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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Eleven countries studied, one inescapable conclusion – the drug laws don’t work

Alan Travis, home affairs editor

The Home Office comparison of international drug laws, published on Wednesday, represents the first official recognition since the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act that there is no direct link between being “tough on drugs” and tackling the problem.

The report, which has been signed off by both the Conservative home secretary, Theresa May, and the Liberal Democrat crime prevention minister, Norman Baker, is based on an in-depth study of drug laws in 11 countries ranging from the zero-tolerance of Japan to the legalisation of Uruguay.

The key finding of the report, written by Home Office civil servants, lies in a comparison of Portugal, where personal use is decriminalised, and the Czech Republic, where criminal penalties for possession were introduced as recently as 2010.

“We did not in our fact-finding observe any obvious relationship between the toughness of a country’s enforcement against drug possession, and levels of drug use in that country,” it says. “The Czech Republic and Portugal have similar approaches to possession, where possession of small amounts of any drug does not lead to criminal proceedings, but while levels of drug use in Portugal appear to be relatively low, reported levels of cannabis use in the Czech Republic are among the highest in Europe.


Why Polls Tend to Undercount Democrats

By Nate Cohn

Polls show that the Republicans have an advantage in the fight for control of the Senate. They lead in enough states to win control, and they have additional opportunities in North Carolina and New Hampshire to make up for potential upsets. As Election Day nears, Democratic hopes increasingly hinge on the possibility that the polls will simply prove wrong.

But that possibility is not far-fetched. The polls have generally underestimated Democrats in recent years, and there are reasons to think it could happen again.

In 2010, the polls underestimated the Democrats in every competitive Senate race by an average of 3.1 percentage points, based on data from The Huffington Post’s Pollster model. In 2012, pre-election polls underestimated President Obama in nine of the 10 battleground states by an average of 2 percentage points.

A couple of elections in which polls tilt slightly Republican aren’t enough to prove anything. The polls have erred before, only to prove fine over the longer term.

But the reasons to think that today’s polls underestimate Democrats are not based on just the last few years of results. They are also based on a fairly diverse set of methodological arguments, supported by extensive research, suggesting that many of today’s polls struggle to reach Democratic-leaning groups.



Thursday TOON Roundup 4- The Rest








World Series

Congrats Giants!

Thursday TOON Roundup 3- Politics





Thursday Toon Roundup 2- Ebola Scare

Thursday Toon Roundup 1- Election time

Luckovich Toon- Holding on

Street Harasser Haunted By Woman Who Got Away With Dignity Intact

(Yes it's Satire)

CHICAGO—Regretting his failure to take advantage of the perfect opportunity, local street harasser Jason Foster told reporters Wednesday that he continues to be haunted by the woman who got away with her dignity intact. “I will go the rest of my life wondering if I could have made this woman feel completely demeaned, if maybe there was something else sexually degrading I could have shouted,” said a visibly emotional Foster, reportedly agonizing about the moment that morning when he did not make more of an effort to intimidate the woman by leering at her body or following closely behind her down the street. “It’s eating me up inside that I didn’t trust my gut instinct to go after her and continue making obscene remarks and unwelcome sexual advances. I truly believe she’s the one I could have totally humiliated by yelling ‘nice ass, baby doll’ one more time.” At press time, sources confirmed that an elated Foster had successfully robbed the woman of her dignity while she was returning home from work.


World Losing 2,500 Hectares Of Irrigated Land Per Day To Salt Damage

A study by scientists at the UN University’s Institute for Water, located in Ontario, Canada, revealed that 17 million hectares of arable land has been lost to salinization in the period from 1995 to 2013. The loss rate is computed at a staggering 2,500 hectares per day, or equivalently 4,600 American football fields. Viewed another way, every 4 days the area the size of Manhattan is lost. The total productive land deeply affected by salt now encompasses 62 million hectares (up from 45 million hectares 18 years ago), an area about the size of France. This land area also represents a staggering 20% of irrigatable lands.

Salt degradation occurs due to irrigation with insufficient “leaching fraction”. Irrigation, or the act of adding water to crops, always leaves trace salts near the roots where the plants uptake water but leave solutes. This is because all water, even ostensibly “fresh water” or rain water, contains some amount of salt. If extra water is not added to remove the salt, or if the precipitation is too low, over time salt accumulates leading to salt damage, i.e. reduced productivity and profitability of agricultural practices.

The main author Dr. Manzoor Qadir, the Assistant Director of Water and Human Development at the UN University’s Institute for Water, remarks on the challenge, “To feed the world’s anticipated nine billion people by 2050, and with little new productive land available, it’s a case of all lands needed on deck. We can’t afford not to restore the productivity of salt-affected lands.”

Some of the areas characterized in this study include the Aral Sea Basin in Central Asia, the Indo-Gangetic Basin in India, Indus Basin in Pakistan, Yellow River Basin in China, Euphrates Basin in Syria, Iraq, Murray-Darling Basin in Australia, and the San Joaquin Valley, United States.


Reminds me of "Idiocracy"

Chilly Record! Coldest Object on Earth Created in Lab

A chunk of copper became the coldest cubic meter (35.3 cubic feet) on Earth when researchers chilled it to 6 millikelvins, or six-thousandths of a degree above absolute zero (0 Kelvin).

This is the closest a substance of this mass and volume has ever come to absolute zero. Researchers put the 880-lb. (400 kilograms) copper cube inside a container called a cryostat that is specially designed to keep items extremely cold. This is the first cryostat built that is capable of keeping substances so close to absolute zero.

"The main difficulty of this project was the technological challenge of the cryostat," Carlo Bucci, a researcher at the Instituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) in Italy who helped build the cryostat, told Live Science. "We spent 10 years designing, realizing and testing the system."

Building the extreme temperature cryostat is just the first step in a new experiment in which the cryostat will act as a particle detector. The setup for the experiment is called Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events (CUORE) and is being built at the INFN Gran Sasso underground lab. Bucci and a team of researchers hope the CUORE detector will reveal more about the subatomic particles called neutrinos and why there is so much more matter than antimatter in the universe.


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