Prairie Post

5 things you absolutely must know today

BP oil asks for leniency

Remember BP oil from 2010? Something about the worst offshore oil spill in North American history. It flowed for 87 days, from April 20, 2010 to July 15 of the same year, dumping an estimated 4.9-million barrels into the Gulf of Mexico. Well, the pilloried company is asking a U.S. court to rethink the “gross negligence” ruling that saw their potential fines go up to nearly USD$18-billion. The ruling, according to BP, was based on evidence that Judge Barbier did not allow in court. The ruling read that BP should shoulder 67 per cent of the blame, sharing the rest with driller Transocean, and Haliburton. [Source: BBC]

Go, hops: Beer makes you smarter

Xanthohumol makes young mice smarter. And it probably will make you a bit smarter, too, says researchers. But, the better news is that xanthohumol is a flavonoid, a compound known to give plants their colour, found in hops. And I trust the coming connection is clear: beer makes you smarter. The challenge, though, is that in order to experience the same cognitive fruits as the lab mice did, a human beer consumer would have drink about 3,500 pints per day. That silliness aside. No. One more crumb: The hop flavonoid did not have the same effect on older mice. The Daily Mail, known for its sincerity, suggests the takeaway is start drinking as young as is legally possible. To the serious research: Xanthohumol is being studied as a possible treatment for cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, and memory loss. Go, hops.  [Source: My neighbour, who sent me the link, and the Daily Mail]

Protesters call off talks over ‘organized attacks’

Pro-democracy protesters have threatened to call off talks, as accusations fly that they government has been allowing pro-Beijing opponents to conduct “organized attacks.” Hong Kong’s chief executive had earlier agreed to negotiations, but those have since been called off over intensifying tensions on the ground. In Mong Kok, a business district in Hong Kong, groups unhappy with camps occupying the area, took down tents used to give protesters shelter. The clashes were intense enough that police reportedly linked arms to create a barrier. “If the government does not immediately prevent the organised attacks on supporters of the Occupy movement, the students will call off dialogue on political reform with the government,” said the protesters in a statement issued to government. At the heart of the row is how Hong Kong elects its next leader. In August, Beijing imposed tight rules on nominations for candidates wanting to stand for election. [Source: BBC]

The Hajj pilgrimage begins

It is the largest planned gathering of people on Earth. The annual Hajj pilgrimage, a 1,400-year tradtion, brings together millions of Muslims, who, together, make their way out of Mecca to Saudi Arabia’s Mina Valley. The five-day event is meant to promote unity among the world’s Muslim population. This year’s event, which began Thursday, has so far avoided the lethal stampedes that have marred the pilgrimage in past years. The unifying point of the gathering is the Kaana, which is a cuboid structure situation in the centre of the Grand Mosque. It is, according to Wikipedia, “the most sacred point within this most sacred mosque, making it the most sacred location in Islam.” Muslims are expected to face this structure wherever they are in the world. The Hajj is expected to end Oct. 7. [Source: International Business Times]

National Geographic features on bees

From video: “The main human compunction is to neat and tidy things up. So, if I own a piece of property, then I’m very likely to mow it all the time and make it look like a magazine house,” said biologist Sam Droege in one of two National Geographic features on him and bees. “And that is the absolute worst thing you could do to any kind of native animal or plant, and certainly for bees.” [Source for video: National Geographic. Check out the accompanying article here: National Geographic]

Honourable mention goes to Aleks Korobov of Russia for catching what he though was a normal, common bream fish. It was, kind of. This particular catch turned out to have a set of human teeth. The pictures, if real, look harrowing.  [Source: Death and Taxes]


Follow Toban Dyck’s borrow of late antics at @tobandyck 

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