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Jul 11 2014

The Breakfast Club: 7-11-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Breakfast News

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#NotTheOnion

Britain “seriously concerned” over Hong Kong press freedom

A British government report on Hong Kong expresses “serious concerns” about press freedom and self-censorship in its former colony and about reports that leading British banks had pulled advertising from a local pro-democracy newspaper.

The six-monthly report, presented by Foreign Secretary William Hague to parliament on Thursday, is more explicit than London’s recent summaries, reflecting rising tensions over democratic reform in the Asian financial hub.

“We believe that freedom of expression, including of the press, has played an important part in Hong Kong’s success,” the report, made available by the British Consulate General in Hong Kong, said.

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Gaza death toll said to reach 100

Around 100 people have now died in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, according to the Palestinian healthy ministry. The mounting death toll comes as President Obama said the U.S. is willing to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Four days into its offensive, Israel continued to intensify its aerial bombardment of the densely populated coastal enclave Friday, causing widespread panic among residents. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry, said shells from warplanes severely damaged a hospital for the elderly, a school for orphans and a water storage tank.

He said that in a single strike to a building in Khan Younis eight members of a single family were killed. Israeli gunboats also shelled Gaza’s harbor, destroying most of the boats and ships. Some 670 people have been injured since Tuesday.

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Inside militants’ secret tunnels in Pakistan

In a tea shop in Miranshah, a dusty town in northeastern Pakistan, an empty kettle hangs on a hook waiting to be used, while flies hover over baskets piled high with sweetmeats drying out in the July sunshine.

The surrounding streets are unusually quiet — no children playing, no old men selling fruit, no whir of machinery from local workshops. The buzz of life has been replaced by deathly silence in the largest town in Pakistan’s troubled North Waziristan. Much of it now lies in ruin, its population nowhere to be seen.

In a rare visit organized by Pakistan’s military, I was one of the few journalists transported into the region where the army has been waging a full-scale ground offensive against militants since mid-June. The operation has been named Zarb-e-Azb after a famous sword of the prophet Muhammad.

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The Mississippi doctor who tried – and ultimately failed – to cure a child with HIV

Despite the headlines trumpeting her success, despite the interview requests, the parties thrown by her colleagues, the awards, the international attention proclaiming that she, Hannah Gay, a relatively obscure Mississippi doctor, had cured a child with HIV in a medical first – she was never sure. There were always doubts.

“I’m still paranoid,” she told the Jackson Free Press in October of last year, five months following the announcement an HIV-infected woman gave birth to an infected child Gay then “cured.” “So I see her every two or three months and draw another viral load and just check to see. We have repeated cultures in the end of May, we repeated cultures yet again, and we have still to see any replication-competent virus.”

That, tragically, changed last week. The girl, now nearly four years old and appearing physically well, has tested positive for the virus, a diagnosis that Gay called  “a punch to the gut.” Though Gay never claimed she tried to cure the child, one could still hope somehow something miraculous happened, even if unintended and unexpected.

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Judge rules Florida Legislature broke laws on maps

The Florida Legislature illegally drew the state’s congressional districts to primarily benefit the Republican Party, a judge has ruled, and has ordered them redrawn.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis said in a 41-page ruling Thursday that legislators relied on GOP political operatives who worked in secret to craft the final political maps adopted in 2012. In doing so Lewis rejected arguments from top legislative leaders that they had done nothing wrong during the process.

The ruling is not expected to disrupt this year’s elections because the Legislature is expected to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. But ultimately the changes could affect the political careers of Florida’s congressional delegation, which is currently dominated by Republicans.

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Inventor pushes solar panels for roads, highways

The solar panels that Idaho inventor Scott Brusaw has built aren’t meant for rooftops. They are meant for roads, driveways, parking lots, bike trails and, eventually, highways.

Brusaw, an electrical engineer, says the hexagon-shaped panels can withstand the wear and tear that comes from inclement weather and vehicles, big and small, to generate electricity.

“We need to rebuild our infrastructure,” said Brusaw, the head of Solar Roadways, based in Sandpoint, Idaho, about 90 miles northeast of Spokane, Washington. His idea contains “something for everyone to like.”

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Like in Humans, Genes Drive Half of Chimp Intelligence, Study Finds

Chimpanzees and other great apes are known for their intelligence: They can learn words, play with objects, and even seem to mourn the deaths of their friends. But just as for humans, cognitive abilities vary from one animal to the next.

Now, in one of the largest studies ever conducted on chimp cognition, researchers report that those individual differences are due in no small part to genetic makeup. The study appears Thursday in Current Biology.

Genes determine about half of the variability in chimp intelligence and environmental factors the other half, according to primatologist William Hopkins, of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues. (Pictures: “How Smart Are Planet’s Apes? 7 Intelligence Milestones.“)

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WHO Says All Men Who Have Sex With Men Should Take Antiretroviral Drugs

The World Health Organization has suggested for the first time that all men who have sex with men should take antiretroviral medicine, warning that HIV infection rates among gay men are exploding around the world.

In guidelines published Friday, it said that it “strongly recommends men who have sex with men consider taking antiretroviral medicines as an additional method of preventing HIV infection.” Similar guidelines were issued by the U.S. in May.

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Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

It has always seemed strange to me…the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.

John Steinbeck

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Breakfast Tunes

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Stupid Shit by LaEscapee

Just a Question

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