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Judi Lynn

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Condor chick born in wild flies from nest at California park

Condor chick born in wild flies from nest at California park

Updated 10:50 pm, Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Photo: Gavin Emmons, AP

PAICINES, Calif. (AP) — A California condor chick has hatched in the wild, survived and flown out of its nest at Pinnacles National Park for the first time since the 1890s, officials said Wednesday.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2edTCWs ) reports the female bird, born in April, is not the first chick to be born in the park. But it is the first to survive long enough to leave the nest and begin its flight to adulthood.

"She is staying near the nest, doing lot of practice flights," said Rachel Wolstenholme, condor program manager at Pinnacles. "Her parents will help her learn how to fly and where to feed and how to interact with the other wild birds out there."

. . .

Scientists say it's a success story for North America's largest bird as it continues a slow but steady path from near extinction.


The incredible otherwordly caterpillars of Ecuador

The incredible otherwordly caterpillars of Ecuador
Melissa Breyer (@MelissaBreyer)
Science / Animals
October 10, 2016

© Andreas Kay/flickr

From cute as a kitten to fierce as a dragon, these exquisite caterpillars prove there's no limit to bizarre when Mother Nature is driving.

Caterpillars are a wonder. The ever-so-curious larvae of butterflies and moths garner much more affection than other insect larvae, and there is little denying that they are really charming. Yes, they can inflict some serious stings and devour whole crops, but once they graduate to full-blown butterfly and moth status, they become important pollinators and part of a healthy ecosystem. Consider caterpillar-hood as the rebellious teen years.

One of the greatest challenges caterpillar face is that they are essentially slow-moving bundles of protein that make for excellent meals for their predators. Which is why they have developed all kinds of fancy tricks, like the aforementioned stinging thing as well as their array of looks which work to make them look larger, or scarier, or like other things, or hidden, and so on. All so clever, and all a delight to the nature lover with a soft-spot for larvae.

The following images show some of the extreme caterpillars of Ecuador, a place of astounding biodiversity. The photos were taken by scientist Andreas Kay, who has been documenting the diversity of life in Ecuador as an independent scientist since 2011 in order to raise more awareness for the treasures there, many of which are threatened by the destruction of tropical forests.


Humans, megafauna coexisted in Patagonia before extinction

Humans, megafauna coexisted in Patagonia before extinction

Cueva del Milodón, or Mylodon Cave, in Patagonia was named after the giant ground sloth whose
mummified skin and large deposits of dung were found in the cave. Credit: Alan Cooper.

During the last ice age, giant mammals roamed the wide-open steppes of what is now Patagonia. Around the time that humans were making their way down through North America and into South America, the climate began warming and large species of giant sloths and saber-toothed cats soon disappeared. Now, researchers looking at mitochondrial DNA from some of these megafaunal species are shedding light on the timing of the extinction and whether encroaching humans or changing climate — or both — were to blame for their disappearance.

Patagonia is an ideal place to study the Late Pleistocene megafaunal extinction, says Alan Cooper, a biologist at the Australian Center for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide and a co-author of a new study in Science Advances. “Patagonia has a number of volcanic caves and lake shore caves, many of which are stocked with megafaunal remains,” he says. “The cold temperatures also help preserve DNA and make for high-resolution data.”

Cooper and his colleagues used mitochondrial DNA extracted from radiocarbon-dated bones and teeth found in caves across Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego to map the genetic history of six megafaunal species, including the giant jaguar, large ground sloths and the one-ton short-faced bear. “The combination of radiocarbon dating and mitochondrial DNA allowed us to see the timing of the major changes in diversity of these populations,” Cooper says, and to “compare that timing with the arrival of humans in the area, as well as with the timing of warming.”

The team identified a narrow extinction phase starting about 12,300 years ago, while the earliest dates from archaeological sites place humans in the region starting about 14,600 years ago. “Clearly, we have a prolonged overlap between human presence in the area and the megafaunal extinction. These animals were coexisting with humans for some time before [the animals] started disappearing,” Cooper says.


What is a Coup? Analysing the Brazilian Impeachment Process

What is a Coup? Analysing the Brazilian Impeachment Process
October 11, 2016
by Aline Piva - Frederick B. Mills

The debate over whether the regime change in Brazil constituted a coup hinges on whether the impeachment process used to depose President Dilma Rousseff had democratic legitimacy or was an illicit use of formal procedures to undermine the popular mandate granted to the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) by the Brazilian people in the last presidential election. Proponents of the view that the impeachment was legal and that this legality confers democratic legitimacy tend to abstract the impeachment process from its lived context. This abstraction leaves the politics behind the regime change opaque and even irrelevant. The notion of legality and the impeachment that took place, however, is inevitably refracted through the lens of a historical, cultural, economic, and political context. We argue that the social contract that gives legal avenues their democratic legitimacy has been undermined by the impeachment process and that this caused a breach in the democratic order. On this view, the “legality” that prevails at the present moment is a subversion of democracy and justice — it is driven by corruption and elite economic interests, and has given rise to a golpista regime.

It is essential first to assess whether the protagonists of the impeachment process were representing constituent power, or whether they had taken themselves and special interests as the ultimate point of reference in order to advance an agenda that is contrary to the popular mandate — a mandate expressed in democratic elections just months before the regime change. If the latter were the case, and we think it is, then there has been a rupture in the democratic order brought about by an institutional coup. On account of this rupture, the legality in force is at the service of a new master and not the constituents who had delegated their power to government institutions through democratic procedures.

Many critics of the use of the term “coup” to describe Brazil’s regime change argue that this term is being misapplied. In his Political Dictionary, Noberto Bobbio defines coup d’état as a change of government through unconstitutional means. This change of government has five distinctive characteristics: 1. Is an act perpetrated by one or more institutions within the State; 2. Leads to a change in political leadership; 3. May be accompanied by political and/or social mobilization; 4. Is usually followed by the reinforcement of the State’s bureaucracy and law enforcement apparatus; and 5. Leads to the elimination or dissolution of political parties. All five of these characteristics can be found in Rousseff’s impeachment.[1] When we place the impeachment in the historical and lived context of Brazilian politics, we find that the legal process that drove the impeachment became the mere spectacle of legality, a “legality” high-jacked by a political-economic bloc to bring about a radical lchange in the overall economic and social platform — one more amenable to the neoliberal gospel, one that was simply not possible with the platform upon which Rousseff was democratically elected. When judicial manipulations in this way become the instrument of regime change toward a desired economic agenda, democracy is undermined.

Impeachment or Coup?

To understand Rousseff’s impeachment, one must understand Brazil’s history of constitutional rupture. The civil and military coup of 1964 is the most exemplary of such ruptures, but there were similar attempts in 1930, 1937, 1954, and 1961.


Animals Included: Hating Venezuela

Animals Included: Hating Venezuela
October 11, 2016
by Maria Paez Victor

The present day “Bolivarian Revolution” of Venezuela is faithful to its revolutionary past in more ways than one. Sensitivity to animals was evident even in the 19th Century wars of independence for example, an officer in Bolívar’s British Legion, Major Richard Vowell, observed that the Patriots fighting against Spanish empire felt disgust at the Spanish practice of bullfighting and credited the Venezuelan-Colombian governments of abolishing it as soon as they controlled territories.[1] As well, Captain Basil Hall of the British Navy who was sailing in South America at that time, wrote in his log that “In every instance in South America, where the cause of independence has succeeded, two measures have been invariably adopted: one, the abolition of slave trade, and as far as possible, of slavery; the other, the relinquishment of bull fights.” [2]

Amongst the many Venezuelan anti-poverty social programs -called “misiones”- perhaps the most endearing is Misión Nevado, created in 2013. [3] It is named “Nevado” after Simón Bolívar’s faithful dog. The puppy was given to him in 1813 and thereafter was always at his side but died heroically in battle in 1821.[4] Misión Nevado was created as “collective, revolutionary, ecosocialist and animalist project to rescue and protect homeless dogs and cats”. [5] Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution considers ecosocialism to include the defense of animal rights and the rights of Mother Earth. Misión Nevado is a public, free-of–charge, system of holistic veterinarian care, giving priority to cats and dogs that are homeless, abused or abandoned. The Bolivarian Revolution proclaims the Universal Rights of Animals and Mother Earth, and although it may not have reached fully its lofty goals, it is a start that these principles are upheld.

Misión Nevado is following in the steps of the successful public health care system -Barrio Adentro- that providing good, free medical care, has substantially reduced mortality and morbidity indicators and has saved more than 1.7 million lives.[6] For pets, there are now 8 Misión Nevado free veterinarian clinics in the country that have given 213,000 consultations to date. They regularly go on mobile mode to visit the more remote towns and villages to provide vaccinations and care. In the two years that it has been operating, Misión Nevado has sterilized thousands of pets. The organization does not practice euthanasia of animals in their care, but finds homes for them and, up to now, has arranged the adoption of 5,600 pets. With the help of the Venezuelan Central Bank and scientists at the University of Zulia, Misión Nevado carried out research that produced the best balanced diet for pets, affordable at low cost, with available domestic ingredients and they distribute this information widely.[7]

When the president of Misión Nevado, Ms. Maigualida Vargas, was recently asked what were the greatest impacts the organization has had in these two years, she pointed out the thousands of free vet consultations provided when previously this kind of service has never been available to Venezuelans, but also she said that equally it has been their work in sensitizing people to the need for animals to be respected as part of respecting life on earth. [8]To this effect they carry out hundreds of workshops, fairs, teaching sessions and meetings in which citizens are encouraged and taught how to treat well their furry friends. She said that they have received widespread and touching solidarity from the citizens.


Colombia’s opposition sued from all sides on charges of electoral fraud

Source: Colombia Reports

Colombia’s opposition sued from all sides on charges of electoral fraud

written by Adriaan Alsema October 9, 2016

While Colombia’s chief prosecution chief filed charges against the opposition campaign manager, human right advocates and victims sued former President Alvaro Uribe after he successfully helped sink a peace process with leftist FARC rebels.

The government and FARC rebels have agreed to consider changing the already signed deal while maintaining a bilateral ceasefire. The UN has agreed to keep its observers in Colombia.

But, the country’s conservative opposition has come under immense pressure after its campaign manager revealed the ‘No’ campaign strategy had been to foment public discontent and actively avoid the use of fact.

. . .

Since Velez’ surprise announcement and resignation, the published list of lies and disinformation used in the campaign has piled up while the margin with which the opposition won was minuscule and deeply divided the country while creating major uncertainty in the regions where the armed conflict is now again ongoing.

Read more: http://colombiareports.com/colombias-opposition-sued-sides-charges-electoral-fraud/

2,000-Year-Old Pompeii Home Reconstructed in 3D

2,000-Year-Old Pompeii Home Reconstructed in 3D

By Megan Gannon, Live Science Contributor | October 7, 2016 04:16pm ET

Researchers used 3D technology to digitally reconstruct a wealthy home in Pompeii, showing how it might have looked before Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79.

Credit: Lund University

Archaeologists have digitally reconstructed a house in Pompeii to show what life must have been like for a rich Roman banker 2,000 years ago.

The Italian city was famously buried in volcanic ash —and frozen in time — in A.D. 79, when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The vast ruins of Pompeii have been explored since the 18th century, and archaeologists today still flock to the site to uncover more of the city's secrets.

Since 2000, the Swedish Pompeii Project has been working to document an entire city block, or "insula," in close detail. This block included three big estates, a tavern, a laundry, a bakery and several gardens.

Led by Anne-Marie Leander Touati, an archaeologist at Lund University, the Swedish team has used traditional excavation methods as well as more advanced techniques like laser scanning and drone imaging to digitally reconstruct that block. The researchers have now completed their first 3D models showing this section of the city as it stands today.


The Crucial Campaign Day Most TV Journalists Won’t Tell You About

The Crucial Campaign Day Most TV Journalists Won’t Tell You About

By Jim Naureckas
Oct 7 2016

Next to November 8, the most significant day in the electoral calendar this cycle may be October 11. That’s the deadline for voter registration in 16 states and territories, representing some two-fifths of the US population. The list includes seven of the top 10 states in terms of electoral votes, and several of the most hotly contested campaign battlegrounds, including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In the 2012 election, some 66 million eligible voters, or 30 percent of the total, were unable to vote due to lack of registration. Unregistered voters account for the bulk of the US’s comparatively low voter turnout, as 90 percent of citizens who register typically go on to vote. Compared with registered voters, those who don’t register are more likely to be young, lower-income and people of color.

Despite this—or perhaps because of this—corporate media have done little to alert the public about the upcoming deadline, or about voter registration in general. A search of Nexis transcripts from the three major broadcast news outlets—ABC, CBS and NBC—turned up no stories on any news show talking about registration deadlines over the past month. (These networks do have information about voter registration deadlines on their websites—but people looking online for information about the deadlines are people who don’t need to be informed that there are deadlines.) Considering the way shows like Meet the Press and This Week and Face the Nation are obsessed with the minutiae of campaign strategy, the failure to discuss the critical factor of the voter registration timeline seems like a major gap.

Public broadcasting, with its ostensible mandate to expand democracy, doesn’t do any better. A month of PBS NewsHour transcripts didn’t reveal any coverage of voter registration deadlines, while NPR had one piece (Weekend Edition, 9/10/16) about legal wrangling over Texas’s repressive voter law in which Ashley Lopez mentioned, “While the court figures all this out, groups are frantically trying to spread the word before the state’s voter registration deadline on October 11.”


New Hampshire college heats campus with used cooking oil

New Hampshire college heats campus with used cooking oil
Oct 8, 11:26 AM EDT

KEENE, N.H. (AP) -- Things are heating up at New Hampshire's Keene State College, which is now using 100 percent used cooking oil to keep more than a third of its campus warm.

Officials say the college's decision to replace their polluting heating fuel oil with purified waste vegetable oil both supports a local business and improves the air quality around campus.

Cary Gaunt, the director of campus sustainability, said he was told by industry leaders that Keene State is the only college in the country using purified waste vegetable oil to heat a campus . The school has about 5,500 students.

"Sustainability is a core value at Keene State College," he said. "We are taking bold steps to demonstrate our values by significantly reducing our greenhouse gas footprint and improving the well-being of the people on our campus and the surrounding community."


Why Care at Native American Hospitals Is Often Substandard

Why Care at Native American Hospitals Is Often Substandard

OCT. 8, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The internal watchdog of the Health and Human Services Department says the often substandard quality of care at hospitals serving Native Americans is the result of outdated equipment and technology, lack of resources, and difficulty attracting and keeping skilled staff.

The Office of Inspector General on Friday released two reports that looked into the longstanding challenges of the 28 hospitals directly operated by the federal Indian Health Service. The office, which acknowledged that reports of inadequate health care services for Native Americans had been of concern to the federal government for almost a century, criticized the agency’s limited oversight regarding compliance with federal regulations and quality of care, detailing how the agency’s regional administrators had few sources of information to assess the services provided at the hospitals.

The Indian Health Service, commonly referred to as I.H.S., is responsible for providing health care services to enrolled tribal members as part of the government’s treaty obligations to Native American tribes. But the agency has faced challenges for decades, and within the past year has been under increased scrutiny from Congress after inspections of hospitals in the Great Plains uncovered severe deficiencies.

The inspector general’s office said that the Indian Health Service’s eight regional offices conducted activities to monitor the quality of the hospitals, but that those efforts were minimal in some areas.

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