Archive | March 26, 2014

BP to Blame for Exxon Valdez: Environmental Disaster 25 Years Later | Interview with Greg Palast

Abby Martin features an exclusive interview with investigative journalist, Greg Palast, discussing his article on TruthDig which exposes the extent of BP’s culpability in the Exxon Valdez oil spill 25 years ago, specifically for not providing adequate safety equipment, a criminal offense which was repeated in the 2010 Deep Water Horizon spill.

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‘The Atlantic’ Writer Jake Flanigan On The ‘Surprising Failures’ of 12 Step Programs

Pic: Visitor7

Pic: Visitor7

I come from a long and not-so-distinguished line of alcoholics and drug addicts on both sides of my family. My father succumbed to cirrhosis of the liver at 57. It was not a good death. My mother lost her entire life (and mind) to opiate addiction. It had gotten so bad that the family had to cut her off, much like one removes  gangrenous finger to save a hand. Thankfully, I’ve never had problems with addiction, myself, but I know exactly what it’s like to live with addicts and how the disease (or whatever you want to call it – the jury is out for some people) can ruin lives. I tell you this because I want you to know that I don’t have a bone to pick with treatment programs of any sort, and personally feel that if you find something that works for you, then great. Having put that out of the way, Atlantic writer Jake Flanigan has authored a potentially controversial piece on what he describes as the ‘surprising failures’ of 12 step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, and I thought it might make interesting conversation fodder here.… Read the rest

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Should the Government Be Able to Scan Your Entire Genome Upon Birth?

PIC: Webridge (CC)

PIC: Webridge (CC)

Many  (maybe all, I’m not sure) of America’s states tests newborns for the presence of certain inheritable disorders, but should that include your entire genome? This release from EurekaAlert addresses many potential problems that might arise in such a case.

Should whole-genome sequencing become part of newborn screening?

Ethical, legal and social issues should be weighed before adopting the technology in public programs, researchers argue

That question is likely to stir debate in coming years in many of the more-than-60 countries that provide newborn screening, as whole-genome sequencing (WGS) becomes increasingly affordable and reliable. Newborn screening programs – which involve drawing a few drops of blood from a newborn’s heel – have been in place since the late 1960s, and are credited with having saved thousands of lives by identifying certain genetic, endocrine or metabolic disorders that can be treated effectively when caught early enough. Advocates of routine WGS for newborns argue that the new technology could help detect and manage a wider array of disorders.… Read the rest

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State Senator Apologizes for Telling InfoWars Correspondent Dan Bidoni ‘Go F*ck Yourself’

Rhode Island Senator Josh Miller has attracted a lot of unwanted online attention after he was filmed telling InfoWars correspondent Dan Bidoni to “Go fuck [him]self” during an encounter outside of the Rhode Island Capitol Building. Apparently, Senator Miller supports legislature pertaining to firearm control, and had just left a news conference on the topic. Mr. Bidoni apparently felt strongly enough about the issue that he chose to confront Senator Miller instead of interviewing him. Regardless of how one feels about InfoWars or Mr. Bidoni, the senator probably should have handled things better. Ignoring Mr. Bidoni might have been a wiser decision. His take on the encounter is excerpted after the jump. Warning: Video begins with a really siren noise that lasts about two seconds.

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Why Did Facebook Really Buy Oculus Rift?

oculusThe tech blogs are outdoing themselves to gush praise on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s megabillions bet on virtual reality company Oculus Rift sample the excitement below from Gizmodo); but do disinfonaut skeptics have other ideas as to what’s driving Zuckerberg’s interest in VR?

The news today that Facebook will buy Oculus—the makers of the best virtual reality experiencein existence—caused paroxysms of upsetment and surprise. That’s fair! But once the smoke clears, this could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the most promising technology we have.

If you’ve been tracking Oculus since its early days as a Kickstarter project, today’s acquisition is frustrating. Facebook is your trying-too-hard uncle; Oculus is the homecoming queen. Of course seeing them together would give you the creeps.

It shouldn’t. Oculus offered a beautiful dream, but you can only get so far on Kickstarter funds. Facebook offers the financial wherewithal to make the Oculus Rift a truly mass product, to realize its vision beyond just a gimmick-driven game engine.

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Surgeon And Preeminent Alien Implant Proponent Roger Leir Dies

leirOpenMinds.tv eulogizes one of the only doctors specializing in the treatment of those suffering from alien-implanted objects in their bodies:

His interest in extraterrestrial-related phenomena emerged in his early childhood. His desire to find answers related to this enigmatic subject spawned a quest lasting nearly twenty years. Dr. Leir, a Podiatric Surgeon,became fascinated with alleged alien implants after removing a foreign object from a patient’s foot in 1995.

He formed a non-profit organization called A & S Research Inc. to investigate these anomalous objects. He and his surgical team performed fifteen surgeries on alleged alien abductees, resulting in the removal of sixteen objects they believe are alien implants.

Dr. Leir had struggled with various health issues in recent years. The official cause of death is still unclear.

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Virtual Reality: It’s Easy to Say That Nothing Would Ever Beat the Real World When We’ve Never Had a Decent Contender

A thought-provoking little video from the team at THUNK, a video podcast series devoted to science and philosophy.

I wasn’t that crazy about The Matrix, honestly, but I freely admit that I probably wasn’t who the Wachowski siblings had in mind when they made the movie: I was in my mid-twenties when it came out and was already familiar with the philosophical conundrums with which Neo and gang were wrestling. When I heard Morpheus say “Free your mind” it probably didn’t help that all I could think in response was “…and your ass will follow!” – Thanks, Funkadelic. I do think that the movie was a fantastic way to get a lot of kids to start questioning things, thought, and you look at it that way, The Matrix itself was a major Red Pill.

Regardless of my feelings about the film as a whole, I’ve often considered Cypher’s choice, myself: For all he or anyone else knows, the war being waged by Neo and friends is another illusion, and not a very enjoyable one at that.… Read the rest

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Why Is The US Military Performing Brain Surgery On Bees?

English: Female Augochlorella aurata (sweat be...

Female Augochlorella aurata (sweat bee in the Halictidae family). Photo taken in Concord, NH. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Researchers perform ultra precise brain surgery on bees in hopes of developing drones/mavs with advanced nighttime navigation.

via NAUTILUS

A surgeon wielding a micro-scalpel cuts through the head capsule of her subject, the nocturnal sweat bee Megalopta genalis, in a lab at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.  The surgeon, a researcher working under Dr. Eric Warrant, of Lund University in Sweden, inserts a glass electrode thinner than a micrometer into the bee’s brain. She is trying to pierce something very small—a monopolar cell in a layer at the top of the brain called the lamina. Warrant believes these cells are responsible for a trick called neural summation, which helps the bees maximize the use of light photons to see in their dark habitat—the dense tangled undergrowth of the nighttime Panamanian rainforest.

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FBI Monitored Occupy Houston But Failed To Warn Of Sniper Assassination Plot

99percent2Alternative news sites are buzzing today over news that the FBI may have known about an assassination plot against the leaders of Occupy Houston. Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman interviewed Ryan Shapiro:

Transparency activist Ryan Shapiro discusses a growing controversy over the FBI’s monitoring of Occupy Houston in 2011. The case centers on what the FBI knew about an alleged assassination plot against Occupy leaders and why it failed to share this information. The plot was first revealed in a heavily redacted document obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund through a FOIA request. The document mentioned an individual “planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas.” When Shapiro asked for more details, the FBI said it found 17 pages of pertinent records and gave him five of them, with some information redacted. Shapiro sued, alleging the FBI had improperly invoked FOIA exemptions. Last week, Federal District Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed with Shapiro, ruling the FBI had to explain why it withheld the records.

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