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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Sunday's Doonesbury- Bushwhacking

McDonald's U.S. Fries Have Three Times as Many Ingredients as Those in the UK

McDonald's recently published a video revealing what really goes into their French fries. It's part of their new ad campaign called "Our food. Your questions." in which they try to prove that their menu items are indeed made from recognizable ingredients. Mashable notes that in the video host Grant Imahara "reverse engineers" the process of McDonald's French fry production and finds that while the chain does indeed use real potatoes, there are also more than a few other ingredients. To make a fry — which at its most basic form is simply potato, salt, and oil — McDonald's uses 14 ingredients, including strange items like hydrolyzed milk, natural beef flavor, and sodium acid pyrophosphate.

Over on Boing Boing, blogger Mark Frauenfelder points out that that McDonald's locations in the UK serve up fries made from a much simpler recipe. The official McDonald's UK site reveals that they use just five ingredients in their fries: Potatoes, two kinds of oil, dextrose, and salt. Frauenfelder writes that "notably absent" from the UK version but found stateside is methylpolysiloxane, "a commonly used anti-foaming agent that's also an ingredient used to make Silly Putty."

McDonald's should probably get their American fries in check as soon as possible if they hope to improve their image and possibly increase sales. McDonald's spent most of 2014 struggling fiscally and prospects are not looking up. The Wall Street Journal reports that the chain announced a "21% drop in earnings for the latest quarter" this week.


Toon: Deflation Nation

Telomere extension turns back aging clock in cultured human cells, study finds

A new procedure can quickly and efficiently increase the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are linked to aging and disease, according to scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Treated cells behave as if they are much younger than untreated cells, multiplying with abandon in the laboratory dish rather than stagnating or dying.

The procedure, which involves the use of a modified type of RNA, will improve the ability of researchers to generate large numbers of cells for study or drug development, the scientists say. Skin cells with telomeres lengthened by the procedure were able to divide up to 40 more times than untreated cells. The research may point to new ways to treat diseases caused by shortened telomeres.

Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of the strands of DNA called chromosomes, which house our genomes. In young humans, telomeres are about 8,000-10,000 nucleotides long. They shorten with each cell division, however, and when they reach a critical length the cell stops dividing or dies. This internal "clock" makes it difficult to keep most cells growing in a laboratory for more than a few cell doublings.



Noam Chomsky's Take on the film American Sniper

During a public conversation prompted by the beginning of the Tsarnaev trial in Boston, Noam Chomsky discussed the larger issue of society's growing tolerance for violence and willingness to overlook questionable acts carried out by government agencies. He refers to a review of the 2014 film, American Sniper as a way into the conversation about what we define as terror, when we feel justified in protecting ourselves and what the fallout is for taking violent action.

Hosted at The Lilypad in Cambridge, MA by The Baffler Magazine, featuring the ACLU's Kade Crockford and linguist Noam Chomsky.

Watch a US Senator Cite the Bible to 'Prove' That Humans Aren't Causing Global Warming

To understand the craziness that just went down on the floor of the US Senate, you first have to understand the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. It's pretty simple, actually: The planet is getting warmer, largely because humans are releasing heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. Or, as the world's leading climate scientists put it in a recent report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," and it's "extremely likely"—that is, at least 95 percent certain—"that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."

These are well established scientific facts, but congressional Republicans have had a hard time accepting them. So on Wednesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), sought to put his colleagues on record by having them vote on a simple measure declaring it the sense of the Senate that "climate change is real and not a hoax."

When Whitehouse first introduced this amendment a couple days ago, he made clear that by "climate change," he was referring to "what our carbon pollution…is doing to our atmosphere and what it is doing to our oceans." But the amendment didn't literally say that, and the Senate's most outspoken climate science denier saw this as an opportunity. James Inhofe—an Oklahoma Republican who has previously pointed to the Bible as evidence that human-caused global warming is a hoax—urged his fellow senators to support the amendment.

Addressing his Senate colleagues before the vote, Inhofe once again cited the Bible to argue that the climate does indeed change but that humans aren't the cause. "Climate is changing, and climate has always changed," said Inhofe, who chairs the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee. "There's archeological evidence of that. There's biblical evidence of that. There's historic evidence of that." He continued: "The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think that they are so powerful, they can change climate. Man can't change climate." You can watch the back-and-forth above.

more, with video

American Sniper: anti-Muslim threats skyrocket in wake of film's release

American Sniper continues to draw record-breaking audiences as it barrels into its second weekend in wide release, but a group representing Arab-Americans says the rate of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim threats resulting from the Oscar-nominated war film has already tripled.

Citing what an executive for the group told the Guardian was a “drastic increase” in hate speech on social media, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee wrote letters this week to actor Bradley Cooper and director Clint Eastwood to ask them to speak out “in an effort to help reduce the hateful rhetoric”.

The film, which was nominated for six Academy Awards including best picture, depicts the story of Chris Kyle, the famed US navy Seal notorious for the highest known single kill count in US military history. But its all-American depiction on screen has drawn heavy criticism from combat veterans and viewers alike – and especially about viewers themselves, many of whom have emerged from theatres desperate to communicate a kind of murderous desire.

A quick search on Twitter leads down a rabbit hole of anger.

“Great fucking movie and now I really want to kill some fucking ragheads,” read one tweet, in a set of screenshots that quickly went viral after being collated by journalist Rania Khalek for the online publication Electronic Intifada. “American sniper makes me wanna go shoot some fuckin Arabs,” read another.



Weekend Toon Roundup 2- The rest






Weekend Toon roundup 1- Repubs

House Republicans Propose Bill Mandating Ultrasounds Before Abortions

Source: Huffington Post

Shortly after House Republicans had to cancel a vote on an anti-abortion bill that some members found to be too extreme, GOP congressmen on Thursday introduced three new abortion restrictions, including one that would require women to receive an ultrasound procedure before an abortion.

The mandatory ultrasound bill, introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and co-sponsored by 10 Republican men, compels women to "receive an ultrasound and the opportunity to review the ultrasound before giving informed consent to receive an abortion."

One of the other bills prohibits federal education funds from going to schools with access to an abortion provider on campus, and the other requires states to report information on Medicaid payments to abortion providers.

The ultrasound measure is likely to be the most controversial. Nearly half of U.S. states have passed some kind of mandatory ultrasound bill, but the political backlash in some of those states has been significant.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/23/mandatory-ultrasound-_n_6535076.html
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