Tag Archives: human

The Journey of Man – Spencer Wells

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The Journey of Man
A Genetic Odyssey
Spencer Wells

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 31, 2012

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


Around 60,000 years ago, a man—genetically identical to us—lived in Africa. Every person alive today is descended from him. How did this real-life Adam wind up as the father of us all? What happened to the descendants of other men who lived at the same time? And why, if modern humans share a single prehistoric ancestor, do we come in so many sizes, shapes, and races? Examining the hidden secrets of human evolution in our genetic code, Spencer Wells reveals how developments in the revolutionary science of population genetics have made it possible to create a family tree for the whole of humanity. Replete with marvelous anecdotes and remarkable information, from the truth about the real Adam and Eve to the way differing racial types emerged, The Journey of Man is an enthralling, epic tour through the history and development of early humankind.

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The Journey of Man – Spencer Wells

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Apparently, all it takes to fix strained relations in Washington is beer.

That’s the conclusion of a study led by Helen Harwatt, an environmental nutrition researcher at Loma Linda University.

You may feel paralyzed and powerless to save the human race from climate doom in the face of Trump’s exit from the Paris Agreement. As our favorite doctor-turned-journalist James Hamblin writes in The Atlantic: “The remedy … is knowing what can be done to mitigate environmental degradation, from within in a country singularly committed to it.”

This switch is a relatively easy suggestion!

Okay, one caveat before you start feeling too good. Making the transition from beef to beans could reduce carbon-equivalent emissions by 334 million metric tons — but the United States releases over 6 billion metric tons each year. It gets us closer to the goal Obama set at the 2009 Copenhagen talks, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

Still, it’s worth noting that the trend line on that big ugly graph is moving in the right direction and getting closer to the Copenhagen goal. Much of that can be attributed to (potentially threatened) EPA regulations and a switch from coal to natural gas, but small lifestyle changes on a large scale can nudge it further.

Excerpt from – 

Apparently, all it takes to fix strained relations in Washington is beer.

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The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel

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The Stranger in the Woods

The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

Michael Finkel

Genre: Nature

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: March 7, 2017

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality—not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.   A  New York Times  bestseller In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.

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The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel

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Pale Blue Dot – Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan

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Pale Blue Dot

A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan

Genre: Physics

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: November 8, 1994

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


"FASCINATING . . . MEMORABLE . . . REVEALING . . . PERHAPS THE BEST OF CARL SAGAN'S BOOKS." –The Washington Post Book World (front page review) In Cosmos, the late astronomer Carl Sagan cast his gaze over the magnificent mystery of the Universe and made it accessible to millions of people around the world. Now in this stunning sequel, Carl Sagan completes his revolutionary journey through space and time. Future generations will look back on our epoch as the time when the human race finally broke into a radically new frontier–space. In Pale Blue Dot Sagan traces the spellbinding history of our launch into the cosmos and assesses the future that looms before us as we move out into our own solar system and on to distant galaxies beyond. The exploration and eventual settlement of other worlds is neither a fantasy nor luxury, insists Sagan, but rather a necessary condition for the survival of the human race. "TAKES READERS FAR BEYOND Cosmos . . . Sagan sees humanity's future in the stars." –Chicago Tribune

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Pale Blue Dot – Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan

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Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari

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Homo Deus

A Brief History of Tomorrow

Yuval Noah Harari

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $17.99

Publish Date: February 21, 2017

Publisher: Harper

Seller: HarperCollins


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods. Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda. What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus. With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future.

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Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari

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Trump Abroad: Big Talk, Not Much Big Action

Mother Jones

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Here’s a headline in the LA Times this morning:

Is this really true? I’m not so sure. What Trump demonstrated was big talk far more than big action. He signed a $110 billion weapons deal with the Saudis that was only a hair different from what Obama had agreed to. He announced a bunch of new business that would have happened with or without him. He supported the Saudi war in Yemen, but Obama did too. He visited all the usual places in Israel, just like Obama. He asked NATO countries to spend more on defense, just like Obama did. He played games with our Article 5 commitment, but afterward his aides made clear that nothing had changed.

Rhetorically, of course, Trump was very different indeed. Obama may have given the Saudis nearly everything they wanted, but Trump explicitly said he didn’t care about their human rights abuses. John Kerry worked endlessly on a peace deal in Israel, but he did it quietly. Trump blared his commitment to PEACE at every opportunity. Obama pushed our NATO allies to spend more on defense, but Trump gave a loud public speech about it.

Rhetoric matters, for good and ill, but the truth is that Trump’s rhetoric wasn’t accompanied by much in the way of action.1 In terms of what the US actually plans to do, there really hasn’t been much change so far.

1The biggest substantive difference is the possibility of US withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement. However, Trump hasn’t announced his decision about that yet.

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Trump Abroad: Big Talk, Not Much Big Action

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Against the Odds, Members of a Refugee Caravan Are Let Into the US

Mother Jones

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Last weekend, dozens of refugees who participated in a caravan that traversed Mexico to seek asylum in the United States, presented themselves at the San Ysidro port of entry in Tijuana and were admitted into the United States. Planned by a coalition of Mexican and American organizers, the caravan began in early April at the Guatemala-Mexico border. Its goal was to raise awareness of the dangers migrants face while traveling through Mexico as well as the reportedly widespread practice of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents illegally turning back refugees at the border. The group reached Tijuana last weekend after suffering a variety of threats and setbacks during nearly four weeks on the road.

In total, 78 asylum seekers were admitted during the weekend border crossing. The group included men, women, and children, most of whom were fleeing violence in Central America. Alex Mensing, one of the caravan organizers and a paralegal at the University of San Francisco’s Immigration and Deportation Defense Law Clinic, says that several families were released on parole to family members and sponsors in the country, while the rest have been sent to immigration detention centers or are in the custody to of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Only one asylum seeker was turned away at the border, Mensing says. A child with US citizenship crossing with his Guatemalan father was sent back to Mexico when border patrol learned his mother was still there. “Once they found out the mother was in Tijuana, they called her and told her that if she didn’t come get her son, they would take the child away and put him in foster care.” (Under international law, separating children from their parents usually should be avoided, according to the detention guidelines outlined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.) There were also allegations of refugees receiving poor treatment in CBP custody. Los Angeles resident Dolores Ramirez, who had relatives traveling in the caravan, told the local news outlet KPBS that her relatives were “only getting 10 minutes to eat, they have no blankets, they’re sleeping on the floor in cells, they’re being yelled at… They shouldn’t be treated like animals, they’re not animals, they didn’t cross the border illegally, they’re seeking help.”

Cristobal Sanchez

Not all of the refugees who turned themselves in last weekend had traveled with the caravan. Several, having already been turned back by CBP multiple times, waited in Tijuana to cross with the group.

According to multiple human rights attorneys and a new report from Human Rights First, CBP has been turning away more asylum seekers since the election of President Donald Trump. “In the wake of the election and President Trump’s January executive orders relating to refugees, CPB agents have in some cases claimed the United States is no longer accepting asylum seekers,” Human Rights First reports. By blocking refugees, CBP may be putting them in direct danger. The report adds, “Cartels, smugglers, and traffickers—who control areas around border crossings and wait outside some ports of entry where they see migrants and asylum seekers as easy prey—have kidnapped, raped, and robbed asylum seekers wrongly turned away by the U.S. government.”

B. Shaw Drake, a fellow at Human Rights First and one of the authors of the report, has heard reports that CBP officers turned away two Eritrean refugees on the day after the caravan members turned themselves in. “We had hoped our report and all the media attention would have put them on notice,” Drake says. “But we continue to hear about those cases happening.”

Mensing says that while the caravan was by and large a success, he has concerns that the practice of turning back asylum seekers will continue unchanged. “There’s no doubt in mind that of those 78 people, most if not all of them would have had difficulty being processed if it had not been for the caravan. And clearly, if they were back to rejecting people on Monday, it was not a lasting thing, either.”

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Against the Odds, Members of a Refugee Caravan Are Let Into the US

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Mohsin Hamid’s Resistance Reading

Mother Jones

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We asked a range of authors and creative types to recommend books that bring solace and/or understanding in this age of rancor. More than two dozen responded. Since the publication of his first novel, Moth Smoke, in 2000, the Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid (read our recent interview) has won a Man Booker Prize, has had his best-selling works adapted for film and translated into 35 languages, and has been named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s “Leading Global Thinkers.” We conclude our author series with Hamid’s selections.

Latest book: Exit West
Also known for: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
Reading recommendations:
Beloved, by Toni Morrison, because it is so beautiful and so harrowing and because it slaps us in the face with just how viscerally vicious the oppression of human beings by other human beings can be. (And how echoes never cease.) Kingdom’s End, by Saadat Hasan Manto because Manto writes about the violence and craziness and tribalism that occurred around the separation of India and Pakistan, and because he reminds us that humor is one of our most potent responses to the absurdity of tyranny. And Fantastic Mr. Fox, by Roald Dahl, because he takes us into the world of imperfect but resolutely defiant characters who triumph in the face of impossible odds, and because no matter how powerful the mechanical shovels that come for us, we can always dig, dig, until we make a better world.
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The complete series: Daniel Alarcón, Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Ana Castillo, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Michael Eric Dyson, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, William Gibson, Mohsin Hamid, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Alex Kotlowitz, Bill McKibben, Rabbi Jack Moline, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Peggy Orenstein, Wendy C. Ortiz, Darryl Pinckney, Joe Romm, Karen Russell, George Saunders, Tracy K. Smith, Ayelet Waldman, Jesmyn Ward, and Gene Luen Yang.

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Mohsin Hamid’s Resistance Reading

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North Carolina Republicans Try to Block Transgender People From Bathrooms—Again

Mother Jones

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have filed a bill that could make it more difficult for transgender people to use the bathroom by imposing stiff penalties on anyone convicted of “trespassing” in a restroom.

House Bill 562, co-sponsored by state Rep. Brenden Jones, was filed on Tuesday, shortly after the NCAA announced that it was lifting its boycott of North Carolina because the state’s Legislature partially repealed a law that had required people to use bathrooms consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth.

The text of the new bill does not mention transgender people or even refer to a person’s sex. Instead, it states that entering or remaining in a bathroom “without authorization” after being asked to leave by the owner of the facility, a manager, or anyone else in the room will be considered trespassing. “My bill will do two things,” Jones wrote in a Facebook post last Thursday. “First, it will specifically state it is a second degree trespass for entering the restroom or changing room of the opposite sex; secondly, it would enhance the punishment from what is now, a class 3 misdemeanor punishable up to only 10 days, to a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable up to 120 days in jail.” Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

Requiring “authorization” to be in a bathroom could be particularly harmful for transgender people, says Cathryn Oakley of Human Rights Campaign, a gay and transgender rights advocacy group. By Oakley’s reading of the bill, a trans male college student could be prosecuted for trespass if he uses the men’s room on his campus after being asked to leave by another student in the room.

Last week, the state Legislature replaced House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill, with a new law that LGBT groups have described as “HB2.0” because it opens the door for these types of restrictive regulations. The replacement law prevents cities, schools, and localities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances for trans people in bathrooms, preventing any local guarantees that trans people can use facilities consistent with their gender identity. “There’s no backstop to prevent further anti-LGBTQ legislation from being introduced, debated, and potentially passed,” Oakley says. “The North Carolina General Assembly is not going to stop going after transgender people.”

The latest bill, says Democratic Rep. Deb Butler, appears to be a direct response to the recent replacement of the original bathroom bill. “A faction of the Republican Party here in North Carolina is angry that HB2 was repealed,” she says. “They wanted it, they liked it just the way it was. This is, I am sure, their attempt to thumb their nose at the compromise.” Butler says the new bill will likely be introduced to the Legislature on Wednesday and assigned to a committee. “The lunacy persists.” A companion bill has been filed in the state Senate.

Jones voted in favor of the HB2 replacement last week. Jones wrote on Facebook after the vote that “our children will not be forced to share bathrooms with those of the opposite sex…I will never waiver on this vital issue of privacy.” Police officers and other experts note that there is no evidence that sexual predators are taking advantage of legal protections for transgender people in public restrooms.

Update, 10:30 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper has come out against the trespassing bill. “The Governor is not supportive of efforts such as these as he believes we ought to be working to expand statewide protections for LGBT North Carolinians,” Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper, said in a statement.

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North Carolina Republicans Try to Block Transgender People From Bathrooms—Again

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These 5 Trump Cabinet Members Have Made False Statements to Congress

Mother Jones

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This story originally appeared on ProPublica.

As most of the world knows by now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not tell the truth when he was asked during his confirmation hearings about contacts with Russian officials.

But Sessions isn’t the only one. At least four other cabinet members made statements during their nomination hearings that are contradicted by actual facts: EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

The statements were all made under oath, except those of DeVos. It is a crime to “knowingly” lie in testimony to Congress, but it’s rarely prosecuted.

If you know of instances that we’ve missed, email us.

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt

The falsehood: Pruitt stated in testimony that he had never used a private email account to conduct business while he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.

The truth: Fox News 25 asked the state Attorney General’s office whether Pruitt had used a personal email. The answer was yes.

The Associated Press also received emails in response to a public records request showing Pruitt using a private account to conduct state business.

Pruitt’s response: None.

Education Secretary Betsy Devos

The falsehood: DeVos said during her confirmation hearings that she has not been involved in her family’s foundation, which has given millions of dollars to group that oppose LGBT rights.

“You sit on the board,” Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., noted. DeVos responded, “I do not.”

The truth: As The Intercept has detailed, tax filings have listed DeVos as vice president of the foundation’s board for 17 years.

DeVos’ response: She said the foundation’s nearly two decades of filings were the result of a “clerical error.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

The falsehood: In written testimony, Mnuchin denied that his former bank had used so-called “robo-signing” to improperly foreclose on homeowners. “OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents,” Mnuchin wrote.

The truth: As the Columbus Dispatch detailed, OneWest Bank employees frequently signed documents in bulk without proper review, which is what robo-signing is. One employee testified that she typically signed about 750 foreclosure documents per week. The Dispatch noted that a judge stopped three OneWest Bank foreclosures “specifically based on inaccurate robo-signings.” Reuters also detailed the bank’s robo-signing back in 2011.

Mnuchin’s response: A spokesman offered the following statement after the Dispatch‘s story: “The media is picking on a hard-working bank employee whose reputation has been maligned but whose work has been upheld by numerous courts all around the country in the face of scurrilous and false allegations.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price

The falsehood: During his confirmation hearings, Price insisted that the discount he got on a biotech stock was “available to every single individual that was an investor at the time.”

The truth: As the Wall Street Journal reported, fewer than 20 investors in the U.S. were offered the discount, including Price.

Price’s response: Price did not respond to the Journal’s story.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

The falsehood: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., asked Sessions whether “anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.”

Session responded: Sen. Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

The truth: Yes, he did.

Sessions’ response: His office’s first statement: “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”

An anonymous White House official gave a New York Times reporter a different take, saying Sessions and the ambassador did talk and “had superficial comments about election-related news.”

Sessions’ spokeswoman later said Sessions often spoke with “foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee.Washington Post reporters asked all 26 members of the committee if they spoke to the Russian ambassador in 2016. Sessions was the only one.

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These 5 Trump Cabinet Members Have Made False Statements to Congress

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