Showing posts from July 28, 2017

Today's Trumpery

[Welcome to the monkey house. A daily pastiche of Trumpisms and responses thereto. *RON*]

West Wing at war as PR chief Anthony Scaramucci points finger over leaks, The Times ["I’m not trying to build my own brand off the f****ing strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country."]
'Things Start to Crack’: Columnist Says Scaramucci Freakout Shows Trump White House Is Floundering, AlterNet
Republicans fail to dismantle Obamacare in major blow to Trump, Globe and Mail
John McCain: Here's why I voted no and killed the 'skinny repeal', Business Insider
Russia sanctions fuel new Cold War, USA Today
Bill Kristol Calls President Trump a 'Jackass' on CNN, AlterNet

EU increases pressure on Facebook, Google and Twitter over user terms

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[It really is pleasant when Silicon Valley is made to squirm! *RON*]

Julia Fioretti, Reuters, 24 July 2017
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union authorities have increased pressure on Facebook, Twitter and Google to amend their user terms to bring them in line with EU law after proposals submitted by the tech giants were considered insufficient.

The European Commission and consumer protection authorities in the bloc wrote to the three companies in June, asking them to improve their proposed changes to user terms by the end of September, according to letters sent to the companies and seen by Reuters on Monday.

The authorities have the power to issue fines if the companies fail to comply.

Twitter did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment and a Google spokesman declined to make immediate comment.

Facebook said it believes that the company is compliant with EU law but recognised that its terms could be made easier to understand and woul…

100,000 Pages of Chemical Industry Secrets Gathered Dust in an Oregon Bard for Decades - Until Now

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[Someone is going to have a field day with this stuff! EPA still providing no comment after decades. *RON*]
Sharon Lerner, The Intercept, 26 July 2017
FOR DECADES, SOME of the dirtiest, darkest secrets of the chemical industry have been kept in Carol Van Strum’s barn. Creaky, damp, and prowled by the occasional black bear, the listing, 80-year-old structure in rural Oregon housed more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others.

As of today, those documents and others that have been collected by environmental activists will be publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers. Together, the library contains more than 200,000 pages of information and “lays out a 40-year history of deceit and collusion involving the chemical industry and the regulatory agencies tha…

European Cities Are Reclaiming Public Services From the Private Sector

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[Back to public service. Slowly but surely, the pendulum always swings back. *RON*]

Alexis Chamblette, Vice, 17 July 2017

The US has a lot to learn from people powered movements.
In the '80s a neoliberal tide swept across the West with the idea that welfares states had become too expensive and that privatizing public goods was better for stimulating the economy. During this era of fiscal conservatism, Western governments basically confined themselves supervisory roles over the economy, reduced to watchdogs enforcing norms and standards. But research has shown that as the government progressively pulls out of public life, many people lose access or experience the deterioration of services that improve their quality of life such as affordable housing, education, public transportation and health care.

Now, cities across Europe are increasingly deciding to reclaim public services, spearheading a growing movement for "remunicipalization,&quo…

Ravens Are More Cunning Than Human Preschoolers

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[I think they're more likely to inherit the planet than we are. A recent study finds that ravens are capable of planning and bartering, and they also forgo an immediate reward to obtain a better reward in the future. See also: Ravens Are So Smart, One Hacked This Researcher's Experiment. *RON*]

GrrlScientist , Forbes, 25 July 2017

Anyone who knows birds knows that many corvids cache food. Corvidae is a songbird family that comprises 120 species of ravens, crows, jackdaws, magpies and jays; and this caching behavior presumes that these birds are planning for the future. But are they really?

In a recent paper, cognitive zoologist, Mathias Osvath, at Lund University in Sweden, and his doctoral student, Can Kabadayi, wanted to better characterize the ability of common ravens, Corvus corax, to plan ahead. To do this, the team replicated a series of key experiments originally designed to test great apes’ planning abilities (ref). These experime…

Exxon, Shell and other carbon producers sued for sea level rises in California

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[Perhaps this is how change will begin? A bunch of millionaires suing over damage to their beachside mansions? As a trio of lawsuits claim compensation for sea rises resulting from fossil fuel emissions, campaigners say carbon majors must change their business models. *RON*]

Laura Paddison, The Guardian, 26 July 2017

Three Californian communities have launched legal action against some of the world’s biggest oil, gas and coal companies, seeking compensation for the current and future costs of adapting to sea level rises linked to climate change.

San Mateo and Marin Counties, coastal communities in northern California, and Imperial Beach, a city in San Diego County, have filed complaints against 37 “carbon majors”, including Shell, Chevron, Statoil, Exxon and Total.

They claim greenhouse gas emissions from the fossil fuel companies’ activities over the last 50 years have locked in substantial sea level rises, which will cause billions of dollars’ wo…