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n2doc

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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 34,044

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

SeaWorld Puts Its Whales On Valium-Like Drug, Documents Show

Justin Carissimo

The theme park chain SeaWorld, already facing wide criticism from animal rights advocates, treats some of its marine mammals with psychoactive drugs, according to a document obtained by BuzzFeed.

Trainers give their orcas, also known as killer whales, the psychoactive drug benzodiazepine, according to the sworn affidavit filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in a dispute between the park company and the rival company Marineland over the transport of a prized killer whale, Ikaika, to SeaWorld.

Benzodiazepines are a type of drug that includes the common human medications Valium and Xanax. The orcas’ mental health issues, SeaWorld’s critics say, are a direct result of their keeping the mammals in captivity.

The questions about the drugs given to the whales, which also include a range of antibiotics, come as SeaWorld is reeling from a critical documentary. Blackfish tells the story of a killer whale named Tilikum, who’s been accused of killing three people but is still retained by SeaWorld. Tilikum’s genes are found in 54% of the whales in SeaWorld’s current whale collection, and has fathered at least 21 whales from artificial insemination.

more
http://www.buzzfeed.com/justincarissimo/seaworld-puts-its-whales-on-valium-like-drug-documents-show

Saudi Arabia Doubles Down on Atheism; New Laws Declares It Equivalent to Terrorism

We’ve seen before how Saudi pundits find it easy to conflate atheism and terrorism, but now it’s official: Saudi Arabia’s new terrorism laws say outright that nonbelievers and others who commit thought crime are the same as violent terrorists.

According to Human Rights Watch:
The interior ministry regulations include … sweeping provisions that authorities can use to criminalize virtually any expression or association critical of the government and its understanding of Islam. These “terrorism” provisions include the following:
Article 1: “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.”


In Saudi Arabia, you’re asking for severe punishment even if you’re not an atheist or a dissident, but merely think that people must be allowed to state their piece. In fact, expressing any sympathy or support for freethinkers is now a crime in the kingdom:

Article 4: “Anyone who aids organizations, groups, currents , associations, or parties, or demonstrates affiliation with them, or sympathy with them, or promotes them, or holds meetings under their umbrella, either inside or outside the kingdom; this includes participation in audio, written, or visual media; social media in its audio, written, or visual forms; internet websites; or circulating their contents in any form, or using slogans of these groups and currents , or any symbols which point to support or sympathy with them.”


more
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/03/31/saudi-arabia-doubles-down-on-atheism-new-laws-declares-it-equivalent-to-terrorism/

Homeless professor protests conditions of adjuncts

BY SIMONE PATHE
Mary-Faith Cerasoli is an adjunct professor of Spanish and Italian. She has a master’s degree from Middlebury College. She’s also homeless.

The 53-year-old staged a one-woman protest Friday afternoon in front of the New York State Department of Education to bring attention to what she calls the “abusive job” of being an adjunct professor.

As the Making Sen$e series “Adjunctivitis” chronicled, adjuncts, who make up half of all college and university faculties, often drive hundreds of miles a week in between teaching gigs for an average pay of $2,000 to $3,000 per course. Medical insurance and benefits are luxuries unavailable to most of them.

That’s a problem for Cerasoli. She suffers from what she says is a life-threatening thyroid disease that has dug her financial hole ever deeper, adding unpaid medical bills to her student loans.

more

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/homeless-professor-protests-conditions-adjuncts/

Obama Told Military Leaders: Accept Gays In Military Or Step Down

Ellie Hall

In a meeting with the heads of the five service branches in 2010, President Obama offered the leaders a choice: Support my efforts to end the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, or resign.

In a video obtained by BuzzFeed via a Freedom of Information Act request, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp revealed that Obama was unwilling to compromise with service leaders over DADT during a meeting in 2010. “We were called into the Oval Office and President Obama looked all five service chiefs in the eye and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I cannot divulge everything he said to us, that’s private communications within the Oval Office, but if we didn’t agree with it — if any of us didn’t agree with it — we all had the opportunity to resign our commissions and go do other things,” he said.

Papp talked about the meeting during a Q&A session with U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets following a leadership address to the corps on Jan 8. The admiral was asked how officers should respond to policies that they disagreed with but were required to enforce. “If I disagree morally with , it’s my obligation to voice that, regardless of the risk it might give my career,” he said. “I’ve been in those situations. I’ve been fortunate to have good leaders that have appreciated that.” Using himself as an example, Papp said it was OK for leaders to “not be thrilled” with a certain regulation, but if they didn’t “see anything terribly wrong with it,” it was their job as officers to support and enforce it.

The admiral, who will be retiring from active duty on May 30, added that he thought the U.S. military made the right decision by abolishing DADT.

more

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/obama-told-military-leaders-accept-gays-in-military-or-step

Obamacare, The Unknown Ideal

Paul Krugman-

No, I haven’t lost my mind — or suddenly become an Ayn Rand disciple. It’s not my ideal; in a better world I’d call for single-payer, and a significant role for the government in directly providing care.

But Ross Douthat, in the course of realistically warning his fellow conservatives that Obamacare doesn’t seem to be collapsing, goes on to tell them that they’re going to have to come up with a serious alternative.

But Obamacare IS the conservative alternative, and not just because it was originally devised at the Heritage Foundation. It’s what a health-care system that does what even conservatives say they want, like making sure that people with preexisting conditions can get coverage, has to look like if it isn’t single-payer.

I don’t really think one more repetition of the logic will convince many people, but here we go again. Suppose you want preexisting conditions covered. Then you have to impose community rating — insurers must offer the same policies to people regardless of medical history. But just doing that causes a death spiral, because people wait until they’re sick to buy insurance. So you also have to have a mandate, requiring healthy people to join the risk pool. And to make buying insurance possible for people with lower incomes, you have to have subsidies.

more

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/31/obamacare-the-unknown-ideal/?_php=true&_type=blogs&smid=re-share&_r=0

Exxon: Highly unlikely world limits fossil fuels

NEW YORK (AP) — On the same day the world's climate scientists issued their latest report on climate change and the risks it poses to society, the nation's biggest oil and gas company said the world's climate policies are "highly unlikely" to stop it from selling fossil fuels far into the future.

Exxon Mobil issued a report Monday on the risks that climate change polices could pose to the value of its assets and future profitability, by coincidence on the same day as the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a Nobel Prize-winning United Nations group assembled to assess the science and risks of climate change.

Both Exxon and its critics used IPCC research to bolster their cases.

Exxon's report was in response to the contentions of some shareholders and environmental activists that the assets underpinning the value of Exxon and other fossil fuel companies will be worth less as society restricts consumption of fossil fuels to fight climate change.

more

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/exxon-highly-unlikely-world-limits-fossil-fuels


Sounds like a challenge to me. Need to prove them wrong.

Judge won't block new Arizona abortion drug rules

Source: AP

PHOENIX (AP) — A federal judge on Monday refused to block new Arizona rules limiting the use of the most common abortion drugs, handing a victory to conservatives in a lawsuit over restrictions that are the most stringent in the nation.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge David C. Bury means the new restrictions will take effect Tuesday.

The rules ban pill-induced abortions after seven weeks of pregnancy, compared with the current nine-week restriction.

Bury made his ruling in response to a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood Arizona and the private abortion clinic Tucson Women's Center, who say the rules severely infringe on a woman's ability to have an abortion. He was asked to grant an injunction that would have blocked the rules from taking effect.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/judge-wont-block-new-arizona-abortion-drug-rules

The House of Representatives Committee on Science is turning into a national embarrassment

By Ashutosh Jogalekar


A few days back I wrote a post explaining why I am all for private support of basic science, especially in an age when government funding and support is flagging. My feelings were simply reinforced when I came across this news piece documenting the shameful behavior of Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology in denying climate change and harassing John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor.

The debacle was part of a hearing in which the members were supposed to discuss the upcoming 2015 budget with Holdren. Instead the proceedings turned into a mixture of hostile heckling and insulting sarcasm. This was black comedy that would have been mildly humorous had it not been real. The Republican members of the committee made it clear that not only do they lack the slightest interest in addressing climate change but they are about as ignorant about the nuances of science as a stone. Leading the charge was Texas congressman Randy Weber:

Several members, for example, appeared to be trying to mock rather than engage Holdren on climate change. “I may want to get your cellphone number, Dr. Holdren,” said Representative Randy Weber (R–TX), “because, if we go through another few cycles of global warming and cooling, I may need to ask you when I should buy my long coat on sale.”

Weber, a freshman from the Galveston area, began his interrogation by asking Holdren whether “when you guys do your research, you start with a scientific postulate or theory and work forward from that? Is that right?” Holdren gamely played along, explaining that “it depends on the type of science, but the notion of posing a hypothesis and then trying to determine whether it is right is one of the tried and true approaches in science, yes.”

But Weber’s question was really just a setup for his concluding statement. “I just don’t know how you all prove those theories going back 50 or 100,000 or even millions of years,” Weber said.




more

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2014/03/31/the-house-of-representatives-committee-on-science-is-turning-into-a-national-embarrassment/

There is no "Turning into". It already Is A National Embarrassment.

The Most Inept Court Defense of ‘Traditional Marriage’ Comes From the Reddest of States

by ERIC ETHINGTON

Some might assume that the reddest of red states would have the strongest case prepared in defense of its ban on same-sex marriage. Well, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Utah’s case has been so riddled with errors, mistakes, and mishaps, it could almost be mistaken for the Three Stooges’ 1936 Disorder in the Court.

Nobody was expecting to see marriage equality arrive in Utah without a federal mandate, much less in December of 2013. I mean come on, it’s Utah—home of the Mormon (LDS) church, an almost 90 percent Republican state legislature, and a voter-approved constitutional ban on not only marriage for same-sex couples, but also civil unions or anything even closely resembling similar recognition of non-hetero couples. But perhaps it was that very security in their iron-clad shield against the “gay agenda” that has caused such havoc and ineptitude in the case.

Utah was at a disadvantage in the case over Amendment 3 (its 2004 ban on marriage equality) from the beginning. At the time it was argued before Utah Judge Robert Shelby, Utah’s Republican Attorney General John Swallow was under multiple investigations for fraud and corruption by the FBI, DOJ, state legislature, Utah Bar Association, and the Salt Lake County/Davis County District Attorneys. The investigations (which ultimately led to Swallow’s resignation) caused major disruption in the Attorney General’s office, and the seemingly easy-win case for Utah wasn’t given much time or attention. The usual conservative arguments were made—same-sex couples are just awful parents, marriage has been between a man and a woman since before time, etc.—and everyone just assumed that would be enough.

But then Judge Shelby, drawing on the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, ruled in favor of marriage equality. And in what has got to be the most irrational string of mistakes in a major court case ever seen, Utah fell apart scrambling to fix things.

more

http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/the-most-inept-court-defense-of-traditional-marriage-comes-from-the-reddest-of-states/marriage/2014/03/31/84971

260,000 graduates in minimum wage jobs



NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
If you thought paying tens of thousands of dollars for a college education guaranteed a high-paying job, think again.

About 260,000 people who had a college or professional degree made at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Things may be looking up a little, though -- it's the smallest number since 2008. The worst year was 2010, when the number skyrocketed to 327,000.

Despite the recent improvement, the number of workers with college degrees is still more than double what it was in 2005, prior to the Great Recession.

more

http://money.cnn.com/2014/03/31/news/economy/minimum-wage-college-graduates/index.html
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