‘They’re Right’: Citing Climate, Prosecutor Drops Charges Against Coal Blockaders

Ken Ward (left) and Jay O’Hara on the boat they used to block the delivery of 40,000 tons of coal to a power plant in Somerset. (Photo: 350Mass)

Ken Ward (left) and Jay O’Hara on the boat they used to block the delivery of 40,000 tons of coal to a power plant in Somerset. (Photo: 350Mass)

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

A local district attorney in Massachusetts surprised parties on all sides on Monday after he sided with two climate justice activists who employed a “necessity defense” to justify their use of a small lobster boat to block the path of an enormous coal freighter trying to dock at the Brayton Point Power Station in the town of Somerset last year.

Several serious charges were brought against two men, Jay O’Hara and Ken Ward, for their attempt to wedge their boat, the Henry David T., between the dock and an approaching coal freighter, the Energy Enterprise, on May 13, 2013. (Read Common Dreams original reporting on the action here.)

For the brazen act of civil disobedience both O’Hara and Ward faced many thousands of dollars in fines and as much as two years in jail, but it was Bristol County DA Sam Sutter who decided that all charges in the case would be dropped after he determined that their expressed purpose—to put an end to the carbon-spewing pollution directly related to the current climate change crisis—was an adequate and defensible position.  Sutter dropped all charges against the two.

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Scotland, Sovereignty and Corporations

Flag_of_Scotland_(navy_blue).svg

David Morris writes at Common Dreams:

Since 1945 the number of nations has soared from about 60 to more than 180. The first wave of new sovereign states came with the decolonization movement of the 1960s and 1970s; the second in the early 1990s with the break-up of the Soviet Union. If Scotland votes for independence it may ignite a third wave. Dozens of would-be nations are waiting in the wings: Wales, Catalonia, Flanders, Breton, the list is long.

In 1957 in his classic book The Breakdown of Nations economist and political scientist Leopold Kohr persuasively and rigorously argued that small nations are the natural order having been throughout history the engines for enlightenment, innovation, mutual aid and the arts. The large nation state, he argued is not a reflection of improved efficiency but of superior force:

It is the great powers which lack the real basis of existence and are without autochthonous, self-sustaining sources of strength.

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How the films you’ve seen influence your choice of dog

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Flora Lisica, The Conversation

Did watching 101 Dalmatians instill you with a burning desire to fill your home with dozens of monochrome puppies? A new study suggests that may often be the case. The research suggests that all those great canine characters in films have been a prominent influence on the popularity of a breed among dog owners.

The impact of 29 films released in the United States was examined, each featuring a different dog breed. Classics such as The Wizard of Oz (1939), Lady and the Tramp (1955), The Fox and the Hound (1981) and Beethoven (1992) were all judged to have influenced people’s choice of dogs. The study traces the popularity of the featured breeds for up to ten years after the film’s release.

The authors used the records of the American Kennel Club, which has been recording the numbers of registration for each dog breed since 1927, and keeps the largest such dog registry in the world.… Read the rest

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Science Says the Universe Could Be a Hologram, Computer Program, Black Hole or Bubble

What is the Universe? A hard question to answer , no doubt, but Smithsonian Magazine suggests there are ways to check:

The questions are as big as the universe and (almost) as old as time: Where did I come from, and why am I here? That may sound like a query for a philosopher, but if you crave a more scientific response, try asking a cosmologist.

This branch of physics is hard at work trying to decode the nature of reality by matching mathematical theories with a bevy of evidence. Today most cosmologists think that the universe was created during the big bang about 13.8 billion years ago, and it is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The cosmos is woven into a fabric we call space-time, which is embroidered with a cosmic web of brilliant galaxies and invisible dark matter.

It sounds a little strange, but piles of pictures, experimental data and models compiled over decades can back up this description.

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Growing global conflict a bonanza for arms makers

Hellfire missile maker Lockheed-Martin has been among the defence companies to experience share price gains. Photo: US Air Force

Hellfire missile maker Lockheed-Martin has been among the defence companies to experience share price gains. Photo: US Air Force

via The Sydney Morning Herald:

Geopolitical instability has left many global corporations jittery.

But the world’s biggest arms producers are doing well, with shares of the top 12 publicly listed firms – based on a list by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute – rising by almost 30 per cent on average in the last year.

Stock price data on the 12 companies reveal most have benefitted in a year in which the number of conflict zones in Europe, the Middle East and Africa has risen.

While some companies have under-performed during the period, many have risen by more than 50 per cent.

The average share rise of 30 per cent compares to a 9.3 per cent gain by the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The top 12 listed arms producers include companies such as Boeing, which makes commercial aircraft as well as defence and missile systems.

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“Do What You Love” is Terrible Advice for Creative People

Artist at Work 2 by enjosmith via Flickr. CC by 2.0

Artist at Work 2 by enjosmith via Flickr. CC by 2.0

I’m curious to see what everyone here thinks about this.

via Medium:

Is there a more common piece of career advice today than “do what you love?” I’ve heard it for ages. I certainly think that being in a bad job can be soul-crushing experience, and that liking your work lightens your life considerably.

But in the course of studying the lives of creative people, I’ve come to the ironic conclusion that for writers, artists, and just about everyone, “do what you love” is actually terrible advice.

Here’s what’s wrong with it: it’s unnecessary.

The problem with the “do what you love” mantra is in how we follow it, which is with a single-mindedness that carries unnecessary risk. We interpret “do what you love” to mean “Do only what you love and nothing else,” and the implication of that is that if you don’t practice this kind of creative monogamy, you’re being untrue to yourself.

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Kentucky man admits to selling fraudulent fertility kits

Zavos_with_egg

via Reuters:

(Reuters) – A Kentucky man, who made international news for saying he was trying to clone humans, must close or sell his business after pleading guilty to a federal charge that he misled customers about in-home fertility kits, according to court documents.

Panayiotis Zavos faces up to a year in prison when he is sentenced in January on the misdemeanor charge. His attorney, Jarrod J. Beck, said on Friday he hopes his client will avoid prison.

Zavos and his company, Zavos Diagnostic Laboratories, Inc., or ZDL, both pleaded guilty on Thursday to a misdemeanor as part of a plea agreement.

ZDL promoted a home conception kit that it claimed was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when it was not, according to the plea agreement. Through April 2010, Zavos and his company made nearly $290,000 in sales from the fraudulent kits.

The federal charges were not related to his cloning work.

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The Einstellung Effect Proves That a Good Idea Can Be A Very Bad Idea

Chess Set by Dan Zen via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Chess Set by Dan Zen via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Some food for thought.

via io9:

The perfect is the enemy of the good. We know that phrase very well. What the Einstellung Effect proves is the good can be a real enemy of the even better. When we have a solution that’s good, we can’t begin to think about a better one.

The seeming inability to come up with a better solution is called the Einstellung Effect. It’s not the product of simple laziness. Once people see a possible solution in their heads, they have a really tough time approaching the problem from a fresh perspective. Experts become less skilled than novices. At least, that’s what happens some of the time.

Another study found that chess players become less flexible and prone to settle for sub-optimal solutions as they gain expertise. Get above a certain level of expertise, though, and people are less and less prone to fall for the Einstellung Effect.

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5am Film Series: Butter Fingers

This was submitted to me via the Disinfo Contact Form.

Butter Fingers from J-Scott on Vimeo.

“Butter Fingers” explores some of the more unique items you might not want to let slip through your fingers. Let’s face it, if you can’t relate to dropping at least a handful of the items pictured, then you’re either utilizing duct-tape to it’s fullest potential or it was you who dropped the grenade. Condolences.

Creating “Butter Fingers” was no easy task and entirely a labor of love for the better part of 2 years. Finding time during evenings and weekends, until all hours of the morning occasionally, holidays etc. until the ground was filled with all the bits and pieces of unlucky items.

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Yoga helps war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Flora Lisica, The Conversation

It’s no secret that yoga can aid mental well-being. What is more, it can help soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to new research.

Some of the most damaging consequences of seeing combat can happen in the mind. Of the 2.3m American veterans who returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, up to 20% go on to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point. In a report published by the US Department of Veterans Affairs at least 22 American veterans take their lives every day.

The effects of PTSD can include intrusive memories, heightened anxiety and personality changes. Individuals can also experience hyper-arousal, where they are easily startled, feel “jumpy” and constantly on guard. Standard current treatment for PTSD generally involves prescriptions for antidepressants and psychotherapy, with mixed results.… Read the rest

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