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Showing posts from March 30, 2015

Major publisher retracts 43 scientific papers amid wider fake peer-review scandal

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[It's becoming increasingly clear that self-regulation is not working for the sciences. *RON*]

By Fred Barbash, Washington Post, 27 March 2015 A major publisher of scholarly medical and science articles has retracted 43 papers because of “fabricated” peer reviews amid signs of a broader fake peer review racket affecting many more publications.

The publisher is BioMed Central, based in the United Kingdom, which puts out 277 peer-reviewed journals. A partial list of the retracted articles suggests most of them were written by scholars at universities in China, including China Medical University, Sichuan University, Shandong University and Jiaotong University Medical School. But Jigisha Patel, associate editorial director for research integrity at BioMed Central, said it’s not “a China problem. We get a lot of robust research of China. We see this as a broader problem of how scientists are judged.”

Meanwhile, the Committee on Publication Ethics, a…

Amazon Requires Badly-Paid Warehouse Temps to Sign 18-Month Non-Competes

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[The corporatocracy meets totalitarianism. Oh Amazon.com, let me count the ways in which you suck. They don't deserve your business; don't buy from them if you can possibly avoid it. *RON*]
Posted by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism, 30 March 30, 2015

The Verge has broken an important story on how far Amazon has gone in its relentless efforts to crush workers. Despite its glitzy Internet image, Amazon’s operations depend heavily on manual labor to assemble, pack, and ship orders. Its warehouses are sweatshops, with workers monitored constantly and pressed to meet physically daunting productivity goals. Indeed, many of its warehouses were literally sweatshops, reaching as much as 100 degrees in the summer until bad press embarrassed the giant retailer into installing air conditioners. In Germany, a documentary exposed that Amazon hired neo-Nazi security guards to intimidate foreign, often illegal, hires it had recruited and was housing in cr…

Costa Rica utilities burned no fossil fuel in first 75 days of 2015

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[From Burlington, Vermont to Germany to Costa Rica, it can be and is being done: it's a matter of political will. *RON*]

By Danniel Costa-Roberts, PBS, 28 March 2015
In late January, NewsHour reported on Burlington, Vermont, the first U.S. city to meet all its energy demands with renewables. Now a whole country can make that claim: From the beginning of the year through at least March 23, Costa Rica’s electrical grid was powered entirely by renewable sources.
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Heavy rainfall in the Central American country has caused a spike in hydroelectric production this year. Together with green energy from sources like geothermal, wind, solar and biomass, the power glut means Costa Rica’s energy utilities didn’t need to burn a single gallon of fossil fuel in in the first 75…

McCain Suggests Israel "Go Rogue," Blow Up Iran Negotiations By Starting War

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[The Republicans are, once again, acting with what could easily be seen as treasonous disregard for US foreign policy in the Middle East and actively encouraging war. *RON*]
By Zaid Jilani / AlterNet, 29 March 2015


As Iran talks appear to be coming to a close with a successful agreement that would both lead to the lifting of international sanctions and restrictions that would prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons, most in the international community are relieved.

Yet Republicans have teamed up with their counterparts in the Israeli political system to do everything they can to obstruct a deal – with tactics such as drafting new sanctions legislation and warning the Iranian leadership that the nuclear agreement will not outlast President Obama.

But this past week Senator John McCain (R-AZ) ratcheted up this sabotage to a new level. During a floor speech he gave on March 24th, the senator suggested that Israel “go rogue” and that if they …

Yemen: 'I hope we will not turn into another Syria'

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[Religion and geopolitics; things are going to hell in a hand-bucket in Yemen (one hot mess of a country at the best of times). Most recently, Saudi Arabia has stepped into the fray; their issue not being that there are terrorists there, per se, but, typical of the Middle East, that they are the wrong kind of terrorists ('theirs' not 'ours'). See also Calls for Diplomacy Unheeded as Saudi-Led Assault Pummels Yemen*RON*]

Charlene Anne, Al Jazeera, 30 March 2015
Sanaa - Yasmine, a woman in her early twenties who is seven months pregnant with her first child, took shelter on her kitchen floor in the Asser district of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, as the sounds of air strikes grew louder this past weekend.

Yasmine, who declined to provide a last name, said she could feel the strikes drawing nearer to her, and she woke up to the sound of windows shattering and splinters of glass raining down.

"My bags are packed and I’m ready to g…

Heiltsuk take over DFO office to stop herring fishery

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[This is a strategic provocation by Harper. The Heiltsuk may play into his hand by reacting strongly. It's hard to know where to draw the line in terms of making an effective response without adding fuel to the fire of the 'see, we really do need more legislative protection from economic terrorists' party line. See the DFO statement that: "DFO respects the right to protest, however the Department condemns any threat of violence or reprisal against those exercising their right to practice a lawful and sustainable fishery." Read the article, there are no threats being made; it's more like Harper hopes for this, and is getting ready for this to happen, so he continues to prod the bear. *RON*]
Mychaylo Prystupa, Vancouver Observer 29 March 2015

Heiltsuk tears and anger were cast at Department of Fisheries and Oceans officers standing on the front steps of the federal office on Denny Island Sunday afternoon, as band Elders, l…

Harper Government On The Sidelines As UN Climate Talks Ramp Up

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[Harper previously said there was no point in regulating Canadian oil and gas until the US and China did so. Now that they have done so he has simply switched stories, saying there is no point in regulating oil and gas until the US and Mexico do so: "We've said for some time, it's very public, we're seeking a continental response on this particular question, not just with the United States. We'd like to see Mexico as well in it." Now that the US and Mexico have done so we can only hear the sound of crickets chirping from Ottawa. The man is in the pockets of Big Oil, he does not have the interests of Canadians at heart, and he simply lies to protect his overlords in the oil patch. *RON*] 
By Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 30 March 2015

OTTAWA - The Harper government is temporarily standing on the sidelines as international negotiations ramp up for a United Nations climate conference at the end of this…

Austerity, Big and Small

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[Any way you look at it Greece is an outlier and so contributes in an over-weighted fashion to the correlation. Still it's clear that the correlation as a whole is quite real. Austerity goes up, national economic productivity shrinks. See also: George Will is wrong: Income inequality does not benefit everybody. *RON*]
Paul Krugman, New York Times, 29 March 2015

At this point it’s fairly common to look at the effects of austerity via cross-country scatterplots: one axis shows some measure of fiscal consolidation, while the other shows the change in GDP. Who started this practice? I think I did, here, although I’m happy to cede credit to someone else if I missed it.

There are problems with this approach: causation could run the other way, although given the extent to which austerity, in the eurozone at any rate, was driven by debt panic, those problems shouldn’t be too severe. Another issue, however, is concern that such cross-sectional pictur…