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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 32,686

About Me

Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Boom Meets Bust in Texas: Atop Sea of Oil, Poverty Digs In

GARDENDALE, Tex. — From the window of her tin-roofed trailer, Judy Vargas can glimpse a miraculous world. It is as close as the dust kicked up by the trucks barreling by but seems as distant as Mars.

As you walk out of her front yard — where the chewed-off leg of an animal, probably a feral hog caught by a prowling bobcat, rots outside — a towering natural gas flare peeks over the southerly view. Across the railroad tracks and Interstate 35, a newly reopened railroad interchange stores acres of pipe and receives shipments of sand from Wisconsin to be used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Next to the terminal is an expanding natural gas processing plant that lies in the heart of the Eagle Ford, a giant shale oil field that here in La Salle County alone produces more than $15 million worth of oil a day, or about one out of every 55 barrels produced in the United States.

This rural patch of thick mesquite in the brush country south of San Antonio had been known for something else. Five miles from here in Cotulla, Lyndon B. Johnson at the age of 20 saw hardship so searing that it would help inspire his war on poverty.

Now, it is the scene of one of the greatest oil booms the country has ever seen. But poverty endures in makeshift, barely governed communities called colonias, such as the one where Ms. Vargas shares her trailer with an ever-shifting assemblage of relatives.



Politics Derail Science on Arsenic, Endangering Public Health

A ban on arsenic-containing pesticides was lifted after a lawmaker disrupted a scientific assessment by the EPA

MOUNT VERNON, Maine—Living in the lush, wooded countryside with fresh New England air, Wendy Brennan never imagined her family might be consuming poison every day. But when she signed up for a research study offering a free T-shirt and a water-quality test, she was stunned to discover that her private well contained arsenic.

“My eldest daughter said...‘You’re feeding us rat poison.’ I said, ‘Not really,’ but I guess essentially...that is what you’re doing. You’re poisoning your kids,” Brennan lamented in her thick Maine accent. “I felt bad for not knowing it.”

Brennan is not alone. Urine samples collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from volunteers reveal that most Americans regularly consume small amounts of arsenic. It’s not just in water; it’s also in some of the foods we eat and beverages we drink, such as rice, fruit juice, beer and wine.

Under orders from a Republican-controlled Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 established a new drinking-water standard to try to limit people’s exposure to arsenic. But a growing body of research since then has raised questions about whether the standard is adequate.

Rep. Vance McAllister will run for re-election

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, will run for re-election.

He told NOLA.com/Times-Picayune Monday that he'll leave it up to the voters to decide whether he stays or goes.

He has scheduled a "special press conference" Monday in Monroe to formally announce his decision to run for re-election this fall in the 5th Congressional District.

McAllister said he spent the weekend with his family making sure "they were on board," and that they are. He said he and they decided to leave it up to voters whether "he stays or goes."

After surveillance video from last December was leaked in April showing him kissing a married staffer, McAllister announced he would serve out the remainder of his term but not seek re-election.



Monday Toon Roundup 2- The Rest





Mr. Fish


The Issue


N. Korea


Dylan song sale

Monday Toon Roundup 1- Rethuglicans

Found this in Imgur

more to the story here:

Apparently this was how one person announced their preference to the world. Pretty cool.

Toon: How did you get past our buffer zone?

Rare Pallas Cat discovers camera, investigates

Motion-sensing “camera traps” placed deep in remote ecosystems have been instrumental in recording the natural behavior of some of the world’s most elusive animals -- though sometimes they do catch something else: the earth-shattering moment they seem to realize that they’re being watched.

Just watch as this ferociously furry Pallas’s cat discovers the camera placed outside his den then move in for a better look.

These small felines, standing roughly the same size as a domestic house cat, are notoriously shy in their mountainous habitat high in the Himalayan mountain range. Footage like this, gathered from camera traps, is often the only evidence researchers have to go on that they are actually there.

In fact, just earlier this year, these majestic little Pallas’s cats was discovered living in Nepal for the first time ever -- offering tantalizing clues that the notoriously shy species’ range is larger than previously thought.


Chimpanzees observed making fashion choices

By Ben Guarino

It’s a trend that’s taken a troop of chimpanzees by storm: a blade of grass dangling from an ear. The "grass-in-ear behavior," as scientists have termed it, seems to be one of the first times that chimpanzees have created a tradition with no discernible purpose -- a primate fashion statement, in other words.

There’s no doubt that chimpanzees have culture, as different chimp groups will use unique tools: to groom, to crack open nuts, to fish for termites.

But, according to a study in the journal Animal Cognition, chimpanzee culture now includes something that seems altogether arbitrary: ear accoutrements.

“Our observation is quite unique in the sense that nothing seems to be communicated by it,” says study author Edwin van Leeuwen, a primate expert at the Max Planck Institute in The Netherlands.

To figure out if this was really a tradition, and not just chimpanzees sticking grass in their ears at random, van Leeuwen and his colleagues spent a year observing four chimp groups in Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust, a sanctuary in Zambia. Only one troop performed the grass-in-ear behavior, although all of the chimps lived in the same grassy territory. There’s no genetic or ecological factors, the scientists believe, that would account for this behavior -- only culture.



Why Is the World Silent? (on Egypt)

Disappeared by Egypt’s Military

TORA, Egypt — In a few days’ time, I will complete 365 days of imprisonment, more than half spent in solitary confinement and under severe limitations in the maximum-security Scorpion wing of Tora prison in Cairo. I have spent the past year thinking about what drove me to where I am today. I have also been thinking about an explanation for why politicians, human rights activists and the media have largely been silent about my case.

I am an engineer by education and an educator by profession. After the Egyptian revolution in 2011, I became interested in politics. I joined the presidential campaign and then found myself chosen to be the foreign relations secretary to Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in July 2012.

When the military ousted Mr. Morsi’s government, it was predictable that the president and his aides would pay a heavy price. I made the decision, along with eight other staff members, to wait with the president for the moment of his arrest on July 3, 2013. On the orders of the newly appointed secretary of defense, the chief of the Republican Guard arrested Mr. Morsi along with the rest of us. I expected this. What I did not expect was the silence that followed our arrests.

Over the year of Mr. Morsi’s presidency, our government met with scores of world leaders, either through official visits or during international conferences. I attended almost every meeting as the president’s note-taker. We worked closely with Western leaders and their envoys to broker peace in the region.


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