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Nov 15, 2018, 02:49 AM
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 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:24 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Top scientists demand NSW commit to brumby cull in Kosciuszko national park

Berejiklian government urged to acknowledge ‘the extensive, serious and potentially irreparable damage’ the horses are causing

Lisa Cox
9 Nov 2018 04.09 GMT

Dozens of Australia’s top scientists are demanding the New South Wales government repeal legislation that abandoned the culling of feral horses in the Kosciuszko national park.

In Canberra on Thursday 145 scientists met to hear evidence of the damage feral horses are causing to the park, the worst of which includes the destruction of nesting habitat of critically endangered corroboree frogs.

An accord to be presented to the Berejiklian government calls on NSW to acknowledge “the extensive, serious, and potentially irreparable damage” the horses are causing and to cooperate with governments in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory to remove them using aerial culling.

It says the government must “repeal in its entirety the NSW Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018, and restore the protected status of Kosciuszko national park, its 2006 plan of management and implement the 2008 horse management plan”.

Jamie Pittock, an associate professor at the Australian National University Fenner school of environment and society, said the government had walked way from decades of cooperation between the science community and governments to protect the national park.

“I think the reason why so many scientists from all over Australia have come together today is because we’re so appalled and angry that all this scientific evidence has been ignored by the NSW government in adapting this so-called wild horse act,” he said.

“It’s appalling because it jeopardises the critical alpine area that is so important to Australia.”

Earlier this year NSW passed legislation that abandoned a management plan that recommended aerial culling of horses and instead formally recognised their cultural and historical significance.

The government says its preferred method of removal is to trap and rehome animals. But Pittock said the populations of horses were too large and their locations so remote that trapping and rehoming was not realistic.

“There’s 7,000 feral horses up there and the population increases by about 10% every year,” he said. “The people trapping horses physically can’t trap enough.”

He said research presented on Thursday showed the significance of the damage the horses were causing for native threatened species. That included trampling moss beds used by critically endangered corroboree frogs for breeding, making it impossible for the frogs to nest.

Scientists also said the government’s legislation would “dismantle Kosciuszko national park, its zoning and its environmental protection of catchments and native Australian species” by transferring planning for any known feral horse areas from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to a community advisory panel.

Dick Williams, an adjunct professor from Charles Darwin University, said the documented evidence of the destruction horses were causing was “very clear and clean”.

“The natural values of the Australian high country are outstanding, they’re world class and they’re severely compromised by feral horses,” he said. “You’ve got to get rid of them.

“The parliament is important and it’s got to do its job and overturn the legislation.”

A spokeswoman for the NSW deputy premier, John Barilaro, said the government’s bill was introduced only months ago and maintained a ban on aerial shooting that had “been in place for nearly 18 years”.

She said the legislation had not changed existing population control measures. “Nobody wants to see horses shot from the sky and left dying for weeks as was the case in Guy Fawkes national park in 2000,” she said.

“The wild horse management plan, which will be implemented in coming months, aims to find a balance between humanely controlling the brumby population and preserving sensitive areas of the national park.”

 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:23 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment

Center for Biological Diversity says new program bypasses findings and leaves decisions to employees who are not experts

Emily Holden in Washington
Fri 9 Nov 2018 00.08 GMT

Last year the administration declined to list the Pacific walrus as endangered, arguing that the mammals could adapt to sea ice melting from climate change.

Environmental advocates are suing Donald Trump’s interior department for using what they call a secretive process that ignores science in refusing protections for at-risk species.

The Center for Biological Diversity says a new program called the Species Status Assessment bypasses findings from scientists and leaves protection decisions to career federal employees who are not experts and may be under pressure from their bosses.

“It’s like going into the hospital and having a team of doctors diagnose you and then leaving the decision up to the chief financial officer of the hospital about what treatment they’re going to pursue,” said Ryan Shannon, an attorney for the group. “There’s a disconnect here.”

Shannon said Trump officials are looking for “wiggle room” to deregulate.

The administration last year declined to list the Pacific walrus as endangered, arguing that the long-tusked, mustachioed mammals could adapt to sea ice melting from climate change.

Additionally, two scientists have said they were rushed in assessing the threats from farming to the endangered American burying beetle and felt the interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service would conclude agriculture is not a risk regardless of what data they presented.

The interior department has eased species protections in other ways, including not automatically requiring the same efforts for threatened species as for endangered ones. It also is allowing more “incidental” killings of birds by industry.

The lawsuit, in district court in Washington DC, is in anticipation of similar decisions against species protection in the coming months, Shannon said.

The suit argues the department should have sought public comment on the program, according to the Endangered Species Act.

A Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman could not comment on litigation or immediately make staffers available to discuss the program.

 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:20 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Pakistan blasphemy case: Asia Bibi freed from jail

Christian labourer has left detention facility but has to stay in Pakistan

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent, and agencies
9 Nov 2018 05.49 GMT

Asia Bibi, the Christian farm labourer whose blasphemy case has triggered violent protests and assassinations in Pakistan, has been freed from jail but remains in protective custody, a week after the country’s supreme court overturned her conviction.

Officials said that she left a detention facility in the Punjab province amid tight security on Wednesday and was flown to Islamabad, where she was at a secure location because of threats to her life.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign office said on Thursday that reports Bibi had left the country were false, in a statement backed up by sources close to the family.

Bibi, who had spent eight years on death row, had been left in limbo after the government struck a deal with religious conservatives to end protests, which erupted after her acquittal.

Her husband and children have been living at a secret address in Pakistan in fear of their lives, and have made repeated appeals to the international community to help secure the whole family’s safety.

“Help us get out of Pakistan. We are extremely worried because our lives are in danger. We no longer have even anything to eat, because we cannot leave the house to buy food,” Ashiq Masih, Bibi’s husband, told Aid to the Church in Need, which campaigns on religious freedom.

He told the BBC World Service that he had not seen Bibi since her acquittal, and the family was worried about her safety. Religious extremists have threatened to kill her.

Authorities now say Bibi may not be able to leave the country because a petition for a review of the court’s ruling was filed by a radical Islamist lawyer requesting the acquittal be reversed. Pakistani courts usually take years to decide such cases.

Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Mulook, fled Pakistan at the weekend after being issued with death threats, and is seeking asylum in the Netherlands.

0:33..Asia Bibi: protests erupt in Pakistan after blasphemy conviction overturned - video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fOWSLV6Esw

Canada, France and Spain were reportedly considering offering asylum to Bibi and her family. Her husband has also appealed to the UK and the US to offer a safe haven.

In Italy, Matteo Salvini, the hardline anti-migrant interior minister, said he would do “all that is humanly possible” to ensure Bibi and her family were safe, either in Italy or elsewhere.

Bibi was convicted of blasphemy after a row with Muslim women in her village. Two Pakistani politicians were killed for publicly supporting her and criticising the country’s blasphemy laws.

The supreme court’s decision last week to overturn the verdict led to violent protests throughout Pakistan and calls for the judges in the case to be killed.

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister since July, has been criticised for capitulating to extremists over the case.

“Khan swept to power earlier this year on promises to restore the rule of law, to champion the oppressed and marginalised and to deliver justice. His party is, after all, called the Movement for Justice,” said Omar Waraich of Amnesty International.

“But what does that even mean when, in the space of just two days, he went from warning the mob against using violence, to bowing to their demands?”

Khan’s former wife, Jemima Goldsmith, accused him on Twitter of caving in “to extremist demands to bar #AsiaBibi from leaving [Pakistan], after she was acquitted of blasphemy – effectively signing her death warrant”.

The Religious Liberty Commission, a coalition of organisations campaigning against Christian persecution, have called on Khan to allow Bibi to leave the country.

“Following her unjust imprisonment and long-awaited release, it is clear that Asia’s life is in danger in Pakistan … As others involved with the case continue to flee the country, we affirm that Asia’s safety is now the responsibility of prime minister Khan,” it said.

 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:16 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Tesla Roadster and Starman have now traveled beyond Mars


In February this year, SpaceX tested its new Falcon Heavy rocket by launching some very unconventional cargo in space. The eccentric billionaire and SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, wanted to do things differently — so the payload was comprised of a Tesla Roadster, with a mannequin dressed in an astronaut suit sitting in the driver’s seat. Now, according to a SpaceX tweet, the car has made it past Mars’ orbit around the sun.

    Starman’s current location. Next stop, the restaurant at the end of the universe. pic.twitter.com/Ty5m8IjJpE

    — SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 3, 2018

In the eight months since it was launched into space, the ‘Starman’ mannequin has traveled over 370 million miles around the sun at an average speed of 35,000 mph. That’s quite the trek for a Tesla Roadster, which has exceeded its 36,000-mile warranty about 10,000 times. During its latest loop, Starman has even made it past Mars’ orbit, currently drifting 179 million miles away from Earth.

When a new rocket is tested, manufacturers typically send a dummy cargo into space — such as concrete or steel blocks. That was too boring for Elon Musk, though. In the process, SpaceX got the chance to test its spacesuit in real-world conditions while Musk secured great publicity for both of his companies in one move.

The successful test launch also marked the introduction of the world’s most powerful rocket currently in operation.

The Falcon Heavy is essentially made up of three Falcon 9s strapped together, which allows it to ferry roughly three times more payload into space than a single Falcon. Its design was first unveiled in 2011, but a series of setbacks have delayed the original launch plans.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0FZIwabctw

The 224-feet-tall (68.4 meters) rocket is capable of delivering 54 metric tons (119,000 lb) of payload (satellites, cargo, astronauts etc.) into Earth’s low orbit, to the moon, or even to Mars. That’s the mass equivalent of a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage, and fuel. It can even carry up to 4,000 kilograms of payload all the way to Pluto!

But Musk has his eyes set on an even more powerful behemoth, the BFR. According to Musk’s initial plan, the 348-foot-tall (106-meter) BFR system is powered by 42 Raptor engines. It should be capable of carrying up to 100 people in a pressurized passenger space that’s larger than that of an Airbus A380 airplane. BFR consists of a 190-foot (58-meter) tall booster for its first stage, and a 157-foot (48-meter) tall spaceship that also doubles as a second stage.

As for the Tesla and Starman, the pair should keep orbiting around the sun. Each time the car comes close to Earth, it will get a gravitational kick that will send it into a wider or narrower obit — but where to and for how long? Physicists at the University of Toronto Scarborough actually crunched the numbers finding that the Tesla Roadster will collide with Earth or Venus over the next million years with a probability of 6 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. In all likelihood, however, the vehicle won’t make it that far.

According to Tom Narita, an astrophysicist at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, the Roadster could be obliterated by high-speed space dust and cosmic ray radiation. In only a couple of years, all the plastic and rubber in the car should get shredded into pieces by radiation while the metal structure itself can last for hundreds of thousands of years.

 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:14 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
New water-based battery that uses organic materials instead of toxic metals could solve renewable storage problem


Renewable energy is clean, getting cheaper by the day and in many respects becoming more efficient thanks to rapid advancements coming from the world’s top-notch labs. It has one major drawback – storage. Before people can find a clever and cost-effective way to store all of that excess energy from wind and solar farms, chances have it that very few countries will want to pass the 30% renewables share margin.  The best solution might actually be an old idea revamped to work for a novel setting – batteries. Not just any batteries though. The most promising solution so far is using flow batteries – storage mediums that are rechargeable and whose electroactive materials are stored external to the actual battery. Such a flow battery was developed at University of Southern California, and it might be a real game changer if the proper attention is awarded.
An elegant solution for a most troublesome problem

    “The batteries last for about 5,000 recharge cycles, giving them an estimated 15-year lifespan,” said Sri Narayan, professor of chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and corresponding author of an open-access paper published online by the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.

    “Lithium ion batteries degrade after around 1,000 cycles, and cost 10 times more to manufacture,” he said.

These batteries aren’t meant to fit in your mobile, though. They’re intended for large-scale energy storage, backing power generating plants and making the grid more resilient. Where they shine, however, is in their potential to change how renewable energy is perceived in the broader picture. Solar panels can only generate power when the sun’s shining, and wind turbines can only generate power when the wind blows. Often, these systems are designed to produce just about as much energy as the grid can handle or just enough so it can power consumers, never more though. This makes renewables inherently unreliable. If you can find a way to cheaply and effectively store this excess energy, that a lot of people might consider their stance over renewable energy.

The working principle of the new battery, called the aqueous organic redox flow battery (ORBAT), is typical. It consists of a redox-flow design, very similar to a fuel cell, where two tanks of electroactive materials dissolved in water are pumped into the cell. Here, a proton carrying membrane separates the two fluids with electrodes on either side, releasing energy. The innovation lies in the tanks’ contents.

Such batteries typically work using metals, most often than not the toxic variety, as well as a precious metal catalyst. The ORBAT employs organic compounds dissolved in water and doesn’t employ an expensive catalyst. Using molecule design and a lot of trial-and-error, the researchers were able to find the perfect organic mix: quinones, or oxidized organic compounds. Quinones are found in plants, fungi, bacteria, and some animals, and are involved in photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Basically, Narayan and team modeled nature’s energy transfer model for their battery, and it works like a charm. Worth noting that similar solution was applied by Harvard researchers, but their prototype was only tested for about 100 cycles.

Currently, the quinones used by the ORBAT come from hydrocarbons, but there are ways to derive them directly from carbon dioxide. So there you have it: a scalable, inexpensive and sustainable metal-free rechargeable battery for large-scale electrical energy storage. But will we hear again about it four years from now? Fingers crossed.

 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:10 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

World's Largest E-Bike Fleet to Roll Out in Paris Region


I love electric bikes. They're a great, low-carbon transportation option that requires much less work than traditional pedal bikes. So it's exciting news that the Paris region is rolling out a massive fleet of them as a way to beat back traffic and air pollution.

Starting September 2019, the Ile-de-France Mobilités—the Paris-area public transport network—will offer 10,000 electric bikes for long-term rental, according to Reuters. The plan is to expand the so-called "Véligo" service to 20,000 units, making it the world's largest e-bike rental program.

The larger aim is to encourage bike-riding in the wider Parisian region that's home to 10 million people. Currently, commuter cycling counts for a mere 1.6 percent of daily trips in the area.

"Electric bicycles have an enormous potential. They are an efficient and ecological way to get to the railway station for short commutes that can replace the car," Valerie Pecresse, the head of the Ile-de-France region, told Reuters.

The Véligo program works differently than typical bike-share programs where you rent a bike for a few hours and return it to a docking station after use. Instead, Véligo bikes can stay with the users for 40 euros ($45) a month, half of which can be subsidized by their employers, Reuters reported.

The new scheme is an addition to the city of Paris' own Vélib' bike-sharing system, which had been a "huge success and a point of pride" for the French capital until it changed operators and nearly collapsed, NPR reported last month. Daily use dramatically fell from 100,000 trips a day to only a couple thousand.

The Véligo program will be operated by the postal service and transport firm Transdev under a six-year contract and have a budget of 111 million euros ($127 million), according to Reuters.

 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:08 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Will This Case Finally Bring Down ExxonMobil’s Culture of Climate Deception?

By Elliott Negin

New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood recently filed what could be an enormously consequential securities fraud lawsuit against ExxonMobil, exposing in great detail the company's long history of lying about issues related to climate change.

According to the findings of the AG's investigation, ExxonMobil kept one set of numbers internally about the likely future costs of carbon-emission rules while using another set for its shareholders that it knew to be false. For internal planning purposes, the company low-balled estimates for the cost per ton of carbon that would likely be imposed by regulation to make its projects appear to be more profitable. Meanwhile, the company told its shareholders it was using a higher, more plausible, price when determining its projects' long-term economic viability. By doing so, the complaint charges, ExxonMobil deceived its investors, falsely assuring them that its oil and gas reserves would not become unusable for economic reasons—what the industry refers to as "stranded assets."

The 97-page legal complaint is chock-full of examples of ExxonMobil reports and statements that deceived shareholders about the likely cost of carbon-emission standards. It charges the company with "a longstanding fraudulent scheme" that "was sanctioned at the highest levels of the company."

Just as the notorious Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone was ultimately brought down on tax fraud charges despite a long rap sheet of murder and mayhem, the case raises the prospect that New York's unique securities fraud law, the Martin Act, could be the legal tool that holds the company accountable for a culture of deception about climate change that spans decades.

The legal complaint cites one notable corporate statement titled "ExxonMobil and the carbon tax" in which the company reiterated its dubious contention that it supports a carbon tax. In fact, ExxonMobil has never publicly supported an actual carbon tax bill and has consistently funded members of Congress who oppose the idea. The company did get some positive press recently for pledging to donate $1 million to Americans for Carbon Dividends, a new lobby group promoting a revenue-neutral carbon tax, but the group's plan would pre-empt climate-related lawsuits against fossil fuel companies and eliminate federal regulations curbing carbon emissions.

ExxonMobil also has long lied about its ongoing support for climate science denier groups. In 2007, a company vice president claimed it stopped funding them after the Union of Concerned Scientists revealed that ExxonMobil had spent millions of dollars on dozens of groups to sow doubt about the reality and seriousness of climate change. The company's own corporate giving reports show that it continues to fund them to this day. From 1998 through last year, ExxonMobil spent at least $36 million on climate science disinformation groups, more than any other funder besides Charles and David Koch, the multibillionaire owners of Koch Industries.

The bottom line of the New York AG's complaint is that, when calculating costs for major projects, ExxonMobil "assumed, contrary to its representations [to investors], that existing climate regulation would remain in place, unchanged, indefinitely into the future."

What would make ExxonMobil so confident that currently weak-to-nonexistent carbon-emission standards would remain the same? Likely its success over the past 20 years in stifling meaningful government action. After all, ExxonMobil and the rest of the US fossil fuel industry have spent enough money on their friends in Congress that a critical mass of them deny the reality of human-driven climate change. So, as long as fossil fuel industry-funded groups continue to provide lawmakers with bogus studies and ply the news media with industry mouthpieces, it is not surprising that ExxonMobil believed it could maintain the status quo.

As the New York AG complaint shows, however, ExxonMobil's strategy relied on the belief that it could get away with privately counting on business as usual while telling investors it was taking into full consideration the risks to its business posed by the global effort to dramatically curb carbon emissions. When it comes to defrauding investors in New York state, this looming court battle may prove the company wrong.

Elliott Negin is a senior writer in the Communications Department at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:05 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Old Master? Cave paintings from 40,000 years ago are world’s earliest figurative art

Agence France-Presse
09 Nov 2018 at 08:10 ET                   

A painting of an animal in an Indonesian cave dates from at least 40,000 years ago, making it the world’s oldest piece of figurative art, new research has shown.

The painting in Borneo, possibly depicting a native type of wild cattle, is among thousands of artworks discovered decades ago in the remote region.

But it was only using technology called uranium series analysis that researchers have finally been able to work out just when they were painted.

The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that cave painting did not emerge only in Europe, as was once thought.

“We can see that figurative art developed and evolved more or less at the same time in Asia and in Europe,” researcher Maxime Aubert told AFP.

In 2014, researchers dated figurative art on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to 35,000 years ago, but some of the paintings examined by Aubert and his team in nearby Borneo were produced at least 5,000 years earlier.

Aubert, an associate professor at Australia’s Griffith University, worked with a team in remote and inaccessible caves in the East Kalimantan area of Borneo to date the paintings.

The team, whose research was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, looked at multiple layers of artwork painted on top of each other.

The bottom-most and oldest layer featured paintings of animals, mostly a local type of cattle, as well as hand stencils in a reddish colour.

On top of those artworks were hand stencils in a mulberry colour grouped in patterns and embellished with lines and dots, as well as small stick-like human figures in the same colour.

The final layer featured people, boats and geometric designs.

– ‘An intimate window’ –

Aubert and his team employed a technique called uranium series dating, which involves analysing layers of the mineral calcite that formed on top of the painting over the years, as well as the material underneath the art.

They removed samples smaller than one centimetre (half an inch) across from the artworks and found one painting of an animal had been produced at least 40,000 years ago, and possibly nearly 52,000 years ago.

“To our knowledge, the large animal painting… is the oldest figurative rock art image in the world,” the team’s study said.

The painting is in fact one of the earliest-known representations of any kind of an animal, dating from a similar period to mammoth-ivory figurines found in Germany, the study added.

For many years, cave art was thought to have emerged from Europe, where famed pieces have been discovered and dated in Spain, Italy and France.

But the Indonesian paintings challenge that theory.

“It now seems that two early cave art provinces arose at a similar time in remote corners of Palaeolithic Eurasia: one in Europe and one in Indonesia, at the opposite end of this ice age world,” said Adam Brum, an archeologist involved in the study, in a press release issued by Griffith University.

The second layer of artwork dates to around 20,000 years ago, and suggests an interesting evolution in the artwork of the era.

“Around 20,000 years ago, painting becomes of the human world, not the animal world. We see the same thing in Europe at more or less the same time,” Aubert told AFP.

He plans to carry out further testing of other artwork in Indonesia, as well as pieces in Australia, and said he felt a personal connection to the past when examining the paintings.

“It’s amazing to see that. It’s an intimate window into the past.”

 on: Nov 09, 2018, 02:51 AM 
Started by Kismine - Last post by Kismine
HI,Rad and Wei,

I see.Thank you very much.always gratitude your help and guidance.



 on: Nov 09, 2018, 01:37 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Helena
Hi Rad,

that image makes sense, thank you for explaining it.
Like Soleil, it really helps closing the circle on you said about Trump and Hitler at the time of the elections.
It is really interesting though that we are exploring this family tree subject exactly when the nodes shifted for cancer/cap. :-)

One thing i would like to ask, and that has been a question i have had for some time, is what you think it means that in Hitlers chart there is a nodal return coming, would this have significance in this family tree dynamics? Overall, what would it mean for the world?

Thank you again,

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