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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 39,411

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Environmental Scientist

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Toon: This Land Is My Land

Mr Fish Toon- Alas…Yorick Responds to Hamlet

Toon: Money Talks

Comcast named Worst Company in America on the same day it files TWC merger paperwork

Talk about incredible timing! On the same day that Comcast and Time Warner Cable are filing their merger proposal paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission, Consumerist has announced that Comcast has won its annual poll for the “Worst Company in America.”

For the record, this is now the second time that Comcast has won this particular dishonor, as it last won Consumerist’s “Golden Poo” trophy back in 2010. This year’s award is very special for the company, however, because it comes just as it’s trying to do a major public relations charm offensive to convince American consumers and politicians that it should be allowed to merge with Time Warner Cable in a proposed deal worth $45 billion. If the results from Consumerist’s poll and of multiple customer satisfaction surveys are any indication, however, it looks like the American public isn’t buying it.

It will be interesting to see whether Comcast addresses the fact that both it and its proposed merger partner are seemingly hated by their own customers but for the time being it looks like the company is ignoring the negative noise and is focussing its efforts on heavily lobbying both lawmakers and regulators in Washington, D.C. to help the merger go through without a hitch. After all, just because you’re the “Worst Company in America” doesn’t mean you aren’t well-connected.


In Photos: Four Years of Greece's Great Depression

By Dimitris Michalakis

This coming May will mark four years since the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund took control of the Greek economy. Although massively important, it’s an anniversary not many people will want to celebrate.

As more of a memento than a celebration, photographer Dimitris Michalakis has put together a selection of 40 photographs that he’s taken over the past four years. The series depicts the social impact of austerity in Greece, and serves as a snapshot into almost half a decade dominated by headlines about “social polarity,” “debt” and “economic crisis.”

Greece has seen a revival of what in the 1930s was termed “The Great Depression.” The economic crisis has led to a restructuring of the conditions surrounding both production and consumption, as well as of the social fabric.

Many demonstrations led to violent conflicts. They resulted in damages to buildings of great historical and architectural value, with city streets resembling bombed landscapes.


For the first time, a mammalian organ has been persuaded to renew itself

REGENERATIVE medicine—the idea that it is possible to renew old, worn-out tissue and thus keep a body going beyond the point when its organs start to fail—is an attractive idea. To that end, much effort has been put into creating and nurturing so-called pluripotent stem cells. These, when appropriately nudged, can be induced to turn into cells of any other type. They might thus be used for all sorts of repairs. Pluripotent cells, which once had to be extracted from embryos, can now be made routinely from body cells (skin cells, for example). Experiments are therefore going on to see if, when made from the cells of a particular individual, they might be used to repair damage to that person’s organs without (as a transplant from someone else would) attracting the attention of his immune system.

This approach is promising. It would be even better, though, if rather than having stem cells transplanted into it, a degenerate organ could be persuaded to repair itself. Until now, no one has managed to do this. But Clare Blackburn of Edinburgh University, in Britain, and her colleagues have succeeded. As they report in Development, they have treated, in mice, an organ called the thymus, which is a part of the immune system that runs down in old age. Instead of adding stem cells they have stimulated their animals’ thymuses to make more of a protein called FOXN1. This is a transcription factor (a molecular switch that activates genes), and for the thymus it turns out to be an elixir of life.

The thymus is the place where the immune system’s T-cells mature. T-cells have various jobs, such as destroying body cells infected with viruses. As an animal grows older, its thymus shrinks and the organ’s internal structure changes. As a result, the supply of new T-cells diminishes. That is why elderly people are more subject than the young to infection.

Dr Blackburn knew from earlier experiments that FOXN1 is important for the embryonic development of the thymus, so she wondered if it might be used to rejuvenate the organ in older animals. To this end, she and her colleagues bred a special strain of mice whose FOXN1 production could be stimulated specifically in the thymus by tamoxifen, a drug more familiar as a treatment for breast cancer.



Skydiving Meteorite- It was just a rock

By Phil Plait
For those of you taking notes at home, over the past few days I wrote a couple of pieces about a viral video that purported to show a meteoroid (the solid part of space debris that gets hot and creates a meteor when it rams through our atmosphere) zipping past a skydiver. At first I was open to the idea, if skeptical, but upon further reading and examination I became more convinced it was just a rock that fell out of the skydiver’s parachute.

Unfortunately, that turns out to be the case. It really was just a rock.

Steinar Midtskogen, one of the people involved with making the video, has written a post with the story. Clearly they were hoping it was actually a meteorite, but the evidence mounted up to the more mundane, terrestrial explanation.

I actually became convinced last night, when BA Tweep Helge Bjørkhaug sent me a link to a slowed down version of the video. Immediately before the rock flies past, I saw a second piece of debris just to the right of the skydiver’s parachute strap. It was in several frames, and clearly real. Here’s a screen grab:



Science or Spin?: Assessing the Accuracy of Cable News Coverage of Climate Science

CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC are the most widely watched cable news networks in the U.S. Their coverage of climate change is an influential source of information for the public and policy makers alike.

To gauge how accurately these networks inform their audiences about climate change, UCS analyzed the networks' climate science coverage in 2013 and found that each network treated climate science very differently.

Fox News was the least accurate; 72 percent of its 2013 climate science-related segments contained misleading statements. CNN was in the middle, with about a third of segments featuring misleading statements. MSNBC was the most accurate, with only eight percent of segments containing misleading statements.

The public deserves climate coverage that gets the science right. Media outlets can do more to foster a fact-based conversation about climate change and policies designed to address it, rather than contributing to a broken and inaccurate debate about the established facts of climate science.



Rahm Emanuel’s top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge Chicago Contract


On March 5, Chicago’s city council overwhelmingly voted to approve Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to divert $55 million of taxpayer resources into a new privately run hotel in the city’s south loop. Coming just before Emanuel pled poverty to justify his push for pension cuts and property tax increases, the hotel handout was part of the mayor’s expensive development plan that also features a basketball arena for DePaul University.

The vote followed a September decision by the mayor’s appointees on the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority to give Marriott the coveted contract to run the new hotel. The decision by the state-city entity could be a huge financial windfall for Marriott. After all, the company will be running one of America’s largest hotels next to America’s largest convention center – and doing so with massive taxpayer subsidies, but without having to pay to construct the hotel and without having to pay property taxes.

Amid self-congratulatory press releases, what Mayor Emanuel did not mention – and what has gone completely unreported until now – is what a joint investigation by PandoDaily and the Chicago Reader has now confirmed: in the year leading up to Chicago’s lucrative giveaway to Marriott, the hedge fund of one of Emanuel’s largest campaign contributors bought millions of shares of stock in the hotel company.



Holder claims 'vast amount' of discretion in enforcing federal laws

Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that he has a “vast amount” of discretion in how the Justice Department prosecutes the laws that are on the books.

Holder’s remarks, during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, came in response to GOP accusations that he is flouting the law with its positions on marijuana legalization and criminal sentencing.

Leading the questioning was House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who asked Holder whether he believed there were any limits to the administration’s prosecutorial discretion.

“There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has — and more specifically that an attorney general has,” Holder responded. “But that discretion has to be used in an appropriate way so that your acting consistent with the aims of the statute but at the same time making sure that you are acting in a way that is consistent with our values, consistent with the Constitution and protecting the American people."

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/regwatch/administration/202932-holder-claims-vast-amount-of-discretion-in-enforcing-law

Of course he (and his predecessors) has! Otherwise there would be a lot of Banksters under indictment/jailed, and the BFEE would be in the Hague.
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