Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

This is a blog devoted to Giant Panda enthusiasts, environmental wanna-bes and peace loving funimals, world-wide.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

guilty foods :(

On Caviar

Scientists Fight Time to Save Beluga

90% of the world's beluga caviar comes from sturgeon caught in the Caspian Sea. Beluga sturgeon have existed on Earth since prehistoric times. The viability of their existence due to irregular fish counts and overfishing by neighboring countries, but nearly all involved agree: there are less beluga sturgeons being caught today than fifteen years ago. In some fisheries, sturgeon catches are down as much as 70% over the past decade.

The U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which sets sturgeon fishing quotas each year, imposed a ban on taking sturgeon and exporting caviar from the Caspian this year after the surrounding states failed to submit a convincing plan to protect the fish. The Persian species concentrated in Iranian waters was exempted from the ban because it is not endangered.

Doukakis said the ban would not help because the treaty, known as CITES, has no tools to implement its rules and because "there seem to be enough outlets for illegal trade or a big enough domestic market."
The caviar trade is so lucrative it makes poaching hard to resist and control. One female beluga produces up to 17 percent of her total weight in caviar. A pound of beluga caviar costs an average $2,700 in Europe and North America.

This is killing the sturgeon that laid the golden roe, isn't not? We (humans) enjoy caviar so much we're likely to permanently destroy its only known source on the planet. (I haven't researched that fact, but I'm not aware of any synthetic laboratory caviar projects.)

I certainly don't propose waging all-out vegan warfare on the offenders. To be honest, I don't even like caviar. But surely there is a balance -- somewhere between extinct-ing an organism that, prior to human involvement, happily swam about the Caspian Sea for millions of years, and my personal right to enjoy a tasty fish egg or two once in a while. If I want. (Which I don't.)

Though it's not as though I have ever been offered $2,700/pound for my eggs so I guess it's easy for me to say.

On Fois Gras:

Fois gras. Now there's a poor goose. Would it be uncouth for me to never order fois gras myself ever again, but maybe just have a taste of someone else's? Yeah, I guess it would, but it doesn't mean I won't do it.

and Finally, On Lobster:

PR move or sympathy for crustaceans?
Sellers shrug at lobster ban
(salad for lunch anyone??)

Monday, June 26, 2006

In the Environment

CO2 case before US Supreme Court

Who is responsible for regulating automobile CO2 emissions in the United States? Should CO2 be considered a pollutant? The Bush administration hopes "Not us" and "No way" but we'll see what the Supreme Court has to say this fall!

Don't read this if you like meat
Also in the environment, this excerpt from an opinion piece in the online version of the Tallahassee Democrat observes:

According to a recent University of Chicago study, a meat-free diet reduces greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year - as much as switching from an SUV to a hybrid car. Folks who care about the future of life on Earth would be well advised to consider switching to a meat-free diet even before they switch to a hybrid car.

EWWWW! So all the meat I would eat in my lifetime when lumped together would emit 1.5 tons of CO2? That's enough to make me wanna go meat-free all on its own. (But of course, I won't.)

Merely another inconvenient truth
And finally, a financial times editor's cost benefit analysis on why we oughtta let the panda go.

*caveat* NOT exactly how you would say panda friendly, but a very entertaining read.

Friday, June 23, 2006

eww, this makes me sick

The environment. It's not just for bleeding heart liberals anymore.

Since the nation-wide release of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth a few weeks ago, related stories have trickled into the media. The latest news discusses a WHO report on how a ravaged physical environment negatively affects human health world-wide.

Protecting the Environment, Protecting Our Health
(from and the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at UW-Madison)

We usually picture environmental protection as people protecting nature. But reality is that the environment also protects us. That's the take home point from a new report from the World Health Organization titled “Preventing Disease through Healthy Environments.” In places where they environment is stressed, people become less healthy. An unhealthy environment is responsible for one-quarter of the global disease burden and one-third of the burden among children.

The environmental disease burden is greatest in developing countries. On average, children in developing countries lost 8-times more healthy life years than their counterparts in developed countries from environmentally-related diseases. For some key diseases, the gap is far greater. The gap is especially big for infectious disease, with a 15-times greater risk in developing countries than developed ones. The design of cities and towns in the developed world, however, own set of problems. The environmental risk factor in the developed countries, for example, is 7-times greater for cardiovascular disease and 4-times greater for cancer.

Poor environment linked to one-third of childhood diseases

Diseases with the largest absolute number of deaths annually from environmental factors that could be changed to reduce risk, are:

2.6 million deaths annually from cardiovascular diseases
1.7 million deaths annually from diarrhoeal diseases
1.5 million deaths annually from lower respiratory infections
1.4 million deaths annually from cancers
1.3 million deaths annually from chronic obstructive Pulmonary disease
470,000 deaths annually from road traffic crashes
400,000 deaths annually from unintentional injuries

WHO is calling on governments to work with sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture and industry to curb the most serious killers that cause millions of unnecessary deaths each year.

Contrary to popular lore, it isn't just developing countries and small children that are at risk due to environmental factors. The WHO report cites risk factors for cardiovascular disease and cancer as being higher for developed countries than developing ones.

Did you know that Wal-Mart has the largest work force in the country, and that Wal-Mart employees average higher rates of heart disease and diabetes than the national average? So, is it happy coincidence then that Wal-Mart is pushing a new initiative for its workforce, aimed at raising general health & environmental awareness among their staff. The initiative includes suggestions like eating healthier and using energy-efficient bulbs.

Maybe I'm pessimistic, or I loathe giving up one of my favorite punching bags, but there are a couple of things mentioned in this NYT article that disturb me. First, the new initiative is unpublicized. (WHY?) Second, to help them with this new direction, they've tapped former Sierra Club president (and once harshest of all critics of the Mart-of-Wal) Adam Werbach, as a consultant. According to the NYT article, he is also being pretty mum about the situation. WHY? Is it because his reputation as an environmentalist might be tarnished by a relationship with Wal-Mart? Is it because he's not really an environmentalist anymore? (His current firm, Act Now Productions leans more towards PR firm than environmental consulting firm.)

Nu Wexler, communications director for Wal-Mart Watch, a group critical of the retailer, said that Mr. Werbach "brings a huge amount of responsibility, and his reputation within the environmental movement will be on the line."

"Wal-Mart," he continued, "has the resources to hire every environmental activist who has ever criticized its business practices but we hope they will pursue substantive changes versus cosmetic improvements."

I like a good punching bag as much as the next person and will certainly be keeping an eye out for any changes at my local Super Center, but I would be thrilled if Wal-Mart followed through with even just a few of the ideas presented in this article.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Updates to Pandodyssey(tm)

San Diego was, as always, incredible. The weather was fantastic--it always makes it hard to leave! All I can say about the pandas is that they and the other San Diego zoo animals are definitely west coasters. They were so laid back, nearly everyone was fast asleep! Regardless, we took a bunch of photos and have uploaded some older ones as well! We've uploaded them to flickr, for ease of sharing.

Link to Su Lin & Friends, June 2006

Link to Tai Shan and Family, March 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

it's not wednesday but it felt rant worthy.

55 Illegal Immigrants Arrested at Dulles Site
Raid at Construction Area Is Part of National Effort to Deflect Terrorist Threats

Federal authorities arrested 55 illegal immigrants yesterday at a construction site on Dulles International Airport grounds, the latest in a string of post-Sept. 11 raids at locations the government considers vulnerable to security threats.

The workers, all Latin American men employed by two construction companies, worked in a secured area on airport property, where as many as 2,000 laborers work each day on building projects that include a planned airport train system and a new runway, officials said.

The arrests took place early yesterday as the yellow school buses ferrying workers from a parking lot to the construction site stopped at a security checkpoint on the edge of airport property. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who were waiting checked their work and immigration documents, and those whose documents did not hold up were handcuffed and transported to an Alexandria field office for questioning, ICE spokesman Dean Boyd said.

The arrests, authorities said, are part of a government campaign to root out illegal workers at "critical infrastructure" sites nationwide that could be targeted by terrorists -- such as airports, shipyards, nuclear plants and military bases. ICE agents recently arrested 14 illegal workers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head and 25 others at a Memphis chemical plant.
None of the workers arrested at Dulles or in Indian Head was involved in terrorist activity, authorities said. But they said all illegal immigrants can pose security risks.

"Not only are the identities of these individuals in question, but these aliens are also vulnerable to exploitation by terrorists and other criminals, given their illegal status in this country," ICE Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers said in a statement.

The Dulles effort comes as Congress debates plans to revamp the nation's immigration laws and authorities step up enforcement against illegal immigrants and employers. In April, agents arrested seven current and former managers and more than 1,100 workers for pallet-producer Ifco Systems North America Inc.

Also yesterday, authorities announced a nationwide roundup of nearly 2,200 illegal immigrants, many with histories of criminal violence. More than 800 of those arrested have been deported, and the rest are awaiting removal from the country, authorities said. About half have criminal records, including 146 with convictions for sexually assaulting juveniles. Those include a District man, identified by authorities as Wilbur Kuk, 24, a Mexican national. ICE officials said he has a record of arrests on charges of abduction, malicious wounding, robbery and unlawful use of a firearm.

Observers on both sides of the immigration debate have said the work-site raids amount to little more than a public relations effort. But the crackdown efforts have sent fear through immigrant communities and sparked widespread rumors of additional raids.

Word of the Dulles arrests spread slowly yesterday, in part because Spanish-language radio, a key source for such information, was focused on the World Cup soccer tournament. Still, immigrant groups condemned the action.

Authorities said they targeted employees of two companies, whose names they did not release. But several witnesses and workers at the site yesterday said most of those arrested were employed by Lane Construction Corp., a Connecticut company working on the airport train project. A Lane spokesman referred questions to Jay S. Cruickshank, vice president for legal and safety matters, who did not return calls.

No managers were arrested yesterday, but Boyd said the investigation will continue. To charge employers, authorities must prove they knowingly hired illegal immigrants, he said.

Umm, exsqueeze me? This is so wrong, SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO wrong!

Lane Construction Corporation
965 East Main StreetMeriden, Connecticut 06450

a wholly owned subsidiary of

REA Contracting LLC
6135 Park South Dr.Charlotte, NC 28210

To Whom This May Concern:

This is a letter of concern from a citizen living in the Washington DC metro area. In today's Washington Post, it was reported that 55 illegal immigrants, employees of Lane, were arrested at Dulles Airport and sent to Texas for deportation proceedings. As a concerned citizen, I implore that both Lane Construction and REA Contracting go above and beyond the call of duty in assisting these employees and their families of your company with their current legal situation.

Lane Construction and REA Contracting LLC obviously understand the importance of foreign workers to your company, employees who are willing to work harder than many natural-born Americans (I being one myself) and for often, far less wages. Please don't turn your back on them now.

Setting aside the politics of the situation, issues like "national security" and "illegal immigrants" -- these are first and foremost employees of both Lane and REA, whether they are contractors or day laborers. If they are good enough employees to pay, they are good enough to employees to protect. It is wholly unethical for you as their employer, to let them be arrested and deported in this manner. Furthermore, they are human beings with wives and children--families are being separated. Please do your part in reuniting these families and helping them get the legal assistance they need.

Frankly speaking: we both know that the illegal immigrants employed by your companies do not represent the security risk that we as a nation should be focusing on. Do not let these employees be used by a bureaucratic machine to made "an example" of. Do not let the government "bully" these people, for the sake of their silly government public relations game, a game that educated people in this country are not playing.

The present political climate is changing -- companies like yours can make a difference in leading this nation and showing the impact that immigrants have on the American economy. It is IMPERATIVE that YOU step in and protect these employees and their families to the best of your abilities, to show everyone that immigrants are a vital part of our society and economy.

I am not in any way related to Lane or REA, or any employee of Lane or REA Contracting LLC, nor am I in any way connected with the events reported in today's article. I am merely a local citizen, concerned about the status of our national security, and I am outraged.


Will post the reply, IF one comes.

Weather in San Diego - Sunny & 70 WOOHOO!

Happy Gradumucation, Hulia & Friends, class of '06! Congrats!

In honor of Monday's historical Pandodyssey (TM) to the world renown San Diego Zoo (baby panda mecca), I figured I should check in and see how they were doing today. I am happy to report they are, as always, TOO CUTE! (I say thay WAAY too often, but it's better than line after line of "eeeeeeee"! isn't it? )

Bathing Beauties

In the last few days the pool in Bai Yun and Su Lin’s exhibit at the San Diego Zoo has returned to its proper function as a pool. Keepers had been placing bamboo for the giant pandas in the drained pond after early concerns that using it for water while Su Lin was a small, unsteady cub could pose a potential hazard for her. It was a common place for Bai Yun to recline and eat. Bamboo is now placed to the side, and the pool contains water once again.

In her best motherly manner, Bai Yun has been insuring that Su Lin experiences the water first-hand. Su Lin, however, does not appear to be at all pleased with this: Mom pushes her in and she races out as quickly as possible, climbing up above her mother and shaking off this “alien substance.” Bai Yun continued, yesterday morning, to pull, push, and drag Su Lin into the pool several times; Su Lin clambered out as quickly as she could each time. Bai Yun even stood splashing in the pool while watching her cub, perhaps an attempt to entice Su Lin in. As it was in the early days of “water lessons” for her brother, Mei Sheng, this does not appear to be a favorite game, although colleagues report that she has been exploring the pool alone, and more comfortably, while Bai Yun sleeps.

Pandas will enter the water to cool off and even Shi Shi, our former male-in-residence, had been observed sitting in the pool, splashing with his forepaws and wiggling his feet. Water interaction increases among mature females as they approach their brief mating season. This may be a way for them to spread their scent farther on the ground to notify any males in the area of their seasonal changes, so this is an important new medium for Su Lin to learn about.

Whatever the purpose - and researchers are studying these behaviors at many facilities around the world to answer questions such as these - Su Lin and Bai Yun are in the next phase of the cub-rearing process. It’s going to be an exciting few months as this little girl is prepared by her mother in so many ways for life on her own.

I wonder if panda boys are raised differently from panda girls? (Hey Su, guess what? You know tai shan gets to stay outside till midnight whenever he wants...) HA-HA! (ala Nelson).

You can watch the left coast pandas here. Or go see them IN PERSON ON MONDAY LIKE ME. Oh? You're not going? Hmmm, too bad for you.


What Brown Does For Us

I like businesses that are proactive! I take back every AM rush-hour related epithet muttered while stuck behind a fleet of brown trucks northbound on van dorn street.

UPS Environment-Friendly Trucks Reach Milestone

"We want to reduce emissions and our impact on the environment and operate in a sustainable manner."

The UPS trucks using eco-friendly combustibles have made over 100 million miles of package delivering, since the beginning of their mileage count, back in 2000. The one hundred million miles equals, actually surpasses, having gone 4000 times around Earth.

Robert Hall, United Parcel Service fleet environmental manager:

"UPS customers benefit from our ability to carefully manage and conserve fuel throughout the business. But our commitment to these technologies goes beyond just saving fuel.

Alternate to combustion engines are engines relying on hydrogen fuel cells, liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas, electric or propane. UPS is extremely aware of environmental protection problems, having pioneered hydrogen fuel cell engines' use in business purposes.
Another innovation UPS took part in was the development and introduction of the first hydraulic hybrid urban delivery vehicle. UPS considers introducing 50 hybrid electric vehicles in 2007, providing a 35 pct boost in fuel efficiency compared to trucks replaced.

The number of pollution-efficient trucks UPS uses will rise to 12,100 by year's end.
United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) is the world's largest package delivery company, delivering over 14 million packages a day to over 200 countries around the world. Atlanta-based UPS is also a global leader in supply chain services, offering an extensive range of options for synchronizing the movement of goods, information and funds. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., UPS serves more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. UPS' stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange (UPS)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Most Ultimate Panda Cam!


This is it: the cam of all cams! Wonder what your favorite Panda Reserve is looking like these days? Log on to Wolong's very own panda cam! Be forewarned, the cuteness is off the charts!

There is even world Cup coverage (of the panda variety) under Photos!

Friday, June 09, 2006


Even Tai Shan has his own soccer ... err futbol, what's all the commotion about?

In case you live under a rock in the panda house, the 2006 FIFA World Cup starts today. Every four years, productivity globe-wide comes to a screeching halt. Normally well balanced and diligent employees disappear for 3 1/2 hour lunches and are later caught fast asleep at their desks because they'd been up since 3:30 AM. For the next few weeks, millions of people are ecstatic to live like this because, well there's nothing like it!

I don't know rule one about soccer (wait yes I do--don't touch the futbol with your dos manos unless you're the goalie!) and even I find the World Cup totally enthralling. It is similar to the Olympics in that both are games highlighting the spirit of friendly, international competition. And to the winning country? Ultimate international boasting rights for the next four years (more useful than a passport abroad, except it could get you beaten up every once in a while. Well worth it if your country wins!)

But the World Cup is BETTER than the Olympics because it's more focused, there's only one sport to keep track of, and there is only ONE Coveted Cup. No sad silvers to second, no "better luck next time" bronzes. One Goal--One Cup!

Finally, several dozen swarthy, international mega-athletes with killer calves and sexy smiles never hurts a spectator sport either ... (to that end, names to Google: Roque Santa Cruz, Raul (Spain), and a perennial fan fave, David "Mister Posh Spice- aaaahhh" Beckham.) SIGH!

First match is Germany v. Costa Rica @ noon eastern. I'll be at Bailey's. Don't bother me.

World Cup Teams

Thursday, June 08, 2006

moms are the best

June 7: Tai Falls and Recovers
Yesterday evening while playing in enclosure 3 with Mei Xiang, Tai—now weighing 53 pounds—experienced the full force of gravity when Mei accidentally knocked him off of the top of the rocks. Tai cried out loudly as he hit the floor and continued to vocalize as Mei rushed to his side. She was very attentive to him, trying to pick him up and drag him from the scene of the accident. After failing to pick up or move his considerable bulk, she moved into enclosure 2, with Tai following closely behind. Over the next half hour she attempted to console him by lying down next to him in a nursing position as well as gently pawing him. Tai complained for quite a while before settling down next to her. Before long, they were both back to normal, with Mei trying to relax and Tai Shan practicing his climbing skills on her back.

AWWW! Cute pic of Mei & Tai on the Giant Panda Home Page at the link above .

There are several new pics in the Tai Shan photo gallery as well.

Bank of America Offers Environment Friendly Rebates To Employees
June 7, 2006 2:15 p.m. EST
Richard Rittierodt - All Headline News Contributor

New York, NY (AHN) - According to Bank of America Corp., any employee who buys a hybrid car will receive a $3,000 rebate from Bank of America.

Anne Finucane, Bank of America's global marketing chief, said, "This is a very genuine effort to do the right thing. To do it at Bank of America, it's a formidable commitment."

According to the director of the Center for Global Business Studies at Pennsylvania State University Fariborz Ghadar, other companies could soon follow Bank of America in giving rebates for buying hybrid cars.

Ghadar said, "If employees respond well, other companies will follow, especially because the cost of such a program are not likely to be very high."

A few other companies, including Google, already offer rebates to employees for buying or leasing hybrids.

This is a better deal than the commonwealth of VA is offering (and only until July 1 at that):

AFVs displaying the Virginia 'Clean Special Fuels' license plate can use the Virginia HOV lanes, regardless of the number of occupants, until July 1, 2006. Dedicated AFVs and the Toyota Prius, and Honda Insight and Civic hybrid electric vehicles qualify. For more information, please visit the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Web site at (Reference Virginia Code §33.1-46.2 and §46.2-749.3)

And in California, hear the siren's song "free parking...":

Hybrid Car owners who have purchased their hybrids from San Jose dealers are exempt from local parking fees. For eligibility, contact Jason Burton (408) 794-1427,

If you own a Zero Emission Vehicle or Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle as defined by the California Air Resources Board, you may purchase a California Clean Air Vehicle Decal from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Once you have purchased and affixed the decal to your vehicle per DMV instructions, you can park without depositing coins at on- and off-street metered parking spaces throughout the City of Los Angeles. For more information, visit:

The moral of the story: Do I know the way to San Jose?

Compare your state's alternative fuel vehicles incentives to others here!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

there's no room for you in my handbasket

Wednesdays are for slacking: Hell Test
(no pandas were involved or harmed in the playing of this game.)

Scores - no cheating!

0 - 20 A life with the church is too corrupt for you. (Julia ;)
21 - 40 You barely make our scale.
31 - 60 Approaching normal, you aren't much fun on a date.
61 - 100 Normal, you use your right hand like everyone else.
101 - 130 Above average, you've got a few tricks below the belt.
131 - 160 You're enjoying life to the max.
161 - 200 You're a danger to society. Who let you out on a day pass?
200+ You're going straight to hell.

Well, apparently I'm just taking the scenic route.
Pandodssey - 185 points

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Celebrate! National Fishing & Boating Week

National wildlife refuges around the country will celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week June 3-11 with fishing derbies for kids, open houses and other special events to highlight the week. Fishing and Boating Week is organized by the non-profit Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF). RBFF promotes the joys of boating and fishing and, like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System, also stresses the importance of citizen stewardship of the water resources on which boating and fishing depend. National Fishing and Boating Week is part of the celebration of June as Great Outdoors Month, organized by the non-profit American Recreation Coalition to recognize the value of recreation to America’s economy and culture. This year’s Great Outdoors Month includes events associated with National Boating and Fishing Week, National Trails Day and National Clean Beaches Week. The Service will host many of these events across the country.

There are two National Fishing & Boating Week events being held locally, both in Maryland. Read more here.

On Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend, FWS went above and beyond the call of duty in a very personal way for this pandologist when I, my non-pandologist husband, and our non-pandologist dogs, one of whom was limping badly, found ourselves stuck at the bottom of a ravine with night fast approaching. A very kind FWS employee and his wife let us leave our lamed dog with them while we hustled back to our car, which was still parked at the top of the ravine five miles back. They let our dog rest on their porch, gave her some water and even gave her a blanket to sleep on, and kept her until we returned. No doubt, had they not been so kind and generous, we would have spent a long and miserable night in the forest.

Thank you forever and ever Mr. & Mrs. Jones!

Also: ALWAYS protect your dogs from fleas and ticks! (Don't ask...)

World Environment Day (June 5) News

World Environment Day, held on June 5, is the United Nation's annual flagship environmental event to raise conservation awareness, holding events in 100+ nations around the globe. WED was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 and is organized by the UN Environment Programme.

We hardly ever hear about World Environment Day because we have our own Earth Day in April. (And cheez it's not as though the UN is headquartered here in les etats unis or anything...)

London marks Environment Day by airing issues, laundry, in Trafalgar Square
LONDON (AP) - Environmentalists hung more than 34,000 metres of laundry out to dry in Trafalgar Square on Monday, part of a multi-agency effort on UN World Environment Day to protest British reliance on energy-sapping dryers.

"You're looking at the biggest one-line joke in history," the project's supervisor and British comedian Tim FitzHigham said to the assembled crowd.

The all-day demonstration used 4,920 items of washing and 24,600 clothespins.

Boycott dryers, whooohooo! I've already boycotted my iron (not for any environmental reason, I just don't like irons), why not the dryer too? I am predicting total wrinklage in my future.

Also concerning World Environment Day, I ran across this editorial from the Times of Malta online, lamenting Malta's sad political state of environmental affairs, a lamentation that could have come from this pandologist's own blog (except that it's written much more convincingly and ahem better!) ...
In Malta, there has generally been complacency about the environment. Despite governments paying lip service to it, the country continues to fall short in its real commitment to a sustainable environment. The National Commission for Sustainable Development launched its strategy document six weeks ago. Since then, even allowing for bureaucratic inertia, the silence is deafening. Rhetoric continues to prevail over substance.

... and goes on to say, both concisely and precisely, what the larger goal ought to be!
The central idea of a sustainable environment is that all should achieve an acceptable quality of life, where necessary through economic growth, without disinheriting future generations or mortgaging their future. Put at its simplest, sustainability is about ensuring that the activities we have to carry out to meet Malta's range of needs can be continued indefinitely. To do this, we must ensure that these activities, whether they are waste disposal, transportation, construction development or tourism, do not irreversibly damage the environment.

We need to take a balanced view of the need for development, reconciling growth with the requirement to stay within environmental thresholds. There is no future in justifying development purely for short-term economic gains.

Two panda thumbs up!

Happy (Belated) World Environment Day everybody!

panda therapy

For those who would even ask "Why bother saving the giant panda?" this is one reason--baby panda therapy is good therapy.

Beslan hostage survivors soothed by giant pandas
"She's so plumpy. Does she bite?" 16-year-old Irena asks as she carefully cuddles Jingjing, an eight-month-old giant panda.

"It's so wonderful to hold a panda in your arms," she says with a smile spreading across her face as she poses for a photo.

Irena is one of 10 survivors of the 2004 school hostage crisis in Beslan, southern Russia, who are visiting China on a therapeutic trip.
They will be in the country for a month, with the eagerly anticipated meeting with the cuddly bear believed to be an important part of their therapy.

Irena was nervous at first and her legs shook a little as she sat with her peers on a bench at the giant panda "nursery" in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, waiting for the zookeeper to introduce her to the bear. She hummed a Russian song to boost her courage.

"Panda bears are so different from Russia's brown bears," said her friend Taimuraz, 16.

"I really like pandas," 14-year-old Zarina pitched in. "I've only ever seen pictures of them before. This is the first time I've ever touched and felt a lovely panda." Taimuraz bought a toy panda at the souvenir shop as she left the giant pandas' breeding and research centre.

"I'll take this panda home," she said with a sense of satisfaction. The group is scheduled to leave for Russia tomorrow.

On September 1, 2004, the girls were among more than 1,000 children and adults taken hostage by a group of armed militants in Beslan. In the ensuing battle, the school was set on fire and more than 331 civilians more than half of them children were killed. Countries around the globe, including China, have offered medical assistance to Russia following the hostage crisis.

#11: Thou Shalt not invoke ultimatums in My Name...

from the (now-slacking) news desk of pandodyssey's resident God-ologist (a title I just made up right this second, if you couldn't tell):

Maybe he should've told the lion his name was Daniel?

Lioness in zoo kills man who invoked God
KIEV (Reuters) - A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said on Monday.
"The man shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," the official said.
"A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery."
The incident, Sunday evening when the zoo was packed with visitors, was the first of its kind at the attraction. Lions and tigers are kept in an "animal island" protected by thick concrete blocks.

(He took his shoes off before entering the lions' enclosure? He must've been Korean!!)

Monday, June 05, 2006


Tis the season, baby season, that is! errrm, Maybe.

Lun Lun, Zoo Atlanta's 8-year-old female panda, was artificially inseminated back in March. However, zoo officials don't know as of yet whether Lun's been knocked up. It takes months to confirm whether a panda mom has got a bun in the oven. Word should come in late July or early August.

This update brought to you by me and that cute pic of the baby panda at the link above. (Really, this was a gratuitous use of baby panda footage.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

pass the errr...i'll just eat my napkin, thanks

Lately, I've been reading Kim O'Donnell's blog, food & cooking writer for the washington post. Normally I only read her when she has a tasty recipe listed on the front page of the Food section. Recently though, she's been broadening her subjects a bit and writing a lot about sustainable farming which is a very unique environmental animal unto itself, in that it directly impacts us as individuals every day because heck, ya gotta eat. And yet we remain largely uninformed about how our food gets to us.

O'Donnell's recent topic series has got me thinking today about how ignorant I truly wish to remain about the origins of my food. I'm not even talking about turning vegetarian because I oppose rampant animal cruelty in the meat production industries. (that is a whole nuther can of spam.) I'm talking about fruits and vegetables and feesh and all those things that are supposed to be good for you already. Well, I got news for you about those fresh looking veggies at the supermarket: they're not as good for you as you think (pesticides, growth chemicals GROSS), they're not good for our pollution/traffic/smog problem (hey how did these pineapples get to virginia anyway? via the pineapple fairy and her tractor trailer?), and are grown in environmentally unsustainable conditions, all to keep costs down and profits up. (If hearing this makes you queasy, don't even begin to think about seafood. Trust me.)

I'm as cheap and poor as the next person, but the more I learn about the origins of my food, the more I believe that I as a consumer have only 1 way to make my feelings known and that is to put my money where my mouth is.

I CAN spend my money on organic products. If there's any place in my budget to splurge on myself (and there isn't) at least I can justify it and feel really good about it. In other words, if you value your car and regularly fill it up with 93 octane, would you not also put the highest quality fuel available in your body too? (Ok, so my car gets measly 87 - I value myself more than my vehicle, and gas is really pricey these days for a cute-ute-that-is-always-in-the-shop)

I CAN use my dollars wisely and support local growers by buying their produce as opposed to supermarket produce which comes from lands far far away.

Finally, I CAN, with a little effort, see who else supports sustainable farming and lend my voice, my vote, whatever!

With that being said, I am now heading to the farmer's market.

An Inconvenient Truth

Looking for something constructive to do this weekend? How about edu-mu-cating yourself on the global environmental crisis and/or volunteer to help clean up a local park?

An Inconvenient Truth, starring ex-Presidential candidate Al Gore, opens today in the DC area. You know most people, R & Ds alike, would simply vanish from the public eye after suffering a soul-withering election defeat as that of 2000. Not Al Gore. Hate on him if you will, but the ex-Veep, once thought only as Mister boring-ole-vanilla-to-Bill Clinton's-oh-MY-WORD-chocolate, has been hard at work these past years, feverishly touring the country to educate the public about the environmental issues we face as a nation, as a race (the HUMAN race, that is) and as part of an ever shrinking global community. The flick is a documentary about our present state of environmental triage.

"With 2005, the worst storm season ever experienced in America just behind us, it seems we may be reaching a tipping point - and Gore pulls no punches in explaining the dire situation. Interspersed with the bracing facts and future predictions is the story of Gore's personal journey: from an idealistic college student who first saw a massive environmental crisis looming; to a young Senator facing a harrowing family tragedy that altered his perspective, to the man who almost became President but instead returned to the most important cause of his life - convinced that there is still time to make a difference."

Locally, An Inconvenient Truth is playing at E Street Landmark, Georgetown AMC, and Shirlington AMC. Go see why losing the 2000 election may be the best thing to ever happen to us Earthlings.

I will hopefully be seeing it this weekend and reviewing it next week, though this weekend is also the fourteenth annual National Trails Day. Find an American Hiking Society sponsored event near you here and appreciate the great (or urban, or suburban) outdoors! I said appreciate it! (tai shan shakes fist at you--yes you!) Come on, our parks are like public television--you know you love it, so don't be a freeloader!