Category: Coexistence


Supreme Court upholds prayer at government meetings

Supreme Court upholds prayer at government meetings

Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

On November 6, 2013, the Court heard oral arguments in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway dealing with whether holding a prayer prior to the monthly public meetings in the New York town of Greece violates the Constitution by endorsing a single faith.

by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

Posted on May 5, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Updated today at 9:13 AM

 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the centuries-old tradition of offering prayers at the start of government meetings, even if those prayers are overwhelmingly Christian.

The 5-4 decision in favor of the any-prayer-goes policy in the town of Greece, N.Y., avoided two alternatives that the justices clearly found abhorrent: having government leaders parse prayers for sectarian content, or outlawing them altogether.

It was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, with the court’s conservatives agreeing and its liberals, led by Justice Elena Kagan, dissenting.

The long-awaited ruling following oral arguments in November was a victory for the the town, which was taken to court by two women who argued that a plethora of overtly Christian prayers at town board meetings violated their rights.

While the court had upheld the practice of legislative prayer, most recently in a 1983 case involving the Nebraska legislature, the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway presented the justices with a new twist: mostly Christian clergy delivering frequently sectarian prayers before an audience that often includes average citizens with business to conduct.

The court’s ruling said that the alternative — having the town board act as supervisors and censors of religious speech — would involve the government far more than Greece was doing by inviting any clergy to deliver the prayers.

“An insistence on nonsectarian or ecumenical prayer as a single, fixed standard is not consistent with the tradition of legislative prayer outlined in the court’s cases,” Kennedy said.

Kagan, joined by the court’s other three liberal justices, said the town’s prayers differed from those delivered to legislators about to undertake the people’s business. In Greece, she said, sectarian prayers were delivered to “ordinary citizens,” and their participation was encouraged.

“No one can fairly read the prayers from Greece’s town meetings as anything other than explicitly Christian — constantly and exclusively so,” Kagan said. “The prayers betray no understanding that the American community is today, as it long has been, a rich mosaic of religious faiths.”

The legal tussle began in 2007, following eight years of nothing but Christian prayers in the town of nearly 100,000 people outside Rochester. Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, a Jew and an atheist, took the board to federal court and won by contending that its prayers – often spiced with references to Jesus, Christ and the Holy Spirit — aligned the town with one religion.

Once the legal battle was joined, town officials canvassed widely for volunteer prayer-givers and added a Jewish layman, a Wiccan priestess and a member of the Baha’i faith to the mix. Stephens, meanwhile, awoke one morning to find her mailbox on top of her car, and part of a fire hydrant turned up in her swimming pool.

The two women contended that the prayers in Greece were unconstitutional because they pressured those in attendance to participate. They noted that unlike federal and state government sessions, town board meetings are frequented by residents who must appear for everything from business permits to zoning changes.

 

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DISASTER MANAGEMENT

MH370 search to be most costly ever at $100 mln: analysts


by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) April 18, 2014


Malaysia warns of ‘huge’ cost in MH370 search
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) April 17, 2014 – Malaysia warned Thursday that the cost of the search for flight MH370’s wreckage in the vast depths of the Indian Ocean will be “huge”, the latest sobering assessment by authorities involved in the challenging effort.
“When we look at salvaging (wreckage) at a depth of 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles), no military out there has the capacity to do it,” Transport and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.”We have to look at contractors, and the cost of that will be huge.”

The search in a remote stretch of ocean far off western Australia was enlivened in the past two weeks by the detection of signals believed to be from the Malaysia Airlines plane’s flight data recorders on the seabed.

But the transmissions have gone silent before they could be pinpointed, raising the spectre of a costly and extensive search of a large swathe of ocean floor at extreme depths.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia, which is leading the multi-national search, had earlier warned in an interview published Thursday that an autonomous US Navy sonar device that began scanning the seabed for wreckage on Monday would be given one more week.

If nothing is found, authorities would reassess how next to proceed in the unprecedented mission to find the plane, Abbott said in the Wall Street Journal.

The Bluefin-21 completed its first full scanning mission early Thursday.

An initial attempt was aborted when the sub hit its maximum depth at 4.5 kilometres. A second was cut short by unspecified “technical” troubles.

Hishammuddin said he agreed with Abbott, saying “there will come a time when we need to regroup and reconsider”.

“But in any event, the search will always continue. It’s just a matter of approach,” said Hishammuddin, who did not specify what any alternative approach would be.

Australia’s search chief Angus Houston said earlier this week that authorities already were looking at possible alternative methods, including undersea devices that can go deeper than the Bluefin-21, but he also gave no specifics.

The Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people aboard inexplicably veered off its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing course on March 8, and is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean.

 

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is set to be the most expensive in aviation history, analysts say, as efforts to find the aircraft deep under the Indian Ocean show no signs of slowing.

The Boeing 777 vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, after veering dramatically off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is believed to have crashed in the sea off Australia.

Australia, which is leading the search in a remote patch of water described as “unknown to man”, has not put a figure on spending, but Malaysia has warned that costs will be “huge”.

“When we look at salvaging (wreckage) at a depth of 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles), no military out there has the capacity to do it,” Transport and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Thursday.

“We have to look at contractors, and the cost of that will be huge.”

Ravikumar Madavaram, an aviation expert at Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, said Malaysia, Australia and China, which had the most nationals onboard the flight, were the biggest spenders and estimated the total cost up to now at about US$100 million (72 million euros).

“It’s difficult to say how much is the cost of this operation … but, yes, this is definitely the biggest operation ever (in aviation history).

“In terms of costs this would be the highest,” he told AFP.

- Hopes rest on submersible -

In the first month of the search — in which the South China Sea and Malacca Strait were also scoured by the US, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam — the Pentagon said the United States military had committed US$7.3 million to efforts to find the plane.

Meanwhile the Indian Ocean search, in which assets have also been deployed by Australia, Britain, China, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand, has failed to find anything conclusive.

Hopes rest on a torpedo-shaped US Navy submersible, which is searching the ocean floor at depths of more than 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) in the vicinity of where four signals believed to have come from black box recorders were detected.

David Gleave, an aviation safety researcher at Britain’s Loughborough University, said the costs “will be of the order of a hundred million dollars by the time we’re finished, if we have found it (the plane) now”.

But he said the longer it took to find any wreckage, the more costs would mount because scanning the vast ocean floor “will take a lot of money because you can only search about 50 square kilometres (19 square miles) a day”.

 

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WATER WORLD

Sub dives deeper in hunt for missing MH370


by Staff Writers
Perth, Australia (AFP) April 18, 2014

The mini-sub searching for missing flight MH370 has reached record depths well beyond its normal operating limits, officials said Friday as it dived on its fifth seabed mission.

With no results to show since the Boeing 777 carrying 239 people disappeared on March 8, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has set a one-week deadline to locate the plane which is believed to have crashed in a remote area of the Indian Ocean west of Perth.

Searchers have extended the hunt beyond the normal 4,500 metre (15,000 feet) depth range of the US Navy’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) called Bluefin-21.

“The AUV reached a record depth of 4,695 meters during mission four,” the US Navy said. “This is the first time the Bluefin-21 has descended to this depth.

“Diving to such depths does carry with it some residual risk to the equipment and this is being carefully monitored,” a statement said.

Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) announced that the mini-sub had been deployed on a new mission as operations run round the clock.

“Data analysis from the fourth mission did not provide any contacts of interest,” it added.

The unmanned Bluefin-21 which maps the seafloor by sonar, has searched 110 square kilometres (43 square miles) to date, JACC said.

The UAV, which hit a technical snag on Tuesday had also re-surfaced Monday after breaching a pre-programmed maximum depth of 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles).

JACC said Thursday night that the US manufacturer of the UAV, Phoenix International, had advised the risk was “acceptable”.

“This expansion of the operating parameters allows the Bluefin-21 to search the sea floor within the predicted limits of the current search area,” it said.

The Malaysia Airlines jet is believed to have crashed in the ocean after mysteriously vanishing while en route between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

Hopes for finding the plane have focused on the Bluefin-21 after signals believed to be from the plane’s flight data recorders on the seabed fell silent in recent days.

The submersible is being deployed from an Australian vessel to scan an uncharted seafloor at extreme depths, but Abbott said the Bluefin-21 would be given about a week as questions are asked about the massive costs.

 

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The Australian

Dismayed families of missing MH370 passengers have vowed to ‘get noisier’

Malaysia to issue death certificates in missing plane

http://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/external?url=http://content6.video.news.com.au/FxNzJibTpfUWDOML1T4JUliRzjZY81g9/promo222290599&width=650&api_key=kq7wnrk4eun47vz9c5xuj3mc

The Malaysian government prepares to issue death certificates for passengers of missing flight MH370 but some families cling to the hope their loved ones are alive. Mana Rabiee reports.

Shock … relatives of the missing MH370 passengers at the Metro Park Hotel in Beijing on April 21, 2014. Picture: Wang Zhao Source: AFP

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FAMILY members of passengers lost on missing Malaysia Airlines 370 have criticised the Malaysian government for an investigation they say has been mismanaged.

Appearing on US morning television, Sarah Bajc, the girlfriend of Flight 370 American passenger Philip Wood, told Today host Matt Lauer passengers’ loved ones all just “wanted to go back to square one”.

“We just don’t believe they’re using proper evaluative techniques to check the data,” she said. “It’s day 45 and we’re basically on the same position we were on on the first day.”

We don’t know anything for sure,” she said. “We want to go back and start over again, but with new people looking at the information.”

Ms Bajc sent an email to the media, on behalf of “the united families of MH370”, detailing their complaints and concerns.

 

Despair ... Sarah Bajc with her boyfriend Philip Wood, who was a passenger on missing Mal

Despair … Sarah Bajc with her boyfriend Philip Wood, who was a passenger on missing Malaysian flight MH370. Picture: Facebook Source: Supplied

 

Among their grievances is the suggestion by the government it issues death certificates or pay compensation before the plane is found.

“Until they have proof, they have an obligation to make regular prepayments to the families in need, and they have an obligation to exert themselves beyond dozing and snickering in resolving this case,” the email says.

The families say they are gaining strength and prepared to get noisier in their criticisms. The letter signs of “WE ARE IN UTTER OUTRAGE, DESPAIR AND SHOCK!”

The Acting Minister of Transport in Malaysia has posted a comment to Twitter that he hopes to discuss with Angus Houston the status of the remaining third of the search area being combed by the Bluefin-21 unmanned submersible.

 

 

 

DETAILS OF TODAY’S SEARCH

Bluefin-21 is still scouring the ocean depths on its ninth mission trying to locate wreckage from MH370.

So far it has searched about two thirds of the underwater area, with no contacts of interest found to date.

Up to 10 military aircraft and 10 ships will be part of today’s visual search approximately 1500 kilometres north west of Perth.

Scattered showers are predicted to continue with south easterly winds and sea swells of up to three metres.

 

 

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Published on Jan 3, 2014

“I have cerebral palsy. I shake all the time,” Maysoon Zayid announces at the beginning of this exhilarating, hilarious talk. (Really, it’s hilarious.) “I’m like Shakira meets Muhammad Ali.” With grace and wit, the Arab-American comedian takes us on a whistle-stop tour of her adventures as an actress, stand-up comic, philanthropist and advocate for the disabled.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at http://www.ted.com/translate

Follow TED news on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tednews
Like TED on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TED

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Study: Dogs Understand How We’re Feeling

By George Putic – Researchers in Hungary have confirmed something many dog owners have long suspected: that canines understand our feelings.

Using a Magnetic Resonance Scanner, or MRI, scientists found that when it comes to emotions, dogs’ brains are similar to those of humans.Dogs are usually not relaxed in a lab environment, but with a little petting and lots of treats they can be trained to sit still even in an MRI scanner. That’s how researchers in Hungary’s ELTE University were able to get images of their brains at work.

Research fellow Attila Andics says it helped them better understand the dogs’ relationship with humans.

“We have known for a long time that dogs and humans share similar social environment, but now our results show that dogs and humans also have similar brain mechanisms to process social information,” said Andics.

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Today's Ideas and Actions | OurFuture.org

 

 

January 17, 2014

 

Earlier this month, Hawaii State representative Tom Bower (D) began walking the streets of his Waikiki district with a sledgehammer, and smashing shopping carts used by homeless people. “Disgusted” by the city’s chronic homelessness problem, Bower decided to take matters into his own hands — literally. He also took to rousing homeless people if he saw them sleeping at bus stops during the day.

Bower’s tactics were over the top, and so unpopular that he quickly declared “Mission accomplished,” and retired his sledgehammer. But Bower’s frustration with his city’s homelessness problem is just an extreme example of the frustration that has led cities to pass measures that effective deal with the homeless by criminalizing homelessness.

  • City council members in Columbia, South Carolina, concerned that the city was becoming a “magnet for homeless people,” passed an ordinance giving the homeless the option to either relocate or get arrested. The council later rescinded the ordinance, after backlash from police officers, city workers, and advocates.
  • Last year, Tampa, Florida — which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city — passed an  ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.” The city followed up with a ban on panhandling downtown, and other locations around the city.
  • Philadelphia took a somewhat different approach, with a law banning the feeding of homeless people on city parkland. Religious groups objected to the ban, and announced that they would not obey it.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina took the step of asking religious groups to stop their longstanding practice of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends. Religious leaders announced that they would risk arrest rather than stop.

This trend makes Utah’s accomplishment even more noteworthy. In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

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LA Times  Science

Neanderthal toe bone

This toe bone from a Neanderthal, discovered in Denisova Cave in Siberia, is helping scientists understand interbreeding among species of ancient humans. (Bence Viola / December 18, 2013)

A 50,000-year-old toe bone found in a Siberian cave is giving scientists a surprising view of the breeding habits of early humans.

In what has been described as a “Lord of the Rings”-type world, researchers say that Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and two other groups of early humans mingled and interbred thousands of years before all species but ours became extinct.

The findings were presented Wednesday in the journal Nature by a team of scientists who sequenced the DNA from the Neanderthal toe fossil and compared it to the genomes of 25 present-day humans, as well as the genome of a sister group to Neanderthals called Denisovans.

According to their analysis, Neanderthals contributed roughly 2% of their DNA to modern people outside Africa and half a percent to Denisovans, who contributed 0.2% of their DNA to Asian and Native American people.

The biggest surprise, though, was the finding that a fourth hominin contributed roughly 6% of the DNA in the Denisovan genome. The identity of this DNA donor remains a mystery.

“It is possible that this unknown hominin was what is known from the fossil record as Homo erectus,” said lead study author Kay Prufer, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. “Further studies are necessary to support or reject this possibility.”

Geneticists and anthropologists said the inch-long bone and resulting analysis have greatly illuminated a period of time roughly 12,000 to 126,000 years ago.

“It does seem that Eurasia during the Late Pleistocene was an interesting place to be a hominin, with individuals of at least four quite diverged groups living, meeting and occasionally having sex,” biologist Ewan Birney of the European

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Nelson Mandela dead at 95

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View images of civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, who went from anti-apartheid activist to prisoner to South Africa’s first black president.

Nelson Mandela, the revered South African anti-apartheid icon who spent 27 years in prison, led his country to democracy and became its first black president, died Thursday at home. He was 95.

“He is now resting,” said South African President Jacob Zuma. “He is now at peace.”

“Our nation has lost his greatest son,” he continued. “Our people have lost their father.”

A state funeral will be held, and Zuma called for mourners to conduct themselves with “the dignity and respect” that Mandela personified.

“Wherever we are in the country, wherever we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society… in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another,” he said as tributes began pouring in from across the world.

Though he was in power for only five years, Mandela was a figure of enormous moral influence the world over – a symbol of revolution, resistance and triumph over racial segregation.

He inspired a generation of activists, left celebrities and world leaders star-struck, won the Nobel Peace Prize and raised millions for humanitarian causes.

South Africa is still bedeviled by challenges, from class inequality to political corruption to AIDS. And with Mandela’s death, it has lost a beacon of optimism.

Feb. 1990: NBC’s Robin Lloyd reports on Nelson Mandela on the eve of his release from prison in 1990. Mandela’s name has become a rallying cry for the overthrow of apartheid, but no one but prison guards and visitors have actually seen him since he was jailed 27 years ago.

In his jailhouse memoirs, Mandela wrote that even after spending so many years in a Spartan cell on Robben Island – with one visitor a year and one letter every six months – he still had faith in human nature.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion,” he wrote in “Long Walk to Freedom.”

“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Mandela retired from public life in 2004 with the half-joking directive, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” and had largely stepped out of the spotlight, spending much of his time with family in his childhood village.

His health had been fragile in recent years. He had spent almost three months in a hospital in Pretoria after being admitted in June for a recurring lung infection. He was released on Sept. 1.

In his later years, Mandela was known to his countrymen simply as Madiba, the name of his tribe and a mark of great honor. But when he was born on July 18, 1918, he was named Rolihlahla, which translated roughly – and prophetically – to “troublemaker.”

Mandela was nine when his father died, and he was sent from his rural village to the provincial capital to be raised by a fellow chief. The first member of his family to get a formal education, he went to boarding school and then enrolled in South Africa’s elite Fort Hare University, where his activism unfurled with a student boycott.

As a young law scholar, he joined the resurgent African National Congress just a few years before the National Party – controlled by the Afrikaners, the descendants of Dutch and French settlers – came to power on a platform of apartheid, in which the government enforced racial segregation and stripped non-whites of economic and political power.

As an ANC leader, Mandela advocated peaceful resistance against government discrimination and oppression – until 1961, when he launched a military wing called Spear of the Nation and a campaign of sabotage.

April, 1994: Former political prisoner Nelson Mandela is on the verge of being elected South Africa’s first black president.

The next year, he was arrested and soon hit with treason charges. At the opening of his trial in 1964, he said his adoption of armed struggle was a last resort born of bloody crackdowns by the government.

“Fifty years of non-violence had brought the African people nothing but more and more repressive legislation and fewer and few rights,” he said from the dock.

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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Nelson Mandela Dead at 95

The New York Times The New York Times

Published on Dec 5, 2013

Subscribe on YouTube: http://bit.ly/U8Ys7n
Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule and served as his country’s first black president, died at 95.

Read the story: http://nyti.ms/1jrjEyE

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breakingtheset

Published on Nov 15, 2013

Abby Martin speaks with Peter Joseph, founder to the Zeitgeist Movement about the philosophy behind the organization, the unsustainability of the current economic system and the model proposed by the movement for a sustainable future that works harmoniously with nature.

LIKE Breaking the Set @ http://fb.me/BreakingTheSet
FOLLOW Abby Martin @ http://twitter.com/AbbyMartin

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Becky Big Canoe: Become self-sufficient in food and housing with EnviroNative Training Initiatives

Alfred Lambremont Webre Alfred Lambremont Webre

Published on Nov 15, 2013

VIDEO: Becky Big Canoe: Become sustainable in food and housing with EnviroNative Training Initiatives
WATCH ON YOU TUBE:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0clxix…

VANCOUVER, B.C. – In an interview with Alfred Lambremont Webre, Becky Big Canoe of Ontario, Canada describes becoming sustainable in food and housing with EnviroNative Training Initatives.

EnviroNative Training Initiatives, which Becky Big Canoe founded, is a not-for-profit organization set up to design and deliver training programs in food security, entrepreneur skills and natural building. Their target clientele is First Nations women and at risk youth.

You can support this initiative in self sufficiency by voting at:

http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ide…

Information:

EnviroNative Training Initatives

https://www.facebook.com/environative…

Becky Big Canoe

https://www.facebook.com/becky.bigcanoe

Thank you.

Becky Big Canoe: Become sustainable in food and housing with EnviroNative Training Initiatives

http://bit.ly/1ihreLN

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FARM NEWS

 

by Staff Writers
Davis CA (SPX) Oct 30, 2013

UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and California Trout researchers study salmon growth in seasonally flooded rice fields in the Yolo Bypass near Woodland, Calif., on Feb. 19, 2013. Scientists are investigating whether the Central Valley’s historical floodplains could be managed to help recover California’s populations of Chinook salmon. Credit: Carson Jeffres/UC Davis.


From a fish-eye view, rice fields in California’s Yolo Bypass provide an all-you-can-eat bug buffet for juvenile salmon seeking nourishment on their journey to the sea. That’s according to a new report detailing the scientific findings of an experiment that planted fish in harvested rice fields earlier this year, resulting in the fattest, fastest-growing salmon on record in the state’s rivers.

The report, provided to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, describes three concurrent studies from researchers at the University of California, Davis, nonprofit California Trout and the California Department of Water Resources. The scientists investigated whether rice fields on the floodplain of Yolo Bypass could be managed to help recover California’s populations of Chinook salmon, and if so, the ideal habitats and management approaches that could allow both fish and farms to thrive.

“We’re finding that land managers and regulatory agencies can use these agricultural fields to mimic natural processes,” said co-author Carson Jeffres, field and laboratory director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. “We still have some things to learn, but this report is a big step in understanding that.”

Researchers found that the fish did not have a preference among the three rice field types tested: stubble, plowed and fallow. The food supply was so plentiful that salmon had high growth rates across habitats and management methods.

“It’s like a dehydrated food web,” said Jeffres of the harvested rice fields. “Just add water. All of those habitats are very productive for fish.”

The salmon did demonstrate a preference for habitats with better water flow. Jeffres compared it to choosing among three good restaurants: Each offers good food with hearty portions, but one has better ambiance and so is chosen above the others. In this case, the better water flow was the ambiance the fish preferred.

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