Saturday, November 22, 2014

U.S. Navy

Associated Press:

Ferguson, Missouri

News stories continue to flow out of Ferguson, St. Louis County, Missouri.

How important is Ferguson? In an email to me, a former resident of Missouri writes: "I spent 20 years in the St. Louis area. In all that time, I never stopped in Ferguson."

Mexico

Mexican citizens meddle in U.S. politics. But U.S. citizens can't meddle in Mexican politics.

"The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners; such actions may result in detention and/or deportation," the U.S. Embassy in Mexico says.

Friday, November 21, 2014

U.S. State Dept.

Travel Warning:

Cocaine

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP):
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine P-3 aircrew operating out of National Air Security Operations Center (NASOC)-Jacksonville, Florida, detected a suspicious vessel carrying more than 1,100 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $82.3 million. 
While patrolling the Pacific Ocean on Nov. 9 during a counter-drug mission, an aircrew aboard a P-3 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft spotted a high-speed vessel moving through an area routinely used by drug smugglers. With the assistance of an additional CBP P-3 Long Range Tracker (LRT), OAM agents coordinated with the U.S. Navy to intercept the vessel. 
A U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Team (LEDET) discovered cocaine hidden in compartments onboard and detained suspected drug smugglers. 
Hours later during a separate incident the crew of the CBP P-3 LRT detected a high- speed vessel heading across the Caribbean Sea. The P-3 crew coordinated with the Colombian Air Force and maritime assets in an attempt to intercept the boat. The smugglers dumped a large amount of suspected narcotics into the water before beaching the vessel on the Colombian coast.

Credit Suisse

U.S. Justice Department: "Credit Suisse AG was sentenced today for conspiracy to aid and assist U.S. taxpayers in filing false income tax returns and other documents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)."

Vanuatu

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "Vanuatu MP and former finance minister Willie Jimmy is calling for witchcraft to be made a crime punishable by death."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cocaine

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP):
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine agents aboard a P-3 Orion Long Range Tracker aircraft led Panamanian authorities to a vessel with 1,300 pounds of cocaine on Nov. 17. The estimated street value of the narcotics is over $97 million. 
An OAM crew aboard a CBP P-3 aircraft detected a suspicious go-fast style vessel about 115 miles Southwest of Panama City, Panama. The P-3 aircrew alerted Panamanian law enforcement to intercept the vessel and suspected drug smugglers onboard dumped 17 bales into the water as part of efforts to evade capture. 
Law enforcement recovered the narcotics and detained suspects on the vessel.

New York

U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York:
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), and Loretta E. Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), announced that Daniel Barrera Barrera, also known as Loco Barrera, a citizen of Colombia, pled guilty today in the Southern District of New York before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis to conspiring to distribute and manufacture cocaine knowing that it would be imported into the United States. For decades, Barrera manufactured hundreds of tons of cocaine annually in Colombia and trafficked it to various parts of the world, including the U.S., and laundered tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from that narcotics trafficking activity.

Guinea

Karim Camara, Voice of America: "Thieves in Guinea have stolen a cooler containing the blood samples of suspected Ebola patients. The robbers took the samples after attacking a vehicle on a remote highway Thursday."

U.S. State Dept.

Travel Warning:

Gulf of Aden

U.S. Navy:
Two U.S. Naval supply ships collided in the Gulf of Aden Nov. 20 at 5:26 a.m. (GMT) with no injuries to crew members.

USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE 6) and USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO 193) collided as they were beginning an underway replenishment operation.

Initial reports indicate only minor damage to both ships. The ships are operating under their own power and are continuing their assigned missions.

The Navy will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the collision.

Book

The Dassault Falcon Legend
Nonfiction book by Michael A. Taverna
Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Abrams Books:
Fifty years ago, one of the first true business jets — the Dassault Mystère/Falcon 20 — took flight. Since then, 20 innovative models have followed, each with the same sleek lines, smooth handling, and peerless reliability and efficiency displayed by that first Falcon. Today there are more than 1,500 Dassault Falcon jets flying in the U.S. Published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary Falcon 20, designed under the leadership of company founder Marcel Dassault with the help of Charles Lindbergh and Juan Trippe — two other aviation visionaries — this richly illustrated book tells the story of this legendary plane and the remarkable models that followed. Technical know-how, quality of flight, exceptional aerodynamics, luxury, and comfort — the Falcon stands as a coveted aircraft that has earned a privileged place in aviation history.

Andaman Islands

Survival International:
Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples' rights, has received worrying reports that illegal fishermen are targeting the waters around the island home of the uncontacted Sentinelese tribe on India's Andaman Islands. 
Seven men identified as Burmese fishermen were apprehended by the Indian Coast Guard near North Sentinel Island earlier this month. Worryingly, one man was reportedly found on the island itself, in close proximity to the uncontacted tribespeople. 
The Sentinelese are the most vulnerable society on the planet and reject any contact with outsiders. Due to their complete isolation, they are likely to have no immunity to common diseases such as flu and measles and the chances of them being wiped out by an epidemic are very high. 
Survival International has welcomed the authorities' swift action in apprehending the illegal fishermen around North Sentinel and urges them to remain vigilant. It also calls for an end to the daily intrusions into the forest of the neighboring Jarawa tribe as a matter of urgency.
The Jarawa are forced to endure "human safaris" — hundreds of tourists passing through their forest on a daily basis in the hope of spotting a member of the tribe — as well as poachers stealing their game. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Jarawa women are being sexually abused by poachers who lure them with alcohol and marijuana. 
Survival's Director Stephen Corry said today, "The Great Andamanese tribes of India's Andaman Islands were decimated by disease when the British colonized the islands in the 1800s. The most recent to be pushed into extinction was the Bo tribe, whose last member died only four years ago. The only way the Andamanese authorities can prevent the annihilation of another tribe is to ensure North Sentinel Island is protected from outsiders."

Mexico

Marian Blasberg and Jens Glüsing, Der Spiegel: "Most murders don't even make the front page in Mexico anymore. But the recent abduction of 43 students has infuriated the country. The story has exposed the tight relationship between politics, law enforcement and organized crime. And it shows how weak the state has become."

Out of India

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Working at the edge of a coal mine in India, a team of Johns Hopkins researchers and colleagues have filled in a major gap in science's understanding of the evolution of a group of animals that includes horses and rhinos."

Public Restrooms

University of Leeds, United Kingdom:
Modern hand dryers are much worse than paper towels when it comes to spreading germs, according to new University of Leeds research. 
Scientists from the University of Leeds have found that high-powered "jet-air" and warm air hand dryers can spread bacteria in public toilets. Airborne germ counts were 27 times higher around jet-air dryers in comparison with the air around paper towel dispensers. 
The study shows that both jet and warm air hand dryers spread bacteria into the air and onto users and those nearby.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book

The Wright Brothers
Nonfiction book by David McCullough
Publication Date: May 5, 2015

Simon and Schuster:
Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright. 
On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot. 
Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did? 
David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, tells the surprising, profoundly American story of Wilbur and Orville Wright. 
Far more than a couple of unschooled Dayton bicycle mechanics who happened to hit on success, they were men of exceptional courage and determination, and of far-ranging intellectual interests and ceaseless curiosity, much of which they attributed to their upbringing. The house they lived in had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but there were books aplenty, supplied mainly by their preacher father, and they never stopped reading. 
When they worked together, no problem seemed to be insurmountable. Wilbur was unquestionably a genius. Orville had such mechanical ingenuity as few had ever seen. That they had no more than a public high school education, little money and no contacts in high places, never stopped them in their "mission" to take to the air. Nothing did, not even the self-evident reality that every time they took off in one of their contrivances, they risked being killed. 
In this thrilling book, master historian David McCullough draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including private diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence to tell the human side of the Wright Brothers' story, including the little-known contributions of their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them.

Seals

Scotland's University of St. Andrews:
Seals can listen in on scientific equipment to find a tasty meal, according to research published today. 
Marine biologists at the University of St. Andrews have shown that grey seals learn to use sound to their advantage. Marine mammals are sensitive to noise and are exposed to many different types of acoustic signals while swimming at sea. Other scientists have already found that many animals avoid human noise sources. However new research, published in Royal Society journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, has found that these sounds can also provide interesting information to the animals. 
Currently, scientists worldwide are using small tags to mark and study fish at sea. These tags produce "pinging" sounds that allow researchers to track and follow fish. However, grey seals can also hear these pinging tags, and potentially use them as a "dinner bell" for their next meal. 
To see if seals listened in on tags, researchers created a maze of boxes to hide fish and measured where the seals were looking. Most boxes were empty, but two had a fish, one with a pinger and one without. Seals found the pinging fish much quicker than the silent one, showing a clear use of the sounds provided by the scientific equipment. The research was carried out by Amanda Stansbury, Thomas Götz, Volker Deecke and Vincent Janik at the University of St. Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit. 
Stansbury explained: "The seals found the tagged fish sooner and with less searching than the fish without a tag. This means that the seals learned to use the sound from the pinging tags to find where their food was hidden. This tells us that seals can exploit new sounds, such as fish tags, and use them to their advantage." 
The results show that scientists have to be careful when using acoustic tags to study fish. Stansbury added: "We expect that other marine mammals are similarly able to use such information to find prey. Tagged fish may be more detectable by predators, which could affect the results of fish studies. When we make noise in the sea, we need to consider how animals are affected. Our results show that such effects can be complicated. In our case they were beneficial to the seal but bad for the fish."

Oman

Peter Kenyon, NPR:

Book

First to Fly: The Story of the Lafayette Escadrille,
the American Heroes Who Flew for France
in World War One
Nonfiction book by Charles Bracelen Flood
Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Grove Atlantic:
If the Wright brothers' 1903 flights in Kitty Hawk marked the birth of aviation, World War I can be called its violent adolescence — a brief but bloody era that completely changed the way planes were designed, fabricated, and flown. The war forged an industry that would redefine transportation and warfare for future generations. In First to Fly, lauded historian Charles Bracelen Flood tells the story of the men who were at the forefront of that revolution: the daredevil Americans of the Lafayette Escadrille, who flew in French planes, wore French uniforms, and showed the world an American brand of heroism before the United States entered the Great War. 
As citizens of a neutral nation from 1914 to early 1917, Americans were prohibited from serving in a foreign army, but many brave young souls soon made their way into European battle zones: as ambulance drivers, nurses, and, more dangerously, as soldiers in the French Foreign Legion. It was partly from the ranks of the latter group, and with the sponsorship of an expat American surgeon and millionaire William K. Vanderbilt, that the Lafayette Escadrille was formed in 1916 as the first and only all-American squadron in the French Air Service. Flying rudimentary planes, with one-in-three odds of being killed, these fearless young men gathered reconnaissance and shot down enemy aircraft, participated in the Battle of Verdun, and faced off with the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, dueling across the war-torn skies like modern knights on horseback. 
Drawing on rarely seen primary sources, Flood chronicles the startling success of that intrepid band, and gives a compelling look at the rise of aviation and a new era of warfare.

Niger

On Monday a hippopotamus overturned a boat, killing 13 people.

Book

Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders
of Montparnasse
Nonfiction book by Stanley Meisler
Publication Date: April 14, 2015

Macmillan Publishers:
For a couple of decades before World War II, a group of immigrant painters and sculptors, including Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine and Jules Pascin dominated the new art scene of Montparnasse in Paris. Art critics gave them the name "the School of Paris" to set them apart from the French-born (and less talented) young artists of the period. Modigliani and Chagall eventually attained enormous worldwide popularity, but in those earlier days most School of Paris painters looked on Soutine as their most talented contemporary. Willem de Kooning proclaimed Soutine his favorite painter, and Jackson Pollack hailed him as a major influence. 
Soutine arrived in Paris while many painters were experimenting with cubism, but he had no time for trends and fashions; like his art, Soutine was intense, demonic, and fierce. After the defeat of France by Hitler's Germany, the East European Jewish immigrants who had made their way to France for sanctuary were no longer safe. In constant fear of the French police and the German Gestapo, plagued by poor health and bouts of depression, Soutine was the epitome of the tortured artist. Rich in period detail, Stanley Meiser's Shocking Paris explores the short, dramatic life of one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bob Marley

Privateer Holdings, Seattle, Washington:
Today Privateer Holdings announced the creation of Marley Natural, the world's first global cannabis brand. Privateer Holdings is the world’s first private equity firm investing exclusively in the legal cannabis industry. Marley Natural will offer premium cannabis products that honor the life and legacy of Bob Marley as well as his belief in the benefits of cannabis.
Website: Privateer Holdings
Biography: Bob Marley

Afghanistan

Martin Kuz at Stars and Stripes: "The man who attempts to hold U.S. government agencies accountable for work in Afghanistan described America’s nation-building effort there over the last 13 years as 'an abysmal failure.' "

North Africa

Der Spiegel: "Chaos, disillusionment and oppression provide the perfect conditions for Islamic State. Currently, the Islamist extremists are expanding from Syria and Iraq into North Africa. Several local groups have pledged their allegiance."

Kenya

Reuters:

Volcanic Eruptions

American Geophysical Union: "Small volcanic eruptions might eject more of an atmosphere-cooling gas into Earth's upper atmosphere than previously thought, potentially contributing to the recent slowdown in global warming, according to a new study."

Oysters

From Oregon State University: "The bacteria that helped cause the near-ruin of two large oyster hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest have been mistakenly identified for years, researchers say in a recent report."

Salamanders

Jeff Sossamon, University of Missouri–Columbia:
In the 1970s, ecologists published results from one of the first whole-forest ecosystem studies ever conducted in Hubbard Brook, New Hampshire. In the paper, scientists reported that salamanders represent one of the largest sources of biomass, or food, of all vertebrates in the forest landscape. Now, using new sampling and statistical techniques not available during the past study, researchers at the University of Missouri have estimated that the population of salamanders in forested regions of the Missouri Ozarks are 2-4 times higher than originally thought, and in other regions of the eastern U.S. may be on average 10 times higher. Scientists believe that acknowledging salamanders as one of the main food sources in forest ecosystems could help drive conservation efforts and forest management.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Giant Panda

"Staff at a Chinese nature reserve on Monday rescued a giant panda injured by martens," Xinhua reports.

Sea Stars

Melissa Osgood, Cornell University:
Since 2013, millions of sea stars native to the Pacific coast of North America from Baja California to southern Alaska have succumbed to a mysterious wasting disease in which their limbs pull away from their bodies and their organs exude through their skin; a disease researchers say could trigger an unprecedented ecological upheaval under the waves. 
Now, a researcher in the Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has identified the deadly culprit as the Sea Star Associated Densovirus (SSaDV), a type of parvovirus commonly found in invertebrates. In a study published Nov. 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ian Hewson and colleagues present a genomic analysis of the newly discovered virus prevalent in symptomatic sea stars. 
"There are 10 million viruses in a drop of seawater, so discovering the virus associated with a marine disease can be like looking for a needle in a haystack," says lead author Ian Hewson, a professor of microbiology at Cornell. "Not only is this an important discovery of a virus involved in a mass mortality of marine invertebrates, but this is also the first virus described in a sea star."
Hewson suggests that the virus has been smoldering at a low level for many years. It was present in museum samples of sea stars collected in 1942, 1980, 1987 and 1991, and may have risen to epidemic levels in the last few years due to sea star overpopulation, environmental changes, or mutation of the virus. Sea water, plankton, sediments and water filters from public aquariums, sea urchins and brittle stars also harbored the virus. 
The research lays the groundwork for understanding how the virus kills sea stars and what triggers outbreaks. The stakes are high, according to Drew Harvell, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell and a co-author of the paper. As voracious predators on the ocean floor, sea stars are "keystone" species which have a large role in maintaining diversity in their ecosystem. 
"It’s the experiment of the century for marine ecologists," said Harvell. "It is happening at such a large scale to the most important predators of the tidal and sub-tidal zones. Their disappearance is an experiment in ecological upheaval the likes of which we've never seen."
Both the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Cornell University's David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future provided rapid response funds to Hewson and his co-principal investigator Ben Miner, Western Washington University. 
"The recent outbreak of sea star wasting disease on the U.S. West Coast has been a concern for coastal residents and marine ecologists," said David Garrison, program director in the NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences. "This study, supported as a rapid response award, has made a significant contribution to understanding the disease." 
Geographically diverse samples of diseased stars were provided by committed citizen scientists, research aquariums and academic institutions on the West Coast, facilitated by Harvell's NSF-funded Research Coordination Network for the Ecology of Marine Infectious Disease.

Book

The Age of Trade: The Manila Galleons
and the Dawn of the Global Economy
Nonfiction book by Arturo Giraldez
Publication Date: March 16, 2015

Rowman & Littlefield:
This groundbreaking book presents the first full history of the Manila galleons, which marked the true beginning of a global economy. Arturo Giraldez, the world's leading scholar of the galleons, traces the rise of the maritime route, which began with the founding of the city of Manila in 1571 and ended in 1815 when the last galleon left the port of Acapulco in New Spain (Mexico) for the Philippines, establishing a permanent connection between the Spanish empire in America with Asian countries, most importantly China, the main supplier of commodities during that era. Throughout the two-and-a-half-century history of the Manila galleons, the strategic commodity fueling global networks was always silver. Giraldez shows how this most important of precious metals shaped world history, with influences that stretch to the present.
Background: Manila Galleon Trade