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Showing posts from November 26, 2016

Why Does B.C. Still Kill Grizzlies for Sport?

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[This was very shortly followed by: NDP promises to end trophy hunt for grizzly bears in B.C. if elected in May. *RON*]

By Judith Lavoie, DeSmog Blog, 23 November 2016
In early October a provincial government news release landed in the inboxes of reporters and researchers around B.C.

It boasted of a new government-commissioned report that concluded B.C. has “a high level of rigour and adequate safeguards in place to ensure the long-term stability of grizzly populations.”

Brazil corruption: How MPs' deal could let elite off the hook

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[The corruption is all too real, but bear in mind that these harsh legal actions have also been described as a 'soft coup' backed by the US. See: How the Pro-Coup US Is Undermining Brazil's Democracy. *RON*]
By Daniel Gallas, BBC South America, 25 November 2016 
To get a good sense of how much Brazil has evolved in tackling corruption in the past few years, one can browse an old copy of those lists of "most powerful and influential people in the country" published by magazines.

If the list was published any time before 2014, it is likely that a good part of those in it are now behind bars - either sentenced or awaiting trial for corruption.

Disgorge the Cash

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[A lengthy piece but interesting. Sit with a coffee and absorb it... Companies used to borrow in the markets as a last resort finance investment in their business. Now it’s a front for shareholder giveaways. *RON*]
By J.W. Mason, The New Inquiry, 21 April 2014

"All these people have a sort of parlay mentality, and they need to get on the playing field before they can start running it up. I’m a trader. It all happens for me in the transition. The moment of liquidation is the essence of capitalism."
"What about the man in Rigby?"
"He’s an end user. He wants to keep it."
I reflected on the pathos of ownership, and the ways it could bog you down.
—Tom McGuane, Gallatin Canyon

Google DeepMind AI destroys human expert in lip reading competition

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[Ain't this dandy, now that the planet is wallpapered with camcorders. Notice how not a word is said in this gee-whiz tech journal about the surveillance possibilities. *RON*]

By Conner Forrest, Tech Republic, 23 November 2016

A new artificial intelligence tool created by Google and Oxford University researchers could significantly improve the success of lip-reading and understanding for the hearing impaired. In a recently released paper on the work, the pair explained how the Google DeepMind-powered system was able to correctly interpret more words than a trained human expert.

The Devil's Hair Dryer

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[A pet peeve of mine: Hell is other people, with leaf blowers. "...running a leafblower for 30 minutes creates more emissions than driving a F-150 pickup truck 3800 miles." *RON*]

David Dudley, The Atlantic, 3 November 2016

A bunch of neighbors were sitting around the other night, talking yard work, and the conversation returned to a frequent target: a certain ex-neighbor, now long gone, who was unduly fond of his leaf blower. This is a familiar tale, how he tormented the block every autumn weekend chasing leaves around his small yard with his shrieking machine, leaving behind the lingering stench of gasoline fumes and resentment. I never met this fellow—he moved out before I moved in—but his legacy is secure: He is The Asshole With the Leaf Blower.

Fidel Castro obituary: revolutionary icon finally defeated by infirmity of old age

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[Charismatic leader of the revolution and president of Cuba who bestrode the world stage for half a century. Compare Obama's and Trump's reactions here: Fidel Castro's death: Obama, Donald Trump react to Cuba leader's passing. *RON*]

• Fidel Castro: Cuba declares nine days of national mourning – live updates

Richard Gott, The Guardian, 26 November 2016

Fidel Castro, who has died at the age of 90, was one of the more extraordinary political figures of the 20th century. After leading a successful revolution on a Caribbean island in 1959, he became a player on the global stage, dealing on equal terms with successive leaders of the two nuclear superpowers during the cold war. A charismatic figure from the developing world, his influence was felt far beyond the shores of Cuba. Known as Fidel to friends and enemies alike, his life story is inevitably that of his people and their revolution. Even in old age, he still exercised a magneti…