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Environmental Scientist

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Friday TOON Roundup 2 -Out, Blood Stains!

Friday TOON Roundup 1 -RIP Mr. Ebert

Price Increases for U.S. Military Gear Dwarf Most Nations’ Defense Budgets


Here’s an example of what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was talking about in his Wednesday speech on reforming the way the Pentagon buys gear. If you look at just the increases in how much defense gear costs, the bloat dwarfs what nearly every other nation on earth spends on defense annually.

I mentioned this yesterday during an appearance on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes. Since some of you emailed seeking a linkable explanation, here goes.

In March 2012, the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative agency, took a look at the 96 highest-priority defense programs in the Pentagon acquisitions system. The watchdog organization found that the acquisition programs represented an estimated total cost of $1.58 trillion, and had actually “grown by over $74 billion or 5 percent in the past year.” (.PDF) The sources of that increase were everything from changes in the per-unit costs of all the planes, guns, trucks and ships; upticks in R&D expenses; or plain “production inefficiencies.”

$74 billion is a lot of money. To put it in context, if all that hardware cost growth were a sovereign nation, it would spend more money on its defense sector in a year than Russia does. ($64 billion in 2012, although in Putin’s Russia, defense money spends you.) It would laugh at India’s $44 billion effort in 2012 at becoming a rising military power. It would pen op-eds in British newspapers about the paltry $57.8 billion that once-imperial London spent on defense last year. The only countries’ defense sectors that would eclipse it are China and the U.S. itself.

And remember, $74 billion is not the cost of the gear itself. It’s just the growth in the cost of the hardware. In Washington, the rising prices of defense programs happens so routinely that it seems normal, like a natural cost of doing business, rather than an indicator of money being mismanaged.


Face-Sized Spiders Discovered in Sri Lanka

By Matt Peckham
April 04, 2013

Some thing may forever haunt our dreams. Like the words “spider” and “face-sized” used in a sentence together.

And yet here those words are, straight from northern Sri Lanka, where scientists say they’ve discovered a new type of giant tarantula with a leg span of up to eight inches. Grab your rulers and mirrors, because yep, that’s about the average length of a human noggin.

As if that weren’t frightening enough (or cool enough — you pick), this particular spider was found living in trees. Anyone who’s ever walked beneath a tree and wound up brushing away a tiny spider knows that some arachnids enjoy an arboreal life, dangling from silken threads to surprise unsuspecting trail-walkers. Now imagine one the size of a volleyball landing on you like one of the facehuggers from Alien.

And in case you were thinking they probably look far worse than they are, this one’s actually quite venomous. Oh, and fast — because of course it is. So now imagine being chased by a poisonous, sprinting, face-sized spider.

Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/04/04/oh-good-face-sized-tarantulas-discovered-in-sri-lanka/

Hubble Telescope Photographs Farthest Supernova Yet

(Photo : NASA/ESA/A. Riess/D. Jones/S. Rodney) The supernova, designated SN UDS10Wil, is nicknamed SN Wilson, after the 28th U.S. President, Woodrow Wilson. At the time it exploded, the universe was in its early formative years where stars were being born at a rapid rate. he three bottom images, taken in near-infrared light with WFC3, demonstrate how the astronomers found the supernova. The image at far left shows the host galaxy without SN Wilson. The middle image, taken a year earlier, reveals the galaxy with SN Wilson. The supernova cannot be seen because it is too close to the center of its host galaxy. To detect the supernova, astronomers subtracted the left image from the middle image to see the light from SN Wilson, shown in the image at far right.

Astronomers at NASA have spotted the most distant supernova yet of the type used to measure cosmic distances; in fact, the event took place so far away that as scientists watched it, they were watching an event that took place 10 billion years ago.

Nicknamed SN Wilson, the phenomenon is specifically classified as a Type 1a supernova and was discovered as part of a three-year-initiative to find the farthest supernovae possible in hopes that they may offer scientists a sense of how the Universe has expanded ever since the Big Bang.

The Type 1a supernova is especially useful for scientists, according to a statement from NASA, because of their ability to provide a consistent level of brightness that can in turn be used to measure the expansion of space.

"This new distance record holder opens a window into the early universe, offering important new insights into how these stars explode," said research leader David Jones of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., in the press release. "We can test theories about how reliable these detonations are for understanding the evolution of the universe and its expansion."


Luckovich Toon: I Object!

Thursday TOON Roundup 5- The Rest

N. Korea









Thursday TOON Roundup 4- Guns And Oil



Thursday TOON Roundup 3- Equality Stampede

Thursday TOON Roundup 2 -Economy

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