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Posted Apr 19: Star-Spangled Baggage: How America’s Wars Came Home With the Troops. Returning combat veterans are increasingly involved in mayhem at home: "...the skills drilled into the combat soldier -- cunning, deceit, strength, quickness, stealth, a repertoire of killing techniques, and the suppression of compassion and guilt -- equip him perfectly for a life of crime..."
Posted Apr 14: Three expensive milliseconds. That costly new tunnel for fiber-optic cables being drilled through the mountains of Pennsylvania will reduce communication time between futures traders between NY and Chicago - by .003 iseconds. Will lightning trades improve productivity, stabilize markets, improve allocation of capital? No, no and no. Improve life for the 1%? No doubt.
Posted Apr 11: NSA Said to Have Exploited Heartbleed Bug for Years; NSA has denied the charge. According to Bloomberg, the NSA had known for two years about the existence of a the serious security flaw just discovered last week, but kept it secret to use it for its own ends."Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers." .
Posted Apr 11: Climate Change Messaging: Avoid the Truth. In a NY Times Op-Ed, Ted Norhaus and Michael Shellenberger continue their critique of the tactics of some climate-change activists and call for a revival of nuclear power. Steven Breyman objects to the techno-fix appraoach points out in his response in Counterpunch that the NYT piece ignores the massive injection of funds by the Koch brothers and their Big Oil friends to discredit climate science.
Posted Apr 1 : UK uses health workers in counter-terror plan. Coming soon to a country near you? Medical workers in the UK's National Health Service are now being trained as "terrorist"-spotters. They are supposed to be on the lookout for patients critical of UK foreign policy and having characteristics such as lack of a job that might make them "vulnerable to radicalisation"
Posted Apr 11: Profiting from Climate Change Commenting on the new book, Windfall, by McKenzie Funk, Olson says that the theenergy industires are making the transition from denying global warming to cheering it on and scrambling for new opportunities to make big bucks.
Posted Apr 11: Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land: Facing Rising Seas, Bangladesh Confronts the Consequences of Climate Change. At the top of the list of countries endangered by rising sea levels is Bangladesh, which produces just 0.3% of greenhouse gas emissions. 17% of its land surface is expected to disappear into the sea in the next 40 years and the normal impact of its frequent tropical storms will reach ever further inland, producing catastropic damage.
Bangladesh, with its low elevation and severe tropical storms, is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, though it has contributed little to the emissions that are driving it. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times
Posted Apr 11: Will Earth Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036?. The world is still increasing its rate of production of greenhouse gases. Even if the increase stopped and we continued at the same rate, the planet's average surface temperature will rise by 2 degrees C by 2036, writes Michael Mann, a world-leading expert on climate change in a Scientific American article. This will caoss " a threshold that many scientists think will hurt all aspects of human civilization: food, water, health, energy, economy and national security."
Posted Apr 11: Between activism and science: grassroots concepts for sustainability coined by Environmental Justice Organizations. This is an extensive global survey of struggles for environmental justice.(PDF)
Posted Mar 25: The Great Lakes: 'Liquid Pipeline' for World's Dirtiest Fuels? An alarming report by water resources expert and activistn Maude Barlow (pdf) points to the Great Lakes and surroundings as a key conduit for "extreme energy" and its waste products.
Posted Mar 24: Statistics guru Nate Silver hires climate skeptic. Nate Silver has established quite a reputation for using rigorous statistics to make predictions about politics and sports, but the hiring for his new blog of a well-known climate-change "skeptic" with a record of serious statistical errors and political bias has drawn a storm of controversy.See also more extensive article in Dailykos, Mar 23 .
Posted Mar 24: AAAS report: "What We Know - The Reality Risks and Response to Climate Change". The Climate Science Panel of AAAS, the producer of Science magazine has launched an initiative to put the prestige of AAAS behind the ongoing battle to expose the skeptics and educate the public. Anything new? Here are comments from desmogblog and from Scientific American
[AAAS, whatweknow.aaas.org, Mar 18]
Posted Mar 24: A Big Fracking Lie - Fracked gas for export: The Obama administration is seeking fast-track approval for a giant plant to be built on Chesapeake Bay to liquefy fracked natural gas piped from sites throughout Appalachia. From there it will be pumped into huge tankers for shipment to India and Japan. Action (Mar 18): Go here to see update and submit public comments. This is just one of 20 such plants proposed.
Posted Mar 24: Researchers Confirm: When NSA Watches Your Metadata, It Is Watching You Stanford researchers prove what civil liberties advocates have warned since NSA scandal broke. The researchers, using only data about phone calls, not the words spoken, were able to pry into medical conditions, gun ownership, marijuana cultivation, abortion, and participation in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Posted Mar 24: Data "pioneers" watching us work. Big Brother is watching you ever more closely in the workplace, says the Financial Times, with evident satisfaction. That magnetic strip in your name badge may be monitoring your interactions with other employees; or else sensors built in to your Steelcase desk may by spying on you. But, be happy; management is just trying to improve your productivity.
Posted Mar 8: What Europe Should Know about US Mass Surveillance. Edward Snowden has just delivered comprehensive testimony to the an investigative panel of the European Parliament revealing in lucid detail the nature and scope not only of NSA's gigantic operations, but also the extensive cooperation of its partner agencies in Europe. The complete statement is here (pdf) together with the panel's questions and Snowden's responses.
(may take up to a minute to download - be patient!)
. [Leslie Kaufman, NY Times, May 10]
LATEST POSTS - continued
Posted Feb 28: Optic Nerve: millions of Yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ. Is your webcam spying on you? The UK surveillance agency GCHQ has been sweeping up millions of images from Yahoo users’ webcam chats and probably using NSA "Optic Nerve "face recognition technology. US Senators Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich have said they will investigate the role of NSA in expediting this latest massive invasion of privacy.
Posted Feb 28: Could Offshore Wind Farms Could Knock Down Hurricanes?. If wind turbines congregate in sufficient numbers, can they be safe from hurricanes? Maybe; in fact it could be the hurricanes that have to worry. Computer simulations sho that an offshore array of tens of thousands of sparsely spaced wind turbines sould slow down a hurricanes winds enough to substantially weaken the storm before it reaches land and prevent catastropic storm surges,
Posted Feb 28: Western Spy Agencies Infiltrating, Warping World of Online Activism Newly-released Snowden documents show how UK's GCHQ has been able to 'manipulate, deceive, and destroy reputations' of online targets. Sounds like a page out of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI playbook where spooks were used to infiltrate and sabotage progressive groups.
Posted Feb 28: Posted Feb 28: Why Amazon’s Collaboration with the CIA Is So Ominous Amazon, world's largest online store has enormous amounts of data on consumers everywhere. They're soo good at what they do, that the CIAhas made a deal to buy some of their expertise in cloud computing, for $600 million.But, Amazon customers have started a petition campaign to demand that their data not be leaked to the CIA. Feel safer now?
Posted Feb 28: Global warming risk due to Arctic thaw significantly worse. The diminishing Arctic ice cover over the last 30 years has been accurately measured and found to be twice as great as predicted from models. According to the abstract in PNAS, the resulting darkening of the surface has the same effect ais adding another 25% to the warming due to theglobal CO2 rise during those 30 years.
Posted Feb 28: Alberta's financial health depends on tar sands. All we hear about is how the Alberta tarsands-to-US Keystone-XL pipeline will strengthen US energy self-sufficieny. What's in it for Alberta? 30% of the state's expenditures are financed by revenues from oil and gas.
Posted Feb 28: How Can it be so cold if there's global warming? "Peter Sinclair and the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media have put together an amazing video that succinctly explains how the eastern half of the United States can be so cold in the midst of global warming and climate change. Among those he interviews are Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground and Jennifer Francis, who is research professor at Rutgers University's Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. It also includes graphics and excerpts from news reports. It's brief and brilliant."
Posted Feb 9: Ending the World the Human Way: Climate Change as the Anti-News Out of 9137 peer-reviewed papers on climate change published in about the last year, exactly *one* did not conclude that it was human-caused. The message will gradually sink in that, yes, the climate is changing, and changing catastrophically - and it's our fault, but we may still be able to do something about it. But there are so many other things in the news..
Posted Feb 9: No Wonder the World Is Terrified of America - we're the biggest threat. And, the distant runner-up in a year-end international BBC/Gallup poll was Pakistan, with a third as many votes. Although the biggest security quesion currently being discussed in media and academic circles has to do with containing Iran, Chomsky suggests that, with the drones continuing to explode, most of the world is asking instead"Can the United States be contained and other nations secured ...?
Posted Feb 9: Fracking's Skyrocketing Water Usage Trends Spell Disaster The fracking boom is "is happening in places that can least afford to lose precious water supplies" according to a new report by Ceres.org, a group that does sustainability studies for investors; discussion here. The water is often taken from streams and wells in already dry areas, polluted and then injected into deep disposal wells, forever cut off from the hydrological cycle
Posted Feb 9: The Internet You Know and Love is in Danger "Net neutrality – the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the Internet equally – is vital to free speech. But earlier this month, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the FCC's net neutrality rules, jeopardizing the openness of the Internet that we have come to take for granted." Major internet service providers controlling a big slice of on-line traffic have already used their power to censor and slow down content at will.
Posted Feb 9: Q&A with Edward Snowden. On mass data sniffing: Permanent records are being kept of our daily activities, so that if at some time in the future you should come to the government's attention, it can find out names of all your contacts, and even, for example, where you went to dinner on a given date - up to 5 years in the past
Posted Feb 9: Fifty States of Fear. Be afraid. Be very afraid. The use of fear by authorities to persuade citizens to submit to loss of freedom privacy and dignity isn't new, but seems to grow daily, almost independent of the level of credible dangers. The aim of terrorists is to create terror and our governments are helping to do the terrorists' job for them.
Posted Feb 9: Jan 7 Fakethrough! GMOs and the Capitulation of Science Journalism. Golden Rice, high-protein cassava, edible vaccines, blight-resistant rice...where are they now? Sensationalist reports of unsubstantiated claims about scientific breakthroughs by mass media reporters: Is the science press captive or incomptetent - or both?
Posted Jan 20, 2014: If You See Something, Say Something. Despite overwhelming evidence both that climate change is happening and that it is human-caused, Congress still wallows in anti-science rhetoric, and the mass media still insist on presenting both "sides" as reasonable. Mann, the inventor of the "hockey stick" image of global warming warns that scientists must roll up their sleeves and get involved.
Posted Jan 20: Al Gore: Geoengineering of Global Cooling: 'Insane, Utterly Mad and Delusional'. A draft of the 5th IPCC report suggests that, in view of the inability of significant global measures to fight climate change, that geoengineering solutions be considered. Gore blasts this approach is providing pretexts for further inaction: The fact that some scientists who should know better are actually engaged in serious discussion of those alternatives is a mark of how desperate some of them are feeling due to the paralysis in the global political system."(see also Naomi Klein)
Posted Jan 20: The Special Ops Surge: America’s Secret War in 134 Countries The US may be pulling troops out of Iran and Afghanistan, but not to worry - they're still in 74% of the world's nations (more than double the 2008 level), and the number of personnel in the Special Operations Command has more than doubled since 2001.Activities range from commando raids and kidnappings to training exercises and web-based propaganda campaigns.
Posted Jan 20: NSA Devises Radio Pathway into Computers - and you don't even have to be connected to the internet. In order to plant this bug, the NSA must have had physical access to your computer - or to the manufacturing process. The technique according to NSA is one of the essential tools for cyber warfare - offensive as well as defensive and was already used to infect Iranian uranium-processing centrifuges with the Stuxnet virus, which subsequently escaped into the internet. The number of gugged computers is unknown but growing; estimates indicate that on the order of at least 100,000
annual Chaos Communication Congress on December 28, 2013 in Hamburg, Germany
Posted Jan 20: Switch to gas has slashed power-plant emissions, study finds new research on pollution generated by power plants has found that substitution of gas for coal has produced a massive reduction in particles and harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and also reduced carbon dioxide emissions by power plants by some 23% in 2012 (abstract here).The work did not measure the increase in greenhouse gases caused by gasleakage from pipelines and fracking.
Posted Jan 20: American Jihad 2014 Our three-part system of checks and balances has grown a monstrous fourth branch, much of it out of control or even of sight of the other three branches. It has immense funding, unprecedented power and it is based on premises that seem to be immune to challenge - almost as if it were faith-based. Its eyes and ears reach everywhere, in support of its global jihad, and when it decides to strike, it strikes without warning - carrying out a kind of stealth fatwah.
Posted Jan 20: More evidence undermines industry claims of fracking safety. An AP investigation has turned up complaints about pollution of groundwater related to nearby fracking and drilling activities at hundreds of sites spread over four states from Texas to Pensylvania
Posted Jan 20, 1914: The Psychological Dark Side of Gmail. Distressed by massive invasions of our privacy admitted by NSA (thank you Mr Snowden), the biggest players in the on-line world - Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook and others addressed an open letter on Dec 8 to Obama and Congress to promote surveillance reform. But these are the very outfits that still engage daily in massive surveillance and violations of privacy and "use that data to build and update complex psychological profiles on hundreds of millions of people all over the world...in real time."
Posted Jan 20, 2014: We Need to Talk About Ted. TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) sponsors a series of conferences where smart people with good communication skills present cutting-edge ideas. Are the talks just info-mercials and the solutions presented just placebos?
Posted Dec 30, 2013: Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit. Yes, geeks of the world - there IS a heaven. If you qualify, NSA may let you become part of an elite team, one that came to light due to a rash of failures of garage-door remotes. It's name is Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, which is the NSA's top operative unit - a kind of elitet strike force that can be called in when normal access to a target is blocked.
Posted Dec 30, 2013: Christmas message from Edward Snowden. Snowden made a two-minute video recorded in Moscow and broadcast on Christmas on the UK's Channel 4, saying that modern surveillance was more invasive than any envisioned in the novel "1984" by George Orwell, and warned that children today would grow up without knowing "what it means to have a private moment."
Posted Dec 30: Global Warming Will Intensify Drought, Says New Study. Human-caused climate change, aside from the the predicted global warming, lethal heat waves and more-intense rainfall events in some areas, may also increase the severity of droughts elsewhere. According to the new study, summarized here, appearing in Nature Climate Change (abstract here), "...it is expected that when droughts occur they are likely to set in quicker and be more intense."]
Posted Dec 30: Protesters Arrested for Staging a Bioterror Hoax. Another powerful blow has been struck in the ongoing US struggle against the terrorists in our midst. This time they were pretending to be anti-XL pipeline activists, but the Oklahoma cops (having been recently briefed at the behest of Trans-Canada) were quick to grasp the underlying agenda: bio-terrorism. They seized a large banner which was decorated with a strange sparkling substance and rushed it to the lab for analysis, having busted two of the leaders. According to the prisoners, the deadly substance was...glitter.
Posted Dec 30: Welcome to the Memory Hole - disappearing Edward Snowden. We are seeing rapid improvement of technologies similar to those used to hide material unfit for children or to isolate the public in authoritarian regimes from current reality. In the Ministry of Truth of Orwell's "1984", inconvenient facts from both the present and past were laboriously replaced by hand. Now with our growing dependence on digital information we may be approaching a world susceptible to massive manipulations of this kind, including virtual disappearances of inconvenient people.
Posted Dec 22: The Global Temperature Jigsaw. Is the apparent pause in global warming over the last 15 years real? If so, why wasn't it predicted by most of the models? What happened to ocean temperatures during this period?
Posted Dec 22: Study Adds to Arctic Warming, Extreme Weather Debate. Can we really link recent weather extremes at temperate latitudes to Arctic ice and snow loss? New research analyzes important jet stream changes.
Posted Dec 18: Edward Snowden's Open Letter: Offers to Help Brazil Over US Spying in Return for Asylum (Full text). Snowden: "These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power."
Posted Dec 18: America's Child Soldiers: JROTC and the Militarizing of America. Sign them up when they're 14 or 15? It used to be the high school marching band; now it's the military, in the form of JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). Now already installed in 3400 high schools with a total enrollment of 557,129 kids, it is partly subsidized by the schools themselves and uses Pentagon-supplies texts. ]
Posted Dec 18: Who Should You Believe When it Comes to the Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods? The controversy over genetically-engineered foods is still alive. It turns out that the tests linked to the bioengineering industries invariably give it the green light, while independent investigators are divided. And introducing genes to protect the crop from poisonous pesticides does nothing to protect the underlying ecosystem.
Posted Dec 16: The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder. Kids giving you trouble? Just label them and drug them. How has it come about that 15% of high-school-age children are suddenly the victims of a new disorder and 3.5 million are are on medication for it? Is our newest epidemic another invention?
Posted Dec 13: Coke's Conspiracy Against Tap Water. "What you would like to drink", asks the waiter. Better not answer "tap water", cheapskate - Coca Cola has been teaching your waiter the techniques of getting you to shell out for one of its products - including Dasani, their brand of bottled H20. Their Cap the Tap program will help you get over your naive trust in your community water supply and your foolish fears of putting weight by guzzling bottled sugar water. [
Posted Dec 13: Google's Road Map to Global Domination. Asking "where" may become a thing of the past as Google rushes onward with an immense program to maps the globe and equip every useful object, person or animal with the means to be tracked via GPS with the help of implanted chips or smart phones. And Google's streetview, while having covered only 10% of the world's streets (6 million miles) has expanded to every country on the planet, opening up countless opporunities for commercial and military applications by cross-indexing and correlations
Posted Dec 13: Geoengineering approaches to reduce climate change unlikely to succeed. The temperature of our planet's oceans and atmosphere are rising because of megatons of the CO2 and methane we've already released. Let's just get around the problem by reducing some of the sunlight; this is the basis of various "geoengineering" schemes being proposed. But, according to new research (see abstract), not only do these schemes fail to stop the growing CO2-caused acidity of the oceans, but they also generate potentially serious disruptions of the planetary water cycle by reducing solar-driven turbulent mixing that lifts water vapor from the surface. ]
Heavy rainfall events can be more common in a warmer world (Credit: Annett Junginger, via imaggeo.egu.eu)
Posted Dec 13: To Make Hospitals Less Deadly, a Dose of Data. Hospitals may be hazardous to your health. Every year least 440,000 people who go to the hospital never return - due to preventable errors, and over ten times that number suffer serious harm. But the prospective patient doesn't have access to information to help choose a hospital, thanks to lobbying efforts by the hospital industry. (but see the comments section following the article)
Posted Dec 13: Russia Develops World's First Floating Nuclear Power Plant. If you liked Fukushima, you'll love this - Russia has announced that its work on a floating 70 megawatt nuclear power plant is progressing and will be complete in about 6 years. The ship is about 470 feet long and The floating power station would provide power and heat to isolated consumers in remote coastal areas that do not have centralized power supply. It's owner has assured the world that it would be "resilient in a disaster". (see comment in Nation of Change)
Posted Dec 13: Emissions of Methane in U.S. Exceed Estimates, Study Finds. 50% greater, says a new study that measures methane over a dense network. The origin of the extra methane was from oil and natural gas extraction and from livestock, and calls into question all previous estimates and overfly optimistic predictions about future methan releases.
Posted Dec 13: Look What's Behind the Recent Slowdown in Global Warming. An new study in Nature (abstact) uses statistical methods to relate changes in the rate of global warming, such as the slowdown in the last 15 years, to changes in human activity, such as the world wars, the depression and the banning of CFCs.
Posted Nov 10: How to Protect Your Phone From the Police. Or, at least, protect what you've recorded. By the time that cop can descend on you yell "give me that phone!" your photos and videos will be out there for all to see - if you follow these instructions.
Posted Nov 10: Genetically modified mosquitoes set off uproar in Florida Keys. Recent large increases in sometimes-fatal dengue fever infections in tropical metropolitan areas are being used to justify new experimentation with the release of genetically-modified male insects. The males mate and die and the offspring are found to quickly die before reaching breeding age. Only problem is the research, is being conducted by Oxitec in Florida and Brazil without community consent.
Posted Nov 10: Inside America’s Drone Wars. A review of Glenn Greenwald's news film, "Unmanned" which details the Obama Administration’s deadly drone program and its innocent victims in the tribal areas of Waziristan in Pakistan. The entire film (63 minutes) can be seen==>> here<<== on YouTube.
Posted Nov 10: Science for the Little People? We all start out as scientists, but then some of us forget. How is it that babies' method of learning about the world that leads to such rapid development? "Babies and young children are like the research and development division of the human species, and we grown-ups are production and marketing"..
Posted Nov 10: Flying the Coop: Antibiotic Resistance Spreads to Birds, Other Wildlife A new study of wild birds in CA, MA, KS and NY found that "2.5 percent, harbored genes for resistance to vancomycin, a drug of last resort for hard-to-treat hospital-acquired infections. Crows with the resistance genes in their feces were found in all of the states except California."
Posted Oct 23: Are We Puppets in a Wired World? A review and essay on seven significant new books on privacy, data banks and the internet. The bottom line,already quoted far and wide: "while we were having fun, we happily and willingly helped to create the greatest surveillance system ever imagined, a web whose strings give governments and businesses countless threads to pull, which makes us…puppets."
Posted Oct 23: Keystone XL Pipeline Could Yield $100 Billion For Koch Brothers. Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline could generate $100 billion in profits for the right-wing sugar daddy Koch brothers according to a study Billionaires' Carbon Bomb, PDF released Oct 19 by the International Forum on Globalization
Posted Oct 23: Canada-EU Deal Threatens Canada's Water. A pact to export more meat and another to expedite access to Canada's municipal water supplies by French multinationals, both recently signed by Canada's Prime Minister Harper bring further pressure on Canada's diminishing fresh water resources. The meat pact calls for massive new imports of beef and pork to the EU (it takes 15,000 tons of water to produce each to of beef).
Posted Oct 23: Chevron Sues Rainforest Communities It Contaminated. After ten years of litigation, Chevron was to be fined an unprecedented $19 billion for the massive damage it inflicted on the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, one of history's worst encironmental disasters.But now a countersuit has been started by Chevron's eco-criminals, directed against local leaders, a cacao grower and a leader of the Secoya indigenous people, under the RICO act.
A hand covered in crude from one of the hundreds of open toxic pits Chevron (formerly
Texaco) abandoned in the Ecuadorean Amazon rainforest near Lago Agrio. Photo credit: Caroline Bennett /
Rainforest Action Network
Posted Oct 23: Google: Doing Evil with ALEC. The notorious American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been quietly signing on new allies - Google (and also Yelp, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo, who are dues-paying members of ALEC's tech task force, according to an article in the Daily Beast). ALEC promotes such regressive measures as tax cuts for tobacco companies, school privatization , repeal of state taxes for the wealthy and opposition to renewable energy disliked by oil companies."Google’s involvement in ALEC is consistent with the company’s ... rigorous data-mining of emails [and] online searches..."
Posted Oct 23: Are Utility Companies Out to Destroy Solar's 'Rooftop Revolution'? In California, customers who install solar systems and battery arrays are finding themselves cut off from grid. Electric utilities are reacting to the growin numbesrs of small rooftop installers as a threat to their profits and even allege that solar customers are taking energy off the grid, storing it in their batteries and reselling to the utilities disguised as excess solar power.
Posted Oct 7: Spying for Economic Gain: Canada's CSEC Targeted Brazilian Energy Firms - New documents revealed by Edward Snowden reveal spying on mining and energy companies. Canada has its own version of NSA, which has tapped into computers and smartphones affiliated with Brazil’s mining and energy ministry looking not for terrorists but for "economic intelligence." The info was shared with the US and has further outraged the Brazilian government, already fuming over the revelation of NSA spying on its President.
Posted Oct 7: U.S. Government Researchers Barred from Scientific Conferences; collateral damage? unintended consequence? "Not only are government researchers barred from their own labs during the government shutdown, but they cannot travel anywhere else, either."
Posted Oct 7: Thank You for Your Service, by David Finkel: Book Review. The number of young veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and related brain problems is over half a million and rising. A "high-tech, information-age approach to waging war supposedly offered a template for assured victory. Iraq and Afghanistan have shredded such pretensions."
Posted Oct 7: Fracking by the Numbers - Key Impacts of Dirty Drilling at the State and National Level. With 80,000 wells drilled or approved, oil and gas interests are seeking further expansion. Impacts include pollution of groundwater with radiation and toxic waste, damage to land and of boosting carbon emissions.
Fracking in the Jonah, Wyoming gas field
Posted Oct 7: The Destruction of Lavabit - How the owner of the company that handled Edward Snowden's encrypte emails courageously stood up to the feds' massive investigation. Another hero in resistance to the government's war on privacy and whistleblowers has emerged: We not only have Snowden, Greenwald and Poitras to thank, but also Ladar Levison, owner of an ultra-encrypted e-mail service used by the trio. Levison shut down his service rather than cave in to FBI demands to deliver his entire database.
Posted Oct 7: Pandora's Box. The 3-D printer as the Next Big Thing: From toys to prosthetics to guns, its use is growing exponentially. From 2008 to 2011, personal 3-D printer sales grew 346 percent, according to Staples, which has just become the first major retailer to carry the machines in its stores. Three-D printers are becoming cheaper by the day; a sophisticated model can now be had for less than a thousand dollars.
Posted Oct 7: The New IPCC Climate Report. The latest in the series of increasingly dismal IPCC climate reports (full report here) points the finger (almost) unequivocally at us humans and humanoids. Oceans will continue to rise and acidify, high-rainfall areas to moisten, dry areas to dryen and the Arctic Ocean to lose almost all its ice.
Posted Oct 7: Corroding Our Democracy: Canada Silences Scientists, Targets Environmentalists in Tar Sands Push. Democracy Now interviews one of Canada’s leading environmental activists, Tzeporah Berman, who has campaigned for two decades around clean energy and is the former co-director of Greenpeace International’s Climate Unit. [Amy Goodman, Democracy Now. Sep 24]
Posted Sep 20: Commentary by David Schwartzman of DC Metro Science for the People on "Energy and Growth: The Great Progressive Reversal", by Michael Shellenberger & Ted Nordhaus (July, 2013). SolidarityEconomy.net via TheBreakthough.org, posted => here
Posted Sep 20: The Crisis at Fukushima's Unit 4 Demands a Global Take-Over. As the siutation at Fukushima Unit #4 continues to deteriorate, and with large amounts of radioactive liquids temporarily stored in hastily constructed tanks that are already leaking into the Pacific,its owner Tokyo Electric Power with the help of Japan's government is about to take the dangerous gamble of attempting to remove 1300 spent fuel rods sitting in a pool 100 feet above the ground. Expertise from around the world is desperately needed.](See also Sep 3 article below.)
Posted Sep 20: End of the Holocene: Reconstructing 12,000 years of climate. A ground-breaking reconstruction of the last 12,000 years of climate has been found to be consistent with a recent more detailed reconstruction of the last 2000 years.Thed methods are independent, yet agree on the hockey sticki -the sharp rise of the last century that more than offset 5000 years of natural cooling due to the Milankovitch cycle.
Posted Sep 20: Major newspaper commentaries call climate-change alarm unwise and unnecessary. They never quit. This piece in Physics today cites commentaries by Bjorn Lomberg in the Sep 14 Wash Post and Matt Ridley in the Wall St Journal and exposes just how misleading their articles are
Posted Sep 20: The giant jellyfish invasion mystery. Increasing reports of exponential rates of increase of jellyfish populations are examined in this balanced article. A piece by Tim Flannery ("They're Taking Over!", NY Review of Books, Sep 26) discusses how acidification of ocean waters and overfishing have combined to destroy many of the natural enemies of the jellyfish.]
Posted Sep 20: Poop Power: Turning Human Waste into Energy. In Ghana, "Groundbreaking disposal methods, which leapfrog Western technologies, are now allowing human waste to be transformed into fertilizer, biofuel and biodiesel. The techniques have the potential to tackle Ghana’s sanitation issues while increasing food production and fuelling the nation. They could also provide other countries with a new approach to waste treatment, one that is cheaper and easier."
Posted Sep 20: Assessing the Role of Global Warming in Extreme Weather of 2012. This summary of an international review of a year's worth of studies concludes once again that global climate change can't be linked to specific destructive events, but steadily increases the chances of extreme heat waves and floods both inland and due to sea level rise, along coasts.] Notice how the headline is slanted differently from the previous day's NYT article by Kenneth Chang: Research Cites Role of Warming in Extremes.
Posted Sep 5: Errors Cast Doubt on Japan’s Cleanup of Nuclear Accident Site. More than 2 years after the triple meltdown at Fukushima, groundwater continues to leak into the ruins that remain, carrying radioactive runoff into the sea. Accidents, miscalculations, coverups and delays have led Japan's government to intervene, and now with no prior experience they are trying to remove the damaged spent fuel rods from the wreckage of reactor #4See also :After disaster, the deadliest part of Japan's nuclear clean-up.
Posted Sep 5: Is global warming really slowing down? Fox News has the answer: Yes! Among all of the indicators of climate change it's always possible for the denialists to continue to deny. In this case they;ve seized on a transient decrease in the rate of rise in surface temperaure, easily within the noise level indicated by past fluctuations in the long-term record. If it needs to be explained, the probable reason is increased heat transfer deep in the oceans. But, the total heat content of the oceans continues to rise.
Posted Sep 5: Disruptions: More Connected, Yet More Alone. Are you in love with your smart phone? Probably, says this youtube video, "I Forgot My Phone", now going viral. On smartphones everywhere.
Posted Sep 5: 'Black Budget' Revealed: A Detailed Look at US 'Espionage Empire'. This article summarizes a detailed study by the Washington Post, based on Snowden's revelations, showing for the first time the explosive growth of many of the government's 16 spy agencies that now employ over 100,000 people.
Posted Sep 5: What the Assault on Whistleblowers Has to Do With War on Syria. "...Every president who wants to launch another war can’t abide whistleblowers. They might interfere with the careful omissions, distortions and outright lies of war propaganda, which requires that truth be held in a kind of preventative detention..."
Posted Sep 5 Facial Scanningis Making Gains in Surveillance. Now that your e-mail, personal files and phone conversations are being vacuumed up by NSA and company, it's time to ask whether you should continue to walk and talk on public streets with your face exposed. Probably not...
Posted Sep 5: How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets - a detailed and fascinating account of heroism of a key player in exposure of NSA's global spying, succeeding in the face of enormous odds
Posted Aug 8: How The Washington Post’s New Owner Aided the CIA, Blocked WikiLeaks & Decimated the Book Industry. What does Jeff Bezos' history at Amazon portend for the future of the Post and print journalism in general? Panel discussion on Democracy Now with Dennis Johnson (Melville House), Robert McChesney (Free Press) and Jeff Cohen (FAIR).
Posted Aug 8: The NSA and Global Terror Alerts. The global outrage that has greeted Edward Snowden's revelation of global spying by the U.S. has predictably led to a "Global Terror Alert", another in a series of reminders to everybody to be very afraid. After an Aug 2 meeting of top US security aides, there followed "the swift closure of U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa, and a blanket warning that will stay in place all of August.
Posted Aug 8: Gangplank to a Warm Future. Methane release, a by-product of normal oil-drilling, is far more serious for fracking. "Because of leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, the gas extracted from shale deposits is not a 'bridge' to a renewable energy future — it’s a gangplank to more warming".
Posted Aug 8: Rapid Arctic thawing could be economic timebomb, scientists say; Methane released by a thinning permafrost may trigger catastrophic climate change and cost the world $60trillion, according to this story in The Guardian, based on a recent paper in Nature (Whieman, Hope and Wadhams, July 2013.This elicited an immediate attack in the Washington Post and a good discussion at Skeptical Science and at Real Climate (see post #65 in this debate.
Posted Aug 8: You Are Being Tracked. That's the title of a new ACLU report released July 17. "Location records of millions of civilians are logged and updated in roughly 300 police departments nationwide through 'rapidly expanding" automatic license plate reader technologies, dispersed throughout cities and communities'"according to the ACLU
Posted July 14: Signature Targeting Comes Home to Roost. The artificial-intelligence-based calculations behind the selection of drone assassination targets are performed by computer and the results "... presented to an overworked decision-maker, who does not have a clue about the deeply buried subjective assumptions underpinning seemingly objective nature of the calculations."
Posted July 14: The Snowden Asylum Saga. "Shame on you, Snowden: stripping away the political-legal cover for war crimes. Twicefold shame, Snowden, for stripping away the ideological cover of counterterrorism...as America’s biggest growth industry, not only as the surest way of terrorizing the American public and keeping them docile. " ]
Posted July 14: VIDEO: Edward Snowden interviewed by Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras of the Guardian, UK.
Posted July 14: Open Access and the looming crisis in science. The publish-or-perish rat-race for the research scientist has become more complex: your work must not only be cited, but it must appear in the top journals. How is a journal ranked? By who publishes in it. Everyone wants a citation in a top journal, but space is limited so 90% are being rejected; page prices are soaring, lesser-ranked journals are being spawned and for those who seek access to the latest research via internet, paywalls are springing up everywhere. Is this how we should determine what to research and how to disseminate knowledge to the public that is paying for it?
Posted July 14: This Really is Big Brother: The Leak Nobody's Noticed. Even before Edward Snowden revealed massive government surveillance of private communications, Obama had launched a sweeping and unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, wherby "...millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for 'high-risk persons or behaviors' among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.'Hammer this fact home ... leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,' says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program that was obtained by McClatchy"
Posted July 14: Snowden Coverage: If US Mass Media Were State-Controlled, Would They Look Any Different? "While an independent journalism system would be dissecting the impacts of NSA surveillance on privacy rights, and separating fact from fiction, U.S. news networks have obsessed on questions like: How much damage has Snowden caused? How can he be brought to justice?"
Posted July 14: Fracked Gas Isn’t a Bridge Fuel—It’s a Gangplank. Aside from contaminating groundwater, fracking leaks quantities of the suoer-greenhouse gas, methane, sufficient to negate its reduced production of carbon dioxide when burned. In addition, much of the fracked gas is destined forliquefaction, itself an energy intensive process, before being shipped abroad.
Posted Jun 11: Edward Snowden: Saving Us from the United Stasi of America - Snowden's whistleblowing gives us a chance to roll back what is tantamount to an 'executive coup' against the US constitution. Daniel Ellsburg, the hero who released the Pentagon Papers and hastened tyhe end of the Vietnam war, speaks out in praise of a current hero
Posted Jun 11: The Judicial Lynching of Bradley Manning. The man whose video brought to the world stunning evidence of US war crimes is himself being subject to a military court martial that has ruled out any attempt by Bradley Manning to discuss those war crimes as motivation for his act.
Posted Jun 11: Rethinking American Exceptionalism - The U.S. can't guarantee its citizens healthcare -- but it can execute them without due process. And, our enormous GDP brings us - compared to the industrialized world - exceptional rates of child poverty, inequality and lack of workers' rights; and exceptional health care - for those who can afford it.
Posted Jun 11: U.N. Expert Calls for Halt in Military Robot Development. Human Rights Watch: “by 2030 machine capabilities will have increased to the point that humans will have become the weakest component in a wide array of systems and processes.”
Posted Jun 11: Geoengineering: Our Last Hope, or a False Promise? Some are still looking for ways to engineer the planet so that we can continue dumping ever more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Orbiting mirrors? Iron in the oceans? Giant CO2-sucking machines? "The idea of building a vast industrial infrastructure to offset the effects of another vast industrial infrastructure (instead of shifting to renewable energy) only highlights our unwillingness to confront the deeper causes of global warming — the power of the fossil-fuel lobby and the reluctance of wealthy consumers to make even small sacrifices." [Clive Hamilton, NY Times Op-ed, May 26]
Posted May 26: Global majority faces water shortages 'within two generations'. Long-standing fresh-water supply problems caused by excessive use in marginal areas, are being exacerbated by pollution and by climate change, bringing longer-lasting droughts in some areas and damaging floods in others. Be sure and see this video
Posted May 26: Destroying the Planet for Record Profits - the biggest criminal enterprise in history. A brief history of how the fossil fuel giants have systematically been destroying the planet, hiring propagandists to create confusion about climate chaos, seeking ever dirtier sources of energy; and now, having almost destroyed the Arctic ice, are happily opening deep-sea drilling operations in the world's most vulnerable ocean.
Posted May 26: Nuclear War Careers Don’t Get No Respect. What ever happened to all thos ready-to-launch nuclear-armed ICBMs? Not to worry - we're still safe. There are 450 of them, still ready to launch, each with the power of 18 Hiroshima bombs. On second thought, worry: 10% of the officer with their fingers on the nuclear trigger at the minot, ND base were removed because of morale and "attitude"problems. We all feel secure now, right?
Posted May 26: Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class. Lanier's new book, "Who Owns the Future" continues his attack on digital utopianism, giving an example the destruction of Kodak, damaged by the disappearance of film cameras, turned to digital cameras, which are now giving way to Instagram, which has been sold to Facebook. This has caused a loss of some 140,000 middle-class jobs.
Posted May 26: Arctic Ocean 'acidifying rapidly'; Amazing Sea Butterflies Are the Ocean’s Canary in the Coal Mine The melting of arctic ice is exposing the ocean there to rapid acidification due to direct contact with the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the air.
Serious consequences are foreseen for the marine ecosystem, one of which is already apparent - the dissolving of the shells of small animals such as the sea butterfly.
Posted May 12: FBI’s Latest Proposal for a Wiretap-Ready Internet Should Be Trashed. The FBI has a problem with the increasing shift of private and commercial communications away from wiretap-ready telephones to much more complicated on-line networks. They are actually calling for legislation "to penalize online services that provide users with too much security". Original story appeared in the April 29 Washington Post.
Posted May 12: Norway, Canada, the United States and the Tar Sands. Norwegian environmental groups are trying to prevent their state-controlled oil company from developing the Canadian tar sands deposits. The Canadian public agrees, but as for the Canadian government, says Hansen, "On one hand, they say that tar sands will make Canada the Saudi Arabia of oil. On the other hand, they say that the amount of carbon in tar sands is negligible."
Posted May 12: Global Pandemics: Not If, But When. Still another potentially dangerous flu virus (H7N9) has jumped from farm animals in China to humans. Nader asks why the CDC has only four staff assigned to tracking flu outbreaks in China, given the potential for great losses of life in cases of global outbreaks, contrasting this to the intense efforts devoted to the war on terrorism.
Posted May 12: No-win situation for agricultural expansion in the Amazon. Aside from all the ugly ecological consequences, cutting down pieces of Amazon rainforest to grow crops or raise cattle doesn't even make good economic sense. A new study shows that "climate feedbacks ... will decrease the productivity of pasture and soybeans – the reason advanced for felling the trees in the first place."
Posted May 3: Green Giants Profit from Planet's Destruction. A movement has sprung up among students in the US to get their universities to rid their portfolios stocks of fossil-fuel-linked corporations. Klein points out that several major environmental groups have extensive holdings in the very industries responsible for spending big bucks to undermine the environmentalists'efforts.
Posted May 3: Chemical Weapons: ‘A Retold Drama Riddled With Plot Holes’. Why do recent US government allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government fall appear to lack conviction? The simple reason may be that the US itself has a record that is far from clean in this area.
Posted May 3: US Military sends in reinforements for its'Force-Feeding Teams as the Guantanamo hunger strike spreads. Over 100 of Guantanamo's 166 prisoners are now refusing food in protest over Obama's unfulfilled promise to close the prison by 2010. According to an Army spokesperson the 40 reinforcements included "nurses, specialistas and hospital corpsman". The American Medical Society has sent a polite letter of protest to Secretary of Defense Hagel.
Posted May 3: Why Do Conservatives Like to Waste Energy? The path to persuading conservatives to be conservationists apparently lies through their pocketbook and not through the efforts of the big-government liberal-dominated tree-hugging mass media
Posted May 3: No Rich Child Left Behind.. No surprise - children of the rich perform better in school then children of the poor. But the gap is growing and is far greater than any differences explained by race. And the difference between rich and middle class has become larger than middle class and poor, echoing the enormous growth in wealth inequality ovefr the last 30 years.
Posted May 3 :Talking With Julian Assange - from the George W. Bush Library to the trial of Bradley Manning. While the bloody deeds of Dubbya are celebrated at his new library in Texas, an American anti-war hero, Bradley Manning, sits in his prison cell awaiting trial.
Posted May 3: Study Charts 2,000 Years of Continental Climate Changes. An ambitious new 78-author climate-change study publishedd April 21 in Nature Geoscience (see abstract) pieced together pre-instrument estimates of temperature change by region over 2000 years. A gradual cooling over the last milenniu8m precedes a recentt warming that is unprecedented in its rapidity.
From new study of temperature changes over continents through 2,000 years. Colors denote extent
of warming or cooling (scale -3 to +3C). Bars denote 30-year periods during which mean temperature was
calculated. (Larger version HERE)
Posted Apr 20: The Excel Depression. Did a coding error basically destroy the economies of the Western world? Generally accepted austerity international policies apparently being justified based on a mistake in the use of a computer program (Excel)? At stake is the belief that debt slows growth. Krugman adds in a blog post (Apr 20) that maybe the glitch will have a good effect, because increasing numbers of economists are starting to reconsider their positions.
Posted Apr 20: Cluster Bombs Come Home. Amid the widespread shock and outrage about the cruel use of shrapnel-producing payloads in the Boston Marathon bombs, largely unremembered is the widespread US/NATO use 14 years ago over civilian areas of Serbia 1000-pound CBU-87/B cluster bombs.
Posted Apr 20: Green energy slips after carbon trading blow. In terms of carbon use, the average unit of energy today is as dirty as it was 20 years ago, according to a new International Energy Association report (PDF) - this despite a lot of talk by world leaders, said IEA executive director, Maria van der Hoeven, "and despite a boom in renewable energy over the last decade". The reason: coal has been growing faster than non-fossil.
Posted Apr 20: The Trouble With Biofuels. The increasing use in the UK of fuels derived from plants and fats is going to lead to more expensive fuel, decreases in carbon-absorbing peat and forests and volatility of food prices.
Posted Apr 20: Health effects from wind power unfounded. Increasing use of poorly-done and misleading studies of alleged harmful health effects from wind turbines are being used by comminity groups to stop the spread of wind power in many countries. The research presented here shows a stong psychosomatic component to the measured effects.
Posted Apr 13: Coming soon: Thin Ice - The Inside Story of Climate Change (go to link and see ad, above left).
Posted Apr 13: Wall Street's Climate Finance Bonanza. Fifteen years after Kyoto, "carbon markets have collapsed, developing countries are awash with carbon credits for which there is no demand, and the planet keeps getting warmer". A leaked agenda for a high-level meeting last week in Washington seems to head the world back down the same path of generous profit guarantees for the big players.
Posted Apr 6: North Korea's Attack Plan: Apocalypse Never Mind. Beating the war drums again on CNN: Retired general gaming out North Korean strategies on a big map. Sound familiar? Fire up those aircraft carriers boys - it's show time. More on sabre-rattling here.
Pyongyang: File image from Voice of America
Posted Apr 6: Improved cookstoves solve one emissions problem, but create another. Black carbon pollution by cookfires and woodburning stoves all over the world is an important contributor to global warming, but more important to the users, it accounts for 4 million deaths annually. New high-efficiency stoves economize on fuel and thus cut CO2 and black carbon production, but generate ultrafine partilces that may be even more hazardous to health.
Posted Apr 6: Foreign demand for beef, soybeans adds pressure on Amazon forest. Deforestation in Brazil in the year ending July 2012 reached its lowest rate since monitoring began in 1988, with a decrease of 27% compared to the previous year. However, the land is coming under increasing demand for imports of soybeans and meat by Russia, China and other developing countries. The story is based on an article in CICERO ( in Oslo) which points out that "Consumption of Brazilian soybeans and beef by countries who are already seeking to protect Brazilian forests...is driving demand and therefore indirectly increasing the deforestation they are seeking to prevent".
Posted Apr 6: Falling Gasoline Use: U.S. Can Just Say No to New Pipelines and Food-to-Fuel. US gasoline consumption has fallen slowly in each of the last 5 years at an average rate of 1%. Causes include increased use of mass transit and bikes and declines in car sales in the cities, increasing gas prices and more efficient engines. Will this help in the fight against the use of farm products for fuel and dangerous innovations such as Canadian tar sands oil and fracking?
Posted Mar 31: Scariest graph: Response by Marcott et al. Shaun Marcott's article below (posted Mar 11) showing a new calculation of global temperature trends over the last 12,000 years, drew widespread attacks from the climate change deniers. He has responded with more info.
Posted Mar 28: The ethicality of prescribing placebos. Do placebos work, or do most symptoms go away with time? Is deliberate deception of the patient ever justified? A widely publicized (2010) study that seemed to show that placebos worked even when labeled as such was shown (here) to have been badly done and to have proven nothing.
Posted Mar 28: Soldier Suicides. In three out of the last four years there have been more soldier suicides than combat deaths In 2012 there were 349. But veteran suicides numbered over 8000, with over 20 thousand more apparently saved by hot-line counseling. The reasons are not hard to find: multiple deployments, facing hostile populations then returning home to join the walking wounded and dealing with PTSD (VA recognizes 250,000 cases), homelessness, and lack of medical care. This is just one cost of the unending US global war on everything.
Posted Mar 28: Giant Sequoias Face Looming Threat from Shifting Climate. Shrinking Sierra Nevada mountain snowpack and rising temperatures could make it difficult for giant sequoias, particularly seedlings and young trees, to survive because they would be left with insufficient water to endure longer and warmersummers.
Posted Mar 28: The Dangerous Myth That Climate Change Is Reversible. That we can reverse climate change by cutting emissions is a dangerous commonly held myth, as explained in this 2007 MIT study, “Understanding Public Complacency About Climate Change: Adults’ mental models of climate change violate conservation of matter.” We have reached the point where radical cuts right now will be enough only to stabilize greenhouse gases.
Posted Mar 11: The Scariest Climate Change Graph Just Got Scarier. A new study at Oregon State U led by Shaun Marcott has used ocean records to verify earlier research and reliably extend the climate record back to the end of last ice age, 12000 years ago; post-glacial warming peaked about 6000 years ago followed by thousands of years of gradual cooling since . But nowl the abrupt warming of the last 100 yearshas equalled all those years of accumulated cooling.
Posted Mar 11: Seizing the Airwaves: Radio by and for the people. "...a new law on low-power FM radio is paving the way for the greatest expansion of FM radio in decades. This is a huge victory for media justice" and an opportunity for sectors to be heard that are traditionally marginalized by the coporate mass media.
Posted Mar 11: The Self-Defense Self-Delusion: Owning guns doesn't actually help stop gun violence. Excellent summary of the misleading statistics that sometimes seem to show that guns in their homes make people safer - and the uncritical role of the press in maintaining this delusion.
Posted Mar 5: A Robot Didn’t Steal Your Job - Why outsourcing and de-skilling are the real culprits (not technology). Can technology be blamed for the economic crisis that suddenly materialized in 2008 and threw millions out of work? We can't blame machines and computers without looking at the economic and social context.
from businessinsider.com Mar 17, 2011
Posted Mar 5: There's Such a Thing as "Human Nature," Right? It's hardly news that we perceive the world through culturally-determined lenses, but a group of anthropoligists is finding grross differences in the very wiring of thought processes with Westerners as an extreme and Americans are the weirdest, an extreme within that extreme.
Posted Marf 5: A Better Plan Than 'Endless Growth': Enough Is Enough. Faced with a continuing economic crisis and the reality of a finite planet with a rapidly-deteriorating atmosphere, is it rational for the yearly Davos conclave of the high priests of capitalism to continue to tout more growth as the solution?
Posted Mar 5: Why I'm Quitting Facebook. Douglas Rushkoff, author of "Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now." and CNN columnist, announced to the world his divorce from Facebook - "Corporations used to have to do research to assemble our consumer profiles; now we do it for them." He cites manipulation of his personal data and possible abuse by government agencies.
Posted Mar 5: Up to 76 nuclear waste loads may be coming your way. If you're planning on using a US or Canadian highway in the next four years, you better be careful - that truck you're passing may just have some liquid high-level radioactive waste aboard, from nuclear power plants and bomb manufacturing. You can find this and related stories at NucNews.
Posted Feb 22: How Beijing is Shaping the Amazon. Continuing its long-term policy of massive land purchases on four continents, China is heavily involved in the deforestation of the Amazon, according to a a recent study by Fearnside, et al.(abstract here). It has become Brazil's foremost trading partner, importing vast quantities of soy, timber, aluminum and beef.
Posted Feb 22: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food. “There’s no moral issue for me; I did the best science I could", insisted one talented veteran of the US Army Natick labs and a leading pioneer in the kind of mega-coporate research leading to Lunchables, for instance, a convenient packaged lunch, loaded with fat, sugar and salt (and addictive power) for millions of school children
Posted Feb 20:The Rich See a Different Internet Than the Poor. "Thanks to technology that enables Google, Facebook and others to gather information about us and use it to tailor the user experience to our own personal tastes, habits and income, the Internet has become a different place for the rich and for the poor." The "personalization" of the Net created - with or without our permisssion - by the 1%, is manipulating the experiences of the 99%.
Posted Feb 20: Pseudo-Protests and Serious Climate Crisis. Was it a call to radical new action to save the planet, or (accoding to Counterpunch) a celeb-driven Democratic pep rally? What has Obama accomplished or even supported in the last four years that justifies all this trust that he will take significant action of the unfolding climate catastrophe?But in a Feb 19 post, FAIR blasted the minuscule amount of press coverage accorded the demo.
Posted Feb 20: Rise of Drones in U.S. Drives Efforts to Limit Police Use. Here's an issue that seems to unite the paranoid right with ACLU liberals: surveillance of US citizens by police drones. And the usual cuddly defenses are being trotted out yet another time: drones arejust great for finding lost kids and pets).
Posted Feb 20: Arctic Death Spiral: Ice volume has collapsed. Most of the alarm about record low ice amounts is based on decline in area; a new U of Washington study based on observation and the new PIOMAS model concludes that the sea-ice volume has declined even faster - to a scant one-fifth of what it was in 1980, as shown in the dramatic graphic below (by Andy Lee Robinson) .
Posted Feb 20: Wasted energy from cities explains a global warming mystery. Urban conglomerations produce enough waste heat not only to create local warming, but also to make small changes in the general circulation of the Northern Hemisphere, which cause additional unexpected areas of warming and cooling far from the cities
Posted Feb 10: Drones, Surveillance Towers, Malls of the Spy State, and the National Security Police on the Northern Border - Living in a Constitution-Free Zone. The "longest undefended border in the world" is undergoing some ominous changes. It is watched over more closely every day by drones, surveillance towers, and agents of the Department of Homeland Security and beginning to look a lot like our southern border
Posted Feb 10: Model vs observation: recent global temperature trends. In spite of the record-breaking heat in the US, global surface temperatures lagged noticeably behind the forecast rises for the last two years and gives the appearance of having leveled off over the last decade, much to the delight of the global warming skeptics. However, the loss of Arctic sea ice has been far more severe than any prediction. Are these trends significant?
Posted Feb 10: The Secret Climate Threat? A sizable portion of the observed global warming may be due to particles of black carbon (soot) according to a major new study. The sources of soot can be controlled much more easily than the sources of CO2. Does this give us some extra time to contol the CO2? Abstract of original Journal of Geophysical Research article here.
Posted Feb 10: Three States to Consider Climate Change Denial for the Schools.Students in Oklahoma,Arizona and Colorado may soon the lucky winners of a course about scientific controversies, courtesy of Heartland Institute and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) the major partners in and funders of the global warming denial crowd
Posted Feb 10: Meet the Contractors Turning America's Police Into a Paramilitary Force. The line separating military from police hardware is disappearing. Everything from surveillance drones to cell phone locators, iris scanners and night vision goggles and more are rapidly being adopted by the police
Posted Jan 28: Disaster Capitalism Hits New York. Superstorm Sandy's 13.8-foot storm surge and destruction of thousands of homes and businesses - plus the prospect of ever more frequent coastal flooding as our planet warms - has stirred up political pressure for large-scale countermeasures.These include miles-long barriers across New York harbor and southern Long Island Soundr. But serious upgrading of building codes is also needed in case the barriers fail, and this is where the crunch comes: rents would skyrocket and the poor would be on their own, and the city could turn into a super-size gated community.
Posted Jan 28: Why Journalists Are Skipping Lunch To Learn Stats. Do (the) people know the difference between relative and absolute risk? "When science makes the crossover from academic into public discourse, whose responsibility is it to adjust the language accordingly?" The Royal Statistical Society(UK) has launched a project to make journalists more statistically literate.
Posted Jan 28: Teacher Boycott of Standardized Test in Seattle Continues to Spread. "A boycott of Washington state’s mandated standardized test by teachers at a Seattle [high] school is spreading to other schools and winning support across the country, including from the two largest teachers’ unions, parents, students, researchers and educators." At issue is the almost-universal use of these flawed high-stakes tests to evaluate not only students, but teacher, schools and even state education systems - as well as increasing pressure to "teach to the test"
Posted Jan 28: Japan to build world's largest offshore wind farm. Following the shutdown of all but two of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors un reponse to the Fukushima disaster, Japan is building a wind farm 16 km offshore of Fukushima to be completed by 2020 consisting of 143 generators to produce up to 1 gigwatt of power.
Posted Jan 24: How Much Will Tar Sands Oil Add to Global Warming? A significant amount, It's been estimated that if we want to keep the global temp rise to only(!) 2C by 2050, we can put no more than 1000 gigatons (metric) into our atmosphere. Using today's technology alone, the Alberta tar sands alone would produce 170 gigatons - of very dirty energy.Related stories:(1) Jan 23 -Governor Heineman of Nebraska approves passage of the XL pipeline that willl carry tar sands oil therough his state; (2) Jan 22 - Sierra Club announces that it will engage in civil disobedience to stop tar sands oil.
Tar sands pit, Alberta. Source: Economist, Jan 20, 2011
Posted Jan 24: Massive melting of Andes glaciers. Glaciers in the tropical Andes have shrunk by 30-50% since the 1970s, according to a study published in the journal Crysosphere. The lower-altitude glaciers are losing mass so quickly that there will probably be no ice below 16,000 feet within a few decades - a serious threat to the water supply of tens of millions of people. [BBC News, Jan 23, 2013]
Posted Jan 24: End Military Recruiting in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools. In an official policy statement, the American Public Health Association has issued a stong condemnation of military recruiting in schools warning that it "has become increasingly aggressive and predatory" and that early exposure of teenagers to military service can have effects far worse than those observed in older youths.
Posted Jan 24: Antarctica takes out its frustration on the children of the 1%. The strange story of how a cranky Antarctica attempted to swamp a boatload of rich young visitors.
Posted Jan 14, 2013: The Great Oil Swindle: Scaling the Peak of Fossil Fuel Scarcity. The flood of stories in the last few months, including the IEA 2012 World Energy Outlook, proclaiming a new abundance of fossil fuel was apparently based on bad data, wishful thinking and distortions. Economically feasible production of oil has already peaked, coal production is down and shale from fracking is requiring enormous investment and producing diminshing returns. [
Posted Jan 14, 2013: Aaron Swartz, RIP. This is a tribute to Internet activist, inventor, and idealist, Aaron Swartz who killed himself last week at the age of 26. He was facing prosectuion by the US government for finding ways to break into data bases and unload enormous amounts of data to be made freely available to the public - an outstanding example of science for the people.See also Glenn Greenwald's tribute.
Posted Jan 10, 2013: Villagers Wail Against Nuclear Power. Near the southern tip of India in the town of Kudankulam, a 1000-megawatt nuclear plant is nearing commissioning, but is the scene of increasing protests by local farmers and fisherman, with over a thousand arrests. At issue is not only inadequate compensation for land seizures, but mounting concern about safety issues such as radiation leaks and vulnerability to tsumanis.
Posted Jan 10, 2013: The Cash-for-Clunkers-Conundrum. Cash for Clunkers the nickname for the 2011 program that subsidized the junking of used cars to be replaced with new cars in the name of reduced emissions and inceased gas mileage. Taking into account the environmental impacts of junking functioning vehicles, was this program a plus for the environment or a greenwashed subsidy for the struggling auto industry?
Posted Jan 10, 2013:Some Cluster Bombs More Newsworthy Than Others. "The plane came in from the southeast late in the afternoon, releasing its weapons in a single pass. Within seconds, scores of finned bomblets struck and exploded on the homes and narrow streets of this small Syrian town" - according to a front-page story in the Dec 21 NY Times. But it was also mentioned in passing that the US is one of the few nations in the world that has not banned cluster bombs, and in fact, is still using them - in places like Yemen.
Posted Jan 4, 2013 :Study: Home air conditioning reduced deaths. A reduction by 80% over the last half-century of the chance of dying on very hot day has been documented by a team or researchers from several universities. Of course this of course leads to a paradox: “... the solution involves more energy consumption...and that is going to exacerbate the problem of increased temperatures”, remarked co-author Michael Greenstone of MIT.
Posted Jan 4, 2013: Weather Girl Goes Rogue. Back in September when the ice cover in the Arctic was reaching its all-time low, came this absolutely hilarious and right-on video, which juxtaposes the idiocy of what passes for TV news with the need for straight talk about the climate crisis.
Weathergirl goes rogue
Posted Dec 31, 2012: Nuclear Roulette: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth. Truthout interviews the author of the new book "Nuclear Roulette", outlining issues of large numbers of small accidents, major catastrophes, radioactive waste, the industry PR machine, and the planned Generation IV reactors.
Posted Dec 31, 2012: Elections 2012: The Good, The Bad, and The Ironic. (PDF) What could have accounted for Karl Rove's election-night meltdown? A fascinating look at the various methods (and possible counter-methods) of rigging election. Underlined once again is "the fundamental unacceptability of concealed and unobservable vote counting".
Posted Dec 29: The Deadly Fantasy of Assault Weapons. Got $2500 to spare? Now's the time to treat yourself to a Bushmaster assault rifle so's you can "consider your man card reissued", announced a recent Bushmaster campaign (pulled just after the Newtown Bushmaster AR-15-enabled massacre), typical of the kind of assault-weapon propaganda aimed at amateur shooters who want to play soldier. (Science for the ) people has it limits...)
Posted Dec 28: Nuclear power plant flood risk: Sandy was just a warm-up. Although the winds at the Oyster Creek power plant, 40 miles north of Atlantic City NJ reached only 75 mph as Sandy's center came ashore, the 7.4-foot storm surge caused widespread power outages, forcing a plant shutdown and a switch over to diesel to maintain crucial cooling. A rise of less than 2 additional feet would have flooded the backup generators, as happened at Fukushima. Other U.S. nukes are similarly vulnerable, especially with rising sea levels and the possibility of storms of increased strength..
Posted Dec 28, 2012: Why We Should be Grateful to the NRA. Amid all the hand-wringing over the Newtown massacre, the NRA has came up with a sensible solution to the problem: armed guards in all the schools. The implications of this course of action if followed coherently, are truly exciting...
Posted Dec 25: Real and Virtual Firearms Nurture a Marketing Link. Video shooter games, real weapons and military training - and Connecticut... See any connection? Doesn't take much imagination. Electronic Arts. maker of "Medal of Honor Warfighter" a top video game claims it was unaware of links on its site to weapons catalogues(!) - already a widespread practice among shooter gaming sites. But, surprise - the military has long known and used virtual killing to attract the interest of and then train new recruits (see "Keyboards First. Then Grenades").
Posted Dec 23: The heat is on in West Antarctica. It's not only happening, but twice as fast as was thought: findings published 3 years ago (and criticized by some) on the rapid warming of West Antarctica (the part south of South America) have been corroborated and found to be too conservative. Discussion has been renewed about the chances of a collapse of parts of the ice sheet and resultant catastrophic rises in sea level. Press coverage will be widespread, but read it here direct from the horse's mouth
Posted Dec 23:The Coming Drone Attack on America. The coming importation of tens of thousands of drones into US airspace "with a specific mandate to engage in surveillance and with the capacity for weaponization" could herald the arrival heree of a police state, according to Wolf. Some will be as small as hummingbirds - excellent for personal surveillance; others as big as passenger planes. They will be used by police, corporations and the military.
Posted Dec 20: Alaskan Natives Take on Fossil Fuel Disinformation in Kivalina. Author's introduction to her new book, "Kivalina: A Climate Change Story", gives a nice perspective on climate change in history and introduces the story of the threatened villagers exposure of climate-change denial by Big Oil. [ ]
Posted Dec 20: Canada's 'War on Science - Environmental groups say recent measures show that Harper's government is stepping up its attack on climate scientists. A combination of budget cuts and Canada's aggressive drive to develop its oil sands (Canada has the world's third-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela)have won for it a recognition of the world's worst in climate policies in the developed world, according to the Climate Action Network.
Posted Dec 20: Robots and Robber Barons. The economic crisis is over if you look at record corporate profits - but that may be news for labor. Why is capital grabbing and ever-larger slice of the pie? Krugman's explanation is the continuing ability of high tech to displace not only unskilled but skilled and highly-paid workers.On the capital side, monopoly power is riding high again, fueled by the collapse of serious anti-trust legislation and accompanied by the loss by labor of much of its bargaining.
Posted Dec 20: Change Is Coming: Factory Farms' Days May Be Numbered. "In one of history's most stunning victories for humane farming, Australia's largest supermarket chain, Coles, will as of January 1 stop selling company branded pork and eggs from animals kept in factory farms." The other dominant Australian chain which together with Coles controls 80% of supermarker sales in Australia is moving in the same direction. Driven by consumer pressure, changes are beginning in some states in the US and in Europe. For more information on the subject and a great read, see "Eating Animals" a book by Jonathan Foer, review here.
Factory-farmed chickens. Source: Advocacy for Animals
Posted Dec 20: World Energy Report 2012: The Good, the Bad, and the Really, Truly Ugly. Signalled by its euphoric reception by Wall Street, this year's Internationak Energy Agency report seems to contain only bad news - both for the global economy and the future of the planet. Cheering about an expected rise of US to first place in oil production has more to do with a decline in the competition; rosy estimates of the benefits of fracking and tar sands are figured in; coal use is down only because coal exports are rising and the estimated global warming is now not to be a "mere" 2C, but 3.6C, or 5.5 degrees F
Posted Dec 20: As drug industry’s influence over research grows, so does the potential for bias. This update of the continuing scandal over pervasive pharmaceutical industry ontrol power over scientific drug research - not just over the choice of topics investigated, but over the findings released as well. Over th year ending last August, of 73 articles about new published in the New England Journal Medicine, 50 were co-written by drug company employees and 37 "had a lead author, typically an academic, who had previously accepted outside compensation from the sponsoring drug company"
Posted Dec 20: Inside the Monsanto Information War.
Inside the Monsanto Information War. An update on the controversy over genetically-modified corn. The French rejected a long-term study that linked corn to massive tumors in rats genetically modified to resist Monsantos Roundup herbicide; but they also called for further research.
bird flu virus
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