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

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With a canoe and a camera, AP journalists told story of coal ash spill

by Kristen Hare

After a long day of reporting, Michael Biesecker sat by himself at a table at Outback Steakhouse in Danville, Va.

“And they brought me a big glass of water,” said Biesecker, a reporter with the Associated Press, in a phone interview with Poynter. “And I knew the water was drawn and treated from the river, and everyone around me was drinking that water.”

That water, he discovered earlier that day, was thick and dirty with toxic coal ash stored in a coal ash pond that had leaked into the Dan River. Biesecker asked the waitress if she’d heard of the spill. She hadn’t. Hardly anyone had.

I need to tell people what’s going on here, he thought. So he wrote fast at that table, with a salad, a baked potato and a bottle of water nearby.



Apple to Arizona: Anti-gay bill puts Mesa sapphire plant at risk

Source: CNN

Apple (AAPL) confirmed Monday that it has urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill that would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to deny service to gays and lesbians.

Since the Arizona statehouse passed the measure last Thursday, Gov. Brewer has faced growing pressure to kill the bill that opponents characterize as "state-sanctioned discrimination."

Three state senators who voted for the bill are now asking her to veto it. So are Arizona's two U.S. Senators: John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Republicans. American Airlines (AAL) and Marriott (MAR) have warned that an anti-gay law could be bad for business.

We don't know who at Apple phoned the Governor, or what exactly was said. But it was only last November that Tim Cook announced that Apple was building a sapphire glass plant in Mesa, AZ, that would bring 2,000 new jobs to the state.

Read more: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2014/02/25/apple-arizona-gay-discrimination/

The star cluster Messier 7 (Big Space Pic)

A new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the bright star cluster Messier 7. Easily spotted with the naked eye close to the tail of the constellation of Scorpius, it is one of the most prominent open clusters of stars in the sky — making it an important astronomical research target.

Messier 7, also known as NGC 6475, is a brilliant cluster of about 100 stars located some 800 light-years from Earth. In this new picture from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope it stands out against a very rich background of hundreds of thousands of fainter stars, in the direction of the centre of the Milky Way.

At about 200 million years old, Messier 7 is a typical middle-aged open cluster, spanning a region of space about 25 light-years across. As they age, the brightest stars in the picture — a population of up to a tenth of the total stars in the cluster — will violently explode as supernovae. Looking further into the future, the remaining faint stars, which are much more numerous, will slowly drift apart until they become no longer recognisable as a cluster.

Open star clusters like Messier 7 are groups of stars born at almost the same time and place, from large cosmic clouds of gas and dust in their host galaxy. These groups of stars are of great interest to scientists, because the stars in them have about the same age and chemical composition. This makes them invaluable for studying stellar structure and evolution.

An interesting feature in this image is that, although densely populated with stars, the background is not uniform and is noticeably streaked with dust. This is most likely to be just a chance alignment of the cluster and the dust clouds. Although it is tempting to speculate that these dark shreds are the remnants of the cloud from which the cluster formed, the Milky Way will have made nearly one full rotation during the life of this star cluster, with a lot of reorganisation of the stars and dust as a result. So the dust and gas from which Messier 7 formed, and the star cluster itself, will have gone their separate ways long ago.



Georgia Rep. John Lewis Sees Gay Marriage As A Civil Rights Issue


Georgia Rep. John Lewis on Sunday reiterated that he sees the movement to legalize gay marriage as a civil rights issue.

Appearing in a nearly 2-minute video for Freedom to Marry, the 74-year-old Lewis, the only living “big six” leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, compared the civil rights movement to today's fight for marriage equality.

“I fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up and speak up against discrimination against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters,” Lewis says in the clip. “I see the right to marriage as a civil rights issue. You cannot have rights for one segment of the population, or one group of people, and not for everybody. Civil rights and equal rights must be for all of God's children.”

The ad is part of a $1 million multi-state campaign to build majority support for marriage equality in the South. The campaign, titled Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, includes co-chairs representing 13 southern states.

Lewis also said in the ad that he saw marriage equality as a step toward completing Martin Luther King Jr.'s “beloved community.”



Chrispie to attack Public Pensions in his state budget address


Governor Christie’s latest state budget will include a more than $2 billion payment into the public employee pension system, but also put those pension benefits back in the cross hairs, according to excerpts of his budget address released by the governor’s office in advance of this afternoon’s speech.

“The budget proposes making the largest pension payment ever at $2.25 billion,” Christie plans to say in the 2 p.m. address before a joint session of the state Legislature in Trenton.

“How groundbreaking is a $2.25 billion payment in one budget? That payment is nearly the equivalent of the total payments made in the ten years before we arrived by five different governors,” the Republican governor will say, according to the excerpts. ”We’ve kept faith with our pensioners.”

The state’s pension payment has long been an issue for governors from both parties, and many have skipped it altogether, something Christie also did when he took office amid recession in 2010. But after the state’s credit rating was reduced, Christie resumed making payments, though not as much as actuaries say is needed to bring the fund back to solvency.

In 2011, Christie and Democratic legislative leaders also passed a bill that cut pension and health benefits for public employees, saying it would save taxpayers billions of dollars.

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/recordpolitics/Excerpts_indicate_Christies_budget_address_will_put_focus_back_on_the_cost_of_public_employee_pensions.html

Looks like his economic policies have been a massive failure.

Not the Onion: Tenn. House votes 69-17 to approve anti-Sex Week resolution

NASHVILLE — A fortitude condemning a University of Tennessee’s Sex Week as “an inhuman event” and “an vast injustice of tyro fees and extend moneys” was authorized by a House on Monday night over protests of some Democrats that students’ rights were being ignored.

The magnitude upheld on a 69-17 opinion with other member holding no position one approach or a other. The fortitude now goes to a Senate.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin pronounced during discuss that if university officials omit HJR661, that amounts to an countenance of opinion with no authorised impact, “There might be stronger actions entrance from this body.”

Still tentative in a Legislature are measures to put new restrictions on a use of tyro fees that could impact appropriation of UT Sex Week, scheduled for subsequent week on a Knoxville campus. The eventuality features, according to a resolution, “an aphrodisiac cooking class, drag show, and condom scavenger hunt.”



I don't know what's going on with the language in the first article, though....reads like a bad google translation...

Once Upon a Gemstone


or longer than recorded history, gemstones have been used to tell stories. Passed down through generations, they carry the legends of our ancestral past. They also carry with them a much, much older history: the geological echoes of our planet’s very formation. As shifts deep within the Earth’s core drove its tectonic plates, compression, heat, and chemical reactions created a new set of minerals, beautiful to the human eye. Understanding that these were objects of record, of permanence, humans wove their own, new stories around them, making meaning from mystery.

Peridot of the splitting sea

The island of Zabargad in the Red Sea has been home to the world’s finest specimens of peridot for as long as 3,500 years, since its mines were first worked for Egyptian Pharaohs. The island was created roughly 30 million years ago, during the original parting of the Red Sea, when the Earth’s crust separated, folding up mountains and opening an expanse of salt water.

During this shift, small crystals of olivine, a mineral found in the Earth’s mantle, formed peridot. As seawater rushed through fractures in the ocean floor, peridot was thrust through the mantle’s layers and redeposited at the surface. Serpentine veins of peridot still run along Zabargad’s east-west fault zone under the Mediterranean sun. The story of its deep origins found its way into the final book of the Bible, Revelations, in which John the Divine is in exile on the Greek island of Patmos. According to the story, it is there that God speaks to him, telling him the world will be reforged, that the sea will drain away and leave land. On that land will be a new Jerusalem and the foundation of the city will be made of precious stone. One of those stones will be peridot.

Diamond of the Earth’s core

Diamonds are born deep in the Earth, from the oldest pieces of continental crust—ancient relics of the planet’s formation. Their translucent bodies hold stories that date back billions of years. Imperfections trapped within the diamonds bear the signatures of the crust below ancient oceans, and of ancient life—dead matter forced back into continental crust, some 100 miles below where living creatures took their last breaths. Under tremendous pressures and temperatures, these elements were forged into an indestructible stone that would live for 3.5 billion years, holding tales of a prehistoric past. Even now, the true process of diamond formation remains a mystery. What is known is that diamonds were created from limestone that was stripped of its oxygen atoms, leaving only pure carbon. They were brought to Earth’s surface on a magma called kimberlite, as it was forced through the chimneys of volcanoes in one giant heave. Over time, the diamonds drifted into rivers and valleys. In the Middle Ages, fables said that diamonds came from “the land where it is six months day and six months night.” They were guarded by venomous creatures who wounded themselves on the stones’ sharp crystalline points, saturating them with venom. Whether because of that story or despite it, diamonds were said to have medicinal qualities—namely as an antidote for poisons.


DOD aims to scrap A-10 to keep F-35 alive in new budget

One of the most effective combat aircraft gets pushed aside for one yet to serve.

by Sean Gallagher - Feb 24 2014, 4:06pm EST

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is unveiling the Pentagon’s proposed budget today—a budget that will dramatically scale back the size of the military. But in order to save the most sacred of cows in its ongoing modernization efforts, the Pentagon is proposing the elimination of what has arguably been the most effective combat aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory: the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

Known for its survivability, the A-10 is capable of flying with half a wing, one tail fin, one elevator, and one engine torn off. It’s also cheaper to fly and can fly more frequent missions than the aircraft that the Air Force proposes to replace it with: the F-35. But because of its low glamor and low-tech nature, the A-10 is assigned largely to Air National Guard squadrons these days. So with the Department of Defense now planning to re-shuffle the roles of reserve and Guard units in a shrinking fighting force, the A-10s are an easy target for the budget knife. The Air Force announced in January that it would eliminate a third of the existing A-10s in its inventory—102 aircraft—with the remainder to go when the F-35 finally arrives for service. The new plan will retire the entire A-10 fleet.

The A-10 was originally built in the early 1970s, and it was designed to combat Soviet tank columns with its enormous seven-barrel 30-millimeter Gatling-gun cannon. Known for its pugnacious looks as the “Warthog,” the A-10 could also carry a variety of guided and unguided weapons, and it proved its usefulness against a wide range of enemies while flying close air support for troops in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Air Force reported that the 60 A-10s that flew in Iraq had an 86 percent mission success rate.

Today, there are two arguments for cutting the A-10. The first argument from the Air Force is that in an era of shrinking budgets and pared-down ambitions, the military needs a more flexible, multi-role aircraft to do more jobs—not an airplane that's perfect for a smaller number of them. But considering the troubles that the F-35 has faced and the fact that not a single squadron of any of the variants of the F-35 has yet to be fielded, the wisdom of the Pentagon’s aircraft calculus is open to debate.


Tuesday Toon Roundup 4- The Rest







Tuesday Toon Roundup 3- Biz and worker issues




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