NASA closer to getting extra space shuttle flight [via the AP]
President Barack Obama signed a budget bill for NASA yesterday directing the nation’s space agency to move ahead with one more space shuttle flight before retiring the fleet. Funding for the final mission is not yet secure, but Senate Democrats noted they hope the issues will be worked out during the upcoming lame duck session. Only four astronauts, rather than the usual seven, will go on the mission in case the shuttle is damaged and cannot land. In that case, the astronauts would have to wait for rescue at the International Space Station, which could take up to a year.
New carnivorous mammal species found in Madagascar [via the BBC]
Scientists have announced that they discovered a new mongoose-like mammal, dubbed Durrell’s vontsira, in the wetlands surrounding Lake Alaotra in Madagascar. The cat-sized creature was first discovered in 2005, and researchers believe its wetland habitat is being threatened by invasive species. Discovering a new carnivore is “particularly unusual,” said researcher Paula Jenkins. “We know of only two animals in the wild. It has only been found in the wetlands of [Lake] Alaotra in Madagascar, so it lives in a very small area and is consequently vulnerable to the pressures on this threatened habitat.”
More black people jailed in England and Wales proportionally than in US [via The Guardian]
England and Wales imprison a greater proportion of black people to the overall population than the United States, a report from Britain’s Equality and Human Right Commission found. The report “shows that the proportion of people of African-Caribbean and African descent incarcerated here is almost seven times greater to their share of the population. In the United States, the proportion of black prisoners to population is about four times greater.” “People will be and should be shocked by this data,” said Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust. “We have a tendency to say we are better than the US, but we have not got prison right.”