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n2doc

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Home country: USA
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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 43,912

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Justice Dept. could sue Ferguson for racial discrimination

Source: CNN

Washington (CNN)The Justice Department is preparing to bring a lawsuit against the Ferguson, Missouri, police department over a pattern of racially discriminatory tactics used by officers, if the police department does not agree to make changes on its own, sources tell CNN.

Attorney General Eric Holder said this week he expects to announce the results of the department's investigation of the shooting death of Michael Brown and a broader probe of the Ferguson Police Department before he leaves office in the coming weeks.

Brown's shooting death at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson has thrust Ferguson into the center of a nationwide debate over police tactics and race relations. The Justice Department is expected to announce it won't charge Wilson for the shooting, but it's also expected to outline findings that allege a pattern of discriminatory tactics used by the Ferguson police.

If they don't agree to review and revise those tactics, sources say, the Justice Department would sue to force changes in the department.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/18/politics/ferguson-justice-department-lawsuit/

Polar vortex to unleash record-breaking cold in eastern U.S. on Thursday, Friday


The coldest outbreak of the season is pushing south into the eastern United States this week. Temperatures will be running as low as 30 to 40 degrees below normal across the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic on Friday morning. Thursday night’s departure from normal temperatures is shown above in Celsius. (tropicaltidbits.com)

The coldest air of the season is surging south this week, leading up to what could be historic cold for parts of the eastern United States.

Thursday and Friday’s polar outbreak could set all-time February low records from Tennessee to Virginia. With a fresh coat of snow, Washington has the potential to dip below zero for the first time since 1994.

All of this is courtesy of a plume of not just Arctic, but Siberian air that has been trudging across the North Pole and into North America over the past week.

more
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/02/18/polar-vortex-to-unleash-record-breaking-cold-in-eastern-u-s-on-thursday-friday/

US Navy Reacts To Blockbuster Rolling Stone Climate Change Story

We’ve spilled a lot of ink on the Defense Department’s efforts to call attention to climate change, and now the gloves are really off. Go to Facebook and find Navy Task Force Energy, and right up top you’ll see a link to last week’s Rolling Stone blockbuster climate change article complete with the incendiary title, “The Pentagon & Climate Change: How Deniers Put National Security at Risk.”

Lest you think this is just a link, the Navy’s climate change post starts off with a forceful declaration of support for the Rolling Stone article, it includes the subtitle “The leaders of our armed forces know what’s coming next – but deniers in Congress are ignoring the warnings,” and caps it off with the rather dramatic illustration from the publication. Here’s a partial screenshot:



If you can’t find the post on Facebook, here’s how the Navy teases that Rolling Stone link (hashtags deleted for readability):

Climate change is not only a threat to the environment but a threat to our national security. Coastal military bases and U.S. Navy missions on seas are at risk. Military readiness could be compromised by these environmental changes. Read about the challenges the Pentagon faces posed by a changing climate.



more
http://cleantechnica.com/2015/02/18/us-navy-reacts-blockbuster-rolling-stone-climate-change-story/

Elizabeth Warren schools the vaccine deniers

Elizabeth Warren, Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is a liberal Democratic politician who is a darling of the American progressives. She came to the forefront while serving as a professor of Law at Harvard University, advocating for changes in financial regulation to benefit consumers.

However, this article isn’t going to be about Senator Warren’s progressive bonafides, because, this I don’t usually blog about politics, except in context of science support or denialism. And with respect to vaccines, science denialism is hallmark of the left and right, though lately it’s been some sort of lunatic rallying cry of the Libertarians, you know, those crackpots who think that there’s too much government. They want to go back to the time of dirt roads, children working when they’re 8, no rules, no regulations, and other such 1700’s thinking.

Rand Paul, Senator Warren’s colleague in the US Senate, babbled about mandatory vaccinations, saying it was an issue of freedom, despite the fact that the kids, who are usually the victims of vaccine preventable diseases, have no choice in the matter and lose their freedom to live healthy lives as a result of their ignorant parents. Then, Senator Paul doubled-down on his lunacy by stating that vaccines cause “profound mental disorders.” Of course, real science says that they don’t. Once again, just because one has an MD (or whatever degree), doesn’t prevent them from evolving into a science denier. On the other hand, Senator Paul has no clue about the age of the earth.

On the contrary, Senator Warren is a firm, solid advocate and supporter of the need, effectiveness and safety of vaccines. And Warren is not some recent convert to the vaccine debate (it’s not a debate) just to make a vaccine denying physician Senator look bad. Back in 2013, Warren was pushing for increased research funding into new and better vaccines. Last year, she was arguing that the government shutdown would affect quick development of ebola vaccines. So, she’s no johnny-come-lately to the issue of vaccines.

more

http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/elizabeth-warren-schools-vaccine-deniers/

Toxic exposure could be causing a pandemic of brain disorders in kids

The numbers are startling. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.8 million more children in the US were diagnosed with developmental disabilities between 2006 and 2008 than a decade earlier. During this time, the prevalence of autism climbed nearly 300%, while that of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder increased 33%. CDC figures also show that 10 to 15% of all babies born in the US have some type of neurobehavorial development disorder. Still more are affected by neurological disorders that don’t rise to the level of clinical diagnosis.

And it’s not just the US. Such impairments affect millions of children worldwide. The numbers are so large that Philippe Grandjean of the University of Southern Denmark and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Philip Landrigan of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York—both physicians and preeminent researchers in this field—describe the situation as a “pandemic.”

While earlier and more assiduous diagnosis accounts for some of the documented increase, it doesn’t explain all of it, says Irva Hertz-Piccioto, professor of environmental and occupational health and chief of the University of California, Davis, MIND Institute. Grandjean and Landrigan credit genetic factors for 30 to 40% of the cases. But a significant and growing body of research suggests that exposure to environmental pollutants is implicated in the disturbing rise in children’s neurological disorders.

What, exactly is going on? And what can we do about it?

more

http://qz.com/345627/toxic-exposure-is-causing-a-pandemic-of-brain-disorders-in-kids/

The mercury level in your tuna is rising

WRITTEN BY

Paul Drevnick
Assistant Research Scientist, University of Michigan

Whether man-made sources of mercury are contributing to the mercury levels in open-ocean fish has been the subject of hot debate for many years.

My colleagues Carl Lamborg, Marty Horgan and I analyzed data from over the past 50 years and found that mercury levels in Pacific yellowfin tuna, often marketed as ahi tuna, is increasing at 3.8% per year. The results were reported earlier this month in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

This finding, when considered with other recent studies, suggests that mercury levels in open-ocean fish are keeping pace with current increases in human-related, or anthropogenic, inputs of mercury to the ocean.

These levels of mercury—a neurotoxin—are now approaching what the EPA considers unsafe for human consumption, underscoring the importance of accurate data. With this article, I’ll explain the evolution of the science to this point and our findings. I expect our analysis will either quiet the debate or add more fuel to the fire.

more
http://qz.com/345902/the-mercury-level-in-your-tuna-is-rising/

As Voter ID Advances, Colorado Secretary of State Admits Voting Restrictions Block Eligible Voters

The state with some of the most accessible elections laws in the nation could soon make it more difficult to cast a ballot.

Colorado lawmakers began debating a bill Wednesday that would require voters to present a photo ID if they register to vote on Election Day — a policy that would disproportionately impact people who are younger, lower income, non-white, and newly naturalized.

While attending a recent conference in DC, Secretary of State Wayne Williams told ThinkProgress that he supports these measures despite the fact that investigations by his predecessor found voter fraud to be nearly non-existent in the state.

“Most people don’t rob banks but we still protect against bank robbery,” he said. “Most people vote honestly but we did have some instances — for example, one individual submitted five separate voter registration forms with sequential Social Security numbers. The overwhelming majority of people don’t do that, but we need to have the protections in place to ensure all of us can have confidence in our elections.”

more

http://thinkprogress.org/election/2015/02/18/3624060/voter-id-advances-colorado-secretary-state-admits-voting-restrictions-block-eligible-voters/

Pussy Riot releases ‘I Can’t Breathe’ song and video in honor of Eric Garner

The haunting song and video, which shows Pussy Riot members Masha and Nadya being buried alive, is the first English song released by the political activists.
BY SASHA GOLDSTEIN



First they took on Putin - now police brutality.

Two members of political art protest group Pussy Riot, Masha and Nadya, released a song, their first in English, called “I Can’t Breathe” in honor of Eric Garner, whose death after being put in a police chokehold on Staten Island sparked weeks of protest around the world.

“This song is for Eric and for all those from Russia to America and around the globe who suffer from state terror - killed, choked, perished because of war and state sponsored violence of all kinds - for political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change,” the group said in a statement accompanying the video, posted Wednesday online. “We stand in solidarity.”

The haunting video shows the two women, wearing blue camouflage Russian riot police uniforms, being buried alive as they sing over a sparse electronic beat.

“It’s getting dark in New York City/It’s getting tight in New York City/I need to catch my breath,” the song’s refrain goes.

more

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/pussy-riot-releases-breathe-song-eric-garner-article-1.2120074

Visiting My Friend in Putin's Prison Camp

A quiet geologist tried to blow the whistle on Olympic pollution and corruption. One year later, he's still paying the price.
—By Charles Digges

MY FIRST STOP at Sadovaya Prison Colony No. 2 in central Russia is the visitors' intake center. I've traveled for 14 hours on an overnight train that reeked of fetid socks to see my imprisoned friend, environmental activist Yevgeny Vitishko. By my noon arrival at the colony, I'm already running late, and reams of red tape await before I'll be able to see him.

I've come to these cold mud flats 440 miles south of Moscow for the first interview Vitishko has given in the seven months since February 12, 2014, the day he was sent away in the midst of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

In the years leading up to the event, Vitishko had emerged as one of the competition's fiercest critics. Along with his little-known organization, the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC), Vitishko protested the ecological destruction and crony Kremlin corruption that fed the $51 billion games, the most expensive in history. Now, a year after the closing ceremonies, his dire predictions of environmental havoc have come true—and Vitishko sits in prison. He has been described as the only prisoner of conscience associated with the Sochi Olympics.


VITISHKO AND I immediately hit it off when we first met in January 2014, in his hometown of Tuapse, 75 miles northwest of Sochi on the Black Sea. A Krasnodar court had recently sentenced him to three years in the Sadovaya penal colony on charges that he'd painted an environmental message on a fence. He remained free on the condition he not leave Tuapse until a long-shot February 12 appeal was set to be heard at a regional court.

more

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/sochi-environmental-activist-vitishko-putin-prison

Fast Track to a Bad Deal

A beast of a trade pact is lumbering, claws outstretched, towards American small business owners, consumers and workers, and it’s not clear if anyone can stop it. The beast is called the “Trans Pacific Partnership” or TPP.

Behind the lofty language of partnership, and the stated goal of stimulating trade worldwide, it aims to strengthen multinationals at the expense of nearly everyone else. Most importantly, and most dangerously, the pact undermines the power of governments everywhere to encourage local entrepreneurship, protect consumer health and assets, and preserve clean air and water.

The Trans Pacific Partnership has been negotiated largely in secret by representatives from major multinational corporations. No drafts have been released. Involvement by the U.S. government has been closely-held, even though Congress must ultimately vote on the treaty. Only the Obama administration’s Office of the U.S. Trade Representative knows the details. Even your senator or representative has little insight and less input into the discussions.

The pact threatens our economic security in two ways. The first threat involves the particulars contained in it, which have not been officially disclosed (but portions have been leaked). It's a grab-bag of special interest provisions: Pharmaceutical companies want greater leverage to prevent third world countries from making affordable generic drugs. Content companies — the media giants — want to extend copyright provisions out to 120 years in some cases. Tobacco companies want to limit countries’ ability to run anti-smoking campaigns. (For more info on such issues, see my earlier posts on the pact here and here.)

more

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/2015/02/17/fast-track-for-the-trans-pacific-partnership-is-a-bad-deal
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