From Angel Vivaldi:
Living in Nepal, every day I see Western tourists enjoying the marvels this ancient city has to offer: the ornate temples, the colorful cultural traditions, the food-stealing monkeys and most of all, its rich biodiversity. In South Nepal, there are several opportunities to go on jungle safaris. The popular way to do this is by riding elephants. It sounds quite exotic, doesn’t it?
Here’s what the tourists don’t know: The only time these elephants are allowed to walk is when they’re working. The rest of the time, they stand in one place with their legs chained, unable to move. This torment can last up to several days. It not only takes place at public tourist attractions, but also at privately owned resorts. Not only is this practice cruel, but it also creates health issues, as their foot pads get bruised and their nails cracked. Due to poor animal husbandry practices, eventually their feet can become infected and result in diseases like osteomyelitis, which is not only painful, but fatal if not properly cared for.
In many countries like Thailand, Nepal, India and Cambodia, working captive elephants are used in tourism, logging, entertainment and religious ceremonies. These majestic creatures suffer in so many different ways throughout their lives, starting with inhumane training methods to break their spirits when they are young, so that they can become easier to train. When the elephants are not helpful or compliant, they’re punished with verbal and physical abuse.
These are some things you should know about elephant rides or so-called jungle safaris:
Many of the elephants are blind and wounded.
Many suffer from tuberculosis, and even though treatment is given to them (generally), they rarely get a single day of sick leave to rest.
They are overworked. In Chitwan, Nepal, the elephants are forced to go on approximately six rides a day, including during hot midday hours, taking up to five or six people on their back every day of the week. The howdah, or seat, is a heavy structure of metal or wood that injures an elephant’s back. As large as elephants are, their spines are not strong enough to bear the weight of humans.
They are dehydrated and undernourished. Most of the elephants drink dirty water and lack access to fresh fodder.
Elephants are chained excessively when off work (at night or during the day) and often cannot move at all. This means they have to stand in their own excrement and urine, which causes infectious diseases like Osteomyelitis.
So think before you act like a mere tourist and don’t fall for these traps. Insist that they be treated kindly when you see some. To read more click this link!
From US Uncut:
Norway produces the largest budget surpluses in the developed world and has no net national debt. Norway’s miracle was built upon the highest corporate tax in the world, a wealth tax, and a 78% tax on oil profits.
Chinese Lock Down City Of 30,000 After Man Dies Of Bubonic Plague
As a precautionary measure after a man died of bubonic plague last week, a small city in China is in lockdown and 151 individuals have been placed in quarantine, the Guardian reports.
According to China Central Television (CCTV), the 38-year-old man died from the disease last Wednesday which was likely the result of contact with a dead marmot, a large ground squirrel usually found in mountainous areas.
In an attempt to prevent further cases, CCTV said that the 30,000 residents of Yumen, located in the north-western province of Gansu, are not allowed to leave and police have set up roadblocks around the city in order to prevent motorists from entering. Furthermore, four quarantine sectors have been set up in the city for individuals that have been in contact with the man who died, but so far no other cases have been reported.
“The city has enough rice, flour and oil to supply all its residents for up to one month,” CCTV said. “Local residents and those in quarantine are all in stable condition.”
Plague, one of the oldest identifiable diseases known to man, is infamous and has certainly left its mark on history. The disease is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that infects numerous different animals such as rats, squirrels and prairie dogs. The bacteria maintain their existence in a cycle involving both these animals and their fleas.
Y. pestis can be transmitted to humans in three ways: flea bites, contact with infected fluids or infectious droplets coughed up by an individual with the disease. There are various different clinical forms of plague, but the most common are bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic.
There have actually been three major plague pandemics recorded in history. The first documented plague, the “Justinian Plague,” began in 541 AD and continued for around 200 years, eventually killing over 100 million people. The most famous is the “Black Death” that occurred in the 14th Century, wiping out 60% of the European population. The last pandemic to occur began in China in the 1860s and killed around 10 million people.
To read more click the link at the top!
The recent landmark Canadian Supreme Court decision granting land rights to the Tsilhqot’in First Nations for a long-contested 1,750-square-kilometer swath of British Columbia could be a conservation coup of historic proportions, with consequences for wilderness battles raging across the country.
“Aboriginal title confers the right to use and control the land and to reap the benefits flowing from it,” wrote Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.
Countless contested land claims—including areas with proposed mines and oil pipelines—will now be called into question.
Past rulings have established a duty for government and industry to seek “consultation” from First Nations over proposed developments and resource extraction. No longer. The unanimous Supreme Court decision requires the consent of native title holders.
“We’ve pretty much blown the doors off the colonial notion of denying indigenous land rights,” said Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.
Past court rulings had distinguished between title claims based on permanent habitation by First Nations and land used only seasonally. The Supreme Court ruling does away with that distinction.
“This decision goes so much further than previous decisions and gives rights to the land—not in a token way, where you establish traditional use sites for ceremonial or burial places,” said Peter Wood, a campaign director for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society British Columbia. “This extends to the total usage of land required to maintain their traditional way of life. Essentially this says first rights of the land goes to First Nations. We’re still contemplating the repercussions, but it seems like a game changer.”
To read more click the link at the top!
If you would like news that does not say exactly what the BIG corporate guys tell it to, this is where you go:
Check out the new design of our independent news portal: Anonymous Headquarters – Investigating & Uncovering the Truth
Share it to show the world ‘Real News’ !
Plants Can Hear Themselves Being Eaten
A small, flowering plant called Arabidopsis thaliana can hear the vibrations that caterpillars trigger when they chew on its leaves. According to a new study, the plants can hear danger loud and clear, and they respond by launching a chemical defense.
From anecdotes and previous studies, we know that plants respond to wind, touch, and acoustic energy. “The field is somewhat haunted by its history of playing music to plants. That sort of stimulus is so divorced from the natural ecology of plants that it’s very difficult to interpret any plant responses,” says Rex Cocroft from the University of Missouri, Columbia. “We’re trying to think about the plant’s acoustical environment and what it might be listening for.”
In this first example of plants responding to ecologically relevant vibrational sounds (i.e. predation), Cocroft and Mizzou’s Heidi Appel combined audio and chemical analyses. First, they placed a tiny piece of reflective tape on a leaf; that way, using a laser beam, they can measure the leaf’s movements as the caterpillar munches.
After they recorded the seemingly inaudible vibrational sounds of caterpillar chewing, they played the recordings back to one set of Arabidopsis plants, while silence was played to another set. To mimic the acoustic signature of feeding, they used piezoelectric actuators, tiny speakers that play vibrations instead of airborne sound. “It’s a delicate process to vibrate leaves the way a caterpillar does while feeding, because the leaf surface is only vibrated up and down by about 1/10,000 of an inch,” Cocroft explains in an university blog post. “But we can attach an actuator to the leaf with wax and very precisely play back a segment of caterpillar feeding to recreate a typical 2-hour feeding session.”
Then, they let cabbage butterfly caterpillars eat about a third of three leaves on each plant from both sets. They gave the plants 24 to 48 hours to respond to the attack, after which the leaves were harvested. “We looked at glucosinolates that make mustards spicy and have anticancer properties and anthocyanins that give red wine its color and provide some of the health benefits to chocolate,” Appel says. “When the levels of these are higher, the insects walk away or just don’t start feeding.”
Plants with prior exposure to feeding vibrations released higher amounts glucosinolates (like mustard oil), an unappealing chemical for the bugs. Feeding vibrations signal changes in the plant cells’ metabolism, Appel explains, creating more defensive chemicals to repel the attack. The work was published in Oecologia this week. Here’s a great video where you can see and hear caterpillars chomping on plants:
Teenager builds browser plug-in that allows you to see the politicians’ funders
Website of plugin: http://www.allaregreen.us
Written by: Anonymous Singer
Here we go again, with another new useful tool to keep tabs on politicians. It is a
browser plug-in named “Greenhouse” and it lets users easily access information on
where our public servants get their campaign donations from.
Greenhouse gives a list of the top 10 industries from which a politician receives money.
Besides that, it also highlights what percentage of a politician’s funds come from presumably
grassroots supporters, those who make donations of 200 dollars or less.
The software launched in early June and it can already be
used for browsers Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox.
The creator of Greenhouse is a 16-year-old self-taught
programmer named Nicholas Rubin. He explains on his
website that “even though I am only 16 years old, not quite
old enough to vote, I am old enough to know that our
political system desperately needs fixing. I hope that this
tool is one step in that direction.”
Rubin says he got the name of his plug-in from a desire for
transparency, like the glass walls of a greenhouse. The 16-
year-old boy gives some insight into his own political
philosophy and mission:
“It is my hope that providing increased transparency around the amount and source of funding of our elected representatives may play a small role in educating citizensand promoting change. If you use the extension when reading about a Congressional vote on energy policy, for example, maybe you’ll discover that a sponsor of a bill has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil and gas industry. Or maybe you’ll learn that the top donors to a member of Congress who opposes tort reform are lawyers and law firms. I use data from the last full election cycle (2012) and plan to update it as more relevant data becomes available. Special thanks to OpenSecrets.org for providing access to that data.
To read more click the link at the top!
A few years ago, I came across an article on a blog that appealed tremendously. It was on a subject that obviously I have a lot to learn about. But it was actually the tone and underlying worldview that was so instructive, not just the substance.
The article was called “15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years” by Lydia Netzer. The first piece of advice was “Go to bed mad.” Normally couples are told to resolve each dispute before they call it a night. But Netzer writes that sometimes you need to just go to bed. It won’t do any good to stay up late when you’re tired and petulant: “In the morning, eat some pancakes. Everything will seem better, I swear.”
Another piece of advice is to brag about your spouse in public and let them overhear you bragging.
Later, she tells wives that they should make a husband pact with their friends. “The husband pact says this: I promise to listen to you complain about your husband even in the most dire terms, without it affecting my good opinion of him. I will agree with your harshest criticism, accept your gloomiest predictions. I will nod and furrow my brow and sigh when you describe him as a hideous ogre. Then when your fight is over and love shines again like a beautiful sunbeam in your life, I promise to forget everything you said and regard him as the most charming of princes once more.”
Most advice, whether on love or business or politics, is based on the premise that we can just will ourselves into being rational and good and that the correct path to happiness is a straight line. These writers, in the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” school, are essentially telling you to turn yourself into a superstar by discipline and then everything will be swell.
But Netzer’s piece is nicely based on the premise that we are crooked timber. We are, to varying degrees, foolish, weak, and often just plain inexplicable — and always will be. As Kant put it: “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.”
People with a crooked timber mentality tend to see life as full of ironies. Intellectual life is ironic because really smart people often do the dumbest things precisely because they are carried away by their own brilliance. Politics is ironic because powerful people make themselves vulnerable because they think they can achieve more than they can. Marriage is ironic because you are trying to build a pure relationship out of people who are ramshackle and messy. There’s an awesome incongruity between the purity you glimpse in the love and the fact that he leaves used tissues around the house and it drives you crazy.
People with a crooked timber mentality try to find comedy in the mixture of high and low. There’s something fervent in Netzer’s belief in marital loyalty: “You and your spouse are a team of two. It is you against the world. No one else is allowed on the team, and no one else will ever understand the team’s rules.” Yet the piece is written with a wry appreciation of human foibles. If you have to complain about your husband’s latest outrage to somebody’s mother, she writes, complain to his mother, not to yours. “His mother will forgive him. Yours never will.”
People with a crooked timber mentality try to adopt an attitude of bemused affection. A person with this attitude finds the annoying endearing and the silly adorable. Such a person tries to remember that we each seem more virtuous from our own vantage point than from anybody else’s.
To read more click the link at the top!
The first generation of biotech crops has failed. And failed badly. Now the biotech industry is stepping up the chemical arms race in an effort to make up for the failure of Monsanto’s Roundup. Excessive use of Roundup by GMO farmers has led million of acres of U.S. farmland filled with Roundup resistant superweeds.
To combat this, Dow Chemical is petitioning the EPA and USDA to approve a new Enlist GMO “Agent Orange” corn and soy to tolerate 2,4-D, a main chemical component of the Vietnam era defoliant linked to birth defects, cancer, and hormone disruption, and glyphosate, the main chemical in Monsanto’s best selling weedkiller Roundup. On top of these horrific health problems, 2,4-D is widely known among farmers to be difficult to control during application, leading to drift onto neighboring farms, causing major crop damage and contaminating waterways.
These facts have greatly alarmed scientists and farmers alike, leading a former top Reagan USDA official to declare 2,4-D one of “the most dangerous chemicals out there.”
Tell the USDA to Dump Dow’s Dangerous New Enlist Agent Orange GMOs!
Today, in alliance with Oxfam New Zealand, Forest & Bird, 350 Aotearoa, Generation Zero and WWF, we are launching something really special.
It’s called Climate Voter and I want you to be amongst the first to take part: www.climatevoter.org.nz
Climate change is the biggest challenge of our time. Future generations will judge us on our response to it, perhaps more than anything else.
It’s the greatest challenge but also the greatest opportunity, because if we get this right we can ensure our grandchildren have a safer, cleaner and more secure future. But if we get it wrong we risk the quality of life for not only all humans but also every other life form on the planet.
The election in Sept 2014 is one of those moments when all of us here in New Zealand have a chance to make a difference. Through Climate Voter we aim to mobilise thousands of climate concerned citizens to make their voice heard.
Climate Voter is about demanding that All political parties must take climate change seriously.
You can be a Climate Voter. You can use your vote this election to support action on climate change.
As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department moves to shut off water to thousands of residents who are delinquent on their bills, a coalition of activists is appealing to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights to intervene on behalf of the bankrupt city’s most vulnerable citizens.
Their report, filed Wednesday with the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, alleges that the DWSD crackdown is part of an effort “to sweeten the pot for a private investor” to take over the city’s heavily-indebted water and sewer system as part of Detroit’s broader bankruptcy proceedings.
One of the activist groups behind the report, the Detroit People’s Water Board, notes that city residents have seen water rates more than double over the past decade at the same time that the city’s poverty rate rose to nearly 40 percent, putting the cost of basic running water beyond reach for tens of thousands of households. Earlier this week, city lawmakers voted to raise water rates by a further 8.7 percent.
To read more click the link at the top!
The Rarest Whale on Earth is Bouncing Back From the Brink
Closure of shipping lanes has helped the North Atlantic right whale population hit a new high.
id all the depressing news about the declining state of the world’s oceans, here’s a genuine feel-good story: The critically endangered North Atlantic right whale population, once decimated by ship collisions, has rebounded to more than 500 individuals. That’s the highest level since researchers began studying the whale three decades ago.
News of the whales’ recovery was first reported Monday in the Yarmouth County Vanguard, a Nova Scotia newspaper. According to the article, the right whale population in Canada’s Bay of Fundy has added more than 300 calves since 1998.
Every summer and fall, a scientific survey is conducted to count and study the right whale population in the Bay, a critical habitat area.
The rebound was the result of a multiyear effort led by the Irving Oil company of Saint John, New Brunswick, in partnership with researchers, mariner organizations, environmental groups, the Canadian government, and the International Maritime Organization.
In 2003 the coalition successfully pushed for the rerouting of shipping traffic in the Bay of Fundy, which lies between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and is an important feeding ground and nursery area for the North Atlantic right whale population.
To read more click the link at the top!
Ever lose your glasses? Learn how to see clearly using just your hands using this neat trick. I never knew you could do this before!
Water is what gives our planet its beautiful blue color and is critical for the existence of life as we know it. Our entire planet is nicknamed after it – the “blue planet”, or “pale blue dot”. A new study led by geophysicist Steve Jacobsen of Northwestern University and seismologist Brandon Schmandt from the University of New Mexico has yielded evidence that vast oceans worth of water are tied up within Earth’s mantle. The results are published in Science.
Four hundred miles beneath North America, Schmandt and Jacobsen found deep pockets of magma, which indicates the presence of water. However, this isn’t water in any of the three forms we are familiar with. The pressure coupled with the high temperatures forces the water to split into a hydroxyl radical (OH) which is then able to combine with the minerals on a molecular level.
This water, which is bound up in rock, could indicate the largest water reservoir on the planet. It is believed that plate tectonics cycle the water in and out, and the water affects the partial melting of rock in the mantle.
“Geological processes on the Earth’s surface, such as earthquakes or erupting volcanoes, are an expression of what is going on inside the Earth, out of our sight,” said Jacobsen in a press release. “I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet. Scientists have been looking for this missing deep water for decades.”
To read more click the link at the top!
55 Year Old Mystery About The Dark Side Of The Moon Solved
A team of astrophysicists claim to have solved one of the great mysteries of the moon, in the process providing insight into our companion’s creation and a new take on our frame of reference.
When the Soviet spacecraft Luna 3 transmitted the first images from the other side of the moon it was expected it would look pretty much like the side we are familiar with. Instead they saw none of the “seas” visible to Earthly astronomers with small telescopes, and only a couple of smaller dark areas covering 2% of the surface.
For 55 years the question of why the two sides are so different has remained a puzzle, now known as the Lunar Farside Highlands Problem. “I remember the first time I saw a globe of the moon as a boy, being struck by how different the farside looks,” says Jason Wright “It was all mountains and craters. Where were the maria? It turns out it’s been a mystery since the fifties.”
Now Wright, and colleagues at Penn State University have come up with an explanation, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
It has long been known that the absence of the basaltic plains we call maria or seas is a result of the crust being thicker on the far side, but it has been unclear whether this greater thickness on the side away from the Earth was a coincidence.
The Moon’s size, relative to Earth, has also been a puzzle with the theory that it was formed from debris thrown up when an object the size of Mars collided with the Earth gaining steadily more favor.
“Shortly after the giant impact, Earth and the moon were very hot,” says Professor Steinn Sigurdsson, another of the paper’s authors. Sigurdsson notes that the moon initially lay much closer to the Earth, ensuring it was more affected by our gravity.
At such a close distance, the Penn state team propose, synchronous rotation where one side always faces the object it is orbiting, would have occurred very rapidly. The same phenomenon is seen with planets orbiting close to their stars.
While the Earth-Moon interaction has slowly pushed the Moon to 10 or 20 times its original distance, with a correspondingly much longer orbit, its rotation has kept pace so that the same side has always face the Earth.
The smaller moon would have cooled while the Earth remained hot from the collision, 2500°C according to the paper’s authors. For the side of the Moon facing the Earth it would be like having two suns – the second one cooler and smaller but also much closer. As a result the side facing the Earth would have cooled more slowly than that facing towards outer space.
“When rock vapor starts to cool, the very first elements that snow out are aluminum and calcium,” says Sigurdsson. These would have snowed out first on the cooler far side, creating a thicker crust of plagioclase feldspars. The highlands have much more alumina (24% to 15%), and much less iron oxide (14% to 6%) and titanium dioxide (4% to 1%) concentrations.
When asteroids struck the moon’s near side lava flowed to fill the spaces, but on the far side the thicker crust almost always prevented lava flowing.
There is a certain irony to the new theory. Some astronomers are annoyed at references to the “Dark Side of the Moon”. Sunlight reflected off the Earth aside, the far side of the moon gets just as much light as the side we can see. Once however, it seems that if the far side was not actually dark, then it was certainly much less light than the side lit up by close association to the molten Earth.
Outstanding Time-Lapse of a Stellar Explosion From Hubble
photo credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
In January 2002, astronomers discovered a massive explosion coming from V838 Monocerotis. They initially thought they were witnessing a supernova, but after the initial flash of light began to dim (as expected), it began to brighten again in infrared wavelengths at the beginning of March. After that brightening faded, another one happened in April. While astronomers were certain they weren’t witnessing a supernova, they weren’t quite sure what it actually was.
Now the Hubble team have released an absolutely extraordinary time-lapse video of the event. Check it out here, and make sure you go full screen.
5 Herbal Remedies for Summer Ailments
When the weather heats up, you want to be able to enjoy the long and sultry summer days. The last thing you need is for allergies or other ailments to throw a spanner in your fun. Luckily, there are some great herbs that can come to the rescue. Make sure you stock up on these to beat the summer blues.
Rose oils are great for treating allergies and asthma in a totally natural way. All you need to do is place three drops into a diffuser and then inhale the scent. Other benefits of this include headache and depression relief.
Taking a long car trip with the family? Make sure you stock up on ginger! It can help to ease those horrible feelings of nausea and motion sickness. Let a few slices of gingerroot simmer in water for half an hour, then remove it from the water and drink it. You can add a few drops of honey if you want to make it sweeter.
This delicious herb is great for an unsettled stomach that can strike from nausea or when you feel a bit under the weather.
Peppermint tea is another good antidote for nausea, but it can also be beneficial when it comes to itchy eyes associated with dust or allergies. Take a peppermint tea bag and soak it in a mug of boiling water for approximately a minute before allowing it to cool. Then, gently rest it on your eyelids when your eyes feel itchy and irritated. Let it sit for about ten minutes.
Boosting your immune system is a must to stave off colds, flus and inflammation. You can give yours an improvement by eating parsley. This herb also helps to decrease inflammation and cleanse the body of chemicals.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.
You won’t be seeing a lot of me till after I get back from France! Ciao, folks.
In an hours time I shall be starting my first work day since quite a bit. Give a kind thought to a working stiff, would you, kind folks!?
SeaWorld could be in trouble because of “Granny,” the world’s oldest known living orca. The 103-year-old whale (also known as J2) was recently spotted off Canada’s western coast with her pod — her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But while the Granny sighting is thrilling for us, it’s problematic for SeaWorld.
First of all, SeaWorld has claimed that “no one knows for sure how long killer whales live,” when simple figures or even living and thriving examples — like Granny — can give us a pretty good idea. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation project estimates that whales born in captivity only live to 4.5 years old, on average; many of SeaWorld’s orcas die before they reach their 20s. Perhaps because of their reduced lifespans, the whales are forced to breed continuously and at perilously young ages, which could also diminish their overall health.
Another key aspect of an orca’s life — which is missing in captivity — is the ability to swim up to 100 miles per day. When Granny was spotted earlier this week, she had just finished an 800-mile trek from northern California along with her pod. According to animal welfare advocates, long-distance swimming is integral to orcas’ psychological health and well-being; SeaWorld, however, has gone on record claiming that orcas do not need to swim hundreds of miles regularly, ostensibly to defend the parks’ cruel practice of keeping massive, powerful orcas confined to cramped tanks.
To read more click the link at the top!
Hovercraft Coming To Market in 2017. – I’m In!
No matter what anyone tells you, it is never too early to make your Christmas list for 2017. California-based tech company Aerofex has developed the Aero-X hovercraft that is slated to undergo flight tests in 2016 and—assuming no setbacks—they will hit the market in the US in 2017. They are expected to go for about $85,000. If you would like to be one of the first to get your hands on the Aero-X (or if you would like to sponsor a certain IFLScience writer…) you can reserve yours now for only $5,000 down.
The Aero-X hovercraft rides like a motorcycle and allows two riders with a combined weight of 140 kgs (310 lbs) to ride in tandem. After completing a vertical takeoff, riders can cruise at speeds of 72 km/h (45 mph) up to 3 meters (10 feet) off the ground. The rotary engine uses standard automotive gasoline and runs for about 1.25 hours per tank. That might seem a bit low, but gas mileage was the tradeoff for carbon fiber rotors that are easier to control and much cheaper than traditional aircraft rotors.