One of those falsely accused in Boston attacks confirmed dead – probably for weeks!


Sunil Tripathi

The body of a man found in a Rhode Island river is a student mistakenly identified as one of the Boston bombers, medical officials confirm. Sunil ­Tripathi, 22, was identified by a forensic dental exam, but his cause of death has not been determined.

Members of a university rowing team found the body on Tuesday evening, a month after Tripathi went missing. He has been described as the other victim of the bombings after he was wrongly identified a suspect.

On Thursday, the Tripathi family said in a statement they felt “indescribable grief”, but were grateful for the outpouring of support.

Mr Tripathi, a Brown University student on leave, was last seen in his apartment in Providence on 16 March. His family had been searching for him with help from the FBI and Brown students…

On Monday social media website Reddit issued a public apology for its coverage of the Boston bombings after it wrongly named Tripathi and other people as suspects.

His sister, Sangeeta, told the BBC of her family’s anxiety at how fast “completely unsubstantiated claims were spreading”.

…media surrounded their family home after her brother was wrongly named.

Anyone expect the officially sleazy crowd of pretend-journalism from Fox News to the NY Post to do something as honorable as apologize to the folks they wrongly identified as suspects?

Best Baguette in Paris


The happy winner – Ridha Khadher posing in front of his bakery

Two hundred and three Parisian bakers entered the Best Baguette of Paris 2013 competition. Wrapped in white paper with identification numbers, the entries were tasted, sniffed, weighed, and measured to determine the winner.

Fifty two entries were disqualified for not meeting the strict guidelines of measuring 55-70 centimeters long or weighing 250-300 grams…

This year’s winner was baker Ridha Khadher. His prize: The privilege of baking bread for the French President, François Hollande.

A contest truly worth winning. Only four ingredients water, a touch of salt, yeast and flour + skill. A lot of skill.

Global warming discovery marked – 75 years later

Seventy-five years ago an amateur scientist made a breakthrough discovery in the field of climate change. Guy Stewart Callendar linked global warming to CO2 emissions but his work went largely unnoticed at the time.

Now the anniversary of his discovery has been commemorated by two leading climate scientists.

Prof Phil Jones, from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and Dr Ed Hawkins, from the University of Reading, have published a paper looking at Callendar’s legacy.

Prof Jones said the steam engineer’s work was “groundbreaking”.

Callendar, born in Montreal, Canada in 1898, made all his calculations by hand in his spare time, decades before the effects of global warming became widely debated.

The son of English physicist Hugh Longbourne Callendar, who studied thermodynamics, Callendar worked from his home in West Sussex.

A steam engineer by profession, his research first appeared in the quarterly journal of the Royal Meteorological Society in April 1938.

Prof Jones, of the UEA’s Climatic Research Unit, and Dr Hawkins, from Reading’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science, have had their commemorative research paper on Callendar published in the same journal this month.

“Callendar was the first to discover that the planet had warmed,” said Prof Jones. “He collected world temperature measurements and suggested that this warming was related to carbon dioxide emissions.”

This became known for a time as the “Callendar Effect“.

“He is still relatively unknown as a scientist but his contribution was fundamental to climate science today,” said Prof Jones.

He deserves credit for his groundbreaking work. The kind of research still unread by most of the no-nothing skeptics who remain unperturbed by essential peer-reviewed science. It is a delight to learn of seminal work being republished.

Shot with stun gun by coppers – man turns into human fireball


Andrew Pimlott

A man has died after being shot with a police Taser while dowsed in flammable liquid…Andrew Pimlott, 32, turned into a human fireball after he was zapped by officers called to his home to investigate a domestic incident.

They found Andrew in the back garden covered in liquid and holding a can of fluid…An officer deployed the Taser and Andrew immediately burst into flames…

Andrew suffered serious burns and was rushed to hospital after the incident in Honicknowle, Plymouth, last Thursday.

Police initially said his injuries were not life-threatening…But the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed today that Andrew died from his injuries in Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, on Tuesday…

IPCC Commissioner Sarah Green said…“Our investigation will be looking at what information was known to the officers attending the scene, the officer’s rationale for discharging a Taser on a person known to be dowsed in flammable liquid, whether the discharge of the Taser caused the fuel to ignite, and we will look at training and policies.”

How do you get to be ignorant of the explosion or fire danger coincident to firing a Taser at a flammable liquid?

Umbrella facade for redesigned Shanghai commercial building

Architecture studio 3Gatti has taken inspiration from colorful parasols carried during Shanghai’s hot summer months to design a new facade for the 2010 Shanghai Expo’s Madrid Pavilion. The new screen for the re-purposed office and retail block will feature steel umbrellas that can be individually opened and closed and used to manage interior light levels.

The new umbrella facade will replace the bamboo louvers on folding steel frames that currently surround the building’s glazed walls and 1.5-meter wide terrace. Unfortunately the bamboo and frames have degraded since the pavilion was converted to a retail and office complex following the 2010 Expo, during which it hosted a low-cost housing exhibition.

The design from the 3Gatti design team maintains the public interaction of the original facade, and allows people to adjust shades to provide the desired light levels. Each umbrella is controlled by a pulley system that operates a central spring loaded joint mechanism identical to a standard umbrella, though slightly too heavy to slip into your handbag, being made from steel.

When all umbrellas are open the facade becomes a flat surface protecting the interior from strong winds and blocking excess solar gain. The design details from 3Gatti also confirm that the star shaped sticks of the closed umbrellas are aerodynamic, deflecting wind in case of typhoons.

What a delightful addition to the repurposed building. My only suggestion would be addition/experimentation with color – uniform or polychrome.

The 1-percent’s solution

Economic debates rarely end with a T.K.O. But the great policy debate of recent years between Keynesians, who advocate sustaining and, indeed, increasing government spending in a depression, and austerians, who demand immediate spending cuts, comes close — at least in the world of ideas. At this point, the austerian position has imploded; not only have its predictions about the real world failed completely, but the academic research invoked to support that position has turned out to be riddled with errors, omissions and dubious statistics.

Yet two big questions remain. First, how did austerity doctrine become so influential in the first place? Second, will policy change at all now that crucial austerian claims have become fodder for late-night comics?

On the first question: the dominance of austerians in influential circles should disturb anyone who likes to believe that policy is based on, or even strongly influenced by, actual evidence. After all, the two main studies providing the alleged intellectual justification for austerity — Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna on “expansionary austerity” and Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff on the dangerous debt “threshold” at 90 percent of G.D.P. — faced withering criticism almost as soon as they came out.

And the studies did not hold up under scrutiny…Yet austerity maintained and even strengthened its grip on elite opinion. Why?

Part of the answer surely lies in the widespread desire to see economics as a morality play, to make it a tale of excess and its consequences. We lived beyond our means, the story goes, and now we’re paying the inevitable price. Economists can explain ad nauseam that this is wrong…No matter; many people have a visceral sense that we sinned and must seek redemption through suffering — and neither economic argument nor the observation that the people now suffering aren’t at all the same people who sinned during the bubble years makes much of a dent.

But it’s not just a matter of emotion versus logic. You can’t understand the influence of austerity doctrine without talking about class and inequality…

Class denied by that useless standard of America’s historic horseshit. The so-called Protestant ethic.

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The sequester is just as destructive as we thought


Congress-louse Hal Rogers (R-KY) pretends he had no idea there would be airport delays

Remember the sequester? When seven weeks ago the deadline to find a federal budget compromise came and went, there was much handwringing in Washington. In the event that no agreement was found there were to be cuts to public spending so severe and painful that no one would dare fail to agree. To deter Republicans from holding out, half the immediate spending savings of $85.4 billion was to be found from the defense budget, and, to ensure Democrats would work to find a deal, half from annually funded federal programs. Despite these encouragements to fiscal discipline, the March 1 deadline came and went.

…This week the sequester broke surface when it began affecting air travel, causing long delays at airports, which is to be expected when you send 1,500 air traffic controllers home without pay. One in 10 controllers will stay at home on unpaid leave every day until October. With the vacation season looming, crowded airports full of frustrated passengers will become commonplace…

Postponing medical research sounds victimless, but it is not if you are among those helped when a new drug comes onstream. It is impossible to list those who will miss new treatments by a year or so but will continue suffering, or even die, as a consequence of the delay. More easy to picture are the thousands of cancer patients being turned away from hospitals because of the cuts. For a cancer center on Long Island, that means not administering the most expensive drugs and telling one-third of its 16,000 patients on Medicare it will no longer treat them…

So far, the sequester appears to have pleased no one, except perhaps those fiscal hawks who agree to anything so long as the federal government is shrunk. The cuts are blind, irrational, hastily arranged, uncaring, arbitrary and dangerous. They are to good economic management what chain-saw sculpture is to Michelangelo’s David…

Although the federal government is reluctant to put a GDP figure on the cost of Hurricane Sandy, it and anticipation of the sequester drove American growth in the final quarter of 2012 into the red for the first time in 14 months. Even with Sandy, growth dropped by just 0.1 percent. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the sequester alone will cost 0.6 percent in GDP this year. The cuts are not merely the enemy of good economic management but an automatic depressant upon the nation’s economic health.

weak lawmakers, true to form, are hoping to avoid having to make a decision by busily trying to exempt their pet projects and favorite causes from the sequester. The list of those lobbying to be taken off the hit list includes the homeland security department, drug and pharmaceutical companies, and medical equipment suppliers. But money saved on exemptions must be made up by cuts to other federal programs, only increasing the agony.

It is a mark of how dysfunctional Congress has become that even the failed bipartisan negotiations over gun control count as an optimistic sign that other matters, such as defanging the sequester, could be fixed through negotiation and compromise. Until that happens, we must impotently watch as essential government services slow down and seize up, and as Americans, particularly those at the bottom of the heap, cry out in pain.

Wapshott finished the original piece with a snappy remark about air traffic delays. But, we cynics got what we expected – an emergency bill sorting the lack of air traffic controllers. Too many hacks in business class were delayed. Sufficient threat to politicos anticipating those donations from corporations-as-individuals.

And so it goes. A temporary solution designed to force intransigent Republicans and gutless Democrats into conflict resolution – once again – didn’t comprehend the capacity of Washington slime to gestate a new mutant strain of corruption.

Stupid decision of the day

Saudi Arabia expelled three Emiratis for being too handsome…The Emirati men were expelled from the country on Sunday, by Saudi religious police while attending an annual culture show — the Jenadriyah Heritage and Culture Festival — in the capital of Riyadh, according to the website of Arab language Elaph newspaper.

“A festival official said the three Emiratis were taken out on the grounds they are too handsome and that the Commission members feared female visitors could fall for them,” the newspaper said. The commission referred to is for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices.

The three men were immediately deported to Abu Dhabi.

Dubai-based Emirates 24/7, however, has reported that the expulsion was promoted by the presence of an Emirati woman artist at its exhibition at the festival, which would suggest Saudi officials were upset by a mixing of the sexes at the event.

Under Saudi custom and law, unrelated men and women are forbidden to interact.

Religions, cultures, states governed by such archaic foolishness are destined to wither and die on the vine of history. They may have sufficient gold to buy themselves extra time; but, as life progresses and education manages to accumulate even among the least of us, the corrupt and kingly who rely on walls of ignorance to prop up their rule – will fall.

Clues to risk of autism measurable by creases in placenta


Dr. Harvey J. Kliman, research scientist at Yale School of Medicine, initiated study

A new study raises the possibility that analyzing the placenta after birth may provide clues to a child’s risk for developing autism. The study, which analyzed placentas from 217 births, found that in families at high genetic risk for having an autistic child, placentas were significantly more likely to have abnormal folds and creases.

“It’s quite stark,” said Dr. Cheryl K. Walker, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Mind Institute at the University of California, Davis, and a co-author of the study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. “Placentas from babies at risk for autism, clearly there’s something quite different about them.”

Researchers will not know until at least next year how many of the children, who are between 2 and 5, whose placentas were studied will be found to have autism. Experts said, however, that if researchers find that children with autism had more placental folds, called trophoblast inclusions, visible after birth, the condition could become an early indicator or biomarker for babies at high risk for the disorder…

The research potentially marks a new frontier, not only for autism, but also for the significance of the placenta, long considered an after-birth afterthought. Now, only 10 percent to 15 percent of placentas are analyzed, usually after pregnancy complications or a newborn’s death…

Dr. Jonathan L. Hecht, associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, said the study was intriguing and “probably true if it finds an association between these trophoblast inclusions and autism.” But he said that inclusions were the placenta’s way of responding to many kinds of stress, so they might turn out not to be specific enough to predict autism.

Dr. Harvey Kliman calls inclusions a “check-engine light, a marker of: something’s wrong, but I don’t know what it is.”

If you keep on driving your car after the warning lights come on – well, the expense, the possible failure of your automobile is your own fault. One would hope you pay at least as much attention to warning signs about your children.