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Showing posts from April 6, 2015

‘People should realize we are in a new era’: California’s drought enters a critical stage

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[Meanwhile, back in B.C., Environment minister Mary Polak has decided to 'sell' 265 million litres of fresh water a year to Nestlé Canada for $562 (no, there aren't any zeroes missing). *RON*]

Ivan Semeniuk, Globe and Mail, 4 April 2015

From bad to worse

California has seen droughts before, but this one just isn’t letting up. As Ivan Semeniuk reports, the state’s governor has ordered the first mandatory water restrictions, but will it be enough?

THE CAUSES

What does this blog look like to you?

[One of my friends is seeing this text as pale yellow on white. At my end - and on my other computer - it shows up (as intended) as dark orange text on a dark gray background.]

For my friend, this text shows up as black on white. At my end it is very pale gray text on a dark gray background.

*RON*

The dystopian lake filled by the world’s tech lust

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[This must be the worst place on earth. On the rare earth mining industry that feeds China materials for the electronics industry, that feeds us our cheap gizmos. *RON*]
Tim Maughan, BBC, 2 April 2015

Hidden in an unknown corner of Inner Mongolia is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, consumer gadgets and green tech, discovers Tim Maughan.

From where I'm standing, the city-sized Baogang Steel and Rare Earth complex dominates the horizon, its endless cooling towers and chimneys reaching up into grey, washed-out sky. Between it and me, stretching into the distance, lies an artificial lake filled with a black, barely-liquid, toxic sludge.
Dozens of pipes line the shore, churning out a torrent of thick, black, chemical waste from the refineries that surround the lake. The smell of sulphur and the roar of the pipes invades my senses. It feels like hell on Earth.

Welcome to Baotou, the largest industrial city in Inner Mong…

The Iran nuclear deal, translated into plain English

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[Helpful, given all the hoo-hah we are hearing about this in the press. *RON*]

By Max Fisher, Vox.com, 2 April 2015
International negotiators assembled in Switzerland have announced the broad terms of the Iranian nuclear deal. Here they are, based on what we know, translated into plain English.

An important note: the deal is not yet finalized, and it is not particularly detailed. Thursday's announcement is only for the basic framework. Negotiators will continue to meet over the coming months to develop a complete, detailed agreement based on these terms. The deadline is June 30, but negotiations could collapse before then. However, this is a major step toward reaching a full agreement and thus potentially ending the world's yearslong standoff with Iran over its nuclear program.

What follows is each of the items mentioned in the deal, along with a simple translation into plain English and a brief description of why it matters:

Mysterious Deaths in Ukraine

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[The mainstream US news media is so behind the post-coup Ukrainian government that anything negative – from neo-Nazi militias to apparent "death squad" operations – is ignored, including a string of mysterious deaths of anti-coup politicians, as William Blum noted at Anti-Empire Report. *RON*]

By William Blum, Consortium News, 3 April 2015

Following the murder of Russian opposition leader, and former Deputy Prime Minister, Boris Nemtsov in Moscow on Feb. 27, the West had a field day. Ranging from strong innuendo to outright accusation of a Kremlin-directed political murder, the Western media and politicians did not miss an opportunity to treat Russian President Vladimir Putin as a football practice dummy.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution urging an international investigation into Nemtsov’s death and suggested that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Council, and the United Nations could play a…

Science Is Ignoring its "Publication Pollution" Problem

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[On the one hand, I imagine that if you work for a respectable university to begin with, everyone there would know which journals are worth being published in and which are not. Perhaps this is mainly for people who want to work for corporations that need to hire people with academic backgrounds? On the other hand, it still looks as though science is not very capable at regulating itself. *RON*]

—By Julia Lurie, Mother Jones, 6 April 2015

In a damning op-ed published Friday, Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist at NYU's Langone Medical Center, called out scientists who are turning a blind eye to the scientific publishing industry's "publication pollution problem." At the root of the matter: pay-to-publish journals with weak or nonexistent pre-publication review standards that are "corroding the reliability of research." As he wrote in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, "neither the leadership nor those who rely on the truth…

The Truth About Facebook: How Communication Became Synonymous With Surveillance

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[We are commodities, cajoled into becoming egoists, in order to turn us into better commodities. Savvy tech critic talks outrage culture, surveillance and the power we give Google & Facebook to moderate our lives. *RON*]
By Michael SchulsonSalon / AlterNet, 5 April 2015

“Terms of Service,” the first book from the young cultural critic Jacob Silverman, is less an argument than a tour. Its subject is the Internet—or, more accurately, what Silverman calls “the social web,” which could be loosely defined as either a) an Internet experienced tailored to YOU!, or b) a surveillance system that comes equipped with some nice photo-saving and message-sharing tools.

Silverman leans toward interpretation b. “Communication,” he writes, “has become synonymous with surveillance.” “Terms of Service” offers a tour of a digital world that, under Silverman’s guiding skepticism, comes to look like a cross between the reality show “Big Brother” and a shopping mal…

Who Do You Protect, Who Do You Surveil?

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[Increasingly, police surveillance in Canada and the US is focused on peaceful democratic protesters. *RON*]

Joel Handley, In These Times, 6 April 2015

Chicago Police officers are directed to report to the city’s fusion center any ‘information concerning strikes, labor-management incidents or union controversies or the possibility thereof.’

On Black Friday, 2014, the biggest shopping day of the year, hundreds of protesters marched to Wicker Park, a trendy neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side. It was the third stop in a day-long march from one commercial district to the next: starting at downtown’s Magnificent Mile, then heading north to an Apple Store, then west. Four days after the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, the event was part of a nationwide action decrying complacent consumerism in the face of a national tragedy. Wicker Park’s retail epicenter seemed an appropriat…

7 Key Facts About the Drought

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[Everything you ever wanted to know about California's drought but were too afraid to ask. Time to re-think that almond milk! "The water that's used to grow the California almonds that are exported overseas in one year would be enough to fuel Los Angeles for nearly three years." *RON*]

—By Julia Lurie, Mother Jones, 6 April 2015

There's been a lot of talk lately about the drought in California, especially since this past week, when Gov. Jerry Brown introduced mandatory water cuts for the first time in the state's history. So what exactly makes this drought so bad? And what are people doing about it? Here are a few important points to keep in mind:

Q: Drought is the norm in California. How bad is this one?

A: There are always wet years and dry years, but the past three years have been among the driest on record—and state officials worry that 2015 will be even drier. Last week, for the first time in the state's history, …