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

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Tuesday Toon Roundup 1: Repubs

Toon: Centers for Deceit Control

Slowpoke Toon: Trust

Unique Galaxy Shows a Stellar 'Circle of Life'

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) has recently unveiled new images of an uniquely shaped galaxy that looks a lot like a spoked wheel. What makes this galaxy particularly unique is the fact that it is quite old, and yet is characterized by a ring of freshly born stars. (Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) has recently unveiled new images of an uniquely shaped galaxy that looks a lot like a spoked wheel. What makes this galaxy particularly unique is the fact that it is quite old, and yet is characterized by a ring of freshly born stars.
"The rest of the galaxy is done maturing," Kartik Sheth of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory said in a recent statement. "But the outer ring is just now starting to light up with stars."

That's pretty unusual among galaxies, which are traditionally either old and well developed, or young and full of clouds of precursor star material commonly referred to as "star nurseries."

However, the galaxy of NGC 1291 seems to be an old woman who doesn't understand that her days of being a mother are over. And somehow, the galaxy is miraculously still producing stars on its outermost edge. The light of these new births was easily picked up in infrared imagery by the SST.

Even without its unique qualities, NGC 1291 is no normal galaxy. The old stars at its center streak across like a single long bar holding it open. This identifies it as what astronomers simply call a "barred galaxy."



Cerberus said it would stay out of the gun debate and sell their gun manufacturers. They lied.

On Dec 14, 2012, 20 children and six adults were killed in a school shooting in Connecticut by a disturbed 20 year-old using a semi-automatic rifle, the Bushmaster AR-15. The people behind that rifle are Cerberus Capital Management LP, a Manhattan private equity firm named after the mythical three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell.

Cerberus founder Stephen Feinberg and his colleagues had assembled a gun conglomerate called the Freedom Group, the largest firearm manufacturer in the US, including brands like Remington, Bushmaster and Marlin. In the flood of attention following the shooting,
Cerberus it would sell the firm to sidestep what was sure to be a bruising battle over gun safety laws. “As a firm, we are investors, not statesmen or policy makers… it is not our role to take positions, or attempt to shape or influence the gun control policy debate,” Cerberus said in a statement. “That is the job of our federal and state legislators.”

But two years later, federal gun safety laws remain unchanged, and Freedom Group remains profitable and unsold. Its executives—appointed by Cerberus—are helping finance anti-gun control ads against Connecticut’s Democratic governor, Dannel Malloy. Malloy enacted new gun safety laws after the massacre, but Connecticut is also home to several gun-making companies who oppose those restrictions.

If you look at the funding disclosures for the NSSF’s political action committee, you can find a $5,000 donation from George Kollitides, a Cerberus executive who was installed as Freedom Group’s chief executive and chairman of the board, and $10,000 from Walter McLallen, the vice-chairman of Freedom Group, also appointed by Cerberus. While they are just two of the many gun industry advocates funding the organization, they are the only two connected to a company that is ostensibly leaving the business to seek the moral high ground.


U.S. paying to upgrade TV sports coverage in Afghanistan

By Josh Hicks

Many U.S. taxpayers probably know that they’re subsidizing Afghanistan’s government operations and development efforts, but it may surprise them to learn that they’re paying for the war-torn nation to enter the modern era of televised sports coverage.

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko issued a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry this month questioning a $3.6 million contract to supply three television-production trucks for Afghan TV networks.

According to the contract, the vehicles are for “live sporting events, such as Buzkashi, Soccer, Cricket and other sports.” Buzkashi is a fierce game in which teams of horse-mounted players compete to haul a stuffed goat skin toward separate goals — sort of like polo, but with a mock carcass instead of a ball.

The TV-production trucks arrived in Afghanistan in July, more than two years behind schedule. But Sopko said none of the vehicles have been placed into service, and one was still covered with shipping material as of last month.



First 'big heat event' melts Australian temperature records

Australia's first major heatwave of the warming season has broken temperature records across the nation, more than a month before the official start to summer.

On Saturday, the country set its warmest October day in records going back to 1910, with average maximums across the nation reaching 36.39 degrees, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

The previous record for October was set on the 31st of the month in 1988, at 36.31 degrees.

Sunday's heat was almost as fierce as Saturday's, according to preliminary figures.
The heatwave set October daily maximum temperature records at more than 20 stations but the duration of the warmth was also exceptional, a bureau spokesman said.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/first-big-heat-event-melts-australian-temperature-records-20141027-11cczf.html

Dead babies near oil drilling sites raise questions for researchers

VERNAL, Utah — The smartphone-sized grave marker is nearly hidden in the grass at Rock Point Cemetery. The name printed on plastic-coated paper — Beau Murphy — has been worn away. Only the span of his life remains.

"June 18, 2013 - June 18, 2013"

For some reason, one that is not known and may never be, Beau and a dozen other infants died in this oil-booming basin last year. Was this spike a fluke? Bad luck? Or were these babies victims of air pollution fed by the nearly 12,000 oil and gas wells in one of the most energy-rich areas in the country?

Some scientists whose research focuses on the effect of certain drilling-related chemicals on fetal development believe there could be a link.

But just raising that possibility raises the ire of many who live in and around Vernal. Drilling has been an economic driver and part of the fabric of life here since the 1940s. And if all that energy development means the Uintah Basin has a particularly nasty problem with pollution, so be it, many residents say. Don't blame drilling for baby deaths that obituaries indicate were six times higher than the national average last year.



Her numbers show an upward four-year trend in infant deaths: One in every 95.5 burials in Uintah County in 2010 was a baby, according to Young. In 2011 it was one in every 53. In 2012, one in every 39.7. And in 2013 the number jumped to one in every 15.

The Bushes, Led by W., Rally to Make Jeb ‘45’

WASHINGTON — When Jeb Bush decides whether to run for president, there will be no family meeting à la Mitt Romney, no gathering at Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport to go over the pros and cons. “I don’t think it’ll be like a big internal straw poll,” said his son, Jeb Bush Jr.

But if there were, the results of the poll are pretty much in. As Mr. Bush nears a decision to become the third member of his storied family to seek the presidency, the extended Bush clan and its attendant network, albeit with one prominent exception, are largely rallying behind the prospect and pulling the old machine out of the closet.

“No question,” Jeb Jr. said in an interview, “people are getting fired up about it — donors and people who have been around the political process for a while, people he’s known in Tallahassee when he was governor. The family, we’re geared up either way.” Most important, he added, his mother, Columba, the prospective candidate’s politics-averse wife, has given her assent.

Within the family, the top cheerleaders have been George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, both of whom know something about running for president, and both of whom have an interest in perpetuating, if not redeeming, the family legacy. Barbara Bush, the former first lady and Jeb Bush’s mother, is unconvinced, according to people close to the family, but has been persuaded to stop saying it so publicly. George P. Bush, his other son, who is running for Texas land commissioner, has been supportive of what he calls a likely run.


Monday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest









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