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December 17, 2017

Blaze on New York's Fire Island destroys 2 well-known gay resort landmarks; firefighters hurt

By Frank Eltman, The Associated Press

MINEOLA, N.Y. – An early morning blaze on Fire Island destroyed several structures, including two well-known landmarks in a historic gay resort, and required dozens of firefighters to respond by ferry from the mainland of Long Island, fire and police officials said Friday.

The fire, which was reported at about 1:30 a.m., ruined an apartment complex known as Holly House, as well as the Grove Hotel, and left three firefighters with minor injuries, said Craig Williams, Cherry Grove assistant fire chief. A nightclub attached to the hotel called the Ice Palace avoided serious damage, Williams said.

Cherry Grove has been known since the late 1940s as a sanctuary where gay writers, actors and businesspeople from New York City and beyond escape to relax, hold hands and show affection in public.

“This is the largest fire we have had here in well over a decade,” said Williams, a volunteer who lives near Hackensack, New Jersey, and drove to Long Island early Friday to respond to the blaze.

The Suffolk County police arson squad and the town of Brookhaven’s fire marshal’s office were conducting routine investigations to determine the cause.

Two private homes were destroyed and three others also were damaged, Williams said. None of the structures or homes near the downtown business district in the primarily summer beach community was occupied.

The nearby Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, which opened in 1948 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, was not damaged, Williams said.

More than 100 firefighters from 22 departments responded to the blaze; some were taken by the Sayville Ferry Service across the Great South Bay to the scene on the barrier island about 60 miles east of Manhattan. It was not immediately clear whether the time to cross the bay to fight the fire contributed to the amount of damage inflicted by the blaze.

Williams and others noted that the historic Cherry Grove community, like many of the hamlets and villages along the 30-mile long barrier island 5 miles off the southern shore of Long Island, is primarily deserted this time of year.

“Thank God it wasn’t the height of the season,” Diane Romano, president of the Cherry Grove Community Association, told The Associated Press after touring the devastation Friday afternoon. “Everyone would not have gotten out of that hotel. It is devastating and will take a lot of work to build it back, but the spirit of the people in Cherry Grove is very strong and we’re all going to help each other.”

Notable Cherry Grove visitors and residents have included poet W.H. Auden; playwright Tennessee Williams; author Truman Capote; actresses Nancy Walker, Tallulah Bankhead and Hermione Gingold; comedian Kaye Ballard; and New Yorker journalist Janet Flanner.

Source article – 

Blaze on New York's Fire Island destroys 2 well-known gay resort landmarks; firefighters hurt

Both TransAsia plane engines lost power before Taiwan crash

Search and rescue divers continue to search for missing persons at the site of a commercial plane crash in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. TransAsia Airways Flight 235 with 58 people aboard clipped a bridge shortly after takeoff and crashed into a river in the island’s capital of Taipei on Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

TAIPEI, Taiwan — One of the two engines on TransAsia Airways Flight 235 went idle 37 seconds after takeoff, and the pilots apparently shut off the other before making a futile attempt to restart it, Taiwan’s top aviation safety official said.

It was unclear why the second engine was shut down, since the plane was capable of flying with one engine. Taiwan’s official China News Agency said investigators were looking into the possibility of “professional error.”

Wednesday’s crash into a river in Taipei minutes after takeoff killed at least 36 people and left seven missing. Fifteen people were rescued with injuries after the accident, which was captured in a dramatic dashboard camera video that showed the ATR 72 propjet banking steeply and scraping a highway overpass before it hurtled into the Keelung River.

There would be no reason to have shut down the good engine, experts said.

“It’s a mistake,” said John M. Cox, a former US Airways pilot and now head of a safety-consulting company. “There are procedures that pilots go through — safeguards — when you’re going to shut down an engine, particularly close to the ground. Why that didn’t occur here, I don’t know.”

Multi-engine planes, whether jets or turboprops like the ATR, are designed to fly on one engine. When an engine quits, one technique that pilots often use, Cox said, is to identify and tell each other which engine is still running, then for one of them to place a hand behind the throttle controlling that good engine — guarding against an accidental shutdown.

Cox said it is too early to draw certain conclusions but it’s likely that the crew’s failure to control the plane and shutting down the operating engine “will be part of the causal factors to this accident.”

The details on the engines were presented at a news conference in Taipei by Aviation Safety Council Executive Director Thomas Wang as preliminary findings from the flight data recorder.

Wang said Friday the plane’s right engine triggered an alarm 37 seconds after takeoff. However, he said the data showed it had not shut down, or “flamed out” as the pilot told the control tower, but rather moved into idle mode, with no change in the oil pressure.

Then, 46 seconds later, the left engine was shut down, apparently by one of the pilots, so that neither engine was producing any power. A restart was attempted, but the plane crashed just 72 seconds later.

Several Internet aviation sites, including Flightradar24, questioned whether the pilots may have mistakenly turned off the wrong engine in an attempt to restart the idled one.

Anthony Brickhouse, a safety-science professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said investigators won’t really know what happened to the engines until they do a “tear-down” and actually examine them — not just rely entirely on information from the flight-data recorder — to determine whether one or both were still producing power.

TransAsia said in a statement that all 71 of its ATR pilots would retake proficiency examinations as requested by the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

The pilot had 4,900 hours of flying experience, said Lin Chih-ming of the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

Taiwanese Vice President Wu Den-yih, mindful of the island’s reputation as a tourist destination and its tense relations with China where most of the flight’s passengers were from, went to a Taipei funeral parlor for prayer sessions to pay respects.

At the parlor, where bodies are being stored, Wu expressed condolences and praised pilot Liao Chien-chung, who died in the crash. The pilots may have deliberately steered the plane away from buildings and into the river in the final moments.

“When it came to when it was clear his life would end, (the pilot) meticulously grasped the flight operating system and in the final moments he still wanted to control the plane to avoid harming residents in the housing communities,” Wu said.

“To the plane’s crew, the victims … I here express condolences.”

Divers with a local fire agency found one female and three male bodies Friday along the muddy Keelung River bottom about 50 meters (yards) from the crash site, a Taipei City Fire Department official surnamed Chen said.

The agency suspects the eight bodies that are still missing may be in equally murky areas and has sent 190 divers to look for them. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense dispatched three S-70C rescue helicopters to search along a river system that runs into the ocean off Taiwan’s northwest coast.

More than 30 relatives of victims cried wildly, prayed or were comforted by Buddhist volunteers at the riverside crash site as divers in black wetsuits brought back the four bodies. Some divers came ashore with their hands joined in prayer for the people they brought back.

The pilot’s and co-pilot’s bodies were found earlier with their hands still on the controls, Taiwan’s ETToday online news service said.

Wang said the engines had shown no problems before the flight and repeatedly stated that the plane would have been able to take off and fly even with only one engine working.

Evidence that the TransAsia pilots may have shut down the wrong engine drew comparisons with the 1989 crash of a British Midland Airways Boeing 737 jet shortly after takeoff from London’s Heathrow Airport.

In that accident, a fan blade failure in the left engine led to vibrations and smoke and fumes in the cockpit. The pilots believed that the right engine had failed and reduced power to it, which caused the vibrations to stop, convincing the crew that they had identified the troubled engine. As the pilots tried to make an emergency landing, the left engine quit, and attempts to restart the right engine failed. The plane crashed a half-mile short of the runway, killing 47 people; 79 survived.

Originally posted here: 

Both TransAsia plane engines lost power before Taiwan crash

Looking for something competitive to do in February (and get a weekend away)? Here’s a few ideas

Feeling the urge for a bit of competition in the coming month? We’ve got you covered with these few suggestions.

Here, we’ve gone for cycling in west Clare, running through mud in north Dublin or doing your first duathlon – and having an excuse to head down to Cork.

So dust off the lycra, pump up those tyres and fill up that tank.

Junior Tour Sportives

What? The Junior Tour is by far and away the best race on the Irish domestic racing calendar for 16-18 year olds. In its 35+ year history the event has attracted some of the best talent from around the world – many of whom have gone on to have long and distinguished careers.

However, the race has run into financial difficulty with the organisers announcing last year that this year’s event – and indeed the future of the race, is in jeopardy as main sponsors have withdrawn their support and there isn’t the requisite funds to run it.

Three cycling sportives have been organised this month in an effort to raise the money needed to keep the race alive.

There’s one in Dublin this Sunday (enter here) featuring 2 routes of 100 and 50 kilometres, respectively while on Saturday week there’s one in Derry, details to be found here and later in the month, there’s a third one in Whitegate, Co. Clare. Details for that can be ascertained here.

When? Sunday, 1 February (that’s tomorrow), Saturday, 8 February and Saturday, 28 February.

Where? Baldonnell, Co. Dublin and Bellaghy, Co. Derry and Whitegate, Co, Clare

DUATHLON

Fota Island Challenge Series Sprint Duathlon

What? A duathlon is a three-part race and this event consists of a 4.8 kilometre run followed by an 18 kilometre cycle and another 4.8 kilometre run to finish.

It’s only the second year of the event but such was the success of the inaugural race in 2014 that it’s now a part of the National Series. The standard will be a real mix, with the top competitors competing for points in respective age groups, and those just out for a bitta craic having the opportunity of a good workout in a stunning location.

Registration is open the day before from 7am to 9.45 am and again from 5pm to 7pm while you can also register on the day in the Recreational Building at Fota, in close proximity to the hotel.

As the event is Triathlon Ireland sanctioned, a race license is required and the fee per participant is €39 and €75 for relay teams. There will be three different categories on the day from individual to relay teams and minimum age is 16.

When? Saturday, 28 February

Where? Fota Island, Cobh, Co. Cork

ATHLETICS

Swords Cross County Race

What?  Ballyheary Park in Swords hosts the very attractive-looking North Country Farmers Cross Country race the weekend after next and anyone over the age of 18 can enter.

The event is part of the Business Houses Athletics Association (BHAA) but you don’t need to be a BHAA member to race, you don’t need to be an employee of any business and you don’t even have to be a member of a running club to compete.

However, to race on the day as a non-member will cost you €15, as opposed to €10 if you are a member.

The event format sees two races happening on the same course with the same start time of 11.30am. The park has two fields with a wide foot bridge connecting both. The small lap involves a loop of the start/finish area field and the longer lap takes in the second field.

The ladies race is two mile course which is one small lap and one large lap. The mens race is 5 miles which involves 3 and 3/4 large laps. It should be noted that ladies are welcome to run in the longer 5 mile race if they wish to do so.

When? Saturday, 7 Feb 2015 at 11:30am

Where? The race headquarters is in Fingallians GAA , Swords. If driving it is recommended to take the M1 Motorway using the Exit 4 – Lissenhall interchange.

Check out the BHAA website for more details.

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View the original here:  

Looking for something competitive to do in February (and get a weekend away)? Here’s a few ideas

Easter Island's Demise May Have Surprising New Explanation

The downfall of Easter Island may have had more to do with preexisting environmental conditions than degradation by humans, according to a new study of the remote speck of land made famous by its enormous stone-head statues.

Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, was first settled around A.D. 1200, and Europeans landed on its shores in 1722. The circumstances surrounding the collapse of the indigenous population of Rapa Nui are hotly debated both in academia and popular culture. Scientist and author Jared Diamond argued in his 2005 book “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” (Viking Press) that prior to European contact, the indigenous people of the island degraded the environment to the extent that they could no longer thrive.

The new study suggests that Easter Island’s people were, indeed, suffering before Europeans came along. The story of their downfall, however, may be less about environmental degradation than the pre-existing environmental constraints of the 63-square-mile (163 square kilometers) isle. [Image Gallery: The Walking Statues of Easter Island]

“The results of our research were really quite surprising to me,” said study co-author Thegn Ladefoged, an anthropologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “Indeed, in the past, we’ve published articles about how there was little evidence for pre-European-contact societal collapse.” 

Collapse of civilization?

The new study challenged Ladefoged and his colleagues’ view. Changes on Easter Island have been well documented, archaeologically. Over time, elite dwellings were destroyed, inland agricultural fields were abandoned, and people took refuge in caves and began manufacturing more and more spear points made out of volcanic glass called obsidian, perhaps suggesting a period of war and upheaval. 

The problem with pinning down the island’s history, according to the researchers, is that the dates of all these events and abandonments remain murky. Going into the study, the researchers expected to find that most of the disaster occurred after Europeans arrived, Ladefoged told Live Science.

To clarify the timeline, the researchers analyzed more than 400 obsidian tools and chipped-off obsidian flakes from six sites scattered around the island, focusing in particular on three with good information on climate and soil chemistry.

Obsidian absorbs water when exposed to air. By measuring the amount of water absorption in the surfaces of the obsidian tools and flakes, the research team was able to gauge how long those surfaces have been exposed, thus revealing when the tools were made. A greater number of tools from a certain time period indicates heavier human use of that area during that time. [History’s 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries]

Natural challenges

The obsidian dates varied widely across the sites. Site 1, on the northwestern coast of the island, saw a steady increase in use between about 1220 and 1650, with a fast decline starting after 1650 — long before Europeans arrived on the island.

Site 2, an interior mountainside site, saw a rapid increase in land use between about 1200 and 1300, a slower increase until about 1480, and then constant use until a decline that started between 1705 and 1710, also before European contact. By the time Europeans came along, coastal Site 1 was at about 54 percent of its peak land use, and mountainous Site 2 was at only about 60 percent.

Site 3 told a different story. This near-coastal area saw a slow increase in human activity between 1250 and 1500, and then a faster increase until about 1690, after which settlement remained fairly constant until after European contact. In fact, the decline in use of this site didn’t begin until 1850 or later, the researchers found.

The differing climates of the sites may explain the uneven decline, the researchers said. Site 1 is in the rain shadow of the volcano Ma’unga Terevaka, making it prone to droughts. Site 2 is wetter, but its soil fertility is low. Site 3, the longest-lasting spot, is both rainy and fertile.

What this means is that the people of Easter Island may have been struggling against natural environmental barriers to success, rather than degrading the environment themselves, the researchers reported Monday (Jan. 5) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“It is clear that people were reacting to regional environmental variation on the island before they were devastated by the introduction of European diseases and other historic processes,” Ladefoged said. The next step, he said, would be to take a detailed look at the archaeological remnants of dwellings on the island over time to better understand how humans and the environment interacted.

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source:

Easter Island's Demise May Have Surprising New Explanation

Greenland's Ice-Melt Models May Be Too Sunny

The vast ice sheet covering Greenland could melt more quickly in the future than existing models predict, new research suggests.

Scientists looked at satellite data collected by NASA’s ICESat spacecraft and Operation IceBridge and plotted the elevation of 100,000 sites on Greenland from 1993 to 2012.

The researchers were able to create new, more precise estimates for how much ice had melted in the past. They also found that the ice melts in a rather complex pattern, which should be of interest to scientists trying to predict how much ice will disappear in the future. [Images: Greenland’s Gorgeous Glaciers]

More than a mile thick in most areas, the Greenland Ice Sheet covers nearly all of interior Greenland, an Arctic island about three times the size of Texas. If the entire ice sheet melted, sea levels around the world would rise about 20 feet (6 meters), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Though such a catastrophic scenario isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, smaller increases in sea level could still boost the power of coastal storms, threaten to flood major cities and displace millions of people. During the 20th century, sea levels rose by about 6.7 inches (17 centimeters). According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the current scientific consensus is that sea levels could creep up by 11 inches to 38 inches (28 to 98 cm) by 2100, in part because of melting in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. 

The new research found that an average of 243 gigatons (or 66.5 cubic miles) of the Greenland Ice Sheet melted each year from 2003 to 2009. (The scientists had the most comprehensive data for this period.) That’s enough meltwater to raise oceans by about 0.027 inches (0.68 millimeters) per year, the researchers said.

The study didn’t make any exact predictions for how much of Greenland’s ice may melt in the future, but the authors think that current models underestimate the extent of the problem.  

“My personal opinion is that most of the predictions of this as far as Greenland is concerned are too low,” study author Beata Csatho, an associate professor of geology at the University at Buffalo, said in a video statement.

Existing models for predicting changes in ice-sheet melt and sea-level rise are typically extrapolated from data on just four of Greenland’s 242 glaciers: Jakobshavn, Helheim, Kangerlussuaq and Petermann. That’s a problem, according to the study’s authors, because glaciers — even ones right next to each other — can behave quite differently in any given year. Today’s models also tend to ignore southeast Greenland’s ice cover, which is experiencing heavy losses, the researchers found. In 2005, melting in this region accounted for more than half of the losses to the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Csatho and her colleagues say it’s not easy to predict how glaciers will respond to global warming, because they don’t always melt as the temperature rises. Their data showed that sometimes the glaciers covering Greenland thickened when the temperature rose, while some areas both thinned and thickened, with abrupt reversals.

To help other researchers create better prediction models, the scientists put all of Greenland’s glaciers into seven groups, based on the characteristics of their melting behavior from 2003 to 2009.

“Understanding the groupings will help us pick out examples of glaciers that are representative of the whole,” Csatho said in a statement. “We can then use data from these representative glaciers in models to provide a more complete picture of what is happening.”

The findings were published Monday (Dec. 15) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter. Follow us @livescienceFacebook Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Greenland's Ice-Melt Models May Be Too Sunny

Chinese patriotism fuels cruises to disputed isles

ABOARD THE COCONUT PRINCESS (AP) — On a cruise more about politics than pleasure, Zhang Jing watched the gray shells of the Paracel Islands emerge from the purple, pre-dawn South China Sea.

Cheers erupted on board at the sight of the distant land, and Zhang and the other passengers scurried to take pictures of each other at the railing holding China’s bright red flag. A few miles away, a Chinese navy frigate cruised by silently, part of the country’s continuing watch over the tiny islands it has long claimed as part of its territory.

“This is the southern frontier of China,” Zhang, a policeman, said when he had reached one of the islands. “As a Chinese, I feel proud to come here and declare sovereignty.”

With the Tangshan resident and 167 other Chinese tourists on board, the ship had traveled more than 200 miles south of Hainan Island off China’s southern coast to what they said was an indisputable outpost of their country.

Each had waited months for permission to join the five-day tour, and spent from $1,200 to about $2,000 to visit these barren patches of sand, making do with the bland cabbage and noodles on board and blackouts of cellphone service.

The passengers came to celebrate China’s growing power in the region, and to help press its claim to the 130 coral islands and reefs of the Paracels, known to the Chinese as the Xishas.

China is locked in disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines and other neighbors over much of the strategically crucial South China Sea, which holds important shipping lanes, rich fishing waters and — possibly — billions of barrels of oil. Patriotic tourists have become the region’s latest territorial chess pieces.

China has stationed hundreds of troops on the Paracels and even built a massive government headquarters in the northern islands, though Vietnam and Taiwan also claim the territory.

The tour company that Zhang used visits the southern Paracels. Since starting the tours in May 2013, it has ferried some 3,000 people to the islands, which are no bigger than a square mile. Videographers from The Associated Press were the first foreign journalists to join one of the tours.

The cruises are useful to China because under international law, it must prove a civilian and not just a military use for the islands to claim sovereignty, said Kang Lin, a researcher at China’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

“Tourism to Xisha is a very good civilian tool to declare our sovereignty over the islands, and it is supported by international laws,” Kang said. “China will speed up its exploration in the Xisha Islands.”

The dispute has at times become heated, and there are concerns it could escalate. Over the summer, Vietnamese and Chinese boats repeatedly rammed each other in the Spratly Islands, several hundred miles south of the Paracels, after the Chinese moved an oil rig into contested waters.

Bernard Loo Fook Weng, a military studies professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said stoking nationalist fervor could backfire on leaders in Beijing if they eventually opt for a more conciliatory approach with China’s neighbors.

“Playing the popular card is always potentially dangerous because you may unleash forces you can’t control,” Weng said. “But if the Chinese really want to reinforce its claims to the Paracels and if necessary resort to military force, it helps to get the population on its side.”

Other than the passing navy frigate and a few sailors hitching a ride on the Coconut Princess, the tour group saw few signs of territorial tensions.

At dawn on the second day, the ship anchored a few miles off the coast of what the Chinese call Quanfu Island. Later, motorized inflatable boats took the visitors to three different islands where they snorkeled, swam and posed for pictures with their ever-present flags.

Chen Junxiang, an environmental agency official from the central Chinese province of Sichuan, donned an oxygen tank and dove among the coral and fish off Yagong Island. He said coming here was a lifelong dream, though he could have taken a more luxurious cruise somewhere else for the same money.

“I am here for tourism, but also to declare sovereignty and advocate for environmental protection,” Chen said. “We really should protect the environment here, otherwise we have nothing to leave for our next generations.”

Fisherman Fan Qiusheng waited for the group on the beach of Yingyu Island outside the wood-and-tarp shack where he lives nine months of the year. He and 18 other people are paid to live on the island; he said the central government gives him 1,350 yuan ($220) a month plus food, water, electricity and other supplies. His wife and five children live on Hainan, and he visits them about every two months.

“Making money is important, but keeping the islands is also important,” Fan said. “If we don’t live on these islands, other people like the Vietnamese will come and stay here. We are living here, so these islands are our territory.”

___

Jack Chang reported from Beijing.

Link to original: 

Chinese patriotism fuels cruises to disputed isles

Environmentalists Move to Stop Fishing Nets From Drowning Endangered Whales

Three environmental groups have put the U.S. government on notice that they will file a lawsuit to force a ban on drift gill net fishing off the California coast, a practice that can ensnare and kill whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine life.

The group Oceana, along with the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for not adopting permanent measures to protect endangered sperm whales.

California gill nets killed an estimated 16 sperm whales in 2010, the groups contend, exceeding the maximum number of deaths the sperm whale population can sustain and still recover.

Drift gill nets are mile-long nets laid across the water overnight to catch swordfish and thresher sharks. Environmentalists call them “curtains of death” as they also trap marine mammals and sea turtles.

“Every year that drift gillnets are used off the California coast to catch swordfish, the result is that iconic whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and thousands of fish are ensnared and killed as bycatch,” Geoff Shester, Oceana’s California campaign director, said in a statement. “Ultimately this gear type must be fully prohibited off the West Coast so we can have a sustainable swordfish fishery.”

More than 650 marine mammals have been killed by gill net fishing off the California coast since 2001, according to the environmental groups.

The California fishery in dispute stretches from the Mexican border to San Francisco, and about 150 miles out to sea.

Earlier this month, Oceana sent a letter to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, an advisory board to NMFS, demanding that the agency adhere to regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) requiring fisheries to “reduce incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals to insignificant levels approaching a zero.”

Drift gill nets are efficient killers. While some large whales manage to break free from them, the nets can entangle their fins and flukes, creating considerable drag that depletes energy reserves.

The groups are calling on NMFS to reduce bycatch by requiring more selective fishing methods and accurate reporting of bycatch.

Swordfish can be caught with harpoons, a method that creates zero bycatch, according to Oceana.

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations did not respond to a request for comment.

At a meeting on Monday, the Pacific Fishery Management Council debated proposals to impose “hard caps” on the number of endangered marine species that are injured or killed by the industry.

“They want to incentivize fishermen to take measures to avoid bycatches, which may lead to more innovations for how they fish,” said Mark Helvey, NMFS West Coast program director for highly migratory species.

Another option is to close down the fishery for the remainder of the swordfish season, from roughly September to January, if numbers exceed targets. The council is set to deliver a final recommendation in March.

For now, catching unintended marine species in gillnets is technically legal.

Helvey said the death of endangered or threatened marine mammals species, such as sperm and humpback whales, from gill nets was rare. California fishermen, he added, are required to place pingers on the nets. “They deter animals, which become aware that something is ahead,” he said. Nets must also be placed 36 feet below the surface to allow animals to swim over them.

That doesn’t satisfy conservationists.

“These nets have become a death trap for many species beyond swordfish,” said Catherine Kilduff of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s time to start looking for less lethal ways to ;fish.”

Related stories on TakePart:

Why Is the World Ignoring Iceland’s Growing Slaughter of Endangered Whales?

California’s Blue Whales Are Surviving and Thriving

This Map Shows Where Dolphins Captured at the Cove in 2013 Were Sold

Does Whale Watching in the Name of Conservation Do More Harm Than Good?

Original article from TakePart

Read this article – 

Environmentalists Move to Stop Fishing Nets From Drowning Endangered Whales

Top Asian News at 8:30 a.m. GMT

BEIJING (AP) — A typhoon struck China’s southernmost island of Hainan on Tuesday, forcing the cancellation of dozens of flights as it headed northwest toward Vietnam. About 90,000 people in southern China were evacuated from high-risk areas ahead of Typhoon Kalmaegi, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said. But the typhoon’s course was giving only a glancing blow to southern China as the storm headed toward northern Vietnam, where it was expected to make landfall Tuesday night.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — One of the Philippines’ most active volcanoes is showing signs of heightened unrest and an eruption is possible within weeks, government scientists warned Tuesday. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level to “critical” for Mount Mayon in eastern Albay province late Monday after recording an escalation of unrest over a 15-hour period, including 39 incidents of hot rocks falling in the summit area and 32 low-frequency volcanic earthquakes.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban attacker detonated his car bomb next to an international military convoy on Tuesday, killing three troops from the NATO-led force and wounding nearly 20 troops and civilians, officials said. Security forces in full battle gear administered CPR to wounded comrades shortly after the 8:10 a.m. blast, which rattled nearby neighborhoods and sent a plume of smoke high into the sky. The attack happened only a couple hundred yards from the U.S. Embassy, on a main Kabul road that leads to the airport.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The music publishers for American rapper Eminem filed a lawsuit Tuesday against New Zealand’s ruling political party over the music it used in a campaign commercial. Detroit-based Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated both claim the National Party breached copyright laws by using Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself.” Joel Martin, a spokesman for the two companies, said they filed a case in the New Zealand High Court and are seeking damages.

TWANTE, Myanmar (AP) — For generations, the Myanmar town of Twante has been known for its thriving pottery industry. Even today, residents can be seen sitting on wooden stools beneath the thatched roofs of their homes, placing lumps of soft clay onto wheels and shaping it with the gentle press of their fingertips into pots for cooking, storing water, preserving fish or flowers. But the opening up of this once-isolated Southeast Asian of 50 million in 2011, when ruling generals handed over power to a nominally civilian government, has affected traditional ways. Modernization and the reluctance of the younger generation to learn the art of pottery, compounded by the cost of transporting the bulky and fragile products, have turned it into an unstable, dying industry.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. says North Korea is using detained American citizens as political pawns, after a 24-year-old Californian man was sentenced to six years of hard labor. Matthew Miller was convicted Sunday of entering the country illegally to commit espionage. The court said he tore up his visa on arriving in Pyongyang April 10 and had wanted to experience prison life so that he could secretly investigate North Korea’s human rights situation.

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Experts worry a health crisis could be looming nearly two weeks after massive flooding engulfed much of Kashmir, with countless bloated livestock carcasses now floating across the waterlogged region. Doctors are already seeing cases of diarrhea, skin allergies and fungus among the population. Rescue workers are rushing in medical aid, water pumps and purification systems.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s army says a group of militants have attacked one of its positions from neighboring Afghanistan, sparking a shootout that left 11 insurgents and three soldiers killed. In a statement, the military says “a group of terrorists” from Afghanistan attacked the Pakistani post in the North Waziristan tribal region on Tuesday. The military has been carrying out a major offensive in the area against local and foreign militants since June 15.

BANGKOK (AP) — Police on the scenic resort island of Koh Tao in southern Thailand conducted a sweep of hotels and workers’ residences Tuesday searching for clues into the slayings of two British tourists whose nearly naked, battered bodies were found on a beach a day earlier. More than 70 police officers were deployed to Koh Tao, a popular diving destination in the Gulf of Thailand, as the country’s leaders called for a swift investigation into a pair of brutal killings that marked a new blow to Thailand’s tourism industry.

In this photo by Achmad Ibrahim, an Indonesian worker wears a mask depicting the Japanese character Doraemon during a rally against outsourcing and low wages near Indonesia’s presidential palace in Jakarta on Monday. Thousands of factory workers took to the streets of the capital to take part in the protest. The demonstrators shouted “End the temporary contract system now!” as they waved colorful flags and banners lambasting the system and demanding more benefits.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — At a recent political rally in Wellington, indicted Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom jokingly asked members of New Zealand’s spy agency to raise their hands. “Please don’t worry,” he said, to rising laughter and applause. “Even though we are going to shut you down, we will find you guys new jobs.”

BEIJING (AP) — Officials in a southern Chinese town where a proposed garbage incinerator drew thousands of protesters over the weekend say no firm plans have been made for the plant’s location and that a public hearing will be held on the issue. Hundreds of people marched against the project in Bulou county in southern Guangdong province Sunday, a day after 10,000 to 20,000 protesters came out to denounce the plan, according to three residents who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone.

Flooding from days of heavy monsoon rains partially submerged the city of Srinigar in Kashmir and left more than 400 people dead in northern Pakistan and India. The flood waters have begun to recede, but vast fields of crops have been destroyed and tens of thousands of families have lost all their possessions. Japanese were thrilled to see one of their own, Kei Nishikori, become the first Asian man to play in a Grand Slam tennis final. Ultimately, the 24-year-old lost to Croatian Marin Cilic in the lopsided U.S. Open final, but Nishikori’s run is expected to boost his career and tennis’ popularity in a country where baseball and soccer reign.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Former National Security Agency systems analyst turned leaker Edward Snowden said Monday that the NSA is collecting mass surveillance data on New Zealanders through its XKeyscore program and has set up a facility in the South Pacific nation’s largest city to tap into vast amounts of data. Snowden talked via video link from Russia to hundreds of people at Auckland’s Town Hall.

BEIJING (AP) — Taking a cue from an American TV program, the Chinese city of Chongqing has created a smartphone sidewalk lane, offering a path for those too engrossed in messaging and tweeting to watch where they’re going. But the property manager says it’s intended to be ironic — to remind people that it’s dangerous to tweet while walking the street.

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Teen who killed family granted unescorted temporary absence from prison

VICTORIA – A British Columbia man who was 15 when he murdered four people, including his parents, will be allowed an unescorted temporary absence from prison.

James Ruscitti is serving a life sentence for the 1996 slayings of Rocco and Marilyn Ruscitti, his brother’s 17-year-old girlfriend and a boarder who lived in their home near 100 Mile House, 500 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

In a written decision released Wednesday, the National Parole Board granted Ruscitti’s request for a 60-day absence to attend a residential substance abuse treatment facility on Vancouver Island.

Now 33, the parole board members noted that Ruscitti is considered a moderate to high risk for violent reoffending but found he has made progress in his rehabilitation.

“You have now voiced remorse for your crimes,” the decision said.

“You apologized to the victims and said you regret your crimes. This appears to be genuine.”

The unescorted absence is the first step in what parole board members called a “very gradual” reintegration into society.

As a youth at the time of the crime, Ruscitti has been eligible for parole since 2004.

Ruscitti’s explanation for the murders has changed over time, the decision noted.

In the “honest” version given to board members at the parole hearing this month, Ruscitti said he was entrenched in a drug culture by age 15.

“There were concerns of your abusing and torturing animals, encountering disciplinary problems in school, and using drugs from an early age,” the decision said.

Though he sold drugs and used marijuana, cocaine and LSD at the time of his crime, Ruscitti was “sober and enraged” when he and a 14-year-old accomplice shot the victims at point-blank range on June 22, 1996.

Living on his own, dealing drugs, Ruscitti returned home one day to find his residence had been searched. He found out his father and the boarder, Dennis O’Hara, were responsible.

“Trying to impress your criminal associates,” he planned revenge, the board members said.

After the murders, Ruscitti left his two-month-old niece in a room with her dead mother, Christine Clarke, his brother’s girlfriend.

“You did not give any thought to killing the infant but you did very little to make efforts to ensure the child would be rescued,” the decision said.

The baby was found two days later so dehydrated doctors felt she was within hours of death.

Ruscitti shot all four victims. Chad Bucknell also shot O’Hara.

“You took full responsibility for the violence and explained you were a thrill seeker trying to be a ‘gangster’ and had major anger issues against three of your four victims,” the board members said.

Ruscitti, who was adopted, had two sisters and an older brother. A previous board decision said he has undergone offender-victim mediation with one sibling, who supports his release.

But the latest decision said the victims’ family members want no contact with him and one of the conditions of his unescorted absence is that he make no attempt to get in touch.

Bucknell was granted full parole three years ago.

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Teen who killed family granted unescorted temporary absence from prison

Fukushima study: Think about unthinkable disasters

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. science advisory report says Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident offers a key lesson to the nation’s nuclear industry: Focus more on the highly unlikely but worst case scenarios.

That means thinking about earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, solar storms, multiple failures and situations that seem freakishly unusual, according to Thursday’s National Academy of Sciences report. Those kinds of things triggered the world’s three major nuclear accidents.

“We need to do a soul searching when it comes to the assumptions” of how to deal with worst case events, said University of Southern California engineering professor Najmedin Meshkati, the panel’s technical adviser. Engineers should “think about something that could happen once every, perhaps 1,000 years” but that’s not really part of their training or nature, he said.

“You have to totally change your mode of thinking because complacency and hubris is the worst enemy to nuclear safety,” Meshkati said in an interview.

The report said the 2011 Japanese accident, caused by an earthquake and tsunami, should not have been a surprise. The report says another Japanese nuclear power plant also hit by the tsunami was closer to the quake’s fault. But the Onagawa plant wasn’t damaged because quakes and flooding were considered when it was built.

Onagawa had crucial backup electricity available for when the main power went down, as opposed to Fukushima which had emergency generators in a basement that flooded. Onagawa’s operators had “a different mindset” than the executives who ran Fukushima, Meshkati said.

The other two nuclear accidents — at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island and Ukraine’s Chernobyl— were caused by multiple system failures.

Lee Clarke, a Rutgers University risk expert and author of the book “Worst Cases,” criticized the academy’s report as too weak. He said the tone of the report made it seem like the accident was unpredictable and caught reasonable people by surprise “and it shouldn’t have.” But the report itself said the “the Fukushima accident was not a technical surprise.”

David Lochbaum of the activist group Union of Concerned Scientists said the problem is that federal law financially protects the U.S. nuclear industry from accidents gives utilities little incentive to spend money on low-probability, high-consequence problems.

But Nuclear Energy Institute senior vice president Anthony Pietrangelo said the American nuclear industry has already taken several steps to shore up backup power and deal with natural disasters.

“We cannot let such an accident happen here,” he said in a statement.

Another issue the report raised was about how far radiation may go in a worst case accident.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission orders plants to have emergency plans for a zone of 10 miles around a nuclear plant. But the academy study said Fukushima showed that “may prove inadequate” if a similar accident happened in the U.S. People nearly 19 miles away in Japan needed protection from radiation. But the committee would not say what would be a good emergency zone.

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National Academy Report: http://bit.ly/1pMeTAX

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Fukushima study: Think about unthinkable disasters