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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Mr. Fish Toon- Just Say No

Toon: Given at Birth

NYT Toon: Uncivil Defense

by Brian McFadden

Marijuana fights Alzheimer’s disease, new study indicates

Another study is adding evidence to the case for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease with the compounds in cannabis.

Research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease this September “strongly suggest that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways.”

More than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s today. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation, costing America about $203 billion in 2013.

Chuanhai Cao and other researchers at the University of South Florida and Thomas Jefferson University wanted to investigate the “potential therapeutic qualities of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with respect to slowing or halting the hallmark characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease.”



Egypt court tosses charges against Mubarak

Source: LA Times

An Egyptian court on Saturday dismissed charges against former President Hosni Mubarak, who had been accused in connection with the killings of hundreds of demonstrators against his rule.

The 86-year-old ex-dictator was forced from office in a 2011 popular uprising that was a landmark of the so-called Arab Spring revolts, galvanizing regionwide demands for the toppling of old regimes.

Wearing dark glasses and a dark jacket, Mubarak listened expressionlessly as the lengthy ruling was read out, occasionally nodding. At its conclusion, the courtroom erupted in scenes of jubilation, with aides and lawyers hugging one another.

Mubarak’s former interior minister, Habib Adly, and other top aides were also acquitted Saturday in connection with the deaths of about 900 protesters. And the former president, his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, and an Egyptian tycoon were acquitted on corruption charges stemming from a business deal.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-egypt-court-mubarak-20141129-story.html

Politico’s normal, awful story on EPA’s new air rule

Tuesday night, the top story on Politico.com was headlined, “‘The most expensive regulation ever.’” It is unremarkable in that it follows the same template as a thousand pieces like it, with quotes from both sides on all the right beats and no big factual errors. In a sense, though, it is a perfect artifact, a case study in how the U.S. political media handles air regulations, environmentalists, and the left generally.

Here’s the lede:

The Obama administration will issue a draft air pollution rule on Wednesday that business groups charge would be the costliest regulation of all time — setting up a test of how hard the president will fight for his environmental agenda against a newly strengthened GOP.

Right off the bat, here are the two narrative frames through which Washington understands air regulations: first, their alleged high cost, and second, as a move to the left, which everyone in D.C. knows is perilous almost by definition. (Why, Republicans might get upset and oppose you!)

Consider an alternate lede:

The Obama administration will issue a draft air pollution rule on Wednesday that health scientists say could prevent thousands of premature deaths a year — though Congressional Republicans are fighting hard to block the rule on behalf of industry groups.

Both ledes are factually accurate. The first lets business groups and costs set the stage, the second lets scientists and health benefits set the stage. How might you choose between them?



Having homosexual thoughts 'is an essential part of human evolution' study suggests

In evolutionary terms, homosexuality presents something of a paradox. According to Darwin, any trait that makes an animal less likely to reproduce will die out in a few generations, yet the percentage of people born gay or lesbian remains more or less constant.

Now researchers at the University of Portsmouth believe they may have found the evolutionary reason for homosexual behaviour: it helps us bond with people of the same sex.

A study of predominantly heterosexual men and women found that people with higher levels of the hormone progesterone are more likely to have homoerotic thoughts.

Because progesterone, which is produced by both men and women, is associated with affiliation, the researchers concluded that homosexual thoughts can go hand in hand with the need to forge same-sex alliances, which can be traced back to the teamwork of the earliest hunter-gatherers.



A Hawk Named Hillary

by Anatol Lieven

Hillary Clinton is running for president not only on her record as secretary of state, but also by presenting herself as tougher than Barack Obama on foreign-policy issues. With this stance, she presumably plans to distance herself from a president increasingly branded as “weak” in his approach to international issues, and to appeal to the supposedly more hawkish instincts of much of the electorate.

It is therefore necessary to ask a number of related questions, the answers to which are of crucial importance not just to the likely course of a hypothetical Clinton administration, but to the future of the United States in the world. These questions concern her record as secretary of state and her attitudes, as well as those of the US foreign-policy and national-security elites as a whole. They are also linked to an even deeper and more worrying question: whether the country’s political elites are still capable of learning from their mistakes and changing their policies accordingly. I was brought up to believe that this is a key advantage of democracy over other systems. But it can’t happen without a public debate—and hence mass media—founded on rational argument, a respect for facts, and an insistence that officials take responsibility for evidently disastrous decisions.

The difficulties that a Democratic politician must overcome in designing a foreign and security policy capable of meeting the needs of the age are admittedly legion. These include US foreign-policy and national-security institutions that are bloated beyond measure and spend most of their time administering themselves and quarreling with one another; the weakness of the cabinet system, which encourages these institutions and means that decisions are constantly thrown in the lap of the president and a White House staff principally obsessed with the next election; an increasing political dysfunction at home, partly as a result of the unrelenting American electoral cycle; a Republican opposition that is positively feral in its readiness to use any weapon against a Democratic White House; a corporate media that, when not working for the Republicans directly, is all too willing to help turn minor issues into perceived crises; and problems in some parts of the world (notably the Middle East and Afghanistan) that are indeed of a hideous complexity.

Even more important and difficult than any of these problems may be the fact that designing a truly new and adequate strategy would require breaking with some fundamental American myths—myths that have been strengthened by many years of superpower status but that go back much further, to the very roots of American civic nationalism. These myths, above all, depict the United States as—in one of Clinton’s favorite phrases—the “indispensable nation,” innately good (if sometimes misguided), with the right and duty to lead humankind and therefore, when necessary, to crush any opposition.


Friday TOON Roundup 2 - The Rest







Friday TOON Roundup 1 - Riot Act

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