June 27, 2016: Saving marine mammals; "Himalayan viagra:" Same old housing crisis (again)

Stranding sleuth

"Marine mammal veterinarian Frances Gulland's tireless efforts to glean tissue and knowledge from hundreds of whale, dolphin, and seal strandings around the world have made her a prominent figure among marine mammal scientists. But her influence stretches far beyond pure research. She has helped transform a once sleepy rehabilitation facility into a vibrant, globally recognized science and conservation center and become a presidentially appointed adviser to policymakers, weighing in on thorny issues such as endangered species management. Her team demonstrated the potentially deadly role of an algal toxin in sea lions, shed light on marine mammal cancers and infectious diseases, and has convinced many that marine mammal health is a good indicator of the health of our oceans."

Demand for ‘Himalayan Viagra’ Fungus Heats Up, Maybe Too Much

"They came in search of what is known as caterpillar fungus, or yarsagumba in Nepali. A parasitic fungus, it forms out of the head of ghost moth larvae living in the soil at altitudes above 10,000 feet, and has been used as an aphrodisiac for at least a thousand years, earning it the nickname Himalayan Viagra."  FROM WIKIPEDIA: "In Chinese medicine it is regarded as having an excellent balance of yin and yang as it is apparently both animal and vegetable. Assays have found that Ophiocordyceps species produce many pharmacologically active substances[citation needed]. They are now cultivated on an industrial scale for their medicinal value. "

How Housing’s New Players Spiraled Into Banks’ Old Mistakes

"When the housing crisis sent the American economy to the brink of disaster in 2008, millions of people lost their homes. The banking system had failed homeowners and their families. New investors soon swept in — mainly private equity firms — promising to do better. But some of these new investors are repeating the mistakes that banks committed throughout the housing crisis, an investigation by The New York Times has found. They are quickly foreclosing on homeowners. They are losing families’ mortgage paperwork, much as the banks did. And many of these practices were enabled by the federal government, which sold tens of thousands of discounted mortgages to private equity investors, while making few demands on how they treated struggling homeowners"