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Rhiannon12866's Journal
Rhiannon12866's Journal
October 9, 2013

Arctic climate’s last bastion succumbing to global warming, researchers say

One of the last refuges from the effects of global warming in Canada’s Arctic is succumbing to rising temperatures, creating significant risks for polar bears and the people who must survive off a rapidly transforming landscape.

A team of five researchers from Queen’s University, Laurentian University and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has looked at algae deposits in lake sediments in the Hudson Bay Lowlands over the past 70 years and determined that, since the mid-1990s, the area has warmed dramatically.

In a paper released Tuesday, they say their research provides evidence “that we are witnessing the transformation of the Arctic at an exceptional pace.”

The research follows a report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in late September in which climate scientists said they were more certain than ever that human activity is the leading cause of global warming and that its effects will linger for centuries.


Andrew Paterson, left, and Chris Jones collect sediment cores in the Hudson Bay Lowlands.

October 5, 2013

Special driver's licenses available for vets

Designation is intended to speed up discounts


New York residents who are military veterans can apply to the state Department of Motor Vehicles for a special designation on their driver's license.

The special licenses are intended to eliminate the need for veterans to carry separate documentation proving their military service in order to take advantage of discounts or other programs available to vets.

Whether it will result in smoother traffic stops for designated vets is open to interpretation.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Greg Ball, an Air Force veteran. It went into effect on Thursday, a year after being signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

October 5, 2013

Fracking wastewater contaminated — and likely radioactive

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, extracts oil and gas from deep underground by injecting water into the ground and breaking the rocks in which the valuable hydrocarbons are trapped. But it also produces wastewater high in certain contaminants — and which may be radioactive.

In a study published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, researchers found high levels of radioactivity, salts and metals in the water and sediments downstream from a fracking wastewater plant on Blacklick Creek in western Pennsylvania.

Among the most alarming findings was that downstream river sediments contain 200 times more radium than mud that's naturally present upstream of the plant, said Avner Vengosh, a co-author of the study and a professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University. Radium is a radioactive metal naturally found in many rocks; long-term exposure to large amounts of radium can cause adverse health effects and even diseases such as leukemia.

Contaminated waters
The concentrations of radium Vengosh and his team detected are higher than those found in some radioactive waste dumps, and exceed the minimum threshold the federal government uses to qualify a disposal site as a radioactive dump site, Vengosh told LiveScience. While the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility removes some of the radium from the wastewater, the metal accumulates in the sediment, at dangerously high levels, he added.


Plants that treat oil and gas wastewater are shown in red. The Josephine water treatment plant is shown in black.

September 17, 2013

"Fine Mess": Pittsburgh residents ticketed for parking in their own driveways

(CBS) PITTSBURGH - Parking in Pittsburgh? Even if you live there, you could get fined for keeping your car in your own driveway.

According to CBS Pittsburgh, City Councilman Corey O'Connor says it's happened on two city streets - and thanks to an old law still on the books, it could happen anywhere in the Steel City.

"This could happen tomorrow to any resident of the city of Pittsburgh," said O'Connor.

"We're no longer allowed to use our driveway to park, because of a law that says you have to park at least 30 feet away from the street," said Eileen Freedman, who says she recently got a warning letter from the Bureau of Building Inspection.

"This is where I've been parking for over 18 years," said Eileen Freedman, as she pointed at the driveway to her home in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.


Pittsburgh residents are angered after being ticketed for parking in their own driveways.
/ CBS Pittsburgh

September 13, 2013

Warm water under Antarctic glacier spurs astonishing rate of melting

A two-month-long expedition to one of the most remote sites on the planet — the sprawling Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica — has revealed that currents of warm water beneath the glacier are melting the ice at a staggering rate of about 2.4 inches (6 centimeters) per day.

An international team of researchers journeyed to the southernmost continent to study the Pine Island Glacier, which is the longest and fastest-changing glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This region, in the far reaches of Antarctica, has been of particular interest to scientists because it is among the most rapidly melting ice masses in the world, thinning as it flows to the Amundsen Sea at a rate of about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) each year.

Since warm seawater flows beneath the ice shelf (the part of the glacier that floats on the ocean), scientists have known that the Pine Island Glacier was melting from below. Now, using sensors deployed across the 31-mile-long (50-km-long) glacier, the researchers have gauged the rate of glacial melt beneath the solid ice. [Album: Stunning Photos of Antarctic Ice]

The results demonstrate the crucial need to better understand melting processes underneath massive glaciers, including how this undersea process will affect global sea-level rise in the future.


Researchers from the Naval Postgraduate School deployed multiple, unique sensors through 1,640 feet (500 meters) of solid ice to determine how quickly warm water was melting Antarctica's massive Pine Island Glacier from beneath.

September 9, 2013

Sanders wary of 'regime change' language on Syria


September 9, 2013 12:35 PM EDT — In an interview with Jackie Kucinich, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says the "terrible quagmire" in the Middle East has distracted lawmakers from Americans' real concerns. (The Washington Post)
September 6, 2013

Hawks, Doves, Fence Sitters (Updated with names)

There are 18 kinds of Syria bombing opponents in Congress, and 12 kinds of bombing supporters.

This piece has been updated since original publication to add to the list of members of Congress for and against Syria action.

During the Cold War and for a period after the attacks of 9/11, a national security consensus existed between the two parties. When it came to foreign adventures, the president’s party would support him, and a significant portion of the opposition (sometimes a majority) would go along, too. This consensus has been fraying. On issues from President Obama’s use of drones, to the breadth of U.S. surveillance, to how to respond to the coup in Egypt, there is confusion, instability, and partisanship in Washington.

This is why the Congressional debate over the president’s decision to attack Syria is so fraught. The well-worn partisan splits don't tell us much. House Republican leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor are supporting the president, but they’re leaving it up to Obama to make the case to colleagues who don’t like him and and many of whose constituents are against action. A recent Pew poll found 48 percent of voters, including 40 percent of Republicans oppose action. (Only 29 percent of the public favors action and only 35 percent of Republicans do.)

Isolationist Republicans are aligned with Democratic doves in opposing the move. Republican hawks are aligning with Democrats anxious to support the president and who believe in using force for humanitarian ends. The consensus will only really be known after the vote and may not tell us much beyond the narrow limits of the minutely tailored congressional authorization. The attack is supposed to punish Bashar al-Assad without changing the balance of power in the ongoing civil war (like stopping a fugitive to give him a speeding ticket before letting the chase continue), which means members may tailor their reasons for voting in equally careful ways. As they do so, here is a preliminary typology of the distinct positions on intervention in Syria:


Sens. John McCain (L) and Lindsey Graham (R) have expressed support for intervention in Syria.
Photo by Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images
August 31, 2013

Advocate for gays in US military killed in New York state car crash

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Darren Manzella, a gay combat medic discharged from the Army after criticizing the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy in a 2007 television interview, has died in a traffic accident in western New York. He was 36.

His aunt, Robin Mahoney, on Friday confirmed his death. Manzella lived in the Chautauqua County town of Portland; he and his partner were married in July.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office said Manzella was driving on Interstate 490 in suburban Rochester about 8:30 p.m. Thursday when his vehicle sideswiped a car. Deputies said he stopped his vehicle, got out and began pushing the car from behind. He was then hit by an SUV, pinning him between the two vehicles. He died at the scene.

Manzella's December 2007 appearance on "60 Minutes" from the combat zone in Iraq was followed by his discharge in June 2008 for "homosexual admission," a violation of the since-rescinded policy prohibiting service members from openly acknowledging they are gay.


Darren Manzella, who was discharged from the Army after criticizing U.S. policy on gays in the military, has been killed in a traffic accident.

August 27, 2013

New York at risk from combination of rising seas and stronger hurricanes, experts warn

Projections by the National Weather Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show that much of the five boroughs will be submerged if another strong hurricane hits New York in the year 2100.

Thanks to rising seas brought on by global warming, New Yorkers can count on a very wet, deadly, and expensive future.

Based on projections from the National Weather Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, if a storm equivalent in strength to Hurricane Sandy were to hit the five boroughs in the year 2100, vastly larger swaths of the city would be submerged.

The reason is simple. Sea levels are forecast to rise by as much as six feet before the end of the century, making low lying cities like New York all but defenseless to the wrath of powerful storms

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/rising-seas-threatening-new-york-experts-warn-article-1.1437794#ixzz2d9E0YZkL

In its forthcoming report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that sea level could rise by as much as six feet by the end of the century.

August 22, 2013

Powering the Future: New York City's taxi of the future (includes video)

NEW YORK Shrewd New Yorkers may have spotted some sleek silver and yellow cabs racing around the city's streets.

They're the newest taxis being tested out in a pilot program to see how electric cabs can survive in one of the busiest places in the world, where roads look like "ploughed fields," according to one veteran New York City taxi driver.

The city-run program is to see if New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan of having one-third of the taxi fleet be electric by 2020 is actually feasible.

"That's absolutely do-able. What we need to do is put chargers throughout the city so taxis can charge up. The technology is there ... now we've got to find the space and get the installations done. That's real work, but it's absolutely do-able," said David Yassky, New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commissioner, in an interview with CBSNews.com.


New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg arrives in an electric taxicab for a press conference on April 22, 2013 in New York.
/ AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

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Hometown: NE New York
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