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Olympics. Allyson Felix finished third in the 400 meters Friday to win her 10th career medal and become the most-decorated woman in the history of Olympic track.
South Sudan. Deadly fighting has erupted between rival factions of South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar’s SPLA-IO, his military spokesman said in a statement. The clashes erupted on Saturday after Machar’s rivals declared this week they had deposed him as the head of the party and its military forces.
Olympics. Tokyo doused its Olympic flame on Sunday in a ceremony that echoed the restraint of the games held without spectators and transformed by the global pandemic, dazzling sport and deeply personal turmoil. The United States finished top of the tally with 39 gold medals, one more than rivals China at 38 and Japan at 27. Nigeria, 74th.
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1898 Rudolf Diesel of Germany obtains patent #608,845 for his internal combustion engine, later known as the diesel engine
2012 Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt wins the 200m at the London Olympics in 19.32 to become first to win 100/200m double in back-to-back Olympics
2016 Would You Believe? Longest ever hunger strike ends, Indian human rights campaigner Irom Sharmila tastes honey after 16 years
Police Turns Southeast to Kill Zone
The Story At least 115 people were killed by security operatives in the southeast from March to June 2021, according to Amnesty International.
Were they criminals? The human rights organisation said the country’s security forces deployed “excessive and unlawful force, and torture and other ill-treatment” to address the rising violence in the South-East region. Amnesty International, in a statement, said security operatives responded by killing “dozens of gunmen and civilians” in places where attacks occurred in the region.
Indiscriminate killings and arrests The international organisation said it had documented 52 incidents of unlawful killings and 62 cases of arbitrary arrest and torture carried out by security operatives from January 2021. The organisation narrated the ordeal of a 37-year-old man, who was arrested in Imo state in May 2021, because his colleague had a birthmark that the police claimed bore semblance with IPOB’s symbol. It also narrated how Uguchi Unachukwu, a Germany-based businessman was allegedly killed by soldiers on 31 May near Owerri airport in Imo on his way out of the country.
Are the security agencies acting on instructions from Abuja? These violations from the security agencies appear to be retaliatory. The police said ESN fighters killed 21 of its personnel in Imo state alone. It now appears like they are out to make anyone pay for it. "Some victims told Amnesty International that they were arrested while walking in the street, at a public bar or simply for having birthmarks or tattoos on their body,” the human rights organisation said. According to Amnesty, at least 115 persons were killed by security forces between March and June 2021.
Several sources in government hospitals in Imo and Abia states, where many of the victims were deposited, noted that all the victims deposited by the police had bullet injuries. Human rights groups have estimated that the death toll of violence between January and June 2021 in Anambra, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyi states might run into the hundreds. SOURCE
Silent But Deadly
The Story The potentially catastrophic release of methane gas from thawing wetlands in Siberia’s permafrost -- dubbed "the methane bomb" -- has worried scientists for a long time. Now, a study by three geologists finds that a heatwave in 2020 caused a surge in methane emissions "potentially in much higher amounts" from thawing rock formations in the Arctic permafrost.
I don't understand The prehistoric limestone at issue is located in two regions, is several miles wide, 375 miles long, and is "much more dangerous" than past studies have suggested. The reason is that thawing wetlands releases “microbial” methane from the decay of soil and organic matter, whereas thawing limestone, or carbonate rock, releases hydrocarbons and gas hydrates from reservoirs both below and within the permafrost.
What's the danger in it? The scientists used satellite maps that measured intense methane concentrations over two "conspicuous elongated areas" of limestone in the Taymyr Peninsula and the area around northern Siberia. High levels of methane can reduce the amount of oxygen breathed from the air. This can result in mood changes, slurred speech, vision problems, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing and headache. In severe cases, there may be changes in breathing and heart rate, balance problems, numbness, and unconsciousness.
How did the heatwave impact the emission? During the heatwave of 2020, temperatures rose 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1979-2000 norms. The rock formations warmed up, cracks and pockets opened up, and methane trapped inside was released. Concentrations of methane were elevated by about 5%. Despite the later return of low temperatures and snow in the region, further tests showed the concentration of methane continued through the spring of 2021.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the carbonates in the outcroppings date back to the Paleozoic era, 541 million years ago. In other sobering news, Polar Portal -- a website where Danish Arctic research institutions present updated information about ice -- said last week that a "massive melting event" occurred that had been big enough to cover the entire state of Florida with two inches of water. SOURCE
The Land Before Time
The Story It seems our fascination with dinosaurs is never-ending. We know it was a city-sized asteroid that hit off the coast of what is now Mexico that doomed them to extinction 66 million years ago.
How? The strike created the 125-mile-wide Chicxulub crater, unleashing climate-changing gases into the atmosphere that ultimately killed off 75% of life on the planet. But paleontologists have long debated what dinosaur life was like before the asteroid hit. Were they thriving, or already teetering on the brink?
Has that been answered? A new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that dinosaurs were in decline for as many as 10 million years before that final death blow. It's this decline that impeded their ability to recover from the asteroid's aftermath. "We looked at the six most abundant dinosaur families through the whole of the Cretaceous (period), spanning from 150 to 66 million years ago, and found that they were all evolving and expanding and clearly being successful," said the study's lead author in a news release.
How did they find that? Around 76 million years ago, 'they showed a sudden downturn. Their rates of extinction rose and in some cases, the rate of origin of new species dropped off.' The researchers used computer modeling techniques that accounted for uncertainties, including incomplete fossil records, to arrive at the most probable result. They believe that the global climate cooling during the Late Cretaceous period ---100 to 66 million years ago --- may have contributed to the decline of non-avian dinosaurs. Avian or bird-like dinosaurs survived the asteroid strike and evolved into the birds we see today.
What else did they find? Another co-author of the study said: "It became clear that there were two main factors, first that overall climates were becoming cooler, [making] life harder for the dinosaurs which likely relied on warm temperatures. Then, the loss of herbivores made the ecosystems unstable and prone to extinction cascade." They also concluded "that the longer-lived dinosaur species were more liable to extinction, perhaps reflecting that they could not adapt to the new conditions on Earth."
The debate is bound to continue, as the research behind this study contradicts other recent studies, using alternative methods, that have laid the blame for dinosaur extinction solely on the asteroid, and found that there's no strong evidence that dinosaurs were in decline before the asteroid hit. SOURCE
The Story Chinese billionaire Sun Dawu was sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges of gathering crowds to attack state agencies, illegal fundraising, and “provoking trouble.”
Did he do all that? The initial case against Sun started last summer, when a minor property dispute with a neighboring state farm turned violent. Authorities kept over twenty of Sun’s relatives and employees under secret house arrest, in what some called brutal conditions. “There were no windows in the designated residential surveillance area and the lights were on 24 hours a day, making it impossible to distinguish between day and night,” said Jin Fengyu, Dawu Group's deputy director.
Cutting down the influence of deep pockets The billionaire pig farmer was found guilty of eight charges by the Gaobeidian District People's Court in Hebei province during China’s latest effort to rein in powerful businessmen and limit the influence of private enterprises. Nineteen of Sun's relatives and employees were given shorter sentences, and his Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group conglomerate was fined $480,000. “A camera watched me and because of the lack of privacy, I never once could bathe", Fengyu lamented.
Is it now a crime to be rich in China? Being rich is not the problem, not being in tune with the government is. It has not been a good year for private businesses in China. The country's most valuable technology companies are facing a wave of new regulations severely restricting their scope of business. In addition, thousands of owners of small and midsize private businesses have been ensnared in a three-year anti-corruption campaign.
Sun, a 67-year-old social justice advocate and staunch defender of rural development, had once enjoyed a kind political celebrity. But last year, the state took over Dawu Group's operations, and most of the group's executives are now in prison. SOURCE
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AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. What year was it first identified?
QUESTION & ANSWER
What are some interesting facts about elephants?
Elephants kill gratuitously.
Yes, the herbivorous elephant.
It’s been observed that some young bull elephants have got into the habit of raping and killing rhinos, buffalo and sometimes even other elephants, for what is clearly just for the hell of it. If you want pictures/videos though, I’ll let you Google them for yourselves.
The reason? Poachers.
It’s not unknown that elephants are prime targets for poachers, as their ivory commands a high price. Because older males have bigger tusks, though, they’ve been the preferred target for this callous bunch ever since the pound signs rocked up in front of them, and as a result, their numbers out of all elephants have taken the biggest hit.
Researchers have observed that the knock-on effect of this is that the younger males lack a role model, a sort of father figure, to instil in them self-control and good behaviour. Without those boundaries set, some go wild and do some crazy and despicable things.
This isn’t mere speculation either.
Young male elephants at national parks in parts of Africa exhibiting aggressive behaviour, particularly killing rhinos in ritualised combat, were shown to be less aggressive when bigger, older males were reintroduced.
So what’s the cause?
It’s believed that musth (pronounced “moost”) is the reason. It’s the name given to periods where a male elephant’s testosterone spikes by 40–60×, or even up to 140× in some cases, causing them to become highly aggressive to the point that controlling them becomes impossible. The studies have found that once the older males were reintroduced, it stopped the younger males from entering musth in the first place.
Of course in the wild, it’s not so simple. Killing the older males has invariably upset the social structure of elephants, and it’s already becoming clear what the results are going to be should this continue. SOURCE
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. What year was it first identified?