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Brain Wasting Disease: Zombie Deer!


      [Health Concerns]

      If we didn't have enough to worry about; there is a brain eating disease (Chronic wasting disease) that has been spreading among deer and elk. It has been reported that a primate (monkey) who ate an infected dead deer contracted the disease which raises an alarm, if monkeys can catch it from eating deer then human's, a stepp up from primates, probably can too, though no cases of humans contracting the disease have been reported. But, humans are being warn by the CDC not to eat venison that comes from a suspect deer.

      From the CDC [link not available]


      As of January 2019, CWD in free-ranging deer, elk and/or moose has been reported in at least 24 states in the continental United States, as well as two provinces in Canada. In addition, CWD has been reported in reindeer and moose in Norway and Finland, and a small number of imported cases have been reported in South Korea. The disease has also been found in farmed deer and elk.

      CWD was first identified in captive deer in the late 1960s in Colorado and in wild deer in 1981. By the 1990s, it had been reported in surrounding areas in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. Since 2000, the area known to be affected by CWD in free-ranging animals has increased to at least 24 states, including states in the Midwest, Southwest, and limited areas on the East Coast. It is possible that CWD may also occur in other states without strong animal surveillance systems, but that cases haven’t been detected yet. Once CWD is established in an area, the risk can remain for a long time in the environment. The affected areas are likely to continue to expand.

      Nationwide, the overall occurrence of CWD in free-ranging deer and elk is relatively low. However, in several locations where the disease is established, infection rates may exceed 10 percent (1 in 10), and localized infection rates of more than 25 percent (1 in 4) have been reported. The infection rates among some captive deer can be much higher, with a rate of 79% (nearly 4 in 5) reported from at least one captive herd.

      ABC News Link

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      Getting To Know Pete Buttigieg


          [Politcal Avenues]

          I didn't know a thing about this guy, not even his age, but one listen, during a radio interview caught my attention. Does he stand a chance of actually winning? No one knows. But one thing is for sure, and he knows it, he can't expect to win the support of those who think he, because he admits to being gay, is an abomination. But those who don't hold that against should get to know him.

          Presenting, for your consideration (seeking to become the next President of the United States of America), Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

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          Thinking Of A Special Ex This Valentine's Day?

          The El Paso Zoo will name a special cucaracha after a special ex of yours, to be fed live on camera to their den of ravenous meerkats on Valentine's Day.

          Just submit a first name and initial to see sweet karmic justice.

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          North Pole Has Moved

          I apologize for the crazy way this came out in the post. There were pictures and video where the gaps are. I tried to close up the gaps but can't get it to work. Hope you enjoy it anyway. I found it interesting.
          Here is the link if you would like to go there and read it .

          While magnetic north has always wandered, its routine plod has shifted into high gear, sending it galloping across the Northern Hemisphere—and no one can entirely explain why.

          Photograph by NASA/JSC

          Magnetic north just changed. Here's what that means.

          The foundation of many navigation systems, the World Magnetic Model finally got a much-needed update with the end of the U.S. government shutdown.

          Magnetic north has never sat still. In the last hundred years or so, the direction in which our compasses steadfastly point has lumbered ever northward, driven by Earth's churning liquid outer core some 1,800 miles beneath the surface. Yet in recent years, scientists noticed something unusual: Magnetic north's routine plod has shifted into high gear, sending it galloping across the Northern Hemisphere—and no one can entirely explain why.

          The changes have been so large that scientists began working on an emergency update for the World Magnetic Model, the mathematical system that lays the foundations for navigation, from cell phones and ships to commercial airlines. But then the U.S. government shut down, placing the model's official release on hold, as Nature News first reported earlier this year.

          Now, the wait for a new north is over. The World Magnetic Model update was officially released on Monday, and magnetic north can again be precisely located for people around the world.

          Questions still likely abound: Why is magnetic north changing so fast? What were the impacts of the update's delay? Was there really a geologic reason Google maps sent me off course? We've got you covered.

          Earth 101 Earth is the only planet known to maintain life. Find out the origins of our home planet and some of the key ingredients that help make this blue speck in space a unique global ecosystem.

          What is magnetic north?

          Magnetic north is one of three “north poles” on our globe. First, there's true north, which is the northern end of the axis on which our planet turns.

          But our planet's protective magnetic bubble, or magnetosphere, isn't perfectly aligned with this spin. Instead, the dynamo of Earth's core creates a magnetic field that is slightly tilted from the planet's rotational axis. The northern end of this planet-size bar magnet is what's known as geomagnetic north—a point sitting off the northwest coast of Greenland that's changed position little over the last century.

          Then there's magnetic north, what your compass locates, which is defined as the point at which magnetic field lines point vertically down. Unlike geomagnetic north, this position is more susceptible to the surges and flows in the swirl of liquid iron in the core. These currents tug on the magnetic field, sending magnetic north hopping across the globe.

          “The north magnetic pole is quite a sensitive place,” says Phil Livermore, a geophysicist at the University of Leeds.

          What is the World Magnetic Model?

          James Clark Ross first located magnetic north in 1831 in the scattered islands of Canada's Nunavut territory. Since then, the pole has largely marched north, traversing hundreds of miles over the last several decades. (Curiously, its polar opposite, magnetic south, has moved little during this time.)

          To keep up with all these changes, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British Geological Survey developed what eventually became known as the World Magnetic Model, “so they would all be on the same map, essentially,” says Ciaran Beggan, a geophysicist with the BGS.

          The model is updated every five years, with the last update in 2015. Between each update, scientists check the model's accuracy against data from ground magnetic observatories and the European Space Agency's Swarm mission—a trio of magnetic-field mapping satellites that zip around Earth 15 to 16 times each day. Until now, this seemed sufficient to keep up with magnetic north's march toward Siberia.

          In the mid 1900s, the north magnetic pole was lumbering along at less than a hundred feet each day, adding up to less than seven miles of difference each year. But in the '90s, this started to change. By the early aughts, magnetic north was chugging along at some 34 miles each year.

          “Things are acting very strangely at high latitude,” says Livermore, who notes that this increase seemed to coincide with a strengthening jet in the planet's liquid outer core. Though the events could be linked, it's not yet possible to say for sure.

          By early 2018, scientists realized that the model would soon exceed the acceptable limits for magnetic-based navigation. Something had to be done before the model's next regular update, slated for 2020.

          Did the government shutdown upset navigation?

          To correct the model, NOAA and BGS scientists tweaked it using three years' worth of recent data. This updated version was pre-released online in October 2018. As Beggan explains, these include the model's primary users in defense and military—the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.K. Ministry of Defense, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

          “Things are acting very strangely at high latitude."
          Phil Livermore , University of Leeds

          The government shutdown delayed the comprehensive public release of the information, which includes online calculators, software, and a technical note describing the changes. In principal, everyone who uses magnetic navigation could benefit from this update, says Arnaud Chulliat, a geomagnetist at the University of Colorado in Boulder and a NOAA affiliate who worked on the update.

          The model has found its way into many of our modern mapping systems, including Google and Apple, Beggan adds. But the difference is minor for most civilian purposes, and the changes are mainly limited to latitudes above 55 degrees.

          “The average user is not going to be overly affected by this unless they happened to be trekking around the high Arctic,” Beggan says.

          What caused all this weirdness?

          Interest in these unexpected jolts is about more than mapping. The dance of Earth's magnetic field lines presents one of the few windows scientists have to processes that happen thousands of miles below your feet.

          At the 2018 American Geophysical Union fall meeting, Livermore presented what he calls a magnetic field “tug-of-war” that may offer an explanation for the recent odd behavior. The north magnetic pole seems to be controlled by two patches of magnetic field, he explains, one under northern Canada and one under Siberia. Historically, the one under northern Canada seems to have been stronger, keeping the magnetic pole in its clutches. But recently, that seems to have changed.

          “The Siberian patch looks like it's winning the battle,” he says. “It's sort of pulling the magnetic field all the way across to its side of the geographic pole.”

          The Arctic: An Ocean on Top of the World Ice, wildlife, and adventure—that is what draws us to the icy waters sweeping down from the Arctic Ocean. Join the crew of the National Geographic Fleet to explore the northernmost part of the Earth.

          This may be a result of a jet within the core smearing and thus weakening the magnetic field under Canada, he says. The jet's increase in speed seems to have coincided with the last few decades of the magnetic pole zipping north. But he cautions about jumping to any definite conclusions.

          “There may well be a link there,” he says. “It's not certain, but it could be.”

          What's next for magnetic north?

          It's tough to predict what will happen to the magnetic north pole—or whether it's even going to maintain its speed as it staggers toward Siberia, notes Robyn Fiori, a research scientist with Natural Resources Canada. The only thing that seems certain about magnetic north is its unpredictability.

          Rocks hold geologic maps of even weirder movements of the magnetic poles, suggesting that in the last 20 million years, magnetic north and south have flipped places multiple times. This seems to happen roughly every 200,000 to 300,000 years. The exact causes behind these reversals remains uncertain. But the latest movement shouldn't have you in knots about an imminent flip.

          “There's no indication that there's a reversal,” Beggan says. “And even if there was a reversal, geological records show these things tend to take a few thousand years, at the very least.” ( What really happens when the magnetic field flips? Here's what we know.)

          Models of magnetic north suggest that this latest leap isn't even the strangest thing the pole has done in more recent history, Fiori adds. Before 1900, its wanderings likely once had a lot more wiggle and may include several hairpin turns in northern Canada that could have sent the pole on a brief southward stint.

          “It all has to do with changes in the fluid motion of that outer core,” she says. It's therefore hard to say if magnetic north's newfound speed is the new normal.

          “We know that the pole now is moving faster than it has for decades, but how often does that happen in the long historical record?” inquires Geoff Reeves, a space scientist at Los Alamos National Lab.

          “We don't have any idea. What we know is what it's doing now is different, and that's always exciting scientifically.”

          Editor’s Note: This article originally included a misstated quote from Robyn Fiori that has been updated.The types of navigation that can benefit from the new model have also been updated, and the spelling of Arnaud Chulliat's name has been corrected.

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          SOTU Drinking Game


              Every time Trump says "I" you take a gulp of your favorite alcoholic beverage. For those non-drinkers, you guys take a hit off a nice big fat joint.

              Not to worry if you don't last the entire speech I plan on posting the transcript when available.

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              Border Wall For Texas?


                  US prepares to start building portion of Texas border wall

                  NOMAAN MERCHANT
                  February 4, 2019

                  HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. government is preparing to begin construction of more border walls and fencing in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley, likely on federally owned land set aside as wildlife refuge property.

                  Heavy construction equipment was expected to arrive starting Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. A photo posted by the nonprofit National Butterfly Center shows an excavator parked next to its property.

                  Congress last March approved more than $600 million for 33 miles (53 kilometers) of new barriers in the Rio Grande Valley. While President Donald Trump and top Democrats remain in a standoff over Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has pushed ahead with building what's already funded.

                  That construction was often described as fencing, and the government funding bill that included construction was supported by some Democrats in the House and Senate. CBP refers to what it plans to build as a "border wall system."

                  According to designs it released in September , CBP intends to build 25 miles (40 kilometers) of concrete walls to the height of the existing flood-control levee in Hidalgo County next to the Rio Grande, the river that forms the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. On top of the concrete walls, CBP will install 18-foot (5.5-meter) steel posts and clear a 150-foot (45-meter) enforcement zone in front.

                  Maps released by CBP show construction would cut through the butterfly center, a nearby state park, and a century-old Catholic chapel next to the river.

                  Many landowners oppose a border wall and have vowed to fight the U.S. government if it tries to seize their property through eminent domain. Court fights over condemning land could take weeks if not months.

                  CBP said in its statement that it intends to start construction on federally owned land. Environmental advocates expect the government to use land that's part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

                  The refuge consists of dozens of parcels of land purchased over the last 40 years to create a corridor for endangered species and other wildlife.

                  The Department of Homeland Security can waive environmental restrictions to construct a border wall and issued its waiver for Hidalgo County in October . A coalition of environmental groups has sued DHS over its use of waivers, arguing that wall construction would endanger ocelots, rare birds and other wildlife that rely on refuge land for habitat. That lawsuit is still pending.

                  Congress last March required CBP not to build in the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge after a public outcry. But it didn't exempt the Lower Rio Grande Valley refuge.

                  "Santa Ana was not a big enough refuge to sustain all the wildlife down here," said Jim Chapman, a longtime resident of the Rio Grande Valley and member of the group Friends of the Wildlife Corridor.

                  The National Butterfly Center released the text of an email sent by an attorney from the U.S. Department of Justice. The lawyer, Cliff Stevens, says in the email that construction will begin in mid-February "on federally owned land east of Bentsen State Park."

                  Directly east of Bentsen State Park is a refuge tract called El Morillo Banco, which is between the state park and the butterfly center. DOJ declined to comment on the email, and CBP did not respond to several requests for comment.

                  Land already in the hands of the government becomes an easier place to start construction quickly, said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. Cuellar has introduced a proposal that would instruct CBP not to build border walls in several places that have environmental and cultural significance.

                  "The easiest way, historically, is to go to public lands, because who's going to fight them?" he said.

                  Protesters were walking Monday along the river levee where CBP intends to start construction. The butterfly center said on Facebook that a local police officer had declared all their property south of the levee to be off limits. The center says it intends to take legal action.

                  Chapman said that despite months of protests and meetings, he hadn't seen "any attempt" from the U.S. government "to acknowledge and to take the needs of wildlife into account."

                  "If you were going to design a border wall with maximal impact, you would do exactly what they were doing," Chapman said. "You couldn't do it worse."

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