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

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Toon: The cost of lying

'Lost' Leonardo da Vinci painting seized by Italy

A long-lost painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci was confiscated from a bank vault in Switzerland after Italian police said it had been exported illegally and was in danger of being sold for up to £90 million.

Swiss police, acting on a request by their Italian counterparts, seized the portrait of Isabella d’Este, a Renaissance noblewoman, from a private bank vault in Lugano on Tuesday.

After being lost for centuries, the painting was rediscovered in 2013 in a collection of 400 artworks kept in a Swiss vault. The authorities then were alerted to the existence of the painting, but it went missing again.

It turned up again last summer during an investigation into insurance fraud and it later emerged an Italian lawyer was trying to negotiate the sale of the painting for €120 million (£89 million).


Gavin Newsom announces he’ll run for governor in 2018

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who lives in Kent Woodland, is opening a campaign committee to run for governor in 2018, becoming the first candidate to enter the race, he announced Wednesday.

“I’ve never been a fan of pretense or procrastination. After all, our state is defined by its independent, outspoken spirit. When Californians see something we truly believe in, we say so and act accordingly — without evasiveness or equivocation,” Newsom wrote in a Facebook post. “So today I’m announcing that I’m creating a committee to run for California Governor in 2018. Because I truly and passionately believe in the future of this great state.”

Newsom praised Gov. Jerry Brown’s “remarkable leadership,” but said the Golden State’s “long-term challenges remain daunting — we must continue to grow our economy and create private-sector jobs, we must invest in public education and keep college affordable, we must address the widening inequalities that separate our communities and we must maintain California’s historic leadership in meeting the climate challenge.”

This is hardly unexpected, after Newsom last month announced he would not seek the U.S. Senate seat that Barbara Boxer will vacate in 2016 — thus avoiding a showdown with state Attorney General Kamala Harris.



Obama's sadder but wiser foreign policy

When he entered the White House in 2009, Barack Obama had grand ambitions in foreign policy. He planned to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, build a better relationship with Russia, broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians and offer a hand of friendship to Iran and the Muslim world.

Six years later, the president, and the rest of us, are sadder but wiser. American troops are still in Afghanistan and back in Iraq, although in much smaller numbers and not in ground combat. The "reset" with Russia and prospects for peace in the Middle East are little more than wistful memories.

So when the White House published the second-term edition of its national security strategy last week, one of its goals was simply to catch up with those new realities, and to reassert that the United States has no choice but to stay engaged.

"The question is never whether America should lead, but how we lead," the president wrote in his preface to the 29-page manifesto.



I for one think the President has wised up to the war profiteers and war mongers who want to keep the 'good times rolling'. I think how Libya turned out shocked him. He is fighting strong head winds on this

Curiosity Finds Martian Mountains Taste Acidic

NASA's Curiosity rover has taken a second bite out of its target mountain, this time finding that Mount Sharp can 'taste' a lot more acidic than experts expected.

After perusing around the mountain back in November, Curiosity finally picked out its next most promising drill spot. There, the rover "sunk its teeth" into, so to speak, the rock known as Mojave 2.

The rover tentatively used a new low-percussion-level drilling technique to collect sample powder from the spot - almost like sampling the sauce on your food to determine if you're going to like it.

And what the rover found was that Mojave 2 tasted like nothing it had sampled before.

Back in September, the rover sunk its teeth into a lower outcrop around Mount Sharp called Pahrump Hills, at a spot named "Confidence Hills." That was the drilling robot's first true taste test, but back then NASA's Mars Science Laboratory team saw results that were pretty much expected for the Red Planet's dusty environment - not so for Mojave 2.

"Our initial assessment of the newest sample indicates that it has much more jarosite (an oxidized mineral containing iron and sulfur that forms in acidic environments) than Confidence Hills," David Vaniman, the Deputy Principal Investigator for the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument on Curiosity, explained in a statement.



Why Whale Stress Significantly Dropped After 9/11

The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were absolute tragedies, taking the lives of nearly 3,000 innocents that day. However, recent research has revealed that there was a silver lining to that incredibly dark storm cloud. Whales around American waters were reportedly far less stressed after the attacks, and now researchers are explaining why.

No, whales don't hate America or freedom. They simply miss their peace and quiet, and in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks, they finally got it back.

Due to security concerns following the attacks, a great deal of nonessential boat traffic was halted around the United States, leaving North American coastal waters relatively free of motor noise and radar pings.

Now, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B has revealed that wild right whales were far less stressed than normal around this quiet time, and that more characteristic stress levels returned once boating traffic picked up again.



Wednesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest











Wednesday Toon Roundup 2- Politics here and elsewhere








Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- Sweet Home Alabama

God ‪@TheTweetOfGod
Gay couples are now getting married in Alabama. I love watching a red state add orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. ‪#ALmarriage

WV Bills would weaken water protections

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A year after a toxic leak contaminated drinking water for 300,000 residents, West Virginia lawmakers are considering a series of proposals that would weaken a new chemical tank safety law, remove stronger pollution protections for streams across the state, and protect the coal industry from enforcement actions over violations of water quality standards.

Members of a coalition of citizen groups called the West Virginia Safe Water Roundtable held a news conference Monday at the Capitol to draw attention to their concerns and to urge lawmakers not to roll back the state’s clean water laws.

On Tuesday, one broad bill backed by the West Virginia Coal Association is up for passage in the Senate, and efforts to attach industry-backed amendments to a Department of Environmental Protection rules bill are expected in a House committee.

“It’s a critical time,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

- See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150209/GZ01/150209182/1419#sthash.fqRVd1YQ.dpuf
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