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Hat/Tip to Land of Enchantment for the image.

Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew informs and entertains you with the just concluded week's news about science, space, and the environment.  Tonight's edition helps kick off Eco Week on Daily Kos.

This week's featured story comes from Reuters.

House passes landmark climate change bill
By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama scored a major victory on Friday when the House of Representatives passed legislation to slash industrial pollution that is blamed for global warming.

More of this and other science, space, and environment stories after the jump.

Top Story (Continued)

The Democratic-controlled House passed the climate change bill, a top priority for Obama, by a vote of 219-212. As has become routine on major bills in Congress this year, the vote was partisan, with only eight Republicans joining Democrats for the bill. Forty-four Democrats voted against it.

Climate change legislation still must get through the Senate. Senators were expected to try to write their own version but prospects for this year were uncertain.

Take that last paragraph as a call to action.  President Obama does.  Furthermore, your action is required, as passage in the Senate won't be easy.

Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy

Reuters: FACTBOX: Climate change approved by House

(Reuters) - The House of Representatives has approved climate change legislation that is a high priority of President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress.

Attention now shifts shift to the Senate, where the environmental bill faces tough opposition. It is unclear how much progress the Senate will make this year on a bill.

Here are main details of the House legislation, which has undergone changes since being approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in late May

Reuters: SNAP ANALYSIS: Climate vote boosts Washington's credibility
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Carbon-capping legislation moving through the U.S. Congress gives a sign to world climate-watchers that the United States is serious about crafting an international deal on global warming in December.

* Armed with Friday's vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to approve a plan to limit emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, President Barack Obama heads for July meetings in Italy of the Group of Eight industrialized nations with added credibility on the climate issue.

Obama's election last year boosted U.S. standing among international climate negotiators, after eight years of the Bush administration, which opposed any economy-wide, mandatory moves to limit greenhouse pollution.

Climate change is a top Obama priority and part of his plan for an environmentally friendly economic recovery.

Reuters: Climate bill would tighten U.S. derivatives rules
by Charles Abbott

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The climate-change bill passed by the U.S. House on Friday would expand federal regulations by banning "naked" credit default swaps and requiring over-the-counter derivatives to go through central clearinghouses.

It also directs the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to set position limits on energy traders across all markets and brings energy swaps under CFTC oversight. The CFTC is the futures market regulator.

Credit default swaps (CDS) were blamed for amplifying market turmoil last fall. The sharp decline in financial markets prompted proposals for broader federal regulation.

Reuters: FACTBOX: Farmers' demands heard in climate bill
Compiled by Jasmin Melvin

Lawmakers came to a compromise earlier in the week that would help the Farm Belt cope with new requirements for industry to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Following are some of the concessions made to farmers

Reuters: Green states line up behind U.S. climate bill
By Timothy Gardner and Peter Henderson

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - States that have set the U.S. agenda on addressing greenhouse gas emissions are lining up behind a federal climate bill, fearing signs of dissent would weaken a plan that still faces hurdles.

Nearly half the U.S. states have moved toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions and want the federal government to learn from their experience in creating systems to cap emissions and trade pollution credits.

Reuters: Energy execs give climate bill grudging support
By Braden Reddall

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A grudging acceptance of the U.S. climate change bill among energy industry executives and some environmentalists only reinforces the notion that a compromise ensures nobody's really happy.

Ahead of a House of Representatives vote on the bill Friday, the measure was a hot topic for executives of U.S. utilities and power producers as they gathered at their annual industry meeting this week.

Conference organizer Edison Electric Institute stressed support for the legislation and reminded members that their industry had been among the first to argue for such a measure.

Reuters: Opposition to "cap-and-trade" grows in U.S.: poll
by Anthony Boadle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three-quarters of Americans believe the U.S. government should regulate the release of greenhouse gases from cars and factories to reduce global warming, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.


The poll shows opposition to cap-and-trade has grown to 42 percent, from 34 percent in July last year. Support for climate legislation has slipped slightly among people asked whether they were willing to pay more for electricity to help reduce greenhouse gases.

Reuters: Green group asks U.S. to bar Canada oil sands
By Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An environmental group on Wednesday asked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to deny permits for pipelines that would bring oil from Canada's oil sands to the United States.

ForestEthics said production from Canadian oil sands, also known as tar sands, generates up to five times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil. It said this conflicts with President Obama's pledge to tackle global warming.

"Oil from the tar sands is one of the world's dirtiest," the group's executive director, Todd Paglia, said in a letter to Clinton. "For the U.S., continued dependence on tar sands oil would impair plans to reduce our carbon footprint in the short and long term."

Reuters: U.S. court cuts off appeals in Monsanto alfalfa case
By Gina Keating

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday left in place an injunction barring Monsanto Co from selling its Roundup Ready alfalfa seed until the government completes an environmental impact study on how the genetically modified product could affect neighboring crops.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the company's request for a rehearing of its appeal and said it would accept no more petitions for rehearing in the three-year-old case.

Monsanto's only remaining avenue appears to be U.S. Supreme Court review.

Reuters: Global free trade accord seen helping environment
By Laura MacInnis

GENEVA (Reuters) - A new global free trade accord could help fight climate change by making clean-energy products more widely available, the World Trade Organization and United Nations Environment Program said on Friday.

Bucking conventional thinking about the climate hazards of shipping products by air, land and sea, the two agencies argued that a new Doha Round pact would do more good than harm.

Their joint study found that international trade rules have some wriggle room to permit countries to impose border taxes and tariffs to shield the environment, or to penalize goods made in areas with less-stringent climate restrictions.

Reuters: Iraq urges scientists to come home
By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq appealed on Monday for scientists living abroad to return home and use their expertise to help rebuild their homeland's economy after years of war.

For decades Iraq boasted one of the most highly educated populations in the Middle East, and the government spent large amounts of its oil wealth to train its brightest individuals, sending many overseas to study at prestigious universities.

But thousands fled crippling U.N. economic sanctions and then the sectarian bloodletting unleashed by the U.S. invasion in 2003. Violence has dropped across Iraq in the past two years, but only about 700 university professors from across academic fields have returned.


Reuters: Swiss glaciers melting faster than ever before: study
by Katie Reid

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's glaciers shrank by 12 percent over the past decade, melting at their fastest rate due to rising temperatures and lighter snowfalls, a study by the Swiss university ETH showed Monday.

"The last decade was the worst decade that we have had in the last 150 years. We lost a lot of water," said Daniel Farinotti, research assistant at the ETH.

"The trend is definitely that glaciers are melting faster now. Since the end of the 1980s, they have lost more and more mass more quickly," he said.

Reuters: Major economies consider halving world CO2
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Major economies including the United States and China are considering setting a goal of halving world greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 when they hold a summit in Italy next month, a draft document showed.

The text also says the 17-member Major Economies Forum (MEF) will seek to double public investments in low-carbon technology by 2015 and boost funding from both public and private sources as well as from carbon markets to fight global warming.

The draft was put forward by the United States and Mexico at talks in Mexico this week, without reaching accord before a MEF summit on July 9. U.S. President Barack Obama launched the MEF to help toward a new U.N. climate pact due in December.

Reuters: Rich must pay $100 bilion yearly on climate, says UK's Brown
By Gerard Wynn

LONDON (Reuters) - Developed countries must fund a $100 billion a year fight against climate change in the developing world by 2020, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday.

Green campaigners supported the first such offer from a world leader and praised its timing two weeks before a climate summit of the 17 biggest developed and developing economies. India said the offer fell short but was something to build on.

U.N.-led talks meant to lead to a new treaty to fight climate change when representatives of 190 countries meet in Copenhagen in December have struggled on disagreement over how far rich countries should fund action in developing countries.

Reuters: France says U.S. and Canada must do more in climate fight
by Pete Harrison

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The United States and Canada must do more than currently proposed to tackle greenhouse gases, France says in a position paper ahead of global climate talks in Copenhagen this December.

Airlines should cut emissions to 5 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, said the document, seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

It warned that Canada and the United States were not on course to cut emissions by the level needed, making it difficult for rich nations to meet the 25-40 percent collective reduction in greenhouse gases recommended by a U.N. climate panel.

Reuters: China welcomes U.S. climate bill, says more needed
By Emma Graham-Harrison

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's top climate change official on Friday welcomed a U.S. climate change bill but said Washington needed to take stronger action to ensure success at year-end talks to settle a global framework on warming.

Xie Zhenhua, a deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission who steers climate change policy, said the bill was a positive break with the stance taken by the Administration of former President George W. Bush.

But he said the legislation still did not meet international expectations for U.S. action, or ensure a strong deal could be reached at U.N.-led talks in Copenhagen in December.

Reuters: Refrigerants set to spur climate change: study
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Greenhouse gases from chemicals used in refrigerants and air conditioning are set to be a bigger than expected spur of climate change by 2050, scientists said.

In the worst case, use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) could surge to cause global warming in 2050 equivalent to the impact of between 28 and 45 percent of emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas from burning fossil fuels, they said.

"HFCs present a significant threat to the world's efforts to stabilize climate emissions," Guus Velders, the lead author at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, said of the findings by a team of Dutch and U.S.-based scientists.

Reuters: Arctic nations say no Cold War; military stirs
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Arctic nations are promising to avoid new "Cold War" scrambles linked to climate change, but military activity is stirring in a polar region where a thaw may allow oil and gas exploration or new shipping routes.

The six nations around the Arctic Ocean are promising to cooperate on challenges such as overseeing possible new fishing grounds or shipping routes in an area that has been too remote, cold and dark to be of interest throughout recorded history.

But global warming is spurring long-irrelevant disputes, such as a Russian-Danish standoff over who owns the seabed under the North Pole or how far Canada controls the Northwest Passage that the United States calls an international waterway.

Reuters: Climate refugees will not flood rich nations: study
By Megan Rowling

LONDON (Reuters) - Migrants uprooted by climate change in the poorest parts of the world are likely to only move locally, contrary to predictions that hundreds of millions will descend on rich countries, a study said on Wednesday.

The research from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a non-profit London-based think tank, challenges the common perception in the developed world that waves of refugees will try to move there permanently to escape the impact of global warming.

For example, many farmers struggling to grow enough food as seasons change will leave their homes to look for work in nearby towns for short periods only, the study said.

Reuters: AEP sees carbon capture from coal ready by 2015
By Bernie Woodall

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Technology to capture carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and store them underground will be ready by 2015 and could be in wide use in the United States by 2020, according to the top executive at American Electric Power Co Inc.

Mike Morris, CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based AEP, one of the largest U.S. utilities, said his company's work in West Virginia on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) gives him more insight than skeptics who doubt the technology.

"I'm convinced it will be primetime ready by 2015 and deployable," Morris said in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the Edison Electric Institute conference . "Then, it will probably spread across the system in the next half decade (after 2015)."

Reuters: Birth defects show human price of coal
By Phyllis Xu and Lucy Hornby

GAOJIAGOU, China (Reuters) - Ten-year old Yilong is already a statistic.

Born at the center of China's coal industry, the boy is mentally handicapped and is unable to speak. He is one of many such children in Shanxi province, where coal has brought riches to a few, jobs for many, and environmental pollution that experts say has led to a high number of babies born with birth defects.

Experts say coal mining and processing has given Shanxi a rate of birth defects six times higher than China's national average, which is already high by global standards.

Reuters: Some U.S. manufacturers see benefit to going green
By Jon Hurdle

WHITEMARSH, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Some small and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers, once skeptical about conservation efforts, say they're seeing benefits to installing equipment and implementing practices that curb energy use and save money.

Executives from more than 200 Philadelphia-area companies exchanged ideas on Wednesday about how to increase profits by enacting environmentally friendly practices such as reducing waste and carbon emissions.

"Sustainability is no longer a tree-hugging program," said Barry Miller, president of the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center, a nonprofit development corporation that organized the event. "It's very good for business. It helps you grow. It helps you compete."

Environmental issues can be good for business in more than one way.

Reuters: Tallest U.S. building to get "green" retrofit
by Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere will undergo a $350 million "green" retrofit that its owners said on Wednesday will make the 110-story office tower a beacon for environmentally sound space.

Plans call for the 1,450-foot Sears Tower to reduce its electricity consumption by 80 percent and water usage by 40 percent. It will be renamed the Willis tower later this summer in a deal with new tenant global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings.

Reuters: Water woes seen as opportunity for ag investors
By Carey Gillam

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Water scarcity is a growing problem for rural and urban areas alike around the globe, providing an opportunity for investors, according to leading agricultural experts and investment strategists.

The costs of accessing water are on the rise with world supply under pressure from high usage, particularly in agriculture, inefficient infrastructure, environmental pollution, climate change and other factors.

With a world population estimated to surge past 9 billion by 2050, ownership and access to water to grow crops, nourish livestock and provide energy will be key in the coming years.

I wonder if the executives have seen A Quantum of Solace?  For anyone in the SE Michigan area who hasn't seen it, there's a free showing at 10 PM this coming Thursday.


Reuters: Endangered sharks unprotected on high seas: report

GENEVA (Reuters) - Sharks, among the most endangered species of fish, are effectively unprotected in the world's oceans, the IUCN environmental organization said on Thursday.

Its report urges governments to halt shark "finning," the slicing of fins from captured sharks which are then tipped back into the sea to die, which it says is a growing industry providing ingredients for the Asian delicacy, shark fin soup.

Although finning bans have been declared in most global waters, little effort is made to enforce them, said the IUCN.

Reuters: Fate of whales depends on Obama: conservationists
By Shrikesh Laxmidas

FUNCHAL, Portugal (Reuters) - Conservationists are looking to the United States to help re-establish the authority of the International Whaling Commission after IWC delegates this week failed to reach a deal to regulate global whaling.

A moratorium on commercial whaling was agreed at the IWC in 1986. But Japan continues to skirt the ban, citing research purposes, while Iceland and Norway simply ignore it and harpoon whales for commercial use, leaving the IWC looking irrelevant and in danger of collapsing.

Instead of coming up with a deal this week to marry the views of anti-whaling nations such as Australia and whaling countries Japan, Norway and Iceland, IWC delegates agreed only to extend the deadline for a compromise for a year.

Reuters: Whaling body skirts divisive Greenland request
By Shrikesh Laxmidas

FUNCHAL, Portugal (Reuters) - The International Whaling Commission (IWC) on Thursday postponed a decision on Greenland's request to hunt 10 humpback whales, after failing to create a consensus between pro and anti-whaling nations.

IWC chairman Bill Hogarth said that due to the lack of consensus the body decided to appoint a scientific committee to provide further data on Greenland's request.

Greenland's bid for the aboriginal subsistence hunting has been one of the contentious issues at the IWC annual meeting, as the body struggles to marry views of anti-whaling nations such as Australia and pro-whaling countries Japan, Norway and Iceland.


Reuters: U.S. to spend $3.9 billion on "smart" power grid: Chu
by Braden Reddall

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced on Thursday $3.9 billion in "smart grid" funding aimed at making power transmission around the country more flexible.

Addressing utility executives at an industry meeting, Chu said the funds would help create a system to allocate electricity more efficiently, whether through improved power lines or by allowing batteries in hybrid cars to feed back into the grid when needed.

Reuters: GE's finance arm lining up green power deals
By Matt Daily

NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Electric's Energy Financial Services is working on thousands of megawatts of U.S. renewable energy projects, but is not likely to move forward until the government sets rules for its grants and loans to the sector, an executive in the company's energy business said on Tuesday.

Funding for new clean energy projects largely dried up last year because of the crisis in the financial markets, prompting the Obama Administration to expand government spending to support renewable power sources.

The industry has been awaiting new rules from the Department of Energy on implementation of its grant program, designed to allow companies to tap into funds intended for tax credits, and on how it will release more than $48 billion in loan guarantees.

Reuters: U.S. awards exploratory leases for offshore wind
By Jon Hurdle

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (Reuters) - The U.S. government has awarded its first exploratory leases for offshore wind development to three companies that aim to place turbines off the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Tuesday.

The five leases were awarded to Hoboken, New Jersey-based Deepwater Wind LLC; two units of Babcock & Brown's Bluewater Wind LLC, and Cape May, New Jersey-based Fisherman's Energy of New Jersey LLC.

The leases allow the companies to build meteorological towers between six and 18 miles offshore to gather data on wind resources, determine the viability of building three wind farms, and conduct environmental impact studies, Salazar said at a news conference.

Reuters: Calm days, clouds could stymie solar, wind future
By Peter Henderson

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Maybe the future of climate friendly energy won't have as much to do with wind and solar energy as current booms in those technologies suggest.

Clouds and calm days could make the alternative energy stars bit players in a clean power future where round-the-clock dependability is critical.

That was one message from Microsoft Corp's deep thinker, Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie, whose view stirred controversy among energy executives.

Reuters: U.S. pulp-maker pioneers new biofuel
By Jason Szep

OLD TOWN, Maine (Reuters) - From the outside, the rustic red-brick mill on a bend in Maine's Penobscot River resembles any other struggling American pulp and paper mill.

But along with its usual business of pulp-making, the century-old mill is doing something unprecedented: Developing technology to produce bio-butanol, a jet fuel, from parts of trees that would otherwise go to waste, one of the world's first to do so.

Production is still two years away, but the reinvention of Maine's Old Town Fuel & Fiber mill is already drawing interest as a potential model for a new wave of biofuel companies that could slash dependence on oil, create jobs and reduce the emissions that lead to global warming.

Reuters: Three Mile Island reactor gets environment OK
by Scott DiSavino

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission completed the environmental part of the license renewal proceeding for Exelon Corp's 786-megawatt Unit 1 at the Three Mile Island nuclear power station in Pennsylvania, the NRC said in a release Friday.

The NRC concluded there were no environmental impacts that would preclude the reactor's license renewal for an additional 20 years of operation.

The current license for Three Mile Island 1 expires April 19, 2014. A new license would extend the reactor's operating life until 2034.

The NRC has granted 54 licenses for new reactors since 2000 and has 12 more currently awaiting approval.

Reuters: Norway proposes sea-based wind power

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's government proposed a new law on Friday to develop sea-based wind power as part of a plan to diversify from offshore oil and gas toward renewable energy.

"Offshore wind energy may become the next adventure for the Norwegian industry and energy sector," Oil and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said in a statement of a draft bill presented by the center-left government.

The proposed act, which has to be debated and approved by parliament where the government has a slim majority, says that wind resources at sea belong to the state.

Reuters: GM will do "heavy lifting" toward plug-in goal
by Bernie Woodall

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - General Motors Corp will do the "heavy lifting" to help meet the ambitious goal set by President Barack Obama of having one million plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015, a GM executive said on Tuesday.

Britta Gross is GM's director of global energy systems and infrastructure commercialization, a key element to the reshaping of the bankrupt automaker to be less dependent on gasoline-fueled vehicles.

"I can tell you we can definitely do the heavy lifting part of that," Gross said during a telephone interview with Reuters. "We definitely will lift up our end of that."

Reuters: Ford, Nissan, Tesla to get U.S. technology loans
By Kevin Krolicki

DEARBORN, Michigan (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co will receive nearly $5.9 billion in U.S. government loans to build fuel-efficient vehicles as the Obama administration deepened its commitment to reshaping the cash-strapped auto industry.

Japan's Nissan Motor Co Ltd will receive $1.6 billion and start-up Tesla Motors Inc will receive $465 million in low-cost loans to build all-electric cars in the first wave of financing from an Energy Department program intended to offset the cost meeting sharply higher new fuel economy standards.

"By supporting key technologies and sound business plans, we can jump-start the production of fuel-efficient vehicles in America," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said at an event at Ford's sprawling engineering and product development campus.

Reuters: Honda counts on engines in hybrid world
By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia autos correspondent

TOKYO (Reuters) - As an engineering student in the 1960s, Takeo Fukui picked the analysis of nitrogen dioxide emissions as his senior thesis with one goal in mind: joining Honda Motor to get a foothold in the world of motor racing.

He made the cut but, as luck would have it, Honda pulled out of racing that same year in 1969. Founder Soichiro Honda had decided the company should focus instead on improving its engines to clean emissions for an increasingly green-minded public.

Forty years later, Fukui leaves behind a similar mandate as he vacates his CEO post this week, having yanked Honda out of Formula One racing six months ago.

Reuters: Wind energy body says capacity grows at record pace
by John Acher

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The world's wind power production capacity is expected to grow by a record 25 percent this year despite financing difficulties for some projects in the economic downturn, the World Wind Energy Association said.

"Based on a survey amongst the WWEA member associations, double-digit growth for the wind energy market is expected despite the general economic crisis," the association said in a statement in conjunction with a world conference in South Korea.

Reuters: Sahara solar plan "win-win" for Europe and North Africa
By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - A 400-billion euro ($554 billion) project linking solar power produced in the Sahara to energy users in Europe and North Africa is a "win-win" for both continents and could also promote integration around the Mediterranean, a German minister said.

Guenter Gloser, deputy foreign minister, told Reuters 20 gigawatts of concentrated solar power (CSP) -- the equivalent of 20 large conventional power plants -- could be harvested each year by 2020 if the project called Desertec got off the ground.

Gloser said the green energy would be used in Europe and Mediterranean Union states producing it and dismissed notions Europe would create "energy colonies," saying it could also help Mediterranean integration and significantly cut CO2 emissions.


Reuters: Canadian scientists breeding cows that burp less
by Nina Lex

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian scientists are breeding a special type of cow designed to burp less, a breakthrough that could reduce a big source of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

Cows are responsible for nearly three-quarters of total methane emissions, according to Environment Canada. Most of the gas comes from bovine burps, which are 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

Stephen Moore, a professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, is examining the genes responsible for methane produced from a cow's four stomachs in order to breed more efficient, environmentally friendly cows.

Reuters: Risk of mad cow disease from farmed fish?

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Three U.S. scientists are concern about the potential of people contracting Creutzfeldt Jakob disease -- the human form of "mad cow disease" -- from eating farmed fish who are fed byproducts rendered from cows.

Mad cow disease, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy is a fatal brain disease in cattle, which scientists believe can cause Creutzfeldt Jakob disease in humans who eat infected cow parts.

In the latest issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Dr. Robert P. Friedland, a neurologist at University of Louisville in Kentucky and colleagues suggest that farmed fish fed contaminated cow parts could transmit Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.

Reuters: Monsanto, Dole to try to build better veggies
By Ian Sherr

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Monsanto Co and Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc are formalizing a partnership to breed broccoli, spinach and other vegetables that would be more attractive to consumers.

The five-year collaboration, announced on Tuesday, will focus on creating variations of broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach, the companies said in a statement.

The focus of their efforts is to breed more colorful, tastier vegetables that are less susceptible to bruising and have a longer shelf-life.

Reuters: Canadian farmers opposed to GM wheat: survey
By Rod Nickel

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (Reuters) - Canadian farmers oppose the introduction of genetically modified wheat until market conditions change, a Canadian Wheat Board survey has found.

In the CWB's annual survey of 1,300 Western Canadian farmers, only 9 percent said GMO wheat should be grown as soon as it's available, with the majority saying it shouldn't be grown until conditions are met such as proving benefits to farmers and demonstrating market demand. Nineteen percent said it should not be grown in Canada.

Farmers were close to evenly split when asked how interested they are in growing GM wheat. Fifty-one percent said they're not interested, with 46 percent very or somewhat interested.

Reuters: Canada still unsure on isotope reactor repair plan
By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Repair crews are still trying to determine how to fix an aging Canadian nuclear reactor that produces a third of the world's medical isotope supply, officials said on Wednesday.

The Chalk River reactor in eastern Ontario has been out of operation since May 17 because of a heavy water leak, and officials say they cannot predict exactly when it can be restarted until a repair plan is completed.

They tentatively estimated in mid-May that the facility would be down for at least three months.


Reuters: Saturn's moon may hide watery caverns - and life?
By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - Saturn's icy moon Enceladus could contain watery underground caverns, forming a potential home for alien life, scientists said on Wednesday.

German researchers have found salt -- a signature chemical for seawater -- in ice grains from vapor jets streaming out of surface cracks, providing the strongest evidence yet of a liquid water reservoir beneath the moon's frozen crust.

A U.S. team said the amount of salt they had detected using a different method suggested an earlier theory that water was boiling explosively into the vacuum of space via geysers was wrong, and evaporation was occurring quite slowly.

Reuters: Aldrin made strong case to be first on moon
By Christian Wiessner

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Astronaut Buzz Aldrin has no regrets about being the second man to walk on the moon but admits that at the time he had made a strong case for why he should have been the one to take history's "giant leap for mankind."

In his latest book, "Magnificent Desolation," Aldrin reminisces about the Apollo 11 mission ahead of the 40th anniversary next month and details his battles with depression, alcoholism and adjustment to post-Apollo life.

"People say, 'Didn't you want to be first on the moon?'," Aldrin told Reuters in an interview.


MSNBC: Dinosaur hunter sentenced for stealing fossils

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Renowned dinosaur hunter Nathan Murphy was sentenced Wednesday to four months in a halfway house and three years probation after pleading guilty to stealing fossils.

Murphy was accused of stealing 13 dinosaur bones from central Montana's Hell Creek badlands in 2006. He pleaded guilty in April to theft of government property.

ScienceBlogs Brazil: Brazilian Megafauna: hard to hunt or to chew?
by Reinaldo José Lopes; translated by Carlos Hotta

There is a mind boggling enigma in the South American fossil and archeological record, in special the ones found in Brazil. The first human beings to live here coexisted for at least a millennium, and probably a lot more, with mastodons, giant sloths, horses, bears and llamas. The Brazilian savanna was - 10 thousand years ago - a Serengeti 2.0. However, even though this huge mountain of animal protein is not around us anymore, there is NO convincing evidence that the first Brazilians have made them into a meal. NO evidence that the megafauna was hunted. Can anybody explain why?

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.


The Times of Malta: The first Europeans were cannibals, say Spanish archaeologists

The remains of the "first Europeans" discovered at an archaeological site in northern Spain have revealed that these prehistoric men were cannibals who particularly liked the flesh of children.

"We know that they practiced cannibalism," said Jose Maria Bermudez de Castro, one of the co-directors of the Atapuerca project, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

A study of the remains revealed that they turned to cannibalism to feed themselves and not as part of a ritual, that they ate their rivals after killing them, mostly children and adolescents.

The story is not about our species, Homo sapiens, or our sister species, Homo neanderthalensis, but about Homo antecessor, a species that is either the "grandfather" species of both Neanderthals and modern humans or a "great-uncle" to both.

Discovery Networks via MSNBC: Neanderthals made mammoth jerky
By Jennifer Viegas

Necessity compelled Neanderthals to wear tailored clothing and dry hunks of big game meat, according to a new study on the survival needs of these now-extinct prehistoric humans.

The findings help to explain how Neanderthals survived the often chilly conditions of Northern Europe. The report also shows how these first Europeans were able to transport meat over long distances without having it rot.

The new study, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeology, found Neanderthals sported "one or two layers of skins/furs and wrapped skins/furs for shoes, held together by leather strings."


Scientists say they've found what they consider to be the earliest handcrafted musical instrument in a cave in southwest Germany, less than a yard away from the oldest-known carving of a human. The flute fragments as well as the ivory figurine of a "prehistoric Venus" date back more than 35,000 years, the researchers report.

The findings, published online today by the journal Nature, suggest not only that cavemen and cavewomen could rock the house, but that musical jam sessions may have helped modern humans prevail over their Neanderthal cousins.

Associated Press via Fox News (double ugh!): Woman's Skeleton Found at Bottom of Prehistoric Well

NICOSIA, Cyprus  —  Archeologists have discovered a water well in Cyprus that was built as long as 10,500 years ago, and the skeleton of a young woman at the bottom of it, an official said Wednesday.

I'm using as little of the above article as possible, so that I don't catch cooties from both the source and intermediary.  Speaking of how to show one's opinion of others...

National Geographic: Facedown Burials Widely Used to Humiliate the Dead
James Owen
for National Geographic News

Burying the dead facedown in ancient times didn't mean RIP, according to new research that says the practice was both deliberate and widespread.

Experts have assumed such burials were either unusual or accidental.

But the first global study on the facedown burials suggests that it was a custom used across societies to disrespect or humiliate the dead. Press Release - New Discoveries at Saqqara

Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, announced today that Egyptian archaeologists, performing routine conservation work at the southern side of Saqqara’s step pyramid (2687-2668 BC), have stumbled upon what is believed to be a deep hole full of the remains of animals and birds. The mission has also found that the hole’s floor is covered with a layer of plaster.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), has stated that the mission unearthed a large quantity of golden fragments during their restoration work at the southern tomb of Djoser’s pyramid. These may have been used by the ancient Egyptians of the Late Period to decorate wooden sarcophagi or to cover carttonage. Thirty granite blocks were also discovered, each weighing five tons. These blocks, Dr. Hawass explained, belonged to the granite sarcophagus that once housed Djoser’s wooden sarcophagus - the final resting place of the king’s mummy.

Jerusalem Post: Huge Roman-era cave found by Jericho

The largest cave ever found in Israel has been uncovered near the West Bank city of Jericho etched with Christian symbols, an Israeli archeologist said Sunday.

The immense cave, which spans more than four dunams and is buried 10 meters beneath the desert, was dug about 2,000 years ago, Haifa University archaeologist Prof. Adam Zertal said.

The Salt Lake Tribune: Archaeologists unearth kiln site of pioneer master potter
By Mark Havnes

Parowan » In 1852, Thomas Davenport fired up a kiln in southern Utah's first pioneer settlement and started making pottery and crockery that slowly spread through the West along with his reputation as a craftsman.

The old site in Parowan, where Davenport manufactured the clay pieces, is being excavated now by a team from Michigan Technological University led by a associate professor who has been studying Davenport and his work for the past 10 years.

The Missoulian: Coloma: Buried treasure - UM anthropology students dig for artifacts at ghost town
By CHELSI MOY of the Missoulian

COLOMA - Never has dirt looked so tempting.

The one-square-meter patch of earth taunted Frances Clark. Just gazing at the gritty surface, the University of Montana student knew it was full of treasures from the late 19th century. What hid under the surface, however, was the real mystery.

"I want to move on!" she said. For three straight days, she picked away at the same spot, located within a grid sectioning off a small area of Coloma. Little history is recorded about the abandoned ghost town tucked in the dense forest of the Garnet Mountains, only a short drive from the mining town of Garnet.

For four weeks, 18 UM anthropology students and a handful of graduate students have uncovered artifacts that tell them about what life was like more than 100 years ago in this small Western mining town.

Independent Record via Billings Gazette: Archaeology team digs into Bannack
Independent Record

BANNACK - In a darkened recess between the parsonage and the old Methodist Church, trash from the past has sat buried for more than a century.

But if one man's trash is truly another man's treasure, then archaeologist Dan Hall and his crew from Western Cultural Inc. have hit the jackpot, scientifically speaking.

"To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever done any excavations around a parsonage or a church before in a mining camp," said Hall. "It's uncharted territory, so it'll be interesting to see what we find."

The Union-Democrat (Sonora, California): Scientists still scratching heads over Calaveras Skull
Written by James Damschroder, The Union Democrat

On Feb. 25, 1866, miners, 130 feet down the Bald Mountain Mine shaft near Angels Camp, removed a well-preserved human skull.

The discovery, dubbed the Calaveras Skull, was proclaimed by some scientists to be the oldest human remains ever found in North America, proving the existence of man during the Pliocene era — 5.3 million to 2.5 million years ago.

Since the skull’s discovery, it has pitted scientists against scientists, evolutionists against creationists, and even drew the interest of Bret Harte, who wrote a satirical poem in 1899 about the relic, titled "To the Pliocene Skull."

Ultimately, though, the skull came to be known not as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries, but one of the greatest archaeological hoaxes ever.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Archaeologists question dig at St. Ferdinand shrine in Florissant

FLORISSANT — While archaeologists say they're excited for students to learn more about their field, some are worried that a high school dig at the St. Ferdinand shrine in Florissant isn't being done properly.

"The St. Ferdinand site is like a book that can only be read once, because in the process of reading, it is being destroyed," Lyle Sparkman, president of the Missouri Archaeological Society, wrote to Ferguson-Florissant School District Superintendent Jeffrey Spiegel. "Far better that it be left alone than to be 'skim read.' "

Both the district and the site's owners say they are doing the work carefully and correctly and that the students are getting a once in a lifetime experience.

Associated Press via Product Design & Development: SD archaeologist says office needed

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Archaeological Research Center narrowly escaped elimination during this year's search for ways to cut the state budget, but state archaeologist Jim Haug says closing his office would not save any money.

If the office disappeared, someone would still have to do the research, manage more than a century's worth of records and take care of more than 9,000 collections of artifacts, Haug said. State agencies would have to hire their own archaeologists or consultants to protect graves and other records of the past at road projects and other construction sites.

"So nothing is gained," Haug said.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.

Science Education A Summer's Worth Of Science Writing

Berkeley's Summer Reading List, produced annually for incoming freshmen — and the rest of us — by staff in the University Library and College Writing Programs, this year focuses on books about science. The selections, based on recommendations provided by faculty and staff readers, range from classics-in-the-making (Lewis Thomas's The Lives of a Cell) to little-known but fascinating titles on such topics as cybersecurity and earthquakes. It's all wholly appropriate for this Year of Science, about which you can learn more (by reading!) at and

Arizona Daily Star: STEM program inspires kids
By Andrea Rivera

Ethan Burch has always loved science, but his appreciation for the subject is even greater since he attended the Flowing Wells Summer Science Camp.

"I love science, but now I want to marry science," Ethan said. "I thought science was about the universe and gravity, but it's also about marine biology and archaeology. There's maybe 800 fields of science.

The Laramie Boomerang: Extinction
Boomerang Staff Writer

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, the University of Wyoming Geological Museum will shut its doors and turn out the lights for the last time. The museum will be closed to everyone as part of cuts made by the University of Wyoming earlier this month.

Although he has known for several weeks, Brent Breithaupt, geological museum director and curator, said he is still stunned about the closure.

"I’m stunned, and it’s been a couple weeks now, and I’m still stunned," he said. "I will probably remain stunned forever."

With the closure of the museum, a position he has worked in for almost 30 years will be eliminated.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.

Science is Cool

Reuters: Adventurer targets first round world solar flight
By Jason Rhodes

DUEBENDORF, Switzerland (Reuters) - Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard unveiled Friday the prototype of a solar powered plane he plans to fly around the world to highlight the potential of alternative energy sources.

The prototype, HB-SIA, has the wingspan of a jumbo jet but weighs only as much as an average family car.

The propeller plane is powered by four electric motors and designed to fly day and night by saving surplus energy from its 24,000 solar cells in high-performance batteries.

Originally posted to Neon Vincent's Massage Parlour on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 09:09 PM PDT.

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