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« Reply #3060 on: Mar 15, 2019, 03:59 AM »

New research suggests humanity’s ancestors began walking upright earlier than believed

New research shows that one ancestor of modern humans was walking upright much more often than we believed.


One immediately-distinguishable feature of humans is the way we move about —  we’re unique among mammals in that we consistently walk upright. Since it’s such a distinguishing feature, anthropologists are very interested in finding out when our ancestors picked up the habit.

New research from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine suggests that at least one of our ancestors relied on bipedal walking much more than previously believed.

Early walker

    “Our research shows that while Ardipithecus was a lousy biped, she was somewhat better than we thought before,” said Scott Simpson, a professor of anatomy at Case Western who led the study.

The findings come from an analysis Simpson’s team performed on fragments of a 4.5 million-year-old female Ardipithecus ramidus. This specimen was discovered in the Gona Project study area in the Afar Regional State of Ethiopia. Hip, ankle, and hallux (big toe) bones belonging to the ancient female showed that Ar. ramidus was far better adapted to bipedalism than previously thought, but still far from perfect.

Fossil evidence from this stage of humanity’s past are rare, so we have a pretty dim idea of what was going on at the time. As such, Simpson’s research — although seemingly a simple pursuit involving an ankle of all things — actually goes a long way into fleshing out our understanding of  Ardipithecus locomotion, as well as the timing, context, and anatomical details of ancient upright walking.

Previous research has shown that Ardipithecus was capable of walking upright and climbing trees — but the fossils that research was based on lacked the anatomical specializations seen in the Gona fossil examined by Simpson. This suggests that the species saw a wide range of adaptations as they transitioned to modern, upright walking as seen in modern humans.

    “Our research shows that while Ardipithecus was a lousy biped, she was somewhat better than we thought before,” says Simpson.”The fact that it could both walk upright … and scurry in trees marks it out as a pivotal transitional figure in our human lineage.”

The team says that certain adaptations in the specimen’s lower limbs are tell-tale signs of bipedality. Unlike monkeys and apes, for example, our big toes are parallel with the others. The team worked to reconstruct the foot’s range of motions by analyzing the area of the joints between the arch of the foot and the big toe. While joint cartilage no longer remains for the Ardipithecus fossil, the surface of the bone has a characteristic texture which shows that it had once been covered by cartilage.

Having all toes neatly parallel to one another allows the foot to function as a propulsive lever when walking. Ardipithecus had an offset grasping big toe useful for climbing in trees, but the team’s analysis showed that it was also used to help propel the individual forward when walking — in other words, it’s a mixed-use tool, indicative of a transition towards bipedalism. The team also reports that Ardipithecus’s knees were aligned directly above its ankles when it stood. This latter characteristic is also similar to what you’d see in a modern (bipedal) human, and stands in contrast to what you’d see in a (non-bipedal) chimp, for example, whose knees are “outside” the ankle, i.e., they are bow-legged, when they stand.

The paper “Ardipithecus ramidus postcrania from the Gona Project area, Afar Regional State, Ethiopia” has been published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

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« Reply #3061 on: Mar 15, 2019, 04:00 AM »

Students around the world begin climate change walkout

Agence France-Presse
15 Mar 2019 at 02:05 ET        

A global day of student protests aimed at spurring world leaders into action on climate change to protect the planet for future generations kicked off in Australia and New Zealand Friday.

Thousands of youths marched in Wellington carrying placards reading “Time’s Melting Away” and “Act Now or Swim” as part of an ambitious plan to stage 1,000 demonstrations in more than 100 countries during a worldwide day of action.

Thousands more gathered in Sydney, demanding the conservative government to do more to curb the use of fossil fuels.

The international student strike will see classrooms empty in cities across the globe, from Boston to Bogota, Dhaka to Durban and Lagos to London.

“This is young people taking the reins and realising that they do have people power, that’s really awesome,” Abigail O’Regan, 20, told AFP in the New Zealand capital.

The protests were inspired by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who camped out in front of parliament in Stockholm last year to demand action from world leaders on global warming.

“We are only seeing the beginning,” tweeted Thunberg, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism.

“I think that change is on the horizon and the people will stand up for their future.”

Some teachers and political leaders have tried to cajole or threaten students against skipping school, to little avail.

In Australia, Education Minister Dan Tehan questioned whether the protests truly represented a grassroots movement.

“Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage,” he told public radio.

“Especially when they are being encouraged to do so by green political activists.”

His comments came as a report showed Australia’s annual carbon emissions had reached record levels, raising questions it will meet targets agreed under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

But the budding activists have received encouragement from New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern, who said it was important for the young generation to send a message.

“We hear you and we’re getting on with setting a path for carbon neutrality,” the 38-year-old leader said in a statement.

“Please keep bringing as many people as you can with you because we simply won’t achieve our goals alone.”

‘Genuine fear’

Wellington university student Josie Mason, 20, said she was “excited by the fact that youth are being heard and are making a stand right now.”

France 24 speaks to French students striking for climate change action

“They call our generation the ‘slacktivists’ because it’s really easy to say you’re going to an event on a Facebook page or like something but not really do anything,” she said.

Despite 30 years of warnings about dire impacts, carbon dioxide emissions hit record levels in 2017 and again last year.

Loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases at current rates, scientists agree, will eventually lead to an unlivable planet.

“On climate change, we have to acknowledge that we have failed,” Thunberg told the global ruling class in Davos in January.

The Paris climate treaty calls for capping global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The planet is currently on track to heat up by double that figure.

The UN’s climate science panel warned in October that only a wholesale transformation of the global economy and consumer habits could forestall a climate catastrophe.

As she prepared to march through central Wellington to parliament, O’Regan said she was concerned that by the time she was raising a family the plant would be close to unlivable.

“I feel a lot of stress and anxiety about the climate situation, and fear for my future,” she said.

“I have genuine fear that my future will not be what it should be.”

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« Reply #3062 on: Mar 15, 2019, 04:03 AM »

WA watchdog abandons carbon-neutral push after oil and gas industry criticism

Mark McGowan says EPA has withdrawn recommendation and will consult more with sector

Australian Associated Press
15 Mar 2019 07.47 GMT

Western Australia’s environmental watchdog has abandoned a recommendation to the state government that new emissions-intensive projects should be carbon neutral following widespread criticism.

The Environmental Protection Authority last week released updated guidelines on mitigating emissions from new or expanding projects, suggesting proposals with emissions higher than 100,000 tonnes a year should be fully offset.

The idea was shot down by the oil and gas industry, which warned it could jeopardise billions of dollars worth of new liquefied natural gas projects, and the WA government swiftly rejected the advice.

After meeting with industry associations on Thursday, the premier, Mark McGowan, told reporters the EPA had withdrawn its recommendation and would consult more with the sector.

“I think that’s a good outcome for the state,” McGowan said. “I think it will provide more certainty and allow us to be part of a bigger national solution on this issue.”

The WA government was not bound to accept the advice and has gone against EPA recommendations before. But convincing the EPA to withdraw was “more about the message it sends”, McGowan said.

Last week, the authority’s chairman, Tom Hatton, told reporters in WA the move was necessary because Australia was not on track to meet its Paris targets and the policies of the federal government were “not going to deliver the outcomes as currently applied that are necessary for Australia to meet its international obligations under the Paris agreement”.

Hatton knew there were “serious concerns” about the advice and it was good he was prepared to listen, McGowan said. He insisted he had confidence in the EPA.

“Not everyone is perfect – it’s a big issue and countries around the world have grappled with this,” he said. “It’s not easy to get it right.”

The opposition environment spokesman, Steve Thomas, said it was concerning the premier and the environment minister, Stephen Dawson, were briefed on the proposal two weeks before it was made public, and appeared surprised by the reaction.

There were concerns the guidelines, if adopted, would have been challenged in court for years.

Last week, the EPA had also expressed concern about the trajectory of WA’s emissions, which had increased by 27% from 2000 to 2016.

“Western Australia has the second highest per capita emissions of all Australian states and territories, with emissions per capita well above those of other developed economies, including resource-based economies such as Canada,” the guidelines said.

The Wilderness Society had described last week’s decision as “a huge step forward”, with state director Kit Sainsbury saying: “It’s really going to a limit a lot of projects going forward, particularly LNG [liquefied natural gas] and, potentially, also fracking.”

Australia’s emissions continue to increase and the federal government faced criticism last week week for suggesting the opposite, based on one particular measurement of data from a single quarter.

Much of the increase has been attributed to rising emissions associated with the LNG industry, particularly WA’s Gorgon LNG plant.

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« Reply #3063 on: Mar 15, 2019, 04:05 AM »

Sharp rise in Arctic temperatures now inevitable – UN

Temperatures likely to rise by 3-5C above pre-industrial levels even if Paris goals met

Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
15 Mar 2019 19.01 GMT

Sharp and potentially devastating temperature rises of 3C to 5C in the Arctic are now inevitable even if the world succeeds in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris agreement, research has found.

Winter temperatures at the north pole are likely to rise by at least 3C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, and there could be further rises to between 5C and 9C above the recent average for the region, according to the UN.

Such changes would result in rapidly melting ice and permafrost, leading to sea level rises and potentially to even more destructive levels of warming. Scientists fear Arctic heating could trigger a climate “tipping point” as melting permafrost releases the powerful greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, which in turn could create a runaway warming effect.

“What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic,” said Joyce Msuya, the acting executive director of UN Environment. “We have the science. Now more urgent climate action is needed to steer away from tipping points that could be even worse for our planet than we first thought.”

The findings, presented at the UN Environment assembly in Nairobi on Wednesday, give a stark picture of one of the planet’s most sensitive regions and one that is key to the fate of the world’s climate.

Last year’s stark warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, setting out the dramatic impacts of 1.5C of global warming, did not include the impacts of potential tipping points such as melting permafrost.

If melting permafrost triggers a tipping point, the likely results would be global temperature rises well in excess of the 2C set as the limit of safety under the Paris agreement. Nearly half of Arctic permafrost could be lost even if global carbon emissions are held within the Paris agreement limits, according to the UN study.

Even if all carbon emissions were to be halted immediately, the Arctic region would still warm by more than 5C by the century’s end, compared with the baseline average from 1986 to 2005, according to the study from UN Environment.

That is because so much carbon has already been poured into the atmosphere. The oceans also have become vast stores of heat, the effect of which is being gradually revealed by changes at the poles and on global weather systems, and will continue to be felt for decades to come.

The assembly heard that there was still a need to fulfil the aims of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change and to take further action that could stave off some of the worst effects of warming in the near term. “We need to make substantial near-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, black carbon and other so-called short-lived climate pollutants all over the world,” said Kimmo Tiilikainen, Finland’s environment minister.

Making drastic cuts to black carbon and short-lived pollutants such as methane could reduce warming by more than 0.5C, according to previous research.

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« Reply #3064 on: Mar 15, 2019, 04:09 AM »

Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel peace prize

Climate strike founder put up for award ahead of global strikes planned in more than 105 countries

    Listen to Greta Thunberg on the Today in Focus podcast: https://www.theguardian.com/news/audio/2019/mar/14/greta-thunberg-how-her-school-strike-went-global-podcast

Damian Carrington Environment editor
15 Mar 2019 11.04 GMT

Greta Thunberg, the founder of the Youth Strike for Climate movement, has been nominated for the Nobel peace prize, just before the biggest day yet of global action.

Thunberg began a solo protest in Sweden in August but has since inspired students around the globe. Strikes are expected in 1,659 towns and cities in 105 countries on Friday, involving hundreds of thousands of young people.

“We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees,” said Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård. “Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace.”

“I am honoured and very grateful for this nomination,” said Thunberg on Twitter. Tomorrow we #schoolstrike for our future. And we will continue to do so for as long as it takes.” She has already challenged leaders in person at the UN climate summit in late 2018 and at Davos in January. “Change is coming whether they like it or not,” she said.

National politicians and some university professors can nominate candidates for the Nobel peace prize, which will be awarded in December. There are 301 candidates for the 2019 prize: 223 individuals and 78 organisations.

In 2014, the peace prize was awarded to 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai, “for the struggle ... for the right of all children to education”. She survived a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012.

While some politicians have opposed the school strikes, many have supported them, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Ireland’s Leo Varadkar. The mayors of Paris, Milan, Sydney, Austin, Philadelphia, Portland, Oslo, Barcelona and Montreal added their backing on Thursday.

1:57..Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at four school strikes in a week – video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDBJMqZ6lWI

“It is truly inspiring to see young people, led by brilliant young women, making their voices heard and demanding urgent climate action. They are absolutely correct that our actions today will determine their futures,” said Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris and chair of the C40 group of cities. “My message to young citizens is clear: it is our responsibility as adults and political leaders to learn from you and deliver the future you want.”

The strikes have also been supported by the former head of the Anglican church Rowan Williams and the head of Amnesty International, Kumi Naidoo. “Children are often told they are ‘tomorrow’s leaders’. But if they wait until ‘tomorrow’ there may not be a future in which to lead,” said Naidoo. “Young people are putting their leaders to shame with the passion and determination they are showing to fight this crucial battle now.

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« Reply #3065 on: Mar 15, 2019, 04:13 AM »

 'There is no tomorrow for me': Rwanda's teen mothers – in pictures

Olive became pregnant while finishing her last year in school. She wanted an abortion but couldn’t raise the fees

Young unmarried mothers are often forced to live in poverty, unable to find work and shunned by their families and communities

Photographs: Carol Allen-Storey/Hope for Rwanda

Click to see all: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2019/mar/15/no-tomorrow-for-me-rwanda-teen-mothers-in-pictures

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« Reply #3066 on: Mar 15, 2019, 04:27 AM »

Algerian protest movement eyes unity candidates

Movement for democracy begins search for unifying leaders to voice its demands

Ruth Michaelson in Cairo
Fri 15 Mar 2019 05.00 GMT

Algerian protest leaders have vowed to take to the streets for the fourth Friday in succession as the country’s nascent democracy movement begins its search for representatives who can unite hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in advance of a national conference and elections.

The ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, on Monday withdrew his bid for a fifth term in office and postponed planned April elections to allow for consultation on reforms “for a new generation”. The move was condemned by civil society groups, who said it was intended to “trick and divide the popular movement”.

Habib Brahmia, from the Jil Jadid political party and the protest movement Mouwatana, said: “On Friday, we will all be in the streets to overthrow this system and its pawns.”

Protesters have previously expressed pride in the movement’s leaderless nature, which was born of anonymous social media pages and seen in part as a rebuke to the official opposition, which is viewed as having been co-opted by the regime.

But after protesters succeeded in cancelling Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term, the movement is working to bring together union leaders, protesters and civil society leaders around potential candidates who can voice their demands as they push to overthrow the government.

“This is a broad and spontaneous movement – it’s not really possible to put forward a single figure who can represent all parts of it,” said Soufiane Djilali, a Mouwatana coordinator. “This is also a movement that won’t accept anyone without a vote or due process. No one has right to say the movement belongs to them.”

Djilali suggested the opposition should instead hold a conference to nominate three or four figures who could act as the spokespeople for the opposition with an eye to the election. He declined to say whether he would put himself forward.

A group of developers launched 22Fevrier2019.org, a website where users can “upvote” political propositions by tapping on a heart or hit the thumbs-down button for those they dislike.

The top suggestion reads: “I nominate Mustapha Bouchachi to oversee the transition period and organise the next elections.” A prominent human rights lawyer, Bouchachi told local site Tout Sur Algérie he was concerned that Bouteflika cancelling the election is a move for the regime to waste time and remain in power. “I fear they will destroy the country,” he said.

On Thursday, Algeria’s new prime minister Noureddine Bedoui and his deputy, Ramtane Lamamra, held a press conference intended to reassure Algerians that the political elite would listen to their demands. “We will take into account the messages of the protesters during the formation of the government,” said Bedoui, as he offered a new “technocratic” government in the coming weeks to usher in the national conference.

Bedoui promised a short transition and independent commission to oversee the next election, an offer unlikely to satisfy protesters. “We hope that all will participate,” he said.

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« Reply #3067 on: Mar 15, 2019, 04:28 AM »

French gynaecologists' union threatens to stop performing abortions

Health minister calls protest about lack of medical insurance ‘taking women hostage’

Kim Willsher in Paris
15 Mar 2019 16.43 GMT

A French gynaecologists’ union has threatened to halt pregnancy terminations in an attempt to force the country’s health minister to meet disgruntled doctors.

The Syngof union wrote to its 1,600 members calling them to be prepared to stop carrying out abortions to “make ourselves heard” and force the government’s hand.

Syngof, which represents about a quarter of France’s gynaecologists and obstetricians, published the letter as a protest over what it claims is a lack of insurance funds for colleagues convicted of medical errors.

Health minister Agnès Buzyn and feminist organisations said the threat was “unacceptable” and amounted to “taking women hostage”.

In a statement Buzyn wrote: “In no case should taking women hostage in this way be used as a lever for negotiations or for media coverage of an issue the department is following very closely.”

She added the threat went against the “unconditional respect for the right to abortion guaranteed in our country” and said she regretted the “distorted image” such statements gave of French gynaecologists and obstetricians “from a union that is supposed to represent them”.

The row erupted just months after Syngof’s president, Dr Bertrand de Rochambeau, justified his refusal to perform pregnancy terminations, declaring that abortions amounted to “homicide”.

In the letter sent this week and signed by his colleague Jean Marty, a former union president, gynaecologists were urged to “be ready to stop carrying out terminations to make ourselves heard”.

After provoking a wave of criticism Marty told journalists he had been deliberately provocative. “That’s why we did it,” he said.

The French Order of Doctors, the equivalent of the General Medical Council in the UK, condemned the threat, which it declared “totally contrary to medical ethics”.

French equality minister Marlène Schiappa also said it was “unacceptable blackmail”. “Everywhere in the world, women’s rights are threatened, sometimes by governments, sometimes by interest groups, non-governmental organisations, unions … the mere existence of these threats is shameful,” Schiappa said.

The feminist organisation Osez le Féminisme tweeted: “Syngof threatens an abortion strike. They could have had a cervical smear strike, non? This from the same union of [Bernard de Rochambeau] who called abortion a homicide”.

The joint president of the Family Planning Association, Caroline Rebhi, said it was a “backwards step … but not entirely a surprise”. She said Syngof had a habit of “going too far in this way”.

“This new incident shows us that even if the right to abortion is written in the law, it cannot yet be taken for granted,” Rebhi said.

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« Reply #3068 on: Mar 15, 2019, 04:32 AM »

The fall of the Israeli peace movement and why leftists continue to fight

‘Peacenik’ is widely used as a slur in Israel. Here four campaigners explain their demise and why they hold on

Oliver Holmes and Quique Kierszenbaum in Jerusalem
15 Mar 2019 05.00 GMT

It’s a sad-looking protest. A few dozen members of Israel’s beleaguered peace movement mill around on a road in east Jerusalem, holding signs in Arabic, English and Hebrew declaring: “Stop the occupation.” Older, well-dressed intellectual leftwingers with grey hair and round spectacles mingle with a scruffier younger crowd.

One man with a cigarette dangling in his mouth rings a cowbell. A few Israeli police look on with bored expressions. Traffic meanders by as normal. Everyone seems to know each other. Another person sitting on the side of the road gestures to a journalist. “Do I have shit on my head?” he asks, looking up for birds on power lines overhead.

This is part of what remains of the Israeli peace camp, crippled by a political system that has lurched wildly to the right. “Leftist” and “peacenik” are widely used as dismissive slurs against an ever-embattled section of society who are increasingly on the fringe and slammed as traitors.

In an upcoming election, the issue of the Palestinians – once the central focus of Israeli politics – is often sidestepped. A December poll found while more than half of Jewish Israelis want peace negotiations, almost 75% believed they would fail. The group that ran the survey, the Israel Democracy Institute, said the peace issue has “disappeared almost completely from the Israeli public discourse”.

Four members of Israel’s beleaguered leftwing explain how this happened and why they are holding on:

The protester
Pepe Goldman holds a ‘Stop the occupation’ sign at the Sheikh Jarrah protest.

One demonstrator at the rally, Pepe Goldman, an Argentinian Jew who emigrated to Israel in 1976, has protested ever since. “There is a process of burning out,” he says on the sidelines. “Unfortunately, we are a small minority. Israelis are very, very ...” he says, before restarting the sentence: “I would say they don’t give a shit about what is going on.”

After years of failed attempts, many Israelis are asking themselves whether peace, not to mention a Palestinian state, is necessary when Gaza is entirely blocked off, the West Bank occupation is tightly managed, and the economy is booming.

The 67-year-old no longer protests to convince his fellow citizens. He comes for more limited but concrete reasons – as an Israeli, with the extra rights under the law that entails, he can stand as a human shield for Palestinians who are facing forced evictions or attacks from settlers.

Despite beatings by settlers and dwindling numbers, he continues his activism every Friday. “We only live once. I could not forgive myself if I let all this happen.”

The repentant soldier
Yehuda Shaul during a tour of the West Bank.

Yehuda Shaul is 37, but his whitened beard, broad shoulders and weatherbeaten face paint a picture of a much older man. On many days, the Israeli ex-combat soldier is at the front of a bus, touring the West Bank to show Israelis and foreign visitors what the occupation looks like. The organisation he founded, Breaking the Silence, is made up of veterans who want to expose the reality of Israel’s grip over Palestinian life.

Shaul’s knowledge is encyclopaedic. He appears to know the date of every settlement – and there are more than 140 with approximately 600,000 residents – was established and how each one affects the Palestinians living around it.

When Breaking the Silence first started after the violent second intifada, Shaul says his group was “mainstream” – critical voices, but one that came from the respected institution of the armed forces. “We had earned the right to speak out.”

But after Benjamin Netanyahu made deals with hard-line religious nationalists in 2015 to form the most rightwing coalition government in the country’s history, pro-settler forces grew in power.

That is when the attacks on Breaking the Silence ramped up. Shaul reels off some from memory: an arson attempt on their offices; people working undercover to infiltrate the organisation; a law that was dubbed the “Breaking the Silence” bill to ban them from speaking in schools; and a bloody nose last summer when a settler punched him during a tour. Netanyahu even cancelled a meeting with the German foreign minister after he said he would speak to the former troops.

One particularly bitter episode occurred after phone numbers of his colleague’s family members were posted online by a troll. Someone called her grandparents at 3am pretending to be a hospital worker to say she had died in a car crash. Shaul was shocked but unsurprised. “When the defence minister calls you a spy, and the prime minister says you crossed a red line, and the tourism minister says you’re a traitor. People answer the call,” he says. “Remember McCarthy? He’s alive and kicking and here in Israel.”

The columnist
Amira Hass

Amira Hass drinks a small whiskey in a bar in Ramallah to fend off a cold. Behind her the famed 1936 “Visit Palestine” poster hangs on the wall. Since 1993, she has lived in the territories, first in Gaza and now in the West Bank. As an Israeli writer, she says you should reside in the place you write about. But she cannot think of a single other Jewish Israeli journalist who lives here.

Ending 51-years of Israeli military rule is not an issue in this election, she says, because a new generation has come “to regard this reality as normal”.

There used to be an “unease” in society, “because there was still an understanding that there was a contradiction between our self-image as enlightened, progressive, liberal, democratic, and the occupation. You had had a generation who knew what life was like before [the occupation began in] 1967.”

As the settler movement has succeeded in becoming a significant sector of society, the idea of annexing the huge swaths of land they have taken is rapidly becoming a mainstream idea, she says. “They are high middle class, they are savvy, they are in the military, they are in hi-tech.”

There is no longer pro- or anti-peace camps in Israel, Hass adds, just “the winning camp”.

The politician
Dr Yosef “Yossi” Beilin.

Yossi Beilin, the only one of the four to have held a position in government, is also the most optimistic. Much of his three decades of political life was in the pro two-state Labour party but also in Meretz, which is firmly anti-occupation. Both parties are now in decline. In the 1990s, he was part of secret talks in Norway that led to the Oslo accords, a framework to make a peace deal that ultimately stalled.

“There is a general feeling that there is nothing to do,” he says.

Few doves like him remain in the Israeli parliament. The former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, one of the country’s most prominent peace advocates, left politics this month after polls indicated her tiny party would not make it into parliament again. In her leaving speech, Livni said peace had become a “dirty word”.

Beilin, now 70, says he promised to leave politics at 60 to allow a younger crowd to bring new ideas. But would he have retired if his pro-peace ideology had been more successful? “It’s a good question. Maybe not.”

Still, he denies peace is off the agenda. It is a primary part of the Israeli psyche, he argues. “Sometimes it is the elephant in the room (but) this is the real story of Israel.”

Asked to explain his steadfast optimism, he replies: “Because we need it badly.”

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« Reply #3069 on: Mar 15, 2019, 04:47 AM »

Maddow reads the GOP’s newly released transcripts of FBI interviews — and they destroy Trump’s accusations of conspiracy

Raw Story

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Tuesday explained how a conservative lawmaker from Georgia undermined the position of Capitol Hill Republicans through a strategic blunder.

“I should mention, when it comes to efforts by Congressional Republicans and the Trump White House to try to fend off the Russia investigation, one of the things happening over the past few days is the top Republican member of the Judiciary Committee … has unilaterally been releasing unredacted transcripts — or almost totally unredacted transcripts — from witnesses that come before that committee for its part of the Russia investigation,” Maddow noted.

“And the transcripts he’s been releasing are from witnesses who the Republicans and the Trump White House and conservative media have been trying to vilify as terrible bad guys somehow in the Russia investigation,” she explained. “They picked those three — Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr because all of those are people who the Republicans and the White House and conservative media have vilified, tried to turn into terrible, terrible bad guys because of their roles in the Russia investigation.”

“But now this congressman from Georgia, Doug Collins, has decided that unilaterally what he’s going to do — to stick it to the Democrats — is he’s going to release the whole transcripts from these witnesses,” she noted.

“And I know why he’s doing it, but I’m not sure he’s thought it through,” she explained.

Maddow noted that, “now have the whole transcripts to read — and the whole transcripts definitely don’t help their case when it comes to trying to make people like Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr look like bad guys.”

Watch Maddow read the transcripts that blow up the GOP’s accusations.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOuJ65gmLAc


‘A threat of fascist violence’: Trump’s ominous comments to Breitbart reveal his worst impulses

Cody Fenwick, AlterNet - COMMENTARY
15 Mar 2019 at 23:45 ET                  

Speaking with Breitbart News, President Donald Trump delivered a garbled but nevertheless disturbing statement in an article published Thursday that many interpreted as a prediction — or possibly a threat — of political violence.

Though the outlet didn’t provide an outright transcript or quote the questions Trump was responding to, it said the following remark came in a discussion about “how the left is fighting hard”:

    “You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress … with all this invest[igations]—that’s all they want to do is –you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.”

As is often the case with Trump’s rambling answers and statements, it’s not entirely obvious what he means here. But he seems to be suggesting that while Democrats “play” at being tough — presumably, by using the formal powers of Congress and the courts to check and restrain his power on occasion — Republicans and his supporters are really tough. The clear implication being that, if Democrats go too far (by doing what? Uncovering his criminal activity? Winning the next election?) his supporters will resort to extreme measures to fight back.

Most troublingly, he refers to the “military” as his supporters — implying it may be more loyal to him personally than to the office he holds.

“This is…a threat of fascist violence by the President ?” said MSNBC host Chris Hayes, responding to the remarks on Twitter.

Writing for the Washington Post, Greg Sargent reminded us that Trump has played this game before, most notably when he suggested that ‘Second Amendment people” might somehow be able to stop Hillary Clinton from appointing judges if she were elected president.

We shouldn’t casually accuse the president of threatening political violence. But Trump’s garbled vagueness, his apparent inability to express a complete thought at times, often serves his purpose better than explicit threats would. Members of his party might have to actually say something against him if he genuinely threatened that he’d use the military or the police or a group of violent supporters to maintain his grip on power. So he won’t say that explicitly. But he’ll plant the seed of the idea — enough to provoke and inspire fear, but not enough to earn condemnation.

Lawrence O’Donnell, another MSNBC host, responded to Hayes’ comment by arguing that Trump’s remarks seem to be more a “hope” than a threat.

“Trump’s supporters aren’t as bad & violent & criminal as he hopes they are,” he said. “They peacefully watched President Obama inaugurated twice. They’ll do that again for the next Democrat. Let’s not help him fan his imaginary flame.”

Others have been critical of the idea that Trump is slouching toward authoritarianism, pointing out that he’s actually a particularly weak leader. His defeat in the Senate on Thursday, for example, showed that he has much less control over elected members of his own party than he might hope for.

But Trump’s weakness is not a counterpoint to his authoritarian streak. In fact, it may be a necessary condition of it. If Trump were a powerful leader within Democratic strictures, maintaining the ability to convince lawmakers and voters to support his agenda and expertly overcoming legal objections, he’d have no need to resort to authoritarian measures like the exploitation of the National Emergencies Act to seize funds for a border wall.

It’s when he’s at his weakest — when his party abandons him, when the rule of law threatens to maintain him — that he’s most likely to lash out and break the bonds of normal democratic governance. That’s when his off-hand suggestions of violence and his dismissal of the legitimacy of any opposition become truly scary.


‘Revolting and pathetic’: Trump blasted by conservative as a ‘wannabe thug’ for his veiled threat of supporter violence

Raw Story

On Thursday, during an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, conservative pundit Rick Wilson railed against President Donald Trump for inciting violence.

In an interview with Breitbart News, Trump said that he has a tough base who would defend him if they had to.

“He’s issuing a vague threat of violence against his political opponents, claiming that he has the police, military, and bikers, those he calls the ‘tough’ people, on his side,” Lemon said.

Wilson said that Trump behaves more like a “wannabe thug” than the president of America.

“This is the kind of thing that normal presidents who are sane who respect and adhere to American tradition and acknowledge institutions, normal conservatives, would never say,” Wilson said.

“We do not in this country use the power of the state against our political enemies in the way that Donald Trump described,” he added. “This is a man who loves this language because he’s not really an American president. He is a wannabe authoritarian, he’s a wannabe thug.”

“He’s a guy that looks at dictators and looks at authoritarians and looks at strongmen and warlords around the world and says that’s the best role model for America. This is a real window into Donald Trump’s character. It’s not joking. It’s not funny. This is what Donald Trump actually believes inside and it’s a revolting, disgusting, pathetic way to live as an American president,” he said.


Russian spies were all over the 2016 race — and they were working for one candidate: Donald Trump

Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon - COMMENTARY
15 Mar 2019 at 06:15 ET                  

Let’s take a trip into the mind of Vladimir Putin in the Summer of 2015 about the time that Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president.The Russian president is sitting over there in Moscow, and he’s a very unhappy man. The summer before, in 2014, numerous government officials, oligarch friends of Putin, and several financial institutions owned by the Russian government had been sanctioned by the Obama administration in retaliation for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and seizure of Crimea. Among the banks sanctioned was the Vnesheconombank (VEB), a government owned bank with offices in New York and elsewhere in the United States that Putin and his pals had used to spy on American financial institutions and to launder money.Putin had already started making moves in 2014. Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) in St. Petersburg, almost certainly a civil arm of the Russian intelligence agency, the GRU, and funded by the Russian government, had already begun operating within the United States. The IRA had established its so-called “Translator Project” back in April of 2014 and within months had sent two of its agents into this country on visas obtained under false pretenses. These agents had the mission of establishing the internet infrastructure necessary to infiltrate and interfere with the upcoming presidential campaign by buying false identities, laundering Russia-supplied money, and establishing web pages and Facebook accounts that could be used during the campaign.

By the summer of 2015, Putin apparently concluded that the best way to get the sanctions on Russians lifted was to make sure that the next American president was friendly to Russia and likely to go along with Putin’s desire to have the sanctions canceled.

That summer, the Internet Research Agency began buying political ads on Facebook and using fake Twitter accounts to post messages about divisive political issues and critical of Hillary Clinton. According to testimony given to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Facebook, over the next two years more than 150 million Americans had seen fake political information posted on Facebook and Instagram by the Internet Research Agency. According to a 2017 report in The New York Times, fake Russian accounts on Twitter posted hundreds of thousands of anti-Clinton messages using automated “bots.”

Also in the summer of 2015, the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD, informed its counterparts in the American intelligence community (probably in the CIA and or NSA) that a Russian group of hackers known as Cozy Bear, working for the GRU, had hacked the Democratic National Committee computer networks.

Let’s stop right there. By any measure, this is espionage activity by a hostile foreign power. The object of the espionage might not have involved what we usually think of as national security secrets such as information about U.S. military capabilities and intentions or nuclear warfare, but it was espionage nevertheless. Agents of the Russian government were secretly obtaining information about the American political process and using that information to benefit one political party, the Republicans, and to damage the other political party, the Democrats.

In the world of business, this would be equivalent to obtaining industrial secrets from one business and using them to benefit a business friendly to the hostile power. Two Russian intelligence agents were convicted of just such a scheme in New York in 2013. One of the agents was working for the bank that was owned by the Russian government and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in 2014 after Putin’s seizure of Crimea, the Vneseconombank.

So the government of Vladimir Putin had unleashed its main intelligence service, the GRU, to spy on the Democratic Party. And Putin’s government was using the Internet Research Agency to establish an infrastructure within the United States that it could use to influence the presidential election against Hillary Clinton, known to be no fan of Putin’s.

And what was happening right about then in New York City? Why, isn’t that Donald and Melania Trump I see slowly descending the escalator in Trump Tower? Why, yes, it is! It’s June 16, 2015, and Donald Trump throws his proverbial hat into the proverbial ring of the 2016 presidential race.

What else did Putin have going on that summer? Well, gun-loving Russian spy Maria Butina was running around the United States hatching plans with American political consultant Paul Erickson to influence the presidential campaign. She writes a proposal for something called the “Diplomacy Project” in which she proposes to use her contacts with prominent Republicans in the National Rifle Association to influence American policy with Russia. She checks in regularly with her Russian sponsor, Alexander Torshin, a Russian politician and Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia who is close to none other than Vladimir Putin. They also meet with American officials of the Federal Reserve and an undersecretary of the Department of the Treasury. In July of 2015, at a conference in Las Vegas known as “Freedom Fest,” Butina asks candidate Trump if he is elected president, will he lift sanctions on Russia. Trump allows as how that’s not a bad idea.

In the summer of 2018, Butina pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States, admitting in her plea: “With Person 1’s [Erickson’s] assistance and subject to Russian Official’s [Torshin’s] direction, Butina sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over US politics. Butina sought to use those unofficial lines of communication for the benefit of the Russian Federation, acting through Russian Official [Torshin].”

Wait a minute! We’re getting ahead of ourselves! Who’s that I see over there, running around and making big moves over the summer of 2015? Why, it’s George Papadopoulos, applying for a position in the Trump presidential campaign. When he doesn’t gain that position, young Papadopoulos goes to work on the Ben Carson campaign. The Carson campaign runs out of steam a few months later, in January of 2016, and Papadopoulos redoubles his efforts to join the Trump campaign. In March of 2016, he gets an interview with a top Trump campaign official for the position of foreign policy adviser. According to the Department of Justice sentencing memorandum filed by his lawyers at the time he was sentenced to a short term in prison after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians Papadopoulos is informed by a Trump campaign staffer during the interview that the Trump campaign’s “focus would be on improving relations with Russia.” Papadopoulos is hired, and later in March of 2016, Trump announces to the Washington Post that he has named him as a foreign policy adviser to his campaign.

Big things are in store for young Papadopoulos in the coming months, as he meets with a mysterious “professor” Joseph Mifsud in London and is told by the “professor” that during a recent trip to Moscow, officials of the Russian government informed him that they have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails” that they are willing to share with the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos dutifully reports this interesting little tidbit back to Trump headquarters in New York City.

In the space of less than two years, Putin’s circle is closed. The Russian president wanted to find a way to get the Obama sanctions on Russia lifted. He salted the soup of the American political process with the Internet Research Agency and his main intelligence service, the GRU. The Internet Research Agency put its agents on the ground in the United States and began setting up fake Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts they could use against Hillary Clinton. The GRU began its hacking of the Democratic Party’s computer records. By March of 2016, two contacts with the Trump campaign had been made. A person acting on behalf of the Russian government reached out to George Papadopoulos with an offer to help the Trump campaign, and Paul Manafort, a man well-known in Russian political and intelligence circles had been hired by the Trump campaign.

Donald Trump hadn’t even gotten the Republican nomination for president yet, and everywhere you looked around the Trump campaign, there were Russian spies at work. It’s almost as if it was all part of a plan, and it was. It was Putin’s plan, and Trump was its beneficiary.


Ivanka Trump and her business dealings are the target of a new House investigation: report

Shira Tarlo, Salon
15 Mar 2019 at 22:38 ET      

Democrats in the House of Representatives appear to be quietly scrutinizing Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter and a senior adviser White House adviser. Although the first daughter was conspicuously absent from a blast of document requests that the House Judiciary Committee sent last week to 81 individuals and organizations linked to the president, congressional Democrats still seem interested in examining Ivanka Trump and her business ventures, albeit doing so in a more circumspect manner.

Of the 81 document requests sent by the Judiciary Committee, 52 organizations and entities were asked to produce documents related to Ivanka Trump or her business ventures, according to the New York Times. They were also asked whether foreign governments had offered her gifts, money, loans or capital investments in her companies — any of which could potentially violate federal or ethics laws, given her position within the White House.

“She’d be in violation of the Constitution if she was getting any business deals from foreign governments,” Richard W. Painter, the chief ethics officer under President George W. Bush, told the Times. (Painter was referring to the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits government officials from accepting gifts or payments from states or foreign governments without congressional approval.)

Painter noted that House Democrats are also probing other payments that “aren’t emoluments clause violations” but could be creating “financial conflicts of interests for her.”

“The idea here is to get an awful lot of information we would have had if there had been more detailed disclosures about the entities the Trump family controls,” he said.

House Democrats are examining Ivanka Trump to determine “if she leveraged her role in government to profit for herself,” the Times reported. Although Democrats in the lower chamber are attempting to quietly probe the first daughter, cautious that scrutinizing President Trump’s adult children while they investigate the president could launch a political firestorm, the list of those asked to turn over materials that may illustrate a relationship with foreign governments appears extensive. It includes, “George Nader, the Lebanese-American businessman who is cooperating with the special counsel’s inquiry; Erik Prince, the founder of the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater; Matthew Calamari, the former Trump bodyguard turned businessman; and Hope Hicks, a former White House communications director. Others were Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager; Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser; and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization,” the Times reported.

The Trump family’s foreign business dealings – and the potential conflicts of interest they present – have been a source of controversy ever since President Trump’s inauguration in 2017, with many critics questuoning if the first family profits off 45’s White House tenure. The president has resigned from his namesake company, the Trump Organization, and he has turned over the operation of his business to his two eldest sons: Donald Jr. and Eric Trump.

Since the election, Ivanka Trump and and her husband, Jared Kushner, also stepped away from the management of their businesses in order to work at the White House. The couple, however, never fully divested from their family businesses and retain numerous ownership stakes. While they are not legally required to sell all of their assets in order to work at the White House, rules prohibit federal employees from participating in matters in which they have a financial interest.

But financial disclosure forms logging a long list of fashion, investment and real estate assets revealed that Ivanka and Kushner increased their wealth while serving as senior advisers to president. The forms disclosed that the couple held assets totalling between $82 million and $222 million in 2017.

In the summer of 2018, Ivanka Trump shuttered her eponymous fashion brand but the first daughter recently obtained new trademarks in China even as her father was publicly declaring a full-blown trade war with with Beijing. The president of the Ivanka Trump brand has said in a statement that the fashion line regularly files for trademarks – “especially in regions where trademark infringement is rampant.”

In another case, Ivanka Trump and her husband promoted an Opportunity Zone program that offers huge tax breaks to property developers who invest in low-income communities across the country. Through the program, the pair could make millions in tax abatements.

It also remains unclear whether Ivanka Trump involved in efforts to build a Trump-branded skyscraper in Russia before her father pursued a White House bid. Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and “fixer,” has alleged that efforts to build the tower in Moscow, which never materialized, continued throughout the 2016 campaign. Ivanka Trump previously claimed she was unaware of Cohen’s attempts to build in Moscow in 2016.


Trump ‘more alone than at any point in his presidency’ after GOP senators defy him with border emergency vote: Nicolle Wallace

Raw Story

President Donald Trump is increasingly alienated from Republican lawmakers as they finally begin to stand up his imperial presidency, the panel on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House” explained on Thursday.

“This afternoon, Donald Trump is in many ways more alone than he has been at any point in his presidency,” anchor Nicolle Wallace explained.

“Barely two hours ago, the Senate voted to officially rebuke a cornerstone of his platform — his national emergency declaration aimed at building a border wall using money Congress had previously denied him,” she continued.

The final vote was 59 to 41, though Trump has promised to veto the resolution.


    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 14, 2019

“I think this is a stunning rebuke to the president that reflects this turmoil that’s building, or so it seems, within the Republican Party right now under President Trump,” Axios reporter Alexi McCammond noted.

“This whole national emergency thing is reflective of the same pattern of behavior that we’ve seen from him since day one, where he loves using this sort of unilateral executive authority afforded to him by being the president of the United States,” McCammond explained. “Whether that’s legislating via executive orders … or governing via tweet or the pardon power and the way he dangles that with people and now this national emergency, it is not surprising to me that he’s not backing down.”

“It is a little surprising how many Republican senators are breaking from him,” she concluded.

“It also shows the limits of his political powers,” Wallace observed. “They’re down with his Trumpism and they’re down with his ridiculous wall, but they draw a line somewhere on the other side of the wall beyond blowing up the Constitution as it was to leave Congress the powers of appropriation.”

The author of the 2005 book TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald offered his insight on the revolt.

“I think everyone had been waiting and wondering when the GOP was going to demonstrate political courage,” Tim O’Brien reminded. “I think it is good that the Republicans finally stood up and said no.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THYuo1l62TM


House votes 420-0 for Mueller report to be made public

Democratic-backed resolution comes as the special counsel appears to be nearing an end to his investigation

Associated Press
15 Mar 2019 23.28 GMT

The House has unanimously voted for a resolution calling for any final report in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to be made public. The symbolic action was designed to pressure the attorney general, William Barr, to release as much information as possible when the inquiry ends.

The Democratic-backed resolution, which passed 420-0, comes as Mueller appears to be nearing an end to his investigation. Lawmakers in both parties have maintained there will have to be some sort of public discussion when the report is done – and privately hope that a report shows conclusions that are favorable to their own side.

The resolution is unlikely to be passed in the Senate, where the Democratic Leader, Chuck Schumer, tried to bring it up hours after House passage. He was rebuffed when the Senate judiciary committee chairman, Lindsey Graham, objected. But the House vote shows that lawmakers from both parties are eager to view Mueller’s findings after almost two years of speculation about what they might reveal.

Though Mueller’s office has said nothing publicly about the timing of a report, several prosecutors detailed to Mueller’s team have left in recent months, suggesting that the investigation is winding down.

The nonbinding House resolution calls for the public release of any report Mueller provides to Barr, with an exception for classified material. The resolution also calls for the full report to be released to Congress.

“This resolution is critical because of the many questions and criticisms of the investigation raised by the president and his administration,” said the House judiciary committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler. Donald Trump has repeatedly called the inquiry a “hoax” and a “witch-hunt”.

It’s unclear exactly what documentation will be produced at the end of the investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia, and how much of that the justice department will allow people to see. Mueller is required to submit a report to Barr, and then Barr can decide how much of that is released publicly.

Barr said at his confirmation hearing in January that he took seriously the department regulations that said Mueller’s report should be confidential. Those regulations require only that the report explain decisions to pursue or to decline prosecutions, which could range from a bullet-point list to a report running hundreds of pages.

Democrats have said they are unsatisfied with Barr’s answers and want a stronger commitment to releasing the full report, along with interview transcripts and other underlying evidence.

Republicans agree – to a point. In making an argument for transparency, Republican leaders have pointed to Barr’s comments and the existing regulations, without explicitly pressing for the underlying evidence.

The top Republican on the House judiciary panel, Georgia congressman Doug Collins, voted for the resolution but said it was unnecessary.

Collins also had a warning for Democrats: “What happens when it comes back and none of this is true, the president did not do anything wrong? Then the meltdown will occur.”

At least one Republican is siding with Democrats. Texas congressman Will Hurd, a member of the House intelligence committee, said he believes the resolution should have been even broader.

“I want the American people to know as much as they can and see as much as they can,” said Hurd, a former CIA officer. He added that “full transparency is the only way to prevent future innuendo”.

Four Republicans voted present: Michigan congressman Justin Amash, Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, Arizona congressman Paul Gosar and Kentucky congressman Thomas Massie.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley called the resolution “ridiculous”.

“They came in and so many of them said they wanted to work with the president and get things done for infrastructure and healthcare and instead they’re moving on all these radical ideas,” Gidley said of Democrats in an interview on Fox News.

If a full report isn’t released, House Democrats have made clear they will do whatever they can to get hold of it. Nadler has said he would subpoena the final report and invite – or even subpoena – Mueller to talk about it.

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« Reply #3070 on: Mar 16, 2019, 04:39 AM »

Yeast genetically-modified to produce cannabis compounds\


You don’t need cannabis to get cannabinoids — at least not at the University of California, Berkeley. One team there successfully engineered a strain of brewer’s yeast that can produce cannabinoids — chemicals with medicinal and sometimes mind-altering properties.

Where there’s a yeast there’s a way

The team worked with brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), a very common strain of yeast that humans have been using since times immemorial. They engineered this tiny organism to turn galactose, a sugar, into tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis (Cannabis sativa). This new yeast can also synthesize cannabidiol (CBD), another major cannabinoid with potential therapeutic benefits, including anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and analgesic effects.

The authors — led by synthetic biologist Jay Keasling at the University of California, Berkeley — took S. cerevisiae and modified several of its original genes, as well as introducing others from the cannabis plant and five bacteria strains. In total, 16 genetic modifications were needed to allow the yeast to transform galactose into inactive forms of THC or CBD. Simply heating these compounds then switches them into an active form.

As proof of their concept, the team used this yeast to produce solutions with concentrations of roughly 8 milligrams per liter of THC as well as lower levels of CBD.

That’s not really very much. The yields need to be increased at least 100-fold for the process to be cost-competitive with cannabinoids extracted from plants says Jason Poulos, chief executive of Librede for Nature. Librede holds the first patent on a sugar-to-cannabinoid process involving yeast.

However, overall, the findings are encouraging. Previous work on the subject described parts of the cannabinoid production process in yeast, but it never really brought it all together. The presents study is the first to show that, “It actually works inside one cell, which is cool,” Kevin Chen, chief executive of Hyasynth Bio, said to Nature. They hope that this new fermentation process will enable manufacturers to produce THC, CBD, and rare cannabinoids — those found in trace amounts in nature — more cheaply, efficiently, and reliably than conventional plant-based cultivation.

Kesling’s team was also able to engineer the yeast in such a way that it will transform various fatty acids into cannabinoids not seen in nature. Such compounds will be screened to determine any therapeutic properties and, should any hold promise, be patented (as they’re not natural compounds). This could help draw in interest from drug companies, the team admits.

The process is nowhere near ready for commercial applications, however. It will likely take a year and a half or two years of work to make synthetic cannabinoids cheaply enough to sell to either pharmaceutical companies or the general public.

The paper “Complete biosynthesis of cannabinoids and their unnatural analogues in yeast” has been published in the journal Nature

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« Reply #3071 on: Mar 16, 2019, 04:41 AM »

Global climate strike in pictures: Millions of students walk out to demand planetary transformation

Common Dreams
16 Mar 2019 at 06:16 ET                   

All over the planet on Friday, millions of children and young adults walked out of their classrooms in an unprecedented collective action to demand a radical and urgent shift in society’s energy and economic systems in order to avert the worst impacts of human-caused global warming and climate change.

With demonstrations in more than 100 countries and tens of thousands of schools, the worldwide Climate Strike is the largest since 16-year-old Greta Thunberg sparked a wave of increasingly huge marches and walkouts with her one-person strike outside the Swedish Parliament last year.

Since then, Thunberg has admonished and appealed to world leaders at COP24 and Davos, successfully securing a commitment from the European Union to fight the climate crisis while inspiring strikes all over the world. European students began holding weekly walkouts in Brussels in December, while Australian, and German young people are among those who have organized strikes as well.

“We have been born into this world and we have to live with this crisis, and our children and our grandchildren,” Thunberg told a crowd of her peers in Stockholm in Friday. “We are facing the greatest existential crisis humanity has ever faced. And yet it has been ignored. You who have ignored it know who you are.”

    #FridaysForFuture #climatestrike #schoolstrike4climate @vanessadantes1 pic.twitter.com/VcnUsAuOca

    — Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) March 15, 2019

    LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THE MARCH IN BRUSSELS!!! Young people are rising in 2052 places in 123 countries on every continents.

    There is no time to waste. We must #ActOnClimate. #climatestrike #klimaatstaking #FridayForFutures #GreenNewDeal @GretaThunberg 🎬 via @JohnHyphen pic.twitter.com/3CGLMDYE8v

    — Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) March 15, 2019

    Our house is on fire.🔥🌍🔥 #Brussels #ClimateStrike today is bigger than ever before, loud & colorful. 🎨👪🎵🎶☔🌈 Politicians, do you hear us at last? When will you start to listen to #science & #students & #ActOnClimate? #FridaysForFuture #SchoolsStrike4Climate @GretaThunberg pic.twitter.com/6BG677gFPI

    — Maria Green (@MariaHennaG) March 15, 2019

    Sign in St. Paul Minnesota:
    "If you don't act like adults, we will."#climatestrike #FridaysForFuture pic.twitter.com/xUMrJjGz0H

    — Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) March 15, 2019

    Officially more than 150,000 students on #ClimateStrike in Montreal, the number just came in!! #FridaysForFuture #schoolstrike4climate #YouthStrike4Climate pic.twitter.com/1lYS7iHjMr

    — Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) March 15, 2019

    Oh boy, look what happened in Lisbon, Portugal.#FridaysForFuture #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/K1Ew1Zg4ey

    — Angela Fay (@lifelearner47) March 15, 2019

    Beautiful scenes in NYC where thousands of students have gathered at Central Park for the #ClimateStrike. Huge cheers every time a new school joins in. pic.twitter.com/aDp2MujsRj

    — Lucky Tran (@luckytran) March 15, 2019

    In Kyiv, Ukraine, 100+ students appealed to Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman and the govt to recognize climate change as one of the most pressing nationwide problems and to take appropriate action. #Climatestrike took place in six cities in Ukraine.
    Photos: Olena Angelova pic.twitter.com/idIgr8rXvx

    — 350 dot org (@350) March 15, 2019

    HUGE! crowd out in #Barcelona as far as the eye can see. Young people are rising in 2052 places in 123 countries on every continents.

    There is no time to waste. We must #ActOnClimate. #climatestrike #klimaatstaking #FridayForFutures #GreenNewDeal @GretaThunberg 🎬 @luckytran pic.twitter.com/IvzMZPwsBr

    — Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) March 15, 2019

    Mientras algunos discuten por control de identidad a menores, #AdmisiónJusta u otras pequeñeces, los jóvenes solo piden tener un futuro para vivir ¿Se lo daremos? @sebastianpinera @MMAChile @CarolaSchmidtZ #FridaysForFuture #Santiago #climatechange pic.twitter.com/ApMMphupz0

    — Mauro Astete (@MauroAstete) March 15, 2019

    We are thousands of people in #Paris for the global strike for climate ! #Youth4Climate #FridayForFuture @GretaThunberg @FYEG @YouthFrance pic.twitter.com/Nqxgd9Q7yA

    — Antoine Tifine (@AntoineTifine) March 15, 2019

    #climatestrike #fridaysforfuture #Bangladesh #barishal pic.twitter.com/PFueHBjJoz

    — munware alam nirjhor (@munwarenj) March 15, 2019

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« Reply #3072 on: Mar 16, 2019, 04:46 AM »

'It's our time to rise up': youth climate strikes held in 100 countries

School and university students continue Friday protests to call for political action on crisis

Sandra Laville, Matthew Taylor and Daniel Hurst

Students around the world go on climate strike – video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ_QkjieLmw

From Australia to America, children put down their books on Friday to march for change in the first global climate strike.

The event was embraced in the developing nations of India and Uganda and in the Philippines and Nepal – countries acutely impacted by climate change - as tens of thousands of schoolchildren and students in more than 100 countries went on “strike”, demanding the political elite urgently address what they say is a climate emergency.

In Sydney, where about 30,000 children and young people marched from the Town Hall Square to Hyde Park, university student Xander De Vries, 20, said: “It’s our time to rise up. We don’t have a lot of time left; it’s us who have to make a change so I thought it would be important to be here and show support to our generation.”

Coordinated via social media by volunteers in 125 countries and regions, the action spread across more than 2,000 events under the banner of Fridays for Future.

As dusk fell in the antipodes, the baton was passed to Asia, where small groups of Indian students went on strike for the first time.

In Delhi, more than 200 children walked out of classes to protest against inaction on tackling climate change, and similar protests took place on a smaller scale in 30 towns and cities. Vidit Baya, 17, who is in his last year at MDS public school in Udaipur, said: “In India, no one talks about climate change. You don’t see it on the news or in the papers or hear about it from government.

“This was our first strike as a nation and there were young people taking strike action in many cities. It is a fledgling movement but we are very happy with our action today. We are trying to get people to be more aware of climate change and the need to tackle it.”

Across Africa, there were strikes in several countries. In Uganda, Kampala international student Hilda Nakabuye addressed striking students in the capital.

    Nakabuye Hilda F. (@NakabuyeHildaF)

    Addressing students at today's #SchoolStrike4Climate in Kampala. @GretaThunberg @Fridays4FutureU @GreenCampaignAf #ClimateStrike #FridayForFuture #KeepMamaAfricaGreen pic.twitter.com/ivaW3Q0paD
    March 15, 2019

In Johannesburg, pupils from St James preparatory school added their voices to the global demand for governments to act.

    Janet Smith (@Janet_xasperate)

    The children of St James Preparatory in Johannesburg, South Africa, add their voices to the world #FridaysforFuture #ClimateStrike #Greenpeace pic.twitter.com/yK8IlRU7Gp
    March 15, 2019

Profile..Who is Greta Thunberg?

In Sweden, youngsters gathered in Stockholm’s central square to hear 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the girl whose single-minded determination has inspired millions of people around the world and earned a nomination this week for the Nobel peace prize.

When she appeared, the crowd chanted her name and she earned cheers and applause by telling them: “We have been born into this world and we have to live with this crisis, and our children and our grandchildren. We are facing the greatest existential crisis humanity has ever faced. And yet it has been ignored. You who have ignored it know who you are.”

Political leaders in some countries criticised the strikes. In Australia, the education minister, Dan Tehan, said: “Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage.” The UK’s education secretary, Damian Hinds, claimed the disruption increased teachers’ workloads and wasted lesson time.

But young people brushed off the criticism.

Jean Hinchcliffe, 14, striking in Sydney, said on the Today programme: “I have been really frustrated and really angry about the fact I don’t have a voice in politics and I don’t have a voice in the climate conversation when my politicians are pretty much refusing to do anything … So I decided to strike and … suddenly us kids are being listened to and that’s why we continue to strike and feel it’s so important.”

In the UK, where an estimated 10,000 young people gathered in London and thousands more took to the streets in Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as other towns and cities, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, broke ranks with Hinds and praised the action in a video message with other Conservative MPs.

“Collective action of the kind you’re championing can make a difference and a profound one,” Gove said. “Together we can beat climate change.

“It will require us to change the way in which our energy is generated, change the way in which our homes are built, change the way in which our land is managed and farming operates. But that change is absolutely necessary.”

In Tokyo, young people had earlier marched through the city’s Shibuya scramble crossing as part of the climate strike. About 130 people – including school and university students and other supporters – joined in the march, which started at the United Nations university and wound its way through the streets of the capital, including the busy Omotesando shopping street.

One of the organisers, Ten Maekawa, 20, led the crowd in chants of: “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”

Maekawa said he believed it was important for youth to mobilise on the issue: “In 2030, the Earth will be in danger because of climate change. They’re responsible for the future, so it’s very important for the young generation to speak up about climate change.”

In Florida, Marcela Mulholland, a 21-year-old student who in her lifetime has witnessed how rising sea levels are threatening her home and community, urged young people across the world to continue their campaign. “There’s no better way to find hope and meaning in this trying time than working alongside fellow people who share my grief for the world,” she said.

Elsewhere in the United States, young people carried hand painted signs sporting their own slogans: “Denial is not a policy” and “fight now or swim l8r”.

More than a hundred students marched across the Capitol’s lawn in DC, chanting “What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now,” and were urged on by speakers organised by the Youth Climate Strike US. “It is time the world listens to these young people and pays attention to what we’re asking for,” said 16-year-old Maddy Fernands, the group’s press director.

The speakers included Minneapolis resident Isra Hirsi, the 16-year-old daughter of Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress in 2018.

“Yes, we are at a dark moment in our history, but we are the light that can bring change,” Hirsi told the crowd. “We must end the extraction of the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world and keep it in the ground.”

- Additional reporting by David Crouch in Sweden

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« Reply #3073 on: Mar 16, 2019, 04:50 AM »

Super bloom: can this tiny California town avoid another 'flowergeddon'?

The last time Anza-Borrego park experienced a bloom about 200,000 visitors flocked to see the bonanza of spring flowers

Katharine Gammon in Borrego Springs, California
16 Mar 2019 10.00 GMT

It’s lunchtime at Kesling’s Kitchen in Borrego Springs, and the line is out the door and down the block. It takes about 20 minutes to get inside to order food. The rush isn’t surprising: Borrego Springs is a small town that swells in size when people flock to see wildflowers around Anza-Borrego, California’s largest state park.

Plentiful winter rain and precise conditions have led to a bonanza of spring wildflowers this season. And while that can be a great thing, it also raised fears that Borrego Springs could once again face what locals have dubbed “flowergeddon”, an apocalyptic situation caused by booming visitation.

The last time the region experienced a wildflower bloom was March 2017, when some 200,000 visitors flocked to the super bloom. After the years-long statewide drought, “there was a lot of pent-up excitement”, said Betsy Knaak, the executive director of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, who has lived in the area for four decades.

Borrego Springs (population 3,000) was unprepared for the avalanche of visitors coming from nearby Los Angeles, San Diego and even farther afield. The town ran out of food, hotel rooms, gas, and money in the ATMs. Traffic backed up for 20 miles; restaurant employees quit on the spot. When bathrooms filled up, visitors began using the fields to relieve themselves.

“It was like being in the Super Bowl of flower blooms,” says Knaak. “We were caught off-guard. We’re a rural, isolated community and everything has to be trucked in.”

This year, the town wanted to be prepared. Knaak and an all-community committee has been meeting regularly for months, since the winter rains foretold a bountiful flower year. They established a website with downloadable maps, manned information booths, and set up port-a-potties in Borrego Springs and near the flower areas. “This year, we are prepared and our restaurants stocked up – as are the gas stations and ATMs,” she says. “We are ready.”

Wildflower super blooms have become a requisite backdrop for Instagram influencers, who flock to the fields en masse. In just the past few days, some of the top photos tagged in Anza-Borrego State Park have garnered tens of thousands of likes. Meanwhile, #superbloom has more than 92,000 posts.

Other southern California towns, such as Lake Elsinore and the Antelope Valley area outside Los Angeles, are bracing for a tide of visitors this season. Social media popularity is a double-edged sword that national parks are grappling with – more attendance can lead to poor behavior, such as trampling flowers, or off-road driving in protected areas.

This year, however, preparation seems to have paid off. The early rains made it easier to predict that the bloom was coming, and it looks set to last over a longer period, meaning that even busy weekends don’t feel as packed with people. On a recent Sunday cars lined the road but there was no crush of people on the trails or in the flowers. Still, hotel rooms in Borrego Springs and nearby Julian were fully booked for two weekends straight.

In a field outside Borrego Springs on this particular morning, flowers cover the green hillsides, giving the effect of an impressionist painting. The field is busy but not overly crowded – people hug, wander and pose for photos in the flowers. Port-a-potties dot the landscape, and the town has set up information booths near the fields, too. Conversations in numerous languages can be heard on the sandy trails through the flowers.

Jamie DuBose watches her two young daughters, Cara Mia and Ava, romp through fields of vibrant golden desert dandelions, purple sand verbena and delicate white desert lilies. DuBois, who has lived in Chula Vista, near the Mexican border, for five years, hasn’t been to see the flowers before, but has been watching photos on social media closely. “It’s just one of those things you hear about, living here,” she says. “With all the rain, I knew it would be phenomenal. Even the drive over was beautiful.”

This year, an extraordinary proliferation of painted lady butterflies and sphinx moth caterpillars are part of the natural spectacle too. The butterflies are the result of a phenomenon known as an “irruption” – the strong rains brought a population explosion, a billion strong, in northern Mexico. Rain has also brought a boom in sphinx moth caterpillars, some as fat and large as a cigar. The caterpillars can eat the wildflowers, but they also provide food for hawks migrating from Argentina to North America.
The last time the park experienced a wildflower bloom was March 2017, when some 200,000 visitors flocked to the super bloom.

Like the flora and fauna, the small towns can also benefit from the bonanza. “For the most part, everyone is very excited,” says Bri Fordem, the executive director at the Anza-Borrego Foundation. “For a short period of time there are some people who gripe, but it’s a positive feeling because people are here to share the value and see a little slice of what we get all the time.” Despite the headaches in 2017, Borrego Springs business owners said they made as much money in about 45 days as they did the rest of the year.

Back in the line at Kesling’s Kitchen, the soup special is cactus and green chili, and the kitchen is serving up wood-fired pizzas with an optional gluten-free crust. The restaurant has run out of basil, but it’s not a dealbreaker. At the front of the line, a harried employee apologizes for the wait. “We’re a little short-staffed this weekend,” she explains. “It’s wildflower season.”

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« Reply #3074 on: Mar 16, 2019, 04:54 AM »

Nigella Lawson is a feminist goddess – her radical attitude to women’s bodies proves it

Chitra Ramaswamy

The food writer has joined Jameela Jamil in criticising the ‘pernicious’ practice of airbrushing, once again emphasising that life is for living and stomachs for filling


Nigella Lawson is a joyful and triumphant salve at all times of year, but the food writer’s recipes and attitude to food are ripe for a Christmas binge. ’Tis the season, after all, of increased emotional labour for women and the absurd instruction, which is body-shaming trussed up as tradition, to consume thousands of calories in one dinner but diet frantically while beating oneself with kale for the rest of winter.

Fighting against all this self-denying nonsense is a cook who two decades ago announced herself to the world with the thrilling words: “I have nothing to declare but my greed.” Now Lawson has joined the airbrushing debate after Jameela Jamil’s call for the practice to be put “in the bin”. “I’ve had to tell American TV stations not to airbrush my sticking out stomach,” Lawson tweeted back to Jamil. “The hatred of fat, and assumption that we’d all be grateful to be airbrushed thinner, is pernicious.”

Hallelujah for her eternal wisdom! In 2013, when she presented that dire US show The Taste (demonstrating her own maxim that none of us are flawless), she spoke about refusing to let billboard images of her stomach be airbrushed. This proves that a) Lawson has always been a feminist goddess, but we are usually too busy laughing at her recipe for avocado toast and devotion to alliteration to notice and b) that we have long had an unhealthy obsession with her stomach. It is just a stomach, like those sported by male chefs the world over without the need for introductions such as: “TV cook, 58, well known for her voluptuous figure.”

Airbrushing is erasure. It is the deliberate retouching of an image, usually of a woman and without her express permission, to make it appear more desirable to, well, whom exactly? Men? Other women? The beauty industry? Tabloids? Are we seriously still having a discussion about whether this is reasonable? Also, it is becoming more insidious, as airbrushing has made the leap from magazines to social media. We are all at it now, with our filters and cropping tools. Who needs Vanity Fair to give us a third leg?

Just because a message is served with a side order of black cabs to north London delis and too many tea candles doesn’t mean it is not subversive. As the food writer Bee Wilson noted of Lawson’s unique influence, hers has always been “the voice of a woman who did not feel the need to hide or disguise her own appetite, as so many of us are taught to do”. Lawson’s contribution to the way we view our bodies and the food that nourishes them is nothing short of radical. She teaches us that guilt need not accompany pleasure, that life is for living and stomachs are for filling.

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