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Saturday, February 25, 2017

After a 20-year legal battle between scientists and Native American groups, the 9,000-year-old remains of the Kennewick Man have finally been laid to rest. The first part of the ancient man's remains, which turned out to be one of the oldest and most complete ever found in North America, was discovered in 1996 on the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Wash. The remains were excavated for study by scientists, who thought that the Kennewick Man, as he came to be called, might be a descendant of people who migrated from Asia into North America even before the populations that were the ancestors of modern Native Americans came to the continent. Many local Native American tribes disagreed, claiming that the remains belonged to one of their ancestors. read more


Friday, February 24, 2017

Here's a rare bit of good news: People are living longer than ever

But one country is stuck treading water: the United States. According to experts who studied 35 countries, Americans will see only a small boost. In 2010, average life expectancy for men here was 76. By 2030, they can expect to live just three more years. For women, life expectancy will jump just two years, from 81 in 2010 to 83 in 2030.

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FiveThirtyEight: During the presidential campaign, [Donald] Trump famously questioned the validity of the unemployment rate ("one of the biggest hoaxes in politics") and other government statistics, and in the weeks before he took office, many experts fretted about the possibility that Trump could seek to erode or manipulate government data. Now we're seeing the first hints that could be happening. Last week, the Journal reported in a separate story that some in the White House were trying to fit economic forecasts to the administration's tax and spending plans, rather than the other way around. Trump's newly confirmed budget director, Mick Mulvaney, once voted to eliminate funding for the American Community Survey, the Census Bureau's premier source of annual data. read more


A large-scale cannabis factory has been found in an underground former nuclear bunker, Wiltshire police have said.

Several thousand cannabis plants with an estimated street value of £1m were seized in a raid on RGHQ Chilmark. Five men and a teenager were arrested on suspicion of cannabis production after the midnight raid on Wednesday.

There are 20 rooms in the building with almost every one converted for the wholesale production of cannabis plants, police said. The former Ministry of Defence bunker was built in the 1980s to protect local dignitaries and government officials in the event of a nuclear attack. read more


Since inauguration day, artist Shepard Fairey has made his We the People poster series available online for anyone to download and share with their communities. But teachers at a public high school in north Maryland who recently hung the artist's striking portraits of black, Muslim, and Latina women in their classrooms have been forced to remove them, as the administration has deemed them "anti-Trump," and their display, therefore, a violation of school policy. read more


Comments

Consider:

Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, makes the point that autocrats from Chávez to Erdoğan, Sisi to Mugabe, all follow a general pattern. They attack and threaten the press with deliberate and ominous intensity; the press, in turn, adopts a more oppositional tone and role. "And then that paves the way for the autocrat's next move," Simon told me. "Popular support for the media dwindles and the leader starts instituting restrictions. It's an old strategy." Simon pointed to Trump's lack of originality, recalling that both Néstor Kirchner, of Argentina, and Tabaré Ramón Vázquez, of Uruguay, referred to the press as the "unelected political opposition." And, as Simon has written, it was the late Hugo Chávez who first mastered Twitter as a way of bypassing the media and providing his supporters with alternative facts.

Trump, as indulgent parents say of an indolent child, is "not a big reader." He may not hear every historical echo in his "enemy of the American people" tweet. What he does know, however, is that the American trust in "the media" -- that generalized term that stretches from the Times to NewsMax -- is miserably low. He is determined to exploit that to the hilt, if only to distract his base from the disappointments that are sure to come. On Saturday evening, he held a rally in Melbourne, Florida, and doubled down on the familiar theme: putting himself in the same league as Lincoln and Jefferson, he told the crowd, "Many of our greatest Presidents fought with the media and called them out." The agenda is always to divide. "They have their own agenda, and their agenda is not your agenda," he said.
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