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n2doc

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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 38,777

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Jamestown excavation unearths four bodies — and a mystery in a small box

JAMESTOWN, Va. — When his friends buried Capt. Gabriel Archer here about 1609, they dug his grave inside a church, lowered his coffin into the ground and placed a sealed silver box on the lid.

This English outpost was then a desperate place. The “starving time,” they called it. Dozens had died of hunger and disease. Survivors were walking skeletons, besieged by Indians, and reduced to eating snakes, dogs and one another.

The tiny, hexagonal box, etched with the letter “M,” contained seven bone fragments and a small lead vial, and probably was an object of veneration, cherished as disaster closed in on the colony.

On Tuesday, more than 400 years after the mysterious box was buried, Jamestown Rediscovery and the Smithsonian Institution announced that archaeologists have found it, as well as the graves of Archer and three other VIPs.

more

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/jamestown-excavation-unearths-four-bodies--and-a-mystery-in-a-small-box/2015/07/27/0bb51cb8-2a59-11e5-a5ea-cf74396e59ec_story.html?hpid=z1

Behold! A new candidate for the world’s highest melting point

Hold on, hold on! We may have a new world record here.

Researchers from Brown University may have found a substance with a melting point that beats out the previous record by a few hundred degrees.

The candidate is a combination of three elements: hafnium, nitrogen and carbon, and it's expected to have a melting point of about 7,460 degrees Fahrenheit — about two-thirds the temperature of the sun.

At that level of heat, the substance would beat out the long-time melting-point champion, tantalum hafnium carbide, which was found to have a melting point at 7,128 degrees in 1930 (sorry bud, you had a good run).

Now before we break out the champagne, there's still research left to be done. The discovery, published this week in the journal Physical Review B, has only been done on paper based on math. The researchers inferred the melting point while simulating the substance at the atomic level, using the law of quantum mechanics.

more
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/07/28/behold-a-new-record-for-the-worlds-highest-melting-point/?postshare=9571438083265236

Sea Shepard Hunts down illegal Trawler after 10,000 mile chase

ABOARD THE BOB BARKER, in the South Atlantic — As the Thunder, a trawler considered the world’s most notorious fish poacher, began sliding under the sea a couple of hundred miles south of Nigeria, three men scrambled aboard to gather evidence of its crimes.

In bumpy footage from their helmet cameras, they can be seen grabbing everything they can over the next 37 minutes — the captain’s logbooks, a laptop computer, charts and a slippery 200-pound fish. The video shows the fishing hold about a quarter full with catch and the Thunder’s engine room almost submerged in murky water. “There is no way to stop it sinking,” the men radioed back to the Bob Barker, which was waiting nearby. Soon after they climbed off, the Thunder vanished below.

It was an unexpected end to an extraordinary chase. For 110 days and more than 10,000 nautical miles across two seas and three oceans, the Bob Barker and a companion ship, both operated by the environmental organization Sea Shepherd, had trailed the trawler, with the three captains close enough to watch one another’s cigarette breaks and on-deck workout routines. In an epic game of cat-and-mouse, the ships maneuvered through an obstacle course of giant ice floes, endured a cyclone-like storm, faced clashes between opposing crews and nearly collided in what became the longest pursuit of an illegal fishing vessel in history.

Industrial-scale violators of fishing bans and protected areas are a main reason more than half of the world’s major fishing grounds have been depleted and by some estimates over 90 percent of the ocean’s large fish like marlin, tuna and swordfish have vanished. Interpol had issued a Purple Notice on the Thunder (the equivalent of adding it to a Most Wanted List, a status reserved for only four other ships in the world), but no government had been willing to dedicate the personnel and millions of dollars needed to go after it.

So Sea Shepherd did instead, stalking the fugitive 202-foot steel-sided ship from a desolate patch of ocean at the bottom of the Earth, deep in Antarctic waters, to any ports it neared, where its crews could alert the authorities.

more
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/world/a-renegade-trawler-hunted-for-10000-miles-by-vigilantes.html?_r=0

Chelsea Clinton and Donna Shalala visit Haiti on mission to empower women

Source: Miami Herald

Chelsea Clinton, who serves as vice chair of her father's philanthropic Foundation, arrived in Haiti Tuesday for a two day visit to promote women and girls.

This was Clinton's second visit to Haiti, where the Clinton Foundation has focused some of its initiatives on women led and owned enterprises.

Similar to her father did in 2011 during a visit to promote Haiti's artisans, Clinton visited Caribbean Craft, a business started by Joel and Magalie Dresse in 1990, that employs local artisans, several of whom are women.

Guided by Dresse, Clinton toured the factory, asking questions about the paper mache crafts that are sold to West Elm and Anthropology in the United States. It was the first of several site visits for the day.

"The purpose of all these investments," said Haiti Program Director Craig Milne, "is to work ourselves out of a job."


Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article29105665.html

In one tweet, Bernie Sanders just summed up how distorted America’s economic debate has become

Bernie Sanders has a sense of humor. At least that is what the Democratic presidential candidate’s latest tweet appears to be attempting to demonstrate.

But Sanders also offers a compelling point about the distorted nature of America’s economic policy debate.

This morning, the self-described democratic socialist and advocate of wealth redistribution joked about critics who vilify his economic platform as too extreme, pointing to the teachings of Pope Francis, who regularly decries economic inequality and the mindless pursuit of economic growth at the expense of human ends. In a tweet, Sanders wrote, “Some people say my economic ideas are radical. You should hear what the Pope is saying”

Sanders’ joke is particularly timely considering a new poll shows Pope Francis’ popularity in the U.S. has taken a considerable nosedive, driven almost wholly by conservatives. After the Pope made a name for himself early on as a “progressive” with tweets denouncing economic inequality and most recently his encyclical on climate change, the pontiff has stirred the ire of right-wing conservatives. A new Gallup poll shows the Pope’s favorability dropping to 59 percent from a 76 percent peak early last year, with only 45 percent of conservatives holding a favorably view of Pope Francis favorably, as opposed to 72 percent a year ago. Francis’ favorable rating have also dropped among liberals, but by a much smaller 14 percentage points.

http://www.salon.com/2015/07/28/in_one_tweet_bernie_sanders_just_summed_up_how_distorted_americas_economic_debate_has_become/

NTSB: Co-pilot of spaceship unlocked braking system early

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal safety investigators said Tuesday the crash of a Virgin Galactic spaceship last year was caused by a catastrophic structural failure triggered when the co-pilot unlocked the craft's braking system early.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators said the resulting aerodynamic forces caused the brakes to actually be applied without any further action by the crew. Investigators said no safeguards were built into system to overcome the error of the co-pilot.

The spaceship broke apart over the Mojave Desert during a test flight 10 months ago. The accident killed the co-pilot and seriously injured the pilot.

NTSB officials said early in the investigation that the co-pilot prematurely unlocked equipment designed to slow the descent of the spacecraft during initial re-entry. Simply unlocking the spacecraft's brakes shouldn't have applied them, but investigators had said that might have happened anyway and the resulting stress may have contributed to the spacecraft's destruction.

more
http://www.sfgate.com/business/technology/article/Federal-officials-examine-probable-cause-of-6409137.php

Obama administration snubs request for Snowden pardon

by Barb Darrow

President Obama’s national security advisor rejected petition that requested pardon of NSA document leaker Edward Snowden.

Not surprisingly, the Obama administration said it will not pardon Edward Snowden, the former NSA-contractor-turned-document-leaker.

In response to a two-year-old petition on the White House’s “We the People” site, Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said basically that Snowden should come home and face the music.

In Tuesday’s post responding to the petition, she wrote of Snowden:

If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions.

The “Pardon Edward Snowden” petition, filed June 9, 2013, called Snowden a national hero, and garnered 167.954 signatures.

http://fortune.com/2015/07/28/obama-snubs-snowden-pardon/

Yet another study finds that reducing carbon emissions saves Americans money

by David Roberts

Conservatives insist that Obama's Clean Power Plan — indeed, any effort to reduce carbon emissions — will cost American consumers money and jobs.

It is impossible to know the future, so there's no way to say that this is definitively false, but at this point there's enough research and modeling to indicate that it's very, very unlikely. (This will not stop conservatives from saying it, and it won't stop the media from uncritically passing along these dire warnings.)

In fact, many studies show that an aggressive shift to clean energy and efficiency would save consumers money. For a general account of why that's true, see this new report from NextGen Climate. For a more focused bit of number crunching, however, we turn to this new brief from Synapse Energy Economics. It models a clean-energy pathway for the US and produces specific numbers showing both the carbon and financial savings.

Here's what Synapse calls the "Clean Energy Future" scenario:

Synapse’s Clean Energy Future scenario shows 70 percent of the nation’s electric needs being generated by renewables in 25 years. Renewables added by 2040 include 308 GW of utility‐scale solar panels, 253 GW of on‐shore wind, 197 GW of distributed solar panels, 18 GW of concentrated solar, 14 GW of geothermal, and 4 GW of off‐shore wind. Electricity sales are 25 percent lower than in a Reference—or business‐as‐usual—scenario in 2040, as a result of savings from energy efficiency measures and standards, as well as "demand response" programs that pay participating consumers to curtail their energy use at times of peak demand.

more

http://www.vox.com/2015/7/28/9053283/clean-energy-efficiency-money

This is not the Gaza you typically see in American media

by Max Fisher

What is it like to live in Gaza? From what you generally hear in the United States, you might not have an easy time answering that question. Even when Gazan people are in the news, we tend to treat them as little more than pawns in the Israel-Palestine conflict — relevant only as talking points in our endless arguments about the conflict and which side bears moral superiority.

This discourse makes the lives of Gaza Palestinians feel less real, and thus less meaningful. It should not be necessary to say this, but it is: The lives of Palestinians in Gaza do have intrinsic meaning, just like the lives of everyone else. At the same time, those lives are indeed shaped by the conflict that physically surrounds them. Recognizing that fact without reducing Gazans' lives to their place in the conflict is difficult, and we in the media almost always fail at it.

Lauren Bohn, a journalist and a friend who is working with the GroundTruth Project, has a story in the New York Times that succeeds in capturing the experiences of Gazans as shaped by the conflict, as well as the ways that they are more than the conflict. It's about a technology startup accelerator in Gaza — the territory's first — and the people who are attending it.

I would really urge you to go read the story now. But there are two details that stuck with me. First is a bulletin board that Bohn saw in the startup accelerator's offices. At the top of the board is a question. Attendees are encouraged to pin postcards with their answer. The question is, "What would you do if you weren’t afraid?"

Normally, this question is part of the vernacular of the tech startup world, a way to describe the burdens of expectations and norms that can hold back creativity. In Gaza, though, it takes on a very different meaning.

more

http://www.vox.com/2015/7/28/9048319/gaza-startup-afraid

Poor Women in the United States Don’t Have Abortion Rights

For decades, the ban on using Medicaid dollars to pay for abortions has kept many poor women from being able to end their pregnancies. Finally, some pro-choice lawmakers are trying to change that—or at least show how unjust the status quo is.
MAYA DUSENBERY

Earlier this month, a group of Democratic Representatives, led by Barbara Lee of California, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and Diana DeGette of Colorado, introduced legislation that would end restrictions on using federal funding to pay for abortions. It’s the first attempt in two decades to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which for nearly 40 years has prevented Medicaid from covering the cost of abortion with few exceptions.

Similar bans affect millions of Americans who rely on other federal programs for their health insurance, including federal employees, military personnel and their families, Peace Corp volunteers, Native Americans who use Indian Health Services, federal prisoners, and youth enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program. The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act would restore abortion coverage to all of them, as well as invalidate state laws restricting coverage of the procedure in private insurance plans.

The best estimate, according to a 2009 review of the research by the Guttmacher Institute, is that 18 to 37 percent of women on Medicaid who would otherwise get an abortion instead give birth due to the lack of funding.

Though there’s pretty much zero chance of the bill clearing the Republican-controlled Congress, the fact that it was introduced at all represents progress. While the Hyde Amendment was fiercely debated when it was first passed, eventually it came to be framed in Congress as a reasonable compromise—one that, to the ire of many pro-choice advocates, was re-affirmed by President Obama during passage of the Affordable Care Act. As Irin Carmon notes, “To opponents of abortion, the phrase ‘taxpayer funding for abortion’ is practically magic, conjuring both fears about the use of other people’s money and discomfort with abortion.” Meanwhile, most reproductive rights groups, focused on trying to stanch the tidal wave of new anti-choice laws, didn’t think it was worth going on the offensive about Hyde until recently.

more

http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/poor-women-dont-have-abortion-rights
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