Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

220px-John_Brennan_CIA_official_portrait

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

This past week’s news reports of the Senate report on the CIA Torture program were both distressing and enlightening.   I was dismayed to not only read what the full extent of the CIA’s Torture program was, but also when I read pundits and former CIA officials claim that rectal rehydration was merely a medical procedure! I was further discouraged when commenters on this blog made claims that waterboarding and other torture tactics were either necessary or what the devils deserved.

Very few pundits or commenters seem to care if the so-called Enhanced Interrogation techniques were legal or ethical when the CIA resorted to them shortly after 9/11.  This “debate” over the actions taken in our name by the CIA has gone from a report based on the CIA’s own words to denials that the techniques were torture, to claims that great intelligence value was gained using the torture and claims that it was a biased report written by Democrats. (more…)

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220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksgopREPUBLICANSA new poll shows broad support for carbon limits, including half of all Republicans. The poll comes out as scientists warn (as reported in the NY Times) that time is running out on climate change and, without decisive action, the world could eventually become uninhabitable for humans. Today, the Pope added his voice to the overwhelming weight of world scientists that time is running out. Likewise, island nations are now demanding action and calling on the world to witness the loss of their very existence to the rising seas.

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an-experiment-on-a-bird-in-the-air-pump-1768.jpg!BlogNow this is a study that any parent, particularly mothers, can verify with field research. A group of neuroscientists from the Universities of Pittsburgh, California-Berkeley and Harvard, and led by Kyung Hwa Lee have found that pre-teenage and teenage brains actually appear to partially shutdown when hearing criticism from mothers. In the meantime, another set of scientists have discovered a possible way to cut off pain — creating the ultimate possibility for teenagers to hear and feel nothing.

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hiker-3As many readers of this blog know, I love to hike and bring back pictures from the various trails of wildlife so this story was particularly chilling for me. Darsh Patel was hiking with his four friends when they spotted a black bear in New Jersey and stopped to take pictures. Patel continued to take five pictures with his cellphone as the 300-pound bear charged and killed him.

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220px-Steve_Stockman_official_portraitScientists and environmentalists might be a bit alarmed by a bill introduced in the House that references a scientific theory that they were entirely (and perhaps blissfully) ignorant of before last week: the “Stockman Effect.” The Stockman Effect Act mandates that the director of the National Science Foundation must commission a study on the extent to which changes in the weather can be attributed to natural shifts in the Earth’s magnetic fields. That may have led many scrambling for their textbooks and scientific journals. They would have been better off looking up the names of the sponsors. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) clearly is looking for a legacy as he completes his final term in office after losing his seat in the last election. He wants a federal law that orders that a federal study of his own theory. Stockman, as you might imagine, is a sceptic of man-made climate change theories but he is an advocate of . . . well . . . Stockman science.

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La_monstrua_desnuda_(1680),_de_Juan_Carreño_de_Miranda.We have often discussed obesity rates in the world on this blog and their causes. However, a new report makes an interesting finding. First, not too surprising, it says that Americans are fatter than we previously thought. Second, and more surprising, the reason for the underreporting is that people think or say that they are taller than they are. The study findings were presented by researcher Zachary Ward of the Harvard School of Public Health.

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220px-CatfillerRadioactive SymbolThere are so many surprising aspects to this story including the two salient points that we use kitty litter in nuclear plants and using the wrong kitty litter can cost you half a billion dollars. However, a recent report states that the mismanagement of the kitty litter issue at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico by its private operator, Los Alamos National Security LLC, led not only damage, but the injury of at least 20 workers — and the creation of a type of kitty litter dirty bomb. The concerns of an Al Kitta threat however may be premature. It turns out that you can avoid the risk by selecting clay-based kitty litter over wheat-based kitty litter.

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