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n2doc

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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 31,435

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Environmental Scientist

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Deaths, drugs, distress: why marine parks are losing their attraction

Something disquieting happened at SeaWorld marine parks this year. Numbers attending the group's popular US centres between January and March dropped, from 3.5 million in 2013 to 3.05 million this year, a decline of 13%.

Nor is it hard to guess the cause, say wildlife campaigners. They see a clear link between the attendance slide and the release last year of the documentary Blackfish, which told the story of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau who was killed by Tilikum, a bull orca. The killer whale, it was also revealed, had been involved in the deaths of other individuals while in captivity.

Blackfish focuses on the distress experienced by killer whales who are depicted as complex, highly intelligent creatures which are taken from their families, kept in small pools and given psychotropic drugs to calm them and help them perform tricks that include balancing human trainers on their snouts, rotating in the water to pop music, waving their flippers and tails, and floating on their backs. The film triggered widespread public outrage against marine parks in general and a petition, signed by 1.2 million people, was handed into the California state assembly calling for a ban on killer whale shows. Earlier this month, a bill legalising the ban was put on hold for the next 12 months. Campaigners are still hopeful it will be enacted next year.

It has been an abrupt change in fortune. The cheery family charm of marine parks – institutions that have achieved worldwide popularity and become multimillion dollar industries in recent years – have taken a body blow. For their part, their managers strenuously deny that any of their animals suffer and flatly reject the idea that whales, dolphins and porpoises should no longer be kept captive.

more
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/19/visitors-turn-backs-on-marine-parks

Justice Scalia Tells Law Students ‘Perhaps You Should Revolt’ If Taxes Become Too High

Source: Think Progress

During an event at the University of Tennessee’s law school on Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia suggested to the capacity crowd that perhaps they should revolt against the U.S government if their taxes ever get too high.

During a question and answer part of the event, a student asked Scalia about the constitutionality of a federal income tax. Scalia assured the questioner that the tax was in fact permissible by the constitution, but added that if it ever became too high, “perhaps you should revolt.”

The remark, first reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel, has become a common rhetorical flourish for conservatives nationwide during the Obama presidency.

A state Tea Party chairman in Mississippi called for armed rebellion ahead of Obama’s reelection in 2012, and a Texas Judge told a local news station that he was prepared to join a “civil war” if Obama agreed to sign away U.S sovereignty to the United Nations. Michele Bachmann found herself in hot water in 2009, shortly after Obama took office, for calling upon a violent uprising against Obama, and faced accusations of using treasonous language.

Read more: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/04/19/3428747/scalia-taxes-revolt/

Paul Krugman points out Rand Paul's stupidity, once again

By Paul Krugman

Don’t Know Much About History, Rand Paul Edition


I can easily understand it when people don’t know the facts about economic statistics; you need a fair bit of background knowledge even to know how to look these things up. It’s more surprising when people don’t know what they don’t know — when they make confident assertions that can be proved false in a few seconds by anyone who does know these things.

I had a one-on-one encounter with Rand Paul over such a case; there our heads were, talking on TV, and he insisted that government employment had risen under Obama. (It has actually plunged.) At the very least, you’d think he would have learned a lesson from the experience.

But no. There he goes, saying

When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan …

Hmmm:



It’s not just that more jobs were created under Clinton, who raised taxes on the rich, than under Reagan; I wonder how many people know that more jobs were created under Jimmy Carter than under either Bush?

But I guess I really do understand it: according to right-wing theology, The Blessed Reagan’s tax cuts must have created far more jobs than the policies of evil redistributors. And so that’s what must have happened. Hey, Clinton was probably cooking the books.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/dont-know-much-about-history-rand-paul-edition/?_php=true&_type=blogs&smid=re-share&_r=0

Advanced U.S. Weapons Flow to Syrian Rebels

By ELLEN KNICKMEYER, MARIA ABI-HABIB and ADAM ENTOUS

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have supplied Syrian rebel groups with a small number of advanced American antitank missiles for the first time in a pilot program that could lead to larger flows of sophisticated weaponry, people briefed on the effort said.

The new willingness to arm these rebels comes after the failure of U.S.-backed peace talks in January and recent regime gains on the battlefield. It also follows a reorganization of Western-backed fighters aimed at creating a more effective military force and increasing protection for Christian and other religious minorities—something of particular importance to Washington.

This shift is seen as a test of whether the U.S. can find a trustworthy rebel partner able to keep sophisticated weapons out of the hands of extremists, Saudi and Syrian opposition figures said. The U.S. has long feared that if it does supply advanced arms, the weapons will wind up with radical groups—some tied to al Qaeda—which have set up bases in opposition-held territory.

The White House would neither confirm nor deny it had provided the TOW armor-piercing antitank systems, the first significant supply of sophisticated U.S. weapons systems to rebels. But U.S. officials did say they are working to bolster the rebels' ability to fight the regime.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304626304579509401865454762

Today's La Cucaracha Toon

Underworld: The Intrepid Cave Photography of Robbie Shone







Robbie Shone is a British adventure, cave and travel photographer based out of Austria. His adventures have led him to the remotest areas of China, Papua New Guinea, Borneo, the Alps and Crete where he has photographed the deepest, largest, and longest cave systems ever discovered. These feats involve dangling on a thin rope 650 ft. (200m) above the floor in the world’s deepest natural shaft, exploring the far ends of a 117 mile long cave system, and spending nearly four days continuously underground on shoots.

Collected here are some of his most jaw-dropping shots, many from a 2012 excursion into cave systems in Wulong County, China. You can explore more of his cave photography over on his website. All imagery courtesy the photographer.

more

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/04/underworld-the-intrepid-cave-photography-of-robbie-shone/

320° Licht: A Repurposed 112-Meter High Gas Tank Converted into a Cathedral of Light





German creative studio Urbanscreen have just unveiled ‘320 Licht,’ a massive light projection inside the cathedral-like interior of the 20,000 square meter Gasometer Oberhausen in Germany (the same space that housed Christo’s Big Air Package last year). Urbanscreen utilized both the ceiling and 320 degrees of the interior space of this former gas tank to project a 22-minute loop of digital animation with 21 high-powered Epson projectors.

“This experience is based on the vastness of the Gasometer,” sound designer Jonas Wiese told the Creator’s Project. “We tried to work with that expression to make the space bigger and smaller, to deform it and to change its surface over and over while not exaggerating and overwriting the original effect of the room.” He continues, “the age of the screen is coming to an end, digital interfaces will dissolve and merge into the social space we poetically contribute to this through art.”

320 Licht is part of the exhibition The Appearance of Beauty and will be on view through December 30th, 2014. Watch the included video above from the Creator’s Project to learn more about how it all came together.

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/04/320-licht-light-projection/

XKCD Toon: Free Speech



http://xkcd.com/1357/

Map of where nobody lives in USA

?fit=625%2C9999

We've seen the map of where everyone lives. Now here's the reverse of that by Nik Freeman: where nobody lives in the United States.

A Block is the smallest area unit used by the U.S. Census Bureau for tabulating statistics. As of the 2010 census, the United States consists of 11,078,300 Census Blocks. Of them, 4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them. Despite having a population of more than 310 million people, 47 percent of the USA remains unoccupied.

See also Stephen Von Worley's map from a couple years ago, which shows blocks in the US with only one person per square mile.

links at link
http://flowingdata.com/2014/04/18/where-nobody-lives/

High Levels Of Mercury Found In Fish In Remote National Parks

Unhealthily high levels of mercury have been found in fish in national parks in Alaska and the West, proving that even the most remote lakes and streams in the U.S. aren’t immune to mercury pollution.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service released a report Thursday that found 5 percent of the freshwater fish sampled in 21 western national parks had levels of mercury that were high enough to trigger toxic responses from the fish themselves, potentially endangering their health and lives. In addition, 35 percent of the fish sampled had enough mercury in them to impact the health of some predatory birds, and 68 percent of fish had mercury levels above the recommended amount for “unlimited consumption” by humans.

The researchers said in their report that the levels of mercury in some national parks were alarming because they occurred in small fish — organisms that should have the least amount of mercury in their systems, because the higher fish are on the food chain, the more mercury they’re expected to have.

Zion, Capital Reef, Wrangell-St. Elias, and Lake Clark National Parks all contained sites in which most fish exceeded benchmarks for the protection of human and wildlife health,” the report reads. “This finding is particularly concerning in Zion and Capitol Reef National Parks because the fish from these parks were speckled dace, a small, invertebrate-feeding species, yet their Hg concentrations were as high or higher than those in the largest, long-lived predatory species, such as lake trout.”

more
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/18/3428394/mercury-fish-remote-national-parks/
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