Category Archives: Inspirational

Charity In A Big Way 

By: Lorraine Chow of Eco News 

Norwegian businessman Kjell Inge Røkke is not someone usually admired for environmental stewardship. Described by Forbes as a “ruthless corporate raider,” Røkke made his billions as the majority stakeholder in shipping and offshore drilling conglomerate, Aker.

The twist to this story? Røkke has decided to give “the lion’s share” of his estimated $2.7 billion fortune towards building a 596-foot marine research vessel, the Research Expedition Vessel (REV), that’s also designed to scoop up a major oceanic threat—plastic pollution.

The REV, a collaboration with Norway’s World Wildlife Fund (WWF), will be able to suck up to 5 tons of plastic a day from the waters and melt it down, Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper reported.

“I want to give back to society the bulk of what I’ve earned,” Røkke told the publication. “This ship is a part of that.”

According to Business Insider, the mega-yacht—which will be the world’s largest once built—can carry 60 scientists and 40 crew. The REV will be equipped with modern laboratories, an auditorium, two helipads, a hangar for a remote operated vehicle, an autonomous underwater vehicle as a multifunctional cargo deck aft of the ship, and high-tech equipment for monitoring and surveying marine areas. It is also available for private charters for up to 36 guests and 54 crew, which will help generate extra funding for research.
Røkke, a former fisherman, said the oceans “have provided significant value for society” and directly to him and his family.

“However,” he noted, “the oceans are also under greater pressure than ever before from overfishing, coastal pollution, habitat destruction, climate change and ocean acidification, and one of the most pressing challenges of all, plasticization of the ocean. The need for knowledge and solutions is pressing.”

While onboard, the researchers will attempt to answer some of the most pressing questions facing our seas:

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Space X Makes History

By: Loren Grush of The Verge

After more than two years of landing its rockets after launch, SpaceX finally sent one of its used Falcon 9s back into space. The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this evening, sending a communications satellite into orbit, and then landed on one of SpaceX’s drone ships floating in the Atlantic Ocean. It was round two for this particular rocket, which already launched and landed during a mission in April of last year. But the Falcon 9’s relaunch marks the first time an orbital rocket has launched to space for a second time.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk appeared on the company’s live stream shortly after the landing and spoke about the accomplishment. “It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight,” he said.

After more than two years of landing its rockets after launch, SpaceX finally sent one of its used Falcon 9s back into space. The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this evening, sending a communications satellite into orbit, and then landed on one of SpaceX’s drone ships floating in the Atlantic Ocean. It was round two for this particular rocket, which already launched and landed during a mission in April of last year. But the Falcon 9’s relaunch marks the first time an orbital rocket has launched to space for a second time.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk appeared on the company’s live stream shortly after the landing and spoke about the accomplishment. “It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight,” he said.
THIS EVENING’S MISSION WAS A CRITICAL MILESTONE FOR SPACEX

This evening’s mission was a critical milestone for SpaceX, which has been working to make its rockets partially reusable since as early as 2011. Up until now, practically all orbital rockets have been expendable, so they’re basically thrown away once they launch into space. That means an entirely new rocket — which can cost tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to make — has to be built for each mission to orbit. SpaceX’s strategy has been to land its rockets after launch in an effort to fly them again and again. That way the company can partially save on manufacturing costs for each mission.

SpaceX doesn’t save the entire Falcon 9 rocket after each launch though. It saves the first stage — the 14-story core of the Falcon 9 that contains the main engines and most of the fuel needed for launch. About a few minutes after takeoff, the first stage separates from the top of the rocket and makes a controlled descent back to Earth — either landing on solid ground or on one of the company’s autonomous drone ships in the ocean. Prior to tonight’s launch, SpaceX had attempted 13 of these rocket landings and eight vehicles had successfully stuck the touchdown. But as SpaceX slowly acquired a growing stockpile of recovered rockets these last two years, the company had yet to actually reuse one of these vehicles.

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R.I.P Chuck Berry

By:Bruce Fessier Of KSDK

According to the St. Charles County Police Department, legendary musician Chuck Berry has died.

He was 90 years old.

Police said Saturday they responded to a medical emergency on Buckner Road around 12:40 p.m. Inside the home, first responders spoke with a caretaker who was caring for an unresponsive man and administered lifesaving techniques.

The 90-year-old man, later identified as Charles Edward Anderson Berry Sr., better known as legendary musician Chuck Berry, could not be revived and was pronounced deceased at 1:26 p.m.

Berry is widely viewed as among the most influential artists in rock ‘n’ roll with hits like Johnny B. Goode, Never Can Tell, and Roll Over Beethoven. Berry influenced artists like the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Who and Pink Floyd.

The Beatles had hits with Berry compositions such as Roll Over Beethoven, Rock and Roll Music and Sweet Little Sixteen, and McCartney called Berry “one of greatest poets America has ever produced” in an introduction to the 2014 release of Berry’s complete studio recordings.

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Iran Sets The Bar On Refugee Treatment 

By: Bethan McKernan Beirut of The Independent

Iran, one of the states targeted by Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, is a country from which the US could learn a lot on the resettlement of refugees, the UN has said.

The Soviet War in Afghanistan displaced six million people to neighbouring Iran and Pakistan in 1979. Almost four decades later, the Tehran government still shelters around one million registered Afghans, and up to two million are thought to also be living in the country – making Iran home to the world’s fourth largest refugee population.

“The leadership demonstrated by the Iranian government has been exemplary in hosting refugees and keeping borders open,” Sivanka Dhanapala, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Tehran, said on Wednesday.

“It’s a story that’s not told often enough.”

The remarks come as Mr Trump’s administration tries to resuscitate its travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, and halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Iran, one of the states targeted by Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, is a country from which the US could learn a lot on the resettlement of refugees, the UN has said.

The Soviet War in Afghanistan displaced six million people to neighbouring Iran and Pakistan in 1979. Almost four decades later, the Tehran government still shelters around one million registered Afghans, and up to two million are thought to also be living in the country – making Iran home to the world’s fourth largest refugee population.

“The leadership demonstrated by the Iranian government has been exemplary in hosting refugees and keeping borders open,” Sivanka Dhanapala, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Tehran, said on Wednesday.

“It’s a story that’s not told often enough.”

The remarks come as Mr Trump’s administration tries to resuscitate its travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, and halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Iran army general threatens to give US ‘slap in the face’

The new ban – which could affect the one million Iranian nationals living and studying in the US – was slapped down on Wednesday by a federal court in Hawaii on the grounds it could cause “irreparable injury.”

It was ironic, Mr Dhanapala noted, that Iranians could be barred from the US while continuing to deal with the human fallout of the American conflict with the Soviet Union.

While Afghans resident in Iran – especially those who are undocumented – are often marginalised to the fringes of society as poorly paid manual workers, and are not allowed to apply for citizenship, the Tehran government has also recently taken positive steps such as ordering schools to take in all Afghan children, and embarked on a health insurance scheme that covers refugees.

The UN is fostering hopes that the country will ease work permit restrictions and register more undocumented Afghans in the future.
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Chance The Rapper Donates 1M To Chicago’s Public School System 

By: Noah Yoo Of Pitchfork

Chance the Rapper held a press conference today at Westcott Elementary School in Chicago to announce that he is donating $1 million to Chicago Public Schools. “Our kids should not be held hostage because of political positions,” he said. He later revealed that he and Common will speak on the phone to discuss further funding. The announcement follows his meeting with Illinois governor Bruce Rauner last week, where they discussed public education and other “important issues affecting” the city of Chicago and Illinois as a whole. Immediately following the meeting, Chance expressed his frustration, saying, “It went a little different than it should have,” and that he was given vague answers when speaking with the governor. At the press conference, he reiterated that Gov. Rauner gave him “vague” answers, and shouted, “Gov. Rauner, do your job!” Watch the press conference below.
Chance has also updated his website with a link to support Chicago Public Schools. Learn more here. Read “Charting Chance the Rapper’s Unsigned Success,” as well as Chance’s foreword to Kevin Coval’s A People’s History of Chicago on the Pitch.

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Dozens Lose Their Job For Participating In “Day Without Immigrants” Protest

By: Sonia Gutierrez

Twenty one people were fired from a South Carolina company after taking part in the Day Without Immigrants Protest.

The movement closed restaurants and shops across the country to show the contributions immigrants have on the American workforce.

Juvenito Quintana and 20 others all missed work on February 16th and right the next day, they got a letter from Encore Boat Builders LLC in Lexington.

The letter said they were being terminated for no show/ no call in. Their last day listed as February 16th, the day of the protest.

Quintana says some employees got calls from management the day before telling them not to miss or else they’d lose their job. That’s why he said a lot didn’t call in, for fear.

Most of the employees had been working there for years and have small children. Quintana is a permanent resident and feels like the termination was unfair.

Melissa Burnette is an employment attorney and says South Carolina is a Right To Work state where employers can make those kinds of decisions.

“Some employers are more supportive and would not have terminated the employees but some employers have the right to do that” she said.

It’s important for employees to understand their rights to protest like wearing t-shirts or posting flyers if it doesn’t interfere with the business operations Burnette said. But they also need to understand their responsibilities like being expected to show up to work.

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Struggling To Make Ends Meet? Don’t Worry Millennial You Are Not Alone.

Compliments of AP

Baby Boomers: your millennial children are worse off than you.

With a median household income of $40,581, millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated, according to a new analysis of Federal Reserve data by the advocacy group Young Invincibles.

The analysis being released Friday gives concrete details about a troubling generational divide that helps to explain much of the anxiety that defined the 2016 election. Millennials have half the net worth of boomers. Their home ownership rate is lower, while their student debt is drastically higher.

The generational gap is a central dilemma for the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, who essentially pledged a return to the prosperity of post-World War II America. The analysis also hints at the issues of culture and identity that divided many voters, showing that white millennials — who still earn much more than their blacks and Latino peers — have seen their incomes plummet the most relative to boomers.

Andrea Ledesma, 28, says her parents owned a house and were raising kids by her age.

Not so for her. Ledesma graduated from college four years ago. After moving through a series of jobs, she now earns $18,000 making pizza at Classic Slice in Milwaukee, shares a two-bedroom apartment with her boyfriend and has $33,000 in student debt.

“That’s not at all how life is now, that’s not something that people strive for and it’s not something that is even attainable, and I thought it would be at this point,” Ledesma said.

Her mother Cheryl Romanowski, 55, was making about $10,000 a year at her age working at a bank without a college education. In today’s dollars, that income would be equal to roughly $19,500.

Romanowski said she envies the choices that her daughter has in life, but she acknowledged that her daughter has it harder than her.

“I think the opportunities have just been fading away,” she said.

The analysis of the Fed data shows the extent of the decline. It compared 25 to 34 year-olds in 2013, the most recent year available, to the same age group in 1989 after adjusting for inflation.

Education does help boost incomes. But the median college-educated millennial with student debt is only earning slightly more than a baby boomer without a degree did in 1989.

The home ownership rate for this age group dipped to 43 percent from 46 percent in 1989, although the rate has improved for millennials with a college degree relative to boomers.

The median net worth of millennials is $10,090, 56 percent less than it was for boomers.

Whites still earn dramatically more than Blacks and Latinos, reflecting the legacy of discrimination for jobs, education and housing.

Yet compared to white baby boomers, some white millennials appear stuck in a pattern of downward mobility. This group has seen their median income tumble more than 21 percent to $47,688.

Median income for black millennials has fallen just 1.4 percent to $27,892. Latino millennials earn nearly 29 percent more than their boomer predecessors to $30,436.

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Have We Found The Source Of Consciousness?

By: Fiona Macdonald 

Scientists have struggled for millennia to understand human consciousness – the awareness of one’s existence. Despite advances in neuroscience, we still don’t really know where it comes from, and how it arises.

But researchers think they might have finally figured out its physical origins, after pinpointing a network of three specific regions in the brain that appear to be crucial to consciousness.

It’s a pretty huge deal for our understanding of what it means to be human, and it could also help researchers find new treatments for patients in vegetative states.

“For the first time, we have found a connection between the brainstem region involved in arousal and regions involved in awareness, two prerequisites for consciousness,” said lead researcher Michael Fox from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre at Harvard Medical School.

“A lot of pieces of evidence all came together to point to this network playing a role in human consciousness.”

Consciousness is generally thought of as being comprised of two critical components – arousal and awareness.

Researchers had already shown that arousal is likely regulated by the brainstem– the portion of the brain that links up with the spinal cord – seeing as it regulates when we sleep and wake, and our heart rate and breathing.

Awareness has been more elusive. Researchers have long thought that it resides somewhere in the cortex – the outer layer of the brain – but no one has been able to pinpoint where.

Now the Harvard team has identified not only the specific brainstem region linked to arousal, but also two cortex regions, that all appear to work together to form consciousness.

To figure this out, the team analysed 36 patients in hospital with brainstem lesions – 12 of them were in a coma (unconscious) and 24 were defined as being conscious.

The researchers then mapped their brainstems to figure out if there was one particular region that could explain why some patients had maintained consciousness despite their injuries, while others had become comatose.

What they found was one small area of the brainstem – known as the rostral dorsolateral pontine tegmentum – that was significantly associated with coma. Ten out of the 12 unconscious patients had damage in this area, while just one out of the 24 conscious patients did.

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New James Webb Space Telescope Leaves Hubble In The Space Dust

By Steve Dent

The Hubble Space Telescope has given humanity unprecedented glimpses into the universe, but it will soon be replaced by a far more powerful model. NASA administrator Charles Bolden unveiled the completed $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will be able to see the universe as it was 13 billion years ago. It’s equipped with a 21-foot, gold-coated mirror array that can collect seven times more light than Hubble and scan the infrared spectrum to see through dust. “We’ve done two decades of innovation and hard work, and this is the result,” project scientist John Mather says.

On top of peering into the deepest, oldest regions of the universe, the telescope has enough power to hunt for habitable exoplanets. “We’d like to know if another planet out there has enough water to have an ocean, and we think we can do that,” says Mather. Thanks to its relatively large, extremely smooth mirror — which would have defects just a few inches high if stretched to the size of the United States — it has enough power to detect a bumblebee on the moon.

How the James Webb Space Telescope will be folded into the Ariane 5 rocket (Arianespace/ESA/NASA)
To detect infrared light, the JWST will be cooled to around -220 degrees Celcius (-364 degrees F, just 50 degrees above absolute zero). To achieve that temperature, it’s insulated from the sun by five membrane layers, each no thicker than a human hair. Those membranes were finished just last week, marking an end to construction of the telescope.

The team will now start a rigorous battery of tests to avoid problems the Hubble had (which would be impossible to fix, since the JWST will be nearly a million miles from Earth). First, scientists will rattle the device and blast it with 150 decibels of noise to simulate launch conditions on the giant Ariane 5 rocket. Then, it’ll undergo cryogenic testing to confirm it can survive the extreme temperatures of space. Lastly, it’ll undergo final performance tests to ensure there are no Hubble-like optical defects.

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Scientist Discover Efficient Way to Convert CO2 into Ethanol

By: Avery Thompson 

 

Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have discovered a chemical reaction to turn CO2 into ethanol, potentially creating a new technology to help avert climate change. Their findings were published in the journal ChemistrySelect.

The researchers were attempting to find a series of chemical reactions that could turn CO2 into a useful fuel, when they realized the first step in their process managed to do it all by itself. The reaction turns CO2 into ethanol, which could in turn be used to power generators and vehicles.

The tech involves a new combination of copper and carbon arranged into nanospikes on a silicon surface. The nanotechnology allows the reactions to be very precise, with very few contaminants.

“By using common materials, but arranging them with nanotechnology, we figured out how to limit the side reactions and end up with the one thing that we want,” said Adam Rondinone.

This process has several advantages when compared to other methods of converting CO2 into fuel. The reaction uses common materials like copper and carbon, and it converts the CO2 into ethanol, which is already widely used as a fuel.

Perhaps most importantly, it works at room temperature, which means that it can be started and stopped easily and with little energy cost. This means that this conversion process could be used as temporary energy storage during a lull in renewable energy generation, smoothing out fluctuations in a renewable energy grid.

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Ascending Consciousness

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