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With only days to go before the election in Afghanistan, it looks like the fix is in. That’s what most Afghans have been saying all along. The danger now is not that the election might be tainted by backroom deals or fraud. That’s old news. Even international bodies charged with facilitating the process have given up the goal of “free and fair” elections. They aim instead for “credible” elections–which means results that look pretty good, even when they’re not. No, the real danger is that those international bodies, led by the United States, will validate the crooked election as “credible” even when it doesn’t look good at all. Yet the hopes of the US-led international community ride on a credible outcome to provide evidence of Afghanistan’s conversion to “democracy.” Not to mention their vested interests–including an estimated $500 million to stage this extravaganza. If they were going to fess up to fraud, they should have done so long ago. –“Ballots and Bullets for Afghanistan,” Ann Jones, The Nation
“The ugliness of the Armadillo is what makes it unique,” says Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police. “A police car is not a particular stigma, but if people see that thing in front of your house, they know something bad is going on in there.” –“‘Armadillo’ Plays Well in Peoria But Is Panned by Drug Dealers,” Carrie Porter, the Wall Street Journal
A new study has found that downloading music is substantially better from an emissions perspective than buying compact discs. The study, which was financed by both Microsoft and Intel and written by two academics at Carnegie Mellon University and a third affiliated with Stanford University, found that buying an album digitally reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 40 to 80 percent relative to a best-case scenario for purchasing a CD…. Even in a situation in which a consumer downloads the music — and then burns it onto a CD and puts it in a CD case— the carbon differential is 40 percent in favor of the download, the study found. If the downloaded music is not burned onto a CD, the differential rises to 80 percent. –“The Carbon Case for Downloading Music,” Kate Galbraith, The New York Times
In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.
Estimated portion of registered voters in Zimbabwe who are dead:
Honeybees can recognize individual human faces.
Pope Francis announced that nuns could use social media, and a priest flew a hot-air balloon around the world.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”