Monday, November 30, 2015

Seabirds Are Dumping Pollution-Laden Poop Back on Land

"Mark Mallory was in a helicopter flying over the bleak Arctic tundra when he was struck by the view of Cape Vera on Devon Island. He had been flying over blue water and brown landscapes in Nunavut for some time, so the bright orange 1,000-foot cliffs towering over green ponds were a sight for sore eyes.
“The green and orange contrast when you’re coming in from the air is unbelievably beautiful,” says the Canada research chair and associate biology professor at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. Mallory was interested in studying northern fulmars, seabirds related to petrels that nest in the tens of thousands on the cliffs of this uninhabited island.
The lichen on the cliffs and the moss in the small freshwater pools underneath them got him thinking about what the birds were doing to the island.
“You get relatively lush conditions. It’s like an oasis,” he says. That's because the birds are enriching the land with their poop, which is filled with nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorous. “That’s a natural process that happens anywhere in the world where you’ve got a concentration of seabirds.”
What he found, though, is that nutrients weren’t the only thing these birds were bringing back from the sea—the colonies also are contaminant hotspots..."

Announcing "Mission Innovation"

"Today in Paris, President Obama and French President Hollande, along with a wide range of other top global leaders, will announce Mission Innovation, an initiative to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation to address global climate change, provide affordable clean energy to consumers, including in the developing world, and create additional commercial opportunities in clean energy. 
Through the initiative, 20 countries are committing to double their respective clean energy research and development (R&D) investment over five years. These countries include the top five most populous nations -- China, India, the United States, Indonesia and Brazil. They stretch across five continents. And when you add all partner countries together, they represent 75 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions from electricity, and more than 80 percent of the world’s clean energy R&D investment..."
Mission Innovation

Police Use of Force: Rules, Remedies, and Reforms

"Several high-profile police shootings and other law enforcement-related deaths in the United States have sparked intense protests throughout the country and a fierce debate in Congress concerning the appropriate level of force police officers should wield in a society that equally values public safety and the lives of each of its citizens under law. These incidents have been the subject of several congressional hearings, have prompted the introduction of various legislative measures, and have catalyzed a new civil rights movement in the United States aimed at reforming the criminal justice system. Reformers claim that police work too closely with local prosecutors resulting in insufficient oversight and have called for greater involvement by the federal government. The law enforcement community and its supporters have countered that these recent deaths are anomalous in otherwise exemplary police conduct, and that placing the federal government in direct regulation of state and local police would present an unwarranted intrusion into state and local affairs.

To provide legal context for this debate, this report will address three overarching questions: (1) what are the constitutional rules governing an officer’s use of force; (2) what role has Congress played in providing a remedy for a violation of these rules; and (3) what are the potential reforms to these rules and remedies?..."

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Brief History of Cranberries

"You may not know it, but Vaccinium macrocarpon will probably be on your table this Thanksgiving. It’s not a virus—it’s the botanical name for the American cranberry, a fruit that shines next to a turkey, some mashed potatoes and some grateful, hungry guests. Here are some great moments in the history of this superfood:
1550: A Sour Staple 
Cranberries were a staple for Native Americans, who harvested wild cranberries and used them in a variety of remedies, foods and drinks. National Geographic’s Sarah Whitman-Salkin writes that the berries were even used in an energy bar-like food called “pemmican,” which served as a vital source of nutrition for fur traders during the winter months.
1816: Commercial Cranberries
Commercial cranberry cultivation started in the United States in 1816. Shawnie M. Kelley writes that when Captain Henry Hall, a Revolutionary war veteran, came across a cranberry vine thriving in some sand on Cape Cod, he became the first person to successfully cultivate cranberries. 
1912: Cranberries in a Can
Cranberry sauce may be a Turkey Day staple, but it wasn’t available in a can until 1912, when a lawyer named Marcus L. Urann revolutionized the industry got the idea to buy a cranberry bog and can cranberries. He eventually formed a cranberry cooperative that renamed itself Ocean Spray. By 1940, cranberry sauce had become the jiggly, canned log beloved (and argued over) by millions of Americans..."

Why a Yam Is Not a Sweet Potato

"Amid predicable fare of the Thanksgiving table there usually sits a bright orange dish - perhaps topped with marshmallows and brown sugar - that adds some sweetness to an otherwise savory meal. Southerners often refer to this as sweet potato casserole; Northerns might say it's candied yams. In this case, the Southerners win. The orange-fleshed tuber on American plates and in pies is a sweet potato, regardless of what some traditions - and grocery store label - say. 
For starters, sweet potatoes and yams aren’t even related. Sweet potatoes are from the morning glory family and yams are related to lilies and grasses. Yams - a staple in some West African countries - are native to Africa and Asia, while the sweet potato hails from South America. True yams can’t be found in most American grocery store chains at all, but they are stacked in piles in West African and Caribbean ones. .."
Yam vs Sweet potato

Daily Pill Can Prevent HIV

"Preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medicine taken daily that can be used to prevent getting HIV. PrEP is for people without HIV who are at very high risk for getting it from sex or injection drug use. People at high risk who should be offered PrEP include about 1 in 4 sexually active gay and bisexual men*, 1 in 5 people who inject drugs, and 1 in 200 sexually active heterosexual adults. When taken every day, PrEP is safe and highly effective in preventing HIV infection. PrEP is even more effective if it is combined with other ways to prevent new HIV infections like condom use, drug abuse treatment, and treatment for people living with HIV to reduce the chance of passing the virus to others. Many people who can benefit from PrEP aren't taking it. If more health care providers know about and prescribe PrEP, more HIV infections could be prevented..."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How to be a Savvy Shopper with Savory Leftovers

"Thanksgiving is finally over, and now comes the biggest weekend for holiday shopping.  According to the National Retail Foundation, the average shopper spends about $380 from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.  
When planning out your shopping budget, you may forget to account for the meals you eat before, during, and after a long shopping trip.  Those lattes, sandwiches, garlic knots, and smoothies you may buy to fuel your shopping can really start to add up and will put a damper on your holiday shopping budget. 
A great way to save money is to cut back on eating out and enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers.  Your leftover turkey and sides are safe in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days… that’s until Cyber Monday!  Enjoy your leftovers to fuel up before you head out the door to hit up the sales or to help you relax after a long day of retail therapy.  Reheat your Turkey Day favorites in the microwave to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.  Gravy should be reheated until boiling.  Cover leftovers to retain moisture so they stay savory. 
If you are planning a longer shopping trip, you can save money by opting out of the food court and packing turkey sandwiches.  Pack an insulated cooler or lunch box with everything you need to make your sandwiches—sliced turkey, cheese, and condiments as well as any cut fruit or veggies.  Use frozen gel packs or bags of ice to keep these items cold for several hours.  Items like bread, chips, pretzels, and whole fruit are safe if kept at room temperature.  If you do this, don’t forget wet knaps to clean your hands before your meal..."
Turkey leftovers

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics for Thanksgiving Day

"In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims — early settlers of Plymouth Colony — held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. This event is regarded by many as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag Indians in attendance played a key role. Historians have recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America. These include the British colonists in Virginia as early as 1619.
The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday 152 years ago (Oct. 3, 1863) when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday,,,:
Thanksgiving 2015

Five Ways to Start Eating Insects

"In  the Mexican state of Oaxaca, crispy, chili-spiced chapulines (grasshoppers) are a common bar snack. Bee and wasp larvae are part of the indigenous cuisines of Taiwan and Japan. Stir-fried beef and ants is a traditional Khmer dish in Cambodia, witchetty grubs have sustained many generations of Aboriginal Australians. Insects, after all, are a source of sustainable protein.
Here are a number of new companies and products trying to make eating insects a more palatable prospect in the West, where the idea of ingesting “creepy crawlies” is still fairly taboo.
With the Livin Farms Hive, you can “start the next big food revolution out of your kitchen” by growing protein-rich mealworms on your desk or counter. The hive, which resembles those stackable, dorm-friendly plastic drawers, can produce up to 500 grams of mealworms per week.
Each drawer contains a different stage of the mealworm’s lifecycle. Mealworm pupae are placed in the hive’s top drawer, where they mature into beetles and lay eggs. The eggs drop down through a filter to a lower drawer and eventually hatch into mealworm babies. The babies grow to an edible size (about 3 centimeters long) and are collected in the bottom drawer. Some will transform back into pupae, and those can be put back in the top to start the cycle over again..."
Eating insects

Protect Your Wallet and Your Information This Holiday Season

"As the holiday shopping season officially gets underway, the FBI would like to take this opportunity to warn shoppers to be aware of the increasingly aggressive techniques of cyber criminals who want to steal your money and your personal information.
For example, watch out for online shopping scams—criminals often scheme to defraud victims by offering too-good-to-be-true deals, like brand name merchandise at extremely low discounts or gift cards as an incentive to buy a product. Beware of social media scams, including posts on social media sites that offer vouchers or gift cards or that pose as holiday promotions or contests. Always be careful when downloading mobile applications on your smartphone—some apps, disguised as games and offered for free, maybe be designed to steal personal information. And if you’re in need of extra cash this time of year, watch out for websites and online postings offering work you can do from home—you may actually become the victim of an advance fee, counterfeit, or pyramid scheme, or become an unknowing participant in criminal activity..."
Holiday money issues

The Islamic State—Frequently Asked Questions: Threats, Global Implications, and U.S. Policy Responses

"When addressing threats emanating from the Islamic State (IS), numerous strategy and operational considerations arise that might be of interest to U.S. policymakers, especially in the wake of the deadly November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris. IS activities and U.S. and coalition party policy and operational responses are an amalgam of complex, and at times competing, challenges. Since the establishment of IS, its strategic objectives and tactical activities have evolved, gaining strength in some areas and having its capability degraded in others. U.S. and other nations’ responses continue to evolve as the threat posed by IS changes. Contained in this report are short answers to related frequently answered questions. Each section contains references to CRS reports that address the question in greater detail. This report will be updated as additional products become available and events warrant..."
Islamic State

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration Task Force (RTF) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC)

"The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chartered the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration Task Force (RTF) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) (Task Force) to provide recommendations to the FAA “on registration requirements and process for small UAS, including those used for commercial purposes, and all model aircraft.”

Federal law (49 U.S.C. § 44101(a)) requires that a person may only operate an aircraft when it is registered with the FAA. An “aircraft” is defined as “any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air” (49 U.S.C. § 40102(a) (6)). In 2012, Congress confirmed that UAS, including those used for recreation or hobby purposes, are aircraft consistent with the statutory definition set forth in 49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(6). See Pub. L. 112-95, §§ 331(8), 336. The FAA currently requires civil UAS operators who have been granted operational authority by exemption to register their aircraft. The FAA would also require registration for civil UAS that would be operating under the proposed rule titled Operation and Certification of small UAS (sUAS). See 80 FR 9544 (Feb. 23, 2015)..."

Follow Along: A Global Agreement to Act on Climate

"Every day, we are seeing and feeling the effects of climate change -- here and across the globe. It poses a clear and present threat to our economic and national security. No country is immune from the consequences of climate change, and no country can act alone. Right now, we, as people, face a critical moment.
For the first time in history, we have a chance to put in place a global climate agreement that will spur countries to take ambitious action that will reduce carbon pollution, support clean energy, and ensure we deliver a planet that is worthy of future generations. That is why President Obama is heading to Paris on November 29th. He will meet with leaders of countries large and small -- the world's largest emitters and the ones that are most at risk -- to find a way we can collectively reduce global emissions. 
Watch what the President had to say about it on his Facebook page..."
Global climate change agreement

Monday, November 23, 2015

Baby, it’s cold outside. Time to stock up on firewood.

"It’s fall in North America.  It’s the time of year that marks the transition from summer into winter.  It’s when the night time comes earlier and the weather cools considerably.  It’s also the time of year when most of us start to turn on our heat or start to acquire firewood. 
There are a lot of us that use firewood as a heat source.  According to U.S. Census data 2.4 million homes across the country are heated by wood.  This number does not include homes that use firewood as secondary heating or those of us that use it when we’re camping or even just to sit around in the yard.  Whether or not you use wood to heat your home or build a campfire, firewood is used by millions of Americans. 
Unfortunately, firewood also presents a very real threat to our nation’s forests.  Invasive insects like the Asian longhorned beetle, the emerald ash borer, and gypsy moth can be spread into new areas of the country on firewood.  While the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service works with states on imposing quarantines to restrict the movement of potentially infested wood from areas that have these types of pests, it is up to all of us to help protect our trees by not moving firewood.  By buying or acquired firewood where you will eventually burn it, you can stop damaging forest pests from getting into new areas..."

George Washington’s October 3, 1789, Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789 as an official holiday of "sincere and humble thanks." The nation then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution. 
View a fascimilie of President George Washington's proclamation. 
Thanksgiving proclamation