WASHINGTON – Just a few days after the U.S Department of Agriculture revealed it was suspending data collection on bee populations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the pesticide sulfoxaflor will again be allowed for use on wide range of crops, including corn, soybeans, strawberries, citrus, squashes, and pineapples, and for use in other areas where it was previously prohibited.
Sulfoxaflor is considered highly toxic to bees. It was removed from the US market in 2015. It is available in other jurisdictions including Canada and Mexico; though it is being phased out in some them. The EPA claims that the pesticide is safer than many other alternatives, and they have placed limits on when it can be used.
“To reduce exposure to bees, the product label will have crop-specific restrictions and important pollinator protection language,” including limits on how close to bloom sulfoxaflor can be sprayed, the official said.
However, the majority of studies the EPA has on the pesticide are industry-sponsored, and many environmentalists say that even limiting its use to three or more days after crops bloom will still leave amounts in the soil that harm bees.
Sulfoxaflor made by Dow chemical was first introduced as a safer alternative to neonicotinoids which had been linked to colony collapse disorder (CCD) as far back as 2010. Unfortunately, some researchers have found some evidence that indicates sulfoxaflor to have a negative impact on the reproduction and immune systems of bees.
How the removal of restrictions on the use of sulfoxaflor will affect bee populations may not even be knowable now that there will essentially be no governmental oversight or department officially monitoring them. It will be up to independent researchers and activists to keep track.
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BRITISH COLUMBIA – In related environmental news, Canada is looking to overhaul its Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA).
There has long been a divide between environmentalists and First Nations and unions over old-growth trees. Many First Nation peoples depend on logging to support their communities.
The government has said it would update the (FRPA) which provides guideline and oversight on all resource-based activities, like as forestry, are conducted on public land in B.C. It also protects all plants, animals and ecosystems found on public land. How the FRPA is changed could have a big impact.
In 2017, the New Democratic Party of British Columbia (BC NDP) listed reforms on how forestry was managed as one of the cornerstone of their campaign. They sought to find middle ground between loggers, First Nation peoples, and environmentalists. No reforms have yet been drafted.
The situation is complex as it affects not just loggers and environmentalists, but also mill workers. The mill workers want to see a restriction on raw lumber being exported for processing elsewhere. While the government has taken some steps to encourage local processing of lumber, the mill workers union reportedly does not feel it is enough and wants a complete ban on exporting lumber for processing.
The First Nations, many who own logging businesses, want to be included in the decision-making process and the reforms of FRPA, while environmentalists want to preserve as much of the the old-growth trees as they can and see environmental restrictions expanded further.
The public comment period closes today at 4 p.m. PDT, and changes could be incorporated sometime in 2020.
In “witch-hunt” news:
- In the Nuaguda village of the Nabarangpur district of India, Banamali Jani, his wife, Drupt Jani and their daughter, Subh Jani were accused by villagers of practicing “witchcraft” and assaulted by forcing them all to put their hands in boiling water with cow dung. One of the attackers also reportedly attempted to vandalize their home. All of the victims were taken to the hospital and reported to be in stable condition.
- An article from The New Indian Express, raises concerns about the number of “witch-hunt” accusations and murders in the Indian state of Odisha’s Rayagada district. The article cites at least 20 deaths over the last nine years despite the passage of the Orissa Prevention of Witch Hunting Act in 2013. Just this year 14 people have been sentenced to life in prison for murdering of people they believed to be using “sorcery.” The article also states that many incidents go unreported and are suppressed by village officials, as well as being instigated by other villagers that have a score to settle with the accused.
- On Monday morning, July 15, two women and a man were found dead with their throats slit outside a temple in Korthikota of Tanakal in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in India. According to some reports, the victims were feared to have been killed as part of some type of lunar eclipse that involved human sacrifice. The deputy superintendent of police gave a statement to reporters that whoever committed the crime would be dealt with “strict action” in an attempt to belay the fears about “witchcraft.”
- In another slaying in the Andhra Pradesh district, the body of an unidentified man was found near the Sarva Narasimha Swamy Temple in Sirivella Mandal in Kurnool. The body had been decapitated, with the head laying nearby. Due to several items associated with worship found on the temple premises, like lemon and vermillion, some villagers suspected the killing was connected to “witchcraft” practices.
- In the Sendhakapa village in the Keonjhar district in India, an elderly man, Dinabandhu Munda, was asleep in his home when seven people attacked and beat him to death because they believe he was practicing “sorcery.” All seven involved surrendered themselves to police.
- The government of eSwatini — formerly known as Swaziland — has forbidden a scheduled competition between traditional healers and witchdoctors. Percy Simelane, a spokesperson for the government said in a statement, “Government will not sanction any competition of that nature. Anyone who will persist with any activity related to witchcraft will face the full might of the law.” The statement also reminded the populace that the practices of “witchcraft, sorcery or voodoo” are punishable under the Witchcraft Act of 1889. “Government cannot sit back and watch while the lives of the citizens of this country are exposed to illegal and weird practices that have the potential to poison the minds of (Swazi people), especially children,” Simelane added.
In other news:
- Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit issued a ruling in the case David Williamson, et al. v. Brevard County. A group of Secular Humanists challenged the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners (BCBCC) due its practice of opening meetings with a religious invocation. TWH will have full coverage of the ruling might impact the Pagan community later this week.
- Two women were detained in the city of Gudermes in the Chechnya Republic of Russia on charges of “practicing magic, witchcraft, and healing.” In 2013, Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Republic, demanded that all acts of magical and healing practice be eradicated. Several people were reportedly murdered after his statement, and most other practitioners either fled the country or went into hiding.
- An update to the story we reported on last week: Aubrey Trail was convicted on the charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the slaying and dismemberment of Lincoln store clerk Sydney Loofe. The trial of Trail included bizarre testimony that Trail claimed to be a vampire and recruited young women to his cult-like group that ran a number of questionable money schemes, but also that Trail told the women they must kill someone and inhale the last breath of their victim to become a “witch.” Trail’s girlfriend, and co-conspirator in the slaying, Bailey Boswell is awaiting trial on similar charges. Her trial is scheduled for October.
- A new one-woman-show by Jean Tafler, “My Witch: The Margaret Hamilton Stories,” opens on July 21, 2019 at the Bay Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, New York, and tells stories of Hamilton’s life. Hamilton is best remembered for her role as the “Wicked Witch” in the “Wizard Oz” but had roles in a number of other movies. She was also a single mother in the 1940s and 50s, while pursuing her career.
Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte
Deck: Crow Tarot by MJ Cullinane, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: Six (6) of Pentacles
This week be mindful of offers by others to help or contribute, as they are liable to come with strings attached. Conversely, taking a look at the balance of giving might be in order to make sure that what is given is not taken for granted or expected.
Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone