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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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An exquisite Mexico beach, cursed by plastic

Sea currents act like a conveyor belt, depositing trash on a remote stretch of sand in an ecologically rich region of coral reef and mangrove forests. Locals can only pick up the pieces, bit by bit.

By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
January 27, 2012, 4:45 p.m.
Reporting from Mahahual, Mexico— Just off a rutted dirt road, a beach as white as flour pops into view from behind a wall of sea grape and rustling palms. Pelicans slice over turquoise waters, and not a single person stirs the quiet.

The tableau, along a little-developed segment of Mexico's Caribbean coast, is a beachgoer's fantasy of unspoiled seaside splendor. Until you look down.

For as far as the eye can see, the sand glitters with bits of bright color: fragments of trash, thousands and thousands of them, strung like a vast, foul necklace.

Even a quick inventory finds discarded motor-oil cans, hair-gel containers, juice bottles, hub caps, buckets, a soccer ball, flip-flops. Here's a margarine container from the Dominican Republic, there a butter tub from Haiti. The label on a washed-up glue bottle says it's from Central America.


Mark Cuban eliminated as possible buyer of LA Dodgers

By Bill Shaikin
January 27, 2012, 9:39 p.m.
The owner of the reigning NBA champions will not be the next owner of the Dodgers.

Mark Cuban was eliminated from the Dodgers' ownership sweepstakes Friday, along with baseball executive and former agent Dennis Gilbert, according to two people familiar with the process but not authorized to discuss it.

At least eight bidders advanced to the second round Friday, including a group led by Magic Johnson and veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten and another headed by local developer Rick Caruso and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre.

East Coast hedge fund giant Steven Cohen, former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke also are believed to have advanced, as well as a joint bid between investor and civic leader Stanley Gold and the family of the late Roy Disney.



Too bad, I think Cuban would bring a lot of fire to Baseball. LA could use that.

Mourners bid passionate farewell to Etta James

By Dalina Castellanos, Los Angeles Times
January 28, 2012
The setting sun cast a golden glow Friday over hundreds of mourners who came to pay their respects to singer Etta James at the Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary.

People began lining up an hour before the viewing began, reminiscing about their favorite songs as her voice boomed from chapel's speakers.

"Whenever I hear that song, I freeze," Donald Hicks, 67, of Inglewood said about James' mega-hit "At Last." "I even pull over when it comes on."

Many in attendance viewed James as a close family friend after years of inviting her into their homes via their stereo speakers. The singer died Jan. 20 in Riverside of complications from leukemia



FDA seizes nearly 14% of imported orange juice over fungicide

By Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times
January 27, 2012, 5:58 p.m.
Nearly 14% of orange juice imported to the U.S. since early this month has been seized by the Food and Drug Administration because it contained trace amounts of a fungicide, carbendazim, according to the agency.

FDA officials said the juice was safe to drink but that carbendazim, used to combat a fungus that leaves black spots on tree leaves, was not allowed in the U.S.

"We don't feel that this is a safety problem," FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey said. "This is more of a regulatory issue.

"We don't have any plans to call for a wholesale recall of orange juice."



Toon: The new 1040 form

The snake whose bite can send you back through puberty

We've gotten used to animals having strange powers — like using sound to create 'vision,' seeing more colors than we do, and sensing polarized light or the magnetic field of the earth. But did you know that some animals have 'powers' over human physiology? The Russell's Pit Viper can use its venom to send you back through puberty.

The Russell's Pit Viper spends its days crawling through Southeast Asia, eating small rodents, and giving people yet another reason to fear snakes. Not because they kill thousands of people every year. That's unpleasant, but we already knew that about most snake bites. No, this is a snake that screws with you even if you survive the bite. The mechanism of its particular brand of lasting torment lies in the effects of the bite itself. Often the bite destroys the kidneys, with kidney failure often claiming the lives of people who survive the initial bite, and hemorrhaging occurs throughout the body. 'Throughout the body' includes the pituitary gland.

Although the pituitary gland is the star in puberty, it continues to play a supporting role throughout a person's life. Damage or sufficient amount of blood loss can cause the gland to cease production of necessary hormones. The extent of damage of any snakebite depends on several factors, including how fast an antivenin is applied, but Russell's Viper victims often have significant damage to the gland. In a study published in The Lancet, about twenty-nine percent of patients who recovered from Russell's Viper venom had signs of hypopituitarism or Sheehan's Syndrome. Both conditions have unremarkable symptoms, like a constant feeling of cold and an unusual amount of fatigue. What distinguishes them is a sort of reverse-puberty in adults. They lose their sex drive. They lose fertility. They lose their body hair, especially pubic hair. Men lose facial hair and muscles. Women lose curves as the condition causes them to lose weight. Some doctors even report loss of mental faculties as the condition progresses.

Doctors have success in treating viper victims with replacement hormones, but that doesn't take away this odd, and entirely scientific power. In science fiction and fantasy fiction, people often run across creatures that can do crazy things like eating souls, mesmerizing minds, and animating dead bodies. It's strange to think that, across our own world, crawl creatures with the ability to send our bodies, in everything but height, back to childhood with a bite. If you read that in a science fiction story, would you ever believe it could happen?


It took 1,000,000 spiders to weave this single cape

This cape — which required four years, one-million Malagasy golden orb spiders, and eighty workers to catch and release the two-inch arachnids daily — was commissioned by Nicholas Godley and fabric researcher Simon Peers. Every day, weavers would extract up to 40 yards of silk from a single spider before returning it to the wild. This cloak may not deflect bullets, but it's still a sight to behold. Watch how it was made.
This cape, which is the largest garment ever woven from spider silk, will be on display at London's Victoria and Albert Museum until June 5. Here's a video outlining how such an outlandish garment was created. Anyone else getting flashbacks to a certain cancelled television show about superheroic outerwear?


La Cage aux Jim Crow: The New Bill That Would Shut Gays Out of Society

For decades now, people have attempted to compare the modern gay rights movement to the famed American civil rights movement of the 1960s. And for every comparison made, some blacks have vocally decried them as being inapt. Writing for USA Today last year, black journalist Ellis Cose called the gay rights-black rights comparison a "false equivalency." Anti-black racism, he wrote, "was relentlessly oppressive, as entire communities were cordoned off and disadvantage was handed down through generations. With gays, we are not looking at roped-off communities."

A shocking new bill in New Hampshire may be enough to change the minds of Cose and his ilk.

This week, the House judiciary committee of the New Hampshire state legislature convened to discuss a bill that would allow businesses to refuse accommodations, goods, or services to gays getting married. New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, though with the caveat that churches and other religious groups could refuse to participate in same-sex ceremonies. The new bill would take that rule a step further, allowing a bakery to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, for instance.

The New Hampshire legislature has taken a hard-right turn of late, prompted by the comeuppance of a group of ultra-conservative Tea Party candidates in the last elections. In December 2011, a trio of freshman House Republicans drafted a bill that would require every bill about individual rights and freedoms to "include a direct quote from the Magna Carta," the centuries-old English proclamation.

If African-Americans—or anyone else, for that matter, would like to continue to argue that the gay rights movement bears no strong resemblance to the civil rights movement, I'd suggest they take a serious look at this new bill in New Hampshire. Indeed, while there are currently no anti-gay, Jim Crow-style blockades at Americans businesses, it's not for lack of trying.


Rick Santorum Says College is 'Indoctrination'; We Say It's Necessary

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has really gone after higher education lately. Earlier this month, he called President Obama's suggestion that everyone should go to college "elitist snobbery." Now, he's speaking out in response to Obama's State of the Union education plans:

It’s no wonder President Obama wants every kid go to go college... The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination. If it was the other way around, the ACLU would be out there making sure there wasn’t one penny of government dollars going to colleges and universities, right?

Let's get one thing straight: Rick Santorum is about as educated as you can possibly get, and not from insular religious institutions, either. He got himself a bachelor's degree from Penn State. Then a M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. Then he went back to Penn State to get his law degree. Would he be a millionaire running for president if he hadn't gotten those degrees?

Even Santorum must know that college isn't just a place the left goes in order to maintain power; it's a necessary stepping-stone to get a good job, now more than ever. And, of course, educated people make more money. In 2009, the median annual income of a young college-educated adult was $45,000, while a young person with just a high school diploma made $21,000.


Toon: If We are all pushing, why aren't we making progress?

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