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NEW TOWN UTOPIA by Christopher Ian Smith Kickstarter

Posted: October 20, 2016 at 11:38 pm

New Town Utopia is a documentary feature film that explores the original utopian dreams of a post-war British New Town Basildon, Essex – and compares this to the modern concrete reality.We’re close to finishing production, and after four years of serious hard work, have hundreds of hours of footage ready to be crafted into a poetic, challenging film.

It is a meditation on British social history that asks the question: do people make the place or does a place make the people?

An audiovisual journey through art, architecture and memory, the story is brought to life through the thoughts, performances and work of artists from the town.An inspirational group of characters persevering in the face of austerity, adversity and personal battles.

These are individuals driven by an unwavering desire to help their community through poetry, music, sculpture and puppets.

After WW2, New Towns were designed as social ‘Utopias’ in the model of Thomas More’s vision – to create a new type of citizen, a healthy, self-respecting, dignified person with a sense of beauty, culture and civic pride.

Basildon, the largest of the first wave of New Towns, was invested with these hopes and aspirations. However, 60 years on, art and culture are almost a distant memory.The town plans, public art and architecture, once thought so progressive, are vilified in the face of a struggling local economy and fragmented communities.

New Town Utopia questions how this dream has faded over time. In doing so, it explores the influence of environment and architecture on our psyche, and the impact of austerity on our towns and communities. In an environment where support for art and culture is at an all-time low, this film contemplates and celebrates the unceasing power of creative spirit.

The team behind New Town Utopia includes Essex-raised Producer-Director Christopher Ian Smith and Executive Producer Margaret Matheson (Sleep Furiously, Scum, Sid and Nancy).

So far,New Town Utopia has only been made possible through the kindness, time and talent of a dedicated crew with belief in the project.

Now we need to raise the money to finish the film – this requires a wide range of specialist skills, technologies, facilities and time to make it happen, including:

These campaign funds will also contribute to the distribution and marketing of the film. Were already in a great place with significant followers on Facebook, Twitter (2.5k) and Instagram (6.4k) without anyone having seen the film. There is a large community of people out there, with a strong interest in documentary, social history art and architecture.

Whats more, any money we raise above the target will contribute to the distribution of the film and outreach activities, including screenings for communities around the UK – using the film to build awareness of issues that face our towns and their people.

Your gratefully received contributions will be exchanged for a range of unique rewards relating to the film. This includes perks such as:


2016 marks the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia and the 70th anniversary of the New Towns Act.New Town Utopia hopes to shine a light on some of the current challenges for Basildon, New Towns and other towns in the UK facing economic, social and cultural changes. We hope the film will have a positive impact on Basildon and the films distribution strategy will incorporate community action initiatives and projects involving Basildon and other New Towns.

The New Towns movement did not end in the 50s… New Towns continue to be built across the world with similar hopes, dreams and challenges and are often cited as the cure for housing crises around the globe. If we did it again how can we make it work?

Whether you make a contribution or whether you spread the word. Every little counts!You can also:


There are several key risks and challenges that the film faces ahead. Producing a feature film is a considerable undertaking with many moving parts. It will take a lot of time, thought, dedication and talent to see it through.

1. New Town Utopia has a small crew of dedicated people its a labour of love – so a key risk is that those involved have to move onto other projects in order to pay their bills. The funds raised by this campaign will ensure that this dedicated team can focus on getting this film over the line.

2. Time is also a challenge. We want to finish the film in 2016, as after four years of production its time to move onto the next stage which is finding an audience and making an impact. Most importantly, the content of the film is incredibly timely as we look at how we deal with globalisation, Brexit and the housing crisis. New Town Utopia is a window into a real community and how a ‘top-down approach to planning, management and politics has an impact on this place and its people.

The funds from this campaign will ensure a focus on delivering the film for festivals and distribution in 2017.

3. Even when the film is completed its tough to get it seen. As the way we watch and consume films is changing, there are many ways an audience can find a film. It’s crucial that New Town Utopia gets exposure through key film festivals. This will then hopefully lead to screenings on TV, Netflix or similar. We will also look to build buzz and awareness of the film through community screenings and online activity.

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NEW TOWN UTOPIA by Christopher Ian Smith Kickstarter

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Ascension (miniseries) – Wikipedia

Posted: at 11:37 pm

Ascension is a 2014 Canadian/US-American science fiction mystery drama television miniseries which aired on CBC in Canada and Syfy in USA. It consists of six 43 minute episodes. The show was created by Philip Levens and Adrian A. Cruz. The pilot was written and executive produced by Philip Levens, who served as the showrunner.

On July 9, 2014, CBC added Ascension to its fall programming roster. It was originally scheduled to premiere in November 2014.[1] In October 2014, CBC announced that the premiere date had been moved to January 2015.[2] It started airing on CBC on Monday nights starting February 9, 2015.[3] Syfy had originally announced plans to debut the show on November 24, 2014, airing one episode per week for six weeks.[4] Instead the series premiered on December 15, 2014, and aired two episodes each night for three consecutive nights.[5]

The story takes place aboard a generation ship originally launched in the 1960s and now half-way into its 100-year journey to Proxima Centauri. A murder onboard sparks off a series of events that lead the crew to begin second-guessing their real mission.

Ascension is inspired by the real-life Project Orion that existed under the administration of President John F. Kennedy.[6] The show sets up an alternate version of reality beginning in 1963, in which Kennedy and the U.S. government, fearing the Cold War will escalate and lead to the destruction of Earth, launch a spaceship to colonize a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, assuring the survival of the human race.

The USS Ascension is a massive, self-sustaining generation ship. The journey will take 100 years, so only the children and grandchildren of the original crew of 600 volunteers will be alive when they arrive.[7] The story begins 51 years into their journey (i.e. in the present), as they approach the point of no return. The action begins with the mysterious murder of a young woman the first homicide since the Ascension was launched.[8] The investigation causes the ship’s crew to question the true nature of their mission.[9]

It is revealed that the Ascension is in fact not a spaceship and never left Earth; it is actually a psychological experiment being carried out in a mock spaceship inside a secret underground facility. The current director of the project, Dr. Harris Enzmann, is attempting to use the experiment to evolve a superhuman. This appears to be successful in the form of Christa, a young girl born onboard who displays a number of telekinetic powers. Enzmann’s mission is opposed by others in the organization, and the murder sparks off a series of events that lead to Enzmann’s position being put in jeopardy.[10]

To add to his troubles, an onboard accident results in one of the ship’s workers, the prime murder suspect, being ejected from the “ship”. He escapes confinement and meets a local reporter who is investigating the organization, along with the help of an investigator hired by the organization to solve the murder.[10]

On March 13, 2014, came the official announcement that Syfy had ordered Ascension as a 6-part miniseries.[25] Syfy billed Ascension as a “6-hour event series”.[11]

Ascension is an original sci-fi mystery drama created and written by Philip Levens who serves as executive producer and showrunner.[26] The series is produced in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, by Canada-based Sea to Sky Studios in association with U.S.-based Blumhouse Productions. It is co-financed and distributed by U.S.-based Universal Cable Productions and Canada-based Lionsgate Television.[27]

Jason Blum and Mark Stern are executive producers on the project along with Ivan Fecan, Tim Gamble, and Brett Burlock.

On April 30, 2014, Syfy announced that Tricia Helfer would star as Viondra Denninger.[28] On June 3, 2014, Brian Van Holt was announced to star as Captain William Denninger.[29]

On June 24, 2014, Brandon P. Bell, Tiffany Lonsdale, and Jacqueline Byers were announced to co-star alongside Helfer and Van Holt, as First Officer Oren Gault, Chief Astronomer Emily Vanderhaus, and Nora Bryce respectively,[30] and two days later, Andrea Roth and P.J. Boudousque joined the main cast as Dr. Juliet Bryce and James Toback respectively.[31]

On July 7, 2014, Ryan Robbins joined the main cast[26] as Safety Officer Duke Vanderhaus,[32] and two days later, Gil Bellows joined the main cast[26] as Harris Enzmann.[33] Later the same day, Wendy Crewson was announced to guest star in an as yet unspecified role (which was ultimately that of Director Katherine Warren).[32]

The series began shooting on July 7, 2014, in Montreal.[18] Canadian director Stephen Williams directed the first two episodes.[34]

The first promotional teaser-trailer was released on May 15, 2014, at the 2014 NBCUniversal Cable Upfront Presentation.[35] The trailer is available for viewing on the official page of Ascension on Syfy’s website.[11]

On July 14, 2014, executive producer and showrunner Phil Levens and executive producer Jason Blum appeared at the Television Critics Association (TCA) summer press tour to talk about the new series bringing along the principal stars of the show, Brian Van Holt and Tricia Helfer, to field questions from the ballroom of critics.[36] (see below: Comments by the cast and crew)

On October 13, 2014, the network announced that instead of airing as a weekly series for six weeks, Ascension would air as a three-night “event” starting on December 15, 2014, with two of the six episodes airing each of three consecutive nights.[5]

Although the show was ordered as a miniseries, it could have potentially run for multiple seasons,[37] similar to the network’s popular series Battlestar Galactica.

On March 10, 2015, Syfy announced that they would not be producing any further episodes or seasons of the show, explaining, “We were very happy with Ascension as an event series, but with so much high profile development in the works, we have decided not to pursue a full series.”[38]

Tricia Helfer (top) and Brian Van Holt at NBCUniversal’s 2014 Summer TCA Tour on July 14, 2014

Upon the official announcement, on March 13, 2014, that Syfy had picked up the miniseries, Bill McGoldrick, Executive Vice President of Original Content for Syfy stated: “Phil Levens has crafted a bold and surprising spin on the space opera. We are equally excited to embark on this journey with our partners at UCP, Sea to Sky, Lionsgate, Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions and also with Mark Stern who shepherded this project while at Syfy”.[25]

On July 14, 2014, at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Jason Blum, Tricia Helfer, Philip Levens, and Brian Van Holt commented on the upcoming show.[36]

Executive producer Jason Blum said that:

What piqued [his] interest was the originality of EP Philip Levens’ story idea, which was inspired by the Orion military project under JFK. Levens pointed out that Kennedy squashed the development of Orion soon after Bay of Pigs as the military began equipping the spaceship with weapons. He was terrified that they were turning it into a Death Star.[4]

About the starship he said that “it feels like a cruise ship. Essentially the ship is like a time capsule, another civilization that continued for 50 years parallel to our civilization.”[39] Blum added that:

The people on the ship, only some of their children, but most of their grandchildren, are the only people who are going to arrive at this new world. A lot of the people who started on this ship have died. It’s their children, their children’s children, who are going to get to where they’re going. And there are a lot of conflicts going on. Should they turn around and go back to Earth, which they’ve lost touch with? So they have no idea of what Earth even looks like now. Should they continue? Also there’s been a murder on the ship, which never happened before. So that’s kind of what starts it.[36]

Tricia Helfer said about Viondra that her “manipulative” character considers herself the “mother of the people on the ship, the mother of humanity in one way if Earth did blow itself up”.[36] “Brian [Van Holt] and I play a married couple and as the wife, I’m definitely the woman behind the man more than we would see in our society here on Earth today”, Helfer added.[39] She explained about the ship’s crew that:

Their morals and the values that they’re dealing with are still from the ’60s. The society on the ship is very hierarchical and uses genetic linking-arranged marriages, basically to sustain human life (three generations will be born during the trip to Proxima). [My] character Viondra started out on the lower decks but rose through the ranks, as did her husband. They’re a power couple. Viondra will do anything to stay in power.[8]

Creator Philip Levens said that:

Ascension will explore how technology has evolved on the ship and the way morality is still rooted in an early ’60s, pre-Civil Rights Act view [of] humanity. Issues of class the ship is divided into decks, with people in positions of power living on the upper ones will also come into play. There’s much more of a sense of obeying your parents because, you know, for the ship to really work, everybody has to cooperate. The murder is kind of the starting of the unravelling, so to speak. And kids start to question choices made by their grandparents. There’s a thing on board the ship called “the crisis”. It’s this existential dilemma that everyone has to go through when they realize that, you know, their life has been circumscribed for them. You know, everybody they ever know or ever will know is already around them. So there’s lots of issues like that kind of play [as] a coming of age thing with the kids and their parents.[36]

“Because the series is set on a ship that is self-contained and self-sustained, the people have evolved and developed differently than they would have if they’d remained on Earth. Not only is the technology different, but they think differently, too”.[8]

Brian Van Holt described his character as “a man caught in the middle, aware that his legacy as the ship’s ‘middle route’ captain won’t probably go down in the record books. The one who launches the ship and the one who lands it will be remembered. No one in the now will be remembered. So he struggles with that”.[40] He concluded by saying that “he’s a very ambitious character who sought out a leadership role, which was presented to him after an act of heroism on the ship”.[8]

Ascension has been met with mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the show a rating of 65%, based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The site’s critical consensus states, “The characters in Ascension lack the depth that is necessary for its dramatic elements, but its premise may be smart enough to hold the interest of sci-fi fans.”[41] On Metacritic, the show has a score of 56 out of 100, based on reviews from 14 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.[42]

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Ascension (miniseries) – Wikipedia

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Meme – Wikipedia

Posted: October 19, 2016 at 4:12 am

A meme ( MEEM)[1] is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”.[2] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[3]

Proponents theorize that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[4]

A field of study called memetics[5] arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that academic study can examine memes empirically. However, developments in neuroimaging may make empirical study possible.[6] Some commentators in the social sciences question the idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units, and are especially critical of the biological nature of the theory’s underpinnings.[7] Others have argued that this use of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal.[8]

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins’s own position is somewhat ambiguous: he welcomed N. K. Humphrey’s suggestion that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically”[9] and proposed to regard memes as “physically residing in the brain”.[10] Later, he argued that his original intentions, presumably before his approval of Humphrey’s opinion, had been simpler.[11] At the New Directors’ Showcase 2013 in Cannes, Dawkins’ opinion on memetics was deliberately ambiguous.[12]

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek pronounced[mmma] mmma, “imitated thing”, from mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from mimos, “mime”)[13] coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[1][14] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[15]Kenneth Pike coined the related term emic and etic, generalizing the linguistic idea of phoneme, morpheme and tagmeme (as set out by Leonard Bloomfield), characterizing them as insider view and outside view of behaviour and extending the concept into a tagmemic theory of human behaviour (culminating in Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, 1954).

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins cites as inspiration the work of geneticist L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, anthropologist F. T. Cloak[16] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[17] Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmissionin the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution. Although Dawkins invented the term ‘meme’ and developed meme theory, the possibility that ideas were subject to the same pressures of evolution as were biological attributes was discussed in Darwin’s time. T. H. Huxley claimed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.'[18]

Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesized that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behavior. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.[15]

Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication, but later definitions would vary. The lack of a consistent, rigorous, and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics.[20] In contrast, the concept of genetics gained concrete evidence with the discovery of the biological functions of DNA. Meme transmission requires a physical medium, such as photons, sound waves, touch, taste or smell because memes can be transmitted only through the senses.

Dawkins noted that in a society with culture a person need not have descendants to remain influential in the actions of individuals thousands of years after their death:

But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea…it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G.C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The meme-complexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus and Marconi are still going strong.[21]

Memes, analogously to genes, vary in their aptitude to replicate; successful memes remain and spread, whereas unfit ones stall and are forgotten. Thus memes that prove more effective at replicating and surviving are selected in the meme pool.

Memes first need retention. The longer a meme stays in its hosts, the higher its chances of propagation are. When a host uses a meme, the meme’s life is extended.[22] The reuse of the neural space hosting a certain meme’s copy to host different memes is the greatest threat to that meme’s copy.[23]

A meme which increases the longevity of its hosts will generally survive longer. On the contrary, a meme which shortens the longevity of its hosts will tend to disappear faster. However, as hosts are mortal, retention is not sufficient to perpetuate a meme in the long term; memes also need transmission.

Life-forms can transmit information both vertically (from parent to child, via replication of genes) and horizontally (through viruses and other means). Memes can replicate vertically or horizontally within a single biological generation. They may also lie dormant for long periods of time.

Memes reproduce by copying from a nervous system to another one, either by communication or imitation. Imitation often involves the copying of an observed behavior of another individual. Communication may be direct or indirect, where memes transmit from one individual to another through a copy recorded in an inanimate source, such as a book or a musical score. Adam McNamara has suggested that memes can be thereby classified as either internal or external memes (i-memes or e-memes).[6]

Some commentators have likened the transmission of memes to the spread of contagions.[24] Social contagions such as fads, hysteria, copycat crime, and copycat suicide exemplify memes seen as the contagious imitation of ideas. Observers distinguish the contagious imitation of memes from instinctively contagious phenomena such as yawning and laughing, which they consider innate (rather than socially learned) behaviors.[25]

Aaron Lynch described seven general patterns of meme transmission, or “thought contagion”:[26]

Dawkins initially defined meme as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.[15] John S. Wilkins retained the notion of meme as a kernel of cultural imitation while emphasizing the meme’s evolutionary aspect, defining the meme as “the least unit of sociocultural information relative to a selection process that has favorable or unfavorable selection bias that exceeds its endogenous tendency to change”.[27] The meme as a unit provides a convenient means of discussing “a piece of thought copied from person to person”, regardless of whether that thought contains others inside it, or forms part of a larger meme. A meme could consist of a single word, or a meme could consist of the entire speech in which that word first occurred. This forms an analogy to the idea of a gene as a single unit of self-replicating information found on the self-replicating chromosome.

While the identification of memes as “units” conveys their nature to replicate as discrete, indivisible entities, it does not imply that thoughts somehow become quantized or that “atomic” ideas exist that cannot be dissected into smaller pieces. A meme has no given size. Susan Blackmore writes that melodies from Beethoven’s symphonies are commonly used to illustrate the difficulty involved in delimiting memes as discrete units. She notes that while the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (listen(helpinfo)) form a meme widely replicated as an independent unit, one can regard the entire symphony as a single meme as well.[20]

The inability to pin an idea or cultural feature to quantifiable key units is widely acknowledged as a problem for memetics. It has been argued however that the traces of memetic processing can be quantified utilizing neuroimaging techniques which measure changes in the connectivity profiles between brain regions.”[6] Blackmore meets such criticism by stating that memes compare with genes in this respect: that while a gene has no particular size, nor can we ascribe every phenotypic feature directly to a particular gene, it has value because it encapsulates that key unit of inherited expression subject to evolutionary pressures. To illustrate, she notes evolution selects for the gene for features such as eye color; it does not select for the individual nucleotide in a strand of DNA. Memes play a comparable role in understanding the evolution of imitated behaviors.[20]

The 1981 book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process by Charles J. Lumsden and E. O. Wilson proposed the theory that genes and culture co-evolve, and that the fundamental biological units of culture must correspond to neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory. They coined their own word, “culturgen”, which did not catch on. Coauthor Wilson later acknowledged the term meme as the best label for the fundamental unit of cultural inheritance in his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, which elaborates upon the fundamental role of memes in unifying the natural and social sciences.[28]

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[29]

Dawkins emphasizes that the process of evolution naturally occurs whenever these conditions co-exist, and that evolution does not apply only to organic elements such as genes. He regards memes as also having the properties necessary for evolution, and thus sees meme evolution as not simply analogous to genetic evolution, but as a real phenomenon subject to the laws of natural selection. Dawkins noted that as various ideas pass from one generation to the next, they may either enhance or detract from the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, or influence the survival of the ideas themselves. For example, a certain culture may develop unique designs and methods of tool-making that give it a competitive advantage over another culture. Each tool-design thus acts somewhat similarly to a biological gene in that some populations have it and others do not, and the meme’s function directly affects the presence of the design in future generations. In keeping with the thesis that in evolution one can regard organisms simply as suitable “hosts” for reproducing genes, Dawkins argues that one can view people as “hosts” for replicating memes. Consequently, a successful meme may or may not need to provide any benefit to its host.[29]

Unlike genetic evolution, memetic evolution can show both Darwinian and Lamarckian traits. Cultural memes will have the characteristic of Lamarckian inheritance when a host aspires to replicate the given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it. Take for example the case of the transmission of a simple skill such as hammering a nail, a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement modeled by the teacher in the demonstration, stroke for stroke.[30]Susan Blackmore distinguishes the difference between the two modes of inheritance in the evolution of memes, characterizing the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions” and the Lamarckian as “copying the product.”[20]

Clusters of memes, or memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memeplexes comprise groups of memes that replicate together and coadapt.[20] Memes that fit within a successful memeplex may gain acceptance by “piggybacking” on the success of the memeplex. As an example, John D. Gottsch discusses the transmission, mutation and selection of religious memeplexes and the theistic memes contained.[31] Theistic memes discussed include the “prohibition of aberrant sexual practices such as incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution”, which may have increased vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. Similar memes are thereby included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and harden over time; they become an “inviolable canon” or set of dogmas, eventually finding their way into secular law. This could also be referred to as the propagation of a taboo.

The discipline of memetics, which dates from the mid-1980s, provides an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept of the meme. Memeticists have proposed that just as memes function analogously to genes, memetics functions analogously to genetics. Memetics attempts to apply conventional scientific methods (such as those used in population genetics and epidemiology) to explain existing patterns and transmission of cultural ideas.

Principal criticisms of memetics include the claim that memetics ignores established advances in other fields of cultural study, such as sociology, cultural anthropology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Questions remain whether or not the meme concept counts as a validly disprovable scientific theory. This view regards memetics as a theory in its infancy: a protoscience to proponents, or a pseudoscience to some detractors.

An objection to the study of the evolution of memes in genetic terms (although not to the existence of memes) involves a perceived gap in the gene/meme analogy: the cumulative evolution of genes depends on biological selection-pressures neither too great nor too small in relation to mutation-rates. There seems no reason to think that the same balance will exist in the selection pressures on memes.[32]

Luis Benitez-Bribiesca M.D., a critic of memetics, calls the theory a “pseudoscientific dogma” and “a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution”. As a factual criticism, Benitez-Bribiesca points to the lack of a “code script” for memes (analogous to the DNA of genes), and to the excessive instability of the meme mutation mechanism (that of an idea going from one brain to another), which would lead to a low replication accuracy and a high mutation rate, rendering the evolutionary process chaotic.[33]

British political philosopher John Gray has characterized Dawkins’ memetic theory of religion as “nonsense” and “not even a theory… the latest in a succession of ill-judged Darwinian metaphors”, comparable to Intelligent Design in its value as a science.[34]

Another critique comes from semiotic theorists such as Deacon[35] and Kull.[36] This view regards the concept of “meme” as a primitivized concept of “sign”. The meme is thus described in memetics as a sign lacking a triadic nature. Semioticians can regard a meme as a “degenerate” sign, which includes only its ability of being copied. Accordingly, in the broadest sense, the objects of copying are memes, whereas the objects of translation and interpretation are signs.[clarification needed]

Fracchia and Lewontin regard memetics as reductionist and inadequate.[37] Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr disapproved of Dawkins’ gene-based view and usage of the term “meme”, asserting it to be an “unnecessary synonym” for “concept”, reasoning that concepts are not restricted to an individual or a generation, may persist for long periods of time, and may evolve.[38]

Opinions differ as to how best to apply the concept of memes within a “proper” disciplinary framework. One view sees memes as providing a useful philosophical perspective with which to examine cultural evolution. Proponents of this view (such as Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett) argue that considering cultural developments from a meme’s-eye viewas if memes themselves respond to pressure to maximise their own replication and survivalcan lead to useful insights and yield valuable predictions into how culture develops over time. Others such as Bruce Edmonds and Robert Aunger have focused on the need to provide an empirical grounding for memetics to become a useful and respected scientific discipline.[39][40]

A third approach, described by Joseph Poulshock, as “radical memetics” seeks to place memes at the centre of a materialistic theory of mind and of personal identity.[41]

Prominent researchers in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, including Scott Atran, Dan Sperber, Pascal Boyer, John Tooby and others, argue the possibility of incompatibility between modularity of mind and memetics.[citation needed] In their view, minds structure certain communicable aspects of the ideas produced, and these communicable aspects generally trigger or elicit ideas in other minds through inference (to relatively rich structures generated from often low-fidelity input) and not high-fidelity replication or imitation. Atran discusses communication involving religious beliefs as a case in point. In one set of experiments he asked religious people to write down on a piece of paper the meanings of the Ten Commandments. Despite the subjects’ own expectations of consensus, interpretations of the commandments showed wide ranges of variation, with little evidence of consensus. In another experiment, subjects with autism and subjects without autism interpreted ideological and religious sayings (for example, “Let a thousand flowers bloom” or “To everything there is a season”). People with autism showed a significant tendency to closely paraphrase and repeat content from the original statement (for example: “Don’t cut flowers before they bloom”). Controls tended to infer a wider range of cultural meanings with little replicated content (for example: “Go with the flow” or “Everyone should have equal opportunity”). Only the subjects with autismwho lack the degree of inferential capacity normally associated with aspects of theory of mindcame close to functioning as “meme machines”.[42]

In his book The Robot’s Rebellion, Stanovich uses the memes and memeplex concepts to describe a program of cognitive reform that he refers to as a “rebellion”. Specifically, Stanovich argues that the use of memes as a descriptor for cultural units is beneficial because it serves to emphasize transmission and acquisition properties that parallel the study of epidemiology. These properties make salient the sometimes parasitic nature of acquired memes, and as a result individuals should be motivated to reflectively acquire memes using what he calls a “Neurathian bootstrap” process.[43]

Although social scientists such as Max Weber sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow.

As an enthusiastic Darwinian, I have been dissatisfied with explanations that my fellow-enthusiasts have offered for human behaviour. They have tried to look for ‘biological advantages’ in various attributes of human civilization. For instance, tribal religion has been seen as a mechanism for solidifying group identity, valuable for a pack-hunting species whose individuals rely on cooperation to catch large and fast prey. Frequently the evolutionary preconception in terms of which such theories are framed is implicitly group-selectionist, but it is possible to rephrase the theories in terms of orthodox gene selection.

He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival.[15]

In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.[20]

Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that such memes incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through the meme-exchange of proselytism. Most people will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of heaven to believers and threat of hell to non-believers provide a strong incentive for members to retain their belief. Lynch asserts that belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.[26]

Although religious memes have proliferated in human cultures, the modern scientific community has been relatively resistant to religious belief. Robertson (2007) [44] reasoned that if evolution is accelerated in conditions of propagative difficulty,[45] then we would expect to encounter variations of religious memes, established in general populations, addressed to scientific communities. Using a memetic approach, Robertson deconstructed two attempts to privilege religiously held spirituality in scientific discourse. Advantages of a memetic approach as compared to more traditional “modernization” and “supply side” theses in understanding the evolution and propagation of religion were explored.

In Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology, Jack Balkin argued that memetic processes can explain many of the most familiar features of ideological thought. His theory of “cultural software” maintained that memes form narratives, social networks, metaphoric and metonymic models, and a variety of different mental structures. Balkin maintains that the same structures used to generate ideas about free speech or free markets also serve to generate racistic beliefs. To Balkin, whether memes become harmful or maladaptive depends on the environmental context in which they exist rather than in any special source or manner to their origination. Balkin describes racist beliefs as “fantasy” memes that become harmful or unjust “ideologies” when diverse peoples come together, as through trade or competition.[46]

In A Theory of Architecture, Nikos Salingaros speaks of memes as “freely propagating clusters of information” which can be beneficial or harmful. He contrasts memes to patterns and true knowledge, characterizing memes as “greatly simplified versions of patterns” and as “unreasoned matching to some visual or mnemonic prototype”.[47] Taking reference to Dawkins, Salingaros emphasizes that they can be transmitted due to their own communicative properties, that “the simpler they are, the faster they can proliferate”, and that the most successful memes “come with a great psychological appeal”.[48]

Architectural memes, according to Salingaros, can have destructive power. “Images portrayed in architectural magazines representing buildings that could not possibly accommodate everyday uses become fixed in our memory, so we reproduce them unconsciously.”[49] He lists various architectural memes that circulated since the 1920s and which, in his view, have led to contemporary architecture becoming quite decoupled from human needs. They lack connection and meaning, thereby preventing “the creation of true connections necessary to our understanding of the world”. He sees them as no different from antipatterns in software design as solutions that are false but are re-utilized nonetheless.[50]

An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based E-mailing, blogs, forums, imageboards like 4chan, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, instant messaging, and video hosting services like YouTube and Twitch.tv.[51]

In 2013 Richard Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as one deliberately altered by human creativity, distinguished from Dawkins’s original idea involving mutation by random change and a form of Darwinian selection.[52]

One technique of meme mapping represents the evolution and transmission of a meme across time and space.[53] Such a meme map uses a figure-8 diagram (an analemma) to map the gestation (in the lower loop), birth (at the choke point), and development (in the upper loop) of the selected meme. Such meme maps are nonscalar, with time mapped onto the y-axis and space onto the x-axis transect. One can read the temporal progression of the mapped meme from south to north on such a meme map. Paull has published a worked example using the “organics meme” (as in organic agriculture).[53]

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Free Speech TV

Posted: at 4:10 am

So glad to have found [FSTV] because theres nothing else out there telling us whats really going on. – Rita

I’m watching RING OF FIRE …That and all your other shows arethe best things on TV!! – John

I am so excited that I found your station flipping through the channels … Keep up the good work. – Susan

Thom Hartmann is one of my heroes. – John

The Most informative and honest news station on American TV. No B.S. and great documentaries. – Kevin

[FSTV] is the best channel on tv. – Patricia

Most of us seek out media that tell us what we already believe to be true. Free Speech TV actually helps us think. – Alice

I want to thank Mike Papantonio for his wit and razor-sharp intellect, Amy Goodman for the highest standards of journalism… – Gail/Michigan

(Stephanie Miller) is why I started watching. Now watch Democracy Now! and Hartmann as well. – Deborah/Texas

“Free Speech TV is the best source of information that nobody knows about. We need to spread the word and educate the people.” – Lorelei S.

“A little known TV station that offers an alternative viewpoint to the usual propaganda of network and cable news.” – Ron S.

FSTV is the source. I’m greatful for the access these last four months. – Philadelphia, PA.

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Human genetics – An Introduction to Genetic Analysis …

Posted: at 4:08 am

In the study of rare disorders, four general patterns of inheritance are distinguishable by pedigree analysis: autosomal recessive, autosomal dominant, X-linked recessive, and X-linked dominant.

The affected phenotype of an autosomal recessive disorder is determined by a recessive allele, and the corresponding unaffected phenotype is determined by a dominant allele. For example, the human disease phenylketonuria is inherited in a simple Mendelian manner as a recessive phenotype, with PKU determined by the allele p and the normal condition by P . Therefore, sufferers from this disease are of genotype p /p , and people who do not have the disease are either P /P or P /p . What patterns in a pedigree would reveal such an inheritance? The two key points are that (1) generally the disease appears in the progeny of unaffected parents and (2) the affected progeny include both males and females. When we know that both male and female progeny are affected, we can assume that we are dealing with simple Mendelian inheritance, not sex-linked inheritance. The following typical pedigree illustrates the key point that affected children are born to unaffected parents:

From this pattern, we can immediately deduce simple Mendelian inheritance of the recessive allele responsible for the exceptional phenotype (indicated in black). Furthermore, we can deduce that the parents are both heterozygotes, say A /a ; both must have an a allele because each contributed an a allele to each affected child, and both must have an A allele because they are phenotypically normal. We can identify the genotypes of the children (in the order shown) as A /, a /a , a /a , and A /. Hence, the pedigree can be rewritten as follows:

Note that this pedigree does not support the hypothesis of X-linked recessive inheritance, because, under that hypothesis, an affected daughter must have a heterozygous mother (possible) and a hemizygous father, which is clearly impossible, because he would have expressed the phenotype of the disorder.

Notice another interesting feature of pedigree analysis: even though Mendelian rules are at work, Mendelian ratios are rarely observed in families, because the sample size is too small. In the preceding example, we see a 1:1 phenotypic ratio in the progeny of a monohybrid cross. If the couple were to have, say, 20 children, the ratio would be something like 15 unaffected children and 5 with PKU (a 3:1 ratio); but, in a sample of 4 children, any ratio is possible, and all ratios are commonly found.

The pedigrees of autosomal recessive disorders tend to look rather bare, with few black symbols. A recessive condition shows up in groups of affected siblings, and the people in earlier and later generations tend not to be affected. To understand why this is so, it is important to have some understanding of the genetic structure of populations underlying such rare conditions. By definition, if the condition is rare, most people do not carry the abnormal allele. Furthermore, most of those people who do carry the abnormal allele are heterozygous for it rather than homozygous. The basic reason that heterozygotes are much more common than recessive homozygotes is that, to be a recessive homozygote, both parents must have had the a allele, but, to be a heterozygote, only one parent must carry the a allele.

Geneticists have a quantitative way of connecting the rareness of an allele with the commonness or rarity of heterozygotes and homozygotes in a population. They obtain the relative frequencies of genotypes in a population by assuming that the population is in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, to be fully discussed in Chapter 24 . Under this simplifying assumption, if the relative proportions of two alleles A and a in a population are p and q , respectively, then the frequencies of the three possible genotypes are given by p 2 for A /A , 2pq for A /a , and q 2 for a /a . A numerical example illustrates this concept. If we assume that the frequency q of a recessive, disease-causing allele is 1/50, then p is 49/50, the frequency of homozygotes with the disease is q 2 =(1/50)2 =1/250, and the frequency of heterozygotes is 2pq =249/501/50 , or approximately 1/25. Hence, for this example, we see that heterozygotes are 100 times as frequent as disease sufferers, and, as this ratio increases, the rarer the allele becomes. The relation between heterozygotes and homozygotes recessive for a rare allele is shown in the following illustration. Note that the allele frequencies p and q can be used as the gamete frequencies in both sexes.

The formation of an affected person usually depends on the chance union of unrelated heterozygotes. However, inbreeding (mating between relatives) increases the chance that a mating will be between two heterozygotes. An example of a marriage between cousins is shown in . Individuals III-5 and III-6 are first cousins and produce two homozygotes for the rare allele. You can see from that an ancestor who is a heterozygote may produce many descendants who also are heterozygotes. Hence two cousins can carry the same rare recessive allele inherited from a common ancestor. For two unrelated persons to be heterozygous, they would have to inherit the rare allele from both their families. Thus matings between relatives generally run a higher risk of producing abnormal phenotypes caused by homozygosity for recessive alleles than do matings between nonrelatives. For this reason, first-cousin marriages contribute a large proportion of the sufferers of recessive diseases in the population.

Pedigree of a rare recessive phenotype determined by a recessive allele a . Gene symbols are normally not included in pedigree charts, but genotypes are inserted here for reference. Note that individuals II-1 and II-5 marry into the family; they are assumed (more…)

What are some examples of human recessive disorders? PKU has already served as an example of pedigree analysis, but what kind of phenotype is it? PKU is a disease of processing of the amino acid phenylalanine, a component of all proteins in the food that we eat. Phenylalanine is normally converted into tyrosine by the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase:

However, if a mutation in the gene encoding this enzyme alters the amino acid sequence in the vicinity of the enzymes active site, the enzyme cannot bind or convert phenylalanine (its substrate). Therefore phenylalanine builds up in the body and is converted instead into phenylpyruvic acid, a compound that interferes with the development of the nervous system, leading to mental retardation.

Babies are now routinely tested for this processing deficiency at birth. If the deficiency is detected, phenylalanine can be withheld by use of a special diet, and the development of the disease can be arrested.

Cystic fibrosis is another disease inherited according to Mendelian rules as a recessive phenotype. The allele that causes cystic fibrosis was isolated in 1989, and the sequence of its DNA was determined. This has led to an understanding of gene function in affected and unaffected persons, giving hope for more effective treatment. Cystic fibrosis is a disease whose most important symptom is the secretion of large amounts of mucus into the lungs, resulting in death from a combination of effects but usually precipitated by upper respiratory infection. The mucus can be dislodged by mechanical chest thumpers, and pulmonary infection can be prevented by antibiotics; so, with treatment, cystic fibrosis patients can live to adulthood. The disorder is caused by a defective protein that transports chloride ions across the cell membrane. The resultant alteration of the salt balance changes the constitution of the lung mucus.

Albinism, which served as a model of allelic determination of contrasting phenotypes in Chapter 1 , also is inherited in the standard autosomal recessive manner. The molecular nature of an albino allele and its inheritance are diagrammed in . This diagram shows a simple autosomal recessive inheritance in a pedigree and shows the molecular nature of the alleles involved. In this example, the recessive allele a is caused by a base pair change that introduces a stop codon into the middle of the gene, resulting in a truncated polypeptide. The mutation, by chance, also introduces a new target site for a restriction enzyme. Hence, a probe for the gene detects two fragments in the case of a and only one in A . (Other types of mutations would produce different effects at the level detected by Southern, Northern, and Western analyses.)

The molecular basis of Mendelian inheritance in a pedigree.

In all the examples heretofore considered, the disorder is caused by an allele for a defective protein. In heterozygotes, the single functional allele provides enough active protein for the cells needs. This situation is called haplosufficiency.

In human pedigrees, an autosomal recessive disorder is revealed by the appearance of the disorder in the male and female progeny of unaffected persons.

Here the normal allele is recessive, and the abnormal allele is dominant. It may seem paradoxical that a rare disorder can be dominant, but remember that dominance and recessiveness are simply properties of how alleles act and are not defined in terms of how common they are in the population. A good example of a rare dominant phenotype with Mendelian inheritance is pseudo-achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism ( ). In regard to this gene, people with normal stature are genotypically d /d , and the dwarf phenotype in principle could be D /d or D /D . However, it is believed that the two doses of the D allele in the D /D genotype produce such a severe effect that this is a lethal genotype. If this is true, all the dwarf individuals are heterozygotes.

The human pseudoachondroplasia phenotype, illustrated by a family of five sisters and two brothers. The phenotype is determined by a dominant allele, which we can call D , that interferes with bone growth during development. Most members of the human population (more…)

In pedigree analysis, the main clues for identifying a dominant disorder with Mendelian inheritance are that the phenotype tends to appear in every generation of the pedigree and that affected fathers and mothers transmit the phenotype to both sons and daughters. Again, the equal representation of both sexes among the affected offspring rules out sex-linked inheritance. The phenotype appears in every generation because generally the abnormal allele carried by a person must have come from a parent in the preceding generation. Abnormal alleles can arise de novo by the process of mutation. This event is relatively rare but must be kept in mind as a possibility. A typical pedigree for a dominant disorder is shown in . Once again, notice that Mendelian ratios are not necessarily observed in families. As with recessive disorders, persons bearing one copy of the rare A allele (A /a ) are much more common than those bearing two copies (A /A ), so most affected people are heterozygotes, and virtually all matings concerning dominant disorders are A /a a /a . Therefore, when the progeny of such matings are totaled, a 1:1 ratio is expected of unaffected (a /a ) to affected (A /a ) persons.

Pedigree of a dominant phenotype determined by a dominant allele A . In this pedigree, all the genotypes have been deduced.

Huntington disease is an example of a disease inherited as a dominant phenotype determined by an allele of a single gene. The phenotype is one of neural degeneration, leading to convulsions and premature death. However, it is a late-onset disease, the symptoms generally not appearing until after the person has begun to have children ( ). Each child of a carrier of the abnormal allele stands a 50 percent chance of inheriting the allele and the associated disease. This tragic pattern has led to a great effort to find ways of identifying people who carry the abnormal allele before they experience the onset of the disease. The application of molecular techniques has resulted in a promising screening procedure.

The age of onset of Huntington disease. The graph shows that people carrying the allele generally do not express the disease until after child-bearing age.

Some other rare dominant conditions are polydactyly (extra digits) and brachydactyly (short digits), shown in , and piebald spotting, shown in .

Some rare dominant phenotypes of the human hand. (a) (right) Polydactyly, a dominant phenotype characterized by extra fingers, toes, or both, determined by an allele P . The numbers in the accompanying pedigree (left) give the number of fingers in the (more…)

Piebald spotting, a rare dominant human phenotype. Although the phenotype is encountered sporadically in all races, the patterns show up best in those with dark skin. (a) The photographs show front and back views of affected persons IV-1, IV-3, III-5, (more…)

Pedigrees of Mendelian autosomal dominant disorders show affected males and females in each generation; they also show that affected men and women transmit the condition to equal proportions of their sons and daughters.

Phenotypes with X-linked recessive inheritance typically show the following patterns in pedigrees:

Many more males than females show the phenotype under study. This is because a female showing the phenotype can result only from a mating in which both the mother and the father bear the allele (for example, XA Xa Xa Y), whereas a male with the phenotype can be produced when only the mother carries the allele. If the recessive allele is very rare, almost all persons showing the phenotype are male.

None of the offspring of an affected male are affected, but all his daughters are carriers, bearing the recessive allele masked in the heterozygous condition. Half of the sons of these carrier daughters are affected ( ). Note that, in common X-linked phenotypes, this pattern might be obscured by inheritance of the recessive allele from a heterozygous mother as well as the father.

None of the sons of an affected male show the phenotype under study, nor will they pass the condition to their offspring. The reason behind this lack of male-to-male transmission is that a son obtains his Y chromosome from his father, so he cannot normally inherit the fathers X chromosome too.

Pedigree showing that X-linked recessive alleles expressed in males are then carried unexpressed by their daughters in the next generation, to be expressed again in their sons. Note that III-3 and III-4 cannot be distinguished phenotypically.

In the pedigree analysis of rare X-linked recessives, a normal female of unknown genotype is assumed to be homo-zygous unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Perhaps the most familiar example of X-linked recessive inheritance is red-green colorblindness. People with this condition are unable to distinguish red from green and see them as the same. The genes for color vision have been characterized at the molecular level. Color vision is based on three different kinds of cone cells in the retina, each sensitive to red, green, or blue wavelengths. The genetic determinants for the red and green cone cells are on the X chromosome. As with any X-linked recessive, there are many more males with the phenotype than females.

Another familiar example is hemophilia, the failure of blood to clot. Many proteins must interact in sequence to make blood clot. The most common type of hemophilia is caused by the absence or malfunction of one of these proteins, called Factor VIII. The most well known cases of hemophilia are found in the pedigree of interrelated royal families in Europe ( ). The original hemophilia allele in the pedigree arose spontaneously (as a mutation) either in the reproductive cells of Queen Victorias parents or of Queen Victoria herself. The son of the last czar of Russia, Alexis, inherited the allele ultimately from Queen Victoria, who was the grandmother of his mother Alexandra. Nowadays, hemophilia can be treated medically, but it was formerly a potentially fatal condition. It is interesting to note that, in the Jewish Talmud, there are rules about exemptions to male circumcision that show clearly that the mode of transmission of the disease through unaffected carrier females was well understood in ancient times. For example, one exemption was for the sons of women whose sisters sons had bled profusely when they were circumcised.

The inheritance of the X-linked recessive condition hemophilia in the royal families of Europe. A recessive allele causing hemophilia (failure of blood clotting) arose in the reproductive cells of Queen Victoria, or one of her parents, through mutation. (more…)

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a fatal X-linked recessive disease. The phenotype is a wasting and atrophy of muscles. Generally the onset is before the age of 6, with confinement to a wheelchair by 12, and death by 20. The gene for Duchenne muscular dystrophy has now been isolated and shown to encode the muscle protein dystrophin. This discovery holds out hope for a better understanding of the physiology of this condition and, ultimately, a therapy.

A rare X-linked recessive phenotype that is interesting from the point of view of sexual differentiation is a condition called testicular feminization syndrome, which has a frequency of about 1 in 65,000 male births. People afflicted with this syndrome are chromosomally males, having 44 autosomes plus an X and a Y, but they develop as females ( ). They have female external genitalia, a blind vagina, and no uterus. Testes may be present either in the labia or in the abdomen. Although many such persons marry, they are sterile. The condition is not reversed by treatment with the male hormone androgen, so it is sometimes called androgen insensitivity syndrome. The reason for the insensitivity is that the androgen receptor malfunctions, so the male hormone can have no effect on the target organs that contribute to maleness. In humans, femaleness results when the male-determining system is not functional.

Four siblings with testicular feminization syndrome (congenital insensitivity to androgens). All four subjects in this photograph have 44 autosomes plus an X and a Y chromosome, but they have inherited the recessive X-linked allele conferring insensitivity to (more…)

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A State Of Trance – YouTube

Posted: October 8, 2016 at 10:29 pm

Listen, buy or download: https://AvB.lnk.to/ASOTIbiz… Subscribe to A State Of Trance: http://bit.ly/SubscribeASOT

From all four corners of the world to everything in between, Trance music continues to enjoy a global reign not many genres can match. Few have such a strong and loyal following all over the world, as more and more countries, places, and territories add to its range. To get in A State Of Trance with likeminded people generates a magical feeling words cannot even begin to describe. And the people of Ibiza know exactly what that feels like.

For the third year in a row, A State Of Trance shakes up the party island of Ibiza with a sound both fresh and timeless. Cooked up by Armin van Buuren and seasoned with his own musical flavor, A State Of Trance, Ibiza 2016 provides its fans with 37 breathtaking records in two parts, each capable of uniting the world in a way only music could.

With exclusive tracks and current floor fillers from the likes of Andrew Rayel, Arty, Ben Nicky, Cosmic Gate, ilan Bluestone, Jason Ross, KhoMha, Omnia, rjan Nilsen, MaRLo, Simon Patterson, Super8 & Tab, and never-heard-before remixes on several acclaimed Armin van Buuren originals, Ibiza once again gets its own piece of Trance history. Will you be a part of that?

SIDE 1 – On The Beach

01 Luke Bond – Before The Story 02 Arty & Andrew Bayer – Follow The Light 03 Paris Blohm & Taylr Renee – Left Behinds * 04 David Gravell – Battlefront * 05 Estiva – Sun Goes Down 06 ilan Bluestone & Jason Ross – Amun 07 Rodg – Wired 08 Kryder – Crocodile Tears 09 Same K & Stendahl – Body Language 10 Cosmic Gate & Eric Lumiere – Edge Of Life 11 Willem de Roo – Hyperdrive 12 Mohamed Ragab & Attila Syah – Crux 13 Assaf – Vela 14 Snatt & Vix – Revive (Airborn Remix) 15 Protoculture & Johnny Yono – Luna 16 Omnia – Mystique 17 KhoMha feat. Mike Schmid – Restart (Henry Dark Remix) 18 DRYM & Jennifer Rene – Smile 19 MaRLo feat. Chloe – You And Me

* David Gravell Mash Up

SIDE 2 – In The Club

01 Armin van Buuren & Dave Winnel – The Race 02 Hardwell & Armin van Buuren – Off The Hook (Mark Sixma Remix) 03 Armin van Buuren & rjan Nilsen – Flashlight 04 Robbie Rivera vs Tom Staar – The Funkatron 05 Andrew Rayel & KhoMha – All Systems Down 06 Armin van Buuren feat. BullySongs – Caught In The Slipstream (KhoMha Remix) 07 Markus Schulz – The New World (Fisherman & Hawkins Remix) 08 Super8 & Tab – Into 09 Armin van Buuren feat. Lyrica Anderson – Gotta Be Love (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix) 10 Omnia & Audrey Gallagher – I Believe 11 Jorn van Deynhoven – Neo Paradise 12 Armin van Buuren feat. Rock Mafia – Hands To Heaven (Chris Schweizer Remix) 13 Mark Sixma & Emma Hewitt – Restless Hearts (Ben Nicky Remix) 14 Simon Patterson – Smack (Waio Remix) 15 Heatbeat – Aerys (Mark Sherry Remix) 16 Gareth Emery feat. Ben Gold – Until We Meet Again (Ben Nicky Remix) 17 Allen & Envy & UDM – Ignite (Allen Watts Melodic Remix) 18 Ben Nicky & Chris Schweizer – The Switch

Connect with A State Of Trance https://www.facebook.com/as… https://twitter.com/asot https://soundcloud.com/asta… Show less

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Whats Trumps Position on NATO?

Posted: at 10:23 pm

Hillary Clinton went too far when she claimed that Donald Trump said we should pull out of NATO. Trump has said that he would certainly look at pulling the United States out of the international security alliance, because it is obsolete and is costing us a fortune. But the Clinton campaign provided nothing indicating that Trump advocates pulling out now.

Trump, who has nearlyclinched the Republican nomination for president, has been critical of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was established in 1949 by the U.S., Canada and 10 Western European nations to defend against the former Soviet Union. Trumps main criticisms of NATO, which now has 28 member nations, are that the alliance no longer serves its founding purpose and that it is too costly to the U.S., which pays about 22 percent of direct spending by NATO, the most of any nation, according to budget information. The U.S. also pays a much larger portion of the organizations indirect costs, NATO says.

During a campaign speech in Milwaukee on March 28, Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, said that Trump wants us to pull out of NATO. That was the week after Trump, during campaign events and interviews with the editorial boards of the Washington Post and the New York Timesandothers, talked about the U.S. role in NATO.

In an interview with CBS News John Dickerson that aired May 8, Clinton again claimed that Trump, whom she referred to as a loose cannon, wants out of NATO.

Clinton, May 8: Being a loose cannon is saying we should pull out of NATO, the strongest military alliance in the history of the world and something that we really need to modernize, but not abandon.

While Trump has gone so far as saying that, as president, he would consider pulling the U.S. out of NATO if it is not restructured, weve found no instance of him saying he wants to do so at this point. And the Clinton campaign hasnt been able to point to an example of Trump saying that either.

In fact, it was during the interview with the Post, which initially brought attention to Trumps feelings about NATO, that Trump said that he doesnt want the U.S. to leave the alliance.

Charles Lane, Washington Post, March 21:So, Id like to hear you say very specifically, you know, with respect to NATO, what is your ask of these other countries?Right, youve painted it in very broad terms, but do you have a percent of GDP that they should be spending on defense?Tell me more, because it sounds like you want to just pull the U.S. out.

Trump: No, I dont want to pull it out. NATO was set up at a different time. NATO was set up when we were a richer country. Were not a rich country anymore. Were borrowing, were borrowing all of this money. Were borrowing money from China, which is sort of an amazing situation. But it was a much different thing. NATO is costing us a fortune and yes, were protecting Europe with NATO but were spending a lot of money. Number one, I think the distribution of costs has to be changed. I think NATO as a concept is good, but it is not as good as it was when it first evolved.

Later on March 21, during a CNN town hall event with Wolf Blitzer, Trump said the U.S. should reconsider its role in NATO, especially with concern to how much itspends compared with other nations.

Blitzer: Do you think the United States needs to rethink U.S. involvement in NATO?

Trump: Yes, because its costing us too much money. And frankly they have to put up more money. Theyre going to have to put some up also. Were paying disproportionately. Its too much. And frankly its a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea. And everybody got together.

But were taking care of, as an example, the Ukraine. I mean, the countries over there dont seem to be so interested. Were the ones taking the brunt of it. So I think we have to reconsider keep NATO, but maybe we have to pay a lot less toward the NATO itself.

Blitzer: When we say keep NATO, NATO has been around since right after World War II in 1949. Its been a cornerstone of U.S. national security around the world. NATO allies hear you say that, theyre not going to be happy.

Trump: Well, they may not be happy but, you know, they have to help us also. It has to be we are paying disproportionately. And very importantly if you use Ukraine as an example and thats a great example, the country surrounding Ukraine, I mean, they dont seem to care as much about it as we do. So there has to be at least a change in philosophy and there are also has to be a change in the cut out, the money, the spread because its too much.

Blitzer: So youre really suggesting the United States should decrease its role in NATO?

Trump: Not decrease its role but certainly decrease the kind of spending. We are spending a tremendous amount in NATO and other people proportionately less. No good.

Then, on March 25, in an interview with the New YorkTimes editorial board, Trump again said that NATO needed to be changed to deal with costs and other issues, such as terrorism.

Trump, March 25:Ill tell you the problems I have with NATO. Number one, we pay far too much. We are spending you know, in fact, theyre even making it so the percentages are greater. NATO is unfair, economically, to us, to the United States. Because it really helps them more so than the United States, and we pay a disproportionate share. Now, Im a person that you notice I talk about economics quite a bit, in these military situations, because it is about economics, because we dont have money anymore because weve been taking care of so many people in so many different forms that we dont have money and countries, and countries. So NATO is something that at the time was excellent. Today, it has to be changed. It has to be changed to include terror. It has to be changed from the standpoint of cost because the United States bears far too much of the cost of NATO.

It was on March 23, during an interview withBloomberg Politics Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, that Trump, when asked, said he would certainly look at getting rid of NATO because it may be obsolete (16:12 in the video).

Halperin, March 23: Should America be the leader of NATO or not necessarily?

Trump: I think NATO may be obsolete. NATO was set up a long time ago many, many years ago when things were different. Things are different now. We were a rich nation then. We had nothing but money. We had nothing but power. And you know, far more than we have today, in a true sense. And I think NATO you have to really examine NATO. And it doesnt really help us, its helping other countries. And I dont think those other countries appreciate what were doing.

Heilemann: So, just to be clear, you made two slightly different arguments there and I just want to clarify. One of them is that you might want to see the U.S. pay less money into NATO because

Trump: That one definitely. That one definitely.

Heilemann: But its possible that NATO is obsolete and should be gotten rid of?

Trump: Its possible. Its possible. I would certainly look at it. And Id want more help from other people. The one thing definitely were paying too much. As to whether or not its obsolete, Ill make that determination.

Then, at a campaign rally in Milwaukee on April 4, Trump said that he wasnt saying thatNATO should disband during his interview with CNNs Blitzer. Instead, he said he meant that if countries cant pay their bills theyve got to go.

Trump, April 4: And Wolf Blitzer asked me a question on television. He said, let me just ask you about NATO. And he asked me about it. Now, I havent been asked about NATO a lot, but I understand NATO and I understand common sense and Im, like, a smart person, like many of the people in this room, hopefully all of the people in this room.

But he asked me about NATO. I said its obsolete. This is my first thing. And you know what? Im the first one. Guys that study NATO and good people, but they study NATO and they say, I dont believe it, what he just said, I never thought of that. They study it because theyre so into it that they dont realize.

Because it was really put there you had the Soviet Union and now you have Russia, which is different, but Russia is very powerful, so we can sort of say thats a balance, so well leave it. But it doesnt really cover terrorism like its supposed to. It doesnt have the right countries. I mean, many of the countries in there arent, you know, that you associate with terrorism.

And so I said, number one, its obsolete. I said, number two, to the best of my knowledge, the United States pays far too much proportionately, and why are we always paying the bills to protect other people?

And the press, which is so totally dishonest, the press goes headlines the next day Trump doesnt want NATO, wants to disband. Thats not what I said. I said youve got to pay your bills. And you know what? If they cant pay their bills, honestly there should be theyve got to go. Because we cant do this.

And most recently, in his April 27 foreign policy speech, Trump said that theU.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves if they are unwilling to pay more.

Trump, April 27:They look at the United States as weak and forgiving and feel no obligation to honor their agreements with us. In NATO, for instance, only fourof 28 other member countries besides America, are spending the minimum required 2 percent of GDP on defense. We have spent trillions of dollars over time on planes, missiles, ships, equipment, building up our military to provide a strong defense for Europe and Asia. The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. We have no choice.

So, Trump has clearly outlined changes he would like to see made to NATO. And he has said that, under a Trump administration, the U.S. might no longer be a part of the alliance if it isnt restructured and other nations dont start to pick up more of the costs. But even that isnt the same thing as saying that we should pull out of NATO, as Clinton claims Trump said.


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Whats Trumps Position on NATO?

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Holidays to the Caribbean 2016 / 2017 | loveholidays.com

Posted: October 6, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Top Hotels Caribbean Treasures

Think Caribbean and you think beach holiday. And you certainly wont find a better destination for lounging in the sand, preferably with something rum-based nearby. That isnt nearly all that these islands have to offer though. Rain forests and mountains for starters; distinctive island cultures that only have providing a good time in common; and exciting towns and cities with some fascinating history.

Youve got a picture of the perfect Caribbean island in your head already the palm tree-fringed, white-sand beach, the funky little beach bar under the trees, yachts sailing by on the deep blue sea. The good news is that youve got it just right; the Caribbean more than lives up to the most demanding expectations.

You might want to replace that tin-shack bar in your fantasy with a big, luxurious, all-inclusive resort hotel. And thats easily enough done. The islands of the Caribbean are very used to welcoming guests, and they do it style. High quality customer service and endless pampering is top of the agenda here.

But if youre worried about the effect all that good living is going to have on the beach body you spent months working to perfect, you can throw in a very healthy dose of activities while youre at it. The islands all have excellent water sports on tap. Divings a particular favourite because the underwater picture here is as colourful as the one above the waves. There are also inland adventures to be had, from off-roading or zip-wiring through unspoiled jungle to climbing extinct volcanoes and canyoning in mountain streams.

The Caribbeans far from being one-dimensional. There are more than 7,000 islands in the group. Though only 13 of them are inhabited island nations, they are a colourful cocktail of distinctive cultures, unique environments, and long, storied histories.

The Dominican Republic is the most popular island with visitors. Its a perfect mix of beach resort luxury, tropical rainforest paradise, and pretty colonial towns. Trinidad is the capital of carnival, where a party of some sort is never far from breaking out. To Jamaicas beautiful beaches are added a super-laid-back attitude and the rich musical culture. Antigua fits the desert island dream to a tee.

Cuba just opening up to America again is the Caribbeans biggest, most populated island, an intriguing cultural stew of cuisines, cultures and rhythms that along with the rum will leave you intoxicated.

As holiday destinations the islands of the Caribbean offer something for everyone. Theyre a brilliant family destination with loads of attractions and days out for kids. For romantic souls theres nothing like a Caribbean sunset to tick the box. You might want to return for your honeymoon or even to get married on the beach. But if a beach towel, a book and a planters punch is all you need, youll never find anywhere better to lie back and soak in relaxation.

What a lot of choices this diverse little box of treasures hold. The beaches and resort hotels at the likes of Punta Cana are all-inclusive paradises. Kick off your sandals for a pair of boots and you could be hiking through rain forest or up Pico Duarte, the Caribbeans tallest mountain. Historic rum factories are uncorked around Puerto Plata. Santo Domingo, the islands capital, was the first port of call for Christopher Columbus on his way to the New World and is a beautiful UNESCO-protected historic town.

The Dominican Republic is made for family or his-and-her beach breaks, with big resort hotels offering brilliant value and all-inclusive facilities with perfect sands and crystal-clear waters.

Jungle tumbles down the dramatic mountains in the interior. Head for the hills and get ready to explore an unspoiled new world and release your inner Bear Grylls with rainforest adventure sports.

Get ready to change your desert island preconceptions in beautiful Santo Domingo, where modern high rises stand side-by-side with the oldest European buildings in the Caribbean. Its lively, laid-back, and enormous fun.

Food is an obsession with the Dominican locals, and if youre a visitor you should be no different. Super-fresh fish, spicy meat stews, straight-from-the-tree fruit juice and some of the best rum and coffee in the world are highlights.

The big beach resorts around Punta Cana, La Romana, Samana and Puerto Plata offer great value all-inclusive access to some of the best beaches in the world.

Santo Domingo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 16th-century churches, plazas and forts, standing over a beautiful port. There are good museums to explain the islands place in world history too.

Theres more UNESCO protection for the pristine Eastern National Park (Parque Nacional del Este), an internationally important land and sea wildlife reserve full of colourful species from pelicans to dolphins.

With its long-established British links, Jamaicas a top destination for UK sun seekers. Theyve got good reason to love it. The beaches are classically Caribbean with white sand, palm trees, coral reefs and blue waters. Then there are the forests, mountains, waterfalls and banana plantations pure beauty. Finally, the people, the music, the food, the culture; theyre all as wonderful, welcoming and worth exploring as youve been led to believe.

Lying back on a perfect island beach. Seven Mile Beach in Negril has room to spread out. Montego Bay is busy with beach bars and water sports. You can surf at Boston Bay Beach in Port Antonio, or lose yourself on Winnifred Beach, a favourite with the locals as well as seclusion-seeking visitors.

Climbing the Blue Mountain Peak is just one inland adventure to experience on this stunningly beautiful island. The Blue Hole springs at Ocho Rios, the Dunns River Falls, the cliffs at Negril – Jamaica is packed with natural wonders to discover.

Dancing the night away is expected in the home of reggae. Theres more to Jamaican musical and party culture than Bob Marley though. But from African-inspired folk songs or church gospel to booming dancehall beats and street sound systems, everythings got passion and rhythm.

Eating like royalty is every Jamaicans birth right! The cuisine is spicy and international mixing African, European and Latin American flavours. With fantastic local produce yam, plantain, fish, goat, fruit to conjure with, Jamaican food is as rich and diverse as the islands landscapes.

From jumping Montego Bay to fashionable Seven Mile Beach or isolated Treasure Beach, Jamaicas coastline is one of the best for sun and sand in the world. And guess what youll find at Reggae Beach?

Jamaica has a proud cultural heritage with music just the best known of its exports. Historic houses and capital-city museums celebrate everyone from Noel Coward to Bob Marley. The best way to understand it all is just to dive in and immerse yourself.

The twin islands of Antigua and smaller Barbuda are as beautiful as any in the Caribbean. The reefs around the shore make the islands diving really rewarding. Smaller and less-developed than some of the islands but with 365 beaches, Antigua has room for everyone on its sands.

Everything that makes the Caribbean great a good choice of top-quality resorts; party people; beaches and jungles; a beautiful historic capital can be found in spades in Barbados. Bridgetown has UNESCO World Heritage Status, but the beaches and wild interior dont need any certification to confirm their timeless beauty.

The times are changing in Cuba. But its the years of time standing relatively still that give the crumbling, colourful facades and classic American motors of Havana much of its charm. Elsewhere there are resorts and beaches to match any in the region, and a rum, a cigar and some Afro-Cuban beats are the icing on a colourful cake.

Trinidad (busy and relatively built up) and Tobago (chilled and empty) are a beautiful contrast. Party in Port of Spain or zip wire through Tobagos protected forests before lying back on the pink tinged sands.

St Lucia is a supremely romantic island, its mountains and waterfalls stealing the hearts of many a visitor. Brilliant beach-front resorts include the famous Sandals brand. A party can always be found in Gros Islet, and peace and quiet is the hallmark or Choc Bay.

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Holidays to the Caribbean 2016 / 2017 | loveholidays.com

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Posted: at 2:58 pm



Culinary trip

Rooms & Suites



Choose from over two dozen different room categories, from ocean view rooms and suites, to quaint villas in sun-washed colors. At Beaches, dreams come true every day and night.

Our unprecedented Butler Service, only available in our very highest level of suites, provides our most discerning guests with an unimaginably supreme standard of service and luxury, where your every need is anticipated.

SCUBA DIVING & Watersports

The ocean is your playground with watersports and scuba diving. Only Beaches all-inclusive Caribbean resorts offer the most comprehensive resort diving program, and best of all, it’s all included.

Pirates Island Waterparks

The ocean is your playground with watersports and scuba diving. Only Beaches all-inclusive Caribbean resorts offer the most comprehensive resort diving program, and best of all, it’s all included.

Fun & Games

KIDS program

At Beaches, we give kids extra attention with tailor-made fun just for them, offering age-appropriate activities for kids of all ages, from tots to teens. With a staff that’s so genuinely caring, it’ll feel like your kids are in the loving hands of a family member who just wants to spoil them.

Hang out with new friends


At Beaches, teens have the ultimate freedom to their own thing with the people they really want to be with-other teens-at more places created exclusively for them! Always unlimited, always included.

Championship GOLF

Our golf vacation provide everything down to a tee for every level of skill, even for those who want to take their very first shot at it. A Beaches golf vacation in the Caribbean includes more than any other destination for family resort vacations.



Have the Caribbean wedding you’ve always dreamed of in the most romantic places on earth – from laid-back Jamaica to the pristine shores of Turks & Caicos – with Beaches all-inclusive Caribbean wedding packages.

Premium brand DRINKS

Only Beaches includes premium brand liquors at up to 14 bars per resort-the highest bar-to-guest ratio in the whole Caribbean!

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ecology.iww.org | Abolish wage slavery AND live in harmony …

Posted: at 2:50 pm

By Brooke Anderson – Climate Workers, October 3, 2016

Click here to download the sample resolution as an editable Word doc

[Sample] Local Union Resolution Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

WHEREAS, the $3.78Billion, 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline would carry over half a million barrels of dirty crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois to connect to other pipelines bringing oil to the East Coast and the Gulf; and

WHEREAS, the pipeline is slated to pass through the tribal lands of Standing Rock Sioux near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, and underneath the Missouri River, the main source of water for the tribe; and

WHEREAS, the pipeline desecrates the ancestral burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux; and

WHEREAS, millions of workers including many union members their families, and communities live in the path of the proposed pipeline; and

WHEREAS, the transport of heavy crude is particularly volatile, leading to 18.4 million gallons of oils and chemicals spilled, leaked, or released into the air, land, and waterways between 2006 and 2014 in North Dakota alone, causing death, contamination of soil and water, and all kinds of disease; and

WHEREAS, scientists have warned that in order to avoid wide-scale, catastrophic climate disruption, the vast majority of known remaining fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground; and

WHEREAS, Native American land protectors and their supporters have been brutally attacked by private security forces with attack dogs and pepper spray; and

WHEREAS, Native Americans and other activists defending their land and water have the same right to defend their land and engage in non-violent protest as workers who are protesting the actions of an unfair employer; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Congress has repealed the ban on exporting oil, meaning that the oil transported by the pipeline is likely to be sold overseas and not contribute to US energy independence; and

WHEREAS, we know that the real threat to workers lives and livelihoods is catastrophic climate change; and

WHEREAS, many large corporations, and especially fossil fuel corporations, have been putting profits ahead of the common good of workers, the public, and the environment, and these corporations have been granted the unjust constitutional rights and powers of person-hood, and the doctrine of money as speech through activist Supreme Court decisions thereby diminishing democracy and the voice and power of the people; and

WHEREAS, numerous national and international unions have already passed resolutions against construction of the pipeline, including National Nurses United, the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Communications Workers of America, the United Electrical Workers, and others; and

WHEREAS, this local union is already on record supporting the development of renewable energy sources and investment in sustainable energy including quality union jobs; and

WHEREAS, more long term good paying jobs would be created by investing in sustainable energy infrastructure projects using already existing technologies while at the same time reducing pollution that creates greenhouse gases; and

WHEREAS, we support the rights of our union brothers and sisters building the pipeline to work in safe environments at jobs that are consistent with respect for the environment and the rights and safety of frontline communities; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that we call upon the Federal Government to make permanent the moratorium on construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline by revoking permits for construction issued by the Army Corps of Engineers; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this local union calls on the labor movement to support a just transition to a renewable energy economy and investment in the construction of a nationwide sustainable energy infrastructure that will address the growing threat of climate change and its consequent droughts, floods, fire, crop failure, species extinction and other dire consequences of global warming; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this local union make a financial contribution of $_____ to the land protectors at the Standing Rock protest camps; and be it further

RESOLVED, this local union urges its internal union and the rest of the labor movement to become actively involved in promoting a just transition to a sustainable alternative energy economy that protects the environment and respects the rights of all working people to good paying safe jobs, human rights and justice for all; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the International Union and all Central Labor Councils we are affiliated, with, with a request for concurrence.

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ecology.iww.org | Abolish wage slavery AND live in harmony …

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