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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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Remote Control Hummingbirds!

Mother Jones

It tuns out that one of features of my new camera is the ability to control it remotely with my cell phone. If you have even a gram of nerd blood in you, this should make you insanely jealous.1 It’s the coolest thing ever.

And yet, as cool as it is, it still left me twiddling my neurons trying to figure out what I could do with it. One possibility was situations where I need to minimize camera shake. Put the camera on a tripod and then snap the shutter remotely without actually touching anything. But that would be just another example of using a thousand dollars worth of technology to do what a ten-dollar cable release can do. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Then Marian suggested I could set up the camera by our hummingbird feeder and wait for hummingbirds to fly in. So I did. Here’s what the setup looks like:

Then I went into the living room and watched Roger Federer play Stan Wawrinka at Indian Wells. Every time a bird showed up on my camera, I held down the remote shutter button and shot off a few dozen pictures.

Which did me precious little good. Damn, those little buggers are fast. Even with the shutter speed allegedly set at 1/2000th of a second, the pictures were blurry. Also out of focus most of the time, which was a combination of my fault and the camera’s fault. Still, live and learn. Here are the two best shots I got:

The top one is a male Anna’s hummingbird. The bottom one is, I suppose, a female Anna’s hummingbird. The bird folks can enlighten us in comments.

Anyway, I’ll have to try this again. It’s certainly a way of getting some good nature shots without sitting on my hump for hours on end in a muddy patch of dirt. Then again, since the WiFi range for the camera is about ten feet or so, maybe it just means I get a little better selection of where to sit on my hump for hours on end. I’ll have to think of some way to try this with the cats.

1Unless you already have a camera that can do this.

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Remote Control Hummingbirds!

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Protests erupted across the nation in an 11th-hour effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to withdraw $3 billion from the bank, in part because it is funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the city’s mayor said he would sign the measure.

The vote delivered a win for pipeline foes, albeit on a bleak day for the #NoDAPL movement. Earlier in the day, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will allow construction of the pipeline’s final leg and forgo an environmental impact statement.

Before the vote, many Native speakers took the floor in support of divestment, including members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Tsimshian First Nation, and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

Seattle will withdraw its $3 billion when the city’s current contract with Wells Fargo expires in 2018. Meanwhile, council members will seek out a more socially responsible bank. Unfortunately, the pickings are somewhat slim, as Bank of America, Chase, CitiBank, ING, and a dozen other banks have all invested in the pipeline.

While $3 billion is just a small sliver of Wells Fargo’s annual deposit collection of $1.3 trillion, the council hopes its vote will send a message to other banks. Activism like this has worked before — in November, Norway’s largest bank sold all of its assets connected to Dakota Access. With any luck, more will follow.

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Protests erupted across the nation in an 11th-hour effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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Trump says he didn’t get a single phone call opposing his pipeline approvals.

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to withdraw $3 billion from the bank, in part because it is funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the city’s mayor said he would sign the measure.

The vote delivered a win for pipeline foes, albeit on a bleak day for the #NoDAPL movement. Earlier in the day, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will allow construction of the pipeline’s final leg and forgo an environmental impact statement.

Before the vote, many Native speakers took the floor in support of divestment, including members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Tsimshian First Nation, and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

Seattle will withdraw its $3 billion when the city’s current contract with Wells Fargo expires in 2018. Meanwhile, council members will seek out a more socially responsible bank. Unfortunately, the pickings are somewhat slim, as Bank of America, Chase, CitiBank, ING, and a dozen other banks have all invested in the pipeline.

While $3 billion is just a small sliver of Wells Fargo’s annual deposit collection of $1.3 trillion, the council hopes its vote will send a message to other banks. Activism like this has worked before — in November, Norway’s largest bank sold all of its assets connected to Dakota Access. With any luck, more will follow.

View the original here: 

Trump says he didn’t get a single phone call opposing his pipeline approvals.

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Exciting Chip-and-PIN Update

Mother Jones

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In the past, I have whined at great length about the fact that most new chip-based credit cards are chip-and-signature. This is both insecure—anyone can scrawl a signature—and incompatible with card readers in Europe. But the boffins who run our banks figured that Americans were too dumb to remember a PIN for their credit cards, so chip-and-signature it was.

However, my Wells Fargo debit card claims to be chip-and-PIN. Is it really? Today at the supermarket, a little sign told me that their card reader now accepts chip-based cards. So I stuck in my debit card. A few seconds later it asked for my PIN. Be still my heart! I entered it, and the transaction was approved.

So I can now report definitively that at least one debit card is true chip-and-PIN. And quite handily, the PIN is the same as the PIN for getting cash from the ATM, so it’s easy to remember. Thanks, Wells Fargo!

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Exciting Chip-and-PIN Update

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These Are the 4 Marines Who Were Killed in the Chattanooga Mass Shooting

Mother Jones

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The US military has identified the four Marines killed on Thursday by a gunman who opened fire at two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While media attention is certain to continue focusing on the killer in the days ahead, the stories of the victims began to emerge into view on Friday. The slain Marines join an ever growing list of mass shooting victims in the United States.

Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan
Sgt. Sullivan, who grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, joined the Marines in 1997. He was awarded two purple hearts and a Combat Action medal for his service during the Iraq war, where he served two tours of duty. After returning from Iraq, Sullivan graduated from American Military University with a degree in Criminal Justice. The 40-year-old was an artillery instructor, and, according to Oak Lawn Patch, was planning to retire in the next few years. He was known as “Tommy” to friends and family. Several posts expressing condolences have circulated on Facebook, including one from his brother who owns the The Nathan Bills Bar and Restaurant, and from the punk band Dropkick Murphys, one of Sullivan’s favorite bands.

Staff Sgt. David Wyatt
Staff Sgt. Wyatt, 39, was an operations chief who specialized in field artillery and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was awarded several medals for his service, including a Humanitarian Service Medal, and the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal. An Arkansas native, Wyatt was an Eagle Scout who studied at University of Montana. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Sgt. Carson Holmquist
A Wisconsin native, 27-year-old Sgt. Holmquist was an automotive maintenance technician who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. ABC News reports that Holmquist was so proud to be a Marine that he visited his hometown immediately after bootcamp dressed in his formal blues. His former football coach told ABC News that Holmquist was an “avid sportsman who loved to hunt and fish, a young man committed to succeeding.” He is survived by his wife and young son.

Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” Wells
Cpl. Wells was just 21 years old. From Marrieta, Georgia, he reportedly left Georgia Southern University to follow his calling and was serving in the Marine Forces Reserves at the time of the attack. His mother Cathy told Fox News that the two had visited Disney World last week, where Wells was honored as a member of the military, and that he died “doing what he loved for the love of his country and his family.” ABC News reports that Cathy was a single mother and that Wells was her only child. He played clarinet in the marching band and ROTC, and had just arrived in Tennessee the day before the shooting to report for a two-week assignment.

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These Are the 4 Marines Who Were Killed in the Chattanooga Mass Shooting

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This Major Newspaper Just Declared War on Fossil Fuels

Inside the Guardian’s decision to embrace climate activism. Jonathan Nicholson/ZUMA After 20 years at the helm of one of the United Kingdom’s most influential newspapers, Alan Rusbridger is about to step down as editor of the Guardian. He’s not going quietly: In an op-ed a couple weeks ago, Rusbridger pledged to use his waning weeks to launch a full-out war on climate change: So, in the time left to me as editor, I thought I would try to harness the Guardian’s best resources to describe what is happening…For the purposes of our coming coverage, we will assume that the scientific consensus about man-made climate change and its likely effects is overwhelming. We will leave the sceptics and deniers to waste their time challenging the science. The mainstream argument has moved on to the politics and economics… We will look at who is getting the subsidies and who is doing the lobbying. We will name the worst polluters and find out who still funds them. We will urge enlightened trusts, investment specialists, universities, pension funds and businesses to take their money away from the companies posing the biggest risk to us. And, because people are rightly bound to ask, we will report on how the Guardian Media Group itself is getting to grips with the issues. The Guardian, a Climate Desk partner, is no stranger to global warming reporting. It was the first daily paper in the UK to institute a dedicated section for environment coverage. The paper has extensively covered international climate negotiations, fracking on both sides of the Atlantic, and the latest climate science, while also pouring resources into lush interactive web features. But its new initiative promises to go even further. The series kicked off with a pair of excerpts from Harvard science historian Naomi Klein’s recent book on the tension between capitalism and the climate crisis. Over the next few months it will include investigative features, daily news stories, videos and podcasts, and even original artwork and poetry. The pieces will appear not just on the paper’s environment pages, but across all sections, from business and tech to lifestyle and the arts. The overarching idea is that from now until Rusbridger’s departure in June, any climate story that any reporter has had kicking around but has never had time to tackle will get priority treatment. But the centerpiece is all about the penultimate sentence in the excerpt above: “We will urge…” This week the Guardian kicked off a petition calling on the world’s two largest charitable organizations, the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, to divest their financial holdings from the world’s 200 top fossil fuel companies. As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had gathered over 94,000 signatures and earned the support of the country’s energy minister. If that sounds a lot like straight-up activism, that’s because it is. Rusbridger proposed the petition a few months ago at a meeting that included a who’s-who of the paper’s top editors, designers, and website coders, said James Randerson, an assistant national news editor who handles climate reporting. “There were some voices who questioned whether a campaign was the best use of the Guardian‘s voice,” Randerson said, “because the Guardian is about reporting and uncovering things that people can use in advancing an agenda.” But Rusbridger’s argument, Randerson said, was: “We’ve tried to do that for quite a while, and we needed to do something that had a bit more cut-through. We felt that it was time to take that step.” The idea of a newspaper undertaking an openly activist campaign straight from the playbook of Greenpeace or the Sierra Club might seem strange to American audiences, who are accustomed to news outlets at least purporting to adhere to some degree of journalistic objectivity. But in the UK, newspapers taking a step across the line between news and activism is, well, less newsworthy. In 2014 the Guardian waged a similar campaign against female genital mutilation. Prior to the 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen, the Guardian convinced 56 newspapers from around the globe to publish a front-page editorial calling for climate action. Randerson also characterized the paper’s extensive reporting on Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency as a kind of unofficial campaign against state surveillance. And the Times of London has an ongoing campaign to promote safety for urban cyclists, inspired by an accident that nearly killed one of its reporters. Randerson said the campaign won’t dampen the editorial rigor applied to reporting, editing, and fact-checking news stories. Is it time for the Washington Post and the New York Times to launch climate petitions of their own? Randerson wouldn’t say, but he did argue that especially in the United States, “the media have not done a service to their readers in explaining what’s really at stake here.” Now we get a chance to see if a more direct approach does the trick. View the original here: This Major Newspaper Just Declared War on Fossil Fuels

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This Major Newspaper Just Declared War on Fossil Fuels

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Dot Earth Blog: How Conservation and Groundwater Management Can Gird California for a Drier Era

Experts see a mix of conservation and groundwater management as the cheapest way for Californians to grapple with deepening drought. View original post here:  Dot Earth Blog: How Conservation and Groundwater Management Can Gird California for a Drier Era ; ;Related ArticlesHow Conservation and Groundwater Management Can Gird California for a Drier EraWhite House Pushes Financial Case for Carbon RuleU.S. Coal Exports Eroding Domestic Greenhouse Gains ;

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Dot Earth Blog: How Conservation and Groundwater Management Can Gird California for a Drier Era

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Miami and Los Angeles Sue Banking Giants Over the Sub-Prime Mortgage Debacle

Mother Jones

Some of the cities hardest hit by the sub-prime mortgage crisis are fighting back with lawsuits against the banks whose lending fueled the collapse of the housing market. Most recently, the city of Miami filed three separate suits against Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup, claiming their lending practices violated the federal Fair Housing Act and cost the city millions in tax revenue.

The cases, all of which were filed in the Southern District of Florida, focus on the banks’ treatment of minority borrowers. According to the city, minority residents were routinely charged higher interest rates and fees than white loan applicants, regardless of their credit history. They were also stuck with other onerous terms—such as prepayment penalties, adjustable interest rates, and balloon payments—that increased their odds of falling into foreclosure.

It’s no secret that some big banks discriminated against minority borrowers during the housing bubble. Racial bias ran so deep inside Wells Fargo’s mortgage division that employees regularly referred to subprime mortgages as “ghetto loans” and African American borrowers as “mud people,” according to testimony from former bank officials. In 2011, Bank of America paid $355 million to settle a Justice Department lawsuit, charging that its Countrywide Financial unit steered hundreds of thousands of minority borrowers into predatory mortgages.

Lawyers for the city of Miami, which is roughly 60 percent Latino and 20 percent African American, argue that these discriminatory practices are one key reason that the fallout from the sub-prime lending frenzy hit the city so hard. “The State of Florida in general, and the City of Miami in particular have been devastated by the foreclosure crisis,” reads the city’s complaint. “As of October 2013, the State of Florida has the country’s highest foreclosure rate, and Miami has the highest foreclosure rate among the 20 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country.” The city is seeking compensation for the drop in real estate tax revenue due to foreclosures, which have further depressed property values, and for the cost of providing municipal services to abandoned homes.

In a written statement to the Miami Herald, Wells Fargo called the discrimination claims “unfounded allegations that don’t reflect our corporate values,” while Citigroup insisted that it “considers each applicant by the same objective criteria.” Bank of America also defended its lending practices as fair and said it had “responded urgently” to assist customers during the financial crisis.

Miami isn’t the first city to take on the banking giants. Earlier this month, Los Angeles—which claims to have lost more than $78 billion in home value due to foreclosures—sued Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo on the same grounds. Richmond, California, a working-class Bay Area suburb, plans to rescue borrowers whose mortgages are underwater by seizing their properties using eminent domain. Homeowners will remain in their homes and be given new loans for amounts that reflect current values. And the city will have a fighting chance of shoring up its dwindling tax revenue. It’s a good deal for everyone—except the bankers behind the housing implosion.

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Miami and Los Angeles Sue Banking Giants Over the Sub-Prime Mortgage Debacle

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The Texas Tribune: Wastewater Case Raises the Concept of Underground Trespassing

A Liberty County case between an injection-well operator and a rice farm nearby brings up a relatively unexplored question: How far do property lines extend underground? See the original post –  The Texas Tribune: Wastewater Case Raises the Concept of Underground Trespassing ; ;Related ArticlesThe Texas Tribune: Ecological Shifts Spell Challenges for the Pecos RiverOPEC, Foreseeing No Glut, Keeps Oil Production Level SteadyShell Opts Not to Build Plant on Gulf Coast, Citing Costs ;

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The Texas Tribune: Wastewater Case Raises the Concept of Underground Trespassing

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