Penguins starving to death is a sign that somethings very wrong in the Antarctic | John Sauven

Overfishing, oil drilling, pollution and climate change are imperilling the ecosystem. But ocean sanctuaries could help protect what belongs to us all, says Greenpeace director John Sauven

The awful news that all but two penguin chicks have starved to death out of a colony of almost 40,000 birds is a grim illustration of the enormous pressure Antarctic wildlife is under. The causes of this devastating event are complex, from a changing climate to local sea-ice factors, but one thing penguins, whales and other marine life dont need is additional strain on food supplies.

Over the next year we have the opportunity to create an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary the largest protected area on Earth which would put the waters off-limits to the industrial fishing vessels currently sucking up the tiny shrimp-like krill, on which all Antarctic life relies.

In 1990, the Voyager 1 space probe looked back at Earth from six billion kilometres away and took a historic selfie of our solar system. What it saw, according to renowned astrophysicist Carl Sagan, was a pale blue dot.

Our planet is a blue planet, echoed David Attenborough, in his opening words to the BBCs landmark Blue Planet series. With over 70% of our world covered by water, this is no exaggeration. Our oceans can be seen from across the solar system.

The majority of this water falls outside of national borders. In fact, almost half of our planet is a marine natural wonder outside the boundaries of flags, languages and national divisions. These vast areas cover 230 million square kilometres, and they belong to us all. To give a sense of scale, thats the size of every single continent combined, with another Asia, Europe and Africa thrown in for good measure. The size of our oceans may seem overwhelming. Our collective responsibility to protect them, however, should not.

It wasnt long ago that the oceans were thought to be too vast to be irrevocably impacted by human actions, but the effects of overfishing, oil drilling, deep sea mining, pollution and climate change have shown that humans are more than up to the task of imperilling the sea and the animals that live there.

A humpback whale dives for krill in Wilhelmina Bay, off the Antarctic Peninsula. The creeping expansion of industrial fishing is targeting the one species on which practically every animal in the Antarctic relies: krill. Photograph: Charles Littnam/WWF/EPA

All of us who live on this planet are the guardians of these environments, not only to protect the wildlife that lives in them, but because the health of our oceans sustains our planet and the livelihoods of billions of people.

Heres the good news. The tide of history is turning. We on the blue planet are finally looking seriously at protecting the blue bits. Just a few months ago, in a stuffy room far from the sea, governments from around the world agreed to start a process to protect them: an ocean treaty.

This ocean treaty wont be agreed until at least 2020, but in the meantime momentum is already building towards serious and binding ocean protection. Just last year a huge 1.5 million sq km area was protected in the Ross Sea in the Antarctic. In a turbulent political climate, it was a momentous demonstration of how international cooperation to protect our shared home can and does work.

Over the next two weeks, the governments responsible for the Antarctic are meeting to discuss the future of the continent and its waters. While limited proposals are on the table this year, when they reconvene in 12 months time they have a historic opportunity to create the largest ever protected area on Earth: an Antarctic Ocean sanctuary. Covering the Weddell Sea next to the Antarctic peninsula, it would be five times the size of Germany, the country proposing it.

The Antarctic is home to a great diversity of life: huge colonies of emperor and Adlie penguins, the incredible colossal squid with eyes the size of basketballs that allow it to see in the depths, and the largest animal on the planet, the blue whale, which has veins large enough for a person to swim down.

The creeping expansion of industrial fishing is targeting the one species on which practically every animal in the Antarctic relies: krill. These tiny shrimp-like creatures are crucial for the survival of penguins, whales, seals and other wildlife. With a changing climate already placing wildlife populations in the Antarctic under pressure, an expanding krill industry is bad news for the health of the Antarctic Ocean. Even worse, the krill industry and the governments that back it are blocking attempts at environmental protection in the Antarctic.

Ocean sanctuaries provide relief for wildlife and ecosystems to recover, but its not just about protecting majestic blue whales and penguin colonies. The benefits are global. Recovering fish populations spread around the globe and only now are scientists beginning to fully understand the role that healthy oceans play in soaking up carbon dioxide and helping us to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Sanctuaries encourage vital biodiversity, provide food security for the billions of people that rely on our oceans, and are essential to tackling climate change. Our fate and the fate of our oceans are intimately connected.

Creating the worlds largest ever protected area, in the Antarctic Ocean, would be a signal that corporate lobbying and national interests are no match for a unified global call for our political leaders to protect what belongs to us all. The movement to protect over half our planet begins now, and it begins in the Antarctic.

John Sauven is director of Greenpeace

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Patients ‘dying alone in hospitals’

Image copyright dszc

Patients are dying alone on hospital wards because staff do not have enough time to care for them, nurses say.

The mounting pressure across the UK is also leading to medicines being given late and patients being left in pain.

The issues have been brought to light after the Royal College of Nursing canvassed front-line staff about their experiences of their last shift.

But ministers said despite the concerns raised it was investing in nursing to ensure there were enough staff.

The numbers working in the NHS have increased since 2010, but the RCN maintains this has not been enough to keep pace with demand.

A report earlier this year by the union found one in nine posts were vacant.

Some 30,000 staff, including midwives and health care support workers from across the UK, took part in this new online research.

The RCN described some of the stories as “desperately sad”.

‘Out of my depth’

Staff revealed how they had ended up parachuted into departments they were unfamiliar with to provide emergency cover at the last minute.

For example, one nurse described how care had been compromised when cardiac nurses were sent to a stroke unit.

Another nurse, who works on an elderly care ward, said she felt “useless, unsafe and out of my depth” when she was sent to A&E.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Some 30,000 nurses recounted their experiences with some saying they end their shifts in tears

Others described how the demands on them had compromised care and left them in tears after their shift.

And there were reports of situations where patients had died alone on their watch because they simply did not have time to do everything that was needed.

The RCN said it knew of a number of hospitals which had been forced to rope in volunteers to sit with patients at the end of life.

Among the other problems highlighted were:

  • Medicines for sepsis, diabetes and Parkinson’s not being given on time
  • Patients being left in pain because nurses were too busy
  • Child patients going without food as staff had to prioritise treatment
  • Patients not being moved, putting them at risk of bed sores
  • Patients left in corridors because all the beds were full
  • Community staff complaining they were not able to do everything asked of them

One nurse told the RCN: “I often go home in tears. I love being a nurse but I feel I am unable to do my job properly.”

The nurses all took part on an anonymous basis.

Image caption Former nursing director Chris Perry believes the staffing situation has reached crisis point

But one nurse who was willing to be named was Chris Perry, a former director of nursing in the south-west of England who retired earlier this year.

She said the stories in the report were “sadly all too familiar”.

She described how she found herself having to “scrabble around” trying to find staff to fill gaps and said despite being willing to pay the most expensive agency prices, she could still not fill rotas.

She said it had now reached “crisis” point.

“We are seeing patient care suffer,” she added.

The RCN said more than a third of those who took part in the online survey in May reported having to leave elements of patient care undone because of a lack of time, while two-thirds worked extra time unpaid.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: “When this many professionals blow the whistle, they cannot be overlooked.”

But the Department of Health, which is responsible for the health service in England, said it was investing in nursing.

It pointed out the numbers in training are increasing – there will be another 10,000 more nurses by 2020 – while the overall number on wards had increased over the past seven years.

“We are helping the NHS to make sure it has the right staff, in the right place, at the right time to provide safe care,” a spokeswoman added.

The Scottish government said it had committed to enshrining safe staffing in law and creating about 2,600 extra nursing and midwifery training places over the next four years.

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The link between safe and sustainable staffing levels and high quality care is well established.

“Scotland has led the UK in the development of nursing and midwifery workload and workforce planning tools, ensuring we have the right number of staff, with the right skills, in place.”

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Austrians Lean Toward Nationalist Government Led by a Millennial

Austrians profiting from the fastest economic growth in six years look likely to ditch their current coalition in favor of a new government backed by anti-immigration nationalists and headed by the world’s youngest leader.

Polls suggest that Austria’s 31-year-old Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz will lead his conservative People’s Party to victory in Sunday’s election. That could set the stage for a coalition with Heinz-Christian Strache’s populist Freedom Party, unwinding a decade of Social Democratic-led administrations that revived the economy but struggled with issues over immigration and welfare.

“People are worried about the future and that is the currency that matters in this election,” said Christoph Hofinger, head of the SORA polling institute in Vienna. “The debate is revolving around the issue of fairness, and a lot is also linked to migration.”

After a surge of support for populist candidates in elections this year in the Netherlands, France and Germany, Austria looks like it will go one further and elect an anti-immigration alliance.

Chancellor Christian Kern, 51, a former business executive plucked from the national railroad by the Social Democrats in May 2016, has been dogged by sloppy campaign management. Despite overseeing faster growth in the export-oriented economy, Kern has struggled to connect with voters.

His No. 1 goal is achieving full employment, since “modernizing the country with investment in education, security, health care and pensions” depends on it, Kern said late Thursday in the campaign’s final debate.

While those themes have resonated in previous campaigns, they’re not what Austrians are most concerned about now, according to Hofinger. Voters are instead gravitating toward promises by both the People’s Party and Freedom to limit the number of immigrants Austria receives and force newcomers to adapt local customs more quickly, he said.

The swell of anxiety over immigration to Austria began building 2015, when almost 70,000 mostly-Muslim refugees sought asylum from war-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Schools and hospitals in the nation of 8.7 million struggled to accommodate the newcomers, and disagreements over whether it was fair to give immigrants generous welfare support dominate the media.

Read Why Austria May Elect the World’s Youngest Leader: QuickTake Q&A

Compared with 10 years ago, more Austrians say they feel like they’re not being heard and are in search of law-and-order leadership, a SORA institute study showed. More than two-fifths of voters declared their desire for a “strongman” leader, according to the research, periodically commissioned by the federal government to gauge public attitudes and consciousness about the country’s Nazi history.

Step forward Kurz, the foreign minister who’s distanced himself from the People’s Party’s leadership and forged similar views with Freedom’s Strache on immigration. Both men want to restrict immigrant access to Austria’s social-security system and impose tighter policing on the country’s borders. The Freedom Party came within 30,000 votes of winning the presidency, a mostly ceremonial post, in a run-off vote last year.

“Austria deserves someone who is ready to take on real responsibility for the population,” Strache said in a parliamentary speech this week, in which he chided Kern for letting thousands of refugees enter Austria, transported on the national railroad he ran before becoming chancellor.

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    Deloitte hit by cyber-attack revealing clients secret emails

    Exclusive: hackers may have accessed usernames, passwords and personal details of top accountancy firms blue-chip clients

    One of the worlds big four accountancy firms has been targeted by a sophisticated hack that compromised the confidential emails and plans of some of its blue-chip clients, the Guardian can reveal.

    Deloitte, which is registered in London and has its global headquarters in New York, was the victim of a cybersecurity attack that went unnoticed for months.

    One of the largest private firms in the US, which reported a record $37bn (27.3bn) revenue last year, Deloitte provides auditing, tax consultancy and high-end cybersecurity advice to some of the worlds biggest banks, multinational companies, media enterprises, pharmaceutical firms and government agencies.

    The Guardian understands Deloitte clients across all of these sectors had material in the company email system that was breached. The companies include household names as well as US government departments.

    So far, six of Deloittes clients have been told their information was impacted by the hack. Deloittes internal review into the incident is ongoing.

    The Guardian understands Deloitte discovered the hack in March this year, but it is believed the attackers may have had access to its systems since October or November 2016.

    The hacker compromised the firms global email server through an administrators account that, in theory, gave them privileged, unrestricted access to all areas.

    The account required only a single password and did not have two-step verification, sources said.

    Emails to and from Deloittes 244,000 staff were stored in the Azure cloud service, which was provided by Microsoft. This is Microsofts equivalent to Amazon Web Service and Googles Cloud Platform.

    Microsofts Azure cloud service. Photograph: Microsoft

    In addition to emails, the Guardian understands the hackers had potential access to usernames, passwords, IP addresses, architectural diagrams for businesses and health information. Some emails had attachments with sensitive security and design details.

    The breach is believed to have been US-focused and was regarded as so sensitive that only a handful of Deloittes most senior partners and lawyers were informed.

    The Guardian has been told the internal inquiry into how this happened has been codenamed Windham. It has involved specialists trying to map out exactly where the hackers went by analysing the electronic trail of the searches that were made.

    The team investigating the hack is understood to have been working out of the firms offices in Rosslyn, Virginia, where analysts have been reviewing potentially compromised documents for six months.

    It has yet to establish whether a lone wolf, business rivals or state-sponsored hackers were responsible.

    Sources said if the hackers had been unable to cover their tracks, it should be possible to see where they went and what they compromised by regenerating their queries. This kind of reverse-engineering is not foolproof, however.

    A measure of Deloittes concern came on 27 April when it hired the US law firm Hogan Lovells on special assignment to review what it called a possible cybersecurity incident.

    The Washington-based firm has been retained to provide legal advice and assistance to Deloitte LLP, the Deloitte Central Entities and other Deloitte Entities about the potential fallout from the hack.

    Responding to questions from the Guardian, Deloitte confirmed it had been the victim of a hack but insisted only a small number of its clients had been impacted. It would not be drawn on how many of its clients had data made potentially vulnerable by the breach.

    The Guardian was told an estimated 5m emails were in the cloud and could have been been accessed by the hackers. Deloitte said the number of emails that were at risk was a fraction of this number but declined to elaborate.

    In response to a cyber incident, Deloitte implemented its comprehensive security protocol and began an intensive and thorough review including mobilising a team of cybersecurity and confidentiality experts inside and outside of Deloitte, a spokesman said.

    As part of the review, Deloitte has been in contact with the very few clients impacted and notified governmental authorities and regulators.

    The review has enabled us to understand what information was at risk and what the hacker actually did, and demonstrated that no disruption has occurred to client businesses, to Deloittes ability to continue to serve clients, or to consumers.

    We remain deeply committed to ensuring that our cybersecurity defences are best in class, to investing heavily in protecting confidential information and to continually reviewing and enhancing cybersecurity. We will continue to evaluate this matter and take additional steps as required.

    Our review enabled us to determine what the hacker did and what information was at risk as a result. That amount is a very small fraction of the amount that has been suggested.

    Deloitte declined to say which government authorities and regulators it had informed, or when, or whether it had contacted law enforcement agencies.

    Though all major companies are targeted by hackers, the breach is a deep embarrassment for Deloitte, which offers potential clients advice on how to manage the risks posed by sophisticated cybersecurity attacks.

    Cyber risk is more than a technology or security issue, it is a business risk, Deloitte tells potential customers on its website.

    While todays fast-paced innovation enables strategic advantage, it also exposes businesses to potential cyber-attack. Embedding best practice cyber behaviours help our clients to minimise the impact on business.

    Deloitte has a CyberIntelligence Centre to provide clients with round-the-clock business focussed operational security.

    We monitor and assess the threats specific to your organisation, enabling you to swiftly and effectively mitigate risk and strengthen your cyber resilience, its website says. Going beyond the technical feeds, our professionals are able to contextualise the relevant threats, helping determine the risk to your business, your customers and your stakeholders.

    In 2012, Deloitte, which has offices all over the world, was ranked the best cybersecurity consultant in the world.

    Earlier this month, Equifax, the US credit monitoring agency, admitted the personal data of 143 million US customers had been accessed or stolen in a massive hack in May. It has also revealed it was also the victim of an earlier breach in March.

    About 400,000 people in the UK may have had their information stolen following the cybersecurity breach. The US company said an investigation had revealed that a file containing UK consumer information may potentially have been accessed.

    The data includes names, dates of birth, email addresses and telephone numbers, but does not contain postal addresses, passwords or financial information. Equifax, which is based in Atlanta, discovered the hack in July but only informed consumers last week.

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    EPA moves to repeal Obamas Clean Power Plan coal regs

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that the Trump administration is moving to scrap the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s signature regulatory program to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants.

    Pruitt made the announcement at an event in Hazard, Ky., casting the previous policy as unfair.

    “That rule really was about picking winners and losers,” Pruitt said. “The past administration was unapologetic, they were using every bit of power, authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers on how we pick electricity in this country. That is wrong.”

    In this Nov. 9, 2010 file photo, a mine employee stands in the entry of the Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountain mine in Roundup, Montana.  (AP)

    He said that on Tuesday, he will sign a proposed rule to formally withdraw from the plan.

    “It is right for this administration to say the war is over,” Pruitt said.

    The decision comes after President Trump in late March ordered a review of the controversial program, which was put on hold more than a year ago by the Supreme Court amid legal challenges from, among others, Pruitt himself.

    The Clean Power Plan aimed to reduce carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants by having states meet certain targets. Supporters see the plan as a critical plank in efforts to curb global warming, but critics contend it would kill thousands of jobs and take direct aim at the struggling coal sector.

    The move to officially nix the program was expected, following Trump’s vow to end what he calls the “war on coal.” Pruitt, however, can likely expect a new wave of litigation from the other side of the debate, as environmentalist groups and allied Democrats are sure to challenge the rollback. 

    The Clean Power Plan is hardly the only Obama policy being challenged or reversed by Trump. Just last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services rolled back much of the ObamaCare requirement that employers provide contraceptive coverage.

    Bloomberg first reported that the administration would propose rescinding the Clean Power Plan, by arguing it exceeded federal law. The next step reportedly would be to ask for public comment on how and whether to curb carbon emissions from these power plants. 

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    The 16 Most Insane Things Happening Right Now (10/3/17)

    Everywhere you look, the news is trying to force you to binge on it. No reasonable person can be expected to keep up with all the headlines while maintaining their sanity, so we have taken it upon ourselves to quickly summarize the most important and/or ridiculous headlines from the last week (or so).


    Sources: CBS News, TV Guide



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    Trump attacks Puerto Rico mayor: ‘They want everything done for them’

    Presidents tweet accuses Carmen Yuln Cruz of such poor leadership but San Juan mayor responds: Im not going to be distracted by small comments

    Donald Trump lashed out at the mayor of Puerto Ricos capital city on Saturday as the row over his administrations response to a hurricane and humanitarian crisis escalated.

    Ahead of his visit to the devastated US territory next week, the president used Twitter to say of Carmen Yuln Cruz: Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.

    He went on: They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.

    Trump received a measure of praise for his handling of the recent hurricanes that struck Texas and Florida but has come under fire for a flat-footed response in Puerto Rico, where he sought to defend slow relief efforts by saying: This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water. In the past 10 days he has been distracted by a long weekend at his golf club in New Jersey, an election contest in Alabama, a major tax reform plan and a racially charged dispute with sportsmen who kneel during the national anthem.

    With terrible timing, there have also been revelations about Trumps cabinet members taking expensive charter flights at taxpayers expense, culminating in the resignation of the health secretary, Tom Price. Critics have warned that Maria threatens to become Trumps Katrina a reference to the 2005 hurricane that smashed New Orleans and became a defining failure of George W Bushs presidency.

    Maria, the most powerful storm to strike Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years, has killed at least 16 people on the island, according to the official death toll. The situation remains dire as residents face shortages of food, water and fuel. The electric grid was badly damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, leaving many without power and reliant on gas-powered generators. The hurricanes crippled the islands already weakened waste and water treatment plants while fallen trees and strewn debris block roads and cellphone service remains limited for the 3.4 million population.

    Trump hit out at Cruz after she decried his relief efforts on Friday, saying if the federal government did not solve the logistics what we we are going to see is something close to a genocide.

    San Juans Mayor Carmen Yuln Cruz, left, hugs a woman during her visit to an elderly home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 22 September. Photograph: Thais Llorca/EPA

    We are dying here, Cruz said at a press conference, speaking with tears in her eyes. I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out the logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles. So, mayday, we are in trouble.

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    …Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They….

    September 30, 2017

    Cruz had appealed directly to the president, saying: I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency.

    Trump, who has appointed a three-star general to coordinate the response, is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday and said on Saturday he would visit with the first lady and hopefully be able to stop at the US Virgin Islands, which have also been battered.

    The president also criticised Fake News Networks for negative coverage and said Cruz had been wound up by his political opponents to attack him. He tweeted: The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.

    Cruz was then asked on the MSNBC channel whether anyone had told her to go out and name Trump. She laughed scornfully and said: Actually, I was asking for help. I wasnt saying anything nasty about the president This is a time when everyone shows their true colors. I have no time for distractions This isnt about me; this isnt about anyone; this is about lives that are being lost if things do not get done properly real quickly.

    She added: I am not going to be distracted by small comments, by politics, by petty issues. This is one goal and it is to save lives. Thats all that matters.

    Carmen Yuln Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz)

    The goal is one: saving lives. This is the time to show our “true colors”. We cannot be distracted by anything else.

    September 30, 2017

    Trump has a long history of punching back in business and politics. During his election campaign, he went on the offensive against the Muslim family of a dead US soldier and a former beauty queen who supported his rival Hillary Clinton. After a deadly terrorist attack in London in June, he twisted the words of Londons mayor, Sadiq Khan, to slight him.

    Such broadsides appear to strike a chord with his rightwing populist base. Mike Cernovich, a notorious blogger, author and cheerleader for the president, tweeted about Cruz with no evidence: She is garbage, she is a murderer, she failed her people and her duties and belongs in prison!

    Others expressed disgust at Trumps inaction and lack of sensitivity towards the mayor. Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the musical Hamilton and of Puerto Rican descent, tweeted: She has been working 24/7./ You have been GOLFING./ Youre going straight to hell./ Fastest golf cart you ever took.

    Pop star Lady Gaga tweeted her 71.4 million followers in response to the presidents criticism of Cruz:

    xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga)

    I this it’s clear where the ‘poor leadership’ lies @realDonaldTrump Puerto Rico is part of the United States. This is our responsibility.

    September 30, 2017

    She then followed that up with another tweet speculating on the reasons why Trump, in her opinion, wasnt helping Puerto Rico:

    xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga)

    Oh I see @realDonaldTrump you’re not helping PR because of the electoral votes u need to be re-elected #Florida=29 #Texas=38 #PuertoRico=0

    September 30, 2017

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    6 Shocking Ways Your Phone Is Destroying The Planet

    We do a lot of things knowing that they aren’t great for the environment. We leave the faucet running while we brush our teeth, we throw out tons of food because it looks misshapen, and we use hairspray even though we know damn well we’ve been bald for over 15 years. But surprisingly, our worse sin might be that we encourage the tech industry to keep churning out slightly better bricks to browse Facebook on, despite the fact that those companies are basically Captain Planet villains with stock tickers. Confused? Allow us to explain:


    The Internet Causes 2 Percent Of All Carbon Pollution

    We all know that the internet doesn’t simply exist. You’re not reading these words because the Universe willed them into existence on your screen — they’re being provided to you courtesy of a massive data center somewhere. Imagine the warehouse from Raiders Of The Lost Ark, except with never-ending server racks instead of mystical artifacts and shitty alien MacGuffins.

    But unlike a warehouse full of boxes, data centers require a lot of lightning juice to keep our memes flowing. Unfortunately, that makes them awful for the environment. Because of their insane energy demands, data centers are responsible for 2 percent of the carbon dioxide we’re farting into the sky. That’s about the same percentage as the entire airline industry, which means our GIF consumption is as destructive for Mother Earth as keeping billions of pounds of metal in the air.

    If you masturbated using your imagination instead of porn a couple times a week, you could literally help save the planet.

    The problem isn’t that we’re running too many servers, however — it’s that these servers never stop running. Powering a server takes only a pittance of the energy required to constantly cool them down. We can’t merely turn them off for a while, as that would have disastrous consequences — like not being able to check Facebook for a few minutes.

    And that 2 percent is only the beginning. It’s been estimated that the amount of energy these data centers consume could triple over the course of the next decade, thanks to innovations like streaming, driverless cars, and our inexhaustible need to attach Bluetooth to everything.


    Your Phone’s Battery Is Made From Human Suffering

    Contrary to popular folklore, batteries aren’t tiny metal boxes full of electricity. They rely on complex combinations of metals like graphite, cobalt, and lithium reacting and transferring ions, which are then stored and allow you to expend them on powering your vibrator. Isn’t science wonderful? It’s such a shame, then, that these magic metals are mined in a way that maximizes misery and despair every step of the way.

    In China, for instance, the mining of graphite has caused entire villages to be contaminated with thick clouds of graphite dust. The processing of the raw recently mined graphite is kicked up into the atmosphere, thus bukkake-ing local villages and dwellings in Mother Nature’s glittery jetsam, which in turn kills crops, poisons water supplies, and contributes to massive disease outbreaks. As you’d also expect, neither the government nor the company responsible give a hoot. Every local cleanup effort so far has failed, not because it’s too big to handle but because the suits figured out that it’s cheaper PR to violently suppress journalist investigations than to clean up their mess.

    In the Congo, the mining of cobalt — a vital ingredient in every battery ever — is a massive part of the economy, employing 100,000 people to mine up to 25 percent of the world’s supply. However, cobalt miners work for little to no pay in “artisanal mines,” a fancy Starbucks term for a type of mine that has no safety features and is dug purely by hand. (You’ll notice that there were no upsides in that sentence.) Oh, and a significant portion of the miners are children. We probably should have mentioned that earlier. One study by UNICEF estimated that 40,000 children are employed in cobalt mining, by sheer virtue of the fact that kids are a) tiny and b) hilariously expendable in an industry that already doesn’t value human life.

    In Chile, meanwhile, lithium mining has resulted in the exploitation of indigenous groups. Very similar to how our nation was bought from Native Americans for some beads and a lot of violence, techbros and mining companies are sweeping up ancestral lands belonging to the Atacamas. In exchange for extracting billions of dollars in “white gold,” these companies gave the Atacamas a handful of schools, sewage systems, and other public amenities … only to cheat them out of so much money that they can’t afford to maintain all of their new infrastructure. But the good news is that this doesn’t really matter, as all the mining screws with the local water supply so much that it might make the land barren and eventually uninhabitable in the very near future anyway.

    But hey, check out the battery life on our phone! 16 hours and only at 54 percent! Totes worth it.


    Silicon Valley Is Built Atop A Toxic Dumping Ground

    In the early days of computing, the place that we call Silicon Valley didn’t exist. There were no upstart tech companies, no mood rooms or beanbag chairs — it was nothing but a boring industrial estate full of companies with boring names like Fairchild and Raytheon producing boring components like computer chips. You know what they didn’t do that was boring, however? Spill a bunch of dangerous chemicals into the ground.

    Unlike creating software in your mom’s garage, the process for making physical computer chips is still industrial. A whole litany of solvents and degreasers are involved — chemicals like trichloroethylene, which are super-dangerous to human health and shouldn’t under any circumstances make their way into groundwater. Which is of course exactly what happened. By failing to fix leaky tanks and other vital chemical infrastructures, companies like Intel allowed thousands of gallons of these chemicals to seep into the groundwater of the area — something which was discovered in the 1980s and led to the EPA (back in the days when we had one) blanketing the area in warning signs and red tape.

    But that’s all in the past, right? It’s not like dozens of tech millionaires and billionaires are now walking around on toxic soil, right? Nope, the chemicals are still in the groundwater, and unfortunately for the companies that have made Silicon Valley their home, they have an awful habit of returning to totally disrupt people’s immune systems. This is achieved via a process known as “vapor intrusion,” wherein the chemicals circulate through the ventilation systems of buildings. But you try convincing a bunch of Silicon Valley coders that vaping is bad for you.

    You know that cutesy statue garden that Google built to celebrate having made a phone, because that’s what we do nowadays? That used to be the site of a chip manufacturer called CTS Printex, Inc. Quite curiously, a thousand Google employees working next door were found to have been dosed with “excessive levels” of trichloroethene over the course of two months as a result of a problem with the building’s ventilation system.

    But hey, at least “everyone’s getting brain-damaged” is a good excuse for why so many bad ideas are coming out of Silicon Valley. Time to wheel in some healthy nerds.


    Mongolia Has A Toxic Lake Because Of Your Phone’s Electronics

    It’s unlikely that you’re ever going to visit the town of Baotou in Mongolia, but we’ve got some travel tips for you if you do: Don’t. The only tourist attraction is the local lake, and unless you’re a mutant who loves to bathe in muddy concoctions of acid, industrial effluent, and radioactive sludge, you should stay several hundred miles away from it.

    Like everything else bad in this world, Baotou’s artificial poison lake is a direct result of your smartphone. Almost every rare earth mineral necessary for us to have everything mildly technological, from magnets to touchscreens, comes from Baotou. Its Bayan Obo mines contain 70 percent of the world’s reserves, which is one of the main reasons China can buy us a hundred times over.

    Mining these minerals, however, is a pain in the ass that creates nightmarish vistas. Even after you’ve thrown enough people at the mine to retrieve the minerals, there’s still the small matter of processing them into a salable state. That’s where the chemicals come in. Cerium, for instance, can only be extracted by being crushed and dissolved in sulfuric and nitric acid. To then get rid of the runoff, China dammed off a river and flooded farmland to create a “tailings pond” — a body of water primarily used to dump toxic sludge in. Imagine the devil’s septic tank, and you’re halfway there.

    Liam Young/Unknown Fields
    Lake Baotou: Come for the scenic views, stay because you’ve died of toxic exposure.

    Over the years, the lake became more toxins than water. Drinking its water, or just living and breathing its sticky air, have contributed to a ton of illnesses in the region, including nausea, migraines, and arthritis. One study of the lake’s mud even found traces of radioactive material, which certainly goes a long way toward explaining the area’s suspiciously high number of people with leukemia. Oh, that dam that’s at least keeping this hellish landscape contained to the damned of Baotou? It was so shoddily built that even the slightest tremor could bring it toppling down and trigger the ecological end of days. But maybe there’s a silver lining. Maybe the mutations will give us all cool tails.


    Your iPhone’s Screen Is Poisoning Chinese Workers

    In the days of yore, there was a group known as “the radium girls” — a group of factory workers who were unknowingly spending their days painting watch faces with radium, an insanely lethal chemical we only realized was dangerous after people started glowing in the dark. This incident is now mainly used as a silly anecdote about how primitive and stupid old-timey people. Nothing like that could ever happen today. Most of us don’t even wear watches anymore, we use our phones to … oh.

    The production of your iPhone is split between several companies you’ve never heard of. The screens, for instance, are made by a company called Fangtai Huawei Electronic Technology, based in Guizhou, China. There, they pay workers a pittance to clean touchscreens with a concoction informally known as “banana oil” — a very cutesy name for a substance that put 30 workers in the hospital.

    Unbeknownst to the workforce, their banana fun time fluid was laced with n-hexane, a cleaning agent derived from crude oil so toxic that being near it can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, and irreversible damage to the central nervous system. Anyone working with this solvent was meant to be working in a well-ventilated area and wearing an industrial-strength mask, but shockingly, high safety standards do not a cheap iPhone make. So the workers were given paper masks for breathing, and the only ventilation they got was from the foreman yelling at them for trying to crack a window.

    Surely, because we overpay hundreds of dollars per iPhone each year, that left the company with plenty of profits to pay workers compensation, right? Unfortunately, they prefer to spend their winnings “convincing” health officials that there is no link between the many sick workers and the factory conditions. Fangtai Huawei Electronic Technology will, however, buy a bus ticket for anyone too sick to work so they can fuck off back home to their village. They’re nice like that.


    Your Phone Is Unrecyclable

    Recycling is good. That’s something thousands of hours of Saturday morning cartoons and reruns of the crying Native American PSA has taught us. So if, for instance, you were in charge of inventing the latest iteration of a gadget that next to everyone on the planet is guaranteed to own, it’d stand to reason to make that shit recyclable. Yes? Congratulations! You’re officially smarter than everyone in the R&D departments of Apple, Samsung, Google, and every other tech giant that ever made a smartphone.

    Now, to be fair, your smartphone isn’t unrecyclable because those guys don’t care about the environment; it’s because we don’t want recyclable smartphones. Retrieving the many rare metals that go into a smartphone is a complex matter, so it has always been a choice between focusing on increased recyclability or increased functionality, and we have always gone for the one that lets us watch the whole of The Defenders on the can in one go.

    It’s a market problem that was thrown into smart relief most recently when Samsung accidentally built and then recalled 4.3 million potential smart bombs. Unable to be repaired, refurbished, or resold to consumers who don’t want to browse Twitter dressed like they’re in The Hurt Locker, they needed to find a way of disposing of them that isn’t setting them on fire, i.e. something environmentally conscious. Too bad we haven’t figured that one out yet.

    via CNN Money
    “We’re trying to to work the ‘not setting our users on fire’ part …”

    There are 50 rare elements in each phone, from indium (for the touchscreen) to neodymium (for the speakers) to cobalt (for batteries). Of those 50, it’s only currently possible to recycle roughly a dozen of them. That’s not just a kick in the pants for Samsung’s profit margin, but also a slap in the face for all the people who had to suffer so that those phones could get made. Sure, they were only ever destined to be used for dumb games or sexting, but it’s better than a landfill, y’know?

    And it’s not like we can make some new smartphone materials if we run out of these. Most of these elements aren’t replaceable. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good. Even worse, when Yale University looked for viable replacements for the metals and elements that go into smartphones, it discovered that there were no viable replacements that could be switched in once we run out. We have “Meh” replacements and “Are you kidding me?” replacements, but nothing that performs as well as the materials that we’re currently using. It’s a burgeoning crisis that’ll force us into reconsidering how we consume electronics — or even, at the grander level, the self-destructive nature of consumerism. A discussion that we’re positive will happen any day now.

    Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook. He also has a newsletter about depressing history, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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    PM struggles through interrupted speech

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionFive things that went wrong with May’s speech

    Theresa May had to battle losing her voice and being interrupted on stage by a comedian as she sought to reassert her Conservative leadership.

    Mrs May, who at one point was handed a throat sweet by the chancellor, did make it to the end of a speech in which she vowed to “renew the British dream”.

    She announced plans for more council houses and a cap on energy prices.

    But they were overshadowed by the problems she had delivering the set-piece speech in Manchester.

    BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the annual conference “was meant to be about restoring Theresa May’s authority – it may prove instead to have been further undermined”.

    Mrs May was interrupted early on in her speech by comedian Simon Brodkin – also known as Lee Nelson – who managed to make it to the podium to hand her a P45, a redundancy notice, saying to her that “Boris asked me to give you this”.

    After he was removed and she got encouraging cheers from the audience she joked that the only P45 she wanted to give out was to Jeremy Corbyn.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionA prankster interrupted the prime minister during her speech

    But she struggled to finish the speech because of a croaky voice, having to stop several times to drink water.

    Sources close to the prime minister have said that the PM had caught the “conference cold”, and that her many interviews and meetings this week have taken their toll on her voice.

    They say the prankster who interrupted her speech has been arrested for a breach of the peace and there will be a thorough investigation of security.

    To add to her woes, some of the letters fell off the conference stage backdrop. By the end it read: “Building a country that works or everyon.”

    What now for May – Laura Kuenssberg’s view

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    Media captionLaura Kuenssberg on PM’s speech

    In normal political times, it is probably the case that what one minister described as a “tragedy” today would have led to a prime minister being forced out or quitting.

    But these aren’t normal times. Allies of Theresa May say today she has shown her resilience and determination in spades, demonstrating exactly why she deserves to stay in the job.

    A senior colleague of hers told me she importantly did manage to put forward a coherent vision and talked about her personal beliefs. More than that, for those who want her gone there are three obstacles.

    Read more from the BBC’s political editor

    Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said of the prime minister’s performance: “If ever there was a metaphor for battling through adversity, that was it.”

    In the speech itself, Mrs May delivered a call for a “modern, compassionate Britain” and focused on her personal commitment to social justice and fairness.

    She also apologised to activists in Manchester for an election campaign that had been “too scripted, too presidential”.

    And she said the “British dream” that “life should be better for the next generation” was out of reach for too many people, something she vowed to dedicate her premiership to fixing.

    Mrs May began her speech by outlining the reasons why she joined the Conservative Party more than 40 years ago, stressing that the things that have made her most proud in politics have not been the positions she has held, but “knowing that I made a difference – helped those who cannot be heard”.

    She announced that there would be an independent review of the Mental Health Act, to tackle injustice, and would press for justice to be done for the families of those killed and injured in the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

    “That’s what I’m in this for,” she said.

    Turning to Brexit, Mrs May said she was “confident that we will find a deal that works for Britain and Europe”. She also reassured European citizens living in the UK that “you are welcome here” and urged negotiators to reach agreement on this policy “because we want you to stay”.

    Image copyright Getty Images
    Image caption The prankster turned to Boris Johnson after interrupting the speech
    Image copyright Reuters
    Image caption Even the sign was against her
    Image copyright PA
    Image caption A big hug from husband Philip at the end of the speech

    Mrs May said it had “always been a great sadness for Philip and me that we were never blessed with children”, but she said this did not stop her wanting to help young people on to the housing ladder.

    Hailing plans to “reignite home ownership” in Britain, she said the government plans to invest an additional £2bn in affordable housing, taking the total budget up to almost £9bn.

    If ministers made the land available and gave young people the skills to build the houses, she challenged house builders to ensure they “build the homes our country needs”.

    Who is Simon Brodkin aka Lee Nelson?

    Simon Brodkin is an English comedian more commonly known by his TV character name Lee Nelson. Handing the prime minister a P45 was far from his first.

    His most famous interruption came at Glastonbury in 2015 when he ran onstage as Kanye West was performing. He pulled a similar stunt on The X Factor in 2014, running onstage as the Stereo Kicks were playing.

    He also threw US dollar bills over former Fifa president Sepp Blatter during the football organisation’s bidding scandal.

    The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said the focus on council housing underlines Mrs May’s readiness to intervene and use the public sector to build houses in a way not seen since the 1950s.

    Mrs May announced that the government will next week publish draft legislation to impose a cap on energy prices. Downing Street says it will apply to all standard variable rates.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionAmber Rudd says the government is ‘carefully’ looking at the stunt during PM’s conference speech

    Having seen her Commons majority vanish after June’s general election and facing calls to sack Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson over his interventions on Brexit, Mrs May attempted to use the conference to unite the party behind her “mission” to transform Britain.

    She said it would not be easy, but “it has never been my style to hide from a challenge, to shrink from a task, to retreat in the face of difficulty, to give up and turn away.”

    “And it is when tested the most that we reach deep within ourselves and find that our capacity to rise to the challenge before us may well be limitless.”

    The disruptions to the speech dominated discussion afterwards, but for Labour, shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying that there had been £15bn of pledges made by the end of the speech showing “the Tory magical money tree returns”.

    Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable called it “the speech of a brave prime minister struggling on, while her disloyal Cabinet colleagues openly plot against her”.

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    6 Historical Deaths That Read Like Crazy Myths (But Arent)

    If you’re like us, you probably spend most of your time thinking about the insane, awesome, and horrifying ways that people have died throughout history. It’s not healthy and we aren’t happy about it, but this is the life we’ve chosen, so here we are. You could argue that life tastes more sweet when you know how many “suitable for a heavy metal album cover” ways it could suddenly end. So with that in mind, let’s take another go on this ride and learn about how …


    Georg Wilhelm Richmann Got Struck In The Center Of His Head By Lightning

    Georg Wilhelm Richmann was a Swedish scientist and a major fan of Benjamin Franklin, or at least reckless kite flying. Eager to use a lightning rod to confirm for himself Franklin’s theories, Professor Richmann unleashed his inner Bill Paxton and raced a storm home to his lab. He was accompanied by an academic engraver named Sokolov, who ended up seeing (and later engraving) what happened next.

    Lots of things happened next, it turns out, all at once.

    Sokolov used words as well, and what he described is downright ghoulish:

    [A] palish blue ball of fire, as big as a fist, came out of the rod without any contact whatsoever. It went right to the forehead of the professor, who in that instant fell back without uttering a sound.

    An anonymous engraving of a 1755 medical report would also eventually surface:

    There appeared a red spot from the forehead from which spirted[sic] some drops of blood through the pores, without wounding the surrounding skin. The shoe belonging to the left foot was burst open. Uncovering the foot at that place they found a blue mark, by which it is concluded that the electrical force of the thunder, having forced into the head, made its way out again at the foot.

    So a few lessons to take from that. 1) No matter how cool it looks, one should never stand near a conductor during a thunderstorm. And 2) a blue ball of fire to the forehead does not give you superpowers. Still, this was a guy excited about science, and who died doing it. That’s rad, and we’re sorry to see you go, Professor Georg Richmann. And also sorry about the lack of superpowers thing, because that would have made the latter half of the century a lot more interesting and given us a couple more articles.


    Diane De Poitiers Drank Gold To Stay Young

    As we’ve previously covered, bullshit celebrity health fads have existed for as long as humans have been gullible enough to think that volcanic water and chunks of rocks inserted into their nether regions might make them superior physical specimens. In most cases, these scams don’t end with much worse than people spending too much on water. But when these schemes go bad, they can go all the way bad, and end with people slowly self-murdering themselves — something that Diane de Poitiers could attest to. You know, if she hadn’t died.

    In ye olden times, one big health trend was drinking gold. That’s not a euphemism; people would mix gold flecks into a concoction of chemicals and chug it back in the hopes of retaining a youthful appearance. In the 16th century, Diane de Poitiers, a French noblewoman and mistress to King Henry II, was one of many addicted to aurum potabile. And did it work? Surprisingly, by some accounts, yes:

    I saw her at seventy years of age beautiful of face, also fresh and also pleasant as she had been at thirty years of age … and especially she had a very large whiteness without any make-up. But it is well said that, every morning, she would use some drinks made up of drinkable gold and other drugs given by good doctors and apothecaries.

    Francois Clouet

    Unfortunately, she soon started to feel some unwelcome side effects. It weakened her entire body and caused malformed teeth, fine hair, and porcelain-esque fragile bones. The white complexion that guy was complimenting? That was anemia. She would die at the age of 66, a couple years after a riding accident she never really recovered from. Did drinking poison have any effect on this? It’s hard to state definitively 500 years later, but yes, let’s say it very definitely did. When her body was exhumed and examined by archaeologists, they found that her hair contained levels of gold 500 times higher than normal, as well as absurd amounts of mercury. Her skeleton was basically the T-1000.

    Apparently, your only choice of chaser for your homebrewed Goldschlager is mercury or drinking actual knives.


    Arrichion Choked Himself To Death To Win A Wrestling Match

    Wrestling hasn’t always been a heavily choreographed action figure fashion show. Nope, it is still practiced as a real sport, and at one point — like before we figured out how to sharpen sticks — it was probably the sport. It’s one of the original Olympic events, and back in the good ol’ days, people took it pretty seriously. Like, “dying” seriously.

    In the 564 BCE Olympics, a pankration match — an incestuous mixture of wrestling and boxing — was being fought between Arrichion of Phigaleia and an unnamed opponent with a probably equally ridiculous name. Arrichion was the two-time champion of this event, so the pressure was on him to win. That possibility that seemed to evaporate when his opponent managed to get him into an unbreakable chokehold.

    MatthiasKabel/Wiki Commons
    It looked like this, only with more thunderous sexual tension.

    With no other option, Arrichion reached over and twisted his opponent’s ankle until it snapped in his hands. His opponent yielded in agonizing pain, and Arrichion was awarded the medal. Posthumously. In his grab for victory, Arrichion somehow choked himself to death. At first, it was thought that his opponent had deliberately killed him, or that he died when he was thrown to the mat, but science recently came up with a third option: The chokehold was depriving Arrichion of so much oxygen that the “simple” act of breaking someone’s ankle like dry spaghetti was enough to cause his heart to self-destruct.


    But don’t you feel ashamed that the only time you get sweaty is when you play video games. That’s still a little metal.


    Karl Scheele Tasted Poisonous Chemicals For Science (Because Someone Had To)

    Dr. Carl Wilhelm Scheele was a chemist credited with discovering nitrogen, manganese, chlorine, hydrogen, cyanide, molybdenum, barium, tungsten, and many more of the compounds and gasses which today we either use or try to avoid because, as the good doctor also discovered, they’ll kill the shit out of us if we put them in our mouths. We know this because Dr. Scheele put them in his mouth.

    Why would a scientist turn to toddler tactics in his professional quest for discovery? To understand the answer, we have to briefly explore what it meant to be a chemist back then. Dr. Scheele was a pharmacist by trade, and he did his research in the pharmacy, with the tools available to him. Without computers, mass spectrometers, and all that sciency stuff we get to play with today, that meant using touch, smell, and yes, taste. He did this with everything, but one particular example sticks out.

    At one point, Scheele accidentally created Prussian blue, aka hydrogen cyanide, aka one of the deadliest poisons ever made. He thought it smelled “almondy.” He understood the risks, but none of this really bothered him. In his own words, this was simply “the trouble of all apothecaries.” His devotion to his art was so great that he married the widow of another pharmacist so she could inherit all of his many poisons, lab equipment, and notes. Also, he was so modest that he lost the credit for many of his findings. (Or maybe he ate his notes.) Tragically, one thing he was credited for was one of his mistakes. Copper arsenite, or “Scheele’s Green,” was used to decorate candy for 50 years or so before someone realized feeding children copper and arsenic wasn’t so good for them.

    Anyways, Carl “Yes, I Know I’m Dying, Did You Want Something?” Scheele succumbed to arsenic/cyanide/mercury/everything poisoning on May 26, 1786, at the age of 43. He was last seen being pulled to the heavens in a chariot driven by white, fire-breathing stallions.


    Benjamin Guggenheim Put On His Best Suit To “Die A Gentleman” Aboard The Titanic

    As a member of the then-richest family in the world, Benjamin Guggenheim was able to buy his way aboard the inaugural voyage of the RMS Titanic, the ship famously wrought entirely of iron and hubris. But at the time, no one knew what was to come; it was just an extremely luxurious trip they were all taking. And what’s the point in opulent luxury if you can’t show it off to anyone? So Guggenheim brought his mistress, Leontine Aubart, a maid, Emma Sagesser, and his valet, Victor Giglio, along for the ride as well.

    Guggenheim and Giglio were asleep in their cabin when the infamous iceberg came a-knocking. After the gentlemen helped Aubart and Sagesser into a lifeboat, Guggenheim reassured them that this was only a temporary problem, and that the ship would be up and working by the next day. Which was total bullshit. He was rich, not an idiot. Guggenheim and Giglio knew they were going down with the ship, and set about literally going down in style. They returned to their quarters and changed into their evening attire, then after finding a crewmember boarding a lifeboat, Guggenheim asked for a message to be passed on to his estranged wife: “Tell her I played the game straight to the end and that no woman was left on board because Ben Guggenheim was a coward.”

    Meaning this scene played out even more baller in real life.

    According to eyewitness accounts from the sinking, Guggenheim and Giglio were last seen relaxing in deckchairs, knocking back brandies and smoking fat cigars. Within hours, the ship was on the bottom of the ocean, though it might have lasted longer if Guggenheim, Giglio, and Father Thomas Byles weren’t weighing the craft down with their gargantuan balls.

    Speaking of sinking ships …


    Teddy Sheean Stayed Aboard A Sinking Submarine To Shoot The Bastards Responsible

    Ordinary seaman Edward Sheean died when he was just 18, with a 20mm anti-aircraft gun in his hands and a sinking ship under his feet. During World War II, Sheean was serving aboard the HMAS Armidale, an Australian corvette ship tasked with carrying reinforcements and supplies to Timor. The ship was spotted by Japanese aircraft, which began to attack it. Two torpedo hits later, the ship was doomed.

    Sheean didn’t have much training for what to do next, or really much training at all. He was an teenaged volunteer; most of his “training” was what he managed to gather watching veterans on his assignment. Also, he’d already been wounded twice when he heard the order to abandon ship. The young man delivered his rebuttal in the form of a storm of fury, bringing down two, possibly even three, of the Japanese bombers by himself while the sea roiled around him. And finally above him.

    We’re no longer sure that “ordinary seaman” is really the best descriptor here.

    That’s a painting — probably not painted contemporaneously — of Sheean after he’d strapped himself to his weapon, which was itself bolted to a sinking ship. This wasn’t just bloodlust; he was reacting to an atrocity. The survivors in the water were being shot from the air by the Japanese. It’s quite possible that it was thanks to his efforts, there were 49 survivors instead of none. The gun was still firing when it finally slipped beneath the waves.

    Sheean would go on to win several posthumous awards and honors, and became an almost legendary figure in Australian naval history. And not long after, somewhere in Valhalla, Odin would pull out a chair and hold up a horn of thousand-year-old mead.

    You can follow Marina and Adam on Twitter, IF YOU DARE. (You should, they’re actually really nice.) Marina learned to be a death metal Space Valkyrie with the help of the Skwisgaar Skwigelf Advanced Finger Wizard Master Class, and so can you! Adam’s more of a laidback, classic rock kind of guy, and it really balances out quite nicely with Marina’s Scandinavian insanity (in-Scand-ity?). It should be mentioned in fairness to Prof. RICHmann that Marina REImann was once standing next to a can crusher that was struck by ball lightning at face level. Being a single-digit pipsqueak and not yet aware of the Skwisgaar Skwigelf Advanced Finger Wizard Master Class, she … wet her pants. Immediately.

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    Also check out The 5 Historical Figures Who Died The Weirdest Deaths and 7 Real Humans Who Survived Shockingly Violent Deaths.

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