July 7, 2014

Blue whales can eat up to eight tons of krill per day, and that krill is then turned into a sensational amount of, um, whale waste. Gross, right? Well, consider this: Whale poop may actually play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change, according to University of Vermont researchers.

In a paper published this month in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the biologists write that large whales stabilize ocean ecosystems by helping to "recycle nutrients." More specifically, they feed deep in the ocean and then swim toward the surface to go number two. The process, to borrow the science community's euphemism, is known as a "whale pump."

The deposited nutrients feed a new crop of plankton, which in turn feeds the lower rungs of the ocean's food chain — while also absorbing copious amounts of carbon dioxide. It's the circle of life. The gross, stinky, circle of life. Jon Terbush

12:18 p.m. ET

Republican presidential hopefuls including Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Carly Fiorina have condemned Friday's fatal shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, while denying a link between the attack and pro-life rhetoric.

Authorities have identified Robert Lewis Dear, 57, as the suspected gunman. He reportedly expressed his pro-life sentiments to law enforcement officials when they took him into custody Friday. Trump dismissed the gunman as a "maniac," on NBC's Meet the Press, and defended the edited video footage that pro-life advocates have used to question how Planned Parenthood handles fetal tissue donations.

Huckabee also sought to separate the pro-life movement from Dear's alleged actions.

"Regardless of why he did it, what he did is domestic terrorism," Huckabee said on CNN's State of the Union. "And what he is did is absolutely abominable, especially to those of us in the pro-life movement, because there's nothing about any of us that would condone or in any way look the other way at something like this."

On Fox News Sunday, Fiorina criticized liberals for their response to the shooting, which has included a defense of Planned Parenthood's women's health services.

"This is so typical of the left, to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don't agree with the message," she said. Julie Kliegman

paris attacks aftermath
11:39 a.m. ET

French police officers used tear gas to disperse a crowd of hundreds of demonstrators at the Place de la République on Sunday. They also detained about 100 people who had projectiles or other suspicious objects, The Associated Press reports.

The demonstrators were protesting to call on world leaders for a global commitment to curbing climate change, one day before the start of a landmark summit in Paris.

The Paris police chief said the demonstrators violated the ban on protests being enforced under France's ongoing state of emergency, which authorities put in place after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks.

Watch AP video footage of police officers breaking up the protest below. Julie Kliegman

police shootings
10:58 a.m. ET
Jordan Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty released 326 enhanced images Saturday showing a frame-by-frame analysis of the November 2014 fatal shooting by Cleveland police officers of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy carrying a toy gun.

The images, enhanced by the Washington-based Forensic Video Solutions, seemingly back up reports released by the prosecutor suggesting Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot Rice, may have believed Rice was armed with a real gun, The Plain Dealer reports.

The Rice family's attorneys are challenging that notion, USA Today reports, and asking the prosecutor to let their own use-of-force experts testify before the grand jury, which is hearing evidence to decide if Loehmann and the other officer involved in the shooting should be criminally indicted.

"The frames contain editorial comments that attempt to make excuses for the officers," Rice family attorney Subodh Chandra wrote in a statement. "Tamir, for example, may be lifting his arm in shocked reaction to being shot. The effort to characterize the evidence is hardly fair play and is one of many reasons the Rice family and clergy throughout Cleveland lack confidence in the prosecutor's fairness in this matter."

The Plain Dealer published copies of the enhanced frames here. Julie Kliegman

refugee crisis
8:34 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

After meeting Syrian refugees in Jordan on Saturday, Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson said he still does not want the U.S. to accept them, The Associated Press reports.

The retired neurosurgeon called the refugees he met in the Azraq camp "very hard working, determined people, which should only enhance the overall economic health of the neighboring Arab countries that accept and integrate them into the general population." Carson said the American people, as opposed to the government, should collect billions of dollars to improve the conditions of refugee camps in the Middle East.

Many Republican presidential candidates, governors, and legislators have called on the White House to modify its plan to accept up to 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, citing security concerns in the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks carried out by the Islamic State. In response, President Obama and other White House officials have said that the current U.S. process for vetting refugees is already thorough. Julie Kliegman

Gun Violence
8:00 a.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images)

Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains President Vicki Cowart vowed Saturday to reopen the Colorado Springs, Colorado, clinic soon, The Guardian reports. None of the clinic's 15 employees in the building at the time were wounded in Friday's attack, when a gunman fatally shot three people and injured nine others.

"We will adapt," Cowart said. "We will square our shoulders and we will go on."

The clinic went under lockdown as the gunman reportedly entered the building, but wasn't able to make it past a locked door leading to the main part of the facility. During the five-hour standoff between the gunman — allegedly 57-year-old Robert Dear — and police officers, about 300 people sheltered in place at nearby shopping center, The Associated Press reports. Dear has been held without Bond since Friday, and is due to appear in court Monday.

"We share the concerns of many Americans that the continued attacks against abortion providers and patients, as well as law enforcement officers, is creating a poisonous environment that breeds acts of violence," Cowart said. "But we will never back away from providing critical health care to millions of people who rely on and trust us every day." Julie Kliegman

ancient burials
November 28, 2015
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Image

Researchers are now 90 percent sure there's a hidden chamber behind the tomb of King Tutankhamun, Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said at a news conference Saturday.

British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves published a paper earlier in 2015 with his findings from examining detailed scans of King Tut's tomb, suggesting there are two secret doorways that have gone untouched since the 14th century B.C. One might lead to a storeroom, and the other to the tomb of Queen Nefertiti, whose burial site has long been a mystery for researchers.

Though Reeves' theory isn't a sure thing, researchers are more confident they'll at least find something behind Tut's tomb, Reuters reports, so long as they can avoid damaging the structure.

"The key is to excavate slowly and carefully and record well. The fact is this isn't a race," Reeves said at the news conference. "All archaeology is disruption." Julie Kliegman

make elephants great again
November 28, 2015

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is speaking not once, but twice in Sarasota, Florida, on Saturday to accommodate the 14,000 people who want to see him, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

But he isn't the only star there:

Trump supporter Frank Murray of Gainesville lent the campaign his elephant for free Saturday.

"The man knows how to make money," Murray told the Herald-Tribune. "He knows what America is all about and he can get America back on track."

The term "political circus" has never felt quite so literal. Julie Kliegman

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