Community Articles from 2018

Scientists Use Primitive Wheat Varieties to Feed the Hungry in Senegal

Scientists Use Primitive Wheat Varieties to Feed the Hungry in Senegal
by Dr. Fillip Bassi
Posted January 22, 2018

ancient grains can feed the hungryFor the past four years, I have led an international research team that has made it possible to grow durum wheat in conditions of extreme heat along the Senegal River basin, a region highly affected by poverty. Our scientific breakthrough, essential in the fight against hunger in the region, has won the 2017 Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security. To find this food solution, we didn’t use GM-breeding. Instead, we relied on advanced breeding techniques applied to strains of primitive and modern wheat to develop a set of durum wheat varieties that can not only withstand constant 35 to 40 degree Celsius (95 to 104 degree Fahrenheit) heat, but also grow remarkably fast, in only 92 days.

This discovery was only possible because, as scientists, we believed in the importance of the past and knew the treasures hidden in these ancient strains. We are certain that more solutions to adapt to the changing climates exist in this ancient gene pool, but these can only be reached if investments continue to flow to support the tedious and never-ending battle of breeding. More…

Despite Years of Recommendations, Government Still Rewards Bad Policies for Body Cameras

Despite Years of Recommendations, Government Still Rewards Bad Policies for Body Cameras
By Jake Laperruque
Posted January 21, 2018

body camera policies may be inadequateIn the last several years, we have seen a boom in the use of police body cameras. Departments across the country have adopted the cameras, and most of the nation’s largest cities have either begun pilot programs or full rollouts of body cameras for officers.

This has largely driven by calls for police reform and enhanced accountability, but it’s also been driven by financial assistance and other incentives provided by the federal government and body camera vendors. Unfortunately, as the use of these cameras has proliferated, serious problems have emerged from their use in a number of jurisdictions. Despite these problems, the federal government continues to reward departments and cities that operate bad body camera polices with additional grant funding.

If body cameras are to live up to their potential as an oversight mechanism meant to check abuse, rules need to be in place providing public access to body camera footage in a way that ensures accountability. More…

Finding a Fix

Finding a Fix
by Julia Lurie
Posted January 18, 2018

opiod related deathsBoth the Obama and Trump administrations have repeatedly acknowledged the need for treatment for drug users. “We’re going to take all of these kids—and people, not just kids—that are totally addicted and they can’t break it,” Donald Trump promised at a Columbus, Ohio, town hall meeting just before the election. “We’re going to work with them, we’re going to spend the money, we’re gonna get that habit broken.” He also promised to declare a national emergency, which would free up federal money to support afflicted communities. Nothing of the sort has happened.

Instead, in October Trump declared a public health state of emergency, which opened up a fund containing a grand total of $57,000—or about $1 per fatal overdose victim. As of this writing, neither the Department of Health and Human Services nor the Office of National Drug Control Policy have permanent leaders. Repealing Obamacare or enacting the proposed GOP tax bill would cause millions of Americans with substance abuse and mental health disorders to lose coverage. Meanwhile, the White House Council of Economic Advisers recently estimated that the epidemic cost the nation $504 billion in 2015. More…

How a Tiny Village Became the First Place in the World to Ban All Synthetic Pesticides

How a Tiny Village Became the First Place in the World to Ban All Synthetic Pesticides
by Philip Ackerman-Leist
Posted January 17, 2018

first village to ban all pesticidesThe Italian village of Mals has set an international precedent—and a model for other communities to follow.

For hundreds of years, the people of Mals—a tiny village in the South Tirol province of northern Italy—had cherished their traditional foodways and kept their local agriculture organic. Yet the town is located high up in the Alps, and the conventional apple producers, heavily dependent on pesticides, were steadily overtaking the valley below.

Aided by climate change, Big Apple (i.e., large corporate, industrialized apple growers) crept further up the region’s increasingly warmer valleys and mountainsides, its toxic sprays drifting with the valley’s ever-present winds and falling on the farms and fields of Mals—endangering their health, biodiversity, organic certifications, and their thriving tourism economy. More…

7 Next-Level Mind Hacks that Can Change Everything

7 Next-Level Mind Hacks that Can Change Everything
by Gary ‘Z’ McGee
Posted January 1, 2018

you can create change by changing yourselfYou don’t have to be a genius to be creative, but you do have to be creative to be a genius. Similarly, you don’t have to be awesome to not suck, but you do have to not suck to be awesome. There seems to be a theme here. In order to be an awesome genius, or at least to strive to be one, we should endeavor to be more creative and to suck less. Easier said than done, sure. But as Baruch Spinoza said, “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.”

The following next-level mind hacks are tools we can use to leverage a little more creativity and a little less suckiness into our lives. As the great Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In the minds of geniuses, we find – once more – our own neglected thoughts.” More…

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