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Member since: 2002
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U.S. poet laureate posts 'sudden poem' on week of grief


"Juan Felipe Herrera began his term as the U.S. Poet Laureate last year. He grew up in a migrant campesino family that traveled from farm to farm, job to job all over California, and he is the first Chicano/a poet to be appointed poet laureate. The author of 18 books of poetry, he writes poetry that combines the great written tradition with the extemporaneous energy of spoken-word verse and the populist voice of poets who speak for the common experience.

On Sunday, on the website Poets.org, Herrera published what he calls a "sudden" poem after a week of bloodshed and heartache in American history. Given a date of July 8, 2016, "@ the Crossroads - A Sudden American Poem" calls on everyone to consider and "celebrate the lives of all" those who died, those killed and those who did the killing. Poets.org is run by the Academy of American Poets and sends a daily unpublished poem to an audience estimated at 250,000 people.

Poets.org has taken the unusual step of inviting venues everywhere to publish the poem for their own audiences.

@ the Crossroads - A Sudden American Poem

RIP Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Dallas police
officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith,
Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa—and all
their families. And to all those injured.

Let us celebrate the lives of all

As we reflect & pray & meditate on their brutal deaths

Let us celebrate those who marched at night who spoke of peace

& chanted Black Lives Matter

Let us celebrate the officers dressed in Blues ready to protect

Let us know the departed as we did not know them before—their faces,

Bodies, names—what they loved, their words, the stories they often spoke

Before we return to the usual business of our days, let us know their lives intimately

Let us take this moment & impossible as this may sound—let us find

The beauty in their lives in the midst of their sudden & never imagined vanishing

Let us consider the Dallas shooter—what made him

what happened in Afghanistan


flames burned inside

(Who was that man in Baton Rouge with a red shirt selling CDs in the parking lot

Who was that man in Minnesota toppled on the car seat with a perforated arm

& a continent-shaped flood of blood on his white T who was

That man prone & gone by the night pillar of El Centro College in Dallas )

This could be the first step

in the new evaluation of our society This could be

the first step of all of our lives

- Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, July 8, 2016"


First steps are needed around the world, it appears.

Cases of Dengue Drop 91 Percent Due to Genetically Modified Mosquitoes


"Once again, a technique that modifies insects in order to control their populations has been proven effective. RIDL, which stands for Release of Insects carrying a Dominant Lethal, has been applied to diamondback moths, Mediterranean fruit flies, and olive flies, and it has been used in field trials on mosquitoes in order to reduce cases of dengue.

Scientists apply the RIDL technique to male insects in the lab, which basically makes them die young unless they receive a substance called tetracycline. As long as they have tetracycline, they will live, but take it away from them and they’re goners. It’s almost as if they’re breeding insects that are drug addicts from birth.

Next, they release millions of these male insects into the wild and allow them to mate with females. Since they no longer have tetracycline, the males die soon after mating. Their offspring, which also need tetracycline to live, will die before reaching adulthood since they have no access to the substance.

Using this technique, scientists have reduced the cases of dengue, which can be deadly, by 91% in a neighborhood called CECAP/Eldorado in the city Piracicaba, which is located in the Brazilian state of Săo Paulo. There were only 12 cases of dengue in the area, versus 133 cases the previous year. Surrounding areas also saw a reduction of dengue cases by 52%.



How would the rest of DU take this news?


Charlie Sheen and the Danger of False Cures

Charlie Sheen's misadventure with a false cure for HIV/AIDS


Perhaps this is why there was far less media frenzy and social mourning after the November 2015 announcement by actor Charlie Sheen that he was HIV-positive. Most assumed HAART would save Sheen's life, not his “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA” that he boasted about during his highly publicized 2011 meltdown following his dismissal from the hit TV series Two and a Half Men.

What a surprise, then, to see featured on the popular HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher on January 29, 2016, one Dr. Samir Chachoua, who told Maher and his more than four million viewers that he cured Sheen of HIV through his own drug cocktail of milk from arthritic goats. The treatment is based on Chachoua's “nemesis theory” that “for every disease there is an antidisease organism capable of destroying it and restoring health.” Goat milk infected with caprine arthritis encephalitis virus, Chachoua says, is HIV's nemesis. When Sheen went to see him in Mexico (Chachoua is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S.), very soon after treatment Sheen's liver tests allegedly returned to normal levels.

Chachoua also boasted that he had eradicated HIV from the small African island nation of Comoros, and when Maher asked him why he wasn't better known, he said that his cure was buried by the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after he sent clinicians there his vaccine for testing.

Not likely. According to Sheen's doctor, University of California, Los Angeles, professor Robert Huizenga, Sheen went on the HAART cocktail in July 2011 after his diagnosis, and by December of that year his viral load was undetectable. (“Undetectable” does not mean cured; the virus can be hiding in the body.) Four years later, in search of a permanent cure, Sheen visited Chachoua, who credited his goat-milk nemesis for Sheen's undetectable HIV load. Sheen went off the antiretroviral medications, and his HIV levels shot back up. Fortunately for him, Sheen came to his senses and started taking his antiretroviral medications.



Scam artists are not harmless, and WTF is it with Maher and his willingness to let them advertise on his show?

Know This First: Risk Perception Is Always Irrational.

We need a post-Enlightenment definition of "rationality." Reason can take us only so far.

"IN 2011, THE CITY LEADERS of Calgary, Alberta, bowed to public pressure and ended fluoridation of the local drinking water, despite clear evidence that the benefits of fluoridation vastly outweigh its risks. A recent study found that second graders in Calgary now have 3.8 more cavities, on average, than a similar group did back in 2004-05, when the water was still being treated.

In West Virginia, legislators in favor of shrinking government recently passed a law allowing sale of unpasteurized milk, despite convincing evidence that raw milk is a vector for pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. To celebrate, the bill’s sponsor shared some raw milk with his colleagues, several of whom got sick. The legislator says it was just coincidence.

Since the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, fear of radiation has prompted thyroid cancer screening for all children in the prefecture. The levels of radiation to which kids had been exposed were too low to pose significant danger, and the sensitive ultrasound screening technique is well known to find abnormal cells in most people’s thyroids, though in nearly all cases those cells will never cause cancer. As a result of this unprecedented scrutiny for an infinitesimal risk, hundreds of kids have had their thyroids removed unnecessarily, with far-reaching health implications for the rest of their lives.


For anyone outside the emotions that produced these choices, it’s hard not to feel frustration at hearing about them. It’s hard not to call them ignorant, selfish, and irrational, or to label such behavior, as some do — often with more than a hint of derision — “science denialism.” It’s hard, but it’s necessary, because treating such decision-making as merely flawed thinking that can be rectified with cold hard reason flies in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.



A really good piece for all of us, as we face a world where irrational emotions seem to be taking hold of more of our fellow humans every day.

Did green groups learn anti-GMO tactics from climate sceptics?



Anti-GMO activists are the ones practicing “tobacco science”.

It's truly sad to see the vehemence and the amount of support the anti-GMO crowd gets around here.

Bangladeshi Bt brinjal farmer speaks out in GMO controversy



Rahman told the BBC that after adopting Bt brinjal he had been able to dramatically reduce his pesticide use, and was both saving money and seeing improved health outcomes as a result. The same farmer was also featured in a New York Times article highlighting the same issues of pesticide use reductions and improved yield and livelihood.

However, after the BBC documentary was aired, anti-GMO campaigners immediately claimed that both the BBC report and the New York Times article were fabrications, and Rahman's crop had in fact failed. These claims were buttressed by reports from a United News of Bangladesh (UNB) journalist who said he had visited Rahman's Bt brinjal fields and found "a significant number of plants dead".

The same UNB reporter had previously published a story claiming that numerous Bt brinjal farmers throughout the country had also suffered failed crops. This report was however challenged by the director-general of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Dr. Md. Rafiqul Islam Mondal, who told media that "the performance of Bt brinjal was better than non-Bt in all districts".


Rahman was unambiguous about the success of his Bt brinjal crop, and rejected claims of failure. "In the last 10 years, the amount of yield I received last year, I never received such yield all my life and neither did my neighbors,” he said. “That is why my neighbors are inspired and me, too."



When will our fellow progressives figure out that the anti-GMO propagandists are despicable? It's just beyond the pale, time after time.

32 Animated Videos by Wireless Philosophy Teach You the Essentials of Critical Thinking


Fun stuff.

Greenpeace is fighting to harm the planet.


Even Fortune Magazine Knows Trump Is Ludicrously Racist



Although he wound up complying with federal regulators on his rental policies, Trump had successfully staked out his position on race. He was on the side of those whites who resented civil rights laws intended to redress racism.


In 1989, he told Bryant Gumbel in an interview, “A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market…if I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really do believe they have the actual advantage today. “ In fact, all the serious studies refuted that. However his statement did serve as a kind of shout-out to those who were ignorant about the racial dynamics in the U.S. economy.

Earlier in that same year Trump helped fan the flames of racial resentment when black and Latino teens were arrested in the infamous “Central Park jogger” attack. Trump alone chose to pay for $85,000 worth of full-page newspaper ads trumpeting, in capital letters, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” In the text Trump objected to then-Mayor Ed Koch’s plea for peace: Mayor Koch stated that “hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so.”


Whether he’s mocking Chinese businesspeople with broken English, contorting his body to make fun of a disabled reporter, or calling out to “my African American,” again and again, Trump has provoked anxiety and played to racial divisions. Earlier this week, Joe Scarborough, a lifelong Republican and host of the Morning Joe TV show called Trump’s remarks about Judge Curiel “completely racist.” He didn’t pass the same judgment on the man himself, but from what I see, the record would support him if he did."


Nobel Award Winners ask Greenpeace to stand on scientific consensus, instead of against it

A letter signed by over 100 scholars attempts to get Greenpeace to re-think opposition to genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

So, in the past, what has Greenpeace thought about the opinions of Nobel laureates? Hmm....

(A Greenpeace tweet):

When #Nobel laureates say humans need to live more sustainably, we should probably listen, shouldn’t we? http://grnpc.org/IgHcH

So Greenpeace in the past celebrated Peter Doherty, Brian Schmidt, Ada Yonath and asked us to hear them....Hmm. Ok, so the Nobelists didn't ruin treasured historical sites, and they didn't climb Greenpeace's headquarters. But they seem to have been heard (by the world, if not by Greenpeace). I wanted to keep a running list of the pieces about this story.


This Reuters piece at CBC is one of my favorites. From the piece: "Greenpeace officials called the event a publicity stunt." Yeah, Greenpeace is so opposed to publicity stunts. My ass. I was noticing that none of the coverage had the bogus syringe-tomato images, but many of them used photos of past Greenpeace publicity stunts--because there are so many to choose from.



Greenpeace jumped the shark years ago. Will those who remain work to right this ship, finally?

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