GO! RIGHT NOW! OUTSIDE! LOOK TO THE WEST! ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE IN CALIFORNIA!
Memorial Day Planet Parade: See Jupiter, Mercury & Venus
In honor of Holy Trinity Sunday, I will offer news in groups of three.
Rockets in Lebanon capital signal Syrian spillover
AP hosted by New Zealand Herald
Two rockets have hit Hezbollah strongholds in Beirut, tearing through an apartment and peppering cars with shrapnel, a day after the Lebanese group’s leader pledged to lift President Bashar Assad to victory in Syria’s civil war.
The strikes illustrated the potential backlash against Hezbollah at home for linking its fate to the survival of the Assad regime. It’s a gambit that also threatens to pull fragile Lebanon deeper into Syria’s bloody conflict.
Despite such risks, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah made it clear there is no turning back. In a televised speech Saturday, he said Hezbollah will keep fighting alongside Assad’s forces until victory, regardless of the costs.
For Hezbollah, it may well be an existential battle. If Assad falls, Hezbollah’s supply line of Iranian weapons through Syrian territory would dry up and it could become increasingly isolated in the region.
At the same time, Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group, is raising the sectarian stakes in Lebanon by declaring war on Syria’s rebels, most of them Sunni Muslims.
Pakistan-Taliban Talks Agreement
Dawn.com; Amir Wasim
The PML-N and JUI-F may not have reached the power-sharing formula at the centre, but they claim to have worked out a mechanism for holding talks with the Taliban.
Sources in the two parties told Dawn that both sides had decided that the talks with the Taliban would be held through a “grand peace jirga” as suggested by all the mainstream political parties in a “declaration” of the all-party conference (APC) organised by the JUI-F in Islamabad on Feb 28.
When contacted, JUI-F spokesman Jan Achakzai quoted party chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as saying that an agreement had been reached between the two parties on the steps needed to be taken for achieving peace in the country through negotiations with the Taliban.
The JUI-F chief said that soon after coming to power, the PML-N government would prepare a “serious plan” for talks with the Taliban after taking all “stakeholders and policy-making institutions” on board. The government, he said, would then prepare a “roadmap” in the light of the outcome of the consultations.
Annual Report: Bahrain
There was a continuing climate of impunity, reflected by the low number of prosecutions of police officers and security forces members relative to the extent and gravity of human rights violations committed in 2011. The authorities failed to independently investigate all allegations of torture. Only a handful of low-ranking security officers and two senior officers were brought to trial in connection with killings of protesters or torture and other abuses against detainees in custody in 2011. Three were convicted and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment but at least one remained at liberty pending an appeal. Three others were acquitted, prompting a prosecution appeal.
In September, a court acquitted two security officers of killing two protesters at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout on 17 February 2011. The officers’ own statements were reported to be the only evidence presented and they did not attend court hearings. The prosecution lodged an appeal against the verdict in October.
There’s sections on “Excessive Use of Force” and “Torture” too.
If 12 trees are good, are 100 trees really better?
EDF; Jamie Workman
But as times have changed, so have economic incentives. Western markets value an acre-foot at $450 to $650, which means that the water taken up by excess trees throughout the Western forests may annually be worth more than $8.5 billion. To recover that water, private and local public entities could invest $1,000 per acre in people to cut down small, fire-prone trees, yielding $1,500 worth of vital water per acre.
This contractual approach to the forest – anchored by Western cities like Spokane, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Bend, Reno, Albuquerque, Sacramento or Bozeman – would pay for itself while reducing fuel loads, slashing carbon emissions, increasing water runoff to streams and rivers, raising revenues, and boosting meaningful job growth in rural areas. What’s not to like?
There is no need for Federal or State funds or new laws; in fact state and federal regulators should cut the red tape that might hold up local agreements between cities and rural areas that could restore forest health and replenish shrunken rivers.
Prosecution of Native fishermen is just wrong
Alaska Daily News; Shannyn Moore
In an attempt to make the waste seem benevolent, Bering Sea processors passed on almost half a million pounds of the fish to food banks in Washington.
The bycatch bypassed Alaskans. So maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Hey, just give the bycatch salmon to the folks on the river and it’s all good!”
But that won’t fill the need described by the fishermen on trial in Bethel. It’s not just about food, it’s about purpose and family and connection to the land.
The state sees the salmon as “a resource” to be “managed” and sold. First Alaskans see salmon as one reason they’ve been able to exist here. Salmon may not have a special place in my religion, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t spiritually important for others.
Subsistence fishermen shouldn’t be prosecuted for gathering food that corporations are allowed to waste.
Turkey offers pipelines to Cyprus, Israel, Iraq
Hürriyet Daily News; Serkan Demirtaş
nergy-hungry Turkey has offered to cooperate with its oil and gas-rich southern neighbors for the exploration and transportation of their hydrocarbon products to world markets via Turkey. It has particularly called out to Israel and Cyprus, which recently had problems over the legality of the licenses issued for petroleum exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Israeli officials, local officials in Greek Cyprus and representatives of the TRNC [Turkish Republic of the Northern Cyprus], they have all agreed on one reality: The natural gas to be produced from this region will get its utmost feasibility by a pipeline that will pass through Turkey. All relevant figures prove this idea,” Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told the Hürriyet Daily News in a comprehensive interview outlining the Turkish government’s energy policies regarding oil and gas reserves of its southern neighbors.
Yıldız held substantial meetings with acting Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy for energy issues Carlos Pascual last week in Washington. The meetings were crucially important as the two allies found themselves on opposite sides on a number of issues related to Baghdad-Ankara tension over the latter’s growing interest in making deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government and to the Turkey-Cyprus quarrel over the Greek Cypriot government’s ambitious moves for oil exploration in the disputed areas of the Mediterranean.
I am not sure how this is different than Keystone XXL.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
The number of measles cases in Swansea and Powys has risen by 20, bringing the total to 1,125, public health officials have said.
Since November 2012, there have been 1,325 diagnoses throughout Wales.
Public Health Wales (PHW) expressed concern over the figures in what is the final week of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) school vaccination clinics across Wales.
More than 50,000 people have being vaccinated over the last two months.
Dr Marion Lyons, director of health protection for Public Health Wales, said: “This is the final week that children in schools across Wales will be offered the MMR vaccination, so parents whose children have not yet been fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR are reminded to complete the consent form to ensure the vaccine can be given.”
Thank you Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthey. end #sarcasm
Electric Avenue: Solar Road Panels Offer Asphalt Alternative
Der Spiegel; Sören Harder
A lot of thought is put into how much energy we use to drive from point A to B. But what if the road itself could generate energy? Julie and Scott Brusaw, a married couple from Sandpoint, Idaho, have taken on just such a concept, which they hope will make the auto transport of the future cleaner and safer.
The idea is as simple as it is ingenious. Wherever roads are laid, solar panels could go instead. They would generate electricity, which would in turn be fed into the grid. Thus, oil is conserved twice: Electric cars could be charged with the energy produced by the panels, and the panels would replace the use of asphalt, the production of which requires petroleum.
Moreover, Solar Roadways, as the Brusaws have dubbed their invention, are heated and equipped with integrated LED screens, which act not only as street markings, but can also show warnings directly on the road.
The Brusaws are aware that their vision cannot be realized in a day. They’ve decided to start small: with pedestrian and bicycle paths or large parking lots at supermarkets. As they see it, every square meter of asphalt that gets replaced with Solar Roadway is a small step on the path toward independence from fossil fuels. The giant leap would be to take on urban roads and highways on a global scale.
Neon Vincent or rfall – did you-all pick this story up already? I was surprised to find something I never heard of in Der Spiegel, on this topic at least. And it’s right up the road from me.
Science Reading List
It’s Okay To Be Smart; Joe Hanson
Read Science, Love Science
Everyone’s always asking me “Hey, Joe … got any book recommendations for someone who wants to read about science?” You bet I do! I have a whole mess of ’em, and it’s constantly be updated. It will never be comprehensive, but if I’ve missed one of your favorites, tweet me or email me at itsokaytobesmart< at >gmail.com.
Stand on the intellectual shoulders of scientific giants and you’ll be amazed what you can see. Whether they are gifts or for yourself, my humble recommendations:
First and foremost, the Best Science Writing Online 2012 collection, because I’m in it, duh.
Cosmos – Carl Sagan: The book that needs no introduction. It will change your life. As a general rule, if Carl Sagan wrote it, you should read it. Literally, even his grocery lists were probably amazing.
Death From the Skies – Phil Plait: The world will end one day. Here’s a book to separate the science from the conspiracies.
Space Chronicles – Neil deGrasse Tyson: The history of how we got humans to space, and the challenges of continuing to do so. Also check out Death by Black Hole.
Yes, now I am cheating. But I am out of time!
HERE IN UTAH
Utah attorney general’s office: high work, low morale
Salt Lake Tribune; Marissa Lang
Every day at the Utah attorney general’s office, lawsuits are filed and fought. Briefs are written and read. Cases are won and lost.
Despite federal and state investigations into the conduct of Attorney General John Swallow and his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, the foot soldiers who keep the office running are still at it.
But the ballooning scandal has made life at Utah’s top law enforcement agency more difficult every week, employees in the office told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Embarrassment, fear and frustration have taken their toll on the morale of the office’s rank and file. For some, it’s a daily struggle – to get up, go to work and feel good about it.
“I really never thought it could possibly get this bad,” said an employee who has worked in the office for more than 15 years. “Morale is the lowest I’ve ever seen it.”
The Tribune is not naming several state employees who discussed the deteriorating work environment because they worry about retribution and job security.
Swallow, who took office in January, conceded the investigations and intense media glare are not making life in the office any easier, but he stopped short of blaming them for the difficulties.
The NY and CA AG’s make great news stories. The Utah AG, not so much. Just takes bribes, apparently.
Utah entering ‘100 Deadliest Days’ for car accidents
Fox 13; Mark Green
The Utah Highway Patrol and Utah Department of Transportation are calling the span between Memorial Day and Labor Day the “100 Deadliest Days.” UHP officials said there are more people on the road during that time, which means the chances of fatal accidents increase.
According to a press release from the Utah Department of Transportation, the most recent numbers show 53 fatalities have occurred in Utah to date. There are an average of 96 fatalities each year during Utah’s “100 Deadliest Days.”
“Fatalities traditionally increase by at least 35 percent during the days between Memorial and Labor Days,” said Robert Hull, UDOT Director of Traffic and Safety. “As we go into the deadliest time of year on Utah’s roadways it is critical that motorists follow traffic laws, always wear their seat belts, and don’t drive drowsy, distracted, aggressively or impaired. If we all do our part, a majority of these fatalities can be prevented.”
Be careful out there!
Native American tribe buries remains, 150 years after massacre
Deseret News; Wendy Leonard
Near the northern Utah border lies an obscure, but sacred spot of ground where hundreds of Native American remains are buried.
Four additional souls were welcomed to the privately owned cemetery Saturday, marking “a day of joy” for the surviving and thriving Northwestern Shoshone Nation, said Darren Parry, the tribe’s vice chairman.
Though the ceremony was conducted “old-school,” consisting of ancient Native American customs, Parry said the entire tribe subscribes to beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He has credited their faith and the tribal members’ 1873 LDS conversion as a major reason they’re still around today, having avoided placement on government reservations and other persecution through the years due to their registry with the church.
I went to the D-news site hoping to find something on the Boy Scout vote, and there was NOTHING. Instead, this bizarre article about how the LDS church saved the Native Americans is posted on Memorial Day weekend.
MEMORIAL DAY ITEMS
Floyd Red Foxx Tumblr
This Memorial Day you will inevitably see many posts about the famous raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. And to me this flag is more than a victory photo. It is hope for the future, because out of the 5 Marines and 1 Sailor that raised this flag 1 Ira Hayes was a Pima Native American from Arizona and another Michael Strank was a foreign born man fighting for the USA. Remember these men and thank them because 3 of them didn’t even make it home to see the dream they were fighting for.
Ira, Franklin, Michael, John, Rene, Marten – these men have names.
New Port Richey airman’s words, deeds in World War II echo for generations
TampaBay.com; Bill Stevens
Six months before graduation, Colgan and the rest of the student body had gathered around a radio in the cafeteria to listen to reports of the Pearl Harbor attack. Now most of the men in their small town were heading off to the armed forces. Colgan spent a year at the University of Florida and then enlisted in the Army Air Forces.
Typical of the young man who had posted one of the highest college aptitude scores in the nation, Colgan excelled. He learned to operate radios and finished at the top of his 400-member class at aerial gunners school. On Sept. 4, 1944, he turned 20, ready for war. He was assigned to a B-17 Flying Fortress.
Forty-five yellow bombs painted near its nose heralded the number of missions the Betsy Ross had survived, striking Nazi positions from home base in Nuthampstead, England – a remarkable endurance considering the 398th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force lost roughly one in 20 airmen in combat.
I think pretty soon we will get stories like this about Vietnam vets, and our current wars, too.
Shoebox Parade Activity
Heifer.org; Chelsey McNiel
This weekend families nationwide will celebrate Memorial Day with camping trips, backyard barbeques and water recreation. The meaning of this important holiday can get lost in the thrill of a fun day off from school and work, but it’s important to remember our past and the people who helped us achieve a better life.
Heifer International began a humble mission when founder Dan West’s idea of “not a cup, but a cow,” began changing lives. Now, Heifer has helped over 65 million impoverished people with the gift of livestock and education. The Beglaryan family of Armenia left their home in Shikahogh village because of war with a neighboring country. With Heifer Armenia’s help, their home was restored from its postwar conditions and they returned to their village with hope for a peaceful and successful future.
Help children understand the importance of honoring those who gave us a brighter future by holding a Memorial Day Shoebox Parade.
Kasia Jackowska Drawings These are so clever and artful and creative. Mathematic principles illustrated.
Crossposted from orange.