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Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 36,769

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Environmental Scientist

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Cerberus Capital still hasn’t unloaded the maker of the AR-15 but is making tons of money from it

When you’re holding a hot potato, it seems no harm can come to you as long as you keep throwing it in the air.
For the last nine months Cerberus Capital Management has been trying to sell off the Freedom Group, an agglomeration of firms that sells more firearms and ammunition than any other company in the United States.
Among other weapons, Freedom Group is the leading manufacturer of the most popular, but also the most controversial gun in America: the AR-15, a semi-automatic, military-style rifle used in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre that killed 28, in a rampage this summer that killed six in Santa Monica, and now today’s attack at the Washington Navy Yard, which has so far resulted in 13 deaths.
It’s not clear yet whether the particular gun used today was made by Freedom Group, or how the alleged gunman, Aaron Alexis, obtained it.



The most depressing discovery about the brain ever

Yale law school professor Dan Kahan’s new research paper is called “Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government,” but for me a better title is the headline on science writer Chris Mooney’s piece about it in Grist: “Science Confirms: Politics Wrecks Your Ability to Do Math.”

Kahan conducted some ingenious experiments about the impact of political passion on people’s ability to think clearly. His conclusion, in Mooney’s words: partisanship “can even undermine our very basic reasoning skills…. who are otherwise very good at math may totally flunk a problem that they would otherwise probably be able to solve, simply because giving the right answer goes against their political beliefs.”

In other words, say goodnight to the dream that education, journalism, scientific evidence, media literacy or reason can provide the tools and information that people need in order to make good decisions. It turns out that in the public realm, a lack of information isn’t the real problem. The hurdle is how our minds work, no matter how smart we think we are. We want to believe we’re rational, but reason turns out to be the ex post facto way we rationalize what our emotions already want to believe.



Stanford Scientists Use 'Wired Microbes' To Generate Electricity From Sewage

Engineers at Stanford University have devised a new way to generate electricity from sewage using naturally-occurring “wired microbes” as mini power plants, producing electricity as they digest plant and animal waste.

In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authors Yi Cui, a materials scientist, Craig Criddle, an environmental engineer, and Xing Xie, an interdisciplinary fellow, call their invention a microbial battery.

One day they hope it will be used in places such as sewage treatment plants, or to break down organic pollutants in the “dead zones” of lakes and coastal waters where fertilizer runoff and other organic waste can deplete oxygen levels and suffocate marine life.

At the moment, however, their laboratory prototype is about the size of a D-cell battery and looks like a chemistry experiment, with two electrodes, one positive, the other negative, plunged into a bottle of wastewater.

Inside that murky vial, attached to the negative electrode like barnacles to a ship’s hull, an unusual type of bacteria feast on particles of organic waste and produce electricity that is captured by the battery’s positive electrode.

"We call it fishing for electrons," said Criddle, a professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.



GOP madness on display

By Katrina vanden Heuvel, Tuesday, September 17, 7:50 AM

Obama used this backdrop to set the terms of the coming debate on the budget. The Republican right is once more gearing up to hold America hostage, threatening to shut down the government or default on our debts to get its way.

The House and Senate Republican leaders want more deep cuts in spending that will cost jobs, and cut investments vital to our future in everything from education to R&D. For the tea-party right led by Texas freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, that’s not sufficient. Backed by deep-pocket outside groups like the Club for Growth, they are calling for shutting down the government unless Obamacare is defunded.

This is simple madness. President Obama once again laid out out a common sense, modest agenda on the budget. Make investments in education and infrastructure vital to our competitiveness. Don’t let immediate cuts sabotage our faltering recovery. Get our books in order with a balanced plan that combines asking corporations and the rich to pay their fair share with cutting wasteful programs and bloat.

House Republicans spurn these proposals out-of-hand. They want deeper cuts, all from domestic programs like education and clean water. They want more, not less money for the military. They oppose any increase in taxes, even objecting to closing down the tax dodges that reward companies for stashing money and reporting profits abroad. They want to repeal Obamacare without replacing it. They even are moving a bill to cut billions out of food stamps, a program that protects families in trouble from going hungry. And they are so divided among themselves that they have rejected their own leadership’s proposals to keep government open.

The rest

Hemp Flag To Be Flown At Vermont Statehouse On Constitution Day

A flag made from hemp will be flown at the Vermont statehouse to honor Constitution Day, the Associated Press reports.

On Tuesday, Rural Vermont will host a reception at the state capitol to raise a flag stitched from hemp fibers, drawing attention to the state's new rules governing hemp growth.

The new legislation, passed by Vermont lawmakers earlier this year, removes barriers to hemp production in the state. Vermont joins eight other states with similar legislation on the books.

Vermont's rules currently stand at odds with federal policy. Although hemp fabric can be imported, federal law places restrictions on hemp cultivation in the United States, due to the plant's trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. While industrial hemp contains an extremely low concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the Drug Enforcement Agency makes no distinction between recreational marijuana and its non-psychoactive cousin -- all cannabis plans are classified as Schedule I substances.



Behold, the Moon as you've never seen it before

If something about this animation strikes you as unfamiliar, don't worry, you're not imagining things; though the Moon does rotate about its axis as it orbits Earth, you've never in your life seen it spin quite like this.

The Moon is tidally locked to Earth, forever hiding one of its faces from those of us kicking it planetside. Owing to a phenomenon known as libration, it's actually possible to spot as much as 59% of the Moon's surface. But the remaining 41% – the so-called "far side," was for many years a complete mystery.


The above time-lapse video starts with the standard Earth view of the Moon. Quickly, though, Mare Orientale, a large crater with a dark center that is difficult to see from the Earth, rotates into view just below the equator. From an entire lunar month condensed into 24 seconds, the video clearly shows that the Earth side of the Moon contains an abundance of dark lunar maria, while the lunar far side is dominated by bright lunar highlands. Two new missions are scheduled to begin exploring the Moon within the year, the first of which is NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). LADEE, which launched just over a week ago, is scheduled to begin orbiting the Moon in October and will explore the thin and unusual atmosphere of the Moon. In a few months, the Chinese Chang'e 3 is scheduled to launch, a mission that includes a soft lander that will dispatch a robotic rover.



Dinosaur Feathers Discovered in Canadian Amber

Today a group of paleontologists announced the results of an extensive study of several well-preserved dinosaur feathers encased in amber. Their work, which included samples from many stages in the evolution of feathers, bolstered the findings of other scientists who've suggested that dinosaurs (winged and otherwise) had multicolored and transparent feathers of the sort you might see on birds today. The researchers also presented evidence, based on the feathers' pigmentation and structures, that today's bird feathers could have evolved from dinosaur feathers.

We've got a gallery of these intriguing feathers preserved in amber.

In a profile of lead researcher Ryan McKellar, The Atlantic's Hans Villarica writes:

These specimens represent distinct stages of feather evolution, from early-stage, single filament protofeathers to much more complex structures associated with modern diving birds . . . They can't determine which feathers belonged to birds or dinosaurs yet, but they did observe filament structures that are similar to those seen in other non-avian dinosaur fossils.



The Same Type Of Gun Was Used In The Navy Yard Shooting, Sandy Hook, And The Aurora Shooting

If you aren’t familiar with it, meet the AR-15.

posted on September 16, 2013 at 4:59pm EDT
Ryan Broderick

BuzzFeed Staff

This is an AR-15-style semi-automatic assault weapon. Currently there are no federal restrictions on owning one.

Since 2012, the AR-15-style assault rifle has been involved in seven different large-scale shootings.

July 20, 2012: Twelve people were killed and 70 others were injured when James Holmes opened fire in a movie theater.



The hidden truth behind Teach for America’s political empire

Working for more charter schools and fast-tracked teachers, the organization's growing — whether you like it or not

Teach for America, well known for recruiting high-achieving college graduates to teach in urban and rural areas for two years, has expanded to 48 regions, built an alumni base of 32,000 and piled up $350 million in assets.

Now, as the school year begins, it’s planting seeds to grow further — but not without controversy and intrigue.

Though the plans are still in the works, TFA is approaching an agreement with the University of Minnesota in which the university’s College of Education and Human Development would offer TFA teachers special coursework during their time in the program. For TFA, the partnership would provide an extra source of support beyond its standard five-week summer prep. For the college, it’s an opportunity to enroll scores of new students.

For everyone else, it’s a lightning rod.



Tuesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest





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