Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PETA Anchorage Protest Causes Stir Among Alaskan Natives (ContributorNetwork)

PETA has caused a big stir in Alaska after two girls in Anchorage posed nude for the 'I'd rather go naked than wear fur campain'. Surprisingly it wasn't their public nudity that caused an uproar, but rather their message. This isn't the first year women have posed naked on the streets of the northern state, but this is the first year they seem to have crossed the line.

During an interview with local Anchorage station one of the two girls made a comment stating "It's not that warm anyways. People wear it for fashion nowadays." Evidently when hundreds of Native Americans around Alaska heard this comment they were sincerely offended.

As one local resident of a Yup'ik village said, "Fur has been a part of the culture here for hundreds of years. Beaver fur hats, seal skin mukluks, and rabbit fur parkas are not worn to make a statement, they're worn because they're the most logical accessory for our climate. If it weren't for fur there would be no people here - they would have frozen to death years ago. Fur is not a fashion sense to us, it's a way of life."

The resident went on to explain how the fur used by many people around America is actually a byproduct of food. With the American economy hitting a downfall many Americans are resorting to a subsistence lifestyle to survive. A rural Alaskan trapper also explained. "Everyone who traps in rural Alaska is usually doing so for the meat. The fur is a way to pay for the gas needed to travel to get that food. And what people don't eat, sled dogs do," he explains, "And it's the same all around the United States. It's not unheard of for fur trappers to eat the meat of their catch. Everything from raccoon to lynx is edible. In this day and age it's probably the best skill anyone could learn. Not only do trappers bring in much needed income with their catch they also literally provide food for their families. There's a lot of misconceptions related to this career and this isn't the first time PETA has spread misinformation regarding fur."

Some people in western Alaska have even come together in the hopes that PETA will hear their message. "We just want them to have their facts straight," Dawn Webb of Mountain Village states, "We could respect their opinions and even their protests if they would have the facts correct. It's hard to take them seriously when they aren't giving a serious argument. It's actually quite offensive and degrading of the local Eskimo and Indian culture."

PETA hasn't made a comment on the offensive statements of its nude representatives, but they did proudly advertise the girls' protest on its official website.


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These reptiles are ready for their (extreme) close-up


Mark Bridger/Solent News

A gecko licks its own eyes. These lizards have no eyelids; instead, they have a transparent membrane that they lick to keep clean.

Mark Bridger/Solent News

A chameleon's coiled-up tail.

Mark Bridger/Solent

A chameleon shows its true colors (well, some of them, anyway) in this close-up.

Mark Bridger/Solent News

This South American horned frog looks a little bit like Christmas with its bright red and green colors.

U.K. photographer Mark Bridger took these remarkable?images of chameleons, geckos, and frogs. Bridger employed a technique known as macro photography, which uses a powerful lens to get extremely close shots, according to Solent News.


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Video: Protesters Storm British Embassy in Iran

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Democrats, Republicans trade blows on tax cuts (Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) ? Democrats and Republicans in Congress on Monday exchanged their first blows in a battle over extending a payroll tax cut for workers, the latest in a series of polarizing fights that has worried investors.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned that failure to continue the tax holiday would hurt U.S. economic growth and could, according to some economists, push the country back into recession.

The payroll tax cut for workers that went into effect at the beginning of 2011 has put about $1,000 in the average worker's pocket and helped to shore up consumer spending.

The Senate could vote on a measure extending and expanding it as early as Thursday, according to Democratic aides. The $255 billion cost of the legislation would be paid for with a new 3.25 percent tax on income over $1 million a year.

Republicans are expected to block it, in part because of the tax on the wealthy that they say will stifle job creation.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats should schedule votes on measures that have bipartisan support, instead of "symbolic show-votes that we know won't lead to anything except more tension and political acrimony."

The two parties have battled fiercely this year over the best way to improve the struggling U.S. economy and create jobs to reduce a 9 percent unemployment rate.

The acrimonious debates brought the United States to the brink of a first-ever debt default in August and stalled negotiations last week on a deficit reduction plan aimed at slowing the growth of the country's $15 trillion debt burden.

Fitch Ratings on Monday gave the United States until 2013 to come up with a "credible plan" to tackle its ballooning deficits or face the downgrade of its coveted AAA rating.

Some economists have warned that letting the payroll tax cut lapse could shave anywhere from 0.75 of a percentage point to 1.5 percentage points from economic growth. The latest economic data show that the U.S. economy grew at a 2 percent annual rate from July through September.

"The potential impact on the larger economy is downright scary," Reid said on the Senate floor.

Reid will have to find a way to gain enough support from Republicans, who are wary about allowing the tax cut for wage earners to expire ahead of the 2012 elections but do not want to add to already huge U.S. budget deficits.


If Democrats fail to win passage in the Senate this week, Reid said he would push for additional votes in December, before the current session of Congress comes to an end.

"We are not going to let this lapse," he said, predicting it could take up to three tries to pass a payroll tax cut extension.

Reid refused to comment to reporters when asked whether future versions of the legislation could try to pay for the tax cuts without targeting the very wealthy.

A Senate Democratic aide raised the idea of using future savings from U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan to help defray the cost of lowering the payroll tax. Using such future savings for current economic stimulus was discussed in the deficit-reduction negotiations that collapsed last week.

The current payroll tax cut that is set to expire on December 31 reduced workers' taxes, which are used to fund the Social Security retirement program, to 4.2 percent, from 6.2 percent.

Now, Democrats want to pare it back to 3.1 percent to put $1,500 in cash in the hands of about 120 million families.

Businesses would also get a tax holiday by cutting the 6.2 percent tax in half. To encourage more hiring, companies would not have to pay any payroll tax on newly hired workers under the Democratic plan.

While Republicans have either expressed opposition to cutting the payroll tax or been tepid to renewing it, at least one Republican said a deal was possible by year's end if it does not increase taxes on the wealthiest.

Senator Patrick Toomey, interviewed Sunday on ABC's "This Week" program, said, "I think probably some package of that with other features might very well pass." But he did not elaborate on a way to pay for a payroll tax cut he could support.

(Additional reporting by Donna Smith; Editing by Paul Simao)


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Roku 2 XS and XD Streaming Media Players Review

Roku recently updated their line of streaming media players, and they sent Julie their high-end Roku 2 XS with gaming remote to review. ?I had been in the market for a Roku for my living room TV so I could watch Hulu Plus on my big screen TV, so I bought myself a Roku 2. [...]


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Video: PFT Live: Johnson's TD celebration disaster

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Monday Blues

Monday Blues

Celebrities Who Know How to Ice Skate–Girls Talkin Smack Jennifer Aniston Near Miss Reunion with Brad Pitt?–Tonic Gossip Man Slaps Playboy Mansion with Lawsuit–Bitten & [...]

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Camera lost at sea returned with the help of social networking (Yahoo! News)

Photos from the waterlogged memory card helped identify owner

Just how tough is your average?DSLR memory card? Apparently tough enough to survive a year at the bottom of the ocean. Naturalist and aspiring photographer?Markus Thompson was scuba diving in Deep Bay near Vancouver, British Columbia, when he found a?Canon EOS 1000D. Curious, he brought it to the surface and took out the SD card, and was actually able to recover about 50 photos.

With a bounty of pictures and a desire to find the camera's owner, Thompson took to social networking for help. He posted his find to Google+, including pictures of the camera itself as well as the photos he was able to recover from the SD card. "Approximately 50 pictures on the card from a family vacation. If you know a fire fighter from British Columbia whose team won the Pacific Regional Firefit competition, has a lovely wife and (now) 2 year old daughter ? let me know. I would love to get them their vacation photos," he posted.

The social network's hive mind then went to work. Details on just who the camera belonged to were slim at first, but after social network sleuths began scouring the photos, more information began to surface. The camera contained images that were shot at a region firefighting competition, and appeared to suggest that the camera's owner was on the winning team. After comparing faces to those on various websites that covered the event, the possibilities were narrowed down.

The owner, a firefighter from British Columbia, was finally identified. His station was then contacted, bringing an end to the pricey camera's unlikely journey. The waterlogged Canon ? which can cost upwards of $500 in new condition ? made its splash in August of 2010, and had been soaking ever since. Unfortunately, not further details are available on just how the device managed to find a home on the ocean floor, but we imagine a bump off the side of a leisure boat is a likely explanation.

We've seen the power of social media to spread information about?important events and?natural disasters, and it's nice to see it work on a much smaller and more personal scale. And while obviously the camera is a total loss, the family was able to secure their vacation photos, not to mention a story they'll be able to share for a lifetime.

This is what a camera looks like after a year in the ocean

The camera is a total loss, but the memory card fired right up

[Image credit:?Markus Thompson]

Markus Thompson via?Canon Rumors

This article was written by Katherine Gray and originally appeared on Tecca

More from Tecca:


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Monday, November 28, 2011

Oil falls below $98 amid Europe debt concerns (AP)

SINGAPORE ? Oil prices fell below $98 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as European leaders raced to contain the continent's debt crisis and keep the euro currency block intact.

Benchmark crude for January delivery was down 46 cents to $97.75 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.44 to settle at $98.21 on Monday.

In London, Brent crude was down 49 cents at $108.51 on the ICE futures exchange.

Crude has zigzagged near $100 for the last two weeks as traders speculate whether Europe's debt crisis will break apart the 17-nation euro currency zone. European leaders are scrambling to keep contagion from spreading, and the more creditworthy nations such as Germany are considering large bond buys from the most indebted countries, such as Greece and Italy.

"The on-again, off-again resolutions to the debt situation in the U.S. and Europe, in relation to oil prices, are dizzying," energy consultant and trader The Schork Group said in a report. "For the time being in the oil market, fundamentally driven headlines matter less and faux promises from American and European technocrats matter more."

Crude jumped above $100 before settling lower Monday on news U.S. shoppers spent nearly $1 billion more on Black Friday ? the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season ? than they did a year ago.

In other Nymex trading, natural gas added 4.5 cents to $3.57 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 2.6 cents to $2.99 a gallon and gasoline slid 1.2 cents to $2.51 a gallon.


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Arab ministers meet to decide on Syria sanctions (Reuters)

CAIRO (Reuters) ? Arab ministers, spurred to action by worsening violence in Syria, were meeting in Cairo on Sunday to plan how to enforce sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's government after it failed to implement a regional peace plan.

Ministers told the Arab League's economic and social council to draw up measures after Damascus ignored a deadline to let in Arab monitors and take other steps to end the government crackdown on an eight-month uprising against Assad's rule.

The council, which met on Saturday, proposed freezing Syrian government assets, halting commercial flights, stopping dealings with Syria's central bank and a travel ban on senior officials.

The measures could plunge Syria deeper into economic crisis, although the Arab ministers have said sanctions are not intended to hurt ordinary people.

"Today's meeting will focus on two issues. First approving the decisions taken by the economic council yesterday and finding a way to force them on the Syrian regime that does not let the regime find a way to skirt them," a senior League source said.

"The most important thing we are seeking is that sanctions make a difference and get implemented," he said, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The League for decades avoided action against its 22 members but the pan-Arab body has been galvanized by pressure from Gulf Arabs already angry at Syria's alliance with their regional rival Iran and changes brought about by Arab uprisings.

The scale of the bloodshed has also driven Arabs to act.

Hundreds of people, including civilians, soldiers and army deserters, have been killed in Syria this month, possibly the bloodiest since the unrest broke out in March inspired by uprisings which overthrew leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

The United Nations says more than 3,5000 people have been killed in total.

But some of Syria's neighbors, such as Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan, are wary of damage to trade and commercial interests, or have political reservations.

Other Arab states with restive populations of their own are cautious about setting a precedent.

That means penalties are unlikely to be implemented in any watertight fashion.


Another League source said the measures could be approved by a majority vote, just like a decision to suspend Syria from the League this month that was approved by 18 members. Yemen and Lebanon opposed that decision. Iraq abstained.

Baghdad has already indicated it will not impose sanctions and said other neighbors had similar reservations.

"Iraq is a neighbor to Syria and there are interests - there are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis living in Syria and there is trade," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said in Iraq before ministers met. "Lebanon also has the same idea and Jordan too has shown its objection."

A group of five nations plus League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, which has been charged with drawing up action over Syria, met on Sunday before the full ministerial meeting.

The group was joined by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, adding weight to the meeting of ministers from Qatar, Sudan, Oman, Algeria and Egypt plus Elaraby.

"This means the small meeting aims to take a strong decision and that is why it has both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the region's most influential states," said one League source.

Non-Arab Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, arrived in Egypt to join the Arab ministers, adding pressure on Damascus from its biggest neighbor.

Davutoglu said on Friday Turkey was ready to act in unison with the League if Syria failed to show good intentions in halting the crackdown.

(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alistair Lyon and Angus MacSwan)


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Bomber hits Iraq military base, 11 dead: officials (Reuters)

BAGHDAD (Reuters) ? A suicide bomber struck a military base in the Iraqi town of Taji Monday, killing at least 11 people in the latest attack by insurgents attempting to undermine the government.

It was the third major attack in the last five days and underscored the fragile state of Iraqi security as Washington pulls its remaining 14,500 troops out by year-end, nearly nine years after the invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

The attacker detonated a bomb at the entrance to the base, which houses a jail holding al Qaeda, Mehdi Army militia and other prisoners, officials and security sources said. Taji is 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad.

"We heard a big explosion we thought it was a rocket, but we heard on our radios that it was a car bomb targeting the main reception area for the jail," guard Mushtaq Kadaim said. "When we arrived at the scene there was no car, and the wounded people told us it was a suicide bomber."

"There is a lot of damage to the place and many cars are burned. The flesh of the victims is stuck to the front of the cars and nearby walls," he said.

Five guards and four civilian employees, plus two people visiting relatives at the jail, were among the dead, he said.

Violence has dropped sharply since the peak of sectarian slaughter in 2006-07. But Iraqi security forces still struggle to contain daily attacks by Sunni Muslim insurgents tied to al Qaeda and rival Shi'ite Muslim militias.

The Baghdad security operations center put the toll at 11 dead and 17 wounded. Police and hospital sources said 11 were killed and 19 wounded.

Militants launch scores of bombings and other attacks every month. According to official government figures, 161 civilians were killed in violence in October, the highest toll of the year, along with 97 police and soldiers.

Iraqi and U.S. military officials have said Iraq may see an increase in attacks as American troops depart. Soldiers and police are frequent targets.

Saturday attackers struck two areas around the Iraqi capital, killing at least 13 people and wounding more than 20 others. In the southern oil hub of Basra Thursday three bombs exploded in a busy market, killing 21 and wounding 80.

The town of Taji, the site of a major Iraqi military base, was hit by bombers in July, when two blasts in the parking lot of a municipal government building killed at least 28 people and wounded scores of others.

On November 14, seven rockets landed in or near the U.S. military's Kalsu base near Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, wounding two Iraqi civilians living near the base, local police said.

(Reporting by Kareem Raheem; Editing by Jim Loney and Mark Heinrich)


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Inhabitat's Week in Green: holiday gift guide, 155 MPH biofuel truck and a solar-powered buckyball

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

This week Inhabitat got set for the holiday season as we officially launched our Green Gift Guide, which is chock full of 21 categories and over 300 presents - including a great set of DIY projects you can make yourself and a round-up of our favorite gifts for gadget geeks. Speaking of high-tech gizmos, we also showcased several amazing examples of cutting-edge robotics as researchers developed a new breed of disaster detecting cyborg insects and Otherlab created a line of lightweight inflatable robots that can walk on water. Scientists also successfully completed the first round of trials on a new type of contact lens that could one day send emails directly to your eyes, and NASA announced that the new Mars Curiosity Science Laboratory will be powered by nuclear energy instead of solar.

Continue reading Inhabitat's Week in Green: holiday gift guide, 155 MPH biofuel truck and a solar-powered buckyball

Inhabitat's Week in Green: holiday gift guide, 155 MPH biofuel truck and a solar-powered buckyball originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 27 Nov 2011 19:59:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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