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The pace of human evolution has been increasing at a stunning rate since our ancestors began spreading through Europe, Asia and Africa 40,000 years ago, quickening to 100 times historical levels after agriculture became widespread, according to a study published today. By examining more than 3 million variants of DNA in 269 people, researchers identified about 1,800 genes that have been widely adopted in relatively recent times because they offer some evolutionary benefit. Until recently, anthropologists believed that evolutionary pressure on humans eased after the transition to a more stable agrarian lifestyle. But in the last few years, they realized the opposite was true– diseases swept through societies in which large groups lived in close quarters for a long time. Altogether, the recent genetic changes account for 7% of the human genome, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. –“Study Finds Humans Still Evolving, and Quickly: The pace has been increasing since people started spreading through Europe, Asia and Africa 40,000 years ago,” Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times
We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shiite would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ, may peace be upon him. And despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than 10 years, for more than a decade. Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. Until we were invaded by the illusion of liberation that some had. (The occupation) divided one brother from another, one neighbor from another, and the son from his uncle. It turned our homes into neverending funeral tents. And our graveyards spread into parks and roadsides. It is a plague. It is the occupation that is killing us, that is violating the houses of worship and the sanctity of our homes and that is throwing thousands daily into makeshift prisons. –“What Iraqi Journalist Who Threw Shoes at Bush Had to Say,” Muntadhar al Zaidi, McClatchy
I’m used to taking heat for my job as a military analyst for Human Rights Watch, because our findings that this government or that armed group has violated the laws of war frequently provoke accusations that we’re biased or siding with the enemy. Now I’ve achieved some blogosphere fame, not for the hours I’ve spent sifting through the detritus of war, visiting hospitals, interviewing victims and witnesses and soldiers, but for my hobby (unusual and disturbing to some, I realize) of collecting Second World War memorabilia associated with my German grandfather and my American great-uncle. I’m a military geek, with an abiding interest not only in the medals I collect but in the weapons that I study and the shrapnel I analyze. I think this makes me a better investigator and analyst. And to suggest it shows Nazi tendencies is defamatory nonsense, spread maliciously by people with an interest in trying to undermine Human Rights Watch’s reporting. –“Responding to Accusations,” Marc Garlasco, Huffington Post
Estimated acres of forest Henry David Thoreau burned down in 1844 trying to cook fish he had caught for dinner:
The bombardier beetle, which can fire liquid at its enemies from its rear end at up to 300 squirts per second, was being scrutinized in the hope of building a better airplane engine.
London Fire Brigade investigators blamed a building fire in South London on a bird that carried a lit cigarette to its rooftop nest. “Smokers,” said neighborhood baker Richard Scroggs. “What can you say?”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”