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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Republicans have no interest in peace. The Iran talks proved that

A small part of the Middle East may soon be off limits to US bombing and killing, so naturally Republicans and their neocon allies are furious.

The tentative Iran deal announced on 3 April, in which Western leaders and the Islamic republic agreed on strict limits to Iran’s nuclear program, was hailed by many as a breakthrough, given that it could avert yet another US-led war in the Middle East. So almost immediately, it was denounced by key conservative members of Congress, neocons, and Republican presidential candidates, whose unquenched thirst for blood almost always outweighs their supposed commitment to peace.

Senator Mark Kirk kicked things off by quickly proving Godwin’s Law, and absurdly declared that “Neville Chamberlain got a better deal from Adolf Hitler”. (“Appeasement” and “Chamberlain” are two of conservatives’ favorite buzzwords whenever a diplomatic breakthroughs by Democratic presidents may be afoot, even if they don’t actually know what they mean.)

Israeli Prime Minister, with his usual bombast, said: “This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the state of Israel”. He added: “In a few years … the deal would remove restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, enabling Iran to have a massive enrichment capacity that it could use to produce many nuclear bombs within a matter of months.”


Did 4 out of 10 Kentucky Democrats vote for Mitch McConnell last year?

If you're a Kentucky Democratic Party official still reeling from the results of last year's U.S. Senate race, you might want to look away.

Forty-three percent of Democrats who voted pulled the lever for Mitch McConnell last year, according to an analysis done by the U.S. Senate majority leader's longtime pollster, Jan van LoHuisen. In some counties, that number was close to 70 percent.

McConnell's analysis of voting trends gives him a much larger advantage among Democrats than did exit polling conducted last November, which showed 19 percent of Democrats voted for the Republican incumbent instead of his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

McConnell's team, looking at voting data posted by the Secretary of State's office, drew their conclusions using a method called ecological inference — the process of using patterns in aggregate data to make inferences about individual-level actions. Van LoHuisen said he relied on statistical procedures and software designed by Harvard professor Gary King to enhance the accuracy of ecological inference.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/04/03/3782981_sam-youngman-did-4-out-of-10-kentucky.html

This Woman’s Job Is to Recast Hillary Clinton’s Image


To get a brief reprieve from the pressures of working in the White House, Kristina Schake, a former aide to the first lady, Michelle Obama, took a class about her favorite painter, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

She noticed that the Italian painter often showed Christ with bare feet, portraying his subject as a common man.

It was a lesson that informed Ms. Schake’s job in the East Wing when, as Mrs. Obama’s communications chief, she encouraged the first lady to take an undercover shopping trip to a Target in suburban Alexandria, Va., to showcase her dance moves on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” and to make a cameo at the Oscars.

Positioning a public figure is not exactly the work of a Baroque master, and a trip to Target does not a work of-art make. Nevertheless, the lesson from Caravaggio was clear in Ms. Schake’s approach.

Having helped shape Mrs. Obama’s public image into that of an accessible everywoman, Ms. Schake is about to face what may be her toughest challenge yet: working to get another first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, elected president.


9th Circuit Court rules Netflix isn’t subject to disability law

A federal appeals court ruled (PDF) yesterday that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn't apply to Netflix, since the online video provider is "not connected to any actual, physical place."

Donald Cullen sued Netflix in March 2011, attempting to kick off a class-action lawsuit on behalf of disabled people who didn't have full use of the videos because they aren't all captioned. A district court judge threw out his lawsuit in 2013, and yesterday's ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upholds that decision.

The decision is "unpublished," meaning it isn't intended to be used as precedent in other cases. However, it certainly doesn't bode well for any plaintiff thinking about filing a similar case in the 9th Circuit, which covers most of the Western US.

At least one other court has come out the other way on this issue. Three months after Cullen filed suit, the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) filed an ADA lawsuit against Netflix in Massachusetts over the same issue. In that case, the judge found that Netflix was a "place of public accommodation" and would have to face the lawsuit against the disability rights group.



Is it already all over for Chris Christie?

There's a number in the latest Pew national poll that has to send chills up the spine of Chris Christie. It's 39 -- as in 39 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who say there is "no chance" they would vote for the New Jersey governor in a presidential primary. That's the highest "no chance" number of any of the ten candidates and, in fact, is more than ten points higher than the next closest competitor. (Jeb Bush gets a 25 percent "no chance" score.)

But wait, there's more. Christie is also the third best known candidate in the 10 person field, according to the Pew poll, with just 16 percent of respondents saying they had never heard of him. (Bush is the best known followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.)

That's a worst-of-both-world situation for Christie. He is well known by Republican voters and a large chunk of those same voters are already convinced they could never vote for him.

And, this isn't a one-off poll finding either. Last month, an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found that 57 percent of Republicans said they couldn't support him. (Only Donald Trump scored higher on that measure. Donald Trump!) Wrote Democratic pollster Peter Hart of the findings: "The thumbs-down signal comes from a majority of every segment of the GOP electorate, but it crests with men at 62 percent, very conservative Republicans at 69 percent and tea-party backers at 72 percent. Even within the moderate wing of the GOP, 57 percent just say no."


Mediterranean Sea 'accumulating zone of plastic debris'

Large quantities of plastic debris are building up in the Mediterranean Sea, say scientists.

A survey found around one thousand tonnes of plastic floating on the surface, mainly fragments of bottles, bags and wrappings.
The Mediterranean Sea's biological richness and economic importance means plastic pollution is particularly hazardous, say Spanish researchers.

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, turtles and whales.

Very tiny pieces of plastic have also been found in oysters and mussels grown on the coasts of northern Europe.



Exotic particle turns out to be a Quark 'molecule'

Like atoms, subatomic particles can link up to form “molecules.” A long-studied subatomic particle called Lambda (1405) is actually a molecule of two tightly knit particles, researchers report in the April 3 Physical Review Letters. The study reveals a novel arrangement of matter made of quarks, the fundamental constituents of Lambda (1405) and every nucleus of every atom in the universe.

Quark-containing particles are divided into two groups: mesons, which have two quarks, and baryons, which have three. Many physicists considered the particle Lambda (1405) to be a baryon like protons and neutrons. But some researchers proposed that Lambda (1405) could be one part meson and one part baryon, with a total of five quarks. Physicists at the University of Adelaide in Australia ran a supercomputer simulation guided by equations that chart quark interactions to see which interpretation was correct. The simulation showed that Lambda (1405) consists of a meson called an antikaon coupled to a proton or neutron — the first example of a meson-baryon molecule.

The study is the latest to suggest new combinations of quark-based matter. Recent experiments have hinted at the existence of subatomic molecules composed of two mesons (SN: 5/17/14, p. 12). Particle physicist Derek Leinweber of the Adelaide team says he expects to identify other meson-baryon pairs masquerading as baryons, including a high-energy version of the proton.


Personal cancer vaccine research 'exciting' say experts

Tailor-made cancer vaccines that target unique genetic errors in a patient's tumour have been developed in the US.

Safety tests on three people, published in the journal Science, showed the immune system could be trained to fight skin cancers.

The American team say the early results mark a "significant step" towards personalised cancer vaccines.

The charity Cancer Research UK called the tests an "exciting but very early-stage trial".


Drug-Resistant Food Poisoning Lands In The U.S.

This time last year, a painful new virus was knocking on our doorstep. Travelers were bringing chikungunya to the U.S. And eventually, the mosquito-borne virus set up shop in Florida.

Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says another nasty pathogen is hitching a ride to the U.S. with travelers: multidrug-resistant Shigella.

Shigella is just about as bad as the word sounds. The bacteria infect your intestines and trigger crampy rectal pain, bloody or mucus-laced diarrhea and vomiting.

Multidrug-resistant Shigella has caused several outbreaks over the past year in the U.S., the CDC reports Thursday in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. At least 243 people have gotten sick and about 20 percent were hospitalized.



Friday TOON Roundup 3 - The Rest









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