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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 35,238

About Me

Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

1,200 Turtles Have Washed Ashore In Cape Cod — And No One Knows Why

Weak, immobile, and close to death, the turtles wash limply on to the sand. The wind and waves draw them up to the shore, where their cold bodies — incapacitated by the frigid, late-autumn ocean — will lie prone on the beach, unable to move or defend themselves.

Here, they can do nothing but await rescue.

Each week since mid-November, staff members and volunteers from the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in South Wellfleet, Mass., have diligently patrolled the shoreline, both day and night, searching for these stranded sea turtles, which have washed up on the shore in droves this year — a mysterious event that has left wildlife experts scratching their heads.

Every year, a few sea turtles — usually 200 at most, in recent years — linger a little too long in Cape Cod Bay after the rest of their brethren have drifted back out to sea in search of warmer waters. These turtles somehow miss their cue to leave and end up staying behind as the waters cool.



Food Stamp Reforms Are Ruining Christmas

By the time Maria Melo went to the state social services office to apply for food stamps, things had been going badly for months. She'd lost her job as director of nursing at a rehab facility. Then, longstanding problems with anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder shut her body down and she ended up hospitalized for two weeks. Between unemployment checks and her husband's work as a self-employed electrician, they might still have been able to squeak by OK and even get some decent Christmas gifts for the kids. But the unpaid hospital bills made that impossible now.

Food stamps, Melo figured, would reduce the monthly grocery bill, giving her a little breathing room in the family budget. But, sitting in the crowded waiting room at an office of the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance near her home in Lowell, she was more embarrassed than hopeful.

"I was like, I can't believe I'm doing this," she said. "Here I am, a registered nurse, sitting there, just hoping for help."



Meet the Pro-Slavery Fairview Park Auxiliary Cop

Aaron McNamara is a young auxiliary officer at the Fairview Park police department , climbing up the law enforcement ladder as he finishes his college degree this semester with dreams of becoming a federal agent, he says. On social media, he says he's gone through training with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and this June he tweeted he was "Officially sworn in with the Fairview Park Police Department. Wow, this feels good. #DreamChasing."

He also has many thoughts about African Americans.

Over the past two years, McNamara has been commenting on YouTube videos — mostly about black people and law enforcement — regularly dropping racial and gay slurs, unambiguously expressing hatred towards minorities and anyone who dare not comply with what police say. He calls black people in videos "jungle monkeys," "spooks," and worse. He commented on a video of a young black child swearing, saying "This is how cop killers are raised my friends." He's also a fan of when police officers shoot and rough up non-compliant civilians. The comments appeared on his Youtube and Google+ accounts that were deleted yesterday (we'll explain in a bit).



Oh, If Only!

Today's Non Sequitur Toon: Please help!

Toon: The Lame Duck

Paul Krugman- Putin’s Bubble Bursts

If you’re the type who finds macho posturing impressive, Vladimir Putin is your kind of guy. Sure enough, many American conservatives seem to have an embarrassing crush on the swaggering strongman. “That is what you call a leader,” enthused Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, after Mr. Putin invaded Ukraine without debate or deliberation.

But Mr. Putin never had the resources to back his swagger. Russia has an economy roughly the same size as Brazil’s. And, as we’re now seeing, it’s highly vulnerable to financial crisis — a vulnerability that has a lot to do with the nature of the Putin regime.

For those who haven’t been keeping track: The ruble has been sliding gradually since August, when Mr. Putin openly committed Russian troops to the conflict in Ukraine. A few weeks ago, however, the slide turned into a plunge. Extreme measures, including a huge rise in interest rates and pressure on private companies to stop holding dollars, have done no more than stabilize the ruble far below its previous level. And all indications are that the Russian economy is heading for a nasty recession.

The proximate cause of Russia’s difficulties is, of course, the global plunge in oil prices, which, in turn, reflects factors — growing production from shale, weakening demand from China and other economies — that have nothing to do with Mr. Putin. And this was bound to inflict serious damage on an economy that, as I said, doesn’t have much besides oil that the rest of the world wants; the sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine conflict have added to the damage.



Your Waitress, Your Professor


LAS VEGAS — ON the first day of the fall semester, I left campus from an afternoon of teaching anxious college freshmen and headed to my second job, serving at a chain restaurant off Las Vegas Boulevard. The switch from my professional attire to a white dress shirt, black apron and tie reflected the separation I attempt to maintain between my two jobs. Naturally, sitting at the first table in my section was one of my new students, dining with her parents.

This scene is a cliché of the struggling teacher, and it surfaces repeatedly in pop culture — think of Walter White in “Breaking Bad,” washing the wheels of a student’s sports car after a full day teaching high school chemistry. Bumping into a student at the gym can be awkward, but exposing the reality that I, with my master’s degree, not only have another job, but must have one, risks destroying the facade of success I present to my students as one of their university mentors.

In class I emphasize the value of a degree as a means to avoid the sort of jobs that I myself go to when those hours in the classroom are over. A colleague in my department labeled these jobs (food and beverage, retail and customer service — the only legal work in abundance in Las Vegas) as “survival jobs.” He tells our students they need to learn that survival work will not grant them the economic security of white-collar careers. I never told him that I myself had such a job, that I needed our meeting to end within the next 10 minutes or I’d be late to a seven-hour shift serving drunk, needy tourists, worsening my premature back problem while getting hit on repeatedly.

The line between these two worlds is thinner here in Las Vegas than it might be elsewhere. The majority of my students this semester hold part-time survival jobs, and some of them will remain in those jobs for the rest of their working lives. About 60 percent of the college freshmen I teach will not finish their degree. They will turn 21 and then forgo a bachelor’s degree for the instant gratification of a cash-based income, whether parking cars in Vegas hotels, serving in high-end restaurants or dealing cards in the casinos.



First Maps from Carbon-Monitoring Satellite Show Global CO2 Levels

December 19, 2014 |By Richard Monastersky and Nature magazine

OCO-2 aims to measure atmospheric CO2 levels with enough precision to help pin down how human activities and natural systems are emitting and absorbing the greenhouse gas.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s carbon-monitoring satellite has passed its post-launch checks and is beaming high-quality data back to Earth. But getting to this point required some last-minute adjustments: after the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) launched in July, the agency had to overcome a key design problem with the spacecraft that had gone unnoticed in a decade of planning.

News of the satellite’s status came on December 18 briefing at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, California, where OCO-2 scientists released the first images from the probe. “The results and the promise of this mission are quite amazing,” said Annmarie Eldering, deputy project scientist for OCO-2 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

The data from OCO-2—which maps the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as it circles the globe—is a long time coming. Scientists and engineers on the project have ridden an emotional roller coaster: in 2009, a rocket failure doomed the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, their first attempt at a carbon-mapping probe.


Coal Ash Is Not Hazardous Waste under U.S. Agency Rules

By Jonathan Kaminsky

Dec 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued rules on Friday labeling coal ash, a byproduct of coal-based power production containing toxic materials such as arsenic and lead, as non-hazardous waste.

The label means that states, and not the EPA, will be the primary enforcers of the new rules, which will require the closure of some coal ash holding ponds leaking contaminants into surrounding water.

"This rule is a huge step forward in our effort to protect communities from coal ash storage impoundment failures as well as the improper management and disposal of coal ash in general," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, speaking on a conference call with reporters.

The agency first proposed rules governing coal ash storage in 2010, in the wake of a massive spill at a ruptured holding pond in Tennessee that has cost more than $1 billion to clean up.

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