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    • And They Made A Desert: 80 to 90% Drop In Nutrients In Food
      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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Wednesday Morning News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

Hope you’re staying cool however you can. Those of us in the eastern US are going through one hell of a heat wave. It was 101 at the DT abode yesterday.

Yesterday was the birthday of the famous Mexican painter (see painting above) Frida Kahlo:

Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954; born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón) was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán. Perhaps best known for her self-portraits, Kahlo’s work is remembered for its “pain and passion”, and its intense, vibrant colors. Her work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.

Mexican culture and Amerindian cultural tradition figure prominently in her work, which has sometimes been characterized as Naïve art or folk art. Her work has also been described as “surrealist”, and in 1938 one surrealist described Kahlo herself as a “ribbon around a bomb”.

Kahlo had a stormy but passionate marriage with the prominent Mexican artist Diego Rivera. She suffered lifelong health problems, many of which stemmed from a traffic accident in her teenage years. These issues are reflected in her works, more than half of which are self-portraits of one sort or another. Kahlo suggested, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”

Active communist sympathizers, Kahlo and Rivera befriended Leon Trotsky as he sought political sanctuary from Joseph Stalin’s regime in the Soviet Union during the late 1930s. In 1937 initially, Trotsky lived with Rivera and then at Kahlo’s home (where he had an affair with Kahlo). Trotsky and his wife then moved to another house in Coyoacán where, in 1940, he was assassinated.

Kahlo’s work was not widely recognized until decades after her death. Often she was popularly remembered only as Diego Rivera’s wife. It was not until the early 1980s, when the artistic movement in Mexico known as Neomexicanismo began, that she became very prominent. This movement recognized the values of contemporary Mexican culture; it was the moment when artists such as Kahlo, Abraham Ángel, Ángel Zárraga, and others became household names and Helguera’s classical calendar paintings achieved fame.

During the same decade other factors helped to establish her success. The first retrospective of Frida Kahlo’s work outside Mexico (exhibited alongside the photographs of Tina Modotti) opened at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in May 1982, organized and co-curated by Peter Wollen and Laura Mulvey. The exhibition was also shown in Sweden, Germany, New York and Mexico City. The movie Frida, naturaleza viva (1983), directed by Paul Leduc with Ofelia Medina as Frida and painter Juan José Gurrola as Diego, was a huge success. For the rest of her life, Medina has remained in a sort of perpetual Frida role. Also during the same time, Hayden Herrera published an influential biography, Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo, which became a worldwide bestseller. Raquel Tibol, a Mexican artist and personal friend of Frida, wrote Frida Kahlo: una vida abierta. Other works about her include a biography by Mexican art critic and psychoanalyst Teresa del Conde and texts by other Mexican critics and theorists, such as Jorge Alberto Manrique.

As you’ve probably heard, the Justice Department is suing Arizona and is seeking an injunction to stop it’s implementation:

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Arizona, charging that the state’s new immigration law is unconstitutional and requesting a preliminary injunction to stop the legislation from taking effect.

The lawsuit says the law illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives, invoking as its main argument the legal doctrine of “preemption,” which is based on the Constitution’s supremacy clause and says that federal law trumps state statutes. The Justice Department argues that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility and says an injunction is needed to prevent “irreparable harm” to the United States.

The filing also asserts that the Arizona law would harm people’s civil rights, leading to police harassment of U.S. citizens and foreigners. President Barack Obama has warned that the law could violate citizens’ civil rights, and Attorney General Eric Holder has expressed concern that it could drive a wedge between police and immigrant communities.

“Arizona impermissibly seeks to regulate immigration by creating an Arizona-specific immigration policy that is expressly designed to rival or supplant that of the federal government,” the Justice Department says in its legal brief. “As such, Arizona’s immigration policy exceeds a state’s role with respect to aliens, interferes with the federal government’s balanced administration of the immigration laws, and critically undermines U.S. foreign policy objectives.”

This will be an interesting legal battle. On the one hand is a state likely encroaching on Federal jurisdiction and on the other hand we have states rights to their own defense and dealing with immigration problems that do affect them. The case will likely find its way to the SCOTUS. Get out the popcorn.

Obama and Netanyahu with lots of theatrics:

President Obama said Tuesday that he expected direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to begin “well before” a moratorium on settlement construction expired at the end of September, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel pledged to take “concrete steps” in the coming weeks to get the talks moving.

The president’s comments, after a 79-minute, one-on-one session in the Oval Office, were the first in which he articulated a timetable for peace negotiations. They also reflected a palpable shift in the administration’s approach to a relationship that has been rife with tension since soon after Mr. Obama took office.

The meeting was laden with theatrics as the men shook hands vigorously in front of the cameras after a series of steps by the Israelis over the past few days to reduce tensions with the United States. But it was also deeply substantive, the leaders’ aides said, with Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu touching on a wide variety of contentious issues, including Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons program, as well as the peace process.

A single session in the Oval Office is not likely to have resolved a year and a half of deep policy differences, and the two leaders could hit more bumps in the months ahead, especially if Mr. Obama grows impatient with a lack of progress in the peace process. But on Tuesday, they sought to accentuate the positive.

Does anyone really think Obama gives a crap one way or the other. The new boss is just like the old boss in this regard it seems.

Obama is likely to use the recess to make some appointments:

President Obama intends to use a recess appointment to install Donald Berwick as the head of the government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs, a White House official said Tuesday.

Obama will make the appointment Wednesday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement. Lawmakers are out of town for their annual Fourth of July break.

Apparently, according to Prince, the internet is over:

“The Internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it. All these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

Rock and R&B legend Prince, commenting to the U.K.’s Daily Mirror about his lack of use for digital music (or most any digital technology). The artist, who is about to release his latest album 20Ten, has not allowed any of his music to be available via download on iTunes, and he considers Internet-based music distribution to be just another passing fad. “The Internet’s like MTV,” Prince said. “At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.”

Oh dear. And just when I was getting used to the intertubes, it’s all going to come to an end. Either that or Prince has become out of touch. No, couldn’t be. WaPo has an opinion bit on it.

Obama made all sorts of noise about the evils of Bush’s drilling policies, then followed them. I’m so surprised. And now it turns out, just like Bush in other matters, Obama had plenty of warning about the dangers of BP and deepwater drilling, but chose to ignore it:

Less than four months after President Barack Obama took office, his new administration received a forceful warning about the dangers of offshore oil drilling.

The alarm was rung by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., which found that the government was unprepared for a major spill at sea, relying on an “irrational” environmental analysis of the risks of offshore drilling.

The April 2009 ruling stunned both the administration and the oil industry, and threatened to delay or cancel dozens of offshore projects in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite its pro-environment pledges, the Obama administration urged the court to revisit the decision. Politically, it needed to push ahead with conventional oil production while it expanded support for renewable energy.

Another reason: money. In its arguments to the court, the government said that the loss of royalties on the oil, estimated at almost $10 billion, “may have significant financial consequences for the federal government.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals reversed its decision and allowed drilling in the Gulf to proceed—including on BP PLC’s now-infamous Macondo well, 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.

The Obama administration’s actions in the court case exemplify the dilemma the White House faced in developing its energy policy. In his presidential campaign, President Obama criticized the Bush administration for being too soft on the oil industry and vowed to support greener energy forms.

But, once in office, President Obama ended up backing offshore drilling, bowing to political and fiscal realties, even as his administration’s own scientists and Democratic lawmakers warned about its risks.

Meanwhile drilling has begun in Greenland:

Scotland-based Cairn Energy began drilling offshore of Greenland’s Disko Island last week, marking a new phase of exploring and exploiting the vast natural resources believed to be stored in the rapidly-thawing Arctic.

There’s a nasty feedback loop here — as global warming softens the bitter, inhospitable conditions of the north, more oil interests will move into the tempting virgin territory. By some estimates, 20 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources lie in the region. In Greenland alone, there may be as much as 50 billion barrels of oil just waiting to be tapped.

But that means more petroleum will be pumped out of the ground and burned in the service of fueling the global economy. It will all be done with the best intentions — in the name of bettering mankind and increasing humanity’s prosperity — but according to a mountain of scientific data, it will hasten sea level rise and all the climate problems that come with global warming.

The CA Governor’s race looks to be close:

Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman find themselves tied in their race for California governor, but voters have grown increasingly disenchanted with both candidates, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Brown has support from 44 percent of likely voters, compared with 43 percent for Whitman, but the difference is well within the Field Poll’s margin of error.

The poll shows 40 percent have an unfavorable impression of the state attorney general and former governor, up from 32 percent in January.

Since she won the primary, Whitman has released television ads that are playing continuously throughout the state, one promoting her general vision for California’s future and another characterizing Brown’s first tenure as governor in the 1970s and early 1980s as a failure.

Brown has yet to release any of his own advertisements, which has wounded the candidate, said the poll’s director, Mark DiCamillo.

“You’re watching TV, you’re picking up messages that are positive for Whitman and negative for Brown,” DiCamillo said. “His image rating could go down further if the advertising continues without any answer.”

Come on moonbeam, up your game. You’ve got to win. I’m rooting for you.

A long lost Michelangelo sculpture may have been found:

A sandstone sculpture of a kneeling man sharpening a knife could be a long forgotten work by Michelangelo, according to an Italian scholar who has rediscovered the statue in a private collection.

Measuring 111 centimeters (3.65 feet), the statue is now on display for the first time after more than 120 years at the exhibition, “And There Was Light. The Masters of the Renaissance,” in Göteborg, Sweden.

The powerful sculpture is a copy of a marble statue known as the “Arrotino” (the Blade-Sharpener) on display at the Uffizi gallery in Florence.

Representing the Scythian slave who served Apollo and flayed the satyr Marsyas, the Uffizi sculpture is itself a Roman copy from a lost Hellenistic original.

While we’re looking at Discovery, here’s an interesting article. There seems to be some evidence that Amelia Earhart may have lived as a castaway after her crash:

Amelia Earhart, the legendary pilot who disappeared 73 years ago while flying over the Pacific Ocean in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator, may have survived several weeks, or even months as a castaway on a remote South Pacific island, according to preliminary results of a two-week expedition on the tiny coral atoll believed to be her final resting place.

“There is evidence on the island suggesting that a castaway was there for weeks and possibly months,” Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), told Discovery News.

Gillespie has just returned from an expedition on Nikumaroro, the uninhabited tropical island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati where Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan are believed to have landed when running out of fuel.

“We noticed that the forest can be an excellent source of water for a castaway in an island where there is no fresh water. After heavy rain, you can easily collect water from the bowl-shaped hollows in the buka trees. We also found a campsite and nine fire features containing thousands of fish, turtle and bird bones. This might suggest that many meals took place there,” Gillespie said.

That’s a bit of what’s going on today. Chime in with what you’re finding.

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