Sunday, November 19, 2017
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
While researching ways to minimize unwanted catches in commercial fishing, Portuguese scientists unearthed something sinister: a real-life sea monster dubbed a “living fossil.”
The five-foot prehistoric shark, aptly named the frilled shark due to its set of 300 frilled, razor-sharp teeth, was captured last week by a trawler off the coast of Portugal, the BBC reported.
According to scientists, the shark is one of the few pre-historic creatures to still roam the earth. Its 80-million-year-old lineage has survived by living at ocean depths of 2,300 feet, where the lack of light and crushing pressure make for conditions uninhabitable for most living things.
The creature is presumed to roam the deep of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, where it preys on fish, squid and even other sharks. Any other information about the creature is a mystery to scientists due to its rarity, the Independent reported.
Sailor’s stories of sea serpents from the deep may have been influenced by this shark, which is recognizable by its eel-like body and serpentine movements.
It might not be the only creature in our midst: More than 90 percent of the Earth’s deep waters remain uncharted, possibly hiding other sea monsters, such as the recently discovered toothed snake-eel.
Divers be warned.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
The Long Arm of the Law
The International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol, extends the long arm of the law around the globe. But a few recent cases have revealed how dictators might use the organization to lengthen their reach, too.
Late last month, Greek police arrested Mirzorahim Kuzov, a Tajik dissident, as he was flying through Athens to attend a conference on human rights in Warsaw. Interpol had issued a so-called “red notice” to detain him at the request of Tajik authorities, Al Jazeera reported.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has accused Kuzov of supporting a 2015 coup and fomenting extremism as a member of a banned Islamic political party.
Kuzov denies the accusations. To escape prison, he has been in hiding outside of Tajikistan for years.
Is Kuzov a criminal? Nobody knows. But one thing is for sure: Rahmon is a tyrant who has built his oppressive regime on a foundation of human rights violations. Serving a warrant in his name is almost certainly not good police work.
The question arises: how should Interpol define a criminal?
The Index of Censorship recently noted that European countries have detained at least six journalists from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey due to red notices. Those journalists quite possibly ran afoul of their country’s laws. But those laws are also almost certainly unfair, say researchers.
“The use of the Interpol system to target journalists is a serious breach of media freedom,” said Hannah Machlin, project manager for Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom, in a statement. “Interpol’s own constitution bars it from interventions that are political in nature.”
Of course, Interpol gets things right, too.
Recently, for the fifth time, the agency rejected Moscow’s requests to put a red notice on William Browder, a US-born British financier whom Russian authorities have described as a national security threat, the Moscow Times reported.
Banned from Russia in 2005 after amassing a fortune in the country, Browder kicked a hornet’s nest when he raised alarms over the situation of his colleague, Sergei Magnitsky, who perished in Russian police custody in 2009.
Magnitsky was a whistleblower who exposed corruption, and the US imposed sanctions on Russians allegedly linked to his death. Russia retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.
Most recently, however, Moscow tried to get around Interpol by issuing a “diffusion,” reported Quartz. That’s an arrest request that Interpol does not vet. The move caused the United States immigration system last month to temporarily block Browder’s entrance into the country.
Things will get murkier, some predict.
Every country in the world except North Korea belongs to Interpol. Now Palestine could become a member soon. One can be sure the Palestinians have debatable views on who is and is not a criminal.
Friday, November 10, 2017
Yuri Milner is a billionaire from Russia. I was honored to be in a meeting with him yesterday. I heard him talk about life on other celestial bodies. He has a phenomenal knowledge of space as an astronomer or astrophysicist does. He also talked about allegations that he had improperly received investments from the Russian government. He gave a frank and honest defense. He pointed out that the investments were received in 2009 when the US and Russia still had good relations. He pointed out that Hillary Clinton blessed the deal and got Americans to invest in Russia at the same time. He pointed out that he returned the money to Russian investors in 2014 when relations soured. (His clients bought when share prices were low and made a big profit when share prices went up.) I believe him. Yuri is intelligent, charming, and really bright.