Pacific eelgrass improves wildlife


This May 2018 video from New York state in the USA says about itself:

A planting system that CCE Marine Program Eelgrass team devised to release eelgrass seeds into new eelgrass sites. This system was created to efficiently distribute eelgrass seeds and reduce labor and time.

From the University of Washington in the USA:

Puget Sound eelgrass beds create a ‘halo’ with fewer harmful algae, new method shows

June 24, 2020

Eelgrass, a species of seagrass named for its long slippery texture, is one of nature’s superheroes. It offers shade and camouflage for young fish, helps anchor shorelines, and provides food and habitat for many marine species.

A University of Washington study adds one more superpower to the list of eelgrass abilities: warding off the toxin-producing algae that regularly close beaches to shellfish harvests. Researchers found evidence that there are significantly fewer of the single-celled algae that produce harmful toxins in an area more than 45 feet, or 15 meters, around an eelgrass bed.

“We’re not in the laboratory. The effect we’re seeing is happening in nature, and it’s an effect that’s really widespread within this group of harmful algae. What we see is this halo of reduced abundance around the eelgrass beds,” said Emily Jacobs-Palmer, a research scientist at the UW. She is the lead author of the study published this spring in the open-access journal PeerJ.

Researchers sampled five coastal sites three times in the spring and summer of 2017. Four sites were within Puget Sound and one was in Willapa Bay, on Washington’s outer coast.

In addition to a traditional visual ecological survey at each site, the researchers used a type of genetic forensics to detect species that might not be easily seen or present at the time of the survey.

Scientists put on waders and walked parallel to shore in water less than knee deep while scooping up seawater samples to analyze the environmental DNA, or eDNA, present. This method collects fragments of genetic material to identify organisms living in the seawater.

The researchers sampled water from each site at the same point in the tidal cycle both inside the eelgrass bed and at regular intervals up to 45 feet away from the edge. For comparison they also surveyed a location farther away over bare seabed.

“In the DNA fragments we saw everything from shellfish to marine worms, osprey, bugs that fell in the water,” Jacobs-Palmer said. “It’s quite fascinating to just get this potpourri of organisms and then look for patterns, rather than deciding on a pattern that we think should be there and then looking for that.”

The researchers analyzed the eDNA results to find trends among 13 major groups of organisms. They discovered that dinoflagellates, a broad class of single-celled organism, were scarcer in and around the eelgrass beds than in surrounding waters with bare seabed.

“We were asking how the biological community changes inside eelgrass beds, and this result was so strong that it jumped out at us, even though we weren’t looking for it specifically,” said senior author Ryan Kelly, a UW associate professor of marine and environmental affairs.

The result has practical applications, since certain species of dinoflagellate populations can spike and produce toxins that accumulate in shellfish, making the shellfish dangerous or even deadly to eat.

The phrase “harmful algal bloom” has a formal definition that was not measured for this study. But authors say the trend appeared when the overall dinoflagellate populations were high.

“I have heard people talk about a trade-off between shellfish and eelgrass, in terms of land use in Puget Sound. Now, from our perspective, there’s not a clean trade-off between those things — these systems might be able to complement one another,” Kelly said.

To explore the reasons for the result, the authors looked at differences in water chemistry or current motion around the bed. But neither could explain why dinoflagellate populations were lower around the eelgrass.

Instead, the authors hypothesize that the same biological reasons why dinoflagellates don’t flourish inside eelgrass beds — likely bacteria that occur with eelgrass and are harmful to dinoflagellates — may extend past the bed’s edge.

“It was known that there is some antagonistic relationship between eelgrass and algae, but it’s really important that this effect seems to span beyond the bounds of the bed itself,” Jacobs-Palmer said.

The discovery of a “halo effect” by which eelgrass discourages the growth of potentially harmful algae could have applications in shellfish harvesting, ecological restoration or shoreline planning.

“These beds are often really large, and that means that their perimeter is also really large,” Jacobs-Palmer said. “That’s a lot of land where eelgrass is potentially having an effect.”

In follow-up work, researchers chose two of the sites, in Port Gamble on the Kitsap Peninsula and Skokomish on Hood Canal, to conduct weekly sampling from late June through October 2019. They hope to verify the pattern they discovered and learn more about the environmental conditions that might allow the halo to exist.

Trump threatens Seattle residents, a British comment


Protesters outside Seattle's Pike Place Market during the #SeattleJusticeForGeorgeFloyd march on Saturday, June 6

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Editorial: Stateless in Seattle: Trump’s threats reveal his anxiety

THERE seems no end to the number of things that link our country in a poisonous embrace with the US. Both are led by spectacularly incompetent politicians, both responsible for catastrophic mistakes in the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic that have led to the deaths of many thousands of people who, if either government had listened to expert scientific and medical opinion, had taken heed of the World Health Organisation and followed the example of China, would still be in the bosom of their families.

We are linked through a military alliancelaughingly named the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation — that assumes the right to intervene anywhere near or far from the ocean that divides us when the interests of the ruling elites of our two states, already co-mingled by marriage, money and mercenary greed, are threatened.

One particularly malign aspect of this relationship is the shared investment in war production in the aerospace, missile and “defence” technology sectors.

It seems that neither country can manufacture or obtain enough respirators to meet any unusual demand; neither can supply its health workers with adequate PPE but both can equip their police forces with the latest riot equipment and provide their armed forces with equipment sophisticated enough to drop a $1.5 million guided missile on a Pashtun wedding party from a continent away.

The Scottish bid to put an end to the export of riot gear to the already heavily militarised police forces of the US shows us that Britain is a world leader in the design and construction of the instruments of repression which find such a ready market in neoliberal capitalist states.

It also shows that no market in repression, however unconnected to the defence of the nation from real threats, is too marginal to escape surplus capital seeking profitable avenues for investment.

The government’s own contingency planning body identified a viral infection as a higher order of threat than any military adversary or even terrorist formation. No matter, no military project or repressive technology is starved of cash.

Boris Johnson’s soulmate across the sea has given notice that he wants to “take back Seattle” from “domestic terrorists”, “anarchists” and “radical-left Democrats” if the city’s mayor and Washington State governor refuse to do so.

Residents in a section of this Pacific-facing city — itself with a long history of radical working-class action going back to the Seattle General Strike of 1919 — have taken control of the streets, negotiated an arrangement with the local cops to shut the police station and established a Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. In addition to a street festival and free food, some subversively vegan in origin, this weekend they plan a local Black Lives Matter general strike.

What is interesting about this highly localised experiment is not that it is the imaginative product of an unusually exotic local political culture and a surprisingly savvy police force — but the intemperate response by Trump to what hardly comprises a full-on assault on the capitalist state’s monopoly of force.

The depth and intensity of the political crisis in the US and the rather differently articulated political situation in Britain is causing real problems for the ruling elites of both states.

Faced with a mobilisation on the scale we are witnessing, repression just compounds the problem. Fail to resolve the issues which underlie the tensions — an almost impossible task for the people currently in office — and their legitimacy is challenged while their credibility takes a hit.

The question for the labour movement and the left is: who will rise to the challenge of leadership?

Trump abbreviates Secret Service as S.S. — although he knows the right way to do it.

N.C. rabbis: The ‘moral pandemic’ of racism is a Jewish problem.

I went to protest with my grown children. What I saw gave me hope.

Mountain goats on Saint Helen’s volcano, USA


This video from Washington state in the USA says about itself:

Mountain Goats Return To Mount St. Helens

Prior to the eruption of Mount St. Helens, few people realized there were mountain goats living in the area. While that population was likely wiped out by the blast, anecdotal sightings of these high-climbing, sure-footed mammals began to crop up in the 1990s. By 2014, Gifford Pinchot National Forest biologist Mitch Wainwright had launched the first official mountain goat survey and Cowlitz tribal members looked forward to a time when they could collect and weave tufts of goat hair into ceremonial blankets. Originally broadcast in 2016.

OPB is revisiting decades of stories our reporters and producers captured while working with scientists, photographers, adventurers and explorers on the volcano since its eruption on May 18, 1980.

United States Republican in far-right terrorism scandal


This 20 December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

A report commissioned by the Washington state legislature found that Rep. Matt Shea is a threat due to his past participation in domestic terrorism.

By Kayla Costa in the USA:

Washington state legislator investigated for ties with violent far-right groups

30 December 2019

Republican Representative Matthew Shea of the Washington state legislature is now the subject of an investigation due to public allegations of past involvement in far-right political violence. Shea is just one of many state and federal personnel whose ties to fascistic and racist groups have been exposed, though he is the first sitting legislator to face investigation for far-right violent activities.

The Washington State House of Representatives commissioned a full report by the private investigation firm Rampart Group to discover whether Shea “engaged in, planned, or promoted political violence.”

Matt Shea has served in the lower house of the state legislature since 2009, representing Washington’s 4th legislative district, that encompasses a large part of the central rural region. While the investigation takes place, the House Republican leadership suspended Shea from his committee positions in the House, including the Environment and Energy Committee, though his expulsion as a representative cannot take place until the legislature is in session.

The Rampart report notes: “Investigators have obtained evidence that Representative Shea, as a leader of the Patriot Movement, planned, engaged in, and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States Government in three states outside the State of Washington over a three-year period to include 2014, 2015, and 2016.”

The Patriot Movement includes a collection of ultra-right militia groups, which generally advocate extreme anti-government views, fantasize conspiracies of “globalists” to take away the rights of small property owners, open the United States to invasion by non-white immigrants, and replace the American Constitution with Muslim Sharia Law. The Southern Poverty Law Center identified 623 active patriot groups in 2016, 165 of which were armed militia groups.

In 2014, Shea mobilized Patriot Movement members to take part in an armed occupation of a federal government facility in Bunkerville, Nevada that lasted 41 days. The standoff between federal and militia troops centered on the longstanding attempts of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy to utilize land owned by the federal government. Shea’s calls for support on the Liberty For All III% (3 Percenters) website reportedly helped to generate a turnout of 1,500 armed militia members from different groups within the Patriot Movement, such as the Oath Keepers.

The report of investigation also indicates that in 2015, Matt Shea again called upon Patriot Movement followers to join him in an armed conflict with the Veteran’s Administration in Priest River, Idaho, to defend a veteran’s right to own firearms after he was determined unfit to purchase them by medical professionals. Shea allegedly participated in the armed conflict.

In 2016, Shea had participated in an “act of domestic terrorism” during the infamous armed standoff of federal troops against the Bundy clan and militia group supporters, after the latter occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Representative Shea also admitted to writing a Christian neo-fascist document that was publicly released in 2018, titled “Biblical Basis for War”, which is referenced in the investigation report. The document lists 14 categories with bullet points that outline religious justifications and rules for militia-based war. According to Shea, war can be carried out to end tyranny, abortions, same-sex marriage, occultism and communism. The methods of assassination, armed resistance, and guerrilla war are justified so long as they serve the interests of God and the end of government tyranny.

In response to the investigation, Shea wrote on his Facebook page, “Like we are seeing with our President this is a sham investigation meant to silence those of us who stand up against attempts to disarm and destroy our great country. I will not back down, I will not give in, I will not resign. Stand strong fellow Patriots.”

He ended his appeal to patriot group supporters by saying, “I will continue to defend the constitution against tyranny and fight to protect our God-given unalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and the ability to defend the same.”

The revelations about Shea’s actions come after numerous police officers and military personnel have been similarly exposed in the past year, indicating the growth of fascist elements within the state.

Two men, Dalton Woodward and Trent East, who actively served in the Army National Guard, were recently kicked out after an Army investigation confirmed their membership in a neo-pagan fascistic hate group called Asatru Folk Assembly.

Less than two weeks ago, the US Army’s XVIII Airborne Corp posted a sympathetic tribute on Facebook to a Nazi war criminal named Joachim Peiper, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

In October, US Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully possessing firearms after an investigation into his stockpiling of 15 weapons and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition for use in planned acts of terrorism against Democratic Party politicians, journalists, and other “cultural Marxists”. Hasson was an active “white nationalist” who frequently browsed far-right websites on his computer at work.

In May, the World Socialist Web Site publicized a report by Unicorn Riot and Huffington Post that exposed members of the US military involved with the neo-Nazi group Identity Evropa, providing insight into how these far-right elements are recruited and cultivated within the armed forces. This report was quickly followed by another which identified hundreds of police officers who were engaged with fascistic and racist groups on social media.

Until recently, ultra-right, white supremacist and neo-fascist groups were kept on the fringes of the Republican Party, for the most part denied direct participation in the affairs of state. Under Trump, they have been promoted and encouraged and, as the case of Representative Shea demonstrates, given direct access to political office.

With his threats of civil war against political opponents and his constant praise of police and military violence, Trump is deliberately whipping up fascistic elements and creating the conditions for their mobilization, both against his political enemies within the ruling elite and, more broadly, against the working class.

GOV. EMPLOYEES FIRED OVER NAZI SALUTE More than 30 cadets and staff members at a corrections academy in West Virginia have been fired after a class photo surfaced on Dec. 5 showing them making a Nazi salute. The cadets made their gesture ― known as the “Hail Hitler” salute ― beneath a sign reading “Hail Byrd.” [HuffPost]

Amazon boss Bezos’ money loses US elections


This 12 November 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

“Seattle Is Not For Sale”: Voters Rebuke Amazon, Re-electing Socialist Kshama Sawant

In Seattle, Socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant has been re-elected in a race that pitted her against Amazon — Seattle’s largest private employer and one of the most powerful companies in the world. Overall, Amazon poured $1.5 million into Seattle’s City Council election and backed Sawant’s opponent, Egan Orion, with nearly half a million dollars. Kshama Sawant is Seattle’s first Socialist politician elected in nearly a century. She has successfully pushed a number of progressive policies, including making Seattle the first major American city to adopt a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Kshama Sawant joins us from Seattle. The re-election victory “has been a major repudiation, not only of Amazon and of Jeff Bezos himself, as the richest man in the world, but also it has been a referendum on the vision for Seattle,” Sawant says. “The voters in Seattle have spoken, that Seattle is not up for sale.”

By Kayla Costa and Julio Patron in the USA:

Amazon-led corporate purge of Seattle City Council fails

12 November 2019

Late returns in the state of Washington’s mail-ballot election have dealt a major setback to the efforts of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce to purge the Seattle City Council of members who supported higher taxes on big corporations.

In five of the six seats targeted for takeover, the business-backed Democratic Party candidates lost and the candidates regarded as more hostile to corporate power won, including Kshama Sawant, a member of the … Socialist Alternative group, who won reelection to a seat she has held since 2013.

Sawant and another candidate targeted by Amazon, Andrew Lewis, had been trailing in the initial totals released by election officials on the evening of Tuesday, November 5, which consisted mainly of votes mailed in weeks ahead of election day. Young people and workers traditionally mail in their votes later, and Sawant and Lewis both surged from behind with late ballots.

By Friday, both Sawant and Lewis had moved into apparently insurmountable leads. Sawant led Egan Orion by 1,515 votes with only about 1,000 ballots still left to count in her District 3, with 51.57 percent of the vote. Assistant city attorney Lewis had 52.79 percent against former Seattle police chief Jim Pugel. The lone Amazon-backed candidate to defeat a more left-wing opponent, Alex Pedersen, had 52.34 percent of the vote against Shaun Scott, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Despite the frenzied rhetoric of … the Chamber of Commerce, on the right, … all [candidates] but Sawant were Democrats, as the Republican Party plays only a marginal role in the city’s politics, and endorsed all the business-backed Democrats.

..

Sawant received the endorsement of several local Democratic Party organizations in Seattle, as well as the backing of two incumbent Democratic members of the City Council whose seats were not up for election this year. …

The main feature of this year’s City Council campaign was the intervention of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which established the Civil Alliance for Sound Economy (CASE) as its political action committee to remove from the City Council all those members who had supported the “head tax” on large corporations that was passed in 2018 and then hastily rescinded under pressure from big business and Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan.

CASE and other corporate PACs raised and spent nearly $5 million, an unprecedented sum for a City Council election, with Amazon alone pumping $1.45 million into its coffers, including a well-publicized $1 million “money bomb” in early October which was supposed to terrify all political opposition.

One of biggest chunks of corporate cash, $617,592, went to Sawant’s opponent, Democrat Egan Orion, a director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the Broadway Business Improvement Area, as well as a producer of Seattle’s annual PrideFest, a corporate LGBTQ festival. Orion has been painted as a liberal by the local press due to his identity as a gay man and his utilization of identity politics. However, he has a track record of endorsing pro-business policies.

Despite all the money spent by corporate PACs on the preferred candidates of Amazon—from $229,544 for Mark Solomon in District 2 to $831,407 for Heidi Wills in District 6—the population by and large voted for their opponents. Rather than being intimidated by the influx of corporate cash, many voters were outraged and they went to the polls in unusually heavy numbers for an off-year local election.

Voter turnout in this latest round reached 55 percent across the city and 57.6 percent in Sawant’s District 3. In her first election in 2013, Sawant beat incumbent Richard Conclin by 1 percentage point, with a voter turnout of 52.5 percent. In her second election campaign of 2015, Sawant beat Pamela Banks by roughly 12 percentage points, with a citywide voter turnout of barely 30 percent.

While Sawant’s three election victories, in 2013, 2015, and last week, undoubtedly reflect a leftward movement among working people and youth, this is not a response to the specific policies of Socialist Alternative … It is part of the radicalization of workers and youth as a whole, reflected in surveys showing that 70 percent of youth in advanced countries now support socialism.

In Seattle, the city has witnessed a drastic economic and social polarization fueled by the expansion of the technology industry, led foremost by Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Google. The population has grown by 18.7 percent since 2010, making it the fastest-growing city in the nation.

This urban development has been tied to the rise in inequality, housing costs, homelessness and gentrification. In 2018, the median household income reached $93,000, up $7,000 from 2017 and far higher than the national median income of $63,179. By 2016, the top 20 percent of the population owned more than half of all wealth in the metro area, but the bottom 40 percent owned around 10 percent.

As in city after city, country after country, the working class and young population of Seattle has come to loathe Amazon and major corporations for the inequality, austerity, and exploitation associated with them. This general left-wing opposition found expression in the votes against Amazon-backed candidates and for their nominally “progressive” opponents, including Sawant.

This 11 November 2019 video from the USA is called Kshama Sawant and Chesa Boudin Secure MAJOR Progressive Victories Along West Coast.

American nazis defile turtles with swastikas


This 7 November 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Authorities in Washington are trying to capture two turtles and arrest the person who painted swastikas on their shells after photos of the Nazi-adorned animals shocked a Seattle-area community this week.

The turtles were first spotted in a pond Tuesday at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park in the city of Renton. Police said they tried to capture the animals, but the reptiles “have evaded apprehension”. They are now working with state and federal wildlife agencies to try to catch the turtles and remove the anti-Semitic markings from their shells.

This inhumane and offensive act has no place in our community,” the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Northwest Regional Office wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

In response to the disturbing abuse, local residents are planning a “Rally Against Hate” at the park on Saturday afternoon, according to the Renton Reporter. At least one Facebook user reported seeing the swastika markings “a few weeks ago”, but she wasn’t sure who to report it to.

From KIRO7 in the USA, 8 November 2018:

Turtles tagged with swastikas at Gene Coulon to get rehabilitation

RENTON, Wash. – Several turtles that were painted with swastika symbols on their shells at Gene Coulon Park were recovered Friday, officials with the Renton Police Department said.

The City of Renton stepped in, getting federal help so the turtles can be rehabilitated. …

Police said the species of turtle is not native to Lake Washington, so someone left them in the park.

Washington state law enforcement officials say the leader of a local neo-Nazi cell — the same group that was connected to the death of the Jewish teenager Blaze Bernstein — may have planned to manufacture untraceable weapons known as “ghost guns”: here.

Exploited Amazon engineer on hunger strike


This 20 March 2019 video by Oleg Churyumov from the USA says about itself:

Amazon calls protesting employees “assholes”. Amazon prevents medical help to protesting employees

By Paul Fuller and Kayla Costa in the USA:

Amazon software engineer in second month of protests against conditions

22 March 2019

Oleg Churyumov, an Amazon software engineer at Amazon, has been protesting across Seattle, Washington, since February against the soul-crushing work conditions forced upon professional white-collar workers by the company.

Officially on a leave of absence, he has picketed outside the central office where he worked, campaigned at various stores and an Amazon fulfillment center in the city, and carried out a five-day hunger strike without water. He has published video and written updates on his personal blog.

Though initially driven to protest after a terrible personal experience with overwork and abuse by management, Oleg considers his protest for the “civil rights” of all 500,000 employees worldwide that confront the same policies and culture of Amazon. His main protest slogan is, “Insist on the highest standards of oppression to our families”, a sarcastic spin-off from one of Amazon’s company mottos, “Insist on the Highest Standards”, often invoked to justify the grueling conditions that workers face.

After reaching out directly to the World Socialist Web Site to share his story, he sat down for an interview with WSWS reporters during which he explained the background and events of the protest.

Originally from Russia, Oleg began working as a software engineer at Amazon in 2017. Initially, he thought the job was great, as he enjoyed his salary and co-workers. Despite being assigned to a job with inadequate training, he said the first few weeks on the job “began well enough”. However, the enjoyment quickly disappeared after the company encouraged workers to offer criticism to management through a supposedly anonymous internal feedback system.

“Someone started asking me how I liked the management team and everything. I started answering some of these questions in the negative about my manager, for example that my manager needed to improve his leadership skills. Later I found out that this system is not anonymous.

“My manager can easily calculate that I was the person who posted this. He called me into a one-on-one meeting and asked me to stop posting the feedback. Since then, for all the year of my work, I suffered multiple forms of oppression from my manager.”

While his manager allowed most employees to clock in at 11:00 a.m. and work from home without restrictions, Oleg was forced to come into the office at 7:00 a.m. to work by himself, work on weekends, and sometimes until 9:00 at night. Work weeks of 100 hours were not uncommon. He explained, “Some days that was extremely lethal. I had less than five hours for sleep, including travel to home.”

To escape these punitive working conditions, he asked for a transfer to another department, which is common for professional workers. Oleg’s manager told him he would be able to transfer to offices in New York City only after his wife found employment there. After she moved to NYC with the youngest of their two children, his manager said he “changed his mind.”

“He broke his promise”, Oleg said. “We are in a situation in which my wife and I are single parents. I am taking care of one of our children, and she is taking care of our second child. At the time my son was one year old, and my daughter was three, which means we had to take care of them all of the time. And that’s just because my manager changed his mind.”

Soon after this, their three-year-old daughter, who lived with Oleg, was diagnosed with a developmental delay and needed to attend regular therapy. To take care of her needs, Oleg asked his manager about flexible hours to accommodate her therapy and daycare schedule. “Everybody in [my] team was granted with ability to work from home once a week. If we have our laptops and Internet, we can work from anywhere in the world. My manager told me I was prohibited from working from home, that I had to work weekends and sometimes come in at 7:00 a.m.,” the same response he got after submitting complaints through the internal feedback system.

“He directly prohibited me from taking care of my child. In February of 2018, my daughter became seriously sick. She was sick for three or four days, and she went to the doctor and she didn’t go to daycare. I took leave perfectly legally. I have a full legal right to take leave, especially for a short time to take care of sick family members. I do not need approval from my manager for that, but I notified my whole team that I would be gone. After I came back from the leave, my manager sent me a disciplinary notice.”

In May, Oleg spoke to his manager about the issues he had with the reaction to his request for time off to care for his family. The manager told him, “If you don’t like something, just quit.” For the next several weeks, Oleg faced an intentionally hostile work environment designed to push him to quit voluntarily, rather than get into the legal issues of firing someone after months of discrimination and retaliation from management.

Not wanting to quit but also unable to endure the environment, Oleg made a complaint to Human Resources, which opened an official investigation into his current and past issues. “During that investigation, they confirmed everything that I said. They said 99 percent of my statements were true, and that I had all the evidence, documents, e-mails. But they said, ‘We confirmed everything. But our conclusion is as follows: there is no violation of Amazon policy here. Your statements do not constitute violation of Amazon policy.’

“I asked, ‘If someone prohibited me from treating my disabled child, that’s not a violation?’ He [the HR representative] said there was no such policy.”

Oleg was then placed in Amazon’s Pivot Program, a program introduced in 2017 ostensibly as an appeals process for “chronic underperformers.” It has been called a “kangaroo court” by critics of the program, as it allows peers to “confirm that a worker was low-performing” without the worker being allowed to rebut or explain him- or herself.

Refusing to resign and give into the dirty tricks of Amazon, Oleg has been on long-term leave since the fall of 2018. As Amazon sponsored his working EB3 visa, resigning would invalidate his application.

Last month, in February, he started public protests with a banner in front of Amazon buildings, posting videos on YouTube on most days. “They prohibited me to speak up inside of Amazon, so that’s why I have gone to protest outside,” he said. Oleg received large volumes of harassment, threats, insults and defamation online, initially posted by Amazon managers until they switched to anonymous accounts to avoid legal consequences.

He explained: “I decided to do a hunger strike in public, a hunger strike without water. You don’t drink anything. During the hunger strike, they [Amazon] continued to post hate speech.” They also withdrew his health benefits. “I was so stressed, but I sustained it until the fifth day. On the fifth day, my physician called me and said that I urgently need to take tests. My body was shutting down. He told me if I didn’t stop voluntarily, I would be involuntarily taken to the hospital. So I decided to stop on my own.”

Though the weather or family obligations disrupt the schedule occasionally, Oleg continues to protest on a near-daily basis at Amazon offices in downtown Seattle. “I am getting a lot of support,” he said. “I get messages every day. People approach me on the street and say they know who I am. Amazon employees approached me and brought me hot coffee, saying they support me.”

Other workers have shared similar stories with him, and have discussed the atrocious working conditions of the workers in distribution centers. “The most notorious story was from a fulfillment center worker who approached me and listened to my story. He said, ‘Well, do you think you are suffering? You are not, you don’t know. You have never worked at Amazon fulfillment center. Go there, and you will see what hell looks like.’”

Oleg often discusses the horrendous conditions facing warehouse workers. He even took his campaign to a fulfillment center near Seattle to talk with workers about his protest. Rejecting the pitting of salaried professional workers against hourly workers, Oleg is striving to represent all Amazon workers around the world in a fight against the oppressive policies and principles of the company. He often discusses the use of immigrant and foreign workers to drive up the exploitation of all workers, including those in the United States.

In a video response to the WSWS coverage of the suicide crisis in Amazon warehouses, Oleg said: “Amazon understands that if they kill an employee, another ten candidates that could be even better than him are standing in front of the door waiting for job applications because of the labor market. In many small cities, Amazon warehouses and fil centers play a major role in monopoly of the labor market.

“If an employee dies, Amazon is happy because they see, if he is dead, he was weak. Somebody else will come tomorrow in his place, replace him, and he could be a stronger, better and more efficient employee. Until he dies also, then someone else will replace him. The same is true for white-collar workers.”

Though Oleg acknowledges that he does not endure the physical stress that fulfillment center employees do, the same culture of exploiting every ounce of human labor exists in the professional side of the company. “White collar workers are paid on a monthly salary, regardless of the number of hours we work. If we work eight hours a day or sixteen hours a day, if we work on weekends or not. It is very logical for Amazon to force us to work sixteen hours a day, including weekends. A hundred hours a week, that is normal for Amazon. Very logical. Why should an employee work less if his cost [of labor power] is the same?”

While Amazon praises its work standards that it rejects being “unreasonably high”, Oleg explains, “Yes, we think these standards are ‘unreasonably high’. It’s unreasonable that people are committing suicide, that people are dying, that their relatives are dying.”

“This is not fault of some person. Managers are not killers. They are people just like me and you. It is fault of the system, of the company.”

Oleg clarified this explanation in a recent blog post, in which he compares the corporation to Spartacus [ancient Roman age slavery] and Nazi rule: “Amazon treats its employees worse than slaves. Just for experiment (curiosity, game), employees are forced to work until the ‘limit’. And the limit is never reachable, according to the official company mission. The only way to know the limit is the moment of death. In wild nature, a predator does not kill victim for a ‘game’, for ‘experiment’.”

American mule deer adapt to wolves


This 16 November 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

A Wild Wolf, 926 F of Yellowstone, hunts a mule deer buck

The alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack attempts to hunt a buck by herself one drizzly morning. Wolves are only successful in their hunt attempts about one in ten times. As you will see in this video, the prey often turns on the predator and fights back. Many wolves die while trying to hunt, whether being kicked, trampled or head butted.

From the University of Washington in the USA:

Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives

February 27, 2019

Summary: As gray wolves return to Washington state, a new study finds that one species of deer is changing its behavior to spend more time away from roads, at higher elevations and in rockier landscapes.

As gray wolves continue to make a strong comeback in Washington state, their presence can’t help but impact other animals — particularly the ones these large carnivores target as prey.

White-tailed deer and mule deer, two distinct species common in Washington, are among wolves’ favorite catch. Wolves will chase deer great distances — sometimes upwards of 6 miles (10 kilometers) — in search of a satisfying meal. How these two deer species respond to the threat of being pursued by wolves in the early years of this predator’s return could shed light on changes to their behavior and numbers.

To help answer this question, researchers from the University of Washington and other institutions monitored the behavior and activity of wolves and deer in Washington for three years. They found that mule deer exposed to wolves, in particular, are changing their behavior to spend more time away from roads, at higher elevations and in rockier landscapes.

“In any particular ecosystem, if you have a predator returning, prey are unlikely to all respond similarly,” said senior author Aaron Wirsing, an associate professor in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “We show that wolves don’t have a uniform effect on different deer species.”

Their results were published Dec. 11 in the journal Oecologia.

Wolves were completely wiped out from Washington early last century, but began returning to the state from Idaho, Montana and Canada about a decade ago. The latest estimates now show about 200 wolves in packs across eastern Washington.

Both white-tailed and mule deer are important food for gray wolves. While they might look similar to an untrained eye, white-tailed deer and mule deer are very different animals: Mule deer are bigger, with large, dark ears and a black-tipped tail. White-tailed deer are smaller animals, boasting an unmistakably long tail with a white underside that stands straight up when alarmed.

Aside from their physical characteristics, the two species differ in how they escape from predators. When chased, mule deer “stot”, a quick bound with all four legs touching the ground at the same time. This bounding gait helps them negotiate all types of terrain and can give them an agility advantage over predators in rocky, uneven areas where it might be hard to run.

By contrast, white-tailed deer sprint away from predators and rely on spotting them early enough to try to outrun them.

Keeping these known escape tactics in mind, the research team focused on the “flight behavior” of deer living in areas where wolves have returned and in areas without wolves. The researchers chose four distinct study areas, all near the small town of Republic, Washington. All four areas are home to both species of deer, but only two were occupied by known wolf packs at the time of the investigation.

In partnership with the Colville Tribes and the U.S. Forest Service, researchers set up wildlife cameras, captured and put collars on wolves and deer, and monitored the data from all of the collars over three years, from 2013 to 2016. This endeavor involved complex coordination and a dedicated team of UW students who were always ready to respond should an animal enter one of the traps.

“That part of eastern Washington is really special,” said lead author Justin Dellinger, who completed the work as a UW doctoral student and now works at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “There is huge diversity of large mammals, including all of the native prey populations like big horn sheep, moose and deer. And now we’re starting to see a full complement of native predators, like wolves, here as well.”

Overall, the researchers found that mule deer in gray wolf areas changed their behavior to avoid wolves altogether — mainly by moving to higher, steeper elevations, away from roads and toward brushy, rocky terrain. Alternately, white-tailed deer that favor sprinting and early detection as ways to escape from predators were more likely to stick to their normal behavior in wolf areas, sprinting across open, gently rolling terrain with good visibility — including along roads.

“Mule deer faced with the threat of wolves are really changing their home ranges, on a large scale,” Wirsing said. “They appear to have shifted kilometers away from where they had been prior to the return of wolves, generally going up higher where the terrain is less smooth and where wolves are less likely to hunt successfully.”

These larger shifts among mule deer could affect hunting opportunities. Indeed, some hunters in eastern Washington have already reported seeing mule deer higher on ridges where they are less accessible than in past years, Wirsing said. Hunting for white-tailed deer likely won’t change to the same degree with the presence of wolves, the results suggest.

Long term, changes among mule deer in wolf areas could affect other parts of the ecosystem, and perhaps reduce the number of deer-vehicle collisions. These possible impacts are tantalizing fodder for future studies, Wirsing added.

‘United States left should be pro-peace’


This 5 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Democratic Socialist Congress Candidate Sarah Smith: Anti-War Activism Is Essential for Progressives

Washington state’s democratic socialist House candidate Sarah Smith says progressives must prioritize anti-war activism, as she challenges hawkish neoliberal corporate Democrat Adam Smith, who is funded by the arms industry.

DEMS EYE AFGHANISTAN PUSH Democratic lawmakers, candidates and outside groups are quietly preparing a new push against the overlooked war in Afghanistan should they take the House. [HuffPost]

Pileated woodpeckers in Seattle, USA


This is an August 2013 pileated woodpecker video.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office in the USA:

Woodpeckers and development coexist in Seattle

August 22, 2018

Summary: A new study tracked birds in suburban Seattle and found that as long as tree cover remains above a certain threshold, pileated woodpeckers and housing developments can coexist.

The two largest woodpeckers in North America, the Imperial Woodpecker and Ivory-billed Woodpecker, are believed to have gone extinct during the twentieth century. Can their surviving cousin, the Pileated Woodpecker, persist when standing dead trees and other crucial resources are lost to urbanization? A new study published by The Condor: Ornithological Applications tracked birds in suburban Seattle and found that as long as tree cover remains above a certain threshold, Pileated Woodpeckers and housing developments can coexist.

The University of Washington’s Jorge Tomasevic (now at the Universidad Austral de Chile) and John Marzluff trapped and radio-tagged 16 Pileated Woodpeckers at 9 sites with varying degrees of urbanization in suburban Seattle. Tracking each bird for about a year, they found that Pileated Woodpeckers used not only forested areas such as parks, but also lightly and moderately urbanized areas where some trees had been retained, taking advantage of resources such as backyard birdfeeders.

These results show that retaining at least 20% forest cover, including standing dead trees, over large suburban areas may help sustain Pileated Woodpeckers and perhaps even other species tied to them. Despite potential risks from threats such as feral cats and collisions with windows, the researchers believe that cities can play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity.

“You’d think that such large bird would be easy to find, especially when carrying a transmitter, but they did a very good job hiding”, says Tomasevic. “It was also very challenging to work in populated areas. I have so many anecdotes, good and bad, about dealing with people and people dealing with me doing my work. Some people were very friendly, but some were a little nervous with me walking around the neighborhood. I tried to look as official as possible, with University of Washington logos on my jacket, and I created a website for the project and printed some business cards. It was a great opportunity to do outreach, and I’m still friends with some of the neighborhood residents.”

“As suburban sprawl becomes more and more ubiquitous, it’s imperative that we consider which specific yard features can be promoted to share our neighborhoods with wildlife”, according to the University of Delaware’s Desiree Narango, an expert on avian urban ecology. “This paper is a nice example showing that even a mature forest specialist can use and navigate the suburban landscape if we provide the resources they need: large trees and some retained wooded areas.”