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Senate timidly moves to curb NSA snooping

Sen. Mark Udall.

Sen. Mark Udall.

Sen. Mark Udall votes against measure, says more far-reaching reform is needed

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A bill that would take baby steps toward curbing the excessive spying by U.S. intelligence agencies passed through a Senate committee this week, but the measure doesn’t go far enough, according to Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who has proposed legislation that would would rein in the dragnet collection of phone records, provide safeguards for warrantless wiretapping under the FISA Amendments Act, and create a constitutional advocate to protect privacy rights in cases before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Udall voted against the bill, saying that Americans need more protection from snooping government agencies.

“The NSA’s ongoing, invasive surveillance of Americans’ private information does not respect our constitutional values and needs fundamental reform – not incidental change,” Udall said. “Unfortunately, the bill passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee does not go far enough to address the NSA’s overreaching domestic surveillance programs. ” Continue reading

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Morning photo: Ice obsession

Frozen stuff …

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A micro-landscape along Meadow Creek, in Frisco, Colorado.

FRISCO —OK, so I’ll admit I have an ice obsession, at least for a few weeks in the fall, when the streams of Summit County start to freeze over. Later in the fall and in the winter, soft snow pillows cover most of creekbeds and streambanks, but for a few weeks in late October and early November, you can kind of see the bones of the rivers as they slow to a trickle. The freeze-up starts in the deepest parts of the canyons, usually where there are some overhanging branches. Splashes of water freeze in the cold air above the stream, then drip down, creating quite an amazing variety of shapes. Set against the flowing water, it can be a magical scene. Please visit the online Summit Voice gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County landscapes. Continue reading

Study shows how global warming could favor invasive shrubs over native forest trees

Timing is everything …

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How will forests respond to global warming? bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Global warming is likely to play out in some unexpected ways, but pattern that’s emerging suggests that changed conditions will favor invasive plants over long-time native species.

New research from the Technische Universität München confirms that trend, suggesting that invasive herbs and shrubs could take advantage of warmer winters in perhaps unexpected ways.

“Contrary to previous assumptions, the increasing length of the day in spring plays no big role in the timing of budding. An ample ‘cold sleep’ is what plants need in order to wake up on time in the spring,” said lead author Julia Laube, describing the study, which investigated 36 tree and shrub species. Continue reading

Report: Utter mismanagement of plastic waste is devasting marine ecoysystems

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Some of the plastic marine waste accumulating in the oceans has become concentrated in the center of the Pacific Ocean by the North Pacific Gyre.

UCLA environmental and policy experts outline steps needed to tackle the problem

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A new report on plastic pollution in the world’s oceans doesn’t mince words, calling the current state of affairs a “global mismanagement” of plastic waste.

Singling out plastic litter as one of the most significant problems facing marine environments, the policy brief from UCLA researchers documents the devastating effects of plastic marine litter and outlines why existing international legal mechanisms are inadequate to resolve the litter crisis.

It also offers a top-10 list of proposed actions, including a new international treaty with strong monitoring and enforcement mechanisms; domestic and local regulatory actions, such as bans of the most common and damaging types of plastic litter; extended producer-responsibility programs; and the creation of an “ocean friendly” certification program for plastic products. Continue reading

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