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Member since: 2002
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Alan Vega, Suicide frontman and electronic music pioneer, dies aged 78


"Alan Vega, the frontman of the American electronic musical duo Suicide, has reportedly died, aged 78.

The former Black Flag and Rollins Band vocalist Henry Rollins broke the news via his website, with a statement from Vega’s family.

“Alan passed peacefully in his sleep last night, July 16,” the statement said. “He was 78 years of age.

“Alan was not only relentlessly creative, writing music and painting until the end, he was also startlingly unique. Along with Martin Rev, in the early 1970s, they formed the two-person avant band known as Suicide.



Rest in peace, Alan Vega.

Russian officials ran doping programs in multiple Olympic sports, WADA investigation finds


"An investigation by the global agency that polices drug cheating in sports has found “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Russian government ran a widespread doping regime for years in multiple Olympic sports, calling into question whether any Russian athletes should be permitted to compete at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month.

Russia’s ministry of sport covered up positive doping results by Olympic athletes for years in both Summer and Winter Olympic sports, the investigation found, and Russian intelligence agents participated in an elaborate covert scheme at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to replace tainted urine samples of cheating Russian athletes with clean ones.

“It was a fail-safe method of permitting cheating Russian athletes to compete while using performance-enhancing substances,” said Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer and sports ethics expert who led the investigation, in a Monday morning news conference in Toronto.

This is the second major investigation by WADA of Russian sports doping within the past two years. A previous WADA investigation of the nation’s track and field program, released in November 2015, found endemic doping and likely government involvement. In response to that report, the International Association of Athletics Federations — the global agency that governs international track and field — imposed a ban on Russian track and field athletes competing in international events that will effectively bar the global superpower’s track team from the Rio Games.



Well, no is surprised. Still...



"Mike Pence, the putative next vice president of the United States, does not believe in evolution, thinks smoking doesn’t kill, would like creationism taught in public schools, and doesn’t think scientists agree climate change is happening.

We’ll learn a lot more about Donald Trump’s newly minted running mate in the coming days, but the Indiana governor is already on record as sharing some of the most easily refuted claims of the GOP’s anti-science wing. Some of his more remarkable lines come from a 2009 interview with Chris Matthews, the bombastic host of “Hardball.” Others are taken from previous statements made during his campaigns for Congress, or other interviews he’s done over the years.

Here’s a selection.


“I think the science is very mixed on the subject of global warming.”


“Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”



Trump's pseudoscience nonsense, including anti-vacccine ridiculousness only gets worse with this guy in tow.

Innocence Is a Privilege: Black Children Are Not Allowed to Be Innocent in America


"Days ago an interviewer asked me how Delores — one of the main characters in my debut novel, Here Comes the Sun — could be so cruel and unapologetic in how she treats her daughters, Margot and Thandi. It wasn’t the first time I’ve heard the question. The same question was posed in front of an audience of librarians in Chicago a month earlier. Had I listened closely, I might have heard the rapid blinking of eyes in the pause before I answered. Faces were drawn into contemplative lines as each person seemed intent on knowing how a mother could relay to her daughter that no one loves a black girl, a black body. Not even herself. Truth is Delores loves her daughters so much that she will be the first to break them.

As I reflect on the recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — the latter who was shot and killed inside his car; his girlfriend Diamond Reynold’s four-year-old daughter bearing witness — I grapple with the loss of the cloak of protection we have as children called innocence. For black children, innocence is snatched away too soon, a brutal initiation into a frigid world.

Innocence, like freedom, is a privilege.

In his memoir, Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates ruminates over the loss of his son’s innocence as his son becomes more aware of racial inequalities in his own country. He laments, “I write to you in your fifteenth year. I am writing you because this was the year you saw Eric Garner choked to death for selling cigarettes…”

Innocence, like freedom, is a privilege.

Many black parents tell black children to strive; to seize opportunities that will enable upward mobility. However, they also give their children a poison capable of eroding black children’s innocence. They tell them to be twice as good; that there is no room for failure or mistakes. What settles at the base of their throats is the weighted truth that inevitably begins with, “No matter how hard…” It’s understandable that parents would rather have this poison — this “No matter how hard you try; you will never be seen as equal” — settle at the base of their throats or get lodged like a calcified stone in the left side of their chest than to see the healthy light dim in their children’s eyes. Had this poison been exchanged in every kiss goodnight, every night-time prayer, perhaps black children would be more guarded; our hopes and dreams placed in the hands of a god we’re told will have mercy. But we can’t have mercy. Not with history constantly chasing us and pulling us under, yanking us out of our dreams and into the mouths of hatred.



U.S. poet laureate posts 'sudden poem' on week of grief


"Juan Felipe Herrera began his term as the U.S. Poet Laureate last year. He grew up in a migrant campesino family that traveled from farm to farm, job to job all over California, and he is the first Chicano/a poet to be appointed poet laureate. The author of 18 books of poetry, he writes poetry that combines the great written tradition with the extemporaneous energy of spoken-word verse and the populist voice of poets who speak for the common experience.

On Sunday, on the website Poets.org, Herrera published what he calls a "sudden" poem after a week of bloodshed and heartache in American history. Given a date of July 8, 2016, "@ the Crossroads - A Sudden American Poem" calls on everyone to consider and "celebrate the lives of all" those who died, those killed and those who did the killing. Poets.org is run by the Academy of American Poets and sends a daily unpublished poem to an audience estimated at 250,000 people.

Poets.org has taken the unusual step of inviting venues everywhere to publish the poem for their own audiences.

@ the Crossroads - A Sudden American Poem

RIP Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Dallas police
officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith,
Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa—and all
their families. And to all those injured.

Let us celebrate the lives of all

As we reflect & pray & meditate on their brutal deaths

Let us celebrate those who marched at night who spoke of peace

& chanted Black Lives Matter

Let us celebrate the officers dressed in Blues ready to protect

Let us know the departed as we did not know them before—their faces,

Bodies, names—what they loved, their words, the stories they often spoke

Before we return to the usual business of our days, let us know their lives intimately

Let us take this moment & impossible as this may sound—let us find

The beauty in their lives in the midst of their sudden & never imagined vanishing

Let us consider the Dallas shooter—what made him

what happened in Afghanistan


flames burned inside

(Who was that man in Baton Rouge with a red shirt selling CDs in the parking lot

Who was that man in Minnesota toppled on the car seat with a perforated arm

& a continent-shaped flood of blood on his white T who was

That man prone & gone by the night pillar of El Centro College in Dallas )

This could be the first step

in the new evaluation of our society This could be

the first step of all of our lives

- Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, July 8, 2016"


First steps are needed around the world, it appears.

Cases of Dengue Drop 91 Percent Due to Genetically Modified Mosquitoes


"Once again, a technique that modifies insects in order to control their populations has been proven effective. RIDL, which stands for Release of Insects carrying a Dominant Lethal, has been applied to diamondback moths, Mediterranean fruit flies, and olive flies, and it has been used in field trials on mosquitoes in order to reduce cases of dengue.

Scientists apply the RIDL technique to male insects in the lab, which basically makes them die young unless they receive a substance called tetracycline. As long as they have tetracycline, they will live, but take it away from them and they’re goners. It’s almost as if they’re breeding insects that are drug addicts from birth.

Next, they release millions of these male insects into the wild and allow them to mate with females. Since they no longer have tetracycline, the males die soon after mating. Their offspring, which also need tetracycline to live, will die before reaching adulthood since they have no access to the substance.

Using this technique, scientists have reduced the cases of dengue, which can be deadly, by 91% in a neighborhood called CECAP/Eldorado in the city Piracicaba, which is located in the Brazilian state of Săo Paulo. There were only 12 cases of dengue in the area, versus 133 cases the previous year. Surrounding areas also saw a reduction of dengue cases by 52%.



How would the rest of DU take this news?


Charlie Sheen and the Danger of False Cures

Charlie Sheen's misadventure with a false cure for HIV/AIDS


Perhaps this is why there was far less media frenzy and social mourning after the November 2015 announcement by actor Charlie Sheen that he was HIV-positive. Most assumed HAART would save Sheen's life, not his “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA” that he boasted about during his highly publicized 2011 meltdown following his dismissal from the hit TV series Two and a Half Men.

What a surprise, then, to see featured on the popular HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher on January 29, 2016, one Dr. Samir Chachoua, who told Maher and his more than four million viewers that he cured Sheen of HIV through his own drug cocktail of milk from arthritic goats. The treatment is based on Chachoua's “nemesis theory” that “for every disease there is an antidisease organism capable of destroying it and restoring health.” Goat milk infected with caprine arthritis encephalitis virus, Chachoua says, is HIV's nemesis. When Sheen went to see him in Mexico (Chachoua is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S.), very soon after treatment Sheen's liver tests allegedly returned to normal levels.

Chachoua also boasted that he had eradicated HIV from the small African island nation of Comoros, and when Maher asked him why he wasn't better known, he said that his cure was buried by the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after he sent clinicians there his vaccine for testing.

Not likely. According to Sheen's doctor, University of California, Los Angeles, professor Robert Huizenga, Sheen went on the HAART cocktail in July 2011 after his diagnosis, and by December of that year his viral load was undetectable. (“Undetectable” does not mean cured; the virus can be hiding in the body.) Four years later, in search of a permanent cure, Sheen visited Chachoua, who credited his goat-milk nemesis for Sheen's undetectable HIV load. Sheen went off the antiretroviral medications, and his HIV levels shot back up. Fortunately for him, Sheen came to his senses and started taking his antiretroviral medications.



Scam artists are not harmless, and WTF is it with Maher and his willingness to let them advertise on his show?

Know This First: Risk Perception Is Always Irrational.

We need a post-Enlightenment definition of "rationality." Reason can take us only so far.

"IN 2011, THE CITY LEADERS of Calgary, Alberta, bowed to public pressure and ended fluoridation of the local drinking water, despite clear evidence that the benefits of fluoridation vastly outweigh its risks. A recent study found that second graders in Calgary now have 3.8 more cavities, on average, than a similar group did back in 2004-05, when the water was still being treated.

In West Virginia, legislators in favor of shrinking government recently passed a law allowing sale of unpasteurized milk, despite convincing evidence that raw milk is a vector for pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. To celebrate, the bill’s sponsor shared some raw milk with his colleagues, several of whom got sick. The legislator says it was just coincidence.

Since the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, fear of radiation has prompted thyroid cancer screening for all children in the prefecture. The levels of radiation to which kids had been exposed were too low to pose significant danger, and the sensitive ultrasound screening technique is well known to find abnormal cells in most people’s thyroids, though in nearly all cases those cells will never cause cancer. As a result of this unprecedented scrutiny for an infinitesimal risk, hundreds of kids have had their thyroids removed unnecessarily, with far-reaching health implications for the rest of their lives.


For anyone outside the emotions that produced these choices, it’s hard not to feel frustration at hearing about them. It’s hard not to call them ignorant, selfish, and irrational, or to label such behavior, as some do — often with more than a hint of derision — “science denialism.” It’s hard, but it’s necessary, because treating such decision-making as merely flawed thinking that can be rectified with cold hard reason flies in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.



A really good piece for all of us, as we face a world where irrational emotions seem to be taking hold of more of our fellow humans every day.

Did green groups learn anti-GMO tactics from climate sceptics?



Anti-GMO activists are the ones practicing “tobacco science”.

It's truly sad to see the vehemence and the amount of support the anti-GMO crowd gets around here.

Bangladeshi Bt brinjal farmer speaks out in GMO controversy



Rahman told the BBC that after adopting Bt brinjal he had been able to dramatically reduce his pesticide use, and was both saving money and seeing improved health outcomes as a result. The same farmer was also featured in a New York Times article highlighting the same issues of pesticide use reductions and improved yield and livelihood.

However, after the BBC documentary was aired, anti-GMO campaigners immediately claimed that both the BBC report and the New York Times article were fabrications, and Rahman's crop had in fact failed. These claims were buttressed by reports from a United News of Bangladesh (UNB) journalist who said he had visited Rahman's Bt brinjal fields and found "a significant number of plants dead".

The same UNB reporter had previously published a story claiming that numerous Bt brinjal farmers throughout the country had also suffered failed crops. This report was however challenged by the director-general of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Dr. Md. Rafiqul Islam Mondal, who told media that "the performance of Bt brinjal was better than non-Bt in all districts".


Rahman was unambiguous about the success of his Bt brinjal crop, and rejected claims of failure. "In the last 10 years, the amount of yield I received last year, I never received such yield all my life and neither did my neighbors,” he said. “That is why my neighbors are inspired and me, too."



When will our fellow progressives figure out that the anti-GMO propagandists are despicable? It's just beyond the pale, time after time.
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