Archive

August 25th, 2016

The inventions that changed our genetic code

    Of all living things, why do humans alone create advanced technology? Not long ago, scientists thought it was because we are the only intelligent life form on this planet. That explanation alone no longer suffices. Over the last decade, scientists have discovered that crows can use tools, hyenas can cooperate to solve complex problems, jays can plan for the future, rats and voles can demonstrate empathy, and ducklings are capable of abstract thought.

    Yet our technology is extraordinary. Why were we the ones to transform the planet? A clue comes from a recent paper on a genetic change that helped our ancient ancestors tolerate smoke after fire was invented. It's the latest finding to bolster the increasingly compelling notion that natural selection acts on our species in a unique way. While evolution forces all living things to adapt to changing natural environments, this emerging school of thought holds, it also forces humans to adapt to our own inventions. And indeed, there's evidence we have been physically reshaped by agriculture, dairy farming, stone tools, spears and the taming of fire.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

The conflict at the heart of U.S. retirement plans

    This month, yet another slew of private retirement plan managers became the target of class-action lawsuits. This time it was a bunch of universities: Yale University, New York University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other schools have been sued for failing to properly oversee their employees' retirement plans.

    The lawyer behind the suits, Jerome Schlichter, has already hit companies for failing to administer their 401(k) plans responsibly; this latest wave of suits targets the so-called 403(b), a form of defined contribution plan used by non-profits like universities that closely resembles the 401(k).

    These suits are sending shock waves through the world of private retirement plans. And with good reason: They betray the nation's unresolved confusion over the historic change that's occurred in how most people save for retirement. Once upon a time, in the bygone age of defined-benefit pension plans, it was assumed that employers would bear all the responsibility of ensuring that the money they set aside to finance these pensions was invested responsibly and efficiently.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

I love Donald Trump's post-fact world

    Finally!

    Take that, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Mr. You Are Entitled To Your Own Opinion, But Not Your Own Facts. Fact-check rating: Entirely false. You are entitled to your own set of facts. It's the logical next step in the American Dream. You deserve only the best, and if reality doesn't want to cooperate, well, reality can shove it.

    Thank you, Donald Trump. With his decision to make Stephen Bannon of Breitbart his campaign's new chief executive -- yes, Stephen Bannon, he of the outlet that published such headlines as "Trump 100% Vindicated: CBS Reports 'Swarm' on Rooftops Celebrating 9/11″ -- Trump has crossed the post-fact Rubicon to invade, um, post-fact France. (I don't think it's actually France that they crossed the Rubicon to invade, but, according to my own set of facts, it is now. Thanks, Donald.) Look under your seat, folks! You get your own set of facts! Everyone gets your own set of facts!

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

August 24th

Clinton's liberal administration takes shape

    Will Hillary Clinton be a standard-order mainstream liberal Democrat if she is elected in November? That view received some supporting evidence this week with the announcement of the leadership group for her transition planning team.

    If personnel is policy -- and it most certainly is -- then Clinton's choices matter. Based on the eight people she named to her transition team, she'll fill her administration with governing professionals who have strong ties to the party, including some with strong ties to the current president.

    The team consists of chair Ken Salazar; co-chairs Tom Donilon, Jennifer Granholm, Neera Tanden and Maggie Williams; policy wonks Ed Meier and Ann O'Leary; and chief economist Heather Boushey.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Great cities must protect their watersheds

    The world's great cities could hold the key to the prosperity of the human race. Yet a comprehensive new study points to a worrying trend: The water they need to grow is getting more expensive, because they're failing to protect the nature that purifies it.

    Cities are amazing engines of productivity. As the hubs of our modern societies, they mix together people with a diversity of skills and create fertile ground for learning and invention. In many respects, bigger tends to be better. Larger cities have more patents and inventions per person, and achieve better energy and resource efficiency thanks to economies of scale. For example, they require less conducting cable per person to carry electrical power where needed.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

End all ivory sales worldwide

    Throughout my life, I have been an avid hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman. I hunt quail, wild turkey, dove and other birds. I've been on safari in Africa a number of times to hunt Cape buffalo and other plains game. I hunt elk in the Rocky Mountains every year. In my native Texas, I fish the Gulf Coast's bays for redfish and trout, and I fish Wyoming's cool streams for freshwater trout.

    Like most sportsmen, I am also a conservationist. From the days of Teddy Roosevelt, American hunters - and, indeed, the Republican Party that Roosevelt represented - have held a deep reverence for nature and the wildlife found there. Roosevelt had a hand in the creation of 23 national parks. A half-century later, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Asking judges to decide who's bisexual is messy

    There's something very awkward about a panel of judges ruling on someone's sexual orientation. But that still happens in immigration asylum cases -- and Wednesday, a divided appeals court rejected a Jamaican's claim that he should not be sent home because he was bisexual and subject to harm there. The applicant found an unusual defender in Judge Richard Posner, whose dissenting opinion was characteristically acerbic, entertaining and problematic: He cited Wikipedia entries, dancehall lyrics and a YouTube video, and suggested that, as a bisexual, the applicant might be targeted by gay Jamaicans on his return to the island.

    The case arose after Ray Fuller, a 51-year-old Jamaican, was ordered removed by federal immigration authorities. Fuller immigrated to the U.S. in 1999 on a fiance visa. He and his wife divorced in 2002; in 2004, he pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault. He originally got a suspended sentence, but he violated the terms of his probation and got four years in prison.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

An Open Letter From Mr. Trump

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Trump is sorry. Trump is humble. Trump is scared. Trump doesn’t want to get crushed.

    So if I have offended anyone, or because I have offended everyone, I’m sorry.

    I’m sorry that I realized too late that all the great put-downs that helped me put away the 16 dwarfs don’t translate well to the general election.

    I’m sorry that I’m causing the Republicans to lose control of the Senate, and I’m sorry they wish I’d never been born.

    I’m really not that sorry to be causing trouble for Paul Ryan, who’s going to lose seats in the House. He’s a prig, and I wish he had lost his primary to that tattooed guy who likes me.

    I’m sorry I pretended I was going to release my tax returns. Of course I didn’t pay any taxes. I have the all-time greatest real estate deductions and depreciations.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Why Putin wants a Trump victory

    Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see Donald Trump become the next president of the United States. To that end, Putin and his government have taken unprecedented steps to influence our electoral process to help the Republican Party's nominee. Whether Russia's interventions will succeed is not obvious. But it's clear that Putin's government has the motives - and the means - to try.

    Putin has rational motives for wanting Trump to win: Trump champions many foreign policies that Putin supports. Trump's most shocking, pro-Kremlin proposal is to "look into" recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia. President Barack Obama and nearly every member of Congress - Republican and Democrat - have rejected that idea vigorously. Only Afghanistan, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela have recognized Russia's annexation of Crimea. Naturally, Putin would love to see the United States join that list.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

We’re Winning!

    Looking for refuge from the gust of insanity blowing across the fruited plain, I went to the highest perch I could reach in North Cascades National Park. I needed a break from the politician who has roused the lowest impulses of the American character.

    What better escape from the primordial muck of Donald Trump and company than an alpine aerie of America’s Best Idea? Still, the stench of his recent provocations followed me to the far northwest corner of the contiguous United States. Hints of assassination from those “Second Amendment people.” Claiming that President Barack Obama founded the Islamic State. Sidling up to dictators who kill political opponents.

    I could hear the bark of his soulless pessimism. “We are a country that doesn’t win anymore,” he said, time and again. “When was the last time we won?”

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!