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

Journal Archives

Bernie Sanders plots another universal healthcare push

By Peter Sullivan - 07/30/15 11:07 AM EDT

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Thursday that he will introduce a single-payer, Medicare-for-all bill “in the very near future.”

The presidential candidate spoke at a rally in a park across the street from the Capitol, in front of cheering union members celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare. He pushed for a universal system, in which the government provides health insurance for all.

The senator said Medicare was worth celebrating but that “the time has come also to say that we need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman and child as a single-payer, national healthcare program.”

A statement from Sanders’s office after the rally said that the bill would set “federal guidelines and strong minimum standards” but that states would administer the single-payer programs.


TPP negotiations threaten to forcibly commercialise state-owned bodies

Leaked details of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, published today by WikiLeaks, reveal that the futures of publicly owned enterprises such as Australia Post, the ABC, SBS and state power utilities may be on the negotiating table in secret talks under way in Hawaii this week.

WikiLeaks has published previously unknown details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations relating to the treatment of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) – publicly owned corporations that do not operate along strictly commercial lines and deliver benefits to the community as a whole.

The confidential leaked text, titled "SOE Issues for Ministerial Guidance", reveals for the first time that TPP negotiators have been considering proposed rules, pushed strongly by the United States, that would impose “additional disciplines” on the commercial activities of SOEs and that these would “go beyond existing obligations” under World Trade Organisation rules and other free trade agreements.

The text states that most TPP countries have supported such an approach, which would include new obligations to ensure state-owned enterprises act on the basis of commercial considerations, comply with the non-discriminatory provisions of the TPP, and are accorded no special regulatory treatment by governments while being subject to increased scrutiny from commercial competitors.



New Technology Lets Scientists See the Brain with Nanoscale Resolution

Neuroscientists have begun testing the most powerful brain imaging technology ever created, and it’s already helped them answers questions about how connections form in our most complex organ.

The new imaging tool allows researchers to probe into every nook and cranny of the brain and then use the data to produce images at the nanoscale, like the one in the video at the link.

A large collective of researchers at Harvard, John Hopkins, and other institutions tested out the new technology by inspecting a mouse’s neocortex, according to a paper published Thursday in Cell. With such detailed imaging, every cellular object in the mouse’s neocortex (that would be the axons, dendrites, and glia, if you haven’t had a biology refresher in a while) were distinguishable and most of the sub-cellular components, such as synapses and spines, were visible as well.

"The complexity of the brain is much more than what we had ever imagined," said lead author Narayanan "Bobby" Kasthuri, of the Boston University School of Medicine, in a press release. "We had this clean idea of how there's a really nice order to how neurons connect with each other, but if you actually look at the material it's not like that. The connections are so messy that it's hard to imagine a plan to it, but we checked and there's clearly a pattern that cannot be explained by randomness."


Beam Me Up? Teleporting Is Real

"I have a hard time saying this with a straight face, but I will: You can teleport a single atom from one place to another," says Chris Monroe, a biophysicist at the University of Maryland.

His lab's setup in a university basement looks nothing like the slick transporters that rearrange atoms and send them someplace else on Star Trek. Instead, a couple million dollars' worth of lasers, mirrors and lenses lay sprawled across a 20-foot table.

"What they do in the TV show is, they send the atoms over a long distance," says David Hucul, who recently got his Ph.D. with Monroe. "But, really — if you could build anything, you wouldn't send the atoms."

That's because atoms are big and heavy, and you don't really need them, he explains. The laws of physics say that any atom of carbon is identical to any other atom of carbon. Oxygen, hydrogen and so on: They're all perfect atomic clones.

"The thing that makes us unique is the states of those atoms," Hucul says. "So you'd really send the information — the state of the atom."


Scientists are developing an x-ray pill you can swallow

Going to the doctor is rarely a pleasant experience. Beyond the sterile atmosphere and high prices (at least in the US), there’s the poking, the prodding, the injecting, and the inserting. According to the American Cancer Society, everyone over the age of 50 should get a colonoscopy to be screened for colorectal cancer. But many shy away from the procedure that involves sticking a camera up somewhere things don’t often go. However, a new product being developed might make checking for colon cancer as easy as swallowing a pill.

Check Cap, led by medical engineer Yoav Kimchy, has developed a pill that contains a small sensor that works like an X-ray machine, or the LIDAR detection system in Google’s self-driving cars. A patient swallows the pill and when it gets to the colon, it emits a signal to determine how far it is from the colon wall. The signal is emitted in every direction, allowing the pill to map the entire inside of the colon. It sends the data to a wireless patch the patient slaps on their skin, which tracks the pill’s movement through their body. According to Check Cap, it’s about as harmful to the body as two airport body scans or one chest X-ray.

The pill is disposable and doesn’t need to be retrieved once it’s done its job. The patient then gives the patch to their doctor, and in 10 minutes, they’ll have a full 3D rendering of the patient’s colon. Doctors don’t have to sit through footage of a camera snaking its way through someone’s colon—instead they can check the 3D model for irregularities as they would a CT scan. Kimchy told Quartz it’s much easier for doctors to use the map than try to, quite literally, sift through the junk: “You don’t see much inside murky water,” Kimchy said.

Kimchy has been working on this technology for over a decade. He said his grandmother died of colon cancer at 48, and he still struggled to convince his father to go for a colonoscopy because of the awkwardness of the procedure, and the less-than-enjoyable preparation process.



Hope this works!

Georgia is Segregating Troublesome Kids in Schools Used During Jim Crow

A Department of Justice investigation found that Georgia is giving thousands of kids with behavioral issues a subpar education and putting them in the same run-down buildings that served black children decades ago.
by Marian Wang

Georgia has been illegally and unnecessarily segregating thousands of students with behavioral issues and disabilities, isolating them in run-down facilities and providing them with subpar education, according to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Some of the students in the program were schooled in the same inferior buildings that served black children in the days of Jim Crow. The investigation found that many of the buildings lack gyms, cafeterias, libraries, labs, playgrounds and other amenities.

"It's a warehouse for kids the school system doesn't want or know how to deal with," a parent told the Justice Department of the program. The Justice Department detailed its findings in a letter earlier this month to Georgia's governor and attorney general.

Federal law mandates that schools educate students with disabilities in the "least restrictive environment" in which they can learn and thrive. More broadly, public entities must serve people with disabilities in the "most integrated setting."

But what the Justice Department found in Georgia is something that persists across the country: Schools continue to inappropriately segregate students with a range of behavioral needs and disabilities.



Eden Prairie Police: We Won’t Give Dentist Personal Protection

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Eden Prairie Police Department said that, while they will be stepping up neighborhood monitoring, they will not be providing personal protection for the dentist who killed a protected lion in Zimbabwe.

“Because of the increased traffic in the neighborhood of Walter Palmer’s residence, the Eden Prairie Police Department is monitoring the neighborhood to ensure the safety and security of the residents and their property,” the department said.

The two men who helped Palmer in his lion hunt made their first appearance in court.

Theo Bronkhorst is a hunting guide with Bushman Safaris. Honest Trymore Ndlovu owns the game farm where Palmer was hunting.
Zimbabwean prosecutors said the men tied a dead animal to their car as bait to lure the lion out of a national park. If convicted, the men face up to 15 years in prison each.


Reap the Whirlwind, sucker.

Number of people killed by police hits 664 in U.S. this year

The number of police-related fatalities in the U.S reached 664 in 2015, making the country’s police force one of the deadliest in the developed world, according to data from The Guardian, a British newspaper.

In the first five months of this year, 19 unarmed black men were shot and killed by the police in the U.S. The Guardian compares that with Germany, where 15 citizens of any race were fatally shot in the two years from 2010 to 2011.

California led the nation in the number of victims. So far this year, 107 people died in police-involved incidents in the state, significantly more than Texas, which came in second with 67 deaths. Florida was the third most deadly with 46. Per capita, Oklahoma tops the list with 29 deaths.

By race, whites accounted for roughly half at 321 deaths and blacks followed with 174. However, blacks were twice more likely than whites to be unarmed when killed by the police, The Guardian said.



Recipe for the Bernie Paloma

The Bernie Paloma:

0.5 oz. Vermont maple syrup

0.5 oz. fresh lime juice

2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice

2 oz. silver tequila

Garnish: “salt air,” which is sea salt, lime juice, water and Sucro, emulsified with a hand blender.


But the real star of the night might have been the Bernie Paloma, a custom cocktail made by Miguel Marcelino Herrera, a bartender at Barmini in Washington D.C.,

Study: We've wiped out half the world's wildlife since 1970

In early July, a dentist from Minnesota named Walter James Palmer traveled to Zimbabwe, lured a male lion out of Hwange National Park, and shot him to death. The twist? This was no ordinary lion. No, Cecil the lion was a popular tourist attraction, and so now half the internet has erupted in outrage over his death.

It's a grisly tale. But it's also not an isolated case. Not even close. Over the past four decades, humans have managed to kill off a staggering number of wild animals worldwide — from charismatic lions and rhinos right down to lowly frogs. Most of these deaths don't spark anywhere near the furor that Cecil's did. But they certainly add up.

A major recent survey by the World Wildlife Fund estimated that the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish worldwide has declined a whopping 52 percent between 1970 and 2010. The main culprits? Humans. Mainly through hunting, fishing, deforestation, pollution, and other forms of habitat destruction. Statistically speaking, Cecil's death at the hands of a person was more likely than not.

Vertebrate populations declined 52 percent between 1970 and 2010


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