Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 24th, 2009

The Seed

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Via The Dynasty of Lao:

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more about "The Seed", posted with vodpod

Written by LeisureGuy

24 March 2009 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Daily life

Dedicated to The Son-in-Law

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Written by LeisureGuy

24 March 2009 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Daily life, Music, Video

EPA halts mountaintop mining

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Good news from Mike Lillis of the Washington Independent:

Putting a quick halt to an Orwellian Bush administration rule allowing mining companies to kill mountain streams, the Environmental Protection Agency this afternoon announced that it will delay hundreds of mining permits while it takes a closer look at how the operations will affect local waterways.

“EPA will use the best science and follow the letter of the law in ensuring we are protecting our environment,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.

Of all the methods used to extract coal, none is so destructive to ecosystems as mountaintop mining — a process in which the tops of mountains are literally blasted away to access the coal seams beneath.

A 25-year-old Interior Department regulation prohibits mining companies from dumping debris into valley streams, but in December the Bush administration eased the rule to allow such dumping if the companies can make a case that it’s unavoidable. Complicating the picture, a Virginia-based federal appeals court last month ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to grant mining permits. With the EPA’s announcement today, the agency has indicated that the Army Corps won’t have the final say.

In a statement issued moments ago, Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope cheered the EPA’s decision:

With the bulldozers and dynamite standing by, the Obama administration has taken decisive action to protect the streams, mountains and communities of Appalachia.

Already close to 2,000 miles of streams have been contaminated or destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining, and communities throughout the Appalachian region suffer daily from contaminated drinking water, increased flooding, and a decimated landscape … Reviewing the permits will stop the bleeding, and now EPA should begin to fix the Bush-era regulatory loopholes that made mountaintop removal possible.

The coal industry’s many friends in Washington won’t like this decision. Stay tuned for a larger battle to come.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 March 2009 at 12:45 pm

What is Israel thinking?

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Israel Defense Forces soldiers did not consider medical teams as entitled to receive the special protection granted to them within the framework of their duties during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, according to a new report by Physicians for Human Rights due to be released on Monday.

PHR quoted figures issued by the World Health Organization, which showed 16 Palestinian medical personnel were killed by Israeli fire during the offensive and that 25 were wounded while performing their duties.

It said Israel attacked 34 medical care facilities, including eight hospitals.

The report also raises questions of whether IDF soldiers violated the IDF’s own ethical code and basic humanitarian values, when they prevented treatment and the evacuation of the wounded and fired at emergency rescue teams and Palestinian medical facilities.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR) described alleged incidents that “reveal that not only did the [military] not evacuate besieged and wounded families, it also prevented Palestinian [medical] teams from reaching the wounded.”

PHR’s report followed accusations by other human rights groups and Palestinians that Israel’s actions during the 22-day offensive in the Palestinian coastal enclave, controlled by the Islamist Hamas group, warranted war crimes investigations…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 March 2009 at 10:53 am

Cool hybrid sports car from Toyota

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Read the story here.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 March 2009 at 10:42 am

Giant single-celled creature

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Photo at the link. Part of the story:

It’s a single cell, it’s the size of a grape, and it propels itself across the ocean floor: Behold the Bahamian Gromia — one of the strangest beasts yet discovered in the briny deep.

Gromia sphaerica, as the organisms are known, are superbig amoebas, growing up to 1.5 inches in diameter. They were first discovered in 2000 in the Arabian Sea, and have since been found in various locations around the world. Then last year a team of biologists were diving near Little San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, when they discovered a new form of Gromia — the “Bahamian” Gromia, as they’re calling it.

The weird thing is, the Bahamanian Gromia were all found at the end of a trail — as if they’d been somehow pushed or dragged along the seafloor. This didn’t make sense, because the currents at that depth either weren’t strong enough or were irregular, so they wouldn’t push the Gromia in single, uniform paths, the way the trails lay. That left only one possibility: Somehow, these wee blobs are propelling themselves across the ocean floor, at a pace so slow it cannot be readily observed. In a paper published a recent issue of Current Biology — “Giant Deep-Sea Protist Produces Bilaterian-like Traces” (PDF here)— the scientists argue this is precisely what’s happening.

As they said in a press release:

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 March 2009 at 10:39 am

Posted in Science

Hearing loss reroutes sense of touch

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Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine researchers have discovered that adult animals with hearing loss actually re-route the sense of touch into the hearing parts of the brain. In the study, published online in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of March 23, the team reported a phenomenon known as cross-modal plasticity in the auditory system of adult animals. Cross-modal plasticity refers to the replacement of a damaged sensory system by one of the remaining ones. In this case, the sense of hearing is replaced with touch.

About 15 percent of American adults suffer from some form of hearing impairment, which can significantly impact quality of life, especially in the elderly.

"One often learns, anecdotally, that ‘grandpa’ simply turned off his hearing aid because it was confusing and no longer helped. Our study indicates that hearing deficits in adult animals result in a conversion of their brain’s sound processing centers to respond to another sensory modality, making the interpretation of residual hearing even more difficult," said principal investigator Alex Meredith, Ph.D., a professor in the VCU Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology.

"Whether this becomes a positive feedback cycle of increasing hearing difficulty is currently under investigation, but these findings raise the possibility that even mild hearing loss in adult humans can have serious and perhaps progressive consequences," Meredith said.

The findings provide researchers and clinicians with insight into how the adult brain retains the ability to re-wire itself on a large scale, as well as the factors that may complicate treatment of hearing loss with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Source: Virginia Commonwealth University

Written by LeisureGuy

24 March 2009 at 10:31 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

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