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marmar

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Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 72,196

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In search of the perfect cup of coffee in Italy





In search of the perfect cup of coffee in Italy
From stormy Trieste to bustling Naples, Peter Iantorno travels the length and breadth of Italy in search of the perfect cup of coffee

By Peter Iantorno, Friday magazine
Published: 14:48 April 7, 2013


With the mountainous Slovenian border on one side and the uncharacteristically grey Adriatic Sea on the other, I gazed out over the crumbling terracotta roof tiles of Trieste, taking shelter from the howling wind and driving rain behind a battlement on the Castle of San Giusto. It was a grim day in northern Italy; the clouds were thick, the wind strong and the rain showed no sign of stopping. But my guide assured me in his own unique way, “This is nothing – you wouldn’t want to be standing up here when our famous bora winds hit…”

Wondering if I should rush back down to sea level before this mysteriously named gust swept me off a turret, I pressed for more information. It turns out that bora (a north to north-eastern wind that can exceed 200 kilometres per hour) only blows for an average of between one and six days per month in Trieste, depending on the time of year, and its arrival can usually be predicted before the wind reaches dangerous speeds. Luckily this wasn’t one of those days.

A blast of culture

My weather worries allayed, I explored the castle – which was finished as it stands today in 1630, after almost two centuries of it being torn down and built back up again on the whims of various rulers from Italy and Austria. There’s no doubt that San Giusto is Italian now though, with the national tricolour flag hoisted high above the fort flapping proudly in the blustery wind. The castle was a perfect vantage point to get a feel for the city and the view alone was worth the very reasonable €4 (Dh19) entrance fee. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://gulfnews.com/life-style/travel/in-search-of-the-perfect-cup-of-coffee-in-italy-1.1167652



Why the Most Powerful Thing in the World is a Seed


from YES! Magazine:


Why the Most Powerful Thing in the World is a Seed
“The Seed Underground” is a love letter to the quiet revolutionaries who are saving our food heritage.

by Abby Quillen
posted Apr 04, 2013




Janisse Ray celebrates the local, organic food movement but fears we’re forgetting something elemental: the seeds. According to Ray, what is happening with our seeds is not pretty. Ninety-four percent of vintage open-pollinated fruit and vegetable varieties have vanished over the last century.

Ray begins The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food by explaining how we lost our seeds. Feeding ourselves has always been a burden for humans, she explains. “So when somebody came along and said, ‘I’ll do that cultivating for you. I’ll save the seeds. You do something else,’ most of us jumped at the chance to be free.”

But, according to Ray, when the dwindling number of farmers who stayed on the land gave up on saving seeds and embraced hybridization, genetically modified organisms, and seed patents in order to make money, we became slaves to multinational corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta, which now control our food supply.

In 2007, 10 companies owned 67 percent of the seed market. These corporations control the playing field, because they influence the government regulators. They’ve been known to snatch up little-known varieties of seeds, patent them, and demand royalties from farmers whose ancestors have grown the crops for centuries. The result is that our seeds are disappearing, and we miss out on the exquisite tastes and smells of an enormous variety of fruits and vegetables. More alarmingly, “we strip our crops of the ability to adapt to change and we put the entire food supply at risk,” Ray writes. “The more varieties we lose, the closer we slide to the tipping point of disaster.” ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/how-cooperatives-are-driving-the-new-economy/why-the-most-powerful-thing-in-the-world-is-a-seed



Rutgers scandal reveals perverse nature of U.S. college sports


from the Toronto Star:


Rutgers scandal reveals perverse nature of U.S. college sports
Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice is a symptom, rather than any sort of cause, of a profoundly corrupting system. The NCAA is no longer a sporting organization. It’s a sociology experiment.

By: Cathal Kelly Columnist, Published on Mon Apr 08 2013


[font size="1"]Chris Szagola/Cal Sport Media / MCT
Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice berates forward/centre Derrick Randall during an NCAA game against Seton Hall last month. Rice was fired last week after a video showing him physically and verbally abusing players went viral.[/font]


In their panic to rid themselves of the two men who a) perpetrated and b) attempted to cover up the abuse of teenage students, Rutgers University agreed to pay the pair more than $2 million (U.S.).

Actually, that’s not quite right. Rutgers is a state school. So the roughly 9,000,000 residents of New Jersey are each going to kick in a quarter to help hustle these two mopes out the back door.

This is a delicious way to end things, since it reinforces the the first principle of this problem — money, and who has it.

It’s been a week since ESPN “uncovered” a video mixtape of Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice berating his players during practice. He calls them “c----” and “b------” and “f------.” Pick a letter in the alphabet and string out a bunch of dashes behind it, and it probably fits here. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thestar.com/sports/basketball/2013/04/08/rutgers_scandal_reveals_perverse_nature_of_us_college_sports.html



Gangsters for capitalism


Exxon Mobil is sure doing its best to prevent journalists from covering the recent oil spill from its Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Ark. Some reporters say the oil giant has even threatened to have them arrested for merely entering the spill site.

Unfortunately for journalists, a pliant county sheriff’s office has shown it’s all too willing to help Exxon out.

Michael Hibblen, the news director for NPR affiliate KUAR, recounted to Mother Jones what happened to him and other media personnel when they attempted to visit the spill site with Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Wednesday:

It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff’s deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don’t want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as “Exxon Media”…Some reporters were like, “Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?” The sheriff’s deputies started saying, “You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested.”


InsideClimate News reporter Lisa Song also said she was threatened with arrest after entering the command center for the cleanup operation while trying to locate representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation. After being told by Exxon spokeswoman Kim Jordan to leave, she was approached by a second person who told her, “You’ve been asked by security to leave. If you don’t you’ll be arrested for criminal trespass.” ...........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/exxon_threatens_journalists_with_arrest_for_entering_arkansas_oil_spill_sit/?ln



NRA's plan for safe schools (cartoon)





http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/totally_safe_schools_20130408/


At Tax Time, Our Emperors Have No Clothes


from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:


At Tax Time, Our Emperors Have No Clothes
April 6, 2013

Today’s conventional wisdom in Congress on taxing the rich — that tax rates on income at our economic summit have gone as high as they can sensibly go — has no real evidence to support it.

By Sam Pizzigati


This past January, Congress raised the federal tax rate on joint return income over $450,000 from 35 to 39.6 percent. But the top federal rate, even with this boost, is still running under half the top rate back in America’s Eisenhower years.

What to do? Some Democrats in Congress — the members of the Progressive Caucus — want to raise the nation’s top tax rate still higher, up to 49 percent on annual income over $1 billion.

But no big-time movers and shakers in Washington, from either party, support higher top rates. Republicans typically claim that higher rates would undermine the incentive to work, save, and invest. GOP hard-liners even balk at moves to shut tax loopholes. Any step that hikes tax bills, they hold, invites calamity.

Mainstream Democrats, for their part, generally consider higher tax rates and moves to close tax loopholes an either/or proposition. Instead of raising current top rates, they argue, we should keep top rates modest and apply these modest rates to the “broader tax base” that limiting loopholes would create. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/at-tax-time-our-emperors-have-no-clothes/



Chris Hedges: The Hijacking of Human Rights


from truthdig:



The Hijacking of Human Rights

Posted on Apr 7, 2013
By Chris Hedges


The appointment of Suzanne Nossel, a former State Department official and longtime government apparatchik, as executive director of PEN American Center is part of a campaign to turn U.S. human rights organizations into propagandists for pre-emptive war and apologists for empire. Nossel’s appointment led me to resign from PEN as well as withdraw from speaking at the PEN World Voices Festival in May. But Nossel is only symptomatic of the widespread hijacking of human rights organizations to demonize those—especially Muslims—branded by the state as the enemy, in order to cloak pre-emptive war and empire with a fictional virtue and to effectively divert attention from our own mounting human rights abuses, including torture, warrantless wiretapping and monitoring, the denial of due process and extrajudicial assassinations.

Nossel, who was deputy assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs under Hillary Clinton in a State Department that was little more than a subsidiary of the Pentagon, is part of the new wave of “humanitarian interventionists,” such as Samantha Power, Michael Ignatieff and Susan Rice, who naively see in the U.S. military a vehicle to create a better world. They know little of the reality of war or the actual inner workings of empire. They harbor a childish belief in the innate goodness and ultimate beneficence of American power. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents, the horrendous suffering and violent terror inflicted in the name of their utopian goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, barely register on their moral calculus. This makes them at once oblivious and dangerous. “Innocence is a kind of insanity,” Graham Greene wrote in his novel “The Quiet American,” and those who destroy to build are “impregnably armored by … good intentions and … ignorance.”

There are no good wars. There are no just wars. As Erasmus wrote, “there is nothing more wicked, more disastrous, more widely destructive, more deeply tenacious, more loathsome” than war. “Whoever heard of a hundred thousand animals rushing together to butcher each other, as men do everywhere?” Erasmus asked. But war, he knew, was very useful to the power elite. War permitted the powerful, in the name of national security and by fostering a culture of fear, to effortlessly strip the citizen of his or her rights. A declaration of war ensures that “all the affairs of the State are at the mercy of the appetites of a few,” Erasmus wrote.

There are cases, and Bosnia in the 1990s was one, when force should be employed to halt an active campaign of genocide. This is the lesson of the Holocaust: When you have the capacity to stop genocide and you do not, you are culpable. For this reason, we are culpable in the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda. But the “humanitarian interventionists” have twisted this moral imperative to intercede against genocide to justify the calls for pre-emptive war and imperial expansion. Saddam Hussein did carry out campaigns of genocide against the Kurds and the Shiites, but the dirty fact is that while these campaigns were under way we provided support to Baghdad or looked the other way. It was only when Washington wanted war, and the bodies of tens of thousands of Kurds and Shiites had long decomposed in mass graves, that we suddenly began to speak in the exalted language of human rights. ..............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_hijacking_of_human_rights_20130407/



Chicago: CTA seeks to improve underground wireless coverage



Chicago Transit Authority officials want to make it easier for travelers to use their cellphones in its underground subway tunnels.

The agency said Wednesday that it's researching how to improve its network so passengers can get "continuous, reliable wireless service" in the more than 11 miles of underground tunnels and stations.

Two of the transit system's train lines — the Red Line and the Blue Line — have partial underground operations. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wbez.org/news/cta-seeks-improve-underground-wireless-coverage-106441?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wbeznews+%28WBEZ+News%29



System Failure: The Collapse of Public Education


from the Village Voice:


System Failure: The Collapse of Public Education
From our high schools to CUNY, New York City's numbers are in—and they are terrifying.

By Anya Kamenetz Wednesday, Apr 3 2013


"I hated math. Math was like, the worst thing on the planet. I would be late. I would go to the bathroom and just sit there." Jahleah Santiago, 18, widens her eyes, outlined in cat's-eye makeup. Santiago grew up in Flushing, Queens, of Puerto Rican and Native American descent. She graduated from the Academy of Environmental Science in Manhattan and sent in just one college application, which brought her to this windowless fourth-floor classroom at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. Both of her parents dropped out of high school; she is the third person in her family ever to go to college. And given her attitude toward math in high school—and the grades to show for it—the odds are stacked against her finishing.

In the Michael Bloomberg era of school reform, we hear a lot about rising educational standards. "When Dennis Walcott became chancellor," Josh Thomases, a deputy chief academic officer in the city's Department of Education, tells the Voice, "one of his first acts was to say the correct bar was no longer a high school diploma, but career and college readiness."

Put another way, New York City officials openly admit that a high school diploma earned in our public schools today does not mean that a student is ready for college. In fact, 80 percent of New York public school graduates who enrolled in City University of New York community colleges last fall still needed high school level instruction—also known as remediation—in reading, writing, and especially math. Despite the department's proclamations, that percentage is up, not down, from 71 percent a few years ago. Algebra, which is a CUNY graduation requirement, is by far the most challenging for the city's public school grads: Just 14 percent pass the CUNY algebra placement exam.

With 272,000 students and a $2.6 billion budget, CUNY is the fourth-largest public university system in the country. CUNY's four-year colleges don't accept students who need remediation, but its community colleges are required by charter to accept every New York City high school graduate who applies. Some 98,000 students—most of them working class, 82 percent minorities—are in the community college system and 10,000 more graduates of New York public schools enrolled in 2011 than in 2007. The city points to that growth along with rising high school graduation rates as evidence of its improved performance. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.villagevoice.com/2013-04-03/news/system-failure-the-collapse-of-public-education/



System Failure: The Collapse of Public Education


from the Village Voice:


System Failure: The Collapse of Public Education
From our high schools to CUNY, New York City's numbers are in—and they are terrifying.

By Anya Kamenetz Wednesday, Apr 3 2013


"I hated math. Math was like, the worst thing on the planet. I would be late. I would go to the bathroom and just sit there." Jahleah Santiago, 18, widens her eyes, outlined in cat's-eye makeup. Santiago grew up in Flushing, Queens, of Puerto Rican and Native American descent. She graduated from the Academy of Environmental Science in Manhattan and sent in just one college application, which brought her to this windowless fourth-floor classroom at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. Both of her parents dropped out of high school; she is the third person in her family ever to go to college. And given her attitude toward math in high school—and the grades to show for it—the odds are stacked against her finishing.

In the Michael Bloomberg era of school reform, we hear a lot about rising educational standards. "When Dennis Walcott became chancellor," Josh Thomases, a deputy chief academic officer in the city's Department of Education, tells the Voice, "one of his first acts was to say the correct bar was no longer a high school diploma, but career and college readiness."

Put another way, New York City officials openly admit that a high school diploma earned in our public schools today does not mean that a student is ready for college. In fact, 80 percent of New York public school graduates who enrolled in City University of New York community colleges last fall still needed high school level instruction—also known as remediation—in reading, writing, and especially math. Despite the department's proclamations, that percentage is up, not down, from 71 percent a few years ago. Algebra, which is a CUNY graduation requirement, is by far the most challenging for the city's public school grads: Just 14 percent pass the CUNY algebra placement exam.

With 272,000 students and a $2.6 billion budget, CUNY is the fourth-largest public university system in the country. CUNY's four-year colleges don't accept students who need remediation, but its community colleges are required by charter to accept every New York City high school graduate who applies. Some 98,000 students—most of them working class, 82 percent minorities—are in the community college system and 10,000 more graduates of New York public schools enrolled in 2011 than in 2007. The city points to that growth along with rising high school graduation rates as evidence of its improved performance. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.villagevoice.com/2013-04-03/news/system-failure-the-collapse-of-public-education/



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