Bald Eagle Caught Elegantly … Swimming?

🦅 Whoa! A bald eagle was spotted swimming to shore in Wolfeboro. Amazing! https://t.co/udTkenOeNS

📹: Tyler Blake / u local (upload here: https://t.co/bqKBGSxerF) pic.twitter.com/7jP9YnlRjP

— WMUR TV (@WMUR9) June 10, 2019

Bald eagles are typically known for their elegant flying, skilled hunting and having such majestic strength and beauty that they became the U.S. national bird. But they also possess a lesser-known talent: swimming.

Yes, bald eagles are really good at swimming, a fact some of us learned this week from a viral video published by New Hampshire TV station WMUR.

In it, a bald eagle’s white head bobs rhythmically through the water. Occasionally a wing can be seen as the bird does an avian equivalent of the butterfly stroke. It moves quickly and gracefully through the water, covering a considerable distance before it reaches the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. It calmly strides onto land, shaking the water from its feathers before it strikes a watchful, picturesque pose.

The video was shot by Tyler Blake, who spotted the display early in the morning before he headed to his construction job.

“I ran down to the docks and I saw an eagle flapping in the water,” Blake told WMUR. “I’m, like, ‘Wow!’ I wasn’t sure if it was hurt or something.”

In fact, eagle researcher Jim Watson from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says “swimming is not an unusual activity” for these birds.

That’s because bald eagles are open-water foragers, catching fish straight out of rivers and lakes. Typically, they will spot a fish on the surface of the water and divebomb down, talons outstretched. Watson says that usually, they snatch the fish off the surface while keeping their feathers relatively dry, then fly back up into the air with a tasty meal.

But sometimes, that hunting maneuver gets a little more complicated.

“It may have gone as planned, they just got a bigger fish and said, ‘I’m going to stick with this, I can make it to shore and so it’s a good deal,'” Watson says. Or, the bird might have missed the fish and ended up in the water.

Either way, the eagle needs to start swimming, because “their feathers get soaked and they can’t fly away,” Watson says. “Throughout the years I’ve seen them swim a lot of times and usually it’s because they fly out and attempt to catch a fish in the water and maybe get waterlogged.”

If it catches a large fish, Watson says the eagle can actually grip the fish with its talons as it gracefully swims to shore.

This one doesn’t appear to have a fish, though, probably meaning that it either missed or released the fish. And even though an eagle swimming is not necessarily a sign of distress because they’re capable swimmers, Watson says there have been cases of eagles drowning.

“It takes a lot of energy to swim in the water,” he says. “It’s a natural flying motion … just more difficult to do that in the water.”

Eagles have strong chest muscles from flying. Just like the butterfly stroke, Watson says, “they actually use the wing tips and push down in the water with their wings.”

This isn’t the first time a bald eagle has been caught on video swimming. Here’s a video posted on YouTube of an eagle swimming in Alaska in 2011 shows another angle of the animal’s powerful movements:

YouTube

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Mexico’s Migration Chief Abruptly Resigns

Central American migrants and local residents crossing the Suchiate river from Tecun Uman in Guatemala, to Ciudad Hidalgo in Chiapas State, Mexico.

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The president of Mexico’s National Migration Institute, the government agency that controls and supervises migration, resigned Friday.

In a brief statement, the Institute announced that Tonatiuh Guillén Lopez presented his resignation to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Guillén Lopez, who thanked the Mexican president for the opportunity to serve the country, had been commissioner of the migration agency since December.

The statement did not give a reason for the resignation.

Messages sent to Guillén Lopez, by NPR, were not immediately returned.

His resignation comes as Mexico is dealing with a surge of migrants, mostly from Central America, trying to reach the United States.

The migration agency has been struggling with budget cuts and increased demands. It has come under criticism from the United States for not doing more to control the surge of migrants.

The United States and Mexico on June 7 agreed to a series of actions to address the flow of migrants, including increased enforcement by Mexico of its southern border with Guatemala.

Earlier in the day, López Obrador said that his government will bolster security at his country’s southern border, acknowledging that there have been lax controls there.

“We have identified 68 crossings like that, and in all of them there will be oversight,” López Obrador said as cited by The Associated Press.

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Be Careful Of Fecal Transplants, Warns FDA, After Patient Death

Fecal transplantation is an experimental procedure to treat intestinal conditions, including recurrent, antibiotic-resistant Clostridium difficile infection. But if the donor stool is not properly screened, it can spread other illnesses.



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Two people got very sick, and one died, during a trial of an experimental procedure known as fecal transplant, according to a statement issued Thursday from the Food and Drug Administration. As a result, the agency is suspending several clinical trials investigating the procedure until safety standards can be assured.

Researchers are studying fecal microbiota for transplantation, or FMT, as a treatment for several intestinal conditions, including recurrent, antibiotic-resistant Clostridium difficile infection, which led to 29,000 deaths in 2015. FMT, which involves transplanting stool from a healthy person into the colon of a sick person, is still not approved by the FDA.

This week’s case involved two immuno-compromised adults who received investigational fecal transplants that contained a strain of antibiotic-resistant E. coli, according to the FDA. Both individuals received stool from the same donor, who was not screened for disease-causing bacteria before the procedure.

While the FDA does not currently approve FMT for any use, the agency provides some guidelines for clinical trials of FMT, and seeks “to strike a balance between assuring patient safety and facilitating access to unapproved treatments for unmet medical needs,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in the FDA statement.

In response to these adverse outcomes, the FDA announced new standards requiring researchers in clinical trials to demonstrate proper screening procedures for donor stool.

“This case is really unfortunate,” says Dr. Dale Gerding, a researcher at the Veterans Administration who consults on a number of FMT trials currently under review by the FDA. “I think it reinforces the need for FDA oversight over FMT. It’s exceedingly useful some patients, but we need to be sure that it’s safe.”

Fecal transplants have been successful in treating C. difficile infections in several trials.

According to Gerding, recurrent bouts of C. difficile infection likely stem from an abnormal intestinal microbiome that allows C. difficile to multiply unabated by “good” bacteria. Recurrent bouts of the infection are also increasingly resistant to antibiotics, leaving patients with few options.

Fecal transplants from a healthy individual can normalize the patients’ microbiota, quelling the infection and relieving symptoms. Studies show that it works better than other treatments for recurrent infection. “Anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of patients no longer have recurrent cases after a single FMT,” says Gerding.

But despite its success, Gerding cautions that there are still many unknowns. “FMT is very promising, especially for C. difficile infection, but we don’t know as much about how effective it’s going to be for other diseases like inflammatory bowel disease,” he says. Despite these unknowns, interest in FMT is surging, with some patients taking a do-it-yourself approach.

Gerding hopes this recent case will underline the need for enforcement of safe procedures. “This death is the most extreme side effect I’m aware of in the history of FMT,” says Gerding. “Moving forward we have to clearly be sure that we’re enforcing safety measures that ensure that donors are tested for potential pathogens.”

Jonathan Lambert is a freelance science journalist based in Washington, D.C. You can follow him on Twitter: @evolambert

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Retailers Ask Trump To Stop Tariff Threats On China

Walmart is among the more than 600 companies and trade associations that signed a letter warning the president of the broader impacts of his proposed tariffs.

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A group of more than 600 companies and trade associations have signed a letter to the president asking him to end the trade war with China and to drop tariffs.

Retail giants like Walmart, Target, Macy’s and Gap wrote that they are worried tariffs will lead to job loss and will harm consumers and the U.S. economy.

“We remain concerned about the escalation of tit-for-tat tariffs,” the companies wrote in the letter, which also went to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “We know firsthand that the additional tariffs will have a significant, negative and long-term impact on American businesses, farmers, families and the U.S. economy.”

The letter was sent days after Trump said he is confident that threatening China with tariffs will be an effective negotiation tool after similar tactics led to a deal with Mexico.

Currently, the U.S. has levied tariffs on some $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. And the Trump administration is considering expanding tariffs by as much as 25% on an additional $300 billion of Chinese imports.

The letter suggests 25% tariffs on most Chinese imports could potentially cut more than 2 million U.S. jobs and increase costs for families, according to a study by the Trade Partnership Worldwide, a consulting research and analysis agency, for the CEO group Business Roundtable.

The companies and groups that sent the letter are part of a coalition opposing the tariffs called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. In the letter, the companies say they support the president’s efforts to hold trading partners accountable, but ramping up trade tensions is not the best strategy.

“We believe this goal can be achieved without taxing Americans,” the letter said.

This isn’t the first time companies have spoken out against Trump’s trade wars. Shoe retailers Nike and Adidas sent a warning to the president in May that said proposed tariffs with China would have a “catastrophic” effect on Americans.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, which represents brands like Nike and Adidas, sent a different letter last month opposing tariffs.

“It’s a regressive tax on Americans,” said Matt Priest, president and CEO of the group. “It’s an inevitability that if prices go up due to duties, those price increases will be passed onto the American consumer. It won’t be the Chinese, it will be Americans.”

But the consequences of tariffs extend far beyond retail. Farmers in the Midwest have been particularly suffering, having lost the Chinese market for soybeans, among other crops. Last month, the White House announced a new program giving farmers some $16 billion in aid to help alleviate their financial pain from lost Chinese markets.

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Judge Sets Julian Assange Extradition Hearing For February

Jennifer Robinson, lawyer of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, talks to reporters at Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Friday.

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Julian Assange is set to appear before a British court early next year in a hearing on whether the WikiLeaks founder should be extradited to the U.S., a judge in London ruled on Friday.

The charges Assange faces include conspiring to hack government computer networks.

He will have the hearing in February, which could last for several days.

Via video link to a courtroom on Friday, Assange defended himself against allegations that he illegally revealed classified government and military information by saying, “WikiLeaks is nothing but a publisher,” according to the BBC.

A gray-bearded Assange, who is 47, is being held at a maximum-security prison on the outskirts of London.

Assange is receiving medical care because of unspecified health complications associated with longterm confinement, first in the Ecuadorean Embassy and now in prison, his lawyer Jennifer Robinson told reporters.

During the hearing, Ben Brandon, a British lawyer representing the U.S. government, said the prosecution represents “one of the largest compromises of confidential information in the history of the United States,” according to The Associated Press.

Assange and his supporters have said prosecuting for his involvement in leaks of government material criminalize newsgathering, and should be of concern to journalists.

American prosecutors are seeking to try Assange on charges under the Espionage Act in connection with the 2010 leak of hundreds of thousands of secret documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Authorities say Assange worked with former U.S. army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in a coordinated effort to compromise U.S. government computer networks, and obtain and publish classified documents related to national security.

Former President Barack Obama shortened her 35-year sentence before leaving office.

But Manning, who served about seven years in prison after being convicted in the affair, was recently sent back to jail for refusing to testify in front of a grand jury investigating Assange.

Last month, a British judge sentenced Assange to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail. The judge issued the sentence after Assange was pushed out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in April. His lawyers are appealing.

The complex case coupled with Assange’s health has his legal team increasingly worried about his ability to mount a full defense, Robinson told reporters on Friday.

“We are very concerned,” Robinson said. “He’s facing a significant, complex case of huge size and scale, and that is an incredible pressure to be placed upon someone who is already suffering significant health impacts as a result of his continued confinement.”

Assange also faces questions from prosecutors in Sweden, who are investigating a rape allegation made against him.

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Tessa Thompson, New ‘Men In Black’ Agent, Found Inspiration In The Originals

Tessa Thompson as M and Chris Hemsworth as H in the new Men in Black: International.

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Tessa Thompson is one of Hollywood’s fastest rising stars. With big parts in Thor: Ragnarok, Creed, and Westworld, she’s gone from that actress you know from somewhere to the kind you stop on the street.

“It also doesn’t help currently that I’m on the side of a lot of buses,” Thompson jokes.

And part of what got her to this strange place is a sci-fi movie that came out in 1997, when she was 14 years old: Men In Black. “I was — I still am — but then was a massive Will Smith fan. I grew up watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and it’s easy to take for granted now, but what Will Smith did at that time, becoming sort of the global movie star that he did, and bringing his identity, his black male identity to those spaces is hugely impactful,” she says. “I’m not sure that if I didn’t grow up watching him on television, I would have thought it would even be possible to do what I’m doing now.”

And what Thompson is doing now is starring in Men in Black: International, the latest installment in the franchise. She plays Agent M, and together with Agent H — played by Chris Hemsworth — she travels the world, fighting intergalactic invaders. The role brings her back together with Hemsworth, her scene partner in Thor: Ragnarok, and like Ragnarok, it’s got aliens and explosions and all the trappings of a big Hollywood action movie.

But Thompson first broke through with more subtle films, including the racial satire Dear White People and the civil rights drama Selma.


Interview highlights

On what drew her to genre films

I really just wanted to work in those spaces because they present real challenges as an actor, particularly when you’re working with green screen, and you’re talking to things that don’t exist — it’s pure imagination … so for example in Thor, when I have these great scenes with the Hulk, who’s played by Mark Ruffalo, I can’t look at Mark Ruffalo, I have to look at a tennis ball that is affixed to this weird sort of thing that is maybe, you know, four feet above his head. So just the mechanics of doing that. There’s sort of a steep learning curve with some of that stuff, or the stunt work. You know, I had never done that, because I had come so squarely from these tiny movies that I had almost paid to be in, because they were made on such a shoestring. And then also, you know, bless — but the crew is working so hard, sometimes you’re playing these very emotional scenes, and intense scenes, and all these big fans are on to create wind, and you see people off in the distance eating sandwiches, and you really have to suspend our own disbelief.

On bringing a calm and a realness to the crazy scenes she’s in

I guess I don’t know how to do it any other way. I sort of work from a place of just trying to find the truth, and trying to find something that I can anchor myself in and make sense of. In terms of Men in Black: International and looking at the old Men in Black films, I love the stillness of Tommy Lee Jones — I mean, of course it’s fun to be the live wire of Will Smith, and … people love that and are attracted to it, but I think what Tommy Lee does in those films is so brilliant, and there cannot be a Will Smith without Tommy in terms of tone. They have to foil each other, in a way, and I like being the straight man.

On sharing star billing with Chris Hemsworth, and with men in general

I think it is changing — I think he is unusual. But I think there’s plenty of men that are up for the challenge, and I think also they just need to be asked. Something that we were able to do inside of TIME’S UP this year was issue this challenge called the 4% Challenge, which has to do with the fact that in the last 10 years, some of the top-grossing studio films that have been made, women represent only 4% of the directors in that space, and so asking people to make a pledge to work with a female director in the next 18 months. And I got on the phone with some big Hollywood stars that are men, and some were a little reluctant because they didn’t want to sign up if they weren’t going to work for a bit, or they couldn’t commit, and others, like Armie Hammer, were like, of course, I can’t believe I’m just working with a female director now when I’ve been working as long as I have. But I do think it requires people to make a concerted effort. I don’t think inclusion happens by mistake. It doesn’t just happen.

On obstacles to inclusion

Well, there’s this idea, for example, that they don’t exist in the pipeline. So me saying that only 4% of those films are directed by women, there’s a misconception for some people in Hollywood that that’s the pool of talent. And you see that in the indie space, women represent maybe 28% of films that are made. So it exists in the pipeline — people are making a conscious decision not to hire those women and not to put them up for projects. Also there’s still this language that I really hate, with a studio movie, that we “took a risk,” and I don’t think that language is used — you look at someone like Taika Waititi on Thor, who’s a brilliant filmmaker who had made all indie movies, and then Marvel said, “you’d be fantastic for this film,” and they were right. And I think we just need to see more studios doing that with women … because it wasn’t a risk, he had made so many brilliant films, and there are plenty of women who have done the same.

This story was produced for radio by Mallory Yu and Connor Donevan, and adapted for the Web by Petra Mayer

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