Doing Advance Work

News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Unsettled science: New species of ancient human found in Ethiopia, hypothesis of linear evolution must be revisted says lead scientist in Nature study-BBC

5/27/15, "'New species' of ancient human found," BBC, Rebecca Morelle

"A new species of ancient human has been unearthed in the Afar region of Ethiopia, scientists report. Researchers discovered jaw bones and teeth, which date to between 3.3m and 3.5m years old.

It means this new hominin was alive at the same time as several other early human species, suggesting our family tree is more complicated than was thought.

The study is published in the journal Nature.

The new species has been called Australopithecus deyiremeda, which means "close relative" in the language spoken by the Afar people. The ancient remains are thought to belong to four individuals, who would have had both ape and human-like features.
Lead researcher Dr Yohannes Haile-Selassie, curator of physical anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in the US, told BBC News: "We had to look at the detailed anatomy and morphology of the teeth and the upper and lower jaws, and we found major differences.
"This new species has very robust jaws. In addition, we see this new species had smaller teeth. The canine is really small - smaller than all known hominins we have documented in the past." 
The age of the remains means that this was potentially one of four different species of early humans that were all alive at the same time.
The most famous of these is Australopithecus afarensis - known as Lucy - who lived between 2.9-3.8m years ago, and was initially thought to be our direct ancestor. 
However the discovery of another species called Kenyanthropus platyops in Kenya in 2001, and of Australopithecus bahrelghazali in Chad, and now Australopithecus deyiremedaI, suggests that there were several species co-existing.
Some researchers dispute whether the various partial remains really constitute different species, particularly for A. bahrelghazali. But Dr Haile-Selassie said the early stage of human evolution was probably surprisingly complex.
"Historically, because we didn't have the fossil evidence to show there was hominin diversity during the middle Pliocene, we thought there was only one lineage, one primitive ancestor - in this case Australopithecus afarensis, Lucy - giving rise to the next.
"That hypothesis of linear evolution has to be revisited. And now with the discovery of more species, like this new one... you have another species roaming around.
"What this means is we have many species that could give rise to later hominins, including our own genus Homo."
Dr Haile-Selassie said that even more fossils need to be unearthed, to better understand the path that human evolution took.
He added that finding additional ancient remains could also help researchers examine how the different species lived side-by-side - whether they mixed or avoided each other, and how they shared food and other resources in their landscape." 


5/27/15, "New human ancestor discovered near fossil of ‘Lucy’ Australopithecus deyiremeda lived about 3.4 million years ago in northern Ethiopia, around the same time and place as Australopithecus afarensis.", Ewen Callaway


Monday, May 25, 2015

Big Banks closing branches on US Mexico border to avoid money laundering charges-Wall St. Journal

5/25/15, "Big Banks Shut Border Branches in Effort to Avoid Dirty Money," Wall St.Journal, Emily Glazer, Nogales, Arizona

"Chuck Thomas each day ships around 6,000 boxes of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables to U.S. grocery stores from his third-generation family business, which is a stalwart of this border town’s thriving produce industry.

It was a surprise, then, when his longtime bank, J.P. Morgan Chase JPM -0.27 % & Co., notified him it didn’t want his business anymore.

“First I was pissed off, then I steamed about it for a few days,” he said. “I’ve been with them 40 years and then they have this? It’s a pain.”

Mr. Thomas, 59 years old, isn’t the only one having banking problems in Nogales, a city with a population of about 21,000 and a steel fence separating it from Mexico. In the past several months, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America Corp. BAC 0.12 % and Citigroup Inc. C 0.24 % -owned Banamex USA have shut a total of four branches in Nogales, almost halving the number in town owned by big U.S. banks. Separately, hundreds of Chase and Wells Fargo WFC -0.02 % & Co. customers, some of them second- and third-generation business owners, have had their bank accounts closed.

The bank moves come amid a recent industrywide focus on money laundering. Wall Street wants to avoid the huge fines that could result if financial firms are drawn into the flow of dirty money.

Nogales may be the highest-profile example of how those efforts are playing out in cities along the Mexico border, where drug and human trafficking is a constant worry and money laundering is prevalent.

The trafficking fears aren’t hypothetical here: Authorities have discovered a number of cross-border tunnels in recent years, including a roughly 480-foot passageway found last year that was considered one of the longest and most sophisticated ever detected in Nogales. This activity can unwittingly draw in local banks if traffickers pay their associates and other service providers on the U.S. side of the border. Such deposits are often disguised as being related to legitimate business activities, say bank executives and other experts.

Banks have paid billions of dollars in recent years for transgressions involving everything from mortgage securities to foreign-exchange trading, and have invested heavily in compliance systems, new employees and other steps to head off future problems. While banks have long maintained anti-money-laundering measures, those efforts have taken on fresh urgency in light of updated regulation in November from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, an interagency regulatory body that monitors potential money laundering and terrorist financing.

The update, the first in almost five years, puts greater pressure on banks to flag suspicious customers and shut down risky accounts.

Many in Nogales, though, complain that the crackdown is taking a toll on their economy. A number of local cattle ranchers say they are having trouble paying their employees, many of whom are Mexican nationals and have had their accounts closed in recent months.

“It’s killing our business,” said one rancher. Other businesses say they are being unfairly targeted merely because of their proximity to Mexico.

“I don’t send any money across the border.…All the banking I do is within the United States,” said Mr. Thomas, adding that his grandfather banked with Chase or its predecessors as early as the mid-1960s.

The issue is drawing increased attention. Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Republicans, asked for hearings and sent letters to banks, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. staffers flew to Nogales earlier this spring to meet local officials and business owners.

Bank executives say Arizona is one of three risky border regions, with the other two being Southern California and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. In Nogales, banks are worried about persistent drug smuggling despite efforts by law enforcement to stem the flow, said one bank executive involved in money-laundering issues.

Banks as a result are conducting greater due diligence to understand who their customers are and their stated business. In some cases, it is easier to close accounts than spend the time and money necessary to achieve certainty that an account is safe.

We are picking on Nogales in a way because the drug traffickers are picking on Nogales,” the executive said. “They’re using Nogales to bring their stuff in.…We can only get into trouble for failing to bank them perfectly.”

As in many border towns, the economy in Nogales is intertwined with its Mexican counterpart, a city of roughly 300,000 also called Nogales. Roughly 1,500 trucks pass daily through one of three ports of entry, shuttling produce worth nearly $3 billion in 2013, according to the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, not to mention business from manufacturing companies and the cattle industry.

On what is known as Produce Row on the U.S. side of the border, roughly 180 warehouses line the street between Nogales and nearby Rio Rico, Ariz., loaded with everything from peppers to watermelons to be shipped across the U.S. and sometimes to Canada.

Chris Ciruli’s family company, Ciruli Brothers Inc., which specializes in champagne mangoes, distributes to major retailers such as Safeway Inc. and Whole Foods Market Inc. WFM -0.61 % Mr. Ciruli says his company recently has had to lend money to employees who had their bank accounts closed and didn’t have access to cash while they searched for new banks.

Worse, he says, his family is stuck with more than 100 acres of raw land it can’t develop because large banks are no longer willing to finance projects in Nogales and smaller banks in the area have what he called “unreasonable” interest rates.

Mr. Ciruli said his father put together commercial real-estate deals with local banks years ago. “Those opportunities certainly don’t seem like they’re here now,” he said.

Many locals have moved their business to Washington Federal Inc., WAFD -0.36 % a bank based in Seattle that bought Bank of America’s two branches and related deposits in Nogales. Other remaining banks include several branches of regional banks, one Chase branch and two Wells Fargo branches.

But many Mexican nationals who work and shop in Nogales are having difficulties. There are more restrictions for U.S. employers, whose banks may limit or prohibit wire transfers to Mexico. Most employers don’t give workers checks, because they often have a hard time cashing them at Mexican banks. Some cattle ranchers use a money-exchange service, which often charges high rates and takes a cut through fees. Or the cattle ranchers sometimes wire money to CIbanco, a Mexico-based bank that has allowed such transfers.

Bruce Bracker, 51, the third generation to run retailer Bracker’s Department Store, which sits about 250 feet from the Mexico border, has seen a drop-off in business over the past several months as banks have closed Mexican nationals’ accounts.

Banks “can’t keep cutting off access to capital and access to banking and expect the economy to grow and communities to thrive,” he said. “Don’t paint us all in the same brush of drug dealers and money launderers. There are legitimate business owners, too.”"

Write to Emily Glazer at

Image: Edomexico

5/25/15, "Big Banks Shut Border Branches in Effort to Avoid Dirty Money," WSJ, Emily Glazer (subscrip.)


Pope Francis and his associates would rob millions of world's poor who don't even have electricity. In 1971 China derived 40% of its energy from renewables, in 2015 only .23%. Why doesn't China go back? The Pope and the West want millions in Africa to stay poor-Leslie Eastman, Legal Insurrection

5/24/15, "Pope Francis’ Eco-Encyclical: Marriage Between Green Tech and Economic Growth?" Leslie Eastman, Legal Insurrection

"Pope’s deputy now comments on the need for eco-encyclical."

"One sign that Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change may be creating a small storm of controversy within the Vatican is that high level officials are now explaining why it is needed.

This week, the pope’s deputy released a statement about the upcoming publication:
A new development model is needed to combat global warming, one that marries economic growth to combat poverty with a sustainable use of resources, Pope Francis’ deputy said Wednesday.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, said both political and economic commitment will be required to ensure the Earth’s health for future generations.
Parolin’s remarks came in a message Wednesday to a conference of business and church leaders on how sustainable actions can drive the economic growth needed to lift people out of poverty. It’s a theme that Francis is expected to explore in his environment encyclical, which is due in the coming weeks.
“When the future of the planet is at stake, there are no political frontiers, barriers or walls behind which we can hide to protect ourselves from the effects of environmental and social degradation,” Parolin’s message said. “There is no room for the globalization of indifference, the economy of exclusion or the throwaway culture so often denounced by Pope Francis.”
Parolin’s intervention was a clear indication that Francis endorses economic development proposals which help the poor but use new, clean-energy, low carbon and efficient technologies.
If Vatican officials dig a bit deeper into the realities of policies that marry economic growth to green technologies, they will realize it is not exactly a match made in heaven.
Africa is the renewable utopia, getting 50 per cent of its energy from renewables — though nobody wants to emulate it. In 1971, China derived 40 per cent of its energy from renewables. Since then, it has powered its incredible growth almost exclusively on heavily polluting coal, lifting a historic 680 million people out of poverty. Today, China gets a trifling 0.23 per cent of its energy from unreliable wind and solar.
Yet most Westerners still want to focus on putting up more inefficient solar panels in the developing world. But this infatuation inflicts a real cost. A recent analysis from the Centre for Global Development shows that $10 billion invested in such renewables would help lift 20 million people in Africa out of poverty. It sounds impressive, until you learn that if this sum was spent on gas electrification it would lift 90 million people out of poverty. So in choosing to spend that $10 billion on renewables, we deliberately end up choosing to leave more than 70 million people in darkness and poverty.
Furthermore, there are a plethora of taxpayer-backed green energy companies that have failed, leaving a combination of the politically-connected who have gotten substantially richer and unemployed workers struggling to find new work.

I have had the privilege of corresponding with a team of brilliant scientists who are devoted to informing the public about the realities behind climate models. Roger Cohen, RWC Fellow American Physical Society, had this assessment of the deputy’s statement:
“They have it backwards of course. The fact is that access to cheap energy drives economic growth and leads to better health and material well being. The Church would rob the remaining billion poor in the world, who do not even have electricity, the opportunity to progress as we all have. This is a truly disastrous posture for the Church to take.”  
Interestingly, Pope Francis is not the first one to address the ecology. Pope John Paul II in 1990, warned in a speech about the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect because of ”industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs.”

Twenty-five years later, NASA decrees that the ozone layer is cured!

I suspect it’s less of a miracle than it is that the dire warnings about the ozone hole were also fallacious. I hope that the Pope annuls this proposed marriage between politicized science and his goals for helping the poor." via Lucianne


Great Lakes hope for much needed new icebreaker after back to back winters of historic ice coverage. 18 ships stuck in Great Lakes ice in April 2015 had to be extricated by Canada icebreakers-Duluth News Tribune

5/22/15, "New icebreaker for Great Lakes closer to reality," Duluth News Tribune, Brady Slater

March 2014
"Earlier this week, out on Lake Superior aboard the research vessel Blue Heron, scientist Jay Austin described some of his research into ice on the Great Lakes.

Back-to-back winters of historic ice coverage have reversed a 15-year trend of diminishing ice cover on the Great Lakes. The epic ice coverage of the winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 led to difficult and extended ice-out seasons that hurt the shipping industry and led to a drumbeat for more icebreaking resources.

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved $8.7 billion in funding for the U.S. Coast Guard that would include money for a new Great Lakes icebreaker. The new icebreaker would be similar to the Mackinaw, the only heavy icebreaker among the Coast Guard's Great Lakes fleet that includes eight other capable but smaller vessels.

"The need is very real," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association that represents 16 American companies operating U.S.-flag vessels, including the Duluth-based Great Lakes Fleet. "These past two winters we've had significant delays and reductions in the amount of cargo that's been (able) to move."

April's shipping totals were down 6 percent from historical averages, with Nekvasil blaming the heavy ice formations in Whitefish Bay on the eastern end of Lake Superior. That early April soup of ice was 8 feet thick in some places, with slabs as big as pickup trucks. It left 18 vessels tied up in the bay, requiring a massive icebreaking effort that drew in the Canadian Coast Guard's icebreaking fleet to assist.

The House Transportation Committee responded by authorizing the construction of a new freshwater icebreaker.

"This state-of-the-art ship will be especially designed for freshwater ice, which is much harder to break up than seawater ice," Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, said in a news release at the time.

Nolan is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. His communications director, Steve Johnson, said similar vessels to the one in the funding package approved by the House have cost "in the $240 million range." The authorizing legislation will need to clear hurdles with the Senate and President before it's fully approved. Assuming all goes according to plan, Johnson said, the ship would be included in the 2017 Coast Guard appropriations bill, in which Congress will approve the actual amount that can be spent.

In President Barack Obama's commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy earlier this week, the President gave a hint at his commitment to Coast Guard funding when he said, "These are tight fiscal times for all our services, including the Coast Guard. But we are going to keep working to give you the boats and the cutters and the aircraft that you need to complete the missions we ask of you.

"And I've made it clear that I will not accept a budget that continues these draconian budget cuts called sequestration," the President continued, "because our nation and our military and our Coast Guard deserve better."

Late this week the Ontario-based Chamber of Marine Commerce weighed in, too, urging reforms and action to ensure greater industrial competitiveness. The group represents more than 150 marine industry stakeholders in Canada and the U.S.

"Our industry can improve its competitive position by increased icebreaker resources to critical regions of the Great Lakes," said Rick Ruzzin in a news release. Ruzzin is an executive with Compass Minerals, a Kansas-based company with operations in Duluth, and a member of the Chamber of Marine Commerce.

All of this has been music to the carriers' ears.

"We have to recognize that we have to move cargo in the ice season," Nekvasil said. "The mines want a navigation season from mid-March well into January. That's just what's required."

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., at the eastern end of Lake Superior, close annually on Jan. 15 and reopen March 25. In the weeks before and after those dates, "we can move as much as 20 percent" of overall cargo, Nekvasil said. "We need to minimize stockpiles. (Iron ore) pellets sitting on the ground is a cost we need to minimize."

Nekvasil said there are nine U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking vessels on the Great Lakes, including the Mackinaw, twin 225-foot cutters — including the Duluth-based cutter Alder — and six 140-foot icebreaking tugs.

"The 225s are really buoy tenders with their bows reinforced," Nekvasil said. "They're not designed to do icebreaking; they're OK for track maintenance, but not good for doing heavy icebreaking."

The tugs, he said, "do a very good job," but were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"It's time for them to be modernized," Nekvasil said. Currently, the tugs are undergoing modernization on a one-in, one-out rotation, leaving the fleet down a tug throughout what figures to be a three- to five-year update process, Nekvasil said.

The drumbeat for another heavy icebreaker like the 240-foot Mackinaw started during the winter of 2013-14, when the Great Lakes were as much as 92.6 percent covered in ice. Ice out that year on Lake Superior wasn't declared until June 6.

"The need is obvious," Nekvasil said, "and they have gotten the message.""

Image caption: "Led by the big icebreaker Mackinaw, the smaller U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking tugs Morro Bay (center) and Katmai Bay arrive in succession in Duluth in March 2014. The vessels arrived in Duluth to lead several freighters through thick ice to the Soo Locks. (2014 file / News Tribune)"

Comment: This article says a hoped for new icebreaker is a small part of a massive 2017 appropriations bill that has to be approved by the Senate and White House. The article seeks a positive sign: "In President Barack Obama's commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy earlier this week, the President gave a hint at his commitment to Coast Guard funding."...

Looking at Mr. Obama's Coast Guard speech for signs he might approve a Great Lakes icebreaker, and assuming icebreakers can't be allocated by congress or Executive Order on an as-needed basis, one may recall that Obama spoke not of fighting ice but of fighting global warming. He told cadets global warming was "a serious threat" to national security, that their failure to take global warming  seriously would be "a dereliction of duty." He even told them global warming was the cause of Boko Haram terrorism in Africa and civil war in Syria. (He used the term "climate change" rather than the term global warming). The Great Lakes as it happens are a favorite focus of the global warming industry, ie the claim that they'll soon be ice-free due to excess CO2 in China.


Obama's remarks at Coast Guard graduation:

5/20/2015, "At Coast Guard graduation, Obama warns of climate change threat to national security," Washington Post, David Nakamura

"President Obama warned Wednesday that climate change is a growing and "serious threat" to national security, tying severe weather to the rise of the extremist group Boko Haram in Nigeria and the civil war in Syria....

Obama challenged 218 newly commissioned officers at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to take the threats of climate as seriously as they would a cutter in peril on the seas.

"You don’t sit back; you take steps to protect your ship," Obama said. "Anything less is a dereliction of duty. The same is true for climate change."...

"Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security," he told the graduates in their dress white uniforms at the campus football stadium, "and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.  And so we need to act— and we need to act now.”...

In his remarks here, Obama tied droughts and crop damage from severe weather to the rise of Boko Haram, which has terrorized civilians in Nigeria, and to the bloody civil war in Syria. He cast controlling climate change as a "key pillar of American global leadership" and called it "a core element of our diplomacy.""...


Ice-free Great Lakes predicted by global warming experts at Union of Concerned Scientists:

Executive Summary, updated 2005

"Confronting Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region," Union of Concerned Scientists 

p. 3, "What might these changes mean for Great Lakes ecosystems and the goods and services they provide?  


"Lake levels were highly variable in the 1900s and quite low in recent years. Future declines in both inland lakes and the Great Lakes are expected as winter ice coverage decreases, although levels of the Great Lakes are uncertain once they are ice-free (Lofgren 2006a; Lofgren 2006b).

Declines in the duration of winter ice are expected to continue."...


NASA says "a range of risks" will effect Great Lakes due to "extreme heat" of global warming:

"The current and future consequences of global change," (retrieved May 25, 2015)

"Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner....

Midwest. Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and more. Climate change will also exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes.


Declining Great Lakes ice, 2012 National Geographic:

11/20/2012, "Warming Lakes: Climate Change and Variability Drive Low Water Levels on the Great Lakes,", Lisa Borre  

"Low water levels are not the only climate-related trend being observed on the Great Lakes. Ice cover is also declining. The Great Lakes have lost 71% of their ice cover since 1973, according to a study by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). This past winter, the Great Lakes, including Lake Superior, were virtually ice free with just 5% ice coverage, the second lowest on record....

The Great Lakes are among many lakes in the northern hemisphere experiencing a rapid warming trend. Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the also one of the most rapidly warming lakes in the world....

With nearly 20% of the world’s surface freshwater at play and millions invested in restoration efforts, the stakes are incredibly high....

Lake Superior’s rapid warming is like a canary in the coal mine,Lenters told me. “We’re seeing changes in ice cover, water temperature, and evaporation that indicate major shifts are underway on the world’s largest lake.”"...


Lake Superior fails to conform to global warming predictions:

5/12/15, "Lake Superior Ice Amazes This Year," Radio Canada Int'l., Carmel Kilkenny

"Lake Superior the largest of the Great Lakes froze almost completely this winter, for the first time in years. It was so unexpected 18 ships were trapped in the ice."...


More failure to conform to global warming predictions:

5/19/15, "It’s nearly Memorial Day, it snowed in Wisconsin and there’s ice on Lake Superior," Washington Post, Jason Samenow

"It snowed in parts of Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan today and a sliver of ice covers a part of the Great Lakes.

A cold wind blowing over Lake Superior caused some lake-enhanced snow this morning, with up to an inch reported. Meanwhile, the National Ice Center’s May 18 report still shows 0.4 percent of the Great Lakes covered with ice.

This is much later than normal to have ice on the Lakes.  In a typical year, the ice completely disappears by late April or early May....

According to the latest National Ice Center analysis, the ice on Lake Huron is basically gone. But on Lake Superior, there is a 1.1 percent ice concentration.

At this time last year, 2.6 percent of the Lakes were covered with ice, including a 7 percent concentration on Lake Superior. Ice lasted on Lake Superior past Memorial Day into the first week of June. [Unprecedented: Parts of Lake Superior covered in ice almost a week into June]

A comparison of temperatures...provides a reasonable explanation for the greater ice extent in 2014 – it was colder in the Great Lakes and the ice was thus more extensive."...via Instapundit


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Colorado skiing on Memorial Day Weekend, 2015, "fresh snow this morning" per Arapahoe Ski Patrol. Northeast US temperatures up to 10 degrees cooler than usual, record low in Glens Falls, NY

5/23/15, "Web Cam at Mid-Mountain/Black Mountain Lodge,"

"Ski Patrol Comments,

With some fresh snow this morning you are guaranteed to have some fun! Check out the lower mountain first thing in the morning with a couple of Sundance and High Noon warm up runs, then head to the top for some fun in Lenawee Parks and Norway Face. With snow in the forecast for the next couple of days smiles and laughs are sure to be had. DW" 


5/23/15, "A Taste of Winter on Memorial Day Weekend,", Linda Lam

"The start to the Memorial Day weekend, which is the traditional start to summer, was greeted with a reminder of winter in some areas of northern New England.

Snow came down heavy at times Saturday morning in northern New England. Visibility dropped to a quarter mile at times due to the heavy snow.

The snow was due to a cold upper-level low that moved through the region. Light rain changed to snow in spots early Saturday morning as temperatures continued to plummet. High temperatures on Friday afternoon reached the 50s and 60s but dropped to the 30s and 40s by sunrise on Saturday....

One inch of snow accumulated in Presque Isle, Maine and 5.2 inches was reported near Portage, Maine.

The snow this morning is the second latest measurable snow on record in Caribou, Maine. The latest measurable snowfall in Caribou is 0.2 inches on May 25, 1974. 

Temperatures dropped into the 30s for parts of northern New England and Upstate New York on Saturday morning as high pressure moved into the region from Canada. Frost and freeze warnings were issued for Friday night and Saturday morning across portions of the Northeast.

A record low was even set in Glens Falls, New York when the temperature fell to 31 degrees.

It was even colder on Mount Washington in New Hampshire where temperatures bottomed out at 10 degrees with a wind chill of 18 degrees below zero when a wind gust of 68 mph was reported. Snow was also reported here overnight.

It will remain cool during the afternoon, with high temperatures up to 10 degrees below where they should be for this time of year. Winds will be gusty at times which will make if feel even cooler. 

The good news is that this will not last long as a significant warming trend is on the way. Northern New England will go from winter on Saturday morning to summer by Monday.

Skiing for Memorial Day

If you are not quite ready for summer activities yet and have not put your skis away then you may be in luck. Parts of the Rockies and Sierra Mountains have also seen snow recently, which is allowing a few resorts to stay open for skiing this holiday weekend.

Arapahoe Basin in Colorado is open this Memorial Day weekend and has more base to ski on than they did in March. They also reported some fresh snow on Saturday morning.

Mammoth Mountain in California will also be open this Memorial Day weekend due to snow that fell last week. They are offering a ski, bike and golf package.

MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Snow in Colorado May 18-20 (PHOTOS)"


5/20/15, "Arapahoe Basin, blessed by feet of May snow, is drawing big crowds," Denver Post, Jesse Paul

"They are skipping school, calling in sick and heading to Colorado from all over the country, because powder days — especially in May — are just too good to miss. 

"It feels like March 20th, not May 20th," said Stu Caren, who lives in Silverthorne and has skied about 90 days this season. He was on a lift headed for Arapahoe Basin's summit Wednesday. "It's so good."

At an elevation of 10,780 feet, along a tributary of the Snake River, it feels like Mother Nature doesn't know summer is pawing at her door. In the last month alone, more than 44 inches of snow have blanketed ski area trails — and cool temperatures ensure the snow doesn't quickly disappear
Arapahoe Basin is the only ski area still open in Colorado, in part because its high elevation prevents snow on the slopes from melting off. That advantage means a monopoly on anyone wanting late season turns, as was clear Wednesday by the line of skiers and snowboarders waiting at 8:30 a.m for lifts to start turning.

"I had a late season itch," said Chaang Suwan, who drove about eight hours from Park City, Utah, to Arapahoe Basin last weekend in a trip planned just two days prior. "I was like, 'I'm not done.' "
Suwan said his stay was supposed to end earlier, but conditions have been so good that he called his boss and took off longer....

More snow has fallen already this month at Arapahoe Basin than did during January or March, extending a Colorado ski season that saw inconsistent moisture and worried operators about revenue. Storms brought so much snow on Mother's Day, May 10, the ski area recorded its highest number of single-day visitors ever

While A-Basin declined to say exactly how many skiers and riders were there, executives said it was 15 percent more than on the previous record day of April 24, 2010.

The late season dumps have helped not only recreational skiers, but also are letting Olympic hopefuls including a delegation from China train in better conditions in cordoned-off mogul courses. "It's imperative," Bobby Aldighieri, who coaches skiers out of Steamboat Springs, said Wednesday as he oversaw training. "Anyone who is going to be in the games and win medals — it's just part of the schedule."

While May snow isn't unusual for Arapahoe Basin, which typically gets about 30 inches during the month, locals say the timing and quality has stood out over other memorable years.
A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder estimated this week that the ski area could see between 250 to 300 percent more than its average snowfall for the month before all is said and done. Forecasters are calling for more precipitation into next week.

"Late season snowfall is always good for us," said Alan Henceroth, the area's chief operating officer. "You should never underestimate how much people like to ski and snowboard."

Right now, Arapahoe Basin has posted tentative closing date of June 7, but Henceroth says that isn't set in stone: "Things are looking favorable.""


Friday, May 22, 2015

Ocean hot springs common near seafloor volcanoes-NOAA

2003, "Submarine Volcanism," Ocean, Bill Chadwick, Volcanologist, Oregon State University

"The Ring of Fire

The "Ring of Fire" is a circular arc of active volcanoes that surrounds the Pacific Ocean basin. Much is known about the volcanoes on land within the Ring of Fire (for example, in the Aleutians, the Cascades, the Andes, etc.), but comparatively little is known about the submarine volcanoes, simply because they are underwater and more difficult to observe. This multi-year project aims to explore submarine volcanoes within the Ring of Fire in two very different tectonic settings on either side of the Pacific—one in which new seafloor is created and the other in which old seafloor is destroyed.

Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics 

The Earth is covered with "tectonic plates" that are in constant motion over the partially molten interior. Almost all the volcanoes on Earth occur where tectonic plates are either moving apart or are moving together. Where tectonic plates are moving apart, molten rock—magma—rises up from deep within the Earth to fill the gap, and in doing so, creates new ocean floor. The boundaries between separating plates are called "spreading centers" or "mid-ocean ridges." They are the sites of frequent submarine volcanic eruptions. Explorer Ridge in the northeast Pacific, which was the focus of the first year of this project in 2002, is an example of a mid-ocean ridge.

Kavachi Seamount 5/14/2000
Where tectonic plates are moving toward each other or colliding, one plate is usually forced under the other in a process called subduction. At subduction zones, the plate that is forced downward dives back into the Earth and is eventually melted and recycled. This process also causes melting above subduction zones. This molten rock rises back up to the surface to feed chains of active volcanoes called volcanic arcs. Volcanic arcs can be on land or underwater, or can be a combination of islands and submarine volcanoes. The Marianas arc in the western Pacific is an example of a volcanic arc with many volcanic islands and underwater volcanoes. It will be the focus of this project in the second and third years of this project, 2003 and 2004.

In contrast to the relatively gentle eruption of basaltic submarine volcanoes, island arc volcanoes often erupt lavas with a higher silica content and more dissolved gases. Photo courtesy of Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Corporation. Click image for larger view and more information.

Volcanoes in these two different settings have very different characteristics. Mid-ocean ridge volcanoes tend to be linear and look like long low ridges, whereas arc volcanoes are cone-shaped, centralized, and isolated. Mid-ocean ridge volcanoes also have more primitive lava compositions because the lava comes more or less directly from the Earth's interior without changing much.

On the other hand, the lava that reaches arc volcanoes rises through a longer path from its source region to the surface. So its composition can be significantly changed along the way. This difference in compositions is reflected in the fact that mid-ocean ridge eruptions are generally non-explosive, whereas arc eruptions often are explosive.

Volcanoes, Hydrothermal Vents, and Life 

Seafloor hot springs called "hydrothermal vents" are common in areas where submarine volcanoes bring hot magma near the seafloor or erupt lava at the surface. Seawater that circulates deep within a submarine volcano gets heated before it returns to the seafloor. Hydrothermal vent fluid is rich in dissolved chemicals, and these hot springs support a unique ecosystem of microorganisms and animals that is independent of sunlight. Biotech companies are particularly interested in the heat-tolerant microbes that live on and below the seafloor at submarine volcanoes because they have novel enzymes that may be useful for creating new medicines. Because the DNA of organisms living at seafloor hot springs is very primitive, some scientist believe that life on Earth may have originated at deep-sea hydrothermal vents on submarine volcanoes."

Image caption: "In contrast to relatively gentle eruption of basaltic submarine volcanoes, island arc volcanoes often erupt lavas with a higher silica content and more dissolved gases. When such lavas erupt at the lowered pressure at the earth's surface, the effect is similar to opening a warm soda bottle. Consequently, eruptions of these volcanoes tend to have more explosive volcanic activity such as seen in this photograph of a shallow submarine eruption at Kavachi Seamount on May 14, 2000. Little is known about what deeper submarine eruptions of this type would look like. Courtesy of Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Corporation (CSIRO). For more information, visit the Global Volcanism Program External Link Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2002, NOAA/OER.".


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dec. 2014 peer reviewed study retracted from prestigious journal Science. Lead author Invented data claiming you can change people's minds about same sex marriage after short conversations. Hailed as fact by NY Times, Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, Vox, and Huffington Post-Retraction Watch

5/20/15, "Author retracts study of changing minds on same-sex marriage after colleague admits data were faked," Retraction Watch

"In what can only be described as a remarkable and swift series of events, one of the authors of a much-ballyhooed Science paper claiming that short conversations could change people’s minds on same-sex marriage is retracting it following revelations that the data were faked by his co-author.

Donald Green, of Columbia, and Michael LaCour, a graduate student at UCLA, published the paper, When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” in December 2014. The study received widespread media attention, including from This American LifeThe New York Times, The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Post,  The Los Angeles Times, Science FridayVoxand HuffingtonPost, as LaCour’s site notes.

David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, graduate students at University of California, Berkeley, were two of the people impressed with the work, so they planned an extension of it, as they explain in a timeline posted online yesterday:
As we examined the study’s data in planning our own studies, two features surprised us: voters’ survey responses exhibit much higher test-retest reliabilities than we have observed in any other panel survey data, and the response and reinterview rates of the panel survey were significantly higher than we expected. We set aside our doubts about the study and awaited the launch of our pilot extension to see if we could manage the same parameters. LaCour and Green were both responsive to requests for advice about design details when queried.
Earlier this month, they began a pilot of their extension. They soon realized that
The response rate of the pilot study was notably lower than what LaCour and Green (2014) reported.
When Broockman and Kalla contacted the firm they thought had performed the original study upon which the Science paper was based,
The survey firm claimed they had no familiarity with the project and that they had never had an employee with the name of the staffer we were asking for. The firm also denied having the capabilities to perform many aspects of the recruitment procedures described in LaCour and Green (2014).
After finding several other irregularities, the pair contacted Green, who was concerned, and they also asked Yale political science professor Peter Aronow to join their work. By May 16, the team had found other irregularities, and sent them to Green, who reviewed them and on May 17 agreed that
a retraction is in order unless LaCour provides countervailing evidence. Green also requests this report be made public concurrently with his retraction request, if this request is deemed appropriate.
Over the next two days, Green confronted LaCour and told the team that LaCour had
confessed to falsely describing at least some of the details of the data collection.
Green then added a note on May 19 to his website saying the paper was retracted, and submitted a retraction letter to Science:
I write to request a retraction of the above Science report. Last weekend, two UC Berkeley graduate students (David Broockman, and Josh Kalla) who had been working on a research project patterned after the studies reported in our article brought to my attention a series of irregularities that called into question the integrity of the data we present. They crafted a technical report with the assistance of Yale professor, Peter Aronow, and presented it to me last weekend. The report is attached. I brought their report to the attention of Lynn Vavreck, Professor of Political Science at UCLA and Michael LaCour’s graduate advisor, who confronted him with these allegations on Monday morning, whereupon it was discovered that he on-line survey data that Michael LaCour purported to collect could not be traced to any originating Qualtrics source files. He claimed that he deleted the source file accidentally, but a Qualtrics service representative who examined the account and spoke with UCLA Political Science Department Chair Jeffrey Lewis reported to him that she found no evidence of such a deletion. On Tuesday, Professor Vavreck and Michael LaCour for the contact information of survey respondents so that their participation in the survey could be verified, but he declined to furnish this information. With respect to the implementation of the surveys, Professor Vavreck was informed that, contrary to the description in the Supplemental Information, no cash incentives were offered or paid to respondents, and that, notwithstanding Michael LaCour’s funding acknowledgement in the published report, he told Professor Vavreck that he did not in fact accept or use grant money to conduct surveys for either study, which she independently confirmed with the UCLA Law School and the UCLA Grants Office. Michael LaCour’s failure to produce the raw data coupled with the other concerns noted above undermines the credibility of the findings. I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science.
Green tells Retraction Watch:
Michael LaCour attended my summer workshop on experimental design in 2012 and proposed at that time a project that involved both canvassing and internet surveys.  It sounded to me too ambitious to be realistic for a graduate student but in principle worthwhile. I later introduced him to Dave Fleischer, who heads up the LGBT canvassing operation in Los Angeles, and they struck up a collaboration.  Several weeks after the canvassing launched in June 2013, Michael LaCour showed me his survey results.  I thought they were so astonishing that the findings would only be credible if the study were replicated.  (I also had some technical concerns about the “thermometer” measures used in the surveys.)  Michael LaCour and Dave Fleischer therefore conducted a second experiment in August of 2013, and the results confirmed the initial findings. Convinced that the results were robust, I helped Michael LaCour write up the findings, especially the parts that had to do with the statistical interpretation of the experimental design. Given that I did not have IRB approval for the study from my home institution, I took care not to analyze any primary data — the datafiles that I analyzed were the same replication datasets that Michael LaCour posted to his website. Looking back, the failure to verify the original Qualtrics data was a serious mistake.
According to his website, LaCour will become an assistant professor at Princeton University in July. 

[Update: As of 8 a.m. Eastern on 5/20/15, that mention had been removed from his site, but it is still available on the Google cache version.] We’ve contacted him for comment, and will update with anything we learn.

Update, 10:30 a.m. Eastern, 5/20/15: Broockman tells Retraction Watch he agrees that this was remarkably swift and transparent:
I think there’s a couple reasons why. First, the study’s findings had huge implications for people who were trying to advance the cause of equality and have changed how advocates do their work. Every minute we knew the truth and did not disclose it really was a lie by omission to the advocates out there. There was some element of time sensitiveness. Second, the nature of the claims made in the article about the scope of the study — the survey’s scale, its funding, the number of bills that would have to have been incurred to pay for it, etc. — meant that we expected it would have been straightforward to produce at least one piece of evidence that something among these many claims occurred that would inject a shred of doubt into the suspicions. I would guess that Don realized that if not one such piece of evidence could be mustered after 48 hours it was very unlikely that anything satisfactory was going to ultimately materialize.
Update, 2 p.m. Eastern, 5/20/15: This post’s popularity crashed our servers, and we have now upgraded. Apologies for the interruption. In the meantime, we have heard from Science, who sent this comment from editor in chief Marcia McNutt, noting that the journal will be posting an Expression of Concern:
Thank you for your query about the possible retraction of the study, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” published in Science by Michael J. LaCour and Donald P. Green in December of 2014. Science takes this case extremely seriously and will strive to correct the scientific literature as quickly as possible.
No peer review process is perfect, and in fact it is very difficult for peer reviewers to detect artful fraud. Fortunately, science is a self-correcting process; researchers publish work in the scholarly literature so that it can be further scrutinized, replicated, confirmed, rebutted or corrected. This is the way science advances.
Dr. Green was informed about the study’s irregularities over the weekend. He submitted a request for retraction to Science yesterday, Tuesday, 19 May, after his co-author, LaCour, admitted that some of the details of the data collection were falsely described in the published report. At this time, our Editorial staff is assessing the report. Given the fact that the Dr. Green has requested retraction, Science will move swiftly and take any necessary action at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, Science is publishing an Editorial Expression of Concern to alert our readers to the fact that serious questions have been raised about the validity of findings in this study.
We thank those who attempted the replication and pointed to the possible irregularities. It allowed the author to look more carefully into possible problems with the original study.
We also heard from Princeton. A spokesperson tells us:
As you’ve correctly noted, at this time the individual is not a Princeton University employee. We will review all available information and determine next steps.
And LaCour tells us:
I’m gathering evidence and relevant information so I can provide a single comprehensive response.  I will do so at my earliest opportunity.
Hat tip: Lila Guterman"

Among comments
Dave Burton
"When linking to pages in Google’s cache, it is important to make copies, because they don’t last long. The link above, to the cached version of LaCour’s page which said he would be an Assistant Prof. at Princeton in July, is already obsolete. However, I found a cached equivalent page, and saved it in several places:

1. (16 May version, from Yahoo)
2. (20 May version, from Google)
3. (copy of the 20 May Google version)



And this on Princeton’s News site:"



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I'm the daughter of an Eagle Scout (fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Mets) and a Beauty Queen.