Showing posts from July 24, 2015

NASA Says Data Reveals an Earth-Like Planet, Kepler 452b

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[Just what we don't need - people thinking we have a 'spare planet' in our pockets. *RON*]

By Dennis Overbye, New York Times, 23 July 2015

Inching ahead on their quest for what they call Earth 2.0, astronomers from NASA’s Keplerplanet-hunting spacecraft announced on Thursday that they had found what might be one of the closest analogues to our own world yet.

It is a planet a little more than one and a half times as big in radius as Earth. Known as Kepler452b, it circles a sunlike star in an orbit that takes 385 days, just slightly longer than our own year, putting it firmly in the “Goldilocks” habitable zone where the temperatures are lukewarm and suitable for liquid water on the surface — if it has a surface.

The new planet’s size puts it right on the edge between being rocky like Earth and being a fluffy gas ball like Neptune, according to studies of other such exoplanets. In an email, Jon Jenkinsof NASA’s Ames Research Center, home o…

World's first malaria vaccination approved

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[European regulators give Mosquirix the green light to be used on babies at risk of the mosquito-borne disease in Africa. "Malaria killed an estimated 584,000 people in 2013, the vast majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 80 percent of malaria deaths are in children under the age of five." Generally I'm not big on tech billionaires who think they have solutions for all the world's problems (yes I'm looking at you, too, Elon Musk), but... Bill Gates hit a home run with this project. *RON*]

Source: Agencies, Al Jazeera, 24 Jul 2015
The world's first malaria vaccine has received a green light from European drugs regulators who recommended it should be licensed for use in babies in Africa who are at risk of the mosquito-borne disease.

The shot, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, would be the first licensed human vaccine against a parasitic disease and could help prevent millions of cases of malaria in countries that use…

Protesters film slaughter of hundreds of whales in the Faroe Islands

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[Seven Sea Shepherd protesters arrested for allegedly interfering in the annual hunt that they say has killed about 250 pilot whales in a day. See the original article for a video. *RON*]

John Vidal, The Guardian, 24 July 2015
Faroese villagers have slaughtered about 250 pilot whales in the past 24 hours according to Sea Shepherd activists monitoring the traditional summer hunts in the north Atlantic islands.

The whale pods, which migrate past the islands in July and August, were herded by flotillas of small boats on to two beaches where villagers waded into the water to kill them with lances.

Seven protesters, mainly from European countries, have been arrested this week for allegedly interfering with the the traditional community hunts, known as “grindadr√°p”.

Oil Sands Lobby Group Sponsored and Edited Public School Lessons

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[Just... wow! *RON*]

Jesse Brown, Canadaland, 22 July 2015

Part Two. For part one, click here.

When teenagers at a Vancouver high school demanded in a November 2013 open letter/petition that the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers stop spreading oil sands "propaganda" to their school in the form of free lesson content, CAPP was adamant: they did no such thing.

Yes, they acknowledged sponsoring Energy IQ, "an energy education resource" distributed for free online and to 13,000 classroom teachers in public schools across Canada. CAPP's involvement was clearly labelled.

But CAPP spokesperson Geraldine Anderson told the Vancouver Sun that the oil sands lobby group "had no control over content or development of lesson plans.” She directed questions about the educational material to the people who, she said, created it - CAPP's partners at Canadian Geographic.

Nexen pipeline may have been leaking for over two weeks, executives say

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[World class, my ass! Leaking for two weeks then only discovered by accident. I wonder if the Chinese are experiencing any 'buyer's regret'? Should Nexen's name be chiseled on to Stephen Harper's monument to the victims of communism? And, following this bravura performance, see also: Nexen pipeline spill cause could take months to determine. *RON*]

Renata D’Aliesio, Jeff Lewis, Jeffrey Jones, Globe and Mail, 23 July 2015

An oil sands pipeline rupture that has coated a large swath of muskeg south of Fort McMurray with bitumen, sand and salty water may have gone undetected by an automated monitoring system for more than two weeks, Nexen executives say.
The exact time and cause of the massive spill is still under investigation. The leak was discovered on July 15 by a worker at the Long Lake oil sands project. On Wednesday, Chinese-owned Nexen Energy ULC revealed the leak may have started as long ago as June 29. The company’s com…

Now is the time to tell Christy Clark you want climate action plan with teeth

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[Emissions in just about every part of the economy — think transportation, industry, and natural gas production — are rising. Head to the government web site RIGHT NOW to let them know what you think about this and to say what you think should be done. *RON*]

Merran Smith, Vancouver Observer, 23 July 2015

Blazing fire and choking smoke. Water bans, and lettuce-wilting heat. That’s how British Columbians are going to remember the summer of 2015.

But there is also some encouraging news, and you can be a part of it. Earlier this year, British Columbia’s government announced it is ready to get serious about climate action again. The timing couldn’t be better.

B.C. was an early mover on climate, and today boasts a pretty respectable basket of policies — a ban on unmitigated coal power, a clean electricity standard, low-carbon fuel standard, and the carbon tax — that are the envy of jurisdictions around North America.

Harper may try to douse Senate controversy and distance himself

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[Harperian realpolitik. He chews people up for his own purposes then, when it blows up, throws them under the train. He personally appointed the biggest 'headaches" to the senate. Now, he blames everyone but himself for all the bad things that have taken place under his management. It is, of course, the senate's fault that it is so corrupt, even as he is the main corrupting force. Just like with the economy, when things appear to be going well, he takes credit but when they're not going well, it's not his fault. *RON*]

Steven Chase, The Globe and Mail, 24 July 2015

Stephen Harper’s position on the Senate has hardened in recent months, Conservative sources say, and all eyes are on a meeting with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall today, where the Prime Minister may try to extricate himself from the political mess brought on by his appointments to the scandal-plagued Red Chamber.
The National Post reports Mr. Harper will call for th…

Bureaucrats told to provide Rob Nicholson 3 terrorism-related statements a week

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[Pathetic - fueling the politics of fear. "If any minister is actually planning to use the resources of the state for partisan political purposes, the public should and could be calling them to account on it." *RON*]

By Jennifer Chevalier, CBC News, 22 July 2015

Foreign Affairs bureaucrats were told this spring to produce three terrorism-related statements for minister Rob Nicholson to make to the media each week, ahead of a fall election in which security and Canada's response to terrorism are expected to be key issues.

The email, dated April 24 and obtained by CBC News Network's Power & Politics, suggests the regular ministerial statements should be crafted from an event reported by the news media, such as developments in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says the email is an example of the way the Conservatives choose to engage with the public.

"They much prefer to highlig…