Secrets Of The Mariana Trench, Caught On Camera

A deep-sea anglerfish live within the pillow basalts in the Mariana Trench area. You can see its round lure between its two eyes. This fish is an ambush predator that waits for prey to be attracted by the lure before rapidly capturing them in one gulp with their large mouths.

Deep in the ocean, a mission is underway to explore the “unknown and poorly known areas” around the Mariana Trench.

“Despite decades of previous work in the region,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, “much of the [trench] and surrounding areas remain unexplored.”

A deep-sea anglerfish live within the pillow basalts in the Mariana Trench area. You can see its round lure between its two eyes. This fish is an ambush predator that waits for prey to be attracted by the lure before rapidly capturing them in one gulp with their large mouths. Courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas

Between April 20 and July 10, the government agency and its partners are collecting and sharing data on the creatures and habitats they find in the Mariana Trench, which stretches 1,500 miles in the Pacific Ocean near Guam.

You can follow NOAA’s live video streams from the Okeanos Explorer, including images from the ocean floor. (Sometimes the streams show maps and computers rather than sea creatures, but you can see video highlights here, too.)

It’s all pretty mind-blowing when you think about it, but here are a couple highlights:

A mesmerizing jellyfish found around 3,700 meters down.

oceanexplorergov YouTube

“At the beginning of the video, you’ll see that the long tentacles are even and extended outward and the bell is motionless,” NOAA notes. “This suggests an ambush predation mode. Within the bell, the radial canals in red are connecting points for what looks like the gonads in bright yellow.”

Watch this purple sea cucumber undulate through the water.

More aliens from the deep: Sea cuke takes flight! Full video: https://t.co/YrWqDmN6uD #Okeanos pic.twitter.com/Q05RzSYiZf

— NOAA Ocean Explorer (@oceanexplorer) May 3, 2016

Also, “pillow lava.”

“These pillow basalts … form when basaltic lava erupts underwater,” NOAA explains. “Cold seawater chills the erupting lava, creating a rounded tube of basalt crust that looks like a pillow. As the newly erupting lava pushes through the chilled basalt crust, it can form scratches on the pillow surface, called striations.”

Pillow lava in the Mariana Trench from an eruption that is less than three years old.

Pillow lava in the Mariana Trench from an eruption that is less than three years old. Courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas

Two years ago, the “ghost fish” of the Mariana Trench surfaced in the news. The “deepest living fish ever recorded” was among the discoveries from researchers who were stunned by the amount of life they found, as NPR’s Christopher Joyce reported. That’s despite the trench being — as Chris put it — “a place of perpetual darkness and freezing cold.”

In another Mariana Trench experiment, scientists from NOAA and Oregon State University dropped a microphone 6 miles down. It’s surprisingly noisy: Hear it for yourself.

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'John Doe' Offers To Turn Over Original Panama Papers Documents To Prosecutors

The entrance to the Hong Kong office of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is involved in the creation of offshore shelters used to hide income.

The entrance to the Hong Kong office of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is involved in the creation of offshore shelters used to hide income. Vincent Yu/AP hide caption

toggle caption Vincent Yu/AP

The anonymous source behind the Panama Papers document dump has offered to help law enforcement officials pursue wrongdoers, in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

“Legitimate whistle-blowers who expose unquestionable wrongdoing, whether insiders or outsiders, deserve immunity from government retribution,” the source said, in a statement released late Thursday. It was verified by Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper that helped bring the documents to worldwide attention.

In early April, media organizations around the world reported that millions of documents were hacked from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama law firm that helps set up offshore shelters for wealthy clients, many of which are used for tax avoidance and hiding assets.

The documents revealed that the firm and its clients had done work for actors, sports stars and government officials all over the world.

The source behind the leak, who goes by the name “John Doe” noted that so far, only copies of the incriminating documents had been leaked, and said investigators would need the originals to prosecute those involved.

“In the end, thousands of prosecutions could stem from the Panama Papers, if only law enforcement could access and evaluate the actual documents,” Doe said.

Doe said he or she was willing to produce the originals, in exchange for immunity, noting that previous whistle-blowers had paid a price for their actions:

“I have watched as one after another, whistle-blowers and activists in the United States and Europe have had their lives destroyed by the circumstances they find themselves in after shining a light on obvious wrongdoing. Edward Snowden is stranded in Moscow, exiled by the Obama Administration’s decision to prosecute him under the Espionage Act. For his revelations about the NSA, he deserves a hero’s welcome and a substantial prize, not banishment. Bradley Birkenfeld was awarded millions for his information concerning Swiss bank UBS—and was still given a prison sentence by the Justice Department.”

The Justice Department declined to comment on Doe’s statement.

The statement contained sharp criticism of governments around the world, saying they had “utterly failed to address the metastasizing tax havens spotting Earth’s surface.”

“Banks, financial regulators and tax authorities have failed. Decisions have been made that have spared the wealthy while focusing instead on reining in middle- and low-income citizens,” it said.

It also excoriated major media organizations for failing to do stories on the documents when they were offered.

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Jeb Bush Won't Vote For Trump: 'I Cannot Support His Candidacy'

De facto GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump will not have the support of his former rival, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

De facto GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump will not have the support of his former rival, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Mark J. Terrill/AP hide caption

toggle caption Mark J. Terrill/AP

Former GOP presidential candidates Jeb Bush said Friday that he would not support de facto Republican nominee Donald Trump in the general election.

He wrote in a Facebook post Friday: “Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character. He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.”

Bush, who began as the favorite for the 2016 GOP nomination, said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton either though. Bush was a target of frequent ridicule by Trump, who often derided him as “low energy.”

Bush joined Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator and former presidential candidate, who also said Friday he could not vote for Trump because he was not a “reliable conservative.” Graham, too, said he wouldn’t vote for Clinton.

“I don’t think he has the temperament or judgment to be commander in chief,” Graham told CNN’s Dana Bash Friday. “A lot of my colleagues will vote for him enthusiastically, some will hold their nose, I just can’t go there with Donald.”

Their hard-line opposition underscores just how much trouble Trump has in front of him in uniting a deeply fractured Republican Party ahead of November.

In fact, the only living Republicans who have been on a presidential ticket to commit to voting for Trump are former Vice President Dick Cheney and Arizona Sen. John McCain. The party’s 2008 nominee though was quoted on tape talking about his concern about his own reelection with Trump at the top of the ticket in his heavily Hispanic home state. McCain is not attending the Republican National Convention.

2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney reiterated Thursday night he wouldn’t support Trump either and also wouldn’t attend the GOP’s July convention. Earlier in the primary he blasted Trump as “a phony, a fraud.”

Romney’s vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, the current speaker of the House, said Thursday he was not there “right now” to vote for Trump.

Bush’s father and brother, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, also indicated earlier this week that they would not endorse Trump and would not attend the convention, either. 1996 presidential nominee Bob Dole will attend the Cleveland convention in July but wouldn’t commit to voting for Trump.

Many Republican governors, including Bruce Rauner in Illinois, Larry Hogan in Maryland and Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, have also said they won’t support Trump’s candidacy. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse also remains an outspoken opponent of his party’s likely nominee

The pronouncements from both Bush and Graham are reversals of the so-called “Unity Pledge” that all 17 Republican candidates signed promising to “endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is.” That much-maligned pledge was unenforceable and hardly seemed like it would last through the contentious GOP primary anyway, and Trump himself abandoned it as well this spring.

Not all of Trump’s former rivals are refusing to back him, though. Former Texas Sen. Rick Perry, who once blasted Trump as a “cancer on conservatism” now says he will support his campaign. Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another one-time outspoken critic of Trump, said he would vote for the likely GOP nominee but is “not happy about it.”

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson had already endorsed Trump after ending his own White House bid and is now heading up Trump’s search for a running mate. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also previously endorsed Trump and has become a frequent surrogate.

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Episode 700: Peanuts and Cracker Jack

Jose Magrass, hot dog selling machine.

Jose Magrass, hot dog selling machine. Nick Fountain/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Nick Fountain/NPR

There’s not a lot of running in baseball. Mostly the players just stand around. But up in the stands, there is a very different game being played—one that demands hours of nonstop effort. The players in this game are vendors, the ballpark workers who run up and down stairs, carrying cases of water and bins of hot dogs above their heads. They are competing to sell as much overpriced junk food, in as little time as possible.

In Boston’s Fenway Park the top seller is Jose Magrass. He is a legend. On opening day this year, he sold 500 hot dogs—$2750 worth. But slinging that many dogs in one night takes skill, shrewdness, and strategy.

On today’s show: The secret world of ballpark vendors. It’s a game of weather forecasting, ruthless efficiency, sore thighs, and swollen vocal chords.

Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

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Born With No Hands, This 7-Year-Old 'Stunned' Judges To Win Penmanship Contest

First-grader Anaya Ellick was born with no hands. But that didn't stop her from winning a national penmanship contest.

First-grader Anaya Ellick was born with no hands. But that didn’t stop her from winning a national penmanship contest. Courtesy Greenbrier Christian Academy hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy Greenbrier Christian Academy

Seven-year-old Anaya Ellick, who was born with no hands and does not use prosthetics, recently won a national penmanship contest.

Holding the pencil between her wrists, the first grader at Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, Va., formed neat, careful letters, earning her the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship. The award is one of several that the educational company Zaner-Bloser gives out every year.

“Anaya is a remarkable young lady. She does not let anything get in the way of doing what she has set out to do,” said GCA principal Tracy Cox in a statement from the school. “She is a hard worker and has some of the best handwriting in her class. Her determination is an inspiration to all of us at GCA.”

To enter the contest for the Nicholas Maxim Award, “a student must have a cognitive delay, or an intellectual, physical or developmental disability,” Zaner-Bloser said in a statement, adding that a team of occupational therapists judge the entries. A spokesman from Zaner-Bloser told NPR that there were about 50 entries this year.

Contest director Kathleen Wright said the judges were “just stunned” by the quality of Anaya’s printing. “Her writing sample was comparable to someone who had hands.”

Anaya's entry to the Nicholas Maxim handwriting contest for special needs children.

Anaya’s entry to the Nicholas Maxim handwriting contest for special needs children. Courtesy Greenbrier Christian Academy hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy Greenbrier Christian Academy

Though Anaya’s arms end in tapered wrists instead of hands, she’s developmentally normal in every other respect, according to a profile by The Virginian-Pilot.

Except, perhaps, for Anaya’s unwavering sense of determination that she’s had since birth.

The newspaper wrote that when Anaya was an infant, “she couldn’t hold a pacifier, but she was keeping it in her mouth by cupping it there with one arm. While still a baby she figured out how to hold a fork to eat and how to build with blocks.”

The newspaper adds that Anaya doesn’t let anything keep her from doing what she wants to do.

“When she wanted to draw, she learned how to balance a crayon or marker between her arms,” the Pilot wrote, “By the time she was 5, she stopped using prosthetics.” Her mother, Bianca Middleton, said they were “slowing her down more than helping.”

She’s precocious in other ways, as well.

“One day, as she and her father walked around a grocery store, he made observations about various vegetables. Three times she stopped to correct him,” the newspaper says.

Middleton told ABC that her daughter’s can-do attitude is an inspiration.

“She helps teach me things I take for granted everyday you know and I look at her like ‘wow’ she’s not complaining, never complains.”

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As Thinking On Animal Ethics Shifts, New Journal On Animal Feeling Launches

The first issue of Animal Sentience looks at the question of whether fish can feel pain.

The first issue of Animal Sentience looks at the question of whether fish can feel pain. iStockphoto hide caption

toggle caption iStockphoto

A new scientific journal is not merely a new venue for publishing research, it can encourage new science, create a new community of investigators and, to some degree, contribute to the establishing of new fields.

There are numerous examples of this in the history of science. For example, cognitive science was not born in 1978 when Stevan Harnad established Behavioral and Brain Sciences, but there can be no doubt that BBS helped make cognitive science the sort of robustly cross-displinary field it has become. In BBS, “target articles,” by psychologists, linguists, philosophers, roboticists, for example, would garner “commentary articles” from dozens of writers working in different fields. The idea that “the mind” is not the proprietary subject matter of one discipline — but truly demands that different methods and starting points and practices come together to try to sort it out — was one that was realized in the pages of BBS. I don’t think that any history of cognitive science could afford to neglect a chapter on BBS itself.

Stevan Harnad, who ran BBS more or less single-handedly for decades, is at it again. He has recently established a brand new journal devoted to the study of animal feeling. This one, taking advantage of open access and the efficiencies of web-based publishing, threatens to be a massive success. The first issues have been devoted to fish pain (Do they have it? How can we know for sure?) as well as other important topics such as that of animal mourning (looking at the writing of our own Barbara J. King, who is also on the editorial board of the new journal).

In the editorial introducing the journal called Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling, Harnad writes: “The inaugural issue launches with the all-important question (for fish) of whether fish can feel pain.” And he notices: “The members of the nonhuman species under discussion will not be able to join in the conversation, but their spokesmen and advocates, the specialists who know them best, will.”

The tone of Harnad’s remarks give a good sense of what has changed in the last few years that has made the establishment of a new journal such as this seem so imperative. It isn’t that there’s been a sea change in theory itself. Hard as it may be to believe, I think scientists are pretty divided, as they have always been, about whether animals are genuinely sentient. But the strength of the conviction on the part of many, not only that animals can think and feel but that this is a fact of enormous moral, social and political importance, has increased greatly. And if there has been no theoretical sea change, I think there has been an ethical one. The demand that animal lives matter and that, wherever one comes down on such questions as to whether fish feel pain or whether it is permissible to perform research on animals, the conviction that the interests of animals need to be taken seriously is now, I think, very much the norm.

It is impossible to say whether Animal Sentience will change the scientific landscape the way Behavioral and Brain Science did. But there is every possibility that it will, especially under the guidance of the ambitious, hands-on and indefatigable Stevan Harnad. Writing in the inaugural editorial, he says: “As animals are at long last beginning to be accorded legal status and protection as sentient beings, our new journal Animal Sentience, will be devoted to exploring in depth what, how and why organisms feel.”

Alva Noë is a philosopher at the University of California, Berkeley, where he writes and teaches about perception, consciousness and art. He is the author of several books, including his latest, Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2015). You can keep up with more of what Alva is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @alvanoe

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From Coal To Code: A New Path For Laid-Off Miners In Kentucky

Software coders (from left) William Stevens, Michael Harrison and Brack Quillen work at the Bit Source office in Pikeville, Ky., in February. The year-old firm has trained laid-off coal workers to become software coders.

Software coders (from left) William Stevens, Michael Harrison and Brack Quillen work at the Bit Source office in Pikeville, Ky., in February. The year-old firm has trained laid-off coal workers to become software coders. Sam Owens/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Sam Owens/Bloomberg via Getty Images

All over eastern Kentucky, you see cars and pickup trucks with black license plates proclaiming the owner is a “friend of coal.”

Even though the license plates are all over, it’s getting harder to find actual coal miners here: Fewer than 6,000 remain in the state, where the coal industry is shrinking fast. More than 10,000 coal workers have been laid off since 2008.

Many have had to leave the area to find work, but a few have found employment in other — and sometime unexpected — fields, as businesses are innovating to use former coal workers in new ways.

Rusty Justice’s company is one of these.

“The realization I had was that the coal miner, although we think of him as a person who gets dirty and works with his hands, really coal mines today are very sophisticated, and they use a lot of technology, a lot of robotics,” says Justice, who has worked in the coal industry all his life.

Justice is one of the owners of Bit Source, a year-old tech startup in Pikeville, Ky. He owns another company in eastern Kentucky, too — an engineering and excavation firm that relies on the coal industry for most of its business.

But with an eye on his bottom line, a few years ago Justice felt he had to diversify. And after lots of research, he and his business partner settled on coding, with the aim of tapping the region’s workforce of laid-off coal miners and teaching them a new skill.

He put up ads, and got nearly 1,000 applicants. Ten were hired; of those, nine remain.

Inside Bit Source’s headquarters, the nine Web developers sit around MacBooks, writing code. All of them used to work in the coal industry. After 22 weeks of company-provided training, six former coal miners and three industry support workers became coders.

Garland Couch used to be a maintenance manager for coal companies, until he lost his job in 2014. Like most coal industry jobs, his paid well. Before he got the call from Bit Source to become a developer, Couch says, he figured he’d have to leave the region to support his family.

“The entire Appalachian area, if you’re not working in the coal industry, then the wage that you’re going to make is substantially reduced,” he says. “If you’re going to earn a decent living, then you’re having to look to move.”

Robin Webb, a state senator, represents several eastern Kentucky counties and is a former coal miner turned lawyer.

“Eastern Kentuckians value family and the area, and they want to stay home and they should be able to do that,” Webb says. “I think that’s our goal as policymakers, to ensure that they can.”

In the past, politicians focused on improving the region’s asphalt infrastructure, building two- and four-lane highways to eastern Kentucky. They blamed the struggling economy on the topography: mountains and forests that necessitated spiderweb networks of long, winding roads.

But now, Bit Source manager John Handshoe says for companies like his to thrive, eastern Kentucky needs a different type of infrastructure.

“We’re not shipping coal out of here anymore; we’re shipping code,” he says. “The broadband’s our highway, our shipping lanes, our trains.”

The region’s Internet speeds lag when compared with most other cities, though a state-funded project is working to bring broadband to the region.

Leaders in the area see the project as crucial to creating a new Appalachia. For them, the region’s future relies on lots of smaller industries and employers, rather than one gigantic one like the coal industry. It’s a big change from the way things were done in the past.

Bit Source owner Justice points to the old-fashioned mine equipment hanging in the building’s entry.

“Our slogan is ‘a new day, a new way,’ ” he says. “And it’s a new day here in Appalachia and we’re trying to do things a new way.”

And as Justice says, it’s not necessarily a new way for the rest of the world, but it’s new for eastern Kentucky.

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Department Of Homeland Security Officer May Be Linked To Deadly Shootings In Maryland

Police say they are investigating a “possible link” between a Department of Homeland Security police officer suspected of killing his wife Thursday, and two shootings in suburban Maryland on Friday.

At least two people were killed and two others injured Friday in separate incidents outside two shopping centers, according to the Montgomery County Police Department.

The Montgomery County Police Department said Eulalio Tordil, 62, has been taken into custody.

Investigating possible link btwn @PGPDNews homicide suspect Eulalio Tordil &Mo Co shootings: https://t.co/hHrYXINzqc pic.twitter.com/1iaAhQjb0h

— Montgomery Co Police (@mcpnews) May 6, 2016

A Department of Homeland Security spokesman confirmed to NPR that Tordil is an officer with the agency’s Federal Protective Service. NPR’s Philip Ewing, citing the spokesman, reports that Tordil “was placed on ‘administrative leave’ earlier this year after ‘a protective order’ was issued against him and that his supervisors took away his badge, duty weapon and other credentials.”

The Prince George’s County Police Department identified Tordil as the suspect in the shooting death of his “estranged wife,” 44-year-old Gladys Tordil, in the parking lot of a high school in Beltsville, Md.

NPR’s David Welna reports that Montgomery County police are investigating whether that shooting is related to the incidents at the two shopping centers.

Police said in a press briefing Friday that they responded to a report of a shooting at Montgomery Mall at about 11 a.m. ET and found two men and a woman injured in the parking lot. One man died after being transferred to a hospital, and the other was critically injured. The woman sustained injuries that are not life-threatening, police say.

Mall Shooting: 1 adult male victim is deceased. 2 other victims-1 adult male is critical, 1 adult female w/non-life-threatening injuries.

— Montgomery Co Police (@mcpnews) May 6, 2016

Not long after, a woman was shot dead in the parking lot of a mall in the nearby Aspen Hill region. Police tweeted that Tordil had been arrested in the Aspen Hill area.

Aspen Hill shooting: 1 adult female victim is deceased.

— Montgomery Co Police (@mcpnews) May 6, 2016

Montgomery County public schools were placed on a lockdown order, which has since been lifted for all but five schools.

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