which were known to Congress, and Senator John Barrasso (Republican, Wyoming) has sent sent Pruitt a letter warning  him that the use of those e-mail addresses makes the use of FOIA impossible and is breaking the law.
  Also under investigation are his multiple dismissals of well-known scientists from EPA Science Advisory Boards, whom he replaced with people from the industries and state regulators in the areas they are giving advisement.  Most people know about Pruitt's "renting" a condo in Washington, DC for $50 per night that belongs to a lobbyist whose clients were regulated by the EPA.  He was also involved in a housing scam during his time in the Oklahoma state senate, which (gasp!) incredibly also involved the two assistants for whom he got very large, un-authorized pay raises.  Misters Wagner and Kelly are friends from Oklahoma, and Pruitt used a narrow provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act to autonomously give raises of approximately $28,000 and $57,000 each, which allowed both of his friends to avoid signing conflicts of interest pledges.
    Talk about scheming lawyers!!!!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Earth and Earth Day Photos

Iron Eyes Cody -  Keep America Beautiful PSA, 1971

The Spy Geyser in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada is a 
man-made accident caused by drilling

Victoria Falls, where the Zambezi River drops in Zimbabwe, is
considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world...

Earth Day and the Dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency

Yesterday was the 48th anniversary of Earth Day.  I remember small groups of people celebrating the first Earth Day in 1970.  I was in 8th grade, and my educational world was being shaken by the Federal Desegregation Act.  From going to junior high school on a full-time daily basis, I was suddenly going to school only in the afternoon at another school's buildings; and I was way ahead of the other students in everything except American history.  I remember groups of "hippies" celebrating and protesting on and around the University of Florida campus; but not much else, honestly.
   However, there was a growing movement afoot.  Dad had taken Kathy and me to the Devil's Millhopper and hiking out into the woods almost every weekend - and we always carried a brown paper grocery bag apiece, to pick up any trash we saw.  So I guess I was environmentally aware of certain problems, even though I didn't really think about them.  But suddenly, it seemed, litter was a big social issue.  Then, in 1971, the Public Service Announcement ad with Chief Iron Eyes Cody, with a tear running down his cheek, was released.  A Native American was crying over the trashing of his country; it stamped itself on the nation's memory.
   In part, thanks to Earth Day, President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency with an executive order from the White House. Suddenly, it seemed, Congress jumped onto the bandwagon, and the following Acts were passed:
The Clean Air Act  in 1970
The Environmental Quality Improvement Act  in 1970
The Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act  in 1971
The Clean Water Act  in 1971
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act  in 1972
The Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act  in 1972
The Marine Mammal Protection Act  in 1972
The Endangered Species Act  in1973
The Safe Drinking Water Act  in 1974
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards  in 1975
The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act  in 1975
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act  in 1976
The Toxic Substances Control Act  in 1976
The National Forest Management Act  in 1976

  Yesterday, there were a lot of celebrations of Earth Day in and around Boulder, Colorado, my current place of residence.  Here, we have a lot of conserved and protected Open Space, trails, and green ways.  We are backed up against the Roosevelt National Forest, and have lots of parks and recreational facilities.  Boulder is striving to achieve a 85% trash recycling and composting rate.  This area wants to be "green."
   But, as we know, we are racing backwards fast, under the so-called leadership of a head of the EPA who sees his mission as (a) leaving as many citizens as possible exposed to environment degradation, and (b) picking our pockets clean in a breath-taking manner.  Just Google "EPA environmental regulations" and you'll quickly see all the damage that Scott Pruitt and the 45th President are trying to accomplish.
   If  the Democrats can regain the lead in Congress in 2018, and if we can re-capture the White House in 2020, we can swing our environmental incursions back in the other direction quickly.  We can rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, re-enforce CAFE standards, and a whole lot more...    And that same 2020 that will bring us the next presidential election will also bring us the 50th anniversary of Earth Day
   Here's hoping for a much better future for Mother Earth here in the United States, and for a much better, and re-invented, re-energized Environmental Protection Agency, as well!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Brightly Colored Birds (6) - Photos

Gray-crowned crane

Harlequin duck

Helmeted woodpecker


Lilac breasted roller

Malachite kingfisher

Mandarin duck

Mrs Gould's sunbird

Northern red-shafted flicker

Orange breasted sunbird

Friday, April 20, 2018

What I Do To Distract Myself

Besides having about 20 adult coloring books, most with intricate patterns and/or pictures, I also paint items that Bea and I buy at thrift stores or yard sales...  I recently finished painting the items we display on our balcony, as well as the owl that we have inside.  These are the results:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Brightly Colored Birds (5) - Photos

Red and yellow barbet

Red-bearded bee eater

Red billed oxpecker

Red-headed barbet

Red-naped trogon

Red necked tanager

Red-tailed laughing thrush

Regal sunbird

Regent bowerbird

Ruddy shelduck