“From the earliest modern humans to the present day, our species has evolved dramatically in both biological and behavioural terms. What forces prompted these momentous changes?
In the middle of an African desert, with no water to be found for miles, scattered shells, fishing harpoons, fossilised plants and stone tools reveal signs of life from the water’s edge of another era. In 40°C heat, anthropologists Dr Marta Mirazón Lahr and Professor Robert Foley from Cambridge’s Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies (LCHES) are painstakingly searching for clues to the origin and diversification of modern humans, from the artefacts they left behind to the remains of the people themselves.
Kenya, East Africa, has long been known as the ‘cradle of mankind’ following the discovery of fossils thought to be of the first members of the human family, which arose in Africa around 6–7 million years ago. Various distinct species evolved from these ancestors over millions of years, including our own – Homo sapiens – around 250,000 years ago.
“A lot of the research on the origins of modern humans has focused on defining their point of origin, then understanding why humans left Africa about 60,000 years ago to colonise the rest of the world – known as the Out of Africa model,” said Mirazón Lahr. “But we have no idea what happened between 200,000 years and 60,000 years ago. We also have very little information on what occurred inside Africa after 60,000 years, when the different population groups and languages we see today evolved. The genetics suggest that the expansion out of Africa is just the tip of a massive population expansion inside the continent.”
Mirazón Lahr’s In Africa project, recently awarded five-year funding from the European Research Council, is investigating the evolutionary history of modern human populations. “The challenge is to find the sites where evidence of these early people can be recovered – their stone tools, the animals they hunted, their ornaments and, ultimately, the fossils of the people themselves,” she said.
East Africa has played a central role in all earlier phases of human evolution. She has chosen to focus on this region based on the theory that its past environment was suitable for sustained occupation over time. But East Africa is huge, and finding the right place to look is absolutely crucial. Mirazón Lahr used satellite technology to find the first clues .
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Who elected ALEC? (by TheBigPictureRT)
Uploaded on Feb 6, 2012
A few times a year, ALEC gathers lawmakers, corporate CEOs, and lobbyists together in the same high-end resort-hotel ballrooms to present to the elected officials model legislation written by ALEC and voted on by the corporations. If the corporations approve, that legislation then gets carried back to state legislatures - or even the US Congress - by the lawmakers in attendance, who submit it as new laws. And it’s long been speculated - because identical laws keep popping up in state after state - that Republican lawmakers who attend ALEC conferences are taking their orders directly from ALEC - and therefore legislation dealing with everything from Voter ID laws, to harsher prison sentences for drug offenders, to dismantling EPA regulation have their roots in ALEC. Now there’s proof..
Working on the old family tree this afternoon; sprung for a month of Ancestry.com global and found this.
My 12th great-grandfather, Sir Henry Hobart. Not the King of England, but none too shabby either.
I think I smell someone’s pants burning!
Rev. John Jackson from Trinity United Church of Christ in Gary, Indiana
Some don’t like public funding for exactly the reason the public supports it: It removes the influence of special interests. That protective effect is now vulnerable to the flood of corporate donations allowed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The 2012 state Supreme Court race between incumbent Justice Paul Newby and appeals Judge Sam Ervin IV displayed that vulnerability. The $2.6 million independent groups spent in the race overwhelmingly went to Newby. He narrowly won after outspending Ervin nearly 10 to 1, but public financing helped Ervin to stay competitive against special interest money.
A Democratic challenge to the Republican redrawing of legislative and congressional district maps may make it to the state Supreme Court. In that event, Newby could be the deciding vote on an officially nonpartisan court that is nonetheless considered 4-to-3 Republican to Democrat. Thus special interest money spent in Newby’s race could lock in a statewide political design that tilts right largely due to Pope’s decisive role in legislative races.
In North Carolina, the ideal of one person, one vote is giving way to one person who rules the vote. And his name is Art Pope.
|—||Financial Totalitarianism: The Economic, Political, Social and Cultural Rule of Speculative Capital|
|—||Financial Totalitarianism: The Economic, Political, Social and Cultural Rule of Speculative Capital|
… wish I’d written that.
|—||Why ‘I Have Nothing to Hide’ Is the Wrong Way to Think About Surveillance | Wired Opinion | Wired.com|
Imagine a primary election where there are six, eight, ten or more candidates for every office on the ballot; the more the merrier. The party bosses will have one or two favorites, and those will be receiving big donations to buy air time and print media, but the one place where their money won’t mean squat is the Internet.
Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and hundreds lesser known forums across the net are rapidly becoming much more influential than anything you’ll hear on the radio, see on television, or read in the newspaper, in large part because most people today, especially the younger ones, don’t bother with those old mediums. We are approaching critical mass and we must be prepared to take advantage of it.
We need the voices of trash collectors and firemen, IT technicians and English teachers, plumbers and middle managers, retail clerks and wait staffers, housewives, and ditch diggers, and… well, everyone. If we could get six to twelve people from any and all walks of life on primary ballots for EVERY office in EVERY county in EVERY state in the union, some of them will get through, and a few of them might even get elected, and those people could become the first wave standing in the way of further degradation of our democratic institutions. If you don’t believe me, look at the successes had by Tea Party candidates in 2010 and 2012. It can be done!
If we keep doing this year after year, eventually enough of us ‘common folk’ will get into office to not only block bad legislation, but to pass reforms to the system that would break the two-party stranglehold and allow third, fourth, and fifth parties, as well as independent candidates a realistic chance to be heard and elected. That leads to coalitions, and coalitions can stop ideological insanity in its tracks.
1. Free pre-K programs in the public schools for all children whose parents want to enroll them. How can we close the achievement gap and help disadvantaged kids? It starts here.
2. Turn 11th and 12th grades into early college, with community college-level tuition and, where possible, paid internships. The main reason is that 17- and 18-year-olds have the intellectual capacity to take on serious, “college” work. Let them do it. A second benefit: They can perform community service, in lieu of tuition, by being teachers’ aides for elementary grades.
3. A nutritious breakfast and lunch should be served free to every student, not just the poor kids. No need to slap a “free and reduced” label on children. They all need to eat to be alert and ready to learn.
4. Every school should have a garden and use it for lessons in math, nutritional science, the national epidemic of obesity—and how to pray for rain.
5. The study of religious beliefs is central to history and should be an integral part of the curriculum, not avoided because it’s too complicated. Ditto gender.
6. Career teachers should be highly compensated—up there with principals—as professional managers of classrooms. Under their charge: Early-college students working as aides, other paid teachers’ assistants, community volunteers including parents, and of course the students. And technology.
7. Reconceptualize teachers as coaches who prepare kids to be learners. How many assistant coaches does the football team have? Give each teacher the same.
8. Every child should be reading at grade level by the third grade. Everyone—even McCrory—says so. Now, put the resources in and make it happen. No excuses. Is it a poor rural community? That’s what state aid is for.
9. [S]chools should be year-round. I also think the school day should be longer. The extra time can be used for theater classes, the arts, sports and physical exercise—all emerging growth sectors in a post-industrial economy.
10. Finally, with enough assistants, teachers can leave the building with small groups of students to visit a farm, a technology company, a law firm or the local hospital—so kids can see how the world actually works and what their future job could be.
Source: Indy Week, Bob Geary.
I agree with this 100%
Most people recognize that true textbook democracy is both unattainable and possibly even detrimental to the rights of minorities. It’s the whole three wolves and a sheep deciding on lunch thing.
We live in a representative democracy, a compromise that seeks, or at least says it seeks to balance the will of the people against the rights of the few, but it seems to me we’re giving the wrong few too much room for error by protecting the interests of a tiny minority - the owners of controlling interests in our largest corporations - at the expense of not only the will of the majority but the welfare of those least able to defend or even speak for themselves.
For any government to last, to be sustainable, it must evolve along with everything else in the world. Nothing can long survive stagnation, and that’s a big part of our problem in the US today.
One of the primary directives of any sustainable representative democracy should always be to expand and include the voices and views of everyone who must live within that system of government, in all discussions and debates.
The Democratic party claims to be the party of democracy, it’s implied by their name. Inclusiveness is what they claim to be all about, so it therefore makes sense that the Dems should always support changes to laws and rules that facilitate greater inclusion and broader participation in our politics, especially the rights of third parties and independent candidates to be heard and have equal access to the ballot, the right of the people to judge our laws (jury nullification), and the right of the common worker to run for and be elected to office; not just those who pass muster with the corporate overlords.
If you want me to be a fully supportive, all in, boots on the ground, motivated member of the party, then that’s where you have to start. Everything else is side dressing and dessert, I want meat, and I have a feeling a whole lot of other folks do as well.