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Archive for the ‘Good Things’ Category

Radically green

Posted by Charles II on January 22, 2014

Sydney Brownstone, Co-Exist

In the future, leather shoes won’t come from cows. They’ll be manifested out of petri dishes, or in green chemist Richard Wool’s vision, divined from chicken feathers, flax, and soybean oil.

Over the past two decades, Wool has figured out how to turn chicken feathers into computer processors and soybean oil into John Deere tractor parts. His latest project aims to capture the attention of catwalk watchers: Wool hopes to commercialize a new kind of breathable leather that’s made without the environmentally destructive chemicals.

The Blacksmith Institute, a nonprofit environmental think tank, regards pollution from leather tanneries in Hazaribagh, Bangladesh, as one of the top toxic threats in the world.

Posted in environment, Good Things | 1 Comment »

Marcy Wheeler gains long-overdue recognition

Posted by Charles II on November 6, 2013

Via Bob Swern at DK, Pema Levy, Newsweek:

Experts on domestic surveillance admire Wheeler’s ability to connect current revelations to past mysteries. “You’ll read through these dense documents, and it’s about one thing; but she’ll find a clue in there to something we’ve all wondered about on something else entirely, and the last citing of that issue was five years ago, and somehow she still remembered,” said Barton Gellman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter late of The Washington Post who has worked with Snowden to break stories on the NSA this summer. “She’s indispensable now with the NSA story, which is endlessly complex.”

Marcy Wheeler getting recognition is a Good Thing.

Posted in Good Things | 3 Comments »

Good news on the anti-bug front

Posted by Charles II on October 10, 2013

This news is a little old, but I hadn’t heard it. David Heitz, Healthline:

A blood test developed by researchers at Duke University can predict with tremendous accuracy whether someone with, say, pneumonia has a viral or bacterial infection, even if it’s a previously unknown strain.

The test, described today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, could someday help stop the unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics to patients who have viral infections.

In the most recent experiment, 102 subjects with viral and bacterial infections, as well as healthy control patients, arrived at a hospital emergency room and were given the blood test. With about 90 percent accuracy, the test returned the proper diagnosis in just 12 hours.

In larger studies set to begin as early as this flu season, scientists will look at ways of paring down the number of genes the test analyzes and reducing the test’s turnaround time to as little as one hour.

Posted in Good Things, science and medicine | 2 Comments »

Bonddad has a new, paying gig

Posted by Charles II on October 2, 2013

XE.com has picked up Bonddad and his trusty sidekick, New Deal Democrat. Bonddad:

About a year ago, I received a communication from the website XE.com who wanted to add economic commentary to their website. We exchanged a few emails about the possibility, but the negotiations slowed at the beginning of the year. Over the last few months they picked up again culminating in our signing contracts with them to provide content. And the best part is we’re finally getting paid! On top of that, they have over 14 million hits per month on their website, so our visibility will increase. And we’ll eventually be doing podcasts. I’ll be doing one/week that focuses on international developments while NDD and I will be doing a bi-weekly podcast on the US economy.

Woohoo!

Posted in economy, Good Things | 4 Comments »

Wonders of the world

Posted by Charles II on August 17, 2013

Cucumber

Posted in Good Things | 1 Comment »

Grad students drub NSA + Oliver Stone on NSA

Posted by Charles II on July 10, 2013

This happened a week ago. Madiha Tahir and other students dared to ask recruiters from the NSA questions. Nick Wing of HuffPost has the recording.

You can read Madiha’s summary at her blog, The Mob and the Multitude.

RT‘s summary is succinct:

The agents that came to the University of Wisconsin seemed to be “entirely unprepared” to answer “basic questions” posed by potential employees, said Madiha Tahir, a PhD candidate at Columbia University currently attending a language program at the University of Wisconsin.

It is fixed to the bubble the intelligence community lives in. They are so disengaged that they think that they don’t actually have to answer any questions when they go out recruiting,” Tahir said. “They have never had to actually justify or even critically think about the work they are engaged in. They simply did not know how to answer the basic questions about the nature of their work,” she said.

I sure wouldn’t take a job with a company that couldn’t answer questions about allegations of illegal and unethical behavior.

Meanwhile, you can watch Oliver Stone, talking to The Guardian. The tone is kind of maudlin, but hard to argue with.

Posted in Good Things, NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping | 1 Comment »

To great surprise: Rios Montt convicted of genocide. History is made.

Posted by Charles II on May 10, 2013

Just about a month ago, the genocidal president of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina shut down the trial of the man who at that time was ordering the genocide done, Rios Montt. Now, via Meteor Blades at DK, some good news. Mike McDonald of Reuters reports that the trial concluded, and Rios Montt was convicted:

A Guatemalan court on Friday found former dictator Efrain Rios Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country’s 36-year civil war.

He was sentenced to 50 years in prison on the genocide charge and 30 years for crimes against humanity. It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.

Rios Montt, 86, took power after a coup in 1982….

Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye [actually, they said he designed the program] as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as 250,000 people died.

When our leaders say that can’t get things done, remember that the judge and prosecutor in this case have been constantly threatened. That’s what political courage looks like.

Rios Montt will probably never face actual punishment. He is 86, he has powerful friends at higher levels in the court system (not to mention Guatemala’s president), and it’s not clear that the American government is on the side of justice. After all, the genocide could not have taken place without the active help of Ronald Reagan.

But history has been made. For the first time, a mass murderer has been tried by the population he abused. Caps off to the brave people who used peaceful means to end and finally discredit Rios Montt’s violent reign.
_____
The inestimable Robert Parry reminds us that this makes Ronald Reagan an accessory to mass murder:

U.S. intelligence officers in the region also kept the Reagan administration abreast of the expanding slaughter. For instance, according to one “secret” cable from April 1981 — and declassified in the 1990s — the CIA was confirming Guatemalan government massacres even as Reagan was moving to loosen the military aid ban.

On April 17, 1981, a CIA cable described an army massacre at Cocob, near Nebaj in the Ixil Indian territory, because the population was believed to support leftist guerrillas. A CIA source reported that “the social population appeared to fully support the guerrillas” and “the soldiers were forced to fire at anything that moved.”

Despite these atrocities, Reagan dispatched Walters in May 1981 to tell the Guatemalan leaders that the new U.S. administration wanted to lift the human rights embargoes on military equipment that Carter and Congress had imposed.

What the documents from the Reagan Library make clear is that the administration was not simply struggling ineffectively to rein in these massacres – as the U.S. press corps typically reported – but was fully onboard with the slaughter of people who were part of the guerrillas’ “civilian support mechanisms.”

Posted in Good Things, Latin America | 3 Comments »

US media, pay attention

Posted by Charles II on March 25, 2013

This is an interview of London Mayor Boris Johnson that shows how an interviewer can be polite, but clear and firm in follow-through. For example:

[The BBC's Eddie Mair] With this admission trousered, Mair continued: “Let me ask you about a barefaced lie. When you were in Michael Howard’s team, you denied to him you were having an affair. It turned out you were and he sacked you for that. Why did you lie to your party leader?”

Johnson squirmed. “Well, I mean again, I’m … with great respect … on that, I never had any conversation with Michael Howard about that matter and, you know, I don’t propose …”

Mair interrupted: “You did lie to him.”

Johnson: “Well, you know, I don’t propose to go into all that again.”

Mair: “I don’t blame you.”

It’s not that Boris Johnson is worse than most politicians–I doubt that he is– but all politicians need to be reminded that they are not above scrutiny, that people see what they do, and remember.

And, by the way, in the perverse way these things go, it may have generated public sympathy for Boris Johnson.

Posted in Good Things, media | Comments Off

Westboro Schism

Posted by Charles II on February 8, 2013

David Batty, The Guardian:

One of the most prominent members of the Westboro Baptist church has left it after spending her life as part of the fervently anti-gay movement.

Megan Phelps-Roper, who looked after social media for the church best known for its slogan “God hates fags”, announced her departure in a post on the blogging platform Medium in which she also revealed her younger sister Grace, 19, was also leaving.

Phelps-Roper writes: “We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.

Here’s the story of her conversion from Jeff Chu:

“My doubts started with a conversation I had with David Abitbol,” she says. Megan met David, an Israeli web developer who’s part of the team behind the blog Jewlicious, on Twitter. “I would ask him questions about Judaism, and he would ask me questions about church doctrine. One day, he asked a specific question about one of our signs—‘Death Penalty for Fags’—and I was arguing for the church’s position, that it was a Levitical punishment and as completely appropriate now as it was then. He said, ‘But Jesus said’—and I thought it was funny he was quoting Jesus—‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ And then he connected it to another member of the church who had done something that, according to the Old Testament, was also punishable by death. I realized that if the death penalty was instituted for any sin, you completely cut off the opportunity to repent. And that’s what Jesus was talking about.”

Here is Megan and Grace’s statement.

It’s just amazing what can happen to people who open their hearts to being truthful, non-hypocritical, and loving…what some of us call Jesus.

Posted in Fred Phelps, Fundies, Good Things, religion | 2 Comments »

Something to really celebrate

Posted by Charles II on December 18, 2012

Richard Engel, NBC correspondent, and his crew were freed. Brian Stelter and Sebnem Arsu, NYT:

Richard Engel, the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, and three of his crew members were freed on Monday after five days in captivity in Syria, the news organization said on Tuesday.

The identities of the kidnappers and their motives were unknown. But an article on the NBC News Web site quotes Mr. Engel as saying their captors “were talking openly about their loyalty to the government” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

About 15 men, Mr. Engel said on the “Today” show, “just literally jumped out of the trees and bushes” and “dragged us out of the car.” The kidnappers killed one of the rebels whom the crew had been traveling with, he said. [They subjected Engel and his crew to mock executions]

the crew members were freed when the captors “ran into a checkpoint manned by members of the Ahrar al-Sham brigade, a Syrian rebel group,” NBC’s Web site reported. “There was a confrontation and a firefight ensued. Two of the captors were killed, while an unknown number of others escaped.”

Engel is one of the last real correspondents on TV. As this incident shows, he goes in at great personal risk to places no one wants to go. He’s modest and well-informed. He may be the only person on network TV that I actually enjoy listening to and trust.

So, thanks, God, for getting him out safely.

Posted in Good Things, media | 7 Comments »

 
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