Steve Benson: How’s that for a Clinton/Trump endorsement?


The editorial cartoonist of the Arizona Republic makes his endorsement:

blog-benson

Headline of the day: A bankster’s clawback


Following in the wake of Elizabeth Warren’s devastating examination of Wells Fargo CEO charging him with one of the biggest scams in modern banking history, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf is giving back some chump change from the more than $200 million he pocketed from the scam.

From the London Daily Mail:

Wells Fargo CEO gives up $41m of his own stock options as the crisis hit bank launches investigation into crooked accounts scandal that has seen them hit with $7.2 BILLION lawsuit

  • John Stumpf, the executive who was grilled on Capitol Hill last week, will have his salary frozen during company probe
  • Wells Fargo has fired some 5,300 employees for opening as many as 2 million accounts in customers’ names without their authorization
  • Board of directors announced that Carrie Tolstedt, the executive who headed the division responsible for the fake accounts, was forced to quit
  • Tolstedt was expected to retire and take home a large severance package, but the company said that there would be no such payout 
  • On September 8, a federal regulator and Los Angeles prosecutor announced a $185 million settlement with Wells
  • Now six ex-staff members have filed a lawsuit seeking at least $7.2bn in damages
  • Suit claims Wells Fargo set unrealistic sales quotas and fired employees unwilling to set up fraudulent accounts
  • Accuses bank of wrongful termination, unlawful business practices and failure to pay wages, overtime, and penalties under California law

Blood on the newsroom floor. . .a building lost


This time it’s the newsroom itself that’s the latest victim of the ongoing radical downsizing of the American mainstream media.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles has sold to a Canadian developer, paving the way for the redevelopment of a historic property the paper has called home since 1935, according to a person familiar with the deal who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Onni Group of Vancouver has explored plans to turn the property at 202 W. 1st St. into a collection of creative offices and retail and residential units.

The Times reported in June that Onni had signed an agreement to buy the building, but the deal with Tribune Media officially closed Monday night, the source said.

Tribune Media in Chicago declined to comment. An executive at Onni Group did not return messages seeking comment.

Terms of the sale were not available.

The Times building is an icon of Art Deco architecture, designed by Gordon Kauffman and opened in 1935.

Perhaps the building’s most impressive feature is it’s lobby, a testimony to the sense of exuberant power that once marked America’s leading metropolitan papers.

The Los Angeles Times building lobby, a testimony to the global ambitions of the paper's global ambitions under the reign of its founders. Via Wikipedia.

The Los Angeles Times building lobby, a testimony to the global ambitions of the paper’s global ambitions under the reign of its founders. Via Wikipedia.

The newspaper has been diminished in recent years, most notably under the brief reign of Sam Zell [previously], the self-styled “grave dancer,” and one of America’s most ruthless landlords.

Zell gutted the paper’s pension fund, money he looted to bankroll his takeover, a short, brief reign marked by mass layoffs and reportorial rage.

The sale of the building  trend across the country, as headquarters buildings are sold off to buttress faltering bottom lines.

Greenland ice loss greater than predicted


The latest bad news for the earth’s northern polar region from Ohio State University:

The same hotspot in Earth’s mantle that feeds Iceland’s active volcanoes has been playing a trick on the scientists who are trying to measure how much ice is melting on nearby Greenland.

According to a new study [open access] in the journal Science Advances, the hotspot softened the mantle rock beneath Greenland in a way that ultimately distorted their calculations for ice loss in the Greenland ice sheet. This caused them to underestimate the melting by about 20 gigatons (20 billion metric tons) per year.

That means Greenland did not lose about 2,500 gigatons of ice from 2003-2013 as scientists previously thought, but nearly 2,700 gigatons instead —a 7.6 percent difference, said study co-author Michael Bevis of The Ohio State University.

“It’s a fairly modest correction,” said Bevis, the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Geodynamics, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State and leader of GNET, the Greenland GPS Network.

“It doesn’t change our estimates of the total mass loss all over Greenland by that much, but it brings a more significant change to our understanding of where within the ice sheet that loss has happened, and where it is happening now.”

The Earth’s crust in that part of the world is slowly moving northwest, he explained, and 40 million years ago, parts of Greenland passed over an especially hot column of partially molten rock that now lies beneath Iceland. The hotspot softened the rock in its wake, lowering the viscosity of the mantle rocks along a path running deep below the surface of Greenland’s east coast.

During the last ice age, Greenland’s ice sheet was much larger than now, and its enormous weight caused Greenland’s crust to slowly sink into the softened mantle rock below. When large parts of the ice sheet melted at the end of the ice age, the weight of the ice sheet decreased, and the crust began to rebound. It is still rising, as mantle rock continues to flow inwards and upwards beneath Greenland.

The existence of mantle flow beneath Greenland is not a surprise in itself, Bevis said. When the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites began measuring gravity signals around the world in 2002, scientists knew they would have to separate mass flow beneath the earth’s crust from changes in the mass of the overlying ice sheet.

Continue reading

Graphic Representation: The Masterdebaters


We confess that we didn’t watch last night’s debates, and everything we’ve seen and read today confirms that we didn’t miss much, given that the outcome was precisely what we’d expected.

So we’ll let some of America’s few remaining editorial cartoonists sum up.

We begin with the editorial cartoonist of the Kansas City Star:

Lee Judge: The decisive debate

blog-debate-judge
And from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mike Luckovich: Fright night

blog-debate-lucko

Next, the editorial cartoonist of the Columbus Dispatch:

Nate Beeler: Growing Ulcer

blog-debate-beeler
And from the Indianapolis Star:

Gary Varvel: Political messaging

blog-debate-varvel
Next, from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Clay Bennett: The Debate

blog-debate-bennett
Finally, from the Miami Herald:

Jim Morin: Whatever you say . . .

blog-debate-morin
And a bonus. . .

Steven Colbert covers the debate.

From The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:

The First Presidential Debate Lives Up To the Hype

Program notes:

At the first debate the candidates delivered plenty of barbs, insults, and one of the biggest lies of the entire campaign.

Chart of the day: Partisan views of institutions


Given the relentless endorsement of the Republican agenda by the nation’s leading news network, the GOP view of the press is rather ironic.

From the Pew Research Center:

blog-instit

Gut microbes linked to Parkinson’s disease


Yet another in a long series of recent studies confirms that the largest cell population in our bodies, those bacteria residing in our guts, plays a central role in the health of the human organism.

This time, the link is with the development of the debilitating neurological affliction known as Parkinson’s disease, and the finding is that the right combination of visceral bacteria may delay it’s onset.

From the University of Iowa:

 University of Iowa researchers have found that the gut may be key to preventing Parkinson’s disease. Cells located in the intestine spark an immune response that protects nerve cells, or neurons, against damage connected with Parkinson’s disease. Acting like detectives, the immune intestinal cells identify damaged machinery within neurons and discard the defective parts. That action ultimately preserves neurons whose impairment or death is known to cause Parkinson’s. Illustration courtesy of Veena Prahlad.

University of Iowa researchers have found that the gut may be key to preventing Parkinson’s disease. Cells located in the intestine spark an immune response that protects nerve cells, or neurons, against damage connected with Parkinson’s disease. Acting like detectives, the immune intestinal cells identify damaged machinery within neurons and discard the defective parts. That action ultimately preserves neurons whose impairment or death is known to cause Parkinson’s. Illustration courtesy of Veena Prahlad.

Your gut may play a pivotal role in preventing the onset of Parkinson’s disease. And the reason may be its knack for sleuthing.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have found that the gut may be key to preventing Parkinson’s disease. Cells located in the intestine spark an immune response that protects nerve cells, or neurons, against damage connected with Parkinson’s disease. Acting like detectives, the immune intestinal cells identify damaged machinery within neurons and discard the defective parts. That action ultimately preserves neurons whose impairment or death is known to cause Parkinson’s.

“We think somehow the gut is protecting neurons,” says Veena Prahlad, assistant professor in biology at the UI and corresponding author on the paper [open access] published Aug. 30 in the journal Cell Reports.

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that erodes motor control and balance over time. It affects some 500,000 people in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health. The disease occurs when neurons—nerve cells—in the brain that control movement become impaired or die. Normally, these neurons produce dopamine, and when they are damaged or killed, the resulting dopamine shortage causes the motor-control problems associated with the disease.

Scientists have previously linked Parkinson’s to defects in mitochondria, the energy-producing machinery found in every human cell. Why and how mitochondrial defects effect neurons remain a mystery. Some think the impaired mitochondria starve neurons of energy; others believe they produce a neuron-harming molecule. Whatever the answer, damaged mitochondria have been linked to other nervous disorders as well, including ALS and Alzheimer’s, and researchers want to understand why.

Continue reading