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Offline knarf

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California will look more like winter than spring for the next few days
« Reply #12735 on: May 16, 2019, 05:16:11 AM »
It might be May but there is a winter storm warning for part of California, where up to 3 feet of snow might fall.

In what is more like a January weather pattern, a strong storm will push through California over the next couple of days.

Snow will begin in the California Sierra on Wednesday night and up to 2 to 3 feet of snow is possible through Friday morning at the highest summits.

Yosemite National Park announced that Glacier Point Road was closing because of the storm.

Rain will spread over much of the rest of the state. San Francisco, which averages around a half inch of rain in May, is likely to get 1 to 2 inches just from this storm.

“It’s good for the environment but I had put away my rain stuff and now it is out again for the rest of the week,” Allison Schutte told CNN affiliate KGO. “Baseball games are canceled, bike races might be canceled, my kids are not happy about that. You know we just bundle up and make the most of it.”

Parts of Northern California could see as much as 3 to 4 inches of rain over the next five days.

http://www.kboi.com/news/winter-storm-bringing-rain-and-snow-to-california/
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Studies have shown that the levels of THC, the main psychoactive compound in pot, have risen dramatically in the U.S. from 1995 to 2017.

As more states legalize marijuana, more people in the U.S. are buying and using weed — and the kind of weed they can buy has become much stronger.

That concerns scientists who study marijuana and its effects on the body, as well as emergency room doctors who say they're starting to see more patients who come into the ER with weed-associated issues.

Some 26 million Americans ages 12 and older reported being current marijuana users in 2017, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It's not clear how many users have had serious health issues from strong weed, and there's a lot that's still unknown about the potential risks. But scientists are starting to learn more about some of them.

The potency of weed depends on the amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main compound responsible for the drug's psychoactive effects. One study of pot products seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration found the potency increased from about 4% THC in 1995 to about 12% in 2014. By 2017, another study showed, the potency of illicit drug samples had gone up to 17.1% THC.

"That's an increase of more than 300% from 1995 to about 2017," says Staci Gruber, director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. "I would say that's a considerable increase."

And some products with concentrated forms of cannabis, like hash and hash oil, can have as much as 80% to 90% THC, she adds.

"I think most people are aware of the phenomenon that 'this is not your grand daddy's weed,' Gruber says. "I hear this all the time."

But people might not be aware of the potential health risks of highly potent weed. "The negative effects of cannabis have primarily been isolated and localized to THC," says Gruber. "So it stands to reason that higher levels of THC may in fact confer a greater risk for negative outcome."

"In general, people think, 'Oh, I don't have to worry about marijuana. It's a safe drug,' " says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "The notion that it is completely safe drug is incorrect when you start to address the consequences of this very high content of 9THC."

Pot's paradoxical effects

THC can have opposite effects on our bodies at high and low doses, Volkow says. Take anxiety levels, for example.

"When someone takes marijuana at a low [THC] content to relax and to stone out, actually, it decreases your anxiety," she says. But high concentrations can cause panic attacks, and if someone consumes high-enough levels of THC, "you become full-blown psychotic and paranoid."

Weed can have a similar paradoxical effect on the vascular system. Volkow says: "If you take low-content THC it will increase your blood flow, but high content [THC] can produce massive vasoconstriction, it decreases the flow through the vessels."

And at low concentrations, THC can be used to treat nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. But Volkow says that "patients that consume high content THC chronically came to the emergency department with a syndrome where they couldn't stop vomiting and with intense abdominal pain."

It's a condition called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.

"The typical patient uses [inhales] about 10 times per day ... and they come in with really difficult to treat nausea and vomiting," says Andrew Monte, an associate professor of emergency medicine and medical toxicology at the University of Colorado's school of medicine. "Some people have died from this ... syndrome, so that is concerning."

Scientists don't know exactly how high levels of THC can trigger the syndrome, but the only known treatment is stopping cannabis use.

While the number of people who've had the syndrome is small, Monte says he and his colleagues have documented a rise in the number of cases at emergency rooms in Colorado since marijuana was legalized there five years ago. A study by Monte and his team found that cyclical vomiting cases made up about 18% of inhaled cannabis-related cases at his ER.

They also found that statewide, the overall number of ER cases associated with cannabis use has gone up. And Monte says his ER has "seen an approximately a three-fold increase in emergency department visits just by frequency. It doesn't mean we're getting overwhelmed by these visits due to cannabis, it's just that means that there are more patients overall."

Most people show up at his emergency department because of "intoxication" from too much pot, either straight or mixed with other drugs, Monte says. The bulk of these cases are due to inhaled cannabis, though edibles are associated with more psychiatric visits.

"We're seeing an increase in psychosis and hallucinations, as well as anxiety and even depression and suicidality," Monte says.

He thinks the increased potency of marijuana plays a role in all these cases. "Whenever you have a higher dose of one of these types of drugs, the patient is at a higher risk of having an adverse drug event. If the concentration is so much higher ... it's much easier to overshoot the low-level high that they're looking for."

Not everyone is at equal risk, Monte adds. "Many many people use cannabis safely," he says. "The vast majority don't end up in our emergency department."

Different risks for users

Some people are more vulnerable than others to the potential negative effects of high THC cannabis.

Adolescent and young adults who use recreationally are especially susceptible because their brains are still developing and are sensitive to drugs in general, says Gruber of the MIND program. In a recent review of existing studies, she found that marijuana use among adolescents affects cognition — especially memory and executive functions, which determine mental flexibility and ability to change our behavior.

Medical marijuana users can face unexpected and unwelcome effects from potent weed. "It's very important for people to understand that they may not get the response they anticipated," Gruber notes.

Studies done on the medical benefits of pot usually involve very low doses of THC, says Monte, who adds that those doses "are far lower than what people are getting in a dispensary right now."

David Dooks, a 51-year-old based in the Boston area turned to marijuana after an ankle surgery last year. "I thought that medical marijuana might be a good alternative to opioids for pain management," he says.

Based on the advice at a dispensary, David began using a variety of weed with 56.5% THC and says it only "exacerbated the nerve pain." After experimenting with a few other strains, he says, what worked for him was one with low (0.9%) THC, which eased his nerve pain.

'Start low, go slow'

Whether people are using recreationally or medically, patients should educate themselves as much as possible and be cautious while using, Monte says.

Avoiding higher THC products and using infrequently can also help reduce risk, Volkow adds. "Anyone who has had a bad experience, whether it's psychological or biological, they should stay away from this drug," she notes.

Ask for as much information as possible before buying. "You have to know what's in your weed," Gruber says. "Whether or not it's conventional flower that you're smoking or vaping, an edible or tincture, it's very important to know what's in it."

And the old saying "start low, go slow," is a good rule of thumb, she adds. "You can always add, but you can never take it away. Once it's in, it's in."

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/05/15/723656629/highly-potent-weed-has-swept-the-market-raising-concerns-about-health-risks
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Public opinion may move surprisingly fast on climate change
« Reply #12737 on: May 16, 2019, 05:31:00 AM »

An Extinction Rebellion climate change awareness demonstration in Nelson in January. Paul Duignan says such protests might be just the start.

Extinction Rebellion's mounting civil disobedience and recent school strikes are two signs of increased public activism around climate change. Thursday's declaration of a 'climate emergency' by Environment Canterbury together with the Government's Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Bill show decision-makers are becoming increasingly focused on where public opinion is going on this issue.

Will the steady stream of news such as this week's announcement that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have now reached an 800,000-year high create a further uptick in the level of public concern regarding the urgency and scope of climate action? Government, community and business leaders all need to factor in the possibility of such a major shift. In addition, entrepreneurs will be looking to see how fast public, and therefore consumers' and decision-makers', opinions change so they can identify potentially rewarding investment opportunities.

Of course it can be hard to predict the speed at which public opinion may change, but the British Met Office has recently predicted the world is going to be exceptionally hot over the next five years. In fact, it says there is a 10 per cent chance the average global temperature may temporarily spike over the 1.5C threshold level that is raising concern. The fact is research shows the hotter the weather becomes, the more worried the public gets about climate change.

If the Met Office is right, the sequences of hot days, fires, floods and storms will mount, which is likely to start focusing the minds of the average Joe and Jane in the street. At the moment people I talk to seem mainly focused on reducing future greenhouse gas emissions. But what might happen if many become convinced we need to do more – we need to also focus on actually reducing the amount of CO2 in the air, not just stopping it increasing so fast?

 In the middle of one of those hot spells predicted by the Met Office, an imagined conversation between the public and climate scientists might go something like: "OK climate scientists, you have been talking about climate change for a while now but we have not always paid close attention. But the recent stream of weather events are now starting to make us sweat - literally. Is it right if we summarise what you have been trying to tell us like this?

"While it's often hard to attribute a single weather event to climate change, the current changes we are seeing - unusual heat, fires, floods, storms - are all consistent with the early effects of dramatic climate change. These will definitely worsen because more heat is already baked into the climate system because of absorbed heat that has not yet come out. In addition, if we continue emitting any more CO2 into the atmosphere, we are going to make it even worse. Also, there may be tipping points out there that could spark some sort of runaway climate change but you do not currently have a good fix on the temperature rise that could trigger them, or how far we are away from these.

"So we know that the initial taste of climate change we are now experiencing is going to get worse. Given that, shouldn't we already be thinking in terms of attempting to not only reduce our ongoing emissions, but also, as soon as possible, to be sucking CO2 directly out of the atmosphere through massive tree planting or new technological solutions? And shouldn't we continue to do this until we get to a level where you feel you can give us the 'all clear' that there is very little risk of us crossing any tipping points? Isn't this what we would do in any other risk management situation?"

The climate scientists are likely to reply:  "Yes, you have it basically right. We can't give you any definite assurances regarding where those tipping points are. If this concerns you, as it does a number of us, you need to communicate your concern.

"You live in a democracy. Regardless of your leaders' personal views, they can only act decisively if you pressure them to do so. You need to convince them, whatever party they represent, that you will support them in taking the level of action required to responsibly manage the scale of the potential risk to yourselves, your children and your grandchildren's future.

"You also need to convince business leaders that they need to act more responsibly while at the same time you need to encourage entrepreneurs to take the risks that need to be taken so sufficient investment flows into reducing the risk of, or managing the impact of, climate change.

"If it ends up with things not panning out as dramatically as we currently believe they might, we as climate scientists will immediately tell you and you can ease off. But until then, you need to have your foot hard to the floor on this issue if you don't want to risk leaving it too late to act."

If over the next five years Joe and Jane public are spooked by the playing out of the UK Met Office's temperature predictions, public opinion may move surprisingly fast on this issue. If so, Extinction Rebellion and global school strikes might be just the beginning. If public opinion does move fast, politicians, other leaders and businesses may find themselves having to quickly convince impatient voters and consumers they are deadly serious about climate change. At that point, those leaders not with the programme are likely to be left behind.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/112774946/public-opinion-may-move-surprisingly-fast-on-climate-change
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Alabama boycott builds as states retaliate against abortion law
« Reply #12738 on: May 16, 2019, 05:00:16 PM »
(Reuters) - A movement to boycott Alabama over its near-ban on abortion gained momentum Thursday as officials in Maryland and Colorado called for economic retaliation and online flyers urged people not to buy anything in, or from Alabama.

A day after the southern state passed the country’s most restrictive abortion law, Maryland’s Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot said he would advise his state’s $52 billion pension fund to divest from Alabama, and urged other states to follow suit.

Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold called for a boycott of Alabama and urged the Election Center, an organization that trains election officials from across the country, to move out of the state.

The hashtag #BoycottAlabama gained momentum online, with activists calling for boycotts of products ranging from Mercedes-Benz cars to broiler chickens that are produced in Alabama.

“The radical anti-abortion bill signed into law yesterday by the Governor of Alabama is a malicious assault on the rights and protections of women,” Franchot wrote on Facebook. “I can work to ensure that Maryland’s taxpayer dollars are not used to subsidize extremism.”

Griswold said Colorado state employees regularly travel to Auburn, Alabama to attend the Certified Election Registration Administrator (CERA) training and certification.

“I will not authorize the spending of state resources on travel to Alabama for this training or any other purpose,” Griswold said. “This is one action that I can take in response to this egregious law against women.
UNENFORCEABLE LAWS

Alabama is the latest state to all but ban abortion with laws that are unenforceable under federal law, but meant to push the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 ruling declaring the procedure a constitutional right.

Moves to boycott Alabama came after Hollywood stars like Alyssa Milano called on the media industry to pull out of neighboring Georgia, a hub for film and television production, after it passed a strict abortion law last week.

Economic boycotts in recent years have pressured states to roll back legislation. North Carolina repealed a 2017 law barring transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice after the National Collegiate Athletic Association, as part of a wider boycott, said the state could not host championship games unless it scrapped the legislation.

But there were signs of opposition against the boycott movement, even among Democrats.

In Georgia, ex-gubernatorial candidate and Democratic rising star Stacey Abrams urged Hollywood producers to think twice before bailing out of her state.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, she suggested media companies put money into local groups fighting abortion legislation, rather than turn their backs on Georgia.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-abortion-alabama-boycott/alabama-boycott-builds-as-states-retaliate-against-abortion-law-idUSKCN1SM2V8?feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Reuters%2FPoliticsNews+%28Reuters+Politics+News%29&utm_source=reddit.com
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Navy Child Care Waitlist for On-Base Services is 9,000 Kids Long
« Reply #12739 on: May 16, 2019, 05:10:01 PM »
The Navy has 9,000 infants and toddlers that its child care centers don’t have room for, and the service is now seeking help from off-base facilities in fleet concentration areas as that wait list shows no sign of shrinking.

Providing affordable child care is a major concern affecting the Navy’s ability to retain active duty personnel and maintain appropriate readiness levels among the force, the Navy’s leadership has repeatedly stated during appearances at think tanks, before lawmakers on Capitol Hill and when addressing the fleet in person and during online townhall events.

In 19 states where the Navy has bases or significant operations, 38,375 Navy family infants and toddlers attend on-base child care centers. As families enter the annual permanent change of station moving season, the waitlist for attending these facilities has grown to 9,298 infants and toddlers; six months ago the waitlist stood at 8,720 youngsters, according to Navy Installations Command data obtained by USNI News.

“Lack of available and affordable child care is a national issue for our generation; for our Navy, it is a critical readiness issue,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith said in written testimony submitted in February to the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel.
“Our Navy simply cannot afford to lose valuable training hours because of worry and uncertainty over whether their children are in a secure, safe and comfortable setting. We also can’t afford to lose talented sailors who decide, as some have already done, that the Navy is incompatible with having a family.”

Navy Actions

The bulk of the children on the Navy’s child care facility waitlist live in the states with Navy’s largest fleet concentration centers: California; Virginia; Hawaii; the Washington, D.C.-area; and the state of Washington, Stephen Cutler, the deputy director of public affairs for the Commander of Navy Installations Command (CNIC), told USNI News.

“The Navy’s daycare waiting lists are due to capacity shortfalls, both Navy and community-based,” Cutler said in an email. “We are currently pursuing community partnerships to increase child care capacity in our fleet concentration areas, where our waiting lists are predominately isolated.”

The Navy’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request details the approach the service is taking. The Navy’s FY 2020 funding request for on-base child care centers is relatively flat – $188.8 million – when compared to previous years. Future planned requests outlined in the budget increase modestly.

However, the Navy’s FY 2020 budget request includes a significant increase in funding to assist paying for off-base care – $36.5 million in FY 2020 compared to $10 million in FY 2019.

“We have released a series of Request for Information notices in the following areas: Washington D.C.; Norfolk, Va.; San Diego, Calif.; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and Kitsap, Wash.,” Cutler said. “These information requests were sent to all public and private organizations interested in partnering with the Navy to benefit both sailors and communities.”

As CNIC receives responses from child care providers in these fleet concentration centers, Cutler said the Navy will develop models to add child care capacity for Navy families in these areas.

Increasing child care capacity, though, is not as simple as just increasing funding. To illustrate the complexity of the childcare challenge facing the Navy, Smith used the example of Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., which is located in a high-cost state but nearly an hour from the closest population center of Fresno, Calif.

“In order to keep 24/7 flight line operations working in a place like Lemoore, Calif., I have to figure out how to provide childcare that’s affordable,” Smith said while speaking in January at a U.S. Naval Institute event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “That’s really becoming the big conundrum for us.”

The Navy has opened five child care centers offering 24 hours, seven days a week care in Norfolk, San Diego and Hawaii, Smith said in his written testimony. Other centers have extended hours.

“We are looking at other options, partnerships with community partners to see what we can do to add capacity and space,” Smith said during a Facebook Live all hands call in February.

During the next two fiscal years, the Navy plans to add about 1,000 spaces, Smith said during the Facebook Live event. The additional spaces will mostly be located in off-base facilities, according to Cutler.

The Navy’s entire FY 2020 child care budget request is for $274.9 million, which includes funding for on-base child care centers, subsidies for use off-base, youth programs, care for school-age children, overhead and maintenance costs of child care facilities, according to CNIC.

High-Cost Real Estate

“One of the toughest problems that we have with childcare is that it’s a nationwide problem. It’s not just a Navy problem,” Smith said during the Facebook Live event. “So, the Navy, because of our footprint, is actually in some of the hardest-hit areas for providing childcare. Even if we were to provide greater subsidies, the in-town market is not necessarily going to be able to support what you want.”

The communities Cutler said CNIC is considering off-base options for Navy families also happen to be among the most expensive in the nation for child care, according to statistics collected annually by Child Care Aware of America, a non-profit child care advocacy group, and the organization administering the Navy’s child care subsidy program.

Washington, D.C. tops all states – those with and without Navy child care centers – with an average annual child care cost of $23,666 per child. In the surrounding suburban counties, including Arlington, which is home to the Pentagon (which no longer has an onsite child care facility), the cost is nearly as expensive, averaging close to $19,000 per child, according to Child Care Aware.

In comparison, according to the military’s child development center FY 2019-2020 fee sheet, the annual full-day cost per child to attend an on-base child care facility is between $3,264 and $8,160.

A family’s fee is determined by family income, with senior enlisted and senior officers paying more than junior enlisted and junior officers. The rates are set for all military-run child care centers. The Department of Defense covers what family fees don’t pay for.

Subsidy?

The Navy does have a back-up plan for families waiting to get a spot in an on-base childcare facility. Child Care Aware of America administers the Navy’s subsidy program that helps pay for childcare until a spot opens at the on-base facility.

However, there’s a catch: the Navy’s subsidy program currently does not have enough funding to meet the demand. There’s a waitlist to get financial aid to cover outside services while on the waitlist to get into a Naval base child care facility.

“Just so you know, we are maximizing our capacity for NACCRRA, so it’s one out, one in,” Smith said during the Facebook Live Town Hall, using the acronym for National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies that commonly used to refer to the subsidy program.
   
https://news.usni.org/2019/05/16/navy-child-care-waitlist-for-on-base-services-is-9000-kids-long
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Young dad died after being trapped in cinema seat in UK complex
« Reply #12740 on: May 16, 2019, 05:16:59 PM »

A 24-year-old father had died after his neck got trapped in a cinema seat footrest as he searched for his keys and phone, an inquest has heard.

 A 24-year-old father died after his neck got trapped in a cinema seat footrest as he searched for his keys and phone, an inquest has heard.

In March 2018, Ateeq Rafiq became stuck as he scrambled on the floor to find his belongings after a film at Birmingham's Star City complex.

The court was told Rafiq squeezed his whole body under the "gold class" seat before the electronic footrest came down on his neck, trapping him.

His distraught wife, Ayesha Sardar, and cinema staff desperately tried to free him, but a blown fuse meant the buttons to lift the footrest weren't working.

In a frantic state of panic, staff finally managed to remove the bolts from the chair, but Rafiq had already suffered a heart attack, triggered by a lack of oxygen to the brain.

He was rushed to hospital, but died a week later from "catastrophic brain injuries".

Sardar told the court of her desperate attempt to help him.

"He shouted in pain and I told him to get out from under there," she said.

"I tried to pull the footrest off but couldn't.

"I ran outside to get help but no one heard me."

 She "ran back in" when she heard he was not breathing, and "saw that he was blue".

Charles Stephens Simmons-Jacobs, from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), found it was "impossible" to lift eight out of 52 footrests in the theatre.

Sardar said her husband was a "loving father, son, husband and friend".

"He was always keeping himself active and had a brilliant sense of humour. His smile was the kindest and his heart was the greatest.

"There is not a day goes by that we don't miss him and think of him."

He is also survived by his 3-year-old daughter.

The inquest is expected to last up a week.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12231758
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SAT exam to give students "adversity score" in bid to level playing field
« Reply #12741 on: May 16, 2019, 05:36:14 PM »
A new "adversity score" assigned by the College Board on the SAT exam will reportedly reflect students' family income, environment and educational differences in an effort to level the playing field in the highly competitive college admissions process. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that 50 schools used the new indicator as part of a beta test last year and the College Board plans to bring more than 150 schools into the fold this fall.

The College Board is a New York-based non-profit that is in charge of overseeing the SAT. A dialogue about wealth and privilege in educational institutions exploded this year in wake of the college admissions scandal, in which 33 parents were charged with paying huge sums of money to have their children cheat on the SAT and be admitted into top colleges under the false pretenses of being student athletes.

This new "adversity score" number is calculated by assessing 15 factors that can better help admissions officers determine an individual student's social and economic background, the Journal reported. These factors are first divided into three categories: neighborhood environment, family environment and high school environment.

Each of the three categories has five sub-indicators that are indexed in calculating each student's adversity score. Neighborhood environment will take into account crime rate, poverty rate, housing values and vacancy rate. Family environment will assess what the median income is of where the student's family is from; whether the student is from a single parent household; the educational level of the parents; and whether English is a second language. High school environment will look at factors such as curriculum rigor, free-lunch rate and AP class opportunities. Together these factors will calculate an individual's adversity score on a scale of one to 100.

According to the Journal, a score of 50 is considered "average." Anything above 50 proves "hardship" while anything below 50 is considered "privilege."



The Journal reported that this new score will appear alongside a student's SAT score and will be featured in a section labeled the "Environmental Context Dashboard." The adversity score's formal name on the dashboard is "Overall Disadvantage Level," but it has been colloquially called the "adversity score" by college admissions officers, per The Journal's article.

In a statement to CBS News, David Coleman, College Board CEO, said in part, "Through its history, the College Board has been focused on finding unseen talent. The Environmental Context Dashboard shines a light on students who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less. It enables colleges to witness the strength of students in a huge swath of America who would otherwise be overlooked."

The SAT is a standardized test that is broken into verbal and math sections. There is also an SAT essay section. The test has a total score of 400 to 1600, with each math and verbal section being scored 200-800. The SAT essay scores range from 2-8. 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sat-adversity-score-college-board-will-use-sat-exam-to-give-students-adversity-score-in-bid-to-level-playing-field/
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Missouri passes "one of the strongest" abortion bills yet in U.S.
« Reply #12742 on: May 16, 2019, 05:41:21 PM »
Missouri's Republican-led Senate has passed a wide-ranging bill to ban abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy, acting only hours after Alabama's governor signed a near-total abortion ban into law. The Missouri bill needs another vote of approval in the GOP-led House before it can go to Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who voiced support for an earlier version Wednesday.

It includes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Doctors would face five to 15 years in prison for violating the eight-week cutoff. Women who receive abortions wouldn't be prosecuted.

Republican Senate handler Sen. Andrew Koenig described it on Thursday as "one of the strongest" abortion bills yet passed in the U.S.

As CBS News' Kate Smith has reported, Missouri already has some of the most restrictive abortion access laws in the country. Missourians seeking an abortion are subject to a 72-hour waiting period and only one abortion clinic exist in the state.

Missouri joins a movement of GOP-dominated state legislatures emboldened by the possibility that a more conservative Supreme Court could overturn its landmark ruling legalizing the procedure. Its senators voted only hours after Alabama's governor signed the most stringent abortion ban in the nation on Wednesday, making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases.

Outnumbered Missouri Senate Democrats launched into an attack on the bill before Republican supporters had a chance to bring it up for debate on the Senate floor.

"So much of this bill is just shaming women into some kind of complacency that says we are vessels of pregnancy rather than understanding that women's lives all hold different stories," St. Louis-area Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp said.

Missouri is among a growing number of states where abortion opponents are working with renewed enthusiasm following President Donald Trump's appointment of more conservative high court justices. Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. Similar restrictions in North Dakota and Iowa have been struck down in court.

Supporters say the Alabama bill is intentionally designed to conflict with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationally in hopes of sparking a court case that might prompt the justices to revisit abortion rights.

Missouri's bill also includes an outright ban on abortions except in cases of medical emergencies. But unlike Alabama's, it would kick in only if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

If courts don't allow Missouri's proposed eight-week ban to take effect, it includes a ladder of less-restrictive time limits ranging from 14 to 20 weeks. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion up until viability, which is usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

"This is not a piece of legislation that is designed for a challenge," Missouri's Republican House Speaker Elijah Haahr said. "This is the type of legislation that is designed to withstand a challenge and to actually save lives in our state."

Republicans and Democrats worked for hours to reach a compromise on the bill, which included an expansion of tax credits for donations to pregnancy resource centers, and waters down other provisions.

The approved version of the wide-ranging bill bans abortions based solely on race, sex or a "prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down Syndrome or the potential of Down Syndrome." It also requires that both parents be notified for a minor to get an abortion, but a change was made after hours of late-night negotiations to remove the requirement when a parent lacks legal or physical custody. Current law requires written consent from only one parent.

Still, some lawmakers on both sides of the debate walked away unhappy.

Democrat Schrupp said even after changes, it's "an extreme and egregious piece of legislation that puts women's health at risk."

"It is outrageous that it has no exemptions for victims of human trafficking, rape or incest," she said.

Republican Sen. Bob Onder said negotiators went too far to compromise, leaving the bill "a shadow of what it once was."

"This should be entitled not the 'Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act,'" Onder told colleagues on the Senate floor, "but the 'Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, sort of kind of only after the minority party and the strongest Planned Parenthood lawyers in the country were done with the bill.'"

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/missouri-abortion-law-senate-passes-wide-ranging-bill-to-ban-abortions-at-eight-weeks-of-pregnancy/
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Offline RE

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This really is quite meaningless.  Admissions officers will still go by the raw score on the test, rather than the calculated "Adversity Score" calculated by the ETS.  The ETS is just trying to standardize what universities already do, which is factor in the background and racial and ethnic profiling of applicants.  It's another way for the ETS to make money, which is their real bizness.

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This is what the world’s waste does to people in poorer countries
« Reply #12744 on: May 16, 2019, 05:53:33 PM »


It’s contaminating our oceans. It’s clogging our drains and causing flooding. It’s transmitting diseases, causing respiratory infections, and harming animals. Welcome to the global trash heap.

Our cities generate more than 2 billion tonnes of waste every year, but one-quarter of the world’s population doesn’t have access to a proper waste collection system. In low-income countries all but a small amount of solid waste is burned or dumped.



And it is these poorer countries that are shouldering much of the burden of our global waste habit. Between 400,000 and 1 million people die each year in developing countries because of diseases caused by mismanaged waste, estimates poverty charity Tearfund.

As countries become more prosperous, their trash cans become increasingly full. Rapid urbanisation and population growth adds to the problem, making collection increasingly problematic and sites for treatment harder to locate. For many local administrations, particularly in poorer settings, waste management can be the single biggest expenditure.

Waste is piling up fastest in the countries least able to deal with it. Sub-Saharan African countries’ overall waste generation is currently projected to triple by 2050.





The plastic bag problem

Single-use plastic is a particular issue. Much of it ends up littering the land and oceans, harming wildlife and damaging the financial welfare of farmers and fishers. Up to one-third of cattle and half of the goat population in developing countries have consumed significant amounts of plastic, which can lead to bloating and death by starvation.

Plastic is also finding its way into coral reefs and other natural beauty spots, harming the ecosystem and becoming an eyesore that deters the tourists many poorer nations rely on.



Many developed countries export their post-consumer plastic waste – which makes up over one-tenth of what we throw out – passing on the problem to typically poorer countries to deal with.

In May 2019, almost every country in the world signed up to a UN pact to reduce the export of hard-to-recycle plastics. There have also been efforts from companies themselves to cut back.

The plastics problem has become so pressing that unless action is taken, global plastic production is projected to double over the next 10 to 15 years.





Picking up the trash

In many places without formal waste collection systems, waste pickers play an important role sorting through dumps to source reusable materials for resale.

Waste picking provides employment and income for a small but significant number of the world’s urban population. They can make up a large proportion of the informal waste collection system – in Lusaka, Zambia, for example it’s up to one-third. But they are often excluded from frameworks for waste management, even through their involvement can provide an income for some of the poorest people in society as well as reducing costs for municipalities.

But this is dangerous and unhealthy work. Not only do the dumps harbour disease as they are a breeding ground for mosquitoes and rats, but smashing and burning waste to get at materials releases dangerous gases and chemicals.

Agbogbloshie in Ghana is home to the world’s largest e-dump. Computers, TVs, fridges and other electrical goods from around the world find their way here – often illegally. Many of the people working on the site suffer nausea, headaches, burns and other injuries, while others have died of cancer in their 20s.

Looking to the future

So what can be done? One solution to the mounting waste and plastic problem could be to create a circular economy.

A system aimed at minimising waste and making the most of what we’ve got could transform how resources are managed, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

By changing the way the world thinks about waste, and aiming to adjust the way we design and make things, a circular economy could slash CO2 emissions, cut healthcare costs, and dramatically reduce materials that are dumped or incinerated as waste.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/05/this-is-what-the-world-s-waste-does-to-people-in-poorer-countries/
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Revealed: air pollution may be damaging ‘every organ in the body’
« Reply #12745 on: May 17, 2019, 06:24:21 AM »
Comprehensive analysis finds harm from head to toe, including dementia, heart and lung disease, fertility problems and reduced intelligence

If you want to see this advanced presentation go to...

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/may/17/air-pollution-may-be-damaging-every-organ-and-cell-in-the-body-finds-global-review
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Bedbugs survived the dinosaur extinction event
« Reply #12746 on: May 17, 2019, 06:27:37 AM »

Up close, the mouthparts the bugs use to suck blood are clearly visible

A study that began as an investigation into the "utterly bizarre" way in which bedbugs reproduce has revealed they have existed for far longer than humans.

DNA samples from 30 species of bedbug revealed the insects had been around for at least 115 million years.

The blood-sucking parasites predate their earliest known hosts - bats - by more than 50 million years.

The surprising finding is published in the journal Current Biology.

Prof Mike Siva-Jothy, from the University of Sheffield's department of animal and plant sciences, who was part of the research team, said its initial investigation had been into what is known as "traumatic insemination".

Male bedbugs have a dagger-like penis, with which they stab the female to inseminate directly into her bloodstream.

"It's the reproductive version of peacock's tail - it's so extreme," said Prof Siva-Jothy.

"These animals are so strange - they don't do anything like any other animal does.

"It took 15 people 15 years to gather all the genetic samples, because these creatures are so cryptic."
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Bed bug facts:

    They can drink three times their own bodyweight in blood in one sitting
    They can live as adults for up to a year - a very long time for an insect
    There are 100 different species and most of them live on bats - only two feed on humans

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Most species the researcher sought out were hidden away in remote caves, where they feed on their bat hosts.

But once the team had samples from enough different species, they were able to build their genetic bedbug timeline - mutations that occur spontaneously in the creatures' genetic code act like a molecular clock, allowing the scientists to trace the bugs' evolution back through millions of years.

Dr Steffen Roth, from the University Museum Bergen, in Norway, who led the study, said: "The first big surprise we found was that bedbugs are much older than bats, which everyone assumed to be their first host.

"Although, we don't yet know what their host was at the time when T. rex walked the Earth."

Prof Siva-Jothy added that the bedbugs' biological "Achilles heel" could be hidden in their genetic code - particularly in the parts of the genome that were unique to the two species that fed on humans.

"These findings will help us better understand how bedbugs evolved the traits that make them effective pests," he said.

"That will also help us find new ways of controlling them."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/science-environment-48274090
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2.6 million birds are sucked out of trees and killed every year in Andalusia

Millions of songbirds are vacuumed out of trees and killed each year during the nocturnal Mediterranean olive harvest, researchers have warned.

Vast numbers of legally protected birds from central and northern Europe seek refuge in the Mediterranean basin during winter months.

At night they roost in olive bushes, just as intensive harvesting machines start stripping trees of their fruit (the harvest runs from October to January).

The light of the machines dazzle and disorientate the birds, who end up being sucked into them “on a catastrophic scale”, researchers warn. There can be as many as 100 dead birds in each harvest trailer.

In Andalusia in Spain, 2.6 million birds are killed by harvesting tractors every winter. Iconic British birds like robins, greenfinches, warblers and wagtails are among the highest causalities.   

“The machinery is perfectly fine if used during the day, as birds are able to see and escape while they are operating,” lead researcher Vanessa Mata from the Portugal-based Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources told The Independent.

“However, during the night they use very strong lights which confuse the birds and lead to their death as they are ‘sucked in’ by the tractor.”

Trees are stripped at night because cooler temperatures help preserve the olives’ aromatic flavours, according to the correspondence, which is published in Nature.

Ninety-six thousand birds die in Portugal every winter as a result of this intensive farming technique. France and Italy also carry out the practice but specific numbers are not known.

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s director of conservation said, “Numbers of farmland birds in Europe have plummeted by 55 per cent over the last three decades and this is another shocking example of how modern agricultural practices are impacting our bird populations, including some UK species passing through the region.”

Andalusian officials have recommended the practice stops but unless legislation is passed in the next few months the “massacre” will start again in October, researchers warn.

France, Italy and Portugal are yet to take any action.

“Local governments and local, national and international communities urgently need to assess the impact of the practice and take steps to end it,” said Dr Mata.

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/songbirds-death-toll-millions-mediterranean-olive-harvesting-winter-a8916471.html
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The Guardian has updated its style guide to introduce terms that more accurately describe the environmental crises facing the world.

Instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned.

“We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”

“Increasingly, climate scientists and organisations from the UN to the Met Office are changing their terminology, and using stronger language to describe the situation we’re in,” she said.

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, talked of the “climate crisis” in September, adding: “We face a direct existential threat.” The climate scientist Prof Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a former adviser to Angela Merkel, the EU and the pope, also uses “climate crisis”.

In December, Prof Richard Betts, who leads the Met Office’s climate research, said “global heating” was a more accurate term than “global warming” to describe the changes taking place to the world’s climate. In the political world, UK MPs recently endorsed the Labour party’s declaration of a “climate emergency”.

The scale of the climate and wildlife crises has been laid bare by two landmark reports from the world’s scientists. In October, they said carbon emissions must halve by 2030 to avoid even greater risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. In May, global scientists said human society was in jeopardy from the accelerating annihilation of wildlife and destruction of the ecosystems that support all life on Earth.

Other terms that have been updated, including the use of “wildlife” rather than “biodiversity”, “fish populations” instead of “fish stocks” and “climate science denier” rather than “climate sceptic”. In September, the BBC accepted it gets coverage of climate change “wrong too often” and told staff: “You do not need a ‘denier’ to balance the debate.”

Earlier in May, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who has inspired school strikes for climate around the globe, said: “It’s 2019. Can we all now call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?”

The update to the Guardian’s style guide follows the addition of the global carbon dioxide level to the Guardian’s daily weather pages. “Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have risen so dramatically – including a measure of that in our daily weather report is symbolic of what human activity is doing to our climate,” said Viner in April. “People need reminding that the climate crisis is no longer a future problem – we need to tackle it now, and every day matters.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/17/why-the-guardian-is-changing-the-language-it-uses-about-the-environment
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Why The U.S. Just Experienced Its Wettest 12-Month Stretch On Record
« Reply #12749 on: May 17, 2019, 07:00:39 AM »
I am always careful when writing this type of article because some contrarian is sitting in his basement ready to pounce on careless statements like "The U.S. had its ____est year" ever. The mistake that some make is using "ever." Recently, climatologists revealed that the U.S. experienced its wettest 12-month stretch on record. Since formal climate records have been kept (1895 to 2019 in this case), the period from May 2018 to April 2019 received more precipitation than any other period of the same duration. Here is the scientific context behind why it happened, and yes, climate change is a part of the discussion.



Deke Arndt is a climatologist at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. His Tweet sets the stage for the rest of my discussion:

    In case you missed it, the last 12 months (May '18 through Apr '19) is the wettest 12-month stretch on record for the US. A warmer world turns up the hydrology dial. When we are sent the bill for climate change, it comes in the context of our water.

I will explain what he is talking about shortly, but I want to deal with the "meteorology" of why this period has been so wet. I have to do that because someone saying is eye-rolling right now and saying "but the climate changes naturally, Dr. Shepherd" or "we've always had heavy rain." My quick response is that your lawn grass grows naturally too, but it grows differently when the soil is fertilized. I will visit this topic later with a more robust discussion.

The graphic above shows how wet much of the country has been in the 344 climate divisions of the continental U.S. Parts of the mid-Atlantic and the upper Midwest were "record-breaking" wet. By the way, I suspect someone in Washington State is thinking "but where I live has been drier than normal." Based on the date, that statement is true but says nothing about the rest of the U.S. or climate change, but I digress.  Jason Samenow wrote an excellent commentary in the Washington Post Capital Weather Gang on "why" that region has been so wet. I will summarize his key "meteorological points":


    A persistent high pressure system has funneled moisture from the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico into much of the eastern U.S.
    A second area of high pressure near Alaska influenced the jet stream pattern.
    The jet stream, which strongly governs where mid-latitude systems and fronts, has aimed storm tracks right into the Upper Midwest and   MidAtlantic.


Other factors include Hurricane Florence and the weak El Nino that recently began, but much of the record-breaking period was associated with El Nino neutral or very weak condition. In fact, the NOAA NCEI synoptic overview for January 2019 stated, "The Earth's ocean-atmosphere system continued in an ENSO-neutral state during January 2019...." I am on the fence on the El Nino connection, but experts like SUNY-Albany atmospheric scientist Paul Roundy argue that there may be more of signal than we think. As Samenow pointed, "chance" and weather pattern variability certainly could explain the last 12 months. However, it is irresponsible to ignore climate change because events are consistent with the expected physics.



Deke Arndt's Tweet tapped into something climate scientist predicted many decades ago, an accelerating water cycle. NASA's Earth Observatory provides a clear summary of what an accelerated water cycle means:

    as the lower atmosphere becomes warmer, evaporation rates will increase, resulting in an increase in the amount of moisture circulating throughout the troposphere (lower atmosphere). An observed consequence of higher water vapor concentrations is the increased frequency of intense precipitation events, mainly over land areas.

Is this happening? The answer is yes. The 2018 U.S. National Climate Assessment report shows that the heaviest precipitation events have become more intense since the late 1950s (graphic above). Climate models also suggest that this trend will continue. A growing body of research continues to show that the warming Arctic affects the jet stream through a process called Arctic Amplification. According to NOAA's website:

' Scientists have observed that the reduced temperature difference between the North Pole and tropics is associated with slower west-to-east jet stream movement and a greater north-south dip in its path. This pattern causes storms to stall and intensify, rather than move away as they normally used to do. At midlatitudes, more extreme weather results from this new pattern, including droughts, floods, colds spells, and heat waves.



Attribution studies are becoming more skilled at linking contemporary extreme weather events to climate change. It is one of the new frontiers of climate science. Arndt, one of the best climate communicators I know, has an excellent way to explain attribution. His Tweet thread on May 10th nails it:

    A way to think about the relationship between changing climate and Big Weather. Consider parent/child, teacher/student, coach/athlete, mentor/apprentice relationships. The parent (climate) rarely dictates day to day actions, but is hugely influential in long-term outcomes....Change the climate, and the things that dictate "extreme behavior" are largely the same, but those ingredients are coming together in different ways. In other words, the drivers of his day-to-day behaviors are largely the same, but the trajectory of his life have changed.

As a I close, it is important to understand this point. Flooding often takes a backseat to more telegenic and violent weather hazards like tornadoes or hurricanes. National Weather Service data continues to show year after year that flooding is the 2nd deadliest weather hazard behind heat. It is usually ranks near the top in cost also. Flooding is not just a function of what falls from the sky though. Paved surfaces, dams, and outdated stormwater engineering are also in the equation, which means there is unequivocally some type of anthropogenic effect on flooding.




Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Dir., Atmospheric Sciences Program/GA Athletic Assoc. Distinguished Professor (Univ of Georgia), Host, Weather Channel's Popular Podcast, Weather Geeks, 2013 AMS President

https://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2019/05/17/why-the-u-s-just-experienced-its-wettest-12-month-stretch-on-record/#75ce42322753
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