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The Coming Plague – Laurie Garrett


The Coming Plague

Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance

Laurie Garrett

Genre: Biology

Price: $7.99

Publish Date: October 31, 1994

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Seller: Macmillan

"Here is a volume that should be required reading for policy makers and health professionals." – Kirkus Reviews After four decades of assuming that the conquest of all infectous diseases was imminent, people on all continents now find themselves besieged by AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, cholera that defies chlorine water treatment, and exotic viruses that can kill in a matter of hours. Based on extensive interviews with leading experts in virology, molecular biology, disease ecology and medicine, as well as field research in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Europe, Central America and the United States, The Coming Plague takes readers from the savannas of eastern Bolivia to the rain forests of northern Zaire on a harrowing, fifty year journey through our battles with the microbes, and tells us what must be done to prevent the coming plague.

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The Coming Plague – Laurie Garrett

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Climate change is forcing a rift in the Murdoch family

As wildfires spread across Australia last November, newspapers and television networks owned by conservative media tycoon Rupert Murdoch started pushing a false narrative: Arson, not climate change, was responsible for the crisis.

That wasn’t the only inaccurate claim being bandied about by Murdoch’s conservative news outlets in Australia and the U.S. while millions of acres burned and an estimated billion animals perished. Fox News spread the incorrect claim that 200 arsonists had set Australia on fire. News Corp, the linchpin of Murdoch’s media empire, also pushed the false ideas that environmentalists were opposed to fire prevention measures and that this year’s fires were not out of line with what’s occurred in previous years. The latter claim is diametrically contrary to the science, which indicates rising temperatures are creating conditions ripe for prolonged mega-wildfires.

Murdoch is no stranger to criticism. In a recent op-ed, climate scientist Michael Mann called the mogul an “arsonist.” A six-month New York Times investigation found the Murdoch family turned their outlets into “political influence machines” that “destabilized democracy in North America, Europe, and Australia.” In 2011, Murdoch was denounced left and right when a tabloid he owned called News of the World shuttered after employees hacked into a number of phones, including the device of a recent murder victim.

But it is unusual for Murdoch to catch heat from his own family. In a dramatic turn of events, a spokesperson for Murdoch’s son, James, said the scion felt “frustration” over the way his father’s business covered the crisis on Wednesday. James and his wife Kathryn Murdoch are “particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary,” according to the spokesperson’s statement, which was first reported by the Daily Beast. Murdoch’s decision to distance himself from his family’s views on climate are notable in no small part because he was recently in line to take over the company — his brother, Lachlan, got the gig — and is on the News Corp board of directors.

The spokesperson’s statement says that “Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established,” and that’s true. As chief executive of Sky, James pushed the British television service to go carbon-neutral. He invited former vice president Al Gore to give a lecture on climate change at a Fox corporate retreat. Meanwhile, Kathryn is, by any definition, a climate advocate. She’s a trustee of the Environmental Defense Fund and Climate Central, and was the director of strategy and communications for the Clinton Climate Initiative for four years.

Now that James is no longer directly involved with his family’s company apart from sitting on News Corp’s board of directors, his comments will likely have little bearing on whether News Corp and Fox News continue to sow disinformation. But fans of HBO’s blockbuster TV drama Succession, a thinly veiled dramatization of the Murdoch family’s exploits, know the younger Murdoch’s public stand would make for extremely good television.


Climate change is forcing a rift in the Murdoch family

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The world’s energy report card just came out. We failed 3 subjects.

The world just got its energy report card … and at best, its grades are mixed.

Every year, the International Energy Agency releases a mammoth report detailing the world’s progress toward providing clean energy to all. This year’s report is 810 pages long, but here’s the take-home message: We’re improving in two areas (solar and offshore wind installation), but failing three subjects (transportation, equity, and overall progress).


Solar photovoltaic panels

Solar power is “growing very strongly,” said IEA’s Executive Director Fatih Birol. With more government support that growth could accelerate: Birol pointed out that Africa generates less than 1 percent of the world’s solar power while boasting 40 percent of its solar potential. The IEA is projecting big increases in solar panels on the African continent. “I think energy developments in Africa are going to surprise many of the pessimists,” he said.

According to IEA data, solar capacity has already surpassed nuclear, and the agency projects that it will rapidly overtake wind, hydroelectric, coal, and gas. However, it’s important to remember that capacity is the amount of electricity any of these power sources could produce when running full out — something solar panels can only do in full sunlight.

Offshore wind

There’s a trillion-dollar industry waiting to be created with floating deep-sea platforms and skyscraper-sized turbines, according to the IEA. Ocean wind could easily supply all the world’s electricity, if price were no object. Realistic expense assumptions, however, still suggest rapid growth: Offshore wind turbines generate less than 1 percent of the world’s electricity, but cost reductions could allow that number to grow to more than 5 percent in the next 20 years.

Birol likened the potential to improvements in technology that had allowed fracking and solar prices to plummet. “Offshore wind has the potential to join their ranks in terms of steep cost reduction,” Birol said.



The world is reducing emissions from cars by improving gas mileage and introducing electric vehicles. But those gains were swamped by an old villain, which Birol introduced ironically: “Ladies and gentlemen, our report shows that the star of the transformation in the automotive industry wasn’t electric cars, it was SUVs,” he said. Last month, the IEA reported that since 2010, the number of SUVs on the road has increased by 35 million — and the vehicle class is contributing more to climate change today than heavy industry.


Some 850 million people worldwide don’t have electricity, and many more — 2.6 billion — still rely on wood and dung for cooking, with disastrous consequences for both health and the environment. From Africa to South Asia, dozens of countries are doing important work to give people access to modern energy sources.

But to be successful in this mission, said Laura Cozzi, chief energy modeler for the IEA, “They will need cement, they will need steel, they will need electricity.” Cozzi said renewable energy is the most important lever in expanding access to electricity in Africa, but the world will also need to burn more fossil fuels to get the job done.

Overall progress

Even if countries fulfill their big energy ambitions, which IEA calls the world’s “stated policies,” it won’t be enough to drive down emissions and keep average global temperatures from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). “For the moment, the momentum behind clean energy technologies is not enough to offset the effects of an expanding global economy and growing population,” said Tim Gould head of the World Energy Outlook at the IEA.

However, the IEA identified a suite of policies that could slow climate change: They call it the “sustainable development scenario.” (See the graph above.) Getting there is a tall order, requiring a doubling of the rate at which we’re building renewables while cranking up the pressure on energy efficiency, passing policies to force behavior change, and building massive carbon capture and sequestration plants.

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The world’s energy report card just came out. We failed 3 subjects.

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Our planet just set a scary new carbon dioxide record

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Our planet’s level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a new, jarring record last month. Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography announced on Tuesday that February’s average carbon dioxide measurement was 411.66 parts per million as measured in Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

Since humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions were at an all-time high last year, a new record was expected. What was shocking was that it occurred so early in the year: Earth’s carbon dioxide levels typically peak in May, when the vast northern forests of North America and Asia are just beginning to green up. Setting a new record in February is “rare,” according to Scripps.

“In most years, the previous maximum is surpassed in March or April. The February record breaking is a measure of just how fast CO2 has been rising in the past months,” said Scripps CO2 Group Director Ralph Keeling, in a statement. The suddenness of this year’s record is the result of “the combination of weak El Nino conditions and unprecedented emissions from fossil-fuel burning,” according to Keeling.

This year’s carbon dioxide level is expected to peak around 415 parts per million in May.

There hasn’t been this much carbon dioxide in our planet’s atmosphere since before cars started clogging the roads a century ago, before agriculture was developed 10,000 years ago, and before modern humans evolved more than a million years ago. We have reached not only a new phase of civilizational history, but a new phase of our species’ history.

In recent years, the rise in the planet’s carbon dioxide levels has picked up speed. That’s in line with scientists’ predictions of a planet creeping toward dangerous and irreversible tipping points, and highlights the dangers of collective foot-dragging on shifting to a carbon-free economy.

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Our planet just set a scary new carbon dioxide record

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The EPA failed Flint. Now we know exactly how.

As if the EPA hasn’t disappointed us enough this year, a report released today by the Office of the Inspector General found that the agency consistently dropped the ball during the Flint water crisis.

In a blistering 74-page report, the agency watchdog critiqued EPA Region 5, the district responsible for protecting human health and the environment in Michigan, for an inadequate response to the water crisis that exposed thousands to lead and caused a 58 percent spike in fetal deaths in the largely black community.

The mistakes are sobering. Despite receiving 87 citizen complaints about water quality between May 2014 and January 2016 — including many that directly referenced lead — the EPA did not take any significant action before releasing an emergency order on Jan. 21, 2016.

Instead, the report says, the EPA sent the residents form letters which recommended that they contact the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality or Flint water officials. In 11 cases, the EPA sent no response at all.

“As I have said before, the Flint water crisis was a failure of all levels of government,” said Dan Kildee, Democratic representative from the Michigan district that includes Flint, in a statement reacting to the report.

EPA officials had the chance to save Flint residents from months of exposure to toxins. The report cites five possible oversight actions that the EPA could have taken under the Safe Drinking Water Act, including alerting Flint residents about possible harms and acting in the place of state authorities when there is “substantial endangerment” to human health.

But in almost every case, officials deferred to their state counterparts, rather than using their legal authority to step in. As the report’s authors note, such oversight tools — like most tools out there — are “only effective when used.”

The OIG also pointed to a memo written by Region 5 scientist Miguel Del Toral, who repeatedly warned the region’s Director Susan Hedman that the lead levels in Flint water were at sky-high levels. (Anything over 15 ppb is considered unsafe — one home tested at 13,000 ppb). Hedman later resigned when it became clear that she had attempted to suppress Del Toral’s findings.

According to the report, Hedman and other EPA officials “lacked a sense of urgency” to address the water issues. Instead they failed to communicate with state officials, displayed significant “management weaknesses,” and ultimately delayed the federal response to the crisis.

And while they waited, thousands of residents were exposed to unsafe water. The consequences, for some, could last a lifetime.

“Justice for Flint families comes in many forms,” Kildee said in his statement. “The release of this report is one form of holding those responsible accountable.”

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The EPA failed Flint. Now we know exactly how.

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Erasing Death – Sam Parnia & Josh Young


Erasing Death

The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death

Sam Parnia & Josh Young

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: February 26, 2013

Publisher: HarperOne

Seller: HarperCollins

Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death reveals that death is not a moment in time. Death, rather, is a process—a process that can be interrupted well after it has begun. Innovative techniques have proven to be effective in revitalizing both the body and mind, but they are only employed in approximately half of the hospitals throughout the United States and Europe.   Dr. Sam Parnia, Director of the AWARE Study (AWAreness during REsuscitation) and one of the world’s leading experts on the scientific study of death and near-death experiences (NDE), presents cutting-edge research from the front lines of critical care and resuscitation medicine while also shedding light on the ultimate mystery: What happens to human consciousness during and after death? Dr. Parnia reveals how some form of “afterlife” may be uniquely ours, as evidenced by the continuation of the human mind and psyche after the brain stops functioning.   With physicians such as Dr. Parnia at the forefront, we are on the verge of discovering a new universal science of consciousness that reveals the nature of mind and a future where death is not the final defeat, but is, in fact, reversible.


Erasing Death – Sam Parnia & Josh Young

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Drawdown – Paul Hawken & Tom Steyer



The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

Paul Hawken & Tom Steyer

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $13.99

Publish Date: April 18, 2017

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

•  New York Times  bestseller  • The 100 most substantive solutions to reverse global warming, based on meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world “At this point in time, the  Drawdown  book is exactly what is needed; a credible, conservative solution-by-solution narrative that we can do it. Reading it is an effective inoculation against the widespread perception of doom that humanity cannot and will not solve the climate crisis. Reported by-effects include increased determination and a sense of grounded hope.” —Per Espen Stoknes, Author,  What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming   “There’s been no real way for ordinary people to get an understanding of what they can do and what impact it can have. There remains no single, comprehensive, reliable compendium of carbon-reduction solutions across sectors. At least until now. . . . The public is hungry for this kind of practical wisdom.” —David Roberts,  Vox “This is the ideal environmental sciences textbook—only it is too interesting and inspiring to be called a textbook.” —Peter Kareiva, Director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. If deployed collectively on a global scale over the next thirty years, they represent a credible path forward, not just to slow the earth’s warming but to reach drawdown, that point in time when greenhouse gases in the atmosphere peak and begin to decline. These measures promise cascading benefits to human health, security, prosperity, and well-being—giving us every reason to see this planetary crisis as an opportunity to create a just and livable world.

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Drawdown – Paul Hawken & Tom Steyer

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Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker


Why We Sleep

Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Matthew Walker

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $12.99

Expected Publish Date: October 3, 2017

Publisher: Scribner

Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.

The first sleep book by a leading scientific expert—Professor Matthew Walker, Director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab—reveals his groundbreaking exploration of sleep, explaining how we can harness its transformative power to change our lives for the better. Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and longevity. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don't sleep. Compared to the other basic drives in life—eating, drinking, and reproducing—the purpose of sleep remained elusive. An explosion of scientific discoveries in the last twenty years has shed new light on this fundamental aspect of our lives. Now, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives us a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming. Within the brain, sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming mollifies painful memories and creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge to inspire creativity. Walker answers important questions about sleep: how do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? What really happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect us and can they do long-term damage? Charting cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and synthesizing decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes; slow the effects of aging; increase longevity; enhance the education and lifespan of our children, and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses. Clear-eyed, fascinating, and accessible, Why We Sleep is a crucial and illuminating book.


Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker

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Brennan: CIA Was Original Source of Trump-Russia Investigation

Mother Jones

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How did the FBI’s investigation into the Trump-Russia connection get started, anyway? Former CIA director John Brennan says he was the one who got the ball rolling:

I encountered . . . intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign,” Brennan said, adding that he did not see conclusive evidence of collusion but feared that Trump associates were wittingly or unwittingly being used to advance the interests of Moscow.

….Brennan testified that he was disturbed by intelligence that surfaced last year showing a pattern of contacts between Russian agents or representatives and people with links to the Trump campaign. “That raised concerns in my mind,” Brennan said….With that remark, Brennan appeared to identify the point of origin of the FBI investigation that began in July — the first time a U.S. official has provided insight into what prompted the bureau probe.

That’s from the Washington Post. Brennan was testifying before Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the New York Times adds this disheartening tidbit:

On Aug. 4, as evidence of that campaign mounted, Mr. Brennan warned Alexander Bortnikov, the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the F.S.B., not to meddle in the election. Not only would interference damage relations between the two countries, he said, it was certain to backfire.

“I said that all Americans, regardless of political affiliation or whom they might support in the election, cherish their ability to elect their own leaders without outside interference or disruption,” Mr. Brennan said. “I said American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in election.”

Mr. Brennan’s warning proved futile. Though intelligence agencies are unanimous in their belief that Russia directly interfered with the election, it has become a divisive partisan issue, with Democrats far more likely than Republicans to accept the conclusion. President Trump has declared that “Russia is fake news” and tried to undermine the conclusions of his own intelligence services.

I don’t blame Brennan for thinking that Russian interference in the election would outrage everyone regardless of party. I suppose I might have thought the same thing. But it ain’t so anymore:

As always, click the link for the whole story.

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Brennan: CIA Was Original Source of Trump-Russia Investigation

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Another Trump Bombshell Hits: New York Times Reports He Asked FBI Chief to Drop Flynn Investigation

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation of former national security adviser Mike Flynn, according to a bombshell report published by the New York Times that was based on a memo Comey wrote following the conversation.

“I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey in a private one-on-one meeting at the White House in February, the day after Flynn was fired for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the Times reports. Comey supposedly felt uncomfortable with the exchange and wrote a memo detailing the discussion. From the Times:

The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.

Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”

The Times included a denial from the White House:

While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn. The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.

After the Times published the story late Tuesday afternoon, the White House sent the same statement to members of the White House press corps.

The Times notes that Andrew McCabe, Comey’s deputy and the current acting director of the FBI, told a Senate panel last week that there hadn’t been any interference in the FBI’s investigation so far.

The story also reported that Trump had asked Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to leave the room so he could speak to Comey by himself. In this private conversation, Trump also reportedly pressed Comey to prosecute reporters for publishing classified information.

The Times‘ explosive story came at the end of a day that was already full of White House chaos, with Flynn’s successor, retired Lt. General H.R. McMaster trying to defend Trump in the face of the previous day’s Washington Post‘s report that Trump had disclosed highly sensitive classified information during his Oval Office meeting with Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

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Another Trump Bombshell Hits: New York Times Reports He Asked FBI Chief to Drop Flynn Investigation

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