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."" Link to Original Source top
The linguistics of climate change, and why it matters
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." top
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.'" Link to Original Source top
Lawrence Krauss: Congress is trying to defund scientists at Energy Department
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" Link to Original Source top
Why are the world's scientists continuing to take chances with smallpox?
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." Link to Original Source top
MIT's Ted Postol presents more evidence on Iron Dome failures
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)." Link to Original Source top
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." Link to Original Source top
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." Link to Original Source top
Israel's Iron Dome rocket defense system is high-tech. So is the PR campaign
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." Link to Original Source top
Japan's Missing Plutonium: How dangerous material falls through the cracks
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.'" Link to Original Source top
Ramadan has started; what does that mean for MERS?
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." Link to Original Source top
Elizabeth Kolbert: We're already geoengineering the climate
Lasrick (2629253) writes "A fascinating interview with Elizabeth Kolbert about her work reporting on the environment and climate change for the New Yorker, and her latest book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. The interview explores the denialist phenomenon, field research, charismatic megafauna, saving wildlife, and her expectations for the future of the planet. One of the most interesting discussions here is about how truly right-wing the US has become when compared to the conservative politics in other countries: 'What we consider to be left-wing politics, the Europeans consider to be centrist politics. I mean, look at our tax policies, look at everything, and look at the kind of know-nothing right we have. Don’t get me wrong; the know-nothing right exists in Europe, I don’t want to claim it doesn’t. But it’s not very powerful, compared to here'" Link to Original Source top
SCOTUS decision on recess appointments: Pragmatism triumphs over formalism
Lasrick (2629253) writes ""The SCOTUS blog, as always, has a great analysis of yesterday's Supreme Court decision that struck down a handful of President Obama's recess appointments. Although first reported as a complete blow to recess appointments, in actuality, the Court refused to strip presidents of nearly all power to make such appointments (as the four dissenters would have done); the majority set some limits but still kept that authority mostly intact."" Link to Original Source top
Did Climate Deniers Just Admit They Don't Know What They're Talking About?
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Dawn Stover skewers the latest phrasing from ever-evolving argument from the climate-denying world: the "I'm not a scientist." tactic. 'Just when it seemed that climate deniers might finally be coming to their senses, several leading voices began backpedaling. But instead of asserting that global warming isn’t occurring or isn’t human-caused, they came up with a sly new way to suggest that the scientific jury is still out: total ignorance.'" Link to Original Source top
ISIS: The unsurprising surprise that is sweeping Iraq
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Terrorism expert Charles Blair explores the history of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) and their recent, terrifying blitz through Iraq and Syria. It turns out that ISIS is a multi-tiered organization that 'displays a robust command and control system, and, Lewis correctly notes, it enjoys “unconstrained communication among teams as well as unconstrained access to human capacity and materiel."' ISIS controls enough electricity in parts of Syria that it is actually selling power back to the Syrian government, and has also taken control of grains and cotton production in the eastern regions of Syria. ISIS fighters earn up to 3 times that of other rebel groups, so they are motivated beyond an ideological level. Although it was reported that the Iraqi military collapsed during the ISIS onslaught, it could just be that they were merely out-strategized. Because the ISIS military commander in Iraq was trained by the United States, it's highly likely he knew what the Iraqi strategy would be." Link to Original Source top
The EPA carbon plan: Coal loses, but but who wins?
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Mark Cooper with one of the best explanations of some of the most pressing details on the new EPA rule change: 'The claims and counterclaims about EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standards have filled the air: It will boost nuclear. It will expand renewables. It promotes energy efficiency. It will kill coal. It changes everything. It accomplishes almost nothing.' Cooper notes that although it's clear that coal is the big loser in the rule change, the rule itself doesn't really pick winners in terms of offering sweet deals for any particular technology; however, it seems that nuclear is also a loser in this formulation, because 'Assuming that states generally adhere to the prime directive of public utility resource acquisition—choosing the lowest-cost approach—the proposed rule will not alter the dismal prospects of nuclear power...' Nuclear power does seem to be struggling with economic burdens and a reluctance from taxpayers to pay continuing subsides in areas such as storage and cleanup. It seems that nuclear is another loser in the new EPA rule change." Link to Original Source top
Why China is worried about Japan's plutonium stocks
Lasrick (2629253) writes "A fascinating account of why China is so worried about Japan's excessive plutonium stocks: combined with its highly sophisticated missile program, 'Chinese nuclear-weapons specialists emphasize that Japan has everything technically needed to make nuclear weapons.' It turns out that Japan has under-reported a sizable amount of plutonium, and there have been increasing signs that the country might be moving toward re-militarization. This is a particularly worrying read about nuclear tensions in Asia." Link to Original Source top
The Scapegoating of General Shinseki: who resigns and who does not in D.C.?
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Anthropologist Hugh Gusterson has a blistering column examining the Veterans Affairs scandal and resignation of VA secretary General Eric Shinseki. In Gusterson's view, Shinseki was forced to take the fall for what at its core is a Congressional failure--the failure to fund Veterans Affairs to a level that is even close to sufficient, given the VA's mission: 'Meanwhile, at the same time that the VA struggled to deal with an onslaught of 650,000 soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, its facilities were already staggering under the escalating demands of Vietnam veterans. As the Harvard health economist Linda Bilmes points out, veterans’ health care needs typically peak 30 to 40 years after a war ends; the demands of Vietnam veterans were just reaching their peak as an influx of new veterans with amputations, traumatic brain injuries and PTSD stretched resources to the breaking point.' Given the statistics Gusterson cites in this article, it's clear this scandal is just the tip of the iceberg." Link to Original Source top
The threat of right-wing acts of terrorism is real
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Charles Blair explores the controversy and subsequent squashing of the US Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Environment Threat Analysis, which documented the rising threat of US far-right extremism and terror attacks, and the possibility that returning veterans would be recruited by these extremist groups for weapons and planning expertise. Now considered "prophetic," the document created such an outcry from conservatives that the DHS repressed the report. 'The report’s demise was an unfortunate loss for all levels of law enforcement. Since its release, credible plots and attacks by violent extremists have surged. As the report forewarned, responsibility for the vast majority of these events lies with far-right individual extremists and extreme groups.' Blair states that despite a wave of plots since the muzzling of the report, DHS remains reluctant to address the growing threat." Link to Original Source top
Meeting Iran's nuclear fuel supply needs is the only way to a deal
Lasrick (2629253) writes "A clear exploration of the main sticking point in the Iranian nuclear negotiations that just resumed in Vienna. Iran wants an indigenous fuel supply, which the P5+1 is resisting. The US says that Iran doesn't need an indigenous supply because Russia will meet their enriched uranium needs; obviously, trusting Russia not to manipulate energy supplies for political ends is a questionable strategy: 'Does Iran really need to be self-sufficient in nuclear fuel? Its insistence on having an indigenous enrichment program has often been dismissed in the West as an issue of national pride. It’s important not to discount pride as an element of any agreement— after all, Iran’s negotiators will need to take home a deal they can stand behind. But Tehran’s concerns extend beyond just nationalism. Reliance on other countries for energy is a dicey strategic prospect, as the United States knows only too well. And Iran has been cheated a number of times.' Good technical info on what exactly Iran will need makes it clear they'll have to get fuel from someone for a number of years. But in the long run, it seems that they'll have to be allowed to generate their own enriched uranium." Link to Original Source