Best Animal Photos of the Year

A large black bear leaves its den under a vacant home in South Lake Tahoe, California. As bear populations grow and humans expand into formerly undeveloped areas, more of the bruins are learning to live alongside people.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, people came to trade, sell, or watch birds at places like this in Havana, where onlookers gathered to watch a songbird take seeds from a handler’s tongue. 

A young forest elephant trots along with its parents in Lopé National Park, Gabon, along one of many paths that generations of the animals have cut through the fruit-rich rainforest.

Leopards court in a flowering coral tree on a misty winter morning in southern India’s Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. Anti-poaching measures have helped increase prey populations in the park, which allows both big cat species to thrive.

Polar bears spend so much time in the water that many scientists consider them to be marine mammals. But when ice and snow are scant, they spend time inland—like this individual sleeping in a patch of fireweed near Churchill, Manitoba, in summertime.

After darting a baboon in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, researchers with the Amboseli Baboon Research Project took measurements and samples of the animal’s blood, fluid, and skin, then released it unharmed.

A two-spot wrasse and a cornetfish swim through a colony of garden eels about two-thirds the size of a football field on a sandy slope near Negros Island, Philippines. Social but shy, they vanish into their holes when disturbed.

In San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, raccoons stand upright following the arrival of a resident who regularly feeds them—despite laws against the practice. Raccoons that become reliant on human food are more likely to spread disease and get hit by cars.

A blacktip reef shark traverses a mangrove forest of Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, which serves as both a nursery and hunting ground for many marine species. The island hosts one of the healthiest inshore shark populations in the Indian Ocean.

A young lynx is photographed by camera trap at an abandoned farm. In 2002 fewer than a hundred of these animals survived in the wild. Since then, the population has grown tenfold, with at least 1,100 animals scattered across Spain and Portugal.

A man offers a baby three-toed sloth for sale to passersby on a highway in Altos de Polonia, in northwestern Colombia. The town is one of several hot spots in the region for the illegal sloth trade. (From “A notorious sloth cartel kingpin vanished—We tried to find him,” January 11, 2022.)

From National Geographic.

Small town Manitoba  

This is Somerset, Manitoba.  Located in the south central part of the province, 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of the U.S. border.  This is where I grew up.  It is a small town, population 420.  It is getting smaller every year as the residents die off from old age.  The farms have become massive operations.  Fewer people farm the land as the huge machinery doesn’t require as many people to put in and harvest the crops.  This leads to a decline in population in the area.  Not as many services are needed.  Enrollment is down in the schools and this causes a decrease in teachers and support staff. 

But the town still has a movie theater, two bars, a grocery store, two garage repair shops, two restaurants, government offices, skating and curling rinks, a community hall, giant grain elevator and a few miscellaneous other small businesses.  Somerset will still be around for a long time yet.  And the people that live there love the quiet and solitude.

The Biggest Satellites that have fallen to Earth 


Skylab

Name: Skylab
Reentry Date: July 11, 1979
Reentry Location: South Western Australia
Size: 79 metric tons
Type: Uncontrolled reentry

The American space station’s reentry was celebrated by media in the United States, with two competing San Francisco newspapers even offering rewards for parts or damaged property.

Salyut 7

Name: Salyut 7/Kosmos 1686
Reentry Date: February 7, 1991
Reentry Location: Capitán Bermúdez, Argentina
Size: 40 metric tons
Type: Large, uncontrolled reentry

The Soviet space station had been uninhabited for almost 5 years when it returned to Earth, along with the unmanned spacecraft Kosmos 1686, showering a small Argentinian town with debris.

Mir

Name: Mir
Reentry Date: March 23, 2001
Reentry Location: South Pacific Ocean
Size: 120 metric tons
Type: Large, controlled destructive reentry

Mir, despite efforts to save the 15-year-old Russian space station for commercial purposes, reentered the atmosphere over Fiji, and fragments fell into the South Pacific.

Saturn S-II-13

Name:Saturn S-II-13 (Saturn V Stage)
Reentry Date:  January 11, 1975
Reentry Location: Atlantic
Size: 49 metric tons
Type: Uncontrolled reentry

The S-II was the second stage used on the massive Saturn V rocket, famous for launching Apollo astronauts to the moon. The S-II was used for the 13 launches of the Saturn V, including the 49 metric ton stage that reentered on January 11, 1975.

Cosmos 1402

Name: Cosmos 1402 (nuclear spy satellite)
Reentry Date: January 23, 1983
Reentry Location: Indian Ocean
Size: 4 metric tons
Type: Uncontrolled reentry

Satellite nuclear reactors were normally jettisoned to a safe “parking orbit” when the satellites reentered, but Cosmos 1402’s reactor remained attached until breaking up over the Indian Ocean. Here, an American orbital analyst monitors the satellites trajectory from NORAD.

Mars 96

Name:Mars 96 (Mars probe)
Reentry Date: November 17, 1996
Reentry Location: Bolivia, Chile, Pacific Ocean
Size: 7 metric tons
Type: Uncontrolled reentry

Mars 96 was a Russian satellite meant to send four probes to Mars, but failed and returned to Earth crashing into an unknown location in Bolivia, Chile, or the Pacific. No parts of the spacecraft, including its 200 grams of plutonium-238 fuel, have been found.

Space Shuttle Columbia

Name:Columbia (STS-107)
Reentry Date: February 1, 2003
Reentry Location: Texas, Louisiana
Size: 106 metric tons
Type: Large, controlled, destructive reentry

During the reentry of STS-107, damage to the shuttle’s left wing shielding during launch allowed hot gases to enter the wing structure of the shuttle, leading to the disintegration of the vehicle. All seven crew members were killed, and debris was scattered over northern Texas and eastern Louisiana.

“Great Satan” defeats Iran at World Cup

The Great Satan is a demonizing epithet for the United States of America in Iranian foreign policy statements. Occasionally, these words have also been used toward the government of the United Kingdom.

The term was used by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in his speech on November 5, 1979 to describe the United States, which he accused of imperialism and the sponsoring of corruption throughout the world. The speech occurred one day after the onset of the Iran hostage crisis.

Ayatollah Khomeini also occasionally used the term “Iblis” (the primary devil in Islam) to refer to the United States and other Western countries.

But the ‘Great Satan” prevailed today.

The United States men’s soccer team will be in Qatar for a little longer after defeating Iran in their final group-stage match of the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday.

 The United States scored the opening goal when Christian Pulisic slotted the ball home in the 38th minute. But in doing so he suffered an injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the game.

With the win, the United States finished second in Group B, which pits them against the Netherlands (winners of Group A) in the knockout round of the tournament. That game is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3, at 10 a.m. EST.

Supporters cheer prior to the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United States at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Oh Dat Good Ya, Oh Dat Good!

There are radio and TV commercials going around where pizza restaurants have satisfied customers moaning and groaning when they taste the delicious pizza pies. Oomm, ahh this is so good. Obviously the commercials are bias and the actor customers are over doing it. But when it comes to enjoying a tasty morsel, nothing beats Snuffle the Floating Dog.

Snuffles is an anthropomorphic cartoon dog appearing in animated television shorts produced by Hanna-Barbera beginning in 1959 on The Quick Draw McGraw Show.

Snuffles is a bloodhound used by Quick Draw McGraw to ferret out bad guys in the old West but needed to be bribed with a dog biscuit before performing his task. Upon chomping on one, he would hug himself in ecstasy, jump into the air and float back down, sighing. Occasionally, Snuffles would demand more than one biscuit, and was willing to accept them from bad guys as well. In several cases when Quick Draw did not have a dog biscuit to offer due to being out of them or if he tried to give Snuffles the reward cash for capturing an outlaw, Snuffles would either shake his head and say “Uh-uh” or grunt to himself and mumble “Darn cheapskate!” as well as sometimes throwing the reward money back in Quick Draw’s face.

For some reason the dialogue in the video above was in something that sounds like Russian.

Hansel and Gretel have over reactive taste buds as well.

Mongol Hordes on the Horizon 

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AP

To the outside world, Genghis Khan, the fearsome Mongolian warrior who conquered half the known world in the 13th century, is remembered for his brutalities and destruction that he brought upon the conquered regions resulting in the death of forty million people. But to Mongolians, he is a national hero, a larger-than-life figure and the symbol of Mongolian culture, and for good reasons. Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history, revived the Silk Road, uniting warring tribes and was responsible for cementing the position of Mongols in the world’s map.

After Mongolia overthrew communist rule more than 20 years ago, there appeared a slew of monuments and products celebrating the famous personage known locally as Chinggis Khaan. Mongolia’s main international airport in Ulaanbaatar is named Chinggis Khaan International Airport, students attend Chinggis Khaan University and tourists can stay at the Chinggis Khaan Hotel. His face can be found on everyday commodities, from liquor bottles to candy products, and on bank notes.

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In 2008, a gigantic statue of Genghis Khan riding on horseback was erected on the bank of the Tuul River at Tsonjin Boldog, 54 km east of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, where according to legend, he found a golden whip. The statue is 40 meters tall and wrapped in 250 tons of gleaming stainless steel. It stands on top of the Genghis Khan Statue Complex, a visitor center that itself is 10 meters tall, with 36 columns representing the 36 khans from Genghis to Ligdan Khan. The statue is symbolically pointed east towards his birthplace.

Inside the two-story base of the statue, visitors can see a replica of Genghis Khan’s legendary golden whip, sample traditional cuisine of horse meat and potatoes, or play billiards. Visitors can ascend to the exhibition hall using an elevator at the back of the horse and then walk to the horse’s head passing through its chest and the back of its neck from where they can have an excellent panoramic view over the complex area and the scenery beyond.

The Chinggis Khan Statue is currently the biggest equestrian statue in the world.

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