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Apr 26, 2017, 01:52 PM
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 on: Apr 24, 2017, 04:39 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Breakthroughs arise from a precise mix of old and new knowledge, say scientists

Analysis of millions of studies and patents found that the most influential science draws a clear line to the work of previous generations of scientists, a pattern that was 'nearly universal in all branches of science and technology.'   

Eoin O'Carroll
CS Monitor
April 24, 2017 —"If I have seen further," wrote Isaac Newton in a 1676 letter to Robert Hooke about studying the nature of light, "it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Now, a study of nearly 30 million research papers and more than 5 million patents offers clues as to where more of these giants might be lurking.

A paper published by researchers at Northwestern University's Institute on Complex Systems in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday reveals that the most-cited papers rely on a specific mix of old and new research that the authors say is "nearly universal in all branches of science and technology."

The study addresses a question that lies at the heart of the scholarly enterprise: Today's research constitutes the basic building blocks for tomorrow's discoveries, but what should the composition of those blocks be? The findings point to ways to improve how researchers can assemble the richest combination of knowledge on a topic, and may also reveal deeper patterns in how humanity acquires knowledge.

"We're very interested in trying to understand where knowledge comes from, particularly breakthroughs –  these insights in science and technology that are the ones really move the needle in terms of people's thinking," says Brian Uzzi, a professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and a co-author of the paper.

To find out, the researchers gathered data on citations. "What do scientists and scholars do when they start a new project or work on a new idea?" asks lead author Satyam Mukherjee, now a professor at the Indian Institute of Management Udaipur. "The first thing we do is to perform a literature review and look for related works in the past and also in recent times."

The researchers examined all 28,426,345 scientific papers in the Web of Science, an indexing service for research papers in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities, from 1945 to 2013, and all 5,382,833 US patents granted between 1950 and 2010. They found that the papers and patents with the highest impact, defined as garnering the top 5 percent of citations in their field, tended to cite relatively new information, but with a long, diminishing tail into past work.

"Our research indicates that one needs to see the entire arc of a given idea or concept over time to use it most effectively in one's own work," says Professor Mukherjee.

The researchers were surprised by their findings' universality. The sweet spot – or "hotspot," as the researchers call it – between old and new research held for papers in physics, gender studies, and everything in between, from the postwar era to the present.

"I was expecting that the patterns would vary drastically by time period and academic field," says mathematician Daniel Romero, now an assistant professor at the University of Michigan's School of Information, who worked on the study as part of a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern. "After all, different fields have different norms for how they cite other work."

The findings address what philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn famously called "the essential tension" between tradition and innovation in scientific research. "It says something very deep about where you want to look for information," says Professor Uzzi. "And also something very deep about how knowledge itself matures through time."

Mark Hannah, an assistant professor in Arizona State University's English department who specializes in cross-disciplinary communication in the sciences, suggests that the hotspot may emerge from efforts to reconcile new modes of thought with older ones.

"You're seeing a balancing between legacy language and emerging language," says Professor Hannah, who was not affiliated with the study. "They're doing the work of thinking how those studies come together."

The study's authors also found that scientists who worked collaboratively were more likely to rely on research within the knowledge hotspot than those who worked alone, a finding that came as no surprise to Anita Woolley, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business who specializes in collective intelligence. "Having a team work on it is what leads them to cite the sufficient variety of references," she says "If you have a team you are more likely to have a diversity of different knowledge and perspectives."

"When you're working with collaborators, you're forced to explain yourself more," says Hannah. "You're forced to think through and anticipate how your use of language may not be well understood or may create a barrier for readers."

The findings may point to ways to improve the technology that scientists and other scholars use to search for information, an increasingly pressing need amid what Uzzi calls the "absolute explosion in the amount of information that's created every single day."

Professor Woolley mentions Google Scholar, a free search engine for academic publishing whose slogan is: "Stand on the shoulders of giants."

"Usually they give you some mix of what's the highest cited but also what's recent," says Woolley. "Definitely it tends to make the rich get richer in the citations race, because they come up first. But it also probably biases you toward fairly recent things as well."

The discovery of this hotspot may point to ways search engines could be improved: "Imagine if you were to develop a search engine that could deliver information in a way that it grabs this hotspot of knowledge," says Uzzi. "And if you can do that, you'd be pointing people from the get-go to the place in the store of knowledge where they are most likely to find the building blocks of tomorrow's ideas. That would solve a tremendous amount of wasted-time problems."

But Sidney Redner, a physicist at the Santa Fe Institute who specializes in citation statistics, cautions that the correlations uncovered by Mukherjee and his colleagues, which he calls a "cool observation," could be misconstrued. "I think there's potential for misuse of this kind of stuff," he says, noting that researchers often cite papers for the purpose of refuting them. "There's no contextual information in citations."

"That's what worries me about the whole field of citation studies is that it gets misused by administrators," says Professor Redner. "If I were trying to use this as a tenure-decision mechanism, I would be very worried."

Leveraging the power of the hotspot offers may require researchers be more mindful in supplying such context to their citations.

"It comes back to us as scholars and us as researchers to be clear about the ways we conduct our research and the ways that we use our sources, so that we are making visible our selections and our rationale, so that we don't become subject to an algorithm," says Hannah. "It's challenging work, but it's something we're prepared to do."

 on: Apr 24, 2017, 04:37 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
March for Science puts Earth Day focus on global opposition to Shitstain Trump

    More than 600 marches held as organizers say science ‘under attack’  

Members of the Union for Concerned Scientists pose for photographs with Muppet character Beaker in front of the White House before heading to the National Mall for the March for Science on Saturday in Washington DC.

Oliver Milman in Washington
Saturday 22 April 2017 18.23 BST

Hundreds of thousands of climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers and other supporters of science rallied in marches around the world on Saturday, in an attempt to bolster scientists’ increasingly precarious status with politicians.

The main March for Science event was held in Washington DC, where organizers made plans for up to 150,000 people to flock to the national mall, although somewhat fewer than that figure braved the rain to attend. Marchers held a range of signs. Some attacked Donald Trump, depicting the president as an ostrich with his head in the sand or bearing the words: “What do Trump and atoms have in common? They make up everything.”

More than 600 marches took place around the world, on every continent bar Antarctica, in events that coincided with Earth Day.

The marches, the first of their kind, were officially non-political. They were, however, conceived by three US-based researchers – Caroline Weinberg, Valorie Aquino and Jonathan Berman – after Trump’s inauguration. Organizers have said science is “under attack” from the Trump administration and many protesters excoriated the president with signs that likened him to a dangerous orange toxin or disparaged his now defunct university.

Trump released a statement that insisted his administration was committed to preserving the “awe-inspiring beauty” of America, while protecting jobs.

“Rigorous science is critical to my administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection,” Trump said. “My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.

“As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”

    There’s very low morale among government scientists because science is under assault from this administration
    Michael Mann

The US marches were some of the last to take place, following hundreds across the world. A common theme among protesters was a worry that politicians have rejected science-based policies.

“I’m encouraged by the marches I’ve seen already taking place around the world,” said Rush Holt, a former congressman and head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “For generations scientists have been reluctant to be in the public square. There is a lot of concern.”

Speakers in Washington included Christiana Figueres, the former United Nations climate chief, and climate scientist Michael Mann. Hundreds of scientific institutions, environmental groups and union groups partnered with the march.

“There’s very low morale among government scientists because science is under assault from this administration,” Mann told the Guardian. “That being said, events like this will lift the spirits of scientists. They are finding a voice.”

Pharmaceutical companies, concerned about the impact on research talent of Trump’s attempts to ban or restrict travel from certain Muslim-majority countries, risked his wrath by supporting the march. In a video, Pfizer said it was “proud to stand behind our scientists”.

Trump has galvanized scientists with his comments about climate change, which he has called a “hoax”, as well as questions about whether vaccines are safe and threats to cut funding to universities that displease him.

The White House’s recent budget proposal would remove around $7bn in science funding, with the National Institutes of Health, which funds medical research, bearing much of the pain. Earth sciences, ranging from weather satellites to marine research to coastal preservation, are also lined up for severe cuts.

Climate change was at the heart of the March for Science, spurred on by dismissals of the issue by Trump and his top advisers. The budget director, Mick Mulvaney, has said climate research is a “waste of your money”. Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has erroneously denied that carbon dioxide is a primary driver of global warming.

Other areas of science have been all but abandoned. The president has yet to nominate administrators for Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nor to appoint his own science adviser.

John Holdren, science adviser during Barack Obama’s presidency, said Trump had “shown no indication of awareness of the role of science and the role of science in government”.

“Scientists are understanding that they have to become activists, that they have to speak up, that they have to be heard,” he said. “The message isn’t, ‘Please save our jobs.’ Scientists would be in another line of work if they were just interested in their salaries. If funding for science is slashed, all of society will lose out.”

The march has proved controversial within the science community, which is typically reluctant to be overtly political. Some scientists have raised concerns that the marches will invite attacks by Trump and his supporters, or will fail to convince the public that science has inherent value.

But several famous voices have joined the cause. “Science has always been political but we don’t want science to be partisan,” Bill Nye, a prominent engineer and TV personality, told the Guardian.

“Objective truths have become set aside and diminished and lawmakers are acting like a strong belief in something is as valid as careful peer review.”

Nye said science was in a “dangerous place” but hoped the march would help nudge Trump to a more amenable position.

“The president changes his mind quite frequently,” he said. “We want to influence the people who influence him. That’s our goal for the march.”

Leland Melvin, a former Nasa astronaut who participated in two missions, criticized the administration’s plans to eliminate Nasa’s education budget.

“Doing that would keep people like me from getting a master’s or PhD,” he said. “If we want brown people and women getting these degrees and get them involved in science, we have to fund it. The administration needs to get its head out of the sand.”

Cristian Samper, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the march aimed “to celebrate science, not to politicize it”.

“Science is behind the good news and bad news about wildlife conservation ,” he said. “it has nothing to do with the fake news. Science is the antithesis of fake news.”

The marches came one week before the People’s Climate March, a series of large-scale events focused on climate change that will be more overtly political.

“Attacks on science don’t just hurt scientists, they hurt scientists’ ability to protect the people, and climate change epitomizes that,” said Dr Geoffrey Supran, an expert in renewable energy at Harvard University.

“When politicians cater to fossil fuel interests by denying the basic realities of climate science and pursuing anti-science climate policy, they endanger the jobs, justice, and livelihoods of ordinary people everywhere.”


Marches across the globe bring scientists out in force

24 Apr 2017 at 23:18 ET        

WASHINGTON - After months of planning, and amid growing concern over the US commitment to science, tens of thousands of researchers, activists, and others descended on the capital on Saturday for what was billed as a historic march in the name of science.

In countries across the world, science advocates rallied in hundreds of satellite marches, kicking off in New Zealand and picking up with events staged across the Eastern Hemisphere. In Western Europe, there were an estimated 20 marches planned in Germany, 15 in France, eight in Italy, and five in England.

The unifying message was that science makes the world a better place.

"Let me tell you, to my scientist friends who are still working in the laboratories doing fantastic work - it's about time that we come out and stand up," said Emmitt Jolly, a biology professor at Case Western Reserve University who attended the march in Cleveland. "It is our responsibility to be able to come and teach science to the world. We made a mistake. We have done great work, but we haven't shared this."

In the US, while the largest march was expected to be in the nation's capital - with some estimating a turnout of 50,000 people - organizers were also counting on the strength of rallies elsewhere.

In Washington, the keynote speakers include Bill Nye, the popular science educator; Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who helped expose dangerous levels of lead in the water in Flint, Mich.

Since the beginning of the planning process, the March for Science has been plagued by controversy, including over its mission. A number of members of the march's diversity and inclusion committee publicly resigned after disagreements over whether and how to address disparities in science. Others questioned the need for a march at all.

While diversity concerns kept some away, it was reason for others to travel to Washington, including Marie Perkins and Katrina Herrera, graduate students at Duke.

Surveying the crowd, Perkins, who is in a chemistry program, said, "there's not very many black scientists walking around, so it's important for us to show up."

Perkins and Herrera, who were wearing T-shirts that said "Black scientists' lives matter," said there were only a few black students in their programs. They hoped that by coming to the march, they could demonstrate that there is a future in science to others.

"I want to show young black girls they can be scientists," said Herrera, who is in an environmental science program.

Kelly Farley, a first grade teacher in Virginia Beach, said this week her class read "The Lorax" and talked about recycling. She mostly avoids politics with her students but she did tell them that she was going to a march for Earth Day.

"Besides voting, public protests are one of the most patriotic things they can do," said Farley, who was at the event with her fiancé, Ricky Harris, an environmental scientist.

It was also increasingly clear that maintaining the march's stated pro-science, nonpartisan stance was difficult. Many of the slogans on attendees' signs and shirts played off phrases associated with Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign - "I'm with Her," with an arrow pointing to the Earth - or President Trump's own campaign pledge to "Make America Great Again."

When the Science Advisory Board conducted a survey of more than 900 industry and academic scientists, 70 percent agreed that Trump's administration was an "American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas" - a statement on an early version of the march's own website, which has since been removed. (Only 30 percent of the respondents to that survey said they were planning on attending the march.)

However, the organizers tried to keep the event free of partisan politics. Speakers at the Washington event have been provided with guidelines for their remarks. One speaker, Lydia Villa-Komaroff, said on a call with reporters that she and other speakers have been specifically asked not to make personal or partisan attacks but instead "to speak about those things that we care deeply about."

Hundreds of organizations partnered with the march, including several scientific heavyweights. AAAS was among the first to sign on as a partner in late February; the Society for Neuroscience followed in early March. Recent endorsements have come from the American Public Health Association and over 20 physicians' associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians and the American College of Surgeons.

Dozens of environmental groups have also partnered with the march, in part because the event was held on Earth Day. The Earth Day Network is the official co-host of the March for Science in Washington, and seems to have handled most of the logistics for that event, including permitting and media credentialing.

Andrew Joseph in Washington and Casey Ross in Cleveland contributed reporting.


March for Science draws massive crowds across US

22 Apr 2017 at 15:56 ET                  

Thousands of scientists and people from other walks of life turned out in Washington and New York on Saturday for Earth Day events that organizers have framed as a “celebration” of science to counter a growing disregard for evidence-based knowledge.

The “March for Science” festivities included “teach-ins” on the National Mall and parades in midtown Manhattan and hundreds of other cities and towns. The events were non-partisan, according to organizers, aimed at reaffirming “the vital role science plays in our democracy,” according to the march’s website.

Still, the marches were effectively protests against steep cuts that President Donald Trump has proposed for federal science and research budgets and his administration’s skepticism about climate change and the need to slow global warming.

“It’s important to show this administration that we care about facts,” said Chris Taylor, 24, who was part of an early crowd of about 15,000 who gathered on the Mall for teach-ins on topics like climate change, water quality and sustainable food. The event finished with a march from the Washington Monument to Union Square.

“It just seems like they’re not really concerned about economic growth or creating new technologies, just catering to massive corporations,” said Taylor, who is earning a PhD in robotics at George Mason University in Virginia.

March for Science is the latest in a series of national demonstrations staged since Trump’s inauguration nearly 100 days ago. Previous marches and protests have focused on a range of partisan issues, from abortion rights to immigration policy.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday’s marches but Trump released a statement promoting his administration’s steps to guard against pollution while minimizing limits on industry.

“My administration is reducing unnecessary burdens on American workers and American companies, while being mindful that our actions must also protect the environment,” Trump said in a statement.

“Rigorous science is critical to my Administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection,” he said.

In the past, Trump has said climate change was a hoax that was stifling policies to foster economic growth.

His administration is considering withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, a global accord aimed at reducing global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Last year the United States, under President Barack Obama, joined more than 190 other countries in signing the pact.

Trump’s proposed 2018 budget calls for deep spending cuts by government science agencies, including a 31 percent reduction for the Environmental Protection Agency.

March organizers are also worried by what they see as growing skepticism from politicians and others on topics such as vaccinations, genetically modified organisms and evolution.

The scientific community’s direct involvement in a national policy debate has stirred some criticism about whether scientists should get involved in politics. But organizers have defended the march as crucial because of the threat posed by discrediting scientific consensus and restricting research.

“As scientists, as human beings, our mandate is clear – it’s to stand up for what we know to be true,” said Kellan Baker, a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and one of the speakers on the National Mall.

That theme was echoed by many who showed up in Washington for teach-ins, which organizers said were a centerpiece of the initial Earth Day held in 1970 to call attention to the environment.

“Science isn’t respected and it needs to be,” said Sarah Binkow, 22, a civil engineer who traveled from Pontiac, Michigan, to attend the Washington rally.

“Being here definitely gives me hope that there’s this overwhelming population that supports science and supports scientific theory,” she said.

The speakers in Washington included Bill Nye, an educator and television personality known as “the Science Guy,” and Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and public health advocate who first called attention to the high levels of lead in the drinking water of Flint, Michigan.

“Flint is what happens when we dismiss science,” she said, referring to the 2014 crisis.


7 takeaways from the March for Science

23 Apr 2017 at 22:25 ET    

WASHINGTON - Perhaps it was fitting that it poured rain on the March for Science here.

The rallies and marches Saturday - with hundreds of thousands of people attending events around the world - served as a turning point for scientists, when many of them left the sterility of their labs and entered the muck that is politics.

The overwhelming sentiment was that science is under attack, and they could no longer afford to try to float above it all. Scientists had to engage and take their demands to political leaders and policymakers, so they stood for hours on a sodden National Mall here and then marched through puddles to Capitol Hill.

Here are STAT's seven takeaways from the march, with views from reporters from around the country.
Can a science march be nonpartisan? Well, no.

Organizers had tried to frame the march as a political, yet nonpartisan, event. That turned out to be wishful thinking. Perhaps it was inevitable, given that it was inspired largely by President Trump's election, and that marchers were pushing back against an administration that has denied climate change, questioned the benefits of vaccines, and proposed cutting funding for scientific research. But critics of the march who worried that it could turn scientists into an interest group to be isolated and ignored will likely feel their concerns validated after the event.

At the rally in Washington, even people who were holding explicitly anti-Trump signs argued that it was Republicans who had politicized science with their positions, and they were only responding in turn. But as the event went on, many of the official speakers attacked the administration and congressional Republicans (although typically without naming names), building up boos from the crowd, and inciting an us-against-them feeling. Whether that will backfire on the scientific community remains an open question.
Trump the threat

Trump loomed over the event. While the president - who was in Washington this weekend - did not make mention of the march in his Earth Day statement, many speakers at the rally here pointed to the White House and warned of what they view as anti-science policies, particularly in relation to climate change and the environment. Many signs targeted the president, some humorously (including at least one pointing out that science has helped Trump keep his hair) and others with more vitriol (calls for impeachment, use of profanity, etc.).

All of that amounted to a message of resistance - the need for enduring defiance in the face of what participants see as an anti-science administration. There was little sense, at least from the speakers, that they see grounds for compromise or cooperation with the administration. To them, science is on the ropes, and they needed to fight back.
Diversity: well, they tried

The organizers had to fend off questions about inclusivity in the months leading up to the event, but they clearly made an effort with the speaker lineup. There were scientists and science advocates who were immigrants, trans, gay, Native American, black, Latino, young, and old. Many of them highlighted their identities - a mother, a woman, and a scientist, for example - each time drawing cheers from the audience.

But that audience itself was largely white. That speaks to the challenge for the field of science generally: How can it feel more welcoming to people of all races and walks of life? Some minority scientists at the event said that the lack of diversity in the field motivated them to attend to the march, to show others - and future generations - that they had a place here.

The Los Angeles crowd appeared to be more diverse, with many Latinos and Asian Americans in addition to whites. But still, there were still very few black faces in the crowd.
The no-shows: biotech and pharma

Biotech and pharma companies have been tiptoeing around the Trump administration, worried about proposals to regulate drug prices. But companies that are now marketing their "bold" work in scientific discovery and developing new treatments largely lacked an official presence at the marches. There was some action in the Boston area, and Google spinoff Verily Life Sciences donated some funding to the San Francisco march. It's also likely that many company scientists were marching as private citizens and not flagging their corporate affiliations. Still, their absence felt all the more notable when one speaker in Washington started attacking pharma companies for drug prices, portraying them as enemies of the broader scientific community.

Come on, a March for Science? Seriously?

Every so often, a march attendee would turn to a friend and ask, essentially, "Are we seriously having to demonstrate for this?" It did, in a way, seem unusual to have to rally in support of policymaking based on rigorous study and data, not beliefs and impulses. And yet there they were, the thousands who felt like that seemingly rational notion is being disregarded.
Scientists should let their hair down

For all the handwringing about the politicization of the march, it turned out to be a jubilant - and unprecedented - appreciation of science, how research has made our lives what they are, and the simple joy of discovery. And people seemed to be having a lot of fun. There were lots of kids, dogs, and people dressed as dinosaurs. From blistering-hot Los Angeles to rainy Washington, hundreds of thousands of people reveled with jokes about nerd pride, signs with witty science puns, and plenty of off-rhythm dancing to funk bands. Maybe scientists should get out more.

Speakers reiterated that point, urging scientists to think beyond their labs and speak up in their communities about the importance of science. Cut the jargon and demonstrate the value that their work provides, the speakers pleaded. Only then will regular citizens - and then hopefully policymakers -appreciate science in the way it was appreciated at the rallies.

One of the most moving moments of the Washington event came when Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who helped expose the lead crisis in Flint, Mich., took to the stage. She said she was attacked when she started to speak out about the crisis, but that it was the right thing to do because a policy based on money and not scientific evidence wound up hurting the community. It was an urgent entreaty to other experts to speak up.

Hanna-Attisha then brought out 9-year-old Mari Copeny, known as Little Miss Flint. Copeny described how governments in Michigan had rejected science, and that in turn hurt kids like her. Leaders needed to embrace science to protect kids. As she put it simply: "I believe in science."
What happens next

This is the big issue: Will the march make a difference? Or will it end up as a historical footnote.

Organizers are already trying to figure out how to capitalize on their momentum. They held meetings Sunday and were set for a "week of action" to keep the ball rolling.

"The march accomplished this really big and important thing that we haven't seen in my lifetime - in half a century, at least," said Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a lead sponsor of the event. "So now we go, OK, what are we going to do with this energy?"

At the rallies and marches, there was general advice given: call your representatives, don't forget to get involved on the local level, maybe even run for office yourself. But can that spirit endure? Or will scientists simply float back into the daily grind of their labs?

Lev Facher and Kate Sheridan contributed reporting from Washington, Usha Lee McFarling from Los Angeles, and Charles Piller from San Francisco.

 on: Apr 23, 2017, 03:58 PM 
Started by Deva - Last post by Helena
Hi Deva and Everyone,

How does pisces conditions the ppp in the 4th house?

With the sign pisces conditioning the evolutionary intent for the soul to develop new patterns of security, in the 4th house, the natural dynamics of evolution will concern the soul’s emotional reality and the dissolution of every resistance patterns that are preventing a merging with the Source.
What are these patterns? Up until now we know there has been a focus on perfecting/improving any skills, ideas and thoughts that allow for the soul to have a place in society that reflects the desire for personal authority, i.e., job, career, social position. This has been done by joining certain social groups that reflected, supported and created a net, for acquiring and developing this position.
With such an emphasis with the external (capricorn/10th house), the collective (aquarius/11th house) and the mind (gemini/3rd house) by way of perfecting/analysing/relating (virgo/gemini) , detaching and liberating (aquarius), the soul naturally identified personal security in conditioned and structured realities, always adjusting to any pattern change within the existing structure, but maintaining and controlling personal power linked with external position.
Since evolution always leads us to balance what we’ve been pushing to far, it is now asked for the soul to realign concepts of what actually constitutes ‘reality’ in the external and internal worlds, issues of control vs vulnerability, separating or belonging, shifting from being the creator to feeling the actual co-creator of one’s reality. This is a process of absolute faith.
It is possible for a soul in this situation to have already since early age, reasons, justifications, rationalizations that are used to avoid any emotional confrontation with the actual inner world. With uranus in scorpio, in the 11th house, ruling the south node and reporting back to pluto, major emotional upheaval  has already affected the soul on a deep level, and any confrontations are then naturally faced with a detached mind, to avoid more trauma. It does not mean that emotions are not there but the tendency will be to feel secure in the analysis process not the emotional experience, that can seem pretty out of control. So one of the old patterns we are talking about might be to always report to this tendency.  
At some point, the soul in this situation can be facing a meaningless, empty life. With pluto being in virgo, priorities always concerning work, keeping busy, directing all energy to tasks that keep one occupied, justified by the act of helping others and society, not having a personal life outside of work and friends of like mind can mask a deep inner void and a greater need that eventually leads the soul in a search for personal truth (nn in the 9th) and fulfilment by embracing something higher, something transcendent. With pluto in the 10th house this will then naturally reflect a soul with much to give and teach to others, in the process of sharing this life journey.
When there is not cooperation in the evolutionary process, life will bring issues, dynamics and situations that point to facing this truth and fulfilment, sometimes in a more cataclysmic way. It will never be an easy task when we see pisces can be the archetype of avoidance, where we store everything we have not been wanting do deal with from many lifetimes, faced from the virgo point of view, as absolute chaos. A realm of projection, illusion and delusion.

About the capricorn archetype and issue of control/chaos, i would like to quote Deva’s words here in the MB, that reality help me to understand this dynamic:

“The core issue of the Capricorn archetype and the need to access chaos is the need to experience vulnerability (cancer polarity point). As I mentioned before, the Capricorn archetype in its distorted form manifests as emotional repression, and also a fear of vulnerability. As a consequence there are repressed emotional needs that must be accessed at some point in order for "true emotional maturity" to manifest through this archetype. By "accessing chaos", or simply allowing oneself to be vulnerable and, ultimately, learn to nurture these repressed needs from within oneself (cancer polarity point) the true wisdom and strength of the Capricorn archetype can be expressed. There is no specific definition of chaos used in EA (just the usual meaning of the word). All to often those with a dominate Capricorn signature attempt to control their environment and their emotions because of the fear of vulnerability. In other words, the person always has to be, (or at least appear to be), "in control". In this sense, the need to access chaos means to release this pattern of emotional repression and control, and in this way access their true sensitivity and emotional nature.”
In the case we are studying it will be possible that this chaos represents facing all delusions of personal power, judgment and control exerted on groups, situations, people and things, and the guilt derived from this. It can also represent abandonment, loss and separation from early age, or an over idealised authority figure from childhood that turned out to be something other than this ideal, or died unexpectedly. In any case, something is painful enough to resist confrontation. It will be necessary that in the search for personal truth, the early emotional experiences can be looked at with acceptance, instead of victimisation, forgiveness, instead of blame. It will also be crucial that the soul faces these experiences with positive detachment that then turns to take personal responsibility for one’s actions and acceptance of any life condition as a necessary step in the personal road, where no one is to blame, it just is the way it is.
 It will be trust and faith in this process, and ultimately experience the presence of something higher, a greater power leading the soul’s journey, that will allow for it to evolve to a role of leading through serving, according to natural law.
It was also Kant that said (with pluto in virgo 6th house/uranus in scorpio), “i had therefore to remove knowledge to make room for belief.” With pluto polarity point in pisces in the 12th, this can summarise so well the soul’s desire for faith beyond knowledge, deductive beyond inducting thinking, spirit, beyond mind.

In the consensus state the soul can have a life totally committed in making all the efforts on an important career, either starting or consolidating it, to a point where life is spent working where it can be an avoidance of any committed intimate relationship, only passing encounters. The moment then comes when unexpectedly a pregnancy occurs and the necessary decision to assume that responsibility, shifting the focus from investing solely in a great career to dedicating itself also to family life. In this case gender issues will naturally be present, but because at this stage there will be a need to conform to mainstream conduct of behaviour, if the soul is female there would be much bigger chances of clashes between the work and social position than if the soul is male. In either case, an acceptance of responsibility for the child if that is the desire of the soul, can promote growth and we can have here the woman that suddenly discovers a career in counseling other women on motherhood and how to raise a child, blogging about it or writing books that can give some level of acclaim and recognition.
In the individuated state, in the similar situation, gender issues could more easily be adressed and necessary in order to balance the inner male/female. Parenting roles might be reversed and we can have the stay at home dad. This dad can be very creative with children and start writing children’s books. In this stage many souls might abandon well positioned careers in corporate world, where they can be considered genious or very influential people, for a minimalist life in the country for example, producing one’s one food, or to travel and know the world, being then an authority in sustainable travel, teaching others about it.
The occurrences/triggers behind this shifts might be many, like the sudden loss of a beloved parent, a serious disease, or a sudden encounter with a group of people that shows the soul how to live a life more aligned with nature. In any case this situations will promote withdrawal from external life to a more secluded period.
In the spiritual state  the soul can pursue many spiritual traditions driven to live solely for God, follow many mentors until it belongs to an existing community, or actually have an important role in it.  At the some point, all of this may fail. The soul can experience a life of meaningless and futility, an inner void, that makes the it question all the ideas of God it has followed so far, to actual find the experience of merging with the Divine from within, maybe in total seclusion from the outside world, if that is inner call.

Thank you,

 on: Apr 23, 2017, 06:29 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Shitstain Trump: 100 days that shook the world – and the activists fighting back

Three months in, the future is totally unpredictable. But a dramatic fightback is under way. Four activists tell us how they are adapting to the new normal

Naomi Wolf, Alicia Garza, Linda Tirado and May Boeve
Sunday 23 April 2017 10.00 BST

Naomi Wolf, author, political journalist and cofounder of DailyClout: ‘Trump didn’t do this. You did this. Your own inaction brought us exactly here’

The first 100 days of President Donald Trump: how has my life changed? First of all, there was the mourning period. Not for me, but for my fellow citizens. I was just mad. And I wasn’t even maddest at the Trump voters. I understood that the critical battle lines now are not left versus right, but the 1% neoliberal globalisers making off with all of the loot and disembowelling the middle class. So when I saw the campaign, I knew that in the US, just as in the UK, a candidate who said anything at all about people forgotten in the neoliberal race would have a solid chance.

No – I was mad at my own leftwing tribe. All of January, people on the left would confront me with dazed, grief-stricken expressions, as if they had just emerged from a multi-car pileup on a foggy highway. “How could this have happened? What will we do?” I couldn’t even bear to participate in those conversations. Finally I started explaining my rage to my closest friends.

I had been screaming about the possibility of this very moment for eight years, since I published a piece in the Guardian titled “Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps” and wrote a book based on it, called The End of America (2007). Under George Bush Jr, the left had been very receptive to the book’s message about how democracies are undermined by the classic tactics of would-be authoritarians.

But once Obama was elected – “one of ours” – I had to spend the next eight years yelling like a haunted Cassandra, to a room the left had abandoned. I had yelled myself hoarse for eight years under Obama about what it would mean for us to sit still while Obama sent drones in to take out US citizens in extrajudicial killings; what it would mean for us to sit still while he passed the 2012 National Defence Authorisation Act that let any president hold citizens for ever without charge or trial; what it would mean for us to sit still while he allowed NSA surveillance, allowed Guantánamo to stay open, and allowed hyped terrorism stories to hijack the constitution and turn the US into what finally even Robert F Kennedy Jr was calling a national security surveillance state.

Naomi Wolf, photographed last week in Stony Brook, NY

For eight years, under Obama, my audiences were libertarian cowboys and red-state truckers; members of the military and police forces, who were appalled by what they were witnessing; and even conservatives, worried about our legacy of freedom. My usual audience, the shoppers at Whole Foods and drivers of hybrid cars, the educated left, my people, sat smugly at home while the very pillars of American democracy were being systematically chipped away. They were watching Downton Abbey and tending their heirloom tomato patches on weekends in the Hudson Valley, because everything was OK; yeah, he may OK drone strikes, but they can’t be that bad, since he was one of “ours” – a handsome, eloquent African American, a former community organiser – in the Oval Office. Seduced by the image of a charming black man on Air Force One who talked about “change” – a white woman in a pantsuit (though highly paid by Goldman Sachs) talking about “that highest, hardest glass ceiling” – the left slumbered while US democracy was undone brick by brick by brick.

So my feeling, the first inaugural month of 2017, as the left sat shiva, was: now you are worried? Now you want action? Now that the separation of powers is a joke and the constitution has collapsed around your ears, you point a finger at Trump and say, “Sudden Catastrophe?”

He didn’t do this. You did this.

Your own inaction and willingness to be seduced by two-bit identity politics labels, without actually doing the hard work of being patriots and defending the actual constitution – brought us exactly, exactly here.

I had sought for eight years to explain to my own people, to no avail, this: it is not that important who sits in the White House if the structures of democracy are strong. If the structures of democracy are strong – you can have a madman or madwoman for four years or even eight, and then he or she is gone, and the nation’s freedoms live.

But if you take an eight-year nap snoozing through a systematic dismantling of the structures of democracy – freedoms of speech; independence of the press; separation of powers; fourth amendment rights to privacy; and allow the suspension of due process under the guise of “fighting the war on terror” – hell yeah, some day you will wake up and there will be a crazy man or a strongman in the White House and then nothing you do or say will make a difference any more.

So yeah, Month One: I had nightly glasses of red wine to dull my rage at my own feeble delusional kind, and avoided the collective liberal “mourning conversation”.

    There are still shocking days – missiles to Syria, gunboats to North Korea – but we stay focused

Month Two: February was the month of OMG! Or else, WTF! I was part of it too, as Pres Trump’s new-to-us-all methods of exploding Twitter bombs, engaging in scary political theatre, committing daily acts of apparent, um, economic treason, and doing it all at a bewilderingly fast pace, demanded a learning curve from us all. It was a sense of chaos, destabilisation. OMG! He issued a travel ban. OMG! People are held en masse at Newark – New York City taxi drivers are boycotting the airport because of the ban! OMG, Uber is profiting on picking up those rides! OMG, now we have to boycott Uber! WTF! He is rounding up immigrants! OMG – he is separating families at the border! WTF – did Kellyanne Conway just promote Ivanka Trump’s clothing line? Isn’t that illegal? WTF! Are Chinese influence-mongers really lining up at Mar-a-Lago to ingratiate themselves with the president’s son-in-law? WTF – stripping the EPA of any budget to keep the air and water clean? OMG – did he just say he doesn’t believe in global warming? There was a stream of statelier edits from Congress, as the nation’s “WTF?” reaction evolved into: can he really do that? Ben Cardin, the Democratic senator for Maryland, proposed a Senate resolution that Pres Trump obey the emoluments clause of the constitution, which forbids bribery (Trump had refused to put his holdings in a blind trust). States began to pass laws, such as those protection sanctuary cities, to fight back against measures that Trump was taking federally. My day-to-day life was spent at our tech company, DailyClout, training a group of young people to write about legislation, Congress and statehouses, and putting out news stories, blogs and opinion pieces following these developments. DailyClout is incubated in a cool space in Manhattan called Civic Hall, which is funded by Microsoft, Google and Omidyar Networks, where we are surrounded by others – mostly idealistic millennials – who are also building exciting new tools for new kinds of civic engagement.

Month Three: in March, we all began to see a massive grassroots “resistance”. I personally don’t like that term, because you use that term to fight a completed fascist takeover; it gives democracy’s opponents too much power; right now we have a battered democracy on life support that needs defending from those who wish to pull the plug.

March was the month that dozens of new entities devoted to mobilising citizen action emerged from the collective shock. There were so many forms of new organising and funding: online candidate training seminars to Knight Foundation grants for new tools to get public and municipal records to people. Existing “civic tech” sites such as PopVox and Countable were joined in March by a slew of new tools and sites put together by this powerful wave of activism. Our collective missions got boosted with jet fuel by the huge burst in ordinary citizens wanting and needing to take action. New platforms ranged from 5 Calls – which came out of the experience of volunteers in the Clinton campaign and which sends you political action steps to take in five phone calls – to DailyAction, a similar service, which emerged out of Creative Majority, a Pac that supports Democratic candidates, and USAFacts, set up by Steve Ballmer, formerly of Microsoft, which compiles and crunches federal, state and local data from government sources. My own life mission didn’t reorient, since I had cofounded DailyClout’s platform in 2010. But use of our civic engagement tools skyrocketed. Our first product, called BillCam, lets you search a database of live state and federal bills, then pop a live bill into your blog or news articles; it lets you interact with the bills in real time and share them socially. We also created RSS feeds to stream live state and federal legislation right into the websites of local, regional and national news sites, and the websites of elected officials. In March we boosted our blog stream and videos covering new state and federal legislation, and started to report on what people could do locally to push forward their issues. Our sites on social media grew by triple and quadruple digits.

I presented these tools in March to news outlets and candidates and campaigns around the country – from Maine to Ohio to Oregon. I felt as if I was rediscovering my own nation, as the people in it were rediscovering belatedly how precious and fragile democracy was, and how much it depends on an informed citizenship. We were invited to demo it in a senate office; we visited Congress too, for our first exclusive interview, with Representative French Hill of Arkansas; I had never before been inside the Senate office building, or the Congress’s Longworth House Office Building. It was uplifting and moving to me. I also saw that elected officials worried about democracy, and wanting to empower real citizens, existed on both sides of the aisle.

We got our widget embedding live bills into news outlets totalling 160 million readers. In Q1 of 2017, 113,000 people searched BillCam to look at bills that would affect them – that they could now affect in turn. There are still shocking days – missiles to Syria, gunboats to North Korea – but we stay focused.

An amazing thing happened in March. The distinguished technologist George Polisner –who quit his senior-level role at Oracle in a public letter, covered widely in the US press, in which he demurred from Oracle’s CEO’s intention of “working with President Trump” – had started “ Civ.Works, a social platform, privacy protected so citizens can organise without fear of a corporate-buyout Big Brother. Polisner and DailyClout joined forces in March. We’re working to combine Civ.Works’ power of organising with the power of DailyClout’s streaming digital updates via RSS feeds, blogs and video, about local and federal legislation. No wonder I feel excited about the future.

Am I happy about the present? I feel incredibly energised, hopeful and certain that if enough citizens, in our democracy and worldwide, wake up (as they are) and are able to get hold of real tools to use democracy – and those best-case tools are now digital and link to social and digital media – we can indeed be in the midst of what another president called “a new birth of freedom”. Where I live, every day, on the frontlines of this digital revolution, there is every reason to feel in spired. That doesn’t mean I am “happy” about where the nation is – I am extremely scared, just as I am scared about the future of Europe in a parallel assault on its democracies.

But the biggest threat in the US or the UK isn’t one political party or candidate. It is people’s ignorance about their own democracies and their till-now lack of real-life tools to protect them. DailyClout UK and DailyClout EU are next on our list of planned launches: the UK legislative database is totally unsearchable, and the UK Parliament’s own website ends in dead links when you try to find actual legislation. The EU website tells you with difficulty what bills have passed but doesn’t show you what is coming up, when you might possibly take action – it offers a feed of pointless press releases instead. This lack of legislative transparency and usability had a lot to do, I believe, with the Brexit vote.

Months Four, Five and Six will see more and more of these tools – from dozens of T-shirt-clad bespectacled tech revolutionaries, coming online. Geeks are the new patriots, and code is the new “shot heard round the world”.

Naomi Wolf recently finished a PhD at the University of Oxford and is CEO of DailyClout.io
May Boeve, environmental campaigner and director of 350.org: ‘We will take power back. And when that happens, we need a very bold agenda’

May Boeve photographed in Dumbo Brooklyn

As soon as we sang the first chorus of the hymn, the tears started. “Here I go again,” I thought, “crying in church.” This was three weeks ago. And the week before, and the week before that, all the way back to last November’s election.

Sudden emotional outbursts are how I’m able to understand what Donald Trump’s presidency means to me. I wasn’t disconnected to these emotions before, but it’s the unexpected and potent nature that has changed.

I’m in no immediate danger from the Trump presidency. I’m not fearing deportation, the loss of my healthcare, a racially motivated arrest. I haven’t been personally attacked online or in the real world. So when I get scared and start crying, I wonder what it would feel like to be in that more vulnerable position, and I’m more distressed by the damage being done.

My lens on Trump stems from work in the climate movement. My vantage point is as executive director of 350.org, a global effort to build a social movement that can confront the power of the fossil-fuel industry and accelerate our transition to 100% renewable energy.

Trump stands in direct opposition to those goals. As president, he has wholeheartedly taken the side of the oil, coal, and gas industry and is already seeing to it that their agenda is enacted. Previous US presidents and candidates also did business with this industry, but at the same time they decried the threat of climate destabilisation, worked actively to secure international diplomatic alliances leading to an agreement, and achieved some progress from the executive branch.

    At the very time when we need to be taking great leaps forward, Trump and his allies are dragging us backwards

Before Trump’s election, the climate movement had made some serious progress. Thanks to the good work of movements around the world, the social licence of this industry is on the decline. Investors are pulling their dollars, banks are cancelling loans, and public support for fossil-fuel companies is low.

Ditto for the politicians who back them up. Take congressman Lamar Smith of Texas: 45% of his constituents, not unacquainted with his ties to the oil industry, were less inclined to vote for Smith when as chair of the house science committee he failed to investigate ExxonMobil’s alleged climate cover-up. (350.org is under subpoena from Smith’s office for our efforts to get the truth out about Exxon.) From the political arena to our energy markets, it felt like the tide was finally beginning to turn in our direction.

But then along came Donald Trump to declare climate change a hoax (the only head of state in the world to do so), promising to revive the coal industry (declining in the US, thanks to terrific organising), and appointing known climate-change deniers to head the very offices responsible for regulating the problem.

When Trump won, a new kind of despair settled over climate activists. We’re pretty accustomed to despair already – climate grief circles have started up in Australia, home to devastating heatwaves, fires, drought, and a basically decimated Great Barrier Reef – but this felt like something new.

One week after the election, I was at a gathering with movement leaders across the faith, labour, LGBTQ and reproductive justice movements. We were each asked to write down one hard truth about the election that we hadn’t yet said out loud. One person wrote: “The small window of time we had to dramatically reduce emissions may have just closed.”

At the very time when we need to be taking great leaps forward, Trump and his allies are dragging us backwards with an ideology that puts corporate power above all else – and you’d be hard pressed to find a set of corporations more desperate to hold on to power than the likes of Exxon, Chevron and numerous coal and gas companies with less brand recognition.

At least now there’s no mystery about what we’re up against: the full political might of the fossil-fuel industry. Two examples register highly on that score. The first is the appointment of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. The second is the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

The Tillerson appointment stands out because even the most cynical and pessimistic among us didn’t predict that a person at the pinnacle of “big oil” would be in charge of diplomacy in the Trump regime. As my colleague Bill McKibben has said, you might as well ask Ronald McDonald to head up the Department of Agriculture. And Exxon isn’t just any oil company: it has hidden what it knew about climate change, as early as the late 1970s, in order to continue making money on a product it knew was wrecking the planet. It funded climate-denying thinktanks and retained the same firms that helped tobacco companies claim that nicotine isn’t addictive. It should be bad enough to have the entire cabinet made up of the 1%, but the state post provides Tillerson and Exxon with far too much temptation to officially use the US foreign policy apparatus to keep extracting more oil.

The night I saw that Trump suggested Tillerson for the post, I burst into tears and crawled into bed. It was a feeling close to panic, in recognition of what might happen and how powerless I felt. Thank goodness I’m part of a big team, some of whom love battle and were quick to start writing and producing statements denouncing his appointment. Reports came out last week that of all the cabinet members, Tillerson is doing the best job keeping a close relationship to the president. Because this man is used to operating in secrecy, we’ll have to stay vigilant to understand the moves he’ll be making.

Then there is the remarkable story about the Dakota Access pipeline and the historic resistance at Standing Rock. At no other time has there been this much widespread opposition to a pipeline, for the many reasons pipelines merit our opposition. This represented an alliance of tribes whose rights, livelihoods and lives have been systematically desecrated by the US government and corporations. The camp at Standing Rock itself was a symbol of everything Trumpism cannot be: spiritually grounded, connected to history and land, fundamentally respectful of the rights of nature and peoples, infused with art and music and heart. It moved people to act in solidarity all over the world. Many moved money out of the banks invested in the project.

And the resistance worked. The forces at Standing Rock peacefully made sure that the Obama administration put a stop to the construction and allowed further review of the pipeline’s viability.

So it was with cruelty – the same cruelty seen in the enactment of the Muslim travel ban and the gamble with the healthcare of 24 million people – that Trump signed an executive order to begin construction immediately. At the end of March, oil began to flow through the pipeline. This is why I’m still crying in church. The minute I start to feel numb, I believe I’ll lose some hope and resolve.

And there is another animating goal. Progressives share so much, but so often our human nature and lopsided structures get in the way. Can we use this moment to be honest with each other in a new and different way, and clear up longstanding disagreements and inequalities that enable us to be aligned behind a common vision? Because I believe we will take power back. And when that happens, we need to enact a very bold agenda that catapults political possibilities far, far away from where Trump has dragged them.

This work is already under way: it’s the work of conversations between unions and environmentalists; large, well-funded organisations and smaller grassroots ones; centrist and more radical activists; and those who believe change comes from disrupting unjust laws and those whose work is to pass just ones.

It’s the work of the People’s Climate March, which will take place on Saturday, 29 April in Washington DC and throughout the rest of the country. Its message aspires to the future we’re trying to build, and it’s being organised by a diverse cross-section of the entire movement.

That tearful day in church ended on a high note. Afterwards, some friends and I went to New York’s MoMA PS1 museum to see the Rev Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou perform. Rev Sekou is a Pentecostal minister, an author and a gospel and blues musician, who has been active in the Movement for Black Lives. Yes, I went to church twice that day, and no, that isn’t the norm for me! And when he sang “What a time to be alive, the revolution has come”, I didn’t feel like crying – I felt like getting back to work.

Alicia Garza, co-founder, Black Lives Matter: ‘We are in for a long fight – and not all of us will make it’

20 January 2017 marked a turning point for the entire world. Since the election results were announced on 8 November 2016 I’d been feeling mostly numb, unable to process what the impact would be for me, my family and the people I care about. I felt the need to be quiet, to be somewhere quiet. To have space to think.

Every step I took felt like walking on eggshells. The first few weeks after the election everyone around me seemed to be unsure, fearful and riddled with anxiety. I was too. Quick to lash out, slow to listen. I had nothing to start from except what I’d heard during the campaign.

And yet, at the same time, I did know what was coming. Perhaps somewhere my cells were reorganising to protect my heart from what was inevitable. More suffering, more uncertainty. More people dying for trying to live. During the campaign, the surrogates for our current president unabashedly attacked Black Lives Matter activists as “terrorists” and “cop killers”. In the aftermath of the election, there were many different responses. Some decided to continue their work as before and felt that not much had changed. Others decided to demonstrate their resistance by doing a direct action at the inauguration. Others shared information about the key players in the incoming administration, attempting to support others in the network to understand more clearly the new political agenda. All of us remain committed to the work of black liberation.

During the holidays, my family and I talked over dinner about personal security. I described to them a new set of protocols we would need to begin using in order to ensure our safety, insofar as that was even possible. My parents described their fear of what was to come. A lawsuit filed by a rabid conservative former district attorney hung over our heads as someone charged us and other activists with “starting a race war”. Indeed, the election of Donald Trump was like a nuclear plume slowly rising over the United States.

What I’ve learned in the first 100 days of this administration is that you can never stop dreaming about freedom. I’ve spent the past few months being relatively quiet. Listening. Brushing up on my reading about the right wing in the United States and the movement it has been diligently building for the past 30 years. I’ve taken to a practice of listening more and also listening less. Listening more to what’s not being said, watching as the various factions on the right joust for power and influence. I’ve taken stock of the damage, as the right wing now controls the presidency, the supreme court, Congress and the majority of state legislatures. Listening less to voices that refuse to deal with our political reality as it actually is, as opposed to how they want it to be.

The low points over the past few months have been many. Executive order after executive order that sought to punish the communities that make America great – Muslims, undocumented immigrants, black people, women, queer communities, transgender people. A “law and order” agenda that seeks to criminalise anyone who disagrees with the administration’s aims. An attorney general who refuses to protect each person equally. A secretary of education who seeks to privatise public education. A secretary of housing and urban development who seeks to slash an already paper-thin budget for housing set aside for those living in poverty. A chief strategist with white supremacist leanings who is responsible not just for advising the president, but who, to all intents and purposes, is the one pushing the many decisions that this so-called president espouses on television. And of course, the recent bombings of Syria and Afghanistan. Certainly, we are in for a long fight and not all of us will make it.

I comfort my parents who are concerned about the state of their healthcare. They’re both in their 60s and have recently retired. And so, while the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, it is what they have and it is what they depend on. And it is what they deserve, what every human being on this Earth deserves – to be cared for.

And yet I am hopeful. The disorganisation of our political landscape offers abundant opportunities for new strategies and a transformation in the way we care for one another. I welcome the opportunity to be closer to my neighbours, to fight for myself, my family and my loved ones with every fibre of my being. Inside of the quiet, the cynicism dissipates. We have no choice other than to fight back, to take back what was always flawed but still holds the promise of what could be.

I remember that the resistance is real and it lives. The day before the president is inaugurated, I join more than a million women in the streets of Washington, DC; for many, this was their first time on a demonstration. When the president followed orders from his chief strategist to institute a travel ban on Muslims, airports were shut down by those fighting for democracy and those caught in the crosshairs of such a ridiculous endeavour were given legal support and reunited with their families. I work with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a prominent voice and political vehicle for the millions of domestic workers in the United States who are still excluded from most federal labour protections – and so when the president initially nominated a man for secretary of labour who was known for his opposition to workers’ rights, we participated in the resistance to stop him from being confirmed. Representatives returned to their home districts and were forced to face their constituents in ways that they haven’t had to in decades.

And so, while there are many challenges to overcome, it is good to know that we are not alone in attempting to find the solutions necessary to save our lives and the lives of millions who are vulnerable not just in the United States, but around the world. Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance. I’m happy to know which side I’m on.

Linda Tirado, writer on poverty: ‘My instinct is to set off around the country asking impertinent questions’

I live in the heart of Trump country, in Meigs County, Ohio, a rural county struggling with poverty and addiction. My neighbours are precisely the people the right wing have been preying on and propagandising while the left abandoned them for decades. I wasn’t terribly surprised to see Clinton had lost. I’d just published a column in the Guardian about why so many people would be voting for Trump. But I wept on election night and then got well and truly drunk, because I didn’t want to think about what was coming next.

My household is bracing for disaster. I wrote a book, Hand to Mouth, about what a precarious life feels like, but this is the first time I’ve felt precarity coming in my bones and also had enough income to assuage my fears of: not enough food, not enough warmth, not enough anything on hand to deal with an emergency. I have a garden, as anyone in the country does, but we got serious about it after the election. This is the first year I’ve thought that food prices will spike enough to make it worth focusing on the garden as a food source, not just a hobby. Increased immigration raids will likely leave food rotting in the fields and shipping costs will probably go up as they do during periods of uncertainty; imported food will be more expensive.

And the more the country talked about Russia, the more sense it made to expand the plans we had for a few tomatoes and beans to include asparagus and maybe some root vegetables because they’ll keep just fine. The logic: oil and power costs tend to spike when Russia’s doing a thing and we’re bombing the Middle East. Then we thought: maybe berry bushes. A few fruit trees. And a herb patch. And maybe we should borrow a tiller at this point or buy one? Just now, I’m mapping out two weeks of my schedule around harvest time so I can be home to do the food preservation. We’re not about freeze-dried food storage yet; right now people are still only joking about nukes.

Besides, this part of the country’s turning into a rainforest. A decade ago this part of Ohio didn’t reach such high temperatures. Now summers are lush and humid, while winters are becoming harsher. So it’s not such a bad idea, if you happen to have the land and the time to get the work done, to be working on sustainability. Partially that’s environmentalism, but it’s an economic consideration too. It’s a thing we talk about over dinner at home or with friends. We also talk about power. Electricity is expensive, so is heating oil, and gas ain’t free either. Power will only get more expensive as regulations are rolled back and the market is left to its own devices. Water is already a scarce commodity. Might as well put in some solar panels if you can afford it.

I spent the weeks between the election and the inauguration mostly glued to Twitter. I tried to help people reason through what had just happened. I impatiently explained the philosophical and historical definition of fascism versus the hyperbolic version. I demanded we all grow up and focus on the important stuff: not what had happened, but what was coming. My audience grew and split into groups – people who liked my satirical round-ups of the incoming administration’s peccadilloes, people who liked that I discussed the reasons we were vulnerable to a demagogue, people who just wanted someone to explain what the hell had happened.

I started taking more note of political conversation I heard around me, too, here in rural Ohio, where they went for Trump hard. Consensus seemed to be building that voting Trump hadn’t worked but as it was a last-ditch attempt anyway, it was worth waiting to see. Nobody quite agreed on what he was supposed to have done or, rather, there were a lot of things. Mostly, he was supposed to have disrupted everything – but not exactly like this. He needed to get off that stupid Twitter, anyway, everyone agreed on that. I keep wondering what these people didn’t learn from the Tea Party.

Once the inauguration was over, I largely quit trying to explain anything to anyone online; emotion was riding too high and we were back to breaking news instead of analysis and I was planning a garden, so I started joking that no matter what happened, at least I had fertile land and a defensible perimeter. When the kids weren’t listening, we talked about what guns to buy.

Between the realisation that we were moving into a time of instability and trying to keep up with the daily domestic outrages, I couldn’t muster the energy to care about who had what ties with Russia. As far as I could tell, nobody knew anything concrete and it was all an expenditure of nervous tension, something tangible to turn like a Rubik’s Cube. I watched friends I respect come to personal attacks over whether Bernie or Hillary would have been better, instead of concentrating on the task at hand, which was: we damn well did have Trump.

If we could find someone to blame, we could avoid blaming ourselves: I watched it all spin around me and decided it wasn’t for me. I was going to concentrate on writing a book instead, paying closer attention to the world around me. I hoped that maybe by writing it I could answer my own questions: how did we get to this point where we seem incapable of governing? Where is this division and can we heal it? Most important, how is everyone experiencing all this unrest? I have always had a difficult time drawing a line between journalism and activism. I just go places and watch things and I write about them. I am a curious sort and my readers tend to be interested in the same things I am. Which I suppose is why, when faced with a country I hardly recognise, my instinct is to set off around the nation asking people impertinent questions and share what they tell me with everyone else.

Three months in, my neighbours who discuss politics in public and voted for Trump seem to be split between unreasonable partisan shills and people who voted for disruption because it was that or more of the same. It seems many people really were hoping that someone with no experience might – just maybe – do it differently. Only he’s turning out to be worse than anyone we’ve ever had so far and now discussion is turning to whether we even have a functioning government any more.

It’s a fight between what I know my country should be and what I see it turning into, which is the plaintive cry of all American millennials. I am 34 years old and I have watched my country poisoned by fear and hate, watched generations before me sell out my future and that of my children, watched us destroy the whole world’s economy and within months get back to business as usual and record highs in the markets. I do not have youthful hope for America, not now, and certainly not in Trump’s twisted version of freedom and progress where we hate and fear anyone who isn’t exactly like us and we have no charity for a fellow citizen. I was no fan of Hillary Clinton either, but at least she was only likely to enrich herself and her friends within reasonable limits. I can understand wanting power for power’s sake even if I wish leadership looked less like plutocracy. But I cannot, will not fathom the intentional hollowing of everything I have been taught to cherish.

I got a tattoo recently, for the first time since mid-2015. I get tattooed when I am wrestling with something very difficult, because I prefer to keep reminders than to learn lessons twice. In this case, I realised that I was worried I’d forgotten how to survive.

 on: Apr 23, 2017, 06:02 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Shitstain Donald Trump Jr. went to Montana to kill pregnant prairie dogs

Reynard Loki, AlterNet
23 Apr 2017 at 06:49 ET                   

Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric are known for their passion for gunning down large African animals. In 2011, their tour company, Hunting Legends, posted images of the pair smiling with their trophies: a leopard, bull, waterbuck, crocodile, and even one holding an amputated elephant’s tail next to the animal’s body.

Now, several Montana media outlets have reported that businessman Greg Gianforte, Republican nominee for Montana’s House seat in the 2017 special election, announced he would take Donald Trump Jr. on a hunting excursion this weekend to shoot Black-tailed prairie dogs in Montana.

For prairie dogs, March through June is peak breeding season, which means pregnant adult females will also be at risk. This is particularly troubling because Black-tailed prairie dogs have an average of fewer than three pups per year.

These innocent creatures are shot for nothing more than target practice. In using high-powered weapons to kill prairie dogs, the animals can seem to explode or have body parts severed and sent flying.

While shooting prairie dogs in Montana is completely legal, it is not at all ethical.

“I was disappointed I guess that any national or international politician or celebrity would have the opportunity to come to Montana in the spring and their first choice of things they want to do is shoot prairie dogs,” said Dave Pauli, senior advisor for wildlife policy at The Humane Society of the United States.

Black-tailed prairie dogs are known for having advanced social behaviors, including protecting each other by standing watch for other members of their social group and communicating with what Scientific American called “the most sophisticated vocal language ever decoded…Even better than chimps, dolphins and orcas.”

While populations of prairie dogs naturally expand and contract, the species has experienced an overall decline of more 95 percent across their natural range. According to the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Multi-State Objective Plan, Montana’s most recent survey, taken in 2008, revealed the state is below its minimum objective levels for prairie dog conservation.

There are numerous factors contributing to the decline of prairie dogs, including poisoning and hunting, loss of habitat to human development and agriculture, the introduction of exotic diseases and climate change. All of these factors make it extremely difficult for prairie dogs to survive.

“Prairie dogs are an important keystone species with myriad other species dependent on their survival, including the burrowing owl, black-footed ferret and nesting birds. People do not hunt these animals for food or any legitimate wildlife management purposes,” said Lindsey Sterling Krank, director for the Prairie Dog Coalition of The Humane Society of the United States. “We have a duty to protect them to ensure that every species within the ecosystem continues to thrive.”

Click here for videos on the Montana prairie dogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9EoZqE4Wpg and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUbpCuBLvWM

Click here to see/ watch the sadistic evil of the 'humans' who take evil joy to blow them up with their how powered rifles like the EVIL SHITSTAIN TRUMP BROTHER.. WARNING, EXTREMELY GRAPHIC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J0GWkgeNP8

There is no legitimate wildlife management purpose to kill prairie dogs and people do not typically hunt prairie dogs for food. Prairie dogs—especially pregnant ones—deserve to be protected, not shot.

 on: Apr 23, 2017, 06:00 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Shitstain Donald Trump Jr. went to Montana to kill pregnant prairie dogs

Reynard Loki, AlterNet
23 Apr 2017 at 06:49 ET                  

Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric are known for their passion for gunning down large African animals. In 2011, their tour company, Hunting Legends, posted images of the pair smiling with their trophies: a leopard, bull, waterbuck, crocodile, and even one holding an amputated elephant’s tail next to the animal’s body.

Now, several Montana media outlets have reported that businessman Greg Gianforte, Republican nominee for Montana’s House seat in the 2017 special election, announced he would take Donald Trump Jr. on a hunting excursion this weekend to shoot Black-tailed prairie dogs in Montana.

For prairie dogs, March through June is peak breeding season, which means pregnant adult females will also be at risk. This is particularly troubling because Black-tailed prairie dogs have an average of fewer than three pups per year.

These innocent creatures are shot for nothing more than target practice. In using high-powered weapons to kill prairie dogs, the animals can seem to explode or have body parts severed and sent flying.

While shooting prairie dogs in Montana is completely legal, it is not at all ethical.

“I was disappointed I guess that any national or international politician or celebrity would have the opportunity to come to Montana in the spring and their first choice of things they want to do is shoot prairie dogs,” said Dave Pauli, senior advisor for wildlife policy at The Humane Society of the United States.

Black-tailed prairie dogs are known for having advanced social behaviors, including protecting each other by standing watch for other members of their social group and communicating with what Scientific American called “the most sophisticated vocal language ever decoded…Even better than chimps, dolphins and orcas.”

While populations of prairie dogs naturally expand and contract, the species has experienced an overall decline of more 95 percent across their natural range. According to the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Multi-State Objective Plan, Montana’s most recent survey, taken in 2008, revealed the state is below its minimum objective levels for prairie dog conservation.

There are numerous factors contributing to the decline of prairie dogs, including poisoning and hunting, loss of habitat to human development and agriculture, the introduction of exotic diseases and climate change. All of these factors make it extremely difficult for prairie dogs to survive.

“Prairie dogs are an important keystone species with myriad other species dependent on their survival, including the burrowing owl, black-footed ferret and nesting birds. People do not hunt these animals for food or any legitimate wildlife management purposes,” said Lindsey Sterling Krank, director for the Prairie Dog Coalition of The Humane Society of the United States. “We have a duty to protect them to ensure that every species within the ecosystem continues to thrive.”

Click here for videos on the Montana prairie dogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9EoZqE4Wpg and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUbpCuBLvWM

Click here to see/ watch the sadistic evil of the 'humans' who take evil joy to blow them up with their how powered rifles like the EVIL SHITSTAIN TRUMP BROTHER.. WARNING, EXTREMELY GRAPHIC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J0GWkgeNP8

There is no legitimate wildlife management purpose to kill prairie dogs and people do not typically hunt prairie dogs for food. Prairie dogs—especially pregnant ones—deserve to be protected, not shot.

 on: Apr 22, 2017, 06:50 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Exclusive: This Is Africa's New Elephant Poaching Hot Spot

As part of the largest aerial survey of African wildlife ever undertaken, researchers count elephants in Angola.

Photograph by Elephants Without Borders
By Christina Russo
National Geographic

As the slaughter of Africa’s elephants continues for their ivory, the Great Elephant Census (GEC), a landmark, continent-wide aerial count of the survivors, has just been completed for another country: Angola.

According to ecologist and lead survey investigator Mike Chase, when the Angolan overflights began, in October 2015, he was hopeful that the country—once a bastion for elephants—had escaped the killings that have convulsed the rest of the continent. Instead, he says, the news was grim: The rate of elephant poaching in Angola is among the highest in Africa.

Funded by philanthropist Paul G. Allen and managed by his company Vulcan, Inc., the GEC is the first standardized aerial survey of savanna elephants—and one of the largest comprehensive animal surveys in Africa’s history. Since its launch, in February 2014, researchers have made transect flights covering nearly 400,000 square miles (one million square kilometers) of elephant range. Populations in 18 nations have been assessed, with two more—South Sudan and the Central African Republic—now under way.

Some of the results have been seismic, including that Tanzania lost 60 percent of its elephants between 2009 and 2015 and that Mozambique saw a 48 percent loss of its elephants in just five recent years.

In addition to his lead role in the GEC, Chase is the founder of the Botswana-based organization Elephants Without Borders, a group that monitors elephant behavior and migratory habits in the region. Speaking with Christina Russo from his home in Kasane, Botswana, he discusses the Angolan results, the significance of the GEC, and how wildlife conservation is failing elephants.

When did you get a sense that Angola's elephants were in serious trouble?

The first day. The fact that there were four elephants dead in close proximity with each other. Some had died in the sternal position, which means they’re on their knees, which suggests a brain shot and immediate death. And for many others, their faces had been hacked open and tusks removed. Elephants don’t die naturally in such close proximity to each other.

I had hoped it would be an anomaly, but it repeated itself.

Before Angola’s civil war, which took place from 1975 to 2002, the country was thought to be home to 200,000 elephants, possibly the highest number in Africa. Then in the ’80s reports emerged that Angolan military ​groups​ were using ivory to pay for arms and food and that 100,000 elephants ​may have been killed. Tell us about the elephant study you did after the war.

I started working in Angola in 2003 as part of my Ph.D., documenting this repopulation of elephants after the war. Our survey that year estimated just 350 elephants, and we were the first to document that elephants were moving from Botswana through Namibia and then back into Angola.

This homecoming of elephants in southeast Angola, I believe, was one of the greatest conservation success stories in the past 50 years. Our aerial surveys between 2003 and 2005 confirmed that elephants were re-colonizing Angola where civil war, landmines, and poaching had evicted them decades before.

Your most recent GEC study shows that Angola has 3,395 elephants. Did you expect such a low number?

It would be more accurate to say there are some 3,400 in southern Angola, because we were just surveying the largest stronghold of elephants in Angola, which is in the Luiana Partial Reserve along the Cuando, Cuito, and Cubango Rivers.

It was a complete shock. Given the high rates that elephants were moving out of Botswana, I expected to see a thriving population—many more elephants. I thought Angola would be one of those last sanctuaries that escaped elephant poaching.

Angola is losing 10 percent of its elephants each year, a higher mortality rate than any other country on the GEC. This indicates the poaching problem is among the most severe in Africa right now. To see your PhD study species being decimated at a rate of 10 percent each year was one of the most disheartening results of the GEC because I took great responsibility in seeing the safe return of elephants to Angola after the civil war. But their return has not been safe.

Our report alludes to rather healthy other populations: 11,000 buffalo, 3,000 sable, eland—animals Angola never thought they had. This is really monumental foundation information to base conservation decisions on. One of the major goals of the GEC is to empower governments to save what they have left. In the case of Angola, I hope they were shocked out of apathy.

Angola has the ability to provide elephants with the largest elephant range remaining in Africa and comparable to that of Botswana and Tanzania. This could be the most important contribution to saving elephants because in addition to the plague of elephant poaching across Africa, we cannot lose sight of an equally alarming threat to elephants—habitat loss. This is an opportunity that no longer exists in most elephant range states.

Why are traffickers and poachers targeting Angola now?

​There is nothing left for poachers to identify in southwest Zambia, which is on the eastern border of Angola. If you look to Namibia, Namibia is relatively well enforced. Certainly Botswana’s government has a zero poaching tolerance. And the poachers know that Angola currently has limited capacity to manage its wildlife.

The largest herd of elephants on the Great Elephant Census was seen in Angola, nearly 550 elephants. And that’s a sign of trauma and stress, when family groups amalgamate into a mega-herd for safety. Also, these animals are now becoming nocturnal. They are so persecuted they have to live under the cover of darkness. We’re sentencing elephants to living in small, unviable, and dysfunctional populations with broken social systems.

You shared the GEC survey with the Angola government. What was the response?

It was one of genuine concern at the rate of elephant poaching. While they were aware elephants were being poached, they were not aware of the magnitude. They vowed to do everything that they could through anti-poaching control to address this concern.

I believe the Angolans didn’t know they had a poaching problem—they have no idea what wildlife heritage is still left here. How can you protect something if you don’t know how many you have, and what the challenges are to their survival?

A​ recent National Geographic story highlighted the slaughter of elephants in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), straddling Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Angola. Since elephants move across borders, doesn't this show that nations need to work together?

I hope with the results of this survey Angola’s wildlife conservation will receive urgent attention. These elephants move across international borders. The KAZA are custodians of a transboundary elephant population. Considering that this is the last stronghold, that nearly 60 percent of Africa's elephants are found within KAZA, the governments should be working together to safeguard their future.

Is it accurate to say they haven’t been?

Yes. And they would say they haven't until now because they didn't understand the enormity of the problem. Elephants are going into northern Botswana, under threat to be the next killing fields. When you look at poaching, Botswana is one of the most heavily impacted countries when we talk about poaching because we are bearing the brunt of it. Elephants are seeking refuge in increasing numbers in northern Botswana and placing huge responsibility on our government to manage and conserve numbers that wouldn't naturally be occurring within our borders.

As the GEC is nearly complete, can you​ say how many savanna elephants Africa has now?

Final estimate​s​ cannot be made public. But when you add all the numbers together, the final estimate is shocking. We’re losing one of the world's most charismatic herbivores. Local populations are going extinct, and if we don't address the immediate threat of poaching, the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against these animals.

I started the GEC with such a romantic notion and great hope and a sense that in some small measure I could secure a future for [elephants]. But my view of elephant conservation is ...

A failure?

Yes. I believe we are failing elephants. Absolutely. I believe we’re failing elephants because I know Africans, with help from friends, have the capacity and the capability to solve the poaching crisis.

When you consider all the international summits devoted to the trade and the elephants being hoisted as a symbol of addressing the trade, and the rise of NGOs, and the millions of dollars that have been poured into anti-poaching and the burning of 150 tons of ivory … when you consider that, the world's response still hasn't in any way slowed the rate of killing. We still continue to lose an elephant every 15 minutes. Ninety-six elephants are still being killed every day. Why?

While there are a number of noble attempts to help elephants, these are not in themselves reducing the rate of poaching. But without them the rate might be much worse. My opinion is that it’s easier to kill an elephant than it is to save one. Poachers act with impunity unhindered by abiding by any laws, while researchers are stifled by bureaucracy. Given the urgency of the crisis, governments must provide conservationists with the support they need to make a difference in our quest to save the African elephant.

When we announced the Great Elephant Census, I was taken aside and told not only was I insane but a survey of such magnitude would be impossible. We all knew how difficult it was to navigate government bureaucracies and to unite dozens of wildlife organizations and biologists in a shared mission. To fly an independent survey of elephants on a pan-African scale, with full transparency and strict scientific standards—it seemed like lunacy.

However I couldn’t share their doubts. There was just too much at stake. Within a two-year period we’ve successfully completed the GEC, to date the largest and most accurate animal survey in Africa.

Do you plan to survey Angola again in the near future?

Yes, absolutely.

Aerial surveys gauge the success of conservation efforts. I’m confident a powerful story of hope can arise from these depressing findings. I hope the 3,400 elephants we counted last year will grow to 6,000 elephants. Future surveys are important to show that elephants are secure again, and recovering.

I’m a stubborn optimist. I don’t want to spend my life sharing depressing statistics and fighting a losing battle for elephants.

 on: Apr 22, 2017, 06:45 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Oldest Non-Human Stone Tools Outside Africa Created by Monkeys

Archaeologists excavate cashew-crunching tool sets that have been used by capuchin monkeys in Brazil for a hundred generations.

Photograph by Tiago Falótico
By Michael Greshko
National Geographic

An archaeological site in the Brazilian savanna has revealed the oldest record of non-human stone tool use found outside of Africa: centuries-old stone hammers and anvils wielded by hungry capuchin monkeys.

The rocks show that for at least 700 years, bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus
) in Brazil’s Serra da Capivara National Park have smashed fresh cashews to peel off their caustic, unappetizing husks. The find confirms the behavior’s longtime importance to the area’s capuchins—which seem to have used the technique for a hundred generations—and adds vital nuance to the history of tool use in non-human primates.

“Archaeology has helped change our perspective on what humans are, by showing us the variety in our past, and hopefully the same may apply to non-human primates,” wrote study co-author Michael Haslam, head of the University of Oxford’s Primate Archaeology research group.

What Does It Take to Become a Stone Tool User?

The trove of tools, described on Monday in Current Biology, also stands to help scientists understand the bafflingly scattershot distribution of tool use among primates. Only a handful of non-human primate genera use hand tools—including chimpanzees, bearded capuchins, and long-tailed macaques—and scientists have yet to identify exactly why those species, and not others, took up tools.

“To understand the first emergence of technology, it’s useful to look at all stone-using primates, to find commonalities and figure out what it takes to become a stone tool user these days,” says co-author Lydia Luncz, a primatologist in the University of Oxford’s Primate Archaeology research group.

    Archaeology has helped change our perspective on what humans are, by showing us the variety in our past, and hopefully the same may apply to non-human primates.

Michael Haslam University of Oxford's Primate Archaeology research group

It’s a massive task that scientists are just beginning to tackle. Serra da Capivara is only the second report of pre-modern, non-human stone tool use, outside of three chimpanzee sites in Côte d’Ivoire between 1,300 and 4,300 years old. In fact, scientists didn’t confirm that Brazilian bearded capuchins naturally used stone tools in the wild until 2004, despite centuries’ worth of folktales and anecdotal reports.

The new records confirm that not only is the behavior natural; it’s deeply rooted.

In the Brazilian Cerrado, National Geographic Explorer Dorothy Fragaszy is studying how bearded capuchin monkeys learned to expertly use stone tools to crack open palm nuts.

The Archaeology of Monkey Tools

When Haslam and his team of archaeologists and primatologists painstakingly dug up 377 square feet (35 square meters) of the savanna floor, they found 69 stone tools up to 2.7 feet (0.72 meters) below the surface.

The tools—worn-down hammers four times bigger than the average rock in the area, and pockmarked anvils four times bigger than the hammers—matched the form of modern capuchins’ tools. Chemical tests also revealed that the younger tools still bore cashew-husk residue, strongly indicative that they were once wielded by hungry capuchins.

What’s more, the team didn’t find any signs of indigenous or colonial human activity alongside the tools—a somewhat surprising absence, since Serra da Capivara is a World Heritage site and among the most important human archaeological sites in Brazil. Certainly, capuchins didn’t seem to pay Europeans any mind: some of the oldest capuchin tools dated back as far as 1266 A.D., more than 200 years before Columbus’s arrival in the Americas.

“Many people suggested that [tool use] was something capuchins learned, because animals were poached and released and had at least some human input,” says study co-author Eduardo Ottoni, a capuchin primatologist at Brazil’s University of São Paolo. “Now we can say for sure that at least they didn’t learn it from Europeans.”

Capuchin Culture?

Serra da Capivara isn’t the only site in Brazil with tool-wielding capuchins, and the differences between sites suggests that the populations’ tool-use quirks could amount to different capuchin cultures.

While Serra da Capivara capuchins pound the husks off of fresh cashews, for instance, capuchins at a second, more southerly site called Fazenda Boa Vista prefer to use rocks on bigger palm nuts and old cashews, but not fresh ones. Serra da Capivara capuchins also occasionally use sticks to probe for food and stones as digging tools—but even though there are plenty of sticks at Fazenda Boa Vista, scientists have yet to see the behavior there.

    Capuchin monkeys are different just like people are different. It’s like humans who cook something one way in one region and another way in another.

Eduardo Ottoni University of São Paolo

Ottoni, for one, thinks that the population-specific quirks are socially passed from generation to generation—and act as a form of culture.

“All this evidence forces the notion that these are cultural behaviors that depend on social information,” he says. “They’re different just like people are different. It’s like humans who cook something one way in one region and another way in another.”

Experts caution, however, that even though social cues are vital for capuchin learning, establishing culture’s behavioral role will take time. It’s also possible that individual capuchins in the same environment could arrive independently at the same nut-cracking techniques, without socially interacting.

“Cashew nut-cracking is a relatively straightforward problem, [and] there’s a relatively simple way to solve it,” says primatologist Dorothy Fragaszy, a National Geographic grantee and tool-use expert at the University of Georgia. “You could call it conservatism; you could also call it efficiency.”

Click to watch; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8B_pYUuE_b4

 on: Apr 22, 2017, 06:41 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
How Sniffing Poop Helps Monkeys Stay Healthy

Like humans, mandrills of central Africa have strategies to avoid getting sick.

Photograph by Nory El Ksabi
By Jenny Morber
National Geographic
PUBLISHED April 22, 2017

We don’t eat food off dirty floors. We dutifully wash our hands. We steer away from the clearly infected. It's all part of avoiding things likely to make us sick, and new research shows our primate cousins do it too.

Except the mandrill's method is a bit more unsavory: smelling each other's poop.

By detecting the odor of intestinal parasites in their group members' feces, these central African monkeys identify who is ill—and then avoid grooming them.

Grooming is important to mandrills: It soothes conflict and builds relationships, as well as keeps fur and skin free of pests. But this social behavior can also spread parasites, such as E. coli bacteria and other microbes that cause dysentery.

“We found that gastrointestinal parasites were present on the fur. So it’s risky to groom a parasitized individual,” says study leader Clemence Poirotte, an ecologist wo works with the Mandrillus Project, a multinational collaboration to study the world's only population of wild mandrills used to people. (See "Animals Have Evolved Into Parasites At Least 200 Times.")

Poirotte and colleagues studied a group of about 150 mandrills over two years as they roamed the savannahs and rain forests of Gabon.

“The population is so well habituated, they just don’t care at all about us. We have the privilege to just observe what happens," Poirotte says.

"Every day I spent with this population was maybe the coolest thing I had done in my life.”
Monkey See, Monkey Do

During their fieldwork, the team observed that “when an individual has parasites it will be less groomed, but particularly less groomed on the bottom,” says Poirotte—a smart idea, since parasites are transmitted through feces. It’s a little like using the toilet paper in the public bathroom but steering clear of the bowl.
Why Do These Monkeys Have Colorful Butts?

To test their theory that mandrills were not grooming infected individuals to avoid getting parasites themselves, the researchers treated several with anti-parasite medication, orally and with IV medication after trapping.

After treatment, 12 of those individuals enjoyed more frequent grooming, including three that received ten times more. Further bolstering the theory, being infected did not influence how much a mandrill groomed others, only how much grooming the animal received.

“The results were totally in accordance with our predictions, so that was super nice,” says Poirotte, whose study appeared recently in the journal Science Advances.

The next step was figuring out how the mandrills knew their kin had parasites.

The researchers presented captive mandrills housed in forested enclosures in Gabon with feces-smeared bamboo sticks. One stick held mandrill feces full of parasites, another mostly parasite-free poop. A researcher who did not know which sample was which recorded the mandrills’ behavior.
As expected, the monkeys sniffed and investigated the bamboo sticks, but avoided the highly infected samples. (Poirotte could not distinguish between parasitized and non-parasitized samples herself, though she says there were samples that smelled worse than others.)

Her next task is to examine how the parasites may be affecting the mandrills' health.

Sniffing Out More Parasites

Benjamin Hart, a veterinarian and professor emeritus at the University of California, Davis, says that the mandrills likely keep their parasites at a manageable level.

If an animal acquires too many parasites, it can kill them, but moderate infections appear not too much of a threat, he adds.

Hart expects that this research will inspire similar examinations in other species.

“This study provides a thorough analysis and can serve as a model for others wanting to pursue the role of olfaction in parasite avoidance,” he says. “I thought the paper was excellent.”

 on: Apr 22, 2017, 06:37 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
The strange fate of a person falling into a black hole

If you fell into a black hole, you might expect to die instantly. But in fact your fate would be far stranger than that   

By Amanda Gefter

This was the most-read story on BBC Earth in 2015. Here is another chance to read it.

It could happen to anyone. Maybe you're out trying to find a new habitable planet for the human race, or maybe you're just on a long walk and you slip. Whatever the circumstances, at some point we all find ourselves confronted with the age-old question: what happens when you fall into a black hole?

You might expect to get crushed, or maybe torn to pieces. But the reality is stranger than that.

The instant you entered the black hole, reality would split in two. In one, you would be instantly incinerated, and in the other you would plunge on into the black hole utterly unharmed.

A black hole is a place where the laws of physics as we know them break down. Einstein taught us that gravity warps space itself, causing it to curve. So given a dense enough object, space-time can become so warped that it twists in on itself, burrowing a hole through the very fabric of reality.

A massive star that has run out of fuel can produce the kind of extreme density needed to create such a mangled bit of world. As it buckles under its own weight and collapses inward, space-time caves in with it. The gravitational field becomes so strong that not even light can escape, rendering the region where the star used to be profoundly dark: a black hole.

    As you go deeper into the black hole, space becomes ever more curvy

The outermost boundary of the hole is its event horizon, the point at which the gravitational force precisely counteracts the light's efforts to escape it. Go closer than this, and there's no escape.

The event horizon is ablaze with energy. Quantum effects at the edge create streams of hot particles that radiate back out into the universe. This is called Hawking radiation, after the physicist Stephen Hawking, who predicted it. Given enough time, the black hole will radiate away its mass, and vanish.

As you go deeper into the black hole, space becomes ever more curvy until, at the centre, it becomes infinitely curved. This is the singularity. Space and time cease to be meaningful ideas, and the laws of physics as we know them — all of which require space and time — no longer apply.

What happens here, no one knows. Another universe? Oblivion? The back of a bookcase? It's a mystery.

So what happens if you accidentally fall into one of these cosmic aberrations? Let's start by asking your space companion — we'll call her Anne — who watches in horror as you plunge toward the black hole, while she remains safely outside. From where she's floating, things are about to get weird.

As you accelerate toward the event horizon, Anne sees you stretch and contort, as if she were viewing you through a giant magnifying glass. What's more, the closer you get to the horizon the more you appear to move in slow motion.

    Before you ever cross over into the black hole's darkness, you're reduced to ash

You can't shout to her, as there's no air in space, but you might try flashing her a Morse message with the light on your iPhone (there's an app for that). However, your words reach her ever more slowly, the light waves stretching to increasingly lower and redder frequencies: "Alright, a l r i g h t,   a   l    r     i…"

When you reach the horizon, Anne sees you freeze, like someone has hit the pause button. You remain plastered there, motionless, stretched across the surface of the horizon as a growing heat begins to engulf you.

According to Anne, you are slowly obliterated by the stretching of space, the stopping of time and the fires of Hawking radiation. Before you ever cross over into the black hole's darkness, you're reduced to ash.

But before we plan your funeral, let's forget about Anne and view this gruesome scene from your point of view. Now, something even stranger happens: nothing.

You sail straight into nature's most ominous destination without so much as a bump or a jiggle – and certainly no stretching, slowing or scalding radiation. That's because you're in freefall, and therefore you feel no gravity: something Einstein called his "happiest thought".

    In a big enough black hole, you could live out the rest of your life pretty normally

After all, the event horizon is not like a brick wall floating in space. It's an artefact of perspective. An observer who remains outside the black hole can't see through it, but that's not your problem. As far as you're concerned there is no horizon.

Sure, if the black hole were smaller you'd have a problem. The force of gravity would be much stronger at your feet than at your head, stretching you out like a piece of spaghetti. But lucky for you this is a big one, millions of times more massive than our Sun, so the forces that might spaghettify you are feeble enough to be ignored.

In fact, in a big enough black hole, you could live out the rest of your life pretty normally before dying at the singularity.

How normal could it really be, you might wonder, given that you're being sucked toward a rupture in the space-time continuum, pulled along against your will, unable to head back the other way?

    You can't turn around and escape the black hole

But when you think about it, we all know that feeling, not from our experience with space but with time. Time only goes forwards, never backwards, and it pulls us along against our will, preventing us from turning around.

This isn't just an analogy. Black holes warp space and time to such an extreme that inside the black hole's horizon, space and time actually swap roles. In a sense, it really is time that pulls you in toward the singularity. You can't turn around and escape the black hole, any more than you can turn around and travel back to the past.

At this point you might want to stop and ask yourself a pressing question: What the hell is wrong with Anne? If you're chilling inside the black hole, surrounded by nothing weirder than empty space, why is she insisting that you've been burned to a crisp by radiation outside the horizon? Is she hallucinating?

Actually, Anne is being perfectly reasonable. From her point of view, you really have been burned to a crisp at the horizon. It's not an illusion. She could even collect your ashes and send them back to your loved ones.

In fact, the laws of nature require that you remain outside the black hole as seen from Anne's perspective. That's because quantum physics demands that information can never be lost. Every bit of information that accounts for your existence has to stay on the outside of the horizon, lest Anne's laws of physics be broken.

    You have to be in two places, but there can only be one copy of you

On the other hand, the laws of physics also require that you sail through the horizon without encountering hot particles or anything out of the ordinary. Otherwise you'd be in violation of Einstein's happiest thought, and his theory of general relativity.

So the laws of physics require that you be both outside the black hole in a pile of ashes and inside the black hole alive and well. Last but not least, there's a third law of physics that says information can't be cloned. You have to be in two places, but there can only be one copy of you.

Somehow, the laws of physics point us towards a conclusion that seems rather nonsensical. Physicists call this infuriating conundrum the black hole information paradox. Luckily, in the 1990s they found a way to resolve it.

Leonard Susskind realized that there is no paradox, because no one person ever sees your clone. Anne only sees one copy of you. You only see one copy of you. You and Anne can never compare notes. And there's no third observer who can see both inside and outside a black hole simultaneously. So, no laws of physics are broken.

    Reality depends on whom you ask

Unless, that is, you demand to know which story is really true. Are you really dead or are you really alive?

The great secret that black holes have revealed to us is that there is no really. Reality depends on whom you ask. There is Anne's reality and there is your reality. End of story.

Well, almost. In the summer of 2012, the physicists Ahmed Almheiri, Donald Marolf, Joe Polchinski and James Sully, collectively known as AMPS, devised a thought experiment that threatened to upend everything we thought we knew about black holes.

They realized that Susskind's solution hinged on the fact that any disagreement between you and Anne is mediated by the event horizon. It didn't matter if Anne saw the unlucky version of you scattered amongst the Hawking radiation, because the horizon prevented her from seeing the other version of you floating along inside the black hole.

    Anne might sneak a peek behind the horizon

But what if there was a way for her to find out what was on the other side of the horizon, without actually crossing it?

Ordinary relativity would say that's a no-no, but quantum mechanics makes the rules a little fuzzier. Anne might sneak a peek behind the horizon, using a little trick that Einstein called "spooky action-at-a-distance".

This happens when two sets of particles that are separated in space are mysteriously "entangled". They are part of a single, indivisible whole, so that the information needed to describe them can't be found in either set alone, but in the spooky links between them.

The AMPS idea went something like this. Let's say Anne grabs hold of a bit of information near the horizon — call it A.

    Each bit of information can only be entangled once

If her story is right, and you are a goner, scrambled amongst the Hawking radiation outside the black hole, then A must be entangled with another bit of information, B, which is also part of the hot cloud of radiation.

On the other hand, if your story is the true one, and you're alive and well on the other side of the event horizon, then A must be entangled with a different bit of information, C, which is somewhere inside the black hole.

Here's the kicker: each bit of information can only be entangled once. That means A can only be entangled with B or with C, not with both.

So Anne takes her bit, A, and puts it through her handy entanglement-decoding machine, which spits out an answer: either B or C.

    Do you glide right through and live a normal life?

If the answer turns out to be C, then your story wins, but the laws of quantum mechanics are broken. If A is entangled with C, which is deep inside the black hole, then that piece of information is lost to Anne forever. That breaks the quantum law that information can never be lost.

That leaves B. If Anne's decoding machine finds that A is entangled with B, then Anne wins, and general relativity loses. If A is entangled with B, then Anne's story is the one true story, which means you really were burned to a crisp. Instead of sailing straight through the horizon, as relativity says you should, you hit a burning firewall.

So we're back where we started: what happens when you fall into a black hole? Do you glide right through and live a normal life, thanks to a reality that's strangely observer-dependent? Or do you approach the black hole's horizon only to collide with a deadly firewall?

No one knows the answer, and it's become one of the most contentious questions in fundamental physics.

    It would take Anne an extraordinarily long time to decode the entanglement

Physicists have spent more than a century trying to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics, knowing that eventually one or the other was going to have to give. The solution to the firewall paradox should tell us which, and point the way to an even deeper theory of the universe.

One clue might lie in Anne's decoding machine. Figuring out which other bit of information A is entangled with is an extraordinarily complicated problem. So physicists Daniel Harlow of Princeton University in New Jersey and Patrick Hayden, now at Stanford University in California, wondered how long it would take.

In 2013 they calculated that, even given the fastest computer that the laws of physics would allow, it would take Anne an extraordinarily long time to decode the entanglement. By the time she had an answer, the black hole would have long evaporated, disappearing from the universe and taking with it the threat of a deadly firewall.

If that's the case, the sheer complexity of the problem could prevent Anne from ever figuring out which story is the real one. That would leave both stories simultaneously true, reality intriguingly observer-dependent, all the laws of physics intact, and no one in danger of running into an inexplicable wall of fire.

    If the true nature of reality lies hidden somewhere, the best place to look is a black hole

It also gives physicists something new to think about: the tantalizing connections between complex calculations (like the one Anne apparently can't do) and space-time. This may open the door to something deeper still.

That's the thing about black holes. They're not just annoying obstacles for space travellers. They're also theoretical laboratories that take the subtlest quirks in the laws of physics, then amplify them to such proportions that they can't be ignored.

If the true nature of reality lies hidden somewhere, the best place to look is a black hole. It's probably best to look from the outside, though: at least until they figure out this whole firewall thing. Or send Anne in. It's her turn already.

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