Author Archive | majestic

Solar Panel Arrays Setting Birds On Fire While In Flight

PS10 solar power tower.jpg

Who said solar energy wasn’t going to cause casualties? AP’s The Big Story reports on burning birds flying over solar panel arrays with flames and smoke trailing behind them:

Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.

The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

The deaths are “alarming.

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John Oliver Slams Militarization of Police

In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, John Oliver explores the racial inequality in treatment by police as well as the increasing militarization of America’s local police forces:

“I know the police love their ridiculous, unnecessary military equipment, so here’s another patronizing test. Let’s take it all away from them and if they can make through a whole month without killing a single unarmed black man, then, and only then, can they get their fucking toys back.”

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Google’s Frankenbuger

Burgers (4627873264)“Frankenburger” taste pioneer Josh Schonwald thinks that the $300,000 not-so-great lab grown meat-burger may soon become commercially viable and, perhaps, quite tasty, thanks to funding from Google’s Sergey Brin. He writes at TIME:

They may not taste great yet, but scientists, with the help of Sergey Brin, are ready to change that.

It has been one year since I took part in one of the most surreal and expensive taste tests in human history. No, I didn’t eat a black Périgord truffle seasoned with gold or a bowl of beluga caviar. Last August in London, with 200 journalists and several hulking cameras staring at me, I was one of the two people to taste the so-called Frankenburger: the world’s first lab-grown beef burger, a five-ounce patty grown from cow stem cells that took a Dutch scientist four years of research and $332,000 to create…

The most exciting news I heard last summer was not that a cultured beef burger was actually, finally, being made—nor that I would be the guinea pig flown to London to try it.

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Julian Assange To Leave Ecuadorian Embassy ‘Soon’

30C3 Assange 02What’s next for WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange? It seems only he knows, but whatever his plans, he’s not going to stay in Ecuador’s London embassy much longer reports the New York Times:

LONDON — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who was given asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy here two years ago, said on Monday that he “will be leaving the embassy soon,” but he provided no specifics.

In a long and wandering news conference at which he was accompanied by the Ecuadorean foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, Mr. Assange summarized his case, arguing that he had helped bring about needed change in the British extradition system and saying that his health was suffering after two years at the embassy.

Mr. Assange faces extradition to Sweden, which is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct, and the British police continue to post a 24-hour guard at the embassy at a cost of more than $10 million.

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You Are Not Nearly Scared Enough About Ebola

2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak situation map.jpg

2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak situation map by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via Wikimedia Commons.

“Experimental drugs and airport screenings will do nothing to stop this plague. If Ebola hits Lagos, we’re in real trouble,” says Laurie Garrett at Foreign Policy:

Attention, World: You just don’t get it.

You think there are magic bullets in some rich country’s freezers that will instantly stop the relentless spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa? You think airport security guards in Los Angeles can look a traveler in the eyes and see infection, blocking that jet passenger’s entry into La-la-land? You believe novelist Dan Brown’s utterly absurd description of a World Health Organization that has a private C5-A military transport jet and disease SWAT team that can swoop into outbreaks, saving the world from contagion?

Wake up, fools. What’s going on in West Africa now isn’t Brown’s silly Inferno scenario — it’s Steven Soderbergh’s movie Contagion, though without a modicum of its high-tech capacity.

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Guide Dogs and Guns: America’s Blind Gunmen

Silhouette GunEven if you blindly support the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution (the right to bear arms and all that), does it follow that you let blind people own guns? From BBC News:

In the US, being blind is no bar to owning and carrying firearms. The blind people who do it say they are simply exercising their constitutional right, and present no danger to the public.

When Carey McWilliams went to the sheriff’s office in Fargo, North Dakota, to fill out the paperwork for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, the staff immediately noticed he was holding the harness to a guide dog.

The woman behind the desk pointed out that he would have to pass a shooting test before being granted the licence, but McWilliams said he knew that. He told her not to worry.

“So then she took a picture of me, and my application then went up through the ranks – it got the signature of the chief of police of Fargo, the sheriff and the state attorney general’s office – and they kept calling me and calling me, saying: ‘There’s a shooting test, there’s a shooting test.’”

The day of the test came, and McWilliams duly went along to the police firing range with a friend who was also trying for a permit.

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The United States of America Is Not For Black People

Kid Handcuffed in the Back of a Police Car, Oakland RiotsDo you agree with Greg Howard that “the United States of America is not for black people,” which he writes at Deadspin’s The Concourse?

The United States of America is not for black people. We know this, and then we put it out of our minds, and then something happens to remind us. Saturday, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., something like that happened: An unarmed 18-year-old black man was executed by police in broad daylight.

By now, what’s happening in Ferguson is about so many second-order issues—systemic racism, the militarization of police work, and how citizens can redress grievances, among other things—that it’s worth remembering what actually happened here.

Michael Brown was walking down the middle of the street in Ferguson’s Canfield Green apartment complex around noon on Saturday with his friend Dorin Johnson when the two were approached by a police officer in a police truck.

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Ron Paul Says U.S. ‘Likely Hiding Truth’ About MH17 Crash

Ron Paul, official 109th Congress photoEx-Congressman Ron Paul, libertarian hero and father of current presidential hopeful Rand Paul, has never been one to shirk a controversial statement, but really, an MH17 conspiracy theory? From his Voices of Liberty (click for audio of his reading the statement below):

The U.S. government has grown strangely quiet on the accusation that it was Russia or her allies that brought down the Malaysian airliner with a buck anti-aircraft missile.

The little that we have heard from U.S. intelligence is that it has no evidence that Russia was involved. Yet the war propaganda was successful in convincing the American public that it was all Russia’s fault. It’s hard to believe that the U.S., with all of its spy satellites available for monitoring everything in Ukraine that precise proof of who did what and when is not available.

When evidence contradicts our government’s accusations, the evidence is never revealed to the public—for national security reasons, of course.

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