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Economics / Italian Regions of Lombardy and Veneto Vote for More Autonomy
« Last post by RE on Today at 03:31:46 AM »

Italian Regions of Lombardy and Veneto Vote for More Autonomy


President Roberto Maroni, the president of the Lombardy region of Italy, in Milan on Sunday. Mr. Maroni said that more than 95 percent of Lombardy voters had cast ballots for more autonomy. Credit Luca Bruno/Associated Press

ROME — The citizens of two northern Italian regions voted overwhelmingly on Sunday in favor of greater autonomy in closely watched referendums that come on the heels of Catalonia’s tortuous attempts to secede from Spain.

The polls closed at 11 p.m. on Sunday, and with most votes counted by early Monday, the results in Lombardy and Veneto suggested that millions of voters had cast ballots to “give a message” to the central government in Rome, Luca Zaia, president of the Veneto region, said at a news conference.

The nonbinding referendums were promoted by the Northern League, which governs both regions, and the outcome will put the regional presidents on firmer footing as they begin negotiating with Rome for greater say — and financial independence — in a number of areas, including security and immigration and education.

“This is the big bang” of institutional reforms, said Mr. Zaia in Veneto, where at least 60 percent of the population went to the polls, easily reaching the quorum of 50.1 percent. “In Veneto, what has won is the desire to be masters in our own home,” he said.

More than 98 percent of the more than two million people who went to the polls in Veneto voted in favor of autonomy, according to regional officials.
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Related Coverage

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    Spain Will Remove Catalonia Leader, Escalating Secession Crisis OCT. 21, 2017

In Lombardy, about 40 percent of the electorate — some three million voters — went to the polls, but a quorum was not necessary. The region’s president, Roberto Maroni, said that more than 95 percent of Lombardy’s residents had voted in favor.

“I am happy, I am very satisfied with how things went, and I realize that I now have a commitment that is equally important — which is to go to Rome and give concrete actualization to the mandate that millions of Lombards have given me,” he said. “To go to Rome and obtain, within the framework of national unity, greater jurisdiction, and more resources.”

Mr. Maroni also said he was satisfied with the way the vote had been carried out in Lombardy, which used electronic ballots via more than 24,000 tablets, a first in Italy. “This is a historic experimentation,” he said.

Both regions, which are wealthy, are lobbying to have a greater say in how, and where, their taxes go, arguing that they give much more than they get back. Lombardy accounts for around 20 percent of the country’s economy, with Milan, the region’s main city, serving as Italy’s financial and fashion capital. The Veneto region accounts for about 10 percent.
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Though the Northern League harbored secessionist aspirations when it first emerged on the Italian political scene some three decades ago, the party has muted its tone, and the referendum was not a call for a break away from Italy.

Both Mr. Zaia and Mr. Maroni emphasized that the vote was well within their constitutional rights. Five of Italy’s 20 regions — Val d’Aosta, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Sardinia and Sicily — already enjoy an “autonomous status” that gives them a greater degree of control over specific areas and funding.

While the referendum was sponsored by the Northern League, it was backed by local leaders of varying political stripes.

“I think this vote shows that a party of autonomy does not exist,” Mr. Zaia said. “What exists are Veneto residents who are in favor of this concept. Veneto residents are the winners.” The vote, he said, shows that reforms are possible “within the Constitution.”

Critics of the referendums, which are estimated to have cost 40 million euro or more, say the regions could have initiated talks with the central government without the cost of holding a vote. The Emilia-Romagna region did so last week.

But Mr. Maroni and Mr. Zaia argued that past attempts to negotiate for greater independence had essentially been ignored by Rome, and that the popular backing would reinforce their bargaining powers. “Now the Veneto and Lombardy can join forces to fight the battle of the century,” Mr. Maroni said.

Some argued that allowing regions to demand autonomy based on a popular vote could open the floodgates.

“You have to apply more objective criteria in granting autonomy, like a balanced budget,” said Paolo Balduzzi, an economist at Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, who argued that a popular mandate should not be the determining factor. “The presidents of all the other regions could now ask for a referendum,” he said, “so it becomes useless.”
Environment / Bugpocalypse: Environmental Collapse Continues
« Last post by RE on Today at 02:41:40 AM »

Bugpocalypse: Environmental Collapse Continues
2017 October 22
tags: climate change, Ecological Collapse
by Ian Welsh

There are two major inter-related environmental problems today. The first is climate change, the second is environmental collapse. The ecosystem is a very complicated web, from single celled organisms on up to apex predators and humans. When you unbalance it; when you take out chunks, the consequences cascade thru the ecosystem, and it is possible for ecosystems to collapse, losing the ability to support higher forms of life, while the makeup of the lower parts changes significantly.

(For example, predictions of jellyfish taking over the oceans, or in bio-habitats, slimes becoming dominant.)

Climate change will be catastrophic, and it feeds into ecosystem problems by changing climate faster than animals and plants can adjust, but it’s probably survivable for humanity. (Just because humans will survive does not mean you and your kids will survive.)

Probably doesn’t mean certainly, there are outside scenarios where some system goes into exponential overdrive and renders the Earth unsuitable for humans.

Ecological collapse has its own nightmare scenarios. Traditionally the apex predators (and, yeah,that’s effectively us), don’t survive great die-offs, and we have induced a great die-off.  We’re losing, basically, all the fish; we have spreading areas of oxygen drought in the ocean, and anecdotal reports of insect die-offs now have some scientific confirmation:

    The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years

    The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said.

This amounts to a six percent decrease per year, and it’s happening in nature preserves, which are the places one might expect to be effected least.

(I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write this year. If you value my writing and want more of it, please consider donating.)

Anecdotally, as someone who’s almost 50, I remember a lot more insects in cities when I was a child. I see hardly any now.

As humans we have taken over so much of the land’s surface and replaced it with farms and a very few animals (domesticated animals like cattle, chicken, sheep, llamas and so on). We’ve removed most of the great forests and jungles, and replaced them with plants and animals that are very close to being monocultures (especially as the animal and plant breeds have been reduced to a few strains, with heirloom strains being phased out.)

58% of all vertebrate wildlife was lost just between 1970 and 2012.

On top of this, massive use of pesticides; mass release of chemicals into the environment in general, and the vast pools of plastics which have become ubiquitous throughout the environment, including microscopic particles in our drinking water.

We’re pushing environmental collapse, in other words.

It’s not as obvious as wolves growing too numerous and taking too many dear, then dying off themselves, because we have the ability to modify the environment, but it’s very close to the same thing.

It isn’t, well, necessary. We could do agriculture in ways that didn’t create monocultures, didn’t use mass pesticides, and made farmlands not be wastelands for everything but our few chosen animals and plants, but we don’t. Our cities could be full of green things and life that isn’t harmful (or not very) to humans, but they aren’t.

In most cases, though this might be more expensive and more work, it would also be better for us. We do better where there are more micro-organisms, not less. We do better where there are more plants, and especially trees, not less. A flourishing biome is in our interest, despite some challenges.

But we haven’t. Driven by efficiency and the profit motive, we have chosen instead to strip ecosystems bare, and not create new ones or work to keep those remaining healthy.

This is a great danger to us, and to most other living beings on the planet. We are foolish to think we will escape severe consequences: we will not.

In this intersection of ecosystem collapse and climate change is the highest chance of humans causing their own apocalypse, the only other threat which is as large is use of nuclear weapons.

It may be that humans are simply incapable of handling the technology we can create.

We shall see. It is clear, at the least, that we will need a harsh lesson, with deaths of a billion or more, as a corrective.

Let us hope that’s all that happens, and that those who survive, learn from it and change, permanently.

News › World
US puts nuclear-armed bombers on full alert for the first time since the Cold War as tension with North Korea mounts

    David Gardner US Correspondent
    37 minutes ago

US B52 aircraft will be readied with nuclear weapons and put on 24 hour alert. Getty Images

The US Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers on 24-hour alert for the first time since the Cold War amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

The dramatic move means B-52s laden with nuclear weapons could soon be ready to take-off from America at a moment’s notice.

It comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continues to ramp up tensions between the two countries with threats to ‘destroy’ the US and Russia increases its military might.

"This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared," said General David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff. "I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward.

"The world is a dangerous place and we've got folks that are talking openly about use of nuclear weapons," he added. "It's no longer a bipolar world where it's just us and the Soviet Union. We've got other players out there who have nuclear capability. It's never been more important to make sure that we get this mission right."

Just weeks ago, President Donald Trump warned about the "calm before the storm" following a White House meeting with his military leaders.

A US B-52 Stratofortress is escorted by a South Korean fighter jet as it flies over an air base in January last year. (AFP/Getty Images)

Now the nuclear-armed planes will almost certainly return to the long-dormant concrete pads at the end of an 11,000-ft runway at Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana.

Renovations are already said to be under way at Barksdale, home to the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the service’s nuclear forces. Beds for more than 100 crew members are being installed in a concrete building that once housed Cold War pilots who were prepared to take-off at any time around the clock.

There’s a recreation room, with a pool table, TVs and a shuffleboard table for B-52 crews working shifts through the night.

In an interview with Defense One magazine, General Goldfein said the alert order had not yet been made. But he confirmed that preparations were under way in anticipation that the green light will be given.

North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. (AP)

The last time America’s airborne nuclear arsenal was put on alert was the end of the Cold War 26 years ago.

"I’ve challenged Air Force Global Strike Command to help lead the dialog, help with this discussion about ‘What does conventional conflict look like with a nuclear element?" and "Do we respond as a global force if that were to occur?" and "What are the options?" added General Goldfein.

"How do we think about it - how do we think about deterrence in that environment?"

    Read more

Australian PM dismisses North Korea letter as 'rant' against Trump

Asked if placing B-52s back on alert would help as a deterrent, General Goldfein said: "Really it depends on who, what kind of behaviour are we talking about, and whether they’re paying attention to our readiness status."

Defense One says that two nuclear command planes, the E-4B Nightwatch and E-6B Mercury, will be deployed to Barksdale.

During a nuclear war, the planes would become the flying command posts of the Defense Secretary.

If the president gives a strike order, the planes would be used to transmit launch codes to bombers, Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles and submarines.

The final say on the alert order will be with General John Hyten, the commander of US Strategic Command, and Gen. Lori Robinson, the head of US Northern Command.
Geological & Cosmological Events / Re: Where were the Moons of Jupiter when you were Born?
« Last post by RE on October 22, 2017, 06:07:20 PM »
As you can see, I'm more the right than you, but neither of us is off-the-scale.

That depends on whether you are looking at the view from the front or the back. :-\

My Moons are nice and spread out though.  You have a hidden Moon.  That symbolizes something I am sure.  :icon_scratch:

Here on the Diner, we should develop a whole new Astrological Theory based on Jupiter Moon positions, ascribing some Human Qualities to each different moon, and how those qualities are manifest depending on their position at Birth.  We can make a whole new Religion out of this!  :icon_sunny:


Liquefy the meat suit & put your happy self in a snow globe & pop it in the hunk of granite.

Kind of like St. Teresa of Avila. She's over 500 years dead & still looks as good as the day she died.  :icon_scratch:
She's on display in Europe somewhere.

I've got the rock covered.  What's a "snow globe"? ???  :icon_scratch:

At any rate, I'm not concerned with my physical remains other than my DNA, which is preserved in hair follicles so no liquification is necessary.  I have them embeded in airtight aluminum capsules filled with Beeswax, sealed with epoxy and cyanoacrylate glue and coated on the outside with 9 layers of polyurethane.  The capsule goes into a hole drilled into a granite stone.  Another copy goes underground into a basalt reinforced concrete vault.  I will have more details in an upcoming article when I've got more finished on the practical end.

For the rest of my corpse, I'm going with a "green" burial in a wicker casket so the worms can feast and recycle what is left of the meat package when I croak.

The tougher problem is preserving the Intellectual Property and what kind of media to use and how to protect it.

As you can see, I'm more the right than you, but neither of us is off-the-scale.

That depends on whether you are looking at the view from the front or the back. :-\

My Moons are nice and spread out though.  You have a hidden Moon.  That symbolizes something I am sure.  :icon_scratch:

Here on the Diner, we should develop a whole new Astrological Theory based on Jupiter Moon positions, ascribing some Human Qualities to each different moon, and how those qualities are manifest depending on their position at Birth.  We can make a whole new Religion out of this!  :icon_sunny:


Liquefy the meat suit & put your happy self in a snow globe & pop it in the hunk of granite.

Kind of like St. Teresa of Avila. She's over 500 years dead & still looks as good as the day she died.  :icon_scratch:
She's on display in Europe somewhere.
2017-10-20 - 2017-10-20 - Eco-friendly Californians can now have their bodies liquefied after they die:

Note: Don't keep a bottle near your liquor. 'Honey, you just drank a Billy and Coke!':
Environment / Re: Crazy Weather
« Last post by azozeo on October 22, 2017, 01:36:49 PM »
2017-10-20 - Forecasters predict warmer-than-average winter in majority of the US:

Note: It was warmer than average in the Midwest last year too. Maybe they need to redefine 'average', cuz the times, they are a-changin'...
Science, Inventions & Techology / Tesla has reached a deal to build a factory in China
« Last post by azozeo on October 22, 2017, 01:30:18 PM »

The Verge

Tesla has made an arrangement with Shanghai’s government to built a manufacturing plant in the city’s free-trade zone, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cites reports from people briefed on the company’s plans.

The WSJ reports that Tesla will own the factory, rather than partner with a local manufacturer, as it typically the case. Chinese officials have recently begun to considerrelaxing some of the more stringent rules concerning local partners, as a way to encourage electric vehicle manufacturers. The arrangement would be the “first of its kind for a foreign auto maker,” but will likely not allow Tesla to avoid a 25 percent import tariff.

In June, Tesla confirmed that it was in talks to build a factory in Shanghai, ending months of speculation about the company’s plans. At the time, a spokesperson explained that while the company anticipated keeping most of its production in the US, it did “need to establish local factories to ensure affordability for the markets they serve.”

The world’s largest market for automobiles, China has recently worked to encourage the development of a robust market for EVs. In September, Xin Guobin, the country’s vice minister of industry and information technology, noted at a forum that the country is beginning to phase out sales of fossil fuel vehicles as it works to cut its carbon emissions, and that existing manufacturers will need to begin building more EVs in the coming years. As such, establishing a factory in China will be a major deal for Tesla as it works to ramp up its production around the world.

We’ve reached out to Tesla for comment, and will update this story if we hear back.

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