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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

Lasrick Re:Alternative? (377 comments)

I don't think this is hating on Big Ag so much as reporting on a surprising aspect of 4H, of which my family has been involved for years. It's not a bad thing to have information, and it isn't necessarily "hating."

about 3 months ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

Lasrick Re:This is bad (377 comments)

No one has said it's bad. I participate in a huge fundraiser for my county 4H each year, and much of the money goes to international programs. I never knew that 4H was involved in a program like this. The point is to have information, and maybe to ask more questions. Information is never a bad thing. And do the farmers know what the long term cost of the seeds are? Seems to me they should be told. This is much like Nestle giving out formula to maternity wards, getting new mothers to feed their babies formula instead of breastfeed. Which turns out to have been a horrible idea, as the formula needed to be mixed with water, which was often unsanitary and caused untold numbers of deaths. Having information is never a bad thing, especially if 4H is acting as some sort of USAID program.

about 3 months ago
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Buying Goods To Make Nuclear Weapons On eBay, Alibaba, and Other Platforms

Lasrick Re:If so damn many people are making nukes (260 comments)

You do realize that many agencies are working on non-proliferation and have been for some time, which helps keep "boom" from happening (also chemweap attacks, etc). The article just details a few more safeguards. So many things have "dual use" purposes that keeping up with safeguards is vital.

about 3 months ago
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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 6 months 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 6 months 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 2 years 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 2 years ago

Submissions

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When the argument between science and industry was over ozone

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a week ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Thanks to the world’s first global environmental treaty, the ozone hole over the Antarctic has stopped growing. Yet for about a decade after Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland published their 1974 journal article describing the chemical link between CFCs and stratospheric ozone, the fate of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was far from certain, right up to the moment when the Antarctic ozone hole was reported by Joseph Farman and his colleagues in 1985. The similarities to today's climate "debate" are depressing, as the pattern of acceptance, inaction, and the public trashing of scientists is the same: 'The vast majority of scientists who study the problem say that the weight of evidence shows that human activities are driving climate change. A few contrarians, businesses, and political and media pundits say otherwise. The majority of the public is confused by the conflicting messages and has low interest. The greenhouse gas producers, their lobbyists, and the governments that control their energy sectors are stalling, saying that the science is too unsettled and more proof is needed that humans are responsible. At the same time, corporations are examining new technologies and trying to find ways to achieve a competitive advantage and profits." All of this played out over 30 years ago, when ozone was the issue and human-created CFCs were the problem."
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Doomsday Clock is now 3 minutes to midnight!

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin's Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 17 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies emerging in other domains. Today, the Clock was moved up 2 minutes; it is now 3 minutes to midnight. Here is the Board's statement on the move."
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Closer to Self-Destruction? Doomsday Clock Could Move Tomorrow

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "The ominous minute hand of the "Doomsday Clock" has been fixed at 5 minutes to midnight for the past three years. But it could move tomorrow. The clock is a visual metaphor that was created nearly 70 years ago by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, whose Board of Governors boasts 18 Nobel laureates. Each year, the Bulletin's Science and Security Board assesses threats to humanity — with special attention to nuclear warheads and climate change — to decide whether the Doomsday Clock needs an adjustment. The event will be streamed live from the Bulletin's website at 11 am EST."
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Rebranding the nuclear weapons complex won't reform it

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Robert Alvarez has been all over attempts to pull a rug over the serious issues with safety and security within the US nuclear weapons research and production complex. Here he details how the most recent Congressional Advisory Panel to make recommendations was stacked with people with serious conflicts of interest: 'Given that the panel was dominated by members with ties to weapons contractors, it comes as no surprise that the panel's report advocates a reduction in federal oversight of contractors that run the complex, in effect doubling-down on the least-interference policy that is at the heart of so many weapons complex problems.' Alvarez goes on to name some of those panel members, and to describe escalating costs: 'Since 2006, when management of the weapons labs was transferred from the nonprofit University of California to for-profit entities, administrative fees have jumped by 650 percent at Los Alamos. The bloat in the weapons complex is hardly limited to the national labs; the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee has excess capacity that is comparable, in size, to two auto assembly plants.' There is an appalling struggle to bring the nuclear weapons complex under control, which is being fought tooth-and-nail by the private contractors who are making a fortune off 'a Cold War urgency that does not reflect the actual relevance of nuclear weaponry in the 21st century.'"
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What Africa really needs to fight Ebola

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Laura Kahn, a physician on the research staff of Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security, writes that the high tech solutions being promoted to help fight Ebola in Africa will make no difference. What Africa really needs is anti-corruption efforts, now. 'A case in point is Liberia, which has received billions of dollars in international aid for over a decade, with little to show for it. The country ranks near the bottom of the United Nation’s Human Development Index and near the bottom of Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer. And while international aid groups and non-governmental organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the International Medical Corps provide important humanitarian assistance and medical care, they also inadvertently absolve African political leaders from developing medical and public health infrastructures.'"
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Ending the assassination and oppression of Iranian nuclear scientists

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Merely for working in their field of expertise, Iranian nuclear scientists face perils and pressures that are nothing less than Shakespearean. The question for them is, in a very real sense, 'to be or not to be.' In the course of the last four decades, these scientists have faced intimidation and severe punishment, including prison terms, at the hands of their own government. In recent years, at least five Iranian nuclear scientists have been the target of assassination attempts often attributed to Israeli intelligence. Regardless of their source, all such threats against scientists are morally indefensible. They offend the scientific spirit, working against the free exchange of ideas that is necessary for humanity to advance. And in the final analysis these threats against scientists in Iran undermine global peace, targeting experts whose international collaboration is required to deal effectively with the nuclear risks facing the world today. Simply put, killing nuclear scientists makes reducing the threat of nuclear war harder, not easier."
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How much and what kind of monitoring of Iran's nuclear facilities is enough?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Harvard's Ariane Tabatabai digs into the remaining "bones of contention" between Iran and the P5+1 over Iran's nuclear program. There's a good explanation of how the IAEA conducts verification, and whether Iran is correct in its claim that their 'nuclear program is already subject to the most intrusive inspection regime in the world and thus it should not have accept more.' Tabatabai goes through the Joint Plan of Action between Iran and its negotiating partners and wraps up with concrete proposals for moving through the impasse."
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Lawrence Krauss on Scientists as Celebrities: Good for Science?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Lawrence Krauss explores the reasons why scientists such as Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and Neil deGrasse Tyson became celebrities, and he shares his own experience as a best selling author and frequent guest on television programs like Jon Stewar's' Daily Show. Krauss describes how public acclaim is often uncorrelated to scientific accomplishment and depends more on communication skills and personality traits. Nevertheless, he argues that the entire scientific community benefits when credible scientists gain a wider audience, and that celebrity is an opportunity that should not be squandered. Scientists who become recognizable have a chance and perhaps even a responsibility, which they have often exploited, to promote science literacy, combat scientific nonsense, motivate young people, and steer public policy discussions toward sound decision making wherever they can."
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What Sets Off Fundamentalists?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Responses to last week’s terror attacks in Paris are split into two camps: The first believes that Islam is a violent religion that inspires its followers to seek glory in terrorism. The second believes that political considerations drove the Paris attackers (and most other acts of Islamist terrorism). Ron Hassner explores the issue of what inspires fundamentalists of any religion to violence...or not? 'Therefore, what is truly puzzling about fundamentalist wrath is not merely why some fundamentalist Muslims but not others choose to resort to terrorism against cartoonists but why there is no such Islamist terrorism against abortion clinics, for example, a prime concern for Protestant fundamentalists. For reasons anchored in theology, history and politics, these Christians would never consider reacting with force to a cartoon mocking Jesus just as a cartoon mocking Moses would barely elicit a shrug from a fundamentalist Jew. But fundamentalist Jews riot, and violently so, in response to desecrations of the Sabbath and the unearthing of Jewish remains by archaeologists, two themes that neither their Muslim nor their Christian counterparts have much interest in.' Very valuable read."
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Michael Mann: Swifboating comes to science

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Michael Mann writes about the ad hominem attacks on scientists, especially climate scientists, that have become much more frequent over the last few decades. Mann should know: his work as a postdoc on the famed "hockey stick" graph led him to be vilified by Fox News and in the Wall Street Journal. Wealthy interests such as the Scaife Foundation and Koch Industries pressured Penn State University to fire him (they didn't). Right-wing elected officials attempted to have Mann's personal records and emails (and those of other climate scientists) subpoenaed and tried to have the "hockey stick" discredited in the media, despite the fact that the National Academy of Sciences reaffirmed the work, and that subsequent reports of the IPCC and the most recent peerreviewed research corroborates it. Even worse, Mann and his family were targets of death threats. Despite (or perhaps because of) the well-funded and ubiquitous attacks, Mann believes that flat-out climate change denialism is losing favor with the public, and he lays out how and why scientists should engage and not retreat to their labs to conduct research far from the public eye. 'We scientists must hold ourselves to a higher standard than the deniers-for-hire. We must be honest as we convey the threat posed by climate change to the public. But we must also be effective. The stakes are simply too great for us to fail to communicate the risks of inaction. The good news is that scientists have truth on their side, and truth will ultimately win out.'"
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Planet hackers and ground rules for geoengineering

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Brian Merchant covers the Climate Engineering Conference in Berlin, the first major international conference for geoengineering. His coverage of it is just fascinating. 'Talk of climate engineering swirled around us, and it was impossible not to eavesdrop. Richard Branson had sent an emissary to check out carbon-removal projects for the Virgin Earth Challenge. Someone else rattled off the ins and outs of launching a giant mirror into space. There were crazier ideas, too.' Just a great read."
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What's wrong with the Manhattan Project National Park?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Dawn Stover describes the radioactive dirt behind the creation of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, from its inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act (the park legislation wouldn't pass otherwise) and lack of funding for national parks in general to the lack of funding for cleanup at Superfund nuclear sites like Hanford. And then there is how the Parks Service is presenting exhibits: at least some of them are described in the past tense, as if nuclear weapons were a thing of the past. Here's the description of the MInuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota: 'Nuclear war loomed as an apocalyptic shadow that could possibly have brought human history to an end.' Can the National Park Service be ignorant of the fact that missiles remain on station, nuclear weapons are still being stockpiled, and saber rattling did not end with the fall of the Berlin Wall?' Sobering read on commemorating our nuclear history."
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Hecker: The real threat from North Korea: not cyber attack, but nuclear bombs

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Sig Hecker is director emeritus of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he served as director from 1986 to 1997 and as senior fellow until July 2005. He has traveled to North Korea seven times over the last decade, and is one of the only scientists to have seen their nuclear facilities first-hand. He describes the trajectory of North Korea's nuclear program since the Reagan administration, and points out that the real threat from DPRK remains its nuclear arsenal: 'The absurdities in The Interview, North Korea’s alleged retaliatory cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, and US counter-threats and sanctions may be worthy of analysis, but when it comes to the real threat that Pyongyang poses to the world, they amount to no more than a giant distraction.' Terrific read."
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Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Anniversary: Scientists in the Public Interest

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "This special issue of the subscription Journal of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is free access in celebration of the Bulletin's 70th anniversary. 'Scientists in the Public Interest' is a must-read, with articles from Frank von Hippel, Lawrence Krauss, Michael Oppenheimer, Gavin Schmidt, and many more. From the introduction: 'Since a group of scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project founded it in 1945, the Bulletin has aimed to present the analyses of top scientific and policy experts in language that is accessible to high government leaders and everyday citizens alike, with the rather ambitious goal of saving humanity from itself. The list of those whose work has graced the Bulletin’s pages gives heft to the term “expert”: Albert Einstein, Hans Bethe, Leo Szilard, Edward Teller, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Mikhail Gorbachev populate only a tiny portion of that roster of great minds. And the brilliance behind the Bulletin is by no means confined to its past. Its Board of Sponsors now includes 17 Nobel laureates, along with Freeman Dyson, Stephen Hawking, and other luminaries.1 The magazine’s Science and Security Board, which sets the now-ubiquitous Doomsday Clock each January, is home to a revolving cast of leading scientific and public policy lights who provide the magazine’s readers with expertise on nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, climate change, synthetic biology, and other potentially catastrophic threats to the future of humanity.'"
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The Tragedy of the American Military

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Excellent, excellent read by James Fallows: The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win."
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Looking back at US-Cuba relations: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month and a half ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "A terrific look back through the last few decades at all the things that went wrong in the US-Cuba relationship, starting with the 1959 revolution that saw Fidel Castro come to power.The section on the CIA's internal review of the Bay of Pigs debacle is rather comical, in a sad way: 'The 150-page document, written by CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick, found fault with nearly all aspects of the endeavor, which included few personnel who even spoke Spanish; the report “was so offensive to agency officials that Director John McCone ordered all but one copy destroyed.'" It's difficult to learn from one's mistakes with that attitude."
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Preventing a man-made pandemic

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month and a half ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "More than at any time since the Cold War, scientists are tinkering with viruses to make them more deadly and more able to spread. Could the latest science be militarized and misused to make biological weapons? Fortunately, there are ways to make sure that it is not. Filippa Lentzos, a senior research fellow at King’s College London, studies contemporary and historical understandings of the threat of biological weapons, bioterrorism, and the strategic use of infection in conflict. She writes here about how states can go about fostering responsible science, especially in the area of "gain-of-function" research, where scientists tinker with viruses to make them more deadly and more easily spread. As she puts it: "...an effective regulatory framework to prevent gain-of-function research from causing man-made pandemics requires both scientists and states to play their part.""
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The shale boom won't stop climate change; it may make it worse.

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about 1 month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Energy expert H-Holger Rogner walks through the realities of the shale-gas boom, the 'game-changer' that has brought about a drop in energy prices and greatly reduced carbon emissions. But despite the positive impact on carbon emissions, Rogner points out that the cheap gas brought about by fracking shale may already be affecting investments into renewable energy, nuclear energy, and energy efficiency by offering more attractive investment opportunities: 'At today’s prices of $4 to $5 per million British thermal units, gas-fired electricity holds a definite competitive advantage over new nuclear construction and unsubsidized renewables.' But natural gas is still a fossil fuel that emits carbon dioxide. 'A much higher share of natural gas in the energy mix would eventually raise emissions again, especially if gas not only displaces coal but also non-fossil energy sources. Moreover, methane, the chief component of natural gas, is itself a heat-trapping greenhouse gas with 25 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide. If total methane leakage—from drilling through end use—is greater than about 4 percent, that could negate any climate benefits of switching from coal and oil to gas.' Terrific information."
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Cloak and Dagger from Tripoli: How Libya Gave Up its WMD

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about 2 months ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "This is the first installment of a five-part series exploring the painstaking diplomacy and intelligence efforts that led Libya and its quixotic leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi, to relinquish that country's weapons of mass destruction. Author William Tobey is a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He was most recently deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration, managing the US government’s largest program to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism by detecting, securing, and disposing of dangerous nuclear material. A fascinating story."
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