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Transocean To Pay $1.4 Billion In Gulf Oil Spill Settlement

Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig where 11 men died in April 2010, has agreed to pay $1.4 billion in criminal and civil penalties to resolve Justice Department allegations over its role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. >> Read the Full Article

The Thick Haze of Cairo

The air quality in downtown Cairo is more than 10 to 100 times of acceptable world standards. Cairo has a very poor dispersion factor because of lack of rain and its layout of tall buildings and narrow streets, which create a bowl like effect that traps pollutants. The main air pollution problem in Egypt is the particulate matter. The most notable sources of the dust and small particles is transportation, industry and open-air waste-burning. Another significant source is the wind blowing dust from dry arid areas into the city. The air in Egypt tends to be gray with a thick haze over Cairo. Two years ago when the Egyptian government began fully implementing taxis run on natural gas, there was much praise and fanfare. Air pollution was at monumental levels in the Egyptian capital Cairo and something was needed to curtail the growing problem that was leading to health hazards, including a dramatic rise in cases of asthma among young adults. While the country’s burgeoning taxis have largely made the switch to natural gas, congestion and poor maintenance continues to see air pollution one of the biggest problems facing everyday Egyptians. >> Read the Full Article

Beware Spice Abuse

While you're busy putting finishing touches on the holiday meal, your teenagers and pre-teen kids might have other ideas about how to use the season's aromatic spices and other ingredients. And the results could be dangerous. >> Read the Full Article

200,000 Acres Protected for Southwestern Willow Flycatchers in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada

In response to litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife today designated 208,973 acres, along 1,227 miles of river, as protected critical habitat for endangered southwestern willow flycatchers, small, rare songbirds that depend on desert rivers to survive. The protected habitat was established in six states — California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada — along several well-known rivers, including the Rio Grande, Gila, Virgin, Santa Ana, San Diego and others. >> Read the Full Article

Addressing Climate Change Will Cost Less if Done Sooner

An agreement by almost 200 nations to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 will be far more costly than taking action now to tackle climate change, a new report says. Quick measures to cut emissions would give a far better chance of keeping global warming within an agreed UN limit of 2o Celsius above pre-industrial times to avert more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels. "If you delay action by 10, 20 years you significantly reduce the chances of meeting the 2º target," said Keywan Riahi, one of the authors of the report at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria. >> Read the Full Article

Geo-Engineering

With policymakers and political leaders increasingly unable to control global climate change, more scientists are considering the use of other engineering approaches other than control at the source to reduce warming impact. The problem is whatever you do, it will have some impact somewhere and somehow. The impact may be good but it also may be bad. U University of Iowa law professor believes the legal ramifications of this kind of geo-engineering need to be thought through in advance and a global governance structure put in place soon to oversee these efforts. >> Read the Full Article

Extreme Weather Delays Efforts to Regain Control of Run-aground Oil Rig

On Monday night, an oil drilling rig owned by Dutch Royal Shell ran aground on Sitkalidak Island in southern Alaska, prompting fears of an oil spill. As of yesterday no oil was seen leaking from the rig according to the Coast Guard, but efforts to secure the rig have floundered due to extreme weather. The rig, dubbed Kulluk, contains over 140,000 gallons of diesel fuel. The incident occurred when harsh weather caused the rig to break free from a ship that was towing the Kulluk from the Arctic back to its winter headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Rescuers quickly evacuated. >> Read the Full Article

Early Predictor for Glaucoma Identified

Glaucoma is an eye disease which involves damage to the optic nerve. It can lead to permanent vision damage and lead to blindness if left untreated. Glaucoma often, but not always, involves increase fluid pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure. A new study has found that certain changes in blood vessels in the retina may be an early warning that an individual has an increased risk of glaucoma. Researchers from the Australian Blue Mountains Eye Study showed that people with abnormally narrow retinal arteries at the beginning of their 10-year study were most likely to develop glaucoma by the end of the study. >> Read the Full Article

Jellyfish on Boom-Bust Cycle Worldwide

Though some reports suggest jellyfish are taking over the world's oceans, long-term records of these gelatinous animals fail to show a global increase in jellyfish blooms likely caused by pollution, warming, coastal development and other human influences. >> Read the Full Article

Comet ISON

Comets come and go over the ages. Some are bright enough to scare while others sort of dribble off into the inky cosmos. They are hard to predict but they can be detected a long way off. The newest discovery was made at the International Scientific Optical Network by two amateur astronomers in Russia who are credited with finding the object, and was subsequently named Comet ISON to give credit to the group who discovered it. It will be visible on Earth in late 2013 and the first few weeks of 2014. it has the potential of being bright and only time will tell. So something to think about as the year progresses. >> Read the Full Article