Uplifting News: Whales Recover, Navy Sec. Defies Trump, Fewer Support Capital Punishment, & More
It's nice to start the week with some positive news before we tackle whatever new conspiracy theories and disinformation the White House might be cooking up.
1. Humpback Whales Recover. Many whale species faced extinction in the 20th century as a result of the commercial whaling industry. The population of humpback whales in the South Atlantic, for instance, was reduced to about 440 by 1958 and they were on the verge of disappearing forever.
The international community reacted slowly at first because of domestic economic and cultural concerns, but finally established an International Whaling Commission [IWC] as part of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. In 1982, the IWC adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling, and in 1994 they created the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. A few nations like Japan continue to hunt whales, but on a more limited basis, and overall the moratorium has been a success. There are still risks, but the populations of many whale species have returned to safer levels.
A new study found that the population of humpback whales in the South Atlantic has recovered to levels not seen since before the age of commercial whaling. Researchers now estimate the population has grown to about 25,000.
Science News: “It is good news,” says María Vázquez, a biologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City who was not involved in the assessment. She’s been studying a threatened population of humpbacks off the west coast of Mexico and has observed its progress, too. “We see it year after year, there are more animals, younger, more offspring,” she says."
2. Navy Secretary Defies Trump and Becomes a Reluctant Patriot. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Sunday after Spencer publicly defied Donald Trump's decision to intervene in the case of Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was accused of committing war crimes. Gallagher was later acquitted of murder but convicted of posing with a dead Islamic State prisoner.
New York Times: "Chief Gallagher was turned in by his own platoon last spring. Several fellow SEALs reported that he had shot civilians and killed a captive Islamic State fighter with a custom hunting knife during a deployment in Iraq in 2017. He was also charged with obstruction of justice for threatening to kill SEALs who reported him."
Spencer had sought to punish Gallagher after his conviction, but Trump had intervened [via tweet] after conservative media outlets had come to the Chief's defense in recent weeks. Secretary Spencer made the mistake of publicly challenging the President by threatening to resign and stating that Trump's tweets don't represent official orders. His letter of resignation was published this morning.
New York Times: “The lives of our sailors, Marines and civilian teammates quite literally depend on the professional execution of our many missions, and they also depend on the ongoing faith and support of the people we serve and the allies we serve alongside,” the letter said."
He added: “Unfortunately, it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the commander in chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer is right in acknowledging that Spencer is a hero and a patriot.
New York Times: “Secretary Spencer did the right thing and he should be proud of standing up to President Trump when he was wrong, something too many in this administration and the Republican Party are scared to do,” Mr. Schumer said. “Good order, discipline and morale among the armed services must transcend politics, and Secretary Spencer’s commitment to these principles will not be forgotten.”
3. Fewer Americans support Capital Punishment. Support for capital punishment has decreased in recent years as the number of wrongfully convicted individuals who were later exonerated by DNA evidence has increased.
A recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans now favor life imprisonment without parole as a punishment for murder over capital punishment when given a choice between the two.
Gallop found that when respondents were asked to decide between the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole, about 60% favored life sentences. Only 36% selected the death penalty.
4. Children are Drinking Fewer Sodas. According to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the share of kids consuming sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages declined between 2003 and 2014. We still drink far too many sugary drinks according to health experts, but things are moving in the right direction thanks to public awareness campaigns and soda taxes, among other things.
BY: Don Lam & Curated Content