Try these news stories:
Another 'new' Newt takes the stage
Could Gingrich Be Next GOP Challenger to Surge?
Coup d'etat? Try Coup d'Gingrich
The one about "Another new Newt" is worth reading. The undead are often shapeshifters and Newt the Impaler is a master of this. He can't change into a bat or a wolf; but, he has reinvented himself repeatedly, each time he went after a new 'base.' I remember back in the 90s when Newt showed up a a WorldCon, trying to win support from science fiction fans. And then there was that interview with Discover Magazine where he talked about his 'passion for science' and made this statement about evolution:
Do you view evolution as "just a theory" or as the best explanation for how we came to be?
Evolution certainly seems to express the closest understanding we can now have. But it's changing too. The current tree of life is not anything like a 19th-century Darwinian tree. We're learning a lot about how systems evolve and don't evolve. Cockroaches became successful several hundred million years ago and just stopped evolving.
On the issue of teaching 'intelligent design' in schools:
]Where do you come down on teaching intelligent design in schools? Do you think the ruling in the Dover, Pennsylvania, case was appropriate?
I believe evolution should be taught as science, and intelligent design should be taught as philosophy. Francis Collins's new book, The Language of God, is a fine statement that combines a belief in God with a belief in evolution. I do not know enough about the Dover case to critique the judge's decision, but I am generally cautious about unelected judges establishing community standards—that is the duty of elected officials.
Notice he left himself some wiggle room on the Dover decision. Now look at this post at Chris Mooney's Intersection science blog:
Newt Gingrich Misrepresents Stem Cells Science, Mocks Evolution
I always tell my friends who don’t believe in this stuff, fine, how do you think — we’re randomly gathered protoplasm? We could have been rhinoceroses, but we got lucky this week?
Children of the nights.....What music they make!
An article on the Telegraph UK site paints a grim picture of life in California: Failing Dreams: California faces its own Great Depression
In Skid Row, a grimy pocket of downtown Los Angeles, the prostrate forms of homeless people lie strewn across the pavements.
The lucky ones have tents for shelter but others make do with a sliver of cardboard for a bed and a supermarket trolley to carry their rags.
At the last police count 1,662 people live on these streets, twice as many as a year ago.
And now amid the drug addicts and the drunks there are families who not so long ago had homes and ordinary suburban lives.
“Los Angeles is re-experiencing the Great Depression,” said Rev Andy Bales, who runs the nearby Union Rescue Mission shelter. “This is the worst I have ever seen it and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. This is all these people have as a last resort and I think there’s going to be over 2,000 by Christmas.
There are some more really, really frightening statistics in the article:
Some more excerpts:
“California is fast becoming a post-industrial hell for almost everyone except the gentry class, their best servants and the public sector,” he said. “The future is pretty grim. If you live in a beautiful area like Ventura County on the coast it’s not hellish in any way, but not everyone is living that dream in California.
At Rev Bales’ shelter 100 families who have had their homes foreclosed are now taking refuge. Perhaps the starkest example of how far some people have fallen in the economic downturn is a man in his 50s, who once earned a six figure salary as a producer on television studio sitcoms and small budget Hollywood movies.
How could this happen to the state that once represented the American Dream to so many? Oh, Yeah! Now I remember: Ronnie Raygun (as California Governor and as President) and two Bushes. Plus a lot of economic jiggery-pokery by Wall Street.
An article on the Huffington Post page traces the history of corporate personhood back to the 19th Century Gilded Age and the reaction of America's elite to the Paris Commune of 1871.
The Paris Commune was the first international incident followed daily in the United States. While President Barack Obama complains about the 24-hour news cycle today, its roots stretch back to Cyrus Field's transcontinental telegraph cable, which allowed the elites of America to focus intently on the two-month uprising and ultimate slaughter of thousands of Parisians. Cyrus Field's brother and his family were in Paris at the time, and a third brother, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field, obsessively tracked the news back in the states. It was the Paris uprising that transformed Stephen Field from a mundanely corrupt judge in the paid service of the railroads to a zealous crusader for all corporations, with the aim of suppressing what he and other leaders saw as the threat of democracy from below.
The authors diverge from the usual historical account of how a Supreme Court decision was interpreted to grant privileges of personhood to corporations:
The common understanding of how the corporation became a legal person says that a Supreme Court reporter of decisions erroneously said as much in a case summary and that error became an unremovable stain, coloring every decision after. But that reading of history whitewashes what was, in fact, a coordinated effort to win citizenship for corporations.
They go on with a discussion of the history of the concept of the corporation, which had the original purpose of limiting the liability of investors. Justice Field delivered a number of minority opinions which at least implied that corporations, which had previously been regarded as artificial persons under the law, had many of the rights of natural persons, i.e., citizens:
The Louisiana Legislature, then controlled by a majority coalition of African Americans and white Reconstructionists known as "Radical Republicans," had passed a law insisting that all butchers move their business south of New Orleans, so the butchers' entrails didn't pollute the city's water supply. The Court upheld the law, and the city's pattern of repeated cholera outbreaks stopped cold. Field argued, however, that it was a corporation's God-given right to dump pig intestines wherever it saw fit, regardless of the public health consequences or laws on the books
Justice Field was as corrupt as today's Justice Clarence Thomas; he was heavily invested in railroads and other industries, and handed down decisions in favor of those industries, even when there was a clear conflict of interest. Congress allowed Supreme Court justices to sit in on lower, circuit court decisions. When Field sat the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California, he inserted language in his decisions stating that corporations were persons.
Field lost a chance to hand down a decision stating that corporations were persons in a suit by San Mateo (California) against the Southern Pacific Railroad when the county settled out of court.
The settlement ended the Supreme Court case and denied Field one chance to enshrine personhood into law, but he was soon given another. In 1886, Santa Clara County sued Southern Pacific Railroad in a similar case, and the company again asserted its personhood. In fact, whether Southern Pacific was a citizen was irrelevant to the particular dispute, which was decided on technical issues of tax law that applied equally to a business or a person. But the Court reporter, John Chandler Bancroft Davis, who was himself financially intertwined with the railroads, wrote the following in his summary of the decision: "The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section I of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a state to deny to any person equal protection of the laws."
Davis usually takes the rap for establishing corporate personhood; but, Field was known to closely 'micromanage' Davis' decisions, and he had a definite interest in the case, being an investor in Southern Pacific Railroad. Field cited the 1886 decision in another case in 1888; Field inserted language, which had no bearing on the case at hand which stated that a "private corporation is included under the designation of 'person' in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Section I." And the rest, as they say, is history.
The pernicious effects of the decision were felt immediately; important legislation protecting worker rights could be overturned because it interfered with the 'rights' of the corporate 'persons,' which were now more important than that of workers.
That precedent of granting corporations the rights of natural persons was extended in succeeding Supreme Court decisions. It led to the infamous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, passed by a 5-4 majority led by Chief Justice John Roberts, which enshrined into law the absurd notion that limiting contributions by corporations was a denial of First Amendment Free Speech rights.
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/12/c...
Great article at SpaceDaily: Piecing together a global colour map of Saturn's largest moon.
An international team led by the University of Nantes has pieced together images gathered over six years by the Cassini mission to create a global mosaic of the surface of Titan. The global maps and animations of Saturn's largest moon are being presented by Stephane Le Mouelic at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2011 in Nantes, France on Tuesday 4th October.
The team has compiled all the infrared images acquired by the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) during Cassini's first seventy flybys of Titan. Fitting the pieces of the puzzle together is a painstaking task.
There's an awful lot of info in this article; I'll try to summarize:
For more information, visit:
The Ring World of Saturn and her moons
During its initial test flights the rocket will use solid rocket boosters designed for the shuttle strapped on its outside, and will have three shuttle main engines powering it on the inside. But soon after that, the rocket would be built with five main engines, and the solid rocket boosters would be replaced with new-technology boosters that may be either liquid or solid.
We heard this bit about replacing the solids with liquid-fuel boosters time and again during the shuttle program! It never happened! Morton Thiokol has powerful friends in Congress. They kept giving the contracts to Morton-Thiokol, even after the Challenger disaster.
Look gang, I've been following this issue for decades. I organized a chapter of the L-5 Society (Later the National Space Society) in Tulsa in the 1970s. I'm not a fuggin' luddite!.
Back during the days when the Space Shuttle was being designed, some NASA engineers, those with integrity, resigned when they heard that solid rockets would be used on a man-carrying vehicle. They realized the dangers of solid rockets; when you 'light the candle,' the crew has to ride it out until they burn out. Add to that, the dangers represented by segmented solids. I remember the awed expressions on the face of Richard Feynman and other members of the Rogers Commission when a witness explained that the segmented solids used by the military had about a 1 in 35 failure rate.
Those #@!*ing solids were also a major factor in the shuttle's outrageous cost. One estimate I read was that, stacking the solids required about 6.000 man-hours at the Cape. During the time the SRB segments were being stacked, every other activity in the area had to be shut down.
Look, if the US needs heavy lift capacity they can get it from Space-X. Elon Musk has talked about a new generation of heavy-lift vehicles based on an improved version of their Merlin engine.
NASA has explored a Mars mission profile based on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launcher.
Also, a mission to Mars may not need Saturn-class heavy lift. The MarsDrive organization is working on versions of Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct concept that can be carried out with smaller launchers.
The GOP-controlled Pennsylvania legislature has a scheme which would not only defeat Mr. Obama, it could give the Republican far-right permanent control of the White House, especially if the other Republican-controlled states adopt it. Quoting from an article in Mother Jones:
Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania are pushing a scheme that, if GOPers in other states follow their lead, could cause President Barack Obama to lose the 2012 election—not because of the vote count, but because of new rules. That's not all: There's no legal way for Democrats to stop them.
The problem for Obama, and the opportunity for Republicans, is the electoral college. Every political junkie knows that the presidential election isn't a truly national contest; it's a state-by-state fight, and each state is worth a number of electoral votes equal to the size of the state's congressional delegation. (The District of Columbia also gets three votes.) There are 538 electoral votes up for grabs; win 270, and you're the president.
Here's the rub, though: Each state gets to determine how its electoral votes are allocated. Currently, 48 states and DC use a winner-take-all system in which the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all of its electoral votes. Under the Republican plan—which has been endorsed by top GOPers in both houses of the state Legislature, as well as the governor, Tom Corbett—Pennsylvania would change from this system to one where each congressional district gets its own electoral vote. (Two electoral votes—one for each of the state's two senators—would go to the statewide winner.)
This could cost Obama dearly. The GOP controls both houses of the state Legislature plus the governor's mansion—the so-called "redistricting trifecta"—in Pennsylvania. Congressional district maps are adjusted after every census, and the last one just finished up. That means Pennsylvania Republicans get to draw the boundaries of the state's congressional districts without any input from Democrats. Some of the early maps have leaked to the press, and Democrats expect that the Pennsylvania congressional map for the 2012 elections will have 12 safe GOP seats compared to just 6 safe Democratic seats.
Under the Republican plan, if the GOP presidential nominee carries the GOP-leaning districts but Obama carries the state, the GOP nominee would get 12 electoral votes out of Pennsylvania, but Obama would only get eight—six for winning the blue districts, and two (representing the state's two senators) for winning the state. Since Obama would lose 12 electoral votes relative to the winner-take-all baseline, this would have an effect equivalent to flipping a medium-size winner-take-all state—say, Washington, which has 12 electoral votes—from blue to red.* And Republicans wouldn't even have to do any extra campaigning or spend any extra advertising dollars to do it.
The upshot is, that Obama could win the popular vote in Pennsylvania; but, the Republican candidate could win more congressional districts and get more electoral votes
I do suggest you read the Mother Jones 'Trifecta' article: The Real Prize in Tuesday's Elections:
Forget the Senate and House. That's short-term thinking. The real prize in Tuesday's midterm elections is the power to draw congressional seats and determine the country's balance of power for the next decade.
If either party can achieve what politicos call the "trifecta"—control of the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature—in a given state, it will be able to draw congressional districts within that state unencumbered by any need to compromise with the other party. That's the kind of power that creates electoral maps like the one former GOP Majority Leader Tom Delay helped bring to Texas in 2003—a map that pushed four of the state's Democrats out of their seats.
With GOP redistricting, disqualification of voters and now this, the Republicans could have control of the White House and both houses of congress for decades and perhaps generations, making the US effectively a one-party country.
Both Lawrence O'Donnell and Rachel Maddow spoke about this on MSNBC tonight. Keep checking YouTube for excerpts.
From the AFL-CIO Blog:
If you’ve watched any of the Republican primary debates, it’s possible to mistake presidential wannabee Mitt Romney as the voice of reason in that group, most of whom long ago teetered off the edge of rational discourse.
But a new chart comparing the views of Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry shows that when it comes to Social Security, the nation’s most successful safety net, Romney is no better than “Social Security Is a Ponzi Scheme” Perry.
Although Romney has not used the term “Ponzi scheme,” he has called it a fraud, according to the nonprofit group Strengthen Social Security. Here’s Romney:
"There simply is no “fund” safely invested somewhere….To put it in a nutshell, the American people have been effectively defrauded out of their Social Security."
The AFL-CIO Blog has a link to a chart on the Strengthen Social Security website comparing actual statements from both Perry and Romney. The chart may also be downloaded in a printable PDF format. I suggest bookmarking the web page with the chart and sending it to your friends. I also recommend bookmarking the Strengthen Social Security home page.
Please note that both Romney and Perry have:
From the 'Science is fun and Conservatives are funny' dept. Ann Coulter recently posted an op-ed in Human Events: The Flash Mob Mentality of Scientific Inquiry." If you can't bring yourself to read such tripe (I don't blame you!), Coulter takes every chance possible to associate the hate-word "Liberal" with evolution; after all, right-wingers have spent years turning 'Liberal' into a hate word, why shouldn't they use that as an 'argument' every chance they get? It's called 'Poisoning the Well,' associating your opponent's argument with something hated and (supposedly) discredited.
Coulter spent about a third of her 2007 book: Godless attacking evolution. She was aided and abetted in this by William Dembski, among others, of the Discovery Institute, which of course is dedicated to promoting creationism and 'intelligent design.' By the way, I love the way that astronomer and science blogger Phil Plait refers to them as "The Disco Tute." He also refers to them as "a hive of scum and villainy!"
Where does the "Giant Flatulent Raccoon" theory come into this? Well, the Coultergeist has a running battle with science writer Carl Zimmer, proprietor of The Loom blog. She actually mentioned Carl in Godless after she read one of his articles. Carl recently reposted his answer to Coulter: Ann Coulter Nostalgia: Behold, For I Am the Giant Flatulent Raccoon:
I just want to make one thing clear. When Ann Coulter talks about her Giant Raccoon Flatulence Theory, she’s talking about me. Don’t let anyone else tell you that they are a giant flatulent raccoon. They’re all just a bunch of wannabes. For I am the One True Giant Flatulent Raccoon.
Allow me to explain…
Coulter dedicates the last four chapers of her new book Godless to evolution. She claims that it is nothing more than the religion of liberalism (as opposed to the foundation of modern biology, as 92 national scientific academies and dozens of scientific societies attest.)
Carl, for obvious reasons, had little time to follow Coulter's nonsense, until friends clued him into her mention of him and his connection to The Giant Flatulent Raccoon Theory."
To summarize the backstory, Carl had a bout with appendicitis. After his appendectomy, his editor wanted him to write an article about the appendix and its evolutionary purpose.
I eventually wrote an essay (which you can read here) in which I explained what is and is not known of the appendix. I included a speculation from one of the scientists, Rebecca Fisher of Midwestern University, about why the appendix is still with us. She suggested that the appendix provided a net evolutionary benefit. It killed some people with appendicitis, but it also protected them by boosting the immune function in children. Testing this hypothesis is possible, although it will demand an analysis of a lot of medical records. But it is certainly plausible, since biologists have documented similar trade-offs.
This caused Coulter a great snit, which appears on page 214 of Godless:
So there it is: the theory of evolution is proved again. When the appendix’s use was a mystery, it proved evolution. When the appendix was thought to help humans resist childhood diseases–well, that proved evolution, too! Throw in enough words like imagine, perhaps, and might have–and you’ve got yourself a scientific theory! How about this: Imagine a giant raccoon passed gas and perhaps the resulting gas might have created the vast variety of life we see on Earth. And if you don’t accept the giant raccoon flatulence theory for the origin of life, you must be a fundamentalist Christian nut who believes the Earth is flat. That’s basically how the argument for evolution goes.
For some people, this outburst has come to epitomize Coulter’s empty rhetoric. A pretty good analysis of her scientific errors published Friday on the web site Media Matters is entitled, “Ann Coulter’s ‘Flatulent Raccoon Theory.’” The report has triggered the spread of the flatulent raccoon meme around here at scienceblogs, and elsewhere. It has even earned its own Wikipedia entry
The next paragraphs discuss the way Carl's writings have been distorted by "Coulter's mangling machine." He also gives a brief discussion of how evolutionary scientists actually work.
Carl closes with a gentlemanly admonition to his readers: "Comments about Coulter’s physical appearance (and other personal details) are irrelevant and, in my view, mean-spirited. They will not be accepted here."
The comments for this post are worth reading too; most of The Loom's readers are more science literate than the general population.
Prof. Paul Krugman has some very interesting posts in his NY Times blog on the austerity policies the world's elites are bound and determined to force upon us, despite whatever we want or say. His most recent post: The Peasants are Revolting makes the case that: a) people don't want this austerity, and b) the elites are going to force it on them anyway:
I see that Atrios has spotted another piece claiming that we’re having all this trouble because those pesky voters won’t support what the wise men know is good for them. I’ve written about this before, with comparable disgust.
Look, I don’t want to wax all sentimental about the genius of the common man. But the fact is that both the origins of this crisis and its perpetuation overwhelmingly reflect the errors of the very people now lamenting the annoyances of democracy that keep them from imposing their preferred policies.
As Atrios says, the euro was very much a top-down, elite-imposed project; and it’s the ECB and the German finance ministry, not the unwashed masses, that have pushed for the austerity-for-all agenda that is pushing the euro system to the edge as we speak.
Meanwhile, in the United States it was the Very Serious People — the WaPo editorial page, the Bowleses and Simpsons and those who extolled them, who declared that our top priority must be deficit reduction now now now, and have left us slashing spending to fend off imaginary bond vigilantes at a time of mass unemployment and record low interest rates.
The earlier article he referenced: The Unwisdom of Elites is worth a read also; the theme is the same:
The fact is that what we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people — in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes.
Another recent Krugman post: The Austerity Economy deals with the already disastrous consequences of austerity in the US:
Do the dismal economic numbers really reflect the turn to fiscal austerity? I keep hearing people say no, because austerity hasn’t actually happened yet in America. But they’re wrong.
The fact is that the fading out of the stimulus, and in particular of aid to state and local governments, is already and noticeably leading to substantial withdrawal of government demand. Look, in particular, at actual government purchases of goods and services — governments at all levels buying stuff — which is what standard macroeconomics says should have the highest multiplier, since unlike transfers and tax cuts it is by definition spent rather than saved. Here’s the picture, showing changes in real spending over the previous year:
When the recession officially ended, spending was rising at an annual rate of around $60 billion; now it’s declining at an annual rate of $60 billion. That difference is around 1 percent of GDP, and maybe 1.5 percent once you take the multiplier into account. That makes the turn toward austerity a major factor in our growth slowdown.
Still, I guess the beatings will continue until morale improves.
OK, I've gone beyond four paragraphs; but, they were from multiple articles. I've got Prof. Krugman's blog along with Robert Reich's bookmarked for frequent reads; both are a good source of common sense and a breath of fresh air after the smoke blown by media pundits.
In his latest op-ed in the NY times, Paul Krugman attempts to school Eric Kantor in real economics:
In a way, I may be wasting my time doing any kind of rational analysis of Eric Cantor’s demand that any disaster aid in the wake of Irene be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Cantor is, of course, being totally hypocritical; where were the demands for offsets to the cost of invading Iraq?
Still, it may be worth talking about just how bad an idea this is in terms of basic economics — and in this case, regular economics, not fancy-schmancy macro.
Think of the government budget as involving tradeoffs similar to those an individual household makes. On one side, there are all kinds of things the government could be doing, from dropping freedom bombs to providing children with dental care; think of each of these things as involving a certain marginal benefit per additional dollar spent, with the marginal benefit declining in the total amount spent on each concern. On the other side, raising revenue has a cost, both the direct cost of the money taken from taxpayers and the possible reduction in incentives from higher tax rates.
Prof. Krugman goes on to discuss the concept of 'marginals,' explaining that government "needs to set all the marginals equal." He extends the concept of marginals to future as well as current expenditures and income.
But wait: even more important, the government can borrow (or, in principle, lend, if it pays off all its debt). So it should balance its budget in present discounted value terms, not year by year. This means that the tradeoffs should include future spending and taxes as well as this year’s spending and taxes. And a natural disaster, like a war, is a temporary event; it should be met largely through higher taxes and lower spending in the future rather than right away, which is another way of saying that it should be paid for in large part by a temporary increase in the deficit.
This isn’t some novel idea, by the way — it’s the standard theory of public finance during war, going all the way back to Ricardo. And the logic of wartime finance applies equally to natural disasters.
Following the link to Prof. Krugman's post on Irregular Economics is worth the time; he explains the limitations of 'regular economics.'
Thirteen years after federal regulators last approved a new drug to treat advanced melanoma, the Food & Drug Administration has given the green light to two revolutionary drugs in the past five months to treat the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Researchers say the developments make this an exciting time for those who see the possibility for controlling a disease that today is diagnosed in about 68,000 Americans annually and kills more than 8,700 people in this country each year.
"A year or two ago, melanoma treatment wasn't like it is in this moment," said Dr. Adil Daud, director of UCSF's Melanoma Program.
Zelboraf, approved Wednesday, attacks a genetic mutation found in about half of melanoma patients, inhibiting the disease's ability to spread. The drug, which comes in a pill, was developed by Berkeley's Plexxicon and is being marketed by South San Francisco's Genentech and Daiichi Sankyo.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...
I lost my dad to melanoma, so I welcome any advance in treating this disease. The problems are: 1) neither treatment is effective for all patients, and 2) they're expensive. Zelboraf is expected to cost about $56,000 for a 6-month course of treatment.
I just wish we had a national health care plan that could cover the cost of these treatments, without leaving the patient's family in bankruptcy. Such a plan should also be able to negotiate with pharma companies to control the costs of treatment.
Incarceration for Profit is Happening Nationwide! Judge Gets 28 Years for Taking Bribes from Prisons
Judge Mark Ciaverella has been sentenced to 28 years for his part in sending kids to private prisons. CNN interviews Sandy Fonzo, whose son committed suicide after being sent to a boot camp for minor offenses.
Why London exploded last night, originally in Global Post.
Michael Goldfarb, labels this an "explosion among the underclass," and attributes the violence to a combination of "new media, old media, and rampant unemployment."
First, the chronology: The tension began to boil over last Thursday when police shot and killed a young black man named Mark Duggan in Tottenham, a predominantly Afro-Caribbean and African immigrant neighborhood in north London. In the mid-1980s, Tottenham was the scene of terrible race riots which culminated in a policeman being hacked to death by a group of men armed with machetes. Saturday night, following a disappointing visit to the police by Duggan's family and community leaders, a protest about the incident turned violent.
When the smoke cleared on Sunday morning it was obvious that the violence was not about the police and racism -- as it had been in the 1980s. The Duggan family were appalled by what had happened, much of it directed against shops owned by black and immigrant businessmen. Back in the 1980s, community leaders were harshly critical of the police and the government. Local black politicians used the riots to point out the institutional racism in the police force. Now the local member of parliament, David Lammy, son of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, led the criticism of the rioters.
'Underclass' kids were able to watch the situation on TV (old media) and use texting (new media) to tell each other where the London cops were massing. Police were able to make relatively few arrests; they soon concentrated on 'holding ground.'
The underlying cause of the riots is an historically high level of youth unemployment, mostly among 'underclass' young people.
The rioters were overwhelmingly teenagers and kids in their 20s. About 20 percent of 16-24 year olds in Britain are unemployed. That figure is much, much higher on council estates -- the British term for housing projects. (You can leave school at the age of 16 in this country). Unemployment statistics in Britain are sadly vague, but a reasonable estimate of youth unemployment just in Hackney is 33 percent. (Those attending college or performing any form of unpaid apprentice work are considered to be employed.) There don't seem to be any statistics for youth unemployment on council estates -- as I live in the neighborhood I would say well above 60 or 70 percent is a good guess.
What happens after the rioting subsides is difficult to predict -- entry level jobs are in short supply these days -- and as the government's austerity measures begin to bite here, it's not likely to get better any time soon.
Someone on DU suggested that our high level of imprisonment is the only thing holding back similar violence in the US; but, there are enough unemployed kids out of jail to start some pretty impressive riots here.
How long before our cities burn?
Edited to add: There is a photo gallery of the London riots at the Global Post site.
The Great Recession was a disaster for American workers; but, for corporate CEOs, it was an opportunity to turn eastward in search of cheaper labor costs.
Paleontologists digging near the Hell Creek Formation in Montana have found an 18-inch long, fossil horn belonging to a ceratopsian dinosaur.
This is reawakening a long-standing food fight, er intellectual debate between advocates of 'the asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs' and the various 'gradual extinction' hypotheses.
Advocates of the asteroid hypothesis point to the K-T boundary, a geological layer making a sharp boundary between the Cretaceous era (145.5 - 65.6 million years ago) and the Tertiary era (65.5 to 2.6 million years ago); that layer also marks the end of the Mesozoic era, the era of the dinosaurs. The K-T layer is rich in iridium, an element rare on earth but common in meteorites (ergo, asteroids) and 'shocked quartz' granules of the type you would expect with minerals subject to extreme heat and pressure.
The other group, the 'gradual extinction' group likes to point to the three meter gap, three meters of rock strata with relatively few dinosaur fossils. Gradual extinction advocates point to this layer to indicate that the dinosaurs were already dying out before the 'K-T Impactor' came along.
Now, this latest find comes along: a ceratopsian fossil found a few inches below the K-T boundary. This would tend to indicate that, at least some dinosaur species were doing fine up until the big rock came along.
Some online science articles are claiming this ends the big debate, actually it's providing red meat for both sides:
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