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"European activists opposing all forms of modern genetics have a new defector. The heretic is no other than Urs Niggli, for more than 25 years Director of the Switzerland-based Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (Das Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau, FiBL). FiBL is one of the world’s leading organic farming information and research centers located in Switzerland with branches in Germany and Austria. It is internationally respected for its research in the organic agricultural community and beyond. While FiBL has been among the first outspoken critics of genetic engineering in the past (and claims responsibility for the GMO ban installed in Switzerland), it’s director now has adopted a more balanced view. But when he spoke out in an interview in the German-language newspaper Die Tageszeitung taz, published April 6, Niggli found himself in the focus of a shitstorm by NGOs and lobby groups of organic agriculture. At present, he no longer speaks to the media. (article est disponible en Frenche ici.)

Niggli’s capital crime: He spoke in favor of CRISPR/cas, a violation of the central dogma of the European organic movement that all technologies developed by modern genetics are unnatural and inherently evil. CRISPR/cas, a novel, simple and very elegant method for precisely targeted interventions in the genome is a natural process discovered in bacteria. While it is not more unnatural than the process of cloning and grafting popular among breeders since ancient Greece (and probably before) and can be performed similarly cheap and easy, for anti-GMO NGOs and organic lobby groups this natural process is viewed as even more dangerous than traditional genetic engineering as it can be applied without leaving any traces.

In Europe, the EU is on the brink of deciding on how to deal with CRISP/cas, and the anti-GMO lobby is heavily campaigning against any regulation that would allow breeders to use the technology or companies to bring CRISPR/cas-generated plants on the market. To create a new and increased level of fear, the lobbyists have coined the term „extreme genetic engineering.“

They are very well aware that any differentiation between technologies allowing for genome interventions will destroy their narrative of „natural“ vs. „unnatural.“ Interestingly, when advocates of genetic engineering in plants educated the public about the chemical and radiation breeding technologies used in conventional and even organic breeding, organic breeders announced they would also abandon those technologies and stick to „natural“ mutations (they employ molecular genetic technologies for trait screening though).



Ruh roh.

No, 'science' didn't 'prove' that dogs hate hugs

According to numerous outlets, a scientific study has found that the majority of dogs dislike being hugged, based on cues of distress found in a random assortment of photos pulled from the Internet. We at are not here to argue that you should go squeeze the life out of a puppy. But we are here to squeeze the life out of this misleading science coverage.

"If you have an Internet connection, you've probably read at least one article in the past few days claiming that science has shown that dogs hate being hugged. We at are not here to argue that you should go squeeze the life out of a puppy. But we are here to squeeze the life out of this misleading science coverage.

According to numerous outlets, a scientific study has found that the majority of dogs dislike being hugged, based on cues of distress found in a random assortment of photos pulled from the Internet.

The problem here is that what's being reported as a "study" is, in fact, an op-ed written in the magazine Psychology Today by a single researcher.

"This is a set of casual observations," Stanley Coren, the retired University of British Columbia professor who penned the column, told The Post. He reiterated that his data collection wasn't part of a peer-reviewed study.



Much like the recent study on fructose, where journalists misconstrued it with HFCS, we see that science coverage is often rather poor.

Stop telling kids you’re bad at math. You are spreading math anxiety ‘like a virus.’


“How was skiing?” I asked my 14-year old daughter as she hauled her boot bag into the car. “Well, the ratio of snow to ground was definitely low,” she replied, adding that she had tried to figure the ratio of snow-to-ground during practice but had received only mystified looks. “Stop the math!” demanded a coach. “You are confusing us!”

Why do smart people enjoy saying that they are bad at math? Few people would consider proudly announcing that they are bad at writing or reading. Our country’s communal math hatred may seem rather innocuous, but a more critical factor is at stake: we are passing on from generation to generation the phobia for mathematics and with that are priming our children for mathematical anxiety. As a result, too many of us have lost the ability to examine a real-world problem, translate it into numbers, solve the problem and interpret the solution.

Mathematics surrounds us, yet we have become accustomed to avoiding numerical thinking at all costs. There is no doubt that bad high school teaching and confusing textbooks are partly to blame. But a more pernicious habit does the most damage. We are perpetuating damaging myths by telling ourselves a few untruths: math is inherently hard, only geniuses understand it, we never liked math in the first place and nobody needs math anyway.

Often adults are well-meaning when telling children about their own math phobia: after all, won’t it make the children feel better if they know that others feel that way as well? Research shows the answer is a resounding “no.”



Having recently been privy to a couple of anecdotes about some middle-school girls picking on other middle-school girls for liking math (Yes, I know. Typical.), this seems all the more prescient.

Bundy Buddies Added Dicks To Indian Petroglyphs.


"As everyone knows, the Bunditarian Patriot Militia Jamborees of 2014 and 2016 were all about an important principle, namely, the “return” of federal land to “We The People,” because the feds are all about stealing The People’s land and doing tyranny to it, like having wildlife refuges and National Monuments and other stuff what gets in the way of grazing cattle for free. As we found out after the High Plains Grifters were all cleared out of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, what The People really want to do with federal land is dig poop trenches into Native American archaeological sites, for Liberty.

Now that the John Brown of welfare ranching is a-moulderin’ in a jail cell awaiting trial, let’s look in at what’s happened to Gold Butte, the sensitive 350,000 acres of desert area near the Bundy ranch, since the unpleasantness of 2014. Sadly, the Bureau of Land Management, understandably leery of getting shot at, has pretty much stayed away from the area since the end of the standoff. That may be changing, as environmental groups and local Native Americans have been calling for increased federal protection of Gold Butte. Saturday, the day after Earth Day, members of the Moapa Band of Paiutes and other tribes staged a “culture walk” across 11 miles of Gold Butte to call attention to vandalism of cultural sites, illegal offroading, and ranchers letting cattle onto land where grazing isn’t allowed. You know — what the Bundyite crowd calls “responsible local control of the land.”

Since the Bundy standoff, ancient petroglyphs in the area have been defaced, as seen in the charming example above. When in doubt, shoot holes and draw dicks, for Freedom! Other petroglyph sites have been shot up by gunfire or chipped off and removed altogether. William Anderson, the former tribal chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, said, “I couldn’t believe someone would do that … It was surprising that people had no respect for our culture and our people.” Anderson recently traveled to Washington DC to lobby for protection of Gold Butte, which is currently designated an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern”; many would prefer even stronger protection.


So how has Gold Butte fared since 2014, when the Bundys and their patriot pals freed the area from the tyranny of the BLM? In short, not so great, as an August 2015 report by the group Friends of Gold Butte documented. Besides the vandalism to the petroglyphs, there’s also a lot of illegal offroading; people cut fences and tear up the desert just exactly the way Thomas Jefferson intended.



Organic Pesticides. Yes, They Do Exist, And Are Used.



Of course, there is no discussion about the absolute level of the pesticides, and the fact that such levels are insignificant and pose no known risk. But there is a deeper deception in this video and many studies looking at the difference in pesticide exposure between conventional and organic produce. They are only testing for pesticides not used by organic farmers. They are not testing for pesticides that are used in organic farming.

The game, therefore, is completely rigged, and the outcome is assured. If they tested only for organic pesticides the results would be flipped.


The fact is that the use of pesticides are allowed in organic farming, mostly derived from natural sources but also some synthetic chemical deemed “essential.” There is no apriori reason to assume that chemical pesticides derived from natural sources are safer or better for the environment that synthetic ones.


I am also not arguing for the overuse or simplistic use of pesticides as an easy solution. The consensus seems to be for integrated pest management. There are also some techniques favored by organic farmers which can help reduce reliance on pesticides. Whatever works is good, but we should follow the evidence, not ideology."


Just a little perspective.

How many MLS supporters are on DU?

Buck up folks. Don't be intimidated.



"A new study shows that the world could wean itself off of fossil fuels within the next ten years. The right mix of measures would have to be put in place for that to happen, University of Sussex researchers say, but it should be possible if government leaders commit to it.

Last year, leaders of G7 industrial nations reached an agreement to phase out fossil fuels by 2100. But it could be done in a fraction of the time with a collaborative, interdisciplinary, multi-scalar effort, says Benjamin Sovacool, Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex.

In a study published in the journal Energy Research & Social Science, Sovacool analyzed immense energy transitions in the past and compared them with successful energy revolutions that have occurred in recent modern history.

He states that the shift from wood to coal in Europe took between 96 and 160 years. Mainstream adoption of electricity, meanwhile, took 47 to 69 years.



I am more cynical about this than the fact that I posted it might indicate. Still, discussion is worthy.



"Birds that live in urban areas are better at figuring out how to access new sources of food compared to rural birds of the same species, says a new study. City birds also show stronger immune responses than their country cousins, perhaps because urban life brings them into contact with a wider array of pathogens.

The study is part of a larger body of research exploring what characteristics enable species to thrive in human-dominated landscapes. Scientists reason that in the urban wild, birds have to be opportunistic, flexible, and innovative to take advantage of food sources provided (deliberately or not) by people. And they have to be willing to tolerate the noise and hubbub of people and traffic in cities.

To test these predictions, researchers from McGill University captured 50 Barbados bullfinches (Loxigilla barbadensis) and brought them back to the laboratory for behavioral and physiological tests. This species does well in both wild and developed parts of Barbados, and the researchers captured birds from eight different sites representing a rural-to-urban gradient on the Caribbean island.

Urban Barbados bullfinches have a stronger reaction than do rural ones to an injection of a compound called phytohemagglutinin, the researchers reported recently in Behavioral Ecology. This is a standard test of immune function and suggests that the urban birds have more robust immune responses, a finding in line with other studies.



Berry birdy interesting.

Female suicide bomber wounds 13 in Turkish city of Bursa

Source: Reuters

A female suicide bomber wounded at least 13 people when she blew herself up near the main mosque in the northwestern Turkish city of Bursa on Wednesday, officials said, the fifth suicide bombing in a major urban centre this year.

Photographs from the scene showed the severed torso of what appeared to be the bomber lying at the side of the mosque. Police ushered dazed passers-by out of surrounding streets as ambulances and forensics teams arrived.

The local governor's office said the woman was thought to have detonated a device she was wearing at 5:26 pm (1426 GMT) near the western gate of Bursa's Grand Mosque. Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said 13 people were injured, none critically.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Read more: http://in.reuters.com/article/turkey-blast-idINKCN0XO1U6

Ford recalls 202,000 vehicles for transmission issue

Source: MLive

Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it's issuing five safety recalls covering about 285,000 vehicles.

The largest recall includes 201,900 vehicles from the 2011 and 2012 model years for a transmission issue linked to at least three accidents.

The Dearborn automaker has issued a safety recall for the 2011-2012 Ford F-150, and 2012 Ford Expedition, Ford Mustang and Lincoln Navigator for a potential problem with the output speed sensor in the transmission's lead frame.

The company said that in certain conditions the part can lead to a temporary downshift into first gear. Depending on how fast the vehicle is going, that could lead to an abrupt reduction in speed that could cause the rear tires to slide or lock up.

Read more: http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2016/04/ford_recalls_202000_vehicles_f.html

Well, then.
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