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Showing posts from February 20, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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How a Ruthless Network of Super-Rich Ideologues Killed Choice and Destroyed People’s Faith in Politics

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["Neoliberalism: the deep story that lies beneath Donald Trump’s triumph" Hey Richard - I finally remembered to post it! :-) Are you going to Friends of Chamber Music tonight? *RON*]

George Monbiot, Evonomics, 18 February 2017


The events that led to Donald Trump’s election started in England in 1975. At a meeting a few months after Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party, one of her colleagues, or so the story goes, was explaining what he saw as the core beliefs of conservatism. She snapped open her handbag, pulled out a dog-eared book, and slammed it on the table. “This is what we believe,” she said. A political revolution that would sweep the world had begun.

The book was The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek. Its publication, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism. It saw competition as the defining characteristic of…

Microbes survived inside giant cave crystals for up to 50,000 years

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[Just a very cool thing... Extremophiles hint at possible resilience of life beyond Earth. *RON*]
Ashley Yeager, Science News, 18 February 2017
BOSTON — Microbes found stowed inside giant crystals in caves in Chihuahua, Mexico, may have survived there for tens of thousands of years. The microorganisms, which appear to be vastly different from nearly all life-forms found on Earth, offer a good indication of how resilient life can be in extremely harsh environments, including those found on other planets.

“These organisms are so extraordinary,” astrobiologist Penelope Boston said February 17 during a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are not close to any known genus scientists have been able to identify, said Boston, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute in Moffett Field, Calif. Their closest relatives live in caves halfway around the world or in volcanic soils or thrive on c…

Judge dismisses trespass cases midway through trial

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[See also: Veterans Return to Standing Rock to Form Human Shield for DAPL Protesters. *RON*]

Caroline Grueskin, Bismarck Tribune, 17 February 2017


A judge dismissed the criminal trespass charges against three pipeline protesters halfway through their jury trial this morning.

According to lawyers in the courtroom, Judge Allan Schmalenberger found the prosecutor had not shown the land was posted or that the protesters had been asked by an authorized person to leave — at least one of which is required to prove criminal trespass.

On Friday morning, a jury was picked and the prosecutor put five highway patrolmen on the stand. After that, the three defense attorneys motioned to get the cases dismissed.

Is Finland’s basic universal income a solution to automation, fewer jobs and lower wages?

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[Good, thorough piece. Both left and right are promoting the idea of a basic wage for everyone, currently on trial, as a solution to the new world of work. Behold the coming of your robot overlords! *RON*]

Sonia Sodha, The Guardian, 19 February 2017

When he got the letter after Christmas saying he was entitled to an unconditional income of €560 (£478) a month, Mika Ruusunen couldn’t believe his luck. “At first I thought it was a joke. I had to read it many times. I looked for any evidence it might be false.”

But the father of two was not the victim of a scam. He has been selected to take part in an experiment being run by the Finnish government, in which 2,000 unemployed people between the ages of 25 and 58 will receive a guaranteed sum – a “basic income” – of €560 a month for two years. It replaces their unemployment benefit, but they will continue to receive it whether or not they find work. The government hopes it will encourage the unemployed t…

The Polluted Brain: Evidence builds that dirty air causes Alzheimer’s, dementia

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["I think [air pollution] will turn out to be just the same as tobacco—there’s no safe threshold." Caleb Finch, University of Southern California. Air pollution, particularly in major cities such as Los Angeles, California, may promote brain inflammation and disease. *RON*]
By Emily Underwood, 26 January 2017
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA—In a barbed wire–enclosed parking lot 100 meters downwind of the Route 110 freeway, an aluminum hose sticks out of a white trailer, its nozzle aimed at an overpass. Every minute, the hose sucks up hundreds of liters of air mixed with exhaust from the roughly 300,000 cars and diesel-burning freight trucks that rumble by each day.

Crouched inside the trailer, a young chemical engineer named Arian Saffari lifts the lid off a sooty cylinder attached to the hose, part of a sophisticated filtration system that captures and sorts pollutants by size. Inside is a scientific payload: particles of sulfate, nitrate, ammo…