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Name: Brad
Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: Jersey City, NJ
Member since: Sat Mar 15, 2008, 12:21 PM
Number of posts: 11,700

Journal Archives

Least visited countries in the world

By Ryan Lenora Brown
Christian Science Monitor
Mar 29, 2013

For some travelers, getting off the beaten path is a point of pride, a way to see the parts of the world that don’t make it into glossy guidebooks.

But how many of those same adventurous travelers would be willing to visit, say, Somalia? About 500, it turns out. At least, that’s how many tourists found their way to the war-torn east African nation last year. That makes Somalia the second-least visited country in the world, after the tiny pacific island nation Nauru, according to a recent list compiled by travel writer Gunnar Garfors from UN statistics.

Little Nauru – 8.1 square miles in size, population 9,378 – got just 200 visitors last year, and it’s pretty clear why.

“There is almost nothing to see there,” writes Garfors, “as most of the island … is a large open phosphate mine.”

More: http://travel.yahoo.com/ideas/least-visited-countries-in-the-world-201146242.html
Posted by UnrepentantLiberal | Tue Apr 2, 2013, 06:52 PM (0 replies)

Two 'extremely dangerous' inmates flee Texas jail, possibly only in underwear

Source: Reuters

SAN ANTONIO, Texas —An inmate suspected of strangling a man with shoelaces escaped with a fellow prisoner from a Texas jail on Tuesday, triggering a manhunt for what authorities described as two dangerous fugitives, possibly clad in nothing but their underwear.

"They squeezed their way through the fence somehow," said Sergeant Brad Cummings, a spokesman for the Hopkins County Sheriff's office in Sulphur Springs, Texas, about 80 miles northeast of Dallas.

The men escaped from the county jail recreation yard and their black-and-white prison uniforms were later found on the outskirts of the detention facility, which has a capacity to house about 200 inmates, he said.

"Officers were notified that the two subjects had left the jail, and we immediately set up a command post and notified all surrounding agencies, and all schools within our county are on lockdown," Cummings said.

Read more: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/02/17572851-two-extremely-dangerous-inmates-flee-texas-jail-possibly-only-in-underwear?lite
Posted by UnrepentantLiberal | Tue Apr 2, 2013, 06:36 PM (24 replies)

Arizona city poised to pass state's first civil union ordinance

Source: Reuters

BISBEE, Arizona - A former Arizona copper mining town reborn as an artists' community is poised to become on Tuesday the first city in the conservative southwestern state to allow civil unions between same-sex couples.

The City Council in Bisbee, a city of 5,600 residents in southeast Arizona, is set to pass an ordinance allowing any couple regardless of their sex or sexual orientation to join in a civil ceremony.

The Council approved it at a first reading last month by a unanimous vote, and officials expect it to pass at a second reading on Tuesday night, making the city a standout in the state whose constitution recognizes marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

"We're here and we're forging ahead ... We're not going to wait," said Gene Conners, an enthusiastic first-term Council member who proposed the measure.

Read more: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt-usa-arizonagaymarriagel2n0ch1tt-20130402,0,6667491.story
Posted by UnrepentantLiberal | Tue Apr 2, 2013, 09:23 AM (5 replies)

Lake Erie’s Record-Breaking Algae Bloom May Become the Norm

In 2011, Lake Erie experienced the largest algae bloom in its recorded history. At its peak in October, the mat of green scum on the lake’s surface was nearly four inches thick and covered an area of almost 2,000 square miles. That’s three times larger than any other bloom in the lake, ever. Plus it was toxic. Now research shows that such an event may become increasingly common.

Algae blooms result from an excess of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus in the water, which throw aquatic ecosystems out of whack. The algae feed off the nutrients and grow so thick that they block sunlight, preventing other plants from photosynthesizing. And as the algae die, bacteria consume copious amounts of oxygen to decompose them, killing fish and other animals in the process. When the nutrient-loading gets really bad, it can sometimes lead to hypoxic, low-oxygen conditions, resulting in ecological dead zones like the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

To make matters worse, certain strains of blue-green algae are toxic, which makes these blooms dangerous to more than just lake-dwelling life. In the case of the 2011 bloom in Lake Erie, the researchers determined that blue-green algae accounted for the majority of the bloom, and concentrations of the toxic stuff reached 4,500 μg/L, which is 225 times greater than the maximum that the World Health Organization recommends for water used for swimming and boating.

One of the major source of nutrient loading in lakes is agricultural runoff from within a lake’s watershed—the area of land which drains to the lake. After nutrient loading in Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes got really bad in the 60s and 70s, the U.S. and Canadian governments implemented the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to reduce nutrient loading to these iconic bodies of freshwater. For the next few decades, the agreement showed promising results, but in the 90s the nutrient concentrations began to creep back up.

More: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2013/04/01/lake-eries-record-breaking-algae-bloom-may-become-the-norm/#.UVrWz-XCu7o
Posted by UnrepentantLiberal | Tue Apr 2, 2013, 09:03 AM (6 replies)

'Monsanto Protection Act': 5 Terrifying Things To Know About The HR 933 Provision

The "Monsanto Protection Act" is the name opponents of the Farmer Assurance Provision have given to this terrifying piece of policy, and it's a fitting moniker given its shocking content.

President Barack Obama signed a spending bill, HR 933, into law on Tuesday that includes language that has food and consumer advocates and organic farmers up in arms over their contention that the so-called "Monsanto Protection Act" is a giveaway to corporations that was passed under the cover of darkness.

There's a lot being said about it, but here are five terrifying facts about the Farmer Assurance Provision -- Section 735 of the spending bill -- to get you acquainted with the reasons behind the ongoing uproar:

1.) The "Monsanto Protection Act" effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. The advent of genetically modified seeds --which has been driven by the massive Monsanto Company -- and their exploding use in farms across America came on fast and has proved a huge boon for Monsanto's profits.

But many anti-GMO folks argue there have not been enough studies into the potential health risks of this new class of crop. Well, now it appears that even if those studies are completed and they end up revealing severe adverse health effects related to the consumption of genetically modified foods, the courts will have no ability to stop the spread of the seeds and the crops they bear.

More: http://www.ibtimes.com/monsanto-protection-act-5-terrifying-things-know-about-hr-933-provision-1156079
Posted by UnrepentantLiberal | Tue Apr 2, 2013, 08:53 AM (123 replies)

State Senator and a City Councilman Said to Face Charges for Rigging Mayor’s Race

Source: New York Times

State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, a contractor and real estate developer who rose to become the first black president of the State Senate, and City Councilman Daniel J. Halloran were arrested early Tuesday on charges of trying to fix this year’s mayoral race in New York City, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Mr. Smith, a 56-year-old Democrat, and Mr. Halloran, a Queens Republican, were among about a half-dozen people facing charges in the federal corruption case, the people with knowledge of the matter said. Others included the mayor of the Rockland County village of Spring Valley, Noramie F. Jasmin, and her deputy, the people said.

Mr. Smith was taken from his Queens home in handcuffs before sunrise and Mr. Halloran was arrested at about the same time, the people said.

Mr. Smith has said he was considering running for mayor of New York as a Republican, and the charges contend that he made payments to Mr. Halloran in exchange for the councilman’s assistance in setting up meetings with Republican leaders as part of an effort to get on the ballot, one of the people said.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/nyregion/state-senator-and-city-councilman-accused-of-trying-to-rig-mayors-race.html
Posted by UnrepentantLiberal | Tue Apr 2, 2013, 08:34 AM (2 replies)

Why not this for a state gun control law to slow gun trafficking?

All guns that are transported into a state that has passed this law must be registered with the state before being transported across the state line. Anyone convicted of this crime would be subject to a minimum of five years in prison per gun.

Wouldn't this slow the flood of guns into cities like Chicago from states with lax gun laws like South Carolina?
Posted by UnrepentantLiberal | Mon Apr 1, 2013, 09:42 PM (120 replies)

India tourist visits down 25% following fatal Delhi gang rape

Source: The Guardian

The number of foreign tourists arriving in India dropped by 25% during the first three months of this year, largely because of fears about the risk of sexual assault, according to an industry survey.

The number of female tourists fell by 35% compared with the same period last year, with Indian tour operators reporting many cancellations from January to March following the fatal gang rape of a physiotherapist on a Delhi bus last December.

The figures from the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (Assocham) are based on a survey of 1,200 tour operators and contradict the government's rosy picture of the tourism business.

For both January and February, tourism ministry figures showed an increase in the number of tourists and revenue from tourism, compared with the first two months of 2012. A month after the Delhi gang rape, the tourism secretary, Parvez Dewan, said: "So far there has been no adverse impact on tourism."

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/31/india-tourist-visits-down-delhi-gang-rape
Posted by UnrepentantLiberal | Mon Apr 1, 2013, 05:39 PM (7 replies)

6,000 Syrians killed in March, deadliest month yet

Source: AP

BEIRUT—March was the bloodiest month yet in Syria's 2-year-old conflict with more than 6,000 documented deaths, a leading anti-regime activist group said Monday, blaming the increase on heavier shelling and more violent clashes. Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the increased toll is likely incomplete because both the Syrian army and the rebel groups fighting the government often underreport their dead in the civil war.

"Both sides are hiding information," Abdul-Rahman said by phone from Britain, where his group is based. "It is very difficult to get correct info on the fighters because they don't want the information to hurt morale."

The numbers, while provided by only one group, support the appraisal of the conflict offered by many Syria watchers: The civil war is largely a military stalemate that is destroying the country's social fabric and taking a huge toll on civilians. The increase also reflects the continuing spread of major hostilities to new parts of Syria. While clashes continue in Aleppo, Damascus and Homs, Syria's three largest cities, rebels have launched an offensive in recent weeks to seize towns and army bases in the southern province of Daraa, largely with the help of an influx of foreign-funded weapons.

The Observatory, which works through a network of contacts in Syria, said those killed in March included similar numbers of combatants on both sides: 1,486 rebels and army defectors and 1,464 soldiers from the Syrian army. But the number of civilians killed exceeded them both: 2,080 total for the month, including 298 children and 291 women. In addition, there were 387 unidentified civilians and 588 unidentified fighters, most of them foreigners fighting with the rebels, bringing the March total to 6,005, Abdul-Rahman said.

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_22914288/syrian-official-says-historic-synagogue-looted
Posted by UnrepentantLiberal | Mon Apr 1, 2013, 05:31 PM (2 replies)

John Boehner comes out in favor of marriage equality

WASHINGTON - In a tearful press conference John Boehner announced a change of heart over one if the most divisive issues of the decade.

More: http://tinyurl.com/2ht3po
Posted by UnrepentantLiberal | Mon Apr 1, 2013, 06:39 AM (1 replies)
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