Extinction is key to terrestrial vertebrate diversity, new research reveals

Martin Heigan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Martin Heigan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

University of Lincoln via ScienceDaily:

Periods of high extinction on Earth, rather than evolutionary adaptations, may have been a key driver in the diversification of amniotes (today’s dominant land vertebrates, including reptiles, birds, and mammals), according to new research published in Scientific Reports.

The new study reveals that mass extinctions among some groups of amniotes coincide with numerous and large diversifications in other closely related groups.

Conducted by scientists from the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany, and the University of Lincoln, UK, the research challenges commonly held views that support a relationship between the evolution of “key innovations” in a group and the rapid increase in its number of species. The researchers behind the new study suggest the evidence for such a relationship has only ever been circumstantial.

The new study examined the issue of adaptive radiations among early amniotes, from 315 to 200 million years ago.

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Donald Trump Just Going to Keep Saying He Saw New Jersey Muslims Celebrating 9/11

Donald Trump has absolutely no shame (in case you hadn’t realized that long ago). New York Magazine summarizes his fabricated 9/11 story:

Donald Trump’s claim that “thousands” of New Jersey Muslims went out and celebrated the September 11th attacks has been thoroughly debunked, but that’s not going to stop him from insisting that it happened.

Photo: Gage Skidmore (CC)

Photo: Gage Skidmore (CC)


On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd gave Trump yet another opportunity to admit that he did not, in fact, see footage of people “on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations … cheering as the [World Trade Center] came down.” “This didn’t happen in New Jersey,” said Todd at one point. “You’re running for president of the United States. Your words matter. Truthfulness matters. Fact-based stuff matters.”

But the Republican front-runner stuck to his guns: “I saw it on television. So did many other people.

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Yesterday’s Parties: How the LSE Funded the Stones & Tom Driberg Courted Mick Jagger

Marianne Faithfull met Mick Jagger sometime at the start of her music career in 1964-5, and he wrote her first hit, “As Tears Goes By” (though they didn’t become a couple until 1966). Jagger was just fresh out of the (Fabian) London School of Economics, having got a grant to study there in late 1961 and staying on through to 1963. This two-year period was the same period in which the Stones grew into a known act, soon after to become “the vanguard of British rock and roll.” Before this, Jagger had been working in a psychiatric institution called Bexley Hospital, in the summer of 1961, where, by his own account, he learned invaluable lessons about human psychology, as well as losing his virginity to a nurse!

According to one story, Jagger ran into old schoolmate Keith Richards “coincidentally” on a train platform in 1961, on his way to LSE, and the rest is history.… Read the rest

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France Puts 24 Environmental Activists Under House Arrest Because They Might Protest at Climate Summit


Christian Hartmann writes, via Sputnik International:

The two-week COP21 open its doors only Monday but French law enforcement has already placed twenty-four environmental activists under house arrest in line with the country’s emergency laws which were extended for three more months after the Paris atrocities.

After Hollande claimed a state of emergency in France, police don’t need a judicial decision to put suspects under arrest, search homes and conduct raids at night.

But unsuspecting climate activists, who actively demonstrate every time France hosts environmental summits, were surprised to find themselves suspect after police officers came to arrest them. On Thursday, police handed Amelie and five her flat mates an order that restricts their liberty of movement in western city of  Rennes until 12 of December, the same day the Paris summit will close its doors.

“They entered the apartment with shotguns and assault rifles. It was quite violent. They pinned us to the ground,” said Amélie, a young barmaid who did not wish to give her full name.

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Gravy, With a Side of Cancer


Thanksgiving week is usually slow. Reeeeel s l   o   w   .   .     .

Thanksgiving proper, Citizen’s Cab lowers the gate (cab rental) for us drivers down from $91 to $61, as an act of mercy. A cabbie might gamble on coming into work early on Thanksgiving to drive a fare or two to the airport; people trying to make it somewhere around the country before turkey and the big game. Or that cabbie might just be spinning his or her wheels empty until well after noon, after the locals have long walked home from their neighborhood coffee joints and suddenly found themselves running late to whatever friend’s house with their thrown-together sweet potato casserole with marshmallows pot luck.

This year I chose to sleep in… until Black Friday.

But it will definitely be slow this morning, too, until the day wakes up for shopping and chemo.


I’ve just rolled-in to Citizen’s Cab.… Read the rest

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Israel To Coordinate With Google, YouTube, To Censor Palestinian Videos Of Conflict

redsoul300 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

More corruption. More censorship.

Saed Bannoura via AlterNet:

Israeli daily Maariv said Hotovely will be working with Google and YouTube officials in a joint mechanism that will be in charge of “monitoring and preventing” any publication of materials deemed by Tel Aviv to be “inflammatory.”

Hotovely announced in a Hebrew-only press release that she met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and Google’s Director of Public Policy, Jennifer Oztzistzki, at Google’s Silicon Valley Offices.

Hotovely said that she received a comprehensive review mechanism for companies to monitor the films that allegedly incite violence, claiming that the supposed ‘incitement videos’ drive young children to go out and stab: “The attacks daily in Israel are the result of youths and children incited by the education system and the social networks, this is a daily war of incitement.”

She said that Google agreed to strengthen the bilateral relations with Israel’s Foreign Ministry, and build a mechanism of “collaborative work” that would make both parties partners in monitoring the published materials and censoring them.

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Your Fingerprint Is All Someone Needs to Know You Used Cocaine

“We can distinguish between cocaine having been touched,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Melanie Bailey, told Motherboard, “and cocaine having been ingested.”

Graham Templeton via Motherboard:

Call it a line detector—law enforcement agencies may soon have a way to test for cocaine use through a quick, non-invasive fingerprinting technology.

Rather than looking for trace amounts of cocaine itself, a new test developed by a team of researchers led by the University of Surrey looks for the products of cocaine metabolism. When the body breaks down cocaine, it produces benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine which are detectable in blood, urine—and even the sweat.

“We can distinguish between cocaine having been touched,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Melanie Bailey, told Motherboard, “and cocaine having been ingested.” This prevents false positives, which are very possible in a society where a majority of bank notes and some other common objects hold detectable amounts of cocaine and other illicit substances.

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“The White People,” by Arthur Machen

“Sorcery and sanctity,” said Ambrose, “these are the only realities. Each is an ecstasy, a withdrawal from common life…” [Etext]


If you’re a fan of H.P. Lovecraft but have never heard of Arthur Machen, then you’re in for a treat. A Welsh author, actor, and practicing member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Machen’s weird fiction was a major influence upon Lovecraft, who pays homage to him by name in The Call of Cthulhu. Lovecraft, in fact, regarded him as “a Titan—perhaps the greatest living author.” “There is in Machen,” he wrote, “an ecstasy of fear that all other living men are too obtuse or timid to capture, and that even Poe failed to envisage in all its starkest abnormality.” 

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The Stealth Corporate Takeover of the Supreme Court

Let’s face it, 21st century America is run for the benefit of corporations, so a corporate takeover of the Supreme Court shouldn’t be surprising. The New Republic argues it has already happened:

In August 1971, a prominent corporate lawyer from Richmond, Virginia, named Lewis F. Powell Jr. authored a “Confidential Memorandum” to the United States Chamber of Commerce. Powell observed that “with an activist-minded Supreme Court, the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic, and political change.” He urged the Chamber to replicate game-changing litigation victories by “[l]abor unions, civil rights groups,” and “public interest law firms,” which often came “at business’s expense.” Six years later, with Powell himself having been appointed to the Supreme Court by President Richard Nixon, the Chamber created a “voice of business in the courts,” the National Chamber Litigation Center.


Over the past month, the Supreme Court heard three cases that show how radically Powell’s strategy has tilted the law business’s way—more so than he could have imagined, or even favored.

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