Species Extinction Rates Have Been Overreported, New Study Claims - But Global Extinction Crisis Remains Very Serious
|7:40:41 PM, Thursday, May 19, 2011|
"The most widely used methods for calculating species extinction rates are "fundamentally flawed" and overestimate extinction rates by as much as 160 percent, life scientists report May 19 in the journal Nature.
However, while the problem of species extinction caused by habitat loss is not as dire as many conservationists and scientists had believed, the global extinction crisis is real, says Stephen Hubbell, a distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA and co-author of the Nature paper.
"The methods currently in use to estimate extinction rates are erroneous, but we are losing habitat faster than at any time over the last 65 million years," said Hubbell, a tropical forest ecologist and a senior staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "The good news is that we are not in quite as serious trouble right now as people had thought, but that is no reason for complacency. I don't want this research to be misconstrued as saying we don't have anything to worry about when nothing is further from the truth."
Because there are very few ways of directly estimating extinction rates, scientists and conservationists have used an indirect method called a "species-area relationship." This method starts with the number of species found in a given area and then estimates how the number of species grows as the area expands. Using that information, scientists and conservationists have reversed the calculations and attempted to estimate how many fewer species will remain when the amount of land decreases due to habitat loss.
"There is a forward version when we add species and a backward version when we lose species," Hubbell said. "In the Nature paper, we show that this surrogate measure is fundamentally flawed. The species-area curve has been around for more than a century, but you can't just turn it around to calculate how many species should be left when the area is reduced; the area you need to sample to first locate a species is always less than the area you have to sample to eliminate the last member of the species..."
Secrets Surface About North Korea's Cyberwar College
|7:33:55 PM, Thursday, May 19, 2011|
"The inner workings of a secret North Korean cyberwar college in existence for the past 25 years are finally coming to the surface.
According to the South Korean newspaper the DailyNK, Mirim College, in a mountainous region of North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, was opened in 1986 by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, and in the 25 years since has made it its mission to train about 120 students per year in electronic warfare.
The DailyNK spoke to a North Korean defector, Cheong, who said he is familiar with Mirim, although he did not attend himself.
Cheong said basic coursework at Mirim takes five years to complete. Students, who wear the same uniforms as military officials, choose between five departments: electronic engineering, command automation, programming, technical reconnaissance and computer science. The command automation department includes a course, the article said, focused on hacking its southern neighbor, called "South Chosun's Early Warning System and How to Respond to It."
(Chosun is another name for Korea.)
In addition to its highly sensitive curriculum, security guards patrol the grounds, and no car is allowed to enter the college unless it's carrying Kim Jong-il.
After graduation, students join the People's Armed Forces and are frequently assigned to two electronic warfare brigades..."
Coptic Christians Slaughtered in Egypt as the World Looks Away
|5:10:45 PM, Wednesday, May 18, 2011|
"TWELVE Christian were murdered in Egypt. Two hundred and thirty-two people wounded. The death toll will surely rise as victims succumb to their injuries. And that's just in the past few days. In the same time period, more Christians were killed in Egypt at the hands of Muslims than people killed in Syria or in Libya as a result of protests, riots and resistance.
Two churches in Cairo were burned in recent days. Over the past few months church property has being gutted, vandalised and violated with graffiti. Churches have been blown up.
An entire community - the Christian community in the new Egypt - is under attack. And the world remains relatively silent. There has been no significant religious outcry, political redress or diplomatic pressure to stop the attacks. There has been almost no media coverage as Egypt's Muslims systematically, over the past few months, set about massacring Egypt's Christians.
The world is not only standing idly by, it is enabling the massacre. The US naively expects that a new era, begun in new Egypt, will ripple to the rest of the Islamic world. So in the midst of these monstrous mass murders in Egypt, the US has decided to send an extra $US1 billion to help the Egyptians ease the economic crisis that emerged as a result of the ousting of Hosni Mubarak on February 11. Muslims in Egypt are on the warpath - on the religious warpath - and the US is feeding them money.
This most recent round of Christian murders began with the rumour that Christians had kidnapped a Christian woman who had converted to Islam. According to the rumour, the woman was being held in the cellar of one of the churches and Christians were brainwashing her back to Christianity. Egyptian Muslims set out to find this woman. Along the way they murdered, pillaged and burned.
The rumours were not true. There was no kidnapping. But there are two burned churches and 12 murdered Christians.
Threats against Christians have become a near daily event since Christmas. On New Year's Day 21 Christians were killed in a church bombing in the ancient port city of Alexandria. Alexandria has a long history of multiculturalism, it should have, and could have, been a model city where Christians, Muslims and even Jews lived together harmoniously. Statistically, there are no longer any Jews in Egypt, but there are still seven million Christians. Instead, Alexandria has become a symbol of attacking Christians. Do not for a moment think that the date January 1 was an accident - the church was bombed in the middle of holiday mass. No one has been prosecuted..."
-- It's Pogrom time! ...
ScienceShot: How the Snail Picked Its Poison
|4:59:42 PM, Wednesday, May 18, 2011|
"It's frustrating to be a predatory snail: everybody can outrun you. To make that annoying meal hold still, the cone snail, a giant marine mollusk, evolved a mouthful of hollow harpoon teeth, which it loads with venom, lobs at prey to paralyze them, then retracts into its mouth. But the poison gland itself, which is anatomically unique in its spaghetti shape, has mystified scientists for over a century. Revisiting a strange observation by a 19th century French naturalist who believed that the venom glands developed from tissue stripped away from the esophagus, a researcher cut up baby snails and studied their throat anatomy. She found that a very small structural change in the esophagus, which would have been too small to disrupt an ancestral snail's herbivorous habits, becomes a venom gland after the snail becomes an adult. Reporting online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B today, the researcher says that this smooth transition may explain how these snails developed their complex arsenal and became carnivorous over a short evolutionary timeframe. "
Is the Rocky Alien Planet Gliese 581d Really Habitable?
|10:24:01 PM, Tuesday, May 17, 2011|
"A rocky alien planet called Gliese 581d may be the first known world beyond Earth capable of supporting life as we know it, a new study suggests.
Astronomers performing a new atmospheric-modeling study have found that the planet likely lies in the "habitable zone" of its host star — that just-right range of distances that allow liquid water to exist. The alien world could be Earth-like in key ways, harboring oceans, clouds and rainfall, according to the research.
This conclusion is consistent with several other recent modeling studies. But it does not definitively establish that life-sustaining water flows across the planet's surface.
The new study assumes that Gliese 581d, which is about seven times as massive as Earth, has a thick, carbon-dioxide-based atmosphere. That's very possible on a planet so large, researchers said, but it's not a given.
Gliese 581d's parent star, known as Gliese 581, is a red dwarf located 20 light-years from Earth, just a stone's throw in the cosmic scheme of things. So far, astronomers have detected six planets orbiting the star, and Gliese 581d is not the only one intriguing to scientists thinking about the possibility of life beyond Earth.
Another planet in the system, called Gliese 581g, is about three times as massive as Earth, and it's also most likely a rocky world. This planet received a lot of attention when its discovery was announced in September 2010, because it's located right in the middle of the habitable zone. That makes 581g a prime candidate for liquid water and life as we know it — if the planet exists..."
Avicii feat. Salem Al Fakir - Silhouettes (Vocal Mix)
|4:17:02 PM, Tuesday, May 17, 2011|
Man Jailed for Tortilla Dough That North Carolina Police Mistook for Cocaine
|4:08:07 PM, Tuesday, May 17, 2011|
"Antonio Hernandez Carranza took a wrong turn, and it turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes he’s ever made.
The Carson, Calif., man had driven more than 2,000 miles — three days straight — to see his sister in Johnson City, Tenn.
But instead of reaching the home of his sister, whom he hadn’t seen in nearly a decade, the 45-year-old carpet cleaner found himself in the Buncombe County jail under a $300,000 bond on charges of driving while intoxicated, failing to heed police lights and sirens and possession of 91 pounds of cocaine.
He was released four days later after sheriff’s deputies realized Hernandez, who said he doesn’t drink at all, wasn’t intoxicated and that what was in the back of his truck was exactly what he had said — $400 worth of cheese, shrimp and tortilla and tamale dough meant as a gift to his sister."
Syrian Tanks 'Bombard City Residents'
|4:07:32 PM, Tuesday, May 17, 2011|
657 New Islands Discovered Worldwide
|11:10:04 PM, Monday, May 16, 2011|
"Here's something you don't see every day — hundreds of new islands have been discovered around the world.
The Earth has 657 more barrier islands than previously thought, according to a new global survey by researchers from Duke University and Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C.
The researchers identified a total of 2,149 barrier islands worldwide using satellite images, topographical maps and navigational charts. The new total is significantly higher than the 1,492 islands identified in a 2001 survey conducted without the aid of publicly available satellite imagery.
Barrier islands often form as chains of long, low, narrow offshore deposits of sand and sediment, running parallel to a coast but separated from it by bays, estuaries or lagoons. Unlike stationary landforms, barrier islands build up, erode, migrate and rebuild over time in response to waves, tides, currents and other physical processes in the open ocean environment.
All told, the world's barrier islands measure about 13,000 miles (21,000 kilometers) in length. They are found along all continents except Antarctica and in all oceans, and they make up roughly 10 percent of the Earth's continental shorelines. The northern hemisphere is home to 74 percent of these islands.
Barrier islands help protect low-lying mainland coasts against erosion and storm damage, and can be important wildlife habitats. The nation with the most barrier islands is the United States, with 405, including those along the Alaskan Arctic shoreline.
"This provides proof that barrier islands exist in every climate and in every tide-wave combination," said study team member Orrin H. Pilkey of Duke University. "We found that everywhere there is a flat piece of land next to the coast, a reasonable supply of sand, enough waves to move sand or sediment about, and a recent sea-level rise that caused a crooked shoreline, barrier islands exist...""
-- Forgot to share this! So when Guam capsizes the people will have somewhere to live! Woot!
Dog Jumping Repeatedly To See Baby
|10:43:50 PM, Monday, May 16, 2011|
-- MUST. EAT. BABY.
Supreme Court Gives Police a New Entryway Into Homes
|4:59:52 PM, Monday, May 16, 2011|
"The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision in a Kentucky case, says police officers who loudly knock on a door in search of illegal drugs and then hear sounds suggesting evidence is being destroyed may break down the door and enter without a search warrant.
The Supreme Court on Monday gave police more leeway to break into residences in search of illegal drugs.
The justices in an 8-1 decision said officers who loudly knock on a door and then hear sounds suggesting evidence is being destroyed may break down the door and enter without a search warrant.
Residents who "attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame" when police burst in, said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
In a lone dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she feared the ruling in a Kentucky case will give police an easy way to ignore the 4th Amendment. "Police officers may not knock, listen and then break the door down," she said, without violating the 4th Amendment.
In the past, the court has said police usually may not enter a home unless they have a search warrant or the permission of the owner. As Alito said, "The 4th Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house."
One exception to that rule involves an emergency, such as screams coming from a house. Police may also pursue a fleeing suspect who enters a residence. Police were attempting to do that in the Kentucky case, but they entered the wrong apartment, raising the issue of what is permissible in situations where police have reason to believe evidence is being destroyed.
It began when police in Lexington, Ky., were following a suspect who allegedly had sold crack cocaine to an informer and then walked into an apartment building. They did not see which apartment he entered, but when they smelled marijuana smoke come from one of the apartments, they wrongly assumed he had gone into that one. They pounded on the door and called "Police. Police. Police," and heard the sounds of people moving."
-- Thank you Supreme Court. Knowing Police now have the right to perform warrant-less searches makes me feel so much safer than having that 4th amendment.
Endeavour Lifts Off on Its Final Flight
|3:17:58 PM, Monday, May 16, 2011|
"KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — With Gabrielle Giffords, the wounded Arizona congresswoman, watching from a wheelchair, the shuttle Endeavour lifted off Monday morning on a mission to pry secrets from the universe.
At 8:56 a.m. Eastern time, the spacecraft rose slowly on a pillar of fire, picking up speed and eventually disappearing from view as it stabbed through a layer of clouds on its way to orbit. Commanding the six-man crew was Capt. Mark E. Kelly, Ms. Giffords’ husband.
The congresswoman, who was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in January, watched in private with other crew members’ families and said “Good stuff, good stuff” as the shuttle rocketed away, according to her chief of staff, Pia Carusone. Captain Kelly’s twin brother, Scott, who is also an astronaut, gave a bouquet of roses to Ms. Giffords, who was wearing her husband’s wedding ring on a chain around her neck.
Outside the space center, crowds that law-enforcement officials had estimated could reach half a million people watched the lift-off, the next-to-last in the 30-year shuttle program.
“It was a fantastic launch,” Michael P. Moses, director of the mission’s management team, said at a news conference. “A great day for us.”
It was the second attempt at a lift-off for Endeavour, which was grounded by an electrical short-circuit on April 29. NASA officials said the shuttle’s three main engines performed well during the 8 1/2 minute ascent, and that the power system that had been the source of the electrical problem functioned perfectly..."
RAF Aerial Photos From WW2 Used To Discover Location of £500m Nazi Gold Bunker
|2:31:18 AM, Monday, May 16, 2011|
"Historians using RAF surveillance photos shot by Mosquito fighter-bombers over Germany during WW2 believe they are poised to uncover a mammoth bunker containing the secret gold reserves of the Third Reich.
After using photos and eyewitness reports from the time to pinpoint the spot, a dig is due to start next month in the Leinawald forest near Leipzig in the hope it will uncover the lost underground complex.
Rumours of the colossal subterranean installation have fuelled a treasure hunt mania in the forest over recent years.
Nazi archives show that battalions of Organisation Todt - the Third Reich's main labour organisation - were shipped into the Leinawald in 1944 on the orders of Hitler's armaments minister Albert Speer.
At the weekend human remains were found in the forest; believed to be those of slave labourers forced to assist the Nazis in building the secret bunker.
And Luftwaffe records from 1945 show that a bombing raid by warplanes was ordered on the site in April 1945 - one month from the end of the war - despite the fact that hardly any German planes were able to fly because of total Allied air supremacy.
One photo that excites local historian Hilmar Prosche shows sand workings in August 1944 that resemble the outline of a human skull.
He believes the skull points the way to the bunkerentrancde and the Reichsbank gold worth over 500 million pounds on today's markets..."
-- The photo is of a much earlier find. General Patton's third army discovered 100 tons of Nazi gold hidden in a salt mine near mockers, southwest of Gotha in 1945.
40 Things That Will Make You Feel Old
|10:23:01 PM, Sunday, May 15, 2011|
Dubai: 'Suicide Jump' From World's Tallest Skyscraper
|9:31:05 PM, Sunday, May 15, 2011|
"A man has committed suicide by jumping from the world's tallest skyscraper in Dubai, according to its owner.
The man, in his 20s, fell from the 147th floor of the 2,717ft (828m) Burj Khalifa, landing on a deck on the 108th floor, local media reported.
The building's owner, Emaar Properties, confirmed "an incident involving a male" took place on Tuesday morning.
It would be the first known suicide from the 160-storey landmark, which opened in January 2010.
"The concerned authorities have confirmed that it was a suicide, and we are awaiting the final report," Emaar's statement said.
Reports on the websites of the Gulf News and 7 Days newspapers said the man had jumped after a dispute with his employer.
Police statements showed that a holiday he had requested was turned down, the National reported.
The Burj Khalifa was designed by Chicago-based architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
It is the tallest freestanding structure in the world, according to its developer."
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