Archive for 08/15/2011

Our Amazing Planet –

Clues about changes in sea level rise have been found in an unlikely place: the mountains of Texas.

Rocks from the fossil Permian Reef in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas reveal secrets about changes in sea level and marine life 265 million years ago, according to a new study.

Improved understanding of this ancient reef could shed light on the effects of environmental change on living systems, a concern for coral reefs in today’s warming world.

Much like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which stretches across more than 1,600 miles (2,754 kilometers) and is so large it can be seen from space, the Permian Reef was a massive reef that grew in shallow tropical waters 265 million years ago.

“The ancient reef grew in water just below sea level and it overlooked the Permian Basin, which was more than 1,000 feet [305 meters] deep,” said study author Thomas Olszewski of Texas A&M in College Station. “The rocks at the foot of the mountains preserve sediments that record natural environmental changes caused by changing sea level and climate.”

These valuable rocks can show a record of past events in Earth history, and in the Permian Reef geologists can clearly see evidence for numerous rises and falls of sea level, Olszewski said.

“Living organisms tend to be very sensitive to changes in their environment, and by examining the reef’s fossil ecosystem, it is possible to piece together the way they changed over the millions of years it took for the sediments to accumulate,” Olszewski said. “From the fossils preserved in these rock layers, we can get a good idea of how the ecosystems responded to environmental changes over millions of years.”

The findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B and Palaios.

John Konrad –

In November of last year Rick Ehlert, a passenger on Holland America’s Ryndam, did something incredibly stupid. Drunk and in a mischievous mood Mr. Ehlert broke into the ship’s control room, threw over a life ring then proceeded to deploy the ship’s anchor… while the vessel was underway.

Normally this act of sabatouge would be difficult to trace back to the perpetrator but, according to the FBI, it was all caught on tape. The FBI’s report further states that Ehlert “approaching the anchor, then touching the anchor, and then taking multiple steps to deploy it.”

And how did Elhert know how to deploy the anchor? Well he also happen to be a  wealthy California businessman (he runs RV dealerships) and owner of a 50′ yacht which, apparently, has an anchor so large it uses a similar which system.

According to his lawyer,  Daniel L. Castillo, Ehlert has admitted to the act and the Tampa Tribune reports. “I guess he thought it was a big joke,” Castillo said.  “He’s not denying he did it.”

Ehlert has been indicted for “attempting to damage, destroy, disable, or wreck a vessel” and attempting “to cause damage to a ship which is likely to endanger the safe navigation of that ship”, felony charges that carry a maximum prison term of 20 years, although the Tribune reports that prosecutors suggest they expect him to receive probation.

Full story…

Rob Almeida –

On August 18, 2010, the South Korean fishing vessel, Oyang 70, capsized and sank while working in the New Zealand´s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), resulting in the loss of six lives.  Information provided by the survivors revealed a number of labor and human rights violations aboard the vessel, and suggested this type of abuse was not just limited to the Oyang 70.

Now, an investigation by the University of Auckland has revealed Indonesian fisherman working on Korean-owned vessels in New Zealand waters have found themselves subject to unbelievably savage work conditions and treatment at the hands of their Korean officers.

“Officers are vicious bastards … factory manager just rapped this 12kg stainless steel pan over his head, splits the top of his head, blood pissing out everywhere…,” one informant told the University of Auckland.

Written by Management and International Business staff Dr Christina Stringer and Glenn Simmons, the report documents substandard conditions, verbal and physical abuse, sexual harassment, intimidation and threats, and absence of responsibility suffered by crew onboard particularly Korean fishing vessels.

Their research alleges:

  • Crew often beaten for little or no reason
  • Inhumane punishment such as being made to stand on deck for hours without food or water in extreme weather conditions
  • Sexual harassment, including rape
  • Fatigue causing accidents and injuries, and lack of protective or safety gear
  • Intimidation and threats involving crew and their families
  • Substandard conditions including little or no heating, drinking water a brownish rusty colour, food supplies rationed, crew fed fish bait
  • Denied medical treatment and accidents covered up or not reported
  • Muslim workers called dogs, monkeys and other names.

“In the old days, slaves were not paid and chained, now we are paid and trapped…but we are worse than slaves,” one of the 143 crew or observers interviewed in New Zealand and Indonesia told the researchers.

Full story…