Monday, December 2, 2013

Unpaid, Over-Fished, Undersexed (Link Round-Up 12/2/13)

[via USA Today via NASA]

Google Earth proves over-fishing (and under-reporting) in Persian Gulf
The researchers counted 1,900 weirs along the Persian Gulf coast during 2005, which they estimate translates to 34,170 tons (31,000 tonnes) of fish. That year, however, the countries in the region only reported a total catch of 5,800 tons (5,260 tonnes) to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
What’s more, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Qatar reported no catch data from weirs at all that year. The researchers say this is especially problematic in the case of Iran, where 728 weirs were spotted, resulting in an estimated 13,225-ton (12,000 tonnes) catch.
The Chinese Government-approved lust industry
According to state news media, more than 1,000 Chinese companies manufacture around 70 percent of the world’s sex toys, generating $2 billion a year as of 2010.

The bounty of carnal titillation must contend with the firm hand of the Communist Party, which bans pornography and punishes those guilty of “group licentiousness” in the name of protecting traditional Chinese values. But the party’s moral authority has frayed of late because of the publicized antics of its friskier members. In June, a government official was sentenced to 13 years in prison for corruption after a video surfaced showing him in bed with an 18-year-old woman. His fall came three months after photos depicting a coterie of six naked people, including a party official and his wife, exploded on the Internet.
In an attempt to give the sex festival a veneer of respectability, government-run medical organizations sponsored booths in a side room, which were, unsurprisingly, desolate. The main draw was lust.
When innocent videos turn into shameful Pakistani "porn"
By ending their lives with his gun, the step-brother was trying to wash away the supposed shame his sisters had brought upon the family, thus reclaiming their honor or ghair’at, as it is called in Urdu. Some say the video and honor killing were part of a plot to maneuver his stepmother out of the family property. 
To many, the Chilas sisters’ video seems completely ordinary, but in their hometown, girls dancing in the rain, even fully clothed, is seen as erotic. 
How Western games are being 'culturalized' for Arabic countries
Mohamed Mazloum is a gamer based in Egypt. "I've seen very few games which get localized into Arabic," he said. "It's definitely a challenge, because of the way Arabic reads, and also because of the many idiomatic uses which would probably not translate into Arabic. Another problem would be the various dialects in the Arab world, because localizing the game into formal Arabic would make the game seem quite stilted and, in my opinion, could damage the general tone developers aim for. So, just thinking about the idea of localizing for dialects boggles the mind."

Ideas of proper behavior and dress-codes, different to those we value in the West, are still a concern. Theler said that all references to booze must be eliminated and that skimpy clothing is replaced. But generally, games that tend towards themes like alcohol and sex are deemed inappropriate for official release. "Maybe we'll simply not publish that game in this region," he said. "We wouldn't be able to get a validation [from distributors] to publish the game."
Is Iran's Rouhani the new Gorbachev?
That said, the Iran state structure is similar to that of the former Soviet Union in some respects. Namely, both were born of revolution, which created a theocracy -- in one case with a clerical establishment, in the other with a Communist party -- that overrode the formal institutions of the state, such as parliaments, judiciaries, and civil service. In Iran, as in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the revolution is aging, with far-reaching consequences. An official ideology, whether Marxism-Leninism or political Islam, can give a regime great power. But it can also destabilize the theocratic system if the populace and the rulers lose faith. And there, Iran is vulnerable.

A second similarity can be found in Iran’s imperial overstretch. It is problematic enough that Iran’s geopolitical ambitions significantly exceed its capabilities. But it is really taxing that the places and causes in which the country has chosen to become enmeshed are so volatile. Soviet leaders would sympathize: as KGB analysts ruefully lamented, mostly after the collapse of the union, the regime’s allies almost always seemed to be impoverished basket cases whose only industry was perpetual civil war. Working with them might have poked the United States in the eye. But it did little for Soviet prestige, economic well-being, and security. From Afghanistan and Angola to Cuba and Yemen, to say nothing of North Korea, hawkish Soviet foreign policy often resembled a very determined stomp on a rake. (Thwack.)
Are Europeans giving up on Europe?
In fact, the “the rest of the world” increasingly seems to be a mere blip on the radar of many Spaniards and Italians. And, sadly, “the rest” now even includes Europe. Growing indifference to a European project that promised much and has fallen short of high initial expectations has been noticeable for some time now. And the region’s economic crisis, with its uncertain future and legacy of massive unemployment, has deepened disappointment and disinterest in the European Union. Granted, there is support for some of the more tangible features of the EU, like free trade and more open borders that facilitate the movement of people. But there is little backing for a more united Europe, and I could not find anyone during my trip who felt that deeper integration could spur the economic growth that crisis-stricken countries desperately need. On this subject, the opinions of Italians and Spaniards are consistent with those of their fellow Europeans. According to the Eurobarometer, a survey of 27 EU member countries, half of all citizens are pessimistic about the future of the European Union as an institution, and 69 percent express no confidence in it at all. Two-thirds feel as if their voice is meaningless in the decisions taken by the EU.
Downsides to an EU-Ukrainian partnership
Ukrainians themselves must decide on their best course of action. Current conditions in both Russia and Ukraine are no model to aspire to. Yet, Ukrainians will be sorely disappointed if they think partnership with the EU will bring the Social Europe model (itself under serious attack in the West) to Ukraine. The better option is to pursue an alternative model based on local development and engagement with others from a position of autonomy. Many Ukrainians think partnership with the EU will provide a legal framework and enforcement of rules that will cleanse their economies of corruption and introduce European best practices. The reality, however, may be to lock them into neoliberal legal frameworks that diminishes Ukraine’s prospects for development, while flooding Ukraine with West European products and speculative bank capital. This could leave Ukrainians with uncertain employment prospects, thus reducing them to a cheap ‘reserve army of labor’ for West Europe. Ukrainians and Russians have both been failed by their respective governments and economic elites. Expecting transformation to come from the EU, however, will likely prove disappointing and only further delay the major changes needed to transform their economies. Moreover, West European social democracies will be undermined by increased labor immigration. If ‘partnership’ ever evolves into full EU membership, West Europeans will also find the East’s rightwing politics further diluting the power of leftwing and Green politics in West Europe.
Academia is like a drug cartel
He cites the work of the economist Steven Levitt and the sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh in understanding drug gangs. “With a constant supply of new low-level drug sellers entering the market and ready to be exploited, drug lords can become increasingly rich without needing to distribute their wealth towards the bottom,” he writes. “You have an expanding mass of rank-and-file ‘outsiders’ ready to forgo income for future wealth, and a small core of ‘insiders’ securing incomes largely at the expense of the mass. We can call it a winner-take-all market.”
The exploited interns at left-wing magazines
The problem with unpaid internships is that interns are people, and in capitalist economies people generally must work for money in order to obtain food and shelter. While I managed to pull it off, a lot of those who want to become journalists aren’t lucky enough to be born white and middle class. My family had enough money to support my stupid “dream,” while others, many no doubt more talented and deserving than I, were barred from even trying because they were too poor to work for nothing.

America’s leading liberal periodicals are aware of the obstacles to advancement the less privileged face in our decidedly not meritocratic society. Indeed, they often provide excellent coverage of the class war, from union-busting at Walmart to the fight for a living wage at fast-food chains. At the same time, though, many of them are exploiting workers in a way that would make corporate America proud: relabeling entry-level employees “interns” and “fellows” in order to dance around US labor laws.
 How could T. Rex flesh stay intact for so long? Iron.
After death, though, iron is let free from its cage. It forms minuscule iron nanoparticles and also generates free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules thought to be involved in aging.

"The free radicals cause proteins and cell membranes to tie in knots," Schweitzer said. "They basically act like formaldehyde."

Formaldehyde, of course, preserves tissue. It works by linking up, or cross-linking, the amino acids that make up proteins, which makes those proteins more resistant to decay.

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