Sunday, October 26, 2014

Paradigms and Demographics: Sunday Morning Edition

Which scientists are bad at sharing? 92% of environmental scientists - Sharing data is one of the most essential principles of good science and has led to remarkable advances in areas like genetics. But one recent study showed the worst sharers were ecologists, as only 8% shared their data. This new paper by Soranno et al describes sharing data through publicly available datasets as “ethically obligatory”. (Did we need a paper to say that?) And she further claims environmental scientists are out of date. (Which all seems rather bleedingly obvious to anyone in the climate debate.) Soranno argues a cultural change is needed. Indeed.....

Ukraine’s Slow Descent Into Madness - Less than a year ago, Viktor Yanukovych was not yet the disgraced former president of Ukraine and ruled over his impoverished but peaceful nation from Mezhyhirya, his sprawling residence outside Kiev. Here Yanukovych entertained his cronies aboard a fake Spanish galleon, watched TV from the comfort of his wood-paneled Jacuzzi, and prayed for redemption in a jewel-encrusted private chapel.  The main house—an outsized, five-story peasant cottage—is nicknamed Honka, after the Finnish company that built it. Today a wild-eyed revolutionary named Petro Oliynyk offers visitors an express tour from bowling alley to bedroom at $15 a head. Wrapped in the black-and-red flag of the World War II–era Ukrainian Insurgent Army, Oliynyk coasts across Honka’s inlaid wooden floors in traditional straw shoes. Mezhyhirya has become to Kiev what Versailles is to Paris—except Ukraine’s revolution is far from over…..

Russia Tones Down the Rhetoric as Its Economy Struggles - Russia’s leaders have continued to criticize the economic sanctions imposed by the West over their invasion of Ukraine, but the official complaints from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have recently taken a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone. The sanctions, Lavrov and others suggest, won’t really hurt the Russian economy in the long term, but are damaging to international cooperation in general.   For now, though, an increasingly harsh sanctions regime and the declining value of the ruble and have begun to have noticeable effects on the economy.  Growth in Russia has come to a virtual standstill, as foreign investors pull money out of the country and those who have been considering new investments reconsider. Global oil prices are moving sharply downward, presenting a major challenge to a Russian economy that is utterly dependent on oil and gas exports. As the value of the ruble plunged last week, the Russian central bank spent more than $200 million in an unsuccessful attempt to prop it up. Russia’s inflation rate rose to 8.3 percent in mid-October, driven largely by increasing food prices, driving concern that the central bank will need to raise interest rates in order to slow price increases…

My TakeUkraine has some severe problems to deal with over the coming election, corruption, and serious economic issues.  But it seems to me this conflict between  Russia and Ukraine is a matter of who can economically outlast the other.  Personally, I’m not impressed with Russia’s chances because I think Putin is a corrupt dumb as dirt megalomaniac who will continue to make stupid self-serving decisions leading to his downfall.  I just wonder how long it will be before his biggest concern will be his overthrow and his own safety. The question is who will lead the Ukrainian people into an enlightened era that addresses the issues that are foundational to a stable government , a stable society and a flourishing economy....and that starts with fixing the corruption.   

Vigilantes Join the Hunt for Missing Students inMexico  - The disappearance of 43 students in the town of Iguala has once again cast a spotlight on the links between law enforcement and organized crime in Mexico.  Beads of sweat glisten on Luis Moctezuma’s forehead as he and a search party of men follow a narrow path up a steep cliff. As they continue their climb here in southern Mexico’s mountainous countryside, Moctezuma, a stout 47-year-old with a gray mustache, eyes a narrow alcove. “It’s probably a clandestine grave,” he says, pointing to a pair of small crosses poking out of the ground……. the events in Iguala have cast a dark cloud over Mexico and called into question the country’s progress in its war against the drug cartels. For two years now, President Enrique Peña Nieto has been trying to downplay the violence and emphasize a series of sweeping economic reforms. But many Mexicans think the government hasn’t fought against criminal gangs and corrupt police with the same zeal it’s used to reform the oil and telecom industries….Two weeks ago, many feared the worst after policemen found 28 charred bodies in a series of clandestine graves 10 miles north of the city. But DNA tests showed that none of them belonged to the students and were instead anonymous victims in an 8-year-old drug war that’s claimed the lives of an estimate 80,000 people……
The Allure of Radical Islam in Canada - What's behind the latest surge in political violence, and what Canadians can do about it?  Last year, the head of Canada’s security agency delivered a warning to the Canadian Senate. “Five years ago we weren’t as worried about domestic terrorism as we are now,” said Richard Fadden. He explained why: In the 1990s and early 2000s, Islamic terrorism was perpetrated by structured organizations with lines of command—groups like al-Qaeda and Somalia’s al-Shabab. But the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition had smashed the leadership of these groups, and left behind a motley bunch of autonomous freelancers whose plots were much “harder to get your hands on.” Western intelligence agencies were seeing far fewer large-scale plots like those that did so much damage in New York City, in Washington, in Bali, in Madrid, and in London in the early 2000s, Fadden continued, but they were collecting much more chatter about smaller-scale threats against less predictable targets……In countries like Canada, Australia, Britain, and the United States, the call to Islamic holy war often appeals to more marginal people: the thwarted, the troubled, the angry. And yet even so, the Saint-Jean killer—Couture-Rouleau—reportedly had a clean police record and a reasonably stable personal life until his conversion to Islam......
If Norwegian Women Can’t HaveIt All, Can Anyone? - Even in a country with forward-thinking child-care policies, women still can't get ahead.  From the outside, life for a woman in Norway seems nearly perfect. According to UN Reports, Norwegian women enjoy the best standard of living in the world, with free education, one year of paid maternity leave, a liberal paternity-leave policy, state-funded nurseries for all families, and affordable child care.  But all that perfection hasn’t managed to dissolve a sticky cultural roadblock that derails women around the world. You see, even with a plethora of policies aimed at supporting women and families at home and work, Norwegian women only make up three percent of the country's top business leaders. Why? They’re facing a different kind of glass ceiling that may sound familiar: too many women are striving for perfection instead of success, and think the former is required to climb business ranks….
My TakeAlthough there may be a degree of truth in what’s being said here, the reality is that men and women are NOT the same, no matter how leftists portray things.  It’s been clear to me for some time the reason there are so few women in top positions is because there just aren’t that many women who want to be there.  Truth be told, most women don’t have the qualities to get there or stay there, and there’s nothing derogatory about that statement either.  Women simply see reality through a different lens that men do, as a result their priorities are different.  Women and men are disciplined in different ways to attain different goals and in this case the discipline for each is biologically driven.
It has been said that knowledge is power but, politically, power trumps knowledge, philosophy trumps fact and emotion trumps intelligence. In the day-to-day world, biology trumps all of them.  It’s biology, and no amount of left wing mewing, no amount of set asides, no amount of money pumped into the system by leftist governments is going to change that. Get over it! 
Mubarak Nostalgia is the Winning Strategy in Egyptian PoliticsRight Now - In 2007, Suleiman al-Hout had a problem. Local officials in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia refused to license the food-cart from which he sold kebda, or fried liver, a common Egyptian street food. At first he asked a relative who sat on Ismailia’s local council to intercede on his behalf, but to no avail. So Hout took matters into his own hands. He walked into the local headquarters of then-President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) with one simple question: “How can I vote for you?”  Within two years, Hout was a card-carrying NDP activist with excellent government and business connections, which he put to good use by “solving problems” for others. He frequently acted as an intermediary between local businessmen and the poor, between his neighbors and the electricity ministry, and, of course, between food-cart owners and the registration bureau. If your mother-in-law needed special medical care, he could get you into the top government-run hospital. If you had a problem at a nearby police station, he knew the officers. If there was a street fight, his “men”about 30–40 toughs, depending on the eveningtook care of it. And if street combatants didn’t accept his intervention? Well, that never happened. “They know that if they don’t respect me, I’ll take it personally,” he darkly boasts……
My Take – So what’s changed? This is the same kind of thuggish corruption that’s existed in Egypt from time immemorial.  We need to understand the Middle East will never adopt anything that even remotely resembles democracy as we in the U.S. understand it.  American democracy is unique in all of the world’s history.  Although Canada and Australia have systems which are first cousins to American democracy, the very concept of American democracy on an intellectual, emotional and practical level is totally alien to most of the rest of the world, including Europe.   Many of these countries are still medieval tribal societies formed around a religion that detests individuality or individual rights.  Islam means “submission” and they take it seriously. We really do need to get that!

Seeds of Doubt - An activist’s controversial crusade against genetically modified crops. Early this spring, the Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva led an unusual pilgrimage across southern Europe. Beginning in Greece, with the international Pan-Hellenic Exchange of Local Seed Varieties Festival, which celebrated the virtues of traditional agriculture, Shiva and an entourage of followers crossed the Adriatic and travelled by bus up the boot of Italy, to Florence, where she spoke at the Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival. After a short planning meeting in Genoa, the caravan rolled on to the South of France, ending in Le Mas d’Azil, just in time to celebrate International Days of the Seed. Shiva’s fiery opposition to globalization and to the use of genetically modified crops has made her a hero to anti-G.M.O. activists everywhere. The purpose of the trip through Europe, she had told me a few weeks earlier, was to focus attention there on “the voices of those who want their agriculture to be free of poison and G.M.O.s."

The Rich Allure of a Peasant Champion - Shiva, for those unfamiliar with the Indian environmentalist, is best known for her anti-GMO activism, including claims she has popularized that myself and other journalists have inspected closely in recent years. The most thorough examination of Shiva’s activism was done several months ago by Michael Specter in The New Yorker. Shiva is not accustomed to being challenged by journalists. She has grown used to the “rock star” treatment accorded to her by Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman, and her many other admirers in the media. Perhaps that’s why Shiva was especially perturbed at Specter’s feature article (which science journalism professionals lauded), registering numerous objections that New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick soundly rebuttedSo when I heard that Shiva was again speaking at ABC Carpet’s Manhattan store this week, I thought it would be interesting to hear what she had to say about biotechnology and agriculture. Would she repeat the same claims that have already been demonstrably debunked, such as the one about Monsanto’s GMO cotton driving a quarter million Indian farmers to suicide? Would she address the nagging doubts about her truthfulness raised by Specter in his piece?....

Want better sperm? Eat more pesticides - In 2012, a report claimed that French men were less manly – their sperm counts declined 30% since 1985, it found. A speculative comment by a researcher, that maybe it was ‘endocrine disruptors’, led environmentalists to declare that pesticides were turning French men into slightly less manly French men. There was no evidence for it, but activists often look for problems to match to their solution so they jumped on the result. Anti-agriculture people blamed pesticides, anti-smoking people blamed cigarettes, anti-alcohol people blamed too much wine, etc.  It may be they had lost sperm count because they ate too many vegetables. Or at least vegetables with not enough pesticides....
 
First-Ever EPA Chief may have Lied to Congress  - Environmentalist attempts to showcase Republican support for "climate action" this summer may be backfiring because of one former political appointee. The Environmental Protection Agency's first-ever chief administrator may have lied to a congressional committee about his ties to environmental groups. William Ruckelshaus was appointed to be the EPA's first administrator in 1970. He quickly gained renown among environmentalists for banning the chemical DDT, which he said could cause cancer. In June, Ruckelshaus along with three other former Republican-appointed EPA chiefs, were brought before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to testify on the urgent need to address global warming….. But while the hearing itself was a pretty boilerplate affair, the questions posed by senators for Ruckelshaus to answer in writing after the hearing have raised some questions. Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter asked Ruckelshaus about his connections to environmental groups while he was heading the EPA under President Richard Nixon in the 1970s…..“In what year did you first start fundraising for the Environmental Defense Fund? And how much money in total would you estimate you’ve helped raise for EDF?” Vitter asked. “I have never raised money for EDF,” Ruckelshaus wrote back. “Were you associated with any environmental organization at the time of your [DDT] decision?” Vitter pressed. “No, and never while at EPA,” Ruckelshaus responded......

My Take - For those who and have been researching and writing about the lies regarding DDT - this isn't anything new. I’ve written extensively on this subject.  However, this story can't be repeated enough since the environmental movement constantly repeats the same debunked lies it has always foisted on the public, with the help of every mainstream media outlet in the world. As for those information deliverers who don’t help promote greenie claptrap but refuse to attack it there can only be two alternatives. It's because they believe it, or are afraid….well, as a result…..as information deliverers, they must share the guilt for the outcome of these 'environmental' policies because of their silence.  One more thing! The left understands the impact of iconic slogans much better than the right, so let’s try one of their slogans on this. Rachel Carson lied and people died.  Either EPA, Ruckelshaus or Nixon can easily be substituted since they’re all equally guilty of mass murder, and are all interchangeable for this slogan.




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