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n2doc

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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Obama hopes to enlist GOP in push for trade pact, despite Democratic resistance

By David Nakamura
December 26 at 12:01 PM

President Obama is preparing a major push on trade that seeks to enlist Republicans as partners and test his premise that Washington can still find common ground on major initiatives, even after he angered the GOP with a recent slew of executive actions.

It also will test his willingness to buck his own party in pursuit of a legacy-burnishing achievement. Already, Obama is facing fierce blowback from fellow Democrats, who are accusing him of abandoning past promises on trade and potentially undermining his domestic priority of reducing income inequality.

The dynamic, as the White House plots strategy for the new year when the GOP has full control of Congress, has scrambled traditional political alliances. In recent weeks, Obama has rallied the business community behind his trade agenda, while leading Capitol Hill progressives, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have raised objections and labor and environmental groups have mounted a public relations campaign against it.

The administration is moving aggressively in hopes of wrapping up negotiations by the middle of next year on a 12-nation free-trade pact in the Asia Pacific before the politics become even more daunting ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign.

more

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-hopes-to-enlist-gop-in-push-for-trade-pact-despite-democratic-resistance/2014/12/26/81236a34-8600-11e4-b9b7-b8632ae73d25_story.html

Paul Krugman: Tidings of Comfort

Maybe I’m just projecting, but Christmas seemed unusually subdued this year. The malls seemed less crowded than usual, the people glummer. There was even less Muzak in the air. And, in a way, that’s not surprising: All year Americans have been bombarded with dire news reports portraying a world out of control and a clueless government with no idea what to do.

Yet if you look back at what actually happened over the past year, you see something completely different. Amid all the derision, a number of major government policies worked just fine — and the biggest successes involved the most derided policies. You’ll never hear this on Fox News, but 2014 was a year in which the federal government, in particular, showed that it can do some important things very well if it wants to.

Start with Ebola, a subject that has vanished from the headlines so fast it’s hard to remember how pervasive the panic was just a few weeks ago. Judging from news media coverage, especially but not only on cable TV, America was on the verge of turning into a real-life version of “The Walking Dead.” And many politicians dismissed the efforts of public health officials to deal with the disease using conventional methods. Instead, they insisted, we needed to ban all travel to and from West Africa, imprison anyone who arrived from the wrong place, and close the border with Mexico. No, I have no idea why anyone thought that last item made sense.

As it turned out, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite some early missteps, knew what they were doing, which shouldn’t be surprising: The Centers have a lot of experience in, well, controlling disease, epidemics in particular. And while the Ebola virus continues to kill many people in parts of Africa, there was no outbreak here.

more

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/opinion/paul-krugman-tidings-of-comfort.html?_r=1

Post Xmas Toon Roundup

GOP










Cuba












Middle East





Torture







Last Term





Media and Police






The Issue




Season

















Economy








Environment






Putin







Israel





N. Korea


LGBT


Toon: Must be that Kenyan...

Neil deGrasse Tyson Trolls Christians on Christmas

If there is actually a war on Christmas, famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson seems ready to lead the fight.

On Christmas morning, Tyson, the director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium, took to Twitter to troll those celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Tyson wrote “On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642.” The tweet set off an Internet firestorm and was retweeted nearly 15,000 times in less than an hour.

Tyson’s tweet not only plays on the fact that Newton, the inventor of modern physics was believed to be born on December 25 but that Jesus Christ almost certainly wasn’t. The date does not appear in the New Testament and early theologians seemed to think that Jesus was born in the spring. The winter date for the holiday may have eventually been adopted to coincide with existing pagan festivals as part of an effort to convert non-Christians. The astrophysicist played on this theme in a following tweet, writing “Merry Christmas to all. A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA).” The one problem for Tyson is that while Jesus may not have been born in Christmas, Isaac Newton actually wasn’t born on December 25 either.

Newton was born during a 150-year-period where England used a different calendar from the rest of Europe. While the rest of the continent adopted the Gregorian calendar that we use today, the English persisted in using the less accurate Julian calendar which lagged ten days behind because a faulty method of accounting for leap years. As a result, while Newton was born on December 25, 1642 in England, his birthday was January 4, 1643 everywhere else.

more

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/25/neil-degrasse-tyson-trolls-christians-on-christmas.html

Toon: Just Think How Good Things Would Be….

Guess who talked the most on the House floor this year?


Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) logged the most speaking time on the House floor this year out of his more than 400 colleagues.

Capitol Hill staffers are accustomed to looking up at C-SPAN at the end of the legislative day and seeing Gohmert delivering long-winded "special order" speeches for 30 to 60 minutes at a time, multiple times per week. Gohmert clocked in about 29 hours on the floor in 2014, according to C-SPAN data.

The Texas Republican firebrand typically speaks about a variety of topics, including immigration and disagreements with President Obama's Justice Department. Occasionally he employs unusual visuals, such as posters depicting crucifixions while talking about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

Another hard-line conservative, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), came in second with 10 hours on the House floor in 2014. King frequently discusses his opposition to what he describes as "amnesty" for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. For instance, he recently accused White House "minions" of deliberately scheduling President Obama's immigration executive action for after Congress left town for the Thanksgiving recess.

more

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/227974-rep-gohmert-talked-most-on-house-floor-in-2014

First evidence that a mysterious phase of matter competes with high-temperature superconductivity

(Phys.org)—Scientists have found the first direct evidence that a mysterious phase of matter known as the "pseudogap" competes with high-temperature superconductivity, robbing it of electrons that otherwise might pair up to carry current through a material with 100 percent efficiency.

The result, led by researchers at Stanford University and the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, is the culmination of 20 years of research aimed at finding out whether the pseudogap helps or hinders superconductivity, which could transform society by making electrical transmission, computing and other areas much more energy efficient.

The new study definitively shows that the pseudogap is one of the things that stands in the way of getting superconductors to work at higher temperatures for everyday uses, said lead author Makoto Hashimoto, a staff scientist at SLAC's Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), the DOE Office of Science User Facility where the experiments were carried out. The results were published in Nature Materials.

"Now we have clear, smoking-gun evidence that the pseudogap phase competes with and suppresses superconductivity," Hashimoto said. "If we can somehow remove this competition, or handle it better, we may be able to raise the operating temperatures of these superconductors."

more

http://phys.org/news/2014-12-evidence-mysterious-phase-high-temperature-superconductivity.html#ajTabs

Scientists discover oldest stone tool ever found in Turkey

Scientists have discovered the oldest recorded stone tool ever to be found in Turkey, revealing that humans passed through the gateway from Asia to Europe much earlier than previously thought, approximately 1.2 million years ago.

According to research published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, the chance find of a humanly-worked quartzite flake, in ancient deposits of the river Gediz, in western Turkey, provides a major new insight into when and how early humans dispersed out of Africa and Asia.

Researchers from Royal Holloway, together with an international team from the UK, Turkey and the Netherlands, used high-precision equipment to date the deposits of the ancient river meander, giving the first accurate timeframe for when humans occupied the area.

Professor Danielle Schreve, from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, said: "This discovery is critical for establishing the timing and route of early human dispersal into Europe. Our research suggests that the flake is the earliest securely-dated artefact from Turkey ever recorded and was dropped on the floodplain by an early hominin well over a million years ago."

more

http://phys.org/news/2014-12-scientists-oldest-stone-tool-turkey.html

Hunter-gatherer past shows our fragile bones result from inactivity since invention of farming

New research across thousands of years of human evolution shows that our skeletons have become much lighter and more fragile since the invention of agriculture -- a result of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles as we shifted from foraging to farming.


The new study, published today in the journal PNAS, shows that, while human hunter-gatherers from around 7,000 years ago had bones comparable in strength to modern orangutans, farmers from the same area over 6,000 years later had significantly lighter and weaker bones that would have been more susceptible to breaking.

Bone mass was around 20% higher in the foragers -- the equivalent to what an average person would lose after three months of weightlessness in space.

After ruling out diet differences and changes in body size as possible causes, researchers have concluded that reductions in physical activity are the root cause of degradation in human bone strength across millennia. It is a trend that is reaching dangerous levels, they say, as people do less with their bodies today than ever before.

more
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141222165033.htm
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