Alaska records more historic high temperatures


An intensely warm winter and spring are melting climate records across Alaska. The January-April 2016 period was an incredible 11 degrees above normal, setting the stage for a potentially unprecedented summer. (NOAA)

An intensely warm winter and spring are melting climate records across Alaska. The January-April 2016 period was an incredible 11 degrees above normal, setting the stage for a potentially unprecedented summer. (NOAA)

From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

The record heat that is baking Alaska is poised to smash a host of climate records in 2016, including the earliest snowmelt date at NOAA’s Barrow Observatory, the northernmost point in the nation.

Staff at the observatory reported snowmelt occurred May 13, the earliest snowmelt date in 73 years of record-keeping, beating the previous mark set in 2002 by a full 10 days.

The early melting follows a record-setting winter that saw temperatures average more than 11 degrees above normal for the 49th State, shattering the previous record set in 2015.  At 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Barrow is usually one of the last places in the United States to lose snow cover.

Snow is not the only thing that’s vanishing. Preliminary data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center indicate 2016 will set the record for minimum winter sea-ice extentoffsite link, eclipsing the 2015 mark. Satellite photos from mid-May depict an early sea-ice breakup with an ominous series of openings, known as leads, extending deep into the Arctic.

David Douglas, research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said this spring’s conditions illustrate how fragile and dynamic pack ice has become. “It looks like late June or early July right now,” he said. “Polar bears are having to make their decisions about how to move and where to go on thinner ice pack that’s mostly first-year ice.” Walrus could also face a tough summer, he said.

Archaeologist says he’s found Aristotle’s tomb


That’s the claim.

Don’t expect any body to turn, since the Greek philosopher was cremated when he died in 322 BC at the ripe old age [in those days] of 62, and it’s his ashes that are supposed to lie beneath the marble floor on the Chalcidice peninsula of northwestern Greece.

From To Vima:

A domed building and altar that was discovered in the ancient city of Stagira in 1996 is likely to be the tomb and monument of ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. A report in the Kathimerini newspaper, the official announcements will be made on Thursday, at the international conference on Aristotle.

Archeologist Kostas Sismanidis, who was worked on the dig in ancient Stagira, where the philosopher was born in 384 BC, explained that while there is no proof that the tomb belonged to Aristotle, there are very strong indications to support such a claim.

According to Sismanidis the location, view and other construction details strongly indicate that the building was used as a tomb for the great philosopher.

Greek Reporter has a video with a reconstruction of the temple:

Aristotle’s Tomb Found in Greece

More from Greek Reporter:

“I have no hard proof, but strong indications lead me to an almost certainty,” said archaeologist Kostas Sismanidis who made the claim of finding Aristotle’s tomb.

In his extensive research, Sismanidis first established that the tomb belongs to an important person, one who deserves to have such a lavish and respected tomb.

Then, based on three different biographies and other written testimonies and analyses, written at different time periods and by authors of different origin, he comes to the conclusion that the remains of Aristotle were transferred from Chalkis, where he died, to Stagira.

Here is an excerpt from Sismanidis’ report citing an Aristotle biography written in latin by Leonardo Azetino: “Stagira, had been destroyed by Philip, and Aristotle managed to convince the King to reconstruct the city and wrote the laws and the government system himself… His fellow citizens honored him for his actions and established annual celebrations and festivals after his name while he was still alive.”

We leave the last word to Keep Talking Greece:

The grave is inside a complex of divergent buildings dated form the Archaic period over the Byzantine and modern times. The location is on the slope of the northern tip of Stagira.

Apart from the buildings remains and walls, there are numerous findings “ of good quality, unpainted or painted pottery, which is represented by shells, plates, goblets [and other small items.] More than 50 coins with Alexander the Third, cut in Amphipolis and Thessaloniki as well as cons of his descendants.”

According to findings and research, “an altar was in the middle of the building where Aristotle’s grave was found.”

Spooky news: Here’s lookin’ at you kid


Two items of note in the world of spooky panoptical perception, including a nasty bit of corporate spyware that targets your kids.

First, from the Intercept, news of a bill that would give the FBI the right to look at your email data and more, all without a warrant or even eventual disclosure to the target of their snooping:

A provision snuck into the still-secret text of the Senate’s annual intelligence authorization would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals’ email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers without a warrant and in complete secrecy.

If passed, the change would expand the reach of the FBI’s already highly controversial national security letters. The FBI is currently allowed to get certain types of information with NSLs—most commonly information about the name, address, and call information associated with a phone number or details about a bank account.

Since a 2008 Justice Department legal opinion, the FBI has not been allowed to use NSLs to demand “electronic communication transaction records” such as email subject lines and other metadata, or URLs visited.

The spy bill passed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, with the provision in it. The lone no vote came from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who wrote in a statement that one of its provisions “would allow any FBI field office to demand email records without a court order, a major expansion of federal surveillance powers.”

And then there’s this, a little corporate cyber-pedophilia — except this time it isn’t your child’s body they’re lusting for, but her thoughts.

From the Guardian:

In a promotional video for Amazon’s Echo virtual assistant device, a young girl no older than 12 asks excitedly: “Is it for me?”. The voice-controlled speaker can search the web for information, answer questions and even tell kids’ jokes. “It’s for everyone,” enthuses her on-screen dad.

Except that it isn’t. An investigation by the Guardian has found that despite Amazon marketing the Echo to families with young children, the device is likely to contravene the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), set up to regulate the collection and use of personal information from anyone younger than 13.

Along with Google, Apple and others promoting voice-activated artificial intelligence systems to young children, the company could now face multimillion-dollar fines.

“This is part of the initial wave of marketing to children using the internet of things,” says Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocacy group that helped write the law. “It is exactly why the law was enacted in the first place, to protect young people from pervasive data collection.”

Headline of the day II: Trump’s curious partner


From the London Telegraph:

Exclusive: Russian mob-linked fraudster a ‘key player’ in Donald Trump business ventures

Mr Trump signed off on paperwork which made clear that Felix Sater was one of the figures in “control” of Bayrock Group, the property firm building three developments using his name, an investigation has found.

Heavens above! Spiral galaxy NGC 1232


From the European Southern Observatory, a dramatic look back in time 60 million years ago, when the light we see today left the spectacular galaxy on its earthward journey:

This spectacular image of the large spiral galaxy NGC 1232 was obtained on September 21, 1998, during a period of good observing conditions. It is based on three exposures in ultra-violet, blue and red light, respectively. The colours of the different regions are well visible : the central areas contain older stars of reddish colour, while the spiral arms are populated by young, blue stars and many star-forming regions. Note the distorted companion galaxy on the left side, shaped like the greek letter "theta". NGC 1232 is located 20º south of the celestial equator, in the constellation Eridanus (The River). The distance is about 100 million light-years, but the excellent optical quality of the VLT and FORS allows us to see an incredible wealth of details. At the indicated distance, the edge of the field shown corresponds to about 200,000 light-years, or about twice the size of the Milky Way galaxy. The image is a composite of three images taken behind three different filters: U (360 nm; 10 min), B (420 nm; 6 min) and R (600 nm; 2:30 min) during a period of 0.7 arcsec seeing. The field shown measures 6.8 x 6.8 arcmin. North is up; East is to the left. #L

From the ESO:

This spectacular image of the large spiral galaxy NGC 1232 was obtained on September 21, 1998, during a period of good observing conditions. It is based on three exposures in ultra-violet, blue and red light, respectively. The colours of the different regions are well visible : the central areas contain older stars of reddish colour, while the spiral arms are populated by young, blue stars and many star-forming regions. Note the distorted companion galaxy on the left side, shaped like the greek letter “theta”.

NGC 1232 is located 20º south of the celestial equator, in the constellation Eridanus (The River). The distance is about 100 million light-years, but the excellent optical quality of the VLT and FORS allows us to see an incredible wealth of details. At the indicated distance, the edge of the field shown corresponds to about 200,000 light-years, or about twice the size of the Milky Way galaxy.

The image is a composite of three images taken behind three different filters: U (360 nm; 10 min), B (420 nm; 6 min) and R (600 nm; 2:30 min) during a period of 0.7 arcsec seeing. The field shown measures 6.8 x 6.8 arcmin. North is up; East is to the left.

Credit: ESO

David Horsey: You have the right to remain insolent


From the editorial cartoonist of the Los Angeles Times:

BLOG Horsey

Quote of the day: On the looting of Europe’s South


From Pal Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary oif the Treasury under Ronald Reagan and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, writing in Counterpunch:

Greece is being destroyed by the EU that it so foolishly joined and trusted.  The same thing is happening to Portugal and is also underway in Spain and Italy.  The looting has already devoured Ireland and Latvia (and a number of Latin American countries) and is underway in Ukraine.

The current newspaper headlines reporting an agreement being reached between the IMF and Germany about writing down the Greek debt to a level that could be serviced are false.  No “creditor” has yet agreed to write off one cent of the debt.  All that the IMF has been given by so-called “creditors” is unspecific “pledges” of an unspecified amount of debt writedown two years from now.

The newspaper headlines are nothing but fluff that provide cover for the IMF to succumb to presssure and violate its own rules. The cover lets the IMF say that a (future unspecified) debt writedown will enable Greece to service the remainder of its debt and, therefore, the IMF can lend Greece the money to pay the private banks.

In other words, the IMF is now another lawless Western institution whose charter means no more than the US Constitution or the word of the US government in Washington.