LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) – Researchers studying Maine‘s lobster population, booming in recent years amid warming waters and disappearing predators, have detected something never before seen in the wild: lobster cannibalism.
It has long been known that lobsters will attack and eat each other if confined together in a small space — hence the banding of claws on lobsters in supermarket tanks.
That aggressive behaviour had not been thought to occur in the wild, but with the increasing density of the crustaceans in the Gulf of Maine it seems big lobsters are feasting on little lobsters once the sun goes down.
“We’ve got the lobsters feeding back on themselves just because they’re so abundant,” said Richard Wahle, a marine sciences professor at the University of Maine, who is supervising the research. “It’s never been observed just out in the open like this,” he said.
Maine’s lobster catch rose to a record 104 million pounds (45 million kilograms) last year, compared with 23 million pounds in 1981. The 2012 catch is expected to shatter that record as overfishing and other factors have led to the collapse of populations of cod, halibut and other groundfish that feed on lobsters.
Warming waters in the Gulf of Maine due to climate change have also bolstered the population even as the same phenomenon has led to more disease and lower populations in Long Island Sound and southern New England, Wahle said.
A graduate student working with Wahle, Noah Oppenheim, has been documenting the phenomenon using a special infrared camera that allows him to observe a juvenile lobster tethered with a rope to a spot on the ocean floor.
During the daytime, it is fish that typically feed on the tethered juvenile lobsters, but at night the researchers were stunned to see that most of the attacks on the small lobsters were by their larger brethren.
“The population of lobsters in Maine has skyrocketed and there have been some interesting changes in abundance, demographics and, we believe, behaviour,” Oppenheim said. “Eight out of nine times at night, predation is due to cannibalism.”
Wahle said Canadian researchers studying the contents of lobsters’ stomachs had also recently found evidence of cannibalism in the wild.
“There are these cases where encounters with each other are becoming so frequent, they result in more than just a bit of competition but in a predator-prey interaction,” Wahle said.
Falling lobster prices due to this year’s abundant catch have led to tensions between Canadian and U.S. lobstermen. In August, New Brunswick lobstermen picketed processing plants and temporarily blocked shipments of inexpensive Maine lobster from being brought to the Maritime provinces in Canada for processing.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Christopher Wilson)
With US gun sales at a record high following Barack Obama’s re-election, American businessman Donald Trump has confirmed that he’s bought most of them, formed his own constitutional militia, and is planning to overthrow the US government.
The follicly-distressed tycoon, whose extravagant, outspoken style has earned him the nickname of ‘the twat’, now has a small private army of around 300 unemployed gas station attendants from all over the province of Dirtgully, New Hampshire, who are currently holed up in a heavily fortified penthouse near Mount Mansfield, protected by an efficiently snooty concierge.
When the time is right, Trump intends to lead them to the very gates of the White House and then, from a reasonable distance, ‘watch our fight to reclaim liberty’.
“The forces of evil, which recently voted in free and fair elections to appoint somebody I don’t personally care for, must be overthrown,” Mr Trump said over the ‘Citizens’-Band Radio’ of Twitter. “Our revolutionary movement, which I have named The Trump Martyrs (copyright pending, legal action to follow for use without permission), intends to stand up for the god-fearing downtrodden inexplicably irritated rich white folks of America.”
A perennially controversial figure, Donald Trump worked his way up from being little more than the son of a wealthy property developer, to become one of America’s wealthiest property developers. It is to this unorthodox upbringing he attributes his sense of fair play, compassion and keen interest in having pots and pots of money with which to buy wives, influence and bits of Scotland.
In 2010, Mr Trump announced his interest in becoming President of the United States and was astonished to discover there was more to getting the job than just asking for it. “You would not believe the obstacles to becoming Commander-in-Chief,” he told ABC’s Power Brunch in May 2011. “Campaigning, coming up with policies and all that horse-hockey. If I’m at home with Melania and the kids and we’re playing Monopoly I just declare myself the winner and we’re done; and if there’s any complaints I remind them whose board it is.”
Politically, he describes himself as tacking to the liberal wing of the anti-gay marriage, pro-life, anti-gun control, anti-medicare, China-hating segment of the Republican Party: “I believe in the inalienable right to hate all this stuff,” he said.
Mr Trump equipped his band of patriotic simpletons by tasking contestants on his NBC reality show The Apprentice to secure a large cache of illegal firearms and explosives. Team A successfully negotiated the deal with a Lebanese gentleman. Team B hasn’t been heard from since.
The political prize that eluded him in 2008, and his father four decades before, had seemed tantalisingly close. It was all the more remarkable give that his roller-coaster campaign threatened to come off the rails early on, before roaring back to life following his first energetic television debate.
But within hours of arriving in Boston to watch the results pour in with his family and advisors, the television networks had called the election for his rival.
What may rankle most with Romney is that the obstacles which prevented him from beating an incumbent saddled with high unemployment and a disappointing first election term were largely of his own making.
But there was no one else to blame for the verbal gaffes, his comments about the 47 per cent of people on welfare, his failure to produce tax returns or his constant shape-shifting on fundamental policy issues.
Ultimately, voters never warmed or trusted him in sufficient numbers – and Romney never effectively made the case for himself.
47 per cent
The voice on the secretly recorded video was steady, and the message was severe. “There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what,” he said at a private fundraiser.
“All right, there are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it,” Romney said. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
It took Romney days to express regret at his comments.
Coming after a slew of ads that accused his investment company, Bain Capital, of vulture capitalism and outsourcing jobs, the damage was devastating, particularly among the blue-collar vote he so badly needed to secure.
Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his tax returns gave Democrats even more ammunition. What he did release showed that he had paid a meagre 14 per cent, significantly less than average workers.
“What else is he hiding?” a narrator in an Obama ad asked viewers over the summer.
It was Romney’s decision not to release any earlier tax returns, on the basis that it would play into the hands of the Democrats’ campaign.
But it all hinted at a bigger problem.
Romney, the affluent son of a former car industry chief and state governor, was deeply uncomfortable discussing his wealth.
He did a good job of completing the caricature of a one per center by boasted that his wife had “a couple of Cadillacs” and making a $10,000 bet with his Republican primary rival, governor Rick Perry, over health care policy.
Democrats spent millions of dollars during the summer portraying him as a vulture capitalist, happy to ship jobs overseas in order to maxmise his financial returns.
Yet, these were the same ads – and in some cases, the same individuals – that had been used eight years earlier in his unsuccessful Senate campaign bid against Ted Kennedy.
Neither Romney, nor his campaign, insisted they were vastly exaggerated, but they never did enough to rebut them. The mud stuck. It hardly matters when he went on to tell voters at a rally in New Hampshire that he “liked to fire people”.
It was no surprise that Romney would seek to make a play for the middle ground after securing a nomination.
But the sheer number of about-turns gave the impression of a candidate with no real conviction.
He largely disowned the health insurance policy introduced in Massachusetts as governor (which became the model for Obamacare) and embraced the coal industry he had denounced a few years earlier.
In order to appeal to the his Republican base, he renounced more liberal position he held in the past on abortion. It all allowed the Obama campaign to characterise these many changes as “Romnesia.” But voters – both Democrats and Republicans – didn’t forget these about-turns.
Lack of personality
Ironically, it was only during the final weeks of the campaign that some of Romney’s personality began to come through.
For most of the campaign, he had avoided revealing anything to do with Mormon faith besides clipped overall generalisations. Yet, there was aspects of it which reflected well on him. His personal engagement with charities were considerable. He have millions to voluntary groups and spent significant period of time with ordinary church members, often allowing poorer visitors from abroad visiting Boston for medical attention to stay in his home.
All in all, Romney never gave the public a good enough reason to vote for him as a person. He never effectively made the case for Romney himself, instead allowing others to define him.
Writing a column like this with more than ten days to go is inherently risky. But based on the polling data I’ve been examining, the Electoral College math I’ve been doing and the political instincts I’ve always relied upon, I have a theory of how this year’s extremely close fight for the presidency between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney might unfold when the votes are tallied into the wee hours on election night.
The truth is that I never envisaged that the election would be this close. The president’s disastrous performance in the first televised debate, and Governor’s Romney’s strong showing that night, put paid to my ideas about how things would play out. On that night, Governor Romney appeared to be presidential and a centrist. He undoubtedly appealed to those Americans who were only then tuning in to the campaign.
I had written and said in a number of different fora that I believed Florida would be pivotal to the outcome this year. Specifically, my view was that, if the president were to win Florida, he would prevail in an Electoral College landslide. On the other hand, if Governor Romney were to pull off a victory there, then I believed that President Obama’s path to the 270 Electoral College votes he would need to be re-elected would become less straightforward, yet nearly as certain.
Needless to say, the first debate and the consequential movement in the polls in key battleground states forced me to readjust my calculus. Some commentators, particularly those who favour Governor Romney’s election, have incorrectly relied on national polls in support of their view that both the first debate and the fuller attention being paid to the candidates and the issues by the electorate wholly changed the dynamics of the race.
The first debate and the broader electorate’s heightened focus unquestionably made things tighter. National polls, however, are inherently misleading in US presidential elections and the wild divergences in these polls reflect this reality. Making predictions as to a result based on national polls verges on the nonsensical.
So where does this lead me? And why do I think that Republican-leaning commentators, many of whom now believe that Mitt Romney is likely to be the next president, are wrong?
My fundamental starting point is that the following states – in roughly counter-clockwise order from the northeast and followed by their number of Electoral College votes – can still be regarded as “in play”: New Hampshire (4), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (16), Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10), Iowa (6), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), Florida (29), North Carolina (15) and Virginia (13). The dye is fairly well cast in the other 39 states, and barring something completely unforeseen, will leave President Obama with a 10 vote lead, 201-191, over Governor Romney.
The aforementioned mix of data, math and instinct tells me the following.
Obama will win Pennsylvania and Romney will win North Carolina. I suspect somewhat less strongly that Obama will take Michigan and Wisconsin. I have a similarly formed suspicion that Romney will take Virginia and New Hampshire. That would leave things at 247 votes for the incumbent and 223 votes for the challenger.
And here is where hunches come in. My hunch is that Nevada and Iowa will break for Obama. On the other side, my hunch is that Colorado and, yes, Florida will break for Romney. My Obama hunches are shaped by my sense of Nevada’s demographics and by Iowa’s still strong populist streak. My Romney hunches are a product, especially in Florida, of polling data and numbers I find very surprising, but which are difficult to refute, notwithstanding my contrary instincts. Governor Romney and his campaign deserve a lot of credit if this is borne out on November 6th.
They recognized, from the earliest days of the campaign, that they would need to win Florida to win the presidency. To this end, and despite tacking hard-right on just about everything else in the Republican primary, Governor Romney steadfastly defended Social Security. The comments of his primary opponent, Texas Governor Rick Perry, likening the government programme on which so many Florida-based retirees depend to a “Ponzi scheme,” were a gift in this regard. Moreover, the repeated statements of fidelity to Israel and oft-touted friendship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were meant to be heard by Florida’s large Jewish community. They lean Democratic, but have never trusted the president on Israel.
If Romney does indeed win Florida – it is far from certain that he will – it will be by a very narrow margin. And it will be due in no small part to this shrewd posturing on issues that matter to Floridians whose votes were identified at an early stage as being “in play.”
A Romney victory in Florida, coupled with my other hunches being on the money, would put him in the lead by two votes, 261-259. In my analysis, Ohio would then remain to determine who will be the next president.
While polls show the two candidates in a virtual dead heat, I just can’t see Governor Romney winning Ohio for two reasons. First is the extraordinary ground game and get out the vote operation that the Obama re-election team have put together there. Some elements never really went away after 2008, and media reports are that absolutely everything possible has been done to ensure that their voters, particularly African-Americans, exercise their right to vote. Early voting, which is now in full swing, will be crucial.
Second is Governor Romney’s past as a venture capitalist with Bain Capital. Hard-hitting and evidently relentless ads in Ohio highlight his complicity in the demise of companies and the concomitant loss of livelihoods of thousands of working men and women. This makes garnering the votes of blue collar workers and ethnic Catholics, whose support Romney will need to win the state, a far more difficult task.
Accordingly, as of now, my prediction is that President Obama will win 275 Electoral College votes and secure a second term. I may well be wrong. I believe, however, that my error could just as likely lie in underestimating the scale of the president’s triumph as in picking the wrong winner. We shall soon see.
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Former Gov. John H. Sununu of New Hampshire, a co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s campaign, injected race into the presidential election in overt fashion on Thursday night, providing a potential hiccup for Mr. Romney in the closing days of the race.
Speaking with the CNN host Piers Morgan about the endorsement of President Obama by the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin L. Powell, a Republican, Mr. Sununu suggested it was because of their shared heritage as African-Americans.
“When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama,” Mr. Sununu said.
Mr. Morgan asked flatly, “What reason would that be?”
Mr. Sununu responded, “Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”
The remark drew immediate criticism on Twitter, shortly after midnight, Mr. Sununu released a statement backtracking, posted on the Web site of the conservative National Review magazine.
“Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made and I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the president’s policies,” he said.