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Feb 22, 2017, 12:40 AM
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 on: Feb 20, 2017, 05:53 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
China's forest conservation program shows proof of success

China's forest conservation programs show a decade of improvement in tree cover.  Globally, deforestation continues, but at a slowing pace.   

By Eva Botkin-Kowacki, Staff writer
CS Monitor

China appears to have turned the corner on deforestation.

Beijing implemented a forest conservation program in 1998. And we now have proof that it's working.

Logging and clear cutting shrank China's forests for decades, but from 2000 to 2010, the nation saw a net gain in tree cover, according to new data.

A team of scientists studied the nation's forests using satellite images, eyeing where tree cover expanded and decreased. Over the decade they saw significant recovery in about 1.6 percent of China's territory, while 0.38 percent continued to lose tree cover. Their findings are reported in a paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

"Before there was widespread deforestation," study author Andrés Viña of Michigan State University's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability tells The Christian Science Monitor in an interview. "Now that has stopped and there is a net gain in forest cover."

Forests harbor immense biodiversity, prevent soil erosion, and act as carbon sinks – scrubbing the atmosphere of carbon dioxide.

Trees grow by taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locking it away in their roots, trunks, limbs and leaves until they die and decompose, when the carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Currently, elevated carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are heating up the planet. Forests are key, natural tools in mitigating climate change.

But forests have lost some 319 million acres, an area just larger than South Africa, over the past quarter century. Conservation programs like the one in China are starting to turn those trends around.
China's conservation program

For decades, Chinese forests were ravaged by the timber industry and clear cutting to convert areas to farmland. Biodiversity was lost, and flooding and soil erosion became significant issues without these trees to maintain the balance in the ecosystem.

There was catastrophic fallout. Losses from flash flooding in the summer of 1998 alone reached $20 billion. In response, Beijing instituted the Natural Forest Conservation Program (NFCP).

The NFCP targeted sensitive regions that had been significantly degraded over the previous five decades, such as regions around the headwaters and other upstream portions of major rivers. A significant part of the NFCP has been extensive bans on logging in natural forests, instead shifting towards other timber sources.

From 1998 to 2000, the government had already invested over $2 billion in the conservation program. By the turn of the century, timber harvests from China's natural forests had been reduced from 32 million cubic meters (42 million cubic yards) in 1997 to 23 million cubic meters (30 million cubic yards) in 1999.

But that didn't mean China's thriving manufacturing industry was just going without timber. The nation now sees significant timber imports from places like Vietnam, Madagascar, and Russia, Dr. Viña says. "We think that success in reducing deforestation in China is basically being transferred into deforestation in other regions," he says.

"Over the long-term, sustainable forest management in China is important for forests in the rest of the world," says Robert Tansey, senior advisor for external affairs and policy in Northeast Asia and Greater China at The Nature Conservancy, who was not part of the study.

A global issue

"When it comes down to climate and carbon sequestration, these are global problems," Kevin Griffin, an ecologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who was not part of this study, tells the Monitor in a phone interview.

But this study just looked at China's success in forest conservation. Dr. Griffin says, "When you analyze them on national levels, you have to be mindful of the fact that savings in one country might mean a loss in another one."

Viña agrees, "In this globalized world we need to go beyond national analysis. Now we have to go into international, cross-boundary analysis."

Worldwide, the picture is less optimistic. Forest cover in many regions is still shrinking. 

Although global deforestation has yet to reverse course, reports do suggest it is slowing. In fact, global deforestation rates have been cut in half since 1990, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA). In the 1990s, an average of 0.18 percent of the world's forests were lost each year, but from 2010 to 2015, that average loss dropped to 0.08 percent.

"It is encouraging to see that net deforestation is decreasing and that some countries in all regions are showing impressive progress. Among others, they include Brazil, Chile, China, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Turkey, Uruguay, and Viet Nam," FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said in a press release in 2015.

And with decreasing deforestation, that means more carbon storage. The FAO also reported that carbon emissions from forests decreased by 25 percent from 2001 to 2015.

Big picture or whole picture?

Narrowing in on one nation isn't the only limitation to this new study of China's forests, Griffin says. Satellite images can examine overall tree cover, but the picture is a lot more complex than simply counting trees and net forest mass. Different tree species and different types of forests can sequester more or less carbon or provide habitats for a different set of plants and animals, he says. And they might not be just the same as the degraded forests they're replacing.

For example, a recent study, published in the journal Science, shows that an expansion of forests towards dark green conifers in Europe has increased, rather than mitigated global warming. The findings challenge the widespread view that planting more trees helps human efforts to slow the Earth’s rising temperatures. Apparently, not all trees have the same mitigating effect, reported the Monitor.

Although satellite imagery is "a really great tool to apply to a global problem" and the net increase in forest cover is a step in the right direction, the issue of regrowth is more complex than just simple snapshots, Griffin says.

But generally, "knowing the status of our forests is super important," he says. "The forest provides an immense number of ecosystem services, everything from clean water and oxygen to habitat and biodiversity."

Mr. Tansey says, "Nature serves people's needs.

 on: Feb 20, 2017, 05:49 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Did monkeys cross the ocean to North America?

Scientists have unearthed monkey teeth that could significantly change the animals' migration history.

By Eva Botkin-Kowacki, Staff writer
CS Monitor   

Scientists have long thought that monkeys first ventured from South America into North America no earlier than about 4 million years ago, when the two continents merged. But seven teeth unearthed in Panama may change that story.

These monkey teeth were discovered encased in 21-million-year-old rocks. This suggests that the primates accomplished the impossible, crossing the more than 100 miles of ocean that separated South America from North America at the time.

These prehistoric monkeys, which probably looked like today's capuchin monkeys, are the only mammals known to cross this watery boundary so early, says Jonathan Bloch. Dr. Bloch, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, is the lead author of a paper announcing this find, which was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Today the two American continents are connected by the Isthmus of Panama, the strip of land that separates the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. But around 21 million years ago, Panama was just a peninsula extending off of North America, with the Central American Seaway separating the two continents.

That body of water was thought insurmountable for animal migrations, until now. So how could monkeys have crossed such a barrier?

It's unlikely that they swam, Bloch says. Instead, they likely rafted over to Panama on a mat of vegetation.

"When there are events like hurricanes or major earthquakes or tsunamis, vegetation and clumps of dirt can get washed off the shore. Animals can come along with it," explains Siobhán Cooke, a paleobiologist at Northeastern Illinois University who was not part of this study.

"Monkeys are pretty good dispersers," Dr. Cooke tells The Christian Science Monitor in an interview, and some monkeys have made it to live on islands. "It isn't surprising that they were able to disperse to North America," she says.

Scientists think this wasn't the first time monkeys rafted across seawater.

Monkeys are thought to have evolved in Africa, so "one of the big mysteries in studying monkey evolution has always been how did monkeys get to South America," Bloch tells the Monitor. Similar monkeys to the South American ones emerged in the fossil record about 40 million years ago in northern Africa. Then, between 34 and 37 million years ago, they somehow made their way to South America.

But monkeys don't appear in the fossil record on any other continents at the time, so they must have taken a direct route. The vegetation raft hypothesis emerged to explain that trek.

Once in South America, the monkeys dispersed across the region and established themselves as a separate lineage: platyrrhines, or New World monkeys.

"Platyrrhines are a very important part of modern ecosystems in South America today," Bloch says. Today's population includes squirrel monkeys and howler monkeys. In central America today, you can find capuchins, or "organ grinder" monkeys.

Monkeys were thought to have spread from the once-island continent of South America north into central America as part of the Great American Biotic Interchange, which followed the creation of the Isthmus of Panama. During that time many animals migrated across the newly formed land bridge both north and south.

Opossums, armadillos, and porcupines are thought to have entered North America over the Isthmus of Panama at the time. Deer, cats, raccoons, bears, and other animals migrated south.

Any migration was thought impossible before this event. But this new find "indicates that there was dispersal between the two continental landmasses prior to the complete formation of the Isthmus of Panama," Cooke says. "It changes the story of dispersal across that region."

As scientists are discussing New World monkey evolution, North America is never mentioned before a few million years ago, says Bloch. But "now we know that North America plays a role in the evolution of monkeys."

And it's not just any monkey, he says. "It's well-nested within the family tree of living platyrrhines."

The morphology of these teeth suggest that they belong to a monkey that was closely related to the squirrel monkeys and capuchin monkeys still alive today. Bloch and his colleagues named the new species Panamacebus transitus.

Not only can this new find shed light on monkey migration, but it also can say something about our own evolutionary history, says Cooke.

"These are organisms that are closely related to us," she says. "They're part of our lineage. We are primates after all. This helps us learn a little bit more about what our cousins were doing, where they were, and what their evolutionary history involved."

 on: Feb 20, 2017, 05:47 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

Could these new fossils solve 'paradox' of primate evolution?

Fossils unearthed in southern China fill a gap in primate evolution and add to a story of climate-driven changes.

By Eva Botkin-Kowacki, Staff writer
CS Monitor

A dramatic change in climate some 34 million years ago – a global cooling – shifted the course of primate, and therefore our own, evolution.

An international team of researchers unearthed fossils of six new primate species that lived in Asia during that period, filling in a gap in the evolutionary story of primates. And this could help scientists resolve the "paradox" of why our own evolution happened in Africa, even though our primate lineage is thought to have originated in Asia.

The fossils, described in a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, illustrate how primate diversity in Asia changed with the climate at the end of the Eocene epoch.

During the Eocene, which ran from about 56 to 34 million years ago, the world's climate was in a greenhouse state. "This was a wonderful time to be a primate, because primates like things to be hot and muggy," says K. Christopher Beard, senior curator at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and a coauthor on the new paper.

Primates thrived across many regions, including Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa during the Eocene, Dr. Beard tells The Christian Science Monitor.

But the epoch that followed, the Oligocene, was not so kind to these ancient primates. It became considerably cooler and drier across the globe.

Primates in many regions went extinct. Those that survived clustered around the equator or in the tropics, in Africa and Asia.

Scientists already had fossils representing the evolution of primates in Africa across the Eocene-Oligocene boundary, but little was known about the diversity of primates present in Asia during the early Oligocene, says John Fleagle, a primatologist at Stony Brook University and author of several books on primate evolution, who was not part of the new study.

These fossils, unearthed in southern China, "fill a gap," Dr. Fleagle tells the Monitor. They illuminate "a whole aspect of primate evolution that wasn't clearly documented before," he says.

What story do these new fossils tell?

During the Eocene, many species of primates lived across Asia and Africa. Many members of both branches of primates, the strepsirrhines and the haplorhines, populated both regions.

Of the six new species found at the Oligocene site in southern China, four are lemur-like members of the strepsrrhine lineage. A fifth is an ancestor of tarsiers, members of the haplorhine lineage that still live in southeast Asia today. And the sixth species is an anthropoid, also a haplorhine and a member of the lineage that includes monkeys, apes, and our own ancestors.

In the Eocene, more of the primates in Asia were anthropoids, says Beard. But come the Oligocene, "the anthropoids are dangling by a thread."

If primates had survived the Eocene-Oligocene transition only in Asia, anthropoid evolution might have continued to limp along or might have died out entirely. But while lemur-like primates took over southern Asia, primates in Africa responded to the cooler temperatures of the Oligocene differently.

There, primate diversity shifted the other way. Many non-anthropoid primates went extinct, providing an ecological window for anthropoid "radiation," an evolutionary term referring to a burst of new species filling new ecological roles.

"The anthropoid radiation – monkeys and apes and our monkey-ape ancestors – exploded in Africa," Fleagle says.

"This is kind of an answer to a paradox that we knew about before," Beard says. "All of the data that we have from the fossil record of primate evolution indicates that the very earliest anthropoids, the earliest members of this monkey, ape, and human group, actually originated in Asia, not in Africa. But we know by studying later chapters of this story that eventually the plot shifts from Asia to Africa."

"We never knew when and we never knew why. Now we know when for sure," he says.

The why is still a little more speculative, Beard says. Perhaps it was as simple as "two separate experiments in primate evolution" in which the groups evolved in isolation from each other, or perhaps there were environmental differences on the two continents that drove which primate groups were successful and which struggled.

"Evolution is incredibly complicated," Beard says. "This is a really good example of how evolution on two different continents at exactly the same time yielded almost exactly opposite results."

The fossils illustrate that "when climate changes, it has consequences for the animals that are used to the old climate," Fleagle says.

This story serves as a warning, Beard says.

"We now dominate the planet, but we're here based on a historical contingency that occurred 34 million years ago. Our distant ancestors faced a climatic challenge 34 million years ago and, in Asia, our closest ancestors were not able to meet that challenge. Ultimately the Asian anthropoids went extinct."

 on: Feb 20, 2017, 05:44 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
How facial-recognition software is helping protect endangered lemurs

A new program may help researchers distinguish – and protect – Madagascar's lemurs.   

Patrick Reilly
CS Monitor
February 18, 2017 —Observing lemurs in the jungles of Madagascar is no easy task.

“We find the group,” explains Stacey Tecot, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology, “and then we watch them for a little bit, we get our bearings ... and then we start to collect our data.”

Doing so is an all-day process of recording each individual, more or less continuously. But lemurs typically live in “troops” of up to 15 individuals. To get solid data, Dr. Tecot tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview, “you really have to know that who you're watching is who you think you're watching.”

Biologists usually tell individuals apart using distinctive traits such as scars, or give them tags or radio collars. But in a recent study, scientists tested an easier, higher-tech way to keep track of lemurs: facial-recognition software. 

“This is completely non-invasive,” says Tecot, one of two senior authors of a paper published Friday that describes the study. “It's something that can be used during training so everyone can learn who individuals are, but then also make sure that you're being accurate in your identification.”
Name that animal!

Using a database of faces also makes it possible to track individuals as they enter and leave a population, “so there's implications for long-term research as well.”

Tecot explains that she and the paper’s other lead author, Rachel Jacobs, both struggled to distinguish lemurs in the course of their research. They began exploring non-invasive means to identify different lemurs, and “face-recognition just kept coming back, because they have such distinct faces, and color patterns.”

After reading about the work of Anil Jain, a computer science professor at Michigan State University whose work focuses on biometrics and face recognition, “we realized this is something that was actually possible.”

While facial-recognition programs help Facebook tag photos and police identify suspects, adapting the systems to a different primate proved challenging. “The texture characteristics of the human skin is different from that of the lemur skin,” Professor Jain tells the Monitor in a separate interview. “There's a lot more facial hair.”

The team taught their program, called LemurFaceID, using a “training database” of 462 photos of 80 different red-bellied lemurs.

Over the course of 100 trials, the system recognized individuals correctly 98.7 percent of the time, with about a 2-percent margin of error. Jain expects its accuracy to improve further as it analyzes more images.

Ultimately, the study’s authors aim to bring this system to the field. “Really the idea is that it could be an app in the mobile phone, and the field worker, instead of [needing] a bulky laptop, or a camera, can just point the mobile phone camera towards the lemur, and know whether we have seen the lemur before,” Professor Jain tells the Monitor.

He points out that many Android phones already have facial-recognition capability for humans. Bringing LemurFaceID to the platform is “a question of resources and time.”

Population counts and observation data are seen as a necessary part of conservation efforts for species ranging from birds to frogs. Lemurs are also in dire need of protection: Twenty-six members of the genus lepilemur are currently on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s “Red List” of threatened and endangered species. In 2015, the BBC reported that hunting and deforestation could wipe out wild lemurs within 25 years.

If deployed, LemurFaceID could help reverse this trend. “This could be used by all different kinds of people,” says Tecot, “including anyone who's tracking wildlife trafficking or something like that.”

But while the animals’ plight creates a clear need for better research tools, new technologies present a learning opportunity for scientists in Madagascar, where lemurs make their home.

As Dr. Tecot explains, “our long-term plan is to work with the ecological monitoring team in Madagascar that's run by Malagasy researchers and continue to build the database and develop the software, as well as help train people in how to manipulate and adapt these algorithms for other species.”


Adorable lemur paints a picture of Madagascar's past

Debate has raged over who is to blame for Madagascar's deforested interior. Now, the world's smallest primate has provided some tantalizing insights.

By Jason Thomson, Staff July 19, 2016
CS Monitor
"Shh! We're hiding. Be quiet everyone. That includes me. Shh! Who's making that noise? Oh, it's me again...."

So says Julien, King of the Lemurs, in "Madagascar," an animated movie that enhanced the aura surrounding its island namesake, a place blessed with a bewildering array of native species. In fact, since it split from mainland Africa about 160 million years ago, it has blazed such a pioneering evolutionary path that 95 percent of its reptiles, 92 percent of its mammals, and 89 percent of its plants exist nowhere else on Earth.

Perhaps the most iconic of all is the lemur – prosimian tree-dwelling primates with large amber eyes, long and sometimes striped tails, pointed muzzles, and soft fur. In a new research paper, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have studied the smallest of all, the mouse lemur, in an effort to better understand the history of this enchanting island. Their aim was to put to rest a longstanding debate over the history of Madagascar's forests, and how much blame its human inhabitants deserve for the levels of deforestation.

"The debate has become rather polarized," says lead author Anne Yoder, a biology professor at Duke University in Durham, N.C. There are those who insist the Central Highlands' grasslands are ancient, and thus bear minimal trace of human interference. Others counter they were lushly forested prior to human arrival, "and thus the original Malagasy people were solely responsible for destroying a forested paradise."

And how, exactly, can these "ridiculously cute" mouse lemurs, as Dr. Yoder describes them, help settle this debate?

The answer lies in the fact that these teacup-sized creatures – their head and body range from 2.25 inches to 4.75 inches – are the world's fastest-reproducing primates. As such, their collective DNA reflects changes in their surroundings faster than many other mammals, allowing biologists to build a picture of past environments.

The researchers analyzed the genomes from various mouse lemur species at 15 different sites across the island. They identified tens of thousands of changes in their DNA sequences. By subjecting these variations to statistical analysis, they gained insight into such questions as how long ago species and populations diverged, the likely geographical location of the oldest sequence types compared to the youngest, and the connections between genetic and geographic distance.

Answers to these questions can, in turn, provide information about where a species originated, how much its range has extended, and whether it still occupies its "ancestral" home or has found a new dwelling place altogether.

"The idea is that mouse lemurs will likely be the last 'holders on' in the face of deforestation, given that they, of all lemurs, are best able to survive in disturbed habitat," explains Yoder. "Thus, if we find forest patches that don't even contain mouse lemurs, we can infer that the forest has reached a point of no return."

The team's results suggest that the truth lies somewhere in the midst of the debate's extremes: While there can be no denying that human activities have profoundly altered the natural environment, the suggestion that the Central Highlands was a forested paradise before humans arrived seems unlikely. The evidence points, instead, to a mosaic of grasslands and forest.

Today, Madagascar is undeniably denuded of trees, a land dominated by vast open grasslands, with just a fringe of trees remaining on the outskirts, like the rim of a crown resting on a shaved head.

But, according to Yoder, there is "tremendous appetite" for reforestation in Madagascar. One example is the work of the Duke Lemur Center, which has run a community-based conservation initiative in the northeastern SAVA region since 2012. Yet the outlook depends upon more than conservation, says Yoder: The country's political stability is key, which in turn relies upon economic growth and sustainability.

"Madagascar is a heartbreakingly poor place," says Yoder. "The best way to help the lemurs is to help the Malagasy people live better lives."


Why aren't these lemurs singing in harmony?

These lemurs choose not to sing well together, according to new research.

By Eva Botkin-Kowacki, Staff writer June 15, 2016 
CS Monitor

Rebellious teenagers try to dissociate from their parental units every chance they get. And it seems to be no different when that antsy youth is a singing lemur.

Indri indri, the only lemur species that sings, lives in small family groups in the dense Madagascan forest. These groups of animals use their howling voices to form a raucous sort of choir many times each day.

The primate parents sing largely in concert with each other, with their voices overlapping. But the older offspring often punctuate these songs with their own individual vocalizations, avoiding overlapping, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.
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"We have this new evidence that overlapping during the song is not something that happens randomly," study lead author Marco Gamba a primatologist at the University of Turin in Italy tells The Christian Science Monitor in an interview. Instead, the lemurs actively try to, or not to, overlap their voices in song.

So why are they singing in these patterns?

Indris live in small social groups formed of a monogamous reproductive pair and their offspring. Each family group has a territory over which it presides. So the lemur choirs, which can be heard from about 1.25 miles away, serve as a sort of "no trespassing" warning.

"The pair wants to overlap because they probably want to tell the others, 'Hey, we are a strong group,' " and 'Keep away,' by amplifying their voices, Dr. Gamba explains.

It's a bit like a primate version of the play "West Side Story," with gangs of indris singing to intimidate others in place of the synchronized dance-offs between the Sharks and the Jets. The turf war can get violent, but only in rare cases when the lemurs' vocal sparring does not prevail.

But, like Tony and Maria, the juvenile indris have different priorities.

"The juveniles that are more or less ready to leave the group and start their own reproductive pair probably want to avoid overlapping to say, 'Hey! I can mate, I can create a new group,' " to attract potential mates, Gamba says.

The lemurs kick off their chorus with aggressive roars before they break into song. Then, the indri choir sings in phrases made up of two to six notes that descend in pitch, like air escaping from a balloon at intervals:

The indris don't just sing to advertise their presence in a territory to other groups. They actually have three different songs that they sing.

In addition to the "advertisement song" focused on in this study, the lemurs also have a more chaotic intergroup encounter song, or "territorial song," for when they meet another group along the border of their territories, Gamba explains. The third song is a bit more peaceful. That one is used when members of the same group lose sight of each other in the dense forest within their territory and need to find each other to regroup.

In this new study, Gamba and his colleagues also found "a very clear difference between the contribution of the male and the female within a reproductive pair" to the chorus. Just as male and female humans often speak and sing at different pitches, so do the indris. But among the lemurs, it's the males whose voices hit higher notes more often than females.

"It might be a shared trait with humans that we never understood was in lemur species," Gamba says of the vocal sex differences.

"The study of communication in other primate species is showing a lot of similarities with what we find in humans," and this is an insight that cannot be gleaned from the bones of ancient human species or cave paintings, he says. "The only thing we can do is go into the forest with non-human primates and try to understand how the traits of their communication is saying something about our evolution."

But Wendy Erb, an anthropologist also studying animal communication at Rutgers University who was not part of the study, cautions that the singing lemurs might not be the best link to our own species. "Given the patchy distribution of singing across major branches of the primate family tree, it seems unlikely that the distantly related indri will provide critical insights into the origins of our own species' evolutionary origins of language and music," she tells the Monitor in an email.

Still, she says,"Gamba and colleagues accumulated a truly impressive data set that included observations of 21 indri groups at four research sites made over a 10-year period, resulting in nearly 500 song bout recordings, which the scientists analyzed in painstaking detail... And this research does offer an important contribution to understanding the evolution of vocal coordination within an important branch of primate lineage – the lemurs."

And the pattern of juveniles mismatching their singing with the adults is particularly intriguing, as it is the opposite of what has been observed in gibbons, Dr. Erb says.

"The fact that co-singing occurs most often between adults and juveniles (mothers and daughters) in gibbons, suggests that vocal learning may play an important role in the development of singing for this group of primates. For indris, the reverse is true, and the relative rarity of co-singing by non-adult indris may indicate that vocal learning is less important for this species," she says. But, "It is too early to conclude whether vocal learning is definitely present in gibbons and fully lacking in indris, but it does raise interesting questions about the influence of cognition, song complexity, and social structure on the development of vocal communication in primates."

"In addition to humans, singing behavior is only known to occur in four groups of primates: indris, tarsiers, titi monkeys, and gibbons," Erb says. "Although singing may not be common among primates, it is found elsewhere in the animal kingdom – most notably among birds – and thus rhythmic abilities, per se, are not a uniquely human feature."

 on: Feb 19, 2017, 01:46 AM 
Started by Deva - Last post by marty

   thank you for the time you take to teach us. I enjoy reading all the varied responses. what a great group and opportunity.

   in spirit,


 on: Feb 18, 2017, 05:52 PM 
Started by Deva - Last post by Deva
Thanks to all who participated in EA study group! The next class is scheduled for Saturday: 4/22/17 starting at 10-11 AM  Pacific Time.
     The study group has recently completed reviewing Pluto in the natal chart through each house/sign (Pluto in Aries/1st house through Pluto in Pisces/12th house) the planetary method of planetary of chart interpretation, and Chiron through the houses and signs.  We will begin a new series which reviews the meaning of the planetary nodes from an EA point of view. To begin the next class We will review core EA principles (open Q and A as needed) and begin to discuss Uranus and it's planetary nodes. (the class will utilize case studies to demonstrate how to apply Neptune and it's nodal axis).

Birth Data: (Neptune and it's nodal axis)

1) Tom Hanks: July 9, 1956, 11:17 AM, Concord (CA) (United States)

2) Ann Frank: June 12, 1929, 7:30 AM, Frankfurt (Germany)

 Dial-in Number:    1-605-475-6333
Participant Access Code:    9890099

Recordings of previous classes are available (please contact Deva via email at devagreen@fastmail.fm).


Deva Green, Jeffrey Wolf Green's daughter, has stated a monthly phone class for all who are interested in learning and discussing the core principles of E.A. These phone classes will be a forum in which we can discuss and apply the main principles of Evolutionary Astrology as an interactive group (study/practice group).

     The first class was Saturday Oct.19th 2013, from 10am- 11am PT.  We began with the core correlations of Pluto and their meaning from an evolutionary point of view in the birth chart.  We discuss Pluto and its correlation to the Soul, its meaning from an individual as well as generational point of view, and practice interpreting specific Pluto placements (house and sign locality) in the birth chart. The classes are open to Q and A as well. We are applying the various components of the “Pluto Paradigm”  using case studies, and review/discuss core principles that students/study group want to develop/understand further. If you would like to participate in these monthly classes, please contact
Deva at devagreen@fastmail.fm.

Dial-in Number:    1-605-475-6333
Participant Access Code:    9890099

Recordings of previous classes are available (please contact Deva via email at devagreen@fastmail.fm).
   Report to moderator (?)

Posts: 1

Re: Deva Green/EA Monthly Phone Class/4/2/16
« Reply #1 on: Mar 31, 2016, 05:30 AM »
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Hi Deva -

Is there a charge for these classes and/or are they open only to those taking the DVD course?

I intend to start the course shortly, as soon as I have the money together, but in the meantime, I came across the posting for the April class on Chiron. I have had a strong interest in Chiron for several years an would love to take part in this.

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Active Member
Posts: 147

Re: Deva Green/EA Monthly Phone Class/4/2/16
« Reply #2 on: Apr 01, 2016, 01:25 AM »
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Hi- no there is no charge for the monthly study group. You are welcome to join starting this upcoming class.


« Last Edit: Aug 17, 2016, 02:40 PM by Deva »

 on: Feb 18, 2017, 10:43 AM 
Started by Deva - Last post by The Otherside
Hi Everyone,

Ok thank you Deva


 on: Feb 18, 2017, 09:44 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Presidential historian predicts Pig Trump’s term will last less than 200 days — the second shortest ever

History News Network
18 Feb 2017 at 10:05 ET                   

The news of the forced resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, due to the scandal that he, as a private citizen, spoke to the Russian ambassador in December after President Barack Obama issued sanctions on Russia for their aggressive behavior, has rocked the Donald Trump Presidency.

Trump, already under fire by many conservatives and Republicans for his “bromance” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, is suspect as to his loyalty to traditional American foreign policy, as a result of him having hired Flynn in the first place. Critics had observed that Flynn seemed unreliable and had poor judgment. Former colleagues darkly joked that there were “Flynn facts,” a reference to his penchant for making up stuff. Flynn had also been criticized for being too close to Putin. At the Republican convention he joined in a chorus of “Lock her up,” a reference to Hillary Clinton.

Many foreign policy professionals are shaking their head at Trump’s inappropriate behavior and language every time he speaks in public, or issues a Twitter comment, and his instability and recklessness. His having a security meeting over the North Korean missile test in public space at dinner in full vision of other guests is a sign of his failure to act responsibly. His abrupt ending of a phone call to the Australian Prime Minister, our loyal ally in four wars in the past hundred years, is alarming. His inconsistent message in his dealings with China, first indicating he accepted the idea of two Chinas, and then backing off under pressure, is disturbing. His inconsistency on the two-state solution in the Middle East is a major problem, as is his seeming lack of respect for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and lack of strong support for NATO.

The fact that Vice President Mike Pence played a major role in pushing Flynn out is a sign that Pence is already asserting himself with Trump, and it seems clear that Pence will not stand by and allow our foreign policy to be damaged, or our national security to be endangered. The American people, ultimately, would not expect anything less.

Mike Pence is an establishment Republican, with 12 years in the House of Representatives, where he served in a leadership position as Republican Conference Chairman in his last four years in the House before running for Governor of Indiana. Pence is a no-nonsense, hard-nosed Republican whose strong Christian convictions have shaped his politics, including his stands on women’s issues, gay and lesbian matters, and his refusal to accept the concept of global warming. His stands on these and other issues alienated moderate Republicans in his state. His poll numbers were low when Donald Trump picked him for vice president. Many doubted Pence would have been able to win a second term as governor.

Pence knows how to play “hard ball” and it is clear by his demeanor and body language that he is often uncomfortable with Trump’s freewheeling and careless behavior. An investigation into the Flynn matter will develop, with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promoting it. Additionally, Senators John Cornyn of Texas, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and John McCain of Arizona all are pushing for hearings. As the FBI investigates this situation further, which would be expected to occur as a normal procedure after such a high level and immediate scandal, the earliest ever in any Presidential term (25 days), there will be calls for Trump to resign or be impeached.

Pence will have the difficult job of defending Trump in public appearances, but can be expected to work behind the scenes to insure that Trump stabilizes his utterances and actions, particularly on foreign policy and national security matters. Pence faces now a situation that has some similarity to Gerald Ford under Richard Nixon during a time of trouble and controversy, and the possibility of future Congressional action against Donald Trump if his mental behavior continues to disturb the top leadership of the Republican Party and the foreign policy establishment.

As this author wrote on January 22 on History News Network, Pence could, even if Trump vehemently opposed it, invoke the 25th Amendment, Section 4 with the approval of a majority of the cabinet, which would make Pence “Acting President.” Some might call it a “palace coup” but Pence could make a convincing case that it is too risky to leave Trump in power. Pence faces a great burden, and whether one agrees with his own agenda on domestic and foreign policy, it seems clear that the Vice President would do what he feels compelled to do if the situation further deteriorates.

One would imagine that if such a scenario occurred, that Donald Trump would resign, as Richard Nixon did in 1974 after the House Judiciary Committee approved his impeachment. But with an unhinged person such as Trump, who can say what would happen in such a circumstance?

In any case, it seems likely that Donald Trump will be leaving the Presidency at some point, likely between the 31 days of William Henry Harrison in 1841 (dying of pneumonia) and the 199 days of James A. Garfield in 1881 (dying of an assassin’s bullet after 79 days of terrible suffering and medical malpractice). At the most, it certainly seems likely, even if dragged out, that Trump will not last 16 months and 5 days, as occurred with Zachary Taylor in 1850 (dying of a digestive ailment). The Pence Presidency seems inevitable.

Ronald L. Feinman is the author of Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015).

 on: Feb 18, 2017, 09:04 AM 
Started by Deva - Last post by Deva
Hi, Heather. From my view, the question you are asking is relative the progressive exhaustion of separating desires from the Soul as the Soul begins to unite/merge with the Universal Source. This is addressed in the Book "The Holy Science" by  Swami Sri Yukteshwar. Again, the intention of the practice thread is to apply the EA paradigm.

Hi Priya: The reason the planetary nodes are not included in the examples yet is that we are going step by step through the EA paradigm, and using the planetary nodes now is jumping the gun. Planetary nodes will be included further down the line as we progress through each step of the EA paradigm.



 on: Feb 18, 2017, 07:34 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
While Pig Trumps crazed and cretin like 'believers' cheer on ...

How to manage the White House cancer

By Ruth Marcus Columnist February 17 at 8:09 PM
Wa Post

On March 21, 1973, White House Counsel John Dean confronted President Richard Nixon about the growing Watergate scandal. “We have a cancer — within, close to the presidency, that’s growing,” Dean warned. “It’s growing daily.”

Dean’s famous metaphor is relevant to the Trump administration — not because the risk is precisely analogous but because it isn’t. In Nixon’s time, cancer was apt to be a death sentence. The tools to combat it were crude and brutal. Today, even as cancer remains a leading cause of death, for many people it can be managed as a chronic illness, capable of being kept under control with an arsenal of treatments.

That view of cancer — not as a metastatic killer but as a dangerous problem requiring vigilant control — may be the best way of understanding, and dealing with, the Trump administration. In the alarming month since he took office, it has become clear, if it were not already, that President Trump is dishonest, unprepared and undisciplined. His presidency poses an enormous risk to the country — to its safety, standing in the world and relations with allies, just for a start.

So the question becomes: Can the chronic disease that is the Trump presidency be managed? Are there tools available, not to cure him, but to keep his worst tendencies in check?

The situation is worrisome, yet the prognosis is decent. Indeed, we have already seen evidence of effective therapies.

First, the courts. For all his railing against “disgraceful” judges, Trump has signaled that he will obey court orders, including in Thursday’s news conference, when he said a new executive order on immigration “is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision.” Rule of law beats rule of Trump.

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller can take to the Sunday shows to assert that “the powers of the president to protect our country . . . will not be questioned” or that “there’s no such thing as judicial supremacy.” But the evidence suggests that ultimately Trump will comply with court rulings even as he denounces them as “disgraceful” and “political.”

Second, the media. Every president chafes at press coverage and bristles at leaks. Trump is different, quantitatively and qualitatively, in the amount, venom and public nature of his attack. No matter. As Nixon learned, and as the stories leading to the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn underscore, reporters continue to do their jobs in the face of presidential hostility and stonewalling.

Meanwhile, as much as Trump may seek to employ the news conference to berate the “dishonest” media, reporters can effectively use the opportunity to confront Trump on untruths and press him as he dodges straight answers.

When Trump, repeating false claims of an electoral landslide, said his had been “the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan,” NBC News’s Peter Alexander fact-checked him in real time — and Trump, confronted with irrefutable numbers, seemed to crumble: “Well I don’t know. I was given that information. I was given — actually, I’ve seen that information around. But it was a very substantial victory. Do you agree with that?”

Third and fourth, the public and Congress. They go together because the growing concerns of the former stiffen the limp resolve of the latter. So it matters that Gallup shows Trump’s approval rating falling from 45 percent just after the inauguration — he is the first elected president with initial approval ratings below the 50 percent mark — to 40 percent last week, 21 points below average.

Bad numbers and bad news — the two are interconnected — can help move even the most spineless lawmaker. At week’s end, there were glimmerings of congressional willingness to engage in the more searching oversight essential to get to the bottom of the Russia mess.

Fifth, personnel, a still-open question. Flynn did Trump the favor of doing himself in. Others in Trump’s inner orbit, whether malevolent or incompetent, will not go as easily. But an obvious solution for a White House in trouble is to trade in true believers for more experienced hands. Trump may not yet be willing to make such changes, and the toxicity of his White House may dissuade the best; on this score, retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward’s decision to decline the Flynn job was disheartening.

It’s impossible to predict, after this turbulent first month, where the Trump administration is heading, and there are many reasons to worry. But it is comforting to recall: The body politic has a resilient immune system.


John Podesta: Pig Trump’s dangerous strategy to undermine reality

WA Post

John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, served as counselor to President Barack Obama and chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.

President Trump’s fake-news pivot isn’t subtle. First he benefited from fake news stories during the campaign; then as president-elect and now president, he has constantly used the epithet against mainstream media outlets that dare criticize him.

Any negative polls, he has proclaimed, are “fake news.” So are news stories that put him in a bad light — even if they are corroborated by Trump’s own officials, as with reports that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch termed comments about the judiciary “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”

What’s happening here is more than the simple continuation of Trump’s well-documented tendency as a candidate to lie flagrantly and refuse to back down. It is more than his narcissistic incapacity to receive bad news.

It is more dangerous. Trump is deploying a strategy, used by autocrats, designed to completely disorient public perception. He’s not just trying to spin the bad news of the day; all politicians do that. He seeks nothing less than to undermine the public’s belief that any news can be trusted, that any news is true, that there is any fixed reality.

Trump is attempting to build a hall of mirrors where even our most basic sensory perceptions are shrouded in confusion. He is emulating the successful strategy of Vladimir Putin.

In “Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible,” Peter Pomerantsev, a British citizen of Russian origin, chronicles his firsthand experience in Russia’s television industry. Pomerantsev sheds light on Russia’s whirling media landscape and propaganda machine to show how Putin’s political puppet masters prey on the modern appetite for drama and entertainment to blur the line between fact and fiction.

He writes: “The Kremlin has finally mastered the art of fusing reality TV and authoritarianism to keep the great, 140-million-strong population entertained, distracted, constantly exposed to geopolitical nightmares, which if repeated enough times can become infectious.”

Following his inauguration, Trump has worked to create an American media landscape with an eerily similar pattern of obfuscation and drama. We now see a toxic overlap between sensationalist politics and media manipulation. Each presidential stroke of bombast plunges the media, the administration and the public into a frenzied scramble for the truth, with the phrase “fake news” nonchalantly thrown around, adding a heaping spoonful of cynicism to the whole mess. These episodes distort our understanding of reality and put us in danger of experiencing an information void like Russia’s.

If Trump succeeds, something fundamental will be lost. Russians hear something on TV and assume it’s a lie. That attitude of reflexive cynicism makes it impossible to know the death toll from an industrial accident or a terrorist incident, or the risk to their kids of drinking the water, or even the results of the last election. It ruins everything.

Our American democracy has been built on a foundation of a press free of government interference and governed by strong professional ethics. Of course, the media occasionally get stuff wrong, and whenever they do they need to put it right, but they are the foundation of an informed democratic dialogue. Our president is throwing mud all over that — deliberately, with malice aforethought. He’s telling us we are being lied to all the time. That has a corrosive effect, deepening public distrust of the media and other institutions at a time when they already enjoy historically low levels of confidence. We cannot let that happen.

In this context, Americans should maintain a heightened vigilance and think more carefully about the veracity of the information they consume. They need to be aware that some of the information pumping through social media is indeed fake and sometimes malicious. Social-media platforms should find ways to guard against hyping discernible lies at the expense of credible sources. But Americans must also be wary of any effort, particularly from the White House, to disorient or discredit reliable information.

And a heavy burden falls on American journalists to fact-check a president and a White House staff that is setting records for peddling false information and not to be afraid to call a lie a lie. The recent ouster of Michael Flynn as national security adviser demonstrates that lying still carries consequences. But journalists must go further and provide context and analysis for what motivates Trump, Stephen K. Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and the others to constantly distort reality. In so doing they have the opportunity to reestablish their own credibility and American democratic norms.

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