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Last year, poachers killed 22,000 African elephants. 2013 is shaping up to be a lot worse

By Gwynn Guilford

Good news is relative. It may seem positive that 3,000 fewer African elephants were illegally poached in 2012 than in 2011, according to a report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international organization, and Traffic, a non-governmental group that tracks elephant populations. But that still adds up to a lot of illegally killed elephants and could wipe out one-fifth of Africa’s elephant population in a decade.

The report estimates that 22,000 illegally killed elephants were killed in 2012, at a poaching rate—the proportion of illegally killed elephants measured against total population—of 7.4%. That’s much higher than the natural African elephant population increase, which doesn’t exceed 5% a year.

The estimated seizures of illegal ivory shipments, which trade experts consider to be a good proxy for poaching trends, improved slightly in 2012 from the previous year. But 2013 is shaping up to be 20% higher than 2011, says Tom Milliken, Traffic’s ivory trade expert. This year has also seen the largest quantity of ivory confiscated in large-scale ivory seizures in 25 years. It’s unclear whether this is due to stepped-up law enforcement or simply an uptick in the trade, but CITES and Traffic note that such large-scale shipments typically suggest the involvement of organized crime.

The decrease in 2012 may have to do with the growing size of tusk shipments; while the number of tusk shipments fell 30% in 2012, the average weight of large consignments rose 15% compared with 2011 data.



Spooky Physics Phenomenon May Link Universe's Wormholes

By Charles Q. Choi,

Wormholes — shortcuts that in theory can connect distant points in the universe — might be linked with the spooky phenomenon of quantum entanglement, where the behavior of particles can be connected regardless of distance, researchers say.

These findings could help scientists explain the universe from its very smallest to its biggest scales.

Scientists have long sought to develop a theory that can describe how the cosmos works in its entirety. Currently, researchers have two disparate theories, quantum mechanics and general relativity, which can respectively mostly explain the universe on its tiniest scales and its largest scales. There are currently several competing theories seeking to reconcile the pair.

One prediction of the theory of general relativity devised by Einstein involves wormholes, formally known as Einstein-Rosen bridges. In principle, these warps in the fabric of space and time can behave like shortcuts connecting any black holes in the universe, making them a common staple of science fiction.

Intriguingly, quantum mechanics also has a phenomenon that can link objects such as electrons regardless of how far apart they are — quantum entanglement.



Girl, 11, told not to sell mistletoe, but begging is fine

By Dan Cassuto

PORTLAND, Ore. -- You can tell right away that Madison Root has a shrewd business sense.

She launched a small business on Saturday morning with all the right ingredients for success.


Portland Saturday Market -- where the crowds are.


Mistletoe -- perfect for Christmas.


Hand-wrapped and tied with a red bow.

Madison, 11, even cut and chopped the mistletoe herself from her uncle's farm in Newberg.


Sickening story-Pregnant Woman Suffers. You Won't Believe Who's to Blame.

By Louise Melling, Director, Center of Liberty; Deputy Legal Director, ACLU at 12:34pm
When you show up at a hospital, in need of medical aid, you expect that you're going to get the care that you need—that the doctors and nurses will figure out what's wrong, explain to you the options for treating it, and give you the best medical care possible.

That's what Tamesha Means thought, until she showed up at Mercy Health hospital.

Tamesha was only 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke prematurely. She rushed to Mercy Health—the only hospital within half an hour of where she lived. The hospital did not tell her then that she had little chance of a successful pregnancy, that she was at risk if she tried to continue the pregnancy, and that the safest course of care in her case was to end it. The hospital simply sent her home.

She came back the next day, bleeding and in pain, and again was turned away. Again, she was not told of the risks of trying to continue the pregnancy, or what her treatment options were. Tamesha returned yet a third time—by now suffering a significant infection. The hospital was prepared to send her away once more, when she started to deliver.

Tamesha's baby died within hours of being born—at 18 weeks, it never had a chance.

How could something like this happen? Because Mercy Health is Catholic-sponsored, it is required to adhere to the "Ethical and Religious Directives," a set of rules created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to govern the provision of medical care at Catholic-run hospitals. At hospitals like Mercy Health, the Directives are put above medical standards of care.



Device shuts down car engines with radio pulse

By Chris Vallance

A British company has demonstrated a prototype device capable of stopping cars and other vehicles using a blast of electromagnetic waves.

The RF Safe-Stop uses radio frequency pulses to "confuse" a vehicle's electronic systems, cutting its engine.

E2V is one of several companies trying to bring such a product to market.

It said it believed the primary use would be as a non-lethal weapon for the military to defend sensitive locations from vehicles refusing to stop.

There has also been police interest.

The BBC was given a demonstration of the device at Throckmorton Airfield, in Worcestershire.



Wall Street’s Jobs Program: Incarceration

by Les Leopold
United SteelWorkers

Prisoners of a New War: Wall Street's business of debt keeps 2.27 million Americans locked up

The U.S. leads the world in prisoners with 2.27 million in jail and more than 4.8 million on parole. Minorities have been especially hard hit, forming 39.4 percent of the prison population, with one in three black men expected to serve time during their lifetimes.
How is it that our land, supposedly the beacon of freedom and democracy for the rest of the world, puts so many of its own people into prison?

We usually attribute the prisoner increase to a combination of overt racism and Nixon’s war on drugs, followed by Rockefeller’s “three strikes” legislation in New York, and then the 1984 Sentencing Reform Act with its mandatory sentences. While racism and these laws certainly provide ample opportunity to incarcerate millions for violating senseless prohibition laws, they do not tell the whole story.

Racism was just as virulent, if not more so, long before the dramatic rise in prisoners set in during the 1980s and 1990s. Just because there are draconian laws on the books, it doesn’t explain why they are so dutifully enforced. It also doesn’t explain why so many are willing to risk prison, knowing the increasing odds of getting caught.

If we dig deeper, we’ll see that the rise in incarceration corresponds with the rise of financialization and the dramatic increase in Wall Street incomes. Of course, just because trend lines on charts rise and fall together doesn’t mean one causes the other. But this correspondence is much more than coincidence.

- See more at: http://thecontributor.com/how-wall-street-turned-america-incarceration-nation

The GOP might as well be dead


The Growth and Opportunity Project, aka “the autopsy,” was heralded as the Republican Party’s clear-eyed assessment of its 2012 presidential defeat. Autopsies are done on dead things, and ever since its March 2013 release, the GOP has done everything possible to stay dead.

The Republican Party is dead to African Americans. Not that there was much of pulse to begin with. Romney won 6 percent of the black vote to 93 percent for Obama, which isn’t surprising since Romney was looking to unseat the nation’s first black president. But it is also not surprising considering all of the voter suppression efforts around the country.

That the GOP ought to try to appeal to African Americans was recognized in the autopsy. “There are numerous outside groups that are studying the best way for the Republican Party to better reach African American voters,” the report pointed out. “The Republican Party should leverage the best practices identified by such organizations.” You employ that “best practices” nonsense when you and your staff haven’t a clue what to do. And it’s clear that if Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee who is black, were still head of the party, at least two egregious episodes would not have happened.

A tweet from the party’s official Twitter account on Sunday would not have celebrated Rosa Parks on the anniversary of her historic bus-boycott arrest by lauding “her role in ending racism.” Sure, the tweet was later corrected. But, come on, people. The lowest level black person at the RNC could have told them that the tweet as flat-out wrong and offensive. Not that anyone would have listened, assuming there are any low-level black people there.



Tuesday Toon Roundup 4- The Rest






Tuesday Toon Roundup 3- GOP and Iran Deal



Tuesday Toon Roundup 2- Tighten your belts, Poor!

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