Posted by: kirstieann | October 9, 2012

Daily News – Oct 9

Daily news for Monday and Tuesday. Lots of environmental stuff as usual, plus a WOOPS Halliburton and an OH NO Lockheed Martin.

Whale Deaths Since 1970s Mostly Human-Caused, Study Finds
Early Sunday (Oct. 7), a 50-foot fin whale was spotted belly-up in Boston Harbor. Biologists are still investigating the cause of death, but some scientists on the scene said they saw a lot of bruising and pressure lines on the whale’s body, according to WCBV-TV. Such markings could indicate the whale got tangled or wrapped in something, which might not come as a surprise. A report out this month found that humans might be to blame for most large whale deaths over the past 40 years in the northwest Atlantic Ocean, with entanglement in fishing gear the No. 1 killer. The study looked at 1,762 known deaths and likely fatal injuries from 1970 to 2009 among eight species of big whales in the region, including the endangered fin whales, which reach up to 90 feet (27 meters) in length, making them the second-largest living mammals after blue whales. A cause of death had been determined in 750 of the cases (around 42 percent), and of those, nearly 67 percent of the fatalities were human related.

Halliburton’s Radioactive Rod Found Alongside Texas Highway After Going Missing
Holy frack that was close! Public relations people and top-level executives at Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oilfield services companies, are likely breathing a sigh of relief after the oilfield services company found a radioactive rod that it lost last month, the Guardian reports. The seven-inch rod of americium-241/beryllium was found alongside a Texas highway some miles away from where it was being used to locate oil and gas deposits eligible for fracking. Previously, members of the FBI, the Texas National Guard and Halliburton had been searching for the radioactive tool that is classified as a “category 3” source of radiation and could prove fatal if held for an extended period of time. It is the first incident of a lost radioactive tool of its kind in the past five years, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Bloomberg reports.

Arctic Methane Leak Research Looks for Signs of Accelerating Climate Change
It’s been called the Methane Bomb — a stash of gas buried under the Arctic seafloor whose heat-trapping power is much greater, molecule for molecule, than the carbon dioxide people usually worry about. As climate change forces the Arctic to warm, experts warn that methane could escape, speeding global warming. They can’t predict when the great escape might begin, however, or how fast it might proceed. They can’t even rule out the possibility that it might have already started. So they’ve been cruising Arctic waters to get a better handle on where things stand.

International Coal Group Enters Agreement Over Clean Water Act Violations
Government regulators, environmental groups and International Coal Group have reached a proposed agreement to resolve a dispute over Clean Water Act violations. Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd still has to approve the deal that requires ICG to pay $575,000 in penalties. Under the agreement, ICG would pay $335,000 to the PRIDE environmental initiative to help stop Kentucky residents from piping sewage directly into streams and $240,000 to the Department for Natural Resources to pay for a water study.

Borneo Expedition Uncovers More than 160 New Species
A recent expedition to Borneo was more than fruitful for a team of forty explorers from Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands and Sabah Parks, a conservation group in Malaysia. The bio-hunt turned up more than 160 new species previously unrecorded by scientists. “It has been a successful expedition,” expedition leader Menno Schilthuizen said in a statement. “A lot of material has been collected and close collaborations have been established between the Malaysian and Dutch researchers. Now the next phase will start, namely DNA research into the relationships.”

Lockheed Martin CEO Cited for Cutting Trees Along the Potomac
The priciest real estate in one of the region’s wealthiest enclaves can be a dangerous place to be a tree. Late last month, Montgomery County issued a $1,000 fine to Robert J. Stevens, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin. Federal park police have opened a criminal investigation into whether the tree-cutting in the Merry-Go-Round Farm community also violated a federal easement designed to protect the canal, the river and scenic vistas.

North Korea Warns US on Missiles after South Deal
North Korea says it has missiles that can hit the US mainland, in a statement two days after South Korea unveiled a missile deal with the US. The statement said US bases in “Japan, Guam and the US mainland” were within its “scope of strike”. It follows Seoul’s announcement on Sunday that it would almost triple the range of its own missile system. Pyongyang is thought to be working on a long-range missile, but two recent rocket tests ended in failure.

New Dinosaur was a Small, Fanged Vegetarian
A small, fanged dinosaur called Pegomastax africanus was identified this week, more than half a century after its skeleton was dug up in South Africa. The dinosaur looked like a fierce cross between a chicken and a porcupine, and had long fangs which it used to eat plants and compete for mates. Pegomastax was a diminutive beast, standing less than two feet tall and weighing no more than a small house cat.

Posted by: kirstieann | October 8, 2012

Weekend News – Oct 7th

The weekend edition of the daily news!! The latest in GM crops, presidential elections, and environmental disasters. And sports might you ask? Well the Giants just lost again, down 0-2 to the Reds, and the Steelers won today. It was a bittersweet symphony of pride and disappointment. And I just couldn’t help myself with this first news clip..

Big Bird Visits SNL’s Weekend Update with Seth Meyers
While word on the street was that Big Bird would NOT be doing any television appearances following his unexpected mention during Wednesday’s presidential debate, ‘SNL’ apparently made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Despite it being seven hours past his bedtime, the Sesame Street star stopped by Weekend Update to comment on Romney’s promise to stop subsidizing PBS, and in the process, educated Seth Meyers on tweets and told a political joke of his own.

Supreme Court to Hear Monsanto Seed Dispute
The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a dispute between a soybean farmer and Monsanto Co. over the company’s efforts to limit farmers’ use of its patented, genetically engineered Roundup Ready seeds. The justices said they will hear an appeal from Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, who is trying to fend off Monsanto’s lawsuit claiming Bowman made unauthorized use of the seeds. Monsanto’s patented soybean seeds have been genetically engineered to resist its Roundup brand herbicide. When Roundup is sprayed on a field, the product will kill the weeds without harming the crop. The Obama administration urged the court not to take the case and warned that the outcome could affect patents involving DNA molecules, nanotechnologies and other self-replicating technologies.

Exxon Sued Over Yellowstone Oil Spill
More than a dozen eastern Montana landowners filed a lawsuit Friday against Exxon Mobil Corp. claiming the company ignored warnings before a pipeline break that spilled an estimated 1,500 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River. The lawsuit from property owners along the scenic waterway claims last year’s spill could have been avoided if Exxon followed the lead of other companies and shut down its pipeline during severe flooding in July 2011. The 14 plaintiffs claim they suffered harm to their property and livestock operations, damage to wildlife, and health problems from exposure to oil. They are asking for unspecified compensation for their losses and punitive damages against Exxon to serve as a deterrent against future spills.

Jon Stewart, Bill O’Reilly Rumble, and Zingers Fly
Zingers flew and egos crackled Saturday night as Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly and “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart debated in front of a boisterous audience at the George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. The two television personalities, at ideological odds, found common ground by brandishing their wit and revving their symbiotic sideshow act, branded this time around as “The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium.”

Venezuelan Election Officials: Chavez Re-elected as President, Defeats Capriles
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was re-elected Sunday to a new six-year term, overcoming an energetic challenge by a candidate backed by an opposition coalition, according to nearly complete results announced by election officials.

Restore the California Delta! To what, Exactly?
In California, state officials are planning a multibillion-dollar environmental restoration of the inland delta near San Francisco Bay. There’s only one problem: No one knows what the landscape used to look like. Ninety-seven percent of the original wetlands are gone, so the state is turning to historians for help.

Posted by: kirstieann | October 7, 2012

Daily News Clips – Week of Oct 1

Here’s my favorites from Oct 1-5…

A Tiny Ocean World With A Mighty Important Future
As you take in your next breath of air, you can thank a form of microscopic marine life known as plankton. They are so small as to be invisible, but taken together, actually dwarf massive creatures like whales. Plankton make up 98 percent of the biomass of ocean life. “This invisible forest generates half of the oxygen generated on the planet,” Chris Bowler, a marine biologist, tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered. And, as climate change alters the temperature and acidity of our waters, this mysterious ocean world may be in jeopardy.

Ancient Statue Discovered by Nazis is Made from Meteorite
An ancient statue that was recovered by a Nazi expedition in the 1930s was originally carved from a highly valuable meteorite. Researchers say the 1,000-year-old object with a swastika on its stomach is made from a rare form of iron with a high content of nickel. They believe it is part of the Chinga meteorite, which crashed about 15,000 years ago.

Brave Arizona Wildlife Park Worker Dives into Pool Followed by Massive Bengal Tiger
Jeff Harwell fearlessly dived into a swimming pool followed by a massive Bengal tiger for an impressive “Tiger Splash” event in late September at the Out of Africa Wildlife Park.
The 30-year-old stuns visitors daily as he plays with Bengal and Siberian tigers, some weighing over 400 lbs., in a 50 ft. pool at the Camp Verde, Ariz., park.

Finland Plans to Phase Out Coal Use in Energy Production by 2025
If all goes according to plan, Finland will become the first European country to stop using coal, with a goal to phase out the energy source by 2025. Currently, Finland imports all of its coal from nearby countries such as Russia and Poland. Annual import volumes range from less than 3 million to 9 million tons, depending on the rainy or dry climate, according to the Finnish Coal Info association’s website. Eliminating coal usage could help the country save millions of euros a year, since coal imports cost Finland between 70 million to more than 300 million euros ($91 million to more than $388 million) annually, according to Finnish Coal Info. Instead of utilizing the fossil fuel, the country intends to increase sources of renewable energy — many of which are government subsidized.

Genetically Modified Crops Have Led to Pesticide Increase, Study Says
U.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides to fight weeds and insects due largely to heavy adoption of genetically modified crop technologies that are sparking a rise of “superweeds” and hard-to-kill insects, according to a newly released study. Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011, according to the report by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.

So-Called Medieval Warm Period not so Warm at All
The so-called Medieval Warm Period (MWP), a 400-year span from about 950 to 1220 A.D. when the Vikings colonized Greenland, was relatively balmy by the standards of the past 2,000 years, leading some to argue that the global warming we’re now experiencing isn’t that big a deal. But a new report in the journal Geology argues that the MWP wasn’t all that warm after all — and certainly not as warm as the climate is today.

Polls: Voters Back Clean Energy, Climate Policy
On the eve of the first presidential debate, a flurry of new polls suggest most Americans support clean energy and policies to reduce climate change — topics that have garnered scant attention on the campaign trail. Nine out of 10 registered voters (92%) said it was “very” or “somewhat” important for the United States to develop and use solar power, according to an online survey of 1,206 adults released Tuesday by the independent polling firm Hart Research Associates. This support spanned the political spectrum, including 84% of Republicans, 95% of independents and 98% of Democrats.

Scientists Create Fertile Eggs from Mouse Stem Cells
Scientists in Japan report they have created eggs from stem cells in a mammal for the first time. And the researchers went on to breed healthy offspring from the eggs they created. While the experiments involved mice, the work is being met with excitement — and questions — about doing the same thing for humans someday. Scientists obtain the versatile cells from embryos. Embryonic stem cells are controversial because researchers destroy the embryos to get them. But because these stem cells can morph into any cell in the body, there’s always been the possibility they could do something especially profound. They could offer a way to create eggs from anyone at any age. That could change how humans reproduce.

California Battle Over GM Labels
Voters in California will decide on a proposal next month that would require the labelling of most foods made with genetically modified ingredients. Proposition 37 is supported by the organic industry but many major food suppliers oppose it saying it will drive up prices. Around $40m is expected to be spent on campaigning with the majority coming from opponents. But a recent opinion poll shows a clear majority in favour of the proposal.

It’s Jim Lehrer’s Turn to Respond to the Debate
Jim Lehrer has a few words in response to those who thought he let President Obama and Mitt Romney ramble on and roll over him in Wednesday’s presidential debate: “So what?”
The veteran PBS newsman, who was persuaded by the Presidential Debate Commission to moderate his 12th debate — the last one he’ll do, he vows — says the event wasn’t about “control” or the strict enforcement of rules. It was about producing a sharp discussion and substantive contrast between the candidates. Besides, he says, few people seemed to understand that the new format, which divided the discussion into 15 minute segments, was supposed to encourage such exchanges.

Posted by: kirstieann | September 29, 2012

New feature: Daily News Clips

I’m back! Okay, I’m going to try to be better about being active on here again. Currently working on the Hill, part of my daily tasks at work are collecting news clips. So, whenever possible, I’m going pull some of those clips and post up some of the news I found the most interesting. A lot of them will be focused on Energy Resources and the Environment, but many will also be military, politics, and other stories of interest.

So, here are today’s:
Rare albino whale puts on a show off Australian coast
“The albino humpback has been nicknamed “Migaloo” by researchers who track his movements.
Albino whales are rare and Migaloo is the only documented all-white humpback adult, according to Peter Harrison, director of marine ecology research at Southern Cross University in Australia.
Migaloo was first seen in 1991 when he was a juvenile, Harrison says, and researchers believe he is now in his 20s.”

Great white sharks off West Coast to be considered for endangered listing
The federal government will examine whether to protect the West Coast population of great white sharks under the Endangered Species Act, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday. Four environmental groups had filed petitions with the NOAA Fisheries Service this summer to list the West Coast population on the grounds that accidental catches, illegal fishing and the accumulation of contaminants threaten the iconic species. Research studies suggest that as few as 350 great white sharks could be swimming off the coasts of the United States and Mexico.

Obama cites national security to block Chinese purchase of wind farm
President Barack Obama on Friday barred a Chinese-held company from owning or building four wind projects that security officials called uncomfortably close to a Navy facility in Oregon — acting little more than a month before an election in which he and Mitt Romney have traded accusations of going soft on China.
It was the first time in 22 years that a U.S. president has blocked such a foreign business deal, The Associated Press said.

Panetta orders DoD-wide review of early training
A day after the conviction of a fifth ex-military training instructor in a high-profile sex scandal that has ensnared more than a dozen MTIs at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a sweeping review of all boot camps and entry-level training programs across the military to tackle the frequency of sexual assaults.

Service Members Sue Defense Secretary Over Alleged Military Rapes
Nineteen former and current U.S. military service members sued Leon Panetta and former secretaries of defense Friday alleging civil-rights violations—stemming from sexual assault accusations they say were not taken seriously by the military. Jesse Ellison reports.

The Weird Story of Why Helium Prices are Going Through the Roof
Back in the 1920s, the U.S. government thought blimps might be the next big thing in warfare. So the government started producing helium. And they created the Federal Helium Reserve, a vast store of helium that sits underground in the Texas panhandle.
The great blimp war never came to pass, but the reserve persisted. Now, the government is in the process of selling off the most of that helium and winding down the reserve. Weirdly, selling off all that helium has actually led to a big rise in the price of the gas.
This is a bigger deal than it might seem. Besides playing an essential role at birthday parties, helium is used to make cell phones, computers, plasma TVs — anything with a chip.

NASA’s Curiosity Finds Water Once Flowed on Mars
NASA’s newest Mars rover, Curiosity, has snapped photos of rocky outcroppings that jut out from the alien soil, and scientists say they look like the remnants of an ancient stream bed where water once flowed on the surface of the red planet.

Posted by: kirstieann | January 15, 2012

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Tonight I wanted something sweet to eat, but of course I don’t keep desserts in the house. I figured I should bake something with blueberries since I knew we had fresh ones in the fridge. So what did I do? Well of course I got on Food Gawker to drool at fabulous pictures of fabulous photos. Then I found one for blueberry muffins on “Grace’s Sweet Life” based off of a Martha Stewart recipe. I used this recipe with a few changes and additions.

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
enough chocolate chips, to your liking
zest of half a lemon

Preheat oven to 375° F. Generously butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess OR use muffin cups; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Working over the bowl, toss blueberries in a fine sieve with about 1 1/2 teaspoons flour mixture to light coat; set aside the flour mixture and the blueberries.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Mix in vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, add reserved flour mixture, beating until just combined. Mix in lemon zest. Add milk, beating until just combined. Do not over mix.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries and chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. If desired, in a small bowl, mix together remaining 1/4 cup sugar and nutmeg. Sprinkle sugar mixture on top of muffin batter.

Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Turn muffins on their sides in their cups, and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Although I accidentally only used half a stick of butter and left them in the oven for about 2 minutes too long (because my oven is very hot and I was enjoying the smell filling the kitchen too much), the muffins turned out pretty great.

Posted by: kirstieann | October 28, 2011

Soup Desires

I dreamt about grocery shopping and making vegetable soup and pasta shells stuffed with ricotta and basil last night. So you know what I did tonight? Made soup from scratch, sans recipe. I thought of the ingredients I wanted, purchased them, and away I cooked. It turned out pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. Here’s what I put in, in no particular order or quantity:

vegetable stock
a carrot
chopped celery
a medium sized white potato
Cannellini beans
fresh minced ginger
diced tomatoes (in juice w/ basil, onion, garlic)
a brown onion
green beans
lots of chopped fresh parsley
a bit of salt, pepper, “mixed herbs”

some of the ingredients on the chopping block

Final product! Chunky veggie soup.

Posted by: kirstieann | August 17, 2011

Goodbye Riley :-(

About a week ago we lost Riley to a 2-month battle with liver problems at only 10-years-old. He was one of the coolest, happiest, and laziest dogs around. He will be greatly missed barking at the pool, greeting us with love bites, and giving the “dinner stare.” Rascal (11) will be lost without him, but at least my little Sadie is around to keep everyone on their toes.

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Posted by: kirstieann | April 25, 2011

The American Misconception

It was once again drawn to my attention today in spanish class that we as “Americans” misuse the term ‘American’ the most. We call ourselves American, and believe that is what we are. While this is true in some contexts, it is not usually what we really mean. Think about it, when someone says they’re Mexican or Brazilian, what is your response? I bet 99% of you would say “I’m American,” and why wouldn’t you? What we are forgetting is that America is not a country, it is a continent, and includes North & South America and everything in between. We are not from the entire continent, we are from the United States of America, so why do we get lazy and trim that down to say we are American? Other languages make the distinction that we don’t – in spanish I would say “soy estadounidense” rather than “soy americano.” So please, unless you want people to believe you are from anywhere from Canada or Mexico to Chile, I suggest you stop telling your international acquaintances that you are American.

Posted by: kirstieann | February 4, 2011

WWD: Week Without Dairy

WWD: Dairy was behaving like World War 3 in my stomach, or World War Dairy style. So, I took the past week off of eating dairy products, well, foods that are predominantly dairy products. Things such as cream cheese, yogurt, anything with cheese… And what have I learned? Honestly, not much. I now know I can’t eat the yogurt I love anymore (which is devastating) or drink milk, not that I would, but otherwise eating dairy is just a hit or miss with me. What I have learned though, thanks to last night, is that I can no longer eat pizza after going out. It just doesn’t work for me; it’s kind of bizarre but I guess cheese and alcohol are not an appropriate mix or something according to my stomach.

Posted by: kirstieann | February 1, 2011

Ray Collins – Portfolio

These are from the latest portfolio featured on Surfline. I love looking at the portfolios they feature, so here are a few of Ray Collins’ images. Click here to see the full portfolio.

[All photos Copyright 2010 Surfline/Wavetrak, Inc.]

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