Posts filed under ‘The World’
Here’s an interesting article by Tom Yulsman over at the Discover Magazine blog about Russia and Crimea. Included are satellite images like this one:
And this important tidbit:
Lastly, this broad view gives a sense of Crimea’s strategic importance. For the Russians, the base at Sevastopol is one of just three that provide access to the world’s oceans. The others are in the Murmansk region on the Barents Sea, and Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean.
So, I would think that when Vladmir Putin tells President Obama that Russia has a “right to protect its interests” in the region, Russia’s access to the world’s oceans is probably one of them.
Wow. Check out the stark contrast between North Korea and China and South Korea in this NASA photo taken on January 30 from the International Space Station. There is so little light coming from North Korea it looks like a watery area:
Flying over East Asia, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) took this night image of the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea is almost completely dark compared to neighboring South Korea and China. The darkened land appears as if it were a patch of water joining the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan. Its capital city, Pyongyang, appears like a small island, despite a population of 3.26 million (as of 2008). The light emission from Pyongyang is equivalent to the smaller towns in South Korea.
You might remember back in January when President Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to Norway, George Tsunis, embarrassed himself and, in my opinion, all of us, during his confirmation hearing when it became obvious he didn’t know much at all about that country.
Well, Obama’s done it again, i.e., he’s nominated a rich campaign contributor to be ambassador to Argentina and the guy hasn’t even been there.
During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing for political consultant Noah Mamet, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) asked “Mr. Mamet, have you been to Argentina?”
“Senator, I haven’t had the opportunity yet to be there,” Mamet replied. “I’ve traveled pretty extensively around the world, but I haven’t yet had a chance.”
Rubio said he thought Mamet’s resume was “impressive” but cautioned that the ambassadorship in Argentina was a “very significant post,” and it is perhaps more so now that the country’s currency has plunged.
As Slate’s Dave Weigel pointed out, Mamet bundled at least $500,000 for Obama’s campaign, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s figures.
Shouldn’t having been to a country be kind of like, oh, I don’t know, the minimum requirement for being appointed ambassador to that country?
I guarantee you won’t see this on the corporate media tonight:
Happening today at 6:33 p.m. ET:
And there’s this tidbit about We the People having the right to assemble:
I’ll say it again: I’m going to die at the right time. I knew the planet when it was relatively clean. Good luck to today’s kids. They’re going to need it. Oil/gas and coal companies (oh, and Monsanto) are destroying the only home we know, thanks to politicians who are owned by the corporatocracy.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park — a supposedly protected natural area containing thousands of reefs, which together are visible from space and attract nearly $6 billion a year in tourism — is a pretty terrible place to dump loads of silt. But it’s happening: The federal agency that governs the reef approved plans to dump up to 3 million cubic meters of silt that will be dredged from the marine park to help carve a superhighway for tankers ferrying coal to Asia.
It’s the final piece in Australian Prime Minister (and known climate denier) Tony Abbott’s already-approved master plan to dredge the shipping lane, expand an existing coal terminal, and extensively mine the northeastern state of Queensland for coal.
Reuters reports that backers of the coal export project, including two Indian firms and the heiress to an Australian mining empire, hope to deliver an estimated $28 billion of coal to Asian markets once it’s complete.
Oh, and to everyone who has a kid under 40: Get out there and make noise if you care what their life will be like when they’re your age, not to mention your grandkids. Geezus.
A Newly Detected Fracture Suggests That Tectonic Forces are Pulling the Continents Together Once Again.
Geologists mapping seismic activity and underwater topography off the coast of Portugal say the tectonic forces that once split and spread the ancient supercontinent Pangea across the surface of the globe appear to be shifting into reverse, setting our existing continents on an eventual collision course.
Just kidding! No, I’m not going to worry about this but I wonder what would cause the plates move back toward each other. Interesting.
I find it appauling that President Obama would nominate someone who knows absolutely nothing about a country, in this case Norway, to be my/our representative to that country.
From Norway’s News in English:
Future US Envoy Displays Total Ignorance of Norway
The US’s next ambassador to Norway has committed a jaw-dropping diplomatic blunder before he even begins, describing politicians from the Progress Party, which has seven ministers, as “fringe elements” that “spew their hatred” in a US Senate hearing.Asked by Senator John McCain what he thought it was about the “anti-immigration” Progress Party that appealed to Norwegian voters, Greek American businessman George Tsunis seemed unaware of the party’s role in the ruling coalition.“You get some fringe elements that have a microphone and spew their hatred,” he said in the pre-appointment hearing. “And I will tell you Norway has been very quick to denounce them.”McCain interrupted him, pointing out that as part of the coalition, the party was hardly being denounced.“I stand corrected,” Tsunis said after a pause. ”I would like to leave my answer at… it’s a very,very open society and the overwhelming amount of Norwegians and the overwhelming amount of people in parliament don’t feel the same way.”The blunder came after a faltering, incoherent performance from Tsunis, in which he made a reference to Norway’s “president”, apparently under the impression that the country is a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy.
[Tsunis] donated $267,244to the Democratic party in the 2012 election cycle, and $278,531 in 2010, making him one of the party’s top individual donors.
This is so cool:
When it comes to understanding the Earth’s geology, many researchers are just scratching the surface. Literally. With drills and picks and axes.
But in Germany, a decades-old drilling site lets scientists (and one Dutch artist) go much deeper—nearly 6 miles below the surface. And they’ve brought up a guttural voice from deep inside the Earth.
The drilling shut down due to lack of funding in the 1990s, but research has continued since then to paint a picture of this underground landscape. And in the last year, a Dutch artist named Lotte Geeven decided the emerging image needed a soundtrack, too.
Geeven worked with scientists and sound engineers to give voice to the subterranean world. She recorded sounds and took seismic readings at the borehole’s base. There doesn’t appear to be any explicit description of what the groaning and moaning sounds actually are (perhaps seismic waves adjusted to be audible to the human ear, suggests The Verge) but they are certainly worth a listen.
Go here to listen to the tape. (Scroll down)
Hey, Americans, we’ve reached another We’re Number One milestone:
Zurich, Switzerland – 30th December 2013 – WIN/Gallup International, the leading global association in market research and polling, has today published, in collaboration with The BBC’s Today programme, the results of its annual End of Year Survey which explores the outlook, expectations, hopes and fears of people from 65 countries around the world.
- Despite a year of economic difficulty, almost 50% of people surveyed are more positive about 2014 than they were for 2013;
- US, Canada and Australia are the countries where most people would like to live if they could;
- US is considered to be the greatest threat to peace in the world, followed by Pakistan and China…
Sadly, I agree, but I would put Pakistan second and possibly North Korea third. I’d leave China out.
It’s hard to fathom:
Larger version here.
One of the most beautiful YouTube videos I’ve ever seen. Enjoy.
This article, from the Australian newspaper, The Herald, is about Ivan Macfadyen’s trek from Melbourne to Osaka, ten years go and then again this past spring:
IT was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.
Not the absence of sound, exactly.
The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.
And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.
What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.
The birds were missing because the fish were missing.
Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.
“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.
But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.
No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.
But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.
North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.
“All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship,” he said.
And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.
“And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish,” he said.
“They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.
“We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That’s what they would have done with them anyway, they said.
Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.
No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.
If that sounds depressing, it only got worse.
After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.
“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.
“In a lot of places we couldn’t start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That’s an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.
Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils.
And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.
Tough as it is, I recommend reading the whole article. It isn’t all that long and it’s good to get a first-person account — with a first-person, ten-year perspective — as opposed to reading about “what scientists predict…”
Far as I know, what Macfadyen experienced is what scientists are predicting will happen 30, 40 years from now, not RIGHT NOW.
I knew someone who had this “Histomap — Four Thousand Years of World History” on their bedroom wall as a kid but I hadn’t thought about it for years until I read about it again today at Slate:
This “Histomap,” created by John B. Sparks, was first printed by Rand McNally in 1931.
This giant, ambitious chart fit neatly with a trend in nonfiction book publishing of the 1920s and 1930s: the “outline,” in which large subjects (the history of the world! every school of philosophy! all of modern physics!) were distilled into a form comprehensible to the most uneducated layman.
The 5-foot-long Histomap was sold for $1 and [presented],
the actual picture of the march of civilization, from the mud huts of the ancients thru the monarchistic glamour of the middle ages to the living panorama of life in present day America.
The chart emphasizes domination, using color to show how the power of various “peoples” (a quasi-racial understanding of the nature of human groups, quite popular at the time) evolved throughout history.
The United States, despite all its bluster, is but a ripple in the sea when it comes to countries that have had an influence on the lives of people on this planet and on the direction history has taken.
One of the most beautiful photos ever via astronaut Karen L. Nyberg. “Sunset:”
I’m junking out — looking for flat brainwaves tonight — watching “19 Kids and Counting.”
What a mistake.
The Duggars are touring Japan.
Dad “Jim Bob” (along with his wife and their 19 kids) is trying to find his way to a hotel. He’s having a hard time getting directions and he’s frustrated and irritated that “nobody speaks English.”
(Just sayin’: If someone from Japan plopped down in the middle of Little Rock, Arkansas (near where the Duggars live) how many people would speak Japanese?)
He’s trying to be polite. When people don’t know what he’s saying (i.e., they don’t speak English), he thanks them anyway by saying, “Gracias.”
Jim Bob you’re embarrassing. How about taking the time to learn how to say THANK YOU in the native tongue of the country you visit next time around? Is that too much to ask while you complain about nobody knowing English?
(For those who don’t get the “Ugly American” reference, here’s more on that.)
Love this photo of Venice — it looks so tiny! — from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who’s aboard the International Space Station:
Click here for larger version.
William Rivers Pitt, a real journalist — we need a thousand more like him — on the run up to the Iraq war:
Over the last few years, MSNBC refashioned itself as the progressive news alternative to networks like Fox and CNN by giving Keith Olbermann an opportunity to do actual journalism on television for a few years, and by putting people like Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz front and center. Even Chris Matthews, the human weathervane, appears to have gotten the memo. But I remember a phone call I got from an MSNBC producer in February of 2003. Hans Blix and his weapons inspectors had not been in Iraq for 100 hours when this woman called me on my cell, told me she’d read my book, and asked me to appear on the network. There was, however, one caveat: she told me I was expected to argue that Blix and the inspectors were doing a terrible job and should be ignored, which just happened to be the exact line being peddled at the time by the Bush administration. I told the producer that I did not agree, that the inspectors needed to be given time to do their jobs, and that undermining them might lead to a devastating war. The MSNBC producer chuffed a cigarette-roughened laugh into my phone and hung up on me.
That happened – I remember the details not only because of how gruesome the conversation was, but because when she hung up on me, I almost lost control of my car and nearly wound up in the Charles River – and the fact of it tells you everything you need to know about MSNBC and the rest of the alphabet-soup cohort that is America’s “mainstream” news media. I did not do what that MSNBC producer asked me to, but you can bet all the money you have that she found someone who would a few phone calls later. You might have even seen it on TV.
The war against Iraq, in the end, was nothing more or less than a massive money-laundering operation that took American taxpayer dollars, soaked them in blood, and redirected them to Certain Friends In High Places. It was, as I said years ago, a smash-and-grab robbery[*] writ large, aided and abetted by an American “news” media which had its own profit motive, and which made a nifty sum off the whole deal. Even better for them, today they get to enjoy the ratings and advertising dollars to come when they broadcast their somber “documentaries” about how terrible it all was, how many lies were told, how many mistakes were made, and all without ever looking inward at their own enormous complicity.
* Halliburton, KBR, United Defense, the Carlyle Group, independent military contractors like Blackwater and a crowd of American oil companies are still counting the riches they earned from their participation in the carnage.
I’m proud to say I was one of the millions of people around the world who demonstrated (more than once) against the war. It has turned out pretty much exactly as I feared.
Far as I can tell, the Discover folks haven’t written anything more about it because the link in the tweet (above) redirects to this, which isn’t new.
Anyway, we now know they found bacteria and that they’re very excited about it. Now we wait to see if it’s a bacteria scientists recognize. Or not.
Again, I’ll continue to update on this cool real-life mystery.
53-year-old Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut. On December 21, 2012 he arrived at the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz for a “long duration stay.”
Since his arrival he has been posting absolutely gorgeous photos to his Twitter account, which you can find (and follow) here. If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, click on the photos on the left to begin looking at them.
Here are a few of my favorites. Incredible:
Again, go here to follow Commander Hadfield, to see more pix, or both!
I always look forward to taking in the winning photos in the National Geographic Photo Contest. There are three categories: Nature, People and Places.
Here is the Grand Prize winner and Nature category winner for 2012:
Photo and caption by Ashley Vincent.
- The subject’s name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioural shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favourably on me that day!
- photo location:
- Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Chonburi, Thailand
Go here to see them all. Gorgeous.
Here’s Earth Science’s Picture of the Day. So beautiful:
The photo above shows a view from inside of Antelope Slot Canyon, Arizona, looking up and out. A shaft of sunlight illuminates its corkscrew interior. At this location in the sinuous canyon the distance from the bottom to the top is about 33 ft (10 m). Antelope Canyon snakes through Navajo sandstone, across the high desert of far northern Arizona, for roughly 5 mi ( 8 km). It’s the most visited and the most photographed slot canyon in the U.S. Photo taken in summer 2012.
Pew is out with another of their current events quizzes, this one is about global attitudes toward the United States. I took it and didn’t do well at all. I scored a miserable 40% but it was educational; some of the correct answers were pretty surprising.
If you’re interested, take it here.
Paul Wolfowitz was a guest on Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN yesterday. Yes, CNN. You know, that raving liberal station.
So undoubtedly Zakaria and Wolfowitz, international war criminal, had a frank and honest discussion, right?
Since when do we look back and think of Bush’s wars of choice that have killed untold hundreds of thousands as his — or our – “freedom agenda” and one of the major players who lied us into those wars as “the brain?”
Yo. Fareed. I’m looking at you.
Before the murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya on Tuesday evening I (embarrassingly) didn’t know a thing about Coptic Christians. Here’s a primer I came across today, FYI: What Journalists Need to Know About Coptic Christians.
This, from Gallup, is interesting:
Nearly all Libyans (95%) surveyed early this spring, before Tuesday’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, agreed that local militias should be required to hand in their weapons to authorities immediately.
The attack on the U.S. Consulate comes at a time when the new Libyan government is struggling to establish its authority over the whole of the country, with many groups that opposed Gadhafi remaining heavily armed after the conflict. Attacks in recent weeks on Sufi mosques and shrines highlight the increasing militancy of ultra-conservative Salafi groups in the country and the government’s inability to stop them.
So, let’s stay calm and not blame all Libyians for what happened two nights ago.
If you Google “overfishing” or “depleted fish” you get a ton of hits containing words like threat, crisis, alarming and ever-greater danger. And it’s no wonder. Who knew there were monster ships out there capable of catching — get this — 275 tons of fish per day.
Environmental campaigners have attempted to stop one of the world’s largest trawlers reaching Port Lincoln in South Australia.
The Greenpeace campaign group has launched an online petition to stop the Dutch registered FV Margiris from being allowed to trawl for fish off southern Australia, saying the vessel is too big and will cause damage to the environment.
A Greenpeace video showed a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) attempting on Thursday to tie up alongside the 143 metre-long trawler before a pilot launch pushed it out of the way.
At nearly 9,500 tonnes, the group says the Margiris will be the largest vessel ever to fish in Australian waters and says it can catch and process 275 tonnes of fish per day.
The operators of the vessel, Seafish Tasmania, say its size allows it to process and freeze its catch storing it on board for weeks at a time.
It also says so-called bycatch is minimal. Greenpeace says dolphins, seals and sharks will also be caught in its net.
One can only imagine what this planet is going to look like in 50 years.
My friend Kathy E. sent me this NASA animation the other day. I had no idea there were so many fires burning on this planet at any given time. Incredible.
Fascinating NASA Earth Observatory animation shows the annual pulsing of fires (number, not size!) around the world. The space agency’s description:
On Earth, something is always burning. Wildfires are started by lightning or accidentally by people, and people use controlled fires to manage farmland and pasture and clear natural vegetation for farmland. Fires can generate large amounts of smoke pollution, release greenhouse gases, and unintentionally degrade ecosystems. But fires can also clear away dead and dying underbrush, which can help restore an ecosystem to good health. In many ecosystems, including boreal forests and grasslands, plants have co-evolved with fire and require periodic burning to reproduce.
The fire maps show the locations of actively burning fires around the world on a monthly basis, based on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The colors are based on a count of the number (not size) of fires observed within a 1,000-square-kilometer area.
Last week I posted a link to the 12,000-some photographs submitted to the annual National Geographic Traveler’s photo contest. Today, the winners were announced.
Here’s the First Place Winner. It’s titled: Butterfly:
And this is my favorite of those that placed. It’s a Merit winner and it’s titled: Lost in Time — An Ancient Forest:
Gorgeous. Look at those magnificent, other-worldly Baobab trees.
Go here to see the whole gallery.
One of the things I’m going to do this weekend is set aside time to browse the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012. After a quick peek just now, I can tell there are some amazing photos there (12,385 in all).
A few of my early faves:
You can vote on the photos by clicking like.
Again, go here.
I have been following this fairly closely because I am totally opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine; more specifically, to its continued encroachment into Palestinian territory with their “settlements:”
This afternoon promises a defining moment in Pittsburgh, when the US Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly votes on whether to divest from three companies that do business in the Israeli occupation. Here are updates via Twitter and we’re liveblogging the assembly, keeping you updated on developments.
Click on the link immediately above to go to the liveblog.
I hope they vote to divest and I hope if they do, it will start a wave of divestments by universities and towns and companies everywhere. Maybe at some point the U.S. will actually cut the billions and billions it gives Israel every year if they don’t stop terrorizing and blockading Palestine.