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Tuesday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Tuesday September 2, 2014 7:45 pm


In tonight’s video, Minute Physics explains “Why Are Stars Star-shaped?”

A dog with a muddy muzzle

Researchers recommend a dog for introducing children to a diverse microbiome (really).

Many of us perceive hotel rooms as full of other people’s germs. The reality is they are actually full of our own germs, according to a study of human microbiomes outlined in a recent article in the Washington Post.

Our bacterial signatures are so persistent and so unique, a new study published Thursday in Science reports, that they could even be used in forensic investigations — and eventually become more useful to police than an old-fashioned fingerprint. And the same research that could track down a serial killer could also help you raise healthier kids.

[...]‘Everyone thinks hotels are icky,’ said Jack Gilbert, corresponding author of the study and environmental microbiologist at Argonne National Laboratory, ‘but when one young couple we studied moved into a hotel, it was microbiologically identical to their home within 24 hours.’ [...]What’s more, the researchers were able to determine how much individuals in a family interacted, what rooms they used, and even when they’d last been to one part of the house or another. This has obvious applications in forensic science. ‘We could go all J. Edgar Hoover on this and make a database of microbial fingerprints of people all over the world,’ Gilbert said, ‘and it’s far more sophisticated than a standard fingerprint, which is just a presence or absence indication. We can see who they are, where they’re from, the diet they’re eating, when they left, who they may have been interacting with. It gets pretty crazy.’

[...] The Home Microbiome Study has more immediate applications, too. Gilbert, a father of two, hopes that fellow parents will use these and future findings to raise their offspring in healthier microbiomes. Before the age of two, the human microbiome remains in flux. Different species of bacteria compete to gain permanent spots — and once the race is run, you’re basically stuck with the winners. Research in animals has shown that bacterial exposure in youth can impact physical and mental development and health for the rest of an organism’s life.

[...] We now know that most bacteria are beneficial to us — and that some can even prevent allergies. ‘Imagine if we could engineer our home environments, optimize our carpeting and air conditioning systems, to bring in the really good bacteria,’ he said. ‘If we could allow all children to be exposed to that bacteria that prevents food allergies, that would be amazing.’ A better bacterial eco-system during childhood could set us up for happier, healthier lives.

Bonus: How the Kung-Fu Fighting Melody Came to Represent Asia” from NPR’s Code Switch

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What The Rand Paul Presidency Would Look Like

By: echochamberlain Monday September 1, 2014 1:20 am
Official portrait of Rand Paul in front of the flag

A look into the future of “President” Paul.

Recently, Chris Matthews predicted that Rand Paul will be the Republican nominee in 2016. Given this increases the odds Paul won’t be the Republican candidate (Matthews predicted Giuliani would win the nomination in 2008, and Michelle Bachman would secure it in 2012), I nonetheless want to consider such a scenario, in part because it is plausible, (despite Matthews’ forecasting jinx), but mainly to speculate on the consequences of the Kentucky Tea-Party favorite winning the general election.

First of all, let’s consider the likely circumstances, as far as we can this far out. Although the Republicans have a reasonably good shot at re-taking the Senate in November, the chances are at least as high that the Democrats will reclaim it in 2016. The rationale is this: The Democrats who survived 2010 can survive anything. 2010 was a rout, so there just aren’t very many competitive Democratic-held seats up in 2016. Absent retirements, there are only one or two Democratic-held seats rated as “toss-up” in the initial 2016 senate ratings. Conversely, the GOP will have to defend vulnerable seats in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or potentially New Hampshire or Ohio.

This hypothetical, however, does not even necessitate the Democrats re-gaining the majority. It envisages a substantial rout, in which the Democrats are reduced to a Liberal rump of about forty-five Senators. Imagine the following scenario: On the West Front of the Capitol, on a bitterly cold January afternoon, President elect Rand Paul stands with an enthusiastic inauguration-day crowd watching on. Behind him are distinguished guests, including his out-going predecessor, President Obama, whose already controversial legacy has been diminished by the electoral defeat of his intended successor, Hillary Clinton.

President-elect Paul has slipped off the black gloves he had been wearing throughout the chilly morning in preparation to place his right hand on the bible now held forth by Chief Justice John Roberts, who towers over the five-foot-eight new President. Adjacent to Paul’s beaming wife stands Vice-President elect Mike Lee, the weak, wintry sunlight gleaming off his high forehead as he watches on, his expression one of resolution, vindication and…

You get the idea. Anyway, once Paul has officially assumed office, the Libertarian reformer launches into a hectic legislative agenda.

The forty-five Democrat Senators, over the course of several caucus meetings called by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have meanwhile devised a strategy. It is one of legitimate equivalency – acting essentially equal to the precedents set by the previous Republican minority.

Firstly, they shall have the same disciplined unity of the Republican minority of forty Senators in 2009, who brazenly declared an all-out effort to dig-in, block the incoming Administration’s agenda whenever possible, and make President Obama ‘a one-term President’.

The legitimate equivalency stems from the fact the new Republican administration would have absolutely no moral, let alone procedural recourse to criticize or complain that Washington was being maintained in gridlock by less than half of the members of one branch of Congress in one branch of government. They would have to operate within the context of the ‘new normal’ they themselves had established.

Just as importantly, they have not forgotten that Paul was one of a clutch of Republicans most synonymous with those years of aggravating intransigence; and after a protracted and acrimonious campaign, no one has a particularly open mind. Fresh in the memories of the Democrat minority are President Paul’s ratings from the National Journal as one of the most conservative senators based on votes cast and his activities on the floor. They recall his talking filibuster to delay voting on the nomination of John Brennan as the Director of the CIA, followed shortly after by a threat of another filibuster, this one opposing any legislative proposals to expand federal gun control measures.

Also fresh in the memories of the Democratic minority are Paul’s longtime opposition to the bank and auto industry bailouts. With Fannie Mae having paid back 110% of what it borrowed, the car industry 83%, A.I.G 115%, and the bank industry 103%, the Democrats feel vindicated about the social-democratic approach Paul derided, and already have their backs up. After eight years of pent-up frustration, having their recent president’s legislative agenda met with unprecedented levels of intransigence, filibustering and brinkmanship, several times placing the nation on the cusp of default and once shutting down the Federal government for more than two weeks, the Democratic minority, despite bland platitudes in public about turning over a new page, in fact feel they have no obligation whatsoever to acquiesce to the new administration’s agenda. On prominent votes, there are occasional aisle-crossings, from red-state Democrat senators such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, but on the whole the caucus holds firm. The constituencies of this core of senators are Liberal enough to buffer them from the political pressure of variables such as a strengthening economy or high presidential approval ratings.

President Paul submits a plan that, among other things, attempts to lower the top nominal tax rate to 25%. The Democratic senate minority enters into a month or two of theatrical pretence, ostensibly considering the legislation, but actually dragging their heels in order to foment and build up strident and coordinated opposition from the Left-wing base. They then say no, and promptly filibuster the legislation. Several months later, they grudgingly allow a minor reduction in the top rates, only just enough for the frustrated and disillusioned Republicans to vote, out of a need to at least get something out of a long and stressful process. Shortly after, Paul proposes a large-scale program of deregulation, and of allowing the free market to regulate interest rates. The Democrats say no and filibuster it.

Indefensible and Illegal Israeli Land Seizure Given Laughable Reasoning

By: Paul Phillips Monday September 1, 2014 2:23 pm
Palestinian flags at a march

Israel is taking massive amounts of Palestinian land.

Yesterday, Israel showed the world just how much it wants peace in its land by taking more land away from the Palestinians, a move sure to make matters worse.  And they did this by giving a stunningly laughable reason for the seizure:

Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens by Hamas militants in the area in June. (Emphasis added)

This reasoning begs the question: if Israel gets more land for the killing of three teens, how much land does Palestine get for Israel’s killing of over 2,000 people, including nearly 600 children, in recent weeks?

The move is, of course, completely illegal according to international law, as noted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

‘The seizure of such a large swathe of land risks paving the way for further settlement activity, which — as the United Nations has reiterated on many occasions — is illegal under international law and runs totally counter to the pursuit of a two-state solution,’ he said in a statement Monday. (Emphasis added)

A map provided by Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, clearly shows the territory being across the Green Line, the border derived between Israel and Palestine in 1949.

The U.S. response, at this point, has been typical: nothing.  An anonymous official made a statement that is sure to let Israel know the U.S. has absolutely no problem with further illegal Israeli expansion:

‘We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity,’ said the State Department official, who declined to be identified.

‘This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve and construction tender they issue, is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians,’ the official said.

If the U.S. government did truly agree the expansion was illegal and Israel should stop this action along with its violence against Palestinians, it might stop arming Israel or, at the very least, call for damaging economic sanctions against the country.  But it doesn’t because it is clearly okay with the seizure along with all past Israeli actions.  Actions that will continue in the future, without a doubt…

Tuesday READ – 2 September 2014


Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


Source: YouTube

In this “information war” the speed at which this crucial press conference was made available is a major victory against the Empire’s propaganda machine.

This is the first time that we hear what the new – post Strelkov – commanders have to say.  This is the first time that the Novorussians are going on the offensive. And this is the first time that we get to hear the views, values and ideas of the people fighting against the Nazi junta in Kiev. This is truly a watershed moment.




By Henry Kissinger, The Wall Street Journal

Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan’s young democracy is on the verge of paralysis. To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination. The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis.

The search for world order has long been defined almost exclusively by the concepts of Western societies. In the decades following World War II, the U.S.—strengthened in its economy and national confidence—began to take up the torch of international leadership and added a new dimension. A nation founded explicitly on an idea of free and representative governance, the U.S. identified its own rise with the spread of liberty and democracy and credited these forces with an ability to achieve just and lasting peace. The traditional European approach to order had viewed peoples and states as inherently competitive; to constrain the effects of their clashing ambitions, it relied on a balance of power and a concert of enlightened statesmen. The prevalent American view considered people inherently reasonable and inclined toward peaceful compromise and common sense; the spread of democracy was therefore the overarching goal for international order. Free markets would uplift individuals, enrich societies and substitute economic interdependence for traditional international rivalries.

This effort to establish world order has in many ways come to fruition. A plethora of independent sovereign states govern most of the world’s territory. The spread of democracy and participatory governance has become a shared aspiration if not a universal reality; global communications and financial networks operate in real time. […]




By Eric Toussaint, CADTM

The concept of the World as a huge bureaucracy, gradually freed from the influence of the US, is actually a far cry from reality. This mistaken conception is revealed in particular by the North American environmentalist Bruce Rich in his insightful book on the World Bank. |1| In real terms, the institution is firmly under the control of the US government which negotiates, with the governments of other major capitalist powers, the policies to be followed within the World Bank, and under its leadership. It has frequently failed to make the effort to reach a consensus with its principal partners (since the end of the 1950s, these are Japan, Germany, Great Britain and France) and it imposes its views directly on the Bank.

Relations have sometimes been tense between the US government and the Bank’s president and/or its management in the wider sense. One must also consider the intervention (more or less active depending on the period) of Congress. On several occasions, the US executive has had to make a deal with Congress concerning the attitude to be taken with reference to the Bank and its activities. |2|

Although the World Bank is systematically subject to US influence, it nevertheless enjoys a certain measure of autonomy. It possesses a certain logic of its own which sometimes comes into conflict with the immediate interests of the US government. The Bank’s autonomy is very limited and the US government imposes its will on all issues that it considers important. Also, one must take into consideration the close links between the US business world (big capital) and the Bank. […]




By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, The Automatic Earth

In 8 weeks, on October 26, there are – supposed to be – parliamentary elections in Ukraine. What’s that going to look like? Who’s going to vote? In the presidential elections a few months ago, most of east Ukraine did not vote. How many different ways are there to define democracy and still remain credible?

100 Years Ago This Week: The Battle of the Marne Changed the World

By: Ohio Barbarian Monday September 1, 2014 8:40 am
Photo shows a 17 cm SK L/40 i.R.L. (on wheeled carriage) in action : a 17 cm naval gun mounted on a wheeled carriage, used as a heavy field gun by Germany in World War I.

The Battle of the Marne: A world-changing conflict.

On this Labor Day of 2014 I’d like to reflect on something that happened across the Atlantic almost exactly 100 years ago which caused repercussions which shaped the world into which all of us were born. Most Americans nowadays haven’t even heard of it, perhaps because no American soldiers and few civilians were anywhere near it at the time, but I find such an attitude ignorant at best and pure hubris at worst.

Anyway, a hundred years ago this week, just four weeks after World War I began, six massive German armies had conquered all of Luxembourg, all of Belgium except for a tiny corner of it on the English channel, and most of France northeast of Paris. German troops in fact had crossed the Marne River in force and their lead elements could even see the Eiffel Tower. In spite of heretofore unprecedented casualties inflicted by the relatively new war technologies of accurate rifles, mobile artillery(usually pulled by horses), and rapid-firing machine guns, 100 years ago today the German Empire seemed poised to capture Paris and dictate terms to a bloodied and humiliated French nation, hold off the slowly mobilizing British Empire, and turn east to crush the Russians who had gone to war to defend their beleaguered Serbian allies in the Balkans.

I don’t have the space, and I’m sure most readers don’t have the time, to go over every little military historical detail that has been written and argued over by historians ever since. I recently read The Marne, 1914, by Holger Herwig, a Canadian of German descent who studied German records made available to Western historians after the collapse of the German Democratic Republic(East Germany) in 1989. I disagree with many of his conclusions about the quality of the decisions made by German, French, and British commanders, but he does seem to get most of his facts straight.

The Germans had been consistently shocked by two things since they launched their great crusade to knock France out of the war quickly. First, Belgian soldiers and then Belgian civilians had refused to meekly submit to superior German arms and had fought them tooth and nail. The sniping of civilians behind the lines led to fierce German reprisals where several thousand Belgian civilians were summarily executed and even more were deported by train to Germany. Those events fed Allied propaganda that would, three years later, help persuade President Woodrow Wilson to send America into the war on their side. Had it not been for the Battle of the Marne in 1914, however, there would have been no France to go to the aid of.

Basically, generals on both sides were totally surprised by the huge number of casualties suffered by both the Germans and the French. There is no exact count, but it is safe to say that both had already lost over a hundred thousand dead each and twice that many wounded or captured before the Battle of the Marne even began. It makes American losses in Indochina, some 58,000 dead, seem almost like pocket change. And there was worse to come.

Both Germans and French had marched hundreds of miles, on foot, over the previous four weeks, sometimes fighting major engagements every day for over a week at a time. The soldiers on both sides still capable of fighting were exhausted, sick, hungry, and yet somehow still determined. In fact, German officers, so confident in their detailed war plans and in the fighting superiority of the Teutonic Germans over the decadent wine-and-cheese-loving French, seemed to have a hard time believing that the ordinary French soldier still had any fight left in him. After all, the French really have no stomach for a fight. Everybody knew that. We even hear that today.

The Germans were wrong. The French leadership had totally miscalculated the German avenue of attack through Belgium and refused to even acknowledge the possibility until Brussels fell after a couple of weeks. They did, however, eventually realize their mistake and made a more-or-less orderly retreat which avoided encirclement and annihilation over about 300 miles from the Belgian border to the gates of Paris. Then, the French Army, only desultorily and maybe even reluctantly supported by a British Expeditionary Force which regarded its own survival as all-important, turned and made a stand.

The stand took place over a front several hundred miles long. German communications in particular were confused, slow, and incomplete, though the French had more than their share of the same. The French went all out. They mobilized another army and threw it into a gap between two of the exhausted French armies that had made the fighting retreat from Belgium. Several thousand Parisian taxi cabs were used to ferry reinforcements to the front, less than 20 miles away from Paris itself in places, and wounded back to hospitals, though most of the movements were in fact made by rail. While many of the wealthy and the government itself fled, most Parisians prepared to fight grimly on in a siege.

Occupy Movement Gets Its Own TV Station

By: Daniel Marks Tuesday September 2, 2014 2:03 am

Creating “TV for the 99%”, the movement that galvanized the world has partnered with FilmOn Networks to create a free 24/7 online television outlet for news, evidence, and commentary online at

In partnership with FilmOn Networks, the National Convention PBC and a new union of the groups Occupy Television,, and the National General Assembly, have launched Occupy Television, a free 24/7 online television channel. The new outlet consolidates media throughout the Occupy movement in order to provide access to the maximum amount of people around the world.

There is no more visceral demonstration of the importance of the principles behind Occupy—and the need for independent control of the movement’s own messages—then the complete failure of the police state in Ferguson, Missouri and its violent behavior toward the media.

Occupy Television’s goal is to circumvent mainstream media, with its multitude of conflicts of interests, in order to break out of the echo chambers of conventional political discussion. The station is based on the work of Occupy community members and citizen journalists—it is TV for the 99%, by the 99%. 

The channel will air documentaries including Internets Own Boy about the death of Aaron Swartz; Occupy Love; Pots, Pans and other Solutions, about the Icelandic pots and pans rebellion; TPB AFK about copyright laws. It will also transmit shows such as Politics Done Right, Occupy Radio, Acronym TV, DC Media Group, Global Revolution Live TV, Occupy Toronto and others.

The Occupy movement began with the famous occupation of Wall Street and its ability to get images and video showing police activity out was key to grabbing the attention in the media and creating understanding in the media. The ability to reach’s 40 million monthly users worldwide will consolidate Occupy’s efforts and become an even stronger opportunity to “occupy the media”.

“FilmOn has always existed to give voice to views and lifestyles that aren’t heard on mainstream television. We’ve built up a huge vertical of news networks from all over the world—over 100 channels, all available for free–so that the public can get messages their own governments, or the big media conglomerates, may be hiding,” says Alki David, Founder of FilmOn Networks. “As a proponent of free speech and reform in media, I’m very proud to provide a home to Occupy TV.”

A representative of the leaderless Occupy movement says, “Today we can see the media obstruction in our own streets. Occupy is best used as a verb than as a brand. Therefore we, the 99%, occupy television to provide an outlet for our many voices. The media united will never be defeated. The natural formation of ideologies within the partisan divide works against a common goal. This new effort allows We the People to identify the root cause of problems with an objective focus and various approaches.”

FilmOn has been at the forefront of the push for reform in media—with its battle to loosen the stranglehold the big media conglomerates being fought in courts from coast to coast. The fight to support the public’s right to legally mandated free over-the-air broadcast signals wound up in the Supreme Court, and the dispute continues in Congress and with the United States Copyright Office as a fight for consumers rights, small business, and technological innovation against greed and the status quo of outdated laws.

Update on “Suicide” of Handcuffed Man in LA

By: OldFatGuy

“Houdini Handcuff Suicide”

Benjamin Crump, the attorney representing the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, is calling for the Feds to investigate the “suicide” of Victor White.

Saying the explanation by the Louisiana authorities “fundamentally defies all logic” he asked:

… why police initially said White was shot in the back but the coroner’s report found he was shot in the chest; how a left-handed man could have shot himself in the right side; how police managed to find drugs on the suspect’s body but not a .25 caliber handgun; and why the deceased’s hands were not tested for gunshot residue.

I suspect many are wondering about those same questions, as I know I am. And I’m sure the family is as well.

The reason the Feds should get involved, beyond the obvious, was well laid out as well.

… the White case is part of a troubling pattern of what he called “Houdini handcuff suicides” — including the 2012 death of Chavis Carter, 21, in Arkansas and the 2013 death of Jesus Huerta, 17, in North Carolina. “This is why we believe this is bigger than just a state issue,” he said. “This is a federal issue.”

The Louisiana State Police, who leads the current investigation, has said it is nearly complete and that investigators will be handing over their results to the District Attorney this week. Spokesperson Capt. Doug Cain said they would not be swayed by any calls for federal involvement, saying “We’re strictly interested in finding the facts.”

So am I. But somehow I fear that not only will the Louisiana State Police treat this as a cover up, so too will the Feds if they were to get involved. No Capt. Cain, you personally have done nothing to make me distrust you. But the local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies have provided more than enough reasons for any rational person to question your true motives. Sorry, but that’s how it works when governments lie.

I’ll update this post if there is some news this week from the District Attorney and if it’s not covered elsewhere here.

Mining the Earth: 1 Sep 2014

By: KateCA Monday September 1, 2014 4:58 pm

Mining the Earth: 1 Sep 2014

*US.  Not specific to mining or fracking, but it does illustrate the deadly absurdities humans have created:  “Federal officials are looking for train cars to haul nuclear waste towards its final resting place.  Too bad they have no idea where that train will actually go.”

And now, we return to our regular programming.

*IA. Up in northeast IA, Allamakee County  has adopted “a countywide ordinance restricting mining the silica sand used in other states to extract natural gas and oil” through fracking.   Next door, Winneshiek County  has imposed  “a moratorium on large-scale sand mining and are considering a countywide ordinance to restrict it.”  There is also concern about the impact of sand mining on “wildlife habitats in the hills, forests and bluffs”.   Not everyone in nearby counties agrees, but activities in Allamakee and Winneshiek  are stimulating discussion.

*NM.  The US Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Homestake Mining to cough up $500,000 to “clean-up at its four abandoned uranium mines in the Mariano Lake and Smith Lake on the Navajo Nation’s lands.”  Homestake is required to undertake an “extensive radiation survey” of its mines, “backfill open holes”,  repair the surface so there are no physical risks to humans and other creatures and perform some other tasks.  Will half a million dollars actually be enough to clean up damage done in the Four Corners region?

*PA.  The state has dedicated $1.4 million to extinguish one long-burning underground coal fire near the Pittsburgh International Airport.  The thing has gotten so bad that it “threatens to disrupt air travel and cause an explosion at a major gas pipeline.”  During PA’s coal mining heyday “the coal industry operated largely without oversight” and, as a result, nobody is even sure how many long-closed mines are there.

*Canada.  Imperial Metals Corp and the Tahitan First Nation Central Council have signed an agreement “that will see an independent engineering firm review a taillings facility” at Mount Polley Mine, site of the terrible disaster in early August.  Following the disaster, Tahitan elders, The Klabona Keepers, set up a blockade at Imperial Metals’ Red Chris mine in northern BC.   Under the agreement they’ve reached thus far, the Klabona Keepers will lift the blockade while a “benefit agreement” continues to be negotiated between the Tahitan Central Council and Imperial Metals.

*Canada.  Uranium mining company Cameco and United Steelworkers have not been able to reach agreement on “pensions, benefits and compensation for working in remote regions”—such as the McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill in northern Saskatchewan.  The Steelworkers claim Cameco “cares about production first, second and third and their employees are an afterthought.”  Work stoppage could affect some 535 unionized workers.

*Dominican Republic.  In a clever work-around, the Dominican Republic’s legislature has opened the door for the territory surrounding Glencore’s  ferro-nickel Falcondo Mine to become a national park, thus avoiding outright seizure of the property, but definitely hampering any plans to expand the mine.  The final decision is now up to DR’s President.

*Mexico.  It’s called “North America’s largest jungle preserve” and its being threatened because it contains basalt rock.  Dynamite and mining threaten this place that is home to “565 species of birds, 140 species of mammals, 117 species of reptiles and about 100 species of butterflies.”  The project will also lead to a huge expansion of the Port of Veracruz.

*Guatemala.  In a triumph for earth and indigenous people, a  “Guatemalan [Protection Tributal of the Appeals] court has ordered that the Mayan community of Sipacapa has the right to be consulted for any mining or energy project and that the Los Chocoyos mining permit, issued to the Entre Mares Company in 2012 by the Energy and Mining Ministry, is illegal.”  Entre Mares, by the way, is a subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc.

*Nicaragua.  An unlicensed gold mine near Bonanza collapsed, leaving “at least 20 workers trapped deep underground”.  Two others were able to scratch their way out since they weren’t buried too deep.  The missing are some 2,600 feet underground.  There are around 6,000 workers involved in getting gold out of old, dangerous, and abandoned mines in the area.  Update: Some 27 – 29 miners were trapped, but 20 have been rescued.  Update: “no signs of life, but rescue efforts continue for eight missing miners.

*Germany.  Numbering “thousands”, protestors joined hands across five miles and sang together on the Poland-Germany border from Kerkwitz, Germany to Grabice, Poland.  They even stood in the Lusatian Neisse River.  At issue is the “giant lignite coal mining operations”—and expansion plans.  Eminent domain?  Pffffft.  These miners are simply going to eradicate entire villages (affecting around 6,000 Germans and 3,000 Poles).  Who’s behind this?  The Swedish government through its Vattenfall and the Polish government through its PGE.

*Australia. Government assets such as ports and highways are being sold off “as they scramble to raise as much as $300 billion to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure.”  Demise of mining is blamed, leaving Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland in heavy debt.

*Australia.  A “mining mogul apologizes to China over ‘mongrels’ remarks”.  Yes, gentle readers, Clive Palmer not only is a mining mogul but also a Member of Parliament and head (naturally) of the Palmer United Party in Australia.  He not only referred to the Chinese people as ‘mongrels’ but also said they “shoot their own people” (video at link).  He’s since apologized.

*Good movie for this Labor Day:  Harlan County USA.