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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Mars One Finalist Announces That It's All A Scam

Earlier this week, a colonist candidate for the one-way mission to Mars broke his silence and spoke out against the Mars One project, calling the selection process dangerously flawed.

After filling out an application (mostly out of curiosity), former NASA researcher Joseph Roche, now of Trinity College, became one of 100 finalists to live in permanent settlement on Mars. In his interview with Elmo Keep for Medium, Roche expressed many concerns, ranging from inaccurate media coverage (there were only 2,761 applicants, not 200,000) to Mars One’s psychological or psychometric testing (or lack thereof) to how leading contenders earned their spot (he says they paid for it).

“When you join the ‘Mars One Community,’ which happens automatically if you applied as a candidate, they start giving you points,” Roche explains. “You get points for getting through each round of the selection process (but just an arbitrary number of points, not anything to do with ranking), and then the only way to get more points is to buy merchandise from Mars One or to donate money to them.” And if media outlets offer payment for an interview, the organization would like to see 75 percent of the profit. As a result the most high-profile hopefuls, he says, are those who brought about the most money.

So far, he’s completed a questionnaire, uploaded a video, got a medical exam, took a quick quiz over Skype, and… not too much else, it seems. Despite making the final 100, Roche has never met anyone from Mars One in person. A planned multiday, regional interview seems to have been cancelled.



If Elizabeth Warren does run, she would surprise skeptics

By Robert Kuttner

TAKE Elizabeth Warren at her word that she doesn’t want to run for president in 2016 and is unlikely to become a candidate any time soon. But circumstances could propel her into the race. Hillary Clinton’s commanding lead in the polls conceals multiple vulnerabilities. If Clinton seriously stumbles, the pressure on Warren to run will grow intense.

Rather than generating the excitement of an epic breakthrough — the first woman president! — Clinton frequently comes across as yesterday’s news rather than tomorrow’s. She was off her game in her defense of a somewhat overblown scandal involving her e-mail accounts, and there will be more such slings and arrows.

Then there are the cross-promotions of the Clinton Foundation — which embody what novelist Tom Wolfe termed The Great Favor Bank — connect good works to the self-interest of sponsors to eventual campaign contributions. Even if no laws are broken, the contraption signals conflict-of-interest and will cause trouble. Not to mention the minefield that is Bill.

Also, Hillary Clinton is to the right of the Democratic Party base. Perhaps her hawkish stance on national security makes sense in this parlous era; but on pocketbook issues, the Clintons’ longstanding Wall Street connection alienates Democratic primary voters and denies her the populist role the times demand.



Major Asia-Pacific trade pact enters final stages

Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potentially world-changing trade agreement, are close to completion after nearly a decade, people involved in the talks have told CNBC.

Negotiators concluded another round of TPP discussions on Sunday in Hawaii, sparking some protests but making "significant progress" on a number of issues, according to William Craft, the deputy assistant secretary of state for trade policy and programs in the State Department's Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

The negotiations involve 11 other countries—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Significantly, the TPP as it's now envisioned does not include China—though sources told CNBC that's likely to change.

Parties to the talks seek to ratify an agreement that goes further than earlier trade pacts in addressing concerns such as the movement of digital information across borders, intellectual property and the globalization of supply chains, according to Scott Miller, senior adviser and Scholl Chair in International Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.



From fighter jets to fish farms: Why Lockheed Martin is taking on climate change

One of the world’s most innovative fish farms sports a scruffy beard and talks about saving the planet by moving “toward a culture of nurture.” His office is a trailer near the beach, where the views are of dolphins, the mission is progressive and the dress code is loose.

All of which makes Neil Sims’s partnership with Lockheed Martin a most unusual corporate alliance.

The world’s largest defense contractor is best known for making the weapons that unleash cataclysmic fury on America’s enemies, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria. But lately, it has set its sights on a different threat to national security: climate change.

In the past few years, Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed has launched a series of new initiatives — harnessing energy from tides, purifying water, nuclear fusion, and, yes, a new, environmentally friendly way to farm fish in a cage that drifts off the Hawaiian shore. Chief executive Marillyn Hewson touts the ventures as growth opportunities, a calculated effort to go green at a time when defense spending is shrinking after more than 14 years of sustained warfare.



Sorry, but it's not a 'law of capitalism' that you pay people as little as possible — it's an excuse

One reason U.S. economic growth is still weak is that average American consumers are still strapped.

Consumers account for ~70% of the spending in our economy, so when they're hurting, we're all hurting.

The reason average consumers are strapped is that, for the past 35 years, we have increasingly told ourselves that the only thing companies are supposed to do is "maximize profit." We have forgotten that great companies can serve other constituencies in addition to shareholders — namely, customers and employees. We have come to treat employees not as dedicated, hard-working teammates who create value, but as "costs" to be minimized.

One result of this "profit maximization" obsession is that our big companies now have the highest profit margins as a percent of our economy in history:

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-need-to-pay-people-more-2015-3#ixzz3V8gZ9NSK

The Fear of Being Gay in Russia


Moscow’s first gay pride parade was held in May 2006, thirteen years after homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia. It was supposed to be a joyous occasion, the beginning of a new era of openness for the LGBT community

It didn’t quite work out that way. LGBT marchers that day clashed with riot police, who tried to stop the event. “We disturbed something very deeply rooted in Russian society, some very evil power of intolerance and violence,” says Nikolai Baev, a prominent LGBT rights activist who attended the march.

Only a few months later, Russia saw its first regional anti-gay law passed in Ryazan, 200 miles east of Moscow. It was the first official sign that the Russian authorities would resist the LGBT movement—a resistance that has grown and become increasingly violent as LGBT activism has grown over the last decade.

That violence hit Dmitry Chizhevsky in November 2013 when he attended a weekly meeting for the LGBT community and friends called the Rainbow Tea Party in Saint Petersburg. “It was a place to socialize, drink some tea and play some games,” Chizhevsky says. It wasn’t a political event, and Chizhevsky wasn’t much for protests.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/03/russia-putin-lgbt-violence-116202.html

Newt’s Kind Words for President Hillary

The former fire-breathing Clinton arch nemesis says Hillary as president would be … OK…sorta.

If Hillary Clinton runs for and wins the presidency, she would be “very hardworking” and “much more practical” than the current president, according to former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

That is not a typo.

BUT—there’s, of course, always a caveat—he doesn’t think she’ll get that far.

Clinton brought up her relationship with Gingrich—the Clintons’ arch nemesis for much of his speakership—during a speech in Atlantic City last week, and waxed nostalgic for the kinder, gentler—or at least the less-partisan—days of the 1990s.



Boston Globe Op Ed: Elizabeth Warren, run for the White House

By Anna Galland

LESS THAN three years into her Senate term, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has established herself as the country’s leading advocate for working and middle-class families. The Democrat has proven equally adept behind the scenes and in the media spotlight, and has stood up to Wall Street banks and other powerful interests to win changes that are improving millions of Americans’ lives. Already, more than one observer has compared her to Massachusetts’ first “liberal lion” in the US Senate, Ted Kennedy.

Some leading Democrats say that’s a great argument for Senator Warren to stay put — and not run for president.

I’d argue they’re wrong. Warren should run. Our country will be better off if she does. She would be a strong candidate — one who injects valuable ideas into the conversation and ensures the kind of debate our country needs. And she could win.

Put simply, this moment was made for Elizabeth Warren. With income inequality at its highest level on record, and corporations and lobbyists wielding enormous power in Washington and state capitals around the country, we need a president who is firmly grounded in making government work for regular people. Senator Warren has spent her career taking on corporate interests and winning historic financial protections for workers and small businesses. She’s not only been critical of lobbyists and powerful financial firms, but has even taken on President Obama on occasion.



Democrats need Elizabeth Warren’s voice in 2016 presidential race

By The Editorial Board

DEMOCRATS WOULD be making a big mistake if they let Hillary Clinton coast to the presidential nomination without real opposition, and, as a national leader, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren can make sure that doesn’t happen. While Warren has repeatedly vowed that she won’t run for president herself, she ought to reconsider. And if Warren sticks to her refusal, she should make it her responsibility to help recruit candidates to provide voters with a vigorous debate on her signature cause, reducing income inequality, over the next year.

The clock is ticking: Presidential candidates need to hire staff, raise money, and build a campaign operation. Although Clinton hasn’t officially declared her candidacy, she’s scooping up support from key party bigwigs and donors, who are working to impose a sense of inevitability about her nomination. Unfortunately, the strategy’s working: Few candidates are coming off the Democrats’ depleted bench to challenge Clinton. Neither declared candidate Jim Webb, a former Virginia senator, nor rumored candidate Martin O’Malley, a former governor of Maryland, represent top-tier opponents; independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has also hinted he might enter the Democratic primaries, but it’s difficult to imagine him thriving on the trail.

Clinton’s deep reservoir of support, from her stints as first lady, New York senator, 2008 presidential candidate, and secretary of state, no doubt poses a formidable obstacle. But Barack Obama overcame Clinton’s advantages in 2008, and Warren or another candidate still could in 2016. Even if they don’t, Clinton herself would benefit from a challenger. As former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick put it recently, “My view of the electorate is, we react badly to inevitability, because we experience it as entitlement, and that is risky, it seems to me, here in America.” Fairly or not, many Americans already view Clinton skeptically, and waltzing to the nomination may actually hurt her in the November election against the Republican nominee.

More important, though, the Democratic Party finds itself with some serious divides that ought to be settled by the electorate. Some are clear-cut policy differences, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an enormous free-trade agreement with Pacific Rim nations that Warren opposes and Clinton backs. Even in areas where the candidates agree, there are bound to be different priorities: It’s hard to imagine a President Clinton defending and enforcing the Dodd-Frank legislation with as much vigor as a President Warren, for instance.


Krugman: Democratic Booms

Everyone in the Republican Party knows that Reagan presided over an economy that has never been equalled, before or since. When I was on TV with Rand Paul, he confidently declared

When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan …

Of course, it’s not true:

There was an even bigger job boom under Clinton than under Reagan, and Obama has now presided over three years of fairly rapid job growth, with the most recent year the fastest since the 90s.

If politics made any sense, Democrats would be celebrating Clinton in the way Republicans celebrate the blessed Ronald, and they’d be hailing Obama as Saint Bill’s second coming. Meanwhile Republicans would be fairly diffident about a pretty good job but not all that exceptional expansion that was mainly Paul Volcker’s doing, and was a long time ago.


Toon: Death Penalty Dissonance

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