A move to put all of Florida in the same time zone, while following daylight-saving time throughout the year, got the backing of a Senate committee on Tuesday. The Senate Community Affairs Committee voted in favor of the proposal (SB 858), which seeks to put Panhandle counties in the same time zone as the rest of the state and for Florida to observe daylight-saving time all year. Much of the Panhandle is now in the Central time zone, while the rest of the state is in the Eastern time zone. Sarasota Senator, Greg Steube, said his proposal originated when visiting a barber, who complained that having to set clocks back an hour in the fall had a negative impact on children and it's "kind of created a life of its own." read more
The island nation of Seychelles designated some of its fragile coastal areas for protection from commercial fishing, oil exploration and development this week in return for a novel deal relieving it of part of its sovereign debt. The Indian Ocean island, rich in underwater reefs and postcard-perfect beaches, defaulted on its debt in 2008 and clawed its way back to prosperity with assistance from the International Monetary Fund. Since then, government officials have been searching for ways to preserve their environment without endangering financial stability. So the finance ministry was intrigued when U.S.-based conservation group The Nature Conservancy approached it recently with a debt-for-nature financial proposal, the first in the world aimed at protecting a marine area. read more
More than 700 new artificial reefs are going into the waters off Pensacola in the next few months, in phase two of a program funded by the BP settlement of the 2010 oil spill. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, for every dollar spent on artificial reefs in the Florida Panhandle, the conservative overall economic benefit is roughly $138. "We've been trying to do this the whole time I've been on the [Commission]; actually, even before I got on the Board Escambia County had taken a fairly aggressive position on reefing," said Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson, who chairs the Gulf Consortium, 23 Florida counties affected by the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill. read more
Every week or so someone I know on social media, but not in my daily life, updates their avatar, and suddenly they're three or four years older than they were the day before. Some of these people I've known for 20 years, and it's happened several times. Sometimes there's obvious cropping of the picture; a chin once prominently displayed is surprisingly hidden by the above-the-head shot. The hair is gray, or suspiciously lustrous. Normally, the way my brain works, I'd simply see those avatars change and think about how the Internet constantly brings us closer to death, then leave it at that. But oddly I truly enjoy witnessing the process of avatar aging. There's always the tiny moment of shock as you see a proto-jowl where before there was smooth skin. Whoa! But I haven't seen them in years! That's what happens. Social networks don't solve for aging.
A domesticated cow has surprised Polish naturalists by spending the winter living with a herd of wild bison in the primeval Bialowieza Forest. The cow "chose freedom" by running away from a farm late last autumn, and has been seen lingering on the fringes of a herd of some 50 bison in the forest on the Belarusian border, Poland's TVN24 news portal reports. Ornithologist Adam Zbyryt was the first to spot the cow. He made the news in November when he told TVN24: "it's not unusual to see bison near the Bialowieza Forest, but one animal caught my eye. It was a completely different light-brown shade from the rest of the herd. Bison are chestnut or dark brown". Dr Kowalczyk told TVN24 that this is the first time he has seen a cow join a bison herd. "She is not very integrated with the group, as bison act like one organism and she stands out." He added that the herd had probably saved her from the wolves that prowl the edges of the Bialowieza Forest through the winter. read more