United States trees leafing out sooner than in Thoreau’s time

This video from the USA is called Henry David Thoreau‘s Walden: A Tribute.

From Boston University in the USA today:

Walden trees leafing out far earlier than in Thoreau’s time

9 minutes ago by Richard Primack

Climate-change studies by Boston University biologists show leaf-out times of trees and shrubs at Walden Pond are an average of 18 days earlier than when Henry David Thoreau made his observations there in the 1850s. However, not all plants respond in the same way, the result of which is that native species eventually may be threatened and lose competitive advantage to more resilient invasive shrubs such as Japanese barberry, according to a study published in the new edition of New Phytologist.

Walden trees

“By comparing historical observations with current experiments, we see that climate change is creating a whole new risk for the native plants in Concord,” said BU Prof. Richard Primack. “Weather in New England is unpredictable, and if plants leaf out early in warm years, they risk having their leaves damaged by a surprise frost. But if plants wait to leaf out until after all chance of frost is lost, they may lose their competitive advantage.”

The study began when Caroline Polgar, a graduate student with Primack, examined Thoreau’s unpublished observations of leaf-out times for common trees and shrubs in Concord in the 1850s, then repeated his observations over the past five springs.

“We started to wonder if all trees and shrubs in Concord are equally responsive to warming temperatures in the spring,” Polgar said. What she found was surprising. “All species—no exceptions—are leafing out earlier now than they did in Thoreau’s time,” she said. “On average, woody plants in Concord leaf out 18 days earlier now.”

In New England, plants have to be cautious about leafing out in the early spring. If they leaf out too early, their young leaves could suffer from subsequent late frost. Since leafing-out requirements are thought to be species-specific, the group designed a lab experiment to test the responsiveness of 50 tree and shrub species in Concord to warming temperatures in the late winter and early spring.

For the past two winters, the researchers traveled to Concord and collected leafless dormant twigs from each species, and placed them in cups of water in their lab. Over the following weeks, they observed how quickly each species was be able produce their leaves in these unseasonably warm lab conditions.

“We found compelling evidence that invasive shrubs, such as Japanese barberry, are ready to leaf out quickly once they are exposed to warm temperatures in the lab even in the middle of winter, whereas native shrubs, like highbush bluberry, and native trees, like red maple, need to go through a longer winter chilling period before they can leaf out—and even then their response is slow,” says Amanda Gallinat, a second-year graduate student and third author of the paper.

The strength of this study, Gallinat said, is the pairing of observations and experiments.

“Our current observations show that plants in Concord today are leafing out earlier than in Thoreau’s time in response to warm temperatures,” she said. “However, the experiments show that as spring weather continues to warm, it will be the invasive shrubs that will be best able to take advantage of the changing conditions.”

The spring growing season is of increasing interest to biologists studying the effects of a warming climate, and in coming decades non-native invasive shrubs are positioned to win the gamble on warming temperature, Primack said. The BU group is adding these findings to a growing list of advancing spring phenomena in Concord and elsewhere in Massachusetts, including flowering dates, butterfly flight times, and migratory bird arrivals.

Explore further: Warm winters let trees sleep longer.

More information: docs.google.com/file/d/0B05KETqlwfNmdnRhTHF3QTNzYkU/edit?pli=1

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FBI withheld information on Boston bombing suspects from local police

This video from the USA is called Amateur footage Boston bomb attack.

By Barry Grey in the USA:

FBI, Homeland Security withheld information on Boston bombing suspects from local, state police

11 May 2013

The Boston police commissioner and a top Massachusetts Homeland Security official told Congress Thursday that the local and state police were never informed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Department of Homeland Security of multiple warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar are the only suspects to date in the twin bombings at the downtown Boston finish line of the race, which killed three people and wounded more than 160 others. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police on April 19. Dzhokhar is under arrest at a prison medical facility outside of Boston.

Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said his department had been unaware that the Russian government contacted the FBI in 2011 to warn of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s radical jihadist sympathies and his plans to travel to the northern Caucasus and link up with Islamist separatist and terrorist elements from Dagestan and Chechnya. Nor had he been told, he said, that the FBI had questioned the elder Tsarnaev brother and his family, or that Tamerlan subsequently, in 2012, spent six months in the volatile region of southern Russia.

Ernest Hemingway in Cuba and the USA

This video from the USA is the film For Whom The Bell Tolls (1943) – Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman.

From Prensa Latina news agency:

Hemingway Writings Preserved in Cuba Sent to US

Havana, May 10 – A total of 2,000 unpublished documents written by US author Ernest Hemingway were preserved by Cuban and US specialists as part of a bilateral agreement signed in 2002.

The lot of documents by Hemingway was sent to the US and will be exhibited soon at the Kennedy Library, Boston, Massachusetts, being the second sending from Cuba to the US cultural institution.

Ada Rosa Alfonso, director of the museum, told Prensa Latina that it is an extension of the working agreement for more than 10 years, with the objective that both nations possess a digital copy of the documents.

Specialists from the Andover, Massachusetts North Eastern Center for Document Preservation are working together with Cuban colleagues, she said.

Among the documents there is a letter written to Swedish-born actress Ingrid Bergman talking about Hemingway’s wish she were the starring actress in the famous film “For Whom the Bell Tolls” inspired by the novel with the same name written by Hemingway.

Another significant document is the group of letters addressed to his wife Mary Welsh, shopping lists, travelling itineraries and several of his weather considerations about the hurricanes going through the island between 1939 and 1960.

In the first part of the project, among the preserved documents there were manuscripts on his novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and a sample of the script for the film “The Old Man and the Sea”, also based on a novel written by the famous US writer.

Recently restored and with more than 9.88 acres, the house and farm in which Hemingway lived in Cuba, called Finca Vigia, in San Francisco de Paula, near the Cuban capital, was bought by Hemingway in December 1940.

His yacht, called “Pilar”, was restored with its original colors, registration information and other elements, to recreate the environment that surrounded Hemingway in Cuba.

Blue shark deep diving record

This video from the USA says about itself:

Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Blue Shark Adventure

Mar 12, 2013

Jonathan joins Charlie Donilon on his shark charter boat in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and learns about how shark tagging has shed light on the biology of and behavior of Blue sharks. Tagging has shown that these incredible swimmers actually migrate completely across the Atlantic ocean. Jonathan tries his hand at tagging a shark and then swims with Blue sharks. We also learn that Blue sharks are not nearly as vicious as they have been reputed to be, and the divers are actually able to pet the sharks!

From the New Zealand Herald:

Shark’s record dive into the blue

By Morgan Tait

5:30 AM Thursday Apr 25, 2013

Recently tagged male blue shark plunges 1250m off the Bay of Plenty coast in a quest for a meal of squid.

A shark broke a world record when he dived deeper than any recorded before off the coast of New Zealand this week.

Bodhi, a 2.5m male blue shark, dived 1250m deep off the Bay of Plenty coast on Tuesday, data from satellite tagging research by University of Auckland PhD student Riley Elliott has shown.

Mr Elliott tagged the shark three weeks ago off the Coromandel Peninsula as part of his study to track the habitat use and migration of blue sharks in New Zealand waters.

Bodhi is one of eight sharks monitored with tags that transmit their location to Mr Elliott’s computer, but only one of two fitted with tags that also record depth and water temperature.

“This guy went from the Coromandel out into the Bay of Plenty area and went about 100km off the Bay of Plenty. There he’s in 2000m of water at a big … underwater volcano, and for some reason he realised that he wants to go down for a dive – so he went from the surface water down to the deepest recorded depth a blue shark has ever gone.”

The previous record was held by a 1.8m female blue shark tagged in Portugal. She dived to 1160m.

Bodhi was probably chasing squid – 60 per cent of a blue shark’s diet – when he made the dive, said Mr Elliott.

“It’s unusual for sharks to dive so deep. They usually stay in the top layer of water because it isn’t efficient for an animal to do that unless they’re getting a reward, so that further supports the idea that it’s foraging.”

Mr Elliott’s study was the first of its kind in NZ waters, and such finds so early on are encouraging.

“He did 90m more which isn’t a great amount but the fact that he’s only been tagged for about three weeks and is still in coastal waters and has recorded a depth deeper than ever recorded means he’ll probably dive deeper throughout the one to three years the tag should keep giving me information.”

Professor John Montgomery, Mr Elliott’s supervisor and Leigh Marine Laboratory director, said the record was likely to be one of many to come from the work.

“I suspect this is the first of a number of very interesting findings that will come out of this study,” he said. “There’s a whole new wave of technology coming out with respect to those tags which provide really new insights into what those animals are doing and where they are.”

Mr Elliott hoped his research would increase knowledge about sharks and their behaviour and aid shark conservation projects.

Record-setting shark

• 2.5m male blue shark named Bodhi.
• Satellite tagged off Castle Rock, Coromandel, three weeks ago.
• Dived 1250m deep off Bay of Plenty coast on Tuesday.
• Previous record was 1160m dived by a 1.8m female shark tagged in Portugal.

One Boston teenage terrorist, and everyone’s civil liberties

This video is called Syria War: Rebels Joined By Chechnya Islamic Militants In ‘Jihad’ Against Assad.

After uncertainty who had committed the Boston bomb atrocity, attention is now focused on one suspect: critically wounded nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a United States citizen. He is called Chechen. But it seems he never was in Chechnya, a republic within the Russian federation. He spent the last, most recent, half of his life in the USA. And the first half, it seems, in the Russian federation republic of Dagestan, and in the independent former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. It also seems that the Tsarnaev family is not only of Chechen, but also of Avar ancestry.

From ABC News in the USA:

Czech Republic Ambassador: Don’t Confuse Us With Chechnya

Apr 20, 2013 9:18am

The Czech Republic and Chechnya are nearly 2,000 miles apart, but that didn’t stop people from mixing up their geography.

The Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers, are of Chechen ethnicity. When the similar sounding Czech Republic, a country in Central Europe, began getting buzz online, the country’s ambassador to the United States stepped in to clear up the social media confusion.

“The Czech Republic is trending because idiots are confusing it with Chechnya. If you’re not sure whether to laugh or cry, cry,” Chris Jones, a writer for Esquire and back-page columnist for ESPN The Magazine tweeted.

This reminds me of at least two things. First, people now attacking Czechs for the horrible Boston bombing are of course idiots. But one should also not attack Chechens in general for criminal acts, it seems, of only two people who apparently never lived in Chechnya.

The other thing these idiots now attacking Czechs remind me of is Islamophobes in the USA (and elsewhere). The impact of hysteria and violence against Muslims (overwhelmingly Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism) was and is not limited to Muslims. It also hurts people who are not Muslims at all. But who are “Muslims” in the eyes of “idiots” (to quote the ABC article on anti-Czech hysteria). People like Sikhs, or Hindus.

Some background on the Chechen issue. Chechens had and have legitimate grievances against Russian czars, who conquered Chechnya in the nineteenth century, and against later Soviet and Russian governments. These grievances have been abused. During Hitler’s 1941-1945 war against the Soviet Union, the nazis tried to steer Chechens in the direction of extreme nationalism, violence and fanatical forms of Islam. Soon after that, during the Cold War, the CIA and other Western secret services tried to steer Chechens in the direction of extreme nationalism, violence and fanatical forms of Islam. Like they also did in Afghanistan.

Very recently, Chechen “Jihadi” fighters were allies of NATO countries in the war in Libya. At the moment, they are allies of NATO countries in the war in Syria.

By Alex Lantier and Kate Randall in the USA:

Bombing suspect captured after military-police lockdown of Boston

20 April 2013

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in Monday’s bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, was captured yesterday after a massive manhunt by law enforcement agencies. Thousands of National Guard troops, FBI and other federal agents, and state and local police placed Boston in an unprecedented lockdown yesterday, after Dzhokhar, 19, and his brother Tamerlan, 26, engaged in a firefight with police.

In the space of a few hours, a major American city was transformed into a virtual armed camp and placed under the equivalent of martial law. The massive scale of the military and police mobilization—replete with Blackhawk helicopters, armored vehicles with machine guns, and SWAT teams pointing automatic weapons—seemed vastly disproportionate to the threat posed by one teenage youth.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, issued a “shelter in place” order early Friday, shut down Boston’s mass transit, and recommended that businesses close. According to the “shelter in place” order, Boston residents had to stay inside with their doors locked and not open them to anyone but a properly identified police officer. The order was progressively extended over some 100 square miles of the Boston metropolitan area, covering approximately 1 million people.

Heavily-armed forces swarmed the city’s empty streets. Local reporters compared the scene to videos of US-occupied Baghdad.

Particularly in Watertown, police went house to house, carrying out searches with assault rifles drawn. The New York Times commented, “Watertown found itself an odd combination of ghost town and police state on Friday morning.”

Bus service between New York and Boston was shut down, and Amtrak train service north of New York City was halted. Taxis were ordered off the streets during the morning hours. The Boston Bruins hockey and Red Sox baseball games were cancelled.

Area universities—including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Suffolk University, Boston College and University of Massachusetts-Boston—were closed. UMass-Dartmouth, where the younger bombing suspect was a student, was shut down and evacuated, with some students with nowhere to go housed at the local high school. Area public schools were already closed for vacation.

Late Thursday afternoon, police had released videos from security cameras showing the suspects leaving bags near the scene of the bombing. According to the authorities, the Tsarnaev brothers carjacked a Mercedes sports utility vehicle later Thursday night, and police pursued them to the northwest Boston suburb of Watertown. Tamerlan was mortally wounded in a firefight with police, during which he reportedly hurled explosives, and died at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital at 1:35 AM Friday. Dzhokhar fled the scene of the shoot-out.

According to early media reports, police had identified the Tsarnaev brothers as suspects after video emerged of a robbery at a convenience store at 10 PM Thursday. Shortly afterwards, a campus security officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sean Collier, was found dead, shot in his police cruiser. A mass transit security officer was also shot and seriously wounded.

In a video interview with Russia Today, the brothers’ mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, said she believed her sons had been “set up.” She claimed that the FBI had “controlled” her son Tamerlan over a period of three to five years, monitoring his Internet use and repeatedly visiting their house to question him.

Late yesterday evening, the FBI confirmed that it had interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 at the request of an unidentified foreign government.

Bostonians had been told the “shelter in place” order was necessary because they had at all costs to avoid Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was described as “armed and dangerous.” At 6 PM yesterday, however, Patrick suddenly lifted the “shelter in place” order at a press conference attended by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts Police Colonel Timothy Alben, although they had not apprehended Tsarnaev or any other suspect. They did not explain why they considered the streets to be safer after their press conference than before.

Alben also contradicted earlier reports that the Tsarnaev brothers had carried out the armed robbery at the convenience store.

Shortly after the lifting of the order, however, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding under a tarp in a boat in the backyard of a private home in Watertown, covered in blood. Tactical police forces were called in, set up a perimeter, and fired a series of shots at Tsarnaev before taking him into custody and placing him in an ambulance. He is reportedly in critical condition.

Later in the evening, television outlets showed large numbers of people leaving their homes in relief and celebrating in the streets of Boston.

In carrying out this extraordinary and sinister police state exercise, the Obama administration, the military, the police and state and local officials relied on the media to create a climate of fear and anxiety so as to discourage careful consideration by the public of its long-term implications.

Notwithstanding the horrific character of the crimes involved in the Boston bombings, these implications are very real. The staggering police-military mobilization was clearly the result of years of planning and coordination between various military, intelligence and police agencies that have been relentlessly built up in the decade since the 9/11 attacks. It is now clear that, based purely on their say-so, a major American city can be placed under what would have been called, in a Latin American military dictatorship, a state of siege.

The events in Boston have lifted the veil on the degree to which, behind an eroding veneer of democracy, American society has been thoroughly militarized.

A Twitter message by Ingeborg Senneset from Norway:

Post July 22nd, Norway gave Breivik a good lawyer, a fair trial and human punishment. He took 77 lives, but we kept our dignity.

Boston Marathon suspect may never be able to be questioned, mayor says. Surviving suspect’s injuries prevent him from communicating as FBI faces scrutiny over contact with Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011: here.

Unanswered questions in Boston bombings: here.

5 of the worst reactions to the Boston manhunt, starring Ann Coulter, and Sen. Chuck Grassley: here.

Too early to jump to conclusions over Boston terror bombing: here.

Information coming to light about the background of the Boston Marathon bombings raises many questions about the relationship of US intelligence agencies to the alleged bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: here.