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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- Race to the Bottom

Baby Orca Squee!!!!

Inigo del CastilloCONTRIBUTOR
by Inigo del Castillo

In the Salish Sea near British Columbia, Canada, naturalist Clint Rivers photographed a baby orca who perfectly captures that happy feeling we get on Fridays.
The 6-month-old calf, named J50, put on a show for whale watchers by doing belly flops and extremely enthusiastic breaches. At times, she even looks like she’s about to fly!

‘I’ve never seen a baby whale breach like J50’s been doing’, said Michael Harris, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watching Association. ‘Her energy is astounding – I guess not unlike my small kids. She’s constantly leaping into the air, and often curling up and doing belly flops’.

J50 is part of a local pod that has recently seen a surge in their population numbers. No wonder this little girl’s so happy!

more pics

Tobacco giant sues Australia (ISDS Court)

More than $50 million of taxpayer money is expected to go up in smoke defending cigarette plain packaging in a secretive international tribunal in Singapore.

But costs will pile much higher if Australia loses on its first defence that Philip Morris indulged in cynical “venue shopping” by shifting its headquarters to Hong Kong to sue Australia.

The West Australian can reveal the Attorney-General’s Department, which is running the case in defence of plain packaging, called former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan as a witness before a special tribunal sitting in Singapore back in February.

Philip Morris, which is claiming the plain packaging regime harms its intellectual property in such famous brands as Marlboro, Peter Jackson and Longbeach, called its own high-profile witnesses, also at considerable cost.

Among Philip Morris’ witnesses have been former High Court judge Ian Callinan who gave evidence on administrative law.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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