The gun lobby’s new tactic: redefining ‘school shootings’ so they don’t count | News |

In short – as far as I can follow the logic – the message to parents concerned that there are loaded weapons going off on school property, and that their sons and daughters are at risk of being hit by bullets from those weapons, is this: it doesn’t really count unless the shooter is a pupil, not involved in a gang, who made a pre-meditated plan to massacre a large number of students.

And not in the parking lot.

(If you think this kind of absurdity is confined to the fringe, see this only slightly less mendacious CNN piece, which brings the figure down from 74 to 15 by excluding, among others, shootings motivated by “personal arguments, accidents [or] alleged gang activities and drug deals”. Johnson says the cable channel stole his work.)

What’s especially dispiriting about this flat denial of reality is how little prospect it offers for rational discussion or compromise. Even if you’re a supporter of gun control, you can still hold a reasoned discussion with somebody who believes that the benefits of widespread firearms ownership outweigh the harms. You can discuss international comparisons; and how no comparable country experiences anything like this level of gun violence; the other person can seek to establish why those comparisons aren’t relevant; or that, yes, violent deaths are actually in decline in the US, and so on. But when the pro-gun side of the argument consists of simply insisting that the gun violence that people are so distraught about isn’t real gun violence? Then there’s no clear way forward at all.

And let’s not forget the bigger point here. A pro-gun journalist applies the most stringent imaginable criteria to the term ‘school shooting’; he rejects every instance he possibly can, for reasons many might regard as spurious, and then triumphantly declares that there have only been … seven bona fide school shootings in America since December 2012!

Only seven school shootings since December 2012.

I hope I never to get to the point at which the word “only” in that sentence makes even the slightest bit of sense.

via The gun lobby’s new tactic: redefining ‘school shootings’ so they don’t count | News |

Turkey ignored direct warnings of ISIS attack on Mosul – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

As Turkish leaders scramble to find a way out of the crisis, details of the security lapses that led to the storming of the consulate are beginning to emerge. Unless the hostages are released unharmed, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan could face a political crisis of a scale that might yet torpedo his candidacy for the August presidential race.

What we know

On June 6, the governor of Mosul, Atheel al-Nujaifi, put in an emergency call to Kareem Sinjari, the interior minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq saying that ISIS was about to take over the city. Sinjari swiftly spread the word, a full five days before the attack occurred. It is unthinkable that the Turks were not aware of the danger. Yet they apparently did not feel threatened enough to evacuate the consulate. Indeed, as recently as June 10, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared that there was no threat to Turkey’s Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz and his staff. Davutoglu has since changed his tune, now saying that the security environment to travel by land to Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital, had rendered evacuation impossible. Never mind that it’s just a 40-minute drive from Mosul. In the worst-case scenario, Turkey could have used helicopters to evacuate the personnel. Turkey has around 2.000 troops stationed on the Iraqi side of the Turkish-Iraqi border, nominally there to chase Kurdistan Workers Party fighters if need be, and they have helicopters.

via Turkey ignored direct warnings of ISIS attack on Mosul – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.

Eat Drink Better | Healthy recipes, good food: sustainable eats for a healthy lifestyle!

Called (ahem) “Veganz”, the German-based market opened in 2011 and is already expanding across Europe.

Started by Jam Bredack, who adopted a vegan lifestyle in 2009, Veganz was born out of Bredack’s desire to share his own transformation with others. “The decision to open a vegan supermarket came from a potpourri of ideas after coming across various vegan products in the US and Russia.” According to Ecorazzi, Bredack noted “it was difficult to ‘shop normally’ when one adopts a vegan lifestyle, and he wanted to make the switch to veganism more accessible to everyone.”

Bredack’s first plans for the U.S. start in 2016 in Portland, Ore.—a town known for its vegan food and culture. But Bredack will soon find that there are many towns ripe for vegan-dedicated supermarkets. Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco—even Chicago—all have booming vegan cultures. Even parts of Texas (besides Austin) have booming vegan communities.

via Eat Drink Better | Healthy recipes, good food: sustainable eats for a healthy lifestyle!.

Our Contribution To The Fossil Record

A coffee lid and a stir stick?

The Dish


Mother Earth has turned our plastic trash into a new type of stone:

Most plastic in the ocean disintegrates into small pieces (which don’t go away, either), but some of it melts into “molten” plastic, and it fuses with all the regular, organic materials below it, forming a super-hard monolithic stone. It was first observed in Hawaii in 2006 by an oceanographer, but geologists didn’t collect the stones until 2012. According to the new study, even though most of the plastic is molten, you can often still identify specific objects within the stone, including “netting/ropes, pellets, partial containers/packaging, lids, tubes/pipes, and ‘confetti.'”

Unsurprisingly, these superhard “plastiglomerate” stones are sticking around:

The resulting materials, researchers report in the journal GSA Today, will probably be long-lived and could even become permanent markers in the planet’s geologic record. “Most conventional plastic is relatively thin and fragments quickly,” said Richard Thompson, a marine biologist…

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