Louisiana chimpanzee wins first prize in art contest


NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A painting by a 37-year-old Louisiana primate who applies color with his tongue instead of a brush has been deemed the finest chimpanzee art in the land.

Brent, a retired laboratory animal, was the top vote-getter in an online chimp art contest organized by the Humane Society of the United States, which announced the results Thursday. He won $10,000 for the Chimp Haven sanctuary in northwest Louisiana.

A Chimp Haven spokeswoman said Brent was unavailable for comment Thursday. “I think he’s asleep,” Ashley Gordon said.

But as the society said on its website, “The votes are in, so let the pant hooting begin!” – pant hooting being the characteristic call of an excited chimp.

Five other sanctuaries around the country competed, using paintings created during “enrichment sessions,” which can include any of a wide variety of activities and playthings.

Chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall chose her favorite from photographs she was sent. That painting, by Cheetah, a male at Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Fla., won $5,000 as Goodall’s choice and another $5,000 for winning second place in online voting, Humane Society spokeswoman Nicole Ianni said.

This undated image provided by Chimp Haven, Inc. shows Brent, a chimpanzee at its shelter in Keithville.

This undated image provided by Chimp Haven, Inc. shows Brent, a chimpanzee at its shelter in Keithville.

 

Ripley from the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Fla., won third place and $2,500.

More than 27,000 people voted, Ianni said in a news release. The organization is not giving vote totals “to keep the focus on the positive work of the sanctuaries and not necessarily the ‘winner,'” she said in an email. The sanctuaries care for chimpanzees retired from research, entertainment and the pet trade. Chimp Haven is the national sanctuary for those retired from federal research.

Other submitted paintings were by Jamie, a female at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, Wash.; Jenny, a female at Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Ky.; and Patti, a female at Chimps Inc. in Bend, Ore.

A profile of Brent on the Humane Society’s website says he has lived at Chimp Haven since 2006, is protective of an even older chimp at the sanctuary and “loves to laugh and play.” It continues, “Brent paints only with his tongue. His unique approach and style, while a little unorthodox, results in beautiful pieces of art.”

Cathy Willis Spraetz, Chimp Haven’s president and CEO, said she chose a painting by Brent partly because of that unusual method. She said she later held a canvas up to the mesh of his indoor cage so she could watch him at work.

Some other chimps use brushes or point to the colors they want on the canvas, but Brent comes up to smush pre-applied blobs of child-safe tempera paints with his tongue, she said.

“If we handed the canvas to them where it was on the inside, they might not want to hand it back,” she said. “They might throw it around and step on it.”

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D’oh! American tourist accidentally snaps finger off medieval Italian statue


broken_statue-finger-museum-tourist

D’oh!

An American tourist who was visiting a museum in Italy accidentally snapped the pinky finger off a medieval statue, authorities in Florence say.

The statue, believed to be from the 14th or 15th century, is thought to be the work of sculptor Giovanni D’Ambrogio. Security guards at Museo dell’Opera del Duomo say they spotted the unidentified, middle-aged man touching the statue but were unable to stop him before he damaged the work. He reportedly told the guards he was trying to measure it.

“In a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten,” museum head Timothy Verdon told MSN U.K. “That is, ‘Do not touch the works.’”

It’s unclear how much repairs to the statue would cost. Verdon said the man, who was visiting from Missouri, apologized.

“It is a fairly simple restoration,” the museum told the Daily News, adding that the incident was reported to police.

It’s apparently not the first time the statue had been damaged.

“This was already a very fragile piece of art,” Ambra Nepi, head of communications for the museum, told ABC News. “But every year throughout the Duomo we have many items that are damaged and broken.”

Brazilian man dies after cow falls through his roof on top of him: TRUE STORY


A Brazilian man died after a cow fell through his roof on top of him as he was in bed.

“I didn’t bring my son up to be killed by a falling cow.”

 

The cow fell eight feet onto Mr de Souza's bed

The cow fell eight feet onto Mr de Souza’s bed

By Matt Roper

http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Joao Maria de Souza, 45, had been in bed with his wife Leni when the animal fell through the ceiling of their home in Caratinga, southeast Brazil.

The cow is believed to have escaped from a nearby farm and climbed onto the roof of the couple’s house, which backs onto a steep hill on Wednesday night.

The corrugated roof immediately gave way and the one-and-a-half-ton animal fell eight feet onto Mr de Souza’s side of the bed.

Joao Maria de Souza, 45, died from internal bleeding while still waiting to be seen by doctors, according to his family (SUPER CANAL TV )

Joao Maria de Souza, 45, died from internal bleeding while still waiting to be seen by doctors, according to his family (SUPER CANAL TV )

 

Rescuers took Mr de Souza to hospital with a fractured left leg but no other obvious injuries, reporting that he was conscious and talking normally.

Hours later however he died from internal bleeding while still waiting to be seen by doctors, according to his family.

Mr de Souza’s brother-in-law Carlos Correa told Brazil’s Hoje em Dia newspaper: “Being crushed by a cow in your bed is the last way you expect to leave this earth.

“But in my view it wasn’t the cow that killed our Joao, it was the unacceptable time he spent waiting to be examined.”

The damaged roof

The damaged roof

 

His grieving mother, Maria de Souza, told Brazil’s SuperCanal TV channel: “I didn’t bring my son up to be killed by a falling cow.”

Police in Caratinga, Minas Gerais state, have launched an inquiry into the bizarre death.

The owner of the cow could be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Russia and Ukraine likely to block huge Antarctic marine reserve


Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea, off Antarctica. Photograph: John Weller/AFP/Getty

Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea, off Antarctica. Photograph: John Weller/AFP/Getty

 

Conservation body meets to discuss protection of area 13 times the size of the UK, which would require unanimous agreement

 

Russia and Ukraine look likely to block a plan to create two huge marine reserves off the coast of Antarctica that combined would be bigger than the area of all the world’s protected oceans put together.

The 25-member Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meets in Bremerhaven, Germany, on Thursday to discuss the proposal to create the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Ross Sea, off the east coast of Antarctica. A decision, expected on Tuesday, would require unanimous agreement.

The proposal, backed by the US, New Zealand, Australia, France and the EU, would designate an area 13 times the size of the UK as one in which natural resource exploitation, including fishing, would be illegal. Advocates say the MPAs would provide environmental security to a region that remains relatively pristine.

Publicly, delegates and environmental NGOs have expressed optimism that the meeting will be a success. But a senior source at the meeting said the attitudes of Russia and Ukraine as they entered were looking negative.

The debate highlighted a rift between “pro-[fish]harvesting countries” and those who style themselves proponents of conservation, such as the US, Australia, New Zealand and the EU, according to Alan Hemmings, a specialist in Antarctic governance at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.He said: “You would put Russia and the Ukraine near the top of the states that are likely to be concerned about marine protected areas in the Antarctic on a large scale, along with China, Japan and, on and off, South Korea.”

“There’s a tug of war between those who want to establish conservation management and those who want to keep working with smaller-scale fisheries management,” said Steve Campbell, campaign director at the Antarctic Ocean Alliance. But he expressed “quiet optimism” that the proposals would be passed, if not at the meeting in Germany, then at the next annual meeting in Hobart, Australia later in the year.

The US and NGOs have been lobbying countries who expressed reservations at the last CCAMLR meeting. NGOs and delegates reported that China, South Korea and Japan looked likely to support the proposals.

Many countries have valuable fisheries in the region, particularly for patagonian toothfish and krill. Andrea Kavanagh, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Southern Ocean sanctuaries, said defining the boundaries of the reserves to balance ecology and economic interests would represent a challenge to negotiations.

Additionally, a sunset clause for the reserves, proposed by Norway and supported by Russia and Japan, would mean the protected status of East Antarctic and Ross Sea reserves would have to be renewed in 2064 and 2043 respectively. Campbell said reserves with time limits were highly unusual.

“Precedent tells you that if you set up a protected area, you set it up for an indefinite period of time. If you set up a national park in a country, you designate it in perpetuity.” He said the potential for fishing and other resources in the future was driving the push.

“It’s not just about what’s there now, it’s also about what could be a future economic interest or a future interest in the region,” said Campbell.

The extraordinary session in Bremerhaven was arranged after the last annual meeting of CCAMLR in November, 2011 failed to reach a consensus on the MPAs. At the time Russia, China and Ukraine expressed concerns at a lack of available science in favour of the reserves. The decision was taken to reconvene this summer with the agenda solely focused on the proposals.

Green groups expressed dismay at last year’s inaction. They were joined by delegates from the USA, UK, EU and Australia who feared that CCAMLR had lost its proactive attitude to conservation.

At the end of the 2011 meeting, the Ukraine delegation said well-grounded scientific arguments were lacking. They said MPAs were only one approach to managing an ecosystem and that “only fishing, at least at some level, can guarantee that research is conducted” to monitor fish stocks.

“Russia was of the view that previous scientific committee advice was related to only some aspects of MPAs and that all available information needed to be considered,” said the Russian delegation.

Russian and Ukraine declined to comment further on this week’s meeting.


c4b4327412713617370f6a706700382b

Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA can prove it now. Our solar system has a tail, just like comets.

Scientists revealed images Wednesday showing the tail emanating from the bullet-shaped region of space under the grip of the sun, including the solar system and beyond. The region is known as the heliosphere, thus the name heliotail.

The findings are based on data from by NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX. The Earth-orbiting spacecraft was launched in 2008.

Scientists always presumed the heliosphere had a tail, but this provides the first real data on the shape.

Chief IBEX investigator David McComas, who’s with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, says it’s difficult to calculate the length of the heliotail. But the evaporating end of the tail could stretch 100 billion miles.

The findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal.

___

Online:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ibex/index.html

 

Bizarre but Real Photographs – Rare and Real


Children for sale in Chicago, 1948.  Some parents sold their children due to poverty.

Children for sale in Chicago, 1948. Some parents sold their children due to poverty.

Albert Einstein brings sexy back in 1932.

Albert Einstein brings sexy back in 1932.

The Japanese "War Tuba" used to locate enemy aircraft before the invention of radar.  Circa 1930.

The Japanese “War Tuba” used to locate enemy aircraft before the invention of radar. Circa 1930.

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger shows off to some elderly women in the 1970's.

Arnold Schwarzenegger shows off to some elderly women in the 1970’s.

 

Prosthetic legs in 1900.

Prosthetic legs in 1900.

 

 

Trees: our life savers are dying


For centuries we’ve treated forests poorly. Yet we’re only just learning how crucial trees are to our survival

Scientists admit trees and forests are poorly studied.’ Photograph: Alamy

Scientists admit trees and forests are poorly studied.’ Photograph: Alamy

Originally posted by:

Several years ago a few trees in my 15 acres of pine forest in Montana turned from green to a rusty brown, killed by swarms of bark beetles. Four years later virtually all of my centuries-old forest was dead. It wasn’t just the beetles that did in my trees, but much warmer winters here in the Rocky mountains that no longer killed the bugs, allowing them to expand exponentially.

Since then, as a science journalist for the New York Times, I have written many stories about the dying of the trees – and the news is not good. Many forests across the length and breadth of the Rockies have died in the last decade. Most of the mature forests of British Columbia are gone, from a combination of climate and insects.

The bristlecone pines of the US – the most ancient trees in the world, with some more than 4,000 years old – will die in the coming years because of a combination of bark beetles and a fungal disease, enabled by a warmer climate. Tree-ring studies on the bristlecone show that the last 50 years are the warmest half century in the last 3,700 years.

All this is to say that the fungus killing ash trees in Britain is unlikely to be a one-off. Trees across the world are dying. It’s not only the changes brought by a warmer world. We’ve treated the world’s trees poorly for centuries, without regard to ecological principles. We’ve fragmented forests into tiny slivers, and selected out the best genetics again and again with no regard to the fitness of those that remain. Air pollution and soil abuse has taken a toll. And scientists admit trees and forests are poorly studied. “It’s embarrassing how little we know,” a leading redwood expert told me.

Yet the little that is known indicates trees are essential. They are the planet’s heat shield, cooling temperatures beneath them by 10C and blocking cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. They are robust filters of our air and water, and soak up climate-warming carbon dioxide. Forests slow the runoff of rainfall. Many of the world’s damaging floods are really caused by deforestation.

These functions are well known. But trees play many other critical roles that we know little about. Katsuhiko Matsunaga, a marine chemist at Hokkaido University in Japan, discovered that as the leaves from trees decompose, humic acid leaches into the ocean and helps fertilise plankton, critical food for many other forms of sea life. Japanese fisherman began an award-winning campaign called Forests Are the Lovers of the Sea, and planted trees along the coasts and rivers that rejuvenated fish and oyster stocks.

Also in Japan, researchers have long studied what they call “forest bathing“. Hiking through the forest has been shown to reduce stress chemicals in the body and to increase NK or natural killer cells in the immune system, that fight tumours and viruses. Elsewhere researchers have demonstrated that anxiety, depression and even crime are lower in neighbourhoods with trees in the picture.

Hundreds of different kinds of chemicals are emitted by trees and forests, many beneficial. Taxane from the Pacific yew tree is a powerful anti-cancer drug. Many other tree compounds are proven to be antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and even to prevent cancer. The active ingredient of aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, for example, comes from willows. Recommended by doctors to prevent a range of cancers, as well as heart attack and stroke, some believe this chemical in the wild has a medicinal impact on the health of all creatures as it is aerosolised into the air and water, and breathed in and drunk. Yet, it hasn’t been researched.

Trees are greatly underused as an eco-technology – “working trees” – to make natural systems, as well as the world’s cities and rural areas, more resilient. They are used here in the US to prevent soil erosion and shade crops. In a neat bit of alchemy, trees can be used to clean up the most toxic of wastes, including explosives, solvents and organic wastes, because of a dense community of microbes as thick as a finger around the tree’s roots, a process known as phytoremediation.

The question is what to plant to withstand the challenges of a changing world to assure a world with trees. In the UK a group called Future Trees Trust is breeding more resilient trees. And a shade-tree farmer from the US named David Milarch, a co-founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, and whom I have written about, is making copies of some of the world’s oldest and largest trees, from California redwoods to the oaks of Ireland – with proven survivor genetics – to be part of a future forest mix. “These are the supertrees,” he says, “and they have stood the test of time.”

Before I began this journey I felt planting trees was a feeble response to the planet’s problems. No longer. As the proverb asks: “When is the best time to plant a tree?” Twenty years ago. “The second-best time?” Today.

 

Disgusting Video of Golden Corral Shows Meat Left Out by the Dumpster, Employee Warns “I Would Not Eat This Stuff”


Golden Corral dumpster video food

 

According to the employee making the video Golden Corral was getting ready for an inspection and left the raw meat out by the dumpster till the inspection was over. He also states that he may loose his job over making the video. Honesty is the policy but not in the business world unfortunately.

Obama’s rhetoric makes climate action a simpler question of right and wrong


Will other world leaders take a cue from US President who is making climate change action a question of ethics and morals?

President Barack Obama wipes perspiration from his face as he speaks about climate change in Washington. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

President Barack Obama wipes perspiration from his face as he speaks about climate change in Washington. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

THERE are a lot of decisions in life that are easier because we know the difference between right and wrong – it’s why we wouldn’t steal a biscuit from a poor homeless orphan or kick away a pensioner’s walking stick as they’re about to step on to a pedestrian crossing.

For these reasons, stealing stuff that’s not yours or assaulting pensioners (or anyone else for that matter) is considered by the community at large to be ethically or morally wrong as well as being against the law.

Recent rhetorical flourishes from father-of-two Barack Obama, the President of the United States, have tossed climate change into this same bucket of ethical decisions.

Obama has tugged at the needle of our moral compasses several times with soundbites loaded with ethical ordnance. Take these examples from his recent climate change speech in Washington and his weekly White House address.

Some day our children and our children’s children will look us in eye they and they will ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer and more stable world? I want to be able to say, yes we did… Decades of carefully reviewed science tells us our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on the world we leave to our children… those of us in positions of responsibility will need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of our children… The question is not whether we need to act.  The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late…. We will be judged – as a people, as a society, and as a country – on where we go from here… power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free. That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop.

It’s not the first time the President has asked us to look into the eyes of our kids for a reason to act on climate change. In his second term victory speech in November 2012, he said  “we want our children to live in an an America… that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

During his State of the Union address in February, he said that “for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change”.

Looking at the words alone, Obama is simplifying the climate change issue down to a question of right and wrong. Cutting the use of fossil fuels = right. Not cutting the use of fossil fuels = wrong.

Climate campaigners will point to a mismatch between the words and his ongoing support for fracked gas, but taking such an emotive position on the issue hands a very large metaphorical stick to campaigners with which they can beat their President if and when his actions fail to match the words. When Obama says he wants to lead the world on the issue, the stick gets handed around to everyone else.

But this strong ethical position on the issue may give other leaders cause to stop and think about how they justify action on climate change to their citizenry.

Alongside arguments made on an economic basis (we’ll fall behind in the Clean Industrial Revolution or we’ll get slugged with massive clean up bills from fires, floods and storm surges), a health basis (prolonged heat waves can kill) or a survival basis (we’ve still got to find food when extreme weather decimates crops), how many other leaders will simply say – as Obama now is – that strong action is ethically the right thing to do?

Australia, for example, is a relatively small contributor to the global problem when it comes to its own emissions – roughly three per cent of global emissions if you count greenhouse gases emitted domestically and those dug up and sent overseas to be burned elsewhere. Emissions from the likes of China, India and the US eclipse those of Australia.

Yet in per capita terms, Australia is one of the worst offenders. Then there’s the country’s world leading position on coal exports, its soon-to-be world leading position on exports of Liquified Natural Gas and, as I’ve already written here, the ongoing support for further expansion of fossil fuel mining and exports.

Just as President Obama prefaced his speech on the decades of scientific research into the impacts of burning coal, oil and gas on the climate, Australia’s Climate Commission recently laid out the issue clearly for all concerned.

Looking at what needs to happen to have a decent chance of staying beneath 2C of global warming and the real-life impacts that come with that benign-sounding number, the commission said:

It is clear that most fossil fuels must be left in the ground and cannot be burned.

But some watchers might question the wisdom of that 2C guardrail, given the kind of extreme weather events being delivered now after only 1C of global warming.

A new study just released has looked at Australia’s record melting summer heatwave of 2012/13.

Chart showing maximum temperatures reached across Australia during 2012/13 summer heatwave

Chart showing maximum temperatures reached across Australia during 2012/13 summer heatwave

 

As the Bureau of Meteorology has recorded, the heatwave gave Australia its hottest day on record – 40.3C (104.5F). For seven days straight, the average maximum temperature across the country was 39C (102F).

During the heatwave, a maximum temperature of 45C (113F) or more was recorded at least once for 46.9 per cent of the country.

Thongs (aka flip-flops) melted and petrol pumps were turned off to stop fuel vaporising. Hundreds of bush fires destroyed properties and livelihoods.

The study in the leading journal Geophysical Research Letters found that the extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere put there by human activity had increased the risk of the heatwave happening by a factor of between two-and-a-half and five.

So are decisions made now and into the future to increase these risks by digging up and burning more fossil fuels ethically questionable? If you take your cue from Obama’s words, then the answer may be yes.