In a city rapidly running out of cemetery space, Jews are looking to a 2,000-year-old solution.
For Jews seeking eternal rest, the most coveted real estate on Earth lies in the soil of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the city is rapidly running out of room to bury the dead. And so it has come to pass that an Israeli burial organization has teamed with a cutting-edge construction firm to bore deep under a mountain here to create a vast underground necropolis — with elevators. The first phase of the new subterranean city of the dead will include 22,000 crypts, arranged floor to ceiling in three tiers, in a network of intersecting tunnels now being dug through the rocky clay soil beneath Jerusalem’s largest cemetery.
"What, exactly, is a city? Technically, cities are legal designations that, under state laws, have specific public powers and functions. But many of the largest American cities — especially in the South and West — don’t feel like cities, at least not in the high-rise-and-subways, 'Sesame Street' sense. Large swaths of many big cities are residential neighborhoods of single-family homes, as car-dependent as any suburb.
Cities like Austin and Fort Worth in Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina, are big and growing quickly, but largely suburban. According to Census Bureau data released Thursday, the population of the country’s biggest cities (the 34 with at least 500,000 residents) grew 0.99 percent in 2014 — versus 0.88 percent for all metropolitan areas and 0.75 percent for the U.S. overall. But city growth isn’t the same as urban growth. Three cities of the largest 10 are more suburban than urban, based on our analysis of how people describe the neighborhoods where they live."
"Many people posting it wrote that the photo was taken during the recent Nepal earthquakes, and that it depicts 'a brother protecting his sister.' Pretty heartwarming, right? It’s the exact sort of thing your aunt would share on Facebook. A perfectly clear, resonant message about survival and empathy and inequality, all that good stuff. There’s only one problem: That picture is fake."
Pamela Ronald studies the genes that make plants more resistant to disease and stress. In an eye-opening talk, she describes her decade-long quest to help create a variety of rice that can survive prolonged flooding. She shows how the genetic improvement of seeds saved the Hawaiian papaya crop in the 1950s — and makes the case that it may simply be the most effective way to enhance food security for our planet’s growing population.
"Although we seldom think about them this way, most American communities as they exist today were built for the spry and mobile. We've constructed millions of multi-story, single-family homes where the master bedroom is on the second floor, where the lawn outside requires weekly upkeep, where the mailbox is a stroll away. We've designed neighborhoods where everyday errands require a driver's license. We've planned whole cities where, if you don't have a car, it's not particularly easy to walk anywhere — especially not if you move gingerly.
This reality has been a fine one for a younger country. Those multi-story, single-family homes with broad lawns were great for Baby Boomers when they had young families. And car-dependent suburbs have been fine for residents with the means and mobility to drive everywhere. But as the Baby Boomers whose preferences drove a lot of these trends continue to age, it's becoming increasingly clear that the housing and communities we've built won't work very well for the old."
Commerce knits the modern world together in a way that nothing else quite does. Almost anything you own these days is the result of a complicated web of global interactions. And there's no better way to depict those interactions than some maps.
There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans than Catholic Americans or mainline Protestant Americans.
Christianity is on the decline in America, not just among younger generations or in certain regions of the country but across race, gender, education and geographic barriers. The percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years to about 71 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.
Beginning in the 1950s, cities demolished thousands of homes in walkable neighborhoods to make room for freeways.
At the time, this was seen as a sign of progress. Not only did planners hope to help people get downtown more quickly, they saw many of the neighborhoods being torn down as blighted and in need of urban renewal. But tearing down a struggling neighborhood rarely made problems like crime and overcrowding go away. To the contrary, displaced people would move to other neighborhoods, often exacerbating overcrowding problems. Crime rates rose, not fell, in the years after these projects. By cutting urban neighborhoods in half, planners undermined the blocks on either side of the freeway. The freeways made nearby neighborhoods less walkable. Reduced foot traffic made them less attractive places for stores and restaurants. And that, in turn, made them even less walkable. Those with the means to do so moved to the suburbs, accelerating the neighborhoods' decline.
"We have a myth today that the ghettos in metropolitan areas around the country are what the Supreme Court calls 'de-facto' — just the accident of the fact that people have not enough income to move into middle class neighborhoods or because real estate agents steered black and white families to different neighborhoods or because there was white flight. It was not the unintended effect of benign policies, it was an explicit, racially purposeful policy that was pursued at all levels of government, and that's the reason we have these ghettos today and we are reaping the fruits of those policies."
"For most states, you’re safe adding an –n, and maybe a few other letters, to the state’s name – a la Coloradans, Nebraskans and Californians. For three states, Wyoming, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, the correct method is to add an –ite. For a handful of states in the northeast, the style is to add an 'r' – New Yorker, Vermonter, Mainer, Marylander, Connecticuter and Rhode Islander."
"Thousands of years ago, agriculture began as a highly site-specific activity. The first farmers were gardeners who nurtured individual plants, and they sought out the microclimates and patches of soil that favored those plants. But as farmers acquired scientific knowledge and mechanical expertise, they enlarged their plots, using standardized approaches—plowing the soil, spreading animal manure as fertilizer, rotating the crops from year to year—to boost crop yields. Over the years, they developed better methods of preparing the soil and protecting plants from insects and, eventually, machines to reduce the labor required. Starting in the nineteenth century, scientists invented chemical pesticides and used newly discovered genetic principles to select for more productive plants. Even though these methods maximized overall productivity, they led some areas within fields to underperform. Nonetheless, yields rose to once-unimaginable levels: for some crops, they increased tenfold from the nineteenth century to the present.
Today, however, the trend toward ever more uniform practices is starting to reverse, thanks to what is known as 'precision agriculture.' Taking advantage of information technology, farmers can now collect precise data about their fields and use that knowledge to customize how they cultivate each square foot."
"There are 1.2 billion people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the world today — and that means that many countries have populations younger than ever before. Some believe that this 'youth bulge' helps fuel social unrest — particularly when combined with high levels of youth unemployment. Youth unemployment is a 'global time bomb,' as long as today’s millennials remain 'hampered by weak economies, discrimination, and inequality of opportunity.' The world’s 15 youngest countries are all in Africa. Of the continent’s 200 million young people, about 75 million are unemployed.
On the flip side, an aging population presents a different set of problems: Japan and Germany are tied for the world’s oldest countries, with median ages of 46.1. Germany’s declining birth rate might mean that its population will decrease by 19 percent, shrinking to 66 million by 2060. An aging population has a huge economic impact: in Germany, it has meant a labor shortage, leaving jobs unfilled."
"Argentina should be careful in considering the implications of the idea of moving the capital [from Buenos Aires] to Santiago del Estero. While a dramatic move might be appealing as a fresh start, it could end up aggravating the challenges of governing the country. Capitals, like flags, are symbols, but their choice has very real consequences."
"A 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on the equivalent scale to major geological processes."
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