This is a video I took in 2018. Like he's been doing this for YEARS with no one ever complaining. The police usually enjoy it. No you don't need a permit to perform in the subways. Fuck this country. pic.twitter.com/D85zZTeOUJ
Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation is warning that time is running out to save some of Britain’s best-loved insects, with the latest Red List assessment of butterflies published today, revealing a 26% increase in the number of species threatened with extinction.
Using data gathered by volunteers through the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme and Butterflies for the New Millennium recording scheme, scientists from Butterfly Conservation have put together the new Red List, which assesses all the butterfly species that have bred regularly in Great Britain against the rigorous criteria of extinction risk set out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The new Red List is published today in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity.
Of the 62 species assessed, four are extinct in Britain (Black-veined White, Large Tortoiseshell, Large Copper, and Mazarine Blue) with 24 (41% of the remaining species) classed as threatened (8 Endangered, 16 Vulnerable) and a further five (9%) as Near Threatened.
Large Copper (female/upperwing) – Tamás Nestor
Head of Science for Butterfly Conservation, Dr Richard Fox, says: “Shockingly, half of Britain’s remaining butterfly species are listed as threatened or Near Threatened on the new Red List. Even prior to this new assessment, British butterflies were among the most threatened in Europe, and now the number of threatened species in Britain has increased by five, an increase of more than one-quarter. While some species have become less threatened, and a few have even dropped off the Red List, the overall increase clearly demonstrates that the deterioration of the status of British butterflies continues apace.”
While land-use change remains the most important driver of decline, the impact of climate change on butterflies is also evident in the new Red List, with all four British butterflies with northerly distributions, adapted to cooler or damper climates, now listed as threatened (Large Heath, Scotch Argus, Northern Brown Argus) or Near Threatened (Mountain Ringlet).
Both the Large Heath and the Grayling have moved from Vulnerable to Endangered, and seven species have moved from Near Threatened to threatened, including the beautiful Swallowtail and Adonis Blue. Two new species have been added for the first time, Scotch Argus, which is listed as Vulnerable, and Dark Green Fritillary, listed as Near Threatened.
Large Blue – Sam Ellis
The focus of concentrated conservation efforts
It isn’t bad news for all butterfly species though, with some improvement in status for those that have been the focus of concentrated conservation effort, offering hope for other species.
Dr Richard Fox adds: “Where we are able to target conservation work, we have managed to bring species back from the brink, but with the extinction risk increasing for more species than are decreasing, more must be done to protect our butterflies from the effects of changing land management and climate change. Without action it is likely that species will be lost from Britain’s landscapes for good, but Butterfly Conservation is taking bold steps to improve key landscapes for butterflies and reduce the extinction risk of many threatened species.”
The production of the new Red List of British butterflies has been led by Butterfly Conservation with input and funding from Natural England, and the full scientific paper can be found here: https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12582
Recycling has failed for more than half a century, an unarguable fact when you see recycling rates. Under 6 percent is dismal, but so was 8.7 percent. Decades were wasted because of the plastics industries’ multimillion-dollar public relations efforts. It wanted consumers to believe they were responsible for the plastic pollution problem and could prevent it if they used their recycling bins more effectively.
Now, here we are, with the equivalent of two garbage trucks full of plastic entering our oceans every minute — 33 billion pounds a year — and an estimation from the plastics industry that plastic production will more than triple by 2050.
Federal lawmakers must stop following industry’s playbook and take real action. The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, introduced in March, would phase out unnecessary single-use plastic products and prevent new and expanded plastic production facilities across the country. It’s up to U.S. leaders to reverse course and reduce the production and use of single-use plastic before it’s too late.
Christy Leavitt, Washington
The writer is plastics campaign director of Oceana.
We have a lot in common with dolphins. We live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, utilize forms of communication, and have culture. Culture, as in behavior that is shared within a community through social learning, has been recognized in a number of whale and dolphin species.
One of the most well-known of these may be the complex and charismatic singing of male humpback whales. In certain populations, virtually all male humpback whales sing the same song. Every few years, males change up their songs with new patterns of squeaks and groans and then the new pattern gradually spreads as more males in the area learn it.
Wild dolphins swim by | Credit: Taryn Elliott/Pexels
In terms of dolphins, observations on how different dolphins behave in different parts of the world suggest a wide range of cultural behaviors. Bottlenose dolphins for example, are one species with a huge range; localized populations of bottlenose dolphins live in distinct parts of the world. Dolphins in a population in Florida utilize a complex cooperative hunting strategy known as mud-ring feeding, where muddy water is kicked up in a circle to trap a school of fish.
In Laguna, Brazil, human fishermen and local bottlenose dolphins work together to catch fish. Both parties seem to have recognized that they target a specific type of fish and rather than compete they have learned to work together; when these local dolphins slap their heads or tails against the water, it acts as a cue for the Laguna fishermen standing on the nearby shore to cast their nets, which then breaks up the school of fish and makes it easier for dolphins to catch and feed on individual fish.
And in Shark Bay, Australia a number of unique hunting behaviors have been observed in the local population of bottlenose dolphins, including the use of sea sponges as a foraging tool.
Among orcas, the concept of culture is even more compound. There are at least 10 different known orca eco-types, each with their own range, diet, dialect and cultures. Within each of these ecotypes are localized populations.
CA163 “Liner” and pod mates from the population of transient (mammal-eating) ecotype off the coast of California | Photo by Tracie Sugo
Within the resident ecotype, there are southern resident orca and northern resident orca. Northern residents have a unique “massage” culture, in which they frequent specific beaches to rub their bodies along smooth pebbles in the shallows. Southern residents appear to have culture of being incredibly active and friendly; they have been observed having “greeting ceremonies” in which two groups of whales line up across from each other and then come together to engage in playful, physical contact (sadly such sightings have been sparse recently, as the Southern Residents face major threats to their primary food source, Chinook salmon).
Wild and free Risso’s dolphins off the coast of California | Credit: Tracie Sugo
In 2009, Risso’s dolphins were among a handful of studied cetacean species that were found to have spindle neurons, which are linked to processing emotions and social interactions (these specialized brain cells were previously though to be unique to humans, but have now been found in certain species of great apes, elephants and cetaceans). What types of culture might Risso’s dolphins have? And how many other cetacean populations have culture? There is much that is yet to be studied in other cetacean species. In addition to aspects of cetaceans like intelligence, self-awareness and roles in marine eco-systems, culture is another important consideration for advocating for their protection.
In areas like Taiji, Japan, where localized dolphin populations face tremendous pressure from human activity (direct hunts and captures, commercial fishing and prey competition, and noise pollution and other interference from nearby shipping lanes), there is serious concern for their well-being, their survival, and the risk of extinguishing their culture.
Striped dolphin entangled in the hunters’ net | Credit: DolphinProject.com
Based on inquiries we have received, it appears there is some amount of confusion about facilities that list themselves as “sanctuaries” yet keep dolphins for display and interactive programs. We’ve compiled some tips here to help potential customers research before they support a captive dolphin facility.
Selfie or photo opportunities, or any form of guaranteed petting/kisses/etc. In order for a visitor to be guaranteed that they get to touch a dolphin, that dolphin has been trained and is actively receiving reinforcement to perform.
Facility descriptions can be misleading
Names and labels can be misleading. Just because a facility calls itself a “Wildlife Sanctuary” does not make it so– do your research before visiting any park with wildlife. Also beware that some facilities use their charitable status or scientific labels to mislead.
Captive dolphin in Florida sea pen
Many marine parks claim their dolphins can “leave any time”. This may be technically true, but most dolphins will not jump a barrier or swim out of a pen because they cannot tell what is on the other side. Captive dolphin facilities would never take the risk of losing their investments. They know very well that their dolphins would not venture into the open sea, even if given the chance: Many captive dolphins have spent so much time in captivity, they have become dependent on people for food and other basic needs. Many of them were born into this unnatural existence, and they cannot simply “go home,” as they have no family pod to connect with.
A natural sea pen may also be a captive environment. It does not equate with being free in the wild.
Captive sea pen in the Caribbean
Wild dolphins can be exploited for profit too! If booking a swim with wild dolphins tour or whale watching tour, pursuit should never be allowed. A boat should never chase a pod of dolphins to get closer to them, or guarantee that you will see dolphins or be able to swim with them. Responsible tours do not permit touching wild dolphins or whales! A responsible tour operator will always abide by and endorse local dolphin/whale watching laws.
Activities and programs
Paid interactions or scheduled activities such as shows, exhibits, or demonstrations should be a warning– it means that the dolphins are expected to be in place and remain for a certain period of time, or perform, which are indications of active training.
Breeding or Calf Births
Breeding or the birth of calves: Staff may make it seem that dolphins are bred in captivity to help wild populations. In reality, these dolphins will not be contributing to wild populations as they will never be released. Dolphins are bred in captivity for the sole purpose of having more captive dolphins to profit from. Facilities that promote or celebrate calf births should be treated with caution.
Where did the animals come from?
If a facility buys, trades, or breeds dolphins, they are likely not a sanctuary. Real sanctuaries prefer to have as few animals as possible to ensure the most amount of space, attention and freedom. Businesses want more dolphins so they can sell more interactions. Sanctuaries have release as their top priority, rather than trying to keep as many rescues as they can.
Munjawa was released to her home range by Dolphin Project’s Indonesian team after assessment.
Many captive dolphin facilities also serve as rehabilitation centers. While it is true that some rescued dolphins cannot safely return to the wild, they should not be forced to perform and entertain in order to earn their keep. Sanctuaries would not require participation of rescued dolphins in shows or force human interactions, which can cause stress.
Captive bottlenose with basketball
A real dolphin sanctuary is a place where non-releasable dolphins that were exploited by the dolphinarium industry can live out their lives with peace and dignity.
It is place where the dolphins’ needs are met with no strings attached.
There are no dolphin shows and no interactions programs.
The dolphins receive food without having to perform any trained behaviors.
No commercial photo ops are offered to visitors.
The dolphins live in a sea pen or a floating sea enclosure away from crowds of people, traffic, and human noise.
Every attempt is made to make the dolphins’ lives as natural and independent as possible.
The dolphins receive the food and medical attention that they need.
Whenever possible, live fish are introduced to the sea pen.
Dolphins in a true sanctuary are identified properly as victims, rather than ambassadors.
No visitors are allowed to touch or in any way handle the dolphins.
A true sanctuary makes educational material available to the public about the wrongs of capturing, confining, breeding, and exploiting dolphins in shows and various interaction programs.
A true sanctuary has a fundamental policy of opposing the use of dolphins as tourist attractions that aim to entertain.
A true sanctuary may allow visitors in order to educate them about the reasons why dolphins do not belong in captivity.
A true sanctuary acknowledges that dolphins belong in nature, wild and free.
A true sanctuary is for dolphins that cannot safely be released back into the wild.
A true sanctuary never tells visitors that the dolphins are free to leave whenever they want, as this ignores the fact that non-releasable dolphins depend on their caregivers to survive.
Captive breeding is not allowed in a real sanctuary. There is no reason for a dolphin to be born in captivity.
A real sanctuary does not accept donations from the captivity industry or the tuna industry.
Hopefully, the public will leave the sanctuary with enough knowledge to tell others not to buy a ticket for a dolphin show or captive dolphin swim program.
A true sanctuary will have clear rules in place about appropriate behavior for visitors, so that the comfort and safety of the animals remains the highest priority. A true sanctuary recognizes that visitors are guests, but the animals are the residents. They deserve dignity and respect in their home.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health announced the state’s first reported Powassan virus infection of the year this past Wednesday. Powassan virus is a rare disease spread by the same tick that causes Lyme disease, according to a recent press release.
“The identification of a Connecticut resident with Powassan virus associated illness emphasizes the need to take actions to prevent tick bites from now through the late fall,” said Dr. Manisha Juthani, who is the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Health.
“Using insect repellent, avoiding areas where ticks are likely, and checking carefully for ticks after being outside can reduce the chance of you or your children being infected with this virus.”
Powassan virus, first discovered in Powassan, Ontario in 1958, is usually spread through the bite of an infected black-legged or deer tick, officially known as Ixodes scapularis, and can be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes after a tick bite, but it can take a week up to one month to develop symptoms, per the release.
This is in contrast to Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease in the United States, which is caused by a bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi and usually transmitted after 36-48 hours after the bite of usually the black-legged tick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Human infections secondary to the Powassan virus infections have been recognized in the United States, Canada, and Russia, with the cases mostly from northeastern states and the Great Lakes region in late spring, early summer and mid-fall when ticks are most active, per the CDC.
Between 2011-20, in addition to Connecticut, the following states have reported cases to the CDC: Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
Powassan cases are rare, with 20 reported in 2020 to the CDC, but the reported cases are increasing, whereas usually 30,00 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC each year, but the true number is likely closer to 476,000 each year because of underreporting, per the agency.
People who work outdoors and engage in recreational activities in endemic areas for the virus are at increased risk of the infection.
The Connecticut patient who contracted Powassan virus is a male patient in his 50s who started to feel sick during the fourth week of March after a tick bite. He was later hospitalized with a central nervous system disease with laboratory confirmed evidence by the CDC of antibodies to the virus, but is now discharged and recovering at home, according to the health department’s release.
Most people infected with Powassan virus will develop mild flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all, but some will experience severe illness affecting the central nervous system, which consists of the spinal cord and brain, per the health department.
Wood Tick on finger
Early symptoms of severe disease include headache, vomiting, fever and weakness that rapidly progresses to confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking, or seizures. Treatment is supportive care, which means there is no specific medication directed against the disease, but instead targeted to symptoms.
Approximately one out of 10 cases of severe illness are fatal, with an estimated half of survivors experiencing long-term complications.
There were 12 cases of Powassan virus from 2017 to 2021 reported in Connecticut, including three in 2021 and two out the 12 that were fatal, the release said.
Connecticut is a state well-known for tick-bites, with the CDC categorizing it a high-incidence region for Lyme disease, as of 2019.
Lyme disease was first described in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975 by a researcher, Dr. William Burgdorfer, who connected puzzling symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis-like symptoms with the bite of deer ticks, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).
He discovered that a spiral shaped bacterium, known as a spirochete, carried by the ticks caused the condition now known as Lyme disease. The spirochete was named Borrelia burgdorferi in 1982 in his honor, per the NIH.
An early symptom of Lyme disease is a hallmark rash that looks like a “bulls-eye,” known as erythema migrans, but later can progress to joint pain and neurological issues, according to Mayo Clinic.
Blacklegged ticks not only can carry Lyme disease and Powassan virus, but also other tick-borne diseases like anaplasmosis and babesiosis, so it’s possible to get infected with more than one infection at the same time, called a co-infection, per the CDC.
Some tips to prevent tick bites include: avoiding grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, using CDC-recommended mosquito repellents, checking for ticks immediately after an outdoor activity and showering within two hours of coming indoors, per the release.
Researchers studied over 25,000 adults for five years to reach these findings.
Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements are known to contribute to bone strength and heart health—but that’s not all. Research presented at the American College of Rheumatology’s ACR Convergence 2021 found that people who ingested these nutrients over the course of five years actually lowered their chances of developing autoimmune disease by 25 to 30 percent, Eating Wellreports.
To conduct this study, researchers followed 25,871 adults who were put on four different regimens for nearly five-and-a-half years: The first group took both an omega-3 and vitamin D placebo, and the second took 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and 2,000 international units of vitamin D. A third group of participants took an omega-3 placebo and 2,000 international units of vitamin D, while the fourth group took 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and a vitamin D placebo. If a participant experienced any autoimmune complication, it was noted by the researchers.
The result? Those with autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, lowered their risk of relapse by up to 30 percent if they took either or both supplements. “The effect of vitamin D3 appeared stronger after two years of supplementation,” Costenbader said in the study’s abstract, adding that risks can decrease in less than five years. “The more pronounced effect after two to three years of use with vitamin D makes sense biologically and supports long-term use.”
This study was inspired by a previous study in which researchers found that those who get enough vitamin D from the sun and their diets are better able to ward off arthritis and inflammation. “In past ecologic observations, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and type 2 diabetes have been shown to be more prevalent at northern latitudes, where circulating vitamin D levels are lower,” Karen Costenbader, M.D., M.P.H., the senior author of the research and the director of the Lupus Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said at the conference. “Both high plasma vitamin D and high residential UV exposure were associated with a decreased risk for rheumatoid arthritis among women in the Nurses’ Health Study in our past work.” Their previous studies also showed that risk of developing arthritis appeared lower in those with high fatty fish intake.
The One Type of Vitamin D That Will Strengthen Your Immune System
Vitamin D helps make your bones stronger, boosts your heart health, and more. Now, a new study has found that getting specific with your supplement offers yet another health benefit.
Vitamin D is one of the most popular supplements in the United States, and for good reason too: it’s known for its ability to contribute to bone strength and heart health, as well as lower your risk for developing an autoimmune disease. But there’s a chance you’re taking the supplement every day and not reaping all of its benefits. According to a study recently published in Frontiers in Immunology, D3 is more effective at elevating vitamin D levels in the bloodstream than D2. What’s more, only D3 helps enable a critical immune system response to bacterial and viral infections.
WTo determine the key differences between both types of the supplement, the University of Surrey recruited 335 women between the ages of 20 and 64 who were based in the United Kingdom and randomly assigned them to a group. Some of the participants took 15 micrograms of vitamin D2 a day, while others took the same amount of D3. There was also a placebo group that took neither D2 or D3. The researchers examined the effects of vitamin D over a 12-week period during the winter months.
The result? Vitamin D3 was more effective at increasing vitamin D levels in the bloodstream than D2. They also found that the group who took D3 had a stronger immune system response to bacterial and viral infections, while D2 has the opposite effect. Additionally, it’s believed by researchers that D2 may deplete D3, as the D2 supplement group had less D3 in their blood than the placebo group did. “We know that to take a vitamin D2 supplement actually displaces the normal, the native D3 from your body,” Colin P. Smith, an author of the study and a professor of genomics at the University of Surrey in the U.K., told Inverse. “So by taking a vitamin D2 supplement, you could be making yourself vitamin D deficient, certainly in relation to some pathways in the body.”
This isn’t the first study that has examined the differences between D2 and D3. A study published last year in the National Library of Medicine, found that high D3 levels were associated with less severe depression symptoms in women, while D2 showed no such correlation.
The first solar eclipse of 2022 is coming on Saturday, April 30. While the spectacular event will not be visible from North America, there are options ot watch the event online.
Where will the partial solar eclipse be visible?
It will be visible from the southeastern Pacific Ocean, the Antarctic and some South America countries such as Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Peru.
This handout picture released by Imagen Chile shows Chilean and US scientists looking at a solar eclipse from the Union Glacier in Antarctica on December 4, 2021. (FELIPE TRUEBA/Imagen Chile/AFP via Getty Images)
A partial solar eclipse is seen on June 10, 2021 in Korla, Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. (Xue Bing/VCG via Getty Images)
Unfortunately, this partial solar eclipse will not be visible in North America or Europe. However, the next partial solar eclipse on October 25, 2022, will be visible from Europe, Northeast Africa, the Middle East and West Asia, according to NASA.
What is the difference between a solar eclipse and a partial eclipse?
According to NASA’s website, “A solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth, fully or partially blocking the Sun’s light in some areas. During a partial eclipse, the Moon and Sun are not perfectly aligned, so the Moon does not completely cover the Sun. This gives the Sun a crescent shape, or makes it appear as if a “bite” has been taken out of the Sun, depending on how much of the Sun is covered by the Moon.’
In this case, close to 64% of the Sun’s disk will be blotted out at most, according to NASA.
Robert Burgess, Presedint of Southern Maine Astronomers, sets up a telescope with solar filters to watch a partial eclipse from the Eastern Prom in Portland Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Staff Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
The next total solar eclipse to cross the North American continent will be on April 8, 2024.
Recently Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland visited the isolated Aleut community of King Cove on the Alaskan Peninsula southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, to see and hear firsthand whether to approve the construction of a road across the Izembek Wilderness and National Wildlife Refuge. Recently, a federal court approved a Trump Administration land exchange proposal to facilitate the road right of way through the refuge.
The Izembek Refuge is one of the blue areas is on the Alaskan Peninsula which connects the Aleutian Islands to the main part of Alaska.
The debate about a road pits Alaskan Aleuts against the legal mandate of the Wilderness Act to preserve wildlands and protect wildlife. The 315,000-acre Izembek Wildlife Refuge is a critical stopping ground for migratory waterfowl. Its eel grass lagoons are considered of International Importance.
The road would connect the King Cove community to an all-weather airstrip (built during WW11) 37 miles away in Cold Bay, Alaska. The airport was initially operated as a military base before being transferred to the state of Alaska.
The 10,000 foot airstrip in Cold Bay was built by the Army and can easily service jets. Photo American Airlines
Currently, access to the Cold Bay airport is either by air from a strip in King Cove or by boat.
Roads are prohibited in wilderness areas. The Izembek Refuge Wilderness was designated in 1980 as part of the expansive Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).
Henry Mack, the major of King Cove, Stanley Mack, the mayor of Aleutian East Borough, and Della Trumble, a member of the King Cove Corporation and Agdaagux Tribal Council, suggests in an editorial Anchorage Times, opponents put wildlife ahead of humans.
As they wrote in a commentary about opposition to the road by former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt and former Fish and Wildlife Service Director Jamie Clark, “It’s easy for highly paid former federal officials like Bruce Babbitt and Jamie Clark to pretend that the lives of nearly 1,000 indigenous Aleuts in King Cove, Alaska don’t really matter.”
Some 98 percent of all black brant spend part of the year feeding among the eelgrass lagoons of the Izembek NWR.
Izembek is particularly important for Pacific Black Brant; 98 percent of those small geese spend part of the year there, slurping up the world’s most extensive eelgrass beds, their dietary staple. The area also supports about half the world’s Emperor Geese and a substantial percentage of the threatened Steller’s Eider population. The refuge supports one of the denset population of grizzly bears on the Alaskan Peninsula, as well as wolves, foxes, caribou, and even walruses.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that allowing a road through the refuge would “degrade irreplaceable ecological resources.” It also would jeopardize the global survival of a migratory sea goose, called the Pacific black brant, and the emperor goose and other waterfowl.
A 2013 Record of Decision on a Final EIS that reviewed the potential impact of the road concluded: ” Construction of a road through the Izembek NWR wouild lead to significant degradation of irreplaceable ecological resources.”
The document went on to note that the proposed land trade between the Aleuts and federal government would compromise the ecological integrity of the refuge. “The Service has determined that increased acreage would not compensate for the overall values of the existing Izemeck REfuge lands and Wilderness that would be removed. Nor would the offered lands compenstate for the anticipated impacts that the proposed road would have on wildlife and the habitat that surround the road corridor.”
Therefore, in 2013 Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell decided to preclude road construction from protecting the wildlife and wilderness values of the area. But the Trump administration, under the Secretary of Interior, approved a land exchange between the Aleut natives of King Cove and the Department of Interior that would permit the road construction to proceed.
Jewell found ” Increased human traffic and noise, changed hydrology of the wetlands, pollution runoff, and introduced contaminants and invasive species would despoil the isthmus.” She further concluded there were other modes of transportation available to address emergency medical transportation and pledged to work to implement them.
The King Cove villagers contend they need the proposed road for “medical emergencies.” Although King Cove has an airport, planes and helicopters cannot operate in extreme weather, which frequently closes the King Cove facilities. The Cold Bay airport can operate in more inclement weather. A road connecting the two communities would also permit villagers to fly more frequently to Anchorage and other destinations for shopping and other purposes.
The mountains along the Alaskan Peninsula in an unusually good weather day. Photo George Wuerthner
I have some sympathy for the situation of the villagers. I have experienced the horrific weather typical to the Aleutian Islands and Alaskan Peninsula. I was once trapped for days without food other than the fish I caught while camped at Ugashik Lake because aircraft could not fly to pick me up. Other times I was delayed for days by bad weather while trying to fly out of the villages of Port Moller and Meshik. I’ve been out numerous times on trips to the Alaskan Peninsula in the rain with 50 mile per hour winds, so I know how difficult the weather can be at times.
Villagers have latched on to the idea that a road would provide safe passage between King Cove and Cold Bay. However, a doctor who oversaw medical evacuations in King Cove for 15 years said traveling almost 40 miles on the gravel road during 60 mph winds and blinding snowstorms would be “suicidal” for patients and rescue teams.
“Should the road happen, I foresee all sorts of calamity,” said Dr. Peter Mjos, who was the Eastern Aleutian Tribes’ medical director until 2002. He retired from practicing medicine in 2015.
The original justification for the road was more pecuniary. “In 1994, King Cove passed a resolution saying the road would “link together two communities having one of the State’s premier fishing ports/harbors (including North America’s largest salmon cannery) in King Cove with one of the State’s premier airports at Cold Bay.”
But twenty years later, the justification was changed to the medical emergency rationale.
Izembek NWR. Photo Audubon.
To find an alternative to the road, the federal government contributed $37 million (a taxpayer subsidy of over $56,000 per King Cove resident) for an improved medical clinic in King Cove and the purchase of a hovercraft and improved dock facilities that could link both communities by water. The hovercraft only operated for three years before the Borough shut it down, arguing it was too expensive to operate and failed to work in high winds. However, during the three years it operated, the hovercraft successfully transported 22 medical evacuations.
In addition, of the original $37 million allotted by Congress for the hovercraft purchase and operation, villagers chose to spend $26 million to construct part of the road they hope will eventually link the two communities. In other words, they spent $26 million on a road to nowhere which could have paid hovercraft and other alternative transportation like Coast Guard transport for many years.
Community leaders admitted they used part of the federal grant to construct a partial road because they believed it would make it harder for the federal government to deny its completion.
However, some suggest the real purpose of the road is related to money. The Peter Pan Processing plant in King Cove is Alaska’s biggest salmon and seafood processing operation. The route would make getting workers in and out of King Cove easier. But it would also reduces costs for shipping fish. Currently, Peter Pan must load fish on a boat, transport it by sea to Cold Bay, where it is loaded on another truck to be transported to the airstrip.
The transport of fresh fish to markets is another justification for the road. However, the land exchange approved by the Trump Administration has specific language that precludes large companies like Peter Pan from using the road to transport fish.
The agreement says explicitly: “The road shall be used primarily for health, safety and quality of life purposes (including access to and from the Cod Bay Airport) and generally for non-commercial purposes. The commercial transport of fish and seafood products, except by an individual or small business on any portion of the road shall be prohibited.”
The term “generally”and “small business” opens a big loophole. Not surprisingly, the local Aleut leaders of King Cove all support road construction. Since they own fishing boats, including in 2019, the mayor of King Cove and five out of six city council members, all considered small business owners, would not be prohibited from using the road to transport fish.
It is important to note that the US Small Business Administration defines a firm engaged in “seafood product preparation and packaging” to be a small business if it has no more than 750 employees. Though Peter Pan is owned by a fortunte 500 Maruha Nichiro Corporation in Japan. The Peter Pan currently operates with 500 employees. So all Maruha would have to do is spin off as a separate company, and it would qualify as a “small business.”
Another important issue is that such an exemption to Wilderness Act prohibition against roads could easily become a precedent for new roads in other parts of Alaska where many villages are not part of any road network. In this instance, apparently, the Izembek Refuge is not part of the traditional “sacred” lands of the Aleut.
Many villages in Alaska have no road access to year-round air service. People choose to live in these places. While I might support the road if I thought there were no other viable alternatives, as former Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell concluded, viable (if not expensive) alternatives do exist including emergency transport from the U.S. Coast Guard. It seems to me that “medical emergencies” is a red herring. While there may indeed be a few times when alternative means of transport are not available, I do not believe this is the real reason for the road. The main motive is to create economically viable alternatives for seafood transport. This is about advancing economic desires rather than satisfying the “needs” of King Cove residents.
Many Alaskan communities face the same limitations on transportation due to weather, terrain and other constraints. People choose to live in these places. While the Indigneous Aleuts living at King Cove have other alternatives, the Indigenious wildlife that depends on the Izembek Refuge lands do not.
Secretary of Interior Haaland has stated she wants to represent the interests of Indigenous people. It will be interesting to see whether she agrees with the conclusion of former Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell that other options exist to meet the desires of King Cove residents while protecting globally significant wildlife and wilderness values.
Vernon Jones, a black pro-Trump Republican who is running for a Georgia House seat tweeted, “Why do you hate Christians, Ilhan?”
Do you think Omar’s comments were bigoted?
Omar’s comment seemed to indicate that she does not have the religious freedom, as a Muslim, to pray in public. But Jose Castillo, a Republican candidate running for Congress in Florida’s 9th Congressional District tweeted that Omar is free, as a Muslim, to pray in public.
“In America, Muslims can & do pray in public,” Castillo’s tweet said. “If she wants a country where Christians aren’t allowed to do the same [Omar] should go back to her own country.”
Omar is originally from Somalia and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Somalia is a country that is known for brutal religious oppression and strife, with large sections of the country being subjected to Islamic law.
“Somaliland’s constitution declares Islam the state religion, prohibits Muslims from converting to another religion, bars the propagation of any religion other than Islam and requires all laws to comply with the general principles of sharia,” the U.S. Department of State reported.
Omar and her family had to flee Mogadishu, Somalia, after militias invaded, she told MSNBC News.
Once she entered Congress, Omar actually fought for more religious freedom, Voice of America News reported.
As a Muslim woman who wears a hijab, or head covering, when Omar first became a Representative, she sought to change the Congressional rule that stated that “every member shall remain uncovered during the sessions of the House.”
She stated at the time that she was exercising her first Amendment right of religious freedom.
No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It’s my choice—one protected by the first amendment.
Omar has also been behind other actions to promote freedom of religion, such as the Freedom of Religion Act in 2021, which is meant to “prohibit religious discrimination in our immigration system,” her website reported.
As a congresswoman who has been a proponent of religious freedom and outspoken about Muslims’ rights to religion, Omar’s comments about the Christians singing on the plane seemed out of place, as many critics pointed out on Twitter.
Some simply accused her of hating Christians and Jews, and even some Muslims.
Cicely Davis, who is running in Minnesota’s 5th District to “Defeat Ilhan Omar and Save Minneapolis,” tweeted, “The issue is you hate Christians & Jews & lots of Muslims.”
Qatar – a country you’re very familiar with – plays Islamic prayers on the intercom before takeoff on their planes. They have a designated prayer area & coordinates for Mecca are posted on the screens.
Tax Day is a particularly dreary and unpleasant “holiday” this year. Americans who trudge down to the post office to drop off their returns or simply push a button to file electronically are aware that the IRS itself confesses that is it behind in processing those returns it already has by roughly 22 million.
Taxpayers are to hurry up (or be fined) and get in a long line. If you have last-minute questions about the tax form it is not cheerful to read that the IRS admits it is answering no more than 20 percent of the calls for help it receives.
And this is not likely to get better. 53 percent of all IRS employees are working from home full time. Others spend “some” time in the office.
The culture of the IRS does not suggest improvement anytime soon. IRS agents are “protected” by civil service laws. It is almost impossible to fire them. On top of that they have one of the most aggressive unions making the agency difficult to reform in even baby steps. One sign of the culture is that 97 percent of all the IRS union’ campaign contributions flow directly to Democrat candidates.
A one-party, unionized, bureaucratized agency.
Perhaps new technology can fix things? Sadly, the IRS has been saying this for decades. Send cash and we will make our computers work. Failure has followed failure.
But now Joe Biden is convinced that if taxpayers ante up another $80 billion and hire 87,000 IRS agents, things will change. While Biden says these new agents will focus on “the rich” the IRS itself brags they will increase audits of small and independent businesses by 50 percent.
But taxpayers are also consumers and have jobs. President Biden and the Democrat congress are threatening to impose a series of new and larger taxes that will increase prices, depress wages, and make America less competitive in the world.
Biden’s new budget has 36 tax hikes and 11 new taxes on energy. Biden’s new tax ideas will increase the cost of home heating oil, electricity, and gasoline. Inflation has already hit American families and businesses hard – prices have increased by 8.5 percent over the past year. Tax increases will only make this worse.
One of Biden’s new taxes would be a new tax on “unrealized capital gains” which means you get taxed on money you don’t have. If the value of your business, your 401k, life savings or land increase in a year—the government would force you to pay income taxes on the increase.
You don’t have any more money than last year. You did not receive any income. How are you going to pay taxes on income you might never see? Stock prices go down as well as up.
Biden promises this will only be on rich people. But most new taxes are first visited on “the rich” and then they “trickle down” to hit the middle class. The federal income tax was introduced with a top rate of seven percent on those earning more than $13 million in today’s dollars. Now the lowest rate is 10 percent on those earning more than $10,275 in taxable income.
When Biden was vice president the American corporate income tax was 35 percent. Investment and jobs were flowing out of America. During the Biden/Obama years the U.S. had its weakest economic recovery since World War II.
The burden of the corporate income tax hits workers in the form of lower wages and everyone in the form of higher prices for goods and services.
Thanks to congressional Republicans and President Trump, the U.S. federal corporate rate was reduced to 21 percent. But now Biden wants to increase the rate to 28 percent. And you have to add state corporate income taxes as well.
Biden’s tax increase would put the U.S. at a tax disadvantage versus China, which has a 25 percent rate, and Europe, which has an average rate of 19 percent.
Biden and the Democrat party’s call for higher corporate rate on American businesses than is imposed by China or Europe will make American projects less competitive in the world. Biden will have us compete by having lower wages.
America should compete in the world with the lowest energy costs, the lowest cost of regulations and taxes. And we should strive for the highest wages, not the lowest.
Biden is also now trying to yoke the U.S. to a global tax cartel dictated by Paris-based bureaucrats whose goal is to extract money from Americans.
Democrats also want to have the IRS create a new, government tax preparation system. This will not streamline tax filing, as the Left claims, but will give federal bureaucrats more power to intrude in the lives of everyday Americans. It would create a conflict of interest as the IRS would tell you how much you owe and if you contest it, you have to deal with an unresponsive agency that doesn’t pick up the phone or answer letters in a timely manner.
Government as tax collector and tax preparer would give the IRS an incentive to overcharge or withhold information from taxpayers. It would empower the agency to collect even more personal information at a time that the IRS has proven unable or unwilling to protect personal data.
Grover Norquist is President of Americans for Tax Reform.
A dolphin attacks a trainer during the Flipper Dolphin Show at the Miami Seaquarium. (Shannon Carpenter)
A Miami Seaquarium trainer was attacked by a dolphin during a live Flipper Dolphin Show Saturday.
“[It] looked like the dolphin rammed into the trainer,” Shannon Carpenter, a photographer who was in the audience to see the show, told WSVN. “There was a struggle, some kind of collision underwater happened. The lady on the paddleboard, she paddled out of the water pretty quick, and then the lead trainer started swimming back towards the dock, and it looked like she got ran into a couple more times.”
Following the attack, the trainer escaped the water and remained on her knees poolside until the end of the show.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) took to its TikTok account to analyze the attack, alleging it stemmed from dolphins being forced to perform at the Seaquarium.
Miami Seaquarium says this is the first time a dolphin has broken routine and attacked. The trainer was reportedly sent to the hospital.
“This was undoubtedly painful to Sundance, who reacted by breaking away from the routine and swimming towards and striking the trainer,” the Seaquarium said. “Both Sundance and the trainer are recovering well.”
As reported in my last post, even the U.S. government’s own Energy Information Administration in the Department of Energy doesn’t believe for a minute that any kind of rapid transition to “net zero” carbon emissions is about to occur in this country. Although President Biden has supposedly committed the entire federal bureaucracy to the “net zero” by 2050 transition, the EIA projects steady and even increasing fossil fuel usage in the U.S. through the entire 28 intervening years.
But surely there must be somebody taking this green energy transition thing seriously. The obvious place to look for such serious commitment would be in New York State, and most particularly New York City. Here, deadly earnest climate campaigners dominate local politics. New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, enacted in 2019 and effective in 2020, commits the State to the energy transition. And to prove its own bona fides, the City Council just enacted legislation at the end of 2021 banning new buildings from burning natural gas starting for smaller buildings (up to six stories) in 2024, just two years from now, and then applying to all new buildings by 2027, just five years away. Yup, natural gas is definitely on the fast train to oblivion around here.
All of which led me to be greatly curious when I heard the jackhammers going out on the street starting around 8 AM for the last several days. On closer observation, they seem to be putting in new pipelines of some sort:
So I picked out a guy who looked like the job foreman, and asked him what is going on. Sure enough, they are installing new gas mains in the neighborhood. According to the foreman, it’s a new higher-pressure natural gas system, to replace the old low pressure system. He said that the old mains were close to 100 years old.
So it’s great to know that we will shortly have a new natural gas distribution system in Greenwich Village, ready for the next hundred years or so. Do you think that they will just shut off the gas one day? I’m willing to bet that that’s not going to happen.
When the COVID-19 outbreak first erupted in early 2020, many people lost their jobs as non-essential businesses were forced to shutter. And many people spent much of 2021 out of work as well.
In March of 2021, the American Rescue Plan was signed into law, and that bill made a lot of aid available to the public. Not only did it send a third round of stimulus checks into Americans’ bank accounts, but it also boosted the Child Tax Credit, whose monthly payments during the second part of 2021 served as a lifeline for many families.
Another thing the American Rescue Plan did was exempt up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits from taxes for the 2020 tax year. That, too, saved jobless workers a fair amount of money.
But while workers were entitled to tax-free unemployment income in 2020, that wasn’t the case in 2021. And now, a lot of people who collected jobless benefits last year could be in for an unpleasant surprise when they file their tax returns.
Unemployment is a taxable income source. Those who collect it get the choice to have federal taxes withheld from their weekly benefits upfront, or collect their benefits in full but pay that tax later on.
Recipients who went the former route in 2021 may not owe much or any money on their taxes now as a result. But those who didn’t have tax withheld from their jobless benefits may now have a tax debt on their hands.
About 60% of all unemployment benefits paid in 2021 were not subject to upfront taxes, reports Andrew Stettner to CNBC. Stettner is an unemployment expert at progressive think tank The Century Foundation who analyzed U.S. Department of the Treasury data to come up with that percentage. Because most unemployment recipients opted not to have tax withheld, now’s the time they’re on the hook for that money.
Now this doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll owe the IRS money if you collected unemployment benefits last year but didn’t pay taxes on them. You may have enough tax credits and deductions to offset that liability, in which case you won’t have to send the IRS a check. But if you’re left with a deficit after accounting for your various tax breaks, then you may end up having to pay the IRS some amount of money.
If you collected unemployment in 2021 and didn’t have your benefits taxed, you may now owe the IRS a lump sum. But don’t panic if you can’t pay it at once.
If you’re unable to pay the IRS the full amount you owe by April 18, which is this year’s tax-filing deadline, pay as much as you can immediately to avoid accruing interest and penalties. Then, contact the IRS to get on an installment agreement to pay off the rest of your tax bill.
The IRS commonly works with filers who are unable to pay their tax debts in full. And as long as you stick to the terms of your installment plan, you shouldn’t face any harsh consequences, like having your wages garnished.
The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Maurie Backman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Progressive. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
To avoid an invasion of creepy crawlers, place your gaming systems in a clear space with ample ventilation.
Asurion Experts recommend clearing the console’s vents with compressed air, a soft-bristled brush (toothbrush, paintbrush, etc.), a microfiber cloth and/or a vacuum with a handheld attachment.
For all those well-handled video game controllers, remember to comb out residue with a toothpick and spray with a rubbing alcohol-water mixture. (iStock)
Game controllers can get particularly grimy from being handled with sweaty, snack-time-grubby hands.
Get into the small cracks of those controllers and comb out residue with a toothpick.
Then, per guidance given to Fox News Digital by cleaning expert Brandon Pleshek, spray your controllers with a 50-50 rubbing alcohol-water mixture and wipe clean.
All those nights spent scrolling through Netflix warrant an inspection of your remote control’s sanitary state.
Use rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth or cotton swab to sanitize the ridges and remote surface of your remote control — and let air dry.
First, remove the batteries and shake out any loose debris between buttons.
Then, use rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth or cotton swab to sanitize the ridges and remote surface and let air dry.
Asurion, based in Nashville, Tenn., and with locations nationwide, is a tech care company that offers protection, repair, installation and expert support for all devices. Check out more expert advice on caring for your products at asurion.com.
There’s no doubt about it, we live in a world where companies have A LOT of information about us, whether we like it or not. And sometimes data is being collected about us that we don’t even know about.
One example is Google Photos, which many people use to take snapshots and make memories. But what a lot of folks don’t realize is that there is a location tracking device within the app that shows exactly where each photo in your phone was taken.
If you open your Google Photos app and click “Search” and “Places” you’ll find a map of all the locations where you’ve taken photos.
If you’re logged into your Google account, your Google Maps app will also give you this information. You can select “Your Timeline” and then choose from “Day” to sort by date or “Places” and you’ll see maps of what kinds of businesses you’ve been to.
If you’re not comfortable with this information being tracked, you can always disable this feature. To do this in the Google Maps app, you can click on “Manage Location History” when you are in “Timeline”. You can then turn it off.
In the Google Photos app, you can turn this off by going to “Settings”, then “Sharing”, and you can turn on “Hide Photo Location Data.”
On Thursday, President Joe Biden told Americans he was going to be “honest” with us and assured us that we would save $80 a month if only we bought a new electric car.
Oddly, he somehow forgot to mention how long it would take to pay off that car to get to the point where that “savings” would finally kick in.
Speaking from the South Court Auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., Biden gushed about the technology of the “next generation of electric vehicles” and claimed that they would be a boon for Americans.
Under his “plan,” Biden crowed,”a typical driver will save about $80 a month from not having to pay gas at the pump.”
What a wonderful savings. That is a whole $960 a year. But there is a big problem with realizing this fantastic savings Biden has “planned” for us.
One has to buy and pay off a new car before any “savings” it might offer can be realized.
According to NBC News, the average purchase price of an electric vehicle in February of this year was $60,054.
But, according to the New York Post, it was even higher.
Citing Kelly Blue Book, the Post reported that “the average price of a new electric vehicle in February was $64,685.” (NBC cited data from “Edmonds,” but we think they meant Edmunds.)
That is a huge hike over the average prices that everyday Americans are paying for cars today, the Post said, adding that the cost of an electric car is “nearly 2.5 times the average price of a new compact car ($26,196), almost twice the average cost of a new compact SUV ($33,732), and 52% more expensive than the average sports car ($42,555).”
Also, just going by Biden’s “savings,” if you spent at least $60,000 on your electric car, your $960 annual savings would take 62 years, six months, and two weeks to get to the break-even point on the price of that car.
The inconvenience of charging an electric vehicle was also ignored Biden’s “savings” calculation. A depleted battery will leave you searching for a charging stations that are not only much fewer in number than gas stations, but also leave you at the mercy of charging speeds that could mean hours of waiting until you are back on the road.
Then we have to figure in the geopolitical costs. EVs are manufactured using many of the rare earth elements that come from China. Greater manufacturing and use of EVs necessarily enriches China, the most oppressive nation on earth.
There is also the dirty secret that neither Biden, nor any other greenie Democrat wants to talk about: Pervasive use of EVs means not only higher taxes, but brand new taxes imposed on many of us.
Drivers pay a per-gallon gasoline tax to pay for the roads. If fewer people are buying gas and paying that tax, government will look for new revenue sources.
One proposal has that revenue coming from a mileage tax. And with a tax like that, we are giving the government a brand new way to tax us — not to mention track us with the government-owned devices installed in our cars to tally the miles we drive.
Finally, it will also be a blow to the used car market.
The EV industry says that EV battery packs — which cost between $5,000 and $20,000 to replace — last between five and 20 years. Who would want to spend $15,000 to $20,000 on a used EV only to expect to have a $20,000 battery replacement repair bill looming over your head?
It just wouldn’t be worth buying a used EV, and that is yet another stealth cost on American consumers who will be forced to keep buying new cars instead of paying one-third the cost for a reliable used car.
No wonder GM has committed to phasing out gas-powered cars and going to exclusively zero-emissions vehicles by 2035.
With all these factors added into the reckoning of buying an electric vehicle, Joe Biden’s $80 monthly savings easily gets lost in the shuffle — like most things do over the course of 63 years.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has established an extraordinary new benchmark: detecting the light of a star that existed within the first billion years after the universe’s birth in the big bang – the farthest individual star ever seen to date.
The find is a huge leap further back in time from the previous single-star record holder; detected by Hubble in 2018. That star existed when the universe was about 4 billion years old, or 30 percent of its current age, at a time that astronomers refer to as “redshift 1.5.” Scientists use the word “redshift” because as the universe expands, light from distant objects is stretched or “shifted” to longer, redder wavelengths as it travels toward us.
The newly detected star is so far away that its light has taken 12.9 billion years to reach Earth, appearing to us as it did when the universe was only 7 percent of its current age, at redshift 6.2. The smallest objects previously seen at such a great distance are clusters of stars, embedded inside early galaxies.
“We almost didn’t believe it at first, it was so much farther than the previous most-distant, highest redshift star,” said astronomer Brian Welch of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, lead author of the paper describing the discovery, which is published in the March 30 journal Nature. The discovery was made from data collected during Hubble’s RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey) program, led by co-author Dan Coe at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), also in Baltimore.
“Normally at these distances, entire galaxies look like small smudges, with the light from millions of stars blending together,” said Welch. “The galaxy hosting this star has been magnified and distorted by gravitational lensing into a long crescent that we named the Sunrise Arc.”
After studying the galaxy in detail, Welch determined that one feature is an extremely magnified star that he called Earendel, which means “morning star” in Old English. The discovery holds promise for opening up an uncharted era of very early star formation.
This detailed view highlights the star Earendel’s position along a ripple in space-time (dotted line) that magnifies it and makes it possible for the star to be detected over such a great distance—nearly 13 billion light-years. Also indicated is a cluster of stars that is mirrored on either side of the line of magnification. The distortion and magnification are created by the mass of a huge galaxy cluster located in between Hubble and Earendel. The mass of the galaxy cluster is so great that it warps the fabric of space, and looking through that space is like looking through a magnifying glass—along the edge of the glass or lens, the appearance of things on the other side are warped as well as magnified.
Credits: Science: NASA, ESA, Brian Welch (JHU), Dan Coe (STScI); Image processing: NASA, ESA, Alyssa Pagan (STScI)
“Earendel existed so long ago that it may not have had all the same raw materials as the stars around us today,” Welch explained. “Studying Earendel will be a window into an era of the universe that we are unfamiliar with, but that led to everything we do know. It’s like we’ve been reading a really interesting book, but we started with the second chapter, and now we will have a chance to see how it all got started,” Welch said.
When Stars Align
The research team estimates that Earendel is at least 50 times the mass of our Sun and millions of times as bright, rivaling the most massive stars known. But even such a brilliant, very high-mass star would be impossible to see at such a great distance without the aid of natural magnification by a huge galaxy cluster, WHL0137-08, sitting between us and Earendel. The mass of the galaxy cluster warps the fabric of space, creating a powerful natural magnifying glass that distorts and greatly amplifies the light from distant objects behind it.
Thanks to the rare alignment with the magnifying galaxy cluster, the star Earendel appears directly on, or extremely close to, a ripple in the fabric of space. This ripple, which is defined in optics as a “caustic,” provides maximum magnification and brightening. The effect is analogous to the rippled surface of a swimming pool creating patterns of bright light on the bottom of the pool on a sunny day. The ripples on the surface act as lenses and focus sunlight to maximum brightness on the pool floor.
This caustic causes the star Earendel to pop out from the general glow of its home galaxy. Its brightness is magnified a thousandfold or more. At this point, astronomers are not able to determine if Earendel is a binary star, though most massive stars have at least one smaller companion star.
Confirmation with Webb
Astronomers expect that Earendel will remain highly magnified for years to come. It will be observed by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Webb’s high sensitivity to infrared light is needed to learn more about Earendel, because its light is stretched (redshifted) to longer infrared wavelengths due to the universe’s expansion.
“With Webb we expect to confirm Earendel is indeed a star, as well as measure its brightness and temperature,” Coe said. These details will narrow down its type and stage in the stellar lifecycle. “We also expect to find the Sunrise Arc galaxy is lacking in heavy elements that form in subsequent generations of stars. This would suggest Earendel is a rare, massive metal-poor star,” Coe said.
Earendel’s composition will be of great interest for astronomers, because it formed before the universe was filled with the heavy elements produced by successive generations of massive stars. If follow-up studies find that Earendel is only made up of primordial hydrogen and helium, it would be the first evidence for the legendary Population III stars, which are hypothesized to be the very first stars born after the big bang. While the probability is small, Welch admits it is enticing all the same.
“With Webb, we may see stars even farther than Earendel, which would be incredibly exciting,” Welch said. “We’ll go as far back as we can. I would love to see Webb break Earendel’s distance record.”
Record Broken: Hubble Spots Farthest Star Ever Seen
Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Lead Producer: Paul Morris
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.
An image of the three Baltimore City congressional districts in the Maryland Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission’s final 2021 proposed map, which was adopted by the Maryland legislature. (Maryland Legislative Redistricting Advisory Committee)
A Maryland judge Friday threw out the Democrat-controlled state legislature’s congressional district map on account of “extreme partisan gerrymandering” and ordered it to draw a new one by March 30.
The scathing opinion, written by Anne Arundel Circuit Court Senior Judge Lynne A. Battaglia, marks a massive victory for two GOP-backed lawsuits against the state’s congressional maps.
The legislature passed that map and overrode a veto from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan late last year. The map got an “F” from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project and has the potential to eliminate Maryland’s last Republican congressman.
The Historic Maryland State House In Annapolis Was Built In 1772. (iStock)
“The 2021 Congressional Plan in Maryland is an ‘outlier,’ an extreme gerrymander that subordinates constitutional criteria to politician considerations,” Battaglia wrote.
The opinion said that “the right for all votes of political participation in Congressional elections, as protected by Article 7 [of the Maryland Constitution], was violated by the 2021 plan.”
“The voice of Republican voters was diluted and their right to vote and be heard with the efficacy of a Democratic voter was diminished,” it added. “The 2021 Congressional Plan is unconstitutional, and subverts the will of those governed.”
Battaglia scheduled a hearing for April 1 at 9 a.m. to consider whether a new map drawn by the legislature complies with the Maryland Constitution and Declaration of Rights.
Hogan’s group Fair Maps is behind the lawsuit, which was consolidated with a separate one by Tom Fitton’s Judicial Watch.
Hogan set up a commission to propose an alternative map to the one the state legislature adopted. That commission would have set up congressional districts that could have led to two GOP U.S. House members representing the state.
The governor lauded the decision as a “historic milestone” for the state Friday.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland signs the iconic wooden eggs after addressing the Politics and Eggs speaking series at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, on April 23, 2019 in Goffstown, N.H. (Fox News)
Battaglia ordered the state legislature to redraw the state’s congressional maps by March 30. It is possible that the ruling could be appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals, which is the state’s highest court. But that court is made up primarily of justices appointed by Hogan, which gives Hogan allies confidence that Battaglia’s ruling will stand.
If the legislature does not come back with a map that’s satisfactory to Battaglia or the Court of Appeals, it’s not clear exactly what further remedies are available to the Maryland courts.
In other states that had intractable gerrymandering disputes, courts ended up drawing the congressional districts. That was the case in Pennsylvania just last month amid a dispute between the GOP-controlled legislature and Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf.
The eventual congressional district lines that are implemented will remain in effect until the next Census in 2030.
Following in the spirit of Britain's Queen Boudica, Queen of the Iceni. A boudica.us site. I am an opinionator, do your own research, verification. Reposts, reblogs do not neccessarily reflect our views.