• A new China-Iceland Arctic science observatory is already expanding its focus - Arctic Today (31/10/2018)

    It began as an aurora observatory — a place to improve atmospheric observations and space science in northern Iceland, at a rural outpost an hour or so from Akureyri. But it soon became a much more ambitious Arctic research facility.

    In invitations to the recent grand opening, the facility was called the China-Iceland Joint Aurora Observatory. But by the time Chinese and Icelandic officials unveiled the three-story facility last week in a public ceremony, its name had morphed into the China-Iceland Joint Arctic Science Observatory (though the acronym remained CIAO).

    The facility will expand its focus to climate change, satellite remote sensing, geosciences, oceanography, fisheries and more, officials said.

    China is highly concerned [about] Arctic changes and its global consequences,” said Dr. Huigen Yang, the director of the Polar Research Institute of China, which partnered with Iceland to create the observatory. He sees this scientific outpost as an opportunity to learn more about all aspects of the Arctic environment, not just space.

    It is yet another indication of China’s growing interest in the region — and the significant investments it is prepared to make.

    We would never, ever, have been close to having anything like this without their cooperation,” said Halldor Johannsson, vice-chair of the observatory. “They have basically paid for all of it.

    He pointed out that although Iceland is known for its northern lights, the country only has a handful of scientists who focus on aurora research.

    CIAO will change all of that, its founders hope.

    The land upon which it is built belongs to an Icelandic nonprofit called Aurora Observatory. A farmhouse nearby can house up to eight researchers at a time.

    The observatory itself is nearly finished; the exterior will be wrapped in gold-colored panels, and the first floor will host a museum to attract the 500,000 tourists who drive through this region every summer.

    The observatory is in a remote region in Iceland’s north.
    Melody Schreiber

  • U.S. sinks Arctic accord due to climate change differences - diplomats - Reuters

    Front row from left, Foreign Ministers of Norway, Ine Eriksen Soreide, Russia, Sergey Lavrov, Sweden, Margot Wallstrom, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Finland’s Timo Soini, Canada’s Chrystia Freeland, Denmark’s Anders Samuelsen and Iceland’s Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson pose for a picture during the Arctic Council summit at the Lappi Areena in Rovaniemi, Finland May 7, 2019.
    Mandel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS

    The United States has refused to sign an agreement on challenges in the Arctic due to discrepancies over climate change wording, diplomats said on Tuesday, jeopardising cooperation in the polar region at the sharp edge of global warming.

    With Arctic temperatures rising at twice the rate of the rest of the globe, the melting ice is creating potential new shipping lanes and has opened much of the world’s last untapped reserves of oil and gas to commercial exploitation .

    A meeting of eight nations bordering the Arctic in Rovaniemi in Finland on Tuesday was supposed to frame a two-year agenda to balance the challenge of global warming with sustainable development of mineral wealth.

    But sources with knowledge of the discussions said the United States balked at signing a final declaration as it disagreed with wording that climate change was a serious threat to the Arctic.

    It was the first time a declaration had been cancelled since the Arctic Council was formed in 1996.

  • Iceland Builds Arctic Port as Global Shipping Routes Get Redrawn - Bloomberg

    hotographer: David Lomax/robertharding/Getty Images

    As global warming creates shipping routes that can cut across the northern tip of the planet, a new port is being built on the fringe of the Arctic circle.

    Germany’s Bremenports GmbH has entered a deal to develop a deep vessel port together with Icelandic partners, according to a statement on Thursday. Bremenports will initially own two-thirds of the joint venture, while Icelandic engineering firm Efla will control about a quarter. The rest will be co-owned by two Icelandic municipalities.

  • UN Human Rights Council passes a resolution adopting the peasant rights declaration in Geneva - Via Campesina

    Seventeen years of long and arduous negotiations later, peasants and other people working in rural areas are only a step away from having a UN Declaration that could defend and protect their rights to land, seeds, biodiversity, local markets and a lot more.

    On Friday, 28 September, in a commendable show of solidarity and political will, member nations of United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution concluding the UN Declaration for the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. The resolution was passed with 33 votes in favour, 11 abstentions and 3 against. [1]

    Contre : Australie, Hongrie et Royaume-Uni

    In favour: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Chile, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela

    Abstention: Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain


  • Plus de 140 artistes (dont une vingtaine de français) de 18 pays, dont des participants à l’Eurovision signent une lettre appelant au boycott de l’Eurovision 2019 si elle a lieu en israel:

    Eurovision, ne blanchissez pas l’occupation militaire et les violations des droits humains par Israël
    The Guardian, le 7 septembre 2018

    Boycott Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel
    The Guardian, le 7 septembre 2018

    L-FRESH The LION, musician, Eurovision 2018 national judge (Australia)
    Helen Razer, broadcaster, writer (Australia)
    Candy Bowers, actor, writer, theatre director (Australia)
    Blak Douglas, artist (Australia)
    Nick Seymour, musician, producer (Australia)
    DAAN, musician, songwriter (Belgium)
    Daan Hugaert, actor (Belgium)
    Alain Platel, choreographer, theatre director (Belgium)
    Marijke Pinoy, actor (Belgium)
    Code Rouge, band (Belgium)
    DJ Murdock, DJ (Belgium)
    Helmut Lotti, singer (Belgium)
    Raymond Van het Groenewoud, musician (Belgium)
    Stef Kamil Carlens, musician, composer (Belgium)
    Charles Ducal, poet, writer (Belgium)
    Fikry El Azzouzi, novelist, playwright (Belgium)
    Erik Vlaminck, novelist, playwright (Belgium)
    Rachida Lamrabet, writer (Belgium)
    Slongs Dievanongs, musician (Belgium)
    Chokri Ben Chikha, actor, theatre director (Belgium)
    Yann Martel, novelist (Canada)
    Karina Willumsen, musician, composer (Denmark)
    Kirsten Thorup, novelist, poet (Denmark)
    Arne Würgler, musician (Denmark)
    Jesper Christensen, actor (Denmark)
    Tove Bornhoeft, actor, theatre director (Denmark)
    Anne Marie Helger, actor (Denmark)
    Tina Enghoff, visual artist (Denmark)
    Nassim Al Dogom, musician (Denmark)
    Patchanka, band (Denmark)
    Raske Penge, songwriter, singer (Denmark)
    Oktoberkoret, choir (Denmark)
    Nils Vest, film director (Denmark)
    Britta Lillesoe, actor (Denmark)
    Kaija Kärkinen, singer, Eurovision 1991 finalist (Finland)
    Kyösti Laihi, musician, Eurovision 1988 finalist (Finland)
    Kimmo Pohjonen, musician (Finland)
    Paleface, musician (Finland)
    Manuela Bosco, actor, novelist, artist (Finland)
    Noora Dadu, actor (Finland)
    Pirjo Honkasalo, film-maker (Finland)
    Ria Kataja, actor (Finland)
    Tommi Korpela, actor (Finland)
    Krista Kosonen, actor (Finland)
    Elsa Saisio, actor (Finland)
    Martti Suosalo, actor, singer (Finland)
    Virpi Suutari, film director (Finland)
    Aki Kaurismäki, film director, screenwriter (Finland)
    Pekka Strang, actor, artistic director (Finland)
    HK, singer (France)
    Dominique Grange, singer (France)
    Imhotep, DJ, producer (France)
    Francesca Solleville, singer (France)
    Elli Medeiros, singer, actor (France)
    Mouss & Hakim, band (France)
    Alain Guiraudie, film director, screenwriter (France)
    Tardi, comics artist (France)
    Gérard Mordillat, novelist, filmmaker (France)
    Eyal Sivan, film-maker (France)
    Rémo Gary, singer (France)
    Dominique Delahaye, novelist, musician (France)
    Philippe Delaigue, author, theatre director (France)
    Michel Kemper, online newspaper editor-in-chief (France)
    Michèle Bernard, singer-songwriter (France)
    Gérard Morel, theatre actor, director, singer (France)
    Daði Freyr, musician, Eurovision 2017 national selection finalist (Iceland)
    Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir, musician, Eurovision 2017 national selection finalist (Iceland)
    Mike Murphy, broadcaster, eight-time Eurovision commentator (Ireland)
    Mary Black, singer (Ireland)
    Christy Moore, singer, musician (Ireland)
    Charlie McGettigan, musician, songwriter, Eurovision 1994 winner (Ireland)
    Mary Coughlan, singer (Ireland)
    Luka Bloom, singer (Ireland)
    Robert Ballagh, artist, Riverdance set designer (Ireland)
    Aviad Albert, musician (Israel)
    Michal Sapir, musician, writer (Israel)
    Ohal Grietzer, musician (Israel)
    Yonatan Shapira, musician (Israel)
    Danielle Ravitzki, musician, visual artist (Israel)
    David Opp, artist (Israel)
    Assalti Frontali, band (Italy)
    Radiodervish, band (Italy)
    Moni Ovadia, actor, singer, playwright (Italy)
    Vauro, journalist, cartoonist (Italy)
    Pinko Tomažič Partisan Choir, choir (Italy)
    Jorit, street artist (Italy)
    Marthe Valle, singer (Norway)
    Mari Boine, musician, composer (Norway)
    Aslak Heika Hætta Bjørn, singer (Norway)
    Nils Petter Molvær, musician, composer (Norway)
    Moddi, singer (Norway)
    Jørn Simen Øverli, singer (Norway)
    Nosizwe, musician, actor (Norway)
    Bugge Wesseltoft, musician, composer (Norway)
    Lars Klevstrand, musician, composer, actor (Norway)
    Trond Ingebretsen, musician (Norway)
    José Mário Branco, musician, composer (Portugal)
    Francisco Fanhais, singer (Portugal)
    Tiago Rodrigues, artistic director, Portuguese national theatre (Portugal)
    Patrícia Portela, playwright, author (Portugal)
    Chullage, musician (Portugal)
    António Pedro Vasconcelos, film director (Portugal)
    José Luis Peixoto, novelist (Portugal)
    N’toko, musician (Slovenia)
    ŽPZ Kombinat, choir (Slovenia)
    Lluís Llach, composer, singer-songwriter (Spanish state)
    Marinah, singer (Spanish state)
    Riot Propaganda, band (Spanish state)
    Fermin Muguruza, musician (Spanish state)
    Kase.O, musician (Spanish state)
    Soweto, band (Spanish state)
    Itaca Band, band (Spanish state)
    Tremenda Jauría, band (Spanish state)
    Teresa Aranguren, journalist (Spanish state)
    Julio Perez del Campo, film director (Spanish state)
    Nicky Triphook, singer (Spanish state)
    Pau Alabajos, singer-songwriter (Spanish state)
    Mafalda, band (Spanish state)
    Zoo, band (Spanish state)
    Smoking Souls, band (Spanish state)
    Olof Dreijer, DJ, producer (Sweden)
    Karin Dreijer, singer, producer (Sweden)
    Dror Feiler, musician, composer (Sweden)
    Michel Bühler, singer, playwright, novelist (Switzerland)
    Wolf Alice, band (UK)
    Carmen Callil, publisher, writer (UK)
    Julie Christie, actor (UK)
    Caryl Churchill, playwright (UK)
    Brian Eno, composer, producer (UK)
    AL Kennedy, writer (UK)
    Peter Kosminsky, writer, film director (UK)
    Paul Laverty, scriptwriter (UK)
    Mike Leigh, writer, film and theatre director (UK)
    Ken Loach, film director (UK)
    Alexei Sayle, writer, comedian (UK)
    Roger Waters, musician (UK)
    Penny Woolcock, film-maker, opera director (UK)
    Leon Rosselson, songwriter (UK)
    Sabrina Mahfouz, writer, poet (UK)
    Eve Ensler, playwright (US)
    Alia Shawkat, actor (US)

    #Palestine #BDS #Boycott_culturel #Eurovision

  • The Myth of Russia’s Arctic Rule

    It’s clearly visible from this bird’s-eye view of the Arctic region.
    You can see here that Russia’s vast holdings of Arctic territory do not mitigate its lack of access to the world’s other oceans.
    Russian ships cannot get to the Pacific Ocean without passing the Chukchi Sea and the Bering Strait – both of which are off the coast of Alaska and thus securely under U.S. control.
    While the U.S. has only two icebreakers, it could shut down this shipping lane at will because it’s easily the world’s pre-eminent naval power.
    It’s more of the same for Russia with access to the Atlantic Ocean. To get to the Atlantic from the Arctic, Russian ships have to traverse waters between Iceland and Greenland, or between Iceland and the United Kingdom.
    Either way, it’s the same story – they are still susceptible to blockades from anti-Russian forces.
    These uncomfortable geopolitical realities make Russia’s position in the Arctic something of a trap. To make matters worse, with the accelerating Arctic ice melt, Russia’s geopolitical strategy in Europe is melting right along with it.
    The core of that strategy has been to establish buffer zones between Moscow and the North European Plain. This strategy is based in part on the idea that Russia has never had to worry about a potential threat to its Arctic coastline, as the Arctic Ocean has always been impossible for its enemies to traverse.
    But if Arctic ice melts enough to allow trade in the Arctic Ocean year round – as appears inevitable – that also means enemy navies would have much more room to operate.
    This explains why Russia has assumed a defensive posture when it comes to the Arctic.
    It also explains why Russia has been relatively cooperative in the region diplomatically.

    #arctique #Russie

    • La question est celle d’une route commerciale maritime. Sur l’axe majeur reliant l’Asie orientale à l’Europe (occidentale). De ce point de vue, les deux extrémités posent problème, les débouchés étant :
      • le détroit de Danemark dont il suffit de rappeler la bataille qui porte ce nom en 1941,…
      • la ligne GIUK et sa matérialisation physique par le SOSUS,
      • la mer du Nord comme sortie de la mer de Norvège, bordée de nations de l’OTAN
      pour l’autre côté, la mer des Tchouktches et la mer de Béring sont effectivement verrouillées comme indiqué dans l’extrait que tu pointes. Quant au reste de la façade orientale, située hors de la route maritime d’ailleurs,
      • la mer d’Okhotsk n’est pas libre de glaces en hiver (pour le moment…)

      • la mer du Japon (Vladivostok) est particulièrement fermée (Tsushima, 1905,…)

      Enfin, on parle ici de périphérie et, de ce point de vue, la facade « ouverte » de la mer de Béring est une périphérie particulièrement extrême. Petropavlosk-Kamtchatski, base des sous-marins russes est un bout du monde absolu. Tout doit y être acheminé d’une distance de plusieurs milliers de kilomètres.

      Voir à ce sujet, les effectifs engagés de part et d’autre dans la (très méconnue) bataille de Pétropavlosk en 1854
      (comme d’hab’, plus de détail sur WP[en]).

      De même pour les Aléoutiennes, campagne périphérique et manœuvre de diversion pendant la guerre du Pacifique.

      Quant à la vente de l’Alaska en 1867, on peut rêver – comme pour la Louisiane en 1803, mais on voit mal comment l’un et l’autre auraient pu résister au rouleau compresseur des jeunes États-Unis déferlant à la conquête de l’ouest. De ce point de vue, Alexandre II, comme Napoléon avant lui, a réussi à tirer un peu d’argent d’un territoire dont l’avenir sous son pavillon initial était plutôt désespéré. Imagine les péripéties d’un hypothétique Alaska russe en 1905, en 1917-1921, et après…

  • Opinion | How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’ - The New York Times

    In 1942, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu published “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race,” an influential book that argued that race is a social concept with no genetic basis. A classic example often cited is the inconsistent definition of “black.” In the United States, historically, a person is “black” if he has any sub-Saharan African ancestry; in Brazil, a person is not “black” if he is known to have any European ancestry. If “black” refers to different people in different contexts, how can there be any genetic basis to it?

    Beginning in 1972, genetic findings began to be incorporated into this argument. That year, the geneticist Richard Lewontin published an important study of variation in protein types in blood. He grouped the human populations he analyzed into seven “races” — West Eurasians, Africans, East Asians, South Asians, Native Americans, Oceanians and Australians — and found that around 85 percent of variation in the protein types could be accounted for by variation within populations and “races,” and only 15 percent by variation across them. To the extent that there was variation among humans, he concluded, most of it was because of “differences between individuals.”

    In this way, a consensus was established that among human populations there are no differences large enough to support the concept of “biological race.” Instead, it was argued, race is a “social construct,” a way of categorizing people that changes over time and across countries.

    It is true that race is a social construct. It is also true, as Dr. Lewontin wrote, that human populations “are remarkably similar to each other” from a genetic point of view.

    But over the years this consensus has morphed, seemingly without questioning, into an orthodoxy. The orthodoxy maintains that the average genetic differences among people grouped according to today’s racial terms are so trivial when it comes to any meaningful biological traits that those differences can be ignored.

    The orthodoxy goes further, holding that we should be anxious about any research into genetic differences among populations. The concern is that such research, no matter how well-intentioned, is located on a slippery slope that leads to the kinds of pseudoscientific arguments about biological difference that were used in the past to try to justify the slave trade, the eugenics movement and the Nazis’ murder of six million Jews.

    I have deep sympathy for the concern that genetic discoveries could be misused to justify racism. But as a geneticist I also know that it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among “races.”

    Groundbreaking advances in DNA sequencing technology have been made over the last two decades. These advances enable us to measure with exquisite accuracy what fraction of an individual’s genetic ancestry traces back to, say, West Africa 500 years ago — before the mixing in the Americas of the West African and European gene pools that were almost completely isolated for the last 70,000 years. With the help of these tools, we are learning that while race may be a social construct, differences in genetic ancestry that happen to correlate to many of today’s racial constructs are real.

    Recent genetic studies have demonstrated differences across populations not just in the genetic determinants of simple traits such as skin color, but also in more complex traits like bodily dimensions and susceptibility to diseases. For example, we now know that genetic factors help explain why northern Europeans are taller on average than southern Europeans, why multiple sclerosis is more common in European-Americans than in African-Americans, and why the reverse is true for end-stage kidney disease.

    I am worried that well-meaning people who deny the possibility of substantial biological differences among human populations are digging themselves into an indefensible position, one that will not survive the onslaught of science. I am also worried that whatever discoveries are made — and we truly have no idea yet what they will be — will be cited as “scientific proof” that racist prejudices and agendas have been correct all along, and that those well-meaning people will not understand the science well enough to push back against these claims.

    This is why it is important, even urgent, that we develop a candid and scientifically up-to-date way of discussing any such differences, instead of sticking our heads in the sand and being caught unprepared when they are found.

    To get a sense of what modern genetic research into average biological differences across populations looks like, consider an example from my own work. Beginning around 2003, I began exploring whether the population mixture that has occurred in the last few hundred years in the Americas could be leveraged to find risk factors for prostate cancer, a disease that occurs 1.7 times more often in self-identified African-Americans than in self-identified European-Americans. This disparity had not been possible to explain based on dietary and environmental differences, suggesting that genetic factors might play a role.

    Self-identified African-Americans turn out to derive, on average, about 80 percent of their genetic ancestry from enslaved Africans brought to America between the 16th and 19th centuries. My colleagues and I searched, in 1,597 African-American men with prostate cancer, for locations in the genome where the fraction of genes contributed by West African ancestors was larger than it was elsewhere in the genome. In 2006, we found exactly what we were looking for: a location in the genome with about 2.8 percent more African ancestry than the average.

    When we looked in more detail, we found that this region contained at least seven independent risk factors for prostate cancer, all more common in West Africans. Our findings could fully account for the higher rate of prostate cancer in African-Americans than in European-Americans. We could conclude this because African-Americans who happen to have entirely European ancestry in this small section of their genomes had about the same risk for prostate cancer as random Europeans.

    Did this research rely on terms like “African-American” and “European-American” that are socially constructed, and did it label segments of the genome as being probably “West African” or “European” in origin? Yes. Did this research identify real risk factors for disease that differ in frequency across those populations, leading to discoveries with the potential to improve health and save lives? Yes.

    While most people will agree that finding a genetic explanation for an elevated rate of disease is important, they often draw the line there. Finding genetic influences on a propensity for disease is one thing, they argue, but looking for such influences on behavior and cognition is another.

    But whether we like it or not, that line has already been crossed. A recent study led by the economist Daniel Benjamin compiled information on the number of years of education from more than 400,000 people, almost all of whom were of European ancestry. After controlling for differences in socioeconomic background, he and his colleagues identified 74 genetic variations that are over-represented in genes known to be important in neurological development, each of which is incontrovertibly more common in Europeans with more years of education than in Europeans with fewer years of education.

    It is not yet clear how these genetic variations operate. A follow-up study of Icelanders led by the geneticist Augustine Kong showed that these genetic variations also nudge people who carry them to delay having children. So these variations may be explaining longer times at school by affecting a behavior that has nothing to do with intelligence.

    This study has been joined by others finding genetic predictors of behavior. One of these, led by the geneticist Danielle Posthuma, studied more than 70,000 people and found genetic variations in more than 20 genes that were predictive of performance on intelligence tests.

    Is performance on an intelligence test or the number of years of school a person attends shaped by the way a person is brought up? Of course. But does it measure something having to do with some aspect of behavior or cognition? Almost certainly. And since all traits influenced by genetics are expected to differ across populations (because the frequencies of genetic variations are rarely exactly the same across populations), the genetic influences on behavior and cognition will differ across populations, too.

    You will sometimes hear that any biological differences among populations are likely to be small, because humans have diverged too recently from common ancestors for substantial differences to have arisen under the pressure of natural selection. This is not true. The ancestors of East Asians, Europeans, West Africans and Australians were, until recently, almost completely isolated from one another for 40,000 years or longer, which is more than sufficient time for the forces of evolution to work. Indeed, the study led by Dr. Kong showed that in Iceland, there has been measurable genetic selection against the genetic variations that predict more years of education in that population just within the last century.

    To understand why it is so dangerous for geneticists and anthropologists to simply repeat the old consensus about human population differences, consider what kinds of voices are filling the void that our silence is creating. Nicholas Wade, a longtime science journalist for The New York Times, rightly notes in his 2014 book, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History,” that modern research is challenging our thinking about the nature of human population differences. But he goes on to make the unfounded and irresponsible claim that this research is suggesting that genetic factors explain traditional stereotypes.

    One of Mr. Wade’s key sources, for example, is the anthropologist Henry Harpending, who has asserted that people of sub-Saharan African ancestry have no propensity to work when they don’t have to because, he claims, they did not go through the type of natural selection for hard work in the last thousands of years that some Eurasians did. There is simply no scientific evidence to support this statement. Indeed, as 139 geneticists (including myself) pointed out in a letter to The New York Times about Mr. Wade’s book, there is no genetic evidence to back up any of the racist stereotypes he promotes.

    Another high-profile example is James Watson, the scientist who in 1953 co-discovered the structure of DNA, and who was forced to retire as head of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in 2007 after he stated in an interview — without any scientific evidence — that research has suggested that genetic factors contribute to lower intelligence in Africans than in Europeans.

    At a meeting a few years later, Dr. Watson said to me and my fellow geneticist Beth Shapiro something to the effect of “When are you guys going to figure out why it is that you Jews are so much smarter than everyone else?” He asserted that Jews were high achievers because of genetic advantages conferred by thousands of years of natural selection to be scholars, and that East Asian students tended to be conformist because of selection for conformity in ancient Chinese society. (Contacted recently, Dr. Watson denied having made these statements, maintaining that they do not represent his views; Dr. Shapiro said that her recollection matched mine.)

    What makes Dr. Watson’s and Mr. Wade’s statements so insidious is that they start with the accurate observation that many academics are implausibly denying the possibility of average genetic differences among human populations, and then end with a claim — backed by no evidence — that they know what those differences are and that they correspond to racist stereotypes. They use the reluctance of the academic community to openly discuss these fraught issues to provide rhetorical cover for hateful ideas and old racist canards.

    This is why knowledgeable scientists must speak out. If we abstain from laying out a rational framework for discussing differences among populations, we risk losing the trust of the public and we actively contribute to the distrust of expertise that is now so prevalent. We leave a vacuum that gets filled by pseudoscience, an outcome that is far worse than anything we could achieve by talking openly.

    If scientists can be confident of anything, it is that whatever we currently believe about the genetic nature of differences among populations is most likely wrong. For example, my laboratory discovered in 2016, based on our sequencing of ancient human genomes, that “whites” are not derived from a population that existed from time immemorial, as some people believe. Instead, “whites” represent a mixture of four ancient populations that lived 10,000 years ago and were each as different from one another as Europeans and East Asians are today.

    So how should we prepare for the likelihood that in the coming years, genetic studies will show that many traits are influenced by genetic variations, and that these traits will differ on average across human populations? It will be impossible — indeed, anti-scientific, foolish and absurd — to deny those differences.

    For me, a natural response to the challenge is to learn from the example of the biological differences that exist between males and females. The differences between the sexes are far more profound than those that exist among human populations, reflecting more than 100 million years of evolution and adaptation. Males and females differ by huge tracts of genetic material — a Y chromosome that males have and that females don’t, and a second X chromosome that females have and males don’t.

    Most everyone accepts that the biological differences between males and females are profound. In addition to anatomical differences, men and women exhibit average differences in size and physical strength. (There are also average differences in temperament and behavior, though there are important unresolved questions about the extent to which these differences are influenced by social expectations and upbringing.)

    How do we accommodate the biological differences between men and women? I think the answer is obvious: We should both recognize that genetic differences between males and females exist and we should accord each sex the same freedoms and opportunities regardless of those differences.

    It is clear from the inequities that persist between women and men in our society that fulfilling these aspirations in practice is a challenge. Yet conceptually it is straightforward. And if this is the case with men and women, then it is surely the case with whatever differences we may find among human populations, the great majority of which will be far less profound.

    An abiding challenge for our civilization is to treat each human being as an individual and to empower all people, regardless of what hand they are dealt from the deck of life. Compared with the enormous differences that exist among individuals, differences among populations are on average many times smaller, so it should be only a modest challenge to accommodate a reality in which the average genetic contributions to human traits differ.

    It is important to face whatever science will reveal without prejudging the outcome and with the confidence that we can be mature enough to handle any findings. Arguing that no substantial differences among human populations are possible will only invite the racist misuse of genetics that we wish to avoid.

    David Reich is a professor of genetics at Harvard and the author of the forthcoming book “Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past,” from which this article is adapted.

    #USA #eugénisme #racisme

  • In #2017, 16,640 Turkish citizens claimed asylum in EU, neighboring countries: report

    A total of 16,640 Turkish nationals claimed asylum in 32 countries in the European continent in 2017, a recent report noted.

    Malta-based the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) released asylum statistics compiled from the 28 EU countries as well as Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland, all grouped as EU+ countries.

    The number of asylum claimants from Turkey to EU+ saw a record increase year on year in 2017. While 11,670 Turks sought protection in 2016, the corresponding number rose to 16,640 last year, a 42 percent surge.


    #Europe #Turquie #réfugiés #asile #migrations #réfugiés_turcs #EU #UE #statistiques #chiffres
    cc @isskein @i_s_

  • Statewatch News Online: Council of Europe: Prison statistics for 2016: increases in prison population rate and average length of imprisonment

    The Council of Europe’s recently-published annual prison statistics reports cover the year 2016 and show an increase from 2015 in the prison population rate (the number of prisoners per 100,000 of a country’s population), the average length of imprisonment, the number of entries into penal institutions and the proportion of prisoners serving sentences for theft.

    There were decreases between 2015 and 2016 in overcrowding, in the amount spent per day per prisoner, in the number of releases from penal institutions and in the proportion of prisoners serving sentences for drug offences.

    Council of Europe: European prisons are almost full, according to latest Council of Europe survey (press release, pdf):

    “European prisons are on average close to full capacity, with inmates occupying over 9 out of ten available places, according to the Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE) for 2016, published today.

    The survey shows that the incarceration rate grew from 115.7 to 117.1 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants from 2015 to 2016. This rate had previously fallen every year since 2012, when it reached 125.6 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants.

    The incarceration rate is mainly influenced by the length of the sanctions and measures imposed. In that perspective, the average length of detention, which can be seen as an indicator of the way criminal law is applied, increasing slightly to 8.5 months.

    The countries where the incarceration rate grew the most were Bulgaria (+10.8%), Turkey (+9.5%), the Czech Republic (+7.6%), Serbia (+6.6%) and Denmark (+5.5%). The prison administrations where it fell the most were Iceland (-15.9%), Northern Ireland (-11.8), Lithuania (-11.1%), Belgium (-10.1%) and Georgia (-6.7%).

    On the other hand, overcrowding remained a serious problem in many countries. Thirteen out of 47 prison administrations reported having more inmates than places to host them.”

  • The last whalers: commuting from the North Sea to Antarctica | Aeon Essays

    In the mid-20th century, young men from #Shetland would come of age and travel to Edinburgh. ‘Quite a lot of Shetland boys did that,’ says Gibbie Fraser, who was that boy some 60 years ago. ‘And I remember goin’ and dere was a lot of men dere and dey all seemed huge and in dose days dey all wore … dere dress clothes as almost a uniform.’ For many, this would have been their first trip to the mainland, their first trip to ‘Scotland’ proper at all, and the boys would watch the double-decker buses for the first time, or board a black cab for the neighbourhood of Leith. There, they would stand in lines that snaked around city blocks.Shetlanders are some of the only living people who participated in Antarctic whaling. #Whaling in the Southern Ocean followed the devastation of whale stocks in the North Sea around #Britain, #Iceland and #Norway in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. Whaling has been a foundation of Shetland’s economy for more than 300 years. It began with subsistence whaling, in the 18th and 19th centuries, and then developed into large-scale #Arctic and #Greenland hunts in the mid-19th century. Salvesen began whaling in Shetland at Olna in 1904, when the company established a whaling station. ‘That’s where [they], I suppose in a way, came to appreciate the Shetland men,’ said Fraser.


  • Iceland law to outlaw male circumcision sparks row over religious freedom

    Iceland is poised to become the first European country to outlaw male circumcision amid signs that the ritual common to both Judaism and Islam may be a new battleground over religious freedom.

    A bill currently before the Icelandic parliament proposes a penalty of up to six years in prison for anyone carrying out a circumcision other than for medical reasons. Critics say the move, which has sparked alarm among religious leaders across Europe, would make life for Jews and Muslims in Iceland unsustainable.

    Muslim and Jewish leaders attacked the proposal, while Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the Catholic Church in the European Union, said the bill was a “dangerous attack” on religious freedom. “The criminalisation of circumcision is a very grave measure that raises deep concern.”

    The Icelandic bill says the circumcision of young boys violates their rights and is incompatible with the United Nations convention on the rights of the child. It draws a parallel with female genital mutilation, already outlawed in most European countries.

    It acknowledges that while parents have the right to give religious guidance to their children, “such a right can never exceed the rights of the child”. Boys who wish to be circumcised for religious or cultural reasons can do so when they reach an age at which they “understand what is involved in such an action”, it suggests.

  • Iceland’s Oil Dream Is in Peril - Bloomberg

    (photo, sans pétrole offshore, juste pour rêver un peu…)

    Iceland’s hope of finding oil offshore its coast is fading after China and Norway decided to back out of the island nation’s only remaining exploration license.

    Cnooc Ltd., China’s state-controlled producer, and Petoro AS, Norway’s state-owned oil company, decided to relinquish their interest in the license, Iceland’s National Energy Authority said in a statement on Tuesday. Their junior partner, Eykon Energy ehf, says it wishes to keep its 15 percent stake, but the agency said the small explorer doesn’t have the technical or financial capacity to continue operations alone.
    All hope of finding and producing oil offshore Iceland isn’t lost, Johannesson said. The agency has not put forth any current plans to issue new licenses, but Johannesson says the government may decide to do so at a later point.

  • Scientists confirm what women always knew: men really are the weaker sex | Global development | The Guardian

    Women are more likely than men to survive in times of famine and epidemics, research has found.

    While it has long been known that women have a higher life expectancy than men in general, analysis of historical records stretching back 250 years shows that women have, for example, outlived men on slave plantations in Trinidad, during famines in Sweden and through various measles outbreaks in Iceland.

    Even when mortality was very high for both sexes, women still outlived men, on average, by six months to four years, according to the report (pdf) by Duke University in North Carolina.

    The datasets included seven groups of people for whom life expectancy was 20 years or under for one or both sexes. Among them were working and former slaves in Trinidad and the US in the early 1800s; people experiencing famine in Sweden, Ireland and the Ukraine in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries; and Icelanders affected by the 1846 and 1882 measles epidemics.

    Lead researcher Virginia Zarulli, from the University of Southern Denmark’s Institute of Public Health, attributed the life expectancy gender gap to biological factors such as genetics and hormones, with the simple conclusion that “newborn girls are hardier than newborn boys”.


  • Merging Pacific Storms Could Produce 17-Meter Wave Heights – gCaptain

    Post-Tropical Hurricane Force Storm Lan will move rapidly northeast and transfer its energy to a developing storm low that will move towards the southwestern Bering Sea and western Aleutian islands.

    This developing storm will deepen very rapidly to a dangerous 939 millibars hurricane force storm creating winds of 55 to 75 knots and seas building 36-56 feet (11-17 meters) within 360 NM SE and 420 NM SW of the center within 24-36 hours. This will create a dangerous situation for ship traffic steaming along northern Pacific routes.

    Check out the 17-meter wave heights! Remember, significant waves heights is based on the average height of the tallest one third of the waves, so individual waves can be much taller!

  • Pêche et #Brexit. Le bras de fer a débuté - Économie -

    À quelques jours de la reprise des négociations sur le Brexit, les professionnels de la pêche craignent de perdre un tiers de leur chiffre d’affaires et de leurs emplois. Ils espèrent préserver un accès aux eaux britanniques et une gestion partagée, en contrepartie de l’ouverture du marché européen aux pêches de Sa Majesté.


  • Sado-Austerity v. Moderate Social Democracy « LRB blog

    Some of the IFS [Institute for Fiscal Studies] data makes interesting reading. Labour’s spending plans leave Britain in the lower-middle range of developed economies as regards the ratio of public spending to GDP, well below such collectivist dystopias as Iceland, France, Singapore, New Zealand and Germany. Labour would add £81 billion or 3.5 per cent of GDP to public spending by 2021-22. It aims to eliminate the deficit on non-capital spending within five years.

    #Royaume_uni #désinformation #MSM

  • Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening | Mosaic

    Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.

    (...) Milkman was instrumental in developing the idea that people were getting addicted to changes in brain chemistry. Kids who were “active confronters” were after a rush – they’d get it by stealing hubcaps and radios and later cars, or through stimulant drugs. Alcohol also alters brain chemistry, of course. It’s a sedative but it sedates the brain’s control first, which can remove inhibitions and, in limited doses, reduce anxiety.

    “People can get addicted to drink, cars, money, sex, calories, cocaine – whatever,” says Milkman. “The idea of behavioural addiction became our trademark.”

    This idea spawned another: “Why not orchestrate a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry – because it seems obvious to me that people want to change their consciousness – without the deleterious effects of drugs?”

    By 1992, his team in Denver had won a $1.2 million government grant to form Project Self-Discovery, which offered teenagers natural-high alternatives to drugs and crime. They got referrals from teachers, school nurses and counsellors, taking in kids from the age of 14 who didn’t see themselves as needing treatment but who had problems with drugs or petty crime.

    “We didn’t say to them, you’re coming in for treatment. We said, we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts.” The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

    #enfance #drogue #addiction #sport #evidence-based #Islande

  • Nouvelle ou rumeur (?) : Switzerland Follows Iceland in Declaring War Against the Bankers. Autre source : Switzerland to vote on banning banks from creating money. On ne vous entend plus beaucoup : Occupy Wall Street... - Dossier.
    #news #hoax #Suisse #banques #ows

  • Iceland now has fourth most female parliament in the world

    Saturday’s elections in Iceland saw a total of thirty women MPs returned to the Iceland parliament (‘Alþingi’) – the highest proportion in the history of the institution.

    #femmes #parlement #Islande

    @reka —> il faudra mettre à jour cette carte :

  • 10月25日のツイート

    Top story: Fearing Trump, Bar Association Stifles Report Calling Him a ‘Libel B……, see more posted at 11:49:07

    The latest Papier!… Thanks to @Ms_Golightly @LamazoneBlonde @afcoory #photography #maislidas posted at 09:14:26

    RT @MuseeMagica: 雑。英国ハロウィンの遊びといえば「たらいにリンゴを浮かべて口だけで取りだす」ですが、由来が不明。しかしこの図版の左下のおもちゃを見てピンときました。あれはノアの洪水の再現ではないか。夜にやってくる悪霊たちは方舟に乗れなかった連中か、と。などと想像するのも秋の夜長の愉しみかと。 posted at 08:54:08

    Top story: Pourquoi les Islandaises ont arrêté de travailler à 14 h 38 lundi…, see more posted at 07:59:37

    Top story: Why Iceland is the best place in the world to be a woman | Life and ……, see more posted at (...)

  • Women in Iceland to Leave Work at 2:38 PM | Iceland Review

    Women in Iceland are encouraged by unions and women’s organizations to walk out of their workplaces at 2:38 pm today. (...) The timing, 2:38 pm, is no coincidence. Compared to men’s earnings, women work without pay after that hour every day.

    depuis le 24 oct. 1975 !

  • L’Islande confirme la condamnation de ses banksters à de la prison ferme. Pour l’instant, aucune reprise dans nos médias. (Et où, au passage, on parle du Qatar.)

    Supreme Court Affirms Kaupþing Convictions | Iceland Review

    Yesterday afternoon The Supreme Court of Iceland affirmed the guilty verdicts handed down by the Reykjavík District Court in June of last year over seven out of nine former Kaupþing bank directors, convicted for major market manipulation and breach of trust, Fréttatíminn reports. The court, furthermore, extended the sentence of Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson by six months. In addition, the court handed down a guilty verdict for two defendants who were acquitted in district court.

    Iceland to sentence ninth banker found guilty of market manipulation that helped caused 2008 crash | The Independent

    Their sentences range from one year to more than four years for crimes relating to misleadingly financing share purchases - the bank lent money for the purchase of the shares and used its own shares as collateral for the loans. They are also found guilty of creating a misleading demand for Kaupthing shares. 

    No jail time has yet been handed out to Ms Þórarinsdóttir or Mr Guðmundsson. 

    Another former director of the bank, Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson, who received a prison sentence of five and half years last year, was given a six-month extension to his sentence on Thursday.

    He was one of group of former bankers accused of hiding the fact that a Qatari investor bought a stake in the firm with money lent illegally by the bank itself. Weeks before the bank collapsed Kaupthing announced that Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Bin Hamad al-Thani had bought a 5.1 per cent stake during the financial crisis in 2008 - a move supposed to be seen as a confidence boost for the bank.

  • Here’s the clever chemistry that can stop your food rotting

    ... there is sound science behind the processes used to preserve food and some of these substances may have hidden benefits to our health. That hamburger in Iceland, however, remains a mystery. There certainly have been plenty of media stories trying to get the bottom of its apparent immortality – but the only way to be sure would be to subject it to rigorous scientific enquiry. Perhaps I’ll book my flight.

    Links 9/17/16

    Hate to tell you, the reason the #McDonalds food does not rot is probably that it is not food. For instance, I took a workshop targeting people coaching athletes (as in featuring cutting edge but still pretty well vetted theories, since sports teams don’t mess around) and they had a professor who was also a practicing MD teach the section on nutrition. He called out, “Does anyone here have some cookies?” A woman sheepishly put up her hand. He told her to bring them up. He said, “I guarantee the number 2 or 3 ingredient is hydrogenated fat. That stuff is so far removed from food you can leave it on your counter for a year and nothing will happen to it. And the cockroaches won’t touch it either.”

    #conservation #nourriture #pourriture