Showing posts from May 11, 2015

The Killing of Osama bin Laden

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[Seymour Hersh says that Obama's version of how Osama bin Laden was killed is a tissue of lies. *RON*]
Seymour M. Hersh, London Review of Books, Vol. 37 No. 10 · 21 May 2015

It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations…

Billionaire bunkers: Security for the super-rich

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[The peasants are coming with their pitch forks. An old article, but I saw a reference to it and couldn't resist tracking it down. "Home security has gone straight into sci-fi territory with ballistics-proof suites and DNA-coded fog screens." By the way, I came across the reference here: Inside the Billion-Dollar Brain: 3 Attitudes That Explain Their Selfish Behavior. *RON*]

Morgan Brennan, / Yahoo News, 6 December 2013

Al Corbi’s residence in the Hollywood Hills has the requisite white walls covered in artwork and picture windows offering breathtaking views of downtown Los Angeles, but it has more in common with NSA headquarters than with the other contemporary homes on the block.
The Corbi family doesn’t need keys (thanks to biometric recognition software), doesn’t fear earthquakes (thanks to steel-reinforced concrete caissons that burrow 30 feet into the private hilltop) and sleeps easily inside a 2,500-square-foot ho…

More Consensus on Coffee’s Benefits Than You Might Think

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[A big "Hooray!" from those of us whose consciousness is buoyed on a sea of caffeine molecules! :-) I am seriously jonesing for some of the Spanish coffee I'll be drinking in a few days. *RON*]

Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times, 11 May 2015

When I was a kid, my parents refused to let me drink coffee because they believed it would “stunt my growth.” It turns out, of course, that this is a myth. Studies have failed, again and again, to show that coffee or caffeine consumption are related to reduced bone mass or how tall people are.

Coffee has long had a reputation as being unhealthy. But in almost every single respect that reputation is backward. The potential health benefits are surprisingly large.

When I set out to look at the research on coffee and health, I thought I’d see it being associated with some good outcomes and some bad ones, mirroring the contradictory reports you can often find in the news media. This didn’t turn out to be …

Inequality: how rich countries can make a difference

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[Ken Rogoff is still hard at it. His argument here is basically that dragging the developed world's middle class down to developing world poverty levels is actually good since it makes ALL the rich richer while raising the pay of the developing world's poor just enough to keep them from actually rising up for justice. *RON*]
Kenneth Rogoff, The Guardian, 11 May 2015
Europe’s migration crisis exposes a fundamental flaw, if not towering hypocrisy, in the ongoing debate about economic inequality. Wouldn’t a true progressive support equal opportunity for all people on the planet, rather than just for those of us lucky enough to have been born and raised in rich countries?

Many thought leaders in advanced economies advocate an entitlement mentality. But the entitlement stops at the border: though they regard greater redistribution within individual countries as an absolute imperative, people who live in emerging markets or developing countries …

Cuomo Orders Emergency Measures to Protect Workers at Nail Salons

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[This is in response to the Friday story in the Times, which you can read here (the links are also given within this posting, below). Of course, as one comment to the original article notes, nowhere is there any mention in Cuomo's response about the minimum wage. *RON*]

By Sarah Maslin Nir, New York TImes, 11 May 2015

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered emergency measures on Sunday to combat the wage theft and health hazards faced by the thousands of people who work in New York State’s nail salon industry.

Effective immediately, he said in a statement, a new, multiagency task force will conduct salon-by-salon investigations, institute new rules that salons must follow to protect manicurists from the potentially dangerous chemicals found in nail products, and begin a six-language education campaign to inform them of their rights.

Nail salons that do not comply with orders to pay workers back wages, or are unlicensed, will be shut down. The new rules co…

Lobbyists, agencies, government-funded ideological front groups face setbacks in wake of Alberta's Orange Wave

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[On the over-turned pork barrel in Alberta. *RON*]
By David J. Cimenhaga,, 11 May 2015

WANTED: Someone -- anyone! -- willing to work for major national lobbying firm in Alberta. New Democratic Party connections essential! Orange party card as asset.

Back in the fall of 2012, not long after the New Democrats led by the late Jack Layton had become the official Opposition in Ottawa, the Globe and Mailbreathlessly reported that the lobbying world was starting to pay attention to the NDP.

A few prominent New Democrats began to work in what practitioners prefer to call"government relations" -- for example, erstwhile NDP national director Robin Sears, who spent more than a little time professionally burnishing the reputation of former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Not here in Alberta, though. In late 2012 the Progressive Conservative Party was firmly in control, having just renewed itself under the leadership of premier Ali…

The solar road in the Netherlands is working even better than expected

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[The practical alternatives are there, they simply (!!) require politicians with the will to implement them. *RON*]

Fiona MacDonald, Science Alert, 11 May 2015

Hell yeah, solar roads!

The Netherlands made headlines last year when it built the world's first solar road - an energy-harvesting bike path paved with glass-coated solar panels.

Now, six months into the trial, engineers say the system is working even better than expected, with the 70-metre test bike path generating 3,000 kWh, or enough electricity to power a small household for a year.

"If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70kwh per square metre per year," Sten de Wit, spokesman for SolaRoad, the group behind the project, told Tarek Bazley at Al Jazeera. So just imagine the potential if we covered all our roads in the stuff.

It’s this kind of thinking that got the Internet so hyped-up over Solar Roadways last year - a crowd-funded project that ai…