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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 33,763

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Texas anti-gay leader Jonathan Saenz’s ex-wife left him for another woman

Mere months before Jonathan Saenz became president of the anti-gay group Texas Values, his wife left him for another woman, according to Hays County district court records obtained by Lone Star Q.

The revelation could help explain Saenz’s seemingly abrupt transformation from socially conservative lobbyist to homophobic firebrand.

Saenz, a devout Catholic, has been a right-wing operative in Texas for many years — working on abortion and religious liberty cases as a staff attorney for the Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute as far back as 2005.

However, it wasn’t until recently that Saenz emerged as one of the state’s best-known — and most extreme — anti-LGBT voices.



Feds Bail on Protecting Wolverines

by Chris Clarke

Overruling the strong recommendations of its own scientists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is withdrawing a proposal to list the North American wolverine, Gulo gulo, as Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

USFWS scientists had urged the wolverine be listed due to the likely effect of climate change on the rare predatory weasel's reproductive habits. The animals depend on deep, persistent snow for their breeding, and an increasingly warm planet means that winter breeding habitat will likely become unsuitable for the wolverine.

Nonetheless, USFWS Director Dan Ashe announced Tuesday that the agency will back a call by one of the agency's regional directors to withdraw the listing proposal, citing "uncertainty" over the actual effect of disappearing snowfields on the wolverine's survival.



This Is The Terrifying Result Of The Militarization Of Police


While serving as a U.S. Marine on patrol in Afghanistan, we wore desert camouflage to blend in with our surroundings, carried rifles to shoot back when under enemy attack, and drove around in armored vehicles to ward off roadside bombs.
We looked intimidating, but all of our vehicles and equipment had a clear purpose for combat against enemy forces. So why is this same gear being used on our city streets?

Putting aside what started the protests for a moment, it's worth discussing the police response to the outrage. In photos taken on Monday, we are shown a heavily armed SWAT team.

They have short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles based on the military M4 carbine, with scopes that can accurately hit a target out to 500 meters. On their side they carry pistols. On their front, over their body armor, they carry at least four to six extra magazines, loaded with 30 rounds each.

"Why do these cops need MARPAT camo pants again," I asked on Twitter this morning. One of the most interesting responses came from a follower who says he served in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division: "We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/police-militarization-ferguson-2014-8

Just greasing' the rails of commerce…...

Comcast really, really doesn’t like it when you talk about the enormous piles of cash it’s burning to jam its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable through the regulatory process. Comcast was not at all happy when we wrote about its decision to invite an attorney at the Department of Justice’s antitrust division to a Winter Olympics kickoff party less than a month before it announced its plan to merge with TWC, for instance. And now Politico reports that Comcast again finds itself in the midst of controversy after it recently revealed that it will be paying $110,000 to sponsor a dinner honoring current FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn.

The dinner will be part of an annual event held by the Walter Kaitz Foundation, at which Clyburn will be honored for being a leading diversity advocate. Comcast points out that it’s spent comparable sums sponsoring past Walter Kaitz Foundation dinners before and it says that it’s just a coincidence that the person being honored this year just happens to be one of the people who will have a tremendous amount of influence over the fate of its proposed merger with TWC.

“We absolutely dispute the notion that our contributions have anything to do with currying favor with Commissioner Clyburn or any honoree,” Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice told Politico. “Such claims are insulting and not supported by any evidence. They are purely fiction. We have supported the organization year in and year out regardless of who the dinner honorees have been.”

Nonetheless, it’s not as though Comcast is just some innocent babe in the woods when it comes to lobbying government officials to do its bidding. Earlier this year we learned that Comcast now employs an army of 40 different lobbying firms that are all relentlessly hounding everyone in Washington to sign off on the TWC merger with no questions asked. So while Comcast’s decision to sponsor this dinner may not be part of a ploy to win over an FCC commissioner, it’s not “insulting” for anyone to raise their eyebrows about it given what we know about the company’s behavior.


Squee Alert- Tiny Black Rail chick

The International Bird Rescue is caring for an orphaned baby bird that’s so tiny it’s no bigger than a cotton-ball.

This baby black rail, a threatened shorebird that’s rarely seen, was found Wednesday evening by a Petaluma couple on a stroll near Shollenberger Park.

“He was just walking down the middle of the path like he owned the place. He looked like a pom-pom,” said Dione Rochelle. “He was going pretty fast. We stepped back thinking there was a mother or other babies. ”

A hiker walking by told Dione and her husband Peter that he had seen the same little bird running around an hour before. After waiting an hour and determining that the chick appeared to be abandoned, Dione scooped it up and her husband delivered it to Wildcare in San Rafael the next morning.



Tuesday Evening Toons- More Robin Williams Tributes

Racism, the misuse of genetics and a huge scientific protest

"A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History" is the new book by science writer Nicholas Wade that asserts a genetic basis for certain human behaviors and distinguishes them by race. It's been widely panned in book reviews, especially by experts in the fields of science and social science touched on by the work.

Reviewers have cited scientific errors in the book, but typically aim more directly at Wade's conclusions.

The most newsworthy reaction to the book has just come from the genetic sciences community, in the form of an open letter signed by (as of this writing) 143 senior biologists and geneticists from around the world, decrying what they say is Wade's "misappropriation of research from our field to support arguments about differences among human societies."

They write: "Wade juxtaposes an incomplete and inaccurate account of our research on human genetic differences with speculation that recent natural selection has led to worldwide differences in I.Q. test results, political institutions and economic development. We reject Wade’s implication that our findings substantiate his guesswork. They do not."

If there's been a more thorough repudiation of a responsible publisher's nonfiction work by experts in its field in recent years, we haven't seen it. (The publisher is Penguin Press.)



Lunch lady rises to teachers union leader and takes on all comers, bluntly

By Lyndsey Layton

She began her career in a school cafeteria, as a lunch lady. In three weeks, she will take over as head of the nation’s largest labor union, representing 3 million educators.

Lily Eskelsen García, 59, a telegenic, guitar-slinging firebrand, has made her unlikely rise to the top of the National Education Association as the union faces the most daunting political challenges in its 157-year history. She is already fighting back with blunt talk, urging teachers nationwide to revolt against “stupid” education reforms and telling politicians to leave teaching to the professionals.

Her first priority: Putting the brakes on standardized testing, an issue she believes will resonate not only with her members but also with parents — important potential allies for the political clashes she sees ahead. García believes the country is in the grip of testing mania, the quest for high scores killing joy, narrowing curriculums and perverting the learning process.

“I’ll be damned if I will sit quietly and play nice and say diplomatic things about something that has corrupted the profession I love,” García said.



A New Super-Strain of Drug-Resistant Bacteria Is on the March in the Midwest

A new super-strain of an already drug-resistant and very common bacterium is on the march in the Midwest.

This version of P. aeruginosa, currently responsible for about one in every 10 hospital-acquired infections in the US, is armed with a whole new mechanism for defeating not just antibiotics generally, but the last-ditch drugs administered when all others have failed.


The super-resistant version of P. aeruginosa, first isolated in 2012 in the foot wound of an elderly diabetic patient, has a uniquely powerful mechanism for beating down antibiotic treatments—an enzyme called verona integron-encoded metallo beta-lactamse (VIM). This enzyme acts against the beta-lactam ring found in the common antiobiotics of the classes carbapenems, cephalosporins, and penicillins; the ring is a critical piece of these drugs’ basic structures and with it destroyed, they’re rendered useless. "VIM enzymes confer resistance to imipenem and all other beta-lactams," said the paper’s lead author Federico Perez in a statement from the American Society for Microbiology. "They are not inhibited by metallo beta-lactamase inhibitors," e.g. colistin.



‘Good Will Hunting’ Bench in Boston Public Garden Becomes Robin Williams Memorial

Fans of the legendary actor and comedian Robin Williams, who died Monday, turned a bench where Williams and Matt Damon shared a scene in the classic Boston movie “Good Will Hunting” into a makeshift memorial Monday night, leaving flowers and writing quotes from the film on the ground.

An Imgur user uploaded an image of the bench on Monday night:

The Boston Public Garden bench, of course, was the setting of this famous scene from the Oscar-winning 1997 film:

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