99-year-old-women’s 100 meter running world record

This video says about itself:

15 August 2014

A 99-year-old woman from New York is claiming a new record as the fastest sprinter of her age over 100 metres. Ida Keeling took part in the race at the Gay Games in Akron, Ohio on Tuesday, 12 August. She finished last, but her daughter and coach, Shelley Keeling, claimed that no woman her mother’s age has ever recorded a quicker time in an internationally-certified race – 59.8 seconds.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

99-year-old sets sprint record at Gay Games

Great-great-grandmother becomes first in her age class to run race

Andrew Griffin

Sunday 17 August 2014

A 99-year-old woman set a 100m sprint record at the Gay Games this week, becoming the first person woman in her age category to go the distance in an internationally-certified race.

Ida Keeling, from New York, completed the race in 59.8 seconds at the ninth Gay Games, which were held in Ohio last week.

“I’m running from old age and arthritis,” Keeling told the local Akron Beacon Journal before the race. “Believe me!”

Keeling came last in the race, but finished to a huge cheer from spectators. USA Track & Field, which represents US athletes and tracks spring records, does not yet have an entry for any group older than 90-94.

Ida has set records when she ran a 60m race in 2011, when she was 95, and again two years later.

Keeling took up running when she was 67, in part as refuge from the sadness of losing her two sons in separate drug-related killings. She started the sport at the urging of her daughter, Shelley Keeling, who is now her coach.

Ida and Shelley had also planned to run a 400m relay earlier in the week, but opted not to after bad weather left the track wet.

The Gay Games were held between August 9 and August 16, and saw around 10,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes from more than 60 countries compete in Cleveland and Akron, in Ohio.

North American mastodons and mammoths, new study

This video from the USA is about mastodons and mammoths.

From LiveScience:

Mammoths and Mastodons of the Ohio Valley Were Homebodies

By Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | July 28, 2014 01:55pm ET

People may imagine mammoths and mastodons as enormous beasts that roamed the vast North American continent more than 10,000 years ago. But the mammoths and mastodons of present-day southwestern Ohio and northwestern Kentucky were homebodies that tended to stay in one area, a new study finds.

The enamel on the animals’ molars gave researchers clues as to where the mammoths and mastodons lived throughout their lives and what they ate. They discovered that mammoths ate grasses and sedges, whereas mastodons preferred leaves from trees or shrubs. Mammoths favored areas near retreating ice sheets, where grasses were plentiful, and mastodons fed near forested spaces, the researchers said.

“I suspect that this was a pretty nice place to live, relatively speaking,” lead researcher Brooke Crowley, an assistant professor of geology and anthropology at the University of Cincinnati, said in a statement. “Our data suggest that animals probably had what they needed to survive here year-round.” [Image Gallery: Stunning Mammoth Unearthed]

Both animals, now extinct, likely came to North America across the Bering Strait land bridge that connected Alaska to Russia when sea levels were lower than they are today, Crowley told Live Science in an email.

Mammoths — which had teeth ideal for grinding grasses, as well as curved tusks and humped heads — are more closely related to elephants than mastodons are, Crowley said. Mammoths came to North America during the mid-Pleistocene Epoch, about 1 million years ago, she added.

Mastodons arrived much earlier. They had spread across America by the Pliocene Epoch, around 5 million years ago. Their molars were shaped to crush plants, such as leaves and woody stems, and they had long, straight tusks that could grow up to 16 feet (4.9 meters) long, Crowley said.

In the study, the researchers looked at the remnants of carbon, oxygen and strontium, a naturally occurring metal, in the enamel of molars from eight mammoths and four mastodons that lived in Ohio and Kentucky about 20,000 years ago.

The carbon analysis helped researchers learn about the animals’ diet, whereas the traces of oxygen told them about the general climate at the time. Strontium provides insights into how much the animal traveled as their molars developed. Researchers can look at the type of strontium within the enamel and determine where it came from by comparing it to local samples of strontium in the environment.

“Strontium reflects the bedrock geology of a location,” Crowley said. This means that if a local animal has traces of strontium in its tooth, researchers can deduce where that type of strontium came from in the area. “If an animal grows its tooth in one place and then moves elsewhere, the strontium in its tooth is going to reflect where it came from, not where it died,” she said.

Surprisingly, the researchers said, the strontium in the mammoth and mastodon teeth matched local water samples in 11 of the 12 mammals. Only one mastodon appeared to have traveled from another area before settling in the Ohio Valley.

The findings, however, only apply to the animals that lived in that region. “A mammoth in Florida did not behave the same as one in New York, Wyoming, California, Mexico or Ohio,” Crowley said.

The study was published July 16 in the journal Boreas.

Bermuda bluebirds in trouble

This video from Maine in the USa is called Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebird.

From the University of Chicago in the USA today:

Bluebirds struggle to find happiness on island paradise

55 minutes ago

Island plants and animals are often different from their mainland relatives. In general, the lack of top predators and large herbivores on isolated oceanic islands influences traits of island organisms. Consider, for example, the dodo: this island-dwelling, flightless bird was so fearless that it was hunted to extinction by humans within 200 years of first contact. Human interaction is just one threat to conservation. Differences in the threats posed by pathogens and parasites may also be important for conservation of today’s extinction-prone island populations.

Eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) are familiar to many people living in the eastern United States, and also to residents and tourists in Bermuda, an archipelago with a total area of about 54 square kilometers that lies in the North Atlantic about 1,100 km off the East Coast of the United States. Although the current outlook for the bluebirds in the U.S. is good, their Bermuda relatives have been designated as threatened and vulnerable.

Comparisons of island and continental bird populations can offer new insights to people interested in conserving island birds. We compared island (Bermuda) and continental (Ohio, U.S.) populations of the Eastern bluebird, studying these birds from egg to adult. We investigated how nestlings and adults differed in growth, size and shape, immune function, numbers of eggs and nestlings that pairs produce, and how frequently parents deliver food to their young. We also attempted to identify differences between continental and island birds that, either individually or as part of a broader phenomenon, might intensify the risks of decline typically associated with small and geographically isolated populations, such as the Bermuda bluebirds.

Our study showed that bluebirds in Bermuda differed in a variety of ways from bluebirds in Ohio. For example, adults in Bermuda were lighter weight and had longer wings than the Ohio birds. These differences contrast with the usual changes associated with small animals living on isolated islands. Parents fed their nestlings at equal rates throughout the season in both locations. However, island nestlings grew slower and, as the breeding season progressed, more chicks died in their nests in Bermuda, though no similar seasonal pattern was observed in Ohio. Overall, our results suggest that the Bermuda bluebirds may be adjusted to certain aspects of the island environment but not to others.

Efforts to conserve Bermuda bluebirds may be improved by focusing on the intraseasonal patterns in nestling mortality and, more generally, the survival rates of birds of all ages. Furthermore, conservation planners in Bermuda may benefit by considering the consequences of (1) introduced mammalian and avian predators and competitors and their removal and (2) human-driven changes in populations of the insects that bluebirds eat and feed their chicks. These factors may not only affect survival and mortality rates but may also shape bluebird physiology and reproduction. Ultimately, our study highlights the value of considering the match between an organism, its environment, and its evolutionary history on a population-specific scale. Without this context, identifying detrimental trends is a more challenging proposition.

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Botched death penalty in Ohio, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

16 Jan 2014

A condemned Ohio inmate appeared to gasp several times and took more than 15 minutes to die Thursday as he was executed with a combination of drugs never before tried in the U.S.

Death row inmate Dennis McGuire made several loud snorting or snoring sounds during one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.

In attempting to halt his execution with the new method, McGuire’s attorneys had argued last week he was at substantial risk of “agony and terror” while straining to catch his breath as he experienced a medical phenomenon known as air hunger.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Ohio prisoner suffers horrific death in botched execution

17 January 2014

An execution carried out Thursday morning, using an experimental two-drug mixture, resulted in 53-year-old Ohio death row inmate Dennis McGuire writhing in agony for 25 minutes before being pronounced dead.

McGuire’s lawyers last week sought to halt the execution. They argued that the use of an untried lethal combination of drugs could lead to a medical condition known as “air hunger” and cause McGuire to suffer “agony and terror” while struggling to breathe. That is apparently what happened, as the prisoner made loud snorting noises before finally succumbing.

At a January 12 hearing on the new execution procedure, the state’s expert, Dr. Mark Dershwitz, said, “I truly don’t know how many minutes it will take the inmate to stop breathing.” He added, “There is no science to guide me on exactly how long this is going to take.”

In opposing the prisoner’s motion, Assistant Ohio Attorney General Thomas Madden argued that while the US Constitution bans cruel and unusual punishment, “you’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.”

US District Judge Gregory Frost ruled in favor of the state, allowing the execution to go forward as scheduled.

Allen Bohnert, McGuire’s public defender, called the convicted man’s execution a “failed, agonizing experiment,” and added, “The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their name.”

McGuire had been on death row for several decades after being found guilty in the 1989 rape and murder of 22-year-old Joy Stewart. The victim was pregnant at the time of the attack. He was recently denied a stay of execution by Republican Governor John Kasich. McGuire’s lawyers argued that the prisoner had been mentally, physically and sexually abused as a child and had impaired brain function.

Authorities suspect that the cause of the botched procedure was the state’s decision to use a two-drug serum consisting of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. The standard three-drug combination of potassium chloride, pancuronium bromide and pentobarbital had been discontinued by the state after drug manufacturers began refusing to provide substances used for executions.

Witnesses said that after the initial dosage was given, no visible motion from McGuire could be noted until, after ten minutes had passed, he began making “several loud snorting or snoring sounds.” He was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m.

A local reporter said McGuire’s family, present at the procedure, was “crying and visibly upset.” Amber McGuire, the daughter, cried out, “Oh my god,” as her father writhed in his final moments.

Ohio has five more executions scheduled this year, with the next set for February 19.

Nearly all 32 US states that administer the death penalty rely on lethal drug combinations for executions. “In the old three-drug combination, each drug was being used for what it was designed for,” said Dr. Jonathan Groner, a lethal injections expert who teaches clinical surgery at Ohio State University, speaking to the Nation magazine. “Ohio is taking drugs that are normally used for things like a colonoscopy, and they’re giving massive overdoses to kill people. They’re using them for their toxic side effects,” he added.

There are 138 inmates on death row in Ohio. Despite a general decline in the number of people being put to death by authorities across the US, Ohio has increased its use of capital punishment. Its six executions in 2013 and six planned for this year are surpassed only by Texas and Florida.

The first four US executions this year are all employing never-before-tried compounds. Last week in Oklahoma, Michael Lee Wilson was quoted by newspapers as exclaiming, “I feel my whole body burning,” as he was administered the fatal mixture that ended his life.

Republican Senator Bruce Burns of Wyoming in a comment to the press this week said he would propose legislation to re-introduce firing squads as a means of execution.

Fueling these fascistic sentiments is an effort by states to find cheaper ways of administering lethal drugs to prisoners. Many states have turned to using federally unregulated compounding pharmacies to mix their concoctions. Ohio had reportedly purchased its drugs from one such vendor.

The proper response to the atrocity committed Thursday in Ohio is to criminally prosecute and convict all of the state officials responsible for McGuire’s execution, and to impeach and prosecute the federal judge who denied the prisoner’s motion for a stay of execution.

The family of a death row inmate is planning a lawsuit against the state of Ohio following his botched execution. Dennis McGuire was put to death using an untested combination of medical drugs that appeared to cause him prolonged distress, in violation of the US Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment: here.

Dennis McGuire, 53, was put to death on Thursday, January 16, in the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. News of McGuire’s execution—and details of the gruesome manner in which authorities carried out his death sentence—have evoked disgust and revulsion in the US and internationally: here.

“Oklahoma prison officials halted an inmate’s execution on Tuesday after a new drug combination left the man writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney, before he later died of a heart attack. Clayton Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of the state’s new three-drug lethal injection combination was administered. Three minutes later, though, he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.” A local reporter on the scene tweeted about the horrorific proceedings. CNN has some facts about the state of the death penalty, which is gradually declining in the U.S. The debate over capital punishment has been reignited. And Vox documents how botched executions have been around for a long, long time. [AP]

Oklahoma death row prisoner Charles Warner’s execution was postponed at the last minute yesterday evening after fellow prisoner Clayton Lockett’s execution was botched: here.

Oklahoma execution: Clayton Lockett was tasered by guards before lethal injection: here.

An injection of chemicals used to execute death row inmates can cause such excruciating pain that veterinarians are banned from using them to put down animals, according to one of the most thorough reviews ever undertaken of the administration of the death penalty: here.

US state of Oklahoma botches execution carried out using untested cocktail of drugs: here.

In the face of numerous manufacturers’ refusal to produce drugs used in executions, many US states, in efforts to continue the grisly ordeal of capital punishment, have begun relying on chemicals formulated in unregulated compounding facilities: here.

Texas executes Mexican national in defiance of international law: here.

“More than 4 percent of inmates sentenced to death in the United States are probably innocent, according to a study published Monday that sent shock waves across the anti-death penalty community. What the researchers call a ‘conservative estimate’ about the number of wrongfully convicted death row inmates is more than double the percentage of capital defendants who were exonerated during more than three decades that were studied.” Here’s a short graphic on the history of the death penalty in the United States, as well as a graphic breakdown of the death penalty around the world. The Economist also maps out the death penalty broken down by state. [HuffPost].

“Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said. The findings troubled the bureau, and it stopped the review of convictions last August. Case reviews resumed this month at the order of the Justice Department, the officials said…The inquiry includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s in which the FBI’s hair and fiber unit reported a match to a crime-scene sample before DNA testing of hair became common. The FBI had reviewed about 160 cases before it stopped, officials said.” [Washington Post]

A major inquiry conducted by the US Justice Department (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has found hundreds instances in which FBI forensic units charged with gathering data on cases involving violent crimes provided false information. The doctored FBI lab reports led to the imprisonment of thousands of innocent people, some of whom were executed, according to a report Wednesday in the Washington Post: here.

Snowy owl’s escape from death

This video from Pennsylvania in the USA says about itself:

15 Dec 2013

Snowy owl in Lancaster City

View article here.

By Jim McCormac in Ohio in the USA:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A very lucky Snowy Owl, and an owl in prison

With well over 100 Snowy Owls thus far reported in Ohio – biggest irruption in many decades – interesting stories are bound to arise. These birds draw lots of attention, and nearly everyone who has the fortune of seeing one is suitably impressed. An upshot of the owls’ conspicuousness and popularity is that we get lots of reports from people that aren’t in the birding network. That allows a better tally and more thorough documentation of an invasion (to use a much overused descriptor) that we aren’t likely to see on this scale for decades, if history is a guideline.

One downside, for the owls, is that nearly all of them are juveniles, and utterly unfamiliar with vehicles. Couple that naiveté with their propensity to hunt near roads, and fly close to the ground, and owl-vehicle strikes will happen. I’ve heard of at least four cases of Snowy Owls killed in collisions with vehicles so far, and some say that this is the biggest cause of mortality for owls south of the breeding grounds, at least in populous areas.

Snowy owl

So, when I first saw these photos, I was bummed – another owl gets grilled. But a quick skim of the email they were attached to reveals a happy ending, it seems. The gentleman was driving along a rural Wood County road when the owl came out of nowhere and bashed into the front of his pickup truck.

Snowy owl

The collision was hard enough to crack one of the slats in the grill – these birds can weigh 4-5 lbs, or more – and the owl popped right through and was stuck between the grill and the engine compartment. But it is still alive, and fortunate indeed that the right guy was driving the truck.

Snowy owl

The driver quickly worked the owl free, and placed it on the passenger seat in the warm cab of the truck. While the bird was undoubtedly a bit dazed and confused, and some feathers appear out of place, it doesn’t look too worse for the wear. Anyway, while the guy was no doubt pondering what to do with the animal, it shook itself off, and darted out the door. The driver reports that it flew strongly across the fields, and out of sight. Here’s hoping it suffered no lasting damage. If it had to collide with a vehicle, it’s probably good that it happened to be this one, as many people probably wouldn’t have been able to deal with the situation rapidly, and successfully extricate the bird.

UPDATE: This same owl, apparently, is doing well and hunting in the same area, at least as of January 1. Look for it near the junction of South Dixie Highway and State Route 281 in Wood County, not far south of the town of Rudolph.

This video comes from one of Ohio’s prisons, and offers an interesting choice of habitats. The person who made the video reports that there are plenty of fields and wide-open habitats around the facility, and they are hopeful that the bird will stay for a while. It’s pretty cool to see the big white owl cruise right over the concertina wire.

Snowy Owls continue to turn up in new spots about every day, with at least 113 reported in 39 counties to date. An update and map are RIGHT HERE.

Meanwhile, another snowy owl is today still on Vlieland island in the Netherlands.

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Prothonotary warbler nest boxes in the USA

This video from the USA is called Prothonotary Warbler singing in a tree.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Ohio Young Birders Club and the Prothonotary Warbler Nest Box Service Project

By Kimberly Kaufman and Darlene Sillick

Under the guidance of one of Ohio’s leading bird conservationists, Darlene Sillick, student members of the Ohio Young Birders Club (OYBC) conducted a service project to install Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes at the Hoover Nature Preserve (HNP) near Columbus, Ohio. The Prothonotary Warbler Nest Box Project was the result of the commitment of the OYBC’s Central Ohio Chapter to doing more service projects. They learned that a severe wind storm in late June caused significant wind damage to the trees supporting up to 50 Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes at Hoover Nature Preserve. They discussed what they could do to help and decided to get involved by raising funds to buy wood and supplies to build boxes, and then installing the boxes. In early October, the OYBC Central Ohio Chapter built 40 boxes. They suggested that participants at the annual Ohio Young Birders Conference could complete the remaining boxes. They also felt participating in this project would help educate people about the plight of this lovely warbler. The students wanted to make sure these beautiful birds find a place to call home when they return in April 2013.

On Saturday, November, 3, 2012, Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm in Dayton, Ohio, hosted the Sixth Annual Ohio Young Birders Conference. A crowd of nearly 140 people were treated to 11 outstanding student presentations. Topics included camps and career opportunities for young birders, the value of citizen science, and why bird conservation matters. The keynote speaker was Benjamin Van Doren, a freshman at Cornell University. In addition to the presentations, conference attendees also built the remaining 40 Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes for the project. On November 11, OYBC student members and adult volunteers installed dozens of the new boxes at Hoover Nature Preserve. Dedicated volunteer Charlie Bombaci, whose many years of service have made Hoover Nature Preserve a model of success for the Prothonotary Warblers, reports being thrilled that the young birders have decided to take on this project and “pay it forward” for the good of the species.

The Ohio Young Birders Club was founded in 2006 by Black Swamp Bird Observatory. For more information, visit the OYBC website at www.ohioyoungbirders.org. For more information about the Central Ohio Chapter, visit Columbus Audubon Society at www.columbusaudubon.org.