Daily Archives: July 12, 2016
California’s “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” (AUMA) is a voter initiative characterized as legalizing marijuana use. But critics warn that it will actually make access more difficult and expensive, squeeze home growers and small farmers out of the market, heighten criminal sanctions for violations, and open the door to patented, genetically modified (GMO) versions that must be purchased year after year.
As detailed in Part I of this article, the health benefits of cannabis are now well established. It is a cheap, natural alternative effective for a broad range of conditions, and the non-psychoactive form known as hemp has thousands of industrial uses. At one time, cannabis was one of the world’s most important crops. There have been no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose in the US, compared to about 30,000 deaths annually from alcohol abuse (not counting auto accidents), and 100,000 deaths annually from prescription drugs taken as directed. Yet cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance (“a deadly dangerous drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse”), illegal to be sold or grown in the US.
Powerful corporate interests no doubt had a hand in keeping cannabis off the market. The question now is why they have suddenly gotten on the bandwagon for its legalization. According to an April 2014 article in The Washington Times, the big money behind the recent push for legalization has come, not from a grassroots movement, but from a few very wealthy individuals with links to Big Ag and Big Pharma.
Leading the charge is George Soros, a major shareholder in Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company and producer of genetically modified seeds. Monsanto is the biotech giant that brought you Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, dioxin-based pesticides, aspartame, rBGH (genetically engineered bovine growth hormone), RoundUp (glyphosate) herbicides, and RoundUp Ready crops (seeds genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate).
Lee Jin-man/AP File Photo
Turns out that Ashley Madison users weren’t the only ones cheating: The dating website was tricking its male users into believing that robots were seductive females.
The tagline “Life is short. Have an affair” enticed millions of male users, but females were scarce on the platform. So, it resorted to creating them. Fembots—computer-generated fake female profiles—would chat up nonpaying male users. Then, to view and respond to messages from these seemingly eager women, men would have to pay.
Executives for Avid Life Media, the parent company of the extramarital affairs, admitted to being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission over the use of fembots in an interview with Reuters.
THE Mekong river teems with life as it flows to the South China Sea. But the unique species found here are under threat from plans to build hydropower dams along the river. A new environmental monitoring technique may help limit the damage, by quickly counting all the species upstream using only DNA pulled out of the river. That information could be used to influence dam locations at the planning stage.
Traditional surveying methods would take years to identify ecological hotspots that dams should avoid – time developers don’t want to waste. “There’s no way you’re going to sample that [large an area] with the traditional methods,” says Douglas Yu at the Kunming Institute of Zoology in China.
Yu hopes to speed up surveying by gathering the fragments of DNA littered throughout the environment and identifying the species they belong to with DNA sequencing. He wants to work with Chinese ecologists to carry out “eDNA surveys” in the Mekong, building up a picture of where rare and vulnerable species live.
The idea is based on recent research that suggests every river acts as a conveyor belt for genetic material released from cells shed from the species living there – what’s called environmental DNA (eDNA). Identifying species like this – in much the same way that microbiologists use DNA sequencing to identify bacteria in a sample – could revolutionise wildlife surveys. This would allow biologists to quickly detect many of the species in an ecosystem.
America’s Anger Is Out of Control Jeffrey Kluger … After the September 11 attacks, TIME’s Lance Morrow wrote a powerful essay titled, “The Case for Rage and Retribution,” in which he argued: “For once let’s have no fatuous rhetoric about ‘healing.’ A day cannot live in infamy without the nourishment of rage. Let’s have rage. What’s needed is a unified, unifying, Pearl Harbor sort of purple American fury—a ruthless indignation that doesn’t leak away in a week or two…” – TIME
As we can see from the above statement, Jeff Kluger has in mind another convulsive episode like Pearl Harbor or 9/11 that will unify the “anger” that Americans feel.
Kluger seems to imply that this anger is stemming from current elections. His concern is that it is spilling over into other areas of life.
If every offensive, unjust or insulting incident turns into a jolt of high-fructose fury mainlined straight to the brain’s amygdala, what’s left when there’s a truly right and righteous reason to rise up in anger? And those important moments do occur.
Kluger seems to be saying that anger has become fashionable and applying anger liberally trivializes it.
Also, if Americans are angry about many things, that makes for a dysfunctional society rather than a unified one.
Kluger obviously wants a unified America. In order for rage to be unifying it needs to be a “purple American fury.”
This is actually a somewhat cynical assessment of how to manipulate anger in our view.
Why do we need another Pearl Harbor or 9/11 just so Americans can feel unified?
Why should “Americans” feel unified anyway? And, really, what is an “American?”
Because the “anger in America” meme is ubiquitous in the mainstream media at the moment, there are many other commentaries on it.
An elite Manhattan school is teaching white students as young as 6 that they’re born racist and should feel guilty benefiting from “white privilege,” while heaping praise and cupcakes on their black peers.
Administrators at the Bank Street School for Children on the Upper West Side claim it’s a novel approach to fighting discrimination, and that several other private New York schools are doing it, but even liberal parents aren’t buying it.
They complain the K-8 school of 430 kids is separating whites in classes where they’re made to feel awful about their “whiteness,” and all the “kids of color” in other rooms where they’re taught to feel proud about their race and are rewarded with treats and other privileges.
“Ever since Ferguson, the school has been increasing anti-white propaganda in its curriculum,” said a parent who requested anonymity because he has children currently enrolled in the school.
Bank Street has created a “dedicated space” in the school for “kids of color,” where they’re “embraced” by minority instructors and encouraged to “voice their feelings” and “share experiences about being a kid of color,” according to school presentation slides obtained by The Post.
A Senate investigation released last week found the Red Cross spent 25 percent of the donations it received for Haiti in 2010 on internal expenses. The organization previously said all but 9 percent of donations go directly to humanitarian aid.
NPR reported Thursday that after a massive earthquake struck Haiti’s capital, the Red Cross collected close to $500 million in donations. The group had initially said it provided shelter for 130,000 people affected by the earthquake, but an investigation by ProPublica and NPR found only six permanent homes were built.
That investigation prompted Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, “to look into the Red Cross and its spending records, a process he told NPR was “like pulling teeth.”
EXCLUSIVE: Prisoners will be able to enjoy DVDs and television on journeys between jail and court in new custody vans.
PRISONERS will be able to enjoy DVDs and television on journeys between jail and court in new custody vans.
And security bosses have admitted they are installing the perk to stop the cons getting so bored they trash the smart new vehicles.
Flatscreen televisions are being installed in vans belonging to G4S, who take over Scotland’s prison transport next month.
And G4S defended the cushy rides yesterday, insisting they would “reduce the risks to health, and improve care and welfare”.
They insisted only prisoners travelling long journeys would be treated to the telly shows.
A spokeswoman said: “Among the risks to prisoners’ health G4S are aiming to reduce are anxiety associated with long journeys and appearing at court and self-harm or attempted suicides.
“I addition, the company hope to reduce the likelihood of prisoners damaging the cell due to anxiety or boredom.”
Since former NASA engineer Kirk Sorensen revived forgotten molten salt reactor (MSR) technology in the 2000s, interest in MSR technology has been growing quickly. Since 2011, four separate companies in North America have announced plans for MSRs: Flibe Energy (started by Sorenson himself), Transatomic Power (started by two recent MIT graduates), Terrestrial Energy (based in Canada, which recently partnered with Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory), and Martingale, Inc., which recently made public its design for its ThorCon MSR.
In addition, there is now renewed interest in MSRs in Japan, Russia, France and China, with China also announcing that MSR technology is one of its “five innovation centers that will unite the country’s leading talents for research in advanced science and technology fields, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”
Why this sudden interest in a nuclear technology that dates back to the 1950s? The answer lies in both the phenomenal safety of MSRs and their potential to help solve so many of today’s energy related problems, from climate change to energy poverty to the intermittency of wind and solar power. In fact, MSRs can operate so safely, they may alleviate public fears about nuclear energy. Before looking at the potential of MSRs, though, it is useful to first take a high-level look at what they are and how they work.
What is a Molten Salt Reactor?
A molten salt reactor (MSR) is a type of nuclear reactor that uses liquid fuel instead of the solid fuel rods used in conventional nuclear reactors. Using liquid fuel provides many advantages in safety and simplicity of design.
The figure above shows one type of MSR design. As shown towards the left, the reactor contains “fuel salt”, which is fuel (such as uranium-235) dissolved in a mixture of molten fluoride salts. After a fission chain reaction starts in the reactor, the rate of fission stabilizes once the fuel salt reaches around 700 degrees Celcius. If the reactor gets hotter than 700 degrees, the resulting expansion of the fuel salt pushes some of the fuel into the circulation loop; this, in turn, decreases the fission rate (since fission cannot be maintained in the loop), causing the fuel to cool.
Unlike conventional reactors, the rate of fission in an MSR is inherently stable. Nonetheless, should the fuel salt become too hot to operate safely, a freeze plug (made of salts kept solid by a cooling fan) below the reactor will melt and the liquid content of the reactor will flow down into emergency dump tanks where it cannot continue to fission and can cool safely.