Daily Archives: January 8, 2017

Reality-Based Climate Forecasting

These days, even shipwreck museums showcase evidence of climate change.

After diving recently among Key West’s fabled ship-destroying barrier reefs, I immersed myself in exhibits from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, the fabled Spanish galleon that foundered during a ferocious hurricane in 1622. The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum now houses many of the gold, silver, emeralds and artifacts that Mel and Deo Fisher’s archeological team recovered after finding the wreck in 1985.

Also featured prominently in the museum is the wreck of a British slave ship, the Henrietta Marie. It sank in a hurricane off Key West in 1700, after leaving 190 Africans in Jamaica, to be sold as slaves.

As Fisher divers excavated the Henrietta wreck, at 40 feet below the sea surface they found – not just leg shackles and other grim artifacts from that horrific era – but charred tree branches, pine cones and other remnants from a forest fire 8,400 years ago! The still resinous smelling fragments demonstrate that this area (like all other coastal regions worldwide) was well above sea level, before the last ice age ended and melting glaciers slowly raised oceans to their current level: 400 feet higher than during the frigid Pleistocene, when an enormous portion of Earth’s seawater was locked up in glaciers.

Climate change has clearly been “real” throughout earth and human history. The question is, exactly how and how much do today’s human activities affect local, regional or global climate and weather?

Source: Paul Driessen – Reality-Based Climate Forecasting

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Deputies mistake kitty litter for meth; after 3 days in jail,

(KETK) A Houston man has been cleared of a drug charge after authorities realized he’d been arrested for possession of kitty litter. “They thought they had the biggest bust in Harris County,” Ross LeBeau said. “This was the bust of the year for them.”A traffic stop in early December led to the discovery of almost half a pound of what deputies believed to be methamphetamine.The deputies arrested LeBeau and sent out a press release, including a mug shot, describing the bust. According to authorities, the arrest was due to deputies finding a sock filled with what they believed to be methamphetamine. It was actually kitty litter that LeBeau kept in his car to reduce fog in his windows. After the arrest, LeBeau was fingerprinted and booked into a jail where he spent three days before being released.

Source: Deputies mistake kitty litter for meth; after 3 days in jail,

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ISIS Shows Preschooler Killing Victim Tied to Carnival Game

(ISIS video screenshot)After an end-of-the-year video showing pre-teens hunt down and kill bound prisoners in an abandoned building, the Islamic State today released an even more gory follow-up with children as young as preschool age murdering prisoners tied to broken carnival rides.The 18-minute highly produced video out of ISIS’ Khayr province in Syria was distributed through publicly accessible Islamic State media channels, social media and file-sharing sites, including Google Drive and, briefly, YouTube.It begins by showing adults training in a bombed-out building, but transitions into adults leading small children in exercises. A boy about 9 or 10 years old is shown gleefully participating in a public stoning.

Source: ISIS Shows Preschooler Killing Victim Tied to Carnival Game

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Conservatives who oppose U.S. debt vote to raise it as a step toward repeal of Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have been adamant – the federal debt is way too high and has got to be tamed fast.Cruz, a Republican from Texas, helped lead the 2013 fight against raising the debt limit, a fight that resulted in a partial government shutdown. Rubio, a Republican from Florida, in announcing his plans for this year, said Tuesday that “one major thing that will cost us jobs and hamstring our economy is our rising debt.”So why did they and 49 other Senate Republicans vote this week to consider a measure that says the “appropriate levels of the public debt” would rise from the current $20 trillion to $29.1 trillion in 10 years? And predict deficits of $1 trillion by the end of that period?Because, they said, it’s the first procedural step in repealing Obamacare. And they insisted the number is meaningless.Flash plugin failed to load

Source: Conservatives who oppose U.S. debt vote to raise it as a step toward repeal of Affordable Care Act | The Sacramento Bee

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Obama taps longtime aide to oversee presidential records process

President Barack Obama has selected his close aide Anita Decker Breckenridge to act as his representative in the process that will lead to many of his White House records becoming public in future decades.A letter Obama sent to the National Archives in July authorizes Breckenridge to convey Obama’s wishes about which of his presidential files can be made public and which should be kept under wraps for a period of time.The letter, released to POLITICO on Friday under the Freedom of Information Act, also indicates that Obama is exercising his rights to put many of those records off-limits for 12 years after he leaves the presidency later this month. While the move could be seen as at odds with Obama’s frequently stated commitment to transparency, it’s a step other recent presidents have also taken before leaving the White House.Recent presidents have eventually eased some of those access restrictions after leaving office.

Source: Obama taps longtime aide to oversee presidential records process – POLITICO

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Company Stands by Plan to Bury Nuke Waste Near Lake Huron

A Canadian company that wants to bury waste from nuclear power plants near Lake Huron said Tuesday a study of alternative sites had found none better than a location already targeted, which has drawn strong opposition on both sides of the border.Ontario Power Generation said it had submitted additional studies ordered nearly a year ago by the Canadian Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, which twice has delayed a ruling on the company’s underground disposal plan. The agency said recently it expects to make a decision this summer or fall.The company’s preferred site is on the grounds of the Bruce Power Generating Station near Kincardine, Ontario, the world’s largest nuclear power complex, which has eight reactors. The proposal calls for burying low- and intermediate-level waste such as clothing, brooms and discarded machinery — some of which could remain dangerously toxic for thousands of years — about 2,230 feet underground.It would be encased in a limestone formation that the company says has been stable for 450 million years. The storage chamber would be much deeper than Lake Huron and the company says there is virtually no chance of radioactive pollution reaching the lake, which is less than a mile away.

Source: Company Stands by Plan to Bury Nuke Waste Near Lake Huron

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Florida police records shows extensive use of cellular surveillance 

In May of 2014 the Florida ACLU filed a FOIA request to Sarasota PD for their documents on Stingrays. However, just days before the ACLU was due to inspect the documents, the United States Marshals Service swooped into Sarasota and rushed off with almost all of SPD’s Stingray records.Their legal argument for doing this? An SPD detective that had worked with the USMS on a case in which Stingrays were used had been deputized by the Marshals, which according to them made the documents the possession of the Marshal Service.While this is, of course, legally dubious at best, and downright illegal by some interpretations, it also helps explain the strange collection of records that SPD gave us, which evidently is everything the Marshals missed.

Source: Florida police records shows extensive use of cellular surveillance – without ever mentioning Stingrays

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Video: Meet the Man Who Turned Off Energy Dept.’s Lights for 16 Years – Nextgov.com

The Energy Department always tries to conserve energy and save money. And that includes employee Tien Nguyen, who recently retired after 30 years of federal service.Nguyen, an analyst for the agency’s fuel cell technologies office, has helped save Americans millions of dollars with his work and he also picked up another money-saving side gig.Every night for the past 16 years, Nguyen has walked through his building and turned off every light left on. The simple act has saved 1,500 megawatts of energy, which translates into $200,000 saved.To learn more, check out the video below from the Energy Department:

Source: Video: Meet the Man Who Turned Off Energy Dept.’s Lights for 16 Years – Nextgov.com

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Govt Study Says Male And Female Toilet Signs ‘Discriminate’ Against Transgender People | Heat Street

British researchers have spent £50,000 ($60,000) of public money on a study which concluded male and female toilet signs can be seen as “discriminatory”.

A team from Sheffield Hallam University spent a year asking members of the public whether they believed people should have a choice on which toilet they use.According to their results: “Participants thought it was important for others to not judge people’s choice of toilet”.

Now their recommendations could see the signs “Ladies” and “Gentlemen” signs replaced with ones which say: “Toilets with urinals” and “Toilets without urinals” so that transgender users are not offended.The study was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.It also recommended that some toilets should include a sink for Muslim women to wash before going to prayer.And it advised that disabled toilets should be renamed “larger toilet with grab bars”.Other findings included removing hand-dryers and replacing them with paper towels because some people become “stressed” by the noise of electric dryers.

Source: Govt Study Says Male And Female Toilet Signs ‘Discriminate’ Against Transgender People | Heat Street

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GSA Wants Disruptive Tech for Shared Services

The General Services Administration wants industry to show it how software-as-a-service deployments could disrupt the way the federal government handles administration functions.In a request for information released Tuesday, GSA’s newly created Unified Shared Services Management office seeks a better understanding of industry capabilities across administrative services referenced in the Office of Management and Budget memorandum M-16-11, including financial management, human resources, acquisition and information technology.» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.The RFI also seeks innovative ideas on SaaS capabilities across those lines of service, but also “industry ideas on documentation of governmentwide needs and public-private partnership funding models.”

Source: GSA Wants Disruptive Tech for Shared Services – Nextgov.com

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Arizona Bill To BAN State Funding Social Justice Classes 

A state legislator in Arizona has crafted legislation that would prohibit taxpayer dollars from funding any coursework which stokes racial, religious or gender resentment. The bill would also ban government funding of courses which promote racial, gender or ethnic isolation.The author of the bill is Bob Thorpe, a rural Northern Arizona Republican and the chairman of the higher education committee in the Arizona House of Representatives.“Arizona shall not educate nor judge an individual based upon their religion, political affiliation, social class, gender, ethnicity, race or by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Thorpe’s bill begins.As such, the proposed legislation continues, Arizona “shall not provide funding or facilities” for any course or class which “violates civil rights laws” or “promotes division or resentment” based on an individual’s “ethnicity, race gender, religion, political affiliation or social class.”

The law, if eventually enacted, would also prevent government funding for coursework which “advocates solidarity or isolation based upon ethnic, racial, gender or social class instead of treating individuals as unique.” Also verboten would be any taxpayer-funded course which “negatively targets specific nationalities or countries, such as but not limited to Israel.”

A second section of the bill would require that college students receive notices of employment statistics for all courses they take. Under this part of the bill, all state-funded colleges and universities would be required to provide students with national employment statistics “associated with the majority of students who have successfully completed the course of study or degree” and a warning that “participation in classes may not result in a student’s employability.”

Thorpe’s bill also deliberately notes that it is not meant to “restrict or prohibit” students from “engaging in academic exercises that may have little or no marketable skills or measurable worth to themselves, an employer or to society.”A third section of the bill provides several exemptions. They include courses “that accurately discuss controversial aspects of history,” “instruction about the Holocaust or any other instance of genocide” and “courses or classes that accurately discuss controversial aspects of history.”

Thorpe has crafted the bill, he says, because he wants to ensure that Arizona taxpayers aren’t funding courses which promulgate any sort of discrimination or racial isolation.“It seems like racially insensitive agendas are occurring in higher education,” Thorpe told The Daily Caller. “The trend is very troubling.”“We are getting far away from the accomplishments that began with the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” he said.The Civil Rights Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on race, national origin, religion and sex.

Thorpe notes that Arizona’s colleges and universities would, of course, remain free to offer whatever courses they want. However, taxpayers would no longer have to subsidize courses which contravene the language of the bill.“If professors and universities want to teach these courses, the taxpayers don’t have to pay for it,” Thorpe said.Thorpe pointed specifically to a course called “U.S. Race Theory and the Problem of Whiteness” which was offered in 2015 at Arizona State University. The course was taught by Lee Bebout, an English professor who also dabbles in “Chicana/o studies,” American Studies and critical race theory.

Source: Arizona Bill To BAN State Funding Social Justice Classes | The Daily Caller

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Woman Accused of Making Death Threats to Pa. Lottery Because She Wasn’t Winning 

A Philadelphia woman angry about not winning the Pennsylvania Lottery is accused of making death threats against workers at the state Lottery headquarters in Lower Swatara Township last year.A warrant has been issued by Lower Swatara Township police for the arrest of Towanda A. Shields, 47.Towanda Shields“She plays lottery a lot and gets very upset by the fact she doesn’t win,” said Detective Robert Appleby of Lower Swatara Township police.Shields is accused of making the threats between April and December 2016. The threats came via phone calls and voice mails, police said.“It seems she was completely obsessed with the lottery,” Appleby said, and believed it was conspiring against her. “She was so relentless it was becoming a concern.”Shields is accused of giving specific dates she was going to kill people and told lottery workers she Googled where they live, police said.

Source: Woman Accused of Making Death Threats to Pa. Lottery Because She Wasn’t Winning – American Renaissance

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BALSAMIC ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, BUTTERNUT SQUASH & GRAPE TOMATOES

After having decided to begin eating a healthier diet in 2017, I created this recipe; a medley of Brussels Sprouts, butternut squash & grape tomatoes flavored with Applewood Smoked Bacon (my one discretion) and minced garlic, bathed in a light coating of extra virgin olive oil and a delicious aged balsamic vinegar imported from Modena, Italy. By leaving out the bacon, this would become an excellent vegan/vegetarian dish (but the bacon is oh-so-good)!

Source: BALSAMIC ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, BUTTERNUT SQUASH & GRAPE TOMATOES

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BBC – Future – A vast new tomb for the most dangerous waste in the world

World leaders jostle with global executives and anonymous men dressed in full camouflage as platters of shrimp, foie gras and cheesecake are passed around by white-gloved staff. It would all seem quite normal were it not for the fact that we’re just 100m (330ft) away from the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history.

A hospitality tent has been erected just inside the gates of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Pripyat in Ukraine. The tent has many windows, to ensure everyone gets a good view of what’s about to happen.These guests are here to witness the final stage of a 30-year clean-up job that has been underway, on and off, since one of the plant’s reactors exploded in 1986. The Chernobyl disaster still casts a pall over nuclear power. And other serious accidents, such as that at Fukushima in Japan in 2011 – the only other incident to be classified a maximum Level 7 in the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale – are weighed against it.It also set in train a series of measures to ensure nuclear safety around the world. Now the whole site is about to be encased inside a vast structure known as the sarcophagus, sealing in some of the most dangerous waste material in the world for at least 100 years.

Source: BBC – Future – A vast new tomb for the most dangerous waste in the world

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Iran’s porn censorship broke browsers as far away as Hong Kong 

Thursday afternoon, something very unusual happened to superbigcocks.com. That site and 255 others — many of them porn sites — suddenly began dropping off the web. The servers showed no problems, but users from Russia to Hong Kong were typing the URLs into their browsers and getting blank pages. Something on the internet was getting in the way.

That obstacle, as it turns out, was the state telecom of Iran. The country has long maintained an extensive-but-scattershot web censorship system — but on Thursday, it began blocking not just the sites, but the basic mechanisms of the web itself.BREAKING THE BASIC MECHANISM OF THE WEBThe national telecom had announced phony routes for each of the 256 sites, the internet equivalent of a fake street sign.

For an internet service provider looking for the quickest way to a given IP, Iran’s new routes seemed like an easy shortcut — and when they arrived at the blank page, browsers simply assumed the page was down. the resulting outage didn’t affect the entire web, but anyone close enough to be tempted by the phony routes was drawn in. That list included India’s Bharti Airtel, Russia’s RETN, Indonesia’s Telekomunikasi and Hong Kong’s Hutchison — all major ISPs for their region.

Source: Iran’s porn censorship broke browsers as far away as Hong Kong – The Verge

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This “Shower Beer” Is Actually Designed to Be Consumed in the Shower

If you’re looking to get a head start before a wild night out with your friends, this Shower Beer created by Swedish brewery PangPang in collaboration with creative agency Snask will probably do the trick.The shower hardly seems like the best place to enjoy a nice, cold brewsky, yet some people have been doing it for years. However, the problem with showers is that they’re usually quick, so you don’t have the time to gulp down a whole bottle of your favorite ale. To solve the problem, a group of ingenious Swedes have come up with a smaller, stronger beer designed to be consumed while showering.shower-beer“Shower Beer is a sweet but strong pale ale in a 18 cl small bottle meant to gulp in three sips while standing in the shower getting ready for the night,” Snask describes their creation. So no matter how short your showers usually are, you’ll likely finish your Shower Beer and get a good kick from it to start out your night on the town.shower-beer2Snask entrusted genius brewer Fredrik “PangPang” Tunedal to work on the beer itself, while they worked on the packaging. They released the first batch last month, and were surprised to find it had sold out almost immediately. So even though the project was originally intended to be a one-off to show off their creative talent, Snask and PangPang have already announced a second batch. I guess people really love the idea of shower beer. Maybe it makes them feel less guilty.

Source: This “Shower Beer” Is Actually Designed to Be Consumed in the Shower | Oddity Central – Collecting Oddities

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The Future of Internet Privacy

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What Is Graphene? 7 Ways It Will Soon Revolutionize Tech

For the last few years, graphene has been something of a buzzword: a new material with remarkable properties promising to revolutionize everything about our lives. But is it all empty hype? What exactly is graphene and what can we really expect from it?

Graphene is an unusual form of one of the most common elements on the planet (carbon) and was discovered and synthesized in the University of Manchester way back in 2004. It consists of many sheets of carbon, each sheet just a single atom thick, all arranged in a hexagonal lattice.

Sturcture of graphene
Image Credit: nobeastsofierce via Shutterstock

And because of this, it has all sorts of interesting and unexpected properties. For example, graphene is about 200 times stronger than steel and six times lighter. It conducts heat and electricity and is extremely light-sensitive while being almost completely transparent.

Since its discovery, scientists and engineers have been busy looking for practical ways to use this extraordinary material. The list of possibilities is almost endless, but here are some of the places you can expect to see graphene making a difference in your life soon enough.

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