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Environmental Scientist

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Indonesia begins sinking illegal fishing boats

Indonesia has detained 155 foreign fishing vessels and, on Friday, sunk three of them, a stern measure lauded by all sides at home to clear the countrys water of foreign fish poachers.

"We have detained five large foreign ships and 150 other small ones across the country last week. We sunk three of them on Friday to teach them a lesson, so that they will give up poaching in Indonesian waters," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said in a discussion with local fishermen in Gorontalo on Saturday.

Jokowi, who was inaugurated as Indonesias seventh President last October, has repeatedly said the country has lost some Rp300 trillion annually from illegal fishing and that there are currently 5,400 illegal ships operating in Indonesian waters, due to a lack of decisive action by the government.

Three Vietnamese boats, which have been proven to have illegally fished fish in Indonesian waters, were made to explode by the Indonesian Navy off the Anambas Island waters, Riau Islands, on Friday.



NYT Toon: Good Cop, Bad Cop

December 7, 2014 - By Brian McFadden


Weekend toon roundup 2- The Rest






Weekend toon roundup 1- Choking requires intervention

"science a pygmy compared to astrology"

NEW DELHI: An apparently "non-controversial" bill passed on Wednesday in Lok Sabha became a platform for exchange of barbs and jibes between the government and opposition who sparred over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's and HRD minister Smriti Irani's alleged inclination towards mixing mythology with education.

The second half of the lower house, which saw introduction of The School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) Bill, was rocked by Congress and TMC attacking government for eroding scientific temper in the country and mixing religion with education, even as all supported the bill. The discussions were made even more interesting by a BJP MP Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank claiming that astrology was far ahead of science and that the latter was actually a pygmy compared to the former.

In a passionate and articulate answer to the house, Irani herself retorted by saying that members were making personal attack on her and argued for a balance between education and tradition.

Ironically the discussion began with TMC MP Saugata Roy calling the bill "non-controversial" while objecting to its introduction without its inclusion in the Business Advisory Committee meeting that gave little time to members to read the bill. The first salvo was fired by Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi who was otherwise praised by one and all, including the government, for making a passionate and useful speech on the bill.



Sounds like India is dealing with the same wackjobs as the US education system is.

On the Moon


working on it…

Apple CEO Tim Cook to be namesake of Alabama anti-discrimination bill

The only openly gay legislator in Alabama, state Representative Patricia Todd, is planning to attach Cook's name to a years-old bill introduced to ban discrimination against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) teachers and state employees, reports Reuters. Todd has brought the issue to the floor multiple times, and will do so again next March.

Todd said the idea was hatched after Cook, an Alabama native, was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor. During his acceptance speech, Cook called for action on rights for the LGBT community, likening his home state's slow progress to the country's long struggle with racial and gender equality.

Just three days later, in an essay published by Bloomberg, Cook publicly announced that he is "proud to be gay." Though he is open about his sexuality with close ones and friends, Cook said coming out publicly was a difficult decision.

Todd told reporters that she would put Cook's name on her anti-discrimination document when Alabama legislative sessions begin next year. After hearing word of Todd's plan, it seemed Apple was not completely on board, as a company representative reached out to express concern over the matter. Todd agreed to drop Cook's name, but was ultimately given the green light this week.



Thurgood Marshall Blasted Police for Killing Black Men With Chokeholds

By Dave Gilson |

Early on the morning of October 6, 1976, 24-year-old Adolph Lyons was pulled over by two Los Angeles police officers for driving with a burned-out tail light. As the facts of the incident were later recounted by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, "The officers greeted him with drawn revolvers as he exited from his car. Lyons was told to face his car and spread his legs. He did so." After an officer slammed his hands against his head, Lyons complained that the keys in his hand were hurting him.

What happened next nearly killed him:

Within 5 to 10 seconds, the officer began to choke Lyons by applying a forearm against his throat. As Lyons struggled for air, the officer handcuffed him, but continued to apply the chokehold until he blacked out. When Lyons regained consciousness, he was lying face down on the ground, choking, gasping for air, and spitting up blood and dirt. He had urinated and defecated. He was issued a traffic citation and released.

Lyons, who was African-American, sued the Los Angeles Police Department for damages and asked a federal judge to enjoin the further use of chokeholds except in circumstances where they might prevent a suspect from seriously injuring or killing someone. Lyons also argued that his constitutional rights had been violated by being subjected to potentially deadly force without due process.

His case, Los Angeles v. Lyons, eventually made it to the Supreme Court. In April 1983, the justices ruled against Lyons 5 to 4 . The majority punted on the question of whether chokeholds are constitutional, instead finding that Lyons lacked standing to sue the LAPD since he could not prove that he might be subjected to a chokehold again.

Writing in dissent, Marshall blasted this as absurd: "Since no one can show that he will be choked in the future, no one—not even a person who, like Lyons, has almost been choked to death—has standing to challenge the continuation of the policy." Lyon's lawyer said the ruling turned any encounter with the police into a deadly game of chance. "The LAPD regulations mean Lyons everyday plays a game of roulette," Michael Mitchell said . "The wheel has 100,000 slots. If the ball should fall in your slot, you die."



Electric eels deliver Taser-like shocks

The electric eel – the scaleless Amazonian fish that can deliver an electrical jolt strong enough to knock down a full-grown horse – possesses an electroshock system uncannily similar to a Taser.

That is the conclusion of a nine-month study of the way in which the electric eel uses high-voltage electrical discharges to locate and incapacitate its prey. The research was conducted by Vanderbilt University Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences Kenneth Catania and is described in the article “The shocking predatory strike of the electric eel” published in the Dec. 5 issue of the journal Science.

People have known about electric fish for a long time. The ancient Egyptians used an electric marine ray to treat epilepsy. Michael Faraday used eels to investigate the nature of electricity and eel anatomy helped inspire Volta to create the first battery. Biologists have determined that a six-foot electric eel can generate about 600 volts of electricity – five times that of a U.S. electrical outlet. This summer scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced that they had sequenced the complete electric eel genome.

Until now, however, no one had figured out how the eel’s electroshock system actually worked. In order to do so, Catania equipped a large aquarium with a system that can detect the eel’s electric signals and obtained several eels, ranging up to four feet in length.



Glaciers around the Amundsen Sea are losing half a Mount Everest a year in ice

for National Geographic

Melting Antarctic glaciers that are large enough to raise worldwide sea level by more than a meter are dropping a Mount Everest's worth of ice into the sea every two years, according to a study released this week.

A second study, published Thursday in the journal Science, helps explain the accelerating ice melt: Warm ocean water is melting the floating ice shelves that hold back the glaciers.

The two new pieces of research come as officials of the World Meteorological Organization announced Wednesday that 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record.

Scientists have long worried that the West Antarctic ice sheet is a place where climate change might tip toward catastrophe. The ice sheet holds enough water to raise sea level by 16 feet (5 meters). The region along the Amundsen Sea is the sheet's soft underbelly, where the ice is most vulnerable. (See "Rising Seas" in National Geographic magazine.)



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