Cloning Your Dog, For A Mere $100,000 – Rob Stein SEPTEMBER 30, 2015 6:33 AM ET

Ken (left) and Henry were created using DNA plucked from a skin cell of Melvin, the beloved pet of Paula and Phillip Dupont of Lafayette, La.

Ken (left) and Henry were created using DNA plucked from a skin cell of Melvin, the beloved pet of Paula and Phillip Dupont of Lafayette, La.

It’s a typical morning at the Dupont Veterinary Clinic in Lafayette, La. Dr. Phillip Dupont is caring for cats and dogs in the examining room while his wife, Paula, answers the phone and pet owners’ questions. Their two dogs are sleeping on the floor behind her desk.

“That’s Ken and Henry,” Paula says, pointing to the slim, midsize dogs with floppy ears and long snouts. Both dogs are tan, gray and white, with similar markings. “I put a red collar on Ken and a black collar on Henry so I can tell who’s who.”

Ken and Henry are genetically identical, though not exact replicas. They’re clones of the Duponts’ last dog, Melvin — created when scientists injected one of Melvin’s skin cells, which contained all of his DNA, into a donor egg that had been emptied of its original DNA.

Ken and Henry are two of only about 600 dogs that have been cloned since scientists at Sooam Biotech, a suburban company near Seoul, South Korea, developed the technology to create cloned canines.

The Duponts sat down with Shots to explain why they decided to clone Melvin.

Two years ago, Paula and Phillip Dupont paid $100,000 to have their mutt Melvin cloned by a laboratory in South Korea. They are so pleased with the results they may do it again.

Two years ago, Paula and Phillip Dupont paid $100,000 to have their mutt Melvin cloned by a laboratory in South Korea. They are so pleased with the results they may do it again.

“He was different,” says Phillip Dupont. “Of all the dogs I had, he was completely different.”

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Honeybee Heists A New Reality In A Time Of Colony Collapse – NPR STAFF SEPTEMBER 06, 2015 8:33 AM ET

Honey bees are being rustled.

Katie Hayward, owner of Felin Honeybees, lifts out a honeycomb on her honeybee farm. Thieves have made off with some 45,000 honeybees from the farm in recent months.

Katie Hayward, owner of Felin Honeybees, lifts out a honeycomb on her honeybee farm. Thieves have made off with some 45,000 honeybees from the farm in recent months. Courtesy of Felin Honeybees

Thieves are hijacking hives and renting the bees and their queens out to farmers to pollinate their crops. With the global collapse of the bee population, the crime is becoming even more lucrative.

It’s an issue in the U.S., in California’s Central Valley, but most recently, another bee theft caught our attention. On the tiny island of Angelsey, off the coast of North Wales, Felin Honeybees, a farm and education center, has been hit twice in the last month.

The bee burglars used a small box, called a nucleus, which is used for starting new hives, Felin owner Katie Hayward tells NPR’s Linda Wertheimer.

“They’ve done what’s called a ‘bee shake,’ which is where you hold the frames over the box and you shake the bees in,” she explains. “So they can be stored in the boot of any car, I’m afraid.”

They were able to make off with some 45,000 bees, including four queens, she says.

The bee bandits took bees that the center had bred for calmness, to be used for teaching. Hayward says the pilferers must have had some expertise.

“They knew exactly what they were taking,” Hayward says. “There’s been a huge surge in beekeeping as a hobby, and the demand for new nucleuses has risen over 75 percent in the last five years.”

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Wendell Pierce on the tragedy and triumph of New Orleans after Katrina: “It’s created a schism between the haves and have-nots” – SCOTT TIMBERG SATURDAY, SEP 5, 2015 11:30 AM PDT

Salon talks to Wendell Pierce, star of “The Wire,” to discusses his poignant new book “The Wind in the Reeds”

Wendell Pierce on the tragedy and triumph of New Orleans after Katrina: "It’s created a schism between the haves and have-nots"

When the actor Wendell Pierce returned to his native New Orleans in the summer of 2005, he saw a city that was 80 percent underwater.

“Nearly fifteen hundred people were dead. Half the houses in the city had four feet of water in them, or more. There was no electricity or clean water in the city; looting and the breakdown of civil order would soon follow.”

You can remember these bare outlines and still be startled by the immediate and direct way that Pierce, best known for his roles in “The Wire” and the post-flood saga “Treme,” recounts them in his new book. “The Wind in the Reeds” tells of his deep roots in the city, the catastrophe of Katrina, and his experience acting in David Simon’s celebrated series. The center of the book is his intertwined effort to put on Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” in post-Katrina New Orleans and to help bring back his old neighborhood.

We spoke to Pierce about art, tragedy, his city and its past and future. The interview has been slightly condensed for clarity.

The first part of “The Wind in the Reeds” gives a detailed picture of your family history, the establishment of the black middle-class neighborhood Pontchartrain Park, and your own early years. Your childhood exposure to music, the arts and culture in general made a powerful, and it seems, permanent impression on your life. How did it end up hitting you so hard?

One of things about growing up in New Orleans is that we live our culture. It is part of our life. It is something that you wake up in the morning with; when it comes to our cuisine, you hear music constantly, in every part of your life there is music included. So I always knew culture to be part of my life, and something of great importance.


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There are two different Europes right now — Germany and France – Oscar Williams-Grut Sept 3 2015

Merkel Hollande

REUTERS/Tobias SchwarzGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande attend the Petersberg Climate Dialogue conference in Berlin, Germany, May 19, 2015.

Service and composite PMI figures out for Europe came out on Thursday and the key takeaway is this — Germany is driving Europe forward, while France is dragging us back.

The overall Eurozone PMI beat forecasts.

The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) is a measure of whether economies and sectors are expanding or contracting. Anything above 50 signals growth, while anything below signals contraction.

Europe’s PMI was 54.3, against a forecast of 54.1. That was driven by Germany beating forecasts by a big margin — an upward revision of an entire point (54 to 55).

We already had a positive flash readings for August, but Germany is doing even better than first thought.

France, meanwhile, is doing much worse. France’s flash PMI was 51.3, but today that got revised way down to 50.2 — more or less stagnation and dangerously close to slipping into decline.

We’ve already had dreadful manufacturing figures from France earlier this week, with French industry shrinking faster than expected. The service sector is similarly in a worse shape than economists expected — the PMI there was just 50.6, against a forecast of 51.8.

It’s not looking good for France.

That effectively means we’re looking at a two-tier Europe, one where the two biggest players are moving in completely different gears.

Right now the “single market” can trundle along as it has been. But this imbalance could cause serious problems further down the line, particularly given Germany has so much power in Europe and a tendency to push tough reforms on those foolish enough to fall into trouble. I made this point when the manufacturing numbers came out.

Here’s the breakdown of the PMI figures we got from Markit today:

  • Europe: composite — 54.3, forecast 54.1; services — 54.4, forecasts 54.3.
  • Spain: services — 59.6, in-line with forecasts.
  • Italy: services — 54.6, beating forecast of 53.
  • France: composite — 50.2, flash was 51.3; services — 50.6, 51.8 predicted; .
  • Germany: composite — 55, flash 54 — services — 54.9, 53.6 predicted.

California Is About to Do Something Great That No State Has Ever Done Before – —By Tim McDonnell | Thu Sep. 3, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

“If California can do this, it could really be the beginning of the snowball.”

Gabriel Rodríguez/Flickr

Gabriel Rodríguez/Flickr

Back in January, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) made a promise. His state, he said, would pursue a new package of climate goals that are the most ambitious in the nation (and among the most ambitious in the world). California was already a leader in efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean energy. Brown pledged to go further. By 2030, he declared, California would double the energy efficiency of state buildings; get half its electricity from renewables; and halve consumption of gasoline by cars and trucks.

At the time, all those nice-sounding goals were just words in a speech. But they could very soon become the law of the land. The state legislature is currently considering several bills (SB 350 is the most important) that would codify Brown’s climate agenda. The legislation is widely expected to pass before the end of the legislative session next Friday, but not without a fight from the state’s powerful oil lobby.

Before we get into the bills themselves, let’s talk about California. Believe it or not, the state where America fell in love with cars and highways is now leading the nation, and the world, when it comes to climate action. And that matters, because California, the world’s seventh-largest economy, is a world-class emitter of greenhouse gases. It ranks second for state emissions, behind Texas, and if it were its own nation, it would rank 20th globally, right between Italy and Spain. Still, it’s remarkably clean for its size: On a per-capita basis, it ranks 45th among US states and 38th when compared with countries around the world. (Below, the bars represent total emissions and the dots represent per-capita emissions.)

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Gallery: Adidas, Parley Create World’s First Sneakers Made From Ocean Trash…- Ecouterre July 1, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at Jul 2, 2015 12.45

“At Parley for the Oceans, we want to establish the oceans as a fundamental part of the debate around climate change,” Gutsch said. “Our objective is to boost public awareness and to inspire new collaborations that can contribute to protect and preserve the oceans. We are extremely proud that Adidas is joining us in this mission and is putting its creative force behind this partnership to show that it is possible to turn ocean plastic into something cool.”

The Threatened Atlantic Puffins Are Nesting And It’s Adorable – —By Luke Whelan | Sat Jun. 27, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Atlantic puffins chilling on a cliff. Mark Caunt/Shutterstock

The Atlantic puffins are back…for now. After spending much of the year on the open sea, the photogenic birds have made their annual trip to the North Atlantic shores of Maine, Newfoundland, and the United Kingdom to breed.

But as Rowan Jacobsen reported in a Mother Jones feature last summer, rising ocean temperatures have taken a huge toll on these seabirds. Cold-water thriving zooplankton, critical to the Gulf of Maine’s food web, have reached their lowest numbers ever, forcing the fish that puffins feed to their young to go elsewhere for food. Without a reliable source of food, in 2013, only 10 percent of puffin pairs in burrows tracked by researchers successfully fledged chicks (normally that rate is 77 percent).

This isn’t the first time puffins in Maine have faced an existential threat. After 300 years of hunting and over harvesting eggs, Atlantic puffin colonies in Maine nearly disappeared. Fortunately, a successful Audubon Society initiative in the 1970s brought them back to nesting islands off the coast of Maine; by 2013, 1,000 pairs were laying eggs there.

During the past couple of years, cold water has returned to the gulf of Maine, which is great news for the puffins. In 2014, they saw a rebound: 75 percent of chicks survived. This year they are back again and as cute as ever. You can watch them below on the Audubon’s puffin live cam until August when they leave again for the ocean:


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Pope Francis calls on governments, individuals to protect environment – By Devin Henry – 06/18/15 06:49 AM EDT

Getty Images

Global warming is “mainly the result of human activity,” Pope Francis says in his climate change encyclical, warning that more needs to be done to combat its impact on Earth.

After months of growing anticipation, the Vatican released Francis’s environment and climate change encyclical on Thursday, a 192-page call to action for nations and individuals to change their lifestyles to protect the environment before the Earth starts to “look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” Crux, a Boston Globe outlet focused on Catholic issues, reports.

The encyclical, rolled out after a draft version was leaked earlier this week, endorses a slate of proposals the pope says could help the environment, including replacing fossil fuels with cleaner energy, using more solar power, assessing the impact of future development on the environment, protecting ecosystems and cleaning up drinking water.

“I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet,” Francis writes.

Francis said the ill effects of humans’ impact on the environment are most likely to impact the poor. He called on wealthy nations to do more to address climate issues, including entering into treaties designed to protect the Earth.

“Developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programs of sustainable development,” Francis writes, taking aim specifically at fossil fuels like oil, gas and “especially coal.”

Francis blames human greed for degrading the environment and calls for a renewed focus on improving it, not only among governments and nations but individuals, too. He suggested readers reduce their use of plastics and paper, or to car pool and take public transportation, to help reduce their impact on the Earth.

“Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it,” he writes.

17 Everyday Items That Use a Whole Lot of Water – —By Gabrielle Canon| Tue Apr. 21, 2015 6:45 AM EDT

If you live in the West, particularly in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered a 25 percent mandatory reduction in household water use, you may have started taking shorter showers. Perhaps a spiky array of cacti now dwells where your lawn used to be. Maybe you’ve even stopped drinking almond milk.

But even those of us who don’t live in California are thinking more about how much water our lifestyles require—after all, much of the country is now in drought, and climate models project that dry spells will become more and more common all over the world in the years to come. A few years back, we crunched the numbers on the water footprints of a few common items:


Icon credits (via Noun Project): Microchip—Rabee Balakrishnan; Apple—Ava Rowell; Beer—Fabian Sanabria; Wine—Philippe Berthelon Bravo; Can—Blaise Sewell; Coffee—Okan Benn; OJ—Blaise Sewell; Diaper—Isabel Foo; Chicken—Ana Maria Lora Macias; Cheese—Elliott Snyder; Hamburger—Pei Wen (Winnie) Kwang; T-shirt—Sergi Delgado; Paper—Evan Udelsman; Beef—Jon Testa; Jeans—Pranav Mote;

Additional reporting done by Jen Quraishi

EPA chief races to finish landmark climate rules – By Laura Barron-Lopez – 03/05/15 06:00 AM EST

Gina McCarthy is locked in a race against time to complete landmark climate change regulations before President Obama leaves office.

With just 22 months left in Obama’s presidency, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator and her team are burning the midnight oil to enshrine emissions regulations for power plants in federal law.

McCarthy says she’s “busier than [she’s] ever been” as the caretaker of what Obama hopes will be a legacy-defining achievement on climate change.

“One of the main focuses of the White House right now is to make sure that the administration is coordinated, so that the entire breadth of the climate action plan can be basically realized before the president leaves office,” McCarthy said during an exclusive sit-down interview in her office.

With the departure of John Podesta, Obama’s former climate adviser, from the White House, McCarthy is meeting more with Obama than ever before.

White House climate and energy adviser Dan Utech called McCarthy’s role “essential” to the president’s vision over his final two years.

“Climate change is a top priority for the president over the next two years and the EPA and Gina McCarthy are really at the center of what the administration is trying to do,” Utech said.

Describing her style as “hands on,” McCarthy said she spends as much time as she needs to at White House to update the administration and flesh out strategy.

Last week, she met with Brian Deese, who replaced Podesta as adviser to the president, and Utech to walk through “big issues” the agency is dealing with on the carbon pollution standards.

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