Project Baseline: See Evolution In Action

Sarah Laskow goes behind the ambitious effort to save, store and then plant three million seeds to see evolution in action, for Atlas Obscura:

Not so long ago, the seeds bagged and stuffed into the fridge of Steven Franks’ lab were starting their lives in a field or a meadow or on the side of the road, somewhere along the East Coast. Now they are destined for a seed bank in Colorado, where they may be taking a very long nap, of 10, 20, even 50 years.

Photo: 3268zauber (CC)

Photo: 3268zauber (CC)

 

Then, warmed up, planted in a bit of soil, they will be brought back to life. They will be raised alongside their descendants, the exact same species of plants, collected from the same exact same spots where these started their lives. Only, most likely, those descendants will be different in some way. Having survived for years out in the world, with the climate changing, they will have evolved in response.

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Corporate Capitalism Is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State

Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Chris Hedges explores corporate capitalism’s role in America’s prison state.

Chris Hedges via Common Dreams:

Our national conversation on race and crime is based on a fiction. It is the fiction that the organs of internal security, especially the judiciary and the police, can be adjusted, modernized or professionalized to make possible a post-racial America. We discuss issues of race while ignoring the economic, bureaucratic and political systems of exploitation—all of it legal and built into the ruling apparatus—that are the true engines of racism and white supremacy. No discussion of race is possible without a discussion of capitalism and class. And until that discussion takes place, despite all the proposed reforms to the criminal justice system, the state will continue to murder and imprison poor people of color with impunity.

More training, body cameras, community policing, the hiring of more minorities as police officers, a better probation service and more equitable fines will not blunt the indiscriminate use of lethal force or reduce the mass incarceration that destroys the lives of the poor.

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The oceans can’t take any more: Fundamental change in oceans predicted

PAk DocK (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

PAk DocK (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Alfred Wegener Institute via ScienceDaily:

Our oceans need an immediate and substantial reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. If that doesn’t happen, we could see far-reaching and largely irreversible impacts on marine ecosystems, which would especially be felt in developing countries. That’s the conclusion of a new review study published today in the journal Science. In the study, the research team from the Ocean 2015 initiative assesses the latest findings on the risks that climate change poses for our oceans, and demonstrates how fundamentally marine ecosystems are likely to change if human beings continue to produce just as much greenhouse gases as before.

Since the pre-industrial era, the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has risen from 278 to 400 ppm (parts per million) — a 40 percent increase that has produced massive changes in the oceans. “To date, the oceans have essentially been the planet’s refrigerator and carbon dioxide storage locker.

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MasterCard Using Face Recognition Selfies To Approve Purchases

MasterCard credit card

Photo: Håkan Dahlström (CC)

How could this possibly go wrong? Mastercard is taking the “selfie” obsession to new heights with its plan to use facial recognition technology to approve purchases via selfies, as reported by CNN Money:

This fall, MasterCard will start experimenting with a new program: approving online purchases with a facial scan.

At checkout, you’ll be asked to hold up your phone and snap a photo. MasterCard’s thinking? It’s easier than remembering a password.

“The new generation, which is into selfies … I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it,” said Ajay Bhalla, who’s in charge of coming up with innovative solutions for MasterCard’s security challenges.
This is MasterCard’s way of cutting down fraud.

Currently, customers can set up something called “SecureCode,” which requires a password when shopping online. This stops credit-card-number-stealing hackers from actually using your card on the Web. It was used in 3 billion transactions last year, the company said.

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The Fight Over Obamacare Was a Giant Political Charade

Sonali Kolhatkar writes at Truthdig:

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 25 that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) subsidies for health insurance for the poor were indeed constitutional, liberals cheered. The last-ditch attempt by the right to gut President Obama’s signature act failed. In his weekly address, Obama triumphantly announced that “after more than fifty votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law; after a Presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law; after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, we can now say this for certain: the Affordable Care Act still stands, it is working, and it is here to stay.”

Pete Souza - President Obama Signs Health Insurance Legislation Into Law. (CC)

Pete Souza – President Obama Signs Health Insurance Legislation Into Law. (CC)

The case at the heart of the ruling was King v. Burwell, a legal challenge that was based on a technicality. The Los Angeles Times explained that legal experts saw it “as a fatuous misreading of the law and a tortured effort to bend the process of statutory interpretation for ideological ends.” But the constant attacks on the ACA, including this last attempt, were less ideological than political, and in the end, the Supreme Court ruling was an affirmation of the supremacy of capitalism over human needs.

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Is Fukushima Getting Worse?

Robert Hunziker writes at CounterPunch:

The Fukushima multiple nuclear disasters continue spewing out hot stuff like there’s no tomorrow. By all appearances, it is getting worse, out-of-control nuclear meltdowns.

On June 19th Tepco reported the highest-ever readings of strontium-90 outside of the Fukushima plant ports. The readings were 1,000,000 Bq/m3 of strontium-90 at two locations near water intakes for Reactors 3 and 4. Tepco has not been able to explain the spike up in readings. The prior highest readings were 700,000 Bq/m3. (Source here).

Photo: Abasaa (CC)

Photo: Abasaa (CC)

Strontium-90 is a byproduct of nuclear reactors or during the explosion of nuclear weapons, e.g., it is considered the most dangerous component of radioactive fallout from a nuclear weapon (Source: HyperPhysics, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Georgia State University). It is a cancer-causing substance because it damages genetic material (DNA) in cells. Strontium-90 is not found in nature. It’s a byproduct of the nuclear world of today, e.g., strontium-90 was only recently discovered, as of August 2014, for the first time ever, by the Vermont Health Department in ground water at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (Source here).

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Researchers Plan for Global Armageddon Threats

Scared that asteroids are going to  destroy Earth? Don’t worry, people are on it, per USA Today:

It’s no ordinary meeting when a bad decision could spell global catastrophe.

For the experts assembled at a conference hall in Italy this spring, the choices were agonizing. A gigantic space rock was bearing down on Earth. If it slammed into the planet, it could damage an area the size of Ireland. But a campaign to push the rock, known as an asteroid, off course could shatter it, possibly widening the devastation, if not done correctly,

In this artist's concept, an astronaut performs a tethering maneuver at an asteroid. The Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) is close by, with the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) docked to a habitat in the background. (NASA)

In this artist’s concept, an astronaut performs a tethering maneuver at an asteroid. The Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) is close by, with the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) docked to a habitat in the background. (NASA)

 

The officials opted to shift the monster’s path, and it prevented unfathomable devastation. There was just one small problem: a chunk of the asteroid broke away and made a beeline for Bangladesh.

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TAXI Driver: San Francisco (Time-Lapse VIDEO)

My cabbie day time-lapsed. 10 hours in 10 minutes, complete w/ original music (by moi) and narration…

Monday

The infamous Milford is working the office and throws me 744, a Camry he boasts as “new” with a 5 o’ clock medallion. I throw him a five and Milford looks disappointed and expectant. I just ignore it. Why am I gonna tip him more for this?

I head out to the lot, prep the cab, and report some bumper marks over the radio to cover my ass – then proceed to leave the lot. But before I can, The Dutchman (a mellow, eccentric, 64 year-old driver who takes pride in looking 50 and lives 2 hours away in the Santa Cruz mountains where he has local girls trained as his personal prostitutes) has me roll down my window and asks where I’m going. I ask him where he’s going, if he needs a ride.… Read the rest

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The Americans are coming! Some in a Texas county fear an Obama-led U.S. military invasion

Remember all the fuss about JADE HELM 15? Well some Texans aren’t buying the claims of innocence from the Federal Government, per the Washington Post:

 The office of the Bastrop County Republican Party is in an old lumber mill on Main Street, with peeling brown paint and a sign out front that captures the party’s feelings about the Obama administration: “WISE UP AMERICA!”

640px-Texas_in_United_States.svg

Inside, county Chairman Albert Ellison pulled out a yellow legal pad on which he had handwritten page after page of reasons why many Texans distrust President Obama, including the fact that, “in the minds of some, he was raised by communists and mentored by terrorists.”

So it should come as no surprise, Ellison said, that as the U.S. military prepares to launch one of the largest training exercises in history later this month, many Bastrop residents might suspect a secret Obama plot to spy on them, confiscate their guns and ultimately establish martial law in one of America’s proudly free conservative states.

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Green Party Youth Leader ‘Gives Up’ and Goes to Work for an Oil Company

Michael Dewar, former Canadian Green Party youth leader and candidate, says that he has given up caring about the environment, and taken a lucrative position working in the tar sands of northern Alberta.

In an interview on the Srsly Wrong podcast back in August 2014, Dewar spoke about his conversion to Libertarian Capitalism, and a thoroughly self-interested ideology, saying that “You might think you are helping out by putting your energy to the cause of helping other people, but in fact you are just wasting your time.”

Dewar became exhausted as his political efforts seemed to yield no effect, and expressed his belief that catastrophic climate change was now unavoidable. He said he has adopted a lifestyle dubbed ‘Partyboat Nihilism,’ which holds that human beings face inevitable extinction, and we must adopt a hedonistic, selfish lifestyle to make the best of it.

However, as jobs in the oilfield have become more scarce due to dropping Saudi Arabian oil prices, Mike Dewar has found himself finding fewer and fewer opportunities for work.… Read the rest

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