DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Iran, Israel & the U.S.: The Slide To War

By Conn Hallinan
Friday February 24, 2012 - 08:24:00 AM

Wars are fought because some people decide it is in their interests to fight them. World War I was not started over the Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination, nor was it triggered by the alliance system. An “incident” may set the stage for war, but no one keeps shooting unless they think it’s a good idea. The Great War started because the countries involved decided they would profit by it, delusional as that conclusion was. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: The Republicans’ Rick Santorum Problem

By Bob Burnett
Friday February 24, 2012 - 08:18:00 AM

After Rick Santorum’s surprising victories in the Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri primaries, many observers wonder if he has a chance to wrench the Republican presidential nomination away from Mitt Romney. Santorum does have a chance, but he’s not a winning candidate, someone who can unite the fractured GOP base. -more-


By Joe Eaton
Thursday February 23, 2012 - 05:28:00 PM
Cynipid wasp gall on blue oak.

Ron has begun noticing plant galls. This is fine, since we have a field guide: Ron Russo’s Plant Galls of California and Other Western States, in the estimable UC Press California Natural History Guide series. Galls are the kinds of things you pay attention to when nature is not otherwise cooperative. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Conferences on Aging

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday February 23, 2012 - 05:16:00 PM

A White House Conference is a national meeting sponsored by the Executive Office of the President of the United States with the purpose of discussing a topic of importance to the American public, and they are typically created by specific legislation. Some conferences last for a day, others for several. Typical attendees include experts in the particular field, community leaders, advocates and citizens with an interest in the issue. The President usually speaks to a conference general session. The conference concludes by issuing a report to the President summarizing and making recommendations for executive or legislative action. The First Lady has sometimes hosted White House conferences. The first White House conference was the Conference on the Care of Dependent Children held in 1909 under President Theodore Roosevelt. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: SWIFT Pressured to Ban Iran Over Nuclear Ambitions

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday February 23, 2012 - 05:25:00 PM

Under pressure from the United States and the European Union, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), based in Belgium, is expected to ban Iran's forty banks and institutions from using SWIFT to process its financial transactions, which would effect Iran's foreign trade and access to international payments. United Against Nuclear Iran, a powerful U.S.-based group, had been lobbying for the past month for SWIFT to end its relationship with Iran. -more-

EATS, SHOOTS 'N' LEAVES: Fast Company Makes a Major Amyris Fail

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 08:37:00 PM

Back in 1995, two former Harvard Business Review editors created Fast Company, which soon became the rock star of the publishing world, selling in 2000 to a branch of German publishing giant Bertelsmann for the biggest sum ever paid for a magazine, $350 million.

It’s now owned by the founder and chief executive of Morningstar, the leasing rating agency in the world of bonds.

Every year they come up with a list of Most Innovative Companies, described thusly by Wikipedia: -more-