02 July 2016


War History Online has an article by Andrew Knighton about Yamamoto, prescient as ever:

The man who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (photo), was an unusual and contradictory figure. A man with peaceful international connections around the world, he would lead his country’s Navy in a war he did not believe in, trying to win a conflict he expected to lose. Though a senior figure who did not fight on the front line, he would die in military action, as the tide of war hung in the balance. 
1. An international figureBorn in 1884, Isoroku Yamamoto became a career naval officer. He graduated from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy at the age of twenty, was wounded at the Battle of Tsushima in the Russo-Japanese War, returned to training at the Naval Staff College, and emerged as a lieutenant commander in 1916.
The Japanese naval establishment was less aggressive than that of the army, and Yamamoto was an advocate of gunboat diplomacy over actual war. This was particularly true in relation to the United States, a country he knew well. He studied at Harvard from 1919 to 1921, was twice the naval attachĂ© to Washington and, while in the US, took the time to study its business practices and customs. He accompanied diplomats to naval conferences in 1930 and 1934, providing military insight into talks about arms limitation. 
2. Naval innovationsInitially a gunnery specialist, in 1924 Yamamoto changed his focus to naval aviation. Aerial combat had only been a feature of warfare for a decade, since the First World War had pushed the European powers into finding ways to fight with aircraft. Yamamoto was therefore at the cutting edge of military thinking, dealing with techniques and technologies that would be vital to the very different naval combat of World War Two.
First as head of the Aeronautics Department and then as commander of the First Carrier Division, Yamamoto gained extensive experience in his field. He pushed for innovations in naval aeronautics, such as a focus on long-range bombers operating from land against enemy fleets. This led to the adoption of land-based bombers equipped with torpedoes, and long-range aircraft such as the Mitsubishi G3M and G4M medium bombers, which could fly great distances but at the price of fragile, vulnerable frames.
Made into an admiral and commander in chief of the Navy, Yamamoto brought innovative approaches to the way existing forces were fielded. Gathering Japan’s six largest aircraft carriers into the single First Air Fleet, he provided the Japanese Navy with a force of incredible striking capacity. The downside of this was that it put all Japan’s best eggs in one basket, making her best carriers vulnerable to being taken out in a single successful attack. 
3. Opposition to WarAs Yamamoto made his changes, Japan was heading towards war. The Army was generally more belligerent than the Navy, and Yamamoto fitted this picture, opposing the Army’s grandiose plans to not only to conquer East Asia, but to take on the United States of America.
Yamamoto’s opposition was not based on principles. For all that he admired things about the US, he was a military man and a loyal supporter of Japanese power. He opposed the war because he did not believe Japan could win it. He believed that America was too vast and powerful for Japan to conquer and that without conquering them Japan would not be able to defeat the Americans.
By the time he was proven right, Yamamoto would be dead and his country ruined. 
4. The Reluctant Planner
“If I am told to fight regardless of the consequences, I shall run wild for the first six months or a year, but I have absolutely no confidence about the second and third years.” Admiral Yamamoto
Unfortunately for all involved, the pro-war faction gained control of the Japanese government. They were determined to break American influence in the region and dominate it themselves. They believed that, through a fast offensive, they could seize the oilfields and the other raw resources they needed to support the war, and so emerge victorious beyond that first year.
Though he still expected disaster, as a loyal officer Yamamoto bowed to the will of his superiors. He was now faced with the unenviable task of planning the initial knockout blow meant to win that first stage of the war. And so he worked, to the best of his ability, in planning the attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i. This surprise attack with aircraft and midget submarines was meant to destroy the American carrier fleet, crippling Japan’s opponent before the war really began.
The attack on 7 December 1941 was only a partial success. The American fleet suffered great damage but was far from taken out. The Americans were enraged by the attack and launched themselves into the war with total commitment and with great determination. 
5. After Pearl HarborInitial Japanese successes at sea did not lead to American negotiating an end to the war, as Yamamoto and others had optimistically hoped. As the Japanese high command grappled over the decision of what to do next, Yamamoto went back and forth in backing others, until he was able to gain support for his own plan to advance on Midway. The resulting Battle of Midway was a significant defeat for the Japanese and a turning point in the war. 
6. Death in actionFollowing Midway, the Japanese lost the momentum of their initial successes. Yamamoto kept them pushing against the Allies, and Japanese resources, in particular the supply of planes on which his plans were so reliant, started to become scarce. In the longer war of attrition, American industry showed its strength.
In April of 1943, following a further significant defeat at Guadalcanal, Yamamoto undertook an inspection tour in the south Pacific to help raise morale among Japanese forces there. The Americans got word of his location and, on direct orders from President Roosevelt, ambushed Yamamoto’s transport plane on 18 April. Yamamoto and those traveling with him were killed.
He died in a war he opposed, still trying to win it to the end.
Rico says one can honor a valiant enemy, at the same time that you work to kill him...

01 July 2016

Olympic problems for the day

Rico says shit and garbage were bad enough, but body parts?

Politics for the day UF

The Washington Post has an article by Robert Costa and Karen Tumulty about the election of 2016:

Donald Trump’s campaign has begun formally vetting possible running mates, with former House speaker Newt Gingrich (photo, right) emerging as the leading candidate, followed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. But there are more than a half dozen others being discussed as possibilities, according to several people with knowledge of the process.
Given Trump’s unpredictability, campaign associates caution that the presumptive Republican nominee could still shake up his shortlist. But with little more than two weeks before the start of the Republican National Convention, Gingrich and Christie have been asked to submit documents and are being cast as favorites for the post inside the campaign. Gingrich, in particular, is the beneficiary of a drumbeat of support from Trump confidants such as Ben Carson.
A number of senators, including Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Bob Corker of Tennessee are also being reviewed as viable picks, although the extent to which they are being vetted is unclear. A longer shot on Trump’s radar is Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a heavyweight on the right who could bolster Trump’s tepid support among some conservative activists. But Pence is immersed in his reelection race and Trump is said to want a more electric politician at his side rather than a low-profile figure. Most of his primary rivals are reluctant to sign on, and tensions with Ohio Governor John Kasich and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas remain raw.
Details of the running-mate search were provided by five people with knowledge of the process who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations with campaign officials.
Gingrich, who said on Fox News Sunday over the weekend that “nobody has called me” from the Trump campaign about the possibility of being vice president, declined to comment. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks also declined to comment. Christie’s office did not respond to an inquiry.
The contenders under the most serious consideration, such as Gingrich and Christie, have been asked by attorney Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. to answer more than a hundred questions, and to provide reams of personal and professional files that include tax records and any articles or books they have published. Culvahouse, a former White House counsel who is managing the vetting for Trump, was the lawyer who vetted then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for the GOP vice-presidential nomination during the 2008 campaign.
The narrowing list of running-mate possibilities comes at the end of a turbulent period for Trump, who has struggled to raise money since clinching the GOP nomination and has stumbled through a series of self-inflicted controversies, including a racially-charged attack on a sitting Federal judge and a continuing outcry over his rhetoric against Muslims and other minorities.
The presumptive Republican nominee continues to indicate that he will probably choose someone who could balance his brash populist persona with a political profile that includes deep experience in Washington or ties to the party establishment, people familiar with the search said.
The timing of Trump’s announcement was for months expected to happen close to the convention. But campaign aides are now discussing moving it up, perhaps to later next week, so the ticket can generate headlines and coverage and win over party leaders ahead of the party gathering in Cleveland.
With Gingrich, 73, or Christie, 53, the 70-year-old mogul would be joined by a well-connected Republican who shares his combative style and his ease at being a ubiquitous media presence. Both men have won Trump’s favor by actively supporting him; Gingrich primarily through television appearances and Christie through behind-the-scenes talks with party leaders and leading GOP donors. Their experience facing down and cutting deals with Democrats has also drawn the interest of Trump, who has acknowledged that he would be a novice at working directly with lawmakers.
Gingrich would bring with him a history of battling with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, going back to their public fights over health care and Bill Clinton’s agenda and ultimate impeachment in the 1990s during her husband’s presidency. For years, Gingrich was seen by Clinton allies not just as an opponent but a nemesis with a penchant for grandiose rhetoric and barbed attacks, traits that Trump is said to welcome.
Trump himself has heavily turned to elements of the 1990s in recent weeks on the campaign, revisiting past Clinton-related scandals and issues as he builds his case against the former secretary of state.
Sessions and Corker are among the other names mentioned by people who have spoken with Trump officials. Sessions, a conservative populist who was the first senator to endorse Trump last year, has seen many of his trusted aides take on high-ranking roles in the Trump campaign. Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has voiced support for some of Trump’s views.
Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Tom Cotton (Ark.) and John Thune (S.D.) have also been bandied about in Trump Tower as options. Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who previously served in the House, are two of the leading women in the mix.
But shortcomings for many of these candidates have made their chances seem less likely to Trump advisers.
Pence, Thune and Burr would bring heft and have held leadership positions, but they are focused on their reelection bids. Corker is well liked by campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but his recent public criticisms of Trump’s tone and statements have not been welcomed by the candidate.
Cruz is seen as someone Trump would like to bring into the fold because of his political capital with the conservative movement. But their bitter clashes during the primary have left a mark, and Cruz has so far declined to endorse Trump. That has not stopped members of Trump’s team from reaching out to members of Cruz’s circle and trying for a reconciliation.
Trump’s desire for a governing partner is not the only factor that has been mentioned in discussions among aides. Contenders’ rapport with the mogul and their ability to comfortably communicate and defend his nontraditional platform are also crucial, the people familiar with the process said.
[In new poll, support for Trump has plunged, giving Clinton double-digit lead]
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Less central have been the candidates’ home states or regional influence, given that Trump sees the campaign as a nationalized political war that is largely being fought on television.
Trump’s inclination toward naming a seasoned player has been encouraged by Manafort, the longtime GOP insider who has taken full control of the process following Trump’s firing of Corey Lewandowski, who had been campaign manager.

Yet even as Manafort steers the selection and as members of Trump’s orbit — especially his children and son-in-law Jared Kushner — informally weigh in, there is a collective understanding within the campaign that Trump’s voice is the only voice that matters. One person involved in the process suggested the ultimate decision will come down to a committee of one: Trump. “This is in his head,” the person said. “It’s up to him.”
Robert Jeffress, a Dallas pastor who has become close with Trump during the campaign, said in an interview that while he has not spoken to Trump about the vice-presidential slot, Trump has made clear that he “wants someone who can help get his legislative agenda through Congress.”
“I think that is how he is going,” Jeffress said. “He’d be coming in as an outsider, and that has fueled his popularity. But he is the first to admit that he doesn’t know all the ways of Washington. So to actually push what he wants through, he’s willing to reach out and get somebody to lend a hand.”
Rico says that WHAT

Drying up UF

National Geographic has an article by Brian Clark Howard about the man-made disaster of the Aral Sea:

Once the fourth largest lake in the world, Central Asia's shrinking Aral Sea has reached a new low, thanks to decades-old water diversions for irrigation and a more recent drought. Satellite imagery released this week by NASA shows that the eastern basin of the freshwater body is now completely dry.
"It is likely the first time it has completely dried in six hundred years, since medieval desiccation associated with diversion of Amu Darya river to the Caspian Sea," Philip Micklin, an Aral Sea expert and a geographer emeritus from Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, told NASA about the sea's eastern basin. (See "Photos: Dried Up Aral Sea Aftermath.")
An image made by NASA's Terra satellite in August and released on Tuesday shows the sea without its eastern lobe, a noticeable difference from an image made on August 25, 2000.
Actually a freshwater lake, the Aral Sea once had a surface area of 26,000 square miles (67,300 square kilometers). It had long been been ringed with prosperous towns and supported a lucrative muskrat pelt industry and thriving fishery, providing 40,000 jobs and supplying the Soviet Union with a sixth of its fish catch.
The Aral Sea was fed by two of Central Asia's mightiest rivers, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya. But in the 1960s, Soviet engineers decided to make the vast steppes bloom. They built an enormous irrigation network, including 20,000 miles of canals, 45 dams, and more than 80 reservoirs, all to irrigate sprawling fields of cotton and wheat in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. (See "8 Rivers Run Dry From Overuse.")
But the system was leaky and inefficient, and the rivers drained to a trickle. In the decades that followed, the Aral Sea was reduced to a handful of small lakes, with a combined volume that was one-tenth the original lake's size and that had much higher salinity, due to all the evaporation.
As a result of the drying over the past decades, millions of fish died, coastlines receded miles from towns, and those few people who remained were plagued by dust storms that contained the toxic residue of industrial agriculture and weapons testing in the area. (See "Before and After Photos: Vast Aral Sea Vanishing.")
By 2000, the lake had separated into the North (Small) Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and the South (Large) Aral Sea in Uzbekistan. The South Aral had further split into western and eastern lobes. The eastern lobe of the South Aral nearly dried up in 2009 but rebounded in 2010 after more rain.
According to Micklin, the recent desiccation is due to continued withdrawals from the rivers for irrigation and less rain and snow in the Pamir Mountains, whose runoff feeds the Amu Darya.
In 2005, a World Bank‒funded dam and restoration project began in Kazakhstan with the goal of improving the health of the Syr Darya and increasing the flow into the North Aral Sea. Since then the water level has risen there and salinity has decreased.
But Micklin said he expects cyclical drying will "continue for some time" in the eastern basin.
Rico says we have the same problem with the Salton Sea in California, and the Dead Sea in Israel...

Shared from BBC:The enduring enigma of female sexual desire


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Yacht broker to the rich and famous UF

The BBC has an article by Bryan Borzykowski about expensive boats:

When Jonathan “Joff” Beckett was eighteen years old, he left the confines of his comfortable Norfolk, England home to explore the Caribbean. Other than a few trips to nearby European countries with his family, Beckett had never been that far away. What he didn’t know at the time was that the trip and a job he took working as a deck hand on a yacht would instill in him a love of boats and lead him on a life of constant travel.
“It opened up my eyes,” he said.
Today, at 59, Beckett is still traversing the globe as chief executive of Burgess, a yacht broker that sells luxury boats to wealthy people around the world. He’s rarely in a city for more than a week, but he does have three places that he calls home, at least so far as his work homes: London, England, near where his wife and two young children live; Monaco, the location of his company's head office; and New York City in the US, where many yacht enthusiasts reside.
When he’s not in those cities, he’s spending a day or two in places like Australia, Germany, Russia, or Saudi Arabia. Beckett loves the travel, he said, but he's most comfortable in his own space. “I look forward to being any of those three places,” he said, adding that he usually spends a week at each every month. “Especially when I’m with my family.”
Why would someone, particularly someone with a family, travel so much and so frequently? For one, he has to. Beckett’s client base is global and they want to meet the boss before they buy a pricey toy. But he also loves visiting new places, making new connections, and taking in new cultures, even if it's just stopping to look out the window on a drive from an airport to a meeting, he said.
Monaco, where the yachts of the rich and famous can be seen at any given time, is Beckett’s main business base. His company was started there by renowned English sailor Nigel Burgess in 1975. Beckett started working at the company in 1981 and moved to London three years later to run the operation there. In 1992, Burgess died during a solo round-the-world yacht race, and Beckett, who owned 25% of the company at that time, became CEO. He owns all of it now.
Beckett officially bought a home, making Monaco one of his three residences, in 2007, in part because that’s where many of his clients spend their leisure time and they want him to join them on their boats to partly show off what they’ve purchased from him and to talk about what else they might be able to buy. “The South of France is the center of the yachting world,” he said. “It’s the area where everyone wants to be.”
Monaco is most different from the others, Beckett said. First of all, the language is French and the food mainly French or Italian. It’s a glamorous place, with casinos, restaurants, and excellent shopping. Many of the people who visit are wealthy. To that end, Beckett often spends his days and nights meeting clients on their yachts or having dinner parties on their boats.
The business culture is bureaucratic in Monaco, and dealing with red tape can take a lot of time, he explains. “Since there’s a lot of foreigners in the country, they expect you to toe the party line,” he said. “It’s quite old fashioned, but everything has to be done the exact way they want.”
While Beckett operates from three locations, he said greater London feels like his true home, and the potential is vast, since London’s pool of new clients has grown quite large.
“Many people here have never thought of going yachting before,” he said. “We’re trying to make people aware of what’s possible.”  That means meeting with clients in London and with the ninety staff that work in London, the largest of the company’s twelve global offices. His favorite part of being in London, however, is the time he spends with his family at home in Creeksea, near Burnham-on-Crouch in Essex — a  two-hour weekday train commute to work.
Regardless of where he is in the world, he wakes up at 6:00 in every city he’s in. In England, he leaves the house at 7:00 to make it to the office by 9:00 and then tries to be home again by around 20:00 to have dinner with his kids.
“For me, it’s a real joy to eat at home,” he said.
All-in New York
New York is the best of both worlds, combining business, pleasure and family, he said. The family often travels with him to the US and he takes the opportunity to visit restaurants and shows with his wife. He opened an office in the city in 2004 because, like in London, there are a lot of people there who might be interested in owning a yacht. It’s not that people are actually yachting around Manhattan, but many wealthy business people are using the boats on their vacations.
(Credit: Burgess)
Joff Beckett says he doesn’t mind living in three different cities. (Credit: Burgess)
The city is exciting to do business in, he said. “It’s the biggest yachting market in the world and people are generally pleased to see you.”
It’s also an easy place for him to work, with most of Beckett’s meetings just a quick walk or cab ride away from his midtown Manhattan office. “We have 100 clients in a straight line from our office,” he said.
Little time is wasted in the States. It’s in and out.
It’s also one of the friendliest cities he travels to. People in New York are helpful, they get service, they understand how to make a deal and when a client sets up a meeting for 20 minutes, they show up. In Monaco, Beckett often has to wait an hour to be seen. “Little time is wasted in the States,” he said. “It’s in and out.”
A perfect triangle
While Beckett likes each city for different reasons, the common thread between all three, and the reason he’s able to dip into one culture for one week and another the next, is that he has homes and social circles in each place. He can live a normal life in each.
“Monaco, London and New York are very easy,” he said. “All my things are in these cities and I can make my own cup of coffee. It always feels like coming home.”
Rico says if you're not currently rich, sell expensive things to people who are...

Investigation of a Tesla after fatal crash

The BBC has an article by Dave Lee about the self-driven crash of a Tesla:

American authorities are investigating the first death potentially caused by self-driving technology. The driver of a Tesla car died in Florida in May of 2016 after colliding with a truck. Under scrutiny is Tesla's Autopilot feature, which automatically changes lanes and reacts to traffic.
In a statement, Tesla said it appeared the Model S car was unable to recognize "the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky" that had driven across the car's path.
The company said the crash was a "tragic loss".
The collision led to the death of Tesla driver Joshua Brown, 40. The driver of the truck, which was pulling a trailer, was unhurt.
A video on YouTube, which appears to have been posted by Brown, shows a dashboard camera recording of a previous incident, with the car steering to avoid a truck in the next lane. He wrote: "Tesla Model S autopilot saved the car autonomously from a side collision from a boom lift truck. Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent. It has done many, many amazing things, but this was one of the more interesting things caught on the dashcam."
Rico says it's not like it's the first car to crash...

Palestinian Terrorist Murders Girl in Her Bed

Rico says but it's the religion of peace...


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Forces at the Doorstep of ISIS' Apocalyptic Battlefield Dabiq | Clarion Project


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30 June 2016


The Washington Post has an article by Joel Achenbach about scientific dissent:
More than a hundred Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The letter asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of a genetically-engineered strain of rice that supporters say could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world:
"We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against GMOs in general and Golden Rice in particular," the letter states.
The letter campaign was organized by Richard Roberts, chief scientific officer of New England Biolabs and, with Phillip Sharp, the winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, for the discovery of genetic sequences known as introns. The campaign has a website, supportprecisionagriculture.org, that includes a running list of the signatories, and the group plans to hold a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington.
“We’re scientists. We understand the logic of science. It's easy to see what Greenpeace is doing is damaging and antiscience," Roberts told The Washington Post. “Greenpeace initially, and then some of their allies, deliberately went out of their way to scare people. It was a way for them to raise money for their cause."
Roberts said he endorses many other activities of Greenpeace, and said he hopes the group, after reading the letter, would "admit that this is an issue that they got wrong and focus on the stuff that they do well."
Greenpeace responded early Thursday in a statement (below). It is hardly the only group that opposes GMOs, but it has a robust global presence, and the laureates, in their letter, contend that Greenpeace has led the effort to block Golden Rice.
The list of signatories had risen to more than a hundred names by Wednesday morning. Roberts said that, by his count, there are almost three hundred living laureates.
Nobel laureate Randy Schekman, a cell biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Washington Post that “I find it surprising that groups that are very supportive of science when it comes to global climate change or even, for the most part, in the appreciation of the value of vaccination in preventing human disease, can be so dismissive of the general views of scientists when it comes to something as important as the world’s agricultural future.” 
The letter states:
Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production. There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity.
Greenpeace has spearheaded opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency, which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia.
The World Health Organization estimates that a quarter billion people, suffer from VAD, including forty percent of the children under five in the developing world.  Based on UNICEF statistics, a total of one to two million preventable deaths occur annually as a result of VAD, because it compromises the immune system, putting babies and children at great risk. VAD itself is the leading cause of childhood blindness globally affecting up to half a million children each year. Half die within twelve months of losing their eyesight.
The scientific consensus is that that gene editing in a laboratory is not more hazardous than modifications through traditional breeding, and that engineered plants potentially have environmental or health benefits, such as cutting down on the need for pesticides. A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, released in May of 2016, said there is no substantiated evidence that GMO crops have sickened people or harmed the environment, but also cautioned that such crops are relatively new and that it is premature to make broad generalizations, positive or negative, about their safety.
Opponents of GMOs have said these crops may not be safe for human or animal consumption, have not been shown to improve crop yields, have led to excessive use of herbicides, and can potentially spread engineered genes beyond the boundaries of farms.
Greenpeace International's website states that the release of GMOs into the natural world is a form of "genetic pollution". The site states that:
Genetic engineering enables scientists to create plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes in a way that does not occur naturally.
These genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non 'GE' environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way.
Virtually all crops and livestock have been genetically engineered in the broadest sense; there are no wild cows, and the cornfields of the United States reflect centuries of plant modification through traditional breeding. Genetically modified crops started to become common in the mid-1990s; today, most of the corn, soybeans, and cotton in the country have been modified to be resistant to insects or tolerant of herbicide, according to government statistics.
Opponents of GMOs have focused a great deal on the economic and social repercussions of the introduction of lab-modified crops. Greenpeace has warned of the corporate domination of the food supply, saying that small farmers will suffer. A Greenpeace spokesman referred a reporter to a Greenpeace publication titled Twenty Years of Failure: Why GM crops have failed to deliver on their promises.
This debate between mainstream scientists and environmental activists isn't new, and there is little reason to suspect that the letter signed by the Nobel laureates will persuade GMO opponents to stand down.
But Columbia University's Martin Chalfie, who shared the 2008 Nobel in chemistry for research on green fluorescent protein, said he thinks laureates can be influential on the GMO issue. "Is there something special about Nobel laureates? I’m not so sure we’re any more special than other scientists who have looked at the evidence involved, but we have considerably more visibility because of the prize. I think that this behooves us, that when we feel that science is not being listened to, that we speak out."
Roberts said he has worked on previous campaigns that sought to leverage the influence of Nobel laureates. In 2012, for example, he organized a campaign to persuade Chinese authorities to release the human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. Roberts said he decided to take on the GMO issue after hearing from scientific colleagues their research was being impeded by anti-GMO activism from Greenpeace and other organizations. He said he has no financial interest in GMO research. 
Here is Greenpeace's response, datelined Manila, 30 June 2016, from Wilhelmina Pelegrina, campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia
“Accusations that anyone is blocking genetically engineered ‘Golden’ rice are false. ‘Golden’ rice has failed as a solution, and isn’t currently available for sale, even after more than twenty years of research. As admitted by the International Rice Research Institute, it has not been proven to actually address Vitamin A Deficiency. So, to be clear, we are talking about something that doesn’t even exist.
“Corporations are overhyping ‘Golden’ Rice to pave the way for global approval of other, more profitable, genetically-engineered crops. This costly experiment has failed to produce results for the last twenty years and diverted attention from methods that already work. Rather than invest in this overpriced public relations exercise, we need to address malnutrition through a more diverse diet, equitable access to food, and eco-agriculture.”
On alternative solutions:
“The only guaranteed solution to fix malnutrition is a diverse healthy diet. Providing people with real food based on ecological agriculture not only addresses malnutrition, but is also a scaleable solution to adapt to climate change. We’ve documented communities across the Philippines that continue to express concerns about using genetically-engineered golden rice as a solution. It is irresponsible to impose genetically-engineered golden rice as a quick remedy to people on the front lines who do not welcome it, particularly when there are safe and effective options already available.
Greenpeace Philippines is already working with NGO partners and farmers in the Philippines to boost climate resiliency. There’s a real chance here for governments and the philanthropic community to support these endeavors by investing in climate-resilient ecological agriculture and empowering farmers to access a balanced and nutritious diet, rather than pouring money down the drain for genetically-engineered ‘Golden’ rice.”
Rico says that, unfortunately, once we know if they're a bad thing, it'll be too late...

History for the day: 1997: Hong Kong finally goes Chinese

On 30 June 1997, the Union Jack was lowered for the last time over Government House in Hong Kong, as Britain prepared to hand the colony back to China after ruling it for 156 years.

Trump for the day

From The New York Times, an article by Janathan Martin about the latest from The Donald:

Trump Institute offered get-rich schemes with plagiarized lessonsThe institute, to which Donald J. Trump lent his name in 2005, was owned by a couple accused of fraud, and its educational materials had been lifted from an old real estate manual.
Rico says it certainly looks like Trump is saying the f-word, but probably not...

New phrase for the day

From a Wired article about disaster VR: Immersive disaster porn

Rico says it'll never catch on like real porn...

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Mark Seymour

Jacket charges devices

Travel & Leisure has an article about an amazing new device:

Imagine traveling and never having to worry about the battery on your phone again, no matter how much you text, tweet, or post photos to Instagram. A new clothing line just might make that possible.
Baubax, the company behind the World’s Best Travel Jacket (that’s the actual name), has announced a clothing line that could revolutionize traveling in the digital age. These clothes and bags will wirelessly charge your phone, smart watch, or bluetooth headset while tucked inside your pocket.
Each of the jackets, shirts, vests, shorts, pants, and wallets in the line comes outfitted with a thin wireless charging pads stitched inside the article of clothing. Simply tuck your phone into the pocket or purse, and your device is charging. So instead of begging a waiter at a local café to charge your phone (and waiting around for an hour while it powers up), you can simply go about your vacation.
With an idea this good, there has to be a catch (and there are a couple): The product doesn’t exist yet. Instead, Baubax has returned to Kickstarter, where they crowdfunded their travel jacket to great success. The jacket garnered more than nine million dollars, and becoming the most-funded article of clothing on Kickstarter yet. Baubax is now trying to replicate that success and raise money for the new line of wireless charging clothes.
Of course, that power has to come from somewhere. The clothing works with battery packs that can be charged on BauBax' charging pads or with a micro USB cable.
So far the campaign has raised about $5,000 of its $100,000 goal. If the project doesn't reach its goal, wirelessly charging your phone while it's tucked in your pocket as you wander the streets of Dallas or Dubai may simply remain a daydream.
Rico says that, without winning the lottery, he probably can't afford one, but he wants one...

Quote for the day

From an article in Wired about making VR movies:
Mooser says "if people are going to talk about the refugee crisis because Susan Sarandon was standing on the beach, let them. We're not saying 'Look at this, Kim Kardashian is working with the refugees and here's some sideboob."
Darg interjects: "Though that would work."

Antonov An-2, The Plane That Can Fly Backwards!


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Top 10 Movie Tank Scenes (Watch)


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History for the day: 1936: Gone with the Wind published

History.com has this for 30 June:

Gone with the Wind published
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, one of the best-selling novels of all time and the basis for a blockbuster 1939 movie, is published on this day in 1936. In 1926, Mitchell was forced to quit her job as a reporter at the Atlanta Journal to recover from a series of physical injuries. With too... read more »
American Revolution
Congress impugns Parliament and adopts Articles of War »
First Corvette built »
Civil War
Fighting continues in the Seven Days' Battles »
Cold War
Truman orders U.S. forces to Korea »
A first-time offender ends up on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List »
Fire breaks out at New Jersey pier »
19 firefighters die in Arizona blaze »
General Interest
Spanish retreat from Aztec capital »
Daredevil crosses Niagara Falls on tightrope »
Night of the Long Knives »
Soviet cosmonauts perish in reentry disaster »
Do the Right Thing released »
Make Way for Ducklings author Robert McCloskey dies »
Cher marries Greg Allman »
Old West
Soldiers are evacuated from the Little Big Horn by steamboat »
Madison makes urgent call to commission more officers to fight the British »
Sandy Koufax pitches first no-hitter »
Vietnam War
Thieu becomes president »
Cooper-Church Amendment passes in Senate »
World War I
European powers maintain focus despite killings in Sarajevo »
World War II
Operation Cartwheel is launched »

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Apple patents concert camera blocker - BBC News


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Disney's Moana: Anger over 'fat' depiction of Polynesian demigod - BBC News


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A woman’s terrifying night in the Chesapeake UF

The Washington Post has an article by John Woodrow Cox about a woman's ordeal in the Chesapeake:
Lauren Conner (photo) laughed when she first slipped off the boat.
She, her boyfriend, and another couple had spent Sunday afternoon drinking in sunshine and cold beer on the Sassafras River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. They began heading to the dock shortly before nightfall, but as the Yamaha motored north through the Chesapeake at forty mph, the hull struck a wake so hard that Conner fell off the stern.
She immediately popped to the surface, unharmed but embarrassed that perhaps she’d drunk a few too many bottles of Flying Dog lager. Conner, 32, expected some teasing from her companions as she watched the boat stop and turn back toward her. At any moment, she was sure, they’d find her. No more than forty yards away, she screamed through the stiff wind. When that didn’t work, she stripped off her white shorts and waved them.
Her boyfriend, Scott Johnson, frantically scanned the surface, but the fading sun betrayed him. The low light flashed across every wave, creating a kaleidoscope of false hope. Minutes passed, and he began to fear that she’d hit her head and sunk. Johnson called 911 and remained on the phone to navigate rescuers toward his position. He lit a flare and held it up as clumps of the fiery red substance dripped off, scorching his hand and head.
Meanwhile, Conner, now aware she was in serious danger, eyed a wide yellow buoy and swam toward it, hoping she could cling to the sides until help arrived.
\Just as Conner realized that its shell was too slick to grip, the rescue boats drew near. She could see their blue lights flickering in the distance and pulled off her maroon tank top to flap in the air. By then, though, it was too late. Darkness surrounded her.
With a dozen boats and a helicopter unable to find his girlfriend, Johnson began to fear he’d never see her again and blamed himself. “What,” he thought, “am I going to tell her kids?”
In so many ways, though, the life she’d endured, one consumed by chaos and death, had prepared Conner for the most harrowing night of her life. Her will, she knew, would not easily break, because Conner is a survivor.
She faced a choice: Tread water and hope she’d be rescued, or swim toward a strip of green on the horizon. Conner still held the tank top from her CrossFit gym in her hand. An image of a warrior appeared on the back. The shirt was her favorite. She let it go.
Lauren,” she said aloud, “you are not going to die out here.”
Conner, now only in a bikini, headed for land, helped by a current that was drawing her toward it. Still, she had no idea that the beach was about two miles away or whether her legs would give out before she reached it. She recalled what she’d long told her children in moments of fear: “As long as you can float, you will not drown.” So she rolled onto her back and started to kick.
Few things were consistent in her youth, other than the water. Both of her parents struggled with addiction, and her mom spent many nights in jail because of it.
Not long ago, Conner tried to remember how many different places she had lived as a kid. She quit counting around forty.
One of six children, Conner had slept at times in cars, foster homes, her dad’s office. Always, though, she would find her way to a pool or a river, a lake, or a bay.
Her twin sister, Stefanie, thought of that, too, as she consoled Conner’s eleven-year-old son, Ethan Simpson. Much of the family had gathered after word spread about Lauren’s disappearance. Stefanie had vomited when she first got the call, but knew she couldn’t let Ethan see her break down. She reminded him what Conner always said: just keep floating. “What if she’s not floating?” he asked her. “What if she’s under the water and they can’t see her?”
Beneath a deep purple sky, Conner sang a tune from Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”, because it helped her focus on one stroke at a time. She joked to herself about how absurd the situation was, because jokes had always provided comfort in the worst times. She pleaded with Jesus to save her, because she believed He was listening. Mostly, she thought about the four kids she calls her own: Ethan and his fifteen-year-old sister, her seventeen-year-old stepdaughter and Johnson’s five-year-old girl. “I cannot let these kids down,” Conner told herself, because she knew what it felt like to be let down.
She’d raised hell in her childhood, often because no one was around to stop her. But she changed as adulthood approached.
At 15 — a year before she had her first child — Conner’s father was walking home from a bar in Baltimore when he fell from a train track and broke his neck.
At 18 — soon after Conner had taken custody of her two younger siblings — her mother overdosed on heroin.
Conner didn’t give up, even when people expected her to, because she couldn’t let her kids down.
She went to cosmetology school and, in 2007, became a hair stylist. For the past seven years, she’s worked for herself and now runs her own chair at a salon in Bel Air, Md.
“You just do what you have to do to survive,” Stefanie said. “That’s just the attitude we’ve always had.”
[After family capsizes in Chesapeake Bay, brother swims 5 hours to get help ]
But there were moments on the water, Conner said, when survival felt unlikely.
Her energy waning, she turned over at one point to see how far she was from land.
“I’m not even close,” she thought.
As Conner paddled on, the waves grew, pushing her head beneath the surface and forcing water into her mouth. In brief moments, Conner sensed that she was drowning.
Then, suddenly, the tips of her left foot’s toes felt something.
A rough night for all
About midnight, Johnson said, Maryland Natural Resources­ Police brought him on shore, where he filled out an incident report.
About an hour later, he said, officers sent him home. By that point, at least four agencies were searching for Conner.
When he pulled up to their house in Aberdeen, Md., the lights were still on. He sat in his truck for 20 minutes, unaware that Stefanie had already picked Ethan up. Johnson couldn’t bear to face him.

He knew, too, that Conner’s family was struggling to understand his explanation about what had happened.
How, if she’d just fallen off, had no one found her?
“This is on me,” he thought. “One hundred percent, this is on me.”
He spent a sleepless night in their bedroom — her photo on the night table, her painted coconut from their trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic nearby, her Jeep Compass in the driveway outside his window.
Johnson answered every call from a number he didn’t know, expecting to hear a voice tell him that Conner’s body had been found.
About five miles away, Stefanie sat in the driveway of a friend’s house and smoked a menthol 100. She typed out a text that she’d begun to doubt her sibling would ever read.
“Lauren. Sister,” she wrote. “My twinny. My inspiration. My best friend. I love you.”
She couldn’t recall ever being more distraught.
“We lost our mom. We lost our dad,” Stefanie said later. “That was nothing compared to this.”
Conner had reached Spesutie Island’s beach overwhelmed with relief but still unsure of her fate. Rusted white signs warned that the area, which is part of the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground, is used to test weapons.
Hoping to find someone, she walked north, climbing barefoot over rocks and fighting off swarms of horseflies. Exhausted, she made a bed of leaves — her “bird’s nest” — on a concrete slab. Conner shivered so violently that her jaw hurt.
The moment reminded her of a winter in Baltimore when, around age 14, she slept one night in an abandoned building.
At sunrise, she walked back toward the beach. With no boats in view, Conner was heading into the brush when she spotted a raspberry bush. It was a good omen, she thought. One of her favorite childhood memories was picking them at her grand­mother’s home in Pennsylvania.
Conner trudged farther inland, finally reaching a path that led to a road. Certain that her family believed she had died, Conner was desperate to reach them.
Minutes later, she spotted an orange truck driving toward her.

Then, the tears came.
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Candy Thomson, spokeswoman for the Maryland Natural Resources Police, had been up for about an hour by then. As she made her coffee, Thomson formulated in her mind how she would announce the news of the year’s sixth boating fatality.
Then a text from an investigator arrived.
“Girl found,” the message said. “Can u believe it?”
Rico says WHAT

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