Using Wolves as First Responders Against a Deadly Brain Disease

Some scientists say that the predators are essential to curbing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease because they pick off weak deer.

A wolf from the Wapiti Lake pack near a hot spring of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. 
A wolf from the Wapiti Lake pack near a hot spring of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Credit…Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service, via Associated Press

By Jim Robbins

  • Published Nov. 12, 2020Updated Nov. 16, 2020

Are the wolves of Yellowstone National Park the first line of defense against a terrible disease that preys on herds of wildlife?

That’s the question for a research project underway in the park, and preliminary results suggest that the answer is yes. Researchers are studying what is known as the predator cleansing effect, which occurs when a predator sustains the health of a prey population by killing the sickest animals. If the idea holds, it could mean that wolves have a role to play in limiting the spread of chronic wasting disease, which is infecting deer and similar animals across the country and around the world. Experts fear that it could one day jump to humans.

“There is no management tool that is effective” for controlling the disease, said Ellen Brandell, a doctoral student in wildlife ecology at Penn State University who is leading the project in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service. “There is no vaccine. Can predators potentially be the solution?”

Many biologists and conservationists say that more research would strengthen the case that reintroducing more wolves in certain parts of the United States could help manage wildlife diseases, although the idea is sure to face pushback from hunters, ranchers and others concerned about competition from wolves.

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Chronic wasting disease, a contagious neurological disease, is so unusual that some experts call it a “disease from outer space.” First discovered among wild deer in 1981, it leads to deterioration of brain tissue in cervids, mostly deer but also elk, moose and caribou, with symptoms such as listlessness, drooling, staggering, emaciation and death.

It is caused by an abnormal version of a cell protein called a prion, which functions very differently than bacteria or viruses. The disease has spread across wild cervid populations and is now found in 26 states and several Canadian provinces, as well as South Korea and Scandinavia.

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The disease is part of a group called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, the most famous of which is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease. Mad cow in humans causes a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and there was an outbreak among people in the 1990s in Britain from eating tainted meat.

Cooking does not kill the prions, and experts fear that chronic wasting disease could spread to humans who hunt and consume deer or other animals that are infected with it.

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The disease has infected many deer herds in Wyoming, and it spread to Montana in 2017. Both states are adjacent to Yellowstone, so experts are concerned that the deadly disease could soon make its way into the park’s vast herds of elk and deer.

Montana game wardens checked a hunter’s deer for signs of chronic wasting disease in Joliet, Mont. in 2017.
Montana game wardens checked a hunter’s deer for signs of chronic wasting disease in Joliet, Mont. in 2017.Credit…Lynn Donaldson for The New York Times

Unless, perhaps, the park’s 10 packs of wolves, which altogether contain about 100 individuals, preyed on and consumed diseased animals that were easier to pick off because of their illness (the disease does not appear to infect wolves).Coronavirus Briefing: An informed guide to the global outbreak, with the latest developments and expert advice.

“Wolves have really been touted as the best type of animal to remove infected deer, because they are cursorial — they chase their prey and they look for the weak ones,” said Ms. Brandell. By this logic, diseased deer and other animals would be the most likely to be eliminated by wolves.

Preliminary results in Yellowstone have shown that wolves can delay outbreaks of chronic wasting disease in their prey species and can decrease outbreak size, Ms. Brandell said. There is little published research on “predator cleansing,” and this study aims to add support for the use of predators to manage disease.

A prime concern about the spread of chronic wasting disease in the Yellowstone region is the fact that Wyoming maintains 22 state-sponsored feeding grounds that concentrate large numbers of elk unnaturally in the Yellowstone region. And just south of Grand Teton National Park lies the National Elk Refuge, where thousands of animals, displaced by cattle ranches, are fed each winter to satisfy elk hunters and tourists. Many wildlife biologists say concentrating the animals in such small areas is a recipe for the rapid spread of chronic wasting disease.

When cases of the disease among deer ranged from 5 to 50 percent in Wisconsin and Colorado, those states were considered hot spots. But if the disease gets into game farms like the ones in Wyoming, “prevalence rates skyrocket to 90 or 100 percent,” said Mark Zabel, associate director of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University.

Prions are especially deadly. Unlike bacteria and viruses, prions can persist in soil for 10 years or more and endure on vegetation. Even if a herd dies out or is culled, new animals moving in can become infected.

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The origin of the disease is unknown. Andrew P. Dobson, a professor of ecology and epidemiology at Princeton who has studied predator cleansing, believes the illness is largely the result of ecosystems with too few predators and scavengers.

He speculates that the disease may have come from deer living in proximity to sheep in Colorado or Wyoming, where it was first identified. Sheep have carried scrapie — effectively mad cow disease for sheep — for centuries. Dr. Dobson has theorized that after a contaminated animal died, it may have lain on the ground for a while in the absence of predators and scavengers, which would usually clean up carcasses.

Elk and deer must have calcium, he said, and they may have eaten the bones of a contaminated animal and spread the disease.

Officials say wolves may be able to detect the disease long before it becomes visible, through smell or a slight change in the movement of prey that humans might not notice.
Officials say wolves may be able to detect the disease long before it becomes visible, through smell or a slight change in the movement of prey that humans might not notice.Credit…National Park Service

The absence of wolves throughout much of the West may also have allowed the disease to take off. “Taking the sick and weak removes chronic wasting disease from the population, because any animal showing any signs of it will get killed and eaten by the wolves,” Dr. Dobson said. “The rest of the carcass gets cleaned up by the coyotes, the bald eagles, ravens and bears.”

“Without predators and scavengers on the landscape, animal components last much longer, and that can definitely have an impact on the spread of disease,” Ms. Brandell said.

Restoring the population of predators in national parks and wild lands would go a long way toward healthier ecosystems with less disease, Dr. Dobson said.

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Ken McDonald, chief of the wildlife division of Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, expressed doubts that wolves would prevent chronic wasting disease.

“Wolves help remove sick animals, but animals don’t get visibly ill for about 2 years,” he said. “So they are carriers and spreaders but don’t get the classic symptoms.”

Mr. McDonald said that maintaining a large enough wolf population outside of Yellowstone to control chronic wasting disease would require so many wolves that it would be socially unacceptable, especially to ranchers and hunters.

The state’s approach to controlling the disease, he said, is to increase the number of deer that can be killed in places where the disease is growing.

Ms. Brandell, however, said that wolves may detect the disease long before it becomes apparent to people, through smell or a slight change in the movement of prey, which could be beneficial.

“Wolves wouldn’t be a magic cure everywhere,” she said. “But in places where it was just starting and you have an active predator guild, they could keep it at bay and it might never get a foothold.”More Reporting on WolvesAwoooooooo!U.S. to Remove Wolves From Protected Species ListOct. 29, 2020‘Rewilding’ Missing Carnivores May Help Restore Some LandscapesMarch 16, 2018Wolf Puppies Are Adorable. Then Comes the Call of the Wild.Oct. 13, 2017Hunting Moose in Canada to Save Caribou From WolvesAug. 30, 2017Watch This Wolf Go FishingDec. 14, 2018Trapped on an Island With Wolves, the Only Way Out for These Caribou Was UpJan. 17, 2018The New Threat to Wolves in and Around YellowstoneMay 1, 2017Wolves Know How to Work TogetherNov. 7, 2017A version of this article appears in print on Nov. 17, 2020, Section D, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Wolves as Fighters Against a Deadly Brain Illness. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/12/science/wolves-chronic-wasting-disease.html?smid=tw-share

Mink, New Hampshire’s Famous Rogue Black Bear, Has Died

nhpr.org

Daniela Allee

Mink, the infamous black bear sow that made the Hanover area its home for several years – and made an impression in New Hampshire and across the country- has died.

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Mink was found on Tuesday near the Mascoma River in Lebanon. Andrew Timmins, New Hampshire’s bear biologist, says he had noticed there wasn’t much movement on her tracking collar for several days.

Early on, he wasn’t too concerned. But when he checked back on Monday and there was still no movement from Mink, he called a colleague in Hanover to check on her.

“Something was going on. That collar was not moving,” he said. “That usually means one of two things: that means the animal has slipped [off] its collar, or it can mean the animal’s not moving because it’s dead.”

Timmins says based on her injuries and location he suspects Mink was hit by a car.

This year, Mink had a litter of three cubs. Timmins says this summer Mink and the cubs were spending a lot of time eating berries along a powerline corridor, and mostly staying away from residential areas.

Related: Fate of Hanover’s Rogue Mama Bear Up In The Air

“She was a really amazing animal that was highly resourceful and overcame all odds,” he said. “She knew how to move around that landscape very successfully and did it for a long time.”

In 2017, Fish and Game had planned on euthanizing Mink and her cubs, after they had roamed Hanover’s neighborhoods for food. That year, two of the bears got inside a home.

But after public outcry, Gov. Sununu intervened. Mink’s cubs were relocated, and she stayed in the area until 2018.

That year, she was training her cubs to search for food from homes. She was then relocated to northern Coos County, and then made national headlines in 2019 as she walked thousands of miles back to the Upper Valley.

“The vast majority of people out there were pretty fond of Mink,” Timmins said.

For the bear biologist, Mink left another lasting impact in the community.

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“Because of her, Hanover is a lot more bear savvy now than they were five-years ago. She taught people that you can’t have your bird feeders out, you can’t have your garbage unsecured,” he said.  

Timmins says even though Mink is gone, it doesn’t mean other bears in the area are gone and that residents still need to be vigilant about securing garbage and keeping bird feeders down.

Timmins also recommends residents in the area call Fish and Game if they see the cubs, so they can be taken to a bear preserve in nearby Lyme.  The number to call is 603-271- 2461.

https://www.nhpr.org/post/mink-new-hampshires-famous-rogue-black-bear-has-died#stream/0#stream/0

A Biden-Harris presidency would largely end oil and gas production

thehill.com

By Jason Hayes, opinion contributor

Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate could mean the end to the affordable energy that makes modern American life possible.

In comparison to the Trump administration, which has prioritized deregulation and energy dominance, the former vice president and California senator have both committed themselves to heavily restrict fracking as they focus on climate change and renewable energy. If enacted, the Biden-Harris plan would reduce energy choices, increase prices and drive Americans back to international markets for essential energy supplies.

On issues of energy supply, Biden has been clear. For example, moderators at the Democratic Party debates asked him about his position on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the means by which American natural gas producers have helped to free us from many of the vagaries of international energy markets. He boldly replied, “No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period. Ends!” Later, in the same debate, he added, “No new fracking.”

That broad and somewhat vague pronouncement likely raised blood pressure readings among supporters in Biden’s campaign. Promising to put as many as 1.7 million American workers out of a job by banning fracking would be a hard sell for any campaign, especially in gas-producing states such as Texas or Pennsylvania. So no one was surprised to see Biden staffers walk back the former VP’s ambiguous promises immediately after the debate. They quickly limited his anti-fracking rhetoric to targeting energy development on federal lands.

And Biden staffers aren’t the only ones openly correcting policy stances for the former vice president. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who co-chairs the Sanders side of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force, is getting in on the action, too. Jayapal has publicly bragged about her ability to “significantly push Joe Biden to do things that he hadn’t signed on to before.” Biden is, in her estimation, “movable.”

That malleability is not terribly surprising given that, for some time now, Biden has been seen as increasingly confused and frail. Keying in on those concerns, a recent Rasmussen poll indicated that 59 percent of Americans believe that he will not finish a first term, were he to win the upcoming election. For that reason, American voters must recognize that, come November, they may well be considering Harris as the actual Democratic presidential candidate. So, her take on energy policy should be understood as well.

While The New York Times recently tried to sell Harris as a “pragmatic moderate,” on issues of energy, her policies align far more closely with the progressive wing of the party. For example, Harris recently introduced the Climate Equity Act with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). In the Democratic presidential debate, Harris bluntly stated that she “support[s] a Green New Deal,” the nearly $100 trillion climate change policy authored by Ocasio-Cortez. In that same appearance, Harris promised that, “on day one as president,” she would “reenter us into the Paris Agreement.”

In last year’s CNN climate town hall, Harris was asked about her views on fracking by a climate activist with the environmental group 350.org. Without pause, Harris confirmed, “There is no question I’m in favor of banning fracking.” She then gave a simple, one-word answer, “Yes!” to CNN host Erin Burnett’s follow-up question, “So, would you ban offshore drilling?”

The Biden-Harris position on fracking and natural gas production is abundantly clear, as reported by a recent string of tweets from Alex Epstein, author of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.” Epstein contends that fracking is the means by which the U.S. produces 60 percent of our oil and 75 percent of our natural gas. Banning it would put millions out of American workers back in unemployment lines already swollen by policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stifling the development of the fuels and technologies that power our economy with clean, affordable and reliable energy would be like killing the goose and then tossing the golden egg out the window. That’s an extremely bad way for the freshly minted progressive duo to start their campaign.

Jason Hayes is director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center in Midland, Mich. Follow him on Twitter @jasonthayes.

https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/512601-a-biden-harris-presidency-would-largely-end-oil-and-gas-production?amp&__twitter_impression=true

NASA Researcher Arrested for False Statements and Wire Fraud in Relation to China’s Talents Program

justice.gov

A criminal complaint has been unsealed today, charging Zhengdong Cheng, 53, of College Station, Texas, for conspiracy, making false statements and wire fraud. 

Texas A&M University (TAMU) Professor Zhengdong Cheng is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Sheldon today at 10 a.m. in Houston, Texas.  Authorities took him into custody Sunday, Aug. 23. 

Cheng allegedly led a team conducting research for NASA. According to the criminal complaint, for several years he willfully took steps to obscure his affiliations and collaboration with a Chinese University and at least one Chinese-owned company.  The terms of Cheng’s grant prohibited participation, collaboration or coordination with China, any Chinese-owned company or any Chinese University, according to the charges.

“Once again, we have witnessed the criminal consequences that can arise from undisclosed participation in the Chinese government’s talent program,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “Professor Cheng allegedly made false statements to his university and to NASA regarding his affiliations with the Chinese government.  The Department of Justice will continue seeking to bring participation in these talent programs to light and to expose the exploitation of our nation and our prized research institutions.”

“China is building an economy and academic institutions with bricks stolen from others all around the world,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick for the Southern District of Texas. “While 1.4 million foreign researchers and academics are here in the U.S. for the right reasons, the Chinese Talents Program exploits our open and free universities. These conflicts must be disclosed, and we will hold those accountable when such conflict violates the law.”

“As alleged, Zhengdong Cheng knowingly deceived NASA officials about his association with Chinese owned companies and universities, willingly accepted U.S. government funding, and defrauded his university,” said Assistant Director Alan Kohler, Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.  “The FBI is committed to aggressively pursuing those individuals who try and undercut our U.S. research institutions and government agencies by concealing their participation in Chinese talent recruitment programs and to hold them accountable for their actions.” 

“NASA’s funding restrictions are in place to protect taxpayer-financed research dollars and intellectual property,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Zielinski, NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) – Eastern Field Office.  “We will continue pursue anyone who attempts to circumvent these guidelines and conceal affiliations with Chinese institutions and companies in order to obtain NASA grant money.”

“Dr. Cheng is accused of hiding his affiliation with the Guangdong University of Technology, along with other foreign universities, while disregarding the rules established under his NASA contract during his employment at TAMU,” said FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner.  “These alleged actions came to light through the tireless work of the FBI-Bryan Resident Agency and NASA-OIG investigative teams.  We are grateful to TAMU, TAMU System and TAMU Engineering Experiment Station for providing significant assistance through their partnership with us throughout this case.”

The charges allege Cheng and TAMU received funds based on Cheng knowingly providing false information to TAMU and consequently to NASA.  In addition to the funds, Cheng personally benefited from his affiliation with TAMU and NASA with increased access to unique NASA resources, such as the International Space Station, according to the complaint.  This access allegedly allowed Cheng to further his standing in China at Guangdong University of Technology and other universities.  The charges further allege he held senior research positions there unknown to TAMU and NASA and was able to serve in the People’s Republic of China Talents program.  China’s Talents Plans are allegedly designed to attract, recruit and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security.

The FBI-Bryan Resident Agency and NASA-Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation with the assistance of TAMU.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carolyn Ferko and S. Mark McIntyre are prosecuting the case with the assistance of trial attorney Matthew McKenzie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/nasa-researcher-arrested-false-statements-and-wire-fraud-relation-china-s-talents-program

They have a GoFundMe to bail out the peaceful protesters!

US agrees with Canada, Mexico to extend border restrictions into September amid coronavirus

foxnews.com

Adam Shaw

The U.S. has agreed with Canada and Mexico to extend land border restrictions on non-essential travel into September amid continued fears about the coronavirus pandemic.

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“We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of #COVID19,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Friday. “Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through September 21.”

THOUSANDS CROSSING US-MEXICO BORDER DESPITE NONESSENTIAL TRAVEL BAN 

The U.S. announced in March that it had agreed with its two neighbors to close its land borders to the north and south to all but essential travel as part of a broad range of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The agreement has been extended a number of times and was due to expire on Aug. 21.

“We already told the United States that we’re of the idea that it’s extended because of what we have along the strip on their side,” Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Thursday, referring to a rise in cases near the U.S. border.

Essential cross-border workers such as health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still allowed to cross along the border. Much of Canada’s food supply comes from or via the U.S.

Americans who are returning to the U.S. are exempted from the closure at the U.S.-Canada border.

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It is one of a number of travel-related restrictions that countries have taken in order to curb the spread of the virus. In the U.S., President Trump barred nationals from China, Iran, Brazil, the European Union and the U.K. from coming into the U.S.

The administration has also taken further action on illegal immigration and asylum-seekers, taking measures to quickly return them back to their home countries with minimal, if any, time in detention.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/us-agrees-canada-mexico-border-restrictions-september-coronavirus

‘Easygoing’ Black Bear Tranquilized, Killed After Locals Admitted to Luring Animal for Photos

people.com

Benjamin VanHoose

“You were willing to coexist, but people were not,” wrote the North Shore Black Bear Society about the bear

A wild black bear was killed after becoming accustomed to humans in Canada.

Last Wednesday, the North Shore Black Bear Society reported on Facebook that a bear they’ve encountered on several occasions this summer — whom they affectionately named Huckleberry — was tranquilized and put down by local conservation officers for being too comfortable around humans.

The North Vancouver, British Columbia-based organization wrote that the bear had been lured and allowed to eat food left out by local residents, who wanted to capture the animal on camera.

“On July 31st you were eating berries at the edge of the forest. We headed out to make sure you were not being crowded or chased by dogs. By the time we reached you, you were being followed by residents who wanted a video of you eating organics from an unlocked cart,” read the post. “Due to the crowd of people, it wasn’t safe for us to move you on. When you finished eating, you calmly walked by and left our gaze. That was the last time we saw you.”

“Later that day you were tranquilized by the Conservation Officers and taken away to be killed,” they continued. “You were willing to coexist, but people were not.”

NSBBS added that Huckleberry “showed us every time we met that you were a good-natured bear, we are deeply sorry that we couldn’t save you.” The team added, “We’ll always have a place in our hearts for you, sweet boy.”

RELATED: Colorado Officials Looking to Euthanize Bear After It Entered a Home and Attacked Owner

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NSBBS representatives recalled on Facebook that they first encountered Huckleberry on July 2. During this initial meeting, Huckleberry was quick to get out of the way of humans. Their next interaction would lead to the story behind the bear’s name.

“The next time we met, you were at the roadside eating berries. As we walked you back to the forest, you stood and sniffed a garbage can,” NSBBS shared. “We used a firm tone and told you to leave — you listened. As you walked away, you left a bright pink scat full of huckleberries! We were so proud of you for eating natural foods, despite all the tempting treats residents had left available to you. From that moment, we named you Huckleberry!”

NSBBS remembered that Huckleberry would “roll” his tongue out at them to “smell the air as we walked together back to the forest” — a behavior NSBBS said showed that the bear recognized them.

RELATED VIDEO: Jeff Corwin Warns Sad Moments Are ‘Part of the Story Arc’ on Alaska Animal Rescue

RELATED: Two Bears Brawl in the Middle of a Highway as a Wolf Watches Quietly from a Distance

NSBBS said nearby residents admitted to allowing the “easy-going, calm bear” to pick through their garbage so they could photograph him.

“Reports started coming in of you finding easy rewards from garbage and organics carts. People admitted they allowed you to do that for a video and they neglected to move you on … a death sentence,” they wrote. “If only people had used a firm voice with you, you would have listened. Or respected you enough to not have any garbage or food scraps accessible in the first place. We did you a disservice, Huckleberry.”

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https://people.com/pets/black-bear-killed-after-locals-admit-to-leaving-food-out-to-get-photos/?amp=true&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=social-share-article&__twitter_impression=true

Snow White

Justice Department Seeks Forfeiture of Two Commercial Properties Purchased with Funds Misappropriated from PrivatBank in Ukraine

justice.gov

The United States filed two civil forfeiture complaints today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging that commercial real estate in Louisville, Kentucky, and Dallas, Texas, both acquired using funds misappropriated from PrivatBank in Ukraine, are subject to forfeiture based on violations of federal money laundering statutes.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida, U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman for the Northern District of Ohio, and Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office made the announcement.

The complaints allege that Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholiubov, who owned PrivatBank, one of the largest banks in Ukraine, embezzled and defrauded the bank of billions of dollars.  The two obtained fraudulent loans and lines of credit from approximately 2008 through 2016, when the scheme was uncovered, and the bank was nationalized by the National Bank of Ukraine.  The complaints allege that they laundered a portion of the criminal proceeds using an array of shell companies’ bank accounts, primarily at PrivatBank’s Cyprus branch, before they transferred the funds to the United States.  As alleged in the complaint, the loans were rarely repaid except with more fraudulently obtained loan proceeds.

As alleged in the Complaints, in the United States, associates of Kolomoisky and Bogoliubov, Mordechai Korf and Uriel Laber, operating out of offices in Miami, created a web of entities, usually under some variation of the name “Optima,” to further launder the misappropriated funds and invest them.  They purchased hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate and businesses across the country, including the properties subject to forfeiture: the Louisville office tower known as PNC Plaza, and the Dallas office park known as the former CompuCom Headquarters.  The buildings have a combined value of approximately $70 million.

A complaint is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

FBI’s Cleveland Division is investigating the case with support from FBI’s International Corruption Unit, IRS Criminal Investigation, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  International Unit Chief Mary K. Butler, Senior Trial Attorney Michael C. Olmsted, Trial Attorneys Shai D. Bronshtein and Peter Steciuk, and Law Clerk Robert Blaney of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrienne Rosen of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida are prosecuting the cases.  The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs has provided substantial assistance in the investigation.

The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is led by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies, and often with U.S. Attorney’s Offices, to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, to use those recovered assets to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office.  In 2015, the FBI formed International Corruption Squads across the country to address national and international implications of foreign corruption.  Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an email to kleptocracy@usdoj.gov (link sends e-mail) or https://tips.fbi.gov/.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-seeks-forfeiture-two-commercial-properties-purchased-funds-misappropriated

News | ‘Shallow Lightning’ and ‘Mushballs’ Reveal Ammonia to NASA’s Juno Scientists

In the center of this JunoCam image, small, bright “pop-up” clouds seen rise above the surrounding features. Clouds like these are thought to be the tops of violent thunderstorms responsible for “shallow lighting.” Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill © CC BY
› Full image and caption


The spacecraft may have found where the colorless gas has been hiding on the solar system’s biggest planetary inhabitant.


New results from NASA’s Juno mission at Jupiter suggest our solar system’s largest planet is home to what’s called “shallow lightning.” An unexpected form of electrical discharge, shallow lightning originates from clouds containing an ammonia-water solution, whereas lightning on Earth originates from water clouds.

Other new findings suggest the violent thunderstorms for which the gas giant is known may form slushy ammonia-rich hailstones Juno’s science team calls “mushballs”; they theorize that mushballs essentially kidnap ammonia and water in the upper atmosphere and carry them into the depths of Jupiter’s atmosphere.Get the Latest JPL News: Subscribe to the Newsletter »

The shallow-lightning findings will be published Thursday, Aug. 6, in the journal Nature, while the mushballs research is currently available online in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.

Since NASA’s Voyager mission first saw Jovian lightning flashes in 1979, it has been thought that the planet’s lightning is similar to Earth’s, occurring only in thunderstorms where water exists in all its phases – ice, liquid, and gas. At Jupiter this would place the storms around 28 to 40 miles (45 to 65 kilometers) below the visible clouds, with temperatures that hover around 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius, the temperature at which water freezes). Voyager, and all other missions to the gas giant prior to Juno, saw lightning as bright spots on Jupiter’s cloud tops, suggesting that the flashes originated in deep water clouds. But lightning flashes observed on Jupiter’s dark side by Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit tell a different story.

“Juno’s close flybys of the cloud tops allowed us to see something surprising – smaller, shallower flashes – originating at much higher altitudes in Jupiter’s atmosphere than previously assumed possible,” said Heidi Becker, Juno’s Radiation Monitoring Investigation lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and the lead author of the Nature paper.

Becker and her team suggest that Jupiter’s powerful thunderstorms fling water-ice crystals high up into the planet’s atmosphere, over 16 miles (25 kilometers) above Jupiter’s water clouds, where they encounter atmospheric ammonia vapor that melts the ice, forming a new ammonia-water solution. At such lofty altitude, temperatures are below minus 126 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 88 degrees Celsius) – too cold for pure liquid water to exist. https://www.youtube.com/embed/tq_6DClZ0Ns

This animation takes the viewer on a simulated journey into Jupiter’s exotic high-altitude electrical storms. Get an up-close view of Mission Juno’s newly discovered “shallow lighting” flashes and dive into the violent atmospheric jet of the Nautilus cloud. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill

“At these altitudes, the ammonia acts like an antifreeze, lowering the melting point of water ice and allowing the formation of a cloud with ammonia-water liquid,” said Becker. “In this new state, falling droplets of ammonia-water liquid can collide with the upgoing water-ice crystals and electrify the clouds. This was a big surprise, as ammonia-water clouds do not exist on Earth.”

The shallow lightning factors into another puzzle about the inner workings of Jupiter’s atmosphere: Juno’s Microwave Radiometer instrument discovered that ammonia was depleted – which is to say, missing – from most of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Even more puzzling was that the amount of ammonia changes as one moves within Jupiter’s atmosphere.

“Previously, scientists realized there were small pockets of missing ammonia, but no one realized how deep these pockets went or that they covered most of Jupiter,”said Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “We were struggling to explain the ammonia depletion with ammonia-water rain alone, but the rain couldn’t go deep enough to match the observations. I realized a solid, like a hailstone, might go deeper and take up more ammonia. When Heidi discovered shallow lightning, we realized we had evidence that ammonia mixes with water high in the atmosphere, and thus the lightning was a key piece of the puzzle.”

This graphic depicts


This graphic depicts the evolutionary process of “shallow lightning” and “mushballs” on Jupiter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/CNRS
› Full image and caption

Jovian Mushballs

A second paper, released yesterday in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets,envisions the strange brew of 2/3 water and 1/3 ammonia gas that becomes the seed for Jovian hailstones, known as mushballs. Consisting of layers of water-ammonia slush and ice covered by a thicker water-ice crust, mushballs are generated in a similar manner as hail is on Earth – by growing larger as they move up and down through the atmosphere.

“Eventually, the mushballs get so big, even the updrafts can’t hold them, and they fall deeper into the atmosphere, encountering even warmer temperatures, where they eventually evaporate completely,” said Tristan Guillot, a Juno co-investigator from the Université Côte d’Azur in Nice, France, and lead author of the second paper. “Their action drags ammonia and water down to deep levels in the planet’s atmosphere. That explains why we don’t see much of it in these places with Juno’s Microwave Radiometer.”

“Combining these two results was critical to solving the mystery of Jupiter’s missing ammonia,” said Bolton. “As it turned out, the ammonia isn’t actually missing; it is just transported down while in disguise, having cloaked itself by mixing with water. The solution is very simple and elegant with this theory: When the water and ammonia are in a liquid state, they are invisible to us until they reach a depth where they evaporate – and that is quite deep.”

Understanding the meteorology of Jupiter enables us to develop theories of atmospheric dynamics for all the planets in our solar system as well as for the exoplanets being discovered outside our solar system. Comparing how violent storms and atmospheric physics work across the solar system allows planetary scientists to test theories under different conditions.

More About the Mission

The solar-powered Jupiter explorer launched nine years ago today, on Aug. 5, 2011. And last month marked the fourth anniversary of its arrival at Jupiter. Since entering the gas giant’s orbit, Juno has performed 27 science flybys and logged over 300 million miles (483 million kilometers).

JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built and operates the spacecraft.

More information about Juno is available at:

https://www.nasa.gov/juno

https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

https://www.facebook.com/NASAJuno

https://www.twitter.com/NASAJuno

News Media ContactDC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-9011
agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Alana Johnson / Grey Hautaluoma
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-672-4780 / 202-358-0668
alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov / grey.hautaluoma-1@nasa.gov

Deb Schmid
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
210-522-2254
dschmid@swri.org

François Maginiot
French National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
+33 1 44 96 51 51
presse@cnrs.fr

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Nashville Woman Is Second To Face Federal Arson Charges In Connection With Metro Courthouse Fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

justice.gov

NASHVILLE, Tenn.August 4, 2020 – A criminal complaint unsealed today charged Shelby Ligons, 22, of Nashville Tennessee, with malicious destruction of property using fire or explosives, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.

Wesley Somers, 25, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, was previously charged on June 3, 2020, and his case is pending in U.S. District Court. 

The criminal complaint alleges that on the afternoon of May 30, 2020, protesters gathered in downtown Nashville following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Later in the evening, a number of persons gathered in front of the Nashville City Hall, also known as the Metro Courthouse.  Using various tools, including crowbars and other objects, they began smashing the windows of the premises and spraying graffiti on the Courthouse facade. One or more fires were also set inside of the Courthouse at this time.

Numerous video clips and photographs of the destruction at City Hall were posted on social media websites, on the websites for news outlets, and on other Internet sites. Ligons is depicted in video clips and photographs from that afternoon and evening wearing blue jeans, a black-colored shirt, a medical mask, and a white-colored bandana on her head. In those video clips and photographs, Ligons is depicted holding a white-colored poster board with the words “F–k The Police” and “We Will Not Be Silent” written on it.  In several video clips, Ligons is depicted setting fire to the poster and placing it inside a window located on the exterior structure of City Hall.

Ligons was arrested this morning by FBI agents and will make an initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge later this afternoon.

If convicted, Ligons faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison.

This case is being investigated by the FBI; the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department; and the Nashville Fire Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Schrader and Trial Attorney Justin Sher of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation.  The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.                   

https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdtn/pr/nashvillewoman-second-face-federal-arson-charges-connection-metro-courthouse-fire

Oceans

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Earth’s oceans, covering two-thirds of the planet, are so vast and so deep that it’s easy to take their importance for granted.

They provide us with oxygen and regulate our climate by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — important functions for both humans and wildlife. Unfortunately, the world’s oceans — home to whales, sea otters, seals and sea lions, dolphins, manatees, seabirds, sea turtles, sharks, fish, corals, and countless other species of marine life — are in a sea of trouble. The oceans are overworked; they cannot remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere quickly enough to keep up with how much we create, leading to ever-increasing ocean acidification.

The Arctic Sea is now warming at twice the rate than in past years, reducing sea ice — a growing threat to threatened marine mammals such as polar bears and ice seals. Over a third of the Great Barrier Reef is dead, harming commercial and recreational fish stocks and impoverishing Australia’s iconic biodiversity. We are killing off marine mammals, sharks and rays, and fish stocks faster than they can replenish themselves. The health of the Earth’s oceans are indicators of our planet’s overall health; when they’re in trouble, so are we. It’s important to keep our oceans healthy not just for marine life, but also for the future health of the entire planet. 

Threats

Myriad threats face our oceans and marine wildlife. Climate change causes ocean acidification, warming temperatures, changing ocean currents, sea level rise, and stronger storms. A warming planet makes it more likely for temperature-dependent species like sea turtles and manatees to face cold stress or venture past their usual habitats. Increased shipping traffic and offshore seismic blasting and drilling also increase noise pollution, threatening marine mammals and species at every level of the food chain. Shark finning, bycatch, overfishing and fisheries entanglements endanger sharks and rays, marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, and many other species. Contamination from pollution and plastics and the toxic effects of red tide and other harmful algal blooms caused by fertilizer runoff sicken and kill vulnerable marine species. To top it off, habitat loss and the loss of protected areas reduce the spaces already-vulnerable marine species need to forage and reproduce. 

Defenders’ Impact

Defenders is fighting for ocean habitats and ocean protection off all our national shores and around the globe. We defend marine national monuments and national marine sanctuaries from administrative attacks. We are opposing seismic blasting and offshore drilling in the courts and in Congress.

We are working to develop best management practices for responsible wildlife-friendly offshore wind siting, construction and development. We defend the Marine Mammal Protection Act from legislative and regulatory rollbacks and work to protect individual marine species through the MMPA and the Endangered Species Act. We worked to gain international protections for sharks and rays and have worked to translate those protections into protections at the domestic level through the ESA.  

In Washington State, we are actively engaged in the governor’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force, working to protect the dwindling southern resident orca population and restore the Salish Sea.

In 2017, Defenders joined forces with the National Marine Fisheries Service, state agencies, local and national organizations and hundreds of local residents to redirect community science efforts into a new program called ‘Belugas Count!’ to help monitor Cook Inlet beluga whales in Alaska.

We advocate for North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales as a conservation member of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team, a stakeholder group under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that advises NMFS on how to implement fishery management measures to minimize or avoid the risk of deadly entanglements. 

Read More About the Oceans

https://defenders.org/wild-places/oceans

Engineering Coastal Communities as Nature Intended

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D. Rex Miller All PostsHear From Our ExpertsDefenders in ActionWild FeaturesPresident’s Corner May 17, 2020 Andrew Carter

People love to live by the water. For centuries, cities like New York, Miami, Honolulu and San Francisco have attracted residents and tourists from around the world. In fact, almost half of the U.S. population lives in counties on the coast, and that percentage is growing in footprint, density, number and population, reshaping and hardening coastlines in the process. 

Coasts also provide habitat for great numbers of plants and animals and are typically biodiversity hotspots. But all this coastal development is reducing the amazing biodiversity along our shorelines. 

Oregon coast as seen from Ecola State Park

Sristi Kamal

Coastal Defenses

Development has also reduced our coasts’ natural ability to resist and recover from natural disasters and has removed habitat that provides shelter for wildlife and ecosystem services for humans. Traditional coastal defenses like sea walls and levees are widely used to protect communities, but these artificial coastal barriers can lead to significant erosion or unwanted sediment deposition and negatively impact water quality. They are also time-consuming to build and cost billions to construct, maintain and repair.

Increasingly, engineers and planners are starting to pay more attention to the potential of “Nature and Nature-Based Features” (NNBFs) as environmentally friendly solutions—like mangrove forests, beach dunes, coral reefs and wetlands—that fulfill the same roles as an important weapon in the fight against coastal storms and flooding. 

Pea Island NWR dunes Cape Hatteras

D. Rex Miller

NNBFs include natural defenses and human-built features that mimic them. Using NNBFs in coastal development decisions can therefore mean constructing new ones or protecting existing natural ones. NNBFs are often cheaper and require less maintenance and management. They can also make communities more resilient to climate change by adapting to changes in the environment. They are part of the larger concept of “green infrastructure,” or attempting to harness nature’s resilience to solve human problems. And its not all-or-nothing – NNBFs can complement artificial coastal infrastructure. 

NNBFs like wetlands are essential to protect coasts from storm surges because they can store and slow the release of floodwaters, reducing erosion and damage to buildings. One study found that salt marshes can reduce wave height by an average of 72%. Coral reefs can serve as a barrier and reduce wave height by an average of 70%. These reefs protect coastal cities near them such as Honolulu and Miami, saving lives and preventing monetary damage.

Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki from Diamond Head

Megan Joyce/Defenders of Wildlife

 
When Superstorm Sandy slammed the Northeast in 2012, homes on beaches fairly near to sand dunes were protected by these natural buffers, which can blunt the force of waves and wind. In many cases, homes on beach areas where dunes had been removed (often to improve ocean views) were completely destroyed by Sandy. Removing many of the mangroves that lined Biscayne Bay in South Florida may have helped spur economic development. However, it also removed another natural barrier against storm surge. This increased vulnerability of homes and businesses to the hurricanes that frequently hit Miami. Coastal communities in Indonesia hit by the devastating 2004 tsunami that had removed their mangrove forests suffered more damage and more lost lives than areas where mangroves had been allowed to remain. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on a number of projects that look at features like mangroves and their ability to protect coasts.

Hurricane Sandy damaged Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

Image Image Credit David Bocanegra/USFWS

Breach at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (DE) after Hurricane Sandy

Image Image Credit Lia McLaughlin/USFWS

Aerial photo of damaged homes along New Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy

Image Image Credit Greg Thompson/USFWS Damage from Hurricane Sandy at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, homes on the Jersey Shore

Bringing Wildlife Back 

People are not the only ones who can benefit from NNBF. Restoring or protecting habitat can bring back habitat for wildlife and provide space for wildlife to live alongside coastal human communities. This includes imperiled species.

For example, coastal dunes restoration can improve habitat for threatened species like the piping plover, red knot and seabeach amaranth. Restoring mangroves can help protect species like the wood stork and American alligator, and the endangered hawksbill turtle. Protecting coral reefs can help threatened elkhorn and boulder star corals, and ensure habitat remains for the hawksbill sea turtle. People and wildlife can both have space.

Red knots and horseshoe crabs

Image Image Credit FWS

Alligator Okefenokee NWR

Image Image Credit Steve Brooks

Hawksbill sea turtle

Image Image Credit Michele Hoffman

NNBFs can also improve water quality. Much of the rainwater and flood water that goes on vegetation or sand will sink into the ground where it is cleaned. Healthy coral reefs and healthy mangroves help improve marine waters. And by avoiding artificial coastal defenses, polluted runoff can be avoided. Improving water quality can help marine imperiled species. For example, manatees in Florida have been devastated by red tide in recent years. Similarly, water quality issues can stress or kill threatened corals that need clear water for photosynthesis. Even species far offshore, like orca, can be hurt by contaminated runoff from development. Creating habitat for wildlife can even have additional economic benefits beyond coastal protection. It can offer opportunities for economic activity like kayaking, fishing and birding.

Corals at Barren Island, Palmyra Atoll

Image Image Credit Andrew S. Wright/USFWS

Scenic Mangroves on the Bear Lake Canoe Trail Everglades National Park

Image Image Credit NPS

The Future of NNBF

In recent years, the U.S. Congress has become interested in the potential of NNBFs, instructing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to incorporate NNBFs into coastal defense projects where appropriate. The Corps’ research and development center has taken a leading role in researching NNBFs. Through its engineering with nature initiative, it has developed numerous projects exploring NNBFs’ potential. However, the regional offices have made less progress in taking advantage of NNBFs in their coastal defense projects. NNBFs should be a priority for the Corps and coastal communities around the country – and the world. 

Advocating for NNBFs is part of Defenders of Wildlife’s mission to protect habitat and we believe they are a strong tool for addressing the overall biodiversity crisis faced by the planet. 


More information:

To learn more about NNBFs generally, check out the Army Corps’ Engineering with Nature website. If you’re interested in learning more, Defenders of Wildlife’s Center for Conservation Innovation will be hosting a talk on NNBFs given by an Army Corp’ expert. Click here to sign up to watch it. To learn more about green infrastructure generally, check out ESRI’s Green Infrastructure story map. There are a lot of green infrastructure projects that you can help with at home, such as Defender’s Orcas Love Raingardens project in the Pacific Northwest. 

Author(s)

Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter

Senior Conservation Policy Analyst Andrew works on wildlife conservation policy at the Center for Conservation Innovation, where he researches and analyzes conservation governance strategies and emerging policy issues, and works with other CCI members to develop innovative approaches to habitat and species protection.

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I hope it didn’t land on anyone’s head or car 😬

Navy Secretary’s Resignation Highlights ‘Feminization’ Of American Military

MyLegalHelpUSA

by L Todd Wood April 7, 2020

We Will Lose Next War Because Of This

Thomas Modly is sworn in as undersecretary of the Navy

This may be a tough article for many to read, and tough words for many Americans to hear, but America needs to hear them.

Under the last several presidential administrations, the U.S. military has been purposefully changed from the most effective war-fighting force in the history of the Earth, into a social justice ‘woke’ societal experiment, no longer capable of fighting a near-peer conflict with China.

Believe me, our enemies are watching.

Today’s resignation of Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly is a travesty for American military preparedness. He simply told the ‘unwoke’ truth, and is being skewered for it.

We have previously wrote the firing of Captain Brett Crozier was entirely justified. The captain of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt simply didn’t have the…

View original post 841 more words

Armed kids as young as 10 carjack more than a dozen people on South Side, police say

fox5ny.com

CHICAGO – 4 minutes

Chicago police crime scene / file photo

Alyssa Blanchard was so traumatized after being carjacked at gunpoint last week outside her Calumet Heights home that she’s now scared to go outside.

Chicago police say a group of children, ages 10 to 17, carjacked Blanchard and at least 15 other people since late June — wreaking havoc on Blanchard’s generally peaceful South Side neighborhood.

Police said shots were fired by the suspects in two of the carjackings, but no one was hit.

“I’m scared to use my garage. I don’t feel safe in my neighborhood,” said Blanchard, an elementary school teacher at Chicago Public Schools.

What’s especially painful for Blanchard was seeing her stolen BMW used the next day to carjack a woman in the parking lot of Trinity Hospital, a few blocks from her home, she said.

“I don’t want to have to tell my kid about how some young woman was killed or shot with kids using my vehicle. It was traumatizing,” Blanchard, 44, said.

Blanchard was carjacked July 14 while returning home in the early evening. As she pulled into her alley garage on South Kingston Avenue, she noticed a vehicle and three or four children come toward her.

Two children armed with handguns pointed them to her head and ordered her out of her BMW, she said. One child looked as young as 11, she said.

“It was so instantaneous … I was just scared for my life. I thought, ‘this is it,’” she said.

They took her purse, which had about $300 inside, and jumped inside her BMW and rode off, she said.

Blanchard said the children used her BMW the next day to carjack a woman in the parking lot of Trinity Hospital. In that carjacking, a 21-year-old was seated in her Lexus when four or five teens exited a BMW, with two of them confronting her with guns, police said.

Two teens forced her to the ground outside the car, but she grabbed onto a door handle and held on until the teens drove off, police said. The woman was treated for a foot injury.

Blanchard said police recovered her BMW, which had been crashed a couple days after the carjacking.

Blanchard said she was dismayed to see such young children involved in this type of crime.

“I teach this age group and I can’t believe they would do this,” she said.

Police published a community alert Sunday evening warning of 14 other carjackings tied to the children. According to the alert, the children are committing the carjackings at a greater frequency, with six carjackings reported just last Saturday:

–June 23 in the 7200 block of South Champlain Avenue;
–July 9 in the 8000 block of South Indiana Avenue;
–July 15 in the 8700 block of South Stony Island Avenue;
–July 15 in the 7500 block of South Wabash Avenue;
–July 16 in the 9100 block of South Essex Avenue;
–July 16 in the 7300 block of South Chappel Avenue;
–July 17 in the 8800 block of South Luella Avenue;
–July 17 in the 8900 block of South Euclid Avenue;
–July 17 in the 9100 block of South Jeffrey Avenue;
–July 18 in the 9100 block of South Euclid Avenue;
–July 18 in the 8600 block of South Constance Avenue;
–July 18 in the 9300 block of South Paxton Avenue;
–July 18 in the 9300 block of South Essex Avenue;
–July 18 in the 1600 Block of East 92nd Place; and
–July 18 in the 8100 Block of South Indiana Avenue.

No arrest has been made, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call CPD’s vehicle highjacking task force at 312-745-4489.

https://www.fox5ny.com/news/armed-kids-as-young-as-10-carjack-more-than-a-dozen-people-on-south-side-police-say

Now if you can find some…

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Please say a prayer for Linda Stoltzfoos

IMG_20200715_103804

Recent California earthquakes may have made a major San Andreas quake more likely

api.nationalgeographic.com

By Maya Wei-Haas PUBLISHED July 13, 2020

A car drives past a crack in the road on Highway 178, south of Trona, California, after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the nearby town of Ridgecrest on July 4, 2019. Photograph by Fredric J. Brown, AFP via Getty Images

In Southern California, the landscape is fractured in the shape of an enormous letter Z. The top arm is made up of a winding series of cracks that were responsible for q uakes that rattled the city of Ridgecrest last year. The diagonal section is an ancient fault called Garlock that runs to the west. And along the bottom sits the mighty San Andreas.

Earthquakes along this lengthy fault, which runs more than 800 miles through California, are an ever-looming concern—and a new study suggests that in the next year, a large quake near the bustling city of Los Angeles could be three to five times more likely than previously thought. The research, published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, found that the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquakes made a future quake along the nearby Garlock fault more likely. If a big enough quake hits Garlock, it could trigger the San Andreas fault as well—a series of events that the researchers estimate has about a 1 in 87 probability of occurring within the next year.

However, the overall probability of such an event remains low. The research team estimates that there is a 2.3 percent chance of a magnitude 7.7 earthquake occurring on the Garlock fault in the next year, and a 1.15 percent chance of a similar quake hitting San Andreas.

“So, the sky is not falling,” says study co-author Ross Stein, CEO of Temblor, Inc., a company that assesses risks from hazards such as earthquakes. “But it is significantly higher, in our judgement, than what it would have been had the Ridgecrest earthquake not occurred.”

Estimating the probability of earthquakes is notoriously tricky. The deep faults that generate them, scientists have increasingly realized, are complex networks of cracks and chasms. “They’re fractal. They’re grungy. They have bends and breaks,” Stein says.

Faults can also interact: Movement along one might increase stresses on another, sparking a sequence of quakes, “like a domino effect,” says Alessandro Verdecchia, a geologist at McGill University who was not part of the study. The new model is the latest attempt to assess the likelihood of this potentially deadly scenario.

How the dominos fall

The San Andreas fault marks the boundary where the North American tectonic plate and the Pacific plate grind past each other. As the Pacific plate inches along a northwesterly route, stresses build until the ground breaks, which sends the surface rolling in an earthquake.

There have been many quakes in California over the past century, but the last time a big temblor occurred along the San Andreas itself was in 1906, when a magnitude 7.9 earthquake unzipped some 300 miles of the fault, leveling buildings across San Francisco and killing more than 3,000 people. It was the deadliest quake in U.S. history.

The new study suggests that the Ridgecrest quakes have increased the chances of another big one occurring, this time in southern California.

The 2019 event was a double whammy, with a magnitude 6.4 and then 7.1 quake striking one day apart. The movement from these quakes distorted the surrounding landscape, shifting the stresses on nearby faults such as the Garlock.

To estimate this change in stress, Stein and study co-author Shinji Toda of Tohoku University in Japan created a model based on the motion along faults during the Ridgecrest quakes. They also incorporated data from a host of earlier quakes to visualize the fault as a spidery zone of fractures, Stein says.

The model estimates that in the year after Ridgecrest, there was an eight percent chance of a magnitude 7.7 event along the Garlock. While that did not come to pass, the work suggests a greater risk still remains than previously recognized. In the upcoming year, the chance of such a quake remains at 2.3 percent, about 100 times as large as previous models found.

A big enough quake along the Garlock—magnitude 7.5 or bigger, by the researchers’ calculations—could spark a quake along the San Andreas that travels southward toward Los Angeles.

“The fact that it’s higher is interesting and maybe motivates us to look at it more closely,” says John Vidale, a geophysicist at the University of Southern California who was not involved in the study, referring to the estimated probability of a major quake. But many uncertainties still remain, he says, and the time period with the greatest risk of a Garlock rupture has already passed, so the new model “doesn’t necessarily mean we need to be more scared than we otherwise would be.”

Even so, the new work is a good reminder that all residents living in earthquake country need to be prepared, Stein says. If a big quake hits the Garlock fault, it could be weeks, months, or more before the San Andreas slips as well—if it does at all. But quakes in this region at some point in the future are inevitable. (Learn more about earthquake safety and how to prepare.)

“Creaking limb of assumptions”

All models, including the latest, make simplifying assumptions about our astoundingly complex planet. For example, the new model doesn’t account for the complexities of fluid interactions, which can change the fault stresses over long periods of time, says Pablo Gonzalez, a geophysicist with the University of Liverpool in England and part of the Spanish National Research Council who was not part of the study.

The model also assumes that the ground is uniform in composition. But movement along the Garlock fault over millions of years has offset the land by some 40 miles, meaning the rocks to the north differ from those to the south, Gonzalez says.

One particular challenge with all earthquake forecasts is that researchers don’t know how much additional stress is required to cause a fault to break, says Chris Goldfinger, an earthquake geologist at Oregon State University who was not part of the new study.

“When you get over to the San Andreas, you’re kind of on a long creaking limb of assumptions,” Goldfinger says. “I would still sleep well in L.A. tonight—or as well as you would otherwise.”

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/science/2020/07/southern-california-may-be-at-greater-risk-of-a-major-earthquake?__twitter_impression=true

The west coast calls them fireflies and on the East coast they call them lightning bugs

Man accused of kidnapping Linda Stoltzfoos in police custody; Stoltzfoos still missing

Linda’s whereabouts remain unknown but police say they have reason to believe she was harmed after her abduction. Author: Bianca Garcia (FOX43) Published: 4:31 PM EDT July 11, 2020

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Police say a Paradise man has been taken into custody regarding the disappearance of an 18-year-old Amish woman in Lancaster County.

Justo Smoker, 34, was taken into custody on Friday night at his place of employment, police say. He has been charged with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment.

According to officials, Linda Stoltzfoos’ whereabouts remain unknown and investigators are actively working to determine what happened to her after she was taken. Police say they have reason to believe she was harmed following her abduction.

On Friday evening, investigators searched a rural area in Ronks, where they thought Stoltzfoos might have been kidnapped. They found articles of clothing believed to be hers buried in a wooded area.

Smoker’s vehicle, a red Kia Rio sedan with a distinct “LCM” sticker on the trunk, was seen parked in the rural area on June 23, according to the police release.

Police say Smoker became a person of interest in the kidnapping after they received tips about a red/orange vehicle seen in the Gap area on the afternoon of Stoltzfoos’ abduction.

Multiple witnesses in the area also told police they had seen an Amish woman in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by a man, with the vehicle and driver’s description matching Smoker.

Investigators reveal they obtained surveillance footage that showed Stoltzfoos’ abduction on Beechdale Road, which she would have taken on her walk back home from church, involving a red Kia Rio. Suspect’s vehicle Lancaster County DA’s Office

Stoltzfoos’ father reported her missing on June 21 after she didn’t return home after a youth group meeting she was supposed to have attended, according to police. Investigators confirmed that she never made it to the meeting.

Police also said during their investigation they found nothing that indicated that Stoltzfoos was unhappy or wanted to leave her community.

Investigators say they currently do not plan on answering questions but will be providing updates during the continued search for Stoltzfoos. 

Smoker is currently in Lancaster County Prison and has been denied bail by the district judge based on the nature of his charges.

Detectives asking anyone who might have seen Smoker or his red Kia Rio sedan, around the time Stoltzfoos was abducted and in the days after, to contact police at 717-291-4676.

RELATED: FBI offering reward up to $10,000 for information leading to recovery of missing Amish teen

RELATED: Police: Lack of evidence, two weeks into investigation of missing Linda Stoltzfoos

RELATED: FBI releases composite image of missing Amish woman in street clothes

RELATED: East Lampeter Township Police address rumors circulating online about Linda Stoltzfoos whereabouts

RELATED: Police are asking travelers in area where Amish woman disappeared in Lancaster County for help in their search

https://d-37587856553578786449.ampproject.net/2006180239003/frame.html https://d-37587856553578786449.ampproject.net/2006180239003/frame.html

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/crime/man-accused-of-kidnapping-linda-stoltzfoos-in-police-custody/521-2e2ce878-876c-4f8c-9931-cab13cdc4cc2?__twitter_impression=true

VERIFY: No, facemasks don’t contain harmful ‘5G antennas’ | fox43.com

https://media.fox43.com/embeds/mobile/video/507-98d612ef-efac-4751-850a-9dfd33995473/amp#amp=1 verify

A viral video claims the metal wire in medical masks actually has a sinister purpose. Author: VERIFY, Jason Puckett (TEGNA), David Tregde, Linda S. Johnson Published: 7:47 PM EDT July 10, 2020

VERIFY

Viewer Doreen C. sent the VERIFY team a viral video of a woman cutting open a face mask and pulling out the metal strip that fits around the nose. She says that the strip is actually a 5G antenna and is “made to kill everybody” as part of a government plot. But is that true?

THE QUESTION:

Are 5G antennas in the metal strips inside face masks? null

THE ANSWER:

No. Decades old patents show that wire strips have been part of face masks since before 1G cellular technology was even in use. The strips are meant to be bendable so that wearers can have them fit more snugly around their nose.

WHAT WE FOUND: 


Masks have deviated little since at least the early 1970s. That’s when this patent for a surgical face mask was filed and approved.

It contained a “flexible nose strip” made of wire which could be “shaped to form compound curves.”

Modern documents about masks explain that the wire strips still serve the same purpose today.

In a post last month sharing guidance on using masks, the Illinois Department of Public Health wrote that the wire is meant to be “sewn or built into the mask” to “help it conform to the bridge of your nose.” VERIFY

The concern about 5G is that while faster, its waves don’t travel as far as those of 4G, meaning that more transmitters would have to be in place to keep up signal strength. And predictions are that they may become as common in the everyday scenery as “lampposts and graffiti,” ZDNet says.

Some worry about the possibility of cancer or other health problems from the additional transmitters as well the 5G signal itself. As for the 5G antenna, it and the parts needed for it to function wouldn’t fit on something as small as the metal strip inside a face mask, experts say.

RELATED: VERIFY: Fact-checking President Trump’s tweets on mail-in voting fraud

RELATED: VERIFY: Can you spread COVID-19 by talking, and other mask questions

Although the World Health Organization cautions that only a few studies have been done on 5G, it says that as frequency increases, “there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye). Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.” null

The WHO sees little danger from 5G. “No adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies,” it says. “Health-related conclusions are drawn from studies performed across the entire radio spectrum but, so far, only a few studies have been carried out at the frequencies to be used by 5G.”

Something you’d like VERIFIED? Click here to submit your story.

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/verify/verify-no-facemasks-dont-contain-metal-5g-antennas/507-ad6d5e80-e035-4687-87f0-455c26fcd191?__twitter_impression=true

TikTok: Fun and Games, or Communist Weapon?

TikTok: Fun and Games, or Communist Weapon?

Social media has drastically changed the world in more ways than one. Sure, it helps people stay connected with their family, friends, and loved ones. But there are potential risks involved in it too… far more than most people realize. This is especially true of social media platforms owned by foreign powers. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1279851543618031617&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fthesurvivalguide.com%2Ftiktok-fun-and-games-or-communist-weapon%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=9066bb2%3A1593540614199&width=550px

When it comes to the mobile social media app, TikTok, that’s just the case. TikTok is one of the most popular apps in the world. According to Sensor Tower, since its launch in 2017, TikTok has accumulated over 2 billion downloads across the Google Play Store and the Apple Store globally. Owned by ByteDance, headquartered in Beijing, TikTok is one of many Chinese-owned technology companies under investigation by the US.

Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated the Trump administration may be looking to restrict users in the US access to the app. Concerns have arisen of the possibility that the app is being used by Beijing to surveil and propagandize people. While on “The Ingraham Angle” Pompeo expressed that he and the president were taking reports very seriously. This coming after Laura Ingraham, the show’s host, stated that India had already banned the app and Australia was looking to do so as well.

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SeaWorld’s slow recovery from ‘Blackfish’ may be doomed by COVID-19 effects

dailykos.com

David Neiwert for Daily Kos Daily Kos Staff

An orca performs for the audience at SeaWorld’s marine park in Orlando, Florida.

What the documentary Blackfish started—namely, the long, slow demise of the captive orca theme park industry, along with its abusive practices and dubious ethics—may be finally finished by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Orlando Weekly reports, SeaWorld’s increasingly grim bottom line is being sharply worsened by the closures of its three U.S. parks (in San Diego, San Antonio, and Orlando) during their respective states’ stay-home orders. Now there are signs—such as an astonishing pile of over 150 liens on the parks, largely from construction firms, representing millions of dollars in unpaid bills—that the company’s board may be gearing up to file for bankruptcy.

Journalist Joe Kleiman, who has been tracking the company’s fortunes at his blog (which is currently under maintenance and unavailable), reported earlier this month that he had “confirmed more than 150 liens across all of the company’s parks filed in the four months between March and June 2020, and the number keeps climbing as additional data becomes available.”

Kleiman believes these and other recent moves by the park suggest a looming court filing: “I have a strong feeling the company is contemplating filing for bankruptcy.”

The company recently tried reopening its Orlando park with new protocols and soothing words from its CEO. The first day went badly, with lax enforcement of social distancing and mask requirements (even company employees were spotted going maskless), despite long lines for the popular theme park rides. The larger park itself, however, often had the look of a ghost town, and employees were hard to find.

The company’s long-term prospects appear even rockier. The company says it is able to remain afloat through 2021 without reopening, but that’s a costly outlook, since the company must continue to maintain its animals and their health even without the revenues from park attendance.

More important, perhaps, are the issues that linger from the 2013 Blackfish explosion, which sent the company’s stock spiraling down to Marianas Trench levels before more recent modest recoveries. It had to pay out $65 million to shareholders in February after losing a lawsuit over the company’s refusal to acknowledge the damage caused by the film and downplaying its negative effects.

SeaWorld reformed its shows—mainly because of federal worker protection rules that were imposed after trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by a killer whale named Tilikum in 2010, the central focus of Blackfish—and ended its notorious breeding programs for orcas as well. However, most of these measures have been half-hearted; state safety officials returned to the park in 2015 and imposed more fines for its ongoing failures to protect trainers adequately.

SeaWorld’s stock recovery—which it touted widely in 2018—vanished with the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the company’s stock hit its worst price since going public in 2013.

But the decisive problems could lie with the company’s ownership. Its primary shareholder, a company called Hill Path Capital led by chairman Scott Ross, has reportedly been shopping the company’s assets around, according to Kleiman and Orlando Weekly:

[M]ultiple companies have expressed interest in purchasing all or some of SeaWorld’s assets. In 2017, it looked like the investment in SeaWorld was going to pay off, thanks to a 21 percent stake by Zhonghong, a Chinese development company interested in bringing SeaWorld’s brand to mainland China. Later that year, Legoland parent company Merlin expressed interest in SeaWorld’s two Busch Gardens theme parks. With things looking up for SeaWorld, in the form of their new Chinese partner and with two thrill-focused parks leading their assets, the company rejected the idea of selling or breaking up its parks.

Ten months later, however, things took a dramatic turn, when Zhonghong was forced to sell the property upon which the first Chinese SeaWorld park was to be located. Things got so bad that Zhonghong’s CEO was at one point supposedly on the run, hiding from Chinese authorities. The year ended with rumors of Six Flags kicking the tires of SeaWorld.

SeaWorld’s last two CEOs have resigned amid disputes with Ross and the company board.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/7/4/1957310/-SeaWorld-s-slow-recovery-from-Blackfish-may-be-doomed-by-COVID-19-effects

Some trees may ‘social distance’ to avoid disease

api.nationalgeographic.com

By Katherine J. Wu

PUBLISHED July 6, 2020

On a warm day in March 1982, biologist Francis “Jack” Putz strayed into a knot of black mangrove trees seeking relief from the afternoon heat. Drowsy from his midday meal and hours of fieldwork in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste National Park, Putz decided to lie down for a short siesta.

As he gazed skyward, the wind stirred the tops of the mangroves above him, causing the limbs of neighboring trees to claw at each other and snap off some of their outermost leaves and branches. Putz noticed that this reciprocal pruning had left tracks of empty space running through the canopy.

This network of treetop chasms, called crown shyness, has been documented in forests around the world. From the mangroves of Costa Rica to the towering Borneo camphor trees of Malaysia, gaps in the greenery abound. But scientists still don’t fully understand why the tops of trees so often refuse to touch.

Beneath the mangroves 40 years ago, teetering on the verge of a post-lunch snooze, Putz reasoned that trees need personal space, too—a critical step toward unraveling the roots of the branches’ bashful behavior.

“I often make great discoveries at naptime,” he says.

Today, a growing body of work continues to support the early observations of Putz and his colleagues. Wind, it seems, plays a crucial role in helping many trees maintain their distance. The boundaries carved by bouts between branches may improve the plants’ access to resources, such as light. Gaps in the treetops might even curb the spread of leaf-munching insects, parasitic vines, or infectious disease.

In some ways, crown shyness is the arboreal version of social distancing, says Meg Lowman, a forest canopy biologist and director of the TREE Foundation. “The minute you start keeping plants from physically touching each other, you can increase productivity,” she says. “That’s the beauty of isolation … The tree is really safeguarding its own health.”

Tussling in the treetops

Though descriptions of crown shyness have appeared in scientific literature since the 1920s, several decades passed before researchers started systematically digging into the phenomenon’s cause. Some scientists initially pursued a hypothesis that trees were simply failing to fill the spaces between their canopies due to a lack of light—a crucial resource for photosynthesis—where their foliage overlapped.

But Putz’s team published research in 1984 showing that in some cases, crown shyness may simply be the product of a battle between windblown trees, each racing to sprout new branches and parry strikes from their neighbors. In their research, the more mangroves swayed in the wind, the more widely their canopies were spaced from those of their neighbors—some of the first results supporting this so-called abrasion hypothesis to explain the treetop patterns.

About two decades later, a team led by Mark Rudnicki, a biologist at Michigan Technological University, measured the forces jostling lodgepole pine treesin Alberta, Canada. Windy forests full of tall, spindly trunks of similar height were especially prone to crown shyness, they found. And when Rudnicki and his team used nylon ropes to prevent neighboring pines from colliding, the plants interlocked their canopies, filling in the gaps between adjacent crowns.

Other scientists have found clues that several paths to crown shyness likely exist, and some are perhaps less combative than these windy tussles. For instance, Rudnicki says some trees may have learned to stop growing at their tips entirely, wising up to the fact that any new foliage will be stripped away.

Trees could thus avoid unnecessary damage, says Inés Ibáñez, a forest ecologist at the University of Michigan. “Growing new tissue is very costly for plants … It’s like the trees being preemptive: Let’s not grow here because it’s not worth it.”

Some trees may be capable of taking this prudence a step further by using a specialized sensory system to detect chemicals emanating from nearby plants. “There’s a growing body of literature around plant cognizance,” says Marlyse Duguid, a forester and horticulturist at Yale University. Data on chemical communication in woody plants is sparse, but if trees can sense each other, they may be able to halt canopy growth before they’re forced to tussle.

The perks of personal space

Regardless of how crown shyness occurs, the separation likely comes with benefits. “Leaves are like a tree’s most expensive diamonds—you want to protect them at all costs,” Lowman says. “If a whole bunch get bumped off, that’s a terrible disaster for the tree.”

Sparser foliage could also help sunlight reach forest floors, nurturing the ground-dwelling plants and animals that in turn support arboreal life. Putz thinks the gaps may even help trees avoid invasive, woody vines called lianas—which are common in tropical and temperate forests around the world—or buffer the plants against disease-causing microbes and flightless insects that use canopies as conduits. (Some germs and bugs could still theoretically make the hop when trees box in the breeze.)

Many of these possible advantages, however, have yet to be conclusively linked to crown shyness. Forest canopies—the tops of some of the world’s tallest plants—aren’t easy to study, says Lowman, a self-described “arbonaut” and one of the few scientists who has made a career studying canopies. Examining the tops of trees requires quite a bit of climbing, balance, and bravery. “The limiting factor is our inability to deal with gravity to get to those places,” she says.

Still, ignoring the canopy of a tree is like trying to understand the human body from only the waist down, Lowman says. The crowns of trees teem with life—and much of this biodiversity may still be undiscovered, especially in the tropics.

Luckily, crown shyness “isn’t something you have to get on a plane to see,” Putz says. “It’s happening all around—and what an enriching thing for people to look up and see.”

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/science/2020/07/tree-crown-shyness-forest-canopy?__twitter_impression=true

(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) JUST IN: CBP Air and Marine Operations and the U.S. Coast Guard Report: Agents have appr ehended two panga boats carrying 21-illegal-immigrants after 14-landed one of their boats on ‘ Dog B each ‘ early on Friday morning intent on smug…

acenewsservices.com

#AceNewsReport – July.06: Two boats attempting to enter the U.S. illegally along the San Diego coast failed to yield to CBP Air and Marine Operations and the U.S. Coast Guard, leading to CBP marine interdiction agents shooting out one engine at sea, and U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehending 14 others after their boat landed at Dog Beach early Friday morning: “We had multiple agencies involved in bringing this dangerous smuggling attempt to a safe conclusion,” said Christopher Hunter, Director of Marine Operations for CBP in San Diego. “Smugglers have no regard for the lives and safety of everyone on board when they make reckless maritime manoeuvres.”

At about 1 a.m. on July 3, a CBP multi-role enforcement aircraft tracked two pangas as they crossed from Mexican territorial waters towards the U.S. The aircraft directed a CBP coastal interceptor boat to the location of one panga, and a U.S. Coast Guard small boat to the other panga: At about 3:30 a.m., the CBP coastal interceptor boat reached the first panga with lights and sirens going, directing the panga to stop: However, the panga failed to yield and instead fled from the CBP marine interdiction agents: The marine interdiction agents fired two marine warning shots, and the panga still failed to yield: Finally, the marine interdiction agents fired a disabling round into the panga’s engine, which stopped the boat about five miles from Point Loma. On board, marine interdiction agents found seven people.

The USCG small boat reached the second panga, which also failed to yield. The second panga was able to land on Ocean Beach in San Diego, near the area known as Dog Beach: U.S. Border Patrol agents in place along the beach immediately apprehended four individuals on the beach who attempted to climb out of the boat and flee: Agents apprehended nine others in a nearby park with assistance from the crew of the multi-role enforcement aircraft: One additional person fled by trying to swim away from agents on the beach: Thanks to a citizen calling in with information, U.S. Border Patrol agents were able to apprehend him on the jetty at Dog Beach.

The marine interdiction agents brought the seven individuals from the first boat safely to the dock, and turned them over to U.S. Border Patrol agents for processing: Border Patrol agents determined that all seven, six men, ages 19-50, and one woman, age 29, were Mexican nationals with no legal ability to enter the U.S: U.S. Border Patrol agents also processed the 14 individuals they apprehended from the second boat: The group included: three women, ages 27-40; ten men, ages 18-45, and one unaccompanied male teenager. All were Mexican nationals with no legal ability to enter the U.S………………….In both cases, CBP Air and Marine Operations seized the panga boats:

If you have information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity along the coast of California, please call the San Diego Joint Harbor Operations Center at 1-800-854-9834 extension 1, or notify local law enforcement by dialing 9-1-1.

#AceNewsDesk report ………………Published: July.06: 2020:

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4th of July eclipse to kick off busy month for astronomy

 

4th of July eclipse to kick off busy month for astronomy

Mother Nature will be providing the fireworks in July as the new month brings the chance to see three unique astronomical events, capped off by dueling meteor showers at the end of the month.

This will be the perfect month for people with a new telescope to learn how to use it with the moon, Jupiter and Saturn all serving as easy and interesting objects to find and observe through the eyepiece of a scope. However, no telescope is required for any of the events.

Here are the top three astronomy events to look for in July:

1. Lunar Eclipse
When:
July 4-5

The first weekend of the month will feature a lunar eclipse that will be visible in areas of the world that missed out on the lunar eclipse that happened in early June.

On the night of Saturday, July 4, into the early hours of Sunday, July 5, the moon will graze Earth’s shadow to create a penumbral lunar eclipse.

This will be the perfect astronomical event for people of all ages across the United States following Independence Day firework displays.

The eclipse will begin on July 4, at 11:07 p.m. EDT and last until 1:52 a.m. EDT. The best time to look will be around 12:30 a.m. EDT during the middle of the event.

The moon will once again be the center of attention on the night after the eclipse as it passes extremely close to Jupiter and Saturn. The trio will be packed together so tightly that they may appear in the same field of view of some telescopes or binoculars.

2. Jupiter and Saturn reach peak brightness
When:
The middle of July

The two biggest planets in the solar system will be the highlight of the night sky in July as the planets shine brighter than they will throughout the rest of the year.

Around the middle of the month, both Jupiter and Saturn will reach opposition, or the point in their orbits when they are closest to the Earth. As a result, it is the best opportunity to observe the planets both with and without a telescope.

Jupiter will reach opposition first on July 14, followed by Saturn a few nights later on July 20.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APP

This is a great opportunity for people to learn the ins and outs of a new telescope as the planets will be easy to spot in the southern sky all night long. The mild summer nights will also make it comfortable for many onlookers outside under the heavens.

However, no telescope is needed to spot the planets. They will be easy to find with the unaided eye as they will outshine every star in the sky — as long as cloudy conditions do not obscure the sky.

3. Double meteor shower
When:
July 28-29

The end of July will present skywatchers with something that has not been seen in months: A meteor shower.

The night of July 28 into July 29 will feature a pair meteor showers with the Alpha Capricornids and the southern Delta Aquarids both peaking on the same night. The last time that a moderate meteor shower took place was in early May.

Meteor showers can be thought of as nature’s fireworks as they put on dazzling, sometimes multi-colored, displays in the night sky. The colors are caused by the different elements that make up the meteor.

As many as 20 meteors per hour will be visible during peak night, with the Alpha Capricornids bringing an added bonus for some lucky onlookers. “What is notable about this shower is the number of bright fireballs produced during its activity period,” the American Meteor Society said.

The best time to watch the dueling meteor showers will be after 1 a.m. local time after the moon has set. The lack of moonlight will make the sky appear even darker, making it easier to spot the fainter meteors.

The June solstice marked the official start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere on Saturday, June 20, at 5:43 p.m. EDT, while those south of the equator transitioned from autumn to winter. Just hours later, a “ring of fire” solar eclipse darkened the sky over Africa and Asia, the first of two solar eclipses this year.

The solstice also brought the perfect conditions for noctilucent clouds to be visible for the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. This type of cloud can only be seen around the summer solstice and is created by meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere.

Near the start of June, the sun fired off a solar flare, the largest observed since October 2017. It was not a significant flare, but it did show signs that the current solar minimum may soon be coming to an end.

Around the middle of June, NASA announced plans to send a rover to the moon’s south pole to hunt for ice. The rover is not scheduled to launch until 2023, but could provide crucial information ahead of a crewed mission to the moon in the mid-2020s.

A few days after the announcement, the moon passed directly between Earth and Venus in an event known as an occultation.

Farther in the depths of our solar system, NASA released new images from the New Horizons space probe that showed photos of the star closest to the Earth.

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/weather/accuweather/4th-of-july-eclipse-to-kick-off-busy-month-for-astronomy/607-8d25aa27-f569-4c4b-a5a9-4a52ab21e864?utm_campaign=snd-autopilot&__twitter_impression=true

The new item blasting off store shelves…Looks like neighborhoods are going to be very noisy for the 4th of July week, so make sure your pets are safe and you’re stocked up on ear plugs 🎆🎇 🎆

https://media.fox43.com/embeds/mobile/video/521-58db2a10-77be-4769-a52e-4463776225d9/amp#amp=1 local

Families are filling fireworks stores as COVID-19 brings new restrictions & cancellations on shows across the region. Author: Jamie Bittner (FOX43) Published: 11:00 PM EDT June 22, 2020

Call it the new toilet paper, fireworks are now emptying store shelves across the region.

Phantom Fireworks in Hopewell Township told FOX43 business is normally up this time of the year. But in 2020, manager Bill Hunt told FOX43 the store has seen a nearly 20-30% increase in sales.

“It seemed like it was our 4th of July weekend when we’re extremely busy, cars out the door,” said Hunt about this past weekend as he also told FOX43 a buy one, get one sale also helped draw customers into the store. null

Hunt said the store is operating under new safety protocols by limiting the number of customers inside to around 160 people at a time. Normally, the store would hold around 235 customers. Store workers are also wearing face shields and all customers are also asked to wear a mask while shopping inside.

“When we get to our capacity we’re actually going to limit the amount of people who come in to groups of two and children under 18 won’t be allowed in just for flow to go through the store a lot better,” said Hunt. 

Hunt hopes the early rush on fireworks will actually help ease the crowds July 4th weekend and promote social distancing by spreading out sales.

“All the fireworks are canceled, so the kids still want to see some sort of fireworks,” said Erik Sheppard, who drove from Baltimore after his local fireworks events were canceled. 

Sheppard, along with other customers, left with the store with shopping carts filled to the brim with fireworks. 

“During this time period this actually means everything because we’ve been in so long, especially the kids, that’s another reason why I wanted to do this because I know they’re probably more bored than we are,” he said. 

Hunt reminds everyone who plans to buy and set off fireworks to prioritize safety.

“We want everybody to be safe. We want to make sure everybody knows fireworks are very safe if used the correct way,” he said. 

RELATED: Despite pandemic, White House will still host Fourth of July event this year

Lebanon plans to hold its usual fourth of July celebration even though the city is still in the yellow phase of reopening. Harrisburg as well will light up the sky at 9:15 p.m. on City Island the night of the 4th. However, the event is happening with changes due to COVID-19. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

York County, Hanover, Wrightsville, and Red Lion plan to hold fireworks displays over the holiday weekend.

July 4th celebrations in Springettsbury Township have been postponed to September 26. York City, Jacobus, and Shrewsbury have canceled fireworks displays. Fireworks at Long’s Park in Lancaster are also canceled.

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/local/fireworks-sales-blast-off-as-shows-are-canceled-due-to-covid19/521-6973a80e-adc8-4b7b-9041-0f5c1b540055?utm_campaign=snd-autopilot&__twitter_impression=true

Hershey’s to halt U.S. advertising on Facebook platforms in July | WHP

by CBS 21 NewsFriday, June 26th 2020

HERSHEY.jpg

DERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Hershey’s has announced that it will be halting all U.S. advertising for Facebook platforms for the month of July.

This move is part of the #StopHate4Profit boycott, which entails not posting on Facebook for the entire month.

The company released the following statement:

We do not believe that Facebook is effectively managing violent and divisive speech on their platform. Despite repeated assertions by Facebook to take action, we have not seen meaningful change. Earlier this month we communicated to Facebook that we were unhappy with their stance on hate speech. We have now cut our spending on Facebook and their platforms, including Instagram, by a third for the remainder of the year. In addition, we will now join the #stophateforprofit boycott. We are hopeful that Facebook will take action and make it a safe space for our consumers to communicate and gather. As a company, we stand for the values of togetherness and inclusion and we are resolute in our commitment to make a difference and be part of positive change.

https://local21news.com/news/local/hersheys-to-halt-us-advertising-on-facebook-platforms-in-july

Facebook will label all rule-breaking posts – even Trump’s

https://media.fox43.com/embeds/mobile/video/602-ca8a9049-6f45-456e-ae26-617279d29527/amp#amp=1 nation-world

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously refused to take action against President Trump’s posts suggesting mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud. Author: BARBARA ORTUTAY (AP Technology Writer) Published: 6:24 PM EDT June 26, 2020

OAKLAND, Calif. — Facebook said Friday that it will flag all “newsworthy” posts from politicians that break its rules, including those from President Donald Trump.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg had previously refused to take action against Trump posts suggesting that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud, saying that people deserved to hear unfiltered statements from political leaders. Twitter, by contrast, slapped a “get the facts” label on them. null

Until Friday, Trump’s posts with identical wording to those labeled on Twitter remained untouched on Facebook, sparking criticism from Trump’s opponents as well as current and former Facebook employees. Now, Facebook is all but certain to face off with the president the next time he posts something the company deems to be violating its rules.

“The policies we’re implementing today are designed to address the reality of the challenges our country is facing and how they’re showing up across our community,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page announcing the changes.

Zuckerberg said the social network is taking additional steps to counter election-related misinformation. In particular, the social network will begin adding new labels to all posts about voting that will direct users to authoritative information from state and local election officials.

Facebook is also banning false claims intended to discourage voting, such as stories about federal agents checking legal status at polling places. The company also said it is increasing its enforcement capacity to remove false claims about local polling conditions in the 72 hours before the U.S. election.

Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Civic Media, said the changes are a “reminder of how powerful Facebook may be in terms of spreading disinformation during the upcoming election.”

He said the voting labels will depend on how good Facebook’s artificial intelligence is at identifying posts to label.

“If every post that mentions voting links, people will start ignoring those links. If they’re targeted to posts that say things like ‘Police will be checking warrants and unpaid traffic tickets at polls’ — a classic voter suppression disinfo tactic — and clearly mark posts as disinfo, they might be useful,” he said. null

But Zuckerman noted that Facebook “has a history of trying hard not to alienate right-leaning users, and given how tightly President Trump has aligned himself with voter-suppressing misinfo, it seems likely that Facebook will err on the side of non-intrusive and ignorable labels, which would minimize impact of the campaign.”

Earlier in the day, shares of Facebook and Twitter dropped sharply after the the giant company behind brands such as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Dove soap said it will halt U.S. advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through at least the end of the year.

That European consumer-product maker, Unilever, said it took the move to protest the amount of hate speech online. Unilever said the polarized atmosphere in the United States ahead of November’s presidential election placed responsibility on brands to act.

Facebook’s shares lost more than 8% on Friday, while Twitter ended the day more than 7% lower.

RELATED: Twitter removes Trump video of Black toddler chased by white ‘racist baby’

RELATED: Facebook removes Trump campaign ads for violating policy on ‘organized hate’

The company, which is based in the Netherlands and Britain, joins a raft of other advertisers pulling back from online platforms. Facebook in particular has been the target of an escalating movement to withhold advertising dollars to pressure it to do more to prevent racist and violent content from being shared on its platform.

“We have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.,” Unilever said. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Thursday, Verizon joined others in the Facebook boycott. April 11, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) AP

Unilever “has enough influence to persuade other brand advertisers to follow its lead,” said eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin. She noted that Unilever pulled back spending “for longer, on more platforms (including Twitter) and for more expansive reasons” — in particular, by citing problems with “divisiveness” as well as hate speech. null

Sarah Personette, vice president of global client solutions at Twitter, said the company’s “mission is to serve the public conversation and ensure Twitter is a place where people can make human connections, seek and receive authentic and credible information, and express themselves freely and safely.”

She added that Twitter is “respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/nation-world/facebook-to-label-all-rule-breaking-posts-even-president-trumps/507-0ff4e8c6-c203-4bf3-8806-fd845c769ef6?utm_campaign=snd-autopilot&__twitter_impression=true