Showing posts from August 16, 2015

Police seize control of Burma’s ruling party headquarters

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[Myanmar taking some not-so-good steps away from being a police state toward being a functional democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi is evidently useless in all this. *RON*]
By AP News, Asian Correspondent, 13 August 2015

YANGON, Burma (AP) — Security forces have seized control of the headquarters of Burma’s ruling party as rifts between party members intensified ahead of upcoming general elections.

Tensions have been building for months between President Thein Sein and Parliament speaker Shwe Mann, both of whom have expressed an interest in leading the country.

An internal meeting was held at the Union Solidarity and Development Party (UDSP) headquarters Wednesday to announce the selection of candidates for the Nov. 8 polls.

The local news site, Irrawaddy, said it was announced that Shwe Mann had been dismissed as the party chairman — infuriating some members.

His whereabouts were not known Thursday, but a witness said his home security officer was questioned by…

President Obama Plays Golf With Bill Clinton on Martha’s Vineyard

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[Who wouldn't have loved to have been a fly on the wall to this chit-chat? *RON*]

Josh Lederman/AP, Time, 15 August 2015
Clinton complimented Obama's putting skills

(OAK BLUFFS, Mass.) — America’s two foremost Democratic couples — the Obamas and the Clintons — mingled on Saturday as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard.

President Barack Obama, halfway through his annual two-week getaway on the Massachusetts island, teed off in the afternoon with former President Bill Clinton, trading compliments on the first hole. Later in the day, both presidents were to join Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton at another Democratic luminary’s birthday party.

“Good!” said a spry-looking Clinton, donning light blue pants and a dark shirt, after Obama made his putt on the first hole at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs. The former president then kneeled down to scope out his own putt before joining Obama on a g…

Where did the antiwar movement go?

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["Nothing to see here" - on terror, perpetual surveillance and political disengagement. *RON*]

Tom Engelhardt, Le Monde Diplomatique, 13 August 2015

Let me tell you a story about a moment in my life I’m not likely to forget even if, with the passage of years, so much around it has grown fuzzy. It involves a broken-down TV, movies from my childhood, and a war that only seemed to come closer as time passed.

My best guess: it was the summer of 1969. I had dropped out of graduate school where I had been studying to become a China scholar and was then working as a “movement” printer — that is, in a print shop that produced radical literature, strike posters, and other materials for activists. It was, of course, “the Sixties,” though I didn’t know it then. Still, I had somehow been swept into a new world remarkably unrelated to my expected life trajectory — and a large part of the reason for that was the Vietnam War.

Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’…

The Emotions That Make Us More Creative

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[Notice that greed isn't one of them... *RON*]

Scott Barry Kaufman, Harvard Business Review, 12 August 2015

Artists and scientists throughout history have remarked on the bliss that accompanies a sudden creative insight. Einstein described his realization of the general theory of relativity as the happiest moment of his life. More poetically, Virginia Woolf once observed, “Odd how the creative power brings the whole universe at once to order.”

But what about before such moments of creative insight? What emotions actually fuel creativity?

The long-standing view in psychology is that positive emotions are conducive to creativity because they broaden the mind, whereas negative emotions are detrimental to creativity because they narrow one’s focus. But this view is too simplistic for a number of reasons.

It’s true that attentional focus does have important effects on creative thinking: a broad scope of attention is associated with the free-floating c…

How Humans Cause Mass Extinctions

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[Paul Ehrlich - still at it after all these years! *RON*]
Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, Project Syndicate, 12 August 2015

STANFORD – There is no doubt that Earth is undergoing the sixth mass extinction in its history – the first since the cataclysm that wiped out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. According to one recent study, species are going extinct between ten and several thousand times faster than they did during stable periods in the planet’s history, and populations within species are vanishing hundreds or thousands of times faster than that. By one estimate, Earth has lost half of its wildlife during the past 40 years. There is also no doubt about the cause: We are it.

We are in the process of killing off our only known companions in the universe, many of them beautiful and all of them intricate and interesting. This is a tragedy, even for those who may not care about the loss of wildlife. The species that are so rapidly disap…

AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale

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["...newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as 'highly collaborative,' while another lauded the company's 'extreme willingness to help.'" The relationship as described by the NSA contradicts corporate public statements, which continue to say that "We do not voluntarily provide information to any investigating authorities other than if a person's life is in danger and time is of the essence." *RON*]

By Julia Angwin, Charlie Savage, Jeff Larson, Henrik Moltke, Laura Poitras and James Risen, New York Times, 15 August 2015

The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.

While it has been long known that American teleco…

Expenses: Lords who did not vote claim £100k - report

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[The Canadian parliamentary system is based on the British system; this should have a familiar ring to us and to Senator Duffy. *RON*]

BBC News, 16 August 2015

Members of the House of Lords who did not vote in the last parliamentary session claimed £100,000 in expenses, a report has found.

From 2010-15 a total of £360,000 was claimed by 62 peers who did not vote, the Electoral Reform Society said.

Most members are not paid a salary but can claim a daily allowance of up to £300 for Parliamentary duties.

The ERS said the Lords was "growing out of control" but a peer told the BBC that they do more than just vote.

Cutting food waste by a quarter would mean enough for everyone, says UN

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[All of us should print this out and stick it on our fridges. With the global population rising, wastage of products including 45% of all fruit and vegetables and 20% of meat is one of the greatest challenges to achieving food security, *RON*]
Kate Lyons, The Guardian, 13 August 2015
If the amount of food wasted around the world were reduced by just 25% there would be enough food to feed all the people who are malnourished, according to the UN.

Each year 1.3bn tonnes of food, about a third of all that is produced, is wasted, including about 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat. Meanwhile, 795 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition.

Well-publicised attempts to combat the loss of food – such as recent laws in France that require supermarkets to distribute unsold food to charities – have highlighted the issue of food waste, identified by the UN as one of the …