Earth


A photo of a desperate young Palestinian boy, badly wounded and screaming for his father as he clutches at the shirt of a paramedic in a hospital, has captured the tragic and bloody tension of the Gazan conflict.

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Shirtless and with cuts to his face, torso, arms and legs, the child clings to the hospital worker who is attempting to lay him flat on a girdle.

The Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian publication, reports the photo, taken at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City last Thursday, was captioned with the boy’s desperate cry: ‘I want my father, bring me my father’, according to Fairfax.

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The Palestinian paper claims the young boy was one of four siblings brought to the hospital wounded, two of them just three years old.

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It comes as grinning Israeli tank commanders were pictured flashing the victory signs as they blast their way through Gaza in the bloodiest day of the offensive so far – as one resident of the troubled region said: ‘The gate of hell has opened.’

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At least 65 people have been killed since this yesterday’s dawn strike on Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood – including the son, daughter-in-law and two small grandchildren of a senior Hamas leader.

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Hamas says it has captured an Israeli soldier – a scenario that has proven to be fraught with difficulties for the country in the past – but Israel’s U.N. Ambassador has denied the claims.

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The neighbourhood has come under heavy tank fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas, causing hundreds of residents to flee.

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The dead and wounded – including dozens of women and children – have reportedly been left in streets, with ambulances unable to approach.

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Source: (July 21, 2014)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699772/This-desperate-little-boy-face-tragedy-Palestinian-toddler-clutches-shirt-hospital-worker-screaming-I-want-father-bring-father.html?ito=social-facebook

Animal rights groups said they will oppose at North Hempstead‘s town board (Long Island-New York), meeting Tuesday night a controversial plan to remove Canada geese from parks by euthanizing them.

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A torrent of criticism followed Newsday’s report Sunday on a permanent way to cope with 600 geese that officials said eat grass in town parks and foul waterways and fields with droppings. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is surveying the situation, said its preferred method of euthanasia is carbon dioxide; in response, the town said Monday, it has received 20 calls and emails.

One animal advocacy group has mounted an online petition; another called the proposal “monstrous.”

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Edita Birnkrant, New York director of Friends of Animals, an international group, said the town should consider alternative measures, such as modifying the geese’s landscape. Because geese prefer areas where they can watch for predators, the town could let grass grow taller and plant shrubs and trees to block their sight lines.

The town said it has tried, with little success, to scare off the geese, with noisemakers and specially trained dogs. Town spokesman Collin Nash said Monday in an email that “the Town is continuing to explore all options in regards to the public health and safety issue caused by the overpopulation of Canada geese.”

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The euthanasia solution, advocates contend, is shortsighted. “They’re going to defy the laws of nature and say there’s no geese allowed in North Hempstead airspace or they will be gassed to death,” said Birnkrant, who plans to address the board Tuesday night.

David Karopkin, director and founder of GooseWatch NYC, a group that has challenged geese removals citywide, called the town’s plan “egregiously cruel.” The group has an online petition — he said it has several hundred signatures — and commenters have posted on the group’s Facebookpage.

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“By killing the geese and creating a vacant desirable habitat, they’re ensuring that more geese will fly in to be killed next summer and the summer after that,” he said.

But Martin Lowney, New York State director of the USDA’s Wildlife Services program, argued other solutions come with a price. “You build a park so people can play soccer,” he said. “If you put in a forest, you’ll get rid of the geese, but you can’t play soccer. It’s a choice.”

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Advocates look to Mamaroneck, in Westchester County. The village’s mayor said a contract with the USDA was signed to cull the geese last December. But three trustees were newly elected to the board that fall, and after public hearings earlier this year the village amended the contract to exclude lethal eradication measures.

Mayor Norman Rosenblum called the change unfortunate, but added he was content with the deal: Eggs will be oiled and the village will buy a giant vacuum to clean up the droppings. But, he said, “within a day or two, it’s covered again.”

So he is hopeful North Hempstead won’t buckle under pressure. “I encourage the supervisor and board to go ahead with it,” he said.

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By SCOTT EIDLER , Newsday (Long Island-New York), May 14, 2013

 

The conversation fluctuates between a legendary Tunki coffee and a brand new pisco, Larroca, served up cold, in accordance with the tastes of its creator: Bernardo Roca Rey, architect of the Novoandino cuisine, exquisite epicure, president of the Peruvian Society of Gastronomy (APEGA), and the current promoter of the rescue and rehabilitation of Peru’s millions of acres of agricultural terraces.

How was this project born?
In the Ministry of Culture, during my time as Viceminster for Cultural Heritage, I had the the opportunity to be close to the issue of the terraces. Conserving the walls of the terraces is what the ministry must do with its archaeologists, and it works, but it is expensive. The other way is that the farms work them, and in so doing, they will also provide maintenance. If there are a million hectares of terraces, 700,000 of those are abandoned.

Up until 1999, there were programs to map the Andean terraces, but they have been abandoned. Days ago, in Mistura, we managed to gather together seven ministers to talk about the Andean diet, and one of them was Trivelli (Minister of Development), who has done studies of the terraces. APEGA goes hand-in-hand with two ideas: nutrition and social inclusion. In both cases, the Andean terraces are important to recuperate. If there are a million hectares, that’s a little bit more than 10% of all the arable land used for cultivation in Peru, and it’s a shame that that land isn’t being used.

What is the Ministry of Culture doing about it?
They have abandoned all of the projects that existed. There isn’t even a complete map of the terraces in Peru, where they are and which they are. They’ve identified barely 50% of them.

Is mapping the first step for their recuperation?
The first step is a pilot project: take 500 hectares and adopt them. The objective is that these lands, which are the most productive in Peru, offer the Peruvian restaurants of the world the Andean grains that are so fashionable. For years, I have been promoting the Novoandina cuisine, and among those crops are quinoa, oca, mashua, products which will soon be fashionable. We started with quinoa twenty years ago, and it’s a success today.

What is the idea? To give value added through the denomination of origin; having products that are introduced with the gastronomic boom and also grown on Andean terraces, some of which are three thousand years old. That a restaurant in Paris, for example, adopts a terrace and once a year offers roasted, glazed mashua. What you will have then is a cultural phenomenon which will allow for value to be added to the product, and the farmer will be well-paid.

Additionally, if they are crops from the VRAE, where there are many terraces, it can be another type of assistance. For example, the U.S. government and restaurants in the U.S. could receive those crops, which are also organic. Everything goes hand-in-hand: biodiversity, ancestral crops, new cuisine, boutique agriculture, all of those go together and break the inertia. And that the state puts in $500 million to save a certain number of terraces.


Where will you realize the pilot project?

The closer to Lima, the easier. In APEGA, we have a project with the Interamerican Development Bank, which has given us $3 million as a nonrefundable amount for supply chains, and with part of that we could begin to work on this subject.

I firmly believe that the Andean diet is related to the terraces, so that all of the ministry portfolios are related to this: Tourism, Agriculture, Social Inclusion and Health. The issue is in the hands of the state. I have calculated that it takes an average of $5,800 to recover one hectare. In APEGA, we can recover 100, but with the state or help from abroad, we could recover thousands. Some villagers in Ayacucho are already willing, and the corn that they haven’t grown for a while could be cultivated there. There is a fungus, which in Mexico they eat and call huitlacoche, which contaminates the corn crops, and in Cusco, the infected corn are just tossed out. It would be interesting to grow the infected corn, in order to sell the fungus, which elsewhere is worth much more than the corn itself. The same monks cress plant that I am growing in my garden can be used to produce “Incapers,” in place of regular capers.

Going back in time, what was your first contact with the Peruvian terraces?
I was a boy, because my family led me to this and traveled a lot. I remember being very young and lying down on a terrace in Machu Picchu and looking at the stars, thinking that this was the best thing you could ever do. Who would have guessed that I would end up having to care for them myself…

If we develop them, Peru, instead of having 1.2 million kilometers, would have 2 million. That is, we would be as big as a flat country like Mexico.

 

By Maribel de Paz  (“Caretas” magazine from PERU). 

Translated and adapted by Nick Rosen, October 4, 2012

 

In what amounts to a kind of holiday gift to the cosmos, astronomers from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft announced Tuesday that they had discovered a pair of planets the size of Earth orbiting a distant star. The new planets, one about as big as Earth and the other slightly smaller than Venus, are the smallest yet found beyond the solar system.

Astronomers said the discovery showed that Kepler could indeed find planets as small as our own and was an encouraging sign that planet hunters would someday succeed in the goal of finding Earth-like abodes in the heavens.

Since the first Jupiter-size exoplanets, as they are known, were discovered nearly 15 years ago, astronomers have been chipping away at the sky, finding smaller and smaller planets. 

“We are finally there,” said David Charbonneau, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who was a member of the team that made the observations, led by his colleague Francois Fressin. The team reported its results in an online news conference Tuesday and in a paper being published in the journal Nature.

Dr. Fressin said, “This demonstrates for the first time that Earth-size planets exist around other stars and that we can detect them.”

The announcement doubled the number of known Earth-size planets in the galaxy to four from two — Earth and Venus.

The next major goal in the planetary hunt, astronomers say, is to find an Earth-size planet in the so-called Goldilocks zone of a star, where conditions are temperate for water and thus life. We are not there yet.

The two new planets, Kepler 20e and Kepler 20f, are far outside the Goldilocks zone — so close to the star, termed Kepler 20, that one of them is roasting at up to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit — and thus unlivable.

Although the milestone of an Earth-size planet had long been anticipated, astronomers on and off the Kepler team were jubilant. Geoffrey Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley, another Kepler team member, called the new result “a watershed moment in human history.”

Debra Fischer, a planet hunter from Yale, who was not part of the team, said, “This technological feat is incredibly important because it means that the detection of Earth-size planets at larger distances is technically possible.”

Kepler 20e, the closer and hotter planet, is also the smaller — about 6,900 miles across, or slightly smaller than Venus — and it resides about 5 million miles from its star. The more distant planet, Kepler 20f, also broiling at around 800 degrees, is 10 million miles out from its star. It is 8,200 miles in diameter, about the size of Earth. The two planets are presumed to be rocky orbs that formed in the outskirts of their planetary system and then migrated inward.  

Their star, which is slightly smaller and cooler than the Sun, is about 950 light years away from us. Kepler had previously found three larger Neptune-like planets around it, so the new observations bring the total to five so far. All the planets are well inside where Mercury would be in our own solar system, presenting a bounteous system of unlivable planets.

“This is Venus and Earth in a five-planet system,” Dr. Fischer said in an e-mail. “There’s no place like home, and the Kepler data are starting to uncover some mighty familiar architectures.”

Kepler detects planets by watching for blinks when they move in front of their stars. Since it was launched in 2009, it has found 2,326 potential planets, 207 that would be Earth-size, if confirmed as the two reported Tuesday have been.

Confirmation of a planet, however, requires additional observations, usually of its star’s wobbles as it gets tugged by the planet going around. The gravitational pull of planets as small as the Earth on their parent star is too small to measure with the current spectrographs. And so the astronomers resorted to a statistical method called Blender, developed by Dr. Fressin and Guillermo Torres of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, in which millions of computer simulations of background stars try to mimic the Kepler signal. They concluded that Kepler 20e was 3,400 times more likely to be a planet than background noise, while the odds in favor Kepler 20f being real were 1,370 to 1.

Confirmed (or validated, as the Kepler team likes to say), they join the other planets already known to orbit the star. In a surprise for astronomers who thought they knew how planetary systems form, the orbits of the new planets are sandwiched between the orbits of the older, bigger, gassier ones, a configuration that does not occur in our own solar system.

In an e-mail, Dr. Charbonneau noted: “In the solar system, rocky worlds and gas giants don’t mingle. But in the Kepler 20 system they apparently do.”

By DENNIS OVERBYE, NYT, December 20, 2011