June 13, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 7:49 PM


All About the Royal Train That Meghan Markle and Queen Elizabeth Are Sleeping Aboard Tonight (SIMON PERRY  June 13, 2018, People) 05:09 PM

On Wednesday, Meghan Markle becomes the first of the younger generation of royals to score a ride on the royal train for an official outing with Queen Elizabeth.

The train has been called an exclusive "palace on wheels," but when Meghan, 36, steps aboard tonight for her journey to Cheshire alongside the Queen, she will find it very different from the castles and palaces she has already experienced in her short time as a royal.

Although it doesn't have quite the same degree of luxury, the train is preferred by the Queen, 92, and other senior royals because it is a home-away-from-home -- complete with an office, sleeping quarters and dining areas.

Posted by orrinj at 6:57 PM


A Trumped-up charge against Canadian dairy tariffs (Roger Noll and Robert E. Litan, June 13, 2018, Brookings)

First, Canada's props up its dairy industry by using both import quotas and domestic production quotas. As part of this system, Canada has negotiated import quotas with each of its major trading partners.  The U.S. has obtained a favorable quota and, as a result, exports more dairy products to Canada than it imports from Canada. In 2017, Americans sold $792 million in dairy products to Canada, while Canadians sold $149 million in dairy products to the U.S., creating a tidy trade surplus for the U.S. of nearly $650 million. [...]

Fifth, the U.S. would have undoubtedly sold substantially more dairy products to Canada had the Canadian quota system not been in place, so getting rid of import restrictions against U.S. dairy products is an excellent idea.  But Canada had already agreed to give up both dairy import quotas and almost all dairy tariffs as part of its commitments under the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Thus, the only reason import restrictions on dairy products are even an issue is because the U.S. withdrew from the TPP.

Posted by orrinj at 6:50 PM


A group of people with an amphibious life have evolved traits to match (The Economist, Apr 21st 2018)

Immersing someone's face in cold water and thus requiring him to hold his breath triggers what is known as the diving response. This involves a lowering of the heart rate to conserve oxygen; the redirection of blood from surface tissues to the most oxygen-sensitive organs, such as the brain, the heart and the lungs; and contraction of the spleen, an organ that acts as an emergency reserve of oxygenated red blood cells, so that an increased supply of these cells is released into the bloodstream. Ms Ilardo and Dr Nielsen decided to investigate whether the genetics and anatomy of the Bajau promote these responses.

To do so, Ms Ilardo travelled to Indonesia and recruited 59 Bajau who were willing to give her samples of saliva for DNA analysis and also to have their spleens measured ultrasonically. To act as controls, she also recruited 34 members of the Saluan, a group of landlubbing but closely related neighbours of the Bajau. The spleen scans showed that the Bajau's are 50% larger than those of the Saluan--a difference unconnected with whether an individual was a prolific diver or one who spent most of his time working above the waves on a boat. This suggests that it is Bajau lineage, rather than the actual activity of diving, which is responsible for a larger spleen.

DNA analysis told a similar story. One intriguing result was a mutation in part of the Bajau genome that regulates the activity of a gene known to be involved in controlling blood flow, such that blood can be sent preferentially to oxygen-hungry vital organs. Another was a mutation in a gene responsible for the production of carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme that slows the build up of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, a phenomenon that is associated with extreme diving. Changes in genes associated with muscle contractions around the spleen and with responses to low oxygen levels also turned up.

Putting these results together, Ms Ilardo and Dr Nielsen argue that the need to collect food by diving has indeed led to the evolution, in the case of the Bajau, of a group who are literally born to dive. Whether that evolution was driven by the failure of those who could not dive well to collect enough food to sustain a large family, or rather, of their dying in the attempt to do so, remains to be determined.

Posted by orrinj at 6:44 PM


Posted by orrinj at 6:09 PM


Why Israel's 11-year closure didn't topple Hamas (Shlomi Eldar June 13, 2018, Al Monitor)

June 15 marks the 11th anniversary of Israel's land, sea and air blockade of the Gaza Strip, imposed after Hamas took power there in 2007. On June 10, the Israeli Security Cabinet conducted its first-ever discussion of a possible accommodation with Hamas. Over the past decade, Israel has received various proposals through different channels for easing the harsh economic crisis created by the siege in return for a long-term cease-fire by the Palestinians. However, Israel ignored the offers and tried to deter Hamas with the use of force -- a method that repeatedly proved ineffective. This assumption regarding the use of force dragged Israel into three widespread military operations -- Cast Lead in 2008-2009, Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Protective Edge in 2014 -- eroded its international standing and failed to secure peace for the residents of southern Israel. Did anyone truly believe that Israel could seal off the Gaza Strip and its 2 million residents without incurring security, humanitarian and international costs?

Posted by orrinj at 6:00 PM


Kim Jong-un Got Everything He Wanted from Summit with Trump (Chosunilbo, June 13, 2018)

The agreement signed by Trump and Kim therefore came as a shock, which only got worse as Trump rambled on during the ensuing press conference. The sole goal of this summit was the dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons, and the key gauge would have been a commitment to doing it "completely, verifiably and irreversibly" and a date to do it by -- for example 2020, when Trump's term ends.

Instead, the agreement merely reaffirmed the terms of a joint declaration by Kim and President Moon Jae-in after their summit in April, and only holds Kim to working "towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," which could mean anything. In short, it represents no progress and achieves nothing. Already, when faced with criticism over the vagueness of the inter-Korean declaration, Cheong Wa Dae officials said specific agreements would be made between the U.S. and North Korea. That is what the public believed, and that is why they have been let down. Over the last few months, Trump has made increasingly bombastic vows to scrap North Korea's nuclear weapons as soon as possible, but now there is no deadline to be found anywhere, and instead Trump is talking about real estate development on North Korea's coast.

Worse, the denuclearization pledge was listed third on a list of four bullet points, behind promises to improve U.S.-North Korea relations and establish a peace framework on the Korean peninsula.

The joint statement that was produced by six-party talks on Sept. 19, 2005 states that all of the participants in the negotiations unanimously agreed to the goal of complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea pledged to rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and abide by International Atomic Energy Agency rules. But the latest U.S.-North Korean agreement did not even match the toothless terms of 13 years ago, which North Korea at any rate reneged on at the earliest opportunity.

Trump's comments during the press conference made things worse.

Posted by orrinj at 5:56 PM


Arizona Legislator: 'There Aren't Enough White Kids to Go Around' in State Schools (ANTONIA NOORI FARZAN, JUNE 13, 2018, Phoenix New Times)

Arizona Representative David Stringer, speaking at the Yavapai County Republican Men's Forum on Monday,  called immigration an "existential threat" to the United States, warning that it will change the face of the country.

"If we don't do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and we will be a very different country," he said.

Posted by orrinj at 2:19 PM


Republican voters nominate 'alt-right' candidate for Virginia Senate (Ron Kampeas, June 13, 2018, JTA) 

Corey Stewart, a politician with associations with neo-Confederates, the "alt-right" and a well-known anti-Semite, is the Republican nominee for Senate in Virginia.

The Republican establishment battled hard to thwart Stewart in the three-way primary race Tuesday to decide who faces Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine in November, backing State Delegate Nick Freitas. Stewart is seen as unlikely to unseat Kaine, who is popular in the state.

Posted by orrinj at 2:13 PM


Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen likely to cooperate as his attorneys leave case, sources say (GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, Jun 13, 2018, ABC News)

Cohen, who is under federal investigation now with no legal representation, is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, sources said. This development, which is believed to be imminent, will likely hit the White House, family members, staffers and counsels hard.

Posted by orrinj at 2:09 PM


Trump's North Korean Propaganda Reveals His Contempt for Democracy (Eric Levitz, 6/13/18, New York)

This week, Trump finally gave his contempt for the "forgotten man and woman" cinematic expression -- in the form of a trailer for a fake, buddy-adventure movie starring himself and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

When this film first began playing for reporters at the summit in Singapore Tuesday, most assumed that it was North Korean propaganda. And it isn't hard to see why: The trailer portrays Kim as a world-historic hero who is on the cusp of leading his nation into a bright and beautiful tomorrow -- one where they will enjoy unprecedented prosperity, and a long-lost harmony with their neighbors in the South.

The fact that the White House National Security Council produced this warm portrayal of a homicidal tyrant -- whose regime subjects political prisoners to rape and starvation in a vast network of gulags, imposes forced abortions on women who become pregnant by non-Korean men, and condemns practicing Christians to indefinite imprisonment -- has inspired no small amount of outraged incredulity: It is one thing to dignify a fascist dictator with a face-to-face meeting, for the sake of advancing a vital national security interest; it is another to make a movie that explicitly argues the North Korean people could be well served by that dictator's reign extending indefinitely into the future.

Posted by orrinj at 4:46 AM


Nevada pimp Dennis Hof wins GOP primary, ousts incumbent (MICHELLE L. PRICE, 6/13/18, AP)

Pimp Dennis Hof, the owner of half a dozen legal brothels in Nevada and star of the HBO adult reality series "Cathouse," won a Republican primary for the state Legislature on Tuesday, ousting a three-term lawmaker. [...]

Hof celebrated his win at a party in Pahrump with Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss at his side. 

"It's all because Donald Trump was the Christopher Columbus for me," Hof told the Associated Press in a phone call.

Posted by orrinj at 4:34 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:25 AM


"Like Theranos, but it works"-health startup Genalyte proves its worth (RINA RAPHAEL, 6/12/18, Fast Company)

Last month, I had my blood work requested, tested, and analyzed-in less time than it takes to get a manicure.

My medical results, which took about 15 minutes, were courtesy of diagnostics startup Genalyte, which spent the last decade perfecting a portable lab that can run 62 tests with just several drops of blood. Dubbed the Maverick Detection System, the mini-fridge-sized device uses microchip technology to analyze multiple antibodies and other proteins. It digitizes the samples and sends them to a cloud-based laboratory for review, sending results to the physician in real time.

I tested out the process at the company's headquarters in San Diego. The "lab" was composed of a chair, the 15-inch wide Maverick perched on a rollaway cart (dubbed the Merlin), and a kind nurse who promised she would not tell me when she inserted the needle in my arm. Less than one vial of blood was extracted.

A short time later, Dr. Rick Hockett, the pathologist who serves as Genalyte's chief medical officer, sat me down for a brief overview of the results. I was relieved to discover that I did not have any wheat sensitivities-and therefore free to continue on my glutenous path of destruction.

"Everything is within normal limits," Hockett says. "Boringly normal, as I tell most people."

It was quick, easy, and, for once, an efficient medical experience. The results matched recent testing from a traditional lab.

Posted by orrinj at 4:15 AM


Donald Trump has agreed to lift sanctions on North Korea, claims nation's state media (Andrew Buncombe, 6/13/18, The Independent)

Donald Trump agreed to lift sanctions against North Korea along with providing it with security guarantees, the nation's state news agency has claimed.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which also reported Kim Jong-un had accepted an invitation to visit the White House, said Mr Trump had indicated he would lift sanctions along with ending military exercises with South Korea.

Posted by orrinj at 4:09 AM


The Historian's Hubris (Genevieve Weynerowski, 6/12/18, Quillette)

Niall Ferguson is a compelling writer, wry and puckish, intellectually curious. He has a knack for converting his deep knowledge of history and finance into narratives the average reader can grasp. There's a generosity and a sense of excitement to his writing that have helped propel him to stardom in the publishing world and on the small screen. But for all his qualities, Ferguson didn't know enough to pause before hitting 'Send.' Instead, by gleefully attempting to crush a coterie of left-wing Stanford University students who were trying to gain influence within his invited speakers series Cardinal Conversations, he threw gasoline on the blazing free speech wars and turned his own, noble-sounding words into ash. Ferguson has vowed to retreat "to [his] beloved study," where presumably he will hunker down, reassess his methods and motives, and even, one hopes, re-emerge a better man.

One of our era's most recognizable defenders of free speech, Ferguson co-founded Cardinal Conversations to foster open debate at Stanford. When it was announced that Charles Murray, author of the infamous 1994 monograph, The Bell Curve, would be speaking last February, several Stanford University campus groups began protesting a free speech initiative that seemed designed to stir up controversy and privilege right-wing voices. Ferguson became "deeply concerned" following an anti-racist rally on campus, and in a spectacularly ironic twist, began plotting with his young acolytes on the steering committee against a progressive student activist named Michael Ocon. Ferguson feared that Ocon would attempt to derail Cardinal Conversations, so he set about ensuring that the student's views wouldn't be heard. He advised the young Republicans that they "should all be allies against O[con]. Whatever your past differences, bury them. Unite against the SJWs." He also recommended they do some 'opposition research' on Ocon in the hope of digging up dirt that could be used to discredit him.

It was a self-inflicted wound, foolish and silly and shameful, and his departure is a loss for historical scholarship.

Posted by orrinj at 3:53 AM


Iowa congressman Steve King retweets prominent British neo-Nazi (Times of Israel, 6/13/18)

"Europe is waking up... Will America... in time?" King. a Representative from Iowa, tweeted on Tuesday, linking to an anti-immigration tweet from Mark Collett.

Collett is one of Britain's most high-profile white nationalists and is a self-proclaimed Nazi sympathizer.

It would be worse for Collett to retweet King.