Sign Petition: Demand an end to live animal markets in the United States 2 minutes Urge the USDA to end live animal markets Stop pandemics where they start. Live animal markets place the public in grave danger, and result in immense cruelty to animals. Most infectious diseases can be traced back to animals, including COVID-19. The original reservoir for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for causing COVID-19, is likely bat in origin. SARS-CoV-2 may have found a secondary host (e.g. pangolins) before mutating to a human host. The large live animal markets in China provide a perfect breeding ground for a pandemic. So do the livestock auctions and live animal markets of the United States. Now is the time to put an end to live animal markets. Add your name to the growing list of concerned citizens who want to stop pandemics where they start. Auctions confine animals from different farms in overcrowded pens, sometimes for days. Healthy animals are housed with sick ones. The dead may be left for hours or days before removal from a pen. In the United States, live animal markets sell a variety of species for slaughter, either onsite or privately. Studies show that employees at these markets often test positive for viruses that originate in animals. In one Minnesota study, 65% of employees at two live animal markets tested positive for influenza of swine origin. Sign our petition today and demand an end to live animal markets in the United States.
Banks handling the government’s $349 billion loan program for small businesses made more than $10 billion in fees — even as tens of thousands of small businesses were shut out of the program, according to an analysis of financial records by NPR.
The banks took in the fees while processing loans that required less vetting than regular bank loans and had little risk for the banks, the records show. Taxpayers provided the money for the loans, which were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.
According to a Department of Treasuryfact sheet, all federally insured banks and credit unions could process the loans, which ranged in amount from tens of thousands to $10 million. The banks acted essentially as middlemen, sending clients’ loan applications to the SBA, which approved them.
For every transaction made, banks took in 1% to 5% in fees, depending on the…
A big CBP welcome to our new K9 teams in @CBPElCentro Sector! The agents & their canine partners graduated from a 7-week K9 academy where they trained to search all operational environments and identify concealed humans and the odors of controlled substances. @USBPChiefELCpic.twitter.com/RXNbov472R
You may not be able to see the moon in the sky tonight, but if you look up for long enough at a dark, clear sky, you may catch some “shooting stars.”
The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks overnight tonight (April 21) and into the early hours of Wednesday (April 22), less than a day before the new moon. Without any glaring moonlight to obstruct the view, skywatchers will have an excellent view of the Lyrids this year — weather permitting.
From a dark, clear sky, observers in the Northern Hemisphere can expect to see as many as 10 to 20 meteors per hour during the shower’s peak. Because the shower is active from mid- to late April, some Lyrid meteors may still appear before and after the peak, but tonight will be your best chance to see them.
The shower’s peak will last for a few hours, but maximum activity is expected to occur around 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) on Wednesday, according to the Observer’s Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. That’s about 20 hours before the moon reaches its new phase at 10:26 a.m. EDT (0226 GMT). That tiny sliver of a nearly-new moon still won’t be visible in the night sky, because the moon will be below the horizon. In New York City, for example, the moon sets at 6:23 p.m. local time tonight and rises again at 5:50 a.m. tomorrow.
To spot the Lyrids, find a dark sky away from light pollution and look up — ideally while lying on your back, so you don’t strain your neck. Lyrid meteors will appear to originate from a point in the sky on the border between the constellations Hercules and Lyra (home of the bright star Vega). This apparent point of origin, known as the meteor shower’s radiant, will be in the northeast after sunset and almost directly overhead in the hours before dawn.
Once you’ve located the radiant, don’t just stare at that spot all night. Longer streaks tend to appear farther from the shower’s radiant, so you might miss the best meteors if your eyes are glued on that singular spot all night (also, focusing on a single point in the dark for so long might strain your eyes).
So, since lying down on the ground is both more comfortable and will give you the best view of the entire sky, we suggest you kick back and relax to make the most of this brilliant, cosmic event.Click here for more Space.com videos…
Editor’s note: If you snap a great photo Lyrid meteor shower that you’d like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and observing location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sign the Petition Pieter Kat started this petition to Conservative Party Leader Boris Johnson and 6 others
The body parts of lions killed in gruesome hunts are being bought and imported into our country as ‘hunting trophies’. To hunt these beautiful animals for fun is inhumane and wrong – but it’s also contributing to the rapid decline of lion numbers. That’s why I’m calling on lion trophy hunting imports to be banned immediately. I lived and worked for two decades in several African countries to help the conservation of lions there and I’m now the director of Lion Aid. It pains me that their numbers continue to drop. The number of lions in Africa has decreased from over 200,000 to less than 15,000 within the past 50 years. Most of the ‘trophies’ are male lions. This has a disastrous knock on effect, pride structures are disrupted, reproduction almost grinds to a halt as cub survival is severely affected, and mortality among females increases as they attempt to protect their cubs during encounters with more and more displaced males. We must immediately stop our involvement in this cruel trade of lions killed for fun, like others around the world have. Australia, France and the Netherlands have already banned lion trophy imports. Why have we not yet joined them in doing so? In 2010 and 2015 promises were made by British MPs about introducing a ban, but years later nothing has happened. Every single day we delay makes it more and more likely that we push lions towards extinction. Please sign my petition calling on the UK to immediately ban imports of Lion trophies.
Help keep the Earth healthy by ditching single-use plastic items. You can make a paper straw to use instead of a plastic one, which is one of the top items found at beach cleanups and can hurt ocean animals that mistake them for food.
Add a long line of glue on the side without the pattern.
Place a chopstick at an angle on the back of the paper. Then roll the paper around the chopstick until it’s completely covered. (Be careful to roll the paper on top of itself so you don’t get glue on the chopstick!)
Wait 10 minutes for the glue to dry, then wiggle the chopstick out from inside the paper tube.
Cut both ends of the tube to make them even.
Grab a parent and put the wax in a glass jar. Melt the wax by either putting the jar on a candle warmer or in a pot of warm water on the stove.Kids vs. Plastic10 tips to reduce your plastic useMake pom-pom puffsPlastic Pollution
Dip the paper tube into the melted wax one half at a time (this part might get a little messy!) Then gently wipe the tube with a paper towel to get off any extra wax. Let the straws dry about 10 minutes before using. PLANET PROTECTOR TIPThese paper straws will last only about a day. Ask your parents to purchase reusable straws made of bamboo, metal, glass, or silicone that you can use forever!
The Bureau of Land Management is developing a new Resource Management Plan in Wyoming and has an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for proposed changes to the management of four wild horse herds in Wyoming: Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin and White Mountain. The BLM’s proposed actions in their “Preferred Alternative” would zero out the Great Divide Basin Herd, zero out the Salt Wells Creek Herd and the White Mountain Herd and cut the Adobe Town Appropriate Management Level by half. Comments are due on this plan by April 30.
Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin, Adobe Town and White Mountain encompass 2,811,401acres, 70 percent of which is federally managed public land and 30% is mostly private lands with some state owned lands.
At issue here is the Checkerboard – a mix of public and private lands 20 miles wide that…
The three-year NIH/NIAID award will initially study three species of nonhuman primates to determine which most closely mimics COVID-19 infection and transmission as experienced by humans. A nonhuman primate model will provide key information about the characteristics of the disease and will help researchers determine which candidate COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are safe and effective.
A nonhuman primate model also helps researchers understand which underlying health conditions, or comorbidities, can make some people more susceptible to complications from the disease.
“The range of biological responses to COVID-19 is incredibly wide,” said lead investigator Chad Roy, professor of microbiology and immunology in the Tulane University School of Medicine and director of infectious disease aerobiology at the Tulane National Primate Research Center. “We know relatively little about the intricacies of the disease — like why some infections result in mild disease, while others experience severe complications or death.”
Once a reliable nonhuman primate model of disease has been established, Tulane researchers will then test promising vaccines and therapeutics for safety and effectiveness before promoting them for use in human clinical trials.
“We will be a primary site for evaluating the nation’s leading medical countermeasures against COVID-19,” Roy said. “Receiving this award is a testament to the unique capabilities of the Tulane National Primate Research Center and the international reputation of Tulane University as a leader in infectious disease research.”
Photograph by Joel Sartore, Nat Geo Image Collection Read Caption
The spill drove a push in science and some changes in regulations, but the dangers of offshore drilling remain.
By Alejandra Borunda PUBLISHED April 20, 2020
The BP oil spill of 2010 started suddenly, explosively, and with deadly force. But the response has stretched out for years and scientists say there’s still much more we need to learn.
As a crew on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig worked to close up an exploratory oil well deep under the Gulf of Mexico, a pulse of gas shot up, buckling the drill pipe. The emergency valve designed to cap the well in case of an accident, the “blowout protector,” failed, and the gas reached the drill rig, triggering an explosion that killed 11 crewmembers.
Over the next three months, the uncapped well leaked more than 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools of oil into the Gulf’s waters, making it the biggest oil spill in United States history. The leak pumped out 12 times more oil than the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989.
U.S. Coast Guard fire boats crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon on April 21, 2010 near New Orleans. An estimated 1,000 barrels of oil a day were still leaking into the Gulf at the time. Photograph by U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images
The spill opened many people’s eyes to the risks of drilling for oil in one of the most ecologically rich, culturally important, and economically valuable parts of the world. But 10 years and billions of dollars in cleanup efforts later, many of the same risks that allowed the disaster to occur remain.
“It took the better part of six to seven years [after the disaster] to get in place the inspection of blowout preventers and rules about making drilling plans safer and putting commonsense regulations in place, but those have been rescinded,” says Ian MacDonald, a scientist at Florida State University. “So basically we’re back to where we were in 2010, in terms of regulatory environment.”
And in some ways, more is known now than ever before about the Gulf and how the spill affected its ecosystems.
“We’re just to the point now where we have enough data to recognize things we missed earlier, and there’s still a lot we don’t know,” says Samantha Joye, a marine scientist at the University of Georgia. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Can this kind of spill happen again?
About 17 percent of the U.S.’s total crude oil production comes from offshore projects in the Gulf. Pipelines—26,000 miles of them—connect wells to the processing infrastructure that lines the coast. Before plummeting demand from the coronavirus pandemic drove already-low oil prices lower, the Gulf of Mexico was producing as much crude oil as it had in years.
“Even in times of low prices like today, offshore just keeps going on,” says Gregory Upton, Jr., an energy economist at Louisiana State University.
A severely oiled brown pelican is rescued in Queen Bess Island, Louisiana, after the oil spill.Photograph by Joel Sartore, Nat Geo Image Collection
And drilling for oil in deep offshore waters is inherently dangerous for the people working the platforms, as well as potentially for the environments they’re drilling in.
“Working on the ultra-deep stuff is pretty much like working in outer space,” say Mark Davis, a water law expert at Tulane University.
But conditions on the Deepwater Horizon rig were particularly concerning. After the spill, the commission created by the Obama administration to investigate the spill reached stark, damning conclusions. Many lapses in safety had contributed to the disaster, many of which traced back to a culture both within BP and the industry more broadly that did not value safety enough.
Boats used absorbent booms to corral the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Photograph by Tyrone Turner, Nat Geo Image Collection
A new agency, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), was created to track and enforce offshore drilling safety issues, something that had been handled by the same agency that approved leases to oil companies.
“Before Deepwater, there was this mentality that had set in in the 1990s and 2000s, that the oil and gas industry, as it was going farther offshore, was capable of self-regulating,” says Matt Lee Ashley, a researcher at the Center for American Progress. “Then Deepwater happened and burst that set of assumptions.”
BSEE announced a new set of safety rules for offshore operations in 2016. Among those rules was one that required blowout protectors—the piece that had failed at Deepwater Horizon—to be inspected by a third party, rather than self-certified by the drilling companies. But many of those rules, as well as other safety practices put in place after the disaster, have been weakened in recent years. Most notably, in 2019 the Trump administration finalized rollbacksof several components of the 2016 rules, including the independent safety certification for blowout protectors and bi-weekly testing.
Inspections and safety checks by BSEE have also declined some 13 percent between 2017 and 2019 and there have been nearly 40 percent less enforcement activities in that time compared to previous years, according to Lee Ashley’s analysis.
Today, more than 50 percent of Gulf oil production comes from ultra-deep wells drilled in 4,500 feet or more of water, compared with about 4,000 feet for Deepwater Horizon. The deeper the well, the more the risk: A 2013 study showed that for every hundred feet deeper a well is drilled, the likelihood of a company self-reported incident like a spill or an injury increased by more than 8 percent.
Terry Garcia, former deputy administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a member of a major safety commission convened after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, worries that the safety changes in the years after the disaster didn’t extend broadly enough, either.
“We have this tendency to fight the last war, to prepare for the last incident that occurred,” he says. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, for example, new laws and regulations were enacted to deal with future tanker spills. But that focus on the future didn’t happen for oil rigs, and the next disaster is unlikely to look exactly like Deepwater.
A dead black drum fish floats through oiled waters in Grand Isle, Louisiana.Photograph by Joel Sartore, Nat Geo Image Collection
Another concern, says Scott Eustis, the science director at the Louisiana-based Healthy Gulf, a group that focuses on marine protection, comes from the ever-increasing pressures of climate change. Louisiana, which has the most comprehensive climate adaptation plan in the region, is expecting the number and intensity of major hurricanes to increasewithin the next 50 years. Each storm that blows through the Gulf threatens offshore drilling infrastructure.
“Since Deepwater Horizon, we’ve taken two steps forward and one step back, and that one step back is worrying because we could very much end up in a similar situation,” says Lee Ashley.
What we know about the spill’s effects
After the spill, BP agreed to pay out more than $20 billion in penalties and damages, with around $13 billion directed toward restoration and a vast research effort in the region.
But scientists realized they lacked much of the basic background science necessary to predict where, when, and how the oil would spread or what its impacts on the region would be.
At first, it was difficult even to assess how much oil spilled from the well. Early initial assessments were low—but satellite imagery revealed that there was much more oil than had been reported. The final tally showed that the spill dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil.
Oil continued to sink to the ocean floor for more than a year, a recent study shows. It changed the amounts of sediment collecting on the bottom of the sea for years afterwardand choked them of oxygen. Immediately after the spill, the 1,300 miles of contaminated coasts saw oil concentrations 100 times higher than background levelsl even eight years later, concentrations were 10 times higher than before the spill. And In February of this year, a study showed that the footprint of the oil spread some 30 percent wider than previously estimated, potentially contaminating many more fish communities than previously thought.
“It’s astounding,” says Joye. “We underestimated so many of the impacts when we were first looking.” Only after a decade of sustained observation, she says, have the true impacts of the spill started to become clear.
The paradoxical effect of the spill is that scientists know more about the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the physics, ecology, and chemistry of oil spills, than they ever would have otherwise.
The white sand beaches of Orange Beach, Alabama are covered with oil.Photograph by Tyrone Turner, Nat Geo Image Collection
It was clear from the moment the spill began that there were many basic science questions that were unknown about this area of the world, like ocean currents and wind patterns, knowledge gaps that hindered the recovery process.
“The first fundamental issue we faced in 2010 was a chronic lack of baseline data,” says Joye.
For example, no high-resolution map of the seafloor existed, information that would have helped scientists understand where the bottom-dwelling creatures of the Gulf might be affected. Driven by the disaster, federal scientists produced a map in 2016.
“It was crucial to be able to detect and predict where the oil would go,” says Oscar Garcia Pineda, a satellite expert. In 2010, it took days to get satellite images downloaded and processed; today the response time is about 20 minutes, he says. In conjunction with studies that used drifters, boats, drones, and other techniques, scientists have deepened their understanding of the Gulf’s restless movements.
But there’s much more still to learn, say Joye and MacDonald; it’s crucial to set up long-term monitoring programs so scientists can be better prepared for the inevitable next disaster.
“We need much better oceanographic data,” says MacDonald, “so we’re not trying to model after the fact whether Florida is going to get hit by this oil spill, or if it’ll go the other way.”
And other knowledge gaps also engender risk. For example, a 2004 hurricane triggered underwater landslides at another drilling site in the Gulf. The mudslide broke the drilling rig away from the well, leaving it leaking hundreds of barrels a day. But the mudslide risk across the Gulf hasn’t yet been thoroughly mapped out.
“There was a dearth of knowledge. It’s that old adage, ‘you can’t manage what you don’t understand’—well, you can’t protect what you don’t understand,” says Garcia. Why is there drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?
The reason the Deepwater Horizon well existed in the first place? Hundreds of billions of barrels of fossil fuel energy are buried deep beneath the Gulf’s seafloor.
Oil seeps from the floor of the Gulf naturally, in small volumes. The phenomenon has been long known to people who lived and traveled along its marshy shores and coastlines. Hernan de Soto, a Spanish explorer who sailed through the Gulf in 1543, used the gummy oil his sailors collected from the beaches to patch up his wooden ships. Tribal communities gathered tar that caught in the tangled cordgrass of the sandy barrier islands and used it for art and to waterproof pots.
Offshore drilling began in the late 1930s. The first site, Louisiana’s Creole platform, squatted just a mile and a half off the coast, its wooden legs sprouting up through water 14 feet deep.
By the 1950s, engineers were gaining ambition and confidence, nudging the limits of their drilling activities deeper and deeper, following the long, broad slope of the seafloor that tilted away from the Gulf’s shores. By 2000, over 300 operating oil rigs and thousands of platforms dotted the wide, shallow slope. But they pushed further, out to where the ground drops away sharply. Geologists’ glimpses into that underground world, from seismic observations and experimental drill holes, hinted at millions of barrels of oil lurking below, if only the drillers could get to it.
The Deepwater Horizon well, drilled in 2009, pushed the limits of that deep drilling. At its creation, it was the deepest well ever drilled, punching over 35,000 feet down into the ground below the sea, in water over 4,000 feet deep.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard