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Georgia Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Legislation

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Dozens of “medical refugees” from Georgia could make their way back home soon as the state Senate passed a bill allowing cannabis oil for certain medical conditions on Tuesday. The only hurdle between the bill and the desk of Governor Nathan Deal is a vote in the House, which may come this week.

Senate supporters have handed over legislation likely to make that happen — especially since it is already supported by the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.

The compromise was made last week, after Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, rewrote HB 1 as a way to merge a restrictive medical marijuana measure already approved in the Senate and a much broader effort already approved by the House.

The new version would allow cannabis oil to be used to treat eight of the nine disorders sought by the House in that chamber’s own medical marijuana proposal: cancer, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizure disorders and sickle cell disease.

[...]

And it would set a higher bar for what type of oil would be allowed: The oil could contain no more than 5 percent THC — the high-inducing chemical associated with recreational marijuana use — and must include at least a matching amount of cannabidiol to ensure better purity and quality of the drug.

The initial Senate version of the bill restricted usage to children under 18, which the bill’s supporters found unacceptable. Deal also faced considerable pressure from proponents of the measure before finally agreeing to sign a bill when it passed. This news obviously comes as welcome relief for the families who sought hope for their children but had to leave home to do so.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / urbans

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Who Ever Thought Daylight Saving Time Was a Good Idea?

Sunday, March 8th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Not me; it’s just a huge, arbitrary pain in the neck. And not Alexander Abad-Santos in The Atlantic, either:

Daylight Saving Time is the greatest continuing fraud ever perpetuated on American people. And this weekend, the effect of this cruel monster will rear its ugly head again. On Sunday morning, Americans across the country will have to set their clocks back one hour, and next week, the sun will begin its ambling lurch to eventually setting at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Technically-speaking, this sleep cycle-wrecking practice of setting our clocks back is because we will be going back to Standard Time after our flirty summer with DST. And the unsettling shift back to these hours, and the hour “we gain,” is the back-end of the time-bargain we have to pay for setting our clocks forward in March to “maximize daylight”—a phrase probably better suited to organisms that rely on photosynthesis—during the spring and summer hours.

Why we try and “maximize daylight” like we’re plants is actually an archaic practice first thought up in the late 1700s and often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. As some elementary school teacher may have explained to you, this was a practice to accommodate agricultural workers and farmers (wrong, and we’ll get to this in a minute) or lower the nation’s electricity usage.

A lot of that is prime b.s. There is actually no benefit or rhyme or reason we have to endure this weekend’s time shift and no reason we should even be playing with the idea of losing and gaining hours. Here’s why:

There follows a compelling list of reasons why DST (or as we call it here in Ireland, British Summer Time) is a load of codswallop, beginning with the myth that we do it for the yeoman farmers, manfully pushing a plow so that the rest of us might eat and go to the beach. The list includes minimal energy savings, the effects on the body’s diurnal rhythms, a negative economic impact on global trade and, most of all, that awful moment when we “spring forward.”

The only reason it persists, it seems to me, is that low-latitude America is jealous of the long European summer nights and wants to squeeze every bit of vacation sunlight out of its time at the Jersey Shore. Sorry: not good enough.

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Mr. Spock, RIP

Friday, February 27th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Leonard Nimoy has died:

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.

His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Mr. Nimoy announced that he had the disease last year, attributing it to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week.

His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”).

YouTube Preview Image

 

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‘Cap and Trade’ Is Alive and Well – Despite Having Never Passed Congress

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 - by Seton Motley

Remember “Cap and Trade?”  The anti-market allegedly “market-based” “solution” to man-faked global warming climate change?

A central authority (usually a governmental body) sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that may be emitted.

The limit or cap is allocated and/or sold by the central authority to firms in the form of emissions permits which represent the right to emit or discharge a specific volume of the specified pollutant.

Permits (and possibly also derivatives of permits) can then be traded on secondary markets.

Except:

Cap-and-Trade Schemes Are Not Markets

Only if (you) want government to raise energy prices, make coal uneconomical as an electricity fuel, or restrict Americans’ access to carbon-based energy.…

“Cap and trade” is a policy so disastrous it couldn’t pass a Democrat-majority Congress – with Democrat President Barack Obama eagerly waiting with pen at the ready.

(Democrat) Ben Nelson: Cap-and-Trade Will Not Pass This Congress

Cap and Trade is Dead (Really, Truly, I’m Not Kidding)

Except with this President, no terrible idea dies just because the Constitutional process demands it.

(Environmental Protection Agency) EPA: If Congress Doesn’t Pass Cap-and-Trade, We Will

And so they have. Here’s the EPA’s “Cap and Trade” page.

And in government, terrible ideas are like kudzu – they rapidly, illegally spread everywhere.

USDA, EPA Partnership Supports Water Quality Trading

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have announced an expanded partnership to support water quality trading….

Oh look – the government is assaulting our farmers’ water supply.  Where else have we seen that?

The EPA is Turning Water on Farms Into a Weapon Against Farmers

The EPA exists to assault the private sector.  And it is teaming up with other government departments to maximize the damage.

The USDA is a complete waste of money, time and space.  Humans have engaged in agriculture for 10,000 years – we did so for 9,900 of those years without a government department.  I think we’ve got this.

And, of course, there is zero Constitutional authority granted to the federal government to have a USDA.

Having no useful purpose, the Department of Agriculture works day and night to make private agriculture more difficult and expensive.  Which raises our food prices – and makes our farmers less competitive on the now-global market.

These government-inflicted regulations and costs – by a department that shouldn’t exist – foster other government programs that shouldn’t exist.

Like the horrendous Farm Bill.  Government makes it nearly impossible for farmers to turn a profit – then subsidizes them.

Like Food Stamps.  Government jacks the price of food – then buys tens of millions of people food at the government-inflated prices because they can no longer afford it.

The Obama Administration is assaulting the private sector with every department, agency, commission and board at its $4-trillion-a-year disposal.  Including unilaterally imposing “Cap and Trade” across multiple agencies.  And what has transpired during the Obama Administration’s tenure?

14 Million More on Food Stamps Under Obama

Food Stamp Growth 75X Greater than Job Creation

It would seem there is a correlation there.

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VIDEO: Saudi Cleric Says Earth Can’t be Rotating Because This Cup

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson
YouTube Preview Image

Thanks to Al-Arabiya for circulating this gem on the same week of Galileo’s birth:

Answering a student question on whether the Earth is stationary or moving, Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari replied: “stationary and does not move.”

He then attempted to support his argument by quoting some clerics and selected religious statements. But his most controversial method to debunk the rotation theory was a “logical” deduction in which he used a visual.

“First of all, where are we now? we go to Sharjah airport to travel to China by plane, clear?! focus with me, this is Earth;” he said, holding a sealed water cup.

He argued that if a plane stops still in air “China would be coming towards it” in case the Earth rotates on one direction. It the Earth rotates on opposite direction, the plane would never reach China, because “China is also rotating.”

The sheikh also said the moon landings were a hoax, which actually just puts him the company of a bunch of American conspiracy theorists.

Twitter is huge in Saudi Arabia, so the mocking came swiftly after his Sunday science lesson.

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Measles Outbreak May Have Spread at Youth Rally in Canada

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

The measles outbreak that has spread like wildfire across the United States has now made its way to Canada, and, according to Yahoo News, it may have spread at a Christian youth conference in Toronto.

Canadian health officials warned Monday that a person with measles may have spread the virus at a recent large gathering of Christian youth in Toronto.

An outbreak with at least one case linked to a flare-up of the virus in the neighboring United States has so far struck three Canadian provinces.

The latest case of a person who attended the “Acquire the Fire” event at the Queensway Cathedral in Toronto on February 6 and 7 brings the Canadian total to 22.

Local health officials are warning the conference’s attendees to monitor themselves.

Ontario province’s acting chief medical officer, Robin Williams, said the Toronto event attracted “a large number of youth from all over Ontario, as well as performers, volunteers and speakers.”

He said the person with a newly-confirmed case of measles had attended the event during the infectious period.

Williams urged anyone who was in attendance to keep an eye out for symptoms over the next two weeks. These include fever, cough, runny nose, and inflammation of the eyes or rash.

Canada has been free of endemic measles since 1998, except for an outbreak in 2011 in Quebec province that reached 700 cases.

The outbreak began to draw international attention when California health officials discovered that the infections had spread due to one or more infected individuals attending Disneyland during the holidays last year.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Kiev.Victor

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Georgia Lawmaker Proposes ‘Frankenstein Science’ Bill

Thursday, February 12th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

State politics can be pretty boring sometimes, but once in a while we run into stories that sound stranger than fiction. One of those cases involved a bill in the Georgia legislature that comes across as bizarre on the surface but raises some intriguing ethical questions – a proposed law to ban human-animal hybrid embryos.

Rep. Tom Kirby (R-Gainesville) says such research is already being done in the United States and he’s heard possibly even in Georgia.

“It deals with the banning of mixing of those two different types of species and creating this Frankenstein science,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.

It’s not hard to find images on the internet of glowing cats, pigs, rabbits, and monkeys that were injected with a DNA from jellyfish as embryos.  The research is done to help scientists map the genes that can cause devastating diseases in humans such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes.

Kirby wants to make sure none of the research is ever done on human embryos in Georgia.

“Just because we’re capable of doing it doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go,” he says.

Kirby’s bill brings to mind some wild, and even creepy, images, but the ethical concerns are pretty obvious and easy to see: as science advances and scientists experiment more boldly, could experiments on actual human embryos be too far behind?

The bill has its opponents, naturally from the other side of the aisle.

But some lawmakers are skeptical of the legislation, calling it a solution without a problem.

“It invokes a chuckle, but at the same it’s a waste of precious time when we could be dealing with education, transportation, and jobs,” says Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta).

The question remains: is a law necessary to curb such experimentation, or is Kirby’s bill so far-fetched as to be a waste of time? The Georgia legislature may make that decision this term.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / SUWIT NGAOKAEW

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Now Anti-Vaxxers Have To Be Warned About Intentionally Exposing Kids Through ‘Measles Parties’

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Just STOP.

California health officials on Monday warned parents against intentionally exposing their children to measles, which could worsen an outbreak in the state.

In response to media inquiries about so-called measles parties, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said it did not have information on the parties or their frequency.

But it added that the disease, of which 107 cases have been confirmed since an outbreak began late last year, was serious.

“CDPH strongly recommends against the intentional exposure of children to measles as it unnecessarily places the exposed children at potentially grave risk and could contribute to further spread,” said department spokeswoman Anita Gore.

In 2011, federal authorities issued stern warnings following media reports that vaccine-wary parents were trading chicken pox-laced lollipops by mail, in misguided efforts to build children’s immunity through exposure to the virus.

“Don’t forget to wear your new dress, Sienna, mommy is taking you to a measles party after school!”

Every time I think I’ve heard the most absurd thing I can about the hippie folk doctors they prove me wrong. If The Idiot King does release everyone from Gitmo I propose turning it into an anti-vaxxer compound. They can blissfully live and serve as many chicken pox lollipops as they want without being a danger to people who enjoy living in the 21st Century.

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Is God a Gamer?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Sure looks that way. This image is from the Hubble Telescope:

 

face

This adorable image — in which the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 seems to be smiling at the camera — comes courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope. It was spotted by Judy Schmidt, who submitted a version of the image to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition, where anyone can sift through the Hubble’s massive data pools to highlight hitherto ignored sights from the stars.

But don’t worry — that’s probably not a giant, intergalactic Pac-Man, getting ready to devour worlds:

In this case, the cosmic “face” is actually caused by a neat galactic phenomenon as well: gravitational lensing. Large galaxy clusters sometimes produce such a strong gravitational pull that they warp the time and space around them. This can be a great thing for scientists on Earth, because that warping can act as a natural “lens” and magnify faraway objects behind the clusters, making them more visible to space telescopes. But the magnification also warps the objects.

Still — wouldn’t it be cool if it were?

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(VIDEO) Jon Stewart Mocks Anti-Vaxxer ‘Science-Denying Affluent CA Liberals’

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

The Marin County rich hippie mom’s comments here practically mock themselves, but Stewart does a great job of piling on:

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CA Day Care Shut Down After Baby Too Young for Vaccination Contracts Measles

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

The hits just keep on coming.

A Southern California day care has shut down because an infant there — who’s too young to get vaccinated — contracted measles, another case in the re-emergence of the disease on the West Coast.

The Samohi Infant Toddler Center inside Santa Monica High School, a facility for 24 young children of students and staff members, closed Monday after it was learned that a baby under 12 months old being care for there had measles. It’s not clear when, where or how the child got the disease.

Nor is there any timetable for when the center will reopen, but it’s possible that children who have been immunized against the highly contagious virus could soon go back.

In addition to the baby with measles, 13 other infants who went to the day care center are being quarantined for 21 days as a safeguard.

I have seen a number of social media and blog posts in recent weeks of the “If your kids are vaccinated what are you worried about?” variety. All of these obviously disregard the fact that newborns aren’t vaccinated and many are in day care and/or public.

This may not be at epidemic proportions but it is unconscionable that people are having their lives, their work, and their kids’ lives disrupted because irresponsible parents are making medical decisions based on hippie fake science.

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Did Obama Advisor Who Slammed Christie on Vaccines Forget About Obama’s Anti-Vaxx Comments?

Monday, February 2nd, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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[HT: American Commitment]

 

Possible 2016 presidential contender Gov. Chris Christie, visiting an American facility in England that makes a flu vaccine, was asked if he thinks Americans should vaccinate their children to protect them from a measles outbreak that is sweeping the nation.

Explaining that he and his wife decided to vaccinate their own children, Christie said “that is the best expression I can give you of my opinion.”

But Christie didn’t stop there. He said, “I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well so that’s the balance that the government has to decide. But I can just tell people from our perspective, Mary Pat and I have had our children vaccinated and we think it’s an important part of making sure we protect their health and the public health.”

White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer took to Twitter to say he thought Christie needed to explain his statement:

 

 

Christie later backed off somewhat from his comment in a statement issued by his office.

“The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated,” the statement read. “At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate.”

Pfeiffer then tweeted a bit about the all-knowing Obama understanding the settled science:

 

 

In an interview on NBC on Sunday before the Super Bowl President Obama said, “The science is pretty indisputable. We’ve looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated. There aren’t reasons to not get vaccinated. You should get your kids vaccinated.”

But in 2008, then-Senator Obama didn’t think the science was “indisputable.” In fact, a few weeks before the 2008 primary he told a group of families in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, that the science was “inconclusive.”

“We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Nobody knows exactly why,” Obama said at the campaign event.

“There are some people who are suspicious that it’s connected to vaccines and triggers,” Obama said. “The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it. Part of the reason I think it’s very important to research it is those vaccines are also preventing huge numbers of deaths among children and preventing debilitating illnesses like polio.”

Obama said that although we can’t afford to “junk our vaccine system,” we need to figure out why there is an increase in the rate of autism. “Because if we keep on seeing increases at the rate we’re seeing, we’re never going to have enough money to provide all the special needs, special education funding that’s going to be necessary,” he said.

Sen. Rand Paul (another potential 2016 GOP contender) also weighed in on the vaccination issue on Monday in an interview with CNBC:

“I think vaccines are one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that we have. I’m a big fan,” Paul said. But he added that “most of them ought to be voluntary.”

Sen. Paul, who is also a medical doctor, also said he has concerns. ”I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” he said.

“I think the parents should have some input. The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom,” Paul said.

More than half of Americans support mandatory childhood vaccinations against childhood diseases:

Most Americans (57 percent) support requiring all children to get vaccinated against childhood diseases, but 32 percent do think that it should be up to parents to decide whether or not their child should be vaccinated. Americans under the age of 30 (43 percent) are far more likely than other age groups to say that the decision should be left to parents. Only 26 percent of 45-64 year olds and 21 percent of over-65s think that vaccination should be at parental discretion.

 

 

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Chris Christie Taking Shots After Comments on Vaccination and Parental Choice

Monday, February 2nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got in on the vaccine controversy today with comments that some claimed could doom his presidential hopes.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Christie, when asked about the connection between the new measles cases and parents who object to the long-recommended vaccine against it, said that he and his wife had vaccinated their four children. He called that “the best expression I can give you of my opinion.”

But he added: “It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official. I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”

Mr. Christie said that “not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others.”

Bloomberg News revived a 2009 letter Christie wrote to vaccine-skeptic group Life Health Choices while on the campaign trail. “I have met with families affected by autism from across the state and have been struck by their incredible grace and courage,” wrote Christie. “Many of these families have expressed their concern over New Jersey’s highest-in-the nation vaccine mandates. I stand with them now, and will stand with them as their governor in their fight for greater parental involvement in vaccination decisions that affect their children.”

Christie’s office issued a clarification today: “To be clear: The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated. At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate.”

In an interview aired Sunday night on NBC, President Obama said, “You should get your kids vaccinated.”

“I understand that there are families that, in some cases, are concerned about the effect of vaccinations,” Obama said. “The science is, you know, pretty indisputable.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday that Obama “certainly believes that these kinds of decisions are decisions that should be made by parents, because ultimately when we’re talking about vaccinations, we’re typically talking about vaccinations that are given to children.”

“But the science on this, as our public health professionals I’m sure would be happy to tell you, the science on this is really clear,” Earnest added. “…And being guided by the science in matters like this is typically the right approach.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden made the Sunday show rounds to talk measles, telling ABC it’s “a serious disease and it would be terrible if we have preventable illness, even death, from this disease that’s preventable with a safe and effective vaccine.”

“We’ve had over 1 billion vaccines given. And the study after study has shown that there are no negative long-term consequences. And in fact, 92 percent of kids are vaccinated and if you look at the kids who aren’t vaccinated, most of their parents don’t have very strong feelings; they’re just concerned that maybe measles isn’t around anymore or maybe their kid shouldn’t get one more shot,” Frieden said.

 

 

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Archaeologists May Have Found the Oldest Copy of One of the Gospels

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Chris Queen

New technology that allows scientists to remove the glue from the masks of mummies without damaging the ink on the paper used to make the mask has yielded an exciting discovery: a piece of papyrus that may contain the oldest known copy of one of the gospels.

The finding, a fragment of the Gospel of Mark, which dates back to the year 90, is one of several fascinating texts that archaeologists are discovering in the masks of mummies.

This first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy. Although the mummies of Egyptian pharaohs wore masks made of gold, ordinary people had to settle for masks made out of papyrus (or linen), paint and glue. Given how expensive papyrus was, people often had to reuse sheets that already had writing on them.

[...]

The first-century gospel is one of hundreds of new texts that a team of about three-dozen scientists and scholars is working to uncover, and analyze, by using this technique of ungluing the masks, said Craig Evans, a professor of New Testament studies at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

“We’re recovering ancient documents from the first, second and third centuries. Not just Christian documents, not just biblical documents, but classical Greek texts, business papers, various mundane papers, personal letters,” Evans told Live Science. The documents include philosophical texts and copies of stories by the Greek poet Homer.

Lest you worry that scientists are destroying valuable antiquities, the discoveries in the papyrus fragments yield more thrilling finds than these particular mummies are worth.

Evans emphasized that the masks that are being destroyed to reveal the new texts are not high-quality ones that would be displayed in a museum. Some are not masks at all but are simply pieces of cartonnage.

Evans told Live Science, “We’re not talking about the destruction of any museum-quality piece.”

The technique is bringing many new texts to light, Evans noted. “From a single mask, it’s not strange to recover a couple dozen or even more” new texts, he told Live Science. “We’re going to end up with many hundreds of papyri when the work is done, if not thousands.”

Naturally, Bart Ehrman, the leftist “Biblical scholar” that Kurt Eichenwald cited in his hit piece on the Bible in Newsweek, expressed his disdain for the find.

This complete disregard for the sanctity of surviving antiquities is, for many, many of us not just puzzling but flat-out distressing. It appears that the people behind and the people doing this destruction of antiquities are all conservative evangelical Christians, who care nothing about the preservation of the past – they care only about getting their paws on a small fragment of a manuscript. Can there be any question that with them we are not dealing with historians but Christian apologists?

Archaeologists are finding not just biblical texts, but fragments of writings by Homer and other Greek writers, as well as documents that capture slices of everyday life in that time period. The destruction of some masks that are less than museum quality is a small price to pay for such rich discoveries.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock / Patryk Kosmider

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News You Can Use: Whiskey Really Is the Water of Life

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, you can’t argue with science:

Whiskey is one of the best alcohols you can drink. Not only is it the least likely to give you a hangover, but it’s also one of the healthiest around. You’ll find that having a few fingers of whiskey every week can help to:

Here are the top three:

  1. Avoid Weight Gain – Whiskey is a low-calorie alcohol, especially when compared to the many cocktails, beers, and wines you can find on supermarket shelves. You can drink a tumbler of whiskey without worrying about packing on the pounds thanks to its low sugar content.
  2. Boost Heart Health – Did you know that drinking whiskey can actually make your heart healthier? Aside from wine and dark beer, what other alcohols can claim that? Not only will whiskey reduce the risk of blood clots, but it will lower your stroke and heart attack risk as well. The antioxidants in whiskey stop cholesterol from clogging your arteries, and it can even boost your good cholesterol.
  3. Fight Cancer — Whiskey is rich in antioxidants, particularly one known as ellagic acid. This antioxidant stops your body’s DNA from coming in contact with cancer-causing compounds, reducing the risk of carcinogens forming. It can also protect your body from chemotherapy, and will reduce oxidation in your body.

The Scots and the Irish have known this for centuries. But do read on.

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Nobody Wants to Buy Electric Cars-European Edition

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

The little engine that shouldn’t

Governments in Europe all want more electric cars on their roads in 2015 as part of the drive to cut fuel consumption and tame climate change. The trouble is, nobody wants to buy them, despite generous subsidies in some countries.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and car market, will need to take drastic action if it is to embrace electrification, and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) wants a new tax on gasoline to provide money to make this happen.

Pure electric cars cost about twice as much as the equivalent sized conventionally powered vehicles, with much less range which also varies dramatically with use and climate.

“Inefficient and expensive? Sign me up!”

Government participants in the Church of Climate Change Hysteria must now extort money from their citizens to encourage said citizens to purchase something they don’t want to fight some scary carbon phantoms under the bed. This is the inherent lunacy of bureaucracies perfectly captured in one story.

Misguided politicians the world over are willing to imperil national economies and financially burden citizens all to facilitate something that even staunch Climate Church scientists admit may have little impact.

On the bright side…kidding, there isn’t one as long as the Climate evangelicals can get near the money.

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Takes Questions During Reddit AMA

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk participated in a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Monday night ahead of his company’s planned rocket launch from Florida on Tuesday. SpaceX plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket, which will carry supplies to the International Space Station, at 6:20 a.m. ET. If all goes as planned, the rocket will complete a soft vertical landing on a drone “spaceport ship” in the Atlantic with the goal of creating a “fully and rapidly reusable rocket.”

 

 

Asked by one reddit fan how he was able to estimate a 50% probability of success for Tuesday’s landing, Musk answered, “I pretty much made that up. I have no idea.” He added a smiley face and explained, “The grid fins are super important for landing with precision. The aerodynamic forces are way too strong for the nitrogen thrusters. In particular, achieving pitch trim is hopeless. Our atmosphere is like molasses at Mach 4!”

A group of fans from the reddit SpaceX community asked about a planned SpaceX mission to Mars. They wanted to know what the Mars Colonial Transporter actually is? Is it a crew module like Dragon (a partially reusable spacecraft developed by SpaceX), a launch vehicle like Falcon, or a mix of both?

“The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture,” Musk said. “Am hoping to present that towards the end of this year.” He added that it was a good thing they didn’t do it sooner because they have learned a “huge amount” from Falcon and Dragon.

He said the goal is to send 100 metric tons of useful payload to the surface of Mars. “This obviously requires a very big spaceship and booster system,” he said. “At first, I was thinking we would just scale up Falcon Heavy, but it looks like it probably makes more sense just to have a single monster boost stage.”

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Will Pope Francis Really Come Out for ‘Global Warming’?

Monday, January 5th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Or it is just more disinformation about the Catholic Church from the lefty media? The Telegraphs Christopher Booker thinks it just might be:

Last month there was the defacing by Greenpeace of two Inca World Heritage Sites. Then there was the study from the Woods Hole Research Center showing that Arctic squirrels are “contributing far more to global warming than was previously thought” by burrowing into permafrost to release huge quantities of methane.

Ever more desperate become the warmists’ efforts to lobby for that “global climate treaty” they hope to see signed in Paris next December. But a special prize must go to the Guardian for its claim that Pope Francis will soon issue an encyclical calling on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to pressurise their politicians into supporting this treaty.

Not bloody likely

Not bloody likely

Remember that most of what you read about the Pope comes from journalists who know next to nothing about the Catholic Church, and who can’t tell a Franciscan from a Jesuit from a Dominican.

The Pope has been persuaded to take this dramatic step, it is alleged, by a series of papers from something called the “Pontifical Academy of Sciences”, which might sound vaguely impressive until we see who wrote them. They are like an A-list of the world’s most strident climate alarmists…

Did the Guardian fall for the lobbyists’ wishful thinking? The Pope’s promised encyclical on man and the environment may well be outspoken about human greed, and inequality in how the world’s natural resources are being exploited. But from his previous statements on the subject there is little to suggest that he will lend his support to that ludicrous treaty the warmists are clamouring for.

There’s never any predicting what any given Pope is going to say or do. But, for Catholics, unless he’s speaking ex cathedra (from the chair of St. Peter) about matters of faith and morals, everyone’s also free to ignore him.

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Merry Christmas From Outer Space

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 - by Michael Walsh

On this day in 1968, a Christmas Eve view of earthrise over the Moon, taken by Apollo 8:

Moon

 

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In NZ, the Goal Is No More Rats, Mice, Stoats or Feral Cats. In Other Words, Heaven

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014 - by Michael Walsh
You're next, Muffy

You’re next, Muffy

Gotta admire those Kiwis. They know what they want and they’re doing whatever it takes. And, its Politically Correct, too!

Indeed, on a per-capita basis, New Zealand may be the most nature-loving nation on the planet. With a population of just four and a half million, the country has some four thousand conservation groups. But theirs is, to borrow E. O. Wilson’s term, a bloody, bloody biophilia. The sort of amateur naturalist who in Oregon or Oklahoma might track butterflies or band birds will, in Otorohanga, poison possums and crush the heads of hedgehogs. As the coördinator of one volunteer group put it to me, “We always say that, for us, conservation is all about killing things.”

The reasons for this are in one sense complicated—the result of a peculiar set of geological and historical accidents—and in another quite simple. In New Zealand, anything with fur and beady little eyes is an invader, brought to the country by people—either Maori or European settlers. The invaders are eating their way through the native fauna, producing what is, even in an age of generalized extinction, a major crisis. So dire has the situation become that schoolchildren are regularly enlisted as little exterminators. (A recent blog post aimed at hardening hearts against cute little fuzzy things ran under the headline “Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Serial Killer.”)

“I would be inclined to say rats are our biggest problem,” Russell told me. “But I have colleagues who spend their career on stoats, and colleagues who spend their career on cats. And they open all their talks with ‘Stoats are the biggest problem,’ or ‘Cats are the biggest problem.’ ”

Talk about a feel-good story! The bird-loving Kiwis are going after all non-native, invasive mammals, including rodents and feral cats. What’s not to like?

Not long ago, New Zealand’s most prominent scientist issued an emotional appeal to his countrymen to wipe out all mammalian predators, a project that would entail eliminating hundreds of millions, maybe billions, of marsupials, mustelids, and rodents. To pursue this goal—perhaps visionary, perhaps quixotic—a new conservation group was formed this past fall. The logo of the group, Predator Free New Zealand, shows a kiwi with a surprised expression standing on the body of a dead rat.

I’m sure various fussbudgets will bemoan the loss of biological “diversity” that comes with vermin (the excellent story’s author, Elizabert Kolbert, seems a bit distressed by the obvious delight the New Zealanders take in their extermination mission), but as Stalin or some Soviet thug once said, you can’t make a rat omelet without breaking a few eggs.

 

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Monsters From the Deep

Friday, December 19th, 2014 - by Michael Walsh

Okay, this is creepy:

It came from the deep. The very, very deep. Recorded during a recent exploration of the Mariana Trench (the deepest place on the planet), the strange-looking new species has set a record for fish depth. Jeff Drazen and Patty Fryer, the University of Hawaii researchers who led the expedition, believe that this is a new species of snailfish.

But this creature, which was filmed several times at a depth of 8,143 meters, or 26,715 feet, has a different body shape from known species of snailfish, so it might be something else entirely. But one thing is for certain, the scientists told the BBC — it’s definitely not a species we’ve seen before.

“We think it is a snailfish, but it’s so weird-looking; it’s up in the air in terms of what it is,” Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen told the BBC. “It is unbelievably fragile, and when it swims, it looks like it has wet tissue paper floating behind it. And it has a weird snout — it looks like a cartoon dog snout.”

Have a look for yourself on the next page.

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Ban Everything: Squirrels And Beavers Bigger Global Warming Culprits Than Previously Assumed

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

The science is something.

Rodents such as squirrels and beavers are contributing far more to global warming than previously thought, forcing climate scientists to alter the models they use to chart how the world is warming up.

Arctic ground squirrels churn up and warm soil in the Tundra, releasing carbon dioxide, while methane released by beavers contributes 200 times more methane than they did 100 years ago, according to scientists from the American Geophysical Union.

Faeces and urine produced by rodents are speeding up the release of carbon from the permafrost, the vast store of greenhouses spanning the Arctic Circle, researchers found.

Dr Sue Natali, from the AGU, said “We know wildlife impacts vegetation, and we know vegetation impacts thaw and soil carbon.

“It certainly has a bigger impact than we’ve considered and it’s something we will be considering more and more going into the future.”

It is probably a safe bet to say that there are a lot of factors like this that the AGW witch hunters have overlooked when developing computer models. After all, Fuzzy McBeaverton isn’t exactly the face of climate change that is going to sell the public on the tripling of their utility bills, is it?

This also serves to illustrate just how dangerous it can be to legislate based on computer models about climate change when the accuracy of those models depend entirely on the data used to create them.

If you’re wondering whether the data might be “massaged” a bit to have a given model allow its creator adhere to Climate Church orthodoxy, the answer is: definitely.

There’s big money in Big Green.

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What’s Moving Millennials Into the Pro-Life Camp?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

YouTube Preview Image

Millennials areincreasingly more pro-life and supportive of restrictions on abortion” than their Boomer and Gen-X parents. 

Blame science.

“There’s a window into the womb with ultrasound. Just having the look into the womb you can see, even in the first trimester, the early development of the child — you can see the humanity of the child,” Rose said. “Now that we have that imagery and it’s more prevalent, people are having that personal encounter with the child, so it’s easier to recognize their human rights.”

…”Years ago, it was the case that advocates for abortion would talk about the ‘thing’ growing in a woman’s womb as a lifeless blob of tissue,” Monahan explained. “And I think our advances in sonography and ultrasounds, and even our understanding of fetal development has dispelled those myths.”

She continued: “We know that, from the moment of conception, a baby has all of its DNA that it needs for the rest of its life. It has everything inherent that it will need for later on. Really, the only difference [between the preborn and adults] is in size and development.”

When most millennials were in the womb, ultrasound technology was still relatively new to pregnancy. Mothers of Gen-X/millennial crossovers most likely only had an ultrasound if there were suspected complications with the pregnancy. Today, however, those crossovers and their fellow millennials will have an ultrasound as early as 8 weeks to confirm pregnancy, including fetal heartbeat. One-dimensional sonograms will continue throughout the pregnancy. Parents will also have the option to have a 3-D or 4-D ultrasound done so that they may see their smiling baby in the womb.

Abortion is at an all-time low in the United States. And while abortion advocates are quick to note that the majority of women who are required to view sonograms before their abortions will choose to proceed with the abortion, the reality is that the majority of abortions in America are being performed before an 8 week ultrasound can be done. The women who abort after the ultrasound are in the minority that is growing smaller by the year.

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Let’s Try ‘God’ for $100

Friday, December 12th, 2014 - by Michael Walsh
Water, water everywhere...

One small step for a guy in a Hawaiian shirt…

There’s water on comets. But not water water. A different kind of water, unlike that on earth. So where did Earth’s water come from? The Huffington Post and others want to know:

Where did the Earth get its water? For years some scientists have argued that it was brought here by water-bearing comets that smashed into our planet during its infancy. But new data from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission suggest that that theory is all wet.

The data show that the chemical signature of water found on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko differs significantly from that of the water found on Earth. (Comet 67P’s water contains about three times more of the heavy hydrogen isotope deuterium than does terrestrial water.) And that has Dr. Kathrin Altwegg, the principal investigator for the Rosetta instrument that collected the data, arguing that it’s unlikely that comets brought water our way.

So what – or who – brought good old H20 to earth?

Instead of comets, Altwegg said in a written statement, it could have been asteroids. She said that while asteroids today contain limited amounts of water, that probably wasn’t the case billions of years ago, according to The Guardian.

Next question: who put the water in the asteroids? Or is it comets and asteroids all the way down?

Meanwhile back on the idiot front:

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Report From Lima: Obama’s Quest for Power, At America’s Expense

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 - by Cathie Adams
Greenpeace International is seeking help from President Obama during the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Lima, Peru that concludes on December 12. Greenpeace wants him to “lead the international community to a strong, legally binding climate agreement.” After all, he made the commitment last November 12, in Beijing, China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, ”regardless of approval by the Republican Congress.”
The Greenpeace Energy Revolution states that America’s “fair share” is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 39% from 2005 levels by 2025 — even more devastating that Obama’s unilateral 28%.
NONE of these actions will prevent the climate from changing, which is mostly affected by sun activity, ocean currents and winds that no one can control. But “science” is not at the core of UNFCCC negotiations; politics is and has been since I began attending its meetings in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan.
The UN’s “science” originates with the International Panel on Climate Change which does no scientific research. It gleans from researchers, then presents its own conclusions that call for a total phase out of fossil fuel use by 2050, as well as a massive wealth transfer from rich to poor countries.
As the IPCC wars against the use of fossil fuels at the global level, local efforts in the U.S. are led by community organizer Jay Carmona of U.S. Community Divestment. He calls fossil fuel divestment, “[A] way to wield power and influence on behalf of ordinary people without the resources of a multi-billion dollar industry.” Like Saul Alinsky’s disciples Obama and Clinton, Carmona calls for building “on the success of the People’s Climate March by pushing divestment as a powerful and accessible tool to defend our climate.”
Carmona, et al, don’t mention the fact that wind and solar are NOT dependable sources of energy. The technology for “renewable” sources of energy is simply not developed enough to replace our clean and affordable sources of coal, gas and nuclear.
The 20th Conference of the Parties meeting in Peru will produce a draft for the 21st meeting set for this time next year in Paris, France for a legally binding treaty. We’ll see over the next two weeks how many jobs and how much of the American standard of living Obama unilaterally puts on the chopping block. Thankfully, the U.S. Constitution still requires 2/3s Senate approval for any treaty, regardless Obama’s shenanigans.

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Cloudy Sheep, Creepy Bugs Greet Lima Climate Change Conference Attendees

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

PJM special correspondent Cathie Adams is covering the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima, Peru this week.

As the conference gets underway, Adams is taking in the sights and sending them to us. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Outside the conference hall, this odd cloudy sheep greets attendees.

unsheep

 

Apparently the UN favors nebulous sheeple over thinking people.

The UN also favors trees. Weird trees. With a person aboard.

Untree

 

Untree2

 

And…bugs. Take a close look at the bottom of the pedestal holding up the bugworld sculpture below.

Unbugs

 

Message: We’re doomed but the bugs will rise after us.

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Exclusive: New, Legally Binding Treaty Emerges on First Day of UN’s Lima Climate Conference

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 - by Cathie Adams

At a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Lima, Peru, delegates from 196 parties are drafting a new legally binding treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that is to be completed next year in Paris, France. At the outset of negotiations, environmentalists are calling for the new treaty to mandate a cap and tax on greenhouse gas emissions to go into effect by 2020. And to eliminate the use of fossil fuels altogether by 2050.

President Obama’s recent climate announcement with China, that the U.S. would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, is a boost to environmentalists at the Peru meeting that extends from December 1-12.

Stated by Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace, “In Lima, the countries must agree on the long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuel emissions to zero by mid-century while moving towards 100% renewable energy for all in a fair transition period. Subsidies for fossil fuel industries must be shifted towards renewable energy deployment and climate adaptation for vulnerable countries. In countries like the US, China, and the EU, the phase-out of coal must be accelerated.”

Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis, international policy adviser for Climate Action Network Latin America, added, “We must leave fossil fuels in the ground and not repeat the steps of the developed countries that brought us to this point.”

The UNFCCC thesis is that rich nations are responsible for climate change because they burn fossil fuels to produce energy, even though there is no conclusive science to substantiate the claims. Furthermore, the poor nations want the rich nations to fork over a minimum of $100 million annually for the UN’s Green Climate Fund that is to afford renewable energy for the poor.

On the first day of the conference, Climate Action Network, a conglomerate of 900 radical green groups from about 100 nations, mocked Australia, Belgium, Ireland and Austria because they have yet to donate to a new Green Climate Fund. With a new legally binding treaty, they hope to make nations pay penalties for using fossil fuels. The climate will continue to change, even if nations are energy poor.

Remember it was President Bill Clinton’s VP Al Gore who flew to Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 to revive talks for the same scheme to cap and tax greenhouse gas emissions. That treaty was never ratified by the U.S. Senate because it would have killed American jobs and devastated our economy. Even so, Americans should expect Obama to sign the new legally binding treaty before he leaves office, which should make American voters cautious about electing another President Clinton in 2016.

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Increased Activity Could Protect Against Parkinson’s Disease

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Good news for a change.

Spending around an hour a day commuting, doing house work, gardening or exercising could protect against Parkinson’s Disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that even a moderate amount of activity had a significant protective effect.
People who were active for just six hours a week, less than one hours a day, were 43 per cent less likely to develop the disease.

And activity can come in many forms, say researchers, from walking to the train station or bus stop on the daily commute; exercising; playing golf; gardening; walking the dog or washing the car.

“We found that a medium level of daily total physical activity is associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease,” said lead author Karin Wirdefeldt, at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

“The protective effect of physical activity was further supported when we summarized all available evidence from published prospective cohort studies.

It’s frightening to think just how many diseases and/or minor maladies sitting in desk chairs for much of the day put us at risk for.

I’m going for a walk.

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HuffPo Already Hyperventilating About Post-Election Shift In Energy Policy

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

“ZOMG-IT’S PETROLEUMMMMMM!”

There is enough hot air in this post to finally almost make humans the cause of climate change. Most of it could serve as fodder for some psychology grad work on “projection”. Let’s just grab a couple nuggets to pick apart.

Pop the Champagne corks in Washington! It’s party time for Big Energy.

Hey-it only took two sentences to find something ridiculous! “Big Oil” is now “Big Energy” and the seemingly minor change is notable. A central component to the push for federal subsidization of alternative energy sources is the notion that it’s the result of the imminent danger of polar bears floating through Manhattan and not influence peddling by lobbyists. It’s all part of the Democrat fairy tale that all of the money ever spent in politics comes from the checkbooks of Charles and David Koch. There is plenty of money in being a shill for Big Green (see: Al Gore’s bank account). The Dem narrative is reinforced by pretending that all energy lobby money is oil money.

None of their initiatives, however, will have as catastrophic an impact as their coming drive to ensure that fossil fuels will dominate the nation’s energy landscape into the distant future, long after climate change has wrecked the planet and ruined the lives of millions of Americans.

Get this poor man a tissue and some smelling salts. It’s as if he’s trying to turn hyperbole into an alternative energy source. Ratchet up the fear-mongering and hope no one notices that the computer models aren’t really looking that solid and the United States is now becoming energy independent (an idea all Democrats paid lip service to when they thought it only meant alternative fuels would make it happen).

Most amusing in this meltdown is the assertion that non-AGW hysterics have a “messianic belief” in the benefits of fossil fuels. The fastest growing religion on the planet is the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming, which has resurrected the selling of indulgences from Middle Ages Catholicism and repacked it as carbon offsets. It even has its own elaborate climate-themed eschatology (WRECKED PLANET!).

All of this caterwauling has almost nothing to do with a genuine fear of the demise of the planet. It’s designed merely to obfuscate the almost purely political agenda of the Big Green movement. The panic needs to be at a fever pitch to keep the EPA running amok and taxpayer dollars flowing to fund technologies that can’t survive market testing at the moment, or maybe ever.

There are a lot of American cities buried in snow today. They’re looking for petroleum based heating solutions, not solar or wind. That petroleum is the better present day option isn’t a “messianic belief,” it’s reality.

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Touchdown! Europeans Successfully Land a Space Probe on a Comet

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

First the first time ever, humans have an outpost on a comet.

The European Space Agency’s 10-year Rosetta mission successfully landed its Philae probe on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Fifty seconds after landing, Philae took a scheduled image and sent it back to earth. The comet is so far away that the image, traveling through space at the speed of light, took about 28 minutes to arrive.

Light only takes 9 minutes to travel from the Sun to earth.

This is the first image ever taken from the Philae lander. It is looking up at the Rosetta spacecraft, trailing the comet.

philae-image

Shortly after landing on the comet, Philae tweeted.

Immediately after the image was released Philae tweeted ‘It’s me…landing on a comet and feeling good!’.
The separation of Philae from Rosetta was confirmed at 9.03am GMT today, and just after 11am GMT mission control in Darmstadt, Germany received a signal confirming the lander was working.

Throughout the day, the lander has been transmitting data and images back to Earth. ‘Everything looks really, really good,’ said Philae lander manager Stephan Ulamec.

However, the success of the mission hung in the balance because Philae has a faulty thruster, which means it may have had to rely solely on harpoons to attach itself to the surface.

Whether or not it was able to make the thruster work in time has yet to be revealed by Esa.

Landing a spacecraft on a comet will help scientists fill in gaps in our knowledge of how the solar system formed. Comets are thought to be rubble left over from the stellar and planetary formation process.

As engineering feats go, Philae’s successful landing on a comet, bodies that are notoriously unstable as they tumble through space as incredible speed, has to rank very high in all of human history. It amounts to not only firing a bullet at a bullet from millions of miles away, but successfully landing a bullet on a bullet, as the target bullet constantly tumbles.

The target comet is mindblowingly far from earth.

rosetta-distance

The mission to Rosetta took ten years from launch to touchdown, and many years of proposal and planning prior to that.

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NASA-Contracted Rocket Bound for Space Station Suffers ‘Catastrophic Anomaly,’ Explodes

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson
YouTube Preview Image

A NASA-contracted rocket headed for the International Space Station carrying food and other needed supplies exploded upon liftoff from an island off the Virginia coast.

NASA said the Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket, on its third resupply mission, “suffered a catastrophic anomaly shortly after liftoff” at 6:22 p.m. EST.

“The Orbital Sciences team is executing its contingency procedures, securing the site and data, including all telemetry from the Antares launch vehicle and Cygnus spacecraft,” the space agency said in a blog post that was posting live updates from the launch.

“Before launch the Orbital team was not tracking any issues. No injuries have been reported, and Orbital reports that all personnel around  the Wallops Flight Facility launch site have been accounted for.”

The launch and explosion were carried live on NASA’s online TV.

The rocket was loaded with nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments and was the first night launch of an Antares rocket.

Cargo included an experiment to test pea shoot growth in space and equipment to study size, density and chemical composition of meteor dust.

Food made up more than 1,300 pounds of the cargo, and spacewalk equipment accounted for 145 pounds.

Fifteen pounds of books were also on board.

UPDATE 8:30 p.m. EST:  ”This evening the President was briefed on the launch failure of the Antares rocket in Wallops, Virginia,” said deputy press secretary Eric Schultz. “The President was briefed by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Anita Decker Breckenridge and will continue to get updates as more information becomes available.”

UPDATE 10:30 p.m. EST: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) tells CNN that he spoke to NASA and learned that  another rocket from Russia is going to launch soon with food and supplies.

“They’re not going to miss very much, even though it’s a setback,” Nelson said.

Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate William Gerstenmaier said in a statement that the space agency is “disappointed,” but “we will continue to move forward toward the next attempt once we fully understand today’s mishap.”

“Orbital has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first two missions to the station earlier this year, and we know they can replicate that success,” Gerstenmaier said. ”Launching rockets is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our work to expand our already successful capability to launch cargo from American shores to the International Space Station.”

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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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