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Are Michelle Obama’s Skimpy School Lunches Going to Make Kids Dumb?

Thursday, October 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

First Lady Michelle Obama is not a dietitian by profession, she is a lawyer. She also studied sociology.

Here is a photo of one of Michelle Obama’s FDA-mandated school lunches. It’s from Oklahoma.

Chickasha-lunch

The school superintendent is not impressed.

Chickasha superintendent David Cash agrees the skimpy lunches need to be addressed.

“You’ve got in some cases little kids that their only two meals are breakfast and lunch at school and they’re getting you know a grand total of 1100 calories. That’s not enough,” Cash says.

The new lunch complies with lunch regulations championed by First Lady Michelle Obama and implemented by the USDA.

Mrs. Obama’s school lunches have come under massive criticism for being tasteless, for lacking a real variety of foods that kids will actually eat, and for being too small, as above. Schools are still struggling to adapt to the FDA-enforced, Obama-approved school lunches. Many schools around the country have opted to dump the First Lady’s lunches.

In addition to being too small, too boring, and filling up trash cans without filling up kids’ bellies, there may be another problem with these lunches.

They’re mostly raw.

Cooked food enables humans to have bigger and smarter brains, according to this 2007 article in Scientific American.

Richard Wrangham has tasted chimp food, and he doesn’t like it. “The typical fruit is very unpleasant,” the Harvard University biological anthropologist says of the hard, strangely shaped fruits endemic to the chimp diet, some of which look like cherries, others like cocktail sausages. “Fibrous, quite bitter. Not a tremendous amount of sugar. Some make your stomach heave.” After a few tastings in western Uganda, where he works part of the year on his 20-year-old project studying wild chimpanzees, Wrangham came to the conclusion that no human could survive long on such a diet. Besides the unpalatable taste, our weak jaws, tiny teeth and small guts would never be able to chomp and process enough calories from the fruits to support our large bodies.

Then, one cool fall evening in 1997, while gazing into his fireplace in Cambridge, Mass., and contemplating a completely different question—“What stimulated human evolution?”—he remembered the chimp food. “I realized what a ridiculously large difference cooking would make,” Wrangham says. Cooking could have made the fibrous fruits, along with the tubers and tough, raw meat that chimps also eat, much more easily digestible, he thought—they could be consumed quickly and digested with less energy. This innovation could have enabled our chimp­like ancestors’ gut size to shrink over evolutionary time; the energy that would have gone to support a larger gut might have instead sparked the evolution of our bigger-brained, larger-bodied, humanlike forebears.

Dr. Wrangham worked with Dr. Jane Goodall when she proved that primates other than humans are capable of making and using tools. He is no rookie or crank. He has been studying his cooked food theory for 10 years now. Many in other fields dismiss his idea, but he has pulled together considerable support for it.

What would it take to convert a chimpanzeelike ancestor into a human?” Fire to cook food, he reasoned, which led to bigger bodies and brains.

And that is exactly what he found in Homo erectus, our ancestor that first appeared 1.6 million to 1.9 million years ago. H. erectus’s brain was 50 percent larger than that of its predecessor, H. habilis, and it experienced the biggest drop in tooth size in human evolution. “There’s no other time that satisfies expectations that we would have for changes in the body that would be accompanied by cooking,” Wrangham says.

The problem with his idea: proof is slim that any human could control fire that far back.

As they say in science when they’re being honest and fair, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It just means that there is a gap in what has been verified.

So far, Wrangham has found that no current human group anywhere eats all of their food raw. Everyone cooks, across all human cultures. Modern humans need a lot of high-quality calories to support our high-functioning brains. We need cooked food to get those high-quality calories. Raw meat as seen in the Obama lunch above therefore doesn’t help much, according to Wrangham’s research (Wrangham has been working on this idea longer than Obama has been First Lady). Cooking saves energy that humans would otherwise have to spend chewing more food for longer periods — because “Heat alters the physical structure of proteins and starches, thereby making enzymatic breakdown easier.”

It’s not a slam dunk. There remains little evidence that our ancestors controlled fire far enough back to fit his theory. There are other dietary questions yet to be answered.

Whatever is the case, pretty much no one but Michelle Obama likes her school lunches — and she doesn’t even have to eat them.

Food for thought…

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POTUS Official Twitter Account Instructs Fans to ‘Stick It To’ Climate Change Deniers

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Have to call them out for confrontational political language. Remember, these are the people who blame every act of violence in America on “right wing rhetoric”.

 

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CDC Director on Lack of Travel Ban: ‘The Bottom Line Is Reducing Risk to Americans’

Monday, October 13th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama added an afternoon Ebola meeting to his otherwise open Columbus Day schedule after a nurse was confirmed to have contracted the virus from a now-deceased Liberian patient in Dallas.

The Oval Office meeting was small, including Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden joined via phone.

The White House said that the meeting was “to receive an update on the response to the diagnosis of a second Ebola case in Dallas, Texas.”

“The President was briefed on the status of the investigation into the apparent breach in infection control protocols at the Dallas hospital and remedial actions underway to mitigate similar breaches in the future,” the readout of the meeting continued. “Secretary Burwell and Dr. Frieden described the surge in personnel and other resources to Dallas to assist in the investigation as well as other measures to heighten awareness and increase training for healthcare workers throughout the country.”

“The President reinforced that this investigation should proceed as expeditiously as possible and that lessons learned should be integrated into future response plans and disseminated to hospitals and healthcare workers nationwide.”

Obama, who has a week of fundraising activities planned as the calendar closes in on midterms, told donors at a Democratic National Committee event in L.A. on Thursday that “the likelihood of any epidemic in the United States is extraordinarily small.”

The White House also released the details of call with French President Francois Hollande, who plans to build new Ebola treatment centers in Guinea.

“On the Ebola outbreak, the two leaders agreed that more must be done, and quickly, to establish treatment facilities in the affected African nations, and that all countries must play a role to stop the spread of this disease and to save the lives of those afflicted,” the administration said. “They also discussed additional measures that may be taken to stem the spread of Ebola outside the region already affected, including passenger screening upon departure and arrival.”

And Obama spoke with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the White House said, “to review the international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the need for more robust commitments and rapid delivery of assistance by the international community.”

“Citing the threat the epidemic poses, the President stressed the need for all UN member states to support the UN appeal, and to provide the personnel, equipment, and supplies required to stop the epidemic at its source and halt the devastating impact of this crisis on the affected countries and their citizens,” said the readout from the call. “Both leaders agreed that, given the threat posed by Ebola, at this crucial juncture members of the international community must redouble their resolve and commitment to stay the course and decisively address the Ebola crisis.”

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled together his national security team on Sunday to discuss a game plan for stopping Ebola before it comes to their borders.

“The State of Israel is prepared in order to bar the possible entry of people with Ebola, as part of our effort to defend our borders against illegal migrants and terrorism,” Netanyahu said. “This is a global plague and we are cooperating with other countries in addition to guarding our borders; we are taking a series of steps to isolate those who are ill, if they arrive, and treat them, of course, in our healthcare system. We hope that this will not be necessary but we are prepared for any eventuality.”

The CDC director told reporters today that screening of passengers coming from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had begun at JFK airport in New York, with the intention of expanding the program to Hartsfield, O’Hare, Dulles and Newark. Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan passed through Dulles on his way to Dallas.

“On the issue of banning travel, I understand that there are calls to do this. I really tried to focus on the bottom line here. The bottom line here is reducing risk to Americans. The way we’re going to reduce risk to Americans is do the steps of protection I just went through and stop it at the source in Africa,” Frieden said.

“Today, CDC has 150 of our top disease detectives throughout the three countries and many of the counties, districts, and prefectures within the three countries helping to turn the outbreak around working along with the Department of Defense, with USAID, with the World Health Organization and with many other governments which are surging in to help stop it at the source,” he continued.

“If we do things that unintentionally make it harder to get that response in, to get supplies in, that make it harder for those governments to manage, to get everything from economic activity to travel going, it’s going to become much harder to stop the outbreak at the source. If that were to happen, it would spread for more months and potentially to other countries and that would increase rather than decrease the risk to Americans. Above all, do no harm. And that’s why we want to focus on stopping the outbreak at the source.”

The UN Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, told CNN International that he doesn’t think travel bans would be effective.

“People will travel, particularly if they are concerned about a disease like this. They’re frightened. They will cross road borders, they will get onto boats, they will get onto planes. And the real requirement is to test them very thoroughly before they get onto any form of transport,” Nabarro said.

Duncan was asymptomatic yet a carrier of the Ebola virus when he left Liberia, and didn’t register a temperature when screened at the airport. He also reportedly said he hadn’t had contact with Ebola patients.

“If you tried to have a blanket ban, our experience is it doesn’t work,” Nabarro continued. “All that happens is people try to get around it, they conceal their movements, they conceal their history and that can actually create a much greater likelihood of going underground. And diseases that go underground, they’re hard to control.”

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said the administration should stop flights from the affected countries “to give Dallas, Texas, and other communities a chance to catch up and work through this difficult problem.”

“They should isolate these areas,” the congressman told CNN. “It has grown the way it has because of people traveling. That is what we’re trying to deal with.”

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Is CDC Omitting Ebola Data in Its Weekly Reporting?

Friday, October 10th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This is a time when the American public hangs on every official word about Ebola. And it’s a time when American’s are extremely sensitive and anxious about full transparency. Given this, it’s hard to understand why the CDC’s latest weekly infectious report may be missing vital Ebola data that the public already knows about.

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, or MMWR, is the Centers for Disease Control’s premiere journal for reporting and tracking infectious diseases in the United States.

The MMWR was the first journal that alerted physicians nationwide to HIV. According to the career healthcare professional who brought the MMWR to our attention here, doctors, nurses and hospitals use the report to pick out trends in infectious diseases and take appropriate measures against them. The MMWR is also used to justify expenses for specific areas in healthcare funding.

“Mistakes in reporting rob healthcare professionals of information that may be vital for making good decisions,” the health care profession said.

The criteria the CDC has published for authors of the MMWR establishes that this is the case. Authors are reminded that the “MMWR Weekly publishes information useful to readers in the public health community, private clinicians, researchers, teachers and students, and the news media. Reports are based in science (especially epidemiology) or on public health policy or practice.”

We will not identify the healthcare professional or where the person works, but I have verified their identity and place of employment, as a manager on the funding side of healthcare, and positioned to have extensive knowledge of the CDC MMWR and how it is used.

The MMWR for the week ending October 4, 2014, is out, and may be found here. The important sections for this story are Table I and Table III.

Table Table I makes no mention of the Ebola case in Dallas, despite the fact that it was confirmed on September 30, 2014 — well within the week that this MMWR covers.

Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever. The CDC specifically lists it as a notifiable disease in this 2010 report.

Yet the column covering such diseases for the week ending October 4, 2014, is empty of any diagnoses. Here is a screenshot of the relevant section of that chart. Click to enlarge.

cdc-mmwr

As is readily apparent, the chart gives granular data for cases of reportable diseases, and breaks those numbers out by state in the column on the right-hand side. According to the healthcare professional who alerted us, Ebola should be listed in the “Viral hemorrhagic fever” column. If it was listed, then the chart would also show one case in Texas, over on the right. That would have been Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died this week of Ebola.

His case is not listed, and the table’s footnote explicitly states:

There were no cases of viral hemorrhagic fever reported during the current week. See Table II for dengue hemorrhagic fever.

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‘Think Progress,’ or Think Poorly?

Thursday, October 9th, 2014 - by Nathan D. Lichtman

Why? Why do I follow Think Progress on Facebook? Well, two reasons—one is that I think it’s important to know what the other side is saying. The other reason is because sometimes it’s downright hilarious.

This falls into both camps.

Think Progress thinks it embarrasses conservatives anytime they express even the slightest doubt that man-made climate change is upon us. All the more reason for them to go nuts when they heard that a Michigan congressman had not only said he didn’t see the evidence behind the global warming hype, but that he called himself a scientist. They published an article, which was the lead for several hours on their website, entitled: “Congressman: ‘I am a Scientist’ And There’s No Evidence Of Manmade Climate Change.”

The ultra-liberal Center for American progress uses Think Progress as their primary blog, and Time Magazine included it as one of the top-25 blogs. They don’t necessarily call themselves a source for news, but they do present their findings as facts, and sway people’s opinions with their logic.

Let’s go back to the Michigan congressman, Rep. Dan Benishek.

He has a degree in Biology from the University of Michigan, and a Medical Degree from Wayne State University, and he’s been a practicing surgeon most of his life. I am fairly familiar with him and his excellent work, because I lived and worked in Michigan for almost a quarter of my life. He is a man who retired from his medical practice, and realized that the world wasn’t the way he wanted it to be for his grandchildren. So he did something about it—he ran for US Congress, and currently serves.

He apparently said that, as a scientist, he only believes something if it is supported with evidence in a peer-reviewed journal. And, he argues, he has not seen support for the idea of man-made global climate change in such a peer-reviewed manner.

I’m not going to argue one way or another on climate change; do your own homework.

But, this is why Think Progress went crazy. They heavily implied that Benishek was not indeed a scientist, and most of the Facebook comments were as such. Firstly, lets put this to rest—being a Medical Doctor is being a man of science. Its called Medical Science! Let alone having a science degree in Biology. Some of the most scientific discoveries have been written about in medical peer-reviewed journals, like the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, etc. Even if he is not directly a climatologist, he is still a scientist, even in the way he would go about researching a topic.

But, I’m more concerned with the poor quality of the Think Progress article itself. The writer, Jeff Spross, is a “reporter and video editor for ThinkProgress.org,” and has worked for such publications as The American Prospect and The Guardian. One would think that in an article, where he questions the validity of someone’s claims, that he has fact-checked his own claims. Well, even in the case of this so-called reporter, you’d be wrong.

The original article (he has updated it a couple times) had this sentence in the very first paragraph: “In recent months, American politicians from House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) to Louisiana Governor Rick Scott (R) and U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R-IA) have all responded to questions about humanity’s role in climate change with some version of ‘I’m not a scientist.’” He goes on to talk about where Benishek gets his campaign money from, that many scientists agree on climate change, and that there are peer-reviewed sources for his info — but can we trust an article with two blatant misstatements in the first paragraph?

Let’s start with the fact (uncorrected as of writing this, by the way), that John Boehner is not the House Majority Leader. He is the Speaker of the House, second in the Presidential line of succession, and presiding leader over the House of Representatives. The House Majority Leader is California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, and he is only the leader of the Republicans in the House. Boehner is the leader of all House members. And, Rick Scott is indeed a Governor, but he’s the Governor of Florida, not Louisiana.

This type of article is cited and treated as a sacrosanct argument for leftists on Facebook. If a ‘reporter’ is going to cite figures and facts, he should also be able to at least get the most Google-able stuff right. This type of sound bite journalism is part of the problem with American civics knowledge, and makes you wonder what other non-factual blog posts they sneak by with.

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But Of Course, Record Antarctic Ice Is a Sign of Global Warming Too

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Just makin’ stuff up.

Scientists have recently learned and reported that the near record-high sea ice levels near Antarctica don’t mean that global warming is not a factor at play. In fact, scientists believe the opposite is true.

Last month, on September 20th the ice level peaked at 7.78 million square miles. The 2014 level shattered the previous record which was set just a year ago in 2013. While scientists are not sure what the exact meaning behind the record levels, they do know a few other things.

Follow what was said there: “scientists believe“, and “not sure what the exact meaning” is but, hey, CONSENSUS, right?

Here is the-ahem-logic that follows from all of that believing and not knowing:

The largest takeaway from the research and the remarks were made that the best answer scientists have right now is simply that the North and South poles are the most extreme places on earth. Furthermore, they are the most extreme differences on earth. Any issues, any changes, any climate anomalies, will be felt in the greatest proportion there, rather than in the middle of the earth where the extremes are less noticeable.

See Also: Sharks show personality traits just like humans, study says

Much of this comes back to the logic that many have tried to convey for some time. Global warming isn’t a matter of extremes, or a matter of swift – and well-defined changes to our overall climate. Instead, climate change – or global warming – is the middle, or the average – changing.

In essence, change the average of the planet – and you’ve effectively changed the entire planet – no matter how the extremes on the northern or southern ends behave.

In summation: we should worry about the average between literal polar opposites that are experiencing (per this article) opposite manifestations of all of this change (what’s freezing in Antarctica is melting in the Arctic). If one extreme gets hotter and one gets colder then the average gets…

Don’t worry, they’ll come up with a Common Core way of changing what “average” means soon.

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British Baby Born 1 Week Under Abortion Limit Celebrates Healthy 1st Birthday

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

One for the good guys.

A premature baby who was given little chance of survival when he was born at 23 weeks has celebrated his first birthday.

The case of Lucas Moore will reignite debate over the 24-week time limit for abortions after he suffered no significant long-term health problems, despite weighing just 1lb 1oz at birth.

His parents, Sylvia and Thomas Moore, were told to prepare for a stillbirth after her waters broke 22 weeks into her pregnancy. Doctors said that even if their baby survived, his internal organs would be so weak that he would have no protection from infection.

The couple also claim that they were told they would receive no medical support if the baby weighed less than 1lb.

The people who love to scream “SCIENCE!” all the time generally ignore it when it comes to fetal development and advances in neonatology. Per standard pro-abort talking points, this child was merely a “clump of cells” at the time of his birth. They will view the results of a computer-model prediction on climate as gospel but pretend that a baby isn’t really a baby until some magical, undefined moment.

Twenty four weeks is the cutoff in more than half of the United States. Any attempts to lower that are generally called “restrictive” by pro-abortion lobbyists. They are truly the lunatic fringe of political activists and want to keep pushing the legal abortion period to ever more ghoulish extremes.

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Headline of the Day: ‘Ebola-Killing Robot Developed in Texas’

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Bring your puny superbug into the Lone Star State, and we shall build a weapon and kill it.

San Antonio, TX (KENS) – A local invention may turn out to be a key piece of technology in the fight against Ebola. It’s a robot used by hospitals to disinfect and destroy bacteria and viruses.

Meet “Little Moe” the germ-zapping robot.

“What’s inside here is a xenon bulb,” said Mark Stibich, PH.D.

That bulb emits powerful UV light, which fuses the DNA of a virus and kills it. This powerful technology is now being used in 250 hospitals across the U.S. Little Moe was developed in the Alamo City by Xenex. Its customers include the University Health System in San Antonio and the Dallas hospital where doctors are treating the first man ever diagnosed with Ebola in America.

A video at the link shows the robot in action. It has a Star Wars-like domed top, but isn’t much like a medical droid in the films. It just flashes light — deadly light — and gets the job done.

We’ll need to build an army of them to defend the republic.

Wait…

YouTube Preview Image

Eh. Those are clones, not droids.

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Don’t Call It A Comeback: Tobacco Plant May Take Center Stage In Developing Ebola Drugs

Friday, October 3rd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

BIG TOBACCO

As Thomas Eric Duncan remains in isolation at a hospital in Dallas, and American journalist Ashoka Mukpo prepares to be transported home, many are wondering: Will they receive an experimental drug like other Ebola patients treated in the United States?

Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol received an experimental serum called ZMapp, engineered from antibodies harvested in mice. Questions remain about the extent to which ZMapp was responsible for the patients’ recovery, but demand for the drug has skyrocketed.

Unfortunately, the process used to make the doses given to Brantly, Writebol and a few other patients is costly and time-consuming. Public health officials are now looking for ways to develop more of this experimental drug quickly.

Tobacco plants may hold the key.

In the world of health and medicine, the word tobacco usually brings to mind cancer, emphysema and heart disease. But in recent years the plant’s tarnished reputation is getting a makeover from the development of pharmaceuticals through an effective, swift and cost-cutting technique that has been dubbed “biopharming.”

It would be deliciously ironic if tobacco staves off becoming illegal (you know that’s the real end game) by roaring back as a pharmaceutical darling. Apparently, the demon leaf can greatly speed up the vaccine manufacturing process, which then saves money.

Drugs and vaccines are manufactured in a variety of ways. Flu vaccines, for example, are most commonly produced by injecting fertilized hen eggs with the virus. The virus is incubated for days so it can replicate, be harvested, inactivated or weakened, and then made into either a flu shot or nasal spray.

The process can cost around $150 million each year, using $600,000 eggs each day. Tobacco plants can produce antibodies in much less time for a fraction of the cost, advocates say.

Let’s get this done while the free market is at least peripherally involved in pharmaceutical research and “free” health care has a chance to kill it.

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30 Second Vid Of Chuck Schumer Epitomizes Dems’ Climate Demagoguery

Monday, September 29th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Step 1: Posit something that is demonstrably false.

Step 2: Run away before anyone can question it.

Blather, rinse, repeat.

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Mystery Virus Causing Paralysis in Children Has CDC Stumped

Saturday, September 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Nine Colorado children have experienced “muscle weakness” and paralysis after becoming ill with a mystery virus that may be connected to a respiratory infection that has been detected in 19 states. The paralyzed children all carry the enterovirus 68 — a virus first detected in 1962 — and experienced respiratory sickness within a couple of weeks of falling victim to the paralyzing disease. The CDC is investigating the virus, but doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Associated Press:

The virus can cause paralysis but other germs can, too. Health officials don’t know whether the virus caused any of the children’s arm and leg weaknesses or whether it’s just a germ they coincidentally picked up. “That’s why we want more information,” and for doctors to report similar cases, said the CDC’s Dr. Jane Seward. The cases occurred within the last two months. All nine children are being treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, and most are from the Denver area. A hospital spokeswoman said the patients’ families didn’t want to talk to the media. The nine children had fever and respiratory illness about two weeks before developing varying degrees of limb weakness. None seems to have a weak immune system or other conditions that might predispose them to severe illness, but the cases are still being investigated, Seward said. Investigators don’t think it’s polio – eight of the nine children are up to date on polio vaccinations. It’s not known whether the limb weakness or paralysis is temporary or will be long-lasting. The cases come amid an unusual wave of severe respiratory illness from enterovirus 68. The germ is not new – it was first identified in 1962 and has caused clusters of illness before, including in Georgia and Pennsylvania in 2009 and Arizona in 2010. Because it’s not routinely tested for, it’s possible the bug spread in previous years but was never distinguished from colds caused by other germs. This year, the virus has gotten more attention because it has been linked to hundreds of severe illnesses. Beginning last month, a flood of sick children began to hit hospitals in Kansas City, Missouri, and Chicago – kids with trouble breathing, some needing oxygen or more extreme care such as a breathing machine. Many – but not all – had asthma before the infection. The CDC has been testing a limited number of specimens from very sick children around the country, and as of Thursday reported 277 people in 40 states and the District of Columbia with enterovirus 68. So far no deaths have been attributed to the virus, but Seward said 15 still are being investigated.

There have been efforts to tie the virus to illegal aliens flowing into the country from Central America, but that’s clearly not the case. Since the virus has been in the US since 1962, it may be that better detection methods are responsible for the spike in cases this year. The CDC also points to similar outbreaks in the past. As for the paralysis, the CDC says that enterovirus 68 has been the suspected culprit in other cases of limb weakness and paralysis. What they don’t know is why there has been an apparent increase in the number of cases involving paralyzed children. The CDC’s medical detectives are the best in the world, so they are likely to eventually come up with some answers.

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Man Loses Half His Skull. 3D Printing Gives Him the Lost Half Back

Thursday, August 28th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

3D printing is incredibly disruptive technology. It has already impacted the debate over guns. Researchers are using it to recreate antique musical instruments.

At 3DPrint.com, they have the story of a Chinese man who lost half of his skull in a fall. 3D printing will give him that half of his skull back.

The 46-year-old was working at his construction job one day when he fall three stories to the ground. The fall left him disfigured, as if he had a large dent in the side of his head.

Surgion [sic] MaoGuo Shu, of Xijing Hospital, who has seen a vast array of head and skull injuries, says that cases like Hu’s are very rare, and finding a solution to fix the damaged skull is very complex and difficult. To try and come up with a solution, the hospital brought in dozens of experts in the field. What they came up with was an idea for a 3D printed titanium mesh which would cover Hu’s brain and help make his skull look normal again. Thankfully for Hu, he won’t have to pay a dime for the surgery, as the hospital is covering the cost, and an American company, Stryker has agreed to pay for the 3D printing and materials used in the printing process.

The titanium printed mesh should return his skull to his normal shape over time. His brain, which was badly damaged in the fall leaving Hu unable to talk and write, might regenerate itself, according to the doctors.

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Is It Time for Medicaid to Cover Species Dysphoria?

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Janice Hickok’s Mom knew she that was different from other children as early as kindergarten.

“She kind of kept to herself,” Belinda Fenwell-Hickok says. “She could be affectionate when she felt like it, but even then, when I’d lean over to give her a hug, she’d turn her shoulder and just, sort of, rub it against my leg and start to walk away.”

The awkward behaviors multiplied, but Belinda says she was in denial…for years. She ignored the advice of friends, and eventually refused to return emails and text messages from the school guidance counselor.

Then came the virtually-inevitable moment.

“I walked into her bedroom one day,” Belinda said, “and Janice had something hanging out of her mouth.”

Even now, the memories cause her to well up with emotion — nine years later.

“I just screamed, ‘Janice, no! Spit him out. Spit him out!’ But it was too late,” she said. “Our pet hamster, Marvin, twitched a bit and just stopped moving. Janice let him drop to the carpet, and just strolled away like nothing had happened.”

Now in her mid-40′s, Belinda’s careworn face makes her look 20 years older.

“Back in the 1990s,” she explained, “nobody was talking about species dysphoria. How was I supposed to know she was a cat, trapped in the body of a girl.”

Janice refused to speak to a reporter about her condition, although she has “come out” to most of her friends and family.

Experts believe that as many as one-in-317 humans, and nearly all domesticated cats and dogs, may have some degree of species dysphoria. As with many rare conditions, it was education that helped her Dad come to terms with who Janice is.

Chad Hickok has lived alone, visiting his daughter one weekend per month at a local kennel since his 10-year marriage to Belinda collapsed — torn apart by the stress of what’s clinically known as second-hand species dysphoria.

“The toll it takes on the family can be greater than the impact on the species-dysphoric individual,” according to Jason Stenderweil, visiting professor of Species Identity at U.C. Berkeley. Dr. Stenderweil pioneered species-transition procedures, at a time when most academics and surgeons still classified the medical condition as a “mental illness or some kind of freakish hobby.”

According to Janice’s Mom, the ability to simply “be who she is” among her friends, co-workers and neighborhood cats, brings some measure of relief from the stress of their fight with the government.

For the past three years, Janice and her family have devoted thousands of hours to a fruitless effort to get Medicaid to cover the procedures she so desperately needs “to be whole.” But no government-run health care program will pay for any of it — from the physician-monitored dietary, fur-implant and quadrupedal-locomotion regimens, to the ultimate species re-assignment surgery and veterinary care. Surgery alone can cost upwards of $230,000, followed by tens of thousands of dollars in monthly maintenance therapy.

The family even lobbied their Congressman, who finally introduced a bill last month to amend Obamacare, requiring that employer-provided health insurance include diagnosis and the full range of treatments to allow species-dysphorics to live normal animal lives. The bill awaits consideration by the Appropriations Committee and the Agriculture Committee.

A White House spokesman said President Obama’s position on government-funded species-dysphoria treatment is “currently evolving,” but “whether someone who appears human might actually be a rabbit, or a tiger or a Galapagos tortoise is a question above the president’s pay grade.”

Meanwhile, Belinda is nearly at the end of her rope.

“I don’t need someone to ‘fix’ Janice, forgive the expression,” she said. “I need the federal and state governments to acknowledge that she has the same rights as any other American resident, to live out her brief lifespan as authentically as she can. And that takes money that we just don’t have.”

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‘MythBusters’ Drops Kari, Grant and Tory

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Discovery Channel’s lone remaining science series, MythBusters, has lost 60% of its cast. The show announced Thursday night that that episode would be the last to feature Kari Byron, Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara.

MythBusters started out with just the two main cast members, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, special effects gurus who used their science knowledge and engineering chops to test common pop culture myths. The show was fine in those early days, but MythBusters really took off when it grew to the current cast. The trio joined the full cast of MythBusters 10 years ago.  They brought a new chemistry to the show, and Byron brought a little nerd sex appeal too.

Now the era of five hosts busting multiple myths per show is over. And it sounds like money is at the root.

“I guess you guys are finding out the news right about now. After a decade of theMythBusters, we are no longer with the show,” Kari said in a series of tweets. “Thank you to all the fans who have supported us. The show is taking a new direction. It was an amazing run. I learned so much about myself and the world. I love you all @MythBusters. I am sad for an ending but there will be exciting new adventures for us.”

Chances are, budget cuts are to blame. Discovery Channel has all but dropped science programming in favor of reality shows about gold and cars, bogus documentaries about sharks, along with its survival hit Naked and Afraid. The reduced MythBusters probably isn’t going to last long now.

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The Bad News: There’s a Huge Asteroid Zooming Toward Earth. The Good News…

Friday, August 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

We have about 35 generations to figure out what to do about it.

Scientists have moved closer to being able to stop a huge asteroid colliding with the Earth and potentially wiping out human life.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee have discovered that blowing the space rock up could make the collision worse by causing several devastating impacts.

Instead, small changes could be made to its surface to disrupt the forces keeping it together and cause it to break up in outer space.

They were studying asteroid 1950 DA, which has a one in 300 chance of hitting the planet on 16 March, 2880.

Although the odds seem small, it is the most likely asteroid to collide with Earth and the odds are higher than being shot dead in the US.

So we’ve got a few hundred years.

But — our politicians won’t even fix Social Security, despite the fact that it’s on course to blow up before the millennials need it. What are the odds that our idjits in charge can focus on a threat that’s more than 800 years away?

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Suffering and Sobriety

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It’s a heavy day around here. But here’s a story of overcoming.

True fact: I knew the writer of this piece when he was going through his addiction. We were university classmates.

While I knew him at the time in the sense that I knew who he was and had had conversations with him, clearly I didn’t actually know him at all, because I had no idea what he was going through. None whatsoever.

To me, a naive and optimistic young college guy, he was just this mysterious figure on the edge of the class, always quiet, usually detached. We didn’t run around in the same circles.

It turns out, he was dogged by a shadow. But –SPOILER– 19 years later he is the victor.

I didn’t start out with the intention of being an alcoholic and an addict. One day, I stood before a mirror no longer able to recognize who I had become. “How did I get here?” I wondered. Surely, nobody decides to be like this.

Somewhere, something inside me is different than it is in some of you. I’m missing a switch or at the very least, it’s stuck in the “on” position. You have a drink, you stop, and you’re ok. I have a drink and say let’s have a few more. A few more quickly turns into too many. You can take a toke or pop a pill and be satisfied. I’m thinking of how I can score more. After all, the more the merrier, right? Somewhere, you and I arrived at the same point and you said “Stop, I’ve had enough.” I stepped on the gas, full throttle ahead.

Some of you reading this won’t be able to relate to what I’ve written here at all. You won’t understand that it’s not simply a matter of will power or making better choices. You won’t grasp that this isn’t a lifestyle choice or a matter of self-control, but a disease. I’m okay with that because I’m not really writing it for you. Besides, I had to quit worrying about what other people think of me a long time ago. I’m glad that today, by God’s grace, I can say yes to life and living it abundantly. Every day and every moment isn’t perfect. But this too shall pass.

If you’re reading this and you’re struggling with alcohol, addiction or depression, I’m writing this for you. Know that you are not alone. There are plenty of people who are in this fight with you. Reach out. Get help. Speak up. Don’t slip away in the silence, succumbing to the darkness. Choose life. There is a light. There is a way. When the darkness tells you “No, you can’t”, know that “Yes, you can.”

Read the rest.

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Ann Coulter’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Heartless and Cruel’

Thursday, August 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Ann Coulter used her national megaphone to trash Dr. Kent Brantly Wednesday. Brantly is the American doctor who traveled to Liberia to use his medical skills and training to serve the poor there. He and Nancy Writebol served patients who have Ebola, and have now come down with the deadly virus themselves.

Coulter can be a genius one day and a fool the next. In this column, she takes the latter route.

coulter-idiotic

 

Coulter’s basic argument is that Dr. Brantly should have stayed home and served in Texas instead of Africa, because it’s safer to serve here.

That’s not necessarily true on the border. But missionary service isn’t always about doing the safe thing. It’s about being obedient to God. Being obedient to God is often the riskiest thing a Christian can possibly do.

Coulter accuses Dr. Brantly of “Christian narcissism.”

Right there in Texas, near where Dr. Brantly left his wife and children to fly to Liberia and get Ebola, is one of the poorest counties in the nation, Zavala County — where he wouldn’t have risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.

But serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn’t have been “heroic.” We wouldn’t hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantly’s “unusual drive to help the less fortunate” or his membership in the “Gold Humanism Honor Society.” Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away — that’s the ticket.

Today’s Christians are aces at sacrifice, amazing at serving others, but strangely timid for people who have been given eternal life. They need to buck up, serve their own country, and remind themselves every day of Christ’s words: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.

Coulter’s column makes me wonder whether she really believes in God or not, or if her God is actually a country and not a supreme being. That would be idolatry, of course.

The Christian missionary call crosses borders, and is as old as Christianity itself. It’s Christianity 101.

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White House Inexplicably Shuts Press Out of Apollo 11 Remembrance

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama Meets with Crew of Apollo 11

President Obama met with the crew of Apollo 11 to mark the 45th anniversary of the first mission to land on the Moon in an event mysteriously closed to the press.

The White House allowed a stills-only pool spray at the top of the meeting in the Oval Office. No reporters or TV cameras were allowed.

Badgered about the secrecy at today’s press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest called it “merely a scheduling matter.”

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times said in a tweet that a complaint would be lodged over the closed coverage.

NASA soon released a photo of Obama meeting with Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Carol Armstrong (widow of Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong), NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and Patricia “Pat” Falcone, OSTP Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs.

“Forty-five years ago, while the world watched as one, the United States of America set foot on the moon.  It was a seminal moment not just in our country’s history, but the history of all humankind,” Obama said in a statement.

“The three brave astronauts of Apollo 11 –Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins – took the first small steps of our giant leap into the future.  And for all the years since, they and their families have served as testaments to American ingenuity and human achievement.  Today, I was honored to welcome Buzz, Michael, and Neil’s wife, Carol, to the White House to mark this historic anniversary – and to thank them for serving as advocates, role models, and educators who’ve inspired generations of Americans – myself included – to dream bigger and reach higher,” he continued.

“Today, under Administrator Bolden’s leadership, the men and women of NASA are building on that proud legacy by preparing for the next giant leap in human exploration — including the first visits of men and women to deep space, to an asteroid, and someday to the surface of Mars — all while partnering with America’s pioneering commercial space industry in new and innovative ways.”

Obama added that “the United States of America is stronger today thanks to the vision of President Kennedy, who set us on a course for the moon, the courage of Neil, Buzz, and Michael, who made the journey, and the spirit of service of all who’ve worked not only on the Apollo program, but who’ve dared to push the very boundaries of space and scientific discovery for all humankind.”

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Life Imitates Satire: CDC Handling of Disease Specimens More ‘Over The Top’ Than My Parody

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

The other day, I wrote a “fake” news story at ScrappleFace.com about the Centers for Disease Control’s “discovery” of a lot of highly-infectious stuff — hundreds of vials of small pox, influenza, dengue, etc. — that they had misplaced…for decades.

When I write satire, I try to make it sufficiently “over the top” (OTT, in apropos text parlance), so it won’t be mistaken for an actual news story. And so, under the headline “CDC Urges Calm After Finding Lost Cache of Cooties,” I “reported” that the CDC was “fairly sure” it has avoided exposing its staffers to the Cooties contagion.

Officially, the CDC urged the public to “remain calm,” but during a media tour of the Atlanta laboratory, journalists saw several scientists and technicians rubbing spots on their arms where associates had inadvertently touched them. A spokesman assured reporters that the wiping motion was strictly a precautionary measure.

How droll, I thought to myself (which is my favorite way).

However, after reading Tammy Bruce’s latest column, I confess I’ve fallen far short. If you thought the newspaper business was headed rapidly toward the recycle bin of history, imagine trying to write satire in times like these. Witness this snippet from Tammy’s column…

The institute’s problem of carelessness apparently isn’t limited to the one unfortunate incident of 80 CDC workers becoming exposed to anthrax after an incautious lab-to-lab transfer.

In fact, New York magazine reported results of a separate audit of the CDC, which found the lab had been “transferring dangerous materials in Ziploc bags, storing anthrax in unlocked refrigerators in an unrestricted hallway, and misplacing anthrax containers.”

As a satirist, I cannot compete with material like this.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to write my Congressman to request a government bailout for my dying industry.

Full disclosure: Tammy Bruce is my colleague on the PJTV show ‘After Hours with John Phillips.

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Elections Matter: Aussie Parliament Repeals Carbon Tax Based on ‘Absolute Crap’ Climate Science

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

The Australian Parliament yesterday repealed its punitive tax on carbon emissions, following through on a promise from Prime Minister Tony Abbott to get rid of the measure he said, back in 2009, was based on “absolute crap” climate science.

The unpopular job-killing levy has reportedly felled at least two prime ministers, and one of Abbott’s colleagues said the same fate awaits candidates who campaign to revive the carbon tax, including Labor Party leader Bill Shorten.

“I can tell Bill we will hang this around his neck like a rotten, stinking carcass, right through to election day at the end of 2016,’’ [Education Minister and Liberal Party leader Christopher] Pyne told Parliament…“Because we can now tell the Australian public, with great confidence, that if they vote Labor at the next election the carbon tax will be reintroduced – the job-destroying, price-rising carbon tax that cost Julia Gillard her prime ministership, Kevin Rudd his prime ministership the first time, and arguably the second time. And it is going to cost you the prime ministership of Australia,” Mr Pyne said.

All of this, on the eve of Australia’s hosting of the next G-20 summit of industrialized nations whose leaders hope to institute a global carbon tax, or at least a formal U.N. agreement among 190 nations by 2015. Prime Minister Abbott can look forward to a lot of finger wags and tongue clucks, not to mention vitriolic rants, from the defenders of the planet who will, doubtless, arrive at the G-20 summit this time by kayak and bicycle, rather than by charter jet and limo.

If nothing else, this episode proves that elections matter.

Abbott won a landslide election victory last year for his Liberal-National coalition that he said gave him a mandate to throw out the “toxic tax” on carbon, which was triple Europe’s carbon price. The government estimates the repeal will save the average family A$550 a year in lower electricity prices and make Australian companies more competitive.

Perhaps I should say “elections can matter,” if you elect candidates who do what they say they will.

Memo to GOP 2016 presidential hopefuls: Skip a trip to Iowa, and stop by Canberra for a weekend, if only to touch the hem of Abbott’s garment.

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Challenge or Pre-Existing Condition?

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Nathan D. Lichtman

It’s been 45 years since the moon landing. And it’s been 52 years since President Kennedy challenged the nation to go there and to formulate the NASA program, “Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Watch Bill Whittle’s new Afterburner, ‘Apogee,’ on PJTV. He outlines how America has suffered from hypo-challenge for too long now. We tamed a continent, explored the skies, and went to the moon—all based on challenges that became existential to who we are as a people.

But, as he highlights, what challenges have we faced lately? The biggest push under Obama has been to discuss healthcare at the dinner table.

Where’s the spirit, the drive, of American greatness?

I want to go one step further, and point out that, not only has Obama not been pushing us to achieve more, to achieve higher things, but he has actually been rhetorically casting these pursuits aside.

What is the natural next big challenge? What is the next thing we can achieve that would have people stop in the tracks, and remember exactly where they were when they heard we had achieved it?

I saw an advertisement a few years ago for cancer research, in which they depicted that everyone would stop in the street and look at the news when a cure had been discovered. I think this is accurate. The next great challenge is to cure the diseases that have ailed us for too long—cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, etc.

I know that research is being done on these fronts, and I know that, while substantial progress has been made, ‘cures’ are still a long way off.

While President Obama, and his signature healthcare law, by no means limit the research being done literally. But symbolically is another story.

One of the big pushes under Obamacare is that pre-existing conditions are welcome. Figuratively, this says that ending the pre-existing condition, eliminating the need for treatment, isn’t the goal.

That’s like putting the Civil Rights movement before the Abolitionist movement. Requiring water fountains to permit both slaves and non-slaves to drink is not the primary goal; the primary goal was to end slavery, and then to also fully embody rights for all.

The goal shouldn’t be to allow people with cancer to get insurance cheaper…it should be to cure cancer.

Again, let me be very clear. I am not insinuating that Obama has, in some way, delayed the cure for cancer or other diseases.

But, I am saying that, far from challenging the American people, the way that Kennedy did, Obama has asked us to accept the status quo.

I’m asking that we not settle, that we continue to push for something besides the status quo. Let’s cure cancer in the next decade, and let’s do it because it is very hard to do. Let’s make pre-existing conditions obsolete. Let us do these things because we are Americans, and because we will always astoundingly rise up to meet challenges.

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Preventable Medical Errors Third-Leading Cause of Death, Senate Panel Told

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A Senate committee heard today that preventable medical mistakes in hospitals are surpassed only by heart disease and cancer in causes of death for Americans.

Dr. Peter Pronovost of Johns Hopkins University told the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging that blood clots, overexposure to radiation, infections, drug reactions, diagnostic mistakes and falls are taking their toll despite advances in prevention.

“We need to declare right now that preventable harm is unacceptable and work to prevent all types of harm,” Pronovost said.

A recent Journal of Patient Safety study put the annual toll from preventable medical errors at as many as 440,000 deaths each year — not counting tens of thousands more patients who die outside of hospitals from medical mistakes such as drug errors.

“Medical harm is a major cause of suffering, disability, and death – as well as a huge financial cost to our nation,” Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said at the hearing. “This is a problem that has not received anywhere near the attention that it deserves and today I hope that we can focus a spotlight on this matter of such grave consequence.”

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one out of every 25 patients acquires an infection in the hospital for an annual toll of 75,000.

Medical errors also rack up a tab of up to $1 billion a year when counting effects such as lost work days. “People who are harmed lose their jobs, their homes, their insurance,” said Lisa McGiffert of Consumers Union. “Many go bankrupt trying to pay the medical bills that they would not have had if they had not been harmed by a health care provider.”

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Shun the Non-Alarmist: New York Times Spotlights Sophomoric Treatment of Climate Science Pariah

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

It’s no longer enough to believe that the climate is changing, and that man’s activities may have a role in it. In order to avoid an Amish-caliber shunning by the AGW cabal, you must set your hair on fire.

This comes from that great slayer of trees, the New York Times, which profiles Prof. John Christy of the University of Alabama, a pariah in his profession because he thinks many of his colleagues have overstated the case, and the potential consequences, of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Dr. Christy was pointing to a chart comparing seven computer projections of atmospheric temperatures above the United States with measurements taken by satellites and weather balloons. The projections traced a sharp upward slope; the actual measurements, however, ticked up only slightly.

Of course, the test of any theory is its utility in making predictions. But pointing out the discrepancies between theoretical predictions and actual data is just the kind of thing that gets Prof. Christy in hot water with those who think we’ll all be under water someday soon (or at least that Atlantic City may be renamed Atlantis City).

Christy, a heavily credentialed veteran climate scientist, actually edited a section of the famous 2001 UN report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Now fellow academics rebuff his handshake offer.

“I walked over and held out my hand to greet him,” Dr. Christy recalled. “He looked me in the eye and he said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Come on, shake hands with me.’ And he said, ‘No.’  ”

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Some Good People Might Be Thrown Out, or Defective Ones Chosen

Saturday, July 12th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

As I read this New York Times story – ‘Fertility Clinics Scan for the Strongest Embryo — about chromosomal testing of in-vitro fertilization embryos, I kept waiting for the counterpoint to the idea that scientists could help create a purer race.

Finally, the opposition arose:

Still, critics say, if the test is at all inaccurate, some good people might be thrown out or defective ones chosen.

I’m sorry, the actual sentence said “good embryos might be thrown out.”

I don’t know how I made that mistake.

In any case, embryos get “thrown out” whether the test is administered or not.

Don’t let your mind drift as you read the story about the science of producing better offspring by weeding out the bad conceptus.

Try to think about all that great people we’ll create, and the time and money we’ll save by not having so many defectives among us. After all, shouldn’t people have the right to create the kind of offspring they wish when they’re spending so much money to do so? You can customize your car or your computer — why not your little Cassie or Kyle?

 

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Government Stumbles Upon Small Pox Virus Vials Slated for Destruction 35 Years Ago, Opens Them

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

In 1979, when the World Health Assembly announced victory over the global scourge called small pox, the call went out to gather and destroy all remaining samples of the variola virus from every laboratory in the world.

Small pox is the only human disease ever declared eradicated.

Until now, the only known samples of the virus were at high-security labs at the C.D.C. in Atlanta and in Russia. — The New York Times

But somehow they missed six vials of the highly-infectious agent that slaughtered 300-500 million people in the 20th century; the contagion that, as late as 1967, killed two million people worldwide. Those who didn’t die were often left scarred and blind.

On July 1, 2014, our government stumbled upon Pandora’s box in a laboratory storeroom.

The vials appear to date from the 1950s. Responsibility for the laboratory where they were found was transferred to the F.D.A. from the National Institutes of Health in 1972. The vials were discovered when scientists were preparing to move the lab to the F.D.A.’s main campus.

What happened next may be standard operating procedure at the Centers for Disease Control, but to the layperson this sounds insane: They opened the vials.

That’s right. The just had to confirm that the vials labeled variola, in fact contained the small pox virus. Stranger still, they’re doing additional testing to determine if the virus in the vials is viable — after which they plan to destroy the samples.

This looks like one of those movie scenes that has the audience shouting at the screen: “Destroy it! Destroy it now, before it grows!”

Such movies rarely end well. But don’t worry, your government has everything under control. It’s very unlikely that the recent anthrax exposure incident would repeat itself with the small pox virus.

 

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Standardized Genetic Design of Electric Fish Stuns Biologists

Thursday, June 26th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

I was dragging my knuckles across the landscape of the internet today — as evangelical Christians do when we’re foraging for information that reinforces our primitive, superstitious worldview — when I accidentally stumbled upon some science, first at NPR.org then at Phys.org. I should have known the latter had something to do with science, but at first it reminded me of gym class.

Anyway, it was awkward…me and science, face-to-face. Science looked at me inquisitively, and I gawked back at him, bovine-like, slack-jawed and glassy-eyed. But since I couldn’t figure out how to close that tabby thing on my browser, I decided to read the articles. (Yes, I can!)

The basic story is that scientists studied six different kinds of fish which have magical powers of electricity. Each species, they said, evolved independently of the others. (I don’t have time to explain evolution to you. Suffice it to say it’s a theory that Charles Darwinian and his Beagle invented so they could worship luck instead of God, and also be communists.)

To the great surprise of the scientists, they found the same mechanisms and the same genetic sequences in each of these creatures. Or to put it in terms even a scientist could understand…

A computationally intense comparative study of the sequences showed that electric organs in fish worldwide used the same genetic tools and cellular and developmental pathways to independently create the electric organ.

I hope I’m not insulting your intelligence by using such elementary language, but there may be some homeschoolers in our audience, and I want them to follow along.

So, among billions of genes in any given fish, each of these creatures used the same set of roughly 30 genes to do the electric boogaloo.

Of course, there’s a perfectly natural Darwinian explanation for how this works…

“If you remove the ability of the muscle cell to contract and change the distribution of proteins in the cell membrane, now all they do is push ions across a membrane to create a massive flow of positive charge,” explains Traeger.

The “in-series alignment” of the electrocytes and unique polarity of each cell allows for the “summation of voltages, much like batteries stacked in series in a flashlight,” says Sussman.

Yep, that’s “all they do.” And that can produce about 100 volts per linear-foot of fish, useful for stunning critters he wants to eat, or for navigating murky deeps better than any man-made submarine.

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Former Johns Hopkins Psychiatrist: Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

A former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital has written an explosive editorial at the Wall Street Journal saying, “Policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention.” Dr. Paul McHugh, the former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, challenges the notion that sex-reassignment surgery is good for transgendered persons and provides statistics to back up his assertions.

You won’t hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.

We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into “sex-reassignment surgery”—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as “satisfied” by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a “satisfied” but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

McHugh has some strong words for parents who decide to treat their young children for gender disorders:

Then there is the subgroup of very young, often prepubescent children who notice distinct sex roles in the culture and, exploring how they fit in, begin imitating the opposite sex. Misguided doctors at medical centers including Boston’s Children’s Hospital have begun trying to treat this behavior by administering puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgeries less onerous—even though the drugs stunt the children’s growth and risk causing sterility. Given that close to 80% of such children would abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated, these medical interventions come close to child abuse. A better way to help these children: with devoted parenting.

Dr. McHugh explains the fundamental nature of the problem:

At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. “Sex change” is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women.

He notes that transgendered advocates are so powerful that they have persuaded several states, including California, New Jersey and Massachusetts to pass laws making it illegal for psychiatrists, even with parental permission, to attempt to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor, despite data that shows many of these children can and do lose their transgendered feelings. He called on his fellow psychiatrists to challenge the “solipsistic concept that what is in the mind cannot be questioned.”

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Results of Obama’s First Medical Exam Since 2011

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House released President Obama’s medical report today, showing that he takes ibuprofen for heel pain, has “occasional use” of nicotine gum and takes Vitamin D daily to address a “mild” deficiency.

“The President’s overall health is excellent. All clinical data indicates that the President is currently healthy and that he will remain so for the duration of his Presidency,” says the two-page report from Obama’s doctor, Ronny Jackson, who also directs the White House medical unit.

Obama last had a physical exam in October 2011 before the exam last month.

“This examination focused on evidence-based health screening and disease prevention. The purpose of this exam was to provide the public with an update of the President’s current health status and to ensure the President continues to enjoy all the benefits of good health,” said Jackson in the report.

The president’s body temperature registered at 98 degrees and his blood pressure was 112/70. His resting heart rate was 62 bpm and his weight was 180 pounds.

The 52-year-old has uncorrected 20/20 vision, according to the report, and his cholesterol is 213.

“Several small benign skin tags identified on neck. No evidence of skin cancer, acute or chronic skin disorders or disease. Remainder of skin normal,” the report added. His genitourinary and other exams by system were normal.

“Mild tenderness to palpation of the plantar surface of the right foot (consistent with recurrent right plantar fasciitis). Remainder of musculoskeletal exam was unremarkable.”

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If You’re Skeptical of Man-Made Climate Change, Barack Obama (Who Is Not a Scientist) Is Very Unhappy With You

Monday, June 9th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Scraped from Mashable.

In an interview airing on Monday night, President Obama reveals his frustration with lawmakers who question the very existence of manmade global warming. The interview, conducted for the Showtime documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously,” features a revealing exchange between New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and Obama, in which the president admits to having the desire to “unload on” lawmakers, such as House Republicans, who question the existence of manmade global warming as well as its severity.

Excerpts of the interview were published in the New York Times on Sunday, and a video clip was posted to Youtube.

“Look, it’s frustrating when the science is in front of us,” Obama said. “…We can argue about how. But let’s not argue about what’s going on. The science is compelling.

The baseline fact of climate change is not something we can afford to deny. And if you profess leadership in this country at this moment in our history, then you’ve got to recognize this is going to be one of the most significant long-term challenges, if not the most significant long-term challenge, that this country faces and that the planet faces.

Actually, the “how” is a big part of the argument, but Obama (who is not a scientist) just leaps over it. The climate is changing, because that’s what climate always does. It changes. The steady-state universe went out of science fashion decades ago, and scientists are just now really getting a good handle on how variations in the Sun’s energy output impact climate here on earth. But “the Sun has a massive impact on Earth’s climate” is the safe way to bet. It’s just a lot bigger and more consequential than we are.

That’s not the only “how” that’s worth arguing about. Even if you accept that mankind is changing the climate, “how” do we change that — or should we? We are a part of nature, if you believe the godless leftists who are pushing their climate change narrative. If we’re a part of nature, then anything we do is natural, including making Earth warmer (or cooler, as scientists — a community that does not and never did include Barack H. Obama Jr. — thought just a few decades ago) is just part of nature. It would be unnatural to oppose that. So there’s one philosophical argument, and then there’s a practical argument — how do we go about changing the climate back? First, you have to suppose that changing it back (rolling back the clock, liberals would argue in other political contexts) is even possible. Then you have to decide that it’s desirable. Then you have to decide what measures will change it back, and whether those measures are worth it. And whether they’ll even work, as we have no history of intentionally changing the entire planet’s climate. That’s kind of a big job. This administration can’t even take care of sick veterans. Yet Obama believes he’s smart enough to heal the planet? Yes, actually, that’s exactly what he thinks — the arrogant boob. He ought to demonstrate competence in a smaller job first. Like, just to pull something out of the air, building a functional health insurance website…

What I’m saying is, Barack Obama is offering a simplistic, bordering on childish, presentation of all the arguments involved in what we think of as “climate change.” But, as he knows well, childish argumentation is often very effective at generating emotional responses.

It hasn’t proven to be very effective so far, though, in changing votes. Americans tend to rate “climate change” very low in our issue priorities. A majority of Americans are at least somewhat skeptical of “climate change”/”global warming” as an issue that’s worth their time. A 59% majority worries more about jobs than “climate change.” Even as an environmental issue, climate ranks behind air and water pollution in Americans’ concerns. It’s just not an issue that moves a lot of voters, nor is it an issue that causes its strongest advocates to change their lifestyles. Barack Obama still joins the likes of Al Gore in jetting around the world, spewing all kinds of noxious gases (in more ways than one) to lecture everyone else about our carbon footprints. Until these enviro radicals practice what they preach, they earn nothing more than the right to be ignored.

 

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What’s the Difference Between a Politician and a Rat?

Monday, June 9th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

A: The rat can experience regret.

That was my first thought, when I learned that scientists have discovered that rats can experience regret.

However, if you read the story, the differences between the rodent and the politician vanish, since the experiment observed the rat’s reaction to learning that he had missed out on a better meal. So this species of regret is the kind a politician does suffer, when he realizes he didn’t fully devour from the public trough the best that was available at the moment.
Incumbent

The scientists did not establish that the subject feels regret for the harm he has done, for how he has nibbled away the substance of his host organisms, for the way he has placed his appetite ahead of the needs of others, for how he has soiled the house and spread all manner of loathsome ailments.

One day, perhaps, science will discover such a conscience…in the rat.

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Why Does Bacon Smell So Insanely Good? Two Minutes Stand Between You and Knowing Why.

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It’s all about the chemistry, according to Reactions/ACS.

YouTube Preview Image

Now that you’ve watched that, watching Nancy Pelosi say that Obamacare is “beautiful” might not hurt so bad.

h/t i09

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A Slippery Slope Onto a Trampoline

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 - by Nathan D. Lichtman

I will admit I’m not part of the space age generation. I wasn’t even alive when the original Star Wars movies were coming out.

I have missed some of our nation’s greatest achievements in space flight—the moon landing and the first Space Shuttle launches—and I’ve also missed some of its greatest tragedies—the Challenger disaster and NASA’s suspension thereafter.

But, I’ve always considered myself an honorary member of that age group. This is both represented by my obvious “old-soul” mental maturity, but also by my undying love for all things NASA and astronaut related.

My mother worked for a NASA contractor, and so I’ve had some tremendous opportunities to, for instance, meet Carl Sagan and attend two Shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral. And my childhood bedroom featured a large Shuttle mural and several mission posters, along with a cute (yes, cute!) Snoopy astronaut stuffed animal.

It seems as though I missed some of the aforementioned highlights of NASA’s exploration, but I have unfortunately lived through some of its darkest moments.

When Columbia exploded upon reentry, I remember figuring that people would give up on NASA and her proud birds of flight, but they didn’t. At least not right away.

President Bush told us that, not only would we continue, but we would actually expand our efforts, to land on the moon once more, and even put a man on Mars. They were going to build a whole new rocket ship and it was going to take Americans to places unimaginable.

Then the confusing years of Obama started.

President Obama defunded Bush’s optimistic programs, and canceled the Shuttle program. He reorganized NASA to be a pseudo-State Department subsidiary, reaching out to Muslim countries, and providing climate and science education around the world. This presents the need for the highly scientific phrase—huh???

Less than a year after this decision, Obama started strongly encouraging science, math, and engineering education. And he redirected tons of Education Department spending to these pursuits. Rather than spend all this money on the education, wouldn’t it make more sense to give students an incentive for studying these things? Um, maybe by continuing to employ thousands of them, and allow them to achieve great things…by continuing NASA exploration.

Now, its not like I’m unsympathetic to the privatization argument. Space X and Virgin Galactic are changing the space frontier in great ways. But I think it’s clear by now that the Obama administration will spend exorbitant amounts of money, in one way or another. I would just prefer if they spent money in ways that expand our scientific horizons, not just train people for how to participate within what’s currently known.

Oh and there’s another thing—

$150 billion dollars is what some medium-sized countries’ GDPs are. In fact, it’s pretty damn close to what Ukraine’s GDP is (but we’ll discuss Crimean politics in a sec).

And this is what our generation’s predecessors spent on the International Space Station. Set up as the pinnacle of laboratories in space, this project was undertaken by many countries as a joint venture. And of course, our old space-race pal, Russia, was a primary partner.

But now all of the Space Shuttles are sitting in museums. Plans to create a new ship have been long on the backburner (if in the kitchen at all). And so we have no means of accessing the Space Station, let alone launching several of our communications and military satellites.

Obama thought his Smart Diplomacy would be the answer. We would pay the Russians, so that they would deliver our researchers to the Station, and would sell us their rockets to launch our satellites.

Enter Crimea.

When Putin led Russia into a Ukrainian invasion, Obama bristled. Leftover from our Cold War days, the US was allied with Ukraine, and this was an affront to our efforts in the region, and an embarrassment for Obama.

Obama sanctioned Russia, and I guess thought that they wouldn’t care. I suppose he figured he was being magnanimous, because he didn’t provide military support for Crimea, and only economic sanctions…but Putin didn’t see it this way.

So now we’re at a standstill in two ways. Putin continues his hostile presence in Crimea. And, his administration has launched an offensive against the US in another way—by cutting off their space exploration systems.

The Russian version of NASA has said they will no longer sell us any rocket parts or engines, to aid in any deemed military use. And they will not transport our astronauts or researchers to the International Space Station. Their Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, even said “I propose that the United States delivers its astronauts to the ISS with the help of a trampoline.”

I think Obama and his administration have mangled this Russian situation altogether. First upset by their homophobic laws, Obama didn’t attend the Sochi Olympics. Then fearing a hostile takeover of Ukraine, Obama put economic sanctions on Russia. It is important to note that Obama’s efforts have in no way quelled Putin’s advances. But it seems like he legitimately forgot that we rely on Russia, based on his own policies, for space travel. So much for Smart Diplomacy.

Obama’s continued confusion with regard to foreign policy has led us to have trampolines as the only answer. And he has become even more the ‘Huh???’ President.

 

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Science: Avoiding Sun Exposure Can Kill You!

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

You see, here’s the problem with enslaving yourself to the latest science, as Jon Huntsman would have us all do: Today’s official word from on high is tomorrow’s rubbish. They used to teach that an ice age was coming, then it was global warming, now it’s “climate change,” which doesn’t really mean anything because the climate is always changing. Always has, always will, whether we tax ourselves back into caves or not.

We have all grown up hearing about the dangers of overexposure to the sun. What about the dangers of underexposure?

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is often cited as a cause of skin melanoma. The NHS currently recommends avoiding overexposure to the sun to prevent all types of skin cancer.

But the new research, which followed nearly 30,000 women over 20 years, suggests that women who stay out of the sun are at increased risk of skin melanomas and are twice as likely to die from any cause, including cancer.

“The results of this study clearly showed that mortality was about double in women who avoided sun exposure compared to the highest exposure group,” said lead author Dr Pelle Lindqvist.

30,000 women over the course of 20 years…so, not a fly-by-night study.

“Sun exposure advice which is very restrictive in countries with low solar intensity might in fact be harmful for women’s health.

“The mortality rate was increased two-fold among avoiders of sun exposure as compared to those with the highest sun exposure habits.”

It is thought that a lack of vitamin D may to be blame. Vitamin D is created in the body through exposure to sunshine and a deficiency is known to increase the risk of diabetes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis and rickets.

Cases of rickets have risen fourfold in the last 15 years as sunscreen has increased in popularity.

Previous studies have shown that vitamin D can increase survival rates for women with breast cancer while deficiencies can signal prostate cancer in men. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to more aggressive forms of skin cancer.

For all of our alleged progress, we keep having to re-learn what Aristotle figured out ages ago: Moderation in all things is the way to go. Avoid being a drunk or an addict, but a little wine for the stomach now and then won’t kill you. Don’t fry yourself or turn your hide into rich, Corinthian leather, but don’t obsess if you happen to catch a few rays. In fact, bathing in sunlight from time to time is good for you.

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Keystone Pipeline Pits Rank and File Democrats Against a Billionaire. Guess Who’s Winning?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat, turned up on MSNBC and told faux blue eyes Ronan Farrow that she supports the Keystone XL Pipeline.

McCaskill told Farrow that “Clearly all of the studies have indicated we can do it safely through the united states. so i’m for it.”

McCaskill is right on the science this time. Study after study has shown that the Keystone will be safe, and it will reduce emissions because no ships or trucks will be used to move the oil from Canada to the Texas coast. It will go through a pipe.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, also a Democrat, turned up on MSNBC, and also talked about energy. Rendell, who was once chairman of the Democratic Party, told the Morning Joe audience that he supports an all-of-the-above energy strategy, including alternative energy, fracking and the Keystone pipeline.

Polls show that about 70% of the American people support building the Keystone, but President Barack Obama isn’t listening. San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer has pledged $100 million to help Democrats by donating to them. Steyer opposes the Keystone, and is using his money only to help Democrats who also oppose the Keystone. If you’re a Democrat and you support the Keystone, Steyer’s cash will not end up in your campaign.

Steyer warned President Obama to reject the Keystone, which would create thousands of jobs and reduce gas prices for Americans, or Steyer will use his wealth to attack Obama.

And the pipeline, so far, isn’t going forward. President Obama has sold America’s energy security to the highest bidder. Or, he just isn’t strong enough to stand up to a billionaire.

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The Impediment to Better Farm Policy? The Farm Lobbies – Here, and in Places Like Japan

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 - by Seton Motley

We Conservatives rightly and righteously loathe our every five-year renewal of the Farm Bill.  It is a Franklin Delano Roosevelt-New Deal relic, filled to the rim with more protectionism than anyone not getting government checks could possibly stomach.

We just in February renewed this anti-free market folly.  So we’re again mired in this mess.  We thus need to spend the intervening years working to undermine the tenets of this legislative absurdity.

Since we’re locked down domestically, the way to do that is internationally.  Because what was in the 1930s merely a domestic policy disaster has become – with the explosion of a global market for all things – an international omni-pockmarked heinousness.

Protectionism begets protectionism.  Subsidies and tariffs are matched – and exceeded – by subsidies and tariffs.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  So let’s tear down these walls, shall we?

Except we’re running into some foreign obstinance.

Obama Suffers Setbacks in Japan and the Mideast

Mr. Obama had hoped to use his visit here to announce an agreement under which Japan would open its markets in rice, beef, poultry and pork, a critical step toward the trade pact.

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was not able to overcome entrenched resistance from Japan’s farmers in time for the president’s visit.

Reminiscent of the right, righteous complaints we Conservatives have long had about our domestic Big Crops.  Because they have been terribly successful at protecting really terrible policy.

Take Big Corn – please.  Which has for decades protected an ethanol program – that requires more energy to produce ethanol than we would use if we just used petroleum.

Ethanol Production Consumes Six Units Of Energy To Produce Just One

But we continued the inanity because it was supposed to be oh-so-much-better for our Big Blue Marble.  Except….

Study Finds Cellulosic Ethanol Worse for Environment Than Pure Gasoline

Which leads anyone – whose thinking isn’t warped by Big Government Crony Socialism – to this inexorable conclusion.

It’s Final — Corn Ethanol is of No Use

Yet Big Corn and its omni-directional protectionism remains.  A Crony Colossus astride us still.

There is one Big Crop that has decided to stand down on protecting its protectionism – Sugar.  So long as other countries – like, say, Japan – stand down on theirs.  Which makes sense – unilateral disarmament is hardly ever a good idea.

Unilateral Disarmament: A Bad Idea With Nukes and Industrial Policy

And farm policy.

Negotiating With Yourself Doesn’t Work

Killing just our farm programs made much more sense when it was just us eating what we grew.  That has long since stopped being the case.  Now, if we just kill our programs, the uber-subsidized global market will kill our farms and jack up our prices.

The European Union (EU) with sugar tried such self-negotiation.  It didn’t end well.

(T)he European Union, which supplied as much as 20 percent of global (sugar) exports in the 1990s, shifted from a net exporter to a net importer following sugar policy reforms in 2005.

Their reforms? Unilateral tear-down of their trade barriers – which sounds good. Except it allowed Big Sugar Subsidy Brazil to flood their market – and wipe out nearly all domestic production.

And now the EU is paying about 25% more for sugar.

So it would be inordinately nice if all of our Big Crops would get off the schneid, and work to make a better global market for their products – and everyone here who has the audacity to eat.

Rather than continue to circle the wagons around a ridiculous and ridiculously antiquated domestic Crony Socialist protectionism nightmare mess.

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