November 25, 2013

A conceptual image of the Hantz Farms in Detroit's East Side. Hantz Woodlands, a division of Hantz Group, paid around $520,000 for 150 acres of blighted land to create what will be the world's largest urban farm.     Photo: Courtesy of Hantz Group/Youtube

Turning Blight into Beauty in Detroit

Urban decay replaced with farmland

To reverse the downward spiral of Detroit’s East Side, a private company is tearing down a blighted neighborhood with plans of putting a large-scale urban farm in its place.

Hantz Woodlands paid around $520,000 for 150 acres encompassing more than 1,000 vacant, abandoned homes in Motor City. The first houses were demolished last week, and the first trees are expected to be planted this winter.

"Your eyes would have a hard time absorbing the blight," Mike Score, president of Hantz Farms, told Fox News, “A third of every neighborhood in Detroit has been devalued by blight on public property.”

In a statement John Hantz, CEO of Hantz Farms, said: “Hantz Farms will transform this area into a viable, beautiful and sustainable area that will serve the community, increase the tax base, create jobs and greatly improve the quality of life in an area that has experienced a severe decline in population.”

If successful, Hantz Farms will be the world's largest urban farm. Hantz Group plans to spend $3 million to clear out the area. It’s already began leveling 15 acres to plant 15,000 trees this winter and orchards in the imediate future. Eventually, Hantz plans on planting crops and even raising livestock to regrow a city by its roots.

 


Hantz president on reinvigorating Detroit's blighted neighborhoods with farms

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Everest's North Face, as seen from base camp. Mallory's body was discovered below the long ridge, left of the summit.     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A New Twist in Everest's Mallory Mystery

A British climber believes Mallory’s body was found decades before 1999.

A new book about British mountaineer Frank Smythe, written by his son, Tony, claims George Mallory’s body was discovered decades before Conrad Anker came upon the lost climber in 1999, reports the Guardian. Smythe, a noted mountaineer during the 1930s and '40s, and a member of 1936 British Everest expedition, was well known in his day, putting up climbs around the Alps, as well as making attempts on Himalayan giants. During the 1936 Everest trip, Smythe believes he spotted Mallory’s body through a telescope, in the same location where he was found more than 50 years later.

"I was scanning the face from base camp through a high-powered telescope last year, when I saw something queer in a gully below the scree shelf," Smythe wrote in a letter to Edward Norton, the leader of the 1924 expedition, when Mallory and Irvine went missing. "Of course it was a long way away and very small, but I've a six/six eyesight and do not believe it was a rock. This object was at precisely the point where Mallory and Irvine would have fallen had they rolled on over the scree slopes."

Though the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine have become one of mountaineering’s most enduring mysteries, the historic news was buried at the time—apparently for fear that the media might make a meal of it: “It's not to be written about,” Smythe told Norton, “as the press would make an unpleasant sensation.”

Smythe wouldn’t quite make it to Everest’s summit himself, but he tried and came tantalizingly close, reaching 28,200 feet, a pre-war altitude record, in 1936. An irascible character and prolific author, he taught mountaineering skills during World War II to the British Army unit, the Lovat Scouts, in the Canadian Rockies. Smythe died in Dehli in 1949, after suffering from malaria. Mount Smythe (10,560 ft), in Jasper National Park, Alberta, was named after the late climber.

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Former world record Holder Asafa Powell running away from Keston Bledman (left) and Florin Suciu (middle) during the first round heat in the men's 100 meters. Asafa Powell tested positive for performance enhancing drugs this summer.     Photo: Eckhard Pecher/Wikimedia

Jamaica's Anti-Doping Board Resigns

Eleven commissioners resign after drug-testing crisis

Following a recent emergency audit from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), all 11 members of Jamaica's Anti-Doping Commission (Jadco) have resigned, the Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner reports. 

Natalie Neita-Headley, the minister responsible for sport in Jamaica, said in a statement, “Quite recently, Jadco's commissioners met and acknowledged that there is a public perception of the existence of conflicts of interests among some of the members of the commission.”

This mass resignation comes after months of scrutiny and scandal around the island nation's anti-doping comission. Five Jamaican athletes tested positive for banned substances this summer, including former 100 meter world-record holder Asafa Powell and world 200-meter champion Veronica Campbell-Brown.

In August, the former head of Jadco, Renee Anne Shirley, told Sports Illustrated that there had been only one out-of-competition test from February 2012 to the start of the London Olympics five months later.

Following Shirley’s revelations, Jamaica delayed a WADA investigation into Shirley’s claims, and WADA director general threatened to ban the sprinting island nation from the Olympics and World Championships.

A new board of directors will be announced on January 1, 2014.

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A humpback whale off the coast of Monterey, California.     Photo: ElliotHurwitt/Thinkstock

Sea Life Erupts Along California Coast

Anchovies fuel late season frenzy

Monterey, California and neighboring coastal areas have witnessed a massive increase of sea life in recent months. Scientists say it all began with a late season burst of anchovies that attracted sea lions and just about everything above them on the food chain, according to The New York Times. Residents of Monterey were treated to some 200 humpback whales and a pod of nearly 20 orcas, just in the past few weekends.

Humpback whales, sea lions, and pelicans are all very common throughout the Monterey coast during the summer months, but rarely have the numbers remained so high into the winter. The culprit? Anchovies, and lots of them. The uncharacteristic late bloom has produced pods so large they appear on depth sounders. The Santa Cruz harbor even experienced an enormous die off last month because the overabundance of anchovies depleted all of the harbor's oxygen, reports The Times.

Monterey's tourism numbers have seen a noticeable bump with people flocking onto whale watching boats. More than 60 whales were spotted on a recent trip where visitors are usually lucky to see one or two. 

Scientists aren't completely sure what's causing the anchovy explosion, but some popular theories include a mild fall, strong upwelling of cold water, and the cycling of water temperatures in the bay, according to reports from The Times.  

Video: More than 2,000 sea lions and 25 humpback whales in a feeding frenzy.


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King the tiger in 'Life of Pi.'     Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

AHA Accused of Covering Up Hollywood Animal Deaths

Extensive report details abuse, negligence, and the deliberate downplaying of serious incidents on movie sets

The Hollywood Reporter published a startling story Monday detailing the American Humane Association's failure to monitor and take action against animal abuse on the set of dozens of major film productions.

In multiple cases, the AHA, which is responsible for granting films their "No Animals Were Harmed" credit, knowingly allowed productions to continue after animals were harmed or put in danger, and even tried to cover up cases of abuse.

The story cites multiple incidents, including one on the set of the Oscar award-winning Life of Pi, where a tiger named King was almost drowned and had to be dragged to safety with a rope.

The AHA representative, The Hollywood Reporter discovered, was actually intimately involved with of the film's top producers and tried to cover up the incident. “I think this goes without saying but DON’T MENTION IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICE!” the representative said in an email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “I have downplayed the f— out of it.”

In another incident, 27 sheep and goats reportedly died n the set of The Hobbit from dehydration, exhaustion, or drowning. 

The list goes on.

A Husky dog was punched repeatedly in its diaphragm on Disney’s 2006 Antarctic sledding movie Eight Below, starring Paul Walker, and a chipmunk was fatally squashed in Paramount’s 2006 Matthew McConaughey-Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy Failure to Launch. In 2003, the AHA chose not to publicly speak of the dozens of dead fish and squid that washed up on shore over four days during the filming of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Read the rest of the story here.

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The jellyfish-like design lends stability to this model of flying robot—a step up from vulnerable insect-based designs.     Photo: NYU/YouTube

Watch: Jellyfish-like Robot Flies

NYU innovates flying mechanics

New York University researchers have developed a flying robot that emulates the full-body propulsions of a jellyfish, translating the invasive invertebrate's pulsating movements to a new fluid: air.

Just eight centimeters in width, the robot weighs two grams, and sports four wings that flap to keep it airborne. The device is intended for surveillance, search-and-rescue, and air quality appraisal, and was presented at the Fluid Dynamics Conference in Washington on Sunday.

"No one’s ever built this, and as far as we know nature never built it either to fly in air," Leif Ristroph, assistant professor of mathematics at NYU who designed the machine, told NBC News. "Maybe that indicates that it’s a bad idea? In any case we got it to work, so maybe not that bad."

Engineers have long modeled flying robots after the vulnerable flutter of insects, which requires the robots to constantly monitor their surroundings—for weather vagaries, for predators—and accordingly adjust their flying motions within fractions of a second. The jellyfish design, on the other hand, has no need for a feedback system. Its robust flapping keeps it afloat without much risk of outside interference.

"That's the beauty of the design," Ristroph said, "It doesn't need a 'smart' design to help it recover."

This simplicity bodes well for researchers, as one of their longstanding goals has been to create flying robots the size of a centimeter, that can more easily maneuver small spaces and go undetected. A straightforward design will put this achievement within reach, Ristroph says.

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