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TI: Soap Causing Infertility?

TI: Soap Causing Infertility?

Chemicals in common household products such as toothpaste, soap and plastic toys have a direct impact on human sperm which could help explain rising levels of male infertility, scientists have found. The findings will raise further concerns about the hidden toxicity of chemicals deemed safe by toxicology tests.

BR: US Climate Assessment

BR: US Climate Assessment

The recently released third National Climate Assessment (NCA) is a collaborative effort by federal agencies and hundreds of experts, that focuses on the science of climate change impacts in the United States that are happening now, and those that are expected throughout this century.

NYT: Peril of Knowledge

NYT: Peril of Knowledge

Thanks to advances in technology, we may soon revisit a question raised four centuries ago: Are there things we should try not to know? That’s because the collection of data is increasing, in both scale and type, at a phenomenal rate.

PS: Mismeasure of Technology

PS: Mismeasure of Technology

When something upsets a beneficent natural order, humans crave for stories featuring some malign force. But often governments embrace the goal of shared growth and yet fail to achieve it. If technology is just devices and ideas, what is holding them back? The problem is that a key component of technology is knowhow,

AJA: 21st Century Capitalism Can’t Last

AJA: 21st Century Capitalism Can’t Last

Pitketty’s book presents a simple thesis: Unchecked, capitalism’s natural dynamics lead to an unequal concentration of wealth. This trend is increasing at a rapid rate; absent a wealth-destroying catastrophe such as war or depression or powerful new egalitarian political movements, we can expect that to continue. We’ve stumbled into another Gilded Age. Which leads to the obvious question: What can be done?

MIT: Tracking Black Markets

MIT: Tracking Black Markets

The underground economy is a shadowy zone where businesses, both legitimate and less so, transact in the currency of opportunity, away from traditional institutions and their watchful eyes. A recent University of Wisconsin report estimates the value of the underground economy in the United States at about $2 trillion, about 15% of the total U.S. GDP.

FA: Thomas Piketty

FA: Thomas Piketty

“Every now and then, the field of economics produces an important book; this is one of them,” writes Tyler Cowen in his Foreign Affairs review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Justin Vogt, deputy managing editor of Foreign Affairs, recently sat down with Piketty to discuss inequality and his controversial policy proposals.

AJA: US Industrialized Chicken

AJA: US Industrialized Chicken

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed to increase the speed of kill lines for poultry in slaughterhouses. But with testing from Consumer Reports last year revealing that 97 percent of raw chicken breasts purchased at retailers are contaminated with harmful bacteria, and with poultry workers already suffering from numerous job-related injuries, advocacy groups are vigorously opposed to the idea.

NC: Chemical Apples

NC: Chemical Apples

A chemical widely used on non-organic American apples was banned in the European Union in 2012 because its makers could not show it did not pose a risk to human health, according to a new analysis by Environmental Working Group (EWG). Even low levels of nitrosamines on raw apples, or in apple juice and applesauce could potentially pose a risk to human health.

R: Apple and Google Wage Conspiracy

R: Apple and Google Wage Conspiracy

Four major tech companies including Apple and Google have agreed to pay a total of $324 million to settle a lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to hold down salaries in Silicon Valley. The case was based largely on emails in which Silicon Valley rivals hatched plans to avoid poaching each other’s prized engineers.

NYT: US Middle Class Poorer than Canada’s

NYT: US Middle Class Poorer than Canada’s

The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction. While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

AJA: Water Privatization Despite Risks

AJA: Water Privatization Despite Risks

Humans can survive weeks without food, but only days or hours without water. Water is life. So what happens when private companies control the spigot? Evidence from water privatization projects around the world paints a pretty clear picture: Skyrocketing water prices, unsafe supply, failing infrastructure. These problems fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable among us. This is why public institutions, not private corporations, must lead the development of water systems and delivery.

BI: Energy Fueling a New Order?

BI: Energy Fueling a New Order?

The paper “Fueling a New Order? The New Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Energy” examines impacts of the major transformation in international energy markets that has begun. The United States is poised to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer and is on track to become the dominant player in global energy markets. China is in place to surpass the United States in its scale of oil imports, and has already edged out the U.S. in carbon emissions.

TN: Economic and Climate Justice

TN: Economic and Climate Justice

Anyone who is committed to the hard work of bringing deep structural change to our economic, social and political systems is now faced with scientific facts so immediate and so dire as to render a life’s work seemingly futile. The question, then, becomes how to escape that paralyzing sense of futility, and how to accelerate the sort of grassroots democratic mobilization we need if we’re to salvage any hope of a just and stable society.

AJA: Obama’s Clemency Power Unused

AJA: Obama’s Clemency Power Unused

The root of extreme sentencing is legislative: Eighty-three percent of those serving life without parole for a nonviolent offense as of 2012 received a mandatory minimum sentence prescribed by law. Judges protest the harsh sentences even as they hand them down. President Barack Obama, the inheritor of a war on drugs created by his predecessors, has criticized excessive sentences. But he has done little to undo the damage.

PS: The Oligarchy Fallacy

PS: The Oligarchy Fallacy

The anti-oligarchy argument claim is that the rich have too much money, which they use to elect politicians who will enact laws that favor their interests. But it seems better to argue about the best policies to improve income distribution efficiently, and to point out which politicians support them. “Yes” to the EITC and pre-school education; “no” to subsidies for oil, agriculture, and mortgage debt.

TDT: The US is an Oligarchy

TDT: The US is an Oligarchy

Report by researchers from Princeton and Northwestern universities suggests that US political system serves special interest organisations, instead of voters. Economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.

RE: US Made Putin Problem Worse

RE: US Made Putin Problem Worse

Years of escalating protests by Putin made it clear he believed the West was surrounding him with hostile neighbors. And for centuries, Russian leaders have viewed a friendly Ukraine as vital to Moscow’s defense. Demonizing Putin reflected the continued failure of American officials to recognize Russia’s power, interest and importance. It is vital for Washington and Moscow to end a destructive pattern of careless American action followed by Russian overreaction.

NYT: Game of Drones

NYT: Game of Drones

Given the privacy breaches of Google and Facebook, and their collusion with N.S.A. spying, we can be forgiven for some skepticism about what happens when the omnivorous and omniscient tech behemoths acquire the extra-judicial killing machines. Can we really trust Google, who stole millions of the world’s books and whose Street View vehicles secretly scooped up data around the world, with drones?

PS: Growing Divide Developing Economies

PS: Growing Divide Developing Economies

When researchers at the McKinsey Global Institute recently dug into the details of Mexico’s lagging economic performance, they made a remarkable discovery: an unexpectedly large gap in productivity growth between large and small firms. In view of the huge gulf separating the “two Mexicos” it is no wonder that the economy performed so poorly overall. This is in fact an increasingly common occurrence around the developing world, a bewildering fissure is opening up between economies’ leading and lagging sectors.

NYT: DNA and Insurance

NYT: DNA and Insurance

As costs for DNA sequencing drop, hundreds of thousands of Americans are undergoing the procedure to see if they are at risk for inherited diseases. Should insurance companies be barred from seeing genetic information when considering those policies so people can get the tests without fear that the results would be used against them?

FPIF: America’s Homegrown Terror

FPIF: America’s Homegrown Terror

The greatest dangers for the United States do not lurk in terrorist cells in the mountains surrounding Kandahar that are planning on assaults on American targets. Rather, our vulnerabilities are homegrown. The United States currently lacks safety protocols and effective inspection regimes for the dangerous materials it has amassed over the last 60 years. Tragically we are cutting back on infrastructure investment at a time we should be increasing it dramatically.

DS: Central Banks’ Eroding Power

DS: Central Banks’ Eroding Power

Since the financial crisis, central banks have slashed interest rates, purchased vast quantities of sovereign bonds and bailed out banks. Now, though, their influence appears to be on the wane with measures producing paltry results. Do they still have control? Governments must exert tighter control over banks and financial institutions, but monetary policy experts also have a role to play. They shouldn’t just focus on the economy, but also pay attention to the financial cycle.

PS: The West’s Financial Arsenal

PS: The West’s Financial Arsenal

The revolution in Ukraine and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea have generated a serious security crisis in Europe. But, with Western leaders testing a new kind of financial warfare, the situation could become even more dangerous. In 1911, instead of being an alternative to war, the financial arms race made war more likely – as it may well be doing with Russia today.

NC: Slavery Benefit to Corporations

NC: Slavery Benefit to Corporations

Slavery, in its various forms of physical and mental torment, has been a part of U.S. history from the beginnings of our country to the present day. There are numerous modern-day corporations who profited immensely from slave labor. The 13th Amendment bans slavery “except as punishment for crime.” The 14th Amendment bans debt servitude. But each inmate in a modern-day private prison, according to Chris Hedges, “can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year.”

BBC: Millions Wasted on Tamiflu

BBC: Millions Wasted on Tamiflu

Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said. The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms. The report is the result of a colossal fight for the previously hidden data into the effectiveness and side-effects of Tamiflu.

NYT: Cuba Social Media Project

NYT: Cuba Social Media Project

A Twitter-like social media site created and financed by the United States Agency for International Development for use in Cuba was not a covert attempt to overthrow the government, the agency’s top official told members of Congress during a hearing on Tuesday.

WP: Secret Food Ingredients

WP: Secret Food Ingredients

Food manufacturers are routinely exploiting a “legal loophole” that allows them to use new chemicals in their products, based on their own safety studies, without ever notifying the Food and Drug Administration, according to a new report by an environmental and consumer advocacy group.

FA: America’s Energy Edge

FA: America’s Energy Edge

The United States is now poised to become an energy superpower. As U.S. production continues to increase, it will put downward pressure on global oil and gas prices, thereby diminishing the geopolitical leverage that some energy suppliers have wielded for decades

B: US Wind Power

B: US Wind Power

Wind was responsible for 4.8 percent of America’s electricity used in January. That’s the highest January total ever, breaking the record from last January. In many areas of the country wind has reached an important tipping point: becoming cheaper than coal and natural gas.

BI: McCutcheon Decision Worse Than It Looks

BI: McCutcheon Decision Worse Than It Looks

The Supreme Court’s McCutcheon is more radical than modest, increasing the political leverage of the wealthy few and moving us further toward an unregulated political marketplace and away from the democratic republic envisioned by the framers.

PS: Why Are Rich Countries Democratic?

PS: Why Are Rich Countries Democratic?

When Adam Smith was 22, he proclaimed “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

TG: 2015 Oil Crash

TG: 2015 Oil Crash

Former oil geologist and government adviser on renewable energy, Dr. Jeremy Leggett, identifies five global systemic risks directly connected to energy which together threaten capital markets and hence the global economy in a way that could trigger a global crash sometime between 2015 and 2020.

AN: US Inheritance Explosion

AN: US Inheritance Explosion

Inheritances and gifts have always played a big role in the distribution of wealth, accounting for about a quarter of total household wealth in the U.S. That’s a lot, but it may be nothing compared to what’s coming if we stay on the current path.

TG: Children’s Hyperactivity

TG: Children’s Hyperactivity

One of the world’s leading neuroscientists has suggested that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not a real disease. Clinicians are too readily prescribing psychostimulants to children. Animal studies have raised concerns over the potential for damage to be done.

AN: UN Says US Cruel and Inhuman

AN: UN Says US Cruel and Inhuman

The U.N. Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Thursday condemned the United States for criminalizing homelessness, calling it “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” that violates international human rights treaty obligations. It also called upon the U.S. government to take corrective action, following a two-day review of U.S. government compliance with a human rights treaty ratified in 1992.

WP: US Drug War

WP: US Drug War

The grieving mother accomplished what would have been inconceivable a few short years ago, much less back when the nation launched its war on drugs: She helped pass a bill, signed by a Republican governor, that lets people get away with using drugs for the sake of saving lives.

NYT: Climate Risk

NYT: Climate Risk

Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported on Monday, and they warned that the problem was likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

TG: Beware Surveillance Reform

TG: Beware Surveillance Reform

Stopping the government from holding onto of all Americans’ phone metadata would undoubtedly be a good thing for American privacy, but if you read between the legislative lines in the recent reform bills, the government might not be curtailing mass surveillance so much as permanently entrenching it in American law.

TG: Reforming the NSA

TG: Reforming the NSA

Ten months after Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting US telephone records in bulk, three sets of proposals have emerged to change the way the agency operates. All would end the data collection program in its current form, but there are crucial differences between the rival plans. We take a look at how the proposals compare.

NYT: Was Marx Right?

NYT: Was Marx Right?

In the golden, post-war years of Western economic growth, the comfortable living standard of the working class and the economy’s overall stability made the best case for the value of capitalism and the fraudulence of Marx’s critical view of it. But in more recent years many of the forces that Marx said would lead to capitalism’s demise have become real, and troubling, once again.

DS: Kremlin and the Crimea

DS: Kremlin and the Crimea

The EU and US have come down hard on Russia for its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. But from the perspective of the Kremlin, it is the West that has painted Putin into a corner. And the Russian president will do what it takes to free himself.

WP: CIA Abuse

WP: CIA Abuse

A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.

BI: Putin’s Art of Offensive Defense

BI: Putin’s Art of Offensive Defense

In part one of her series on Vladimir Putin’s thinking, Fiona Hill examines the building blocks of Putin’s political and international thought. In part two she examines the Russian leader’s beliefs about foreign policy and the threats that face Russia. In part three she examines the messages his Ukrainian play is sending to international actors.

AN: Police Kill More Than Terrorists Do

AN: Police Kill More Than Terrorists Do

Public indifference to “civilian” casualties in police actions highlights a disconnect: The public perceives rampant crime while the actual crime report suggests nothing of the sort. While the militarization of law enforcement has little or no relation to the falling crime rate, there is reason to fear that it is eroding our constitutionally protected rights

WHO: Air Pollution and Death

WHO: Air Pollution and Death

In new estimates released today, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

MIT: Sharing Cascades

MIT: Sharing Cascades

There is much interest in finding out how to predict something that is likely to be popular compared to something that is not. It’s easy to think that predicting the popularity of content is almost impossible because it depends on so many factors that are difficult to measure, but various characteristics of a cascade can be predicted with remarkable accuracy and that this can be used to make successful judgments about the future.

AN: 1st Amendment Train Wreck

AN: 1st Amendment Train Wreck

Without protections for new media and nontraditional journalists, the Freedom Flow of Information Act may very well end up doing little more than anointing a new set of gatekeepers—established traditional media organizations who call the shots about what leaks are published and what aren’t, instead of the relatively open social media and blog spheres.

NYT: Illustrating Climate Change

NYT: Illustrating Climate Change

As part of an effort to make the public see global warming as a tangible and immediate problem, the White House has inaugurated a website, climate.data.gov, aimed at turning scientific data about projected droughts and wildfires and the rise in sea levels into eye-catching digital presentations that can be mapped using simple software apps.

AJA: Failure to Protect

AJA: Failure to Protect

The FISA court and intelligence committees were supposed to be bulwarks against the dangers of secret spying programs but the shortcomings of these institutions are now clear. It’s troubling to think about all the times the CIA interfered with congressional oversight without so much as a public peep from Feinstein or her colleagues.

Ceres: SEC Climate Reporting

Ceres: SEC Climate Reporting

Climate change and its regulation pose significant risks and opportunities to investors and corporations. The key regulator that leads federal efforts to provide investors with information about corporate risks and opportunities is the SEC. This report examines the state of such corporate reporting and associated SEC comment letters.

PS: Innovation Enigma

PS: Innovation Enigma

Around the world, there is enormous enthusiasm for the type of technological innovation symbolized by Silicon Valley. In this view, America’s ingenuity represents its true comparative advantage, which others strive to imitate. But there is a puzzle: it is difficult to detect the benefits of this innovation in GDP statistics.

NC: US and Ukraine

NC: US and Ukraine

Washington cannot realistically do any more in response to Russian troops seizing Crimea in 2014 in the name of protecting Russian lives and Russian bases than Moscow could do in response to U.S. troops seizing Panama in 1989 in the name of protecting American lives and American bases.

NC: Power Inequality

NC: Power Inequality

Inequality is endemic to the core structure of an America that operates more as a plutocracy than a democracy. It is an inherent result of the consolidation of a substantial amount of both financial power and political influence in the hands of a few families.

FA: Putin’s Own Goal

FA: Putin’s Own Goal

It would be a mistake to overestimate Putin or Russia, or to underestimate how badly his gambit in Ukraine could turn out for him. Finding a way out of this crisis requires an understanding both of why Putin instigated it and of how it will affect his rule.

AJA: 21st Century Church Committee

AJA: 21st Century Church Committee

A Church Committee for the 21st century, a special congressional investigatory committee that undertakes a significant and public re-examination of intelligence community practices that affect the rights of Americans and the laws governing those actions, is urgently needed.

MIT: Spying Bad for Business

MIT: Spying Bad for Business

The Snowden leaks have painted a U.S.-centric Internet infrastructure, and now people are looking for alternatives. Digital espionage is hastening the trend to secure networks, to isolate them, or even to disconnect. If the Internet and its components cannot be trusted, how will that affect business?

NYT: Unhealthy Meat Market

NYT: Unhealthy Meat Market

Factory farming has devastating consequences to animals, human health, and the socio-economic wellbeing of rural America. It’s easy to criticize the current model of industrial agriculture, far harder to outline a viable alternative. A starting point is to recognize bluntly that our industrial food system is unhealthy.

Oxfam: Brand Reputation

Oxfam: Brand Reputation

When customers speak, businesses listen. It’s an old adage in business that Oxfam and its supporters tested to see if this would be true on issues of sustainability and human rights. First we asked the 3 biggest chocolate companies, Mars, Mondelez and Nestle to address the inequality and injustices that women cocoa farmers and workers faced in their cocoa supply chains.

NYT: Sovereignty v Self-Rule

NYT: Sovereignty v Self-Rule

The Kosovars’ secession from Serbia drove a deep wedge between the United States and Russia that soured relations for years. Washington supported Kosovo’s bid for independence while Moscow saw it as an infringement of Serbia’s sovereignty. Now 15 years later, the former Cold War rivals again find themselves at odds, but this time they have effectively switched sides.

TG: Swearing Responsibly

TG: Swearing Responsibly

In Britain, fear of vulgarity is considered the preserve of the terminally vulgar. Britain leads the world in precious little these days, but it does, undoubtedly, set the standard for swearing, the very definition perhaps of being all mouth and no trousers. For this reason, squeamishness about swearing in the US is perceived by some as a collective expression of social unease.

Slate: Anti-Protest Bill

Slate: Anti-Protest Bill

In short, citizen protests puncture the pretty, patriotic illusion of a focus-grouped, Photoshopped media event, and replace it with the gritty patriotic reality of democracy in action. That’s why the teeny cosmetic changes to Section 1752, which purport to be about new kinds of security, are really all about optics.

CERES: Clean Energy Investment Gap

CERES: Clean Energy Investment Gap

To have an 80 percent chance of maintaining this 2 °C limit, the IEA estimates an additional $36 trillion in clean energy investment is needed through 2050—or an average of $1 trillion more per year compared to a “business as usual” scenario over the next 36 years.This Ceres report provides 10 recommendations for investors, companies and policymakers.

YCCC: Limiting Global Warming

YCCC: Limiting Global Warming

Yale Project on Climate Change Communication presents their report on Americans’ Actions to Limit Global Warming. The report provides insight into public interest as regards governmental process and political action, and business activities and consumer action. It also sheds light on efforts to achieve greater domestic energy efficiency.

IRENA: Renewable Energy Roadmap

IRENA: Renewable Energy Roadmap

REmap 2030 is a roadmap to double the share of renewable energy by 2030. It is the first global study to provide renewable energy options based on a bottom-up analysis of official national sources. The study not only focuses on technologies, but also on the availability of financing, political will, skills, and the role of planning.

WRI: Bamboo Secret Weapon

WRI: Bamboo Secret Weapon

We face an urgent need to provide innovative responses to natural resource use. Bamboo could play an important role in forest and landscape restoration. With adequate attention, investment, and the right standards in place, it could become a major renewable and sustainable crop—if we can update our outmoded view of it.

NYT: CA Plastic Bag Ban

NYT: CA Plastic Bag Ban

A companion to shoppers for a half-century, the plastic bag is now under siege in California, where a growing number of policy makers have come to regard it as a symbol of environmental wastefulness. Lawmakers in Sacramento are trying to make California the first state to approve a blanket ban on this most ubiquitous of consumer products.

CP: On Academic Labor

CP: On Academic Labor

Noam Chomsky discusses issues related to the breakdown of our educational system, specifically he discusses hiring faculty off the tenure track, how higher education ought to be, “shared governance” and worker control, the alleged need for labor “flexibility”, the purpose of education, and the love of teaching.

BIJ: Covert Drone War

BIJ: Covert Drone War

A UN counter-terrorism expert has published the second report of his year-long investigation into drone strikes. The report, by British lawyer Ben Emmerson QC, identifies 30 attacks between 2006 and 2013 that show sufficient indications of civilian deaths to demand a ‘public explanation of the circumstances and the justification for the use of deadly force’ under international law.

WRI: US Manufacturing Resurgence

WRI: US Manufacturing Resurgence

U.S. manufacturing—and the jobs that go with it—have been steadily increasing since 2010. Whether the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing jobs continues depends on a range of factors—including environmental initiatives. While the future of U.S. manufacturing jobs is uncertain, energy-efficiency and clean-energy investment can help ensure that this sector continues to thrive.

WP: Democrats Too Liberal?

WP: Democrats Too Liberal?

The recent polarization of American politics has been far more obvious on the right than the left. The emergence of the tea party movement and its influence in Congress has brought to the fore political values that are more conservative than those of the average voter. But while Republicans have become more conservative, Democrats have grown more liberal.

CPI: Health Reform Reduces Financial Stress

CPI: Health Reform Reduces Financial Stress

One of the great hopes of health care reform is that it will reduce the number of Americans who file for bankruptcy because of medical debt. A new study in Massachusetts is providing evidence that the reform law passed in that state in 2006, and which served as the model for the Affordable Care Act, is indeed making a significant dent in bankruptcy filings.

BI: State of the Int’l Order

BI: State of the Int’l Order

The State of the International Order report assesses international cooperation in the economic, diplomatic and security realms five years after the global financial crisis and over a decade after the invasion of Iraq. In gauging the state of the order, we ask two questions: What are the material realities shaping the options faced by the great powers? What are the issue-by-issue interactions that are revealing or shaping the content of great power relations, and international order more generally?

RE: Putin’s Anti-Olympic Creed

RE: Putin’s Anti-Olympic Creed

Suddenly, the winter games that Putin hosted have given way to his penchant for using armed force in what is beginning to look like a 21st-century version of the Great Game. This is the second time in six years that Putin has exerted Russian hard power to intimidate a neighboring country.

NAEP: US 2013 Maths and Reading Results

NAEP: US 2013 Maths and Reading Results

Nationally representative samples of more than 376,000 fourth-graders and 341,000 eighth-graders were assessed in either mathematics or reading in 2013. Average mathematics scores for fourth- and eighth-graders in 2013 were 1 point higher than in 2011, and 28 and 22 points higher respectively in comparison to the first assessment year in 1990.

AP: Feds Move to Save Bees

AP: Feds Move to Save Bees

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend three million dollars to help farmers and ranchers improve pastures in five Midwestern states to provide food for the nation’s struggling honeybees. Agricultural production has been threatened by a more than decade-long decline in commercial honeybees and their wild cousins due to habitat loss and pesticide use.

NYT: Apple’s Shopping List

NYT: Apple’s Shopping List

As fellow tech giants have reached billion-dollar deals in recent years to add significant new arms to their businesses, Apple has ventured down a different path. The company has avoided jaw-dropping takeovers in favor of a series of smaller deals, using the companies to buttress or fill a gap in products that already exist or are in development.

NC: Creating the World We Want

NC: Creating the World We Want

People often want to know what the movement for social and economic justice wants. Occupy Wall Street issued its Declaration of the Occupation of New York City which laid out a series of grievances. But, in addition to knowing what we oppose, we need to define what we stand for. If we do not like big finance capitalism, what will take the place of the current economy?

BBC: California Drought

BBC: California Drought

While historic winter storms have battered much of the US, California is suffering its worst drought on record. So why is America’s most valuable farming state using billions of gallons of water to grow hay – specifically alfalfa – which is then shipped to China? Cheap water rights and America’s trade imbalance with China make this not just viable, but profitable.

TE: Global Banking

TE: Global Banking

The economics of international banking are straightforward enough: raise funds in countries where they are cheap, lend where they are dear. Done right, this is both lucrative for bankers and good for the world, by channelling savings to their most productive use. Those economics have begun to come apart over the past five years.

NYT: Benefits of a Higher Wage

NYT: Benefits of a Higher Wage

Republicans sputtered with outrage when the Congressional Budget Office said that immigration reform would lower the deficit, strengthen Social Security and speed up economic growth. What Republicans fail to mention is that Tuesday’s report from the budget office, a federal nonpartisan agency, was almost entirely positive about the benefits of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016.

BBC: Maths as Beauty

BBC: Maths as Beauty

Mathematicians were shown “ugly” and “beautiful” equations while in a brain scanner at University College London. The same emotional brain centres used to appreciate art were being activated by “beautiful” maths. The researchers suggest there may be a neurobiological basis to beauty.

NC: Dangerous Ingredients

NC: Dangerous Ingredients

Putting aside GMOs for the moment, how many of the groceries sold at Walmart would never be stocked on Whole Foods shelves? The 78 ingredients on their blacklist end up comprising over 54% of all the foods sold in Walmart stores. What’s more, approximately 97% of the soft drinks/soda sold at Walmart contain ingredients that Whole Foods considers “unacceptable.”

TG: US Common Core

TG: US Common Core

I am concerned that the Common Core, successful or not, will normalize the idea of simply outsourcing education and bring to a whimpering end one of the final refuges Americans have against the modern era’s non-stop assault of marketing and commercial persuasion.

TM: Shadows of Liberty

TM: Shadows of Liberty

Ninety percent of American media is controlled by five big, for-profit-conglomerates, creating a media monopoly of informational and social control never before possible. Shadows of Liberty reveals the hidden machinations of the news media, drawing into focus the vast mechanisms of censorship, cover-ups, and corporate control that have been built up over many decades.

AJA: Free Speech and Terrorism

AJA: Free Speech and Terrorism

Working toward social justice requires the courageous protest by a minority to help the majority gain the wisdom necessary to change; criminalizing social activity that leads to crucial discussions about how to minimize suffering and terror, and labeling that activity a form of terrorism, is contrary to the values necessary for a healthy democracy.

NYT: Ads on Climate Change

NYT: Ads on Climate Change

A billionaire retired investor is forging plans to spend as much as $100 million during the 2014 election, seeking to pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers.

AJA: Indonesia and Climate Change Deniers

AJA: Indonesia and Climate Change Deniers

Climate change may be the world’s “most fearsome” weapon of mass destruction, and urgent global action is needed to combat it, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday, comparing those who deny its existence or question its causes to people who insist the earth is flat.

NYT: Spying on Law Firms

NYT: Spying on Law Firms

An American law firm was monitored while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the United States. The disclosure is of particular interest because lawyers in the United States with clients overseas have expressed growing concern that their confidential communications could be compromised by such surveillance.

BBC: Crossing the Road Outlawed

BBC: Crossing the Road Outlawed

The idea of being fined for crossing the road at the wrong place can bemuse foreign visitors to the US, where the origins of so-called jaywalking lie in a propaganda campaign by the motor industry in the 1920s. The UK is among those countries where jaywalking is not an offence. But the rate of pedestrian deaths is half that of the US.

TN: Election Reformation

TN: Election Reformation

American presidential election campaigns are absurd. Absurdly expensive. Absurdly long. Absurdly structured. And absurdly narrow in the range of ideas and options offered to a nation with an absurdly low level of voter participation. If ever there was a time to rethink how this country chooses its chief executive, this is it.

TM: Terms and Conditions

TM: Terms and Conditions

You don’t really read the endless pages of terms and conditions connected to every website you visit or phone call that you make, but every day billion-dollar corporations are learning more about your interests, friends, family, finances and secrets precisely because of this, are selling the information to the highest bidder, and you agreed to all of it.

PS: Realism of Global Optimism

PS: Realism of Global Optimism

Only occasionally do we get uplifting, things-are-getting-better stories. When we do, they feel like a guilty pleasure. As a result, we often think that the world is in worse shape than it is. There are still plenty of problems in the world, but we need to remember that the world is a better place overall than we think, many indicators point to a world that is improving.

MIT: Large City CO2

MIT: Large City CO2

More than half the world’s population lives in cities. There is clearly a significant benefit to living in a large permanent settlement with many other humans. But is living in a large city greener than living in a small one? Today we get an answer thanks to the work of Erneson Oliveira and pals at the Federal University of Ceará in Brazil.

PS: Stagnation by Design

PS: Stagnation by Design

The difficulties that we are facing now are not the result of the inexorable laws of economics, to which we simply must adjust, as we would to a natural disaster, like an earthquake or tsunami. They are not even a kind of penance that we have to pay for past sins. Instead, our current difficulties are the result of flawed policies.

NYT: Is Atheism Irrational?

NYT: Is Atheism Irrational?

To believe in both materialism and evolution requires acceptance that your belief-producing faculties are not reliable, but that is to fall into a total skepticism, which leaves you with no reason to accept any of your beliefs. The only sensible course is to give up the claim leading to this conclusion: that both materialism and evolution are true.

GAO: Nanomanufacturing

GAO: Nanomanufacturing

As research continues and other nations increasingly invest in R&D, nanotechnology is moving from the laboratory to commercial markets, mass manufacturing, and the global marketplace–a trend with potential future import that some compare to history’s introduction of technologies with major economic and societal impact, such as plastics and even electricity.

WSJ: Coming Revolution

WSJ: Coming Revolution

As inequality continues to grow, it will trigger more and more rage, war and violence until, as Pope Francis says, capitalism is rejected, because until then “no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”

AN: Sordid Tale

AN: Sordid Tale

Just about everything Americans need to know about the surge of income inequality is contained in the 43- page indictment last week of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. It’s a simple and base transaction. For a bit of personal wealth, a politician sells out the people who elected him, the people who trusted him to serve their interests.

NC: More Inequality Shock

NC: More Inequality Shock

Inequality is a cancer on society, here in the U.S. and across the globe. It keeps growing. But humanity seems helpless against it, as if it’s an alien force that no one understands, even as the life is being gradually drained from its victims. The recent Oxfam report on global wealth inequality reveals some of the ugly extremes that have divided our world.