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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 two weeks 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 two weeks 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 three weeks 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 3 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 4 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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Mahdism: How does religion really influence Iranian nuclear policy?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  3 days ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Many observers of American Christianity are familiar with the notion of an "end times" and a return of Jesus to earth. More radical believers of this notion have welcomed climate change, nuclear war, and other threats to mankind because, to them, this chaos and destruction fulfills Biblical prophecy. Islam has its own version: Mahdism: 'Shia Muslims believe that the Mahdi, born in the ninth century and also known as the Hidden Imam or the Twelfth Imam, is the Prophet Mohammed’s last legitimate successor. They believe that he has gone into occultation—the state of being blocked from view—but will eventually return...reappear along with Christ...restore peace and justice, saving the world from the chaos into which it would otherwise descend.' In this article, Ariane Tabatabai discusses the idea that Mahdism informs Iran's public policy, especially its nuclear policy, providing hardliners with an excuse to hasten the Mahdi's return. Terrific analysis."
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4H is helping Big Ag take over Africa

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "4H is in Africa, helping to distribute Big Ag products like DuPont's Pioneer seeds through ostensibly good works aimed at youth. In Africa, where the need to produce more food is especially urgent, DuPont Pioneer and other huge corporations have made major investments. But there are drawbacks: 'DuPont's nutritious, high-yielding, and drought-tolerant hybrid seed. It costs 10 times as much, and while Ghanaians typically save their own seeds to plant the next year, hybrid seeds get weaker by the generation; each planting requires another round of purchasing. What's more, says Devlin Kuyek, a researcher with the sustainable-farming nonprofit Genetic Resources Action International, because hybrid seeds are bred for intensive agriculture, they typically need chemicals to thrive.' Bigger question is the role of 4H in this process."
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Hanging out with the disgruntled guys who babysit our aging nuclear missiles

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "This is a rather distrubing read about the troops who guard our nuclear weapons.'"The Air Force has not kept its ICBMs manned or maintained properly," says Bruce Blair, a former missileer and cofounder of the anti-nuclear group Global Zero. Nuclear bases that were once the military's crown jewels are now "little orphanages that get scraps for dinner," he says. And morale is abysmal. Blair's organization wants to eliminate nukes, but he argues that while we still have them, it's imperative that we invest in maintenance, training, and personnel to avoid catastrophe: An accident resulting from human error, he says, may be actually more likely today because the weapons are so unlikely to be used. Without the urgent sense of purpose the Cold War provided, the young men (and a handful of women) who work with the world's most dangerous weapons are left logging their 24-hour shifts under subpar conditions—with all the dangers that follow.'"
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25th Anniversary: When the Berlin Wall Fell

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This retrospective describes how quickly the Wall was erected, and how Berliners were completely caught off guard by its construction: 'Berlin’s citizens woke up one morning in August 1961 to find coils of barbed wire running down the middle of their streets; the first inkling some people had that anything was amiss was when their subway train didn’t stop at certain stations. Later, the first strands of wire were replaced with a cement wall, along with watchtowers, a wide “death strip,” and an electrified fence.' Includes a link to a heartbreaking set of photographs that show a woman handing her child over a roll of barbed wire that soon became part of the Wall."
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The Military's Latest Enemy: Climate Change

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "A surprising report from the Pentagon last month places climate change squarely among the seemlngly endless concerns of the US military. Although a ridiculous Wall Stree Journal editorial misrepresented the report in an editorial (subtitled 'Hagel wants to retool the military to stop glaciers from melting'), the report itself is straightforward and addresses practical military issues such as land managment of bases and training facilities. 'So, this plan is not really about mobilizing against melting glaciers; it’s more like making sure our ships have viable facilities from which to launch bombs against ISIS. And the report doesn’t just focus on home, though. It casts a wider eye towards how a changing climate will affect defense missions in the future.' Terrific read."
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Yucca Mountain, a GOP Congress, and Imaginary "Drip Shields"

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about two weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Now that the GOP has taken control of the Senate and sidelined Nevada's Harry Reid, calls for reviving the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, are sure to resume. Recent reports have pointed out that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission now deems a Yucca Mountain repository "safe." But is that really what the NRC said? As this article points out, what the NRC claims as a safe design for Yucca Mountain is 'the Energy Department’s pie-in-the-sky design for Yucca Mountain—not the repository as it is likely to be configured.' The key design element is the installment of "drip shields," massive, corrosion-resistant titanium alloy boxes to sit over each of the thousands of waste canisters in Yucca Mountain’s underground tunnels to prevent seepage water from dripping directly on the canisters (yes, there is much more water at Yucca Mountain than originally thought). However, these drip shields will not be installed for at least 100 years after the waste goes in, and realistically speaking, they probably won't ever actually be installed. When you look at the details of what is planned (and what isn't), It's clear that the piecing together a repository a Yucca Mountain is a bad idea."
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Using naval logbooks to reconstruct past weather—and predict future climat

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "What a great idea. The Old Weather Project uses old logbooks to study the weather patterns of long ago, providing a trove of archival data to scientists who are trying to fill in the details of our knowledge about the atmosphere and the changing climate. 'Pity the poor navigator who fell asleep on watch and failed to update his ship’s logbook every four hours with details about its geographic position, time, date, wind direction, barometric readings, temperatures, ocean currents, and weather conditions.' As Clive Wilkinson of the UK's National Maritime Museum adds, 'Anything you read in a logbook, you can be sure that it is a true and faithful account.'

The Old Weather Project uses citizen scientists to transcribe and digitize observations that were scrupulously recorded on a clockwork-like basis, and it is one of several that climate scientists are using to create 'a three-dimensional computer simulation that will provide a continuous, century-and-a-half-long profile of the entire planet’s climate over time'--the 20th Century Reanalysis Project. Data is checked and rechecked by 3 different people before entry into the database, and the logbook measurements are especially valuable because it was compiled at sea. Great story."

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9 Significant Scientific Findings too Recent to Be Included in New IPCC Report

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its landmark synthesis report over the weekend, but as the cut-off date for inclusion was 2013, the World Resource Institute looks at recent scientific advancements and climate-related events that have occurred since then--9 findings in four areas: sea level rise, extreme weather and climate events, ecosystems, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and temperature"
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Photographs of Sellafield (UK) nuclear plant prompt fears over radioactive risk

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Previously unseen pictures of two storage ponds at Sellafield nuclear plant containing hundreds of highly radioactive fuel show cracked concrete, seagulls bathing in the water and weeds growing around derelict machinery. The two ponds were built in the 50s and used for short-term storage of spent fuel until the 70s. Stellafied Ltd says the images are dated, but but that they do indicate the scale of the clean up required."
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Buying goods to make nuclear weapons on eBay, Alibaba, and other platforms

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "The blossoming of online Internet-trading platforms has at least one downside: insufficient inspectors and product controls when it comes to goods relevant to nuclear proliferation.'On Alibaba (and other platforms), one can purchase many of the specialized items needed for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. A short list of items advertised for sale on the site include metals suitable for centrifuge manufacturing, gauges and pumps for centrifuge cascades for uranium enrichment, metallurgical casting equipment suitable for making nuclear weapon ‘pits,’ and high-speed cameras suitable for use in nuclear weapon diagnostic tests. A company on an Alibaba-owned Chinese Internet-trading platform even posted an ad for the sale of the rare metal gallium, which the seller trumpeted could be used to stabilize plutonium.' Although many companies have strict compliance procedures in place to help avoid proliferation, many do not. There are several procedures these platforms can put into place to minimize risk, and both national (and international) regulators have a role to play, as well as shareholders. Great read."
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One more thing to worry about: Salt is turning farmland into wasteland worldwide

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "This article by Brian Merchant looks at how poor irrigation pracetices are ruining farmland to the tune of about 8 square miles a day, perhaps permanently. Even good quality water contains salt, and poor irrigation systems leave behind too much of it. 'The UN report brings some fairly astonishing findings—his team estimates that 2,000 hectares of farmland (nearly 8 square miles) is ruined daily by salt degradation. So far, nearly 20 percent of the world’s farmland has been degraded, an area approximately the size of France.' Since the problem is especially acute in arid areas, climate change is expected to make things worse. Great read at Motherboard."
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The next thing to worry about: Salt is turning farmland to wasteland worldwide

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about three weeks ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "This article by Brian Merchant looks at how poor irrigation pracetices are ruining farmland to the tune of about 8 square miles a day, perhaps permanently. Even good quality water contains salt, and poor irrigation systems leave behind too much of it. 'The UN report brings some fairly astonishing findings—his team estimates that 2,000 hectares of farmland (nearly 8 square miles) is ruined daily by salt degradation. So far, nearly 20 percent of the world’s farmland has been degraded, an area approximately the size of France.' Since the problem is especially acute in arid area, climate change is expected to make things worse. Great read at Motherboard."
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Hitting the Sweet Spot: How Many Iranian Centrifuges?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "This is a great explanation of the centrifuge issue: The deadline for a deal between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, and Germany) is coming up, and both sides have come a long way in the negotiations. 'For the country to be able to reach this number, Iran would likely need at least 190,000 and perhaps as many as about 243,000 first-generation centrifuges, known as IR-1 centrifuges. (The efficiency of these first-generation centrifuges varies a good deal, from about 0.78 SWU per unit per year to 0.9 SWU, but in the past couple of years most of them have been producing at the lower end of the scale. All of which means that Iran may need a lot more than first anticipated to reach the goal of 190,000 SWU produced annually.)'"
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Peter Kuran:Visual Effects Artist and Atomic Bomb Archivist

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Great interview with Peter Kuran, an animator of the original Star Wars and legendary visual effects artist. If you saw the recent remake of Godzilla, you saw stock footage from Atom Central, known on YouTube as “the atomic bomb channel.” Atom Central is the brainchild of Kuran, who among his many talents is an expert on archival films of the atmospheric testing era of 1945 to 1963. Combining his film restoration and photography expertise with his interest in nuclear history, he has also produced and directed five documentaries. He is currently working with Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories to preserve and catalog images from the bomb-testing era, and to produce a technical handbook that will help people understand these images and the techniques used to create them. Awesome slideshow accompanies the article"
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Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon to Local Law Enforcement?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "To this day, Russian authorities refuse to disclose the incapacitating chemical agent (ICA) they employed in their attempt, 12 years ago, to save 900 hostages held in a theater by Chechen fighters. Malcom Dando elaborates on a new report that Russia, China, Israel, and a slew of other countries are continuing research into ICAs, and the apparent indifference of the international community into such research. Proponenets of ICAs have long promoted their use in a variety of scenarios, including that of law enforcement, because in theory these chemicals incapacitate without permanent disability. Critics, however, point out that these weapons rely on exact dosage to prevent fatality, and that the ability to 'deliver the right agent to the right people in the right dose without exposing the wrong people, or delivering the wrong dose' is a near-impossible expectation. ICAs represent the further misuse and militarization of the life sciences and a weakening of the taboo against the weaponization of toxic substances, and the idea that they could be used in law enforcement situations is a disturbing one."
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Ebola does not require an "Ebola Czar," nor calling up the National Guard

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "David Ropeik explores risk-perception psychology and Ebola in the US. 'But officials are up against the inherently emotional and instinctive nature of risk-perception psychology. Pioneering research on this subject by Paul Slovic, Baruch Fischhoff, and others, vast research on human cognition by Daniel Kahnemanand colleagues, and research on the brain’s fear response by neuroscientists Joseph LeDoux, Elizabeth Phelps, and others, all make abundantly clear that the perception of risk is not simply a matter of the facts, but more a matter of how those facts feel. (Melissa Finucane, Slovic, and others have called this the “affect heuristic.”)'"
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The tiny islands that China wants in the South China Sea

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "It's always the natural resources, isn't it? China is claiming tiny islands known as the Spratlys and Paracels chains, respectively, and is even going so far as to dump millions of tons of rock and sand to extend landmass, due to suspected reserves of oil and natural gas surrounding them. This would also give China 'what would effectively be an unsinkable aircraft carrier and a new set of facts on the ground.' The Spratlys are made up of about 750 little bits of land that lie due south of China and southeast of Vietnam. (The Paracels have fewer islands, but with more landmass.) Both China and Vietnam fervently claim the island chains as their own, as do the governments of the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.' As this article points out, this area of the South China Sea has been a flashpoint for decades."
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The very small Islamic State WMD threat

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "With ISIS running amok over such a large swathe of territory, it’s no surprise that rampant fears of the group obtaining Weapons of Mass Destruction are growing. 'But it is important to be realistic about the threat. It remains unlikely that the group will be able to acquire and effectively use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.' Terrific read by two proliferation experts."
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Who's in charge during the Ebola crisis?

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Epidemics test the leadership skills of politicians and medical infrastructures, which is clear as this article goes through the different ways West African countries have dealt with the Ebola crisis. Now that fears are spreading about a US outbreak (highly unlikely, as this article points out), it may be time to look at the US medical infrastructure, which, of course, in many ways is far superior to those West African countries where the virus has spread. But there is an interesting twist to how disease outbreaks are handled in the US: 'The US Constitution—written approximately 100 years before the germ theory of disease was proven by French chemist Louis Pasteur and German physician Robert Koch—places responsibility for public health squarely on the shoulders of local and state political leaders...one could argue that the United States is hobbled by an outdated constitution in responding to epidemics. State and local jurisdictions vary tremendously in their public health capabilities.'"
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Ahmet Uzumcu: Getting rid of chemical weapons in Syria and beyond

Lasrick Lasrick writes  |  about a month and a half ago

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Terrific interview with Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, which won last year's Nobel Peace Prize. 'The mission committed to getting rid of Syria’s arsenal in less than 10 months. It didn’t know if it would have enough funding, and Syria was in the midst of a raging civil war. Despite these impediments, the mission managed to destroy 97 percent of Syria’s chemical weapons within one year. Along the way, Uzumcu accepted the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of his organization.'"
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