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Hundreds of people gather before an ex-officer is put on trial for Floyd’s murder.

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Hundreds of people gather before an ex-officer is put on trial for Floyd's murder.

 

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Minnesota governor’s mansion on Saturday to call for police officers to be held accountable, just days before a former Minneapolis officer is set to stand trial in the death of George Floyd.

Many of the approximately 150 people who protested in Minnesota were relatives of those who had died in police encounters. Similar demonstrations were planned in cities across the country ahead of Derek Chauvin’s trial.

Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25 after Chauvin, a white man, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face-down on the ground. Floyd claimed he couldn’t breathe. Prosecutors provided body-camera video time stamps that show Chauvin remained in his position for about nine minutes after Floyd stopped moving. Floyd was pronounced dead at a hospital later that day.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter and jury selection in his trial begins Monday.

Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, a coalition of families who have lost loved ones in police encounters, organized a protest in Minnesota on Saturday. Speakers said that in light of Floyd’s death, they want other fatal police encounters reopened and investigated, according to the Star Tribune.

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Parade of planets visible in the night sky this week

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Parade of planets visible in the night sky this week

ST. LOUIS – There will be a parade of planets this month. December 6-10 you will be able to see three planets and then on December 12 you will be able to see 5. There will be a crescent moon earlier in the month which will provide less moonlight, making it easier to see the planets.

The Missouri Department of Conservation shared this timeline for planet viewing:

  • On December 6th, the crescent moon will appear near Venus within 3 degrees in the early evening sky. Venus is the brightest planet.
  • On December 7th, the crescent moon and Saturn are about 5 degrees apart. Saturn is a fainter planet with a gold color. If conditions are right, you can see its rings with a telescope during twilight, and may even see its largest moon, Titan,
  • On December 8th, the moon approaches close to Jupiter, our largest planet. With clear conditions and a telescope, you may be able to see its four largest moons.
  • On December 10th, look for the moon, Jupiter, and Saturn forming a nice row in the sky.
Courtesy: MDC

The St. Louis Astronomy Facebook page says the best time to observe 5 planets together will be after sunset on December 12. Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and the moon will be visible to the naked eye. You will need a pair of binoculars or a small telescope to see Neptune, Uranus, Ceres (a dwarf planet), and Pallas (a large asteroid).

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Miner’s Candle fire burning near Idaho Springs is 100% contained

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Miner’s Candle wildfire forces evacuations near Idaho Springs

The Miner’s Candle fire burning near Idaho Springs is 100% contained, fire officials said Tuesday.

The wildfire started Sunday as a structure fire and it forced residents of about two dozen homes to evacuate. The fire, which destroyed two homes, a cabin and a small number of outbuildings, burned about 15 acres, according to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.

Strong winds on Sunday and extremely dry weather fueled the fire. There were no reports of injuries or fatalities.

 

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This “bizarre” creature is a massive sunfish spotted near Laguna Beach

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This “bizarre” creature is a massive sunfish spotted near Laguna Beach

A pair of paddlers encountered a massive sunfish just a few hundred yards off Laguna Beach’s shoreline that could rival in size a Guinness World Record set in 1996.

Rich German and friend Matt Wheaton, both of Laguna Beach, set out on Thursday, Dec. 2, to enjoy the clear waters off the coast. They came across a massive mola mola, also known as sunfish, floating on the ocean’s surface.

“We were just paddling and all of a sudden we were like ‘Oh my god.’ That thing was massive,” said German, author of the book “Blue Laguna” and founder of the ocean conservation nonprofit Project O.  “Most of my encounters are with dolphins and whales, but you never know what you’re going to see.”

German, comparing to Wheaton’s 14-foot stand-up paddleboard, guessed the fish was close to 9 feet in length.

Once home, he found a Guinness World Record set in 1996 when a fisherman caught an 8-foot-11 mola mola that weighed 5,070 pounds off the coast of Japan. While that record was for the heaviest fish, which would be tough to compare with the sunfish the pair encountered off Laguna Beach, German said he thinks theirs could be longer in length and is hoping to consult with marine scientists to see if it could be measured based on the size of the board.

Julianne Steers, founding board member of the Beach Ecology Coalition, said the sunfish was larger than most seen here – she’s seen fish about 6- to 7-feet long. But whether it was a record-holder would be tough to tell.

“The only true way to know is if it was out and weighed and officially measured,” she said, noting that there’s some records up in Northern California of sunfish reaching 13-foot long. “But it does look much larger than what we typically see out here.”

She called the mola mola a “lumbering” fish that likes to lazily float on the ocean’s surface to bask in the sun, hence their nickname, eating jellyfish and salps.

The species looks like a mad scientist put them together with spare parts, Steers said. “It’s such an oddball kind of assembly of parts.”

The mola mola is also the largest fish in the world that has a skeleton structure, she said.

Scientists once thought the mola mola drifted with ocean currents, but they’ve been tracked in Southern California swimming 16 miles a day at a top speed of 2 mph, the Monterey Bay Aquarium says on its website.

“With its tank-like body, the mola was clearly not built for life in the fast lane. But it holds its own against faster and flashier fish and is able to live in almost all of the world’s oceans,” the aquarium says. “It’s known to spend time near the surface, but tagging shows that the mola is also a prolific diver and migrates long distances at depth.”

German said he has seen many mola molas through the years, but typically further offshore and about half the size of the one encountered just south of Main Beach.

“The first time I saw one, I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was a mutilated shark,” he said, noting the fish’s fin often stands up above the surface. “They are so bizarre looking. They just lay there.”

Even if it’s not an official record-setter, German is still soaking in the interesting encounter.

“I just know it was really big,” he said. “It was a unique and very cool thing to experience, and another example of why we need to protect the ocean and the amazing life that calls it home.”

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