Thirty years on, scientist who discovered ozone layer hole warns: ‘it will still take years to heal’

The lessons of a landmark moment in climate research have not been learned Continue reading…

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World Civil War Portraits by Sara Shamma

A major solo exhibition of paintings by one of Syria’s best known artists, Sara Shamma, opens in London in May.

A powerful and moving product of the civil war in Syria, World Civil War Portraits is informed by Shamma’s experience of the conflict. Forced to flee Syria in 2012 after a car bomb exploded outside her flat, she now lives in Lebanon with her young family although her husband remains working in Damascus.

Presented by StolenSpace Gallery, the exhibition runs from 11-25 May at The Old Truman Brewery.

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Watch Episode 1 Of Showtime’s “Inside Mayweather vs. Pacquiao”

The rise of Mayweather chronicled in first piece of mini-doc.

Over the past few years, high profile bouts would have a three part documentary piece which showcases the daily lives of the fighters. HBO has 27/7 and Showtime with their own All Access series. These mini-docs serve the ultimate purpose of promoting each fight, bringing fans closer to the participants. HBO and Showtime have long been major rivals in the boxing world, but the two broadcast giants partnered in order to bring the monumental Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao to fruition on May 2nd.

When the fight was announced in February, many rumors flooded the web in regards to whether either network would air their documentary pieces, which have now become staples in boxing. Some sources stated that there would be no pre-fight build up needed with the magnitude of such a fight. Today, the doubters have been proven wrong as 24/7 and All Access have been canned momentarily in favor of a production titled Inside Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.

For episode one, the series documents the rise of Floyd Mayweather. From his days training under the tutelage of his father Mayweather Sr in Grand Rapids, MI, to losing a controversial decision in 1996 Olympic games, his rise to stardom is thoroughly covered. The more compelling segment was his transition from “Pretty Boy” Floyd to who we now know as “Money Mayweather.” Check out the first episode above, which features cameos from New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and ABC’s Katie Couric.

Rocko thinks Floyd will emerge the victor. – @Rocko_CNK

Oakland Raiders on Their Way to Returning to Glory Days

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (at least that’s what it feels like), the Oakland Raiders lived by several tremendous mantras.

Pride and poise. Commitment to excellence. And, of course, the gold standard, courtesy of the late, great Al Davis: Just win, baby.

To say that the last 13 years haven’t gone according to those maxims would be an understatement: The Raiders haven’t made the playoffs since losing Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season, and they also don’t have one single, solitary winning campaign in that span. 

The Raiders have won a grand total of 11 games over the past three seasons. To put things in perspective, five teams won at least 12 games last year alone.

But better times are on the horizon, as glimmers of light are finally peeking into the Black Hole. The Raiders roster might not be ready for prime time just yet, but if the team continues along the path it’s currently on, the halcyon days of John Madden and Ken Stabler could return in short order.

Let’s first examine the Raiders roster, largely constructed by current general manager Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie recovered nicely from a disastrous first two years in charge to author an extremely successful 2014 draft, which netted two franchise building-blocks: quarterback Derek Carr and pass-rusher Khalil Mack.

Any conversation about the Raiders’ future must begin with Carr and Mack, who were both impressive as neophytes last season. Despite possessing virtually no legitimate weaponry at the skill positions (there are schools in the SEC that would have produced more fantasy football starters than the Raiders), Carr tossed 21 touchdown passes against only 12 interceptions. And while Mack only finished with four sacks, he was also the top-rated 4-3 outside linebacker by Pro Football Focusnot for rookies, but for the entire NFL.

McKenzie made a number of positive under-the-radar signings in free agency, including defensive tackle Dan Williams, linebackers Malcolm Smith and Curtis Lofton, receiver Michael Crabtree, center Rodney Hudson and running backs Roy Helu and Trent Richardson.

Hudson is a fantastic talent and will immediately upgrade the offensive line, while Williams is a run-stopping force in the middle of a defensive line. Helu is an adept pass-catcher coming out of the backfield, and he will form a nice one-two punch with thumping back Latavius Murray. Crabtree and Richardson represent low-risk and potential high-reward transactions.

No matter how you slice it, the Raiders’ current 53-man roster is the best and deepest its been in quite some time.


Now to the matter of head coach. McKenzie’s initial swing at the post, the now-deposed Dennis Allen, was nothing short of a disaster: Allen accrued a record of 8-28 in two-plus seasons on the job—and despite an obvious lack of talent, Allen still looked overmatched.

While it wasn’t the sexiest hire, bringing in former Jaguars head coach (and most recently the defensive coordinator of the Broncos) Jack Del Rio was an intelligent decision. Del Rio has experience at the post (nine seasons in Jacksonville) and made the playoffs twice. He won’t cause visions of Bill Walsh to dance in anyone’s head, but he’s solid and it stands to reason that he’ll be better as a head coach on the second go-round.

Now focus must be set towards the NFL draft, which is less than two weeks away. The Raiders hold the fourth overall pick, and we’re of the opinion that a wide receiver must be chosen with that selection. With the addition of Helu (and to a lesser extent, Richardson), the backfield is now permissible, but the pass-catching corps is abysmal and desperately needs an injection of young talent.

Luckily for McKenzie and Raiders fans, the team should have its pick of the two finest receivers in the draft: Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White. While White possesses more theoretical upside, Cooper’s floor is higher, and the Raiders can’t afford to miss on this pick, so Cooper is our preference—but really, the team can’t go wrong with either.

Imagine this, if you will: A Raiders offense with an improved offensive line, legitimate No. 1 receiver, complete stable of running backs and a franchise quarterback. What is this, 2002?

Over the rest of the draft, McKenzie can continue adding the best player available, and his recent draft history is successful enough to earn him the benefit of the doubt. The Raiders aren’t that far off, and if McKenzie nails this draft, Oakland will be a contender sooner rather than later.

Don’t get it twisted, though: Barring some insane set of circumstances that involves Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith all retiring before September, the Raiders won’t contend for a playoff berth in 2015. They aren’t ready just yet.

But don’t get discouraged by that fact, Raiders fans. Your team is finally on the up-and-up. So enjoy Carr, Mack and company this season, and don’t become perturbed by the growing pains.

If things go according to plan, 2016 will be a very good year for the Silver and Black. The glory days are within reach.

The commitment to excellence is on its way back.

Letting The Freedom Of Truth Uncover The Value Of Life

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