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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.
Posted Nov 14: Climate Change's 'Terrifying Math' Coming to City Near You. (Coming to Washington Nov 18th - see http://math.350.org/).Just 24 hours after Obama won re-election with nary a mention of the coming climate meltdown, 350.org has launched a nationwide "Do the Math" tour to try to organize grassroots pressure to reign in the fossil fuel industry which has shown that they are willing "to burn five times as much carbon as the most conservative estimates say is compatible with a livable planet."
Posted Nov 14: New Weapons Systems Could Give Pentagon Unprecedented Power Over the Planet ... or Lead to Future Military Disaster. When Mitt complained about our shrinking navy in Debate III, Obama pounced: “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed.". But what lies down the road as we bulk up on drones, cyber warfare and weaponization of space? See also Nov 12 article
There are 7,000 drones in the US armada of unmanned aircraft, including 800 larger missile-firing drones [REUTERS]
Posted Nov 14: Superstorm Sandy—a People's Shock? The author of The Shock Doctrine sees, just days after the departure of Sandy, ample new evidence of the efforts of big capitalism toredouble its efforts to seek advantage in the midst of disaster
]Posted Oct 29: End Polluter Welfare. Romney, complaining about clean energy subsidies, is correct in pointing out that Washington is picking winners and losers in the fight over the future of energy. And as always, "the big winners of federal support are the already immensely profitable fossil fuel and nuclear industries, not sustainable energy."
Posted Oct 29: : Will E-Voting Machines Owned by His Buddies Give Mitt Romney the White House? Which way will Ohio go? The answer may depend on who owns the software in the voting machines. "US courts have consistently ruled that the software in electronic voting machines is proprietary to the manufacturer, even though individual election boards may own the actual machines." And in critical areas of Ohio, site of massive election frauds in 2004, machines are still controlled by the GOP and their big donors.
Posted Oct 29: Bomb, Bomb, Bomb-Bomb Iran. If you ask Iranians they will tell you that the war against Iran has already begun
Posted Sep 26: Bias Persists for Women of Science, a Study Finds. Women earn less because they may get pregnant/married and quit their job, right? Working scientists are objective in their hiring decisions and don't discriminate against women, right? This gender discrimination is worse in physical than biological science, right? All doubtful, according to this new study by researchers at Yale.
Posted Sep 26: Dr. Frankenstein and the APA's Decade of Monstrosities. Roy Eidelson former president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, shows step by step how APA (the American Psychological Association) acted hand in hand with the Bush regime
Posted Sep 26: America's miasma of misinformation on climate change."Denial ain't just a river in Egypt; it's also in places like North Carolina and perhaps even embedded into America's cultural DNA." The mass media over the last three years have given less and less air time to the subject of climate change.And worse yet, who had the most coverage? Right, Fox News.
Posted Sep 16: Alzheimer's Could Be the Most Catastrophic Impact of Junk Food. Increasing evidence is ariaing that there is a connection between diabetes and Alzheimers, suggesting that the two may be linked to the global rise of diets rich in junk food
Posted Sep 16: Two articles on the disappearing Arctic Sea Ice: 'Unprecedented,' 'Amazing,' 'Goliath': Scientists Describe Arctic Sea Ice Melt [staff, Common Dreams, Sep 7] and Arctic sea ice shrinks to smallest extent ever recorded - Rate of summer ice melt smashes two previous record lows and prompts warnings of accelerated climate change. The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado cited current 5-day averages as unprecedented in the available 40-year data base. Typical ice coverage in summer is about 8 million square km; the previous record low was around 4 in 2007; the present coverage has just bottomed out at about 3.4. The collapse came in spite of Arctic summer weather that hadn't been unusually warm and is probably due to the unprecedented thinness of the ice.
: Photograph: John Mcconnico/AP
Posted Sep 16: A Deeper Look at Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest in ‘Frackademia’. A new word has entered the language, courtesy of the University of Texas: Frackademia. It was inspired by a major risk assessment study done there in February of the hydraulic fracturing industry in which it was found that the lead author was a member of board of a major fracking company, held $1 million worth of its stock,was paid almost half a million for the study and didn't disclose it.
Posted Sep 16: 5 Ways the Stanford Study Sells Organics Short. Is the marketing of organic food just a scheme to separate well-off consumers from their food dollars? That's the apparent conclusion of the study done by Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute(abstract), which is financed by outifs such as Cargill, Monsanto and other food industry heavies. The study does find that the nutritional values is not much different, but critics havefoundmass media coverage of the report biased and the report itself weak on evaluating the effects of pesticide traces and ecological impacts from conventional foods. More information here and here.
Posted Sep 16: The Current Patent System Favors Corporations The issuing of patents for trivial changes in existing technologies has been favoring large corporations and stifling innovation. A proposal has been made to initiate a debate on patent quality at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
Posted Sep 16:
100-Year Forecast: Drought. Regarding last summer's drought: "Future precipitation trends, based on climate model projections for the coming fifth assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicate that droughts of this length and severity will be commonplace through the end of the century unless human-induced carbon emissions are significantly reduced"
Posted Sep 16 :
The Coming Hunger Wars: Heat, Drought, Rising Food Costs, and Global Unrest. "Because so many nations depend on grain imports from the U.S. to supplement their own harvests, and because intense drought and floods are damaging crops elsewhere as well, food supplies are expected to shrin' and prices to rise across the planet. 'What happens to the U.S. supply has immense impact around the world,” says Robert Thompson, a food expert at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs".
Posted Sep 16: Climate Change is Here — and Worse Than We Thought. NASA's James Hansen, the 'Godfather of Global Warming,' says earlier predictions "too optimistic"Hansen says that the increased frequency of weather extremes due to global warming can be likened to the increased frequency of yourlosing when the casino has decided to load the dice
Posted Aug 9: Nuclear Security Unmasked. A gang of three anti-nuclear war activists were able to break into a high-security nuclear weapons site in Oak Ridge TN, led by an 82-year old nun. Armed with wire-cutters, they broke through a chain-link fence, were arrested, charged with felonious destruction of property. They succeeded in shutting down the H-bomb factory for several days.
Posted Aug 9: A Day Job Waiting for a Kill Shot a World Away. From a computer console in a Syracuse, NY suburb, an Air Force officer monitors weeks of daily life in an Afghan village taking detailed videos from his remotely piloted aircraft. At some time he will move a joystick and bring down sudden death. Then, another day's work done he returns to his own home and family nearby. How does it feel? See also this article in Common Dreams.
Posted Aug 9: The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic. A long-time questioner of the existence of human-caused global warming and even global warming itself announces a change of position - not in a published paper, but in an op-ed in the NY Times based on a paper that he has submitted for publication. Richard Muller, who was bankrolled by Koch Brothers money, has managed not only to infuriate his former fellow-skeptics, but also annoy the scientific community in general by rushing to the press with unpublished results, by proclaiming what has been widely accepted for two decades and by presenting seemingly weak arguments in his own behalf.
Posted Aug 9: The military-industrial-fossil fuel-nuclear-state terror complex - a response to the McKibben article above published in A World to Win by Dave Schwartzman.
Posted Aug 9 : Zombie nouns. Is the public losing repect fo intellectuals, scientists, universities and big institutions in general? Maybe it has something to do with the way these guys talk to the public?
Posted Aug 9: Global Warming's Terrifying New Math. See response by dcmetro sftp's Dave Schwarzman below. Many other responses here.Are repeated prophecies of gloom and doom ultimately disempowereing? Can even the threat of this catastrophe motivate capitalism to reform itself?
Posted July 15: The FDA Surveils Its Employees. In a story broken in the NYT, it was revealed that the FDA engaged in massive surveillance of e-mails of its scientists in an effort to prevent public exposure by whistleblowers of its approval of dangerous medica devices. A follow-up Times story revealed that the spying extended to communications of journalists and Congressional officials as well
Posted July 15: Nuclear "Regulatory Capture" -- A Global Pattern. "The conclusion of a report of a Japanese parliamentary panel issued last week that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster was rooted in government-industry "collusion" and thus was "man-made" is mirrored throughout the world. The "regulatory capture" cited by the panel is the pattern among nuclear agencies right up to the International Atomic Energy Agency."..
Posted July 15: US near tipping point on politics of pot. Have people suddenly awakened to tons of scientific studies that have found marijuana to be no more harmful than tobacco or alcohol? Probably not, but polls are showing strong and growing support for state medical marijuana laws and even some support for the decriminalization of general pot use.
Posted July 15: Rate of Climate Change's 'Evil Twin' Has Scientists Worried - Ocean acidification is moving at a rate faster than scientists had expected. NOAA head Jane Lubchenco addressed a plenary of thousands of ocean scientists at a conference on coral reefs in Cairns, Australia today, warning of serious effects on sea life and calling for reductions in carbon emissions.[staff, Common Dreams, July 9] See also July 10 follow-up article by Steven Leahy in IPSnews.
Pristine coral reef situated in a Jordanian marine reserve wrapped by a drifting fishing net. Credit: Malik Naumann/Marine Photobank
Posted July 15: The "Monsanto Rider": Are Biotech Companies About to Gain Immunity From Federal Law? Want to create your own Frankenfood? There's good news for you in the "Monsanto rider" that has been slipped into the FY2013 Agricultural Appropriations bill under consideration: you must be granted temporary permit to plant your GM crop even if you haven't yet filed an enivornomental impact statement.
Posted July 15: New Report on the Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods. A study by geneticists at Earth Open Source of hundreds of peer-reviewed papers concluded "not only that GM food crops pose significant, if largely under-evaluated, health risks, but that they have so far failed to deliver on their promise to increase crop yields and lower herbicide and pesticide use"....
Posted July 1: Warmest May in history for Northern Hemisphere. NOAA's combined land surface-sea surface temperature analysis revealed that the month of May in the Northern Hemisphere was warmer than any in the entire 132-year instrumental reccord. For the world as a whole, May was only the second watmest on record. The warmest was way back in 2010.[NOAA Global Analysis, June, 2012]
Posted July 1: Lone grad student exposed Google privacy invasion. Jonathan Mayer a Stanford student exposed one of the biggest privacy scandals of the past year: Google was secretly planting cookies on millions of iPhone browsers.The Federal Trade Commission which is the lead agency reponsible for protection against precisely this type of invasion of privacy is battling against serious understaffing and anti-government political pressures.[Peter Maas, Pro Publica (via Nation of Change), June 30]
Posted July 1: Brazil tribes occupy contentious dam site. Citing broken promises of compensation and local development aid, a group of 150 indigenous Brazilians representing three tribes invaded one of the contruction site for the massive Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River in the Amazon basin state of Pará. The occupation, which is in its second weekend is part of widespread resistance on the part of residents to be affected by the project and more demonstrators are arriving daily.More on Brazilian dams here: The Dam Boom in the Amazon.
Posted July 1: Rising Oceans to Wreak Havoc this Century. Two new studies have revealed that the projected rise of 2-3 feet in sea level by the end of the century is an average so that certain coastal areas will see greater increases than others due to local differences in the water temperature, wind-driven currents and changes in elevation of land masses. A report in Nature warned of catastrophic rises along the mid-Atlantic and northeast US coasts, while a separate report in Nature warns of sea level rises of over five feet along the Pacific coast by 2100. [staff. Common Dreams, Jun 25]
Outer Banks - NC
Posted July 1 :Appropriate Technology helps Coexistence with Drought in Brazil. In the face of a sevethe traditional maize and bean crops, local NGO's are working with impoverished residents to install systems for harvesting and storing rainwater, introduing drought-resistant crops and creating vegetable gardens.
Posted Jun 23: Nada: Rio+20 Draft Text is 283 Paragraphs of Fluff. This scathing indictment of the document about to be signed by world leaders in Rio representing 190 nations,who have "spent 20 years bracing themselves to 'acknowledge', 'recognize' and express 'deep concern' about the world's environmental crises, but not to do anything about them."
Posted Jun 23: Monsanto Loses $2 Billion Judgment to Brazilian Farmers. About 85% of Brazil's massive soybean crop (a qurter of its ag exports) is grown from seeds descended from genetically modified stock bought from MOnsanto. Monsanto has been charging a two percent royalty on every crop; Brazilian framers, claiming that Monsanto unfairly collects exorbitant profits every year worldwide on the royalties has sued the multinational for $2 billion and won. An appeal is expected
Posted Jun 5: Did America's Cyber Attack on Iran Make Us More Vulnerable? "After years of downplaying offensive U.S. cyber capabilities and fretting about Chinese cyber weapons, a major assumption has been turned on its head: America has now conceded that it conducted the most sophisticated state-sponsored cyber attack in the history of civilization."
Posted Jun 5: BP successfully subpoena's scientists' emails. Oceanographers Richard Camilli and Christopher Reddy, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, after having done intensive research on the BP oil spill in the Gulf, have been forced to turn over to BP lawyers not only 50,000 pages of documents, raw data and reports used in their research, but also their entire e-mail correspondence. They expressed serious concern that BP will be free to quote out of context (as in the case of the "Climategate") e-mails and lead to a further chilling effect on open scientific deliberation.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig after it exploded on 20 April 2010. Photo: KPA/Zuma/Rex Features
Posted June 5: Pollution, Poverty and People of Color: Living with Industry. A "triple whammy of race, poverty and environment converging nationwide to create communities near pollution sources where nobody else wants to live. Black leaders ...called [it]...environmental racism, and beginning in the early 1980s, they documented the pattern at North Carolina’s Warren County PCBs landfill, Louisiana's "Cancer Alley," Chicago's South Side, Tennessee’s Dickson County, Houston's Sunnyside garbage dump and other places across the country.
Posted June 5: Who Needs Wall Street Giants? "...after watching in dismay as their ineptness and avarice drained more than $19 trillion from America's household wealth since 2007 and plunged our real economy into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s Depression; after witnessing their shameful demands for trillions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts to save their banks and their jobs; and now after seeing them return immediately to business as usual, including paying multimillion-dollar bonuses to themselves — we have to ask: Huh!?!"
Posted May 30: Obama's Secret 'Kill List'. President Obama has not only taken personal charge of an intense campaign to kill suspected terrorists by targeting them for drone strikes, but has also "...preserved three major policies - rendition, military commissions and indefinite detention - that have been targets of human rights groups since the 2001 terrorist attacks." He has also been able to claim extremely low non-combatant deaths by inventing a very broad definition of who is a combatant. This article is setting off a storm of criticism, especially on the paranoid far right, as for example this piece in Rapture Forums.
Posted May 30: Will Americans Speak Out Against Obama's Drone Warfare? Medea Benjamin comments: "US leaders areputting people on a hit list who are as young as 17, people who are given no chance to surrender, and certainly no chance to be tried in a court of law."
Posted May 26: Petroleum and Propaganda - a review of James L Powell's "The Inquisition of Climate Science." The book gives a detailed look at the global warming denial industry and its tremendous success in inspiring widespread distrust of science and scientists.
Posted May 26: Arctic Melt Releasing Ancient Methane. A survey of ice-covered lakes in Alaska and Greenland has revealed widespread releases of methane from melting margins.Isotope techniques reveal that much of the methane had been trapped under the ice for thousands of years, a further indication of possible massive realeases yet to come as the Arctic warms.See pre-publication realease of original article.
Posted May 26: 1,000 years of climate data confirms Australia's warming. A massive study over the last 1000 years of 27 natural climate indicators covering the Australasia region over land concludes that the sudden recentdeparture was mostly man. The team of researchers has shown that the last 60 years were the warmest on record.The first such study in the region, it will be published soon in the Journal of Climate. This is discussed in RealClimate(Fresh hockey sticks from the Southern Hemisphere, May 22) along with two other new Southern Hemisphere studies.
Posted May 19: Heartland Insitute Strikes Again. The Heartland Institute, recipient of truckloads of money from wealthy climate deniers, briefly outdid itself. The billboard below, linking folks who "still believe in global warming" to the Unabomber, erected in Chicago last week in advance of their annual meeting, was quickly pulled down after strong public outcry. The story was linked to a NYT piece by Andrew Revkin about a proposed update to national review of K-12 science teaching standards.
Chicago billboard (hastily removed)
USAF Drones May Conduct “Incidental” Domestic Surveillance. "U.S. Air Force policy permits the incidental collection of domestic imagery by unmanned aerial systems (drones), but ordinarily would not allow targeted surveillance of a U.S. person. The Air Force policy was restated in a newly reissued instruction on oversight of Air Force intelligence." [Ordinarily? Read the article]
Agent Orange Corn-on-the-cob Anyone? Meet thenewest happy couple: Frankencorn and 2,4-D. The chemical giant Dow is in line for approval for a new line of corn that has been genetically altered so that it can stand treatment with new more-potent weed-killers, this time laced with 2,4-D, known in Vietnam as Agent Orange - just as Monsanto did in the case of the herbicide Roundup.
Norway: NATO Rehearses For War In The Arctic. For military leaders, global warming is a sure bet and in anticipation of a largely ice-free Arctic Ocean, feverish military activity taking place under the official label of a joint 'Norwegian-NATO-Partnership for Peace.' "The largest military exercise in the High North[involving 15 nations]...since the end of the Cold War ... was completed on March 21 in northern Norway.
Cold Response 2012 military exercise in Nordland, Norway. The yearly air land and maritime exercise is organized within NATO with a UN mandate.
Australian Scientists: Deep Ocean Beneath Antarctic Responding Rapidly to Climate Change. New research reported by Agence France-Presse suggests that over half the dense Atlantic bottom water that forms and sinks along the edges of Antarctica and spreads globally along the ocean floors has vanished in the last 40 years. [Based on clarification by Maggie Zhou: It is thought that global-warming-induced melting has diluted the highly saline water and interfered with the sinking process, leading to "slowing down of the thermohaline circulation (a.k.a. the ocean conveyor belt), reducing nutrient and oxygen mixing, and can have profound effects on ocean ecosystems, and global/regional climate."]
Game Over for the Climate. NASA's Hansen at his most alarming - calculates that if all the carbon contain in Canadas tar sands were oxidized, it would raise atmospheric CO2 to 500 ppm, leading to 50-foot+ sea level rises and drowning costal cities. He calls for defeat of the tar sands pipeline and a gradually-rising carbon tax.
40 Acres and a Rule: Draft Federal Fracking Regs Cover Only a Sliver of Land. proposed federal fracking rules would only apply to federally-managed land and the proposed requirement for disclosing the chemicals injected into the ground would be revealed to the public ,in many cases, only after drilling is completed.
The Evolution Paradigm Shifts - interivew with James Shapiro. Shapiro's new book, "Evolution: A View from the 21st Century" is stirring up a storm of controversy by trying to questioning the paradigm of Darwinian evolution, just at a time when establishment scientists are being harrassed by the religious right. At the core of Shapiro's new synthesis is that "...the DNA record definitely does not support the slow accumulation of random gradual changes...", but the cell itself has the ability to participate in engineering. its own DNA.
We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People -- and Still Can't End Hunger. A new study posted April 25 in Nature (Seufert, et al.) shows that non-organic methods are of growing food are still on average more efficient than organic methods, on average by 25%, but the variability is high. A combination of methods is suggested for feeding the world's growing population, but Gimenez points out that "Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity. For the past two decades, the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth. The world already produces more than 1 ½ times enough food to feed everyone on the planet."
Trivializing Fukushima. In response to an April 23 Washington Post editorial attempting to downplay the Fukushima nuclear tragedy and cheerleading a new expansionof nukes, Linda Gunter of Counterpunch sets out a powerful point-by-point rebuttal, emphasizing the distortions in the Post piece and pointing to the rapid growth in many areas of the world of non-carbon-based alternatives to nuclear.
Impacts of wind farms on land surface temperature. Wind farms were found to cause a locally significant warming at night by mixing warmer air downward to dilute the near-surface cold inversionlayer. Grist predicts that the media will spin this into a big right-wind feeding frenzy and the Christian Science Monitor tries to head 'em off at the pass, reminding readers that the laws of thermodynamics haven't been repealed[yet].
The meltdown at Fukushima last year has led to the shutdown of the reactor complex there, but there is a serious ongoing problem with no solution in the near future: the highly radioactive spent fuel rods that contain 85 times more radioactivity than was released at Chernobyl and are sitting in cooling pools that require constant circulation of water, essentially forever. Some of the pools are elevated, some are exposed to the elements and all are still located in a highly active earthquake zone
Rio+20 and the Neoliberal's "Green Economy". Seeking a Socially Inclusive Strategy for Climate Negotiations. The official pitch for Rio Earth Summit 1992 was "our common future", but the Rio+20 meeting in Brazil this June offers a negotiating text called The Future We Want. The question of course is, who is this "we"?
Should we really worry about solar storms? Last month, the British government took the unprecedented step of declaring space weather one of the greatest threats to the country. Alongside terrorism, flooding and pandemics. Informative discussion of solar flares and CMEs(coronal mass ejections) and possible effects on our electronics-dominated technosphere.
Our Bodies, Their Politics. In view of the posturing going on around birth control issues in the current political campaigns, we remind ourselves of a few grim facts: "More than 500,000 women die around the world each year from pregnancy-related causes, according to the WHO. A majority of those deaths occur in developing countries, but only a century ago American women faced similar fates. It was not until the 20th century that pregnancy-related death rates in the United States declined – a result of modern medicine, better sanitation and the advent of modern female contraception".
State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel-Cost Savings Across the United States. Driving an electric carinstead of a gasoline-powered car may actually increase net carbon emission, depending on the source of electricit
Record Warm March Temperatures Continue Record-Breaking Periods. [Editorial comment: Common Dreams somewhat breathlessly reports that 15,000 new temperature records had been broken in the US March.This is a pretty meaningless number, since the map showsthat many of the measurements cited come from many stations located so close to each other that multiple record breakings are guaranteed]. But the lead sentence is scary enough: "The contiguous United States experienced the warmest March ever in the warmest start of the year ever in the warmest 12-month period ever."
---Cartoon published April 14 in Folha, São Paulo, Brazil---
How the US Uses Sexual Humiliation as a Political Tool to Control the Masses. What happened in the prisons of Iraq may soon be coming soon to a police station near you. Last week's 5-4 Supreme Court decision removing most restrictions on strip searches for even minor offenses is part of increasing sexual intrusion upon citizens
The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center(Watch What You Say) A heavily fortified $2 billion complex is rising quickly outside an isolated desert town. It is the Utah Data Center, to be finished in Sept 2013, and is to capture and store in "near-bottomless databases...all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches"
Protecting Psychologists Who Harm: The APA's Latest Wrong Turn The APA (American Psychological Association) has been struggling since the attacks of 2001 to contain dissident elements within the organization that have been speaking out against the co-operation of psychologists with torturers. In spite of a solid majority for an anti-torture resolution in 2008, APA leadership has continued to evade its implementation.
‘Public Transportation is a Human Right’: Demonstrators in 18 Cities Occupy Transit. Occupy ducked undergound last week, chaining open subway entrances in at least 18 cities to dramatize "the diversion of billions of tax dollars to war and the corporations that benefit from war,” said ATU International President Larry Hanley in a press statement.
"And this has led to service cuts, transit worker layoffs, and higher passenger fares which are really just another kind of tax, levied on those who can least afford it.” Transit systems in several cities are heavily in debt to banks that have received multi-billion-dollar bailouts.
Why Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer to Global Warming. Some prominent environmentalists have been embracing nuclear power as a "green" alternative to burning carbon to buy us some time; and there the industry with government support is holding out hope for a "nuclear renaissance". But a promised new generation of nukes "has not been built and won’t be, because Wall Street won’t fund them. The only way nukes get built is with real or de facto socialism. The public sector has to pick up the tab, either during construction or after the fact, when bankrupt utilities get bailed out."[Christian Parenti,AlterNet, Apr4, 2012]
See also: New Nukes on the Brink. A combination of safety concerns and serious taxpayer resistance to sinking more public subsidies into nuclear power may signal the end of nuclear power in the US.[ For now?]
Hacks of Valor. A Harvard law professor argues that the paranoid worldwide reactions to the creative hacks by Anonymous may be counterproductive to the capitalist power structure. The successful global campaign against ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) used the symboism of Anonymous as a kind of "soft power that allows millions of people, often in different countries, each of whom is individually weak, to surge in opposition to a given program or project enough to shape the outcome. In this sense, Anonymous has become a potent symbol of popular dissatisfaction with the concentration of political and corporate power in fewer and fewer hands."
Extreme Weather is the New Normal. The new IPCC report released Mar 28 once again increases the urgency of warnings about extreme events related to global warming. Events such as the unprecedented March heat over much of Eastern North America have been happening with increasing frequency, and are expected to become even more common.
Other serious consequences to come are extreme rainfalls, increased duration and intensity of droughts in southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil, and southern Africa.
Sea level rise combined with increases in extreme weather will make many places uninhabitable by the end of the century, said Christopher Field, co-chair of IPCC’s Working Group II, which together with Working Group I produced the report.
Money Talks, Science Walks: Millions Spent to Weaken FDA. Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has just released a report showing that "between 2009 and 2011, prescription drug, biotechnology and medical device companies spent more than $700 million[(2/3 of this from drug companies] lobbying Congress and the Obama administration."
This stepped-up activity is directed at coming legislation aimed in part at easing restrictions on FDA conflicts of interest connected with FDA links to industries it regulates. The huge sum exceeds even the spending of the oil and insurance sectors.
Tennessee Passes Bill to Support Teaching of Climate Change Denial. More worries are ahead for science teachers in Tennessee (famous for the anti- Darwin "Scopes Monkey Trial") - not only do they have to tread carefully when they mention evolution, but now also face the ire of ignorant parents when they say "climate change" in the classroom.
Thanks are due in part to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), bankrolled by corporate polluter lobby groups, such as Heartland Institute and American Electric Power. Climate change, like evolution, is just one theory among others...
Why the Supreme Court Should Kill ‘Obamacare’. The court, says Lindorff, has the opportunity to create a crisis by "killing this monstrosity of political expedience and lobbyist strong-arming...and moving to real national health reform which would reduce costs substantially, provide quality health care to all, and finally drive a stake through the heart of the health insurance industry". It is noted that "family health crises are the major single cause of bankruptcies and homes foreclosures in the country".
How to Write Like a Scientist. Why are articles in scientific journals so boring and badly written? "Why can’t we [scientists]write like other people write? Why can’t we tell our science in interesting, dynamic stories? Why must we write dryly? (Or, to rephrase that last sentence in the passive voice, as seems to be the scientific fashion, why must dryness be written by us?)"
Why Magicians are a Scientist's Best Friend. Science for the People always complains about the mystification of science, and pseudo-science. What can we learn from magicians? "No matter how well educated, or how basically intelligent, trained, or observant a scientist may be, s/he may be a poor judge of a methodology employed in deliberate deception."
Lessons from Obama's Keystone Cave-In. In a March 22 speech in Oklahoma, Obama reminded us how, over the last three years, " 'I’ve directedmy administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore.' And ...' We are drilling all over the place now.' As for pipelines, 'we’ve added enough new oil and gas pipelines to encircle the earth.' Climate blogger Joe Romm called the address 'Obama's worst speech ever.' " [Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, Mar23, 2012]
...at the southern site of the Keystne XL pipeline in Cushing, OK
Remove Superbug-Breeding Antibiotics from Animal Feed. In 1977 - 40 years years ago, the FDA was ordered to begin proceedings againstwidespread us of antibiotics in animal feds. In the meantime the use has continued to spread, leading to increasing occurrences of of drug-resistant infections in humans. The new order from Judge Theodorem Katz is "to start proceedings to withdraw approval for the use of common antibiotics in animal feed". Again. See original Reuters story.
400 Chernobyls: Solar Flares, Electromagnetic Pulses and Nuclear Armageddon. There are 450 nuclear reactor power plants in the world and hundreds more under construction. They are all dependent on a reliable source of electricity to keep water flowing for cooling the reactor and usually, the spent fuel pools as well. What would happen if (or when) a giant electromagnetic storm of the magnitude observed in 1921 and 1859 causes massive long-term power disruptions blackouts?
Solar Flare - NASA
Decline in Global Poverty? The World Bank recently (proudly) reported that the percentage of people living in extreme poverty (earning $1.25/day or less) has declined in almost every region of the developing world during the years 2005-2010.But questions are being raised about every aspect of this figure: Does this earnings-per-day approach really measure poverty? Does setting the threshold at $1.25 make any sense? Is the adjustment for purchasing power unbiased?
How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy. The parasite Toxoplasma gondii, carried and excreted by cats also infects many humans and may lie dormant in our brain cells. It was found to make strange changes in rats; not only did they lose some of their fear of cats, but became attracted to cat scent. In humans, t is claimed that T. gondii is involved in schizophrenia and also capable of making subtle changes in human behavior, even according to one study, to the extent of making infected people more prone to traffic accidents..
The Hidden Costs of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The battle over the pipeline is far from over; lots of money rides on the deal, and Obama's objection was mostly technical and didn't comment on the merits of the proposal. In fact, there is no shortage of gasoline; the U.S. is actually exporting gasoline.
The Wind Industry’s License to Kill. Environmentalists are beginning to complain about wind-turbine-caused bird kills numbering in the hundreds of thousands, especially in the light of plans for accelerating growth of the wind energy sector.[Robert Bryce, Counterpunch, Mar 15, 2012]
Plan to Unleash Genetically Modified Mosquitoes. The plan is described by environmental groups as "dangerously misguided" and by scientists in Germany as based on ‘questionable pivotal scientific assertion[s]’; the company seeking permission, Oxitec, insists that there would be "no permanent change to the wild mosquito population".
Spying on Occupy: Prosecutors Subpoena Tweets, NYPD Arrests Protesters for ‘Thought Crimes’ The Tweets Belong to the People? Not in New York City they don't. Hi-tech protest tools cut both ways, and the cops can subpoena anything you've tweeted or intend to tweet (see also occucopters, Dec 23).
"How Economics Shapes Science", interview with book's author Paula Stephan covers topics such as the impact of the competition for funding upon risk-taking in pursuing lines of research vs incremental advances; interactions with industry; increasing number of patents and attraction of foreign researchers.
All Red Meat is Bad for You: . More good news for some of the creatures we feast upon: "Eating red meat — any amount and any type — appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death, according to a long-range [An Pan et al., Harvard] study that examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults for more than 20 years." [ ]
An Executive Power to Kill? According to Attorney General Eric Holder, "The President of the United States can order the killing of US citizens, far from any battlefield, without charges, a trial, or any form of advance judicial approval." How did we get to this point? Do you trust Obama with this power? How about future presidents, with even more accurate ability to assassinate a presumed enemy from thousands of miles away? Will there be a future drone with your name on it?
Save the Lorax: Shun the Stuff. What would the Lorax do? According to the new Universal Studios animated film and "The Lorax" and its spinoff marketing, Mr. Lorax would be in elementary schools flacking everything from Mazda CX-5 SUVs with the “Truffula Seal of Approval” - to Truffula Chip Pancakes at IHOP.
Psychologists and Torture, Then and Now. The 1963 CIA interrogation manual was the fruit of CIA-funded psychological research on electroshock treatment and sensory deprivation. Versions were widely used by governments in Asia and Latin America and eventually the techniques resurfaced in training protocols for post-9/11 interrogators at Gitmo.[
Human Engineering and Climate Change. Climate change is coming; why waste untold wealth on alternatives to carbon, or on dreaming up monster geo-engineering projects trying to prevent it? Does the answer may lie in engineering a better homo sapiens. This is apparently a serious article and has provoked much discussion on the list-serve of our sister group, SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE (see archive for February: "Science for (Improving) the People", by Stewart Newman and check out the discussion posts as well)
Colonialism in Africa helped launch the HIV epidemic a century ago. A fascinating peek into how the probable forays of colonial explorers into the African bush a century ago probably created the conditions for the jump of the HIV virus from primates to humans.
The new anti-science assault on US schools - how anti-evolution campaigners are combining with climate change deniers to undermine public education.
Charles Darwin, ca. 1854
Posted Feb 17: Leak exposes how Heartland Institute works to undermine climate science. It's well known that the well-heeled Heartland Institute is devoted to undermining scientific research on climate change. But a recent leak of sensitive Heartland documents, which were then published by the DeSmogBlog revealed plans for a stepped-up campaign, including a portion aimed at altering the teaching of science in schools. (see our Feb 4 post below for an idea of how efforts like this are already affecting science teachers)and also Heartland's counter-charges.[Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian UK, Feb 15]
Posted Feb 17: Hacking Group Attacks Weapons Maker. Anonymous strikes again! This time the hackers with the white hats took down the web site of Combined Systems, supplier of weapons used to put down the last year's revolt in Bahrain. The group also "claimed to have stolen employee names, e-mails, addresses, passwords and client lists, and threatened the site’s administrators that if they helped Combined Systems rebuild its Web site, they would expose those companies’ client lists and e-mails as well." Combined Systems describes itself as a tactical weapons company and has recently supplied Egyptian security forces with riot control agents. [Nicole Perlroth, NY Times bits blog, Feb 14]
Posted Feb 17: Propaganda stepped up post-Fukushima. "After Fukushima, almost every country with nuclear power stations paused to consider its position...The response of the UK was completely different. Only a day or two after the tsunami, when the situation was spiralling out of control and no one could know what the consequences would be, the government got together with the nuclear industry, not to consider what lessons could be learned from the events at Fukushima but to put out propaganda to allay any fears the public might have.[Staff report, Institute for Science in Society, Feb 14]
Posted Feb 17: The right's stupidity spreads, enabled by a too-polite left. George Monbiot on the basis of a Canadian study concludes that conservatives have on average relatively low "general intelligence" and tend to be more intolerant than average folks. If they're dumb, how come they're in charge?Says Monbiot - the left is too timid - "liberals in politics on both sides of the Atlantic continue to back off, yielding to the supremacy of the stupid. It's turkeys all the way down."[George Monbiot, The Guardian UK(via CommonDreams, Feb 6]
Posted Feb 10: Watch 131 Years of Global Warming in 26 Seconds. A series of successive global images of year-by-year departures of surface temperatures from normal. Excellent depiction of how the warming process fluctuates from year to year and place to place.[Data from NASA,Climatecentral.org,Jan 30]
Posted Feb 10: So What’s A Teacher to Do? Years of well-funded fossil-fuel industry propaganda have succeeded in recruiting the right wing to plant misinformation and outright lies in the minds of school parent, who in turn have successfully intimidated science teachers - as if creationism hadn't done enough damage. Be sure to read the discussion![Eugenie Scott. RealClimate,Feb 4]
Posted Feb 10: Did Global Warming Cause Sidney Crosby’s Concussion? Parallels between denying that humans cause climate change and denying that sports-violence-caused concussions cause dementia.[Jeff Grant,Climatecentral.org,Jan 30]
Posted Feb 4: Wall Street Journal Slammed for Giving Platform to Climate Change Deniers.In response to a widely-panned op-ed piece by a well-known group of global warming deniers, many without expertise in climate forecasting, a group of 39 climate scientists published a short rebuttal pointing out that the view prominently published in the WSJ was not shared by some 97% of actively publishing climate scientists and noted that the last decade again was the warmest in history. We at dcmetrosftp.org have just updated our climate links - please check them out.[Staff, CommonDreams,Feb 1]
Posted Feb 4: US Uses Depleted Uranium, makes graveyards in Afghanistan. "An Afghan activist [Dr. Mohammad Daud Miraki]reveals the US is still using horrific depleted uranium weapons in Afghanistan, creating graveyards of people who die of cancer and other unusual diseases, Press TV reports." Also picked up by poorrichards-blog. [presstv.ir, feb 1]
Posted Feb 4: Search for Aliens Is on Again, but Next Quest Is Finding Money. "Operating on money and equipment scrounged from the public and from Silicon Valley millionaires, and on the stubborn strength of their own dreams, a band of astronomers recently restarted one of the iconic quests of modern science, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence — SETI, for short — which had been interrupted last year by a lack of financing..." [Dennis Overbye,NY Times,Jan 29]
Posted Feb 4: Declaration of 2012 World Social Forum, Porto Alegre Brazil. Jan 28: "We, people of all continents ... fight against the causes of a systemic crisis expressed as the economic, financial, political, food, and environmental crisis, that puts at risk the survival of humankind. Decolonizing oppressed peoples and confronting imperialism is the main challenge of the social movements of all over the world..." [continued...]
[Arjun Makhijani, IEER Press Release, Jan 28]
Stephen Leahy,IPSnews.com,Jan 24
Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero,IPSnews.com,Jan 24
[Linda Penz Gunter
Commondreams), Jan 20]
[Chase Madar, Tom Dispatch (via
RealClimate, Jan 16]
[Ray Pierrehumbert and David Archer,
Atlantic (via Xeni Jardin, BoingBoing.net),Jan 09]
Common Dreams staff report, Jan 11]
In These Times, jan 5]
Common Dreams, Jan 5]
Posted Jan 5, 2012 [Tom Englehart, Common Dreams, Jan 3]
Stuck in the sand in Afghanistan
====================== 2011 =============================
Posted Dec 31:
Posted Dec 31
Posted Dec 31Physics Today,Oct 11]
The Independent(via Common Dreams), Dec 22]
News items for 2012
News items for 2011
News items for 2009 (2nd half) and 2010
News items for 2009 (first half)
News items for 2008
News items through 2006 and 2007