Geoengineering Could Cheaply and Quickly Counter Global Warming

(p. B1) Last month, scholars from the physical and social sciences who are interested in climate change gathered in Washington to discuss approaches like cooling the planet by shooting aerosols into the stratosphere or whitening clouds to reflect sunlight back into space, which may prove indispensable to prevent the disastrous consequences of warming.
Aerosols could be loaded into military jets, to be sprayed into the atmosphere at (p. B4) high altitude. Clouds at sea could be made more reflective by spraying them with a fine saline mist, drawn from the ocean.
. . .
. . . , geoengineering needs to be addressed not as science fiction, but as a potential part of the future just a few decades down the road.
“Today it is still a taboo, but it is a taboo that is crumbling,” said David Keith, a noted Harvard physicist who was an organizer of the conclave.
. . .
Geoengineering would be cheap enough that even a middle-income country could deploy it unilaterally. Some scientists have estimated that solar radiation management could cool the earth quickly for as little as $5 billion per year or so.

For the full commentary, see:
Porter, Eduardo. “ECONOMIC SCENE; To Curb Global Warming, Science Fiction May Become Fact.” The New York Times (Weds., APRIL 5, 2017): B1 & B4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date APRIL 4, 2017, and has the title “ECONOMIC SCENE; To Curb Global Warming, Science Fiction May Become Fact.”)

Oregon Gadfly Fined for Practicing Engineering Without a License

(p. B2) Mats Jarlstrom acknowledges that he is unusually passionate about traffic signals — and that his zeal is not particularly appreciated by Oregon officials.
His crusade to make traffic lights remain yellow longer — which began after his wife received a red-light camera ticket — has drawn some interest among transportation specialists and the media. But among the power brokers in his hometown, Beaverton, it has elicited ridicule and exasperation.
“They literally laughed at me at City Hall,” Mr. Jarlstrom recalled of a visit there in 2013, when he tried to share his ideas with city counselors and the police chief.
Worse still was getting hit recently with a $500 fine for engaging in the “practice of engineering” without a license while pressing his cause. So last week, Mr. Jarlstrom filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying, charging the state’s licensing panel with violating his First Amendment rights.
“I was working with simple mathematics and applying it to the motion of a vehicle and explaining my research,” said Mr. Jarlstrom, 56. “By doing so, they declared I was illegal.”
The lawsuit is the latest and perhaps most novel shot in the continuing campaign against the proliferation of state licensing laws that can require costly training and fees before people can work. Mr. Jarlstrom is being represented by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian organization partly funded by the billionaire brothers and activists Charles G. and David H. Koch.

For the full story, see:
PATRICIA COHEN. “Crusader Fined for Doing Math Without License.” The New York Times (Mon., May 1, 2017): B2.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 30, 2017, and has the title “Yellow-Light Crusader Fined for Doing Math Without a License.”)

FDR’s Attorney General Warned Black Newspapers That He Would “Shut Them All Up”

(p. 12) . . . as the former Chicago Defender editor and reporter Ethan Michaeli shows in his extraordinary history, “The Defender,” the Negro press barons attacked military segregation with a zeal that set Roosevelt’s teeth on edge. The Negro press warned black men against Navy recruiters who would promise them training as radiomen, technicians or mechanics — then put them to work serving food to white men. It made its readers understand that black men and women in uniform were treated worse in Southern towns than German prisoners of war and sometimes went hungry on troop trains because segregationists declined to feed them. It focused unflinchingly on the fistfights and gun battles that erupted between blacks and whites on military bases. And it reiterated the truth that no doubt cut Roosevelt the most deeply: His government’s insistence on racial separation was of a piece with the “master race” theory put in play by Hitler in Europe.
This was not the first time The Defender and its sister papers had attacked institutional racism. That part of the story begins with Robert S. Abbott, the transplanted Southerner who created The Defender in 1905 and fashioned it into a potent weapon.
. . .
The black press was considerably more powerful and self-assured by 1940, when Abbott died and his nephew John H. Sengstacke succeeded him.
. . .
Things stood thus in 1942, when Sengstacke traveled to Washington to meet with Attorney General Francis Biddle. Sengstacke found Biddle in a conference room, sitting at a table across which was spread copies of black newspapers that included The Defender, The Courier and The Afro-American. Biddle said that the black papers were flirting with sedition and threatened to “shut them all up.”

For the full review, see:
BRENT STAPLES. “‘A ‘Most Dangerous’ Newspaper.” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., JAN. 10, 2016): 12.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date JAN. 4, 2016, and has the title “”The Defender,’ by Ethan Michaeli.”)

The book under review, is:
Michaeli, Ethan. The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Government Regulations Suppress Poor Street Entrepreneurs

(p. 7) HANOI, Vietnam — As strips of tofu sizzle beside her in a vat of oil, Nguyen Thu Hong listens for police sirens.
Police raids on sidewalk vendors have escalated sharply in downtown Hanoi since March [2017], she said, and officers fine her about $9, or two days’ earnings, for the crime of selling bun dau mam tom — vermicelli rice noodles with tofu and fermented shrimp paste — from a plastic table beside an empty storefront.
“Most Vietnamese live by what they do on the sidewalk, so you can’t just take that away,” she said. “More regulations would be fine, but what the cops are doing now feels too extreme.”
Southeast Asia is famous for its street food, delighting tourists and locals alike with tasty, inexpensive dishes like spicy som tam (green papaya salad) in Bangkok or sizzling banh xeo crepes in Ho Chi Minh City. But major cities in three countries are strengthening campaigns to clear the sidewalks, driving thousands of food vendors into the shadows and threatening a culinary tradition.
. . .
. . . some experts say street food is not inherently less sanitary than restaurant food. “If you’re eating fried foods or things that are really steaming hot, then there’s probably not much difference at all,” said Martyn Kirk, an epidemiologist at the Australian National University.
. . .
Ms. Hong, the Hanoi vendor, said her earnings had cratered by about 60 percent since the start of the crackdown, when she moved to her present location from a busy street corner as a hedge against police raids.

For the full story, see:
MIKE IVES. “Food So Popular, Asian Cities Want It Off the Streets.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., APRIL 30, 2017): 7.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 29, 2017, and has the title “Efforts to Ease Congestion Threaten Street Food Culture in Southeast Asia.”)

“The System Is Totally Crazy”

(p. D1) Mr. Ahmed, 46, is in the business of chicken and rice. He immigrated from Bangladesh 23 years ago, and is now one of two partners in a halal food cart that sets up on Greenwich Street close to the World Trade Center, all year long, rain or shine. He is also one of more than 10,000 people, most of them immigrants, who make a living selling food on the city’s sidewalks: pork tamales, hot dogs, rolled rice noodles, jerk chicken.
These vendors are a fixture of New York’s streets and New Yorkers’ routines, vital to the culture of the city. But day to day, they struggle to do business against a host of challenges: byzantine city codes and regulations on street vending, exorbitant fines for small violations (like setting up an inch too close to the curb) and the occasional rage of brick-and-mortar businesses or residents.
. . .
(p. D6) Mr. Ahmed ties on his apron and pushes a few boxes underneath the cart so he can squeeze inside and get to work. Any boxes peeking out beyond the cart’s footprint could result in a fine (penalties can run up to $1,000), as could parking his cart closer than six inches to the curb, or 20 feet to the building entrance. Mr. Ahmed knows all the rules by heart.
. . .
He applied for a food vendor’s license, took a required health and safety class, bought a used cart and took it for an inspection by city officials. (The health department inspects carts at least once a year, and more frequently if a violation is reported.)
Mr. Ahmed still needed a food-vending permit, though, and because of a cap on permits imposed in the 1980s, only 4,000 or so circulate. He acquired his from a permit owner who has charged him and his partner $25,000 for two-year leases (for a permit that cost the owner just $200), which they are still paying off.
A day ago, Mr. Ahmed received a text message: 100 vendors were protesting the cap. Organized by the Street Vendor Project, a nonprofit group that is part of the Urban Justice Center and offers legal representation to city vendors, they hoped to pressure the City Council to pass legislation introduced last fall that would double the number of food-vending permits, gradually, over the next seven years. Mr. Ahmed, who believes the costs for those starting out should be more manageable, wanted to join them, but like many vendors, he couldn’t get away from work.
“The system is totally crazy,” Mr. Ahmed says. “Whoever has a license, give them a permit. It’s good for all of us.”

For the full story, see:
TEJAL RAO. “A Day in the Lunch Box.” The New York Times (Weds., APRIL 19, 2017): D1 & D6.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 18, 2017, and has the title “A Day in the Life of a Food Vendor.”)

300,000-Year-Old Homo Sapien Fossils Found

(p. A6) Fossils discovered in Morocco are the oldest known remains of Homo sapiens, scientists reported on Wednesday [June 7, 2017], a finding that rewrites the story of mankind’s origins and suggests that our species evolved in multiple locations across the African continent.
“We did not evolve from a single ‘cradle of mankind’ somewhere in East Africa,” said Philipp Gunz, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and a co-author of two new studies on the fossils, published in the journal Nature. “We evolved on the African continent.”
Until now, the oldest known fossils of our species dated back just 195,000 years. The Moroccan fossils, by contrast, are roughly 300,000 years old. Remarkably, they indicate that early Homo sapiens had faces much like our own, although their brains differed in fundamental ways.
. . .
Resetting the clock on mankind’s debut would be achievement enough. But the new research is also notable for the discovery of several early humans rather than just one, as so often happens, said Marta Mirazon Lahr, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Cambridge who was not involved in the new study.
“We have no other place like it, so it’s a fabulous finding,” she said.
The people at Jebel Irhoud shared a general resemblance to one another — and to living humans. Their brows were heavy, their chins small, their faces flat and wide. But all in all, they were not so different from people today.
“The face is that of somebody you could come across in the Metro,” Dr. Hublin said.
The flattened faces of early Homo sapiens may have something to do with the advent of speech, speculated Christopher Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London.
“We really are at very early stages of trying to explain these things,” Dr. Stringer said.
The brains of the inhabitants of Jebel Irhoud, on the other hand, were less like our own.
Although they were as big as modern human brains, they did not yet have its distinctively round shape. They were long and low, like those of earlier hominins.
Dr. Gunz, of the Max Planck Institute, said that the human brain may have become rounder at a later phase of evolution. Two regions in the back of the brain appear to have become enlarged over thousands of years.
“I think what we see reflect adaptive changes in the way the brain functions,” he said. Still, he added, no one knows how a rounder brain changed how we think.
The people of Jebel Irhoud were certainly sophisticated. They could make fires and craft complex weapons, such as wooden handled spears, needed to kill gazelles and other animals that grazed the savanna that covered the Sahara 300,000 years ago.
The flint is interesting for another reason: Researchers traced its origin to another site about 20 miles south of Jebel Irhoud. Early Homo sapiens, then, knew how to search out and to use resources spread over long distances.

For the full story, see:
Zimmer, Carl. “MATTER; Oldest Fossils of Homo Sapiens Found in Morocco, Altering History of Species.” The New York Times (Thurs., JUNE 8, 2017): A6.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 7, 2017, and has the title “MATTER; Oldest Fossils of Homo Sapiens Found in Morocco, Altering History of Our Species.”)

I believe the two Nature articles mentioned above, are:
Hublin, Jean-Jacques, Abdelouahed Ben-Ncer, Shara E. Bailey, Sarah E. Freidline, Simon Neubauer, Matthew M. Skinner, Inga Bergmann, Adeline Le Cabec, Stefano Benazzi, Katerina Harvati, and Philipp Gunz. “New Fossils from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco and the Pan-African Origin of Homo Sapiens.” Nature 546, no. 7657 (June 8, 2017): 289-92.
Richter, Daniel, Rainer Grün, Renaud Joannes-Boyau, Teresa E. Steele, Fethi Amani, Mathieu Rué, Paul Fernandes, Jean-Paul Raynal, Denis Geraads, Abdelouahed Ben-Ncer, Jean-Jacques Hublin, and Shannon P. McPherron. “The Age of the Hominin Fossils from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, and the Origins of the Middle Stone Age.” Nature 546, no. 7657 (June 8, 2017): 293-96.

“20 Years in a Labor Camp for ‘Practicing Capitalism'”

(p. 23) “Just talk to any Chinese who lived through that time,” a middle-aged man whose father spent nearly 20 years in a labor camp for “practicing capitalism” tells the radio reporter Rob Schmitz, in “Street of Eternal Happiness,” his new book about some of the ordinary people he encounters in his Shanghai neighborhood. “We all have the same stories.”

For the full review, see:
ADAM ROSE. “‘Shanghai Confidential.” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., MAY 15, 2016): 23.
(Note: the online version of the review has the date MAY 13, 2016, and has the title “‘Street of Eternal Happiness,’ by Rob Schmitz’.”)

The book under review, is:
Schmitz, Rob. Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road. New York: Crown, 2016.