A new species of monkey that sports a bushy red beard has been discovered in the Amazon, researchers announced this week, but the primate is at risk of becoming extinct.
The species of titi monkey, Callicebus caquetensis, is a cat-size creature and has grayish-brown hair. Its long tail is stippled with gray, and it has a bushy red beard around its cheeks.
Unlike other monkeys closely related to it, Callicebus caquetensis does not have a white bar on its forehead, environmental nonprofit group Conservation International said Thursday. The finding was also published in the journal Primate Conservation.
Hints that an unknown primate species was living in Colombia’s Caquetá region, close to the border with Ecuador and Peru, surfaced 30 years ago, but researchers were never able to access the region because of violence and insurgent fighting.
It was only two years ago that professors Thomas Defler, Marta Bueno and their student, Javier García, from the National University of Colombia were able to travel up the upper Caquetá River. They used GPS to find their way around the area, searching for the monkeys on foot and listening for their calls.
"This discovery is extremely exciting because we had heard about this animal, but for a long time we could not confirm if it was different from other titis,” Defler said in a statement.
The number of young unemployed across the world has soared to a record high and is likely to climb further this year, a United Nations agency reported Thursday, amid a U.S. government report that that jobless claims in America jumped to five-month high.
The International Labor Organization said in its 2010 report that out of 620 million youths ages 15 to 24 in the global work force, 81 million were unemployed at the end of 2009, and warned of a “lost generation” as more youths lose hope of finding work.
The youth unemployment rate increased from 11.9 percent in 2007 to 13.0 percent in 2009, the report said.
According to International Labor Organization projections, the global youth unemployment rate is expected to continue its increase through 2010, to 13.1 percent, followed by a moderate decline to 12.7 percent in 2011.
The report found that unemployment has hit youths harder than adults during the financial crisis and “that the recovery of the job market for young men and women is likely to lag behind that of adults.”
Most of the U.S. Defense Department’s schools are in such a bad state as a result of years of neglect and deferred maintenance that the Pentagon is urgently seeking almost $4 billion for repairs and replacements, said the civilian agency that oversees the schools on military bases.
In all, 70 percent of schools for Defense Department dependents were rated as under-maintained or failing, the Department of Defense Education Activity said this week. It is asking for $3.7 billion in repairs and upgrades over the next five years for its 134 school facilities across the world.
Almost half of Department of Defense Education Activity schools have facilities that are 45 years or older. “What’s happening now behind the walls that people can’t see, the electrical systems are 50 years old, the roofs are leaking …,” said Kevin Kelly, associate director of the civilian agency's financial and business operations.
There simply wasn’t enough money to upkeep all the schools, Kelly said. “We were getting funding to take care of one school, maybe two schools a year, and our schools were aging too fast and problems were being caused,” he said in a video statement.
Problems range from aging plumbing that has resulted in a stench, to roaming rats at the Seoul American Middle School, military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported. Conditions there prompted $600,000 in repairs this summer, according to the paper.
The Department of Defense Education Activity has 191 school facilities and serves more than 84,000 children of military service members and Defense Department civilian employees.
Catching the Perseid meteor shower after Wednesday night is going to be as easy as lying on your back on the lawn.
With a waxing crescent moon expected to set before the meteor shower peaks on Thursday night and Friday morning, and hence less moonlight in the way, forecasters are expecting one of the best celestial shows of the year.
Weather permitting, stargazers might be able to catch at least 80 meteors per hour, NASA said.
"The August Perseids are among the strongest of the readily observed annual meteor showers, and at maximum activity nominally yields 90 to 100 meteors per hour," SPACE.com skywatching columnist Joe Rao explained in his column. "Anyone in a city or near bright suburban lights will see far fewer."
According to the best estimates, the Earth will cut through the densest part of the Perseid stream about 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, SPACE.com reported.
The best window of opportunity to see the shower will be the late-night hours of Wednesday through first light Thursday, and then again during the late-night hours of August 12 into the predawn hours of August 13.
The pilot of a private plane that crashed Monday night in a rugged stretch of Alaska did not file a flight plan, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The plane, which was carrying former head of NASA Sean O'Keefe and former Sen. Ted Stevens, was being flown using visual flight rules and didn't need a flight plan, FAA spokesman Mike Fergus said Tuesday. Stevens and four others died. O'Keefe and three others were injured.
The DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter crashed around 7 p.m. Monday amid rough weather conditions near the southwest Alaska town of Dillingham, a destination for big-game hunters. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are looking into whether those conditions may have contributed to the accident and complicated search efforts.
The flight originated at GCI Lodge on Lake Nerka and was bound for Dillingham, the agency's Alaska office said.
Pilots flying under visual flight rules generally are required to file a flight plan when visibility is less than 3 nautical miles and if it is overcast from 1,000 feet above ground level, according to aviation experts. All commercial passenger flights require one.
Flights under an “instrument flight rules” plan come under the control of air traffic controllers, who determine the exact routes and height for the pilots. “Under visual flight rules, you have much more flexibility to set your own route,” said Chris Dancy, a spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
Scientists have discovered the deepest crack on the Earth’s crust on the Caribbean Sea floor, along with signs of life that at that those crushing depths could mean alien life could exist on other planets, NASA said.
A NASA-funded team discovered three hydrothermal vents - fissures in a planet's surface from which geothermally heated water comes – including one about 16,000 feet under the sea along a 100-kilometer (62-mile) stretch called the Mid-Cayman Rise. That stretch of sea bed is an ultra-slow spreading ridge that is part of the tectonic boundary between the North American and Caribbean plates.
Though these hydrothermal vents are far from sunlight and under the extreme pressures of the oceans, some of them get as hot as a convection oven, and scientists say they host bizarre communities that could lead to clues about how life may exist on other planets.
“Most life on Earth is sustained by food chains that begin with sunlight as their energy source. That’s not an option for possible life deep in the ocean of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, prioritized by NASA for future exploration,” said Max Coleman, co-author of the study with NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory.
“However, organisms around the deep vents get energy from the chemicals in hydrothermal fluid, a scenario we think is similar to the seafloor of Europa, and this work will help us understand what we might find when we search for life there.”
The team’s findings were published in last week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Chris German, the team’s chief scientist and a geochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, said the team is trying to translate its findings to help plan for future space missions. There may be applications in the search for life on Mars and moons that have an icy ocean, he said.
Despite uncertainty surrounding NASA’s space program, which has only two Space Shuttle missions left and a dwindling budget, discoveries such as German’s may help show the need for future space exploration.
The newly discovered vent, named Piccard, is 2,600 feet deeper than the previously known deepest vent found in the Pacific Ocean in 1977.
Another newly discovered vent, Walsh, was found in rocks that are composed of material similar to the much hotter lavas that erupted on Earth’s very earliest seafloor thousands of years ago.
The third site, Europa, named after the icy Jupiter moon that scientists believe may contain life, is believed to be a unique shallow low-temperature vent that has only been reported once, at the “Lost City” site in the mid-Atlantic.
The team scoured for the vents using sensors on unmanned robotic vehicles programmed to track chemicals and microbes discharged from the vents.
Researchers said the mission marked the first time they were able to obtain microbial data from primitive organisms that thrive in high-temperatures and the lack of oxygen at this depth. German believes what his team has obtained so far is a fraction of the community of organisms that live on the chemical energy at the vents.
The team plans on returning to the vents to better examine the life there. German also said the team hopes to take the mission to the Arctic, where conditions are much more similar to those on other planets.
The tiny Pacific nation of Tonga will be sending troops to Afghanistan later this year, in part to create jobs and address the islands’ unemployment problem.
A contingent of 55 Tongan soldiers is expected to begin service in Afghanistan in November, the first of 275 soldiers committed over a two-year period by the Tongan government, Matangi Tonga newspaper reported Wednesday.
The paper reported that Prime Minister Feleti Sevele had received a request from Britain and NATO for Tonga’s assistance in the fight against the Taliban.
Police in Philippines are on the hunt for a “gadget-obsessed” man suspected of murdering three foreigners in separate attacks in the northern city of Angeles.
The victims - an American, a Canadian and a Briton - were among nine alleged victims of 28-year-old Mark Dizon, The Philippine Star newspaper reported Monday.
"We are launching a massive manhunt against Dizon," the city police chief told ABS-CBN news station.
Dizon, a computer technician and reflexologist, is suspected of killing retired U.S. Air Force serviceman Albert Mitchell, 70, his wife, Janet Andrenada, 53, and their three domestic helpers last Thursday, the newspaper reported.
After eight years of observations and compiling close to 21,000 images, NASA said Friday that it has constructed what it claims to be the most accurate global map Mars.
"The map lays the framework for global studies of properties such as the mineral composition and physical nature of the surface materials," said NASA scientist Jeffrey Plaut.
The map was put together from images from a camera that takes "pictures" by using infrared measurements of temperatures, called the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), aboard NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Using 10 filters, THEMIS can generate colored images.
The images were then smoothed, matched, blended and mapped to create a giant mosaic of the planet. The map allows users to zoom in as close enough so that the smallest surface details are 330 feet wide.
“While portions of Mars have been mapped at higher resolution, this map provides the most accurate view so far of the entire planet,” NASA said in a statement.
Researchers also tied the images to a mapping grid provided by the U.S. Geological Survey to increase the accuracy of the final map.
“This approach lets us remove all instrument distortion, so features on the ground are correctly located to within a few pixels and provide the best global map of Mars to date,” Philip Christensen, principal investigator for THEMIS and director of the Mars Space Flight Facility, said.
The Mars Odyssey was launched in April 2001 and reached the Red Planet in October 2001. Researchers at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility in Tempe and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California have been compiling the map since THEMIS observations began in 2002.
July 20, 2010
Solution: Static Kill
Scientists are weighing a new option called "static kill” for permanently sealing it. The "static kill" would involve pumping mud into the well to force oil back into the reservoir below. This is similar to the "top kill" method that failed earlier (see below), except that now the oil isn't flowing - hence the word "static."
Engineers are proceeding with the relief wells that eventually will pump concrete into the well bore to kill it from the bottom. A static kill, if pursued, would hit it from the top.
BP noted that the option could succeed where other similar attempts have failed because pressure in the well is lower than expected. Geologist Arthur Berman tells CNN's "American Morning" the relative simplicity of the static kill makes it an attractive option for BP.
BP finished pouring cement down the well on Aug. 6, completing the job earlier than expected. The process took six hours. Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said the cementing phase of the "static kill" operation is not the end of the process, "but it will virtually assure us there's no chance of oil leaking into the environment."
July 10, 2010
Solution: New better-fitting containment cap
BP said it was going to remove the old containment cap, replacing it with another that has a better fit. Robots removed six giant bolts from the apparatus July 11 so the new cap could be positioned.
Scientists will then be able to gauge the pressure inside the well and determine whether the cap is holding in the oil or if crews will need to continue siphoning oil.
BP says it will conduct a “well integrity test,” which involves closing the stack end and stemming the flow coming from the well.
If it works, oil collection via the vessels, Q4000 and Helix Producer, will cease. BP will then close in on the perforated pipe. This process, which will be done in collaboration with U.S. government officials, could take up to 48 hours. FULL POST
Australian scientists have discovered never-seen-before prehistoric marine life in the depths of the ocean below the Great Barrier Reef, the University of Queensland said Wednesday.
Ancient “six-gilled” sharks, giant oil fish, swarms of crustaceans and many unidentified fish – all of which look worthy of a science-fiction film – were among the astounding marine life caught on camera some 1,400 meters (4,593 feet) below sea level.
The team, led by Justin Marshall, also collected footage of the Nautilius, a relative of the octopus that still lives in a shell as they have done for millions of years. Team members used special light-sensitive, custom-designed remote controlled cameras that sat on the ocean floor below the Osprey Reef.
“As well as understanding life at the surface, we need to plunge off the walls of Osprey to describe the deep-sea life that lives down to 2,000 meters, beyond the reach of sunlight,” Marshall said in a statement.
“We simply do not know what life is down there, and our cameras can now record the behavior and life in Australia’s largest biosphere, the deep-sea.” FULL POST
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died Tuesday of a massive heart attack. Often tempestuous but always entertaining, "The Boss" rebuilt the Yankees into a sports empire and became a pop-culture icon in his own right. We look back at some of the best quotes - good and bad – from Steinbrenner and those who knew him.
"I walked in and saw flowers on every desk. Freshly cut flowers. I said, 'What the hell is this? Is it Flowers Day? Is it Secretary's Day?' Somebody said, 'Isn't that wonderful? Mr. Burke does this every day for us.' [Former Yankee president] Mike Burke is a guy who I admired tremendously. He was a real heartthrob type of guy. Everybody liked him. I loved him, but for what I wanted, he didn't fit with me. When I saw the flowers, that was the trigger. I got involved."
– Steinbrenner in an interview with Daily News. He did not plan to get involved in the daily operations of the Yankees when he bought it in 1973.
"Call us babies, call us whatever you want. If you don't treat me with respect, I don't want to work for you."
– Yankee first baseman, Don Mattingly after the Yankees’ third loss in four games to the Mariners, when he lashed out in the locker room for the constant criticism. Mattingly did not specifically mention Steinbrenner though.
“Move over! This is how you play the organ! You go walk around the stadium and see how the sound is and then come back here.”
– Steinbrenner said, startling the organist Eddie Layton who was then shoved aside while practicing at an empty stadium.
Time.com: Top 10 George Steinbrenner Moments
A panda at the Beijing Zoo accidentally crushed her new cub to death after abandoning its twin, Chinese media reported on Tuesday.
Eight-year-old Yinghua gave birth to female twin cubs on Friday but the mother nursed only one of them, the zoo's deputy president, Zhang Jinguo, told the China Daily newspaper.
“Mother pandas are always like that. Twins are rare and all mothers take only the first cub as their own,” Zhang was quoted as saying. FULL POST
Moscow’s regional governor offered an unusual – and blithe – solution on Friday to the Russian capital’s massive traffic jams: get a helicopter.
“I travel in a helicopter,” Boris Gromov told journalists, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. “You should also buy helicopters instead of cars – then you will not need roads.”
He’s not the only one flying. About 400 Moscow region residents own helicopters, Gromov said.
Repair work has caused unprecedented holdups on the Leningradskoye Highway, one of the main traffic arteries to the northwest of Moscow.
The jams are so bad that about 1,500 people miss their flights from Sheremetyevo International Airport every day, according to RIA Novosti. And it’s not just commuters who are complaining. Russia’s state-run air carrier Aeroflot said it is losing an average of 400,000 euros per day over the traffic jams on the Leningradskoye Highway, the company’s deputy director-general, Andrei Kalmykov, told the Itar-Tass news agency Thursday.
Muscovite motorists reported an average delay of 2.5 hours describing their worst traffic jams of the last three years, IBM said in its first global “commuter pain” study released Thursday.
Russia’s transport head on Thursday said the jams are here to stay. "I am sure that – fortunately or unfortunately – traffic jams in Moscow will not disappear because they are a result of Moscow's activity," Vasily Kichedzhi, head of the transportation and communication department, told RIA Novosti.
Then again, Gormov’s solution might not be that unreasonable.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cleared a flying car for takeoff this week. The agency gave the Transition Roadable Aircraft, developed by Massachusetts-based engineering firm Terrafugia, a weight exemption, paving the way for mass production.
What’s your worst traffic jam ever, and what do you do to beat these tie-ups? Let us know in the comments below.
[Updated at 1:30 p.m.] History may have repeated itself when Ghana beat the United States 2-1 in extra time, eliminating the Americans from the World Cup on Saturday, but the weekend match did make television history of its own.
The contest became the most-watched men's game in FIFA World Cup history in the United States, according to ESPN. In 2006, Ghana also eliminated the U.S. with a 2-1 win.
For more than two hours Saturday afternoon, an average 14.9 million viewers tuned in to ABC, according to ESPN, 13 percent more than the highly anticipated U.S. versus England World Cup game June 12, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Combined with viewers from Spanish TV network Univision, the number of viewers exceeds 19 million, according to latest data from Nielson media research.
The U.S.-Ghana contest also ranks as the third highest-rated Men's World Cup game on record, behind two matches in 1994 – the game between the U.S. and Brazil and that year's men's final between Brazil and Italy.
Within hours of President Obama’s announcement that he had accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation, the general who was hand-picked by the president to head the Afghan war became “an afterthought,” as TIME magazine’s Joe Klein points out.
The media quickly switched its attention to McChrystal’s replacement, Gen. David Petraeus, and the war against terror. Last week Petraeus, while battling exhaustion, fainted during testimony before Congress.
In a blog entry posted shortly after McChrystal’s resignation, The Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran leads with how the change in command will create complications in the U.S. efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. McChrystal forged the closest relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai of any senior American official, Chandrasekaran writes.
He thinks Petraeus will have challenges to overcome, but doesn't discount the fact that Petraeus has a head start.
He has been a regular visitor to Kabul and knows not just Karzai but many other senior Afghan government officials. He also has worked closely with top U.S. civilian officials responsible for Afghanistan, including special envoy Richard C. Holbrooke.
In a New York Times blog, Andrew Exum, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan writes that the problems McChrystal faced won’t elude Petraeus.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s comments to Rolling Stone magazine were inexcusable, but the frustration he voiced with Ambassador Eikenberry for sending cables to Washington questioning the strategy without first sharing his reservations with General McChrystal was understandable. It is clear that there is little agreement between the U.S. embassy in Kabul and the NATO command on the way forward in Afghanistan.
The gaffe from America's top military commander in Afghanistan and his staffer’s “Biden?-Did-you-say-Bite-Me?” comment is biting back. Hours after news broke that Gen. Stanley McChrystal was recalled to Washington amid his controversial remarks about colleagues in an explosive Rolling Stone magazine article, calls for the firing of the general have surfaced.
The Atlantic magazine’s national correspondent wrote that McChrystal has violated the chain of command and should be sacked for disrespect and insubordination.
"… first is for the civilian Commander in Chief to act in accordance with Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution and demonstrate that there are consequences for showing open disrespect for the chain of command."
A Talking Points Memo columnist points out that this isn’t the first time McChrystal has gone on a scathing tirade about those who are “not in their groove on strategy.” Not firing McChrystal will only hurt President Obama’s standing as commander in chief, he argues.
"Obama needs to fire him. If he doesn't, McChrystal's brand will be validated and the environment of insubordination and unprofessional conduct will be reinforced. If McChrystal survives his White House encounter, then Obama will be diminished. That is what this has come to."
Calling the general’s comments in Rolling Stone “near-suicidal," The Daily Telegraph’s U.S. editor thinks keeping McChrystal, on the contrary, might bode well for Obama’s administration.
"If Obama still believes that success in Afghanistan is possible then the ultimate display of genuine toughness, self-confidence and courage on the President’s part could be to stick with the man he chose to get the job done, despite the general’s reckless and insulting words."
On the eve of oil executives appearing at a congressional hearing on disaster planning, ExxonMobil launched a blog with a post calling the Gulf oil disaster “a dramatic departure from the industry norm in deepwater drilling.”
"This devastating chain of events is far from the industry norm," wrote Exxon’s chief blogger Ken Cohen, who's also the oil giant's vice president of public and government affairs.
He wrote that what occurred in the Gulf did not “occur on the 14,000 other deepwater wells that have been successfully drilled around the world."
Exxon’s spokesman Karen Matusic told CNN.com that the idea of the blog was conceived before the Deepwater Horizon disaster and that the company hopes it will create a dialogue about the “biggest issues” in the energy industry.
“It would be strange to start a blog and not mention about the rig,” she said.
An Australian trekker said he has discovered the site of a significant World War II battle in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, complete with the remains of Japanese soldiers right where they fell almost 70 years ago.
Former army Capt. Brian Freeman, an expert on the Kokoda Trail – a 60-mile trek through rugged mountainous country and rainforest of the island – said Monday he was led to the Eora Creek battle site where he found the remains of the soldiers.
The site about half a mile from the village of Eora Creek was believed to be the location of the last major battle that was pivotal in Australia’s campaign against the Japanese in Papau New Guinea.
Although the site was known to local villages, jungles reclaimed it after the battle of Eora Creek. Although locals hunted on the plateau surrounding the site, they avoided the 600-square-meter battle ground because of a belief that spirits of the dead were still present in the "lost battlefield."
What this means is that the site has apparently remained untouched since 1942.
Can’t go down to the Gulf Coast to help out with oil spill cleanup? Here are some ways you can be an armchair volunteer following the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.
Adopt a pelican
It is heart-wrenching to watch birds drenched with oil. The International Bird Rescue Research Center, which picks up oiled birds, cleans and rehabilitates them, is asking for support for its 23-member team of bird-rescue experts.
The organization allows individuals to donate or adopt a bird. Adopting a pelican, for example, costs $200, which will go to the cost of raising and eventually releasing the bird.
The organization’s team is working with the Tri-State Bird Rescue, setting up rehabilitation centers in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. Birds that are cleaned – it takes almost an hour to clean a single oiled pelican – and rehabilitated are then released in oil-free areas chosen by federal and state trustee agency personnel and the International Bird Rescue Research Center. The Tri-State Bird Rescue is also taking donations and adoptions.