- The Mystery of Angels ~ with John Paul Jackson
- Will new ruling finally free Lolita after 40 years in captivity at Miami Seaquarium?
- NASA To Speed Up Search For Alien Life On Europa
- New internet neutrality: FCC chairman proposes strong new rules
- 9 Facts That Will Boggle Your Mind
- What Causes The Northern Lights?
- Top five suppressed invention conspiracies
- Five Simple Questions Science Can't Answer
- Mysteries of Matter at the Large Hadron Collider
- Spacecraft Engineering, Materials & Design
Posted: 04 Feb 2015 09:57 PM PST
When asked, most Christians would say they believe the Bible. But when probed further, and asked specifically about the wild, supernatural events that took place throughout the Old and New Testaments—those things—can they be taken literally. That's usually when the words symbolism, or allegory, or metaphorical get thrown around to avoid having to actually say 'that's too strange to be true.' Did the Red Sea really part to allow the Jews to escape the Egyptians? Did one angel really strike down armies of men? Did Jesus really walk on water, turn water into wine, be born of a virgin, feed 5000 with a just few baskets of food...did those things really happen? Or were they just metaphors?
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Posted: 04 Feb 2015 09:50 PM PST
Excerpt from seattletimes.com
A decision to list the captive orca Lolita for federal protection is expected to set the stage for a lawsuit from advocates seeking the whale’s release.
By Hal Bernton
Seattle Times staff reporter
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Wednesday the decision to list Lolita as part of the southern resident killer whales of Puget Sound, which already are considered endangered under the federal act.
Whale activists, who petitioned for this status, have long campaigned for Lolita’s return to Puget Sound. They hope the listing will provide a stronger legal case to release Lolita than did a previous lawsuit that centered on alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
“This gives leverage under a much stronger law,” said Howard Garrett of the Whidbey Island based Orca Network, which hopes a San Juan Island cove will one day serve as the site for Lolita to re-enter the wild.
NOAA Fisheries officials on Wednesday described their decision in narrow terms, which set no broader precedents. It does not address whether Lolita should be released from the Seaquarium.
“This is a listing decision,” said Will Stelle, the NOAA Fisheries regional administrator for the West Coast. “It is not a decision to free Lolita.”
Aquarium officials have repeatedly said they have no intention of releasing the orca.
“Lolita has been part of the Miami Seaquarium family for 44 years,” said Andrew Hertz, Seaquarium general manager, in a statement.
“Lolita is healthy and thriving in her home where she shares habitat with Pacific white-sided dolphins. There is no scientific evidence that ... Lolita could survive in a sea pen or the open waters of the Pacific Northwest, and we are not willing to treat her life as an experiment.”
Orcas, also known as killer whales, are found in many of the world’s oceans. The southern resident population, which spends several months each year in Puget Sound, is the only group listed in the U.S. under the Endangered Species.
The three pods in the population were reduced by captures by marine parks between 1965 and 1975, NOAA says. Among them was a roundup in Penn Cove where seven whales were captured, including Lolita.
The southern resident pods now number fewer than 80. Possible causes for the decline are reduced prey, pollutants that could cause reproductive problems and oil spills, according to NOAA Fisheries.
Under the Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to cause a “take” of a protected orca, which includes harming or harassing them.
Wednesday, NOAA officials said holding an animal captive, in and of itself, does not constitute a take.
Orca activists are expected to argue in their lawsuit that Lolita's cramped conditions result in a prohibited take.
There is “rising public scorn for the whole idea of performing orcas,” said Garrett, who hopes Seaquarium will decide to release Lolita without a court order.
But NOAA officials still have concerns about releasing captive whales, and any plan to move or release Lolita would require “rigorous scientific review,” the agency said in a statement.
The concerns include the possibility of disease transmission, the ability of a newly released orca to find food and behavior patterns from captivity that could impact wild whales.
NOAA said previous attempts to release captive orcas and dolphins have often been unsuccessful and some have ended in death.
Garrett said the plan for Lolita calls for her to be taken to a netted area of the cove, which could be enlarged later. She would be accompanied by familiar trainers who could “trust and reassure her every bit of the way,” he said.
The controversy over releasing captive whales has been heightened by the experience of Keiko, a captive orca that starred in the 1993 movie “Free Willy,” about a boy who pushed for the release of a whale.
In 1998, Keiko was brought back to his native waters off Iceland to reintroduce him to life in the wild. That effort ended in 2003 when he died in a Norwegian fjord.
Garrett, who visited Keiko in Iceland in 1999, said he was impressed by the reintroduction effort, and that there was plenty of evidence that Keiko was able to catch fish on his own.
“The naysayers predicted that as soon as he got into the (Icelandic) waters he would die, and wild orcas would kill him,” Garrett said. “He proved that 180-degrees wrong. He loved it.”
Mark Simmons, who for two years served as director of animal husbandry for the Keiko-release effort, has a different view. He says Keiko never was able to forage for fish on his own, and that he continued to seek out human contact at every opportunity.
Simmons wrote a book called “Killing Keiko,” that accuses the release effort of leading to a long slow death for the orca, which he says lacked food and then succumbed to an infection.
“It’s not really the fact that Keiko died, but how he died,” Garrett said Wednesday.
Posted: 04 Feb 2015 09:43 PM PST
Excerpt from yibada.com
With a US$18.5 billion budget allocation in 2016 proposed by President Barack Obama in hand, NASA can finally launch the dream project it's been working on for the last 15 years.
The allocation provides US$30 million to launch a mission to Europa, the Jovian moon scientists are convinced is the most probable location for extraterrestrial life in the solar system. Life on Europa, a water world covered in a thick blanket of ice, will most likely be lower forms such as bacteria and perhaps, algae.
"We used to think that in order for a world to be habitable, it had to be just at the right distance from the sun, or whatever your star was," said Dr. Kevin Hand, an astrobiologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to CS Monitor.
Hand said Europa is a "real game changer" since it is very far out from the sun but still has liquid-water ocean as it is orbiting Jupiter and "the tidal tug and pull causes Europa to flex up and down, and all that tidal energy turns into mechanical energy."
NASA said the 2016 budget supports the formulation and development of the Europa Mission and will enable it to begin Phase A of this project, according to PC Magazine...
Posted: 04 Feb 2015 09:38 PM PST
Excerpt from mercurynews.com
The federal government's top communications regulator on Wednesday called for strong new rules to bar Internet and wireless providers from blocking, slowing or discriminating against consumers' access to particular websites and services, setting up a long-anticipated showdown over how -- and how much -- government ought to manage Internet access.
"The Internet must be fast, fair and open," Wheeler said in an op-ed for Wired.com. "That is the message I've heard from consumers and innovators across this nation."
"Title II is exactly the right law for the FCC to be using for net neutrality," said Matt Wood, a policy director at Free Press, a consumer advocacy group. "Frankly, it's something we and millions of others been calling for now for more than decade."
By contrast, broadband companies, anti-regulatory groups and some technology advocates decried the proposal, accusing the FCC of overreaching its authority and warning that the new regulations would discourage investment in broadband.
Wheeler's move to reclassify broadband "is an unjustified, overblown response to what has in actuality been a by-and-large hypothetical concern" about blocking or throttling access to websites and services, said Doug Brake, a telecommunications policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a public policy think tank.
Like previous net neutrality rules, the new regulations would bar Internet service providers from blocking or slowing down access to sites or services. It would also ban them from creating "fast lanes" for their own sites and services or for partners that paid extra to have their traffic speeded up.
For the first time, though, the new rules would fully apply to both landline Internet providers and wireless carriers. Past net neutrality rules gave more leeway to wireless Internet providers than wired ones. But in an email describing the new rules, the FCC noted that some 55 percent of Internet traffic now travels over the cellular carriers' networks.
Internet companies were glad to see wireless access included in the new rules. "There is only one Internet, and users expect that they be able to access an uncensored Internet regardless of how they connect," Michael Beckerman, CEO of the Internet Association, an industry lobbying group that includes companies such as Google, Netflix and eBay, said in a statement.
But the CTIA, the wireless industry trade group, argued that Congress hasn't given the FCC the authority to regulate wireless broadband access as a common carrier service.
"We are concerned that the FCC's proposed approach could jeopardize our world leading mobile broadband market and result in significant uncertainty for years to come," Meredith Attwell Baker, the group's CEO, said in a statement.
The new rules would also give the FCC the power to oversee interconnection agreements between website operators and Internet providers. As big Web service providers such as Google have started to account for larger and larger portions of total Internet traffic, Internet providers have forced those companies to pay for upgrading their connections to the Internet companies' networks.
The deals came under scrutiny -- and were brought into the net neutrality deliberations -- after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings complained last year that Internet providers including Comcast were intentionally throttling customers' access to its videos in an effort to force Netflix to pay to upgrade its connections to their networks. Netflix ended up succumbing to those demands -- after which, its customers immediately saw their service improve.
"If such an oversight process had been in place last year, we certainly would've used it," company spokeswoman Anne Marie Squeo said in a statement.
Contact Troy Wolverton at 408-840-4285. Follow him at Twitter.com/troywolv.
"The FCC is poised to take decisive action that will ensure consumers get the Internet access they pay for without (Internet Service Providers) restricting, influencing or meddling with their choices." -- Anne Marie Squeo, Netflix spokeswoman
"There is arguably no more important task for the FCC than safeguarding the open architecture of the Internet. ... Net neutrality rules are vital to protect the freedom of expression and the freedom to innovate that are at the heart of Twitter and have been the hallmarks of the Internet boom." -- Colin Crowell, vice president of global public policy at Twitter
"Internet companies are pleased to hear that Chairman Wheeler intends to enact strong, enforceable, and legally sustainable net neutrality rules that include bright-line rules. ... The details and implementation of the proposal matter, and we look forward to seeing the text of the order to ensure that a free and open Internet is fully protected." -- Michael Beckerman, CEO of the Internet Alliance, a lobbying group that represents Google, Facebook, Netflix, eBay and other Web companies
"The battle's far from over, but this is a victory for consumers, for sure. ... This would provide the strong consumer protections we need to keep companies like Comcast and Verizon from becoming all-powerful gatekeepers of the Internet." -- Ellen Bloom, senior director of federal policy for Consumers Union, the consumer advocacy division of Consumer Reports
"This is a banner day as years of grass-roots organizing are paying historic public interest dividends. Congratulations to Chairman Wheeler and his supportive colleagues for hearing what millions have said: Only the strongest Open Internet rules will protect competition and free expression online." -- Michael Copps, former FCC commissioner and special adviser to Common Cause, a consumer advocacy group
In opposition to the proposal:
"This is discouraging news for all manufacturers that depend on a robust Internet to run their shopfloors and deliver superior products. ... This regulation will result in a disincentive to invest in our broadband infrastructure which will chill innovation in the manufacturing sector." -- Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers
"We continue to believe that a middle ground exists that will allow us to safeguard the open Internet without risk to needed investment and years of legal uncertainty. .... Any FCC action taken on a partisan vote can be undone by a future commission in similar fashion, or may be declared invalid by the courts. The best way to ensure that open Internet protections, investment and innovation endure is for people of good faith to come together on a bipartisan basis for that purpose." -- Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs at AT&T
"This is an unprecedented power grab by a formerly independent agency that has become captive to presidential prerogative. ... Congress should restore the constitutional balance of power and reassert its control over the FCC and our communications laws." -- Fred Campbell, director of the Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology, an anti-regulatory lobbying group
"We are concerned that the FCC's proposed approach could jeopardize our world leading mobile broadband market and result in significant uncertainty for years to come. ... The mobile innovation and investment -- $120 billion since 2010 alone -- that American consumers rely on will be placed at risk by the FCC applying intrusive regulatory restrictions on mobile broadband for the first time." -- Meredith Attwell Baker, CEO of CTIA, the wireless industry's trade group
"Tom Wheeler just shot himself in the foot. He just admitted that what the FCC is doing is effectively rewriting the law to suit its political agenda. ... Wheeler's statement only affirms that Congress alone can resolve the decade-long fight over net neutrality." -- Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom, an anti-regulatory think tank
"Heavily regulating the Internet ... is unnecessary because all participants in the Internet ecosystem support an open Internet, and the FCC can address any harmful behavior without taking this radical step. ... It is counterproductive because heavy regulation of the Internet will create uncertainty and chill investment among the many players -- not just Internet service providers -- that now will need to consider FCC rules before launching new services." --
Michael Glover, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for public policy and government affairs at Verizon
Posted: 04 Feb 2015 09:24 PM PST
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