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Showing posts from October 14, 2015

Giant, ancient viruses are thawing out in Siberia — and they're changing everything we thought we knew about them

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[How long before someone makes a horror movie about this? *RON*]

Lydia Ramsey and Erin Brodwin, Business Insider, 13 October 2015

Melting ice in the Arctic circle has been thawing out some gigantic ancient viruses.

Last month, researchers announced they were studying a 30,000-year-old giant virus called Mollivirus sibericum that they found in melted Siberian permafrost. The virus was functional and able to infect amoeba.

This isn't the first time researchers have found big viruses that have challenged what we thought we knew about the tiny invaders. Mimivirus, discovered in 2003, has 1,200 genes and is twice the width of traditional viruses.

But it was this most recently discovered virus which prompted severaloutlets to suggest that once it thawed out, it could escape and make lots of people sick.

TPP requires countries to destroy security-testing tools (and your laptop)

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[Under TPP, corporations have the right to invoke court protection and enforcement to hide their misdeeds away from public scrutiny behind DRM (digital rights management) locks that have been side-stepped in many recent criminal negligence cases against corporations. *RON*]

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing, 13 October 2015


Under TPP, signatories are required to give their judges the power to "order the destruction of devices and products found to be involved in" breaking digital locks, such as those detailed in this year's US Copyright Office Triennial DMCA Hearing docket, which were used to identify critical vulnerabilities in vehicles, surveillance devices, voting machines, medical implants, and many other devices in our world.

Since the docket opened, we've lived through the recall of 1.4 million jeeps whose steering and braking could be seized by Internet-based attackers and Dieselgate, which saw VW using DRM to hide its emissions…

Cop Runs Down Suspect with Truck, Beats & Tasers Him in the Head, Dept Says It Was an Accident

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[Police playing judge, jury and executioner and the black injustice tipping point. The suspect was unarmed and fleeing, not posing a threat to officers when he was run over by a raging cop. See also: Bloody, Strapped to Chair, Video Shows Police Tasering Matthew Ajibade in the Testicles Before Death. *RON*]
By Matt AgoristThe Free Thought Project / AlterNet, 13 October 2015

Albuquerque, NM — Albuquerque can be a tough town name to spell. However, many people with their finger on the pulse of police brutality and corruption can spell it forward and backward as the Albuquerque police department is one of the most corrupt and violent departments in the country.

From 2010 through 2014, there were four fatal police shootings in England, which has a population of about 52 million. By contrast, Albuquerque, with a population 1 percent the size of England’s, had 26 fatal police shootings in that same period.

Talk of Criminally Prosecuting Corporations Up, Actual Prosecutions Down

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[Justice and the US corporatocracy. "It’s not for lack of possible cases. Despite the pullback in prosecutions, available data shows that federal agencies continue to find similar amounts of potential corporate misconduct." *RON*]
David Dayen, The Intercept, 13 October 2015

A new analysis of federal data from Syracuse University finds that the Justice Department’s criminal prosecutions of corporations fell 29 percent from 2004 to 2014, even as criminal referrals to the Justice Department from other federal agencies have risen.

In fiscal year 2014, the Justice Department brought 237 cases against corporations, the lowest number since 2010, and well below the high-water mark of the decade: 398 cases in 2005. The number of convictions fell to 162, well below the Bush administration average of about 240.

The data comes from the Justice Department itself, obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) through a Freedom of In…

Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists

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[This conflict seems to get crazier by the minute. *RON*]

Erika Solomon, Guy Chazan and Sam Jones, Financial Times, 14 October 2015



On the outskirts of al-Omar oilfield in eastern Syria, with warplanes flying overhead, a line of trucks stretches for 6km. Some drivers wait for a month to fill up with crude.

Falafel stalls and tea shops have sprung up to cater to the drivers, such is the demand for oil. Traders sometimes leave their trucks unguarded for weeks, waiting for their turn.

This is the land of Isis, the jihadi organisation in control of swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory. The trade in oil has been declared a prime target by the international military coalition fighting the group. And yet it goes on, undisturbed.

Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’ black flag — it fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbours.

Microfinance is mostly a scam

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[It will be interesting to see what the follow up to these original findings looks like, if any. I've been making small donations to Kiva.org for years now, and they list a great deal of detailed information on each of their lenders. I've sent them an email, directing their attention to this posting and asking if they could, in turn, post a rejoinder to put the minds of people who make loans there at ease. *RON*]
Cathy O'Neil, mathbabe, 13 October 2015

I might be well behind others on this subject, but I’m trying to catch up. I just finished a book entitled Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic: how microfinance lost its way and betrayed the poor, written by Hugh Sinclair. Published in 2012, it reviews the previous decade or so of microfinance institutions and how there are essentially very few that haven’t become loan sharks for poor people.

The promise of microfinance was this: that poor people are budding entrepreneurs, who simply do…

Wab Kinew speaks his mind

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[Via my friend Peter. I remember listening to him on CBC. Sounds as though it would be a good, but hard, book to read. The Orenda is one of the best books, period. *RON*]

The first time Wab Kinew was strangled in public came while he was in elementary school in Winnipeg. Young Wabanakwut back-talked a substitute teacher who grabbed him by the throat and began choking him. As the Anishinaabe boy struggled, the teacher leaned in and quietly whispered a racial slur in his ear. When she eventually let him go, Kinew promised her his dad would “kick her ass.” That night, his father assured him that he wouldn’t be fighting his teacher – or anyone else – for him.

The second time Kinew was strangled in public came after he shouted a joke through the open doors of a community bingo hall. The bingo caller grabbed him by the throat and began choking him. As Kinew – still just a scrawny child – struggled, the man swore at him and issued a racial slur. This ti…

Canada election 2015: What you need to vote on Oct. 19

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[BC folks take note. I think that the 7 am - 7 pm poll time is new this year. Seems to me that in the past we've had until 8 pm. But I could be wrong about that. This article lists the 12 hours polls are open in each of the time zones. Everyone else has much later poll closing times except Mountain. Also note the ID requirements."When Toronto polls close, Vancouver will only have a half hour left to vote — leaving little time for eastern results to influence western voters" and "The voter information card that comes in the mail is not enough — an important change under the Conservatives' Fair Elections Act." *RON*]
By Lisa Johnson, CBC News, 13 October 2015
When you go to your local polling station on Oct. 19 to vote in the federal election, you need to know when and where to show up.

But you also may need to know your rights and be armed with a knowledge of the new federal election law, according to the B.C. Civil Libert…