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The Next Penicillin May Come From Sloths

Scientists marvel at what grows on sloth hair

Scientists marvel at what grows on a sloth's outer coat.

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THE WHITE HOUSE Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery State of the Union Address: “An America Built to Last” Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 As Prepared for Delivery – Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq.

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Most politicians stretch the truth. But few do it as blatantly, and shamelessly, as Mitt Romney has been during this presidential campaign. Romney hasn't simply been fibbing or parsing his answers carefully. He has been saying things that are plainly untrue, over and over again. It happened twice during Monday night’s debate in South Carolina. First Romney claimed that President Obama “doesn’t have a jobs plan yet.” He’s made statements like this before. But Obama does have a jobs plan. He unveiled it in early September, in a nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress.

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On Wednesday a divided Congress agreed to sign free trade pacts with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea that are meant to boost U.S. exports and investment in foreign business by reducing tariffs and other protectionist barriers. While business leaders and some trade unions—auto manufacturers, in particular—are united in support of the deals, many think they will hamper U.S. employment by opening up workers to competition from cheap foreign jobs. Before this, the last big trade pact was the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

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Jennifer Rubin has an item headlined, "Marco Rubio continues to impress," which gushes over Rubio's deep grasp of public policy. Here's the Rubio-authored passage she cites: Approving free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea would be a boon to our economy, create jobs for Floridians, and help solidify our alliances with these steadfast allies. The agreements with Colombia and Panama in particular would boost Florida’s economy, where over 1 million Floridians remain out of work.

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Pogroms of Words

For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus By Frederick Brown (Knopf, 304 pp., $28.95) The phrase “culture wars” has a peculiarly contemporary and American sound. Its very hyperbole captures something about our over-excited political culture. It summons up images of Sarah Palin denouncing liberal elites to the Tea Party convention, or of hippies facing off against riot police. It triggers associations with a series of “hot button” American issues: gay marriage, abortion, gun control, prayer in schools. Yet “culture wars” are in fact endemic to Western modernity.

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Pogroms of Words

For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus By Frederick Brown (Knopf, 304 pp., $28.95) The phrase “culture wars” has a peculiarly contemporary and American sound. Its very hyperbole captures something about our over-excited political culture. It summons up images of Sarah Palin denouncing liberal elites to the Tea Party convention, or of hippies facing off against riot police. It triggers associations with a series of “hot button” American issues: gay marriage, abortion, gun control, prayer in schools. Yet “culture wars” are in fact endemic to Western modernity.

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Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery The State of the Union Wednesday, January 27, 2009 Washington, DC Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union.  For two hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty.  They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility.  And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggl

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Back before the 1840s, many barges in the United States were dragged along canals by mules or horses walking along the bank. This wasn't a bad way of transporting cargo—the mules could carry ten times as much weight as they could hauling a cart on the road—but the method quickly became obsolete once railroads showed up. But now Kris De Decker has a fascinating, history-heavy piece in Low-Tech Magazine (oh yes) suggesting that if oil prices keep rising, or as energy conservation becomes increasingly important, the "trolleyboat" could make a comeback.

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Francisco Toro and Juan Nagel write the Venezuelan news blog Caracas Chronicles. The Honduran crisis surely reached its Rococo stage this week after fresh elections organized by the coupsters' regime saw the election of a conservative rancher as president—while Brazil's nearly sainted left-wing president, Lula da Silva, promptly rejected the poll as undemocratic ... a scant few days after welcoming Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brazil with open arms. The election of President Lobo has split the international community, and in mostly predictable ways.

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