Dear EarthTalk: I understand the Navy is doing sonar testing and training in the oceans and that their activities will likely kill hundreds if not thousands of whales and other marine mammals. What can be done to stop this? – Jackie Bomgardner, Wilton, CTActive sonar is a technology used on ships to aid in navigation, and the U.S. Navy tests and trains with it extensively in American territorial waters. The Navy also conducts missile and bomb testing in the same areas. But environmentalists and animal advocates contend that this is harming whales and other marine wildlife, and are calling on the Navy to curtail such training and testing exercises accordingly.“Naval sonar systems work like acoustic floodlights, sending sound waves through ocean waters for tens or even hundreds of miles to disclose large objects in their path,” reports the non-profit Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). “But this activity entails deafening sound: even one low-frequency active sonar loudspeaker can be as loud as a twin-engine fighter jet at takeoff.” According to CBD, sonar and other military testing can have an especially devastating effect on whales, given how dependent they are on their sense of hearing for feeding, breeding, nursing, communication and navigation. The group adds that sonar can also directly injure whales by causing hearing loss, hemorrhages and other kinds of trauma, as well as drive them rapidly to the surface or toward shore.In 2007, a U.S. appeals court sided with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which had contended that Navy testing violated the National Environmental Policy Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. But within three months of this ruling, then-President George W. Bush exempted the Navy, citing national security reasons. The exemption was subsequently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court upon challenge, and the Navy released estimates that its training exercises scheduled through 2015 could kill upwards of 1,000 marine mammals and seriously injure another 5,000.Luckily, in September 2013 a federal court in California sided with green groups in a lawsuit charging that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) failed to protect thousands of marine mammals from Navy warfare training exercises in the Northwest Training Range Complex along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. In the opinion, Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas ruled that NMFS’s prior approval of the Navy’s activities there failed to use the best available science to assess the extent and duration of impacts to the marine mammals.As a result of the ruling, NMFS must reassess its permits to ensure that the Navy’s activities comply with protective measures per the Endangered Species Act. “This is a victory for dozens of protected species of marine mammals, including critically endangered Southern Resident orcas, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins and porpoises,” says Steve Mashuda, an attorney with the environmental law firm, Earthjustice, which represented the coalition in the lawsuit. The recent ruling will no doubt be challenged. Also, the Navy still has the green light to use sonar and do weapons testing off the East Coast despite the risks.Concerned readers can send a message through the NRDC website calling on U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to direct the Navy to adopt safeguards to protect marine mammals during training without sacrificing national security.
On April 5, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the removal of the Colombian professional soccer team América de Cali (also known as Corporación Deportiva América) from the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List). The Treasury designated the América de Cali team on June 8, 1999, pursuant to Executive Order 12978 of 1995, “Blocking Assets and Prohibiting Transactions with Significant Narcotics Traffickers,” because it was under the ownership or control of Cali Cartel leaders Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, and other designated individuals. Because that is no longer the case, the Treasury Department delisted América de Cali, and U.S. persons will now be allowed to enter into financial transactions with the ownership of the team, and any assets that they may have had in the U.S. are now unblocked. “Today’s lifting of the designation of América de Cali is a testament to the enormous efforts made in recent years by both the team and the Colombian government to completely end the criminal influences that have overshadowed the team in the past,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen. “As we continue our work with the Colombian government to combat the threat of narcotics trafficking, we will use our authorities to target those responsible for illicit behavior just as we will lift sanctions in cases where there has been a concrete change in behavior.” The soccer team’s corporate entity recently completed a transparent process of restructuring and bankruptcy procedures under the oversight of the Colombian government that included a vigorous due diligence process on all prospective shareholders and corporate officers. The results of this process demonstrated that América de Cali has cut its ties with designated parties, allowing the Treasury to proceed with removing the team from the SDN List. The removal of América de Cali from the SDN List demonstrates that entities may be, and regularly are, removed from the SDN List when circumstances warrant it. A designated party may petition the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for the removal of its name from the SDN List. In general, proof of changes in circumstances and behavior are key to OFAC removing a person or entity from the SDN List. By Dialogo April 09, 2013
The RBA says Queensland is showing evidence of having recovered from the mining downturn. Photo: Jodie Richter.QUEENSLAND is shrugging off the mining downturn amid declining housing investment and a decreasing pipeline of construction work, according to Australia’s central bank.The minutes of the latest Reserve Bank of Australia meeting reveal the board is optimistic about economic conditions in the Sunshine State, citing evidence of a recovery from the mining downturn, rising commodity prices and the sustained strength in construction. RBA Governor Philip Lowe. Photograph: Adam Yip.In the eastern capital cities, “a considerable number of new apartments was scheduled to be completed in the period ahead”.RBA Governor Philip Lowe will give a speech on Thursday, when he is expected to highlight improvement in the economy, discussing the outlook as non-mining investment grows, and job market conditions tighten. The RBA says Queensland is showing evidence of having recovered from the mining downturn.The RBA stated that while unemployment rates in Queensland had remained high relative to earlier periods, employment growth had risen.That suggested the labour market adjustment to the earlier decline in the terms of trade and falling mining investment was progressing. GET THE LATEST REAL ESTATE NEWS DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX HERE The board observed that economic conditions in the state had generally strengthened over recent quarters, reflecting continued growth in consumption and a pick-up in business investment and demand. More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this homeless than 1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investorless than 1 hour ago“Strength in tourism and other service industries had supported growth in aggregate demand in Queensland.” The Reserve Bank of Australia has released the minutes of its latest board meeting. Image: AAP/Dean Lewins.In contrast, the minutes said “population growth had been below average, reflecting lower net overseas and interstate migration”.The RBA noted dwelling investment remained at a high level, but building approvals had stepped down and the pipeline of residential construction work appeared to have passed its peak. Retail boss loses $400K selling Brisbane pad Brisbane’s most liveable suburbs The top retirement hot spots In Queensland, the central bank said dwelling investment had declined from “very high levels” and the stock of work in the pipeline was being worked down gradually.
Brian Ji | Daily TrojanThe women’s soccer team is on to the next one.The Trojans defeated Cal State Fullerton on penalties after a 3-3 draw in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It was a thriller of a contest at McAlister Field as entertaining as it was tense.Fullerton took the lead at 19 minutes on a lovely far-post header off of a long throw in. The Titans then doubled their lead with 11 minutes remaining in the half off of another header, this time from a corner kick.The Women of Troy were in unfamiliar territory at the interval, trailing 2-0 and looking a bit out of sorts. However, the second half turned out to be an entirely different story.“Offensively I thought we were doing a great job,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said of his team’s first-half performance. “And so the message was kind of to continue to be aggressive and be assertive going forward.”Just minutes into the second half, center midfielder Morgan Andrews cut the visitors’ lead in half when she hit an absolute rip from outside the area. Unfortunately for the Titans, she was just getting started.Andrews brought USC level in the 54th minute, finishing a cross by right-back Kayla Mills.But, Fullerton quickly responded, regaining the lead immediately after Andrews’ equalizer. The ball bounced into the box and took a hop over the head of Trojan netminder Sammy Jo Prudhomme.USC continued to dominate possession even after falling behind 3-2, never looking flustered despite what the scoreboard said. Then the hat trick came for No. 3 in red. Mills once again fed Andrews, who steered the ball past goalkeeper Jennifer Stuart and into the bottom corner.It was 3-3 for the remaining 23 minutes of regulation, meaning overtime was on the way. Neither team was able to find the back of the net in overtime, though, and so the match had to be decided by a penalty shootout.Prudhomme stopped two of Fullerton’s spot kicks, helping the team to victory with a pair of massive saves. Each Trojan penalty-taker did her job, as USC went four for four from 12 yards out in the shootout.One of Prudhomme’s stops came on the first kick of the shootout.“I think making a save on the first one was really important for the team cause I think it just calmed everybody down,” she said.Despite only winning on a penalty shootout, USC certainly had the better of the play against Fullerton. The Women of Troy logged 33 shots and nine corners and, in the first half alone, hit two posts and a crossbar. The Titans made the most of their few opportunities and played with tremendous fight, but USC could have run away with the game.The Women of Troy kept fighting, even when the ball refused to go in. They matched Fullerton’s pace up top and had the lion’s share of possession in the middle of the park. Mandy Freeman’s physical presence at center defensive mid ensured that Fullerton did not have long spells of possession, while workhorse Nicole Molen played a sound game and was battling all over the pitch.Though Andrews was the hero with her three goals, center-backs Ally Prisock and Dominique Randle were also outstanding in this game. Randle and Prisock have noticeable chemistry and came up with a number of last-ditch challenges to win the ball back when Fullerton came with offensive pressure.After allowing two goals in the first half, USC managed to take the game by the scruff of the neck rather than losing its flare. This team’s ability to bounce back is admirable, and much of the credit goes to McAlpine.“Their character showed through,” McAlpine said of his team’s performance. “They could have given up and quit in the first half, but they stayed with it.”The team exploded after the break and put Fullerton under a great deal of pressure.“They got after it,” McAlpine said. “And it was absolutely fantastic the way they finished the game.”The team’s camaraderie helped them to an emotional win over Fullerton. Andrews has lauded her team’s spirit this season and knows the group has something special.“I’ve worked really hard this entire season,” Andrews said. “I’m doing what I have to do for the team, and they’re doing the same thing for me. So as long as we’re working hard together, we’re going to keep winning.”The Women of Troy fell to Pepperdine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Ironically enough, USC lost that game on PKs. This is a different team, though, one that looks more than capable of contending for the national title this season.USC now prepares to take on either Boston College or Princeton in the Round of 32.