Democrat President Joe Biden’s approval rating in a left-of-center mainstream poll cratered to 33% on Wednesday as Americans grapple with skyrocketing inflation, supply chain issues, a pandemic that Biden has failed to stop, and numerous additional crises.
“Americans give President Joe Biden a negative 33 – 53 percent job approval rating, while 13 percent did not offer an opinion,” Quinnipiac University reported. “In November 2021, Americans gave Biden a negative 36 – 53 percent job approval rating with 10 percent not offering an opinion.”
Biden’s approval rating from Democrats sank by double digits from 87% in November to 75% in the new poll. The percentage of Democrats who now disapprove of him doubled from 7% to 14%. Only 1 in 4 Independents approved of Biden’s job performance while only 2% (not a typo) of Republicans approved of Biden’s job performance.
Biden earned bad scores on major issues, including:
the economy: 34 percent approve, while 57 percent disapprove;
foreign policy: 35 percent approve, while 54 percent disapprove;
the response to the coronavirus: 39 percent approve, while 55 percent disapprove.
Looking at the poll’s breakdown of racial demographics, the group that least approved of Biden was Hispanics with only 28% approving.
“A rocky start for President Biden gets him low grades on his year one report card,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy.
“Joe Biden’s historic unpopularity is horrible news for vulnerable Democrats,” NRCC Spokesman Mike Berg said. “He will be an anchor around every single Democrat in the country.”
The report added:
As President Biden marks his first year in the Oval Office, 50 percent of Americans say the job he is doing is about what they expected, 39 percent say he’s doing a worse job than expected, and 7 percent say he’s doing a better job than expected.
A plurality, 49 percent, say Biden is doing more to divide the country while 42 percent say he’s doing more to unite the country.
Roughly 4 in 10 Americans (41 percent) think Biden is too liberal, 38 percent say he’s about right, 9 percent say he’s too conservative, and 12 percent did not offer an opinion.
Polls from over the last couple of months have shown that Republicans are on track to have a dominant showing in this midterm elections.
Biden was widely criticized over a speech that he gave on Tuesday that was panned as divisive.
“Twelve months ago, a newly-inaugurated President Biden stood on the West Front of the Capitol and here’s what he had to say: ‘My whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, and uniting our nation,’” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said. “Yesterday, the very same man delivered a deliberately divisive speech that was designed to pull our country farther apart.”
“Twelve months ago, this President said we should ‘see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors.’ Yesterday, he called millions of Americans his domestic ‘enemies,’” McConnell continued. “Twelve months ago, this President said that ‘disagreement must not lead to disunion.’ But, yesterday, he invoked the bloody disunion of the Civil War, the Civil War, to demonize Americans who disagree with him. He compared a bipartisan majority of Senators to literal traitors. How profoundly, profoundly unpresidential.”
Sea turtles appear to fly as they swim beneath ocean waves. With long, gray-green flippers that move like slow wingbeats, they glide through the water as birds do through the sky. Actually flying through the air, though, at 10,000 feet above the ground, the reptiles seem anything but graceful.
Inside the airplane, 120 sea turtles, 118 of which are juvenile Kemp’s ridleys (Lepidochelys kempii), shift uncomfortably among beach towels inside stacked Chiquita banana boxes, their crusty eyes and curved pearlescent beaks peeking through slot handles. The windowless metal cabin vibrates with the sound of propellers as the pilots work to keep the plane aloft and the internal air temperature at a turtle-friendly 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s December 2020, and outside, the cold air above New England slowly gives way to balmier southern temperatures. The pilots are taking the turtles on a 2,900-kilometer (1,800-mile) trip from Massachusetts to Texas’s Gulf Coast.
Eight hours later, they’re nearly there. “We’re coming into Corpus Christi,” says Mike Looby, a pilot with a sea turtle rescue organization called Turtles Fly Too, as airport runways come into view among the sprawling buildings below. Looby and co-pilot Bill Gisler, both from Ohio, will visit four different locations in Texas to offload the animals. This is the largest number of turtles the organization has transported to date.
Charles Yanke, a volunteer pilot with Turtles Fly Too, helps load boxes of recovering sea turtles onto his plane in Marshfield, Massachusetts, for transport to rehabilitation centers outside the state.
Once the plane is on the tarmac, staff and volunteers from several aquariums and marine rescue facilities crowd around. The pilots gently slide each box of turtles toward the cargo door, and the group lines up to carry them to vans parked nearby.
“What happened to these guys?” someone asks.
“They were found stranded on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts,” says Donna Shaver, chief of the division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at Padre Island National Seashore, as she grabs a box.
In the summer months, the waters in the Gulf of Maine where Cape Cod is located are warm, calm, and full of food, serving as a natural nursery for 2- to 4-year-old Kemp’s ridleys, the smallest and most endangered sea turtle in the world. Migrating loggerheads (Caretta caretta), green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), and the occasional leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) also visit Cape Cod Bay. But as water temperatures plummet in November, December, and January, the cold-blooded turtles must migrate out or perish. Many lose their way and wash up, cold-stunned, on the inside edge of the hook-shaped Cape, which curls into the ocean like a flexing arm, forming what some locals call “the deadly bucket.”
The phenomenon is the largest recurring sea turtle stranding event in the world. While it’s natural — local records of sea turtle bones date back centuries — the scale is new and may, paradoxically, be a product of successful efforts to recover Kemp’s ridley populations, in addition to the effects of climate change.
The hook at the outermost tip of Cape Cod spirals back into the bay toward the cape’s southern coastline, creating a challenging obstacle for young sea turtles seeking the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico when fall temperatures plummet. Photo made possible by LightHawk
“This area is increasing in water temperature faster than 99 percent of water bodies in the world,” says Kate Sampson, sea turtle stranding and disentanglement coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who helps coordinate turtle transport. “Because of that, it seems like it’s drawing more sea turtles.”
Fortunately for the turtles, hundreds of volunteers and several staff members organized by the nonprofit Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary stand at the ready to patrol every inch of the 105-kilometer (65-mile) stretch of beach lining the inner Cape, twice a day, from November through December, no matter the weather. When they find a turtle, the animal begins a logistically complex journey from rescue to rehabilitation and, eventually, to release. Saving each flight’s worth of little lives involves approximately five vans, 1,000 miles, four organizations, and 50 people. Without this monumental collaboration across North America’s Eastern Seaboard, other efforts to save the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle from extinction might be futile.
Why turtle strandings are on the rise
Three weeks before Looby and Gisler’s departure with their precious herpetological cargo, Nancy Braun and her border collie Halo walked a stretch of Great Hollow Beach, near Cape Cod’s outermost tip. The unrelenting wind blew hard and Braun’s cheeks were rosy with cold, her hair frantically trying to escape from beneath a fuzzy winter hat. Every so often, she raised binoculars to her eyes to scan the sand and any promising-looking lump of seaweed. A resident of nearby Truro and a Mass Audubon volunteer, Braun was on the lookout for turtles.
Walking quickly, she passed small cottages in the dunes with window shutters closed tightly against the elements. Brightly colored beach chairs lined the shore like memorials to summers past. Along the way, Braun saw a group of people gathered around something in the distance, and she broke into a run in their direction, Halo bounding by her side. When she arrived, there they were: four sea turtles, clearly in need of care. As the group waited for the arrival of a Mass Audubon vehicle to take the turtles for initial processing, Braun and the others covered them with seaweed to protect against the wind chill.
Truro resident Nancy Braun, her dog, and a few others stand watch over four stranded sea turtles on Great Hallow Beach on Cape Cod in November.
“This is so cool,” said Richard Lammert, a visitor from New York. “We were just walking the beach and came across these turtles. I had no idea that sea turtles even came up this far. I’ve never seen one up close, let alone helped to rescue it.”
While the mood was light, there was also a sense of urgency among the group. “I called Mass Audubon to let them know what we found,” said Michael Weinstein, another Truro resident. That’s exactly the type of response turtle rescuers hope for and why rescuers prioritize educating the community in addition to recruiting and training volunteers, according to Carol “Krill” Carson, president and founder of the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance and a volunteer with Mass Audubon. Without a clear understanding of why the turtles are stranded in the first place, some well-intentioned people might think they should throw the animals back into the ocean. “Anyone can walk the beach and find a sea turtle,” Carson says. “It’s what that person does when they find a turtle that is critical.”
Former director of Mass Audubon Bob Prescott started the sea turtle rescue program back in 1979. At the time, Prescott says he would find only a handful of turtles each year. The number has since skyrocketed. In 2014, volunteers found a record-breaking 1,242 turtles stranded on Cape Cod beaches. In 2020, there were 1,045, the second-highest number on record.
Carol “Krill” Carson, president and founder of the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance and a volunteer with Mass Audubon, drags a sled as she searches for stranded sea turtles along a Cape Cod beach near her home.
The most common species found is Kemp’s ridley, which nests in only two places in the world: a stretch of beach in Mexico and one in Texas. Between the late 1940s and the mid-’80s, Kemp’s ridley populations plummeted from more than 40,000 nesting females to fewer than 300, due to entanglement in fishing gear and the harvesting of adults and eggs for human consumption. Today, Kemp’s ridleys still face a wide variety of threats, including habitat loss, coastal development, ship strikes, plastic waste, and climate change. With so few ridleys left, “every life counts in the survival of this species,” says Prescott, which makes the turtle rescue effort that much more important. “It’s all hands on deck.”
Connie Merigo, executive director of the National Marine Life Center, in Bourne, Massachusetts, agrees. “You hear a lot in biology, ‘Why are you interfering? Shouldn’t you just let nature run its course?’ In this case, a lot of these threats are not under control. So, if we let thousands of these turtles die every year in a cold-stunning event, the population is that much smaller.”
Interestingly, though, the success of ongoing conservation efforts is likely one of the factors driving the increased need for rescues. That’s because there are simply more turtles around to strand. Conservation efforts on nesting beaches in Mexico, strict regulations on pollution, and new technological advancements in fishing equipment have all helped, as have new nest sites developed in Texas since the 1970s. Today, there are an estimated 5,500 Kemp’s ridley females nesting in Mexico and 55 in Texas.
Although this is a good sign, the current population is still critically low. According to NOAA, the number of nests grew steadily until 2009 but has fluctuated since then, underscoring the importance of ongoing monitoring and conservation. “Endangered species recovery is the long game,” says Shaver, who leads the Kemp’s ridley nesting program in Texas. “It’s so heartwarming to work with people who have the same mission at heart to try and give back to preserve and sustain this population.”
Boxes of cold-stunned sea turtles sit in a cool room at Mass Audubon in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Rehabilitators slowly bring the turtles’ body temperatures back up to normal to avoid shocking the animals.
The other likely factor contributing to turtle strandings is the warming of the Gulf of Maine. Climate change has caused the water here to warm earlier each year and to stay warm for longer, keeping young Kemp’s ridleys in the fertile shallows of Cape Cod Bay later each fall. But the temperatures of the outer Cape and the North Atlantic still plunge as summer comes to a close. When fall arrives and the turtles attempt to navigate northward around the cape’s hook, they hit a disorienting wall of cold and turn around in search of the warmer water of their southerly ocean habitats.
This leads them back to the shallow flats inside the bay, where they encounter land instead of the open ocean. When the waters inside the cape reach a consistent 50 degrees Fahrenheit, any turtles still there will become hypothermic and eventually die unless they get help. Given the compounding factors, there’s no obvious end in sight to the trend.
“We are going to continue to see an increase of cold-stuns on Cape Cod,” says NOAA’s Kate Sampson.
New England Aquarium interns Kristen Luise, right, and Lauren Jaeger listen to the heartbeat of a hypothermic Kemp’s ridley sea turtle at the aquarium’s rehabilitation center in Quincy, Massachusetts.
That increase has only heightened the need for collaboration. In 2010, the New England Aquarium built a sea turtle rehabilitation facility in Quincy, Massachusetts, to meet demand. And with the high stranding numbers in 2020, breaking the record for live admitted turtles at 754, and limited staff due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Marine Life Center in Bourne, Massachusetts, also opened its doors to help with triage of incoming turtles, on top of the rehab services it already provided.
In addition to being hypothermic, Kemp’s ridleys usually arrive at these facilities with pneumonia or develop the condition within the first week or two of their arrival. Turtles also sometimes show up with traumatic injuries like broken bones and cracked shells from ocean waves tossing their bodies repeatedly into rocks, jetties, and seawalls when the animals are too cold to swim out of the surf.
Initially, when the turtles arrive, the goal is simply to assess their injuries through physical examinations and X-rays and to stabilize them. Rehabilitation staff members give the turtles fluids to rehydrate them and antibiotics to treat infections. They also work to slowly bring the animals’ internal body temperatures back up.
Gabbie Nicoletta, a coordinator at the National Marine Life Center, watches a previously stranded sea turtle as it continues its recovery in a tank at the rehabilitation center in Bourne, Massachusetts, in December.
Still, the two Massachusetts facilities can only care for so many turtles. At some point, the animals, including those that Braun and the others found on Great Hollow Beach, must be transported to other aquariums and facilities to complete their rehabilitation and ready them for release back into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In total, 29 additional rehab facilities are prepared to take in sea turtles for long-term rehabilitation. And flying, it turns out, is the fastest, least stressful, and safest way to transport the animals. That’s where Turtles Fly Too and its team of dedicated volunteer pilots come in.
The first — and only — US operation permitted to airlift sea turtles
On a frigid, clear December day, the early morning sun peeks over the horizon as four vans pull onto the tarmac at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts. Yawning, their breath turning into clouds before them, Kate Sampson of NOAA, Connie Merigo of the Marine Life Center, and a handful of other turtle rescuers from the New England Aquarium, pour out of the vehicles to meet with pilots Looby and Gisler. They strategize about the loading process to get dozens of turtles into the air as quickly and safely as possible. And that’s just one phase of the process.
Among the myriad details that must be worked out are how many turtles the rehabilitation facilities need to move, what planes are available and their capacity, where the pilots are coming from, where they’re going, and who will be on hand for pickup — all right up to the moment when the turtles arrive at their destination.
Adam Kennedy, a biologist at the New England Aquarium, closes the lid on a container holding one of many previously stranded sea turtles bound for rehabilitation facilities outside New England.
The service that Turtles Fly Too provides is unique. Besides the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which has the authority to move any endangered animal, “we have the first and only permits in the nation to fly sea turtles,” says Leslie Weinstein, the organization’s president. Turtles Fly Too got its start in 2014, the record-breaking year of strandings. Weinstein was running an aviation parts manufacturing company full time and had just transported a green sea turtle successfully to a facility in Dubuque, Iowa, that summer. In November, when cold-stranded sea turtles began washing up, turtle rescuers put Weinstein in touch with Sampson and Merigo, who was then directing the New England Aquarium’s Rescue Rehab Program. And thus, Turtles Fly Too was born.
Weinstein found the organization’s first pilot through a volunteer group called Pilots N Paws that transports domestic animals. A full-time dentist in New York, Ed Filangeri’s assignment was to fly eight turtles from Massachusetts to Baltimore, Maryland. Filangeri was immediately hooked, and the two joined forces. These days, Filangeri doesn’t hesitate to cancel dental appointments, because, he says, “the turtles can’t wait” and the clients understand. The organization now counts more than 350 pilots among its ranks and provides emergency transport to other species too, including sea otters, pelicans, and seals.
The flights vary in cost from $1,500 to $100,000 depending on the plane used, the number of drop locations, and the number of turtles on board. According to Weinstein, the average ticket price comes in at about $1,000 per turtle. Public contributions to Turtles Fly Too help cover that, as do airfields that waive landing fees or provide discounts on fuel. One Christmas Eve, when Filangeri had a mission to Virginia, he showed up in a Santa hat, and he and the crew named each of the eight traveling turtles after a flying reindeer. “I thought it was funny that they were flying with a man with a white beard on Christmas Eve,” Filangeri laughs. But, joking aside, “We do what’s necessary. We are the turtle movers,” adds Weinstein. “You can’t put a value on one Kemp’s life.”
After months spent healing from injuries, being treated for their illnesses, and regaining their strength, the turtles that Looby and Gisler transported in December are ready for release. “These guys come in chronically ill, and it takes time to get them healed,” says Joe Flanagan, senior veterinarian at the Houston Zoo. On the appointed day in March 2021, the beaches of Galveston, Texas, are warm, and the spring sun reflects off the light-colored sand. Boxes filled with Kemp’s ridley sea turtles gathered from the New England coastline sit in the shade of a small tent. Several beach-goers line up behind strips of bright pink tape wafting in the wind, marking a safe corridor for the turtle parade. Aquariums and rehabilitation centers coordinate with each other to combine their releases and allow the public to attend. “We’ll probably not see these guys ever again, I hope. But if we do it would be nice to see them nesting,” says Flanagan.
A rehabilitator with the Sea Life Aquarium holds one of approximately 85 endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles released at Galveston Beach in Texas in March.
Staff and volunteers carefully grasp the small Kemp’s ridleys just behind their front flippers and carry them one by one down the sandy strip toward the ocean. The people gathered to watch cheer, clap, take selfies, smile, and wave as the animals complete the final leg of their strange, human-assisted migration. “Goodbye, little one! Good luck!” someone yells. “Look at how cute they are,” says another bystander. The sea turtles seem equally enthusiastic, waving their flippers wildly as if in anticipation of the swim, longing for the embrace of warm water, at last, eager to once again fly beneath the waves.
“Oh my god, he is so ready to go!” says one of the turtle rehabilitators as she places a small pale-green Kemp’s, named Hagrid, slowly into the water. With several fast pumps of his flippers, the young turtle disappears into the Gulf of Mexico.
This story originally appeared in bioGraphic, an online magazine about nature and solutions powered by the California Academy of Sciences.
A 57-year-old man with serious heart disease was given a heart from a genetically modified pig in a new, unprecedented transplant operation.
The New York Times reported on the “first successful transplant of a pig’s heart into a human being,” a procedure that lasted eight hours and took place in Baltimore, Maryland, on Friday. The man, David Bennett Sr., received the heart and was in good condition on Monday, per surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart,” said Dr. Bartley Griffith, who carried out the operation. He is the director of the cardiac transplant program at the center.
Griffith added, “It’s working and it looks normal. We are thrilled, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring us. This has never been done before.”
“This is a watershed event,” said Dr. David Klassen, the chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing and a transplant doctor. “Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure.”
“Events like these can be dramatized in the press, and it’s important to maintain perspective,” Klassen added. “It takes a long time to mature a therapy like this.” He noted that there are lots of challenges to surpass before an operation like this one could be widely done.
Bennett chose to go forward with the procedure because he would not have survived without getting a new heart, had already gone through with other treatments, and was not healthy enough to meet the qualifications for a heart from a human donor, per members of his family and physicians, according to the Times.
Bennett is still on a heart-lung bypass machine, as he was before the procedure took place, but that is not uncommon for someone who has newly received a heart transplant, according to medical experts.
His physicians stated that he could be brought off the machine on Tuesday. He is also being carefully watched for evidence that his body is fighting the new organ transplant, but he got through the first 48 hours without problems, which is reportedly an important time period.
“It was either die or do this transplant,” Bennett said before the surgery, according to authorities at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.”
The outlet reported that the heart which was put into Bennett’s body “came from a genetically altered pig provided by Revivicor, a regenerative medicine company based in Blacksburg, Va.”
The animal “had 10 genetic modifications. Four genes were knocked out, or inactivated, including one that encodes a molecule that causes an aggressive human rejection response,” the outlet noted, adding that a growth gene was also deactivated to not allow the pig’s heart to keep growing after implantation.
“In addition, six human genes were inserted into the genome of the donor pig — modifications designed to make the porcine organs more tolerable to the human immune system,” the Times noted.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the transplant doctors an emergency authorization for the procedure on New Year’s Eve.
Dr. Christine Lau is the chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and was in the operating room during the procedure.
“He’s at more of a risk because we require more immunosuppression, slightly different than we would normally do in a human-to-human transplant. How well the patient does from now is, you know, it’s never been done before so we really don’t know,” she told the BBC.
“People die all the time on the waiting list, waiting for organs. If we could use genetically engineered pig organs they’d never have to wait, they could basically get an organ as they needed it. …Plus, we wouldn’t have to fly all over the country at night-time to recover organs to put them into recipients,” she added.
The Times noted that there is an organ shortage and around twelve people on the transplant waiting lists die every day.
The pandemic has impacted the low number of organ donations and transplant operations, as well.
A May 2020 report from Penn Medicine News noted that by early April 2020 transplant centers in France and the United States were carrying out fewer deceased donor transplants than they had been one month prior.
The findings, published in The Lancet in May of 2020, noted, “The overall reduction in deceased donor transplantations since the COVID-19 outbreak was 90·6% in France and 51·1% in the USA, respectively.”
FILE – Passengers wearing face masks to help protect against the coronavirus take a rest at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China, on July 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)
U.S. airlines say China has blocked more than a dozen recent and future flights from entering the country, which has been tightening already-strict COVID-19 travel restrictions.
China ordered the cancellations after some passengers tested positive for COVID-19 on flights that arrived in China in late December, according to industry officials.
American Airlines said Tuesday that six of its flights from Dallas-Fort Worth to Shanghai in late January and early February have been canceled. United Airlines said it was forced to cancel six flights from San Francisco to Shanghai later this month. Delta Air Lines said it canceled one flight last week and another this Friday to Shanghai.
Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. passenger and cargo carriers, said it was discussing the matter with U.S. and Chinese government officials to find ways to minimize the impact on travelers.
The Biden administration had no immediate comment.
The blocking of flights is the latest development in a dispute between the two countries over international flights and rules designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
China has been ratcheting up travel restrictions after recent outbreaks of COVID-19 as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in early February. China limits capacity on inbound flights — currently to 75% — and requires passengers to be tested before departure and after arriving in the country.
If passengers test positive, the airline that carried them can be forced to cancel two to four flights, depending on the number of positive cases.
Last month, Delta said new requirements for cleaning planes between flights caused a plane bound for Shanghai to return to Seattle. The airline said the new rules extended the time planes would need to sit on the ground in Shanghai, and weren’t workable. The Chinese consulate in San Francisco lodged a protest over Delta’s decision.
In 2020, the Trump administration backed down from a threat to block four Chinese airlines after China agreed to let United and Delta resume limited operations that were shuttered earlier in the pandemic.
Last August, the U.S. Transportation Department limited the number of passengers on four Chinese airlines’ flights to the U.S. after China imposed similar limits on United Airlines. The U.S. said China was putting an unreasonable burden on U.S. airlines for travelers who test positive after arriving in China.
Following in the spirit of Britain's Queen Boudica, Queen of the Iceni. A boudica.us site. I am an opinionator, do your own research, verification. Reposts, reblogs do not neccessarily reflect our views.