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Archive for December 17th, 2011

Warming Arctic permafrost adds fuel to climate change worries

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Katey M. Walter Anthony investigating a plume of methane

A bubble rose through a hole in the surface of a frozen lake. It popped, followed by another, and another, as if a pot were somehow boiling in the icy depths.

Every bursting bubble sent up a puff of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas generated beneath the lake from the decay of plant debris. These plants last saw the light of day 30,000 years ago and have been locked in a deep freeze — until now.

“That’s a hot spot,” declared Katey M. Walter Anthony, a leading scientist in studying the escape of methane. A few minutes later, she leaned perilously over the edge of the ice, plunging a bottle into the water to grab a gas sample.

It was another small clue for scientists struggling to understand one of the biggest looming mysteries about the future of the earth.

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Written by Ed Campbell

December 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Vermont frat suspended over “who to rape” survey

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Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The University of Vermont’s Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity is under investigation after a survey surfaced online asking fraternity brothers whom they would rape.

The national Sigma Phi Epsilon organization said in a statement that “the fraternity has instructed the chapter to cease all operations, pending further investigation.” It added that “any behavior that demeans women is not tolerated by the fraternity.”

Leadership from the fraternity’s national office was in Burlington on Wednesday, working with university administrators to look into the survey, which was discovered this week, CNN affiliate WCAX reported.

“We want to make sure that any individuals that were responsible for that document or any other faults are held accountable,” Tyler Boggess of Sigma Phi Epsilon told the affiliate.

It is technically free speech, and yet it is deplorable and just absolutely inappropriate and offensive,” Annie Stevens, associate vice president for student and campus life, told the affiliate.

Dumb, thoughtless, misogynist, dumb, out of touch with the real world and – in case I forgot it – dumb!

Written by Ed Campbell

December 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Pic of the Day

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People walk past an activist during an Animal Naturalis demonstration to promote vegetarianism in central Barcelona.

Uh, OK.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

New Delhi, is now more polluted than Beijing

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India has recently pulled far ahead of China on one dubious development marker – air pollution in the country’s capital.

The air quality in New Delhi now often measures significantly worse than the air quality in Beijing, according to real-time air monitors run by the Indian and U.S. governments in both cities.

New Delhi, a landlocked, fast-growing metropolis of more than 16 million people, is regularly shrouded by haze and smog (sometimes euphemistically referred to as fog) in winter months, as barometric pressure and cooler air mix with construction dust, smoke from cow dung fires and car exhaust, which then hover over the city for days.

But this year, the air quality in New Delhi has seemed noticeably worse than previous years as the summer heat dissipates…

Cooling temperatures are trapping air pollution created by a rising number of cars, which is being supplemented by dusty winds from the northwest, said G. Beig, the program director of the air monitoring program at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology…

A database recently published by the World Health Organization also shows New Delhi with higher pollution levels than Beijing, but that database relies on official government figures. Beijing’s government has been criticized for down-playing the city’s pollution problems, and recently began tours of its air monitoring facilities.

The air quality both places doth verily suck. In truth, China has proven to be spending a higher portion of the national budget on fighting pollution than India – and many Western nations that were finally pushed into action a century or more after the industrial revolution.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 17, 2011 at 10:00 am

Jilted husband discovered cheating wife was serial bigamist

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A former holiday camp worker was exposed as a serial bigamist when her jilted second husband filed for divorce and discovered she had two other marriages.

Steven Baker was horrified to discover that his estranged wife Danielle Loxton, 37, had also married two of his friends. At one point two of Loxton’s husbands worked together at a Pontins holiday camp, unaware quite how much they had in common.

Details of Miss Loxton’s tangled private life were outlined at Nottingham Crown Court after she pleaded guilty to two counts of bigamy in a case her own defence barrister described as “bizarre”.

The mother-of-two was given a suspended sentence after the court heard that she thought she had got divorced before remarrying but “couldn’t lay her hands on” the paperwork.

Loxton first walked up the aisle in 1994 with Peter Clarke, while she was working as a cleaner at the holiday park in Southport, Merseyside, the court heard.

She helped get Mr Clarke a job there as a kitchen porter and, although they later separated, they continued working together there on-and-off and never formally divorced, the court was told.

She then set her sights on Steven Baker, a manager at the holiday park, whom she married in 1999. They had a son together and moved away to live in Nottingham.

But a few years later, while she was pregnant with what Mr Baker thought was their second child, Loxton left him, telling him she wanted to move back to Southport.

He initiated divorce proceedings in 2004 but discovered not only that the child was not his but that she was still married to Mr Clarke – whom he knew from Pontins.

The divorce went through but, the court heard, some time later Mr Baker’s solicitor alerted him to the fact that Loxton had married again in August 2006, this time to Stacey Porter – another old friend.

It then emerged that she was still married to Mr Clarke and the matter was referred to the police…

Adrian Reynolds, defending, said Loxton had taken steps to getting divorced from Mr Clarke but had apparently cut corners…

“It is difficult to pinpoint anything she has gained from it, her life seems to be a succession of failed relationships, it is just a bizarre case.”

You have to wonder how someone this casual about the law does – with parking tickets and paying taxes?

Written by Ed Campbell

December 17, 2011 at 6:00 am

They fell from the sky! WTF?

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An avalanche of more than 100 apples rained down over a main road in Keresley, Coventry on Monday night. The street was left littered with apples after they pelted car windscreens and bonnets just after rush-hour. The bizarre downpour may have been caused by a current of air that lifted the fruit from a garden or orchard, releasing it over the junction of Keresley Road and Kelmscote Road.

Woo-hoo!

Written by Ed Campbell

December 17, 2011 at 2:00 am

Posted in Earth, WTF

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