When the rain stopped, and the dogs and I went walking, wispy cloud tendrils clung to the sky like a vast pink spider web, reminding me that this is the last week of the super early dawns. Come Friday's solstice, we start losing light in the morning. Aw shucks.
It's officially pollinators' week in Hawaii, the time to honor all the creatures that provide this critical function. Though most of the attention is on honey bees, because people like honey, the work is also performed by butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, bats and carpenter, sweat, leafcutter, mason and native bees. If you're interested in native and introduced plants that appeal to pollinators in Hawaii, check out this handy guide.
I've got my eye on a swarm that landed high up in the mango tree in my yard. I'm trying to lure it into a box, using some drawn comb as attractant. Scout bees are busy checking it out, so I hope they come to the consensus that it's the best choice for their new home.
Moving on to the birds, a recent study of the Hawaiian petrel, an endangered seabird, “documented a dramatic and unprecedented shift in foraging habits that is likely linked to industrial fishing in the Pacific." The study shows the birds are moving down the food chain to smaller fish because the larger prey they'd consumed in prior centuries is no longer available. Because seabirds “forage over such wide expanses of the Pacific, changes in their foraging habits have the potential to reflect widespread changes in food chain dynamics.”
As in going, going, gone.....
Speaking of the Pacific, in yet another story missed by The Garden Island, NASA plans to use PMRF for supersonic parachute testing:
Next summer, NASA plans to send a saucer-shaped Mars entry vehicle aloft by balloon from Kauai, boost it from 120,000 feet to as high as 180,000 feet by rocket, then, as it hurtles through the thin air at 2,600 mph, deploy a speed-reducing inflatable doughnut around the craft, followed by a big parachute, until it plops into the water for pickup. It will be refitted and re-fired three more times through the summer of 2015.
Apparently they can't do it anywhere on the mainland because of people, but here they plan to shoot it out over the water, because nothing and no one is using the ocean off PMRF, right?
As a friend observed, in explaining TGI's coverage:
Meanwhile, as we seek to understand if there's life on Mars, we're busily trying to end it on Earth:
A new study from the International Energy Agency says emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels rose to record levels last year. Global emissions increased by 1.4 percent, putting the world on pace for a temperature hike of up to 5.3 degrees Celsius, or 9 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than double the 2-degree-Celsius target set by world leaders. The agency’s chief economist called that scenario a "disaster for all countries."
As the world's ecosystems are being degraded, so too are Americans' civil liberties. For example, the Supreme Court ruled today that you can't just remain silent under police questioning, you have to actually declare you're invoking your Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination:
It all seems sort of almost ridiculously terrifying, this new idea that in order to claim your Fifth Amendment, you need to know how to call the on-the-fly legal equivalent of "safesies." Your right to remain silent just got more complicated, and it will require potential criminals to be more informed about their protections and the linguistic details on how to invoke them. "But does it really mean that the suspect must use the exact words 'Fifth Amendment'? How can an individual who is not a lawyer know that these particular words are legally magic?" [Justice Stephen] Breyer wrote.
Precisely, my dear Watson. Gotta count on the missteps of the accused to keep those private prisons filled.
I was also interested to follow the Justices' discussion on the Arizona voting law, in which Justice Antonin Scalia commented that swearing under oath that one is a citizen “is not proof at all. It’s just a statement.” To which an attorney representing those trying to change the restrictive voting law countered:
“Statements under oath in a criminal case are proof beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases that result in execution.
So where, exactly, does a notarized affidavit fit into all this? I'm wondering, because I can't help but think of all those people who signed such statements in order to get vacation rental permits, even though the "facts" they were swearing to where untrue. Perjury? Fraud? Or just, yawn, whatevahs......