Thursday, March 31, 2016

Realty Company Gives Half of All Commissions to Charity

Photo from Heart to Heart Real Estate website

When a California realtor read "The Peace Pilgrim," he was so inspired that he decided that it was time to make his life more meaningful, he told a reporter for a local magazine.  With his partner, they formed a real estate company that donates one-half of their sales commission to the charity or nonprofit of their client's choice.

A list of nonprofits that have benefited include:

Boys & Girls Club of Northern San Luis Obispo County
Children’s Museum at the Volunteer Firehouse
CASA of SLO County, Inc.
Food Bank Coalition of SLO County
Community Action Partnership of SLO County
Community Foundation of SLO County
Cuesta College Foundation
Downtown Paso Robles Main Street Association
El Paso de Robles Historical Society
Estrella Warbirds Museum
Family Care Network
Hats for Hope
His Healing Hands
Homeless Housing Project

Hospice SLO
Fallen Soldier Memory Box Project
Food Bank Coalition of SLO County
Loaves & Fishes
North County Women’s Shelter/Resource Center
Pioneer Day Committee
Paso Robles Pioneer Museum
Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation
San Miguel Historical Society
Symphony of the Vines
The Wellness Kitchen and Resource Center
United Way of SLO County
YMCA/REC Foundation

Animal Rights
American Wildlife Federation
American Humane Association
Doris Day Animal League
Marine Mammal Center
National Audubon Society

Children and Youth
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America
Campfire USA
National 4-H Council
Medical Assistance
Direct Relief International
Doctors Without Borders
International Medical Corps
Operation Smile

Cancer Support and Research
American Cancer Society
Cancer Fund of America
Childhood Leukemia Foundation
St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Land Conservation/The Environment
American Farmland Trust
American Forests
American Rivers
Cousteau Society
Farm Aid
National Parks Foundation
Ocean Conservancy

From the realtors' website, Heart to Heart Real Estate:

Heart to Heart Real Estate is based on the principle of utilizing the funds generated by a real estate transaction to affect massive change through community partnerships. At the close of escrow, Heart to Heart will disburse 50% of the commission to fund the charitable and/or nonprofit organizations that are designated by our clients.

The Heart to Heart inspiration comes from our old-fashioned work ethic and desire to “give back” to those in need. We share the same goals as our clients: a successful real estate transaction facilitated with integrity. We enable the client to give simply by making the choice to use Heart to Heart Real Estate’s services.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

No Fooling. Meditation to Uplift American People on April 1

Please join us on April 1 at 12 noon Pacific for our next Global Shift Meditation, intended to uplift the hearts and minds of the American people in this important election year. No matter where we live on the planet, the results of the US elections are likely to impact us all, due to the influence of the US on world affairs. This year, it is obvious that extreme and volatile elements are at play in the US political environment. Although these forces present undeniable dangers, there is also an unusual opportunity for a significant positive shift to occur in the US political system, in service to our collective evolution.

Our guest teacher is the renowned, politically-engaged mystic Andrew Harvey. Andrew will set the context for our meditation by sharing his thoughts on the current state of the US political scene, including an uncompromising articulation of the dangers of the situation and the depth of courage we need to draw from to face the challenge. He will then guide us into the classic Buddhist tonglen practice, one of the most powerful technologies available for transmuting the darkness of the world in the alchemical vessel of our hearts.
--From the Shift Network

Monday, March 28, 2016

Online Empathy Warehouse

The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy is the home of the global empathy movement. Our mission is to build a movement for creating a global worldwide culture of empathy and compassion. We do this through a variety of means.  First is by community organizing. Next is by collecting, curating and organizing all the material we find on the internet on the topics. Researching through the arts and sciences. We are putting together a series of documentaries to educate the public and much, much more.

We are also a portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. The site  contains the largest collection of; articles, conferences, definitions, experts, history, interviews, organizations, videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion. To stay up to date on the latest, sign up for our Facebook: Page, Group and Cause now.

Our current project is to develop our Empathic Design Trainings and Conference on, How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy? Contact us if you'd like to be involved in organizing this event. Let's help fill the empathy deficit by making people more aware of the fundamental importance of empathy and compassion in our lives. This is a collaborative project and we invite you to take part. Send an email if you'd like to get involved with the group or with creating this video, etc.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Volunteers Clean River Debris, Educate Community

Coastal Rivers worked with local volunteers to clean waterways within the lower Pascagoula River.  The effort included waterborne debris cleanup from team vessels, as well as targeted cleanup of appliance "white debris" common in the area.  Using the information gained, the project worked with local groups to raise awareness with placards at local marinas and boat launches, and educate the public through presentations and website outreach.

A total of 4 sites were cleaned during 8 cleanup events, removing over 6700 lbs of debris through the efforts of 58 volunteers.  This return cleanup included monitoring to assess reaccumulation.  This information was used to develop educational display boards and hand-outs that were used in presentations and at local marinas.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Bridge to Political Compromise

C. Coimbra photo

Whatever side of the political spectrum you are on, it’s tough to be happy about the current state of politics in the US. Congress is stymied by discord and obstructionism; candidates for office bow to billionaires to get funding for their campaigns; mudslinging is a common practice in our political discourse. It’s hard to watch as our country spirals into hate-filled rhetoric and deep ideological divisions.

But while some might believe that the answer lies in their “side” winning the political fight, many others just feel hopeless that any outcome will change the dynamic. Faith in our government is at an all-time low, and the divide has become wider than ever, with more and more Americans opting out of the political process altogether. So what’s to be done to change that?

Mark Gerzon, an international mediator, provides some guidance in his new book, The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide. While admitting things are pretty dire at the moment, he outlines some of the steps we can take—as citizens and within organizations—to bridge our differences and find common ground for future governance.

... One important step, he argues is reframing the goal of politics. Instead of citizens or politicians insisting that their side has all the answers, he promotes a mediator’s vision in which “Americans can work together with people different from ourselves to find common ground that can strengthen the country we all love.”

He argues that solutions to the stalemate come from learning how to listen to others with respect and genuine openness, rather than expecting people to give up their viewpoints and win them to your side. Bringing people face to face with each other, with civilized rules for engagement—like listening without interrupting, seeking to understand rather than debate, and entering with an open, rather than closed mind—all help to promote positive relationships, he writes, which can go a long way toward improving political outcomes.

... Some of his suggestions may seem painful to consider at first ... For example, he advises taking a break from hyper-partisan media sources and, instead, listening more to voices from the “other side” of the political aisle. He also suggests that people eschew name-calling and disrespectful communications in favor of listening and learning from those who think differently than you. Otherwise, we risk further alienation from each other.

“Between pluribus and unum is a lot of hard work. It involves opening our minds and our hearts to find common ground,” he argues.

His ideas could seem pie in the sky…until he highlights the many, many people inside and outside of Capitol Hill who are already making this happen. Readers might know of the partnership that progressive Van Jones and conservative Newt Gingrich created to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders in prison and to convince both political parties to work for prison reform. But it was refreshing to learn of other, lesser-known people and organizations, like the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, the Village Square, and the Bridge Alliance, to name just a few, who are working to put people from all political stripes together in order to come up with novel solutions that bridge political divides.

According to Gerzon, the reason these organizations are gaining ground is that so many people—even politicians—are tired of worn out political rhetoric. They’ve come to see the importance of dialogue over debate in solving our complex problems.

... For those readers who want to opt in and start working toward better “transpartisan” solutions, Gerzon recommends ways one can engage in the movement for political change. In addition to joining organizations he features in the book, he suggests taking a short “vacation” from your political identity and being more open to discovering different political viewpoints—perhaps joining one of a number of living room conversations happening around the country.

In addition, he suggests working to reform unfair political practices that create more division—for example, gerrymander voting districts or creating shadow organizations that allow the top 1 percent to discreetly fund political campaigns. When considering candidates for political office, he advises citizens to look for leaders who, if not independent, can at least lessen partisan divisions, because they demonstrate that they know how to listen to others, work with diverse partners, and treat adversaries with respect.

... In many ways, Gerzon’s arguments mirror those of social scientists—and of the Greater Good Science Center—who’ve argued for the importance of empathy and respecting others’ viewpoints in order to find common ground, and who warn of the dangers of ignoring internal biases in decision-making. Time and time again, we find that when we choose connection, respect, and openness over power, disrespect, and control, great things can happen—even in politics, argues Gerzon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

In Response to Terrorism

We are saddened by the morning's news, once again.  Unjust violence against innocents takes the headlines in Brussels.  While these events are the exception when looking at the bigger picture, the level of hatred towards humanity is significant.  And this is the challenge we each face when confronting terrorism.

It can and it will be overcome. It becomes the responsibility of each of use to remain mindful of how we can each bring peace to our soils.

Our words matter.

Our thoughts matter.

Our actions matter.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Turn-Around Malheur National Wildlife Refuges Support

C. Coimbra photo

Editor's Note:  The Daily Prism reported the start of the GOHOME Occupy-a-thon, in January.  The effort has concluded, and the final report comes from OPB News:

Organizers who opposed the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge raised more than $130,000 in support of nonprofit organizations and the Burns-Paiute Tribe. The “Getting the Occupiers of Historic Oregon Malheur Evicted” (GOHOME) fundraising campaign gathered donations from more than 1,600 individuals.

The donations benefited Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the Burns Pauite Tribe, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Malheur Field Station.

“For the Malheur Field Station, the donations amount to a large boost.  They will completely cover the Field Station’s freezer losses, thefts from break-ins, and the building damage caused by occupiers,” reported Duncan Evered, Field Station co-director.

Tim Blount is the executive director of Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. “Through this occupation there’s been a silver lining,” Blount said. “That silver lining has been the awareness that people have for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.”

Blount said that membership in the Malheur friends group jumped from 200 to more than 1,800 members during and after the occupation.

The GOHOME campaign, led by Oregon-raised brothers Jake and Zach Klonoski, began its fundraising push on Sunday, Jan. 17.

“Our only goal was a quick and peaceful end to this occupation of our home by people from out of state,” said Jake Klonoski, who now lives in Colorado.  “Oregon is definitely the wrong state to mess with.”

Saturday, March 19, 2016

5 Ways to More Happiness

Four years ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed March 20 to be the International Day of Happiness. It’s easy to understand why they see happiness as something to celebrate: Happy people are healthier; they get sick less often and live longer. Happy people are more likely to get married and have fulfilling marriages, and they have more friends. They make more money and are more productive at work. Based on decades of research, it has become clear that happiness is not just a personal issue; it’s a matter of public health, global economics, and national well-being.

But it doesn’t come easy, as most of us know. Disappointments and annoyances grab our attention like gnats, and even the good things in life seem to lose their luster over time. Add to that a crammed schedule and mounting obligations, and happiness might just seem out of reach—achievable for other people, perhaps, but not us.

Fortunately, research suggests that happiness is something we can cultivate with practice. The Greater Good Science Center has collected many happiness practices on our website Greater Good in Action, alongside other research-based exercises for fostering kindness, connection, and resilience. Below are   ... five broader strategies for a more fulfilling life.

1. Acknowledge the good

2. Add happiness through subtraction

3. Find meaning and purpose

4. Use your strengths

5. Connect with others

Friday, March 18, 2016

Random Kindness Leadership Nominations Open

Our partner, Breakthrough Communities is sponsoring a special recognition award. They are welcoming your nominations for the 2nd Annual Random Kindness Community Resilience Leadership Award. The award will be given to members of a community who embody the principles of Random Kindness and are working actively to develop change at the regional scale. The Random Kindness Community Resilience Award recognizes leaders who embody the vision and values of community-driven planning for climate change adaptation and resilience. We honor those who:

  • Strive to ensure that frontline communities, those who are most directly impacted by climate change processes, are engaged in public policy and participatory planning
  • Conduct research in partnership with vulnerable communities and listen deeply to embedded community knowledge
  • Build bridges across sectors, issues, and social divides to create a true movement for sustainability and justice
  • Demonstrate that equity, environment and economy are mutually reinforcing in an interconnected world.

Please send a photo of the person and a picture of him/her in action, a description of what the action is, and why you're nominating him/her in 300 words or less. Submit nominations here and send an email to with the subject line "RK Leadership Award Nomination," the nominee's name and the date you submitted it. Recommendations are due by March 2​7​th.
---From Charter for Compassion

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Giving Love & Support to Childhood Cancer Patients

Editor's note: The following is a post by my friend whose child, pictured above, has undergone and survived brain cancer--first diagnosed at a very young age.  Since then, the family has participated in the annual St. Baldrick's Heroes Event in Baltimore.  Here is her most recent FB post:

As you know, our family has supported the St. Baldrick's Foundation for the past 4 years. The organization raises money to provide grants to doctor's for pediatric cancer research. (Some of Tyler's own doctors have been grant recipients.) This year Tyler has decided to join his dad on stage and shave his head to raise money to help doctors find cures.

It would be great if you could support him by joining us at the event on April 10, or donating to his fundraising team. The link below will take you to his donation page. Thank you!!!


In San Luis Obispo, California: 

--Excerpted from KSBY

Lexi Brown, the 12-year-old Santa Maria girl who is in the midst of a courageous battle against cancer, has been an inspiration to many people, especially her friends and classmates.

They did a little bit extra Wednesday to show Lexi how much they care.

It was the annual jog-a-thon at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School. Each grade got to pick a theme for their class. For 7th graders, it was an easy choice.

Shamelessly decked out in anything purple, they rallied in support of their classmate, Lexi Brown.

... "It feels great to be running for Lexi because we need to keep fighting for her," classmate Tate Bradley said.

The students hung in there. But there's only one person, who's guaranteed to bring out their best.

... Lexi and her parents recently received some difficult news about her condition and have to stop treatment for her cancer. They say they are doing their best to keep her comfortable and stay positive.

If you'd like to show your support and help raise money for childhood cancer research, this weekend is the second annual "Bald for Lexi" charity event.

So far, they've raised more than $30,000 for the Saint Baldrick's Foundation.

The event is Saturday evening at 6:00, at St. Louis de Montfort Church in Orcutt.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pakistani School Encourages Compassion, Welcomes Girls

Public domain photo by Elias eliasfalla

Sindh Education and Literacy Department signed memorandum of understanding with Charter for Compassion and Institute of Business Administration, Sukkur.

The two private entities will manage the first group of schools constructed under the Sindh Basic Education Programme by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Under the programme, USAID is constructing 106 schools in Khairpur, Sukkur, Dadu, Kamber-Shahdadkot, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Jacobabad and Larkana as well as in five towns of Karachi.

“We not only trained teachers, but launched incentives programmes to encourage parents to send their daughters to school,” said Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah while addressing the ceremony. Female students were given Rs2,500 in remote rural areas, he added.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Botswana's Compassion Vision

‘I now realize that I can love myself.’
‘I love myself and I love you.’ 
‘I am because you are.’

~Compassion Training Participants

For two weeks in November the Botho Compassion Movement held a series of training workshops in efforts to cultivate compassion in Botswana. This is in line with Botswana’s Vision 2016, “A compassionate, just and caring nation by 2016.”

The Virtues Project International Association is a global grassroots initiative to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life, sparking a global revolution of kindness, justice, and integrity in more than 100 countries through facilitators, master facilitators, champions and Virtues Connections.

The Virtues Project empowers individuals to live more authentic meaningful lives, families to raise children in an environment built on compassion and integrity, educators to create safe, caring, and high performing learning communities, and leaders to encourage excellence and ethics in the work place. It has inspired and mobilized people worldwide to commit acts of service and generosity, to heal violence with virtues such as perseverance, kindness, compassion and respect.

The Virtues Project training held in Gaborone has been a resounding success with over 250 people trained from across Botswana from 40 different stakeholder groups, including policy makers, the Botswana Defence Force, Botswana Police, Ministry of Education, other educators, religious leaders, and NGOs, including Child Line Botswana and SOS, Stepping Stones and Masiela Fund. One community leader who attended the training said, “How exciting it can be to do life a little differently: we’ve always valued these virtues- now we’ve been given tools, a methodology to share them”

Thanks to the Botho Compassion Movement’s partnership with Stepping Stones International, 17 girls who head their own child-headed households received the Virtues Project training and learned how to create compassionate families in difficult circumstances.

Results from the participant evaluations were outstanding, especially in enhanced learning of conflict resolution and new skills developed in the 5 strategies of the Virtues Project. A major finding was that participants wanted more workshop days and especially training of locals who can train others in the Virtues. The key for real success is implementation of this knowledge into practice and the aim of the Botho Compassion Movement is to train local Virtues Project trainers by October 2014.

The Botho Movement’s fundamental aim is to nurture above all things, compassion. Compassion is a sensitivity to suffering, with a deep wish and commitment to relieve this suffering in ourselves and others. We use ‘botho,’ a Setswana word, to remember the root of this principle in Setswana history. Botho is in fact one of Botswana’s five national principles, (the others being, democracy, development, self-reliance and unity) and as the Botswana’s Vision for 2016 states:

Monday, March 14, 2016

Bless the Water

Join us as we come together to Bless The Water around the World and take the first step towards cleaning and restoring the world's water.

On the Equinox, Saturday March 19th at 5pm Pacific, we will join together in a Synchronized Meditation and Water Blessing all around the world. Join us!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Levitating the US Presidential Election"

No matter how you feel about the United States, or even if you do not live here, the election of the next US President will impact every person on the planet. Lately, as hard as it has been to watch, it seems that many in the United States have lost touch with the qualities that made our country great - qualities like openness and compassion. In fact, the leading Republican candidate believes that quoting Mussolini, banning Muslims from the US and insulting entire countries is the path to being elected President.

What if we could do something positive to bring sanity and peace back to this situation?

On March 21st, James Twyman and others will be present at a Donald Trump rally, and millions of people will join in prayer and meditation at the same moment. We've proven that synchronized meditation can shift the energy of countries at war, now let's see if we can use it to bring peace to this situation.

We are not endorsing any candidate, or focusing on a single person or group. In fact, we are encouraging as many people as possible to attend rallies of all the candidates wearing the T-shirt "Meditating For Peace." It's time to come together, not be pushed further apart.

If you are part of the WorldPeacePulse family you will be receiving more information soon. We will not know the exact time or city of the rally until approximately one week before it happens.

WANT TO GO TO A RALLY YOURSELF, or find another rally you can attend?
Imagine what would happen if groups of people attended rallies for all the candidates wearing T-shirts that say: "Meditating For Peace" while holding a space of silence during the speeches and activity. We hope to trigger an entire movement with this initiative. If you would like to order a shirt CLICK HERE.

Friday, March 11, 2016

3.5 Million To Gather in India for Global Meditation This Weekend.

C. Coimbra photo

This weekend 3.5 million people will gather in New Delhi, India to meditate and pray for humanity, and over 10 million people will join from around the world. Will you stop for 15 minutes at noon your local time and send your energy into the grid? We've seen what happens when millions of people join at the same moment and focus their energy on a given crisis or situation. This may be the most important focus of all - the Planetary Heart of our Mother.

Here's What We Are Asking:

Whatever you are doing on these three days, take a break and center your prayers on the gathering in India, adding to the enormous energy being transmitted there. By doing this at noon in every time zone we create a wave of energy that washes over the planet throughout the entire weekend. Join millions of people in this worldwide meditation.

--From James Twyman

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Heroic Efforts to Rescue Wild Elephant Stuck in Mud

An elephant that got stuck in the mud overnight was rescued in Kenya on March 5, 2016. (Jules Binks/Instagram)
ABC News reports that on March 5, an elephant was stuck in mud overnight in Kenya.  Rescue efforts were heroic.  The pachyderm consumed over 26 gallons of water while rescuers devised means of pulling it from the mud.

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy writes on it's Facebook page:  Stuck overnight in a well at an NRT community conservancy, the trust this dehydrated and scared wild animal showed in his rescuers was beyond incredible. 100 litres of water later, lots of digging, pulling, 3 cars and the whole community behind him, the joint team managed to get him out and he walked away. Community ownership of wildlife works. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chicago Teens Find 'Glory' In After School Program

Photo from After School Matters
What would happen if more of us insisted on standing for what is good in our world, our countries, our cities, and our neighborhoods, as opposed to the bloviating rhetoric that bombards our communication systems?

Motivational author, Brian Tracy writes, "Optimists seek the valuable lesson in every setback or reversal.  Rather than getting upset and blaming someone else for what has happened, they take control over their emotions by saying, 'What can I learn from this experience?'"

Chicago is one of those cities that pundits often point out as a failed system, when, in fact, the city and the inner city actively works to raise the future of its youth through programs like After School Matters -- After School Matters® is a non-profit organization that provides life-changing after-school and summer program opportunities to more than 15,000 Chicago high school teens each year.

From the nonprofit's website the mission is:   To provide Chicago public high school teens opportunities to explore and develop their talents, while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond.

We achieve our mission by:

Designing and delivering high quality, hands-on, project-based apprenticeship programs in a variety of content areas, including the arts, communications, science, sports and technology.

Engaging skilled professionals as instructors who support teens’ growth and development in an intentional and meaningful way.

Aligning and maximizing the resources of an extensive network of public-private partnerships – including Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Public Library, and hundreds of community organizations throughout the city – to coordinate and sustain investment in youth development through school- and community-based programming.

Focusing on continuous quality improvement, data-driven and cost-effective decisions, strengthening skills to encourage improved academic outcomes, and positive impacts for teens, schools and communities we serve.

Enjoy this video showcasing Chicago teens in a 'Glory' production.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Seeking Cities of Peace and Compassion

C. Coimbra photo
A compassionate city is an uncomfortable city! A city that is uncomfortable when anyone is homeless or hungry. Uncomfortable if every child isn’t loved and given rich opportunities to grow and thrive. Uncomfortable when as a community we don’t treat our neighbors as we would wish to be treated.

~Karen Armstrong, Founder of the global movement, The Charter for Compassion

Whether you have a compassionate city, community or country initiative it may be time to think of adding another issue to your action plan—Become an international City of Peace. As ICP notes peace is becoming the zeitgeist, or spirit of our times. CCI and ICP are beginning to work to see each existing ICP city become a compassionate city and each CCI community become an International City of Peace. Join us in this effort. If you are an existing initiative and want to become an ICP let us know. If you are considering becoming a compassionate initiative then register so we can help you begin this joint process.

Both CCI and ICP share similar approaches to grass roots organizing and ways in which communities can collaborate to move towards a global transformation. Please consider joining both our organizations in working for peace.

---From the Charter for Compassion

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Safe Place for Pets in Domestic Violence Circumstances

RedRover offers financial assistance for victims of domestic violence and their pets through our Safe Escape grant program. The goal of the program is to help families with pets safely escape domestic violence together. Funding is mainly provided to help with the cost of temporary pet boarding while a client is in a domestic violence shelter, though other costs, like urgent veterinary care, can be considered.

Founded in 1987, the mission of RedRover is to bring animals out of crisis and strengthen the bond between people and animals through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education. RedRover accomplishes its mission by engaging volunteers and supporters, collaborating with others and maximizing the use of online technology.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and need immediate assistance:

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233.

View a directory of family violence shelters that have resources for pets:
Eligibility Guidelines

For the safety of the client, applications must be submitted by a domestic violence shelter representative on behalf of the client. The program is unable to respond to requests by email, phone, fax or mail.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Science from Above and Below

Science brought to the news discoveries and observations from above and below.

From Above
Pluto's Cthulhu

One of Pluto’s most identifiable features, Cthulhu (pronounced kuh-THU-lu) stretches nearly halfway around Pluto’s equator, starting from the west of the great nitrogen ice plains known as Sputnik Planum. Measuring approximately 1,850 miles (3,000 kilometers) long and 450 miles (750 kilometers) wide, Cthulhu is a bit larger than the state of Alaska.

Cthulhu’s appearance is characterized by a dark surface, which scientists think is due to being covered by a layer of dark tholins – complex molecules that form when methane is exposed to sunlight. Cthulhu’s geology exhibits a wide variety of landscapes—from mountainous to smooth, and to heavily cratered and fractured.

The reddish enhanced color image shown as the left inset reveals a mountain range located in southeast Cthulhu that’s 260 miles (420 kilometers) long. The range is situated among craters, with narrow valleys separating its peaks. The upper slopes of the highest peaks are coated with a bright material that contrasts sharply with the dark red color of the surrounding plains.

Scientists think this bright material could be predominantly methane that has condensed as ice onto the peaks from Pluto's atmosphere. "That this material coats only the upper slopes of the peaks suggests methane ice may act like water in Earth's atmosphere, condensing as frost at high altitude," said John Stansberry, a New Horizons science team member from Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland. Compositional data from the Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, shown in the right inset, indicates that the location of the bright ice on the mountain peaks correlates almost exactly with the distribution of methane ice, shown in false color as purple.

Deep rumbles, unearthly moans, high pitched screeching: these are but a few elements of the alien soundscape researchers have now recorded for the first time at Challenger Deep, the deepest known valley on the seafloor.

One might expect Challenger Deep—which sits at the bottom of the Mariana trench some 36,000 feet beneath the ocean surface—to be a quiet place. But in reality, we know very little about what life is like down there: as with most places where the sun never shines, the Mariana trench is shrouded in mystery.

“Light does not propagate underwater very far,” oceanographer Bob Dziak of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told Gizmodo. “But sound waves travel long distances through the Earth’s oceans. Acoustics is really the best way to get a good picture of deep ocean environments.”

From Below
36,000 feet below sea level

From Gizmodo
The propellor from a ship passing above makes quite a ruckus at Challenger Deep

Dziak would know. He’s the guy who led the recent effort to capture audio recordings from Challenger Deep. First, Dizak and his team had to design and build an instrument that could withstand the crushing 16,000 pounds-per-square-inch worth of pressure felt seven miles beneath the surface. Next, they developed a mooring system that would lower their audio gear—a titanium-encased hydrophone—at a slow, controlled speed, so that it could acclimate to the dramatic pressure buildup during its journey.

And after successfully planting a hydrophone in Challenger Deep, and making recordings for 23 straight days, Dziak’s team had to wait until November for the weather and ship traffic to clear so they could haul it back up. It was a major effort, but now, we’ve got the first soundbites from the deepest spot on the Earth’s surface to show for it.

They’re as haunting and otherworldly as you might imagine.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Free E-books for Kids in Need

Public Domain photo by George Hodan

"Regardless of how many books the family already has, each addition to the home library helps children do better" in school, the study says. "Each additional book has a greater impact on the performance of someone who had only a small home library than it does on the performance of someone from a home overflowing with books."

With this in mind, a new program is looking to make books more accessible to children and their families than ever before.

More than $250 million worth of e-books are soon going to be available to kids in need — for free.

And these aren't just any titles. A handful of major publishers have signed on to the program, so these are thousands of popular, award-winning books handpicked by the Digital Public Library of America's Curation Corps.

It's part of President Obama's ConnectED initiative to bring broadband Internet and educational materials to kids around the country. The New York Public Library agreed to take on the task of creating a special e-reader for this new program.

It's called Open eBooks (a non-governmental program), and it's going to make a big difference in the lives of children and families who can't afford to stock their shelves with lots of books.

--From Upworthy

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March 3, World Wildlife Day

Excerpted and edited from the World Wildlife Day website

On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to proclaim 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar.

World Wildlife Day will be celebrated in 2016 under the theme “The future of wildlife is in our hands.” African and Asian elephants will be a main focus of the Day under the theme “The future of elephants is in our hands”. Countries around the world are encouraged to highlight species of wild animals and plants from their own countries, adapting the global theme to suit.

... About 100,000 elephants were estimated to be slaughtered for their ivory between 2010-2012. While we are seeing positive progress to tackle illicit wildlife trafficking, more needs to be done by all of us. On this World Wildlife Day, we hope to see even more commitments coming from countries and citizens around the world.

Governments, law makers, enforcement officers, customs officials and park rangers across every region are scaling up their efforts to protect wildlife. It is also up to every citizen to protect wildlife and its habitat. We all have a role to play. Our collective conservation actions can be the difference between a species surviving or disappearing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Project to Remove Derelict Crab Pots in Barnegat Bay

by NOAA Marine Debris Program
On Friday, February 26th, the NOAA Marine Debris Program and its partners held an event in Waretown, New Jersey, to highlight an exciting *derelict crab pot removal effort in Barnegat Bay. The event highlighted a project, led by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and supported by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant, which is working to identify, retrieve, and inventory over 1,000 derelict crab pots from Barnegat Bay, N.J.


*  Derelict crab pots are a common source of entanglement for whales. "While less deadly to marine life than abandoned fishing nets, derelict pots take a toll on coastal crab, rockfish and other species for years after they are lost. Marine mammals, including humpback whales, have become entangled in crab lines – sometimes with lethal result," writes the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

A video from Puget Sound: