Showing posts from January 20, 2016

The Most Mystifying Lines of Sarah Palin’s Endorsement Speech

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[Impossible not to share this puppy. Sarah hasn't lost it - she never had it. *RON*]

By Michael Barbaro, New York Times, 20 January 2016
Sarah Palin’s meandering, fiery, sarcastic, patriotic and blustery speech endorsing Donald J. Trump for president on Tuesday in Ames, Iowa, does not easily submit to categorization.

It has been described as performance art, a filibuster, even slam poetry.

Mrs. Palin has always been a singular force on the campaign trail. But in her years away from politics, the former Alaska governor and Senator John McCain’s Republican vice-presidential pick in 2008 seems to have spurred a whole new series of idiosyncratic expressions and unusual locutions — to the point where even Mr. Trump seemed occasionally mystified as he tried to follow along.

Below, a list of 10 of the more memorable lines of the speech, and an attempt to translate them:

“They stomp on our neck, and then they tell us, ‘Just chill, O.K., just relax.’ Well,…

Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales

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[An interesting piece of research which found that fairy tales are far older than we thought. Stories such as Beauty and the Beast go back to times before English, French and Italian existed, as far back as the Bronze Age. Click on the link above to read the entire article. *RON*]

Sara Graça da Silva and Jamshid J. Tehrani, Royal Society Open Science, 14 January 2016


Ancient population expansions and dispersals often leave enduring signatures in the cultural traditions of their descendants, as well as in their genes and languages. The international folktale record has long been regarded as a rich context in which to explore these legacies. To date, investigations in this area have been complicated by a lack of historical data and the impact of more recent waves of diffusion. In this study, we introduce new methods for tackling these problems by applying comparative phylogenetic methods and autologistic modelling to analyse the relations…

B.C.'s Protracted Peer Review Promise Bears A Closer Look

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[Physicians in British Columbia are quite unique in not only believing they should be able to get away with anything but in fact getting away with much more than physicians elsewhere. Read this story about how holding radiologists to recognized life-and-death standards was slowed to a crawl by a combination of government over-deference and "the cultural shift" the poor babies were required to make in order to toe the line. The sense of entitlement underlying this story is palpable. The comparisons made here with the practices adhered to elsewhere are eye-opening and informative. *RON*]
Dermod Travis, Huffington Post, 19 January 2016

Buried among a spate of bad news announcements that the B.C. government released over the Christmas holidays was an update on a province-wide system for peer reviews of medical scans.

The system was to have been operational by 2014, but still isn't in place at three of five health authorities and won't…

The TPP Hands Control Over Trade To The World's Wealthiest

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[A slightly mystifying article on the 180 degree turn-around of Chrystia Freeland, International Trade Minister, concerning TPP before and after she was elected. Inexplicably, although Sujata Dey says she asked Freeland "about this during a visit she made to the Université de Montréal," the article does not offer one word of Freeland's response. And the question is never asked in the link Dey provides where she says she asked about this. See also: When Corporations Sue Countries, No One Wins*RON*]
Sujata Dey, Council of Canadians / Huffington Post, 20 January 2016

If there is someone who knows about plutocrats, it is Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s international trade minister responsible for deciding what to do about the TPP, the foremost international agreement among plutocrats. She has been to the parties and observed the richest one per cent in their natural setting, with their superstar interior designers, cooks and fashion desig…

Iraq's oldest Christian monastery destroyed by Islamic State

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["Bulldozers, heavy equipment, sledgehammers, possibly explosives turned those stone walls into this field of grey-white dust. They destroyed it completely." *RON*]
BBC World News, 20 January 2016

Satellite images confirm that the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been destroyed by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

St Elijah's stood on a hill near the northern city of Mosul for 1,400 years.

But analysts said the images, obtained by the Associated Press, suggested it had been demolished in late 2014, soon after IS seized the city.

A Catholic priest from Mosul warned that its Christian history was "being barbarically levelled".

"We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land," said Father Paul Thabit Habib, who now lives in Kurdish-administered Irbil.

Billionaires on the bus: Income inequality and the future of poverty

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["If tax were being paid on the income from the US$7.6 trillion stashed by the world’s super-rich in offshore tax havens, governments would have an additional $190 billion to spend on programs." I'm not sure how correct this is since $190 billion is only 2.5% of $7.6 trillion, but certainly taxing the ultra-rich would result in a boon for the general public. *RON*]
By Julie Delahanty,, 19 January 2016

Sixty-two people now own as much wealth as half the world’s population. If I hadn’t been reading that in one of Oxfam’s own reports, I’d have assumed it was a clever plot for a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie.

But no. All that wealth now rests in the hands of a group of people so small, you could fit them all in a single school bus. Read our new report ‘An Economy For The One Per Cent’ and weep — or, better still, commit as you never have before to demanding government action against the frightening rise in global income ineq…

Heat record: 2015 was hottest year by huge margin

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[El Nino partly to blame, but humans were the main driver, NASA and NOAA scientists say. See also: Persian Gulf may soon be too hot to support human life, and 2015 will be hottest year on record — until 2016, WMO predicts, and Ocean absorption of man-made heat accelerates at colossal rate. *RON*]
The Associated Press, CBC News, 20 January 2016
External Links

NASA news release
NOAA State of the Climate report

(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)

Last year wasn't just the Earth's hottest year on record — it left a century of high temperature marks in the dust.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and NASA announced Wednesday that 2015 was by far the hottest year in 136 years of record keeping.

NOAA said 2015's temperature was 14.79 degrees Celsius (58.62 degrees Fahrenheit), passing 2014 by a record margin of 0.16 C (0.29 F). That's 0.90 C (1.62 F) above the 20th-century average…

Bank of Canada holds key interest rate steady at 0.5%

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[The Bank of Canada cut rates twice in 2015 to try to boost the economy. When asked by a reporter on air if the Canadian dollar would continue to drop he basically said 'That depends on everything and it's complicated.' He did, however, clearly offer the opinion that stimulus spending by the federal government would help things (i.e., they're waiting to see what Trudeau is going to do in his budget). *RON*]

By Pete Evans, CBC News, 20 January 2016

The Bank of Canada today maintained its benchmark interest rate at 0.5 per cent.

The bank's rate is officially called the "target for the overnight rate." Technically, it only governs the rate that retail banks charge each other for short-term loans, but has a strong impact on the rates that Canadians get from their lending institutions when they save or borrow money.

The central bank cut its rate twice last year in an attempt to stimulate the economy.

Headed into the deci…