Mystery of the massacred mobula rays: Just why DID dozens of these bloodied sea creatures wash up on the beach in Gaza?

From the Italian news site La Repubblica comes this disturbing story (with 15 graphic pictures) of a mass stranding of “manta” rays on a beach in the Palestinian territories.  According to Google Translate, the caption reads something like “For now only remains a mystery. Difficult to determine the cause, but the scenario that occurred on the beach was really disconcerting. And here that some Palestinian fishermen have discovered at dawn hundreds of manta rays beached on the sands of Gaza Beach (afp)“.  Looking more closely, these are not manta rays but actually devil rays or Mobula sp..  You can tell because the mouth is under the head and not right on the front end (taxonomists would say subterminal rather than terminal).  There are dozens and dozens of them and they are the biggest Mobula I have seen; I have to think they were aggregating for mating purposes when the event took place.  Mobula form larger groups than do Manta, but at this size and this many, mating is the most likely explanation.

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“I confess: I’m one of the whistleblowers We’re doing it to defend the Pope”

by MARCO ANSALDO

ROME – Who are the Vatican whistleblowers? “There isn’t just one brain behind the operation, there are several. There are cardinals, private secretaries, monsignors and the small fry. Men and women, priests and laypeople. The whistleblowers even include cardinals. But the Vatican Secretary of State cannot admit that and has the small fry arrested, like “Paoletto” (as Paolo Gabriele is affectionately known), the Pope’s valet. Who has got nothing to do with it apart from having passed on some letters.”
A suburb in the north of Rome, a table in a bar, traffic passing by. It is lunchtime on a now limpid Sunday morning and one of those behind the flow of confidential letters from the Holy See is explaining how the operation works.
“Those doing it are acting to protect the Pope.”

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Why is Bee Decline Not a National Emergency?

I’m beginning to wonder just what in the world bees need to do to grab the attention of the media and the public the way other issues are grabbing them?

Next Monday, 25th February, EU member states will vote on whether or not to restrict the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on certain flowering crops throughout Europe. The results of this vote are ofENORMOUS consequence. We’re talking here about nothing short ofmass extinction if our already depleted pollinator population is not protected, at the very least, from being poisoned by insecticides. It’s not as if we haven’t already pushed them to the brink by destroying and degrading their habitat. 

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Papal resignation linked to inquiry into ‘Vatican gay officials’, says paper

Pope’s staff decline to confirm or deny La Repubblica claims linking ‘Vatileaks’ affair and discovery of ‘blackmailed gay clergy’

A Swiss guard at the Vatican

The Vatican is awhirl with rumours about the pope’s decision to retire. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.

The pope’s spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.

The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that he was going to resign – the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called “Vatileaks” affair.

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Former Powell chief of staff ‘damn sure the Bush administration cooked the books’ on Iraq

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, said Monday on MSNBC that he’s “damn sure the Bush administration cooked the books” when it came to pushing for the invasion of Iraq.

Wilkerson was speaking to host Ed Schultz about the Republican filibuster of Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, but transitioned into a plug for MSNBC’s new documentary “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War,” which aired Monday night.

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