AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 778890 times)

Offline Eddie

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #7740 on: August 16, 2017, 06:38:58 AM »
I do recognize that those who were killed and hurt by the vicious thug who drove his car into the crowd in Charlottesville were innocent people who were exercising their rights to lawfully protest. It looks like that to me, anyway, from what I can gather.

I deeply regret the loss to the family of the woman who died, and there is no justification for violence.

Violence, however, is an increasingly normal occurrence in protest rallies, and I would caution anyone who might feel compelled to attend a protest (especially my own children and friends) that doing so places your life in grave danger.
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Offline K-Dog

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Re: Baltimore Removes Confederate Statues in Overnight Operation
« Reply #7741 on: August 16, 2017, 08:32:26 AM »
Statues dedicated to Confederate heroes were swiftly removed across Baltimore in the small hours of Wednesday morning, just days after violence broke out over the removal of a similar monument in neighboring Virginia.

Beginning soon after midnight on Wednesday, a crew, which included a large crane and a contingent of police officers, began making rounds of the city’s parks and public squares, tearing the monuments from their pedestals and carting them out of town.

Small crowds gathered at each of the monuments and the mood was “celebratory,” said Baynard Woods, the editor at large of The Baltimore City Paper, who documented the removals on Twitter.

“The police are being cheerful and encouraging people to take photos and selfies,” Mr. Woods said in an interview.

The statues were taken down by order of Mayor Catherine Pugh, after the City Council voted on Monday for their removal. The city had been studying the issue since 2015, when a mass shooting by a white supremacist at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., prompted a renewed debate across the South over removing Confederate monuments and battle flags from public spaces.
Continue reading the main story

The police confirmed the removal.

By 3:30 a.m., three of the city’s four monuments had been removed. They included the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument, a double equestrian statue of the Confederate generals erected in 1948; the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, erected in 1903; and the Roger B. Taney Monument, erected in 1887.

Taney was a Supreme Court chief justice and Maryland native who wrote the landmark 1857 decision in the Dred Scott case, ruling that even free blacks had no claim to citizenship in the United States. Although Taney was never part of the Confederacy, the court’s decision was celebrated by supporters of slavery.

The fourth statue, the Confederate Women’s Monument, was dedicated in 1917.

One Twitter user, James MacArthur, live-streamed the removal of the Lee and Jackson monument as it was unceremoniously torn from its pedestal and strapped to a flatbed truck. At street level, lit by the harsh glare of police klieg lights, the two generals appeared small.

Residents were seen celebrating on the pedestal, on which someone had spray-painted “Black Lives Matter.”

A team of police cars escorted the statues out of town. Ms. Pugh suggested on Monday that the statues might be relocated to Confederate cemeteries elsewhere in the state. (Although Maryland never seceded from the Union during the Civil War, there was popular support for the Confederacy in Baltimore and Southern Maryland, where Confederate soldiers are buried.)

One city councilman said the statues should be destroyed, not just moved.

“These people were terrorists. They were traitors. Why are we honoring them?” Councilman Brandon M. Scott said at a meeting on Monday.

A group of protesters made up of so-called alt-right activists and white supremacists demonstrated against the removal of a Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, clashing with counter-protesters. One woman was killed when a driver rammed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters; the police have charged an Ohio man who has expressed far-right views. Two state troopers monitoring the event were also killed in a helicopter accident.

Tensions were further inflamed on Saturday when President Trump refused to clearly denounce the protesters, some of whom carried Nazi banners and Confederate battle flags. Although he condemned the Ku Klux Klan, “neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups” in a statement on Monday, Mr. Trump said Tuesday that parties on “both sides” of the debate were to blame for the deadly violence.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/16/us/baltimore-confederate-statues.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

I don't believe removing statues of Confederate Generals is going to end this clash between what now amounts to nothing more than warring tribes of rabble. Once the statues are all gone, there will be some new inspiration, some other vestige of racism, sexism, or other -ism to rally around.

I would be the very last to come out in support of Nazism, white supremacy, racism, or any of that. But those who see the mobs who are defacing monuments as freedom fighters are completely delusional.

If I thought tearing down statues or spraying graffiti would make the world a better place, I'd be out there doing it. But such acts are really just the result of an eruption of hate toward a false enemy. It isn't Robert E. Lee who is oppressing black people in America in 2017, and changing street names, school names, and tearing down old bronzes won't do a damn thing to free anybody from the current system of slavery.

I do see that some well-intentioned folks are showing up at these hate rallies to protest them,with the same motivation that protesters once showed up to effectively protest against the KKK. If I were one of those individuals, I'd look closely at how different the "anti-hate movement" is now than the non-violent protests of the past.

I saw that Surly posted this meme that portrayed dignified black people aligned against the neo-Nazis, with signs that stated "we want civil rights". If that were an honest representation of what's going on, I wouldn't be writing this...but it isn't.

I don't agree about the statues.  I coat of red paint on every confederate statue that can be found.  Get the paint for cash and wear a baseball cap so the cameras don't get you buying it is my advice.  Statues don't cry and a huge stand in solidarity that we will not tolerate murderous violence is not going to hurt anyone.


Offline knarf

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Defacing statues and memorials will only escalate the hate
« Reply #7742 on: August 16, 2017, 09:49:36 AM »
This seems to be an escalation of the hatred the left has for the right (alt-right) and it will only make them escalate their tendency for violent revenge. We ( america ) is starting to split down the seams in a hurry.
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Offline Surly1

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Re: Defacing statues and memorials will only escalate the hate
« Reply #7743 on: August 16, 2017, 02:44:01 PM »
This seems to be an escalation of the hatred the left has for the right (alt-right) and it will only make them escalate their tendency for violent revenge. We ( america ) is starting to split down the seams in a hurry.

I hold with those who argue for the removal of the statues and remote events in either a cemetery or museum, where they be properly curated. Each statue is a work of art, that represents hundreds of hours of effort on the part of some(Usually unknown or unrecognized) artist. To destroy such a monument is indistinguishable from what the Talaban do. Relocate them in the right place and provide some context for understanding what they meant, which often had less to do with the Civil War and far more to sending a social message.

That said, I am sick to death of Republiconfederates in general and the rewriting of history specifically, best summed up in the narrative of the so-called "lost cause." What Confederates did was treason, pure and simple. They got off easy because Lincoln and Grant. A Surly post Civil War presidency would have seen hundreds more hangings and the amputation of right hands... The Stars and Bars would today be as anathema as the Swastika is today in Germany.

Monuments in some southern towns like New Orleans commemorated white insurrections and assaults on what were integrated police departments. Many were elevated as a reinforcement for the establishment of Jim Crow. So those who argue "heritage not hate" can roll that into a tight tube and pound it up their asses.

Trump's behavior is leading directly to a schism in this country unlike any I have seen. It is rapidly becoming a case of "which side are you on?" But never think that this is about statues and monuments. It is about our government's betrayal of the promise made to emancipated blacks in 1863. We withdrew Federal troops from the occupied south in 1877 in return for a Republican Hayes presidency, confirming the elevation of the KKK and a 40 year reign of domestic terror.

With no troops to enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteen Amendments, Reconstruction was at an end. Across the South lynching, disenfranchisement, and segregationist laws proliferated. It would not be until after the Second World War and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement that Jim Crow segregation would be outlawed.

Blacks endured the dark days of sharecropping, debt peonage, disfranchisement, segregation, and lynching in the wake of the end of Reconstruction in 1877.  African Americans and their allies continued to struggle for a more complete freedom. Land ownership among former slaves continued to rise slowly in the most adverse circumstances and with the great black migrations to northern cities, blacks began to have other opportunities in industrial work. And BTW, anyon who says that there was less racism in the north than the south is full of shit. I was there.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Defacing statues and memorials will only escalate the hate
« Reply #7744 on: August 16, 2017, 02:53:17 PM »
This seems to be an escalation of the hatred the left has for the right (alt-right) and it will only make them escalate their tendency for violent revenge. We ( america ) is starting to split down the seams in a hurry.

I hold with those who argue for the removal of the statues and remote events in either a cemetery or museum, where they be properly curated. Each statue is a work of art, that represents hundreds of hours of effort on the part of some(Usually unknown or unrecognized) artist. To destroy such a monument is indistinguishable from what the Talaban do. Relocate them in the right place and provide some context for understanding what they meant, which often had less to do with the Civil War and far more to sending a social message.

That said, I am sick to death of Republiconfederates in general and the rewriting of history specifically, best summed up in the narrative of the so-called "lost cause." What Confederates did was treason, pure and simple. They got off easy because Lincoln and Grant. A Surly post Civil War presidency would have seen hundreds more hangings and the amputation of right hands... The Stars and Bars would today be as anathema as the Swastika is today in Germany.

Monuments in some southern towns like New Orleans commemorated white insurrections and assaults on what were integrated police departments. Many were elevated as a reinforcement for the establishment of Jim Crow. So those who argue "heritage not hate" can roll that into a tight tube and pound it up their asses.

Trump's behavior is leading directly to a schism in this country unlike any I have seen. It is rapidly becoming a case of "which side are you on?" But never think that this is about statues and monuments. It is about our government's betrayal of the promise made to emancipated blacks in 1863. We withdrew Federal troops from the occupied south in 1877 in return for a Republican Hayes presidency, confirming the elevation of the KKK and a 40 year reign of domestic terror.

With no troops to enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteen Amendments, Reconstruction was at an end. Across the South lynching, disenfranchisement, and segregationist laws proliferated. It would not be until after the Second World War and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement that Jim Crow segregation would be outlawed.

Blacks endured the dark days of sharecropping, debt peonage, disfranchisement, segregation, and lynching in the wake of the end of Reconstruction in 1877.  African Americans and their allies continued to struggle for a more complete freedom. Land ownership among former slaves continued to rise slowly in the most adverse circumstances and with the great black migrations to northern cities, blacks began to have other opportunities in industrial work. And BTW, anyon who says that there was less racism in the north than the south is full of shit. I was there.


Well there's certainly a purging going on currently.

It's as if America is over the porcelain god hemorrhaging past decades atrocities.

I still believe the best times in this country were the 1830's to 1850's for the white settlers.

Post war of 1812 (which was about throwing the crown out of the  country AGAIN) until pre 1900's.
Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face
And stars fill my dream
I’m a traveler of both time and space
To be where I have been
To sit with elders of the gentle race
This world has seldom seen
They talk of days for which they sit and wait
All will be revealed

Offline knarf

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Sierra Leone mudslide: What, where and why?
« Reply #7745 on: August 17, 2017, 04:26:13 AM »
On August 14 a mudslide killed hundreds on the outskirts of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown. Here is what we know.

On August 14, a mudslide killed more than 400 people in the mountain town of Regent on the outskirts of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, sweeping away homes and leaving residents desperate for news of missing family members.

Here is what we know about it so far:

What happened and when?

    A hillside collapsed on Monday at 6am local time (06:00 GMT), causing a mudslide on the outskirts of Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown.

    The mudslide occurred after three days of torrential rain.

    The mudslide and rain overwhelmed Freetown's drainage system, creating waterways that churned down steep streets across the capital.

    Mudslides overran several houses killing residents, many of whom were trapped inside.

    Military personnel have been deployed to help rescue those still trapped.

    According to Sierra Leone's president, an emergency response centre has been established in Regent. 

Where did it happen?

    The flooding took place in the mountain town of Regent, on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital.

    Located about 16km from the capital, the town of roughly one million people sits between the Atlantic Ocean and a range of hills.

    Many people in Regent live in informal settlements on steep hillsides.

Could it have been prevented?

    A mudslide triggered by torrential floods is typically considered a natural disaster. The uprooting of trees for construction on the hillside is also known to have made the soil unstable and more vulnerable to collapse.
    In Sierra Leone, storms and torrential downpours are common in August and September. In 2015, floods killed 10 people and left thousands homeless.

    This year, Sierra Leone has seen 104cm of rain since July 1, which is three times more than expected during the rainy season according to the US National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center.

    The Sierra Leone meteorological department did not issue a warning to hasten evacuations from danger zones before the torrential rainfall between August 11 to August 14, AFP reported.

    Sierra Leone officials have warned against unregulated construction on the hillsides.

How many casualties?

    As of Wednesday, 400 people have died in the flooding, 109 of which are children.

    It's estimated that at least 600 people remain missing.

    The morgue at Freetown's Connaught Hospital has been so overwhelmed by dead bodies that many of them have been left on the floor for lack of space.

Is it safe now? What is the latest on the ground?

    Risk of more flooding and waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

    Local state of emergency declared.

    Satellite images show extensive damage, with hundreds of buildings destroyed.

    About 3,000 people are now homeless.

    The Red Cross is struggling to excavate families buried deep in the mud that engulfed their homes.

What happened next?

    President promised "dignified burials", 150 took place on Tuesday evening. Burials continue at the Ebola cemetery at Waterloo.

    Week-long mourning declared in Sierra Leone.

    The International Organization for Migration released $150,000 in emergency funds.
    The government of Sierra Leone promised relief to thousands of people left homeless, opening an emergency response centre in Regent and four registration centres.

    The UN said it was evaluating humanitarian needs in the country and that "contingency plans are being put in place to mitigate any potential outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea", according to spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

    Turkey, the UK, Israel and the UAE vowed to send aid, including clean water, medicine and blankets.

Photos


Residents save belongings in floodwaters after a mudslide in the mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone on August 14, 2017 [Ernest Henry/Reuters]


Search and rescue team members and soldiers operate near a mudslide site and damaged building near Freetown on August 15, 2017, after landslides struck the capital of the West African state, Sierra Leone [Saidu Bah/AFP]


A woman mourns for her son at the entrance of Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone August 16, 2017 [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/08/sierra-leone-mudslide-170816053741558.html
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Offline knarf

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'Liquid biopsy' spots early-stage cancers in blood
« Reply #7746 on: August 17, 2017, 04:32:41 AM »
US researchers report progress in identifying early-stage cancer by scanning blood for tumour-specific DNA.


Researchers hope to identify cancers at a stage when patients have a better chance at survival

A test that scans blood for tumour-specific DNA identified early-stage cancer in more than half of 138 patients with the disease, US researchers reported on Wednesday, marking a new milestone in the rush for so-called "liquid biopsies".

Several companies already offer tests that can detect cancer DNA in the blood of patients with late-stage cancers. Such tests are used to help guide treatment or identify whether cancers have returned after surgery.

Researchers behind the early-stage test hope it could be used to identify cancers at a stage when patients have a better chance at survival.

"To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies that has looked directly at early-stage cancers," said Dr Victor Velculescu, professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, whose study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

In developing the test, the challenge was to identify rare DNA from real cancers while ignoring other types of genetic alterations that can occur as blood cells divide or genetic alterations that people are born with.

For the study, the team screened blood samples from patients with breast, lung, ovarian and colorectal cancers, looking for 58 genes typically linked with these cancers.

Overall, they were able to detect 86 out of 138 stage I and stage II cancers. They also sequenced mutations in tumours from 100 of the patients studied and found that in 82 patients, the same mutations found in the blood corresponded with those found in the tumour tissue.

They also tried the test on 44 healthy patients and showed it did not detect any cancer-derived mutations.

Velculescu said more studies would be needed in much larger populations to prove the test can safely and accurately identify early-stage cancers, a process that could take up to five years.

The hope, he said, is that it would identify cancers at a stage when patients have a better chance at survival.

First uses of the technology would be in patients at high risk for developing cancer, such as heavy smokers, he said.

In addition to being a researcher at Johns Hopkins, Velculescu is a cofounder of Personal Genome Diagnostics, a private liquid biopsy company.

The study was done by Johns Hopkins researchers, he said.

In June, Grail, a spinoff from gene sequencer maker Illumina, presented a feasibility study for its liquid biopsy test at American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago. In that study, researchers analysed tissue and blood from patients with advanced cancers. Grail is also pursuing early-stage cancer detection.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/biopsy-spots-early-stage-cancers-blood-170816204014824.html
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Nasa's ambitious plan to save Earth from a supervolcano
« Reply #7747 on: August 17, 2017, 04:42:35 AM »
With an eruption brewing, it may be the only way to prevent the extinction of the human race.

Lying beneath the tranquil settings of Yellowstone National Park in the US lies an enormous magma chamber. It’s responsible for the geysers and hot springs that define the area, but for scientists at Nasa, it’s also one of the greatest natural threats to human civilisation as we know it: a potential supervolcano.

Following an article we published about supervolcanoes last month, a group of Nasa researchers got in touch to share a report previously unseen outside the space agency about the threat – and what could be done about it.

“I was a member of the Nasa Advisory Council on Planetary Defense which studied ways for Nasa to defend the planet from asteroids and comets,” explains Brian Wilcox of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology. “I came to the conclusion during that study that the supervolcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat.”


Astronauts on the International Space Station get a striking view when a volcano erupts (Credit: Nasa/Getty Images)

There are around 20 known supervolcanoes on Earth, with major eruptions occurring on average once every 100,000 years. One of the greatest threats an eruption may pose is thought to be starvation, with a prolonged volcanic winter potentially prohibiting civilisation from having enough food for the current population. In 2012, the United Nations estimated that food reserves worldwide would last 74 days.

When Nasa scientists came to consider the problem, they found that the most logical solution could simply be to cool a supervolcano down. A volcano the size of Yellowstone is essentially a gigantic heat generator, equivalent to six industrial power plants. Yellowstone currently leaks about 60-70% of the heat coming up from below into the atmosphere, via water which seeps into the magma chamber through cracks. The remainder builds up inside the magma, enabling it to dissolve more and more volatile gases and surrounding rocks. Once this heat reaches a certain threshold, then an explosive eruption is inevitable.

But if more of the heat could be extracted, then the supervolcano would never erupt. Nasa estimates that if a 35% increase in heat transfer could be achieved from its magma chamber, Yellowstone would no longer pose a threat. The only question is how?

One possibility is to simply increase the amount of water in the supervolcano. But from a practical perspective, it would likely be impossible to convince politicians to sanction such an initiative.

“Building a big aqueduct uphill into a mountainous region would be both costly and difficult, and people don’t want their water spent that way,” Wilcox says. “People are desperate for water all over the world and so a major infrastructure project, where the only way the water is used is to cool down a supervolcano, would be very controversial.”


If a supervolcano erupts, it will be many, many times more powerful than this Indonesian volcano (Credit: Getty Images)

Instead Nasa have conceived a very different plan. They believe the most viable solution could be to drill up to 10km down into the supervolcano, and pump down water at high pressure. The circulating water would return at a temperature of around 350C (662F), thus slowly day by day extracting heat from the volcano. And while such a project would come at an estimated cost of around $3.46bn (£2.69bn), it comes with an enticing catch which could convince politicians to make the investment.

“Yellowstone currently leaks around 6GW in heat,” Wilcox says. “Through drilling in this way, it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10/kWh. You would have to give the geothermal companies incentives to drill somewhat deeper and use hotter water than they usually would, but you would pay back your initial investment, and get electricity which can power the surrounding area for a period of potentially tens of thousands of years. And the long-term benefit is that you prevent a future supervolcano eruption which would devastate humanity.”

But drilling into a supervolcano does not come without certain risks. Namely triggering the eruption you’re intending to prevent.

“The most important thing with this is to do no harm,” Wilcox says. “If you drill into the top of the magma chamber and try and cool it from there, this would be very risky. This could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. And you might trigger the release of harmful volatile gases in the magma at the top of the chamber which would otherwise not be released.”


Mt Etna erupting, as viewed from space; further north near Naples is the supervolcano Campi Flegrei (Credit: Getty Images)

Instead, the idea is to drill in from the supervolcano from the lower sides, starting outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park, and extracting the heat from the underside of the magma chamber. “This way you’re preventing the heat coming up from below from ever reaching the top of the chamber which is where the real threat arises,” Wilcox says.

However those who instigate such a project will never see it to completion, or even have an idea whether it might be successful within their lifetime. Cooling Yellowstone in this manner would happen at a rate of one metre a year, taking of the order of tens of thousands of years until just cold rock was left. Although Yellowstone’s magma chamber would not need to be frozen solid to reach the point where it no longer posed a threat, there would be no guarantee that the endeavour would ultimately be successful for at least hundreds and possibly thousands of years. 

But to prevent a catastrophe, such long-term thinking and planning may be the only choice. “With a project like this, you’d start the process and the main ongoing benefit you’d see in everyday terms is this new supply of electrical power,” Wilcox says.


Yellowstone harbours a giant magma chamber that will blow one day if we don't act (Credit: iStock)

Such a plan could be potentially applied to every active supervolcano on the planet, and Nasa’s scientists are hoping that their blueprints will encourage more practical scientific discussion and debate for tackling the threat.

“When people first considered the idea of defending the Earth from an asteroid impact, they reacted in a similar way to the supervolcano threat,” Wilcox says. “People thought, ‘As puny as we are, how can humans possibly prevent an asteroid from hitting the Earth.’ Well, it turns out if you engineer something which pushes very slightly for a very long time, you can make the asteroid miss the Earth. So the problem turns out to be easier than people think. In both cases it requires the scientific community to invest brain power and you have to start early. But Yellowstone explodes roughly every 600,000 years, and it is about 600,000 years since it last exploded, which should cause us to sit up and take notice.”

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170817-nasas-ambitious-plan-to-save-earth-from-a-supervolcano

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Offline knarf

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Bannon Mocks Colleagues and ‘Alt-Right’ in Interview
« Reply #7748 on: August 17, 2017, 04:50:32 AM »

Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, in April at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla.

If President Trump is considering whether to fire Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, as has been rumored for weeks, Mr. Bannon just gave him several new reasons.

In an interview published Wednesday by a liberal journalist, Mr. Bannon contradicted the president’s position on North Korea, bad-mouthed his colleagues in the administration, vowed to oust a female diplomat at the State Department and mocked Trump officials who fear the consequences of radically changing trade policy, saying they are “wetting themselves.”

People close to Mr. Bannon said he believed the comments were part of an off-the-record conversation with Robert Kuttner with The American Prospect that, according to the magazine, he initiated.

Still, they come as Mr. Bannon’s adversaries are aggressively seeking his ouster from the White House because of his links to Breitbart News, his feuding with other White House aides and a suspicion that he is the source of leaks about internal chaos inside the West Wing.

Mr. Bannon’s critics intensified their efforts after last weekend’s racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va. Outraged over Mr. Trump’s insistence that “both sides” were to blame for the violence that erupted during a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead, human rights activists demanded that the president fire so-called nationalists working in the West Wing. That group of hard-right populists in the White House is led by Mr. Bannon.
On Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York, Mr. Trump refused to guarantee Mr. Bannon’s job security but defended him as “not a racist” and “a friend.”

“We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon,” Mr. Trump said.

In the American Prospect article, titled “Steve Bannon, Unrepentant,” the president’s strategist appears eager to lash out at his ideological rivals in the administration, bragging about his ability to defeat those who oppose a more aggressive posture toward China on trade policy.

“That’s a fight I fight every day here,” Mr. Bannon said. “We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying,” he said, referring to Mr. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council at the White House.

He also specifically named Susan Thornton, the acting director of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs division at the State Department, as someone he will dispatch.

“I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in,” he said. “I’m getting Susan Thornton out at State.”

Just a week after the president repeatedly threatened North Korea with military action in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program, Mr. Bannon mocked that position as nonsensical.

“There’s no military solution, forget it,” he said. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

Speaking on Tuesday, the same day that Mr. Trump was being assailed for his response to the Charlottesville protests, Mr. Bannon also dismissed the right-wing fringe as “a collection of clowns.” He said the more liberals talk about “identity politics,” the easier it will be for Mr. Trump to defeat Democrats by focusing on economic nationalism.

Mr. Bannon told friends that he did not believe that his conversation was an on-the-record interview. But Mr. Bannon is a savvy media operator who rarely speaks without a clear understanding of the rules. Mr. Kuttner said the issue of whether the call was on the record never came up.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/17/us/politics/bannon-alt-right-trump-north-korea.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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A Guide to the Companies That Haven’t Quit Trump’s Advisory Councils.
« Reply #7749 on: August 17, 2017, 05:00:28 AM »
(Update: Everyone Is Quitting.)

 CNBC says the Strategic and Policy Forum is disbanding completely—a remarkable mass vote of no-confidence in a Republican president by executives from Goldman Sachs, GM, JPMorgan, Walmart, Boeing, and other corporate American heavy hitters. Campbell's Soup, meanwhile, has quit the Manufacturing Council.

Update, 12:50 p.m.: The New York Times is reporting that the members of Trump's other CEO council—the Strategic and Policy Forum, whose most prominent consumer-facing members are Walmart, GM, IBM, and Pepsi—might disband their group completely

Original post, 12:17 p.m.: Donald Trump has a thing called the President's American Manufacturing Council that mainly seems to involve bringing CEOs to the White House for photo ops during which everyone congratulates each other for being a Job Creator. Some of these CEOs, though, have recently realized they don't necessarily want their companies, whose employees and customers probably aren't all white assholes, affiliated with a president who is underlining his long personal history of racism by literally praising a rally during which white protesters carried torches and shouted Nazi slogans. Four corporations and two organizations have quit the council:

    Merck (whose CEO, Kenneth Frazier, is black)
    Under Armour
    Intel
    3M
    The AFL-CIO
    The Alliance for American Manufacturing

Here are the ones that remain:

    Dow Chemical
    Harris Corporation (which specializes in space- and defense-related technology)
    Dell
    Nucor Corporation (a steel company)
    Whirlpool
    Johnson & Johnson (which released a truly remarkable statement Tuesday, which self-seriously discussed the sacred importance of "standing up for our belief" and "speaking out" but didn't criticize Trump or announce a resignation from the council)
    United Technologies (aerospace)
    Lockheed Martin (defense)
    GE
    Dana Inc. (an automotive technology manufacturer that is actually based in Maumee, Ohio, the hometown of James Fields Jr., the white supremacist who is believed to have run over and killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia)
    The Timken Company (auto parts)
    Campbell's Soup (which is taking a disproportionate amount of heat online for remaining on the council, mainly because it's funny/surreal that a soup company is effectively condoning white supremacists)
    Boeing
    Caterpillar
    Newell Brands (which markets a variety of consumer products)
    International Paper
    Corning (glass and other materials-technology-type-stuff)

If you're itching for a boycott, here are some of the things those companies sell:

    Dell computers
    Whirlpool hot tubs
    GE lightbulbs, refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, and other appliances
    Band-Aids, Tylenol, Benadryl, Listerine, Johnson's baby shampoo, Aveeno products, Neutragena products (all sold by Johnson & Johnson)
    Newell Brands products such as Rubbermaid containers, Sharpies, Elmer's Glue, Graco strollers and car seats, Mr. Coffee coffeemakers, Oster blenders, and more
    Napalm (just kidding, Dow Chemical stopped making napalm in 1969)
    Lockheed Martin tanks, helicopters, etc.

In summary, for Americans who don't love Hitler, it may be time to switch to Progresso even though their tomato soup isn't as good.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/08/16/the_list_of_companies_remaining_on_trump_s_advisory_council.html
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Queasy Aussies Killed Trump’s Casino Bid Over “Mafia Connections”
« Reply #7750 on: August 17, 2017, 05:06:16 AM »
Government documents label Trump’s Atlantic City operations “dangerous.”

Australian authorities simply couldn’t stomach Donald Trump’s alleged mob ties, according to government documents published by Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper, The Australian, on Tuesday. The paper’s investigation reveals that Trump’s dream of building a casino in Sydney in the late 1980s was killed off by queasy officials who considered his operations in New Jersey “dangerous.”

In 1987, Trump had already opened two casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey—Trump’s Castle and Trump Plaza—with Trump Taj Mahal on its way. He was looking to expand the empire Down Under by bidding for a spot on Sydney’s picturesque harbor in partnership with a local developer, the Kern Corporation.

When the state government officials met that May to consider proposals for the site, they were presented with a police report that was unambivalent in opposing the plan for a one clear reason. “Atlantic City would be a dubious model for Sydney and in our judgment,” police noted, according to a summary contained in government minutes. “The Trump Mafia connections should exclude the Kern/Trump consortium.”

Also included in the documents published by The Australian is a fin­ancial report concluding Trump’s partnership had overstated estimated revenue from the ­casino.

Trump’s comments about the Sydney casino at the time foreshadow his bellicosity as president. From The Australian:

    Mr Trump boasted about his bid for the casino before cabinet reached its decision. “If our design is chosen, it will not only be the largest, but one of the most magnificent, one of the most beautiful hotels anywhere in the world,” he told The Australian in February 1987. A month before the cabinet decision, he pulled out of the cas­ino race but three days later announced he was still a contender.


The damning assessment by Australian officials looking into Trump’s Sydney casino bid in 1987.

It turns out Sydney dodged a bullet. Just a year later, Trump was trying to convince New Jersey officials he had the financial wherewithal to open Trump Taj Mahal, according to January 2016 Mother Jones reporting on his Atlantic City bankruptcies:

    At a hearing in 1988, Trump assured regulators that his reputation would secure him the necessary financing. In particular, he said he could get loans at prime rates—the interest rate that commercial banks offer their most trusted customers—rather than so-called “junk bonds.”

    “I can use my own funds or I can use regular bank borrowings, so I can build at the prime rate,” Trump said, according to transcripts obtained by the Post. “I mean, the banks call me all the time. ‘Can we loan you money? Can we do this? Can we do that?’”

    Trump continued with a line that could be straight out of one of his campaign speeches: “I get it done, and everybody is happy, and it turns out successfully.”

    But he did not get it done, and everybody was not happy. While the regulators approved Trump’s casino license, the promised prime-rate loans never materialized, and Trump turned to the very junk bonds he had disparaged. “He agreed to pay the bond lenders 14 percent interest, roughly 50 percent more than he projected, to raise $675 million. It was the biggest gamble of his career,” Post reporter Robert O’Harrow Jr. wrote.

It was a gamble that failed: The Taj Mahal project ultimately filed for bankruptcy, screwing workers out of millions in retirement savings in the process.

The new reporting adds a new detail to exhaustive reporting by my colleague David Corn before the 2016 election, in which he details Trump’s known connections to mob associates and organized crime:

    For years during his business career, Trump worked or associated with proven or alleged mobsters. (Trump’s longtime lawyer, the thuggish and deceased Roy Cohn, repped numerous Mafia bosses, some of whom were connected to Trump projects.) Yet when asked about his links to the mob, Trump has repeatedly made false comments and has contradicted himself—to such a degree it seems he has flat-out lied about these relationships, even when he was under oath.

In a follow-up article, The Australian reports that Trump began airing doubts about the Sydney casino deal around the time the damning police report was finalized, abruptly canceling a trip to Australia. “I don’t know whether my enthusiasm level can be very great for that particular job,” he said at the time, bemoaning the long flight from America. “It’s just a long, long trip away. I believe [in] very hands-on management.’’

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/08/report-queasy-aussies-killed-trumps-casino-bid-over-mafia-connections/
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Brooklyn social housing microgrid rewrites relationships with utility companies
« Reply #7751 on: August 17, 2017, 05:13:56 AM »
Microgrids, promising energy self-reliance for communities, are growing in popularity as they become more affordable


Rooftop solar at Marcus Garvey Village in Brooklyn. Photograph: Demand Energy

Residents of a social housing complex in Brooklyn, New York, can’t stop another tempest like Superstorm Sandy from crashing through their city, but they can feel secure that it won’t cause a power cut.

In June, the 625-unit Marcus Garvey Village cut the ribbon on its very own microgrid, a localised network of electricity production and control. Rooftop solar panels produce clean power when the sun is up; a fuel cell takes in natural gas and churns out a steady current all day; when it’s more valuable to save the electricity for later, the largest lithium-ion battery system on New York City’s grid does just that.

These contraptions – which cost $4m (£3m) to install – reduce the community’s monthly power bill by 10% to 20%.

“It helps keep the housing cost affordable,” said Doug Staker, co-founder of Demand Energy, the company that developed and operates the microgrid. Italian utility Enel acquired Demand Energy earlier this year.

In a disaster like the storm that ripped through the country’s eastern seaboard five years ago, many people will lose power. During Sandy, approximately 8m homes and businesses lost power, some for more than a week. But if this happens again, the complex’s microgrid will switch into what’s called island mode, isolating itself from the broader grid to run like its own miniature utility.

Residents need not flee to find safe temperatures, light and a phone charger because the community centre and critical offices can maintain power for about five days. And, if clouds clear, the solar power can charge the batteries again.
Community energy

Microgrids have been around for a long time, often featuring diesel generators hooked up to lead-acid batteries. But clean power microgrids are gaining popularity as they become more affordable.

Falling costs for solar panels and batteries are making them more economically compelling, and they have the potential to rewrite relationships between people and the big utility companies. Microgrids offer something that rooftop solar alone cannot: the ability to leave the grid entirely.


The microgrid at Marcus Garvey Village.

Just a few miles from Marcus Garvey, the experimental Brooklyn Microgrid – designed by tech company LO3 Energy – aims to let households with rooftop solar panels trade power among themselves, cutting out the middleman.

“We need to make energy a product and a service that people can purchase on their own and not rely on a large centralised entity,” one participant told the New York Times in March.

That sort of rhetoric has prompted consternation among utilities, which for a century have controlled electricity access.

If customers make and store electricity, they won’t need to buy as much from the utility. That could mean utilities don’t recover the costs of their investments and have to raise their rates, which hits customers who don’t have the wherewithal to install their own generating capacity.

“While tariff restructuring can be used to mitigate lost revenues, the longer-term threat of fully exiting from the grid (or customers solely using the electric grid for backup purposes) raises the potential for irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects,” the Edison Electric Institute, a US utility industry group, wrote in an emblematic 2013 report (pdf).
Going it alone is hard work

Those irreparable damages have not yet arisen, largely because staying connected to the grid is almost always more convenient than switching to full self-reliance.

Turning solar panels and batteries into a microgrid requires adding an electrical switch to disconnect from the grid, a more sophisticated inverter and system controls to balance electrical supply with demand for every second of the day.

“It’s fairly complicated to set up your own microgrid and have enough generation resources to cover the load in the system,” said Bill Torre, director of energy storage and systems research at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), where he helps design one of the world’s most sophisticated microgrids.

The Marcus Garvey solar and fuel cells both produce a maximum of 400 kilowatts, but typical summer energy demand for the housing complex, including air conditioning, is 1,500 kilowatts, according to Staker. Fulfilling all that demand in island mode would take a lot more generation capacity; instead, the islanded microgrid powers critical functions to keep the community safe.

Successful microgrid business models have targeted larger sites (such as military bases and university campuses) with professional energy managers, in situations with specific needs.

“One of the primary benefits of the microgrid is improved reliability of service, and the cost and development of a microgrid is insurance to having a better degree of electric reliability,” said Torre.

In those cases, you pay a premium up front to prevent an even costlier outcome. And if the microgrid provides additional benefits on top of that, like cheaper utility bills and cleaner power production, so much the better. UCSD reports that its microgrid serves 92% of the campus’ electricity needs and saves more than $8m annually compared to buying that power.

New England states, still reeling from Sandy and subject to severe winter storms, have begun sponsoring clean energy microgrids to keep municipal governments up and running in a natural disaster.

Montgomery County, Maryland, contracted with a subsidiary of major utility Duke Energy to run a solar-powered microgrid at its public safety headquarters. This operates as a subscription service. The county government pays Duke for a higher level of reliability than was available from the grid before.

This project represents a possible turning point. Even if almost all customers find it easier to stay connected to the grid, efficient appliances and rooftop solar can reduce the volume of kilowatt-hours they purchase. Utilities can counter that lost revenue by offering new, more sophisticated products, like Duke’s.

Back in Brooklyn, the Marcus Garvey microgrid helps reduce peak demand for utility Consolidated Edison by consuming its own stored energy on the hottest days when New Yorkers crank the air-conditioning simultaneously, freeing up Con Ed to supply the other people who need more power.

The utility has an agreement to pay Marcus Garvey Village for using its stored energy to reduce demand on the grid at key moments. That local demand reduction contributes to a broader effort by Con Ed to avoid a $1.2bn electrical infrastructure upgrade by using cheaper, localised alternatives. That, in turn, saves all ratepayers money.

“Utilities are starting to see that as a bonus: let’s partner with this group and deploy these systems,” Staker said. “It’s more win-win.”

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/aug/17/energy-brooklyn-social-housing-microgrid-rewrites-relationships-with-utility-companies
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Firefighters Are Warning People to Never Leave Bottled Water in Your Car
« Reply #7752 on: August 17, 2017, 05:18:19 AM »
A battery technician with the Idaho Power Company was on lunch break when he noticed smoke coming from beneath the center console of his truck. The culprit, he was surprised to learn, was a bottle of water. "I looked over and noticed light was being refracted through a water bottle and starting to catch the seat on fire," said Dioni Amuchastegui in a video shared on the company's Facebook page on July 13.

The evidence shows how dangerous leaving a plastic bottle in one's car on a sunny day can be: two burn marks were left on the seat of Dioni's vehicle.

Firefighters are warning drivers about the hazard, too. In a test conducted by Oklahoma's Midwest City Fire Department, sunlight magnified by a water bottle reached 250 degrees, news channel KFOR reports. "The sunlight will come through, when it's filled with liquid, and act as a magnifying glass as you would with regular optics," said MCFD's David Richardson.

"It uses the liquid and the clear material to develop a focused beam and sure enough, it can actually cause a fire, a combustion," Richardson explained.

The risk of such a disaster occurring is low, but officials say taking your water bottle with you when exiting the car is the best way to prevent this type of car fire.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/health/healthtrending/firefighters-are-warning-people-to-never-leave-bottled-water-in-your-car/ar-AAqcjrM?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp
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New Drone Footage Exposes the Scale of Factory Animal Farming Like Never Before
« Reply #7753 on: August 17, 2017, 05:23:13 AM »

"Nearly all animals raised and slaughtered for food in the U.S. live in factory farms––facilities that treat animals as mere production units and show little regard for the natural environment or public health."

The animal agriculture industry spends millions on deceptive advertising to persuade consumers that farmed animals roam freely on bucolic pastures. But I’ve been piloting drones over animal agriculture facilities for several years, and the video I’ve captured tells a far different story. Nearly all animals raised and slaughtered for food in the U.S. live in factory farms––facilities that treat animals as mere production units and show little regard for the natural environment or public health. Instead of creating widgets, these factories confine, mutilate, and disassemble animals who feel pain and pleasure just like our dogs and cats.

Aerial views of the first factory farms I visited—pig facilities—didn’t capture grass and rolling hills, but instead exposed rows of windowless metal buildings. Each confined thousands of intelligent, sensitive pigs who spent their lives on concrete floors in crowded pens. The footage also reveals what appear to be red lakes but are in fact giant, open-air cesspools. Waste falls through slats in the pigs’ concrete flooring and is flushed into these massive pits, which sometimes have the surface area of multiple football fields. To lower the levels of these cesspools, many facilities spray their contents into the air where they turn into mist and drift into neighboring communities.

In North Carolina, this practice has been associated with spikes in blood pressure among community members and increased asthma symptoms among nearby schoolchildren. I spoke with neighbors who described walking outside and falling down in their own front yards because the stench of these factory farms made it so difficult to breathe.

I recently piloted drones over factory egg farms, perhaps the most industrialized sector of animal agriculture, with each shed confining thousands of hens and some facilities holding over a million. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought the 24 sheet-metal buildings were airplane hangars or industrial storage facilities. Mercy For Animals undercover investigations have revealed that hens inside such facilities spend their lives trapped in cages so small the birds can’t even fully spread their wings. Such confinement is so intensive that many hens die and decompose among cagemates still producing eggs to be sold as food.

Indeed, drones have put to bed the myth of Old MacDonald’s farm. Armed with the truth, we must take responsibility. The practices exposed only exist because people purchase products of factory farms. Each of us has the power to stand up and vote against this industry by simply leaving animals off our plates.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/08/16/new-drone-footage-exposes-scale-factory-animal-farming-never#
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Sperm Count in Western Men Has Dropped Over 50 Percent Since 1973, Paper Finds
« Reply #7754 on: August 17, 2017, 05:32:49 AM »
The sperm count of men in Western countries has been declining precipitously with no signs of “leveling off,” according to new research, bolstering a school of thought that male health in the modern world is at risk, possibly threatening fertility.

By examining thousands of studies and conducting a meta-analysis of 185 — the most comprehensive effort to date — an international team of researchers ultimately looked at semen samples from 42,935 men from 50 countries from 1973 to 2011.

They found that sperm concentration — the number of sperm per milliliter of semen — had declined each year, amounting to a 52.4 percent total decline, in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Total sperm count among the same group also tumbled each year for a total decline of 59.3 percent over the nearly 40-year period.

Western Countries

These nations comprised about 75 percent of the results.
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States
Continue reading the main story
Non-Western Countries

These nations comprised the remaining 25, or so, percent.
Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey

Decreasing sperm count was first reported a quarter century ago, but the new analysis shows that “this decline is strong and continuing,” said Dr. Shanna H. Swan, one of the study’s authors and a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

And while this paper offers the most data yet on a subject of lengthy debate, it is far from settled, as the cause and the impact on fertility — and whether it has any real-life consequence — remain unknown.


Figure reproduced from N.E. Skakkebaek et al/Physiological Reviews

Allan Pacey, a professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield in Britain — who wrote an article in 2013 questioning this sort of research — has been skeptical of studies that claim a recent decline in sperm count.
Continue reading the main story

He noted that a 52.4 percent decline in concentration “may sound a lot,” but it represents a change from “normal (99 million sperm per milliliter) to normal (47 million sperm per milliliter).”

Still, Professor Pacey conceded in a recent interview that the new paper piqued his interest and represented “a step forward in the clarity of the data, which might ultimately allow us to define better studies to examine this issue.”
Possible causes

That the downtrend in sperm count is seen in Western countries suggests that “chemicals in commerce” are playing a role, Dr. Swan said.

While this survey did not focus on the causes of these declines, its authors pointed to existing research that showed that exposure to cigarette smoke, alcohol and chemicals while in utero, as well as stress, obesity and age, were factors in the drop.

“If the mother smokes, her son’s sperm count is decreased — that’s been shown in multiple studies,” she said.

A 2005 study, Dr. Swan said, showed that prenatal exposure to phthalates, also called plasticizers, affected the development of sons.

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. In several studies over the last two decades, they have been shown to disrupt the operation of male hormones like testosterone and have been linked to genital birth defects in male infants.

Dr. Swan, who conducted a 2008 study about phthalate exposure, said that scientists have had the ability to measure exposure to plasticizers only since about 2000, via urine. That has led to a 20-year lag in the process since researchers cannot enroll men to produce sperm until they are in their 20s.

That evidence is the “missing piece of the puzzle,” she said.

Professor Pacey cautions that while the changes in data may be driven by “greater exposure of pregnant women or adult men to more man-made chemicals,” it is too soon draw a conclusion.

No trend studies were performed in the first half of the 20th century, said Niels Skakkebaek, a reproduction researcher at the University of Copenhagen, but in the 1940s, fertility doctors claimed that men should have at least 60 million sperm per milliliter to be considered normal and that many had more that 100 million per milliliter.

“Nowadays, average young men have 40-50 per milliliter,” he said.

Professor Skakkebaek, an author of a 1992 study that suggested chemicals play a role in the steady decline in semen quality, has since indicated that a rise in abnormal male reproductive systems may be linked to exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

“We must find out which ones are to blame for the problems with male reproduction, including male infertility and testicular cancer,” Professor Skakkebaek said.

The website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the effects from low-level exposure to phthalates are unknown, but it acknowledges that some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals and that more research is needed. The agency declined to offer further comment.

The National Institutes of Health also declined to comment on the research. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine did not respond to a request for comment.
The practical effects

Professor Skakkebaek pointed to Denmark and Germany as examples of how this course is playing out.



“In Denmark, 8 percent of all children are now born after assisted reproduction,” he said. “In spite of this activity, the birthrates have for 40 years been significantly below replacement level.”

“The number of young Germans have already declined 50 percent since the 1960s,” he said, adding that a similar pattern has been seen in Japan, which while not a Western country, is a developed one.



In the United States, he said, the fertility rate among white people is “below the levels where the population can be sustained.”

Data about assisted pregnancies has been linked to women having children later in life, and in developed nations, statistics have shown that more women are choosing to have fewer (or no) babies, which may also contribute to the fluctuations.
Non-Western men

In the recently released research, no significant decline in sperm quality was seen in men from non-Western countries, but this segment made up only about a quarter of the results.

Dr. Hagai Levine, the head of the Environmental Health Track at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who led the team, said that one of the differences between Western and non-Western countries is that man-made chemicals like phthalates “became widespread much earlier in time” in developed nations.

Professor Skakkebaek said that reproductive issues among African men were less common: “It is already known that Africans have significantly lower rates of another testicular problem: testicular cancer.”

A study published last fall that looked at samples from just over 30,600 Chinese men asserted that semen quality and sperm count in the men had declined over a 15-year period ending in 2015 — with the percentage of qualified donors at a Hunan clinic falling from 55.8 percent to 17.8 percent in that time. To qualify, donors need to meet acceptable semen parameters including sperm concentration, sperm motility and semen volume.

“We urgently need international research collaboration to detect the causes,” Professor Skakkebaek said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/16/health/male-sperm-count-problem.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=6&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2017%2F08%2F16%2Fhealth%2Fmale-sperm-count-problem.html&eventName=Watching-article-click

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