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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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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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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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The Land Grab In Space

The US has space experts worried about an extra-terrestrial land grab, reports Quartz (and lest you should think that’s a joke, first check out leading property sales firm Knight Frank’s Asteroid Index):

asteroid index

Plans to make money in space are missing one of the fundamental ingredients to any business: property rights.

If you go mine an asteroid, as several companies plan to do, and bring some minerals back to earth, can you sell them? If you build a moonbase, as entrepreneur Robert Bigelow is contemplating, and someone else wants to land a rocket there, what’s to stop them?

Asteroid miners eager to raise funds to raid space rocks—some of which are packed with minerals valued in the trillions of dollars—are faced with a legal code that was never meant to apply to private enterprise in space, since it was written well before it took anything less than the resources of a national government to get to orbit.

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One-Third of American 8th Graders Think Canada is a Dictatorship

There’s clearly some pernicious, ahem, disinformation, being disseminated in US middle schools! CBC (Canada’s government-funded broadcaster, which is I suppose an organ of the state), is reporting in outraged terms that one-third of American 8th graders think Canada is a dictatorship:

The days of politically frustrated Americans declaring “That’s it, I’m moving to Canada!” could soon be coming to an end — at least among teenagers who value freedom and equality.

568px-Canada_flag_map.svg

 

According to the U.S. government’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 33 per cent of American eight graders currently believe that Canada is a dictatorship.

This finding was one of many revealed by the NCES in its 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress report when it was released late last month.

Alternately called “The Nation’s Report Card,” the publication presents the results of standardized tests given to more than 29,000 eighth-grade students across the U.S. last year.

It was here that reporters learned of how many young Americans may actually think Canada has more in common with North Korea, politically, than with our neighbours to the South.

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Next Jobs Automation Will Kill

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

Barb Darrow via Forbes:

Most of us watched as automation displaced factory workers and other laborers; but now many “skilled” workers are getting anxious as the robot overlords come for us.

When automated factories started erasing jobs at manufacturing companies, most of us shrugged: Great, better products cheaper, was the general line of thinking

But as automation keeps creeping up the stack, taking over more of what most would call “skilled” positions, well that’s getting some folks—who consider themselves skilled professionals—nervous.

Take airplane pilots for example. That’s now a dead-end job according to Mary “Missy” Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL) at Duke University (and a former Naval fighter pilot.) She said that “in all honesty” she could not recommend that anyone become a commercial airline pilot going forward, given the current state of the art.

“Commercial pilots today touch the stick for three to seven minutes per flight—and that’s on a tough day,” she told an audience at the MIT CIO Symposium on Wednesday.

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