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Author: Common Dreams

Zombie Virus: Scientists reanimate 50,000 year-old microbes released in thawing Siberian Permafrost

As our world continues to warm up, vast areas of permafrost are rapidly melting, releasing material that have been trapped for up to a million years. Included are uncountable numbers of microbes that have been lying dormant for hundreds of millennia. To study these emerging microbes, scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research have now revived a number of these “zombie viruses” from the Siberian permafrost, including one thought to be nearly 50,000 years old – a record age for a frozen virus returning to a state capable of infecting other organisms. The team behind the study, led by...

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What the midterms taught us: While the “Red Wave” was thwarted our fragile Democracy remains at risk

The winds blowing in Washington and many communities post-election just might be a sigh of relief. The red wave, or red tsunami as Ted Cruz boasted, evaporated. “There wasn’t even a red splash,” as New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie put it. Democracy, as President Biden emphasized, was on the ballot, and a clear majority of voters had no truck for those most aligned with a lurch toward authoritarian rule. Despite the dreams of the far right, and predictions of many pundits and pollsters that voters would overlook the insurrection and election conspiracy theories because of inflation, the results...

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New research suggests that unpopular Conservative policies are also deadly to people who live under them

The Republican Party’s regressive policies are not just unpopular, but a new study released on October 26 suggests they are also deadly to those who live under them. Working-age mortality rates have been rising for decades across the United States, but premature deaths are more pronounced in states where “conservative” policies predominate and less common in states that have adopted more “liberal” policies, according to peer-reviewed research published in Plos One. Policies that “expand state power for economic regulation and redistribution, protect the rights of marginalized groups, or restrict state power to punish deviant behavior” were defined by the...

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Mail-order Conservatism: When political hucksters praise rugged individualism while crafting conformity

Since time immemorial, the con artist’s sucker pitch to his targets has been the same. “You are special: you are savvier, more clear-sighted, more clued-in than the average clod, and because I like you so much, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret if you act now.” A decade ago, Rick Perlstein examined this aspect of an American political movement when he wrote about mail-order conservatism. This was the newsletter promotion of right-wing politics mixed in with various snake-oil advertisements that began, in Perlstein’s telling, with the Goldwater campaign in 1964. It blossomed in the 1970’s, went...

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A new breed of insurrectionist: Why America does not designate violent domestic extremists as terrorists

It garnered little notice, but New Zealand, half a world away from the events of January 6th, has designated the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization, making it “illegal to fund, recruit or participate in the groups, and obligating authorities to take action against them.” But the government that the Proud Boys helped nearly overthrow does not so designate them. The United States formally labels only foreign-based violent extremist groups like ISIS as terrorist entities. Why is this? A Brookings piece suggests that social norms about maximal free speech and a tendency to downplay incidents perpetrated by white males...

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Congress accuses Saudi Arabia of helping underwrite Putin’s war in Ukraine with oil profits from supply cut

The Democratic chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee pledged on October 10 to block all future U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia as backlash over OPEC’s decision to cut oil production and push up gas prices continues to grow on Capitol Hill. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who has veto power over foreign arms sales, said in a statement that OPEC’s plan to slash production by two million barrels a day in a bid to prop up oil prices amounts to a “decision to help underwrite Putin’s war.” Russia, an OPEC ally, stands to benefit from higher oil prices...

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