Showing posts from November 2, 2016

A Little-Noticed Fact About Trade: It’s No Longer Rising

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[Neoliberals sold global free trade to the masses on the basis of its ability to sustain global economic growth indefinitely. It hasn't. Everybody wins! They didn't. They lied while selling it to us; now they're experiencing the backlash and complaining bitterly about it. "It ain't FAIR!" *RON*]

Binyamin Appelbaum, New York Times, 30 October 2016

The constant flow of goods from Asia to the United States was briefly interrupted last month after Hanjin, the South Korean shipping line, filed for bankruptcy, stranding several dozen of its cargo ships on the high seas.

It was a moment that made literal the stagnation of globalization.

Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops

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[GMO was sold to the masses on the basis of its ability to increase crop yields and decrease pesticide use, both of which it has grossly failed to do. *RON*]

By Danny Hakim, New York Times, 29 October 2016
LONDON — The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat.

But an extensive examination by The New York Times indicates that the debate has missed a more basic problem — genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides.

The promise of genetic modification was twofold: By making crops immune to the effects of weedkillers and inherently resistant to many pests, they would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world’s growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides.

Why do we still accept that governments collect and snoop on our data?

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[Bulk collection clearly violates global rights to privacy and free speech, and now, with a case before the European court of human rights, is the time to stop it. Since the case is based on international law it has implications for North America too. *RON*]
Ashley Gorski & Scarlet Kim, The Guardian, 1 November 2016
In recent weeks, the Hollywood film about Edward Snowden and the movement to pardon the NSA whistleblower have renewed worldwide attention on the scope and substance of government surveillance programs. In the United States, however, the debate has often been a narrow one, focused on the rights of Americans under domestic law but mostly blind to the privacy rights of millions of others affected by this surveillance.

Indeed, just last week, a British court held that British intelligence agencies acted unlawfully by concealing bulk spying programs from the public for over a decade. Soon, in a lawsuit brought by Privacy International,…

A victory for science and simple decency at Muskrat Falls

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[It took a disruptive media blitz on indigenous protests before the Newfoundland government would grudgingly admit that methylmercury poisoning causing "irreversible neurological damage and heart problems" to its citizenry might take precedent over the schedule for a hydroelectric project. See also: Scientists back Inuit in efforts to limit mercury poisoning risk from Muskrat Falls hydro project. *RON*]

The Globe and Mail, 27 October 2016

Governments, most people would agree, shouldn’t poison their citizens. And yet somehow, in their deference to an over-budget, woefully behind-schedule hydroelectric megaproject on the Churchill River, the leaders of Newfoundland and Labrador were prepared to do just that.
Fortunately – but only thanks to disruptive last-minute protests by indigenous communities at the Muskrat Falls site in Labrador – Premier Dwight Ball has begun to see reason on the toxic threat posed by an out-of-control project mean…

Inside the Frozen Zoo That Could Bring Extinct Animals Back to Life

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[I guess it has come to this. See also (from a year ago, but the situation is unchanged): Only 3 northern white rhinos left in the world. *RON*]
By Zach Baron, Photographs by Robin Broadbent, GQ, 28 October 2016

All around us, every day, things are disappearing—birds, butterflies, coral reefs, islands. Places we used to live. Things we used to eat. But what if there was a way to bring some of it back? Well, it turns out there is. A few miles north of San Diego, scientists are gathering up specimens of every living thing they can get their hands on in a last-ditch effort to save the planet from an unstoppable predator: us

I. Nobody Say “Jurassic Park”
A few weeks ago, a humpback whale arrived in a FedEx box. Dr. Oliver Ryder removed the vial containing the whale from the package. He used its cells to grow more cells. Then he froze it. “And you know how hard it is to get a sample of a whale, legally?” It's hard. There are rules about this sort of…

America’s gift to the world: exports of the best armed drones

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[On the global spread of armed drones. *RON*]

Fabius Maximus, 28 October 2016
Summary: America has played a special role in the post-WWII era, repeatedly unleashing horrors on the world. We started the nuclear arms race by bombing Japan, staged the first cyberattack on Iran (we now live in fear of the next being on us), and now we’re flooding the world with armed drones. Here Stratfor explains the likely consequences.

The Unstoppable Spread of Armed Drones
Stratfor, 25 October 2016.
Forecast The United States will continue to lead in the development of armed drone technology, but China has taken the lead in drone exports and therefore has a bigger influence on the application of armed systems.Only the United States and China have exported armed drones, but other countries are expected to join the lucrative market, causing a surge in globally available systems.Because exporting states do not perceive a threat from armed drones, there is little willp…