By Nikolai Lukashov | en.rian.ru
–An international archeological expedition to Lake Issyk Kul, high in the Kyrgyz mountains, proves the existence of an advanced civilization 25 centuries ago, equal in development to the Hellenic civilizations of the northern coast of the Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea) and the Mediterranean coast of Egypt.
—The expedition resulted in sensational finds, including the discovery of major settlements, presently buried underwater. The data and artefacts obtained, which are currently under study, apply the finishing touches to the many years of exploration in the lake, made by seven previous expeditions. The addition of a previously unknown culture to the treasury of history extends the idea of the patterns and regularities of human development.
—Obviously no can say for sure what happened in the room where the deputies questioned George Stinney Jr. 70 years ago. The officers are dead, and Stinney is dead. But one thing can be said about the circumstances in which the teenager’s alleged confession was used in the swift trial that led to his execution.
—In 1944, there was no body of scientific evidence, research or psychology to suggest that people would ever confess to a crime they didn’t commit. Now, there’s plenty.
—“Our courts are only just now catching on to the fact that there’s a science to interrogation that unfortunately can lead to false confessions,” says Joe McCulloch, a lawyer in South Carolina’s capital city of Columbia who directs the state chapter of the anti-death penalty Innocence Project.
It may be 2013, but the African island of Madagascar is facing a public health threat straight out of the Middle Ages: At least 20 people in the country’s northwest died last week from the bubonic plague, and 2012 saw some 256 plague cases and 60 deaths—more than in any other country in the world.
—One major problem seems to be the rat-infested prisons like the notorious facility in Antanimora, which holds 3,000 inmates. The International Committee of the Red Cross in October warned that the facility’s overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions present a serious plague threat—not just to prisoners, but to those outside its walls, too, since inmates’ relatives can catch the disease when they visit the facility, and detainees are often released without having been treated.
A new report shows developing nations are exporting more and more illicit dough. REUTERS/Stringer
When it comes to dirty money, private bankers with keys to Swiss vaults storing paintings and jewels for American doctors and lawyers are barely contenders. The real players — accounting for nearly $6 trillion — are crime syndicates, cartels and organized tax dodging in developing countries, led by China and, increasingly, Russia.
—Nearly $947 billion in illicit money flowed out of some 55 developing countries in 2011, a 13.7 percent increase over 2010 levels, according to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization that works to stem flows of illegal money.
Of interest for Snowden’s unprecedented email interview by Time:
In an interview with Time conducted via e-mail in early December, Snowden explained his answers to those big questions, even as he allowed for the fact that the U.S. public he sees himself serving may not ultimately agree. The privacy of regular citizens, he believes, is a universal right, and the dangers of mass surveillance litter the dark corners of the 20th century. “The NSA is surely not the Stasi,” he argued, in reference to the notorious East German security service, “but we should always remember that the danger to societies from security services is not that they will spontaneously decide to embrace mustache twirling and jackboots to bear us bodily into dark places, but that the slowly shifting foundation of policy will make it such that mustaches and jackboots are discovered to prove an operational advantage toward a necessary purpose.”
Tech firms have come together to demand NSA reform, but mass surveillance will not end any time soon. Here’s why
– by Natasha Lennard
An epic showdown is shaping up: Goliath vs. Goliath. Tech giants vs. the intelligence community. Or at least that’s one way of looking at joint efforts this week by Silicon Valley leviathans, including Google, Yahoo and Facebook, calling for an end to mass NSA surveillance programs. While agreeing that efforts to rein in the NSA’s unbounded data collection are necessary, I’d suggest that even robust reforms to NSA practices would not dismantle the surveillance state. Furthermore, shifting national security practices away from a model of preemptive, dragnet surveillance is not just a practical challenge — it’s an ideological battle.
N ot much is known about the Elizabethan actor John Sincler, a colleague of Shakespeare’s in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and the King’s Men, but we do have a pretty good idea of what he looked like – very thin, bony, pasty-faced. We know this because in the quarto edition of Henry IV Part 2 (1600) his name appears in a stage direction – “Enter Sincklo and three or foure officers” – which shows that he played the part of the First Beadle. In a short scene resounding with the complaints of Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet, whom he has arrested, the beadle is variously described as a “thin thing”, a “famished correctioner”, a “starved bloodhound”, a “nut hook”, an “atomy” (emended in the Folio text to “anatomy”, i.e. a corpse ready for dissection) and “goodman bones”; he is also called “tripe-visaged” and “paper-faced”. It is generally agreed that the copy used for the quarto was Shakespeare’s own “foul papers” or working draft of the play (rather than a marked-up prompt copy), so the casting of Sincler is in Shakespeare’s mind as he writes the part, and the actor’s particular physical characteristics condition the writing of it.
On this day in 1976 Saul Bellow delivered his speech in acceptance of the Nobel Prize. At this point, Bellow had written only fifteen of his twenty-nine books, but among these are his major prize-winners — The Adventures of Augie March (1953), Henderson the Rain King (1959), Herzog (1964), Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970), and Humboldt’s Gift (1975).
New Zealand circa 1910. “Group men outside a tent with a sign reading ‘The Gaiety Camp,’ showing each man performing domestic duties. Probably Christchurch district.” It would be interesting to know something about the history of these elaborate camps (note the geranium flower beds), and how long the custom lasted. Photo by Adam Maclay, who made hundreds of these portraits.
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive | Vintage Fine Art Prints.
Today’s picture shows a rancher out in the snow in New Mexico. Cold weather is particularly hard on ranchers, because they usually have to be out in it, tending to the livestock, which themselves are really stressed by cold weather. This picture was taken in 1943.
via Old Picture of the Day.
Brett Weston, [Floating Figure by Gaston Lachaise, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, Museum of Modern Art, New York], ca. 1945 (330.2003)
The Museum of Modern Art has had different stages of development, each characterized by an expansion. In 1939, after having already moved three times in ten years, the museum found its permanent location on West 53rd Street, where it remains today. Since then, MoMA has been reshaped several times.
Chicago police officer patrolling in Lincoln Park neighborhood.
via Dr. X’s Free Associations.
Forever young? Neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are most likely to occur in older people. Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, alongside an Israeli startup called TyrNovo, have made a major step towards halting these diseases – by essentially stopping the brain from aging.
—The researchers, led by Doctor Ehud Cohen, found that TyrNovo’s novel and unique compound, named NT219, selectively inhibits the process of aging in order to protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases, without affecting lifespan. This is a first and important step towards the development of future drugs for the treatment of various neurodegenerative maladies.
Gronk was just the latest victim. Why are ACL tears on the rise?
—To be honest, it doesn’t look like much. It’s short, just over an inch in length, and stubby, about half an inch wide. It is white, slick, and striated like a cluster of angel-hair pasta. It isn’t rubbery, and it doesn’t have much elasticity. In fact, you wouldn’t give it a second thought — not until it self-destructed, which it occasionally does, always at the most inopportune of times. And then you wouldn’t think about much else but that gremlin that now sits at the center of so many of our games. It was there when Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard dove at Tom Brady’s knee on the 15th offensive snap of the Patriots’ season in 2008.
—The past two years have seen a surprising amount of turmoil at the highest levels of the Chinese political establishment. We have seen political alliances re-shuffled, powerful business and political leaders arrested, factional disputes magnified, and an explosion of rumors of more to come. After twenty years of what seemed, on the surface at least, remarkable cohesion within China’s political elite, events of the past two years have come as a great surprise to many.
—And yet the historical precedents suggest that none of this should have surprised us. After nearly thirty years of spectacular economic growth and impressive social and political advances, China has probably exhausted the growth model that had once served it so well. It now suffers from many of the internal imbalances that were the near-automatic and easily predictable consequences of the policies associated with the growth model it had pursued, and policymakers in Beijing are very aware of the urgent need to adopt a new set of policies that will allow China both to rebalance the economy so as to protect itself from the consequences of soaring debt and to lay the foundations for another thirty years of solid economic growth and social and political advancement.
The ancient God of Judaism and Islam was no distant immortal, but a god of domestic life, infertility and fratricide
Sarah Presenting Hagar to Abraham (detail) by Adriaen van der Werff, 1699. Staatsgalerie, Schleissheim. Photo courtesy of wikimedia
In the past few years I have spent a lot of time in the West Bank city of Hebron, where communal relations between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims could hardly be any worse; and I have often wondered why we expect the adherents of the Abrahamic faiths to get along, when their revered ancestors, described in the Book of Genesis, plainly didn’t.
Cristian, a 32-year-old blacksmith from Uruguay, grows five cannabis plants with care and dedication in the back yard of his workshop on the outskirts of Montevideo.
—Cristian tends his marijuana plants in his backyard in Montevideo
Cristian decided to grow his own marijuana last year
—Cristian, a 32-year-old blacksmith from Uruguay, grows five cannabis plants with care and dedication in the back yard of his workshop on the outskirts of Montevideo.
—”I have been smoking three or four joints a day since I was 13,” he says.
—”But last year I decided to grow my own cannabis because the quality of the marijuana at the boca (hotspots where illegal drugs are sold) is too low, or it comes mixed with hard and dangerous drugs, like cocaine paste,” he says.
Gustave Courbet “The Origin of the World” (1866)
[...]The new nanomedicine represents a broadening of the technology created in 2011 at the IBM Almaden research center in San Jose, Calif., and at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore to attack bacteria that have also become resistant to antibiotics. The researchers think they can use the nanomedicine, which they vastly improved earlier this year, to target only bad cells within a body and kill them like ninjas assassins. The breakthrough in anti-fungal treatments could be commercialized over time, and it suggest that a technology that started out as narrow cure could become more broadly useful against infections that affect a billion people a year.
On a typical weekday afternoon, Adam would bicycle past rows of Brooklyn brownstones with a half-dozen plastic, orange pill bottles full of high-quality marijuana in the pockets of his Carhartt jacket. He’d stop at an apartment building, lock his metallic 9-speed Bianchi road bike on the sidewalk and call his client to be buzzed inside.
—Adam’s customer, who was always someone who’d been referred by a friend or a prior client, could examine the 2.5 grams of fragrant flower clusters before handing Adam $50 in cash. Adam wouldn’t make much small talk — on most days he’d have between 10 and 15 more deliveries to make, meaning he’d often bike upward of 30 miles a day during a typical nine-hour shift.
From the outside, it is hard to know that people live in the Ramada Inn. The parking lot is always empty. The hotel sits facing a wide suburban boulevard called Kipling Street, just off Interstate 70 in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. The interchange where Kipling meets the freeway is packed mornings and evenings with daily commuters going to or coming from Denver and with skiers heading west into the Rockies. Hotels dot I-70 as it cuts through the 764-square-mile stretch of suburbia that runs from the city into the mountains, but at the intersection with Kipling is a cluster of seven budget-savers that travel websites warn tourists away from. The hotels advertise low prices—ranging from $36 to $89 a night—on neon signs next to gigantic flags that whip in the Front Range wind. Most offer even lower weekly or monthly rates. The Ramada is farther from the frontage road than the other hotels and is harder to notice, with its plain yellow stucco and dimly lit red sign.
How’d you like to make $250 an hour? Sounds good, right? Well, if you’re willing to join the glamorous world of sex work, you might be in luck. So where do you start? Lucky for you, there’s a class.
The shadow of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, looking toward the base of Mount Sharp, which rises more than three miles above the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater floor.
By KENNETH CHANG
—About 3.5 billion years ago — around the time life is thought to have first arisen on Earth — Mars had a large freshwater lake that might well have been hospitable to life, scientists reported Monday.
—The lake lay in the same crater where NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity landed last year and has been exploring ever since . It lasted for hundreds or thousands of years, and possibly much longer.
—Whether any life ever appeared on Mars is not yet known, and Curiosity was not designed to answer that question. But the data coming back from the planet indicate that the possibility of life, at least in the ancient past, is at least plausible.
Going gluten-free is all the rage these days. It’s the diet of choice for Hollywood starlets and health nuts alike; supermarket aisles are packed full of products touting their lack of the stretchy protein. But for a lot of people, the gluten-free lifestyle may do more harm than good.
What Is Gluten?
—Gluten is a sticky, stretchable protein found in grains like wheat, barley, oats, and rye. Formed during the kneading process, gluten chains create a matrix that trap carbon dioxide bubbles produced by the fermenting yeast. This gives bread its chewiness, pizza dough its stretchiness, and acts as a thickening agent in dozens of products from salad dressing to soy sauce. Even beer contains a fair amount.
Carl Higbie claims that after almost eight years of exemplary service, he was railroaded out of the military and had his honorable discharge revoked for publishing a book.
—Carl Higbie survived almost a decade of perilous service in the Navy SEALs, fighting through close calls in combat and multiple tours overseas, before a book proved his undoing.
—Higbie knew there might be repercussions when he decided to publish a book, despite the fact that several other SEAL memoirs had come out well before his. But he never expected that his exemplary service would suddenly count for nothing while the Navy, in an unprecedented act of retribution, downgraded his discharge from “Honorable” to “General” months after he had left the military.
There are over 7 billion people on the planet, a massive number that paints an image of human life sprawling densely over the planet. But that picture doesn’t tell the whole story: humans are unevenly distributed across the planet, leaving some areas that are densely populated and others that are largely void of life. The densely populated areas are, in themselves, uneven. Some imagine large cities like New York or Mexico City, but not all of the world’s most densely populated areas contain the kind of infrastructure that one would expect from a city. Slums often contain more people per square mile than the world’s most famous cities, yet contain little infrastructure to support them.
WHAT percent of American men are gay? This question is notoriously difficult to answer. Historical estimates range from about 2 percent to 10 percent.
—But somewhere in the exabytes of data that human beings create every day are answers to even the most challenging questions.
—Using surveys, social networks, pornographic searches and dating sites, I recently studied evidence on the number of gay men. The data used in this analysis is available in highly aggregated form only and can be downloaded from publicly accessible sites. While none of these data sources are ideal, they combine to tell a consistent story.
—At least 5 percent of American men, I estimate, are predominantly attracted to men, and millions of gay men still live, to some degree, in the closet. Gay men are half as likely as straight men to acknowledge their sexuality on social networks. More than one quarter of gay men hide their sexuality from anonymous surveys. The evidence also suggests that a large number of gay men are married to women.
Michael’s problems started, according to his mother, around age 3, shortly after his brother Allan was born. At the time, she said, Michael was mostly just acting “like a brat,” but his behavior soon escalated to throwing tantrums during which he would scream and shriek inconsolably. These weren’t ordinary toddler’s fits. “It wasn’t, ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I’m frustrated’ — the normal things kids do,” Anne remembered. “His behavior was really out there. And it would happen for hours and hours each day, no matter what we did.” For several years, Michael screamed every time his parents told him to put on his shoes or perform other ordinary tasks, like retrieving one of his toys from the living room. “Going somewhere, staying somewhere — anything would set him off,” Miguel said. These furies lasted well beyond toddlerhood. At 8, Michael would still fly into a rage when Anne or Miguel tried to get him ready for school, punching the wall and kicking holes in the door. Left unwatched, he would cut up his trousers with scissors or methodically pull his hair out. He would also vent his anger by slamming the toilet seat down again and again until it broke.
—When Anne and Miguel first took Michael to see a therapist, he was given a diagnosis of “firstborn syndrome”: acting out because he resented his new sibling. While both parents acknowledged that Michael was deeply hostile to the new baby, sibling rivalry didn’t seem sufficient to explain his consistently extreme behavior.
U.S. chess prodigy, Bobby Fisher, playing 50 opponents simultaneously at his Hollywood hotel on 12 April 1964. He won 47, lost 1 and drew 2. (i.imgur.com)
But it won’t be from germ warfare, runaway nanobots, or shifting magnetic poles. A skeptical guide to Doomsday.By Gregg Easterbrook
Omigod, Earth’s core is about to explode, destroying the planet and everything on it! That is, unless a gigantic asteroid strikes first. Or an advanced physics experiment goes haywire, negating space-time in a runaway chain reaction. Or the sun’s distant companion star, Nemesis, sends an untimely barrage of comets our way. Or …
—Not long ago, such cosmic thrills, chills, and spills were confined to comic books, sci-fi movies, and the Book of Revelation. Lately, though, they’ve seeped into a broader arena, filling not only late-night talk radio, where such topics don’t seem particularly out of place, but also earnest TV documentaries, slick mass-market magazines, newspapers, and a growing number of purportedly nonfiction books. Everywhere you turn, pundits are predicting biblical-scale disaster. In many scenarios, mankind is the culprit, unleashing atmospheric carbon dioxide, genetically engineered organisms, or runaway nanobots to exact a bitter revenge for scientific meddling. But even if human deployment of technology proves benign, Mother Nature will assert her primacy through virulent pathogens, killer asteroids, marauding comets, exploding supernovas, and other such happenstances of mass destruction.
—Fringe thinking? Hardly. Sober PhDs are behind these thoughts.
A new study reveals that in the prediction of treatment outcome for castration-resistant prostate cancer, a change in circulating tumour cells detection might be more accurate than the change in prostate-specific antigen levels. The findings of this award-winning study were presented at the recent EAU 13th Central European Meeting in Prague.
—“The research of the circulating tumour cells (CTC) is of utmost importance, because nowadays there is no reliable marker of both cancer-specific or overall survival in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) patients,” explained the lead author of the study, Dr. Otakar Čapoun, of the Department of Urology at General Teaching Hospital Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.