Welcome to your nearly-nightly news diary that we leave open throughout the weekend! JanF and I are combining forces for an open news thread we hope will please all of you.
Please comment on any of the stories in the diary or comments, or share any news stories you like from anywhere!
News stories may be added throughout the day and night, so please stop back if you are inclined.
This will serve as the open news thread until Tuesday overnight.
2/3 of these came from my twitter and fb feed. 1/3 from my usual sources & topics, the last 5 in the International section. Because I am compelled to include Afghanistan (war), Pakistan (neighbor to Afghanistan & India), and India and China (population).
AROUND THE WORLD
In the last 10 days, 22 cases of the waterborne disease cholera have been confirmed by laboratory testing in three areas in and around the northern Mozambique town of Pemba, in Cabo Delgado Province.
Leonard Heyerdahl, project manager of Africhol – an initiative of Paris-based NGO Agence de Médecine Préventive – told IRIN that from 30 January, “samples started turning positive [for cholera].” Prior to that, there were 366 cases of severe diarrhoea caused by the salmonella bacteria.
Heavy rains, flooding, displacement and poor access for humanitarian assistance are creating an ideal environment for the proliferation of cholera. Heyerdahl, whose unit is supporting Mozambique’s health authorities, said in such conditions, “one case of cholera is already an epidemic”.
Captive sea turtles in the Cayman Islands can ruin a tourist’s visit with a nasty dose of bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites, The Smithsonian Magazine reports. The symptoms can take some time to emerge and typically resemble gastrointestinal bugs or the flu, researchers report in the journal JRSM Short Reports. For those more severely affected, however, the turtles can cause septicemia, pneumonia, meningitis and kidney failure.
None of these problems apply to free-living turtles, which the researchers insist are quite safe. Only interacting with wild-caught and captive-housed sea turtles carries a risk.
The researchers conducted a case study of the Cayman Turtle Farm in Grand Cayman, where approximately 300,000 tourists visit each year. The farm sells turtle meat to visitors and to local restaurants. The turtles, kept in stressed, confined conditions, are particularly prone to infection in their vulnerable state.
Blog post from Smithsonian blog post.
Actor Grae Burton was the classic “Kiwi bloke” in Tui beer commercials last year. His work only just earned him what unions consider a “living wage”.
“When I was first in Hercules and Young Hercules back in 1998, my daily rate was 50 per cent better than what I’m currently seeing,” he says.
He says actors on a comparable show now being filmed in Auckland, Spartacus, are being asked to do much more for less.
“Actors on any given show day are being asked to do full-frontal nudity, simulated sex and graphically violent, hugely physical roles, and are being paid a comparably lower daily rate,” he says.
Yet living costs have gone up.
“Ten years ago I could live on $150 to $160 a week. My living costs break down to more like $500 a week now.”
Govt unlikely to support living wage campaign – Key
Apparently, there is an austerity troll hiding in Key’s government. Or New Zealand is not yet a socialist paradise. Brief news article.
Also, for reference: USA Minimum Wage, if indexed.
Added stories from usual sources/topics:
Freed Taliban prisoners return to fight
Some 28-30 prisoners have been set free in a series of goodwill gestures aimed at building trust between Kabul and Islamabad as well as helping nudge the Taliban towards negotiations.
Their whereabouts are unknown and Afghan officials raised concerns last weekend during talks with David Cameron at Chequers that their release had failed to help an embryonic peace process.
“It’s not clear what has happened to them,” said a security official in Islamabad.
With the US and Pakistani officials engaged in crucial talks on the use of NATO supply lines running through Pakistan for the withdrawal of US-led western troops from Afghanistan, Islamabad may seek an agreement with Washington for the purchase of the leftover military equipment.
Currently, Islamabad and Washington are engaged in talks through diplomatic channels to sort out issues related to the use of NATO supply routes through Pakistani soil for the withdrawal of thousands of troops and military equipment, like the security of supplies and also what material could be transited and what could not.
The talks are mainly aimed at a smooth and safe transit of NATO supplies through Pakistan once thousands of vehicles start moving out of Afghanistan for which a deadline of 2014 has been set by the United States. As the US and its allies shape up its plan for the troops’ withdrawal, reports in western media suggest that some regional states like Uzbekistan have showed interest in clinching a deal with the United States for the supply of war leftovers and in return the western powers would be provided with the roads.
This caught my attention because of the same issue in Iraq; and Pakistan’s control over the roads to/from Afghanistan.
By signing Parliament attack convict Mohammed Afzal Guru’s execution warrant, President PranabMukherjee has ordered death penalty for three convicts in the last six months, a rate faster than any President in the last 15 years. While his predecessor PratibhaPatil rejected the mercy petitions of five death row convicts in three cases, two involving four criminals are pending before the Supreme Court.
In quick succession, Mukherjee rejected the mercy petitions of Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab on November 5, 2012 and Saibanna Ningappa Natikar on January 4 before clearing Guru’s death penalty on February 3. He commuted the death sentence of Atbir, who was found guilty of murdering three relatives on November 15, 2012 over a property dispute.
China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s biggest trading nation last year as measured by the sum of exports and imports of goods, official figures from both countries show.
U.S. exports and imports of goods last year totaled $3.82 trillion, the U.S. Commerce Department said last week. China’s customs administration reported last month that the country’s trade in goods in 2012 amounted to $3.87 trillion.
China’s growing influence in global commerce threatens to disrupt regional trading blocs as it becomes the most important commercial partner for some countries. Germany may export twice as much to China by the end of the decade as it does to France, estimated Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Jim O’Neill.
Exploring “the radical notion that prejudice might be inherent in the medium of photography itself” the title of the Goodman Gallery’s latests exhibition To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse at Night, by the London based duo Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, becomes a euphemism for the racist practices inherent in the history of photographic representation.
The show’s title is not a term coined by the pair, but rather one taken from the CEO of Kodak in the 70’s when they announced their new product, Kodak Gold, a film that would not underexpose darker skin tones. But as inclusive as this intention sounds, it was as an answer to two major clients in the furniture and confectionary industries who complained about the range of Kodak’s exposures. It was objects, not people that led Kodak’s hand in developing better technology.
ACROSS THE USA
Carlsbad desalination plant creates jobs, may lead to water bill increase for San Diegans
10 News, San Diego; Natasha Zouves
A desalination plant coming to Carlsbad will create thousands of jobs, but could end up costing San Diegans in the long run.
Like so many San Diegans, David Shin was laid off in 2009.
“I know what it’s about to not be in a job for awhile,” said Shin. “It’s an eye-opener.”
But now, with his gloves on, walking alongside the site for the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, Shin said things are looking up.
Navajo tribal spokesman Erny Zah told Reuters the freeze hit the vulnerable particularly hard, including knocking out water at a disabled community of five homes in Navajo, a village a few miles north of Window Rock.
“It can further complicate some of the health issues they are already experiencing,” Zah said on Wednesday, adding residents were “not taking a bath anymore … you’re talking about sponge baths.”
Brewer’s office said the damage to drinking water infrastructure “threatens public safety and the operation of basic infrastructure, including schools and businesses.”
Think of it as a prospective irony: In a spirit of pure, blind partisanship, the drill-baby-drill folks in the Republican Party may have done themselves in. After all, their obsession with the Benghazi incident led them to launch a preemptive strike against the president’s choice for secretary of state, Susan Rice, for her statements on what happened when the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were murdered there. They sent her nomination down in flames. In the process, it’s just possible that they took out something far dearer to them. Though it didn’t get much attention during her disastrous nomination moment, we did learn that Rice and her husband had made significant investments in companies connected to the Canadian tar-sands industry and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is to bring the resulting crude (and carbon-dirty) oil 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast. They reportedly had $300,000-$600,000 in stock in TransCanada, the company building the pipeline. In addition, “about a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel,” including Enbridge, a company which hopes to build another tar-sands pipeline. Had she been secretary of state, she might have had one of the great conflicts of interest of our time (or a major divestment problem).
In the circular bloggy world, this blog entry includes another blog entry . . .
HOME IN UTAH
Living History: Coal smoke, not emissions, once choked Wasatch Front
Salt Lake Tribune; Pat Bagley (cartoonist, writing this up)
Among the sources of the gritty, freezing fog were the 10,000 furnaces that warmed peoples’ homes. My own house still has a square metal hatch set into the foundation where the coal was delivered. A slow and steady-burning fuel, coal was great for making things cozy upstairs on long winter nights.
But it is dirty. A regular household chore back then was wiping down the walls above the heating vents, which displayed a perpetual charcoal smear. Curtains and drapes had to be taken down and cleaned yearly.
To make matters worse, the largest ore-smelting operation west of the Mississippi belched smoke in the very center of the Salt Lake Valley. The Murray City logo still features a stylized pair of smokestacks to represent the thousands of tons of ore per day from Park City’s mines that were once refined there.
Science’s ‘beauty problem’: Scientists increasingly confusing elegance and symmetry for truth
National Post; Joseph Brean
Among the things described as “elegant” by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the past month or so are such diverse wonders as an arthritis medicine, a heat-powered laser, an immune system response, a palliative care strategy, the modularity of biological systems, an electrical switch smaller than a human hair “that can flex like a tiny beckoning finger,” and the mathematical structure of birdsong, specifically Bengalese finches.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Symmetry, unity, harmony, elegance and beauty are concepts that crop up in science with striking regularity. From the music of the spheres that inspired the earliest Greek philosophers to modern supersymmetrical string theory, physics has been especially prone to mistake a beautiful theory for a true one. But there is a growing sense that biologists, psychologists, economists and even mathematicians can also be preoccupied with subjective aesthetics over falsifiable science, and confuse the one for the other.
Listen. I hear you. You’re a few pounds heavier than you like (or a 100lbs heavier than you like). I completely understand how you feel. I get that same blah feeling about myself when I think about booking new head shots or long overdue pictures of me and Justin. Precious, I even picked a career that has me permanently behind the camera rather than in front of it. Seeing myself in pictures actually produces the faintest sick feeling in my stomach. Isn’t it amazing we can see the beauty in our best friends, sisters, mothers, and aunts without the slightest thought to their flaws . . . but can obsess for hours on our own imperfections? We fixate on our flaws to the point we shirk at any documentation that our round faces and curvy bodies ever walked the earth. No pictures to show how we LOVE, how we laugh, how we are treasured by our families. How is it possible that a double chin can overpower the beauty of a mother cuddling her child? How does arm fat distract from the perfect shot of a spontaneous hug? I swear y’all . . . how is it that we can put more value on a TUMMY ROLL than the captivating way you throw yourself into a roar of laughter during a shoot?
In our warped minds pictures become frozen mirrors that we can stare at as we pick apart our features over and over again.
I know girl. I know.
My personal duck-and-cover (or signature “make a funny face”) approach to having pictures of myself changed completely when I had a serious car accident last year (and started over). In the flash of a second (or a flash of the text message the young woman was reading) my entire life changed. I nearly left this earth with no physical evidence of the goofy, wide open and loud love I have for my life, my husband, my family and friends. I haven’t had professional pictures done since our wedding in 2006 . . . always waiting for this elusive moment where I would be thin enough (pretty enough) to have such a permanent record of me. Because, you know, HEAVEN FORBID there be any proof that I look the way I actually look.
|TPM Livewire||ThinkProgress.org||The Onion|
|the guardian||Salon||The American Prospect|
|Newseum News||Newseum Front Pages||The Daily Beast|
|Mother Jones||Discovery News||BBC|
Cross-posted in orange.