Archive | December, 2012

Wild & Weird: ‘Unicorn Lair’ Found in North Korea?

31 Dec

by the Center for Biological DiversityDomenichinounicornPalFarnese_Kim_Jong_Un

Strange news out of North Korea: According to a highly suspect report from the state news agency, archaeologists have identified a “unicorn lair” in the city of Pyongyang said to have belonged to King Tonmyong, a figure who, legend holds, founded the ancient Korean kingdom Koguryo.

We don’t pretend to understand all the nuances at play here — is “unicorn” even the right translation of the rock carving outside the alleged lair? Still, we have to admit we’re intrigued. (Though there was no mention as to how such a lair had sat, undetected, in the city of more than 3 million for so long.)

North Korea’s state media has a knack for making overly bold statements. In this case, it has sparked a debate about language, mythology and the origins of Korea’s first capital.

Wild & Weird: For Rock-like Creature, It Only Takes One to Tango

31 Dec

by the Center for Biological DiversityPyura_chilensis

Pyura chilensis, a rock-like creature with guts and clear blood, dwells on the ocean floor just past the wave breaks along the coast of Chile and Peru. Covered in a stony exterior that conceals flaming red insides, these extraordinary fellas are born male but become intersexed with female gonads at puberty, thus avoiding the painful pangs of adolescent pining. They’re able to reproduce through so-called “selfing” orgies.
 
That’s not to say that P. chilensis is antisocial — indeed, if given the chance these guys do prefer mating by dating. But when mates aren’t available, selfing will suffice: In an undersea spasm of fertility, eggs and sperm are released in a cloud, producing tadpole-like youngsters that will eventually develop the rocky countenances of their happily single mom-dads.
 
Local people crack open these stony libertines and eat their guts raw or stewed, rendering what some have described as a “bitter” and “soapy” taste.
 

 


Manchester: An Environmental Battleground

31 Dec

demand_tryptic (1)

On Thursday, December 27th, in Houston, TX, residents of Manchester gathered with allies to issue new demands on Valero. “We demand to know what you are forcing us to breathe!  ¡Exigimos saber lo que nos están obligando a respirar!”  The community came together in a celebration of unity and strength.  Manchester is populated almost completely by Latin@s, and surrounded on all sides by industry.  A massive Valero refinery looms over the community’s only park and its smokestacks poison the people who live there 24 hours a day 365 days a year.  Manchester is plagued by a long list of diseases and ailments including asthma, respiratory disease and inflammation, infertility, birth defects, and a myriad of deadly cancers.  The National Disease Clusters Alliance reports (pg. 2) that children living within two miles of the Houston Ship Channel have a 56% higher likelihood of developing leukemia than those who live more than ten miles away.

Anarchists and Tar Sands Blockaders helped to facilitate the gathering based on principles of mutual aid and solidarity. A barbecue was held less than one block away from the Valero refinery that poisons the neighborhood.  A sign proclaimed, “EVERYONE WELCOME! TODⒶS BIENVENIDⒶS!” accompanied by a free store containing many warm clothing items, books from Tony Diaz’s project, Librotraficante, live music from an Occupy Wall Street member, and toys for children collected and donated by Cherri Foytlin. Cherri, an indigenous woman, and mother of six, chained herself to a Keystone XL Pipeyard gate on October 24th, a Tar Sands Blockade action.

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Fallen Warrior: Becky Tarbotton

28 Dec

Cross Posted from Democracy Now!

Leading environmentalist and human rights champion Rebecca “Becky” Tarbotton, executive director of the organization Rainforest Action Network (RAN), has died at the age of 39.

According to RAN, Tarbotton died Wednesday on a beach in Mexico while vacationing with her husband and friends. The coroner ruled cause of death as asphyxiation from water she breathed in while swimming.

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Happy Birthday Panagioti, Stay Wild, Stay Weird

28 Dec
donttreadonme

This Photoshopped image of Panagioti, which first appeared in this Lake Worth Wingnut article is, despite being doctored, a pretty decent metaphor for the inner fire of this biocentric patriot. You can imagine that he used the sword in his hand to do battle against the imperialist flag behind him. You could also imagine that his pants became tattered in a heated orgy with a badger and a mountain lion.

by Russ McSpadden

If industrial civilization were to collapse any time soon–and its looking like it could happen any day now–it’d be in no small part due to the rather outrageous and tireless misadventures of a little known biocentric biped called Panagioti. 

Though he has no formal education past 10th grade — “diploma-free and proud” as he’d say — you’d be hard pressed to find a smarter and more politically influential animal amongst the more radical environmental milieu, especially in the South. He’s also a real sweetheart, a soon-to-be-father, my best friend and all around nice guy and superhero.

And over the years I’ve had the honor of  witnessing,  participating, and hearing stories of some of the nobler, crazier, illegaler, stupider, and just plane unbelievable acts of resistance and folly he’s helped organize. And, since its his birthday today, I thought I might embarrass him a little and honor him in some small way by sharing a smattering of those stories. I invite others (and especially family) to add their own accounts in the comments section, should they be inclined. Continue reading

As the World Warms, the Future of Skiing Looks Bleak

28 Dec

from Off the Road / Smithsonian.com

The lodge at Bolivia’s Chacaltaya Glacier was once the world’s highest ski resort—until the glacier melted away almost entirely in just 20 years. The lodge closed its ski facilities in 2009 and stands today amid a rocky, almost snowless moonscape. Photo courtesy of Flickr user ksfc84.

The lodge at Bolivia’s Chacaltaya Glacier was once the world’s highest ski resort—until the glacier melted away almost entirely in just 20 years. The lodge closed its ski facilities in 2009 and stands today amid a rocky, almost snowless moonscape. Photo courtesy of Flickr user ksfc84.

As polar bears watch their winter ice recede farther and farther from boggy Arctic shores each year, skiers may notice a similar trend occurring in the high mountain ranges that have long been their wintertime playgrounds. Here, in areas historically buried in many feet of snow each winter, climate change is beginning to unfurl visibly, and for those who dream of moguls and fresh powder, the predictions of climatologists are grim: By 2050, Sierra Nevada winter snowpack may have decreased by as much as 70 percent from average levels of today; in the Rockies, the elevation of full winter snow cover may increase from 7,300 feet today to 10,300 feet by the year 2100; in Aspen, the ski season could retreat at both ends by a total of almost two months; and throughout the Western United States, average snow depths could decline by anywhere between 25 and—yep—100 percent. Continue reading

Wild & Weird: Winged Funerals

28 Dec

by the Center for Biological Diversitywsja3

When western scrub jays spot the lifeless body of another on the ground, they cease their foraging and flight to alert fellow jays. And from great distances the others come, gathering around their dead and singing their cacophonous dirge — what ornithologists call “zeeps,” “scolds” and “zeep-scolds” — to encourage those even farther away to attend.

According to a recent study published in the journal Animal Behaviour, these funerary rites help jays share information about nearby danger. In the study, Western scrub jays reacted differently to a series of objects set out by observers from the University of California, Davis: They attempted to scare off a stuffed predator, scolded a stuffed jay, ignored painted scraps resembling a dead jay, but gathered to better understand the implications of a true death.

Of course, such practical yet metaphysical contemplation isn’t entirely shocking coming from such a smart bird. Recent research also suggests western scrub jays may be among the most intelligent animals, with a brain-to-body-mass ratio that rivals that of chimps and whales and an uncanny ability to plan for the future — long believed a uniquely human trait.

Read more in BBC Nature.

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