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Why NASA still believes we might find life on Mars


Why NASA still believes we might find life on Mars
By Sarah Kaplan July 30 at 11:20 AM

The day Gil Levin says he detected life on Mars, he was waiting in his lab at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, watching a piece of paper inch out of a printer.


"I was sort of trembling, you know?" he recalled. It was July 30, 1976.

Forty years later, Levin and Straat still believe that their experiment was evidence of microbiotic Martians. But few people agree with them. To NASA, and to most scientists, the 1976 Viking mission was a technical triumph but a biological bust. Scientists, such as Carl Sagan, who had wagered that large organisms "are not only possible on Mars; they may be favored," were disappointed to see images the lander sent back of a dry, barren planet. Two experiments aimed at finding life turned up negative, and NASA concluded that the results of Levin's test, called the Labeled Release experiment, could be explained by chemical processes rather than biological ones.


But hope was in the air at Langley Research Center last week, where NASA held a two-day conference to honor the 40th anniversary of the Viking landing. After decades of pointedly not looking for it, the space agency is more optimistic than it's been since 1976 that it might find life on Mars yet.


The issue with the Viking experiments is that they expected to find too much too soon, speaker after speaker explained over the course of the conference. Detecting life with Viking would have been a breakthrough of unprecedented proportions, and science doesn't usually happen that way. Most "breakthroughs" come after years of accumulating incremental increases in knowledge.


This kind of talk is frustrating for Levin, who has held for 30 years that life on Mars has already been detected. At the anniversary event Wednesday, he exhorted the audience, "there is no scientifically acceptable explanation to the Labeled Release experiments on Mars, except life."

Off stage, Levin admitted he was surprised he was invited to speak at the conference (when he announced his opinion at the 10th anniversary celebration, he says he was pelted with shrimp).


Gil Levin will be vindicated, eventually.

ABC News: What's in the WikiLeaks DNC Recordings

What's in the WikiLeaks DNC Recordings
ABC News
Published on Jul 27, 2016

Voicemails show former ambassadors calling DNC officials for time with Obama.

22 Palisades nuclear plant guards on paid leave, fire inspections forged


22 Palisades nuclear plant guards on paid leave, fire inspections forged

By Rosemary Parker
on July 19, 2016

COVERT, MI -- The exact details of why 22 security guards at the Palisades nuclear plant have been suspended remain murky, but an energy company official admitted that the employees are accused of fabricated fire inspection records.


Neither Entergy nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will say what the guards are accused of doing wrong or how long the problem persisted before it was discovered. The company and federal agency each cited an ongoing investigation.

Prema Chandrathil, public affairs officer for the US NRC Region III, said the NRC identified an issue with fire tours at Palisades while conducting routine safety inspections.

"Our inspectors had questions about those tours and began looking further into the issue. The NRC has fire protection requirements that are specific to each plant and at Palisades there appears to be discrepancies as to how the procedures were being met," she said.


That seems consistent with the claim of an unnamed source, reported by WWMT, that the plant's paper records "indicated that fire inspections had been completed by the plant's security officers, however, electronic records tracking movement in the plant showed the opposite."


EDF Pushes for U.K. Nuclear Project Energy Experts Call 'Crazy'

Source: Bloomberg

Critics of the U.K.’s first new nuclear plant in more than 20 years, who say the project will prove bad value for millions of British consumers, could be proved right after the government asked to review the deal.

U.K. Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, said the government needed to carefully consider the project before making a final decision to build the 18 billion-pound ($23.7 billion) station. That statement came just hours after the board of Electricite de France SA had decided to press on with construction.


Renewable energy, which last year delivered a quarter of the U.K.’s power demand, could be a cheaper option, according to a report by the National Audit Office last month. Danish utility Dong Energy A/S won a contract to deliver offshore wind power in the Netherlands at 72 euros a megawatt-hour ($80) for 15 years earlier this month, a deal that may be the cheapest in the world for the technology.


After months of delays EDF may have now rushed the decision at short notice over fears the new Prime Minister Theresa May may be seeking to ditch the project as part of a new industrial strategy, said Liebreich.


Now that EDF has made the final investment decision, “if the U.K. cancels it, then the U.K. becomes liable for canceling the contract,” said Liebreich.


Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-29/edf-pushes-for-u-k-nuclear-project-energy-experts-call-crazy

Nuclear worker: ‘Retaliation is very real at Hanford'

Source: KING 5

Whistle-blower Dave Lee, a veteran instrument technician at the site, said after he made repeated attempts to bring attention to an unsafe condition at Hanford, he was harassed, isolated, and made to clean closets instead of his regular duties fixing and maintaining complicated pieces of equipment.


According to a newly released report from the Government Accountability Office, which is the investigative arm of Congress, Dave Lee’s experience isn’t isolated. The investigators found the U.S. Department of Energy routinely allows “unlawful retaliation” perpetrated by its contractors at sites such as Hanford.

“It’s clear the Department of Energy contractors are going to go to amazing lengths to send a signal to their employees that when you blow the whistle it is going to be the end of your career,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in response to the GAO findings.

“The Dept. of Energy has utterly and completely failed to protect whistleblowers from retaliation,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). “The currency of whistleblowers is the truth, but at the Dept. of Energy whistleblowers are paid with harassment and retaliation.”


Read more: http://www.king5.com/news/local/investigations/nuclear-worker-retaliation-is-very-real-at-hanford/283622616

What Neuroimaging Can Teach us About Depression


What Neuroimaging Can Teach us About Depression
Theodore Henderson, MD, PhD
July 01, 2016

Neuroimaging studies have shown several neurophysiological substrates for depression: An overview by Theodore Henderson, MD, PhD.


Neuroscience and neuroimaging have revealed much to provide evidence that depression is a biological disease. Indeed, depression is not just one thing, despite the efforts of mainstream psychiatry to classify it into a single illness category. Nassir Ghaemi, MD, noted expert on psychopharmacology recently wrote:4

Psychiatry…practice(s) non-scientifically; we use hundreds of made-up labels for professional purposes, without really getting at the reality of what is wrong with the patient…We have a huge amount of neurobiology research now to conclude that the 20th century neurotransmitter theories of psychopharmacology basically are false. The dopamine and monoamine (serotonin) hypotheses of schizophrenia and depression are wrong...we now know that drugs have major second messenger effects which (cause) neuroplastic changes in the brain, including connections between neurons. The brain is literally re-sculpted.”

Neuroimaging studies have shown several neurophysiological substrates for depression. Functional brain scans, such as SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) or PET (positron emission tomography) have shown that while patients may present with the same symptoms of depression, they can have very different processes occurring in their brains.


Future directions in Psychiatry might include anti-inflammatory agents,30 more extensive use of ketamine infusion therapy,33 ketamine analogs, and neuroimaging-based selection of medications,14,17 which some have shown improves outcomes.16 Recognition that depressive episodes can be precipitated by neural injury, such as TBI or toxic injury may lead to radically different, even non-pharmacological treatments for depression following brain injury. A barrier to these advances is the fundamental resistance on the part of psychiatrists to look at the organ they are treating and to open their eyes to possible alternative explanations for the depression the patient describes to them.

Theodore Henderson, MD, PhD, is a psychiatrist in Denver, Colo., who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of complex adult, child, and adolescent psychiatric cases. His website is www.childpsychiatristdenver.com.

Homeownership Rate in the U.S. Drops to Lowest Since 1965

Source: Bloomberg

The U.S. homeownership rate fell to the lowest in more than 50 years as rising prices put buying out of reach for many renters.

The share of Americans who own their homes was 62.9 percent in the second quarter, the lowest since 1965, according to a Census Bureau report Thursday. It was the second straight quarterly decrease, down from 63.5 percent in the previous three months.

The drop extends a years-long decline from the last housing boom, in part because of tight credit and a shift toward renting in the aftermath of the crash. First-time buyers have been struggling to find affordable properties as low mortgage rates and an improving job market spur competition for a tight supply of listings. Home prices rose 5.2 percent in May from a year earlier, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index of values in 20 cities released this week.

“One of the biggest hurdles now is affordability,” Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina, said before the Census Bureau report was released. “Home prices are rising so much faster than incomes, so it’s hard for buyers to save for a down payment.”

The homeownership rate reached a peak of 69.2 percent in June 2004.


Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-28/homeownership-rate-in-the-u-s-tumbles-to-the-lowest-since-1965

Unions ask San Diegans to boycott Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs

Unions ask San Diegans to boycott Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs
ABC 10 News
Published on Jul 26, 2016

A UFCW Local 135 spokeswoman says 14,000 union members could go on strike in roughly two weeks.

LBN story: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10141532446

Unions ask San Diegans to boycott Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs

Source: KGTV ABC 10

A strike by local grocery workers could be on the horizon, but for now, those workers don't want you stepping foot in their San Diego-area stores.


A UFCW Local 135 spokeswoman said 14,000 union members could go on strike in roughly two weeks. They haven't had a contract with Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs since March.

"We're talking 160 days without a contract," said Ledford. "We are asking for you to boycott so that they understand the impact that you're lack of patroness can do if we don't get a fair and equitable contract."


Union spokeswoman Lori Kern said the grocery chains are only offering a 10-cent raise next year and want to increase healthcare costs.


Ledford said they want their loyal customers to shop at other union chains like Gelsons, Kiels, Smart and Final, and Food 4 Less.


Read more: http://www.10news.com/news/unions-ask-san-diegans-to-boycott-vons-albertsons-and-ralphs-072616

Yay Barbara Boxer!

Two of my favorite politicians are Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi.
From Boxer's speech:

"I have a message for Donald Trump and Mike Pence:
We are not going back to the dark days when women died in back alleys.
We are never ever ever ever going back!
Never! We are moving forward with Hillary Clinton..."

"There's a lot of talk about what makes America great.
Well I'll tell you this:
It's not when we insult each other.
It's not when we tear each other down.
It's when we stand together,
it's when we work together,
it's when we build together,
it's when we fight together,
and that's what makes America great."

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