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Making viruses in the lab deadlier and more able to spread

Lasrick Correction to post (1 comments)

Please note that this section is incorrect: '... in 2009, a group of Chinese scientists created a viral strain of flu virus that escaped the lab and created a pandemic, killing thousands of people.' I misread the sentence. The Chinese scientists created a new virus by combining '...the H5N1 avian influenza virus and the H1N1 human flu virus that triggered a pandemic in 2009 and claimed several thousand lives.' It was the H1N1 the scientists used that caused a pandemic, not the creation of the new virus. My apologies.

about a week ago
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What would Reagan do in Iraq?

Lasrick Re:huh? (3 comments)

Its not clear to me why either one of them would actually want to be considered most like RR.

Well, yes, good point. Only if one is pandering to the Tea Party, I suppose.

about a month ago
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Sexist Presentations At Startup Competition Prompt TechCrunch Apology

Lasrick Re:Should have done it on MTV (762 comments)

Jesus. Why do you change the subject? Did I or anyone say it's okay to present graphic violence as entertainment? You are deflecting from discussion about what these two grown men did at a professional conference, which many people attended for the technical information. When you buy a ticket to a movie or a performance, you have a general idea of what you are going to get. If you want to see gratuitous sex and/or violence, you may choose to do so. And others may choose not to. When at a professional conference, the intent is altogether different. People are there for a variety of reasons, and having these men push their sexist, misogynist agenda on them is wrong.

about a year ago
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On the end of USPS 1st Class Saturday delivery:

Lasrick Re:Congress hates us (564 comments)

ThinkProgress is hardly a "kook blog". Their article states that "Under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, Congress has for years forced the USPS to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of pensions for its employees, a requirement not made of any other public or private institution. That means that the Postal Service is footing the bill for employees it hasn’t even hired yet." http://thinkprogress.org/tag/us-postal-service/

about a year and a half ago
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Secret UK uranium components plant closed over safety fears

Lasrick Not uranium enriching (2 comments)

Title here is misleading, sorry. It's not a uranium enriching plant, but rather "A top-secret plant at Aldermaston that makes enriched uranium components for Britain's nuclear warheads and fuel for the Royal Navy's submarines has been shut down because corrosion has been discovered in its "structural steelwork", the Guardian can reveal." There is some debate going on over the article over Pugwash and other lists that deal in non-proliferation issues.

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Would Scottish independence mean the end of UK's nuclear arsenal?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  yesterday

Lasrick (2629253) writes "The referendum on Scottish independence on September 18th affects more than just residents of the United Kingdom. All of the UK's nuclear deterrent is located in Scotland (no wonder they want independence), and Alex Salmond and the Scottish government have pledged to safely remove and permanently ban nuclear weapons from Scottish territory within the first term of a newly independent parliament. Although the polls seem not to favor Scottish independence, you would think the British government would have some sort of contingency plan to quickly and safely remove these weapons from Scottish soil. Nope. There's no contingency plan."
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If fusion is the answer, we need to do it quickly

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  3 days ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Yale's Jason Parisi makes a compelling case for fusion power, and explains why fusion is cleaner, safer, and doesn't provide opportunities for nuclear smuggling and proliferation. The only downside will be the transition period, when there are both fission and fusion plants available and the small amount of "booster" elements (tritium and deuterium) found in fusion power could provide would-be proliferators what they need to boost the yield of fission bombs: 'The period during which both fission and fusion plants coexist could be dangerous, however. Just a few grams of deuterium and tritium are needed to increase the yield of a fission bomb, in a process known as “boosting.”' Details about current research into fusion power and an exploration of relative costs make fusion power seem like the answer to a civilization trying to get away from fossil fuels."
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Don't Fear the Robot Car Bomb

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  4 days ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Patrick Lin writes about a recent FBI report that warns of the use of robot cars as terrorist and criminal threats, calling the use of weaponized robot cars "game changing." Lin explores the many ways in which robot cars could be exploited for nefarious purposes, including the fear that they could help terrorist organizations based in the Middle East carry out attacks on US soil. 'And earlier this year, jihadists were calling for more car bombs in America. Thus, popular concerns about car bombs seem all too real.' But Lin isn't too worried about these threats, and points out that there are far easier ways for terrorists to wreak havoc in the US."
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How a small-time handicapper concocted a wild MLB game-fixing tale

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  5 days ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "This is a pretty fantastic story about how a sports handicapper got revenge over a Major League Baseball pitcher by concocting a game-fixing story and spreading it around. Great read, and interesting discussion points about what exactly MLB gets excited about and what they let slide."
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How California's Carbon Market Actually Works

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a week ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Almost 10 years ago, California’s legislature passed Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB 32 set the most ambitious legally binding climate policy in the United States, requiring that California’s greenhouse gas emissions return to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The centerpiece of the state’s efforts—in rhetorical terms, if not practical ones—is a comprehensive carbon market, which California’s leaders promote as a model policy for controlling carbon pollution. Over the course of the past 18 months, however, California quietly changed its approach to a critical rule affecting the carbon market’s integrity. Under the new rule, utilities are rewarded for swapping contracts on the Western electricity grid, without actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Now that the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants, many are looking to the Golden State for best climate policy practices. On that score, California’s experience offers cautionary insights into the challenges of using carbon markets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
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Making viruses in the lab deadlier and more able to spread

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a week ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "A scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison published an article in June revealing that he had taken genes from the deadly human 1918 Spanish Flu and inserted them into the H5N1 avian flu to make a new virus—one which was both far deadlier and far more capable of spreading than the original avian strain. In July it was revealed that the same scientist was conducting another study in which he genetically altered the 2009 strain of flu to enable it to evade immune responses, 'effectively making the human population defenseless against re-emergence.' In the U.S. alone, biosafety incidents involving pathogens happen more than twice per week. These 'gain-of-function' experiments are accidents waiting to happen, with the possibility of starting deadly pandemics that could kill millions. It isn't as if it hasn't happened before: in 2009, a group of Chinese scientists created a viral strain of flu virus that escaped the lab and created a pandemic, killing thousands of people. 'Against this backdrop, the growing use of gain-of-function approaches for research requires more careful examination. And the potential consequences keep getting more catastrophic.' This article explores the history of lab-created pandemics and outlines recommendations for a safer approach to this type of research."
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Scientists who smuggle radioactive materials

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Although the complicity of scientists in the smuggling of radioactive materials has been a long-standing concern, smuggling-prevention efforts have so far failed to recognize a key aspect to the problem: scientists are often sought out to test the quality and level of the material well before it is taken to the black market. Egle Murauskaite of the US National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) describes why concentrating on this aspect of the smuggling process, long considered less egregious than the actual selling of the material, could really make a difference in keeping radioactive materials off the black market in the first place."
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Hiroshima Memories: the many retrospectives of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists posts a retrospective of sorts for the anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bomb (August 6) and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki (August 9). The Bulletin links to various articles both current and from the past, including a piece in its own pages that condemned the Nagasaki bombing, but not the bombing of Hiroshima. First person accounts are included in this moving compilation of Hiroshima memories."
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Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Facility: Weapons-grade uranium, mercury, and revenge-porn

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "This is simply astonishing. Bob Alvarez describes the fiscal, environmental, health, and safety problems that have for decades defined the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. From insane levels of mercury pollution that has gotten into local waterways, to chronic fires and explosions, the arrest of a trespassing nun, and an airplane that came low enough over the facility to drop a large load of revenge-porn, Y-12 is a major disaster waiting to happen.

‘Years of leaking roofs have created chronic safety problems, including standing water in fissile material storage areas and water accumulation near electric control panels. In March 2014, a large portion of a concrete ceiling collapsed in a building that was once part of the weapons operation’

And recently, the Government Accountability Office ‘reported that one of the primary justifications for stockpiling excess canned sub-assemblies at Y-12 is “for potential use in planetary defense against earthbound asteroids.”’ In 2005, a task force at the Department of Energy recommended the closure of Y-12, citing a lack of ‘modern-day production technology,” and urged the DOE to begin an immediate site selection process elsewhere. That set the Tennessee congressional delegations into an uproar, so the DOE decided to modernize ‘in-place.” It can't happen too soon.."

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The linguistics and politics of climate change

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes ""Climate scientist Peter Friederici with a wonderful piece on the linguistics of climate change.He traces the Republican embrace of the term "climate change" to GOP consultant Frank Luntz because, as Luntz put it, 'Climate change’ is less frightening,' and presumably, less likely to inspire action. Friederici cites a study that examines the use of both terms in the US, and then looks toward Germany's inspired coining of the phrase 'Energiewende.' This is a delightful read with implications for American environmentalists and policy makers.""
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The linguistics of climate change, and why it matters

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Climate scientist Peter Friederici with a wonderful piece on the linguistics of climate change.He traces the Republican embrace of the term "climate change" to GOP consultant Frank Luntz because, as Luntz put it, 'Climate change’ is less frightening,' and presumably, less likely to inspire action. Friederici cites a study that examines the use of both terms in the US, and then looks toward Germany's inspired coining of the phrase 'Energiewende.' This is a delightful read with implications for American environmentalists and policy makers."
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How to prevent the next Ebola outbreak

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "The most recent Ebola outbreak has occurred is in 3 countries that have not previously reported the disease. Laura Kahn believes humans are becoming more and more vulnerable to Ebola and other deadly diseases because of increased exposure, a result of massive deforestation: 'Environmental destruction and widespread deforestation seem to constitute a common thread in causing the emergence of many of the deadliest viruses known to humanity...Deadly viruses such as Ebola and Nipah emerge in human populations after widespread deforestation destroys the habitats of fruit bats to make way for agriculture.' In countries desperate to feed themselves, bushmeat consumption is a dangerous practice that exposes humans to Ebola. The answer, Kahn believes, is a sustainable approach to large-scale livestock production: 'The Ebola virus can be contained, but doing so requires that people be convinced to change behavior that earns them money and provides them food.'"
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Lawrence Krauss: Congress is trying to defund scientists at Energy Department

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Physicist Lawrence Krauss blasts Congress for their passage of the 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill that cut funding for renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and energy efficiency, and even worse, had amendments that targeted scientists at the Department of Energy: He writes that this action from the US Congress is worse even than the Australian government's move to cancel their carbon tax, because the action of Congress is far more insidious: 'Each (amendment) would, in its own way, specifically prohibit scientists at the Energy Department from doing precisely what Congress should mandate them to do—namely perform the best possible scientific research to illuminate, for policymakers, the likelihood and possible consequences of climate change' Although the bill isn't likely to become law, Krauss is fed up with Congress burying its head in the sand: The fact that those amendments '...could pass a house of Congress, should concern everyone interested in the appropriate support of scientific research as a basis for sound public policy.' Amen"
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Why are the world's scientists continuing to take chances with smallpox?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about 1 month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "MIT's Jeanne Guillemin looks at the recent blunders with smallpox and H5N1 at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health to chronicle the fascinating history of smallpox eradication efforts and the attempts (thwarted by Western scientists) to destroy lab collections of the virus in order to make it truly extinct. 'In 1986, with no new smallpox cases reported, the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, resolved to destroy the strain collections and make the virus extinct. But there was resistance to this; American scientists in particular wanted to continue their research.' Within a few years, secret biological warfare programs were discovered in Moscow and in Iraq, and a new flurry of defensive research was funded. Nevertheless, Guillemin and others believe that changes in research methods, which no longer require the use of live viruses, mean that stocks of the live smallpox virus can and should finally be destroyed."
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MIT's Ted Postol presents more evidence on Iron Dome failures

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "In a controversial article last week, MIT physicist Ted Postol again questioned whether Israel's vaunted Iron Dome rocket defense system actually works. This week, he comes back with evidence in the form of diagrams, photos of Iron Dome intercepts and contrails, and evidence on the ground to show that Iron Dome in fact is effective only about 5% of the time. Postol believes the real reason there are so few Israeli casualties is that Hamas rockets have very small warheads (only 10 to 20 pounds), and also Israel's outstanding civil defense system, which includes a vast system of shelters and an incredibly sophisticated rocket attack warning system (delivered through smart phones, among other ways)."
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What would Reagan do in Iraq?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Senator Rand Paul and Governor Rick Perry have been arguing lately through various op/eds over which of them is more like Ronald Reagan when it comes to military intervention. Neither of them seem to have looked very carefully at Reagan's record on the matter. Peter Beinart explains how Reagan's approach would be a disaster in the Middle East, and he looks instead to Presidents Nixon and Roosevelt, two presidents the Republican Party isn't about to consider as role models."
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How to prevent the next Ebola outbreak

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "The latest outbreak of Ebola in 3 countries where it had not been previously reported is the largest and deadliest since Ebola was first reported in 1976, and this outbreak appears to be a new strain of the virus. Strong evidence points to the fruit bat as the host species of the virus, and Laura Kahn examines how human activity is increasing exposure to the fruit bat, as well as how the virus then spreads from human-to-human contact. 'The Ebola virus can be contained, but doing so requires that people be convinced to change behavior that earns them money and provides them food.' More people have been diagnosed with Ebola this time around than the peak back in 1976, and the death toll has yet to be calculated. The recommendations in this article should be thoroughly examined."
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Israel's Iron Dome rocket defense system is high-tech. So is the PR campaign

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month and a half ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "It isn't as if real analysis of Israel's "Iron Dome" isn't available, but invariably, whenever Israel has a skirmish the media is filled with glowing reports of how well the system works, and we always find out months later that the numbers were exaggerated. John Mecklin at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists looks at the coverage of Iron Dome in the recent exchanges between Israel and Hamas and finds the pattern is repeating itself. However, 'Ted Postol, an MIT-based missile defense expert and frequent Bulletin contributor, provided a dose of context to the Iron Dome coverage in a National Public Radio interview Wednesday. "We can tell, for sure, from video images and even photographs that the Iron Dome system is not working very well at all,"' Includes a good explanation of the differences between Iron Dome (a 'rocket defense system') and missile defense systems pushed by the US."
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Japan's Missing Plutonium: How dangerous material falls through the cracks

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month and a half ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Japan's missing plutonium has been found, but the larger point of this article remains: 'Most people would agree that keeping track of dangerous material is generally a good idea. So it may come as a surprise to some that the arrangements that are supposed to account for weapon-grade fissile materials—plutonium and highly enriched uranium—are sketchy at best. The most recent example involves several hundreds kilograms of plutonium that appear to have fallen through the cracks in various reporting arrangements.'"
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Ramadan has started; what does that mean for MERS?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about 2 months ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Maurizio Barbeschi leads the World Health Organization's Preparedness, Mass Gatherings and Deliberate Events Group, which provides strategic guidance on dealing with high-visibility and high-consequence events like Ramadan and the World Cup. In this interview he talks about disease outbreaks that have occurred at these types of mass gatherings, and the strategies Saudi Arabia is using this month to prevent a MERS outbreak during Ramadan."
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