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“It’s a time bomb,” said Jim Peterson, a professor of wheat breeding and genetics at Oregon State University in Corvallis. “It moves in the air, it can move in clothing on an airplane. We know it’s going to be here. It’s a matter of how long it’s going to take.” Though most Americans have never heard of it, Ug99– a type of fungus called stem rust because it produces reddish-brown flakes on plant stalks– is the No. 1 threat to the world’s most widely grown crop. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico estimates that 19% of the world’s wheat, which provides food for 1 billion people in Asia and Africa, is in imminent danger. American plant breeders say $10 billion worth of wheat would be destroyed if the fungus suddenly made its way to U.S. fields. Fear that the fungus will cause widespread damage has caused short-term price spikes on world wheat markets. Famine has been averted thus far, but experts say it’s only a matter of time. –“A ‘Time Bomb’ for World Wheat Crop,” Karen Kaplan , Los Angeles Times
Prove your devotion, Miscavige told them, by winning at musical chairs. Everyone else— losers, all of you— will be banished to Scientology outposts around the world. If families are split up, too bad. To the music of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” they played through the night, parading around a conference room in their Navy-style uniforms, grown men and women wrestling over chairs. The next evening, early in 2004, Miscavige gathered the group and out of nowhere slapped a manager named Tom De Vocht, threw him to the ground and delivered more blows. De Vocht took the beating and the humiliation in silence— the way other executives always took the leader’s attacks. –“Scientology: The Truth Rundown, Part 1 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology,” Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, St. Petersburg Times
Obituary for Ali Akbar Khan;
“miracle baby” blog that appealed to pro-lifers was hoax;
“One of Barton’s constituents, Robin Beaton of Waxahachie, Texas, did know that her health history included acne and a rapid heartbeat. But she didn’t think they were relevant to her current health and left them off her application.”
We have become so accustomed to employer-provided medical care that we regard it as part of the natural order. Yet it is thoroughly illogical. Why single out medical care? Food is more essential to life than medical care. Why not exempt the cost of food from taxes if provided by the employer? Why not return to the much-reviled company store when workers were in effect paid in kind rather than in cash? The revival of the company store for medicine has less to do with logic than pure chance. It is a wonderful example of how one bad government policy leads to another. During World War II, the government financed much wartime spending by printing money while, at the same time, imposing wage and price controls. The resulting repressed inflation produced shortages of many goods and services, including labor. Firms competing to acquire labor at government-controlled wages started to offer medical care as a fringe benefit. That benefit proved particularly attractive to workers and spread rapidly. –“How to Cure Health Care” (2001), Milton Friedman, Hoover Digest
Price of ten pencils made from “recycled twigs,” from the Nature Company:
A loggerhead turtle in a Kobe aquarium at last achieved swimming success with her twenty-seventh set of prosthetic fins. “When her children hatch,” said the aquarium’s director, “well, I just feel that would make all the trauma in her life worthwhile.”
In Colombia, U.N. delegates sent to serve as impartial observers of the peace process aimed at ending the half-century-long war between the FARC and the Colombian government were chastised after they were filmed dancing and getting drunk with FARC fighters at a New Year’s Eve party.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."