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Over Easy: Around the World

Welcome to Thursday’s Over Easy, a continuation of Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner and its tradition of giving an overview of news our everyday media doesn’t cover, issues that we ought to consider outside the U.S. scene.

The use of alternative energy sources has powered  Costa Rica for the whole year so far in 2015, joining advanced nations in avoiding the pollution of fossil fuel energy production.

The country hasn’t needed fossil fuel for all of 2015 thanks to hydropower and a heavy rainy season.

The nation of 5 million inhabitants also gets renewable energy contributions from a mix of solar, geothermal and wind power.

Because Costa Rica needs a steady flow of water to maintain such an impressive feat, the Central American nation has budgeted nearly $1 billion to tap into its many volcanoes, expanding its use of geothermal power.

Geothermal energy generated 10 percent of the nation’s power last year.

The country tops an impressive list of nations producing much of their power from renewable sources. Reports Quartz, Sweden, Bulgaria and Estonia have already met their 2020 renewable energy goals.

Hezbollah, after supporting Syrian ruler Assad against various rebel groups, is preparing a major assault on a major opponents including ISIL, as increased suicide bombings have followed battles in which an escape had been allowed the predominantly Sunni groups.  The U.S. has increased intricacy of alliances and opponents, and as Rachel Maddow noted last night, McAyn got his wish to go to war with Iran, in not quite the way he intended.

Hezbollah is beefing up preparations to guard the home front. “We are at full readiness and unafraid,” chuckled Abu Meiss, the leader of a group of Shia paramilitary fighters in an eastern Bekaa village, all of them veterans of Lebanon’s 1975–90 civil war.  “You can consider us rent-a-martyrs right now.”

Abu Meiss and his men are being deployed in the rear to defend positions and protecting their villages from any reprisals while Hezbollah’s main force advances deeper into the mountains. Sitting in the garden of a farmhouse near Talia, his clansmen check over their weapons — an assortment of AK-47 assault rifles, a belt-fed machine gun and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

“We expect that when the offensive begins they [Nusra, ISIL and allied groups] will mobilize their cells to cause problems for the Lebanese army and Hezbollah here in Lebanon,” says one of the fighters who identified himself as Haj Mohammed.

Research into tricks of persuasion shows remarkable reactions to persuasive tactics that determine the outcome of decision making individuals never notice, but are directed by, into choices the manipulator intended.

“What we’re finding more and more in psychology is that lots of the decisions we make are influenced by things we are not aware of,” says Jay Olson at McGill University in Quebec, Canada – who recently created an ingenious experiment showing just how easily we are manipulated by the gentlest persuasion.


It is less clear how this might relate to other forms of priming, a subject of long controversy. In the 2000 US election, for instance, Al Gore supporters claimed the Republicans had flashed the word “RATS” in an advert depicting the Democrat representative.

Gore’s supporters believed the (alleged) subliminal message about their candidate would sway voters.Replicating the ad with a made-up candidate, Drew Westen at Emory University, found that the flash of the word really did damage the politician’s ratings, according to subjects in the lab.


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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.