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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 149,397

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The 'Black Hole' Optical Illusion of the Bird of Paradise Explained By Stephanie Pappas, Live Scienc

By Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor | January 11, 2018 01:34pm ET

The blackest feathers of these rainforest birds are fundamentally differently shaped, on a microscopic level, compared with regular black feathers. The nanostructure of the feather makes them particularly prone to scattering and reabsorbing light, and that in turn makes them not only black, but a dull black that seems to whisk light away.

"The black is so striking on these birds of paradise. It really does look different," said Teresa Feo, a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution's Division of Birds. "When you look at them, they're so dark your eyes can't focus on them. You almost feel a little woozy." [In Photos: Beautiful Hummingbirds of the World]

Blackest of blacks
Birds of paradise are better known for their dramatically flashy colors than their dark plumage. They are found in places like Indonesia and Australia, and are famous for their long tails, bright colors and showy mating dances.

Alongside their colorful feathers, though, many species sport matte black feathers that are "just so weird," Feo told Live Science. This weirdness prompted Harvard graduate student Dakota McCoy to start studying the feathers' structure to figure out why they were so good at absorbing light. Feo and several other colleagues would later join the project to help do imaging work and model the optics of the feather structures of five bird of paradise species and two plain black bird species.


Brazil Joins France in Dangerous Pursuit to Snuff Out Fake News

By Francesca Friday • 01/10/18 4:30pm

Brazilian President Michel Temer at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Brazil has joined France in the unapologetic, state-supported pursuit of online censorship, citing that an onslaught of fake news is disrupting its impending elections. Brazil’s Federal Police announced its plan in a tweet to “combat false news during the election process” by means of a “specially formed group” for the upcoming 2018 primaries, adding that “the measures are intended to identify and punish the authors of ‘fake news’ for or against candidates.”

The proposed group of government officials who will be responsible for filtering online political content the way they see fit, even though there is no legislation currently in place to warrant censorship to such an extremity, will be comprised of high-ranking judiciary officials, including conservative Supreme Court Judge Gilmar Mendes, who is notorious for halting the impeachment of President Michel Temer after he was charged with illegal campaign funding.

One of Brazil’s top police officials, Federal Police Director of Investigation and Organized Crime Eugênio Ricas, told Brazilian news site RF that the delegated task force is already mobilized and that their goal is “not the creation of a new law” but “to establish a protocol of action during the elections to combat fake news.”

When pressed on what legislation is currently in place to reprimand purveyors of fake news, Ricas issued a grave warning—if current law fails, they will enact the Law of National Security, an archaic piece of legislation instated by Brazil’s military state in 1983 that makes it a felony to “spread rumors that cause panic.” Although Ricas admits that “Brazil needs to modernize its legislation,” censorship laws from a past dictatorship do not perturb him. “If this does not happen it is our obligation to work with the legal framework we have,” he said.


'Totally Wrong' on Jupiter: What Scientists Gleaned from NASA's Juno Mission

By Hanneke Weitering, Space.com Staff Writer | January 10, 2018 02:04pm ET

- click for image -


Cyclones swirl at Jupiter's south pole in this photo from NASA's Juno spacecraft.
Credit: Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Before NASA sent its Juno spacecraft to explore Jupiter, astronomers were "totally wrong" about much of what they thought they knew about the planet, the mission's principal investigator, Scott Bolton, said during a lecture here at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Tuesday (Jan. 9).

Juno, which launched in 2011 and is currently orbiting Jupiter, is not the first spacecraft to study the gas giant up close. NASA's Pioneer and Voyager missions flew by Jupiter in the 1970s, and the Galileo spacecraft later spent eight years orbiting the planet. Even before that, humans had been studying Jupiter with telescopes for hundreds of years.

"Our ideas were totally wrong about the interior structure, about the atmosphere, [and] even about the magnetosphere," Bolton said. Astronomers believed that Jupiter had either a very small and dense core, or perhaps no core at all. But data from Juno revealed that Jupiter has an enormous, "fuzzy" core that might be partially dissolved. This discrepancy between scientists' expectations and the data suggests that there's a lot we still don't know about giant gas planets, he explained.

By the time Juno launched, astronomers had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the new images and data it would collect at Jupiter — or so they thought. [Photos: NASA's Juno Mission to Jupiter]


Why getting rid of Costa Rica's army 70 years ago has been such a success

Amanda Trejos, Special to USA TODAY
Published 6:05 a.m. ET Jan. 5, 2018 | Updated 10:28 a.m. ET Jan. 5, 2018

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are plagued by chronic poverty and violence that have sent a flood of refugees fleeing to the United States. Panama has gained the unwanted title as a world capital for money laundering and corruption. And all of them, plus Nicaragua, face recurrent political upheaval.

Yet amid this chaos, one Central American neighbor remains an island of political stability, economic prosperity and contentment: Costa Rica.

The country's secret is something that virtually no other country in the world can claim — no standing army. It has used the savings from defense spending to improve education, health care and a durable social safety net.

In 2018, Costa Rica will mark its 70th anniversary since it abolished its military, and that seems to suit the population. It ranked first in Latin America and 12th in world in happiness, according to the 2017 World Happiness Index. The Happy Planet Index ranked it No. 1 in the world.

Tourists visit the butterfly exhibit at the National Biodiversity Park, near Heredia, Costa Rica.
(Photo: Kent Gilbert, AP)


Only International Pressure Prevents the End of Funai, Says Indigenist

Only International Pressure Prevents the End of Funai, Says Indigenist
01/08/2018 - 10H49

Ouvir o texto

Married and the father of two children, indigenist Jair Candor, 57, is about to complete his 30th year working with several isolated indigenous groups in Brazil.

He is the coordinator of the Front for the Ethnic and Environmental Protection of Madeirinha-Juruena, which works in two conflicting areas in the northwest of the state of Mato Grosso. He has a pessimistic view of the future of Brazilian indigenous policies. "It is going from bad to worse," says Candor.


Folha - There are reports of isolated indigenous people killed by gold prospectors along the Amazonas river and in areas invaded by loggers. How do you see this scenario?

Jair Candor - I really do not see an improvement on the horizon. In my opinion, it is going from bad to worse. The influential political power in these areas is huge. We know that these are strong people with a lot of money. And these guys get what they want, because what the government wants today is the end of Funai (the National Indian Foundation). I tell my colleagues that the agency is still standing because of the isolated indigenous communities – because the attention given by the media abroad is very strong. That is the only factor that is still barely keeping it alive, because foreigners are harsh critics and it seems like they are more worried about the isolated communities here than the Brazilian government. If they were not isolated, Funai would already have become something else. We know that the big soybean and cattle farmers are taking over.


Interview: When the US Government Hides Evidence

January 9, 2018 12:00AM EST

US Government Can Construct Stories to Hide Illegal Searches

The US government can use evidence that it may have obtained illegally – from methods ranging from old-fashioned wiretaps to sophisticated data sweeps – to prosecute people without telling them how it got the evidence. Because the government wants to keep the source of this illegally obtained information secret, it concocts an alternative story to cover it up. This process, called “parallel construction,” is undermining the US judicial system. Researcher Sarah St.Vincent talks about her new report with Amy Braunschweiger, detailing the danger parallel construction creates for everyone in the US and why it needs to stop.

What does parallel construction look like?

We identified a case in Arizona where government officials illegally tracked a suspect’s rental car with a GPS device they’d secretly installed without a warrant. Then the federal official contacted the police near Flagstaff, Arizona, and told them to find a reason to pull over and search the car. So the local police pulled the person over, using the temporary paper license plate in the window as an excuse. They then used a drug-detecting dog to sniff the car and found drugs.

In the US we have a concept that’s called “the fruit of the poisonous tree.” That means prosecutors are not supposed to be allowed to enter anything stemming from an illegal search into evidence in court. If we let the government use something illegally gathered at trial, there’s little incentive for law enforcement to obey the law.


Colombia's colourful Black and White carnival in pictures

Colombia's colourful Black and White carnival – in pictures

More than 10,000 people take part in the Black and White carnival, which has its origins in a mix of Andean, Amazonian and Pacific cultural expressions, celebrated every year between the end of December and the first week of January in San Juan de Pasto, south-west Colombia.

Thu 4 Jan ‘18 07.13 EST


More images from Yahoo:


Five Mexican politicians killed in past week ahead of national elections

Five Mexican politicians killed in past week ahead of national elections

By Joshua Partlow January 2 at 3:03 PM

MEXICO CITY — To commemorate the new year, an aspiring mayoral candidate of a small Mexican town sent a Facebook message Sunday morning asking residents to unite to improve society.

“We only need maturity, seriousness, and responsibility to face the challenges that confront society,” Adolfo Serna Nogueda wrote.

Later that day, Serna was shot and killed outside his home in Atoyac de Alvarez, along the Pacific coast in the western state of Guerrero.

. . .

Four of the five politicians killed were affiliated with the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Top party officials have condemned the wave of violence and asked to meet with federal officials to discuss the cases.

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