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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
Number of posts: 42,385

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

So….how long until Carnival Cruz and Bonehead start whining about not being consulted on Iraq?

I will bet by tomorrow morning, they will be all over claiming Obama needs "congress' approval" first, and "Why weren't we consulted?"

California's severe drought unchanged despite record thunderstorms

At left, the U.S. Drought Monitor map as of Aug. 5. At right, the same map showing drought conditions as of July 1. The darkest red spots are the areas of California in an exceptional drought.

A series of thunderstorms that have hit California in recent weeks may have delivered devastating torrents of rain in some areas, but on the whole they were "inconsequential" in terms of easing the state's worsening drought, according to a report issued Thursday.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, in its weekly report, said that the locations of the rain and the rate it fell minimized the relief for California’s parched landscape.

Because the heaviest showers were limited in scope, had high runoff rates and did not happen in two of the state’s key watersheds -- the Colorado River basin and the Sierra Nevada -- they “did not allow for significant percolation into drought-parched soils,” the report stated.

The report said the only short-term benefits of the rain was reduced irrigation demands and improved evaporation rates.



Luckovich Toon- Are You Being Assaulted, Sir?


Two plead guilty in massive Medicaid scam

Source: AJC

Two people have pleaded guilty to receiving money for Medicaid-related patient referrals to hospitals in Atlanta and on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Tracey Cota, 50, of Dunwoody, and Gary Lang, 58, of Atlanta, both admitted to conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute by taking and receiving payment in exchange for Medicaid patient referrals to hospitals. Both will be sentenced at a later date, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.

“These illegal referral arrangements resulted in women being steered to deliver their babies at hospitals on the basis of Clinica’s and the hospitals’ financial self-interest, regardless of whether it was in the women’s best interest,” Yates said in the release.

Cota was the chief operating officer and co-owner of Hispanic Medical Management Inc., also known as Clinica de la Mama. The clinic operated several metro Atlanta and Hilton Head locations and specialized in prenatal care services for primarily undocumented Hispanic women, according to the release.

Read more: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/two-plead-guilty-in-massive-medicaid-scam/ngxg9/

Ebola Experts Warn of an African 'Apocalypse'

At an emergency hearing in Washington Thursday afternoon, major players in the fight against Ebola in West Africa addressed the outbreak that has stolen the lives of more than 900. Leaders from health agencies and humanitarian efforts addressed the need for increased support as one called the current state of affairs in West Africa “apocalyptic.”

Rep. Christopher Smith, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, opened the hearing by urging the speakers to clear the air on a “grave issue” that has “gripped” the mass media for weeks. “We hope to gain a realistic understanding of what we’re up against while avoiding sensationalism,” he told the floor. Here are the takeaways:

The outbreak is getting worse.

Already an unprecedented outbreak, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says the number of infected and killed by Ebola will likely soon outnumber all other Ebola outbreaks in the past 32 years combined. According to the CDC, there have already been more than 1,700 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola in West Africa, and more than 900 deaths—numbers which Frieden later called “too foggy” to be definitive. Ken Isaacs, the Vice President of Program and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse (SIM), painted an even bleaker picture. According to SIM, West Africa has counted 1,711 diagnoses and 932 deaths, already, which could represent only a small fraction of the actual number. “We believe that these numbers represent just 25-50 percent of what is happening,” said Isaacs.

The atmosphere in West Africa is “apocalyptic.”

In a six-hour meeting with the president of Liberia last week, Isaacs said SIM workers watched as the “somber” officials explained the gravity of the situation in their countries, where hundreds lie dead in the streets. “It has an atmosphere of apocalypse,” Isaacs said of the Liberia Ministry of Health’s status updates. “Bodies lying in the street … gangs threatening to burn down hospitals. I believe this disease has the potential to be a national security risk for many nations. Our response has been a failure.” Isaacs says that the epidemic is inciting panic worldwide that, in his opinion, may soon be warranted. “We have to fight it now here or we’re going to have to fight it somewhere else.”



Mercury in the global ocean: three times more mercury in upper ocean since the Industrial Revolution

Although the days of odd behavior among hat makers are a thing of the past, the dangers mercury poses to humans and the environment persist today.

Mercury is a naturally occurring element as well as a by-product of such distinctly human enterprises as burning coal and making cement. Estimates of "bioavailable" mercury -- forms of the element that can be taken up by animals and humans -- play an important role in everything from drafting an international treaty designed to protect humans and the environment from mercury emissions, to establishing public policies behind warnings about seafood consumption.

Yet surprisingly little is known about how much mercury in the environment is the result of human activity, or even how much bioavailable mercury exists in the global ocean. Until now.

A new paper by a group that includes researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Wright State University, Observatoire Midi-Pyréneés in France, and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research appears in this week's edition of the journal Nature and provides the first direct calculation of mercury in the global ocean from pollution based on data obtained from 12 sampling cruises over the past 8 years. The work, which was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the European Research Council and led by WHOI marine chemist Carl Lamborg, also provides a look at the global distribution of mercury in the marine environment.



Drone crashes into famed hot spring at Yellowstone National Park

A tourist seeking to take pictures of Yellowstone National Park crashed a camera-equipped drone into its largest hot spring, possibly damaging the prized geothermal feature, a park official said on Wednesday.

The National Park Service in June announced a ban on so-called unmanned aerial vehicles, but officials say premier national parks in the U.S. West are reporting a sharp rise in the number of drones buzzing bison and boaters.

It was not clear if the drone that crashed Grand Prismatic Spring on Saturday and sank into its depths would damage the geothermal feature, park spokesman Al Nash said, and officials were still trying to decide whether to remove it.

The incident follows the crash earlier this summer of a drone into a marina at Yellowstone Lake and a string of radio-controlled aircraft violations at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.



Corporations are using dubious research to take over prisons

By Matt Stroud

Since the mid-1980s, private companies have contracted with states and branches of the federal government to assume certain prison operations. The argument behind these contracts has been that private companies — which are not beholden to things like pension arrangements with correctional officer’s unions — can cut prison spending in ways that governments can not.

For the most part, this argument was theoretical — an idea never definitively proven by any significant academic studies (though some have tried to do so). But then, in April 2013, came a study out of Temple University in Philadelphia. This study found that private prison companies could help governments cut costs from between 12.46 percent and 58.61 percent. It looked like a groundbreaking study on its surface, and the private prison industry ran with it. But recently that appearance has begun to fade and reveal a very different picture: that of corporate prisons taking a page out of Big Tobacco's playbook.

Private prison companies were doing well enough without the academic boost. Though these companies only oversee about 8 percent of United States prisons, the number of prisoners in private facilities rose by 37 percent between 2002 and 2009, and the companies generally make a lot of money: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the world, has a market cap of $3.74 billion; one of its competitors, the GEO Group, has a market cap of $2.46 billion. But the study was nonetheless helpful; it backed up the savings claims with an ostensibly independent study from a reputable academic institution. It brought private prisons — and the contracts those companies were lobbying to secure with states and the federal government — into policy discussions all over the country. The study’s authors, Temple economics professors Simon Hakim and Erwin A. Blackstone, even wrote op-eds in newspapers where private prisons were being considered by lawmakers. This was all excellent news for private prison companies.

Soon after, however, the study’s findings began to look a little less excellent.



Thursday TOON Roundup 2- The Rest












Thursday Toon Roundup 1- GnoP

(Tennessee votes today!)
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