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Christo’s ‘Big Air Package’ Opens in Germany

Christo’s ‘Big Air Package’ Opens in Germany | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
Christo’s ‘Big Air Package’ is both the largest ever inflated frameless envelope and the “most expansive indoor sculpture” ever created.
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How ALEC Has Undermined Food Safety By Pushing ‘Ag Gag’ Laws Across The Country

How ALEC Has Undermined Food Safety By Pushing ‘Ag Gag’ Laws Across The Country | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
Butterball was the subject of an undercover animal abuse video last year.Two more states are considering bills that would prevent whistleblowers from exposing cruel or unsafe practices in factory farms, joining five other states with similar “ag...
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Breaking: Shell Oil Announces It Will Not Drill In The Arctic Ocean In 2013

Breaking: Shell Oil Announces It Will Not Drill In The Arctic Ocean In 2013 | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
By Kiley Kroh After a year full of mishaps and failures in its quest to drill for oil off the coast of Alaska, Royal Dutch Shell announced today that it would not pursue exploratory drilling activity in the Arctic Ocean this year. The decision...
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Cuba Lifts Exit Visa Requirements, Raising Possibility of Exodus to Latin America

Cuba Lifts Exit Visa Requirements, Raising Possibility of Exodus to Latin America | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

Via Miami New Times:

 

This morning, the Cuban government made its biggest immigration policy change in five decades by scrapping its longstanding rule requiring exit visa for Cubans traveling abroad. Now, Cubans with passports can travel anywhere in the world -- including the U.S., apparently -- as long as the country of destination issues them a visa.

 

The change could make a massive difference in the lives of the Cuban people, not to mention U.S.-Cuba relations. Could Miami soon see a brand new influx of Cubans? Maybe.

 

The changes, which eliminate the onerous and expensive exit permits that have long kept most Cubans from traveling, were announced on the website of Cuban government mouthpiece Granma. They will go into effect on January 14, 2013.

 

Some restrictions on travel outside the island will remain. First, Cubans will need a passport -- which is far from guaranteed in a country of endless bureaucracy and arbitrary detentions.

 

Second, Cubans will need a visa from the country they intend to visit. Despite its longstanding "wet foot, dry foot" policy that allows Cubans who make it to U.S. land to stay, the United States currently issues only 20,000 visas to Cubans every year...

 

(click pic to continue reading)


Via Billy Corben
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Artist Takes Every Drug Known to Man, Then Draws Self Portraits After Each

Artist Takes Every Drug Known to Man, Then Draws Self Portraits After Each | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

 This is all kinds of cool, and everything your mother told you not to do. Bryan Lewis Saunders is an artist from Washington D.C., not just any artist though. Saunders prefers to take a more unconventional approach to his artwork.

 

Arguably his most interesting project, entitled DRUGS is described as follows:

 

“After experiencing drastic changes in my environment, I looked for other experiences that might profoundly affect my perception of the self. So I devised another experiment where everyday I took a different drug and drew myself under the influence. Within weeks I became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage. I am still conducting this experiment but over greater lapses of time. I only take drugs that are given to me.”

 

Below, you can view a collection of portraits Saunders drew while under the influence of various substances ranging from cocaine, to marijuana, to DMT. Each portrait is an astonishing look into the mind of someone tweaked out on drugs, something that your eyes will surely appreciate...

 


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David Carroll Turns Fabric Into an Energy Source

David Carroll Turns Fabric Into an Energy Source | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

The women in David Carroll’s life are big talkers, and that takes a toll on his cell phone battery. “My wife likes to call me, and she does take her time when she tells her stories,” he says. “You can watch the power meter just go down.” Carroll, a physicist and head of Wake Forest University’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, was discussing this problem last year with his 10-year-old daughter, Lauren, when she came up with a suggestion: What if Carroll could design something that harnessed the heat from someone’s hand, or from the phone itself, to give a cell phone battery more power? Carroll agreed that would be pretty cool.

 

Last month, Carroll’s lab at Wake Forest University unveiled a fabric that does just that. Called Power Felt, it generates electricity from heat. Wrap your cell phone in Power Felt, and it feeds off your body heat to recharge while it’s in your pocket. Carroll is a lifelong Southerner—he’s descended from some of North Carolina’s first white settlers, and his family donated some of the land that Wake Forest sits on—and he’s acutely aware of how powerful summer heat can be. He says Power Felt installed just under the roof of a house could be used to power household appliances. Lay it on the floor of a car and it could use the heat generated from sitting in a midday parking lot to run air conditioning and the radio. In an electric or a hybrid car, the Power Felt might even boost mileage.

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Romney: ‘There’s Just No Way’ To Achieve Middle East Peace

Romney: ‘There’s Just No Way’ To Achieve Middle East Peace | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
Photo: GettyMother Jones is out with a new video from a high-dollar fundraiser for Mitt Romney in which Romney says he believes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “unthinkable” and that his policy will be to “kick the can...
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Santorum: ‘We Will Never Have… Smart People On Our Side’

Santorum: ‘We Will Never Have… Smart People On Our Side’ | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
Speaking Saturday at the Values Voters Summit, Rick Santorum said that “smart people” would never side with conservatives.
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The Vast Potential For Renewable Energy In The American West

The Vast Potential For Renewable Energy In The American West | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah—the “Four Corners” states plus their western neighbors—are home to some of the best renewable electricity potential in the country. These states have consistently sunny skies for solar power, wind-blown plains and deserts for turbines, and underground heat perfect for geothermal energy. They also have incredible potential for smaller-scale technologies like rooftop solar panels and energy efficiency improvements.


Our analysis shows these states can house clean energy projects that could realistically provide more than 34 gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal energy over the next two decades. This development could stimulate more than $137 billion in investment in the renewable energy sector, create more than 209,000 direct jobs, and provide electricity for 7 million homes. With supportive federal policies, these renewable electricity goals can be met and surpassed.

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Economist: There’s A ‘Wide Consensus Among Economists’ That America Needs To Raise Taxes To Reduce Deficit

Economist: There’s A ‘Wide Consensus Among Economists’ That America Needs To Raise Taxes To Reduce Deficit | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

There is broad economic consensus among economists that the United States will eventually have to raise taxes to pay down the federal debt, economist Betsey Stevenson said in an interview with ThinkProgress. Raising taxes needed to be a part of the equation — along with spending cuts — to pay down the debt if America is going to “provide the goods and services provided by the government that the American public has said they want,” Stevenson said at the Center for American Progress’ conference on the middle class and the economy Wednesday...

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35 Modern Words Recently Added to the Dictionary - Mental Floss

35 Modern Words Recently Added to the Dictionary - Mental Floss | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

The Oxford Dictionary Online is a warehouse of over 600,000 words. Despite this large arsenal, we continue to coin, clip, and blend new words into existence, and the Oxford folks pump some of these new words into their dictionaries. Here are some more recent additions with their official definitions.

1. Bling (n): Expensive, ostentatious clothing and jewelry.
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2. Bromance (n): A close but non-sexual relationship between two men.
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3. Chillax (v): Calm down and relax.
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4. Crunk (adj): Very excited or full of energy.
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5. D’oh (ex): Exclamation used to comment on a foolish or stupid action, especially one’s own.
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6. Droolworthy (adj): Extremely attractive or desirable.
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7. Frankenfood (n): Genetically modified food.

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August 1 News: Congress, President Showing No Urgency On Grave Threat Posed By Climate Change

August 1 News: Congress, President Showing No Urgency On Grave Threat Posed By Climate Change | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

The planet may be getting hotter, but Washington’s debate on climate change isn’t heating up. Amid a summer marked by droughts, wildfires, record temperatures and freak storms, Congress is squeezing in just one hearing on the changing climate before it dashes out for a hot August recess. 


And that hearing, set for Wednesday, is unlikely to be a show-stopper: No federal officials will testify, and no big-name witnesses will appear — none of the elements that could help this gathering compete for an Olympics-mad public’s attention.


It’s a reminder of how much things have changed for Democrats in Congress since their hopes for passing a major cap-and-trade bill died in 2010, reducing the entire climate issue to second-tier status. Now, Republicans are eager to argue, Democrats are reluctant to even talk about the issue in an election year...

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From 1912 to 1948, Art Competitions Were Part of the Olympics - Mental Floss

From 1912 to 1948, Art Competitions Were Part of the Olympics - Mental Floss | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

French aristocrat and educationalist Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (seated, at left) was the man primarily responsible for reviving the ancient Olympic Games. As the founder of the International Olympic Committee, Coubertin spearheaded the planning efforts for the 1896 Athens Games and guided the Olympic movement until he retired as IOC president in 1925.

Coubertin’s vision for the modern Olympics was only partly realized with the Athens Games.

 

In the ensuing years, he devoted himself to reestablishing art competitions—a staple of the Games in ancient Greece—as part of the quadrennial Olympiad. Coubertin felt strongly that art was as much a part of the Olympic ideal as athletics. As documented in Richard Stanton’s thoroughly researched book on the subject, The Forgotten Olympic Art Competitions, Coubertin once wrote: “Deprived of the aura of the art contests, Olympic games are only world championships.”...



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LA’s New ‘Condoms In Porn’ Law Is Pitting AIDS Groups Against The Adult Film Industry

LA’s New ‘Condoms In Porn’ Law Is Pitting AIDS Groups Against The Adult Film Industry | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
On Election Day 2012, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure B, an ordinance “requiring producers of adult films to obtain a County public health permit” and for “adult film performers to use condoms while engaged in sex acts.” Porn producers,...
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Why We Still Need The Voting Rights Act: Perspectives From Supreme Court Spectators

Why We Still Need The Voting Rights Act: Perspectives From Supreme Court Spectators | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
The US Supreme Court heard a challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act today, attracting hoards of voting rights advocates, speakers, and a massive line of people vying for a spot in the courtroom.
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The Sound Of Climate Silence: Romney And Obama Spar Over Who Wants To Drill For More Fossil Fuels During Debate

The Sound Of Climate Silence: Romney And Obama Spar Over Who Wants To Drill For More Fossil Fuels During Debate | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
“The door is closing. I am very worried – if we don’t change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for climate safety].
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California Governor Signs Law Making State The Nation’s First To Ban ‘Gay Cure’ Therapy

California Governor Signs Law Making State The Nation’s First To Ban ‘Gay Cure’ Therapy | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
California has become the first state in the country to ban so-called “sexual orientation therapy” for anyone under the age of 18 after Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1172 Sunday morning.
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Did Blowing into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help? - Mental Floss

Did Blowing into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help? - Mental Floss | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
Did Blowing Into Nintendo Cartridges Actually Help?We\'ve talked to the experts, reviewed research on this very topic, and have the answer. But first, let\'s talk tech.
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Warp drive is possible. And NASA is on it | Full Comment | National Post

Warp drive is possible. And NASA is on it | Full Comment | National Post | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

In 1994, a Mexican theoretical physicist named Miguel Alcubierre presented a paper. He had found, he claimed, the mathematical formula necessary to send a spaceship travelling faster than light. It is commonly accepted that nothing can travel faster than light in our universe. Special relativity does not permit it — the faster an object travels, the more energy is required to accelerate it. There is simply no way to exceed light speed.

 

But Alcubierre wasn’t interested in finding a way to send an object travelling faster than light through space. Instead, he proposed that space itself could move, if it were “warped” by an energy field. His formula envisioned a ship inside a bubble. Inside that bubble, everything is normal. But that bubble is moving through space, by compressing the universe in front of it and expanding the universe behind it. Alcubierre’s formula was reviewed and held to be mathematically sound, but practically unusable.

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Women Report That Available Contraceptive Services Don’t Meet Their Needs

Women Report That Available Contraceptive Services Don’t Meet Their Needs | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
The Guttmacher Institute’s most recent report on sexual and reproductive health notes that the majority of women who are at risk for unintended pregnancy say they are dissatisfied with the contraceptive services readily available to them.
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Jaw-Dropping Shell Filings Undercut Tar Sands Industry Rhetoric On Pollution

Jaw-Dropping Shell Filings Undercut Tar Sands Industry Rhetoric On Pollution | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
by Josh Mogerman, via NRDC’s Switchboard There is no shortage of messaging from Big Oil trumpeting efforts to green “the Patch,” which is the euphemistic term applied to Alberta’s tar sands mine and melt sites.
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Innovative financing program helps South Carolina homeowners save money through energy efficiency retrofits

Innovative financing program helps South Carolina homeowners save money through energy efficiency retrofits | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

An innovative energy-financing program has helped customers of South Carolina rural electric cooperatives to undertake energy efficiency retrofits for their homes, substantially reducing their energy use and saving money.


Through on-bill financing (OBF), customers pay back the cost of the retrofit through monthly installments on their electricity bill. This strategy helps to expand access to costly energy retrofits to low-income residents and makes the financial benefits immediately apparent. If monthly energy savings are greater than or equal to the loan repayment, then OBF will be “bill neutral” and result in the same or lower monthly electricity bills . In addition, the financial obligation of OBF is tied to the electricity meter of each house and can be passed on to subsequent owners and residents; thus, customers only pay for the energy retrofits for as long as they live there.


A preliminary review of South Carolina’s pilot program, called “Help my House,” found that the 125 participating households are projected to save an average of $400 each year after loan repayments. Energy use could be reduced by thirty-five percent, or approximately 11,000 kilowatt-hours each year. The retrofits, which included improvements to insulation, sealing, and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, cost an average of $7,200, with projected simple payback periods of 5.86 years. In addition, ninety-six percent of participants reported satisfaction with the efficiency installations and rated their homes as more comfortable after the retrofit.

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The Onion: World Leader Wondering Why He Just Met With The Former Governor Of Massachusetts

The Onion: World Leader Wondering Why He Just Met With The Former Governor Of Massachusetts | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

Via The Onion:

 

WARSAW, POLAND—World leader and president of Poland Bronisław Komorowski was reportedly puzzled Tuesday as to why he had just met with a man who was apparently the governor of Massachusetts six years ago. "That person currently holds no position of power, so I'm not sure why I would have any sort of high-level talk with him," Komorowski was overheard saying to his advisers, adding that as a head of state with a busy schedule he shouldn’t be taking meetings with just anyone. "Essentially, I just had an hourlong conversation with an unemployed American man." According to sources, when reminded that the individual he had met also ran the Winter Olympics in 2002, Komorowski responded, "Who gives a shit?"


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How A Hijab Controversy Almost Undermined The Olympics’ Goal Of Increasing Female Participation

How A Hijab Controversy Almost Undermined The Olympics’ Goal Of Increasing Female Participation | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it
Two weeks ago, Saudi Arabia and the International Olympic Committee agreed to add two female athletes to the conservative Muslim kingdom’s Olympic team, marking the first time in Olympic history that women would participate under the Saudi flag.
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Federal Court Will Review Marijuana’s Classification As A Dangerous Drug With No Health Benefits

Federal Court Will Review Marijuana’s Classification As A Dangerous Drug With No Health Benefits | Policy Alternatives | Scoop.it

For the first time since 1994, the question of medical marijuana will go before a federal court. The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has agreed to hear a lawsuit challenging the DEA’s classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value. The ten-year-old suit, brought by Americans for Safe Access, will present scientific evidence on marijuana’s therapeutic properties.


The appeal brief calls the DEA’s refusal to analyze numerous studies on the drug’s medical uses “arbitrary and capricious,” and asks the court to order the DEA to conduct a hearing on the scientific evidence.


Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 substance with “high potential for abuse,” in the same legal classification as heroin and cocaine. In spite of numerous petitions to reschedule the drug, the federal government has maintained that marijuana has no medical value and launched costly and aggressive eradication efforts. Just a few weeks ago, the Justice Department sued to close the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the country, even as Congress, in a rare bipartisan move, prepared a bill to protect medical marijuana possession.

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