Showing posts from September 20, 2015

The Largest Green Roof In The World Will Sit On Top Of This Dying California Mall

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[Quite cool. People aren't shopping much at the Vallco Shopping Mall in Silicon Valley, so they're turning it into a green, walkable neighborhood. *RON*]

Adele Peters, Fast Company, 17 September 2015

World Leaders Condemn Burkina Faso Coup

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[Isn't he the fellow we'd all just love to see in charge? Seizure of power Wednesday comes weeks before elections aimed at ushering in democracy. And, as usual, "The coup presents an awkward moment for U.S. and European diplomats in the region. For years, Mr. Compaore’s presidential guard has ranked among the West’s closest allies in West Africa in their fight against terrorism." *RON*]

By Heidi Vogt and Drew Hinshaw, Wall Street Journal, 17 September 2015
World leaders condemned a coup in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, saying Thursday that a power seizure by the presidential guard is a major step backward for a country that so recently managed to peacefully oust an autocrat.

The leaders of the United Nations, the U.S. and France all rebuked the organizers of the coup, which started Wednesday with the arrest of the interim president and prime minister.

The coup, which has already brought widespread protest and bloodsh…

On the Horizon: Lab-Grown Spare Parts for Brains

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[Something I'm pretty sure all of us will be able to use one day. Researchers have figured out how to coax stem cells into becoming organized clusters of neurons. *RON*]

By John Pavlus | Aug 13, 2015
The “brain in a vat” has long been a staple of philosophical thought experiments and science fiction. Now scientists are one step closer to creating the real thing, which could enable groundbreaking experiments of a much more empirical kind. Research teams at Stanford University and the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have each discovered methods for coaxing human stem cells to form three-dimensional neural structures that display activity associated with that of an adult brain.

By applying a variety of chemical growth factors, the RIKEN researchers transformed human embryonic stem cells into neurons that self-organized in patterns unique to the cerebellum, a region of the brain that coordinates movement. The Stanford team worked…

Ahousaht Nation forces CERMAQ to remove salmon farm

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[There are plenty of us who believe that protecting our wild salmon against the disease and death brought on by farmed fish is important, but not many who would take this kind of action to support our beliefs. Meanwhile our provincial and federal governments always and forever support the quick buck no matter what the long-term cost. *RON*]
West Coast Native News, 19 September 2015

When Cermaq tried to anchor a new farm in Ahousaht territory in a bay called Yaakswiis, Ahousaht people stepped on the farm and told the Cermaq crew to leave (see previous post). Thus began a 9 – day occupation of the farm, meetings between Ahousaht and their leadership and support from hundreds of people throughout British Columbia, Canada and beyond. There was a rally of support in Vancouver on September 18.

Called the Yaakswiis Ocean Camp, led by Lennie John, Sacheem Seitcham, and Joe John Crow the fish farm was also occupied by supporters such as Clayoquot Actio…

The $20 Billion Handout That’s Destroying the Environment

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[How to reform agricultural subsidies harming wildlife and polluting the planet. *RON*]
 Richard Conniff, Take Part, 18 September 2015

Agricultural subsidies are, let’s face it, incredibly complicated and boring, and that’s the eternal problem with changing them: It’s just too hard to get the public to care even about a system that is, on its face, bizarre, destructive, and politically corrupt. It’s especially hard to care when the big losers are wildlife and the environment.

Well, OK, taxpayers lose, too. In the United States, agribusiness takes $20 billion worth of subsidies out of our pockets every year. Hardly any of that supports the production of healthier foods or benefits wildlife, the environment, or the public. But most of us would rather scrub toilets or run marathons than think about it. Meanwhile, agribusiness spent $138 million on lobbying in 2012, and another $90 million on federal campaign contributions to keep those handouts just…

Study calls for national ban of microbead products

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[Maine lawmakers banned the tiny plastic particles in March. See also: Plastic microbeads: small bits with a big impact. *RON*]

From Staff and Wire Services, Portland Press Herald, 18 September 2015

A new study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, calls for a total ban of products made with microbeads.

Microbeads, which are used to add scrubbing action to products such as toothpaste and face wash, are being studied as a pollutant. According to the report, published in the magazine’s Sept. 15 issue, up to 8 trillion of these plastic pieces enter aquatic habitats in the United States every day, threatening wildlife. Another 800 trillion or so microbeads end up in the sludgy runoff from sewage plants, which can go on to pollute waterways as well, according to the study.

RECIPE FOR DISASTER: How supporting Syrian rebels put US foreign policy into disarray

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[I think this also came from Richard, but now I've forgotten. How, sometimes, the enemy of my enemy is still just my enemy. Sadly, however, "there are no 'lessons learnt' when ideological stubbornness overrules tactical and operational considerations." *RON*]

Part 2: Regional proxies and a covert CIA programme

by Patrick Bahzad, Sic Semper Tyrannus, 18 September 2015

In the testimony he gave on Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Lloyd Austin – the head of CENTCOM – stated that there was all but a handful of pro-US rebels still operating on the ground in Syria. The rest of that sorry lot had either fled, joined other groups or had been killed. Now, the same eerie question comes up again, like it does every time US policy in Syria faces a new disaster … How could it come to this? How could the US get embroiled in such a calamitous strategy, recording failure, after failure, after failure? The answer to t…

Vanishing Canada: Why we’re all losers in Ottawa’s war on data

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[Via my friend Richard, via his friend Mark. Records deleted, burned, tossed in Dumpsters. A good in-depth look at how Canadian democracy has been eroded and how "As the government becomes increasingly opaque, citizens' lives have become more transparent than ever before." *RON*]

Anne Kingston, Macleans, 18 September 2015

When told that his small Prairie town had, in profound ways, fallen off the statistical map of Canada, Walter Streelasky, mayor of Melville, Sask., is incredulous. Streelasky had no idea Melville had been rendered a “statistical ghost town” after the mandatory long-form census was cut in 2010, and fewer than 50 per cent of Melville’s 4,500 residents completed the voluntary National Household Survey that replaced it in the 2011 census. Melville still exists—but as a shadow. We know how many people live there, but nothing about them—where they work, their education levels, whether they’re married, single or divorced, …