SeaOrbiter: the spaceship orbiting the Blue Planet – interactive | Environment |


sea orbiter (image: courtesy the guardian)

sea orbiter (image: courtesy the guardian)

SeaOrbiter: the spaceship orbiting the Blue Planet – interactive | Environment |

Fantastic; follow the link above for interactive graphic…

7 Dodgy Food Practices Banned in Europe But Just Fine Here | Mother Jones

7 Dodgy Food Practices Banned in Europe But Just Fine Here | Mother Jones.

US-Russia Peace Conference for Syria

The Secular Jurist

Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow this week. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin.)

It’s an open question whether the new US-Russian initiative to convene a peace conference over Syria can work or not. But it’s the right move at the right time. It was welcomed by Lakhdar Brahimi, the beleaguered United Nations representative on Syria, who’s hinted that he might resign over the diplomatic impasse thus far. “This is the first hopeful news concerning that unhappy country in a very long time,” said Brahimi.

The peace conference would be based on a 2012 joint resolution issued by the United States, Russia and others.

The bombs-away crowd isn’t happy. Elliot Abrams, the neoconservative hardliner who worked for George W. Bush and then somehow found his way into the Council on Foreign Relations, issued a fiery blast at President Obama and Secretary…

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Atmospheric CO2 levels on the verge of hitting 400 ppm

The Secular Jurist

Since 1956, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has been gathering data on how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere — a very basic measure of how humans are transforming the planet and setting the stage for future climate change.

The so-called Keeling Curve is attracting even more attention than usual this month, as the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is on the verge of hitting 400 parts per million, a new milestone (the readings hit 399.71 on Tuesday):


Notice that the curve is jagged. As humans keep burning fossil fuels, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has wafted upward over time. But there are seasonal fluctuations, too. When trees in the Northern Hemisphere bloom in the spring and summer, they absorb a lot of that carbon. When the leaves wilt in the winter, carbon returns to the air and readings spike. The curve is a record of…

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National Geographic Photo Contest 2011 – In Focus – StumbleUpon


eruption of the cordon del caulle (image: ricardo mohr; courtesy stumbleupon)

eruption of the cordon del caulle (image: ricardo mohr; courtesy stumbleupon)

National Geographic Photo Contest 2011 – In Focus – StumbleUpon.

It’s not clear what StumbleUpon thinks it’s doing recycling this year old series, but many of these images are quite magnificent and worth viewing if you missed them first time around.

Stephen Hawking pulls out of Israeli academic conference citing Palestinian boycott

Japanese Sex Museum Revisited

Abandoned Kansai

I visited the *Japanese Sex Museum* for the first time in March of 2012 – it was not only a very unique exploration, it was also a very long one, me spending about 4 hours in the pitch-black exhibition rooms.
About 2 months later *I went to Kyushu and failed miserably* when I was unable to find a hotel room due to Japan’s wanderlust during Golden Week. I can be quite persistent, so I went back down south a week or two later to explore the northern Kyushu locations I was eager to visit for quite a while. This time everything went according to plan, so my tour ended in Yamaguchi prefecture with half a day to spare. So I jumped on a train and went back to the Japanese Sex Museum.
A ton of people watched the walking tour video I shot there, but while the feedback was generally…

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The 33 Most Beautiful Abandoned Places In The World – StumbleUpon

The 33 Most Beautiful Abandoned Places In The World – StumbleUpon.

To my astonishment, I received my weekly selection from StumbleUpon today, for the first time in months.  The premise of this particular selection is neatly encapsulated in the title, but is not without problems.  Two examples come to mind: Bodiam Castle in East Sussex and “The Tunnel of Love” in Ukraine.

In the case of Bodiam Castle, the partial ruin is under the care of the National Trust and is open to the public/tourists.  The surrounding rolling fields are kept from reverting to meadow by sheep and the moat is stocked with carp.  At least such was the case the last time I visited.  One of my favourite memories is having a picnic with Dad and my stepmother during one of their visits; Dad romping over the partial ruins as though a young boy imagining himself Prince Valiant.

While I’m not familiar with the legendary “Tunnel of Love” in Ukarine, a glance at the photo indicates it is not abandoned in the sense some of the other sites clearly are.  It doesn’t require detailed examination of the photo to receive the impression this is a landscape which is also managed.

Another issue arises from the subjective claim this selection represents the most beautiful to be found.  That could well be subject of another, separate rant.  Nevertheless, all the photos are very interesting…I hope you enjoy them.

Corporate Cowards Divert Shareholder Funds into “Dark Money” by Jim Hightower on – A Syndicate Of Talent

Corporate Cowards Divert Shareholder Funds into “Dark Money” by Jim Hightower on – A Syndicate Of Talent.

Yet more plain dealing from my favourite Texan

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizen United edict in 2010, such groups can now pour unlimited sums of corporate cash into elections without ever disclosing the names of their funders. This “dark money” channel has essentially established secret political campaigning in America.

That’s why shareholders and other democracy advocates are asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to rule that the corporate giants it regulates must reveal to shareholders all political donations their executives make with corporate funds. After all, the millions of dollars the executives are using to play politics don’t belong to them — it is shareholder money. And by no means do shareholders march in lockstep on which political candidates to support or oppose.

Hide and seek can be a fun game for kids, but it’s infuriating when CEOs play it in our elections. Last year, corporate interests sought to elect their candidates by hiding much of their politicking not only from company owners but also from voters.

In all, $352 million in “dark money” poured into our 2012 elections, the bulk of it from corporations that covertly pumped it into secretive trade associations and such scams as “social welfare charities,” run by the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers.

Since underhanded, anonymous electioneering puts a fatal curse on democracy, the SEC should at least compel corporate managers to tell their owners — i.e., the shareholders — how and on whom their money is being gambled in political races. It’s a simple reform, but — oh, lordy — what a fury it has caused among the political players.

A rare joint letter from the U.S. Chamber, Business Roundtable and National Association of Manufacturers has been sent to the CEOs of the 200 largest corporations in our country, rallying them to the barricades in a frenetic lobbying effort to stop this outbreak of honest, democratic disclosure.

House Republicans are even going to the extreme of trying to make it illegal for the SEC to let shareholders (and the voting public) know which campaigns are being backed by cash from which corporations. Hyperventilating, these powerful scaredy cats claim to be intimidated by the very suggestion that they tell the people what they’re doing in public elections.

Their panic over having a little sunlight shine into their deepest bunker reveals just how destructive they intend dark money to be for our democracy. Ironically, the Supreme Court’s chief assumption in allowing unlimited corporate cash into the democratic process was that shareholders would be informed and involved, and provide public accountability for their companies’ political spending.