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New evidence that sperm whales form clans with diverse cultures, languages

‘Sperm whales share something fundamental with humans. Both of our species form groups with unique languages and traditions known as “cultures.” A new study of sperm whale groups in the Caribbean suggests that these animals are shaped profoundly by their culture, which governs everything from hunting patterns to babysitting techniques. Whale researcher Shane Gero, who has spent thousands of hours with sperm whales, says that whale culture leads to behaviors that are “uncoupled from natural selection.”

Gero and his colleagues recently published a paper on Caribbean whale culture in Royal Society Open Science, in which they describe the discovery of a new clan. Though this clan may have lived in the Caribbean for centuries, it’s just coming to light now because sperm whales live and hunt in vast territories. This makes them hard to track. Like many scientists who study these wide-ranging creatures, Gero observes them by lowering specialized microphones into the water and recording the sounds they make to communicate.

Scientists working throughout the world have identified 80 unique “codas,” the sperm whale equivalent of words, which they produce by emitting sounds called clicks. Each sperm whale clan has its own dialect, a unique repertoire of codas shared only with the other families who make up their clan. In the Pacific, there are five known dialect clans, and many of them co-exist in the same general regions without ever interacting. Atlantic whales have their own dialects too, and in the Caribbean there are two known clans…’

Source: Ars Technica

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Internet mapping turned a remote farm into a digital hell

‘An hour’s drive from Wichita, Kansas, in a little town called Potwin, there is a 360-acre piece of land with a very big problem.

The plot has been owned by the Vogelman family for more than a hundred years, though the current owner, Joyce Taylor née Vogelman, 82, now rents it out. The acreage is quiet and remote: a farm, a pasture, an old orchard, two barns, some hog shacks and a two-story house. It’s the kind of place you move to if you want to get away from it all. The nearest neighbor is a mile away, and the closest big town has just 13,000 people. It is real, rural America; in fact, it’s a two-hour drive from the exact geographical center of the United States.

But instead of being a place of respite, the people who live on Joyce Taylor’s land find themselves in a technological horror story.For the last decade, Taylor and her renters have been visited by all kinds of mysterious trouble. They’ve been accused of being identity thieves, spammers, scammers and fraudsters. They’ve gotten visited by FBI agents, federal marshals, IRS collectors, ambulances searching for suicidal veterans, and police officers searching for runaway children. They’ve found people scrounging around in their barn. The renters have been doxxed, their names and addresses posted on the internet by vigilantes. Once, someone left a broken toilet in the driveway as a strange, indefinite threat.

All in all, the residents of the Taylor property have been treated like criminals for a decade. And until I called them this week, they had no idea why…’

Source: Fusion

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Aziz Ansari: Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family

‘ “DON’T go anywhere near a mosque,” I told my mother. “Do all your prayer at home. O.K.?”“We’re not going,” she replied.

I am the son of Muslim immigrants. As I sent that text, in the aftermath of the horrible attack in Orlando, Fla., I realized how awful it was to tell an American citizen to be careful about how she worshiped. Being Muslim American already carries a decent amount of baggage. In our culture, when people think “Muslim,” the picture in their heads is not usually of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or the kid who left the boy band One Direction. It’s of a scary terrorist character from “Homeland” or some monster from the news.

Today, with the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and others like him spewing hate speech, prejudice is reaching new levels. It’s visceral, and scary, and it affects how people live, work and pray. It makes me afraid for my family. It also makes no sense…’

Source: The New York Times

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Scotland or NI could prevent the UK from leaving the EU

‘Under the Scotland Act 1998, it appears that the Scottish Parliament has to consent to measures that eliminate EU law’s application in Scotland. At least that was the conclusion of a report on Brexit released by the House of Lords, the upper house of Britain’s parliament.

Jo Murkens, an associate professor of law at the London School of Economics I spoke with about this, told me that this isn’t actually an iron-clad veto.  The Scotland Act was passed by the UK parliament, and parliament can amend it on its own to reduce the Scottish parliament’s powers.To exit the EU and avoid a binding Scottish veto, “Parliament would have to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 (by which it became a member) and would also have to amend the devolution legislation pertaining to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland,” Murkens said. “That strikes me as technically easy, but politically difficult.

“If the Conservative Party is insistent on Brexiting and is willing to overturn decades of law giving Northern Ireland and Scotland (both of which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU) local control over their affairs, then it can totally do so. But, as Murkens also noted, such a dramatic action could risk a huge backlash. Scotland is already planning to hold another independence referendum, and seeing devolution curtailed would make its success much more likely. Northern Irish republicans would be emboldened to call for unification with the Republic of Ireland, which could occur, or they could just reignite the Troubles after decades of peace.

If the overriding objective of Conservatives, however, is to “preserve the integrity of the United Kingdom as a state,” Murkens said, “the objective of keeping NI and Scotland in the United Kingdom would turn them into veto players … Scotland and NI have voted to remain and the cost of not listening to them would be to split the UK.” …’

Source: How Brexit could wind up not actually happening – Vox