Is This Panda Masturbating?

Researchers may have finally discovered why panda bears are so finicky about their mates. It could be that nothing satisfies quite like the pleasure paw.

World Wildlife Federation researchers caught this panda allegedly touching himself following a meal of bamboo in the forests of Sichuan province. (There’s no date cheaper than a date with yourself!)

If the bear was really caught having “a quick wank,” as Shanghaist suggests, it might be a first for science. Or it might be a joke that sailed over our heads. Who cares. Look at him go!

Bonus bear:

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from Green – The Huffington Post

The Antiquities Act and the San Gabriel Mountains

What would it be like if Chimney Rock in Colorado, the ancestral home of the Pueblo People, was open to modern development? What if the Giant Sequoias of Northern California had no protection from lumber companies or wood poachers? What if Fossil Butte in Wyoming, one of the best paleontological records of aquatic life in North America, could be tapped by the fossil fuel industry? Fortunately, these places, and many other pristine landscapes and historical sites throughout the country, are protected as national monuments for all Americans to enjoy. Recently we celebrated the designation of another national monument: the San Gabriel Mountains of California.

It is because of the Antiquities Act that all of our national monuments exist. Under the Antiquities Act, the president has the authority to protect “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” by declaring them national monuments. Nearly every president has used this legislation since it was created in 1906, but President Obama has been an especially strong champion of preserving places that are important to our country’s history and natural beauty. The designation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is Obama’s second use of the Antiquities Act this year (Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico was created in May) and his thirteenth use of the Act during his presidency. Thanks to President Obama, we can be certain that the integrity of nearly a dozen additional historically or scientific significant places will be safe for generations to come.

The San Gabriel Mountains are important for many reasons, but they are especially important because they lie within a 90 minute drive of over 15 million people. They provide the only large-scale open space available for many residents of Los Angeles County, and also provide LA with some 30 percent of its drinking water. Aditionally, the 340,000+ acres of wilderness are home to numerous rare and endangered species, including the California condor.

With the designation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, there will be more recreational opportunities and increased access to nature for many minority communities. What if all children living in Los Angeles County today had the chance to discover the campgrounds and hundreds of miles of trails the San Gabriels offer? This could be a reality with the money and resources that accompany a national monument designation. Millions of Angeleños who otherwise might not have the opportunity to explore the peaks just beyond the city limits would be able to grow up with an understanding of, and appreciation for, nature and the importance of preserving our wild places.

Protecting our natural spaces is a win for outdoor enthusiasts, the tourism industry, recreation outfitters, and basically anyone who enjoys clean air and safe drinking water. It’s also a win for Service and Conservation Corps. There are billions of dollars-worth of backlogged maintenance projects on our public lands, but proclaiming a place a national monument means there will certainly be money to fix that location’s trails and bridges, stabilize stream banks, and build campsites. For the San Gabriel Mountains, the National Forest Foundation has already pledged $3 million in support of restoration projects.

Service and Conservation Corps in every state maintain our public lands in an efficient, high-quality and cost-effective manner. Through the process of making our parks and monuments safe and accessible, Corps train future land managers and environmental leaders. By using the Antiquities Act, President Obama addresses the goals of his administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative in a number of ways, including the Initiative’s goal to develop a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. When we give protections to our forests and mountains and waterways, we give our young people opportunities to explore the outdoors and explore rewarding careers in environmental stewardship.

Today we can feel fortunate for the Antiquities Act, but we should also recognize the importance of other policies that protect and restore America’s natural treasures. For example, we can also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which provides critical funding for land and water conservation projects and hence helps fund Corps. When we support the use of the Antiquities Act, the Land Water Conservation Fund, and other legislation that expands protections for America’s natural, cultural and historic features, we support Corps and giving young people the education and job training to lead fulfilling lives and careers. So – thank you, President Obama for using your authority to recognize the significance of another American landmark and, in doing so, giving opportunities to our youth.

from Green – The Huffington Post

War and Water: Middle East Conflicts in the Watershed

Our time is fraught with war and water. The headlines confirm that for what seems like forever there has been conflict in the Middle East where sectarian rivalries, religious conflicts, the pursuit of oil, and the geo-political collision between economic aspirations and impassioned ideologies continue unabated. Many thousands have died as combatants or collateral damage in an endless time and place of conflict.

The most recent manifestation is the so-called Islamic State or ISIL, a particularly feral group of Muslim militants with the intent to reestablish the historical caliphate that once extended from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. Suddenly everything reverts to air strikes, international outrage, and the possible return of “boots on the ground.”

I have been looking at the maps indicating where ISIL forces seem to have taken control and wondering at their length and direction that extends from the northern border between Turkey and Syria southeasterly almost to the limits of Baghdad. The obvious explanation is that the extent of their success mimics the main highway then runs from Aleppo through Raqua, Qaim, Haditha, and Falluja to the capital city. A larger segment of controlled territory is enclosed to the east by a similar route that connects Mosul south to Tikrit, Samarra, and Baghdad where the situation deteriorates into the ambiguity of warfare and shifting political ambitions.

But if you look closely at your atlas map of Syria and Iraq you discover an underlying revelation: those cities are placed and those highways run exactly along the course of several major rivers–the Euphrates, Tigris, and their tributaries–that originate in the mountains of eastern Turkey, bifurcate the empty desert, and descend past Baghdad where they empty at Basra into what ultimately becomes the Arabian Sea. In the vast, dry, unpopulated expanse of the region, this war is being fought down a watershed.

My map is also marked by numerous three-dot symbols that are used by cartographers to designate significant historical cultural resources, locating places called Zenobia, Dura Europus, Nimrud, and Nineveh, names that speak to the earliest human settlements in what the history books call “the cradle of civilization.”

Those rivers nurtured our beginnings, before Islam and Christianity, before conquest from elsewhere by imperialists following the trade routes to resources and connections beyond. There are other such symbols on my map: miniature drilling rigs signifying the major oil fields that fuel this war and all others, cultural icons of our modern time.

The irony here is that after all the tumult and shouting, after all the air strikes and beheadings, all the assertions of conflicting systems of law, all the moral justifications, the only thing that matters is the water: to drink, to secure hygiene and health, to irrigate crops, and to sustain the communities regardless of sect or religious belief, to allow the descendants of those who lived in these places centuries before to continue and thrive.

The location of these cities and the caravan or highway routes between them are all testimony to the fact that for all time water has enabled the true security of the region. Take away the slogans and guns, let the people live there, and the water will sustain them.

I speak often of the healing and unifying nature of water. Below Baghdad, along this same river watershed, lies an enormous lake and swamp system into which all these waters flow, an area that has been home to so-called “marsh Arabs” who had thrived there for a very long time in what were very fertile conditions. In the 1990s, as a strategic part of an earlier iteration of this present war, the area was drained by canals and dikes to isolate and destroy the residents by removing their shelter and livelihood. It became a desert like elsewhere, devoid of plant life and birds, of shelter and safety, until through the efforts of a small activist group the dykes were broken, the waters returned, the marshes filled, and life began there anew. It is a cautionary tale of how we might, through the free and unencumbered flow of water, build a home without terror and its collateral damage.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Homeless Dogs Rescued From Junkyard Transform Into Beautiful, Loving Pups

Little strays Elmer and Elsie were scared and covered with motor oil when members of Hope For Paws found them alone in a Los Angeles-area junkyard.

Elsie was so terrified that upon seeing her rescuers, she darted well out of arm’s reach underneath a low platform. It took time, but with characteristic patience and kindness, Hope For Paws’ Eldad Hagar and Lisa Arturo eventually coaxed both of the pups out of their hiding places.

As with the other homeless dogs the Los Angeles-based animal rescue has saved, Elmer and Elsie’s transformations weren’t just physical. Even before the pair was given a much-needed bath and check up, it was clear that in their rescuers’ care they were becoming more comfortable around people again, and — however hesitantly — affectionate. Soon, they were playing and cuddling with the best of rescue dogs.

Witnessing such change is the most gratifying part of the job for Hagar.

“The most rewarding [thing] is seeing the transformation of the animals from at their worst to at their best, then finding them amazing homes,” he once told Modern Dog Magazine.

Elmer and Elsie are currently up for adoption through Maltese Rescue California. According to their profiles, the adorably devoted pair are hoping to a find a forever home together.

from Green – The Huffington Post

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