Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 3rd, 2014

Supreme Court reneges on promise a few days ago

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In the NY Times Adam Liptak points out the Catholic old boys on the Supreme Court have now expanded significantly the restricted Hobby Lobby ruling. That didn’t take long, did it?

In a decision that drew an unusually fierce dissent from the three female justices, the Supreme Court sided Thursday with religiously affiliated nonprofit groups in a clash between religious freedom and women’s rights.

The decision temporarily bars the government from enforcing against a Christian college part of the regulations that provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The court’s order was brief, provisional and unsigned, but it drew a furious reaction from the three female justices — Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan — who said the court had betrayed a promise it made on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which involved for-profit corporations.

“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” the dissent, written by Justice Sotomayor, said. “Not so today.”

At issue in the order, involving Wheaton College in Illinois, are federal forms that groups must fill out and send to their insurers and plan administrators as an alternate way to deliver free contraception to be offered to female workers under the Affordable Care Act.

Monday’s majority opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., seemed to suggest that the accommodation in which the forms played a role was an acceptable alternative to having employers pay for the coverage. He referred to it when he said the government already “has at its disposal an approach that is less restrictive than requiring employers to fund contraception methods that violate their religious beliefs.”

The difference between a form sent to insurance companies and plan administrators on the one hand and a letter sent to the government on the other mattered, the college told the justices, “because it believes, as a religious matter, that signing the form would be impermissibly facilitating abortions and therefore forbidden,” the brief said.

Monday’s “Hobby Lobby” decision was just the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Details on the 5-4 decision and other challenges that could — if successful — have even deeper implications.
Video Credit By Carrie Halperin on Publish Date June 30, 2014. Image CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“To be sure, free citizens in a diverse nation will have different views about whether signing the form makes someone complicit,” the college’s brief said. “But that is a question of ‘religious and moral philosophy’ for Wheaton,” not the government. The quoted phrase came from the Hobby Lobby decision.

The court’s majority said Wheaton College need not fill out the forms. Instead, the order said, the college could just notify the government in writing. The government, it said, remains free “to facilitate the provision of full contraceptive coverage.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 4:19 pm

OMG! This is wonderful: See the owners of any member of Congress is real-time—a new app

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Install the app, hover your mouse over the name of any member of Congress—the example used is John Boehner—and you see:


Very cool. AND it obviates the need for members of Congress to wear sponsor patches on their suits, as race-car drivers do. Win-win, eh?  The Washington Post story is here. The app itself is here. (It’s free.) The guy who wrote the app is 16. Years. Old.

Here’s the explanation:

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 4.26.01 PM

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 4:10 pm

Hopeful: How two small New York towns have shaken up the national fight over fracking

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In the Washington Post Steven Mufson describes some hopeful developments in the fight for a clean environment in which to live—and from which to get clean drinking water.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 3:39 pm

Cycles of Revenge in Israel and Palestine

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An extremely good column in the NY Times by Roger Cohen—good, not hopeful. Worth reading, though.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Mideast Conflict

Fraudulent science: Another instance

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Terrence McCoy has a sad article in the Washington Post about a young scientist in Japan who went totally off the rails.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 3:31 pm

Posted in Science

Why the US torture regime was so wrong-headed

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The formal institution of torture as part of US government policy by Bush/Cheney/CIA was not only illegal under US law and a war crime to boot, it’s not even effective. It seems to have come about because a bunch of paper-shufflers wanted to feel macho by ordering people to be tortured. Eric Horowitz has an interesting article in Pacific Standard that explains how interrogation is done effectively: with kindness.

The downed World War II fighter pilot had little reason to be wary. Thus far, his German interrogator had seemed uninterested in extracting military intelligence, and had acted with genuine kindness. He made friendly conversation, shared some of his wife’s delicious baked goods, and took the pilot out for a lovely stroll in the German countryside. So when the interrogator erroneously suggested that a chemical shortage was responsible for American tracer bullets leaving white rather than red smoke, the pilot quickly corrected him with the information German commanders sought. No, there was no chemical shortage; the white smoke was supposed to signal to pilots that they would soon be out of ammunition.

The man prying the information loose was Hanns Scharff, and as Raymond Tolliver chronicles in The Interrogator: The Story of Hanns Joachim Scharff, Master Interrogator of the Luftwaffe, Scharff’s unparalleled success did not come from confrontation or threats, but from simply being nice. With the morality and efficacy of interrogation practices coming under increasing scrutiny, Scharff’s techniques—and questions about the extent to which they work—are taking on greater significance.

The fact that Scharff is even mentioned in criminal justice circles is a historical anomaly. Not only was he never meant be an interrogator, he was never meant to be in the German military at all. In the decade leading up to the war Scharff worked as a businessman in Johannesburg, where he lived with his British wife and two kids. Not exactly a portrait of the threatening Axis enemy Captain America was created to battle.

War broke out while Scharff was vacationing in his native Germany. Unable to leave the country, he was eventually drafted into the army. He was destined for the front lines in Russia when his wife talked her way into a general’s office and managed to get Scharff transferred to a unit of interpreters. After a string of additional transfers and coincidences, the last of which was a plane crash that killed his two superiors, Scharff found himself as the lead interrogator for Allied fighter pilots who went down over France and Germany. As a lowly assistant Scharff once saw a prisoner being mistreated, and he vowed to do things differently if he were ever in charge. That core principle was the basis for a strategy so effective a prisoner once quipped that Scharff “could get a confession of infidelity from a Nun.”

There is strong anecdotal evidence of Scharff’s kindness and ability to get what he wanted—in one instance he may have saved the lives of a group of American pilots by persuading the SS to exonerate them from war crime accusations—but researchers have only recently begun systematically testing his techniques to determine whether they are actually more effective.

The bulk of the research on Scharff’s strategies comes from the lab of Pär Anders Granhag, a psychology professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. In a new study led by Simon Oleszkiewicz, a former student in Granhag’s lab, the “Scharff Technique” was compared with a method know as the “Direct Approach.”

Participants in the experiment were given a story that contained 35 specific pieces of information about a terrorist attack they helped plan—their interrogators knew only a dozen of them—and instructed to say as little as possible while also revealing enough to earn their freedom; they were told that their compensation for participating would reflect their ability to strike this balance. The interrogations were done by phone, and participants had all of the information in front of them during the call. Researchers measured the quantity and accuracy of information that was revealed, and participants were surveyed about the interrogation after the experiment.

The Scharff Technique was defined by four key components: . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Science, Torture

Americans: “We’re not number 1.”

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Americans are looking at the US realistically, I would say. Take a look.

For example:


Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Experimenting on people: Facebook and the CIA

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A very intriguing column at Wall Street on Parade by Pam Martens and Russ Martens. From the column:

. . . Facebook has observed along with the rest of America the fallout from the revelations of secret government surveillance of its citizens. Somehow the public outcry over secret surveillance did not send a “non-verbal cue” to Facebook that there might be an outcry to revelations that it was using an algorithm to manipulate the emotional mood of its users without their knowledge or informed consent.

What if some of these users were under psychiatric care for depression? What if they had just lost their job, or their marriage, or their home, or experienced the death of a loved one? How outrageously irresponsible is it to secretly attempt to manipulate the mood of an already depressed person to a more negative state?

But wait. It gets worse.

In 1994, the CIA declassified a secret paper outlining other attempts to manipulate a person’s behavior without their knowledge. The document, “The Operational Potential of Subliminal Perception” by Richard Gafford, notes the following:

“Usually the purpose is to produce behavior of which the individual is unaware. The use of subliminal perception, on the other hand, is a device to keep him unaware of the source of his stimulation. The desire here is not to keep him unaware of what he is doing, but rather to keep him unaware of why he is doing it, by masking the external cue or message with subliminal presentation and so stimulating an unrecognized motive.”

We’re also informed by the CIA that “The operational potential of other techniques for stimulating a person to take a specific controlled action without his being aware of the stimulus, or the source of stimulation, has in the past caught the attention of imaginative intelligence officers.”

And, the CIA offers some other helpful tips that Facebook may want to consider in its next human lab rat study: . . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 3:04 pm

The Truth About Tinder and Women Is Even Worse Than You Think

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A depiction of a particularly ugly executive suite. Unfortunately, not atypical, by all accounts.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Business, Law

Information Theory and you

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Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 2:15 pm

Posted in Math, Technology

Silence while shaving

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I am a big advocate of shaving in a silent bathroom: no fan, no running water, no music, and no radio news. One reason is purely functional: the quiet sound of the cutting blade helps me optimize head angle. But another reason is the meditative aspect of shaving: a time in the day when you closely focus on one task only (with the focus probably even closer for men who shave with a straight razor) with full awareness of what you’re directly experiencing at the moment. Adding a distraction seems purely gratuitous.

And yet some seem curiously attached to distraction. I think some of that is because focusing on a task without distractions is a skill and thus has to be acquired through practice. A person who has little experience of distraction-free close focus on what he is experiencing in the moment suffers the usual negative feelings of any beginner: feeling awkward, not knowing how to do it, not liking how it feels so unfamiliar, feeling very conscious of mistakes, and so on. I understand how that would make one practically leap onto any distraction. But with practice it becomes easier and even, once you’ve learned how to achieve it, something worth seeking.

I just saw an article by Tom Jacobs in Pacific Standard on another factor that may be in play.

Which pastime would you prefer: Sitting alone quietly with your thoughts, or experiencing an electric shock?

The answer may seem obvious. But consider for a moment what it’s like to have no distractions from your ongoing mental chatter, which Buddhists refer to as “monkey mind.”

Thoughts pop up rapidly and randomly, like a sour, surrealistic movie we can’t turn off. Fears and regrets we’ve pushed aside reappear front and center, resulting in increased agitation and the desire for some form of escape—even, perhaps, a jolt of current.

That scenario may or may not sound familiar, but it clearly applies to a lot of people. A research team led by University of Virginia psychologist Timothy Wilson reports that, in a series of studies, “participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think.”

What’s more, in the researchers’ most remarkable result, “many preferred to administer electronic shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts.”

“The untutored mind does not like to be alone with itself,” Wilson and his colleagues conclude in the journal Science.

The researchers demonstrated our aversion to rumination in 11 similarly structured studies.

Continue reading.

Timothy Wilson wrote Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious, a book I highly recommend.

I included this post in the “mental health” category, but really it’s more “mental fittness”: being able to have your mind easily switch from one mode to another. Perhaps “mental agility,” but with regard to state instead of ideas: the mind as environment rather than machine.

UPDATE: Washington Post report on the study with more details.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 2:09 pm

Futsal: Looks like a very cool game, played in a gym

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More or less soccer on a gym floor with a heavier ball. Take a look at the video and story. From the link:

Futsal: the rules

  • Five players per team, including the goalkeeper. Rolling subs are permitted
  • Matches consist of two halves of 20 minutes
  • Ball weighs 420 grams – around 80 grams heavier than a typical football.
  • Court is between 28m and 40m long, and 15m and 20m wide

More videos.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Games

The biggest threats to the Web according to 1400 experts

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Read the story by Hayley Tsukuyama in the Washington Post:

What are the biggest threats to the Internet in the next 20 years? According to experts canvassed by Pew, the biggest threats aren’t a rise in hacking attacks or new waves of Internet crime. They’re government and big online corporations.

Control and consolidation were the top threats for experts canvassed by Pew’s Internet and American Life Project in a study published Thursday. The think tank asked more than 1,400 experts — academics, theorists and those who work in the technology industry — to weigh in on what risks the Internet faces through 2025.

The majority pointed to government surveillance, restrictive regulation and corporate greed as the things most likely to kill the idea that the Web is a free-flowing network of information. Plenty expressed concern that the Internet will fracture due to government policies, such as those that limit access to the Web as some governments did during the Arab Spring, aggressive intellectual property laws or even well-meaning policies in Canada and Australia that aggressively filter all Internet traffic to combat child pornography. These efforts, experts said, cross the line — or at least flirt with it.

Paul Saffo, managing director at Discern Analytics, said: . . .

Continue reading.

Once the government is no longer accountable to the governed—and the US government is certainly moving in that direction, with legislators increasingly being purchased by big corporations and vested interests—it becomes the out-of-control 800-lb gorilla in the room. We’ve already seen how a modest payment to one Congressman (Simpson of Idaho) can kill lifesaving regulations regarding the level of arsenic in drinking water. One Congressman and apparently one payment.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 1:15 pm

Breakthrough: Border Patrol may not be allowed to murder people at random

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The US Border Patrol has long been an out-of-control agency, with agents free to use deadly force without question. But it may change. From Courthouse News via AlterNet, David Lee reports:

A Mexican teenager who was shot in the face and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent had Fifth Amendment rights though he was in Mexico at the time, the 5th Circuit ruled on Monday.

The parents of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca sued the federal government, Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa Jr., and his supervisors for wrongful death in 2011. In the original complaint in El Paso Federal Court, the family claimed that Hernandez Guereca was playing a game with friends on a cement culvert separating the two countries when an agent emerged on a bicycle and dragged one of his friends along the concrete.

“Sergio retreated and stood still beneath the pillars of the Paso del Norte Bridge, observing the agent,” the complaint stated. “The U.S. border agent then stopped, pointed his weapon across the border, seemingly taking careful aim, and squeezed the trigger at least twice, fatally wounding Sergio with at least one gunshot wound to the face. Sergio, who had been standing safely and legally on his native soil of Mexico, unarmed and unthreatening, lay dead on his back in his blue jeans and sneakers. He was fifteen years old.”

Mexican police declared Hernandez Guereca dead after the shooter and other Border Patrol agents left him to die, the complaint states. Hernandez Guereca’s parents claimed an FBI spokesman then issued “a false and reprehensible cover-up statement [3]” that accused their son of throwing rocks at the agent.

The trial court dismissed claims against the federal government due to sovereign immunity. Claims against the supervisors were dismissed because of failure to establish they were personally responsible for the alleged violations. Claims against Mesa were dismissed due to qualified immunity.

On Monday, a three-judge panel with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of claims against the United States and Mesa’s supervisors, but reversed dismissal of claims against Mesa, reinstating the lawsuit.

Writing for the court, Judge Edward C. Prado disagreed with Mesa’s argument that aliens beyond the territorial jurisdiction of American courts have no Fifth Amendment rights that protect against arbitrary conduct that shocks the conscience.

“Based on the nature of the border area where the shooting occurred, we cannot say that the United States exercises no control,” the 47-page opinion states. “Unlike both Guantanamo and Landsberg Prison [in Germany after World War II], this is not a case requiring constitutional application in a faraway location. Agent Mesa was standing inside the United States, an area very much within U.S. control, when he committed the act. Border Patrol agents exercise their official duties within feet of where the alleged constitutional violation occurred. In fact, agents act on or occasionally even across the border they protect.”

Citing reports of other Border Patrol agents killing people across the border, Prado said the agents have “hard power” in injuring others in Mexico.

“In sum, even though the United States has no formal control or de facto sovereignty over the Mexican side of the border, the heavy presence and regular activity of federal agents across a permanent border without any shared accountability weigh in favor of recognizing some constitutional reach,” the opinion states.

Prado says a strict territory-based application of such rights would “create zones of lawlessness” that would “establish a perverse rule” that would treat two people differently merely because one crossed into the United States. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 1:11 pm

Hurting for Work in Texas: What happens to workers when businesses run the government

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The human and social costs behind the Texas push to help big business—costs such as:

Investigative Findings

  • Texas stands alone in allowing employers to forgo workers’ comp insurance, and over 500,000 workers have no coverage if they are hurt or killed.
  • Texas doesn’t regulate private occupational insurance, which often provides fewer due process rights and stingier benefits than workers’ comp.
  • More than 90 percent of employers without workers’ comp flout a requirement that they notify the state of their opt-out status.
  • A quarter or more of employers without workers’ comp underreport lost-time injuries, recent audits suggest.
  • Major court decisions have eroded protections injured workers once had, including the right to sue certain employers who fire them for filing an injury claim.
  • Nearly half (45 percent) of all workers’ comp claims were initially denied or disputed in whole or in part from 2008 to 2013.
  • Workers are losing far more major disputes with workers’ comp insurers, and their margin of defeat has increased.

The four-part story by Jay Root is worth reading, since other state legislatures are likely to take or be pushed into taking a similar course:

Drive almost anywhere in the vast Lone Star State and you will see evidence of the “Texas miracle” economy that policymakers like Gov. Rick Perry can’t quit talking about.

From the largest U.S. refinery in Port Arthur to the storied Permian Basin in West Texas, Big Oil is back. In formerly depressed South Texas, gas flares from the fracking boom can be seen from outer space.

Toyota is moving its North American headquarters to suburban Dallas. And in the once-laid-back university town of Austin, it’s hard to find a downtown street without a construction crane towering overhead.

This hot economy, politicians say, is the direct result of their zealous opposition to over-regulation, greedy trial lawyers and profligate government spending. Perry now regularly recruits companies from other states, telling them the grass is greener here. And his likely successor, Attorney General Greg Abbott, has made keeping it that way his campaign mantra.

It’s hard to argue with the job creation numbers they tout. Since 2003, a third of the net new jobs created in the United States were in Texas. And there are real people in those jobs, people with families to feed.

There’s something about the thriving economy, though, that state leaders rarely mention: Texas has led the nation in worker fatalities for seven of the last 10 years, and when Texans get hurt or killed on the job, they have some of the weakest protections and stingiest benefits in the country.

While Texas has a Division of Workers’ Compensation, it is the only state that doesn’t require any private employer to carry workers’ compensation insurance or a private equivalent, so more than 500,000 people have no occupational benefits when they get injured at work. That means they often rely on charities or taxpayers to pay for their care.

Most Texans who are outside the workers’ comp system — more than a million people — do get private occupational insurance from their employers. But those plans aren’t regulated by the state and can be crafted to sharply limit employees’ benefits, legal rights and health care choices. Only 41 percent of the plans include death benefits, for example, according to state surveys.

Then there’s the state-regulated workers’ compensation system, which covers 81 percent of the Texas workforce. On paper, the policies look great: They all include death benefits, partial income replacement for employees too hurt to work and lifetime medical benefits for serious injuries.

But for thousands of workers, the promised benefits never materialize. Nearly half of all employee claims are initially denied or disputed in whole or in part, and when those denials blossom into a major disagreement before the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation, workers lose most of the time, according to state data.

“They throw these workers away like tissue paper. They’re nothing more than a used Kleenex,” said Joe Longley, an Austin employment attorney who served as chief of the consumer protection division of the attorney general’s office in the 1970s. “We don’t provide for the workers. We provide for the businesses.”

Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Rod Bordelon has a different view. . .

Continue reading.

Given the corporate takeover of the government—Jim Hightower has a story of 300 Koch-led businessmen are going to spend $500 million to seize control of the Senate.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 1:07 pm

How politics derailed EPA science on arsenic, endangering public health

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David Heath reports at The Center for Public Integrity:

Living in the lush, wooded countryside with fresh New England air, Wendy Brennan never imagined her family might be consuming poison every day.

But when she signed up for a research study offering a free T-shirt and a water-quality test, she was stunned to discover that her private well contained arsenic.

“My eldest daughter said … ‘You’re feeding us rat poison.’ I said, ‘Not really,’ but I guess essentially … that is what you’re doing. You’re poisoning your kids,” Brennan lamented in her thick Maine accent. “I felt bad for not knowing it.”

Brennan is not alone. Urine samples collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from volunteers reveal that most Americans regularly consume small amounts of arsenic. It’s not just in water; it’s also in some of the foods we eat and beverages we drink, such as rice, fruit juice, beer and wine.

Under orders from a Republican-controlled Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 established a new drinking-water standard to try to limit people’s exposure to arsenic. But a growing body of research since then has raised questions about whether the standard is adequate.

The EPA has been prepared to say since 2008, based on its review of independent science, that arsenic is 17 times more potent as a carcinogen than the agency now reports. Women are especially vulnerable. Agency scientists calculated that if 100,000 women consumed the legal limit of arsenic every day, 730 of them would eventually get bladder or lung cancer from it.

After years of research and delays, the EPA was on the verge of making its findings official by 2012. Once the science was complete, the agency could review the drinking water standard.

But an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that one member of Congress effectively blocked the release of the EPA findings and any new regulations for years. . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more. For example:

Researchers from Columbia University gave IQ tests to about 270 grade-school children in Maine. They also checked to see if there was arsenic in their tap water at home. Maine is known as a hot spot for arsenic in groundwater.

The researchers found that children who drank water with arsenic — even at levels below the current EPA drinking water standard — had an average IQ deficit of six points compared to children who drank water with virtually no arsenic.

The findings are eerily similar to studies of lead, a toxin considered so dangerous to children that it was removed from paint and gasoline decades ago. Other studies have linked arsenic to a wide variety of other ailments, including cancer, heart disease, strokes and diabetes.

“I jokingly say that arsenic makes lead look like a vitamin,” said Joseph Graziano, a Columbia professor who headed the Maine research. “Because the lead effects are limited to just a couple of organ systems — brain, blood, kidney. The arsenic effects just sweep across the body and impact everything that’s going on, every organ system.”

And the Congressman who fought to keep arsenic in US drinking water?

. . . So, who did it? All the evidence from the Center’s investigation pointed to one congressman: Mike Simpson of Idaho.

Simpson was one of the Republicans who signed the letter to the EPA administrator complaining about the missing 300 studies. He was the chairman of the subcommittee that controlled funding for the EPA, where the language first appeared. He was also a member of another committee where the language surfaced again in a different report. He even asked the EPA administrator about arsenic at a subcommittee hearing.

Simpson, who worked as a dentist and state legislator before entering Congress, is a frequent critic of the EPA. But in the 2012 and 2014 election campaigns, he has been portrayed as too liberal by Tea Party candidates funded by the right-wing Club for Growth.

In a brief interview outside his Capitol Hill office, Simpson accepted credit for instructing the EPA to stop work on its arsenic assessment.

“I’m worried about drinking water and small communities trying to meet standards that they can’t meet,” he said. “So we want the Academy of Science to look at how they come up with their science.”

Simpson said he didn’t know that his actions kept a weed killer containing arsenic on the market. He denied that the pesticide companies lobbied him for the delay.

But lobbyist Grizzle offered a different account.

“I was part of a group that met with the congressman and his staff a number of years ago on our concerns,” Grizzle said, adding that there were four or five other lobbyists in that meeting but he couldn’t remember who they were.

Other organizations that disclosed lobbying the EPA and Congress on the agency’s arsenic evaluation were the U.S. Rice Federation; the Mulch and Soil Council; the Association of California Water Agencies; and the National Mining Association, including the mining companies Arch Coal and Rio Tinto.

Grizzle began making donations to Simpson’s re-election campaign in January 2011, a few months before Simpson took action to delay the arsenic assessment. Since then, Grizzle has given a total of $7,500. That’s more than he’s given in that time to any other candidate.

Asked if the contributions were made in exchange for the delay, Grizzle said, “I don’t see a connection. I’ve been a friend and supporter of Congressman Simpson for a long time.”

When Simpson was asked if he was aware of the donations, he terminated the interview, saying, “I have no idea. But I’ve got a hearing.” . . .


Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 12:44 pm

Killing progress, fighting knowledge: Professor who was to study efficacy of using marijuana to help with PTSD fired—no reason given

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April Short reports at AlterNet:

The University of Arizona has fired Sue Sisley, a researcher in the psychiatry department, without warning or explanation. Sisley planned to lead a clinical study of marijuana as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in combat veterans and UA had agreed to play host.

The study recently became the first to receive approval from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to obtain government-approved pot for research—a historic decision that broke the institute’s track record of blocking all independent pot studies. The study’s protocols were already approved by the FDA three years ago as well as by the University of Arizona Institutional Review Board (IRB).

The study is sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which has been trying to get a scientific study of pot approved for decades. In an LA Times article, Rick Doblin, director of MAPS, called firing Sisley a “repression of science.”

“What happened here is the repression of science for political purposes,” he said. “It is astonishing in this day and age.”

MAPS, alongside the American Civil Liberties Union, is looking into ways to overturn Sisley’s termination.

Sisley has been vocal in recent months about the importance of US policy change when it comes to medical marijuana and she told the LA Times she thinks her termination has everything to do with her research and “personal political crusading.” She said she suspects she drew the attention of Republicans who control university funding.

“This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and education I have been providing the public and lawmakers,” Sisley told the Times. “I pulled all my evaluations and this is not about my job performance.”

As a psychiatrist and physician focused on internal medicine, Sisley regularly treats first responders and military veterans with PTSD. After years observing and speaking with patients she learned many of them were using marijuana to successfully manage their symptoms. Sisley was excited at the opportunity to conduct the PTSD study, which would look at cannabis’ effect on 12 treatment-resistant combat veterans with PTSD.

Sisley told AlterNet in February that the need for psychiatrists to better understand and treat PTSD is dire, “not just for combat vets but for all our citizens who are plagued by this.” Sisley noted that 22 veterans kill themselves per day in the U.S. according to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Any physician who’s also a human being can’t rest when we know that there’s something out there, in this case a plant, that has the potential to reduce human suffering.”

Letters from the UA informed Sisley on Friday that her relationship with the university would be over come September 26, according to the Times.

The Times article notes that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Education

6 months into legal marijuana in Colorado, what obtains?

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Reported by Laura Pegram at AlterNet, some trends:

  • According to Uniform Crime Reporting data for Denver, there has been a 10.1% decrease in overall crime from this time last year and a 5.2% drop in violent crime.
  • There are renewed efforts to study the medical efficacy of marijuana within the state, making Colorado an epicenter for marijuana research.
  • The marijuana industry has developed quickly, generating thousands of new jobs. It is estimated  there are currently about 10,000 people directly involved with this industry, with 1,000 to 2,000 gaining employment in the past few months alone.
  • The voters of Colorado retain an overall positive view of the regulated marijuana market, with 54% of Colorado voters still supporting marijuana legalization and regulation, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

TL;DR: Sky did not fall, benefits both obvious and measurable.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 12:24 pm

Superb shave, still learning to lather

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SOTD 3 July 2014

I’m still mastering damp-brush lathering. The problem seems to be that I am not sufficiently loading the brush. With the wet-brush method, I simply brushed vigorously, briskly, and firmly until the bubbles being formed were microscopic, and then brushed a couple of seconds more. I need to find the clue for the damp-brush method. One thing: I’m going to use a slightly wetter brush at the outside: one shake of a sopping-wet brush instead of two or three.

I am going to be using the same brush for the next while as I relearn lathering: consistency of the brush will help since differences are likely due to technique (or soap) and not the brush. I thought of using my Rooney 2 Finest, since I really like that brush a lot, but the Whipped Dog 22mm silvertip seems a brush more readily available and in wider use, so that’s what I’m going with.

I apparently switched caps on a couple of new Tiki Bar soaps, and the soap in the tub is The Captain rather than Spice Islands. I switched the lids back and used The Captain. Lather was poor on the third pass, so I relathered the old way to finish the shave. Even the second pass did not have enough glide. Tomorrow I’ll use another Tiki Bar soap and adjust my lathering technique.

Nonetheless, the shave result was excellent. The iKon S3S asymmetric razor has a massive head, which helps a lot with a straight-bar razor’s cutting, and the Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge blade seems relatively new and cut without effort. Three passes to BBS.

I realized I probably should have saved Fine’s American Blend to use tomorrow, but fortunately I did not use the entire bottle today, so I will reprise it on the Glorious 4th.

A well-begun day takes off…

Written by LeisureGuy

3 July 2014 at 8:33 am

Posted in Shaving

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