Scientists Conclusively Link BP Oil Spill with Unprecedented Dolphin Die-Off

Bottlenose dolphin ((Photo: Paco Lopez/flickr/cc)

Bottlenose dolphin (Photo: Paco Lopez/flickr/cc)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. To see more of Deirdre Fulton’s posts, go here.

Scientists have for the first time made a conclusive link between the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and an unprecedented dolphin die-off along the Gulf’s northern coast.

Bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama experienced an “unusual mortality event” beginning in February 2010 and continuing into 2014, according to the study, written by a team of 22 researchers, including scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service, Audubon Nature Institute’s Aquarium of the Americas, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and a number of marine laboratories nationwide.

By comparing tissue samples from dead dolphins found along the northern Gulf of Mexico—including 22 from Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, one of the most heavily oiled coastal areas in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster— with similar samples taken from dead dolphins found in the states that weren’t within the BP oil footprint, the scientists discovered that stranded and dead bottlenose dolphins within the spill range had lung and adrenal lesions consistent with petroleum product exposure.

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Anti-Littering Campaign Uses DNA From Trash to Shame People

Big Brother is vacationing in Hong Kong, apparently. The South China Morning Post reports on an ad campaign in the former British colony that used the DNA of the litterbugs to create posters with their composite faces:

A campaign that used DNA analysis to give a face to anonymous Hong Kong litterbugs, then posted representations of the faces on billboards across the city, has been a big hit on social media.

One of the posters showing the accused litterbug and his litter.

One of the posters showing the accused litterbug and his litter.

 

The Face of Litter campaign was launched on Global Earth Day last month for the Hong Kong Cleanup Initiative, organised by online magazine Ecozine and the Nature Conservancy. It was aimed at raising awareness of the extent of littering in the city by pinpointing those responsible and encouraging people to change their behaviour…

Marketing communications agency Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong came up with the idea for the billboard campaign and enlisted US-based  Parabon Nanolabs.

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‘Freelance’ Spies Filling in for NSA, Recording Your Private Conversations

Now that the NSA is readying to shut down its domestic surveillance operation as the Patriot Act goes into limbo, some freelancers in New York City are picking up the NSA’s reins and recording private conversations at restaurants, gyms and other public locations. Generously, they are “declassifying” the recordings and publishing them at their website, WeAreAlwaysListening.com. Gothamist reports:

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know that the National Security Agency collects the phone records of every American in order to keep the country safe from terrorism. But for the past eight months a group of artists claiming to work for the NSA on “a freelance, pro bono basis” have been recording people’s private conversations in popular bars, restaurants, and gyms in Lower Manhattan to ensure that no actionable intelligence falls through the cracks.

Recording devices from WeAreListening.com

Recording devices from WeAreListening.com

 

“We’re looking for terrorism, we’re looking for signs of plots and schemes that could put the homeland at risk,” one of the group’s “agents” tells us.

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The Night Doctors: the terror behind the abduction phenomenon

izarbeltza (CC BY-SA 2.0)

izarbeltza (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Theo Paijmans writes a compelling analysis of the abduction phenomenon over at Mysterious Universe:

Do the roots of how we have come to perceive the UFO abduction phenomenon lie elsewhere, not between the stars but buried in the folklore and superstition of a suppressed people? If so, what does it tell us? Is the abduction phenomenon older than we think, does it manifest itself amongst the various cultures on earth in a different way? A hundred years ago you’d be having a very good chance that an African American, no matter where he might live in the United States, might mutter in agreement to all these questions, before hurrying off in utter fear.

Not too long ago large parts of the American population were the victim of a virulent racism, and, although the sharpest edges have been removed, it has never totally gone away. What this racism also brought with it was a unique divergence of the folkloric beliefs and superstitions of the various racial populations that made up America.

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Timelapse Video of Bees Being Born

Watch the growth of larvae into bees with this beautiful timelapse video from National Geographic.

via National Geographic:

Witness the eerily beautiful growth of larvae into bees in this mesmerizing time-lapse video from photographer Anand Varma. Varma said the six-month project, for which he built a beehive in his workshop, gave him a new respect for the meticulous job of beekeeping.

h/t Open Culture

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Philosophy Recap: Self-Knowledge

Tony Hall (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Tony Hall (CC BY-ND 2.0)

I love Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy, it’s a great resource. Here’s the introduction and table of contents to their entry on Self-Knowledge.

via Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

In philosophy, “self-knowledge” standardly refers to knowledge of one’s own sensations, thoughts, beliefs, and other mental states. At least since Descartes, most philosophers have believed that our knowledge of our own mental states differs markedly from our knowledge of the external world (where this includes our knowledge of others’ thoughts). But there is little agreement about what precisely distinguishes self-knowledge from knowledge in other realms. Partially because of this disagreement, philosophers have endorsed competing accounts of how we acquire self-knowledge. These accounts have important consequences for a broad range of philosophical issues, especially issues in epistemology and the philosophy of mind.

This entry focuses on knowledge of one’s own particular mental states. A separate topic sometimes referred to as “self-knowledge”, knowledge about a persisting self, is addressed in a supplement:Knowledge of the Self.

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Magic, Myth and Secrecy: W.B. Yeats and the Occult

William Butler Yeats by John Butler Yeats 1900.jpg

William Butler Yeats by John Butler Yeats, 1900.


Did you know that Yeats was fascinated by the occult? He was a member of Madam Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society (eventually expelled) and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Indpendent.ie sheds some light on Yeats’s fascination with the dark arts:

The young William Butler Yeats was introduced to the study and practice of the occult while in art college in Dublin – his instant fascination with the occult, metaphysics and paranormal activities was to remain with him throughout his life. His passion for mysticism and the occult sciences was displayed through his poetry and writings.

The path to conventional Christianity had been cut off for Yeats by his father’s religious scepticism, but his need to believe in something and a hunger for the spiritual life led him to seek and devise an alternative system of beliefs, according to official Yeats biographer Roy Foster.

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An animal that could rewrite the family tree: one of the top new species of 2015

Is it a … or a ….? Dengrogramma enigmatica, discovered in deep water off the coast of Victoria, doesn’t quite fit in anywhere in the animal family tree. Jørgen Olesen

Is it a … or a ….? Dengrogramma enigmatica, discovered in deep water off the coast of Victoria, doesn’t quite fit in anywhere in the animal family tree. Jørgen Olesen

Susan Lawler, La Trobe University

It is that time of year again, when the International Institute for Species Exploration based at the State University of New York announces the Top 10 new species.

This year the announcement has been timed to honour the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, the founder of modern taxonomy, who was born on 23 May 1707. Linneaus not only established the system we still use to classify species, he and his students made a heroic start by naming 4,400 animal and 7,700 plant species. Linneaus would be astonished to know that modern scientists named 18,000 new species just last year, and that current estimates are that 10 million species still await discovery.

With that context, it should be clear that the Top 10 species of the year are ambassadors for this massive endeavour and were chosen both to highlight the passion of the scientists involved and to activate the imagination of people who do not usually think about taxonomy.… Read the rest

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