Rare ‘1-in-a-million’ Yellow Cardinal spotted in Alabama (PHOTOS)

By ethan / February 24, 2018

A rare, yellow-colored American Northern Cardinal was spotted in an Alabama backyard in January. The “one-in-a-million” cardinal has excited birdwatchers across the US.

Cardinals usually have red feathers. This bird, however, is a mustard-yellow color, likely due to a pigment mutation.

Charlie Stephenson first noticed the yellow bird in her garden in January. She told the Shelby County Reporter it has made almost daily visits to her backyard ever since.

“I was looking out the window and I saw it eating,” Stephenson said. “I realized that it was a cardinal and I ran to get my camera. I managed to get a quick photo before it flew up to high branch.”

Stephenson is a birdwatcher and knew she had spotted something special. “It’s exciting every time he comes to the back yard,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson contacted Auburn University biologist Geoffrey Hill who told her just how rare the cardinal was. “One-in-a-million” rare, Hill said, National Geographic reports.

Hill says the cardinal has xanthochroism, a genetic mutation which makes the pigments the bird gets from food yellow instead of red. However, there may be a more sinister reason behind the bird’s bright shade.

The National Audubon Society’s Geoff LeBaron told Audobon.org that, as the cardinal’s feathers appear frayed, it could be a sign of a poor diet or environmental stress. These factors can change the way birds express the pigments they consume. “Time will tell with this bird,” LeBaron said, explaining if the bird is still yellow next winter (after it has shed its old feathers), a genetic mutation is the most likely reason for the yellow color.

Yellow American Northern Cardinals are only seen about once a year in the US. There hasn’t been a documented sighting in five years.

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Mane attraction: Zoo baffled after 18yo lioness mysteriously acquires male hair

By ethan / February 24, 2018

Zoologists at Oklahoma City Zoo are scratching their heads after an elderly lioness suddenly sprouted a healthy looking mane around her head and neck.

The ‘exceptionally unusual’ spurt of fur in the 18-year-old African lioness, called Bridget, has left zookeepers baffled. Male lions develop manes at about one-year-old which are a product of increased production of the hormone testosterone.

Veterinary staff at the zoo first began to notice a change in its long-term resident last year. The mane developed over a nine-month period. No other male characteristics have been noticed in Bridget.

A blood sample has been taken from the lioness and will be compared with samples from Bridget’s 18-year-old sister Tia, who remains maneless. No other change has been detected in Bridget’s health but staff will continue to monitor her condition. Followers of the zoo have chimed in trying to solve the “curious case” of the lioness mane, with suggestions ranging from hormone imbalance to diet.

While it’s unusual for female lions to develop characteristics of a male it’s not entirely unheard of. In 2014, a group of five lionesses in the wilderness of Botswana were observed with manes and demonstrated male-like behaviours. Researchers put the behavior down to a genetic component as the lionesses came from the same pride and developed the manes at a young age.

Meanwhile, in 2011, a 13-year-old lioness at the National Zoo in South Africa began developing a mane. An issue with her ovaries resulted in excess testosterone production and once that was resolved, the mane receded.

Another factor that could also cause mane growth is a benign tumor located on the adrenal or pituitary gland, as these regulate hormones like testosterone. Bridget falls into the “geriatric” category of lions – the median life expectancy for lions is 16.9 years, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

READ MORE: ‘2016 strikes again’: Philly zoo euthanizes 25yo lioness for being too old & inactive

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NRA gives FCC chair Pai the ‘Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award’

By ethan / February 24, 2018

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai was given the NRA’s ‘Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award’ at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland Friday.

“Ajit Pai, as you probably already know, saved the Internet,” American Conservative Union (ACU) Executive Director Dan Schneider told the CPAC crowd when introducing Pai, as cited by The Hill. “As soon as President Trump came into office, President Trump asked Ajit Pai to liberate the Internet and give it back to you. Ajit Pai is the most courageous, heroic person that I know.”

Pai was initially scheduled to speak at the event but was instead presented with the award. The accolade, named after former NRA president Charlton Heston, is only awarded “when someone has stood up under pressure with grace and dignity and principled discipline,” said NRA board member Carolyn Meadows.

“Some people urged me to go for sacrifice bunts and singles and try to nibble around the edges — make some minor changes,” Pai said, as cited by Reuters. “But I don’t play small ball.”

The FCC voted in December to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules. The rules, which prevented Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking websites, throttling traffic or charging for prioritization, are technically still in force until April 23, when certain subsidiary sections take effect, but an official date for full repeal has yet to be set.

Pai received huge backlash for his repeal of the agency’s net neutrality rules, including segments on several major late night talk shows which garnered millions of views. He fired back with his own troll video which was widely derided online.

Pai was forced to cancel an appearance at the CES show in Las Vegas after receiving multiple death threats. In December, the official FCC vote to repeal net neutrality was briefly interrupted by a hoax bomb threat.

The award itself is a handmade Kentucky long gun, which allegedly could not be brought on stage but will be displayed in the NRA museum in Fairfax, Virginia. Previous recipients include Rush Limbaugh, Vice President Pence, and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

On Thursday, a total of 22 state attorneys filed a lawsuit to block the repeal. Fight for the Future, a group that backs net neutrality, also criticized the award, saying Pai’s decision is contrary to the NRA’s objectives.

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Cryptocurrencies pose serious threat to Bank of America according to its SEC filings

By ethan / February 24, 2018

Bank of America considers cryptocurrency a material risk to its business, public records reveal. The bank has made efforts to restrict its customers’ use of bitcoin and other virtual currencies.

In its annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the bank admitted cryptocurrency poses a competitive threat to its business on three separate occasions within the document. The bank said there is a risk that its customers could turn to cryptocurrencies adding that, “Clients may choose to conduct business with other market participants who engage in business or offer products in areas we deem speculative or risky, such as cryptocurrencies.”

The bank realizes the spread of cryptocurrencies and new payment systems could force the company to invest money to expand their offerings in order to remain competitive. The “widespread adoption of new technologies, including internet services, cryptocurrencies and payment systems, could require substantial expenditures to modify or adapt our existing products and services,” it said.

The bank also pointed to the difficulties cryptocurrencies pose when it comes to tracking funds as part of its responsibility to follow legal requirements like those on foreign corrupt practices, overseen by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, and other anti-money laundering regulations.

“Emerging technologies, such as cryptocurrencies, could limit our ability to track the movement of funds,” it said. “Our ability to comply with these laws is dependent on our ability to improve detection and reporting capabilities and reduce variation in control processes and oversight accountability.”

Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase have banned purchases of cryptocurrency on their credit cards, starting February. Bank of America has also placed restrictions on its Merrill Lynch brokerage clients when it comes to bitcoin-related investments, the Financial Times reports.

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NRA gives FCC chair Pai the ‘Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award’

By ethan / February 24, 2018

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai was given the NRA’s ‘Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award’ at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland Friday.

“Ajit Pai, as you probably already know, saved the Internet,” American Conservative Union (ACU) Executive Director Dan Schneider told the CPAC crowd when introducing Pai, as cited by The Hill. “As soon as President Trump came into office, President Trump asked Ajit Pai to liberate the Internet and give it back to you. Ajit Pai is the most courageous, heroic person that I know.”

Pai was initially scheduled to speak at the event but was instead presented with the award. The accolade, named after former NRA president Charlton Heston, is only awarded “when someone has stood up under pressure with grace and dignity and principled discipline,” said NRA board member Carolyn Meadows.

“Some people urged me to go for sacrifice bunts and singles and try to nibble around the edges — make some minor changes,” Pai said, as cited by Reuters. “But I don’t play small ball.”

The FCC voted in December to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules. The rules, which prevented Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking websites, throttling traffic or charging for prioritization, are technically still in force until April 23, when certain subsidiary sections take effect, but an official date for full repeal has yet to be set.

Pai received huge backlash for his repeal of the agency’s net neutrality rules, including segments on several major late night talk shows which garnered millions of views. He fired back with his own troll video which was widely derided online.

Pai was forced to cancel an appearance at the CES show in Las Vegas after receiving multiple death threats. In December, the official FCC vote to repeal net neutrality was briefly interrupted by a hoax bomb threat.

The award itself is a handmade Kentucky long gun, which allegedly could not be brought on stage but will be displayed in the NRA museum in Fairfax, Virginia. Previous recipients include Rush Limbaugh, Vice President Pence, and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

On Thursday, a total of 22 state attorneys filed a lawsuit to block the repeal. Fight for the Future, a group that backs net neutrality, also criticized the award, saying Pai’s decision is contrary to the NRA’s objectives.

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#BoycottFacebook: Social media giant criticized for ‘tone deaf’ VR shooter game at CPAC

By ethan / February 24, 2018

Facebook was slammed online for featuring a demo of a VR shooting game at its booth at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) event. Facebook soon removed the game in response to the negative reaction, however.

The demo included a game called Bullet Train, where players run around a train station killing enemies. The company was criticized for including the game so soon after the mass shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 17 people were killed.

People shared footage of the shooting game at the conference, which prompted the social media giant to respond. “We removed the demo & regret failing to do so at the start. We got this wrong,” Facebook VR Vice President Hugo Barra wrote on Twitter in response to the outrage.

“Our demos come w[ith] a standard set of content, some are action games w[ith] violence,” Barra added. “These shouldn’t have been present, especially in light of recent events & out of respect for the victims & their families.”

Many social media users were offended that the shooting game was included at the conservative event, where many of the attendees would be strong 2nd Amendment advocates. Social media users went as far as saying the company was “part of the problem” when it came to tackling the issue.

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Assange release unlikely as Ecuador says UK unwilling to mediate

By ethan / February 24, 2018

Ecuador said its efforts to negotiate with the UK over WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange’s exit from its embassy in London have failed. Assange has been living in the embassy since 2012.

Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told reporters on Friday that the UK was unwilling to take part in talks. “On the issue of mediation, I have to say very honestly that it has not been successful because two parties are needed to mediate… Ecuador is willing, but not necessarily the other party,” adding that Ecuador would “continue looking for mechanisms.”

Assange sought political asylum in 2012 in a bid to escape extradition to Sweden where he was wanted for questioning regarding allegations of sexual assault. Assange feared he would be extradited from Sweden to the US, where he’s wanted for publishing hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables and war logs leaked by whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Despite Ecuador’s efforts, which included making Assange a citizen in the hopes of granting him diplomatic immunity, the UK has proven unwilling to negotiate the Australian publisher’s exit from the country. An arrest warrant was issued for him via Interpol as part of Sweden’s investigation.

Assange challenged the warrants in court but was unsuccessful and subsequently entered the embassy, which was a breach of his bail conditions. In February, a UK court upheld the 2012 arrest warrant, despite the fact that Sweden dropped its case last May. 

The Trump administration has made its stance on Assange clear, despite Trump repeatedly citing his “love” for the whistleblowing organization during the 2016 presidential election.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “Assange’s arrest is a priority,” while CIA Director Mike Pompeo has made a number of statements about Assange, including calling him a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” He also claimed “Assange has no First Amendment rights” and that “the CIA is working to take down WikiLeaks.” Reuters reports a US government official said federal prosecutors are still pursuing a criminal investigation against WikiLeaks.

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‘Serious’ Russian influence: Ex-UKIP leader Farage admits to Russian (vodka) connection

By ethan / February 24, 2018

Nigel Farage opened up about his ‘liver-damaging links’ to Russia while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Friday, confessing that he has tossed back a few vodkas over the years.

“I’ve never been to Russia. I’ve never been to Moscow. I’ve never met a Russian operative or agent. I’ve never done business in Russia. I’ve never taken money from Russia,” the former UKIP leader told the annual conservative conference. But Farage conceded that he “may be guilty of drinking the odd Russian vodka.”

Noting that he was reportedly a “person of interest to the FBI,” Farage marveled at conspiracy theories linking himself to a shadowy Kremlin cabal tasked with undermining Western democracy.

“I’ve read that actually I’m the center of an international spider’s web,” Farage, a vocal Trump supporter credited with Brexit’s referendum victory, sarcastically said. “I’m the one person connecting Trump, Putin and Julian Assange. I’ve been running memory sticks back and forth, from the White House to the Kremlin, to Assange.”

READ MORE: Farage in the USA: ‘In the UK, people are beginning to get the Trump message’

During an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Farage also mocked “newspapers in America and the UK” who “say I colluded with the Russians.”

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China to topple United States as biggest nuclear-energy nation

By ethan / February 24, 2018

Beijing is forecast to triple its nuclear capacity in the next 20 years, ousting the US as number one nuclear-power producer, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“China is coming back strong. Today there are about 60 nuclear power plants under construction and more than one-third of them are in China. China is growing and as a result of that we’ll soon see China overtaking the United States as the Number 1 nuclear power in the world,” the IEA CEO Fatih Birol said, as quoted by Marketwatch.

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© Li An / Global Look Press

According to the IEA, the US, which has been the leader in the industry since the 1960s, is facing two problems that will lead to losing its lead. First, America isn’t investing enough in nuclear power (neither does Europe). Second, it’s not doing enough to extend the lifetime of existing plants.

“If it continues like that, the US nuclear capacity will go from 20 percent to 7 percent,” Birol said. The US nuclear industry will face the same drawbacks it sees in solar energy.

“China is learning by doing, bringing costs down and therefore they are now ready to export technology and are much more cost effective than others. And they challenge the established exporters such as the US, Japan, Korea and European countries,” he said.

Birol added that China will be the main driver for reshaping the energy market in the upcoming years.

“I will give you an example… Only five months ago the Chinese government took a decision to limit the use of coal and move to [liquefied natural gas]. As a result of that, Chinese LNG import increased more than 50 percent and LNG prices doubled from $ 6 to $ 12 dollars in Asia pacific region,” he said.

“When China changes, everything changes… The new China energy policies mean a new phase for the global energy markets,” he added.

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Russian bobsledder Sergeeva disqualified for doping, results at Olympics annulled – CAS

By ethan / February 24, 2018

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has disqualified bobsleigh athlete Nadezhda Sergeeva representing the Olympic Athletes (OAR) from Russia for violating the doping rules. Her results at the 2018 Olympics are annulled.

The CAS decision published on Saturday morning follows the Russian Bobsleigh Federation’s report on Sergeeva’s positive tests for a banned drug.

The banned substance is trimetazidine, according to the CAS, which also said the athlete “admitted the anti-doping rule violation.”

“She is disqualified from the women’s bobsleigh event at the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 and the results obtained by the team OAR Sergeeva/[her brakewoman] Kocherzhova at the same event are disqualified with all resulting consequences,” the main body for resolving legal disputes in international sport stated.

Sergeeva and her teammate, Anastasia Kocherzhova, placed 12th in the two-woman bobsled competition on Wednesday.

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