Showing posts from February 14, 2014

1 in 4 Americans unaware that earth circles the sun

See the original article here.
[See also Rick Shenkman (2009) Just How Stupid Are We? *RON*]
AFP 2/14/2014 4:26:04 PM

Americans are enthusiastic about the promise of science but lack basic knowledge of it, with one in four unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun, said a poll out Friday.

The survey included more than 2,200 people in the United States and was conducted by the National Science Foundation.

Ten questions about physical and biological science were on the quiz, and the average score -- 6.5 correct -- was barely a passing grade.

Just 74 percent of respondents knew that the Earth revolved around the Sun, according to the results released at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Fewer than half (48 percent) knew that human beings evolved from earlier species of animals.

The result of the survey, which is conducted every two years, will be included in a National Science Foundation report to President Barack Obama and US lawmakers.

One in three…

Hungary's Jobbik party holds rally in ex-synagogue

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[More on how the world rolls as income inequality increases and austerity continues to take its toll. *RON*]

14 February 2014 Last updated at 17:45 ET

Hungary's far-right Jobbik party has sparked criticism after holding a political rally inside a former synagogue in the town of Esztergom.

Jewish groups called Friday's event "disgusting", saying it was "insulting to the memories" of Holocaust victims.

Study: All Those Trucks Switching To Natural Gas Are Doing Nothing To Help Climate Change

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[Using natural gas in trucks and buses does nothing to save the environment, but saves money. *RON*]
ROB WILE, February 14, 2014

Lots of major companies and municipalities have touted switching their truck and bus fleets to natural gas in recent years to take advantage of the Great American Shale Boom.

The main benefit is that natural gas saves money — up to a dollar per unit of fuel used.

But there's been more ambiguity over another claim: that the switch is eco-friendly.

A new study suggests a depressing answer: switching your truck to natural gas doesn't help mitigate carbon dioxide emissions, at all.

The findings were published in a new study in the journal Science on Feb. 14 by 16 different scientists and sponsored by a foundation created by George Mitchell, considered the founding father of fracking.

Violence marks 3 years of uprisings in Bahrain

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[Syria? Horrible. Ukraine? Terrible. CAR? Unthinkable. Bahrain? Who cares... why? The US Fifth Fleet anchors there. *RON*]

BY TALIA MINDICH February 14, 2014 at 5:41 PM EST

Explosions and clashes between Sunni monarchy-supported security forces and anti-government Shiite protesters in Bahrain have marked the third anniversary of the Gulf nation’s Arab Spring-inspired uprisings on Friday.

Protesters, organized by a group called “the February 14 youth coalition,” gathered for a march on the Pearl roundabout in Bahrain’s capitol city Manama. The circle has been heavily guarded by government forces since the original unrest in 2011. Security was tightened in anticipation of Friday’s march, and some surrounding Shiite neighborhoods blockaded roads with burning oil slicks and trash.

Local human rights watchers reported that 38 protesters were injured by tear gas and flying birdshot. A bomb was detonated next to a minibus in a Shiite village near the capitol, in…

Oddly, Stock Market Returns And GDP Per Capita Are Inversely Correlated

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[No so confusing. Isn't this simply another way of saying that the good of the 1% does not equal the good of the 99%? *RON*]
MATTHEW BOESLER, FEB. 14, 2014, 3:34 PM

This chart presents something of a paradox: it shows that the correlation between a country's stock market returns and the same country's growth in per-capita GDP is actually negative.

The findings may be counterintuitive, as one would expect countries with higher rates of economic growth to produce superior investment returns.

9 Years on the No-Fly List Because an FBI Agent "Checked the Wrong Box"

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[No comment required. *RON*]
And once the mistake was made, nobody wanted to admit it.

By Kevin Drum | Fri Feb. 14, 2014 10:38 AM GMT

Over the years, I've written about a number of people who have been put on the no-fly list and prevented from entering the country for no apparent reason. Or, at any rate, for no reason the government cares to share with its victims. One of them is a Malaysian Ph.D. student named Rahinah Ibrahim, who was detained at San Francisco International Airport in 2005; eventually allowed to fly home; and then put on the no-fly list and never allowed back in the country. Why? As usual, no one is willing to say.

But this week we got a bit of a hint. Over at Glenn Greenwald's new venture, The Intercept, Murtaza Hussain reports on the latest developments:
Last week, a federal judge publicly revealed the government’s explanation for Ibrahim’s long ordeal: an FBI agent had “checked the wrong box,” resulting in her falling under suspi…

Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People

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[Internet trolls are (generally anonymous) people who drop inflammatory remarks into comment boxes; they are trolling for a strong reaction; they love provoking what you might call a drag-out Internet fist fight. Provides insight into how the Internet can affect the quality of public discourse. *RON*]
Narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic. By Chris Mooney

In the past few years, the science of Internet trollology has made some strides. Last year, for instance, we learned that by hurling insults and inciting discord in online comment sections, so-called Internet trolls (who are frequently anonymous) have a polarizing effect on audiences, leading to politicization, rather than deeper understanding of scientific topics.

That’s bad, but it’s nothing compared with what a new psychology paper has to say about the personalities of trolls themselves. The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought …

Keystone XL Document Dump Reveals Obama Unconcerned About Global Warming, State Department Riddled with Oil Lobbyists

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[Good investigative reporting, including shining some light on the MO of presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton. *RON*]
 By Eric Zuesse, 2/14/2014 at 13:33:44

The Friends Of the Earth (FOE) and Sierra Club (SC) released on February 12th, the results of their Freedom of Information Act requests from the State Department, concerning the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. Their document dump shows that while environmental organizations were being kept in the dark, the company that was proposing this Pipeline was regularly meeting with close aides to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This occurred while the State Department's Environmental Impact Statement on that project was being prepared. It was being prepared not actually by the State Department, but by corporations that worked for the company that would be owning the Pipeline: TransCanada. President Obama at first declined to approve the pipeline for political reasons that had nothing to do with whether or …

How the Credit Card Gravy Train Is Running Over You

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[On usurious "invisible" costs for credit card users that exist even when you pay your balance in full. *RON*]
By Ellen Brown, Global Research, February 14, 2014

The credit card business is now the banking industry’s biggest cash cow, and it’s largely due to lucrative hidden fees.

You pay off your credit card balance every month, thinking you are taking advantage of the “interest-free grace period” and getting free credit. You may even use your credit card when you could have used cash, just to get the free frequent flier or cash-back rewards. But those popular features are misleading. Even when the balance is paid on time every month, credit card use imposes a huge hidden cost on users—hidden because the cost is deducted from what the merchant receives, then passed on to you in the form of higher prices.

Court finds 'enormous systemic problem' in enforcement of Species at Risk Act

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[The Feds are struggling to avoid having plans in place that would: a) be enforceable by law, and b) interfere with implementation of the Enbridge pipeline. There is no penalty for their failure to do so. *RON*]
By The Canadian PressPosted: 02/14/2014 2:12 pm EST | Updated: 02/14/2014 3:08 pm EST

OTTAWA - A Federal Court judge has ruled that the environment minister and the fisheries minister both broke the law when they failed to enforce the Species at Risk Act.

In a case covering four endangered species that Justice Anne Mactavish calls the tip of the iceberg, the court found there's a major systemic problem in the two ministries charged with protecting endangered and threatened species.

Mactavish ruled that it is not acceptable that the two ministers continue to miss mandatory deadlines for laying out plans to protect identified species at risk, including caribou and Pacific humpback whales.

The judgment said those recovery plans could have an im…