Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.
Just about anything goes, but attacks and pie fights are not welcome here. This is a community diary and a friendly, peaceful, supportive place for people to interact.
Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features r&b singer and sax player Jackie Brenston. Enjoy!
Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats - Rocket 88
“…in what manner does tyranny arise? –that it has a democratic origin is evident…But when [the tyrant] has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader…Has he not also another object, which is that they may be impoverished by payment of taxes, and thus compelled to devote themselves to their daily wants and therefore less likely to conspire against him?: Clearly….And if any of them are suspected by him of having notions of freedom, and of resistance to his authority, he will have a good pretext for destroying them by placing them at the mercy of the enemy; and for all these reasons the tyrant must be always getting up a war.”
-- Plato, Book VIII
News and Opinion
Data on police shootings is hard to find
WASHINGTON — The shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., has exposed what the Justice Department doesn’t know about police use of force.
Federal officials don’t know how many police shootings take place annually. They don’t know how many citizens complaints get filed each year. And, despite a 1994 congressional order, they don’t tally annually the incidents of “excessive force” by police. ...
Lawmakers recognized the need for reliable information in 1994, when they passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. As part of the 354-page package, Congress ordered that “the Attorney General shall, through appropriate means, acquire data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.”
The 1994 law further directed the Justice Department to “publish an annual summary of the data acquired” concerning excessive force. ... The excessive force report requirement was one of a number of report obligations imposed on the Justice Department under the 1994 law. It left some key questions unanswered, including the definition of excessive force, even as it forced shorthanded researchers to manage with limited resources.
Nonetheless, the annual reports required by Congress in the 1994 law were never produced.
“It was 20 years ago, can you believe it?” exclaimed [associate professor of criminal justice, Matthew] Hickman of Seattle University, who formerly worked for the Bureau of Justice Statistics. “Two decades, and this is where we are.”
Feds step in to investigate Michael Brown's murder
According to Holder, the DOJ is specifically investigating "the shooting death of Michael Brown," and "looking for violations of federal, criminal civil rights statutes." The investigation is separate from local authorities' investigation. Some have asked the DOJ to take a broader view: In a letter to Holder on August 11, Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), and William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) asked the DOJ to consider expanding the scope of its investigation to include "the potential for any pattern or practice of police misconduct by the Ferguson Police Department." Meanwhile, the US Commission on Civil Rights, a panel appointed by the president and members of Congress, has asked the DOJ to look into the disproportionately low representation of African Americans on Ferguson's police force and city council. It remains to be seen if the DOJ will broaden its investigation beyond Brown's death. ...
So far, three branches of the DOJ are working together on the federal investigation. More than 40 FBI agents from the St. Louis field office are canvassing the area and interviewing witnesses. They're working with the Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney's Office, which would handle a potential prosecution. Within the Civil Rights Division, two sections may be involved: There's the Criminal Section, which "prosecutes cases involving the violent interference with liberties and rights defined in the Constitution or federal law," including excessive use of force by police officers; also, the Special Litigation Section conducts investigations into systematic violations of civil rights by state and local institutions, including police departments. However, DOJ spokesperson Dena Iverson did not clarify in an email to Mother Jones which section is involved in the Ferguson investigation. ...
The Civil Rights Division's Special Litigation Section is currently investigating systematic violations of civil rights by law enforcement in at least 34 other jurisdictions across 17 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, according to a list on the DOJ website. But these cases are different from the investigation in Ferguson, which so far appears to be focused on Wilson's shooting of Brown, which would fall under the CRD's Criminal Section. According to its website, the Special Litigation Section can step in "if we find a pattern or practice by the law enforcement agency that systemically violates people's rights. Harm to a single person, or isolated action, is usually not enough to show a pattern or practice that violates these laws."
One Apology in Ferguson
[Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron] Johnson has garnered praise from many for his brand of public engagement during the unrest. But he has also fielded critical questions over law enforcement’s treatment of media covering the demonstrations. More than a dozen journalists have been arrested covering events in Ferguson, including this reporter. Johnson apologized for that arrest today. ...
As yesterday’s demonstrations began to wind down after midnight, a short, slim 18-year-old African American man named Leon Nelson appeared on the main street of W. Florissant Ave., the epicenter of the protests, with a large open wound on his right cheekbone. Nelson was quickly surrounded by reporters and cameras.
Nelson, who graduated high school this year, told the press that on Tuesday night, amid one of the more intense moments of the evening, he was thrown to the ground by police, on top of broken glass, punched in the face, and kneed twice in the head before being arrested. ”I was in the parking lot and I guess a kid threw a plastic bottle towards a police officer. Next thing you know they just start chasing everybody,” Nelson told The Intercept. “I started running, I turn around, I see six officers behind me with a taser aiming at my back.”
“They grabbed me, threw me on the ground where the glass was at and I told them, ‘I surrender, I didn’t do nothing,’ and they punched me in my head while I was in handcuffs and they threw me in the paddywagon,” he added. Nelson said he was held until 4 a.m. and charged with refusal to disperse. Nelson–whose account was supported by his cousin Isaiah Danfort, also present last night and the night before–said the incident would not prevent him from protesting. ...
“I just hope everybody see the real real, see what we going through in St. Louis,” Nelson said, telling the press that racist policing is a fact of life for young people like him. “All of us have went through it all, so that’s why I’m right here, right now, standing with the protesters for Mike Brown, because that could have been me dead right now, over something that stupid.” ...
Nelson didn’t have the opportunity to ask Capt. Johnson for an apology, and none was offered.
Why Washington’s War on Terror Failed
Al-Qa‘ida is an idea rather than an organization, and this has long been the case. For a five-year period after 1996, it did have cadres, resources, and camps in Afghanistan, but these were eliminated after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Subsequently, al-Qa‘ida’s name became primarily a rallying cry, a set of Islamic beliefs, centering on the creation of an Islamic state, the imposition of sharia, a return to Islamic customs, the subjugation of women, and the waging of holy war against other Muslims, notably the Shia, who are considered heretics worthy of death. ... It has always been in the interest of the U.S. and other governments that al-Qa‘ida be viewed as having a command-and-control structure like a mini-Pentagon, or like the mafia in America. This is a comforting image for the public because organized groups, however demonic, can be tracked down and eliminated through imprisonment or death. More alarming is the reality of a movement whose adherents are self-recruited and can spring up anywhere. ...
Unsurprisingly, governments prefer the fantasy picture of al-Qa‘ida because it enables them to claim victories when it succeeds in killing its better known members and allies. Often, those eliminated are given quasi-military ranks, such as “head of operations,” to enhance the significance of their demise. The culmination of this heavily publicized but largely irrelevant aspect of the “war on terror” was the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan in 2011. This enabled President Obama to grandstand before the American public as the man who had presided over the hunting down of al-Qa‘ida’s leader. In practical terms, however, his death had little impact on al-Qa‘ida-type jihadi groups, whose greatest expansion has occurred subsequently. ...
Jihadi groups ideologically close to al-Qa‘ida have been relabeled as moderate if their actions are deemed supportive of U.S. policy aims. In Syria, the Americans backed a plan by Saudi Arabia to build up a “Southern Front” based in Jordan that would be hostile to the Assad government in Damascus, and simultaneously hostile to al-Qa‘ida-type rebels in the north and east. The powerful but supposedly moderate Yarmouk Brigade, reportedly the planned recipient of anti-aircraft missiles from Saudi Arabia, was intended to be the leading element in this new formation. But numerous videos show that the Yarmouk Brigade has frequently fought in collaboration with JAN, the official al-Qa‘ida affiliate. Since it was likely that, in the midst of battle, these two groups would share their munitions, Washington was effectively allowing advanced weaponry to be handed over to its deadliest enemy. Iraqi officials confirm that they have captured sophisticated arms from ISIS fighters in Iraq that were originally supplied by outside powers to forces considered to be anti-al-Qa‘ida in Syria. ...
The “war on terror” has failed because it did not target the jihadi movement as a whole and, above all, was not aimed at Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the two countries that fostered jihadism as a creed and a movement. The U.S. did not do so because these countries were important American allies whom it did not want to offend. Saudi Arabia is an enormous market for American arms, and the Saudis have cultivated, and on occasion purchased, influential members of the American political establishment. Pakistan is a nuclear power with a population of 180 million and a military with close links to the Pentagon.
‘Apocalyptic’ Isis beyond anything we've seen, say US defence chiefs
Senior Pentagon officials describe militants as ‘apocalyptic’ group that will need to be defeated but maintain limited strikes are sufficient
Senior Pentagon officials described the Islamic State (Isis) militant group as an “apocalyptic” organisation that posed an “imminent threat” on Thursday, yet the highest ranking officer in the US military said that in the short term, it was sufficient for the United States to “contain” the group that has reshaped the map of Iraq and Syria.
Army general Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told reporters in a Pentagon briefing that while Isis would eventually have to be defeated, the US should concentrate on building allies in the region to oppose the group that murdered an American journalist, James Foley.
“It is possible to contain them,” Dempsey said, in a Pentagon press conference alongside the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel. “They can be contained, but not in perpetuity. This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated.”
Dempsey’s comments came a day after secretary of state John Kerry said Isis “must be destroyed” following the killing of Foley, the first American known to have died at the hands of Isis. President Obama had referred to the organisation as a “cancer”. Their remarks raised expectations that the administration was preparing for a wider war aimed at wiping out Isis, rather than stopping its advances in Iraq.
Internal administration deliberations over a response to Isis continue, and US officials predicted that there would be little departure from the strategy of limited airstrikes launched since 8 August. One said the military plan “may ultimately evolve”.
US Top Brass: Striking Syria Back on the Table
At a press briefing at the Pentagon on Thursday, Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said his determination is that the only way to adequately defeat the ISIS militants in Iraq is by expanding military operations—including possible U.S. airstrikes—into neighboring Syria.
“Can [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria?" Dempsey said to reporters. "The answer is no.”
Dempsey was joined at the briefing by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who characterized the new military engagement in Iraq as an effort that was growing, not coming to an end. "We are pursuing a long-term strategy against [ISIS] because [ISIS] clearly poses a long-term threat," Hagel said. "The U.S. military's involvement is not over. President Obama has been very clear on this point." ...
Despite the condemnation of the expanding bombing campaign now underway in Iraq, the idea of further escalation—including more boots on the ground or U.S. airstrikes inside Syria—raises deeper concerns over mission creep in the region as the U.S. leadership seems poised to elevate its activity on both sides of the Iraq/Syria border which Dempsey said is "at this point a nonexistent." The idea that the U.S. military would now expand bombing into Syria fulfills the fears of those who warned that once troops were introduced and strikes authorized in Iraq, the war footprint would predictably spread.
U.N. says Syria death toll tops 190,000, rights envoy raps world powers
More than 191,000 people were killed in the first three years of Syria's civil war, a U.N. report said on Friday, and the world body's human rights envoy rebuked leading powers for failing to halt what she branded a "wholly avoidable human catastrophe".
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said war crimes were still being committed with total impunity on all sides in the conflict, which began with initially peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad's rule in March 2011.
"It is a real indictment of the age we live in that not only has this been allowed to continue so long, with no end in sight, but is also now impacting horrendously on hundreds of thousands of other people across the border in northern Iraq, and the violence has also spilled over into Lebanon," said Pillay.
Pillay, in a statement issued a week before leaving office, added: "The killers, destroyers and torturers in Syria have been empowered and emboldened by the international paralysis.
"It is essential governments take serious measures to halt the fighting and deter the crimes, and above all stop fuelling this monumental, and wholly avoidable, human catastrophe through the provision of arms and other military supplies."
Russian convoy crosses border into Ukraine without permission
At least 70 trucks from a controversial Russian aid convoy have entered Ukraine against Kiev's wishes and begun making their way toward the embattled city of Luhansk, further escalating tensions between the two countries.
After a statement by Russia's foreign ministry saying it could "not wait any longer" on the convoy of about 260 trucks, which has been stuck at the border for more than a week, the vehicles passed through a Ukrainian border post controlled by pro-Russian fighters. Rebels in cars escorted the convoy, which moved ahead without observers from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The head of Ukraine's security service, Valentin Nalyvaichenko, described the crossing of the boarder as a "direct invasion" but ruled out Ukrainian troops using force against the convoy. Nalyvaichenko argued that the convoy's drivers were Russian military forces trained to drive combat vehicles and said the half-empty trucks would be used to move weapons and bring the bodies of Russian fighters out of Ukraine. The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, has previously said he would consider it an act of aggression if the trucks entered without being inspected. ...
In a combative statement, Russia's foreign ministry accused Kiev of "deliberately dragging out the delivery of the humanitarian aid" so it could complete a "military cleansing of Luhansk and Donetsk" by independence day celebrations on Sunday and before Poroshenko and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, meet in Minsk on Tuesday.
"We warn against any attempts to disrupt this strictly humanitarian mission, which was prepared some time ago amid complete transparency and cooperation with the Ukrainian side and the ICRC," the statement added. "The responsibility for the possible consequences of provocations against the humanitarian convoy lie entirely on those who are ready to continue sacrificing human lives for their own ambitions and geopolitical plans, rudely trampling the norms and principles of international humanitarian law."
Kiev in U-turn over claim that 'Russian tanks, artillery and 1,200 fighters' had been deployed in Eastern Ukraine as evidence fails to materialise
Muddled security officials in Ukraine were last night forced to deny a huge Russian military convoy had been deployed in the eastern rebel-run city of Lugansk.
The strong rebuttal suggested an earlier claim about an invasion by Vladimir Putin's troops amounted to a crude propaganda move by the pro-Western Kiev government - or deep confusion in its own ranks.
The original allegation of a Russian column arriving in Lugansk came from Lt-Gen Igor Voronchenko, head of the Ukrainian Anti Terrorist Operation (ATO) in the city, and was backed by military analyst Dmitry Tymchuk.
'There are tanks, Grad artillery, APCs, accompanied by about 1,200 men dressed in the army uniform of Russian Federation,' the general was quoted saying in an assertion calculated to alarm the West.
Yet there was no confirmation on Wednesday from NATO or other Western sources which was widely reported inside Ukraine.
Gaza counts cost of war as more than 360 factories destroyed or damaged
Thousands of acres of farmland and cattle also wiped out with damage estimated at three times that of 2008-9 conflict
Gaza's economy will take years to recover from the devastating impact of the war, in which more than 360 factories have been destroyed or badly damaged and thousands of acres of farmland ruined by tanks, shelling and air strikes, according to analysts.
Israeli air strikes on Gaza have resumed since a temporary ceasefire brokedown on Tuesday after rockets were fired from Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force said it launched air stikes on 20 sites on Friday morning and Gaza health officials said two Palestinians were killed in an attack on a farm.
Almost 10% of Gaza's factories have been put out of action, said the Palestinian Federation of Industries. Most other industrial plants have halted production during the conflict, causing losses estimated at more than $70m (£42m), said the union of Palestinian industries. The UN's food and agriculture organisation (FAO) said about 42,000 acres of croplands had sustained substantial direct damage and half of Gaza's poultry stock has been lost due to direct hits or lack of care as access to farmlands along the border with Israel became impossible.
More than 9% of the annual fishing catch was lost between 9 July and 10 August, it added.
"The initial indications are that economic damage caused by the war is three times that of the 2008-9 conflict," said Gaza-based economist Omar Shaban, referring to the Israeli military operation, codenamed Cast Lead. "It's huge."
U.S. accuses Israel Police of targeting slain Palestinian boy's family
The U.S. State Department on Wednesday accused Israel of having “singled out” for arrest members of the family of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian boy who was burned alive last month by Israeli Jews. The statement followed the arrest of a U.S. citizen resident in East Jerusalem who is a relative of the slain boy.
The U.S. citizen, also named Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was detained by Jerusalem police in a major crackdown in East Jerusalem meant to subdue the riots that erupted in the eastside’s Palestinian neighborhoods after the murder of 16-year-old Abu Khdeir. The murdered boy’s relative and namesake, who is 19, was born in the United States but lives and works in Jerusalem. His arrest was extended to the end of September and no indictment has been served as yet. His brother was arrested along with him.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf criticized Israel for failing to report the arrest to the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, as is the usual procedure with arrests of American citizens. She also contended that members of the Abu Khdeir family have been “marked” for arrest by the police.
“We are concerned that the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem was not notified of his arrest by the government of Israel,” she said. “We are also concerned about the fact that members of the Khdeir family appeared to be singled out for arrest by the Israeli authorities.”
The Abu Khdeir family, based in East Jerusalem’s Shoafat area, supports this claim. According to their count, from the day of the murder until now, no fewer than 35 young members of the family have been arrested, 21 of whom are still under arrest.
Should Twitter, Facebook and Google Executives be the Arbiters of What We See and Read?
There have been increasingly vocal calls for Twitter, Facebook and other Silicon Valley corporations to more aggressively police what their users are permitted to see and read. Last month in The Washington Post, for instance, MSNBC host Ronan Farrow demanded that social media companies ban the accounts of “terrorists” who issue “direct calls” for violence.
This week, the announcement by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo that the company would prohibit the posting of the James Foley beheading video and photos from it (and suspend the accounts of anyone who links to the video) met with overwhelming approval. What made that so significant, as The Guardian‘s James Ball noted today, was that “Twitter has promoted its free speech credentials aggressively since the network’s inception.” By contrast, Facebook has long actively regulated what its users are permitted to say and read; at the end of 2013, the company reversed its prior ruling and decided that posting of beheading videos would be allowed, but only if the user did not express support for the act.
Given the savagery of the Foley video, it’s easy in isolation to cheer for its banning on Twitter. But that’s always how censorship functions: it invariably starts with the suppression of viewpoints which are so widely hated that the emotional response they produce drowns out any consideration of the principle being endorsed. ...
The question posed by Twitter’s announcement is not whether you think it’s a good idea for people to see the Foley video. Instead, the relevant question is whether you want Twitter, Facebook and Google executives exercising vast power over what can be seen and read.
How the Internet Checks Police Abuses
The tragedy and ensuing crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, have shown the ability of social media to get the story told.
Yes, we’re talking about preserving Net neutrality, preventing the Federal Communications Commission from allowing the Internet to be split into fast lanes for the rich and slow lanes for the rest of us, lanes that could be clogged or blocked to prevent word from getting out about corporate and government malfeasance.
David Carr wrote in The New York Times that, “Twitter has become an early warning service for news organizations, a way to see into stories even when they don’t have significant reporting assets on the ground. And in a situation hostile to traditional reporting, the crowdsourced, phone-enabled network of information that Twitter provides has proved invaluable.”
Also contemplating the situation in Ferguson, Zeynep Tufekci, a fellow at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, noted, “It seems like a world ago in which such places, and such incidents, would be buried in silence, though, of course, residents knew of their own ignored plight. Now, we expect documentation, live-feeds, streaming video, real time Tweets.”
Which is a reason why the new generation of civil rights leaders – despite opposition from legacy groups like the NAACP that have received significant funding from the media and telecommunications conglomerates – recognizes that maintaining an Internet accessible to all is crucial. “Keep in mind, Ferguson is also a net neutrality issue,” Tufekci writes. “How the Internet is run, governed and filtered is a human rights issue.”
On the Precipice of Another Global Recession?
Last week, initial government released data for the 2nd Quarter 2014 showed the Eurozone economy coming to a complete halt. Germany’s economy—which represents a third of the Eurozone’s total GDP—declined by 0.2%, the first such contraction since 2012. So did Italy’s, while France recorded no growth at all for a second consecutive quarter.
The zero growth for the combined 17 Eurozone economies follows a near stagnation 0.2% growth in January-March. The January-June trend therefore strongly suggests a recession is now emerging in the core European economies—the third such in the past five years. ...
An important new trend in the Eurozone’s now emerging 3rd recession is that the economic contraction is driven by the Eurozone’s key economic engines—Germany, France, and Italy—and not just its weaker economies on its southern and eastern periphery, as was the case in Europe’s second recession of 2010-12. ...
Like the Eurozone, data last week suggest Japan may have also entered another recession in the 2nd quarter 2014. Last week economic data revealed Japan’s roughly $6 trillion annual GDP contracted by a huge -6.8% in the 2nd quarter 2014. Should Japan also now slip into recession, it would represent its 4th such economic contraction since 2008. After collapsing by more than 15% in 2008-09, Japan experienced a second recession in 2010-11, followed by a third in 2012. 2014-15 may represent its fourth. ...
The global capitalist economy today has clearly entered a transitional stage. A further contraction in Europe and Japan, which is quite possible in months to come, may prove sufficient to drag a number of emerging economies with it. That in turn would slow growth in both the USA and China economies.
The consequent further ratcheting down of global growth would also raise the risk of creating a new round of global banking and financial instability, signs of which are also emerging today in the Eurozone, China, in select emerging economies, and elsewhere in global capital markets for stocks, junk bonds, leveraged loans, and other financial instruments. Should another financial instability event occur, it would take place on the base of an already much weaker real global economy compared to that of 2007-08.
The Evening Greens
This call for solidarity is well worth clicking the link for a complete read.
Why the Climate Movement Must Stand with Ferguson
I can’t stress enough how important it is for me, as a black climate justice advocate, as well as for my people, to see the climate movement show solidarity right now with the people of Ferguson and with black communities around the country striving for justice. Other movements are stepping up to the plate: labor, GLBTQ, and immigrant rights groups have all taken a firm stand that they have the backs of the black community. Threats to civil dissent are a threat to us all. We’ve seen this kind of militarized police violence in the environmental movement before: in the repression of the Global Justice Movement, pioneered by police with tanks on the streets of Miami during the Free Trade Area of the Americas protests in 2003, to name just one example.
It has happened to our movements before, and it will happen again. As James Baldwin expressed, “if they come for you in the morning, they will come for us at night.” But solidarity and allyship is important in and of itself. The fossil fuel industry would love to see us siloed into believing that wecan each win by ourselves on “single issues.” Now it’s time for the climate movement to show up– to show that we will not stand for the “otherizing” of the black community here in America, or anyone else.
We have a lot of learning to do about how to come together, but we are in process of learning how our fights are bound together at their roots. If we knew everything we needed to know about navigating the climate and ecological crises, we would have done it already. Now is a time to stand with and listen to the wisdom of our allies in movements that are co-creating the world we all want to live in.
Two to three feet of hail crippled parts of Mexico City Sunday
A hailstorm of mammoth proportions hammered sections of Mexico City Sunday. Several feet of hail piled up, making some city roads impassable.
“Roads such as the North Loop [el Periférico Norte] were flooded by hail and flooding, so municipal and Federal District workers labored for hours to clear them, Notimex reported,” wrote CNN Mexico.
Mexico news organization Azteca Noticias called it a “historical hailstorm”.
OMG hail storm in Mexico City last night O.O WTH weather is crazy... pic.twitter.com/pAYONNrN3W— BlueHair-Idon'tCare (@sandyzzzen) August 18, 2014
Now Your Food Has Fake DNA in It
It may sound like science fiction, but synbio companies have already performed modest miracles. The California-based firm Amyris, for example, has harnessed the technology to make a malaria drug that now comes from a tropical plant. In order to do this, company scientists leveraged the well-known transformative powers of yeast, which humans have used for millennia to turn, say, the sugar in grape juice into alcohol: They figured out how the wormwood tree generates artemisinic acid—the compound that makes up the globe's last consistently effective anti-malarial treatment—and programmed a yeast strain to do the same thing.
And there could be more innovations on the horizon. In 2011, Craig Venter, the scientist/entrepreneur who spearheaded the mapping of the human genome, vowed to synthesize an algae that would use sunlight to unlock the energy in carbon dioxide. If successful, this attempt to replicate photosynthesis could transform CO2 from climate-heating scourge into a limitless source of energy. Synthetic biologists also aim to conjure up self-growing buildings, streetlight-replacing glowing trees, and medicines tailored to your body's needs. No wonder the market for synbio is expected to reach $13.4 billion by 2019.
So how soon can you expect glowing trees to light up your block? Well, no one knows. That's because thus far it has been much easier to create novel life-forms than to control how they function. Venter, for example, hasn't yet figured out how to cheaply grow enough of his synbio algae to make it competitive with fossil fuels. And malaria is rapidly developing resistance to artemisin drugs, which could eventually render the synbio replicant as useless as the real deal.
But while synbio likely won't sort out our climate and health woes anytime soon, it just might transform our ice cream. By creating yeasts that produce high-end flavorings, a Swiss company called Evolva has created synbio vanillin, the main flavor compound in the vanilla bean—and it insists its product tastes much better than the petroleum-derived synthetic vanillin that now comprises virtually all of the vanilla market.
Marchons! 48 Hour People's Climate March Recruitment Storm:
Thursday August 21st at 12 Noon through Saturday the 23rd at 12 Noon
We are one month out from the historic People's Climate March. The September 21 March is being held two days before the UN Climate Summit, where government and corporate leaders will convene to discuss taking action to address climate change.
Tens of thousands are expected to march in New York City.
Join in the 48 hour Recruitment Storm by registering and inviting friends to participate. Our goal is to add 10,000 new marchers by the end of the day Friday. Let's make September a game-changer for the climate movement.
Sign up here!!! --> People's Climate March
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
Hat tip Bobswern:
A Little Night Music
Jackie Brenston - The Road I Travel
Jackie Brenston - Trouble Up The Road
Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats - Starvation
Jackie Brenston w/Ike Turners Kings Of Rhythm - Gonna Wait For My Chance
Jackie Brenston - Juiced
Jackie Brenston & Edna McRaney - Hi Ho Baby
Jackie Brenston - Leo the Louse
Jackie Brenston - Much Later
Jackie Brenston - 88 Boogie
Jackie Brenston - My Real Gone Rocket 88
Jackie Brenston w/Ike Turner's Kings Of Rhythm - What Can It Be
Jackie Brenston - Tuckered Out
Jackie Brenston w/Ike Turner's Orchestra - You Ain't The One
Jackie Brenston - I Want To See My Baby
Jackie Brenston - The Mistreater
It's National Pie Day!
The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.
Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
Why is National Pie Day the perfect opportunity to tell you more about us? Well you'll see why very soon. So what are you waiting for?! Head on over now and be one of the first!