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У науковому центрі розповіли, скільки коштуватиме новорічний стіл-2019

У середньому в Україні вартість новорічного столу 2019 року для української сім’ї з чотирьох людей підвищиться порівняно з вартістю новорічного столу-2018 майже на 20% і складе 1535 гривень, повідомив 10 грудня заступник директора Національного наукового центру «Інституту аграрної економіки», член-кореспондент НААН Микола Пугачов.

За його словами, для оцінки взяли новорічне меню зі страв, які є традиційними для столу середньостатистичної родини: салати, м’ясні та рибні продукти, овочі, фрукти, хлібобулочні та кондитерські вироби, напої тощо.

Пугачов зауважив, що сім’ям, які мають можливість купувати делікатеси, доведеться додатково заплатити близько 470 гривень. Баночка червоної ікри (120 грамів) вартуватиме 250 гривень, а 200 грамів червоної риби – 220 гривень. Таким чином, вартість новорічного столу з делікатесами підвищиться до 2005,30 гривні.

Водночас дослідники підрахували, що вартість бюджетного варіанту новорічного столу у Києві складе 1647,60 гривні – на 13,6% більше вартості новорічного столу 2018 року. Стіл з делікатесами коштуватиме мешканцям столиці у 2157,60 гривні.

Синоптики попередили про снігопади 12 грудня

12 грудня на частині території України очікуються сильні снігопади. Про це повідомляє Укргідрометцентр.

«12 грудня у Чернігівській, Київській, Житомирській, Черкаській, Полтавській, Кіровоградській, Миколаївській областях сильний сніг, налипання мокрого снігу, хуртовини, пориви вітру 15-20 м/с, приріст снігового покриву 12-20 см; вночі 12 грудня у Харківській, Луганській, Донецькій, Запорізькій, Херсонській та Дніпропетровській областях сильні опади переважно у вигляді дощу», – ідеться у повідомленні.

13 грудня в Україні, крім східних областей, Прикарпаття та Закарпаття, вночі помірний, вдень невеликий сніг, додали у Гідрометцентрі.

Як попереджали синоптики, з 11 грудня в Україну увірветься активний циклон із півдня, який спричинить ускладнення погоди на більшій частині української території, крім західних областей.

Vast, Zombie-like Microbial Life Lurks Beneath Seabed

Scientists have drilled a mile and a half (2.5 kilometers) beneath the seabed and found vast underground forests of “deep life,” including microbes that persist for thousands, maybe millions of years, researchers said Monday.

Feeding on nothing but the energy from rocks, and existing in a slow-motion, even zombie-like state, previously unknown forms of life are abundant beneath the Earth despite extreme temperatures and pressure.

About 70 percent of Earth’s bacteria and archaea — single-celled organisms with no nucleus — live underground, according to the latest findings of an international collaboration involving hundreds of experts, known as the Deep Carbon Observatory, were released at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington.

This “deep life” amounts to between 15 and 23 billion tons of carbon, said the DCO, launched in 2009, as it nears the end of its 10-year mission to reveal Earth’s inner secrets.

“The deep biosphere of Earth is massive,” said Rick Colwell, who teaches astrobiology and oceanography at Oregon State University.

He described the team’s findings so far as a “very exciting, extreme ecosystem.”

Among them may be Earth’s hottest living creature, Geogemma barossii, a single-celled organism found in hydrothermal vents on the seafloor.

Its microscopic cells grow and replicate at 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 Celsius).

“There is genetic diversity of life below the surface that is at least equal to but perhaps exceeds that which is at the surface and we don’t know much about it,” Colwell said.

‘Distinct’ from surface life

Similar types of strange, deep life microbes might be found on the subsurface of other planets, like Mars.

“Most of deep life is very distinct from life on the surface,” said Fumio Inagaki, of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.

Using the Japanese scientific vessel Chikyu, researchers have drilled far beneath the seabed and removed cores that have given scientists a detailed look at deep life.

“The microbes are just sitting there and live for very, very long periods of time,” he told AFP.

Brought up from these ancient coal beds and fed glucose in the lab, researchers have seen some microbes, bacteria and fungi slowly waking up.

“That was amazing,” said Inagaki.

Scientists have found life in continental mines and boreholes more than three miles (five kilometers) deep, and have not yet identified the boundary where life no longer exists, he added.

How basic biology works?

Gaining a better understanding of subsurface life on Earth can also help understand and better engineer climate-change fighting technologies that may one day sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

“What we learn here will help us understand what to look for on other planets or other systems where life could exist,” said Colwell.

In any case, studying what some scientists have called the “Galapagos of the Deep,” dramatically changes human’s perception of life on Earth, and their place in it.

Most of our planet’s microbial life is deep beneath the surface, and it may have played a big part in the evolution of Earth’s atmosphere by locking carbon dioxide underground and allowing air for people and animals to breathe.

“There is lots and lots of life on Earth that we did not know about. The fact that so much of it — at least in the marine sediment — is functioning at extremely low energy, it really changes our basic conception of how biology works,” said Karen Lloyd, an associate professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

“They are new branches on the tree of life that have been on Earth, doing whatever it is that they do, for billions of years, but without us ever noticing them,” she told AFP.

“It is like looking beside you and finding that you have an office mate you never knew about.”

With US Federal FGM Law Struck Down, Attention Shifts to States

When a U.S. district judge last month ruled a federal ban on female genital mutilation unconstitutional, he undercut the federal government and alarmed anti-FGM activists, who hope to eradicate the practice.

The World Health Organization calls FGM, also known as female circumcision, a human rights violation of women and girls, with no health benefits.

Some 200 million women and girls around the world, mainly in Africa, have experienced FGM, the WHO says.

In his opinion, Judge Bernard Friedman called FGM “despicable,” but also “a local criminal activity” that must be addressed at the state level. In enacting a federal law, he said, Congress overstepped.

Now, local lawmakers, advocates and newspapers are calling for state bans that equal or surpass the scope of the federal law that was struck down.

‘Never again’

The case Friedman ruled on centers around Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, an emergency room physician accused of performing FGM on at least 100 girls in Michigan for more than a decade.

Prosecutors have focused their case on nine girls, aged 7 to 12, from three states. The girls allegedly were subjected to FGM with the aid of Nagarwala and seven others, including the girls’ mothers.

Defense attorneys say the procedure amounted to only a “nick” on the girls performed as part of a religious ritual — not FGM. But they also argued in July that the federal law banning FGM is unconstitutional.

State Senator Rick Jones, who represents Michigan’s 24th district, told VOA by phone that he was shocked to learn about Nagarwala’s case and strongly disagrees with Friedman’s ruling.

Last year, Jones became the spokesperson for a package of bills outlawing FGM statewide. The legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Now, Michigan has some of the toughest FGM laws in the country.

Health-care providers convicted of performing FGM face up to 15 years in prison, along with the permanent loss of their medical licenses. Parents who take their daughters to doctors to be cut can lose custody.

The 1996 federal law, meanwhile, stipulated up to five years in prison and fines for medical providers who perform FGM.

“We wanted to send a strong message around the world: Never again bring your girls to Michigan for this horrible procedure,” Jones said.

Across the U.S., 27 states have passed laws banning FGM, many of which have been written in recent years and include penalties that go beyond the federal law, which also criminalizes so-called “vacation cutting,” the practice of taking girls out of the United States to have FGM performed overseas.

News organizations are among those pushing for an expansion of state laws. Last month, the Seattle Times editorial board called for a ban in Washington, one of 23 states yet to outlaw FGM.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times editorial board said all 50 states should ban the “barbaric” practice, in light of Friedman’s ruling.

Religious ritual?

The health-care providers and families involved in the Michigan case belong to Dawoodi Bohra, a Shi’ite Muslim sect based in India with about 2 million followers worldwide.

According to a study published earlier this year, FGM, called khafd in Dawoodi Bohra communities, is widespread in the sect and involves cutting the clitoral hood or part of the clitoris, without an anesthetic, when girls turn seven.

The study, commissioned by WeSpeakOut, an advocacy group focused on eradicating khafd, also found that three-quarters of Dawoodi Bohra women have experienced FGM.

The severity and nature of FGM can vary.

Health-care providers have identified four types of FGM. Khafd involves Type 1 FGM. Other types involve removing all of the external genitalia and narrowing the vaginal opening.

Jones rejects the idea that there’s a religious basis for the procedure, however it’s performed.

“Across the world, this has been practiced by Christians, pagans, Muslims, even a small Jewish sect in Ethiopia,” he said.

“This is not about a religion,” he added. “This is about men attempting to control women’s behavior by this horrible procedure.”

The WHO identifies both short-term and permanent harms associated with the practice. Immediate concerns include severe pain, infections and, in some cases, death. Long term, women and girls subjected to FGM face a range of physiological and psychological complications that can affect menstruation, childbirth and sexual health.

The United States has been unequivocal in condemning the practice, saying “the U.S. government considers FGM/C to be a serious human rights abuse, and a form of gender-based violence and child abuse” on a fact sheet posted to the Citizenship & Immigration Services website.

Education and legislation

Friedman’s November decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for prosecutors.

Nagarwala spent seven months in 2017 in jail before 16 friends posted a $4.5 million unsecured bond, against the pleas of prosecutors, who argued Nagarwala could silence potential witnesses or even flee the country if released.

And in January, the judge dismissed charges that Nagarwala and a second doctor, Fakhruddin Attar, transported minors with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, an offense that carries a lifetime sentence.

Nagarwala still faces conspiracy and obstruction charges that could result in decades in prison.

The trial is now set to begin next April, the Detroit Free Press reported last month. However, the prosecution could appeal last month’s decision, drawing the case out further.

Looking beyond the Michigan case, Jones said the key to stopping FGM isn’t just legislation but also education.

“What we have to do is continue to fight this worldwide. This is a global problem,” Jones said.

“It is a violation of human rights,” he said. “And I’m going to continue speaking out worldwide against this horrible, horrible practice that must end.”

NASA Probe Finds Signs of Water on Nearby Asteroid Bennu

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has discovered ingredients for water on a relatively nearby skyscraper-sized asteroid, a rocky acorn-shaped object that may hold clues to the origins of life on Earth, scientists said on Monday.

OSIRIS-REx, which flew last week within a scant 12 miles (19 km) of the asteroid Bennu some 1.4 million miles (2.25 million km) from Earth, found traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules — part of the recipe for water and thus the potential for life — embedded in the asteroid’s rocky surface.

The probe, on a mission to return samples from the asteroid to Earth for study, was launched in 2016. Bennu, roughly a third of a mile wide (500 meters), orbits the sun at roughly the same distance as Earth. There is concern among scientists about the possibility of Bennu impacting Earth late in the 22nd century.

“We have found the water-rich minerals from the early solar system, which is exactly the kind of sample we were going out there to find and ultimately bring back to Earth,” University of Arizona planetary scientist Dante Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx mission’s principal investigator, said in a telephone interview.

Asteroids are among the leftover debris from the solar system’s formation some 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists believe asteroids and comets crashing into early Earth may have delivered organic compounds and water that seeded the planet for life, and atomic-level analysis of samples from Bennu could provide key evidence to support that hypothesis.

“When samples of this material are returned by the mission to Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system,” Amy Simon, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in a statement.

“We’re really trying to understand the role that these carbon-rich asteroids played in delivering water to the early Earth and making it habitable,” Lauretta added.

OSIRIS-REx will pass later this month just 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from Bennu, entering the asteroid’s gravitational pull and analyzing its terrain. From there, the spacecraft will begin to gradually tighten its orbit around the asteroid, spiraling to within just 6 feet (2 meters) of its surface so its robot arm can snatch a sample of Bennu by July 2020.

The spacecraft will later fly back to Earth, jettisoning a capsule bearing the asteroid specimen for a parachute descent in the Utah desert in September 2023.

Researchers Announce Items That Survived Brazil Museum Fire

Researchers from Brazil’s National Museum said Monday that they had recovered more than 1,500 pieces from the debris following a massive fire.

 

The Sept. 2 blaze, which gutted one of the world’s oldest museums, destroyed much of the 20 million piece collection, and recovering objects from the ashes has been slow.

 

“The work must be done very carefully and patiently,” said Alexander Kellner, director of the museum.

 

The items recovered so far include the remains of several pieces, including Brazilian indigenous arrows, a Peruvian vase, and a pre-Colombian funeral urn.

 

In October, researchers recovered skull fragments and a part of the femur belonging to “Luzia,” the name scientist gave to a woman who lived 11,500 years ago. The fossils are among the oldest ever found in the Americas.

The update on recovery efforts Monday was accompanied by details of a US$205,385 donation from the German government for conservation equipment.

 

Klaus Zillikens, the German consul general to Rio de Janeiro, said his government was committed to the rehabilitation of the museum.

 

“For us, watching over our culture is both a political and social duty, and in such, immediately after the fire we looked into helping the museum with the restoration,” he said.

 

Zillikens said the donation was the first part of a potential US$1.3 million made available for the restoration, depending on need.

 

Authorities have yet to say how the blaze started, but the fire became a symbol for many Brazilians of the endemic negligence and underfunding by successive governments. Museum officials have said that the building was lacking many necessary security features like a sprinkler system and that fire safety risks were well know.

 

Since the fire, there has been an outpouring of international support, including the visit of a group of UNESCO specialists in recovery and reconstruction.

Editorial Cartoons Pack Powerful Messages

Editorial cartoons — also known as political cartoons — have been around as long as there’s been political discourse and dissent. 

In the U.S., they’re a vibrant part of American culture and history, and no matter how controversial, are protected as free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In fact, the late Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist Doug Marlette described them as “the acid test of the First Amendment.” 

An unusual calling

Matt Wuerker is a staff cartoonist for Politico, an American political journalism company based just outside the nation’s capital. 

He says it’s an unusual job.

“We’re a strange mix of things in that we are making serious commentary on serious topics, but we’re doing it not so seriously,” he says. “We like to see ourselves as opinion columnists that you’d see in a newspaper or somebody on TV who’s offering their opinion… and we get to draw our opinions with silly pictures!”

The Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist says the main advantage of a political cartoon is being able to communicate an opinion very quickly. 

“I can draw a picture and put in a little word bubble and you can read it in about four seconds and you get it,” he says. “So it’s a very interesting vehicle for expressing an opinion if you do it right.”

“It has to hit you in the face kind of hard and fast and you know it when you’ve been hit.”

A good example of that is his popular Thanksgiving cartoon where he shows a family gathered around the dinner table about to partake in the much-revered Thanksgiving meal. While Mother brings the turkey to the table, family members are shown immersed in their mobile phones instead of paying attention to this time-honored ritual.

He was inspired by a popular painting by American artist Norman Rockwell who painted idyllic scenes reflecting American culture. 

While Wuerker created the cartoon for an American audience, its message is universal; a striking example of how technology is disrupting such simple rituals as meal time.

A variety of styles

Wuerker’s cartoons are very ornate and detailed and painted in a variety of colors. But he’s a bit envious of other cartoonists he says, who can express themselves with a simple line drawing. They can “make the statement with very little drawing and it can be just as effective, if not maybe more effective,” he says.

The format of cartoons has evolved, he says.

“When I started 40 years ago doing cartoons, an editorial cartoon was a black-and-white single-panel cartoon in a newspaper. And now cartoons can be color, they can be animated, they can be graphic novels that are political.”

Like the 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning work by journalist Jake Halpern and illustrator Michael Sloan currently on display at the Newseum in Washington. 

“They did something quite extraordinary,” says Patty Rhule, Vice President of Exhibits at the Newseum. “They did a 20-part series in the New York Times following the story of two Syrian immigrants who fled the war in Syria to come to this country and start a new life with their families.”

It marked the newspaper’s first Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning.

Rhule says editorial cartoons “bring faces and art to current events and tell stories in a way that journalists who are reporting strict facts can’t always do,” adding that the graphic novel format the two journalists used “takes cartooning to a whole new level; they add a note of commentary on what is happening in the world.”

Editorial cartoons have always been an important part of American culture, she adds.

“Since the beginning of this country, editorial cartoons have been framing issues and framing debate — from Ben Franklin’s Live Free or Die [Join, or Die], the segmented snake that rallied the 13 colonies together. So it’s always been a part of this country and the world’s way of freely expressing ideas and debate, and so I hope they never go away.”

Cartoon backlash 

But free expression sometimes comes at a heavy price. 

In 2015, Islamic terrorists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, after it published unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Twelve people were killed in the attack, including several prominent cartoonists.

“And within their [Islamic] culture they are certainly entitled to be offended, but they’re not entitled to decide that they’re going to go to Paris and kill the people who created that cartoon that was really intended for a French audience,” Wuerker says.

He has great respect, he says, for cartoonists who keep working despite the dangers.

“In the course of my career I’ve gotten to know a lot of cartoonists from different parts of the world, and the ones that really impress me are the ones that keep drawing despite having to live with constant threats all the time.” 

“Many cartoonists have had to flee their country because they were brave enough to take on regimes or political figures that don’t understand that a free press is a salutary thing,” he adds.

He hopes that in these troubled times, people will appreciate cartoons for what they are.

“The times have become so vitriolic and people are so quick to anger. I think the good kind of political cartooning is something that slips in a really good political point with a certain amount of good humor and wit that people will process and hopefully won’t make them angry but will make them think.”