Science & Technology

‘Make our planet great again’: France Courts American Scientists With New Grant Money

by Hunter – If the United States no longer wants its scientists, other nations are now making it known they will be happy to have them. Emmanuel Macron plans to award multi-year grants for several U.S.-based scientists to relocate to France, his office said on Monday on the eve of a climate summit hosted by the president to raise finances to counter global warming. If you’re wondering whether these grants are meant as a specific personal insult to President Garbage Fire: Yes. Yes, they are. Macron unveiled the “Make our Planet Great Again” grants after President Donald Trump in June said he was pulling the United States out of an international accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that was brokered in Paris in 2015. Macron is appealing to shunned U.S. scientists with a simple message: Come do your work in France and we will give you grant money and respect you. What...

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2017 Nobel Peace Prize: What is ICAN?

The Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Sunday. ICAN has been at the forefront of pushing for an end to the use of nuclear weapons through the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which has 50 signatories including Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam to date. The Nobel committee cited ICAN’s efforts “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition on such weapons”, in an announcement in Oslo, Nowary on October 6. ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn told reporters that given the current political atmosphere around the world, the call to ban nuclear weapons is more imperative. “The treaty is meant to make it harder to justify nuclear weapons, to make it uncomfortable for states to continue the status quo, to put more pressure...

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Zinke Says Energy Wasn’t Involved in Bears Ears Decision. Nuclear Company Documents Say Otherwise

by Meteor Blades – Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke has made it a point to declare that energy concerns had nothing to do with his recommendation to Pr*sident Trump that Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be cut by 85 percent and the remnant hacked into bits. There’s no mine in Bears Ears, he told reporters after Trump issued two proclamations Tuesday cutting Bears Ears and another national monument in Utah, the Grand Staircase-Escalante. But The Washington Post has obtained documents showing there was heavy lobbying in favor of reducing the monument’s acreage by the owner of the nation’s only remaining uranium mill. It sits just outside the boundary of Bears Ears as designated last year by President Obama, but miles away from the new boundary under Trump’s truncated designation. Juliet Eilperin’s report on the documents shows that Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, lobbied the Trump regime to shrink the monument—which is rich with scenic beauty and ancient American...

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Acts of an Adversary

by Max Bergmann and Carolyn Kenney – Russia’s Ongoing Hostilities Toward the United States and Its Allies. Introduction and summary Russia’s efforts to attack and undermine American democracy did not begin or end with the 2016 election. Russia’s vast espionage and cybercapabilities continue to target the United States government, its citizens, as well as America’s democratic allies around the world. This report outlines Russia’s continuing hostile actions toward the United States and its allies. It finds that the election of Donald Trump has not resulted in the Kremlin changing course or reducing its hostile actions toward the United States. Russia continues to: Aggressively target the United States in cyberspace, including its government, businesses, citizens, and interests Provide cybercriminals with a safe haven from which they can prey on Americans Conduct aggressive espionage campaigns against the United States and its allies, including harassing U.S. diplomats and assassinating the Kremlin’s adversaries abroad Probe ways to...

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With Teen Mental Health Deteriorating Over Five Years, There’s a Likely Culprit

by Jean Twenge – Around 2012, something started going wrong in the lives of teens. In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless – classic symptoms of depression – surged 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13- to 18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent. In a new paper published in Clinical Psychological Science, my colleagues and I found that the increases in depression, suicide attempts and suicide appeared among teens from every background – more privileged and less privileged, across all races and ethnicities and in every region of the country. All told, our analysis found that the generation of teens I call “iGen” – those born after 1995 – is much more likely to experience mental health issues than their millennial predecessors. What happened so that so many more...

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New Mexico Study Suggests Medical Cannabis Helps Chronic Pain Patients Reduce Opioid Use

by Mike Riggs – Yet another cohort study finds a correlation between medical marijuana and reduced reliance on opioids. Chronic pain patients who enroll in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program while using prescription opioids are likely to reduce their dosage of opioids and even to cease using opioids altogether, according to a new study from researchers at the University of New Mexico. Participants in the program also reported “improvements in pain reduction, quality of life, social life, activity levels, and concentration, and few side effects from using cannabis one year after enrollment in the MCP.” Published earlier this month in the open access journal PLOS One, the study had a small sample size: 37 of the surveyed patients enrolled in the marijuana program, while 29 used opioids alone. The study also relied on a cohort model rather than a randomized control trial. That means investigators had no say over who ended up...

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Future of Free Speech at Risk as Supreme Court Hears Critical Digital Privacy Case

by Julia Conley – “No constitutional doctrine should presume that consumers assume the risk of warrantless government surveillance simply by using technologies that are increasingly integrated into modern life.” The Supreme Court will hear the first arguments in a landmark case regarding digital privacy rights on Wednesday as civil liberties advocates, joined by tech companies and journalists, argue the court must acknowledge that privacy rights and free speech protections should align with the reality of 21st century technology. The case, known as Carpenter vs. United States centers around Timothy Carpenter, who was convicted in 2011 of several robberies after the police, without a probable cause warrant, gathered data from his cell phone company. Months of records were turned over, showing that he had been near cell towers close to the sites of the robberies when they took place. “Because we always have our cell phones with us, their location history reveals a lot about...

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Trump’s FCC Chairman Says Twitter Banning Nazis is an Attack on the Conservative Movement

by Luke Barnes – Ajit Pai’s plan is wildly unpopular on both the left and right. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai is going on the offensive in his attempt to allow corporations to carve up the internet for cash. On Tuesday Pai claimed that tech companies were being hypocritical by advocating for net neutrality while they “block or discriminate against content they don’t like” — specifically conservative content. According to Pai, “Edge providers” like Google and Facebook pose a much bigger threat to a free, open internet then the FCC’s planned repeal of net neutrality, because they discriminate against differing viewpoints. He singled out Twitter, claiming that the company had a “double-standard when it comes to suspending or de-verifying conservative users’ accounts as opposed to those of liberal users.” But the unspecified “conservatives” that Pai was referring to weren’t conservatives at all — they were neo-Nazis and white supremacists, to whom...

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North Korea Fires Another Ballistic Missile

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile, the first such launch since mid-September, according to officials in South Korea, Japan and the United States. “North Korea launched an unidentified ballistic missile eastward from the vicinity of Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province, at dawn today”, South Korean army officials told South Korean news agency Yonhap. There was no immediate comment from North Korea. The missile was fired from Pyongsong, a city in South Pyongan Province, at around 3:17am local time (18:17 GMT) on Wednesday, according to South Korea’s military. Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said the missile reached an estimated altitude of around 4,000 kilometres and broke up before landing in the country’s “exclusive economic zone”. His US counterpart, Jim Mattis, said the missile went higher than ever before, describing it as a step towards Pyongyang building missiles that can “threaten everywhere in the world, basically”. “With these tests, North Korea wants to demonstrate...

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Would We Be Better Off Without Religion? (VIDEO)

Reza Aslan and Lawrence Krauss debate whether religion is inherently violent, and if science and faith can coexist.  Is religion a force of good or evil? A controversial question at times, but one that can’t be avoided in the modern world. From violence and terror, to gender equality, to science, reason, and education – the faithful and the faithless tend to repeatedly clash over whether religion is a net positive or negative, whether it helps humanity more than it hurts it. “Religion is both a force of good and evil because religion is a man-made institution, and human beings are both good and evil,” says Reza Aslan, a scholar of religion and best-selling author. “I don’t know why it would come as a surprise to learn that the religious institutions that we create can also be responsible for profound acts of good and compassion and positivity, and for...

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Over 15,000 Scientists Just Issued a ‘Second Notice’ to Humanity. Can We Listen Now?

by Andrea Germanos – Reassessing warning issued 25 years ago, the “second notice” to humanity warns of “widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss” unless business-as-usual is upended. Yikes. Over 15,000 scientists hailing from more than 180 countries just issued a dire warning to humanity: “Time is running out” to stop business as usual, as threats from rising greenhouse gases to biodiversity loss are pushing the biosphere to the brink. The new warning was published Monday in the international journal BioScience, and marks an update to the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” issued by nearly 1,700 leading scientists 25 years ago. The 1992 plea, which said Earth was on track to be “irretrievably mutilated” baring “fundamental change,” however, was largely unheeded. “Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist,” said William Ripple, distinguished professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, and lead author of...

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If There’s a War on Coal, Coal Already Lost

by Oscar Reyes – Trump’s coddling can’t save the notoriously dirty industry when cleaner options and better jobs abound. “The war on coal is over,” according to Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt spoke these words in a speech to coal miners in Hazard, Kentucky, where he announced the formal repeal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan. What he failed to mention is that if this is a war, coal has already lost. The demand for coal has collapsed in recent years. More than half of all U.S. electricity was produced from coal just a decade ago. Today’s figure is just over 30 percent, and continues to fall. Twelve coal-fired power stations have already closed since Trump took office. A recent survey by the Union of Concern Scientists found that around a quarter of the remaining coal units will soon be retired or converted to gas, and a further 17 percent...

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Fears of Radiation Leak Soar After North Korea Nuclear Site Collapse

by Jake Johnson – The disaster is believed to have resulted from Pyongyang’s hydrogen bomb test, which sparked earthquakes and landslides. Experts are issuing urgent warnings of a possible radiation leak following the collapse of a tunnel at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, an accident that reportedly killed at least 200 people. “Should sink, there is a possibility” that hazardous radioactive gas could be released into the atmosphere, warned South Korea weather agency chief Nam Jae-cheol during a parliamentary meeting on Monday, ahead of reports of the incident. The tunnel’s collapse, first reported by the Japanese outlet TV Asahi on Tuesday, is presumed to have occurred as a result of the destabilization caused by Pyongyang’s powerful hydrogen bomb test last month. The Telegraph, citing South Korean news agency Yonhap, reported that the original incident took place on Oct. 10 though it remains unclear exactly when the secondary collapse may have occurred. Business Insider‘s Alex Lockie reports that according to...

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Electric Cars and Surging Solar Spell Market Doom for Fossil Fuels

by Jessica Corbett – Analyses show how demand for electric vehicles and rapidly falling renewable energy prices could take down oil and gas industry. As an increasing number of nations make plans for banning gas and diesel vehicles within the coming decades, and drivers gain an awareness of the benefits associated with electric vehicles, researchers are predicting notable consequences for dirty energy sources as the public shifts toward favoring renewable alternatives. “Post-2025, that’s where electric car sales take off. The further you go into the future, the more it’s electric cars,” Alan Gelder, a senior analyst for the research group Wood Mackenzie, told the Guardian. “If cities began banning cars with a combustion engine, that would rapidly accelerate the switch to electric vehicles.” Drivers transitioning to electric vehicles out of necessity, because of such bans—which multiple European nations plan to implement in the next 15-25 years—and efforts by governments to increase fuel efficiency regluations, is only part of...

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EPA’s 4-Year Strategic Plan Doesn’t Mention ‘Climate.’ Not Once

by Jake Johnson – “This wasn’t an oversight, this is a deliberate strategy by this administration.” If President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hadn’t already made it abundantly clear that addressing climate change is near the very bottom of its list of priorities, the agency’s newly unveiled four-year “strategic plan” should remove all doubt, as it does not contain a single mention of “climate change”—or even just “climate.” The 38-page draft, quietly made available for public comment last week, also neglects to mention “carbon dioxide,” “greenhouse gases,” or “renewable energy.” By contrast, former President Barack Obama’s EPA made addressing climate change the first of the agency’s five stated goals in its 2014 strategic plan—which used the phrase “climate change” more than 40 times. Dr. Rachel Cleetus, climate policy manager with the Union of Concerned Scientists, calledthe EPA’s scrubbing of climate change from its report “stunning,” and argued that it was no accident. “Climate...

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Promoting Renewable Future, Solar Companies and Nonprofits Rush to Puerto Rico

by Jessica Corbett – Promoting Renewable Future, Solar Companies and Nonprofits Rush to Puerto Rico As Congress on Thursday approved a $5 billion loan that will further burden the already bankrupt U.S. territory, various solar companies and nonprofits continued working together to offer aid to the storm-ravaged island while also promoting a more sustainable future and resilient energy system. On Thursday, the nonprofit Empowered By Light and Sunrun—the nation’s largest residential solar company—partnered with local leaders to install a 4kW solar array with battery storage at the Barrio Obrero fire station in San Juan. A second system will be installed at another fire station on Friday. More than 90 percent of the island’s power grid has not been restored since Hurricane Maria struck last month. The commonwealth’s power system was already hobbled by financial difficulties long before the hurricane devastated the island, and the federal government has been widely condemned for its slow and inadequatedisaster relief efforts. “It appears the federal emergency response is focused on diesel to...

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Hackers Broke Into U.S. Voting Systems in Minutes. Now They’re Helping Prevent Attacks

by Kira Lerner – “Our voting systems are not secure.” This July, eight months after Russians targeted U.S. election systems, hackers gathered at a conference in Las Vegas to prove just how vulnerable our system is to interference. In a matter of minutes, hackers were able to break into and gain remote control of voting machines, changing votes and potentially shutting down the system. “These machines were pretty easy to hack,” Jeff Moss, founder the world’s largest hacker conference, DEFCON, said Tuesday. Hackers with very little prior knowledge and limited resources were able to expose personal voter information and undermine the integrity of every piece of equipment they attempted to breach. Now, using that information, those hackers are teaming up with U.S. governors to try to make U.S. election systems more immune to interference. DEFCON, the National Governors Association, the Atlantic Council, and other academics released a report Tuesday finding that “our voting systems are not secure”...

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‘An Inferno Like You’ve Never Seen’: Deadly Wildfires Ravage California

by Jake Johnson – The “unprecedented” fires, fulfilling predictions of climate scientists, have forced tens of thousands from their homes. More than ten people have been killed, thousands have been left without power, and tens of thousands have been forced to evacuate as more than a dozen wildfires tore through Northern California overnight Monday, forcing Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in eight counties. “Presently, these fires continue their path of destruction,” Brown said in a statement late Monday. “Many residents had little time to flee due to the fires’ rapid and erratic rate of spread through the rural terrain. Tragically, these fires have already taken lives and emergency responders anticipate the number of fatalities could grow.” Brown also asked President Donald Trump—who spent his morning tweeting insults at ESPN host Jemele Hill and the NFL—to issue a disaster declaration. At least eighteen total wildfires have been counted, and firefighters have struggled...

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Tainted Honey: Bee-Poisoning Pesticides Found Globally

by Jessica Corbett – Lead researcher says there were “relatively few places where we did not find any” samples contaminated with neonics known to harm bees. Raising further concerns about the global food production system, a new study found that bees worldwide are being widely exposed to dangerous agricultural chemicals, with 75 percent of honey samples from six continents testing positive for pesticides known to harm pollinators. “What this shows is the magnitude of the contamination,” the study’s lead author, Edward Mitchell, a biology professor at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, told the Denver Post. He said there were “relatively few places where we did not find any” contaminated samples. For the study, published in the journal Science, Mitchell’s team of researchers examined nearly 200 samples for the five most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics. They found: in North America, 86 percent of samples from contained one or more neonicotinoid; in Asia, 80 percent; in Europe (where there is...

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Google to Use Balloons for Puerto Rico Phone Service

Alphabet Inc is sending high-altitude balloons to provide phone service to island devastated by Hurricane Maria. Alphabet Inc, the company that controls Google, is sending special balloons to Puerto Rico to help restore phone service after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria last month. The US Federal Communications Commission said it had approved the company’s application to provide the emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. The FCC said on Friday that 83 percent of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites. Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to “support licensed mobile carriers’ restoration of limited communications capability” in Puerto Rico. Earlier on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced...

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Peak Oil Demand is Near: General Motors Says the Future is ‘all-electric’

by Joe Romm – GM, Ford, and China strongly embrace electric cars, signaling trouble for Big Oil. “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development, announced in a corporate press release Monday. These are remarkable words for a company that has become a global behemoth over the past century by making and selling tens of millions of cars, SUVs, and light trucks that run on liquid fossil fuels. When you add in plans from huge, fast-growing markets like China and India to quickly shift to EVs and end the sale of petrol cars, it’s clear that upending the car market will also upend the oil market. Reuss said GM would accelerate the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), with two new EV models coming out in 2018, and “at least” another 18 by 2023. On the same day, Ford Motor Co. announced it would release 13 new EV models in the next five years. The...

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Dozens of Trump Rallies Around the Nation Originated With Russian Propaganda Groups

by Mark Sumner – Many Trump supporters who turned up to rallies weren’t obeying Russia indirectly through instructions passed on by Paul Manafort or … Donald Trump. According to The Daily Beast, many Dixie-humming Trumpers got their orders from Russia the old-fashioned way: directly. The August 20, 2016 events were collectively called “Florida Goes Trump!”, and they were billed as a “patriotic state-wide flash mob,” unfolding simultaneously in 17 different cities and towns in the battleground state.  These get-togethers were organized by a group calling itself “Being Patriotic.” The problem with these good citizens isn’t that they supported Trump, it’s that they weren’t. Citizens, that is. Or even in the United States. It now appears that the group was simply a front for Russian propagandists. And their events were not by any means restricted to Florida. Being Patriotic had 200,000 followers and the strongest activist bent of any of the suspected Russian Facebook election pages that...

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Climate Scientists Predicted the Rise in Super-hurricanes Like Maria, Irma, and Harvey

by Joe Romm – But deniers are still trying to shout down any talk of a climate-hurricane link, calling it “idle chatter.” Hurricane Maria, currently on a collision course with Puerto Rico, intensified explosively in one day from a Category 1 storm to Category 5 superstorm. The Prime Minister of Dominica said Tuesday that Maria caused “mind boggling” devastation when it tore through his island nation. “As see storms like Irma and now Maria intensify from tropical disturbances to Category 5 hurricanes in record time, we see hints of yet another potential threat,” climatologist Michael Mann told ThinkProgress via email. “We may have less time to prepare and react to monster storms, hindering our adaptive capacity to deal with their devastating impacts.” Climate science deniers have sought to dismiss scientists’ discussion of the link between human-caused climate change and more intense hurricanes as “idle chatter.” It is anything but. Maria is the...

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Walker and Trump’s Foxconn Deal May Be Worst in American History

by Robert Kraig – Governor Scott Walker and Donald Trump claim their $3 billion subsidy to Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn will create thousands of jobs in Wisconsin. But when you dig into the numbers, the Foxconn deal looks like one of the biggest swindles in American history, a scandal waiting to happen. While it is Governor Walker and not Trump who is really cutting this deal, it sets a dangerous precedent, which could affect every state. To understand how big the threat is, it is important to understand just how bad the Foxconn deal really is, and to look closely at what they’re proposing. The magnitude of the public expenditure is stunning. It is not really a tax break, but a direct public subsidy of $3 billion dollars. Bribing big companies to stay or leave, and therefore allowing profitable corporations to exact public resources while shifting costs onto everyone else,...

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Should Utilities Build Charging Stations for Electric Cars?

by Martha T. Moore – Faced with deadlines to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, states are being asked to decide whether utility companies can build electric vehicle charging stations — and pass on the cost to their customers. Building more charging stations could help alleviate “range anxiety,” the fear of running out of charge with no station in sight, and therefore stimulate sales of the clean-air-friendly cars. But in some states, officials say that letting the utility industry build more stations would force all electricity consumers to pay for a service that only a few, relatively affluent, people will use. In California, home to nearly half the electric vehicles (EVs) now on U.S. roads, the Public Utilities Commission last year approved plans for three of the state’s largest utilities — Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric — to...

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The False Equivalence Plaguing our Discussions of Climate Change

by Joe Romm – The national GOP rejects science and any serious action. Everyone else in the U.S. and world is on the other ‘side’ The “both sides do it” approach to modern journalism is both pervasive and dangerous. Nowhere is that clearer than in coverage of climate change, especially in an era where the most extreme climate science deniers are running the federal government. Consider the recent “series of pieces about America’s polarized climate debate” in Axios. The first was “What Republicans are getting wrong about climate change.” The second was “What liberals get wrong about climate change.” You may already be noticing a journalistic bias, a thumb on the scale. In the headline, Axios pits an actual political party, the Republicans, on one side versus “liberals” on the other. In reality, as the National Journal wrote in 2010, “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears...

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Hydrogen Bomb vs Atomic Bomb: What’s the Difference? (VIDEO)

Experts say the fundamental difference between a hydrogen and atomic bomb is the detonation process. North Korea has long sought the means to deliver an atomic warhead to the United States, its sworn enemy, and Sunday’s nuclear test followed reports it could load a hydrogen bomb onto an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Hydrogen bombs, or H-bombs, are far more powerful than the relatively simple atomic weapons North Korea was believed to have tested so far. As opposed to the atomic bomb – the kind dropped on Japan by the US in the closing days of World War II – the hydrogen bomb can be 1,000 times more powerful. North Korea’s first three nuclear tests from 2006 to 2013 were atomic bombs on roughly the same scale as the ones used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which together killed more than 200,000 people. However, Sunday’s test is estimated to have a yield of about 100 kilotons,...

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NYT: 3 Providers of Critical Election Services were Hacked by Russians Before 2016 Vote

by ericlewis0 – From The New York Times: The calls started flooding in from hundreds of irate North Carolina voters just after 7 a.m. on Election Day last November. Dozens were told they were ineligible to vote and were turned away at the polls, even when they displayed current registration cards. Others were sent from one polling place to another, only to be rejected. Scores of voters were incorrectly told they had cast ballots days earlier. In one precinct, voting halted for two hours. Susan Greenhalgh, a troubleshooter at a nonpartisan election monitoring group, was alarmed. Most of the complaints came from Durham, a blue-leaning county in a swing state. The problems involved electronic poll books — tablets and laptops, loaded with check-in software, that have increasingly replaced the thick binders of paper used to verify voters’ identities and registration status. She knew that the company that provided Durham’s software, VR Systems, had been penetrated...

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Cybersecurity Advisors Resigned en Masse Due to Trump’s ‘insufficient attention’

by Jen Hayden – With the deluge of bad news, especially Hurricane Harvey, you might have missed this important news item. Last week, one-quarter of the nation’s leading cybersecurity advisors walked off the job, resigning in a group letter. Their reason? Donald Trump and his administration are ignoring their dire warnings about our nation’s cybersecurity. From Defense One: More than one-quarter of a panel tasked with advising the Homeland Security Department on cybersecurity and infrastructure protection resigned en masse Monday, citing President Donald Trump’s “insufficient attention” to the nation’s cyber vulnerabilities, among other complaints. Resigning members of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council also cited the president’s failure to single out neo-Nazis and white supremacists for condemnation after a violent protest earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia. “The moral infrastructure of our nation is the foundation on which our physical infrastructure is built,” the council members stated in a group resignation letter. The resigning...

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NASA Shocker: Last Month was Hottest July, and Hottest Month, on Record

by Joe Romm – It’s the first time we’ve seen such a record month in the absence of an El Niño boost. THE GISTEMP MONTHLY TEMPERATURE ANOMALIES SUPERIMPOSED ON A 1980-2015 MEAN SEASONAL CYCLE. CREDIT: NASA July 2017 has narrowly topped July 2016 as the hottest July on record, according to a shocking analysis by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) released Tuesday. As a result, July 2017 is statistically tied with August 2016 (and July 2016) as the hottest month on record. What’s so surprising here is that records for warmest month or year almost invariably occur when the underlying human-caused global warming trend gets a temporary boost from an El Niño’s enhanced warming in the tropical Pacific. But whereas 2016 set its temperature records boosted by one of the strongest El Niño’s on record, 2017 is setting records in the absence of any El Niño at all. “Yes, it’s surprising...

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Utah Utility Wants to Triple Monthly Charges for Solar Customers

by Mark Hand – Nevada is still recovering from rooftop solar policy similar to Utah utility’s plan. Utah’s largest electric utility company wants to place new charges on rooftop solar customers, a proposal that critics say would unfairly penalize the customers; in addition, they fear it could lead to a scenario similar to the one that recently played out in Nevada, with rooftop solar companies abandoning the state after policymakers weakened the net metering system. Rocky Mountain Power’s plan would nearly triple monthly customer charges and peak-time usage charges for rooftop solar customers, although the company says the new charges are necessary to create an equitable system between solar and non-solar customers. The Utah Public Service Commission is holding a hearing on Wednesday to get public input on the company’s controversial proposal. Next week, the commission plans to hold a multi-day hearing where Rocky Mountain Power, solar companies, and other official intervenors in...

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Fearing Censorship, Govt. Scientists Leak Alarming Climate Report

by Julia Conley – Scientists at 13 federal agencies released a draft of a report showing that the U.S. is currently being impacted by climate change. A leaked draft of an extensive federal climate change report is causing alarm on Tuesday—both because of its findings, which make clear that the U.S. is currently experiencing the effects of climate change, and because of statements by the report’s authors, who say they’re concerned President Donald Trump will try to suppress the paper. The 543-page report by scientists from 13 federal agencies details rapidly rising temperatures in the United States since 1980 and cites global events including an extreme heat wave in Europe in 2003 and in Australia in 2013, as concrete examples of climate change, saying that both examples offer “relatively strong evidence” that humans are contributing to global warming. The authors write that they have “a medium degree of confidence” that rising temperatures throughout...

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Disaster For Big Pharma As 50% Of People Report Quitting Pills For CBD

by Carey Wedler/ANTIMEDIA – According to a recent survey conducted by cannabis market research firm the Brightfield Group and HelloMD, nearly half of CBD (cannabidiol) users give up prescription drugs and over the counter medications in favor of the non-psychoactive substance. According to a recent survey conducted by cannabis market research firm the Brightfield Group and HelloMD, an online medical cannabis community, nearly half of CBD (cannabidiol) users give up prescription drugs and over the counter medications in favor of the non-psychoactive substance. The survey of over 2,400 respondents found forty-two percent of CBD users — whether they used marijuana-derived CBD or hemp-derived CBD — “have left their traditional medications behind altogether and now use cannabis instead.” The survey summarized that roughly “66% of CBD users indicated that CBD products are either ‘more effective’ or ‘much more effective’ in relieving their medical conditions than are over-the-counter (OTC) products.” Further, “pproximately 52% of this consumer group indicated that their CBD products are either ‘more effective’...

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NFL Ends Concussion Research Partnership $16 Million Short of $30 Million Commitment

by Lindsay Gibbs – The “unrestricted gift” came with too many strings for the National Institute of Health. Back in 2012, the NFL made a heavily publicized $30 million commitment to the National Institute of Health to fund concussion research, which the league wanted the public to see as a commitment it was taking head safety in football seriously. But as ESPN’S Outside the Lines reported this week, that partnership is set to expire next month even though the NFL — which is projected to reach $14 billion in revenue this year — failed to give the NIH $16 million of the promised funds. In other words, the league fulfilled less than half of its obligations to the NIH. “The NFL’s agreement with ends August 31, 2017, and there are no current research plans for the funds remaining from the original $30 million NFL commitment,” the NIH said in a statement. The relationship between the...

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Three Things to Know About North Korea’s Missile Tests (VIDEOS)

by Alex Gatopoulos – With advances in its long-range missile programme, here are three technical milestones and why they matter. Since Kim Jung-un’s ascendancy in December 2011, North Korea has accelerated its missile development programme, the tempo of tests increasing considerably from those under his father Kim Jung Il. After failures in 2016, North Korea has this year made bold advances in its missile programme. Kim Jong-un moved closer to make good on his threats to reduce the US “to ashes” with the July 28 launch of long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), claiming that this flight test demonstrates the capability of the missiles to reach the US mainland. This test comes just weeks after Pyongyang tested what it claimed to be the country’s first ICBM. Immediately following the launch, US and South Korean forces conducted live-fire exercises and the US flew two supersonic B-1B jets over the Korean peninsula in a show of force. US ambassador to the UN stated that the US...

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On Electric Cars, the U.S. Is Stuck in the Slow Lane

by Oscar Reyes – While Europe races toward electric vehicles, U.S. automakers are actually trying to make cars less efficient. The French government recently announced a plan to ban sales of new gas-powered cars by 2040. Not to be outdone, the UK government is now rolling out a similar plan of its own. These plans sound shockingly radical, but in fact many analysts think those transitions will happen anyway. For instance, the Dutch bank ING recently predicted that all the cars sold in Europe will be electric by 2030. More conservative estimates put it at 2050. Either way, most experts now see this change on the horizon. Electric vehicles — or EVs — are already more efficient than their gas-powered counterparts, and could soon become cheaper too. High-end models already outperform conventional engines for speed and acceleration. Yet potential buyers will continue to be wary as long as the range of batteries remains small, and the network of...

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Researchers: Trump Tweets Reveal ‘Neurotic’ and ‘Unstable’ Leader

by Andrea Germanos – Newly published study looks at how language of Trump’s tweets compares with that of over 100 CEOs and entrepreneurs. What do the frequent tweets from Donald Trump say about his online personality? According to a team of international researchers, they indicate he’s an “emotionally unstable motivator.” The study was conducted before Trump took office, analyzing 3,200 tweets he issued by October 2016, and was led by Martin Obschonka from the Australian Center for Entrepreneurship Research at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, and Christian Fisch from Trier University in Germany. They also compared Trump’s tweets with those of over 100 CEOs and entrepreneurs including Google’s Eric Schmidt, HP’s Meg Whitman, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. “We looked at Twitter tweets and employed a new method that uses machine learning and other computer science methods to analyze characteristic language styles, contents, and patterns that together can...

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Scary Dairy: You Scream, I Scream… Monsanto Roundup Ice Cream

by Jessica Corbett – Traces of “probable human carcinogen” found in samples from ten Ben & Jerry’s flavors. Ten out of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, the nonprofit Organic Consumers Association revealed on Tuesday. Although the amount of glyphosate detected was below the safety limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as stricter European regulators, the discovery stands out from a slew of other food producers with Roundup-ridden products—from honey and baby food to Cheerios and Ritz Crackers—in part because of the ice cream maker’s branding. Ben & Jerry’s stated mission is to produce “the finest quality all natural ice cream…with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients, and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the environment.” OCA’s international director Ronnie Cummins accused the company of “rampant greenwashing,” writing Tuesday: The proliferation of $90 billion worth of fraudulently labeled or advertised...

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A New Study Looked at the Brains of Former Football Players and Found CTE in Almost All of Them

by Adam Peck – Among NFL players, 99 percent of them were diagnosed with the disease. On Tuesday, the American Medical Association published its findings of the largest study of its kind into the link between football and CTE, the degenerative brain disease thought to be responsible for memory loss, bouts of uncontrollable anger and violence, and severe depression or suicide. CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, can only be diagnosed posthumously. More than 200 brains from deceased football players were donated for the study, including 111 from former NFL players. Of the 202 brains examined, 177 of them—or 88 percent—were diagnosed with CTE. Among the 111 NFL players examined, all but one of them exhibited the disease. Because the study relies on self-selecting donors rather than a random sample, the results are likely somewhat skewed. A family might be more willing to donate a relative’s brain to the study if he displayed symptoms, for instance. The...

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Prince Charles is Opening a ‘Holistic’ Clinic Where Patients Can Receive Care for Free

by Amanda Froelich – The Health & Wellbeing Centre will offer complementary medicine to patients for free. Prince Charles is giving back in a big way. According to the Daily Mail, Charles is creating a state-of-the-art clinic which will offer free ‘holistic’ care to patients who are referred by NHS doctors. Individuals battling everything from diabetes to cancer to obesity will be welcomed at the clinic, which is backed by the NHS and local authorities from the Health and Wellbeing Centre. The holistic health care center will be built on the grounds of Dumfries House, described as a “stately” home in Ayrshire. Through the Prince’s Charities Foundation, Dumfries House was “rescued” by Charles in 2007 when it was put on the market for £45 million by the 7th Marquess of Bute. His intention was to save it for the nation. In addition to offering complementary therapies, the center will offer fitness and education programs. At present, it is unknown...

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Leaked Draft of Rick Perry Grid Study Debunks His Attack on Renewable Energy

by Joe Romm – But will the Trump administration erase those findings from the final Energy Dept. study? Back in April, Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered a study to back up his claims that solar and wind power were undermining the U.S. electric grid’s reliability. That’s why it was a surprise when Bloomberg reported Friday that a July draft leaked to them concluded essentially the opposite: “The power system is more reliable today due to better planning, market discipline, and better operating rules and standards.” The leaked draft was completed by Department of Energy (DOE) career staff, however, and thus subject to change by Perry and his team of Trump appointees. So the big question is whether the Trump administration will erase those findings in the final draft, the way they appear to be erasing so many other inconvenient truths. Indeed, a DOE spokeswoman told Bloomberg that “those statements as written are not in the current draft.”...

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Tesla Is Building The World’s Biggest Lithium-Ion Battery For Australia

by JULIE FIDLER – The battery system will use energy from a local wind farm. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced July 7, 2017 that his company will use its giant battery, the Powerpack, to build a 100 megawatt (MW) lithium-ion battery system in South Australia. When it is completed, it will be the largest battery storage product in the world. The batteries will store energy produced by a local wind farm in Jamestown, South Australia. The battery system will have the ability to power tens of thousands of homes. Tesla wrote in a statement: “The Tesla Powerpack system will further transform the state’s movement towards renewable energy and see an advancement of a resilient and modern grid. Upon completion by December 2017, this system will be the largest lithium-ion storage project in the world and will provide enough power for more than 30,000 homes, approximately equal to the amount of...

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Three Things to Know About North Korea’s Missile Tests

by Alex Gatopoulos – With advances in its missile program and the July 4 test, here are three technical milestones and why they matter. Since Kim Jong-un’s ascendancy in December 2011, North Korea has accelerated its missile development programme, the tempo of tests increasing considerably from those under his father Kim Jong Il. After failures in 2016, North Korea has this year made genuine advances in its missile programme. On Tuesday, July 4, Independence Day in the United States, Pyongyang tested what it claimed was the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which Kim Jong-un called a “gift” to the US. This test is significant as the projected range of the missile puts North Korea firmly in the select group of countries that have produced an ICBM. With Kim Jong-un threatening to reduce the US “to ashes”, North Korea now has expanded the missile’s range to potentially hit targets in the US. Aside from the gradual improvements, here are three of North Korea’s recent technical milestones which stand out and...

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Melania Trump’s Anti-cyberbullying Initiative Looks Like a Bust

by Jack Jenkins – Plus, experts say any action from the White House would likely lack credibility. Less than a week before Donald Trump was elected president in last November, his wife Melania declared before a Pennsylvania crowd that one of her core projects as First Lady would be combating the scourge of cyberbullying. “We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media,” she said, to raucous applause. “It will be one of the main focuses of my work if I’m privileged enough to become your First Lady.” But eight months later, cyberbullying experts say she has virtually nothing to show for it — and few believe she will be able to make good on her promise. As the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reported on Friday, anti-bullying advocates say they have yet to be contacted by the Trump administration, much less hear of any cohesive...

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U.S. Rejects Travel Visa for Afghan Teenage Girl Robotics Team

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – “We want to show the world we can do it, we just need a chance.” The United States denied travel visas for six teenage girls from Afghanistan looking to attend an international robotics competition in Washington, D.C this month. The all-girl team from Herat, a city in western Afghanistan, applied for a one-week travel visa to attend the FIRST Global Challenge in mid-July. To interview for their visas, they had to travel about 500 miles to the U.S. embassy in Kabul. They made that trek a second time after their first application was rejected, but they were rejected yet again. Roya Mahboob, who founded the Citadel software company in Afghanistan and organized the team of girls, told Forbes that when the team heard their visa applications were rejected again, they cried all day. “It’s a very important message for our people,” she said. “Robotics is very, very new in Afghanistan.” The...

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Teens With No Engineering Experience Invent Solar Tent For Homeless, Win Grant From MIT

by Amanda Froelich – A group of twelve girls with no prior engineering experience developed a solar-powered tent for the homeless. Along the way, they learned the ins-and-outs of sewing, coding and 3D printing. Due to a flailing economy, homelessness is on the rise in cities such as Los Angeles. Fortunately, a new innovation developed by students at San Fernando High School may help those who are stranded on the streets — at least until a more permanent solution is presented. Bored Panda reports that with absolutely no experience, a group of young females invented a solar-powered tent that rolls up into a backpack. Together, the 12 females were recruited by DIY Girls, a non-profit organization that empowers young women from low-income families in LA to pursue fields in technology and engineering. Overseeing the project was executive director of DIY Girls, Evelyn Gomez. The girls primarily used YouTube videos and information found via Google searches to produce a...

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Energy Department Turns Off the Lights at Overseas Climate Office

The Office of International Climate and Technology worked on clean energy with other countries. As if withdrawing from the Paris Accords wasn’t enough, the Trump administration just went one better and closed an office dedicated to international cooperation on climate change and clean energy tech. The Office of International Climate and Clean Energy might have been small — all of its 11 employees have been given pink slips — but it had an important function. According to its still extant website, the office was “the focal point for international climate change and clean energy activities.” The site goes on to say that the office “also develops and implements international climate and clean energy initiatives consistent with administration policy objectives.” Secretary of Energy Rick Perry was at a premiere event, The Clean Energy Ministerial, when the president announced the decision to drop the Paris agreement. Brad Plumer has the full...

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How Conservative Propaganda Works in America: The Signal and the Noise

by David Akadjian – We’ve heard a lot about Russian meddling recently. What we don’t hear about is how more than 50 years of corporate special interest group propaganda fattened the U.S. up, priming our country for Russian influence on the 2016 election. Let’s think about conservative propaganda using a communications concept: signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is a measurement used in communications to compare the level of desired signal to the level of background noise. In analog communications, such as AM/FM radio or analog television broadcasts, a high SNR ratio means that you will receive a signal with little static or interference. To enable effective communication, you want to maximize your SNR ratio—more signal, less noise. Signal-to-noise ratio (w/ apologies for my drawing skills) The conservative signal We often refer to Fox News as “Fox Noise” or “Faux Noise.” From a communications standpoint, this is a flawed analogy. Fox News is the signal, along with the other corporate...

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Earth to Trump: You Are On Your Own

by Lauren McCauley –  ‘We move on and we move forward, together’. The overwhelming global response to President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement was essentially, “Go jump in a lake”—or as one Germany tabloid succinctly phrased it in a widely circulated headline: J.K. Rowling  ✔@jk_rowling Very much enjoying the German press at the moment. “Earth to Trump…” 2:49 AM – 2 Jun 2017 Following Trump’s Thursday announcement, world leaders from China to Germany to the Marshall Islands and beyond promised to uphold the climate accord while citizens and civil society from across the globe vowed to “harness public outrage into meaningful on-the-ground action” to combat the crisis of climate change. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters on Friday that European leaders “will band together to take more decisive action than ever to confront and successfully surmount major challenges to humanity such as climate...

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US Declares Success in Key Test of Missile Defence

But since $40bn system was declared ready for combat in 2004, only four of nine intercept attempts have been successful. The US military scored an important success in a test of its oft-criticised missile-defence programme, destroying a mock warhead over the Pacific Ocean with an interceptor that is key to protecting US territory from a North Korean attack. Vice Admiral Jim Syring, director of the Pentagon agency in charge of developing the missile-defence system, called the test result “an incredible accomplishment” and a critical milestone for a programme hampered by setbacks over the years. “This system is vitally important to the defence of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” Syring said in a statement announcing the test result. Despite the success, the $244m test didn’t confirm that under wartime conditions the US could intercept an intercontinental-range missile...

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