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    Daily Digest 3/20 – Once In A Century Opportunity, How Pesticides Harm The Young Brain

    by DailyDigest

    Thursday, March 20, 2014, 3:42 PM


The First Day Of Spring Has Us Really, Really Happy (westcoastjan)

March 20th isn’t just the first day of spring, it’s also the International Day of Happiness – a United Nations-declared day to help individuals from 140 countries realize the meaning of true happiness, beyond material goods and money. The day was first celebrated last year after the UN General Assembly decided that happiness should be recognized as a “fundamental human goal.”

Chris Hadfield's Space Advice On Life (westcoastjan)

Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station, imparted some of that wisdom to Canadian students on March 14. Hadfield spoke at the University of Toronto as a reward for the students who collectively raised more than $148,700 for the Movember campaign, which gives money for men’s health issues (most famously, by convincing men to grow moustaches for the month of November).

Venice Referendum Aims To See City And Region Secede From Italy (westcoastjan)

While the desire for independence may come as a surprise to many non-Italians, Venice has been a separate state for far longer than it has been part of Italy. It was its own autonomous region for more than a thousand years until 1797, when Napoleon conquered the area and it subsequently became part of Austria. Venice joined Italy in 1866.

Why We Must Divest From Fossil Fuels: A Student’s Open Letter to Harvard President Drew Faust (westcoastjan)

Back in October, Harvard University President and distinguished American historian Drew Gilpin Faust, having faced more than a year of increasing calls by students, faculty and almuni to divest from fossil fuels, released a statement in which she explained why Harvard would do no such thing, at least not on her watch. Reactions to her position—by critics ranging from climate activist Tim DeChristopher (now at Harvard Divinity School) and Columbia’s Todd Gitlin (an alum) to former Oberlin president and National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell, among others—pointed to its logical inconsistency, not to mention blindness to moral, political and economic facts. Nevertheless, as others have noted, Faust’s arguments have become the de facto orthodox positions of the anti-divestment crowd.

Collapse and Systemic Failure at All Levels Coming to U.S. (westcoastjan)

So, how close are we to collapse or system failure? Orlov contends, “I am pretty sure that anyone who makes a prediction when the collapse will happen is wrong. Nobody can say when it will happen. It’s the same as saying a bridge that is structurally deficient; you don’t know when a truck is going to fall through into the river below. . . . You can be chronically sick for a long time, and then one day, you go into a coma or your heart stops. You cannot predict what day that will happen. Orlov does say, “The United States right now, from my point of view and the point of view from observers from around the world, is on suicide watch. It’s a country that is going to self-destruct at some point in the near future.”

London ‘Draining Life’ From Rest of U.K. Economy (adam)

Policymakers are considering a range of ideas to address the imbalance. Among them is building a 43 billion-pound ($71 billion) high-speed rail network to connect London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, helping the northern cities become viable alternatives for businesses to locate. Another idea is for Manchester and Liverpool to merge into a super-city that could better compete with London for investment.

Why New York AG wants curbs on high-frequency traders (adam)

In the last several years, HFT volume has increased and has been considered a controversial practice, becoming the topic of many regulatory discussions. Trading algorithms were blamed in the “flash crash” in 2010 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged about 1,000 points in just minutes, recovering quickly. However, proponents of HFT point to how it helps to improve market liquidity and reduces trading costs.

The New York Attorney General answered MarketWatch questions via email on why high-frequency trading was damaging to the markets. It’s been edited for length and clarity.

Goodbye Blythe Masters: JPM Sells Its Physical Commodities Business To Mercuria For $3.5 Billion (Adam)

Following the sale, J.P. Morgan will continue to provide traditional banking activities in the commodities markets, including financial products and the vaulting and trading of precious metals – businesses that the firm has been a leader in for years. The firm will also continue to make markets, provide liquidity and risk management, and offer advice to global companies and institutions around the world.

CBO Director: Important to Give Advance Warning About Coming Changes to Social Security (Dana T.)

Elmendorf said there are various ways to proceed: "But they tend to be unpleasant in one way or another, and we have not, as a society, decided how much of that sort of unpleasantness to inflict on whom."

He noted that many Americans have paid Social Security taxes for decades, expecting to get benefits in retirement. But the money people paid years ago was used to fund other government activities.

Here's How NASA Thinks Society Will Collapse (Dana T.)

The researchers used what they termed a Human And Nature DYnamical (HANDY) formula to reach their conclusions. The formula uses factors such as birth rates, resources, and income classes to create a mathematical equation to project outcomes.

The study was sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and headed by the National Science Foundation's Safa Motesharrei.

Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies (George A.)

Updated PDF

Once In A Century Opportunity (Thomas C.)

Starting in the early 1980s, many came to believe that deficits and debt didn’t matter: Because that was what we were being told. We have recently lived through the 2000 Dot Com bubble bursting which was an even bigger bubble than in 1929. But because we have become “used to” huge debt, we were “comfortable” creating another bubble — this time primarily by using real estate, which peaked in 2006 and soon created an even larger economic decline.

Beef Prices Surge Most In A Decade As Food Inflation Soars (Wendy SD)

Just a month ago we warned that food inflation was on its way. Today we got the first confirmation that problems are on their way. While headline data washes away the nuance of what eating, sleeping, energy-using human-beings are paying month-in and month-out, the fact, as WSJ reports, that beef prices surged by almost 5% in February – the biggest change since Nov 2003 – means pinching consumers and companies pocketbooks that are still grappling with a sluggish economic recovery. "Things are definitely more expensive," exclaimed on mother of three, "I can't believe how much milk is. Chicken is crazy right now, and beef – I paid $5 a pound for beef!" Just don't tell the Fed!

Geoengineering Is Not a Solution for Climate Change Anymore (westcoastjan)

These unintended consequences come partly from our tendency to view things in isolation, without understanding how all nature is interconnected. We're now facing the most serious unintended consequence ever: climate change from burning fossil fuels. Some proposed solutions may also result in unforeseen outcomes.

Your sushi is safe to eat: B.C. waters show no increase in radiation after Fukushima disaster, says Vancouver Aquarium (westcoastjan)

Peter Ross, director of the ocean science program at the aquarium, said later in a phone interview that while he doesn’t want to speak for official federal government agencies, he understands that there have already been at least three studies based on monitoring air, milk and a variety of fish species.

“All of those studies, as I understand it, revealed zero or a slight uptick in the contamination level as assessed using the latest techniques,” he said. “From my perspective, when I interpret all the information I’m getting, there is no cause for concern.”

Warning Signs: How Pesticides Harm the Young Brain (westcoastjan)

For all the natural blessings, that bounty also depends on pesticides—more than 8 million pounds of them in 2011. Farmland is expensive here, which puts the farmers under constant pressure to keep increasing their yields. So they rely on an ever-evolving chemical arsenal to fight weeds, insects and diseases in order to grow the blemish-free produce that consumers want to buy. Pesticides are so deeply ingrained in the way agriculture is practiced here that people scarcely notice the noisy helicopters spraying the crops, or the warning signs—complete with skulls—posted in the fields after they’re treated.

Gold & Silver

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