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Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig (@ThinkwingRadio), a listener call-in show airing live every Monday night from 3-4 PM (CT) on KPFT-FM 90.1 (Houston). My engineers are Don, Leti, and Nibu.Today’s show is a fundraising show, so, with apologies, we can’t take on-air phone calls,
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For the purposes of this show, I operate on two mottoes:
- You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts;
- An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.
SIGNOFF QUOTE[s]: “As nations can not be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this.” ~ George Mason George Mason IV (December 11, 1725 [O.S. November 30, 1725] – October 7, 1792) from “The Journal of the Debates in the Convention which Framed the Constitution of the United States, May-September, 1787”, Volume 2, as recorded by James Madison, 1908.”
- Educators have been skeptical of Dan Patrick. Will they support his teacher pay raise plan? – The Texas lieutenant governor is proposing across-the-board $5,000 raises for teachers. It’s a seismic shift for a lawmaker who spent the last legislative session backing proposals educators revile. by Aliyya Swaby | The Texas Tribune | Feb. 25, 2019
- … [Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s] top political priority this session: across-the-board raises for full-time classroom teachers. Some conservative groups like Empower Texans, which has funneled more than $800,000 to Patrick over the last five years, are concerned about the deviation from core Tea Party issues.
- Meanwhile, many education advocates favor across-the-board raises over merit pay proposals being pushed by other state leaders who are usually more popular among teachers. But those groups are cautious about falling in line with Patrick, whom they’ve clashed with in the past. …
- … Patrick has pushed that specific policy proposal — $5,000 base pay raises for every full-time classroom teacher — since his inauguration, arguing that providing more money for teachers will attract more qualified talent to the profession. The bill, filed by the Senate’s lead budget writer, Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, is moving through the legislative process faster than most other education priorities in either chamber. With more than 20 Democratic and Republican state senators signed on as co-authors, the bill is scheduled for a public hearing Monday.
- It’s a seismic shift for a lawmaker who spent the last legislative session backing proposals educators revile, including programs similar to education vouchers that would allow parents to use public money for private schools. Patrick has been muted on those programs this year, focusing on teacher pay instead. …
- … Critics say Patrick’s focus on teachers is a reaction to the 2018 elections.
- … “This isn’t because of the election,” [Patrick] said. “I brought this up before the special session last session [in 2017]. I couldn’t get any traction, but I think there’s a little more traction this time.” …
- .. For Troy Reynolds, a Splendora ISD administrator who organized educators to bloc vote for education-friendly candidates in 2018, the Senate’s teacher raises are a starting point. The grassroots group of educators rated Patrick unfriendly to education before the election, based on all the available information. “We look at the entire comprehensive history. We have one data point in a very large set of data points. Will it change some people’s votes? Maybe.” …
- Analysis: Where control of the next Texas Legislature will be decided – One-fifth of the incumbents in the Texas House serve in districts where less than 10 percentage points separated average Democrats from average Republicans in statewide races. That’s more than enough contested turf to put control within reach of either party. by Ross Ramsey | ORG |Feb. 25, 201913 hours ago | Republish
- In 31 of the state’s 150 Texas House districts, the top candidates for the Republicans and Democrats finished fewer than 10 percentage points apart in last year’s general election.
- Those results provide a rough guide to the political battlefield in Texas in 2020: 18 of those seats are now held by Republicans and 13 are held by Democrats. A tighter description of competitiveness — districts where the parties’ top candidates finished fewer than 5 percentage points apart — narrows the list to 13 House districts, including seven now held by Republicans and six now held by Democrats.
- Statewide, the average Republican candidate on the 2018 ballot outdid the average Democrat by 7.3 percentage points, according to an analysis of district-by-district election results compiled by the Texas Legislative Council.
- The partisan split in the House is narrow enough to give partisans on both sides plenty to scheme about. Republicans hold 83 seats. Democrats hold 65, with special election runoffs in Democratic districts next month to decide the remaining two spots.
- … [W]ith up to a fifth of the House seats in play, both parties have room for hope and terror. And with redistricting coming in the 2021 session, the partisans have something to fight over.
- UN court says Britain should ‘rapidly’ give up Chagos Islands – ICJ opinion calls on the UK to ‘complete the decolonisation’ of Indian Ocean archipelago claimed by Mauritius. SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies | 2/25/2019, 2 hours ago
- The United Nations‘ highest court has called on Britain to quickly cede control over a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean, the largest of which houses a strategically important American military base, to Mauritius.
- In a non-binding opinion issued on Monday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said the United Kingdom had illegally split the Chagos Archipelago islands from its former colony at independence in the 1960s, after which thousands of islanders were deported. …
- The ICJ was tasked by the UN in February 2017 to give its view on the decades-old dispute between Britain and Mauritius over the islands, which lie around 2,000km away from the latter.
- Mauritius argues the Chagos archipelago was part of its territory since at least the 18th century and was taken unlawfully by the UK in 1965, three years before the island nation gained independence.
- However, Britain insists it has sovereignty over the archipelago, which it calls the British Indian Ocean Territory. …
- … Britain evicted about 2,000 people from the archipelago in the 1960s and 70s to make way for a huge US military base on the largest of the islands, Diego Garcia, which played a key strategic role in the Cold War before being used as a staging ground for US bombing campaigns against Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s. …
- Earth could warm by 14°C (~25oF) as growing emissions destroy crucial clouds, By Michael Le Page | COM | Environment | 25 February 2019
- If we keep burning fossil fuels with reckless abandon, we could trigger a cloud feedback effect that will add 8°C on top of all the warming up to that point. That means the world could warm by more than 14°C above the pre-industrial level.
- Needless to say, this would be cataclysmic. For instance, large parts of the tropics would become too hot for warm-blooded animals,including us, to survive. The good news is that if countries step up their efforts to cut emissions we should avoid finding out if this idea is correct. “I don’t think we will get anywhere close to it,” says Tapio Schneider at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, who led the research.
- Schneider’s team modelled stratocumulus clouds over subtropical oceans, which cover around 7 per cent of Earth’s surface and cool the planet by reflecting the sun’s heat back into space. They found there was a sudden transition when CO2 levels reached around 1200 parts per million (ppm) — the stratocumulus clouds broke up and disappeared.
- … [T]hese clouds are unusual. The cloud layer is maintained by the cloudtops cooling as they emit infrared radiation — and very high CO2 levels block this process.
- No need to panic :: CO2 levels will pass 410 ppm this year, up from 280 ppm in preindustrial times. If we burned all available fossil fuels, atmospheric CO2 levels could rise as high as 4000 ppm. However, even in the standard worst case scenario used by climate scientists, which assumes nothing is done to curb emissions, CO2 levels would only pass 1200 ppm decades after 2100. …
- …The finding could also help solve a longstanding mystery — how the planet got so hot around 50 million years agothat crocodiles thrived in the Arctic. We know that CO2 levels were generally much higher at the time, but they were not high enough [by themselves] to explain the extreme warmth during this period.
- On Eve Of 2nd Trump-Kim Summit, Is North Korean Reactor Producing Plutonium? Geoff Brumfiel | NPR |February 25, 201910:50 AM ET
- North Korea’s main nuclear reactor for making weapons-grade plutonium may be operating, just days before this week’s summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
- Satellite images of the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center from Planet, a San-Francisco based company, indicate the main 5-megawatt reactor on the site is running, according to Jeffrey Lewis, a scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
- “It’s really business as usual at Yongbyon at the moment,” Lewis says. “People show up for work, and material comes in, and it looks pretty much like it’s looked for the last 10 or 15 years.” …
- …[Siegfried Hecker, a former nuclear weapons scientist now at Stanford University] estimates North Korea’s current nuclear arsenal at several dozen weapons that are stored somewhere else. North Korea is also believed to have other covert facilities where it can make uranium for nuclear weapons. …
- Federal judge rules male-only draft is unconstitutional, By Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst & Supreme Court biographer | com |Updated 12:54 PM ET, Mon February 25, 2019
- A federal judge who ruled the Selective Service System’s men-only registration unconstitutional late Friday rejected the reasoning of a 1981 Supreme Court decision, opting for the recent women’s rights rationale of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the contemporary court.
- US District Court Judge Gray Miller, based in Houston, spurned the government’s argument about excluding women, based partly on their interest and readiness for combat, by declaring, “this argument smacks of archaic and overbroad generalizations about women’s preferences.”
- Miller said that while “historical restrictions on women in the military may have justified past discrimination,” men and women now have many similar roles.
- “If there ever was a time to discuss the place of women in the Armed Services, that time has passed,” he wrote. Miller said the Selective Service had not shown that the male-only registration requirement was “substantially related to Congress’s objective of raising and supporting armies.”
- Congress eliminated the draft in the early 1970s, but all men ages 18-25 are required by law to provide basic personal information to the Selective Service System. …
- 65 Measles Cases In Washington, Yet Arizona May Expand Vaccine Exemptions, by Bruce Y. Lee, Contributor | COM | Feb 24, 2019, 10:12pm
- … T]he Arizona state legislature [is] about [to] pass three bills that would expand vaccine exemption categories and make it easier to get a vaccine exemption by remove the current requirement that parents sign a state health department form, as reported by Stephanie Innes for the Arizona Republic?
- … The state of Washington had to declare a statewide emergency and has already spent over a million dollars of taxpayer money dealing with the measles outbreak. All scientific evidence suggests that lower vaccination rates in Clark County, Washington, led to the outbreak. Therefore, the focus in Washington has been trying to increase vaccination rates. …
- … On top of all this, Arizona may have the lowest measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination rates in the country at 84.1%, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey as Claire Cleveland and Jessi Schultz reported for the Cronkite News Service. Such a rate would be well below the 95% critical immunization threshold needed to prevent the measles virus from more readily spreading in a population, as I described previously for Forbes.
- Yet, despite all of this, Nancy K. Barto, a Republican member of the Arizona House of Representatives has sponsored House Bills 2470, 2471, and 2472 that could end up further lowering vaccination rates in Arizona. Paul Boyer, a Republican member of the Arizona State Senate, co-sponsored all three bills, which on Thursday, passed the Arizona House Health and Human Services Committee via a 5 to 4 vote. All five committee members voting for the bills were Republican and all four voting against were Democrats. If voting in the general legislature (where the Republicans hold the majority in both the Senate and the House) follows similar party lines, the trio of bills have a good chance of passing. …
- House Bill 2470essentially would make it easier to get a vaccine exemption by changing the current language of the relevant Arizona law. This certainly won’t help increase vaccination rates and could lower them …
- …House Bill 2471would require doctors and other health professionals to provide more information about vaccines, beyond what they already provide, before administering a vaccine. … [W]hy make this requirement for vaccination, an intervention that has abundance of scientific evidence supporting its efficacy and safety, and not other health interventions?
- House Bill 2472… wants to give patients the option of getting an antibody titer test to check for immunity before a vaccine is administered. … False positives are possible… … False negatives are also possible. Your test can be negative, even if you are protected. Then, there’s the cost of these additional tests.
- … If vaccination rates remain where they are at based on the CDC survey or worse get even lower, Arizona could very well be a sequel of what’s currently occurring in Washington. And as is often is the case with movies, the sequel could be worse.
- We may finally know what causes Alzheimer’s – and how to stop it, By Debora MacKenzie | newscientist.com | Health 23 January 2019 , updated 30 January 2019
- AFTER decades of disappointment, we may have a new lead on fighting Alzheimer’s disease. Compelling evidence that the condition is caused by a bacterium involved in gum disease could prove a game-changer in tackling one of medicine’s biggest mysteries, and lead to effective treatments or even a vaccine.
- As populations have aged, dementia has skyrocketed to become the fifth biggest cause of death worldwide. Alzheimer’s constitutes some 70 per cent of these cases (see “What is Alzheimer’s disease”), yet we don’t know what causes it. …
- … The condition often involves the accumulation of two types of proteins – called amyloid and tau – in the brain. As these are among the earliest physical signs of the disease …
- … In 2016, researchers discovered that amyloid seems to function as a sticky defence against bacteria. They found that the protein can act as an anti-microbial compound that kills bacteria, and when they injected bacteria into the brains of mice engineered to make Alzheimer’s proteins, plaques developed round bacterial cells overnight.
- At the time, the team said it still believed that amyloid itself went on to cause the brain damage of Alzheimer’s, not bacteria. But a spate of subsequent studies have looked at microbes. Bacteria have been found in the brains of people who had Alzheimer’s when they were alive. But it hasn’t been clear whether the bacteria caused the disease or were simply able to enter brains damaged by Alzheimer’s.
- Multiple teams have been researching Porphyromonas gingivalis, the main bacterium involved in gum disease, which is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s. So far, teams have found that P. gingivalis invades and inflames brain regions affected by Alzheimer’s; that gum infections can worsen symptoms in mice genetically engineered to have Alzheimer’s; and that it can cause Alzheimer’s-like brain inflammation, neural damage and amyloid plaques in healthy mice.
- … We don’t know how gingivalis gets into the brain, but there are plausible routes it could take. Your mouth normally hosts a diverse and relatively stable community of bacteria, but when dental plaque builds under the edge of your gums, it can form inflamed pockets in which P. gingivalis can thrive and release toxins. …
- Gum disease may be the cause of Alzheimer’s – here’s how to avoid it, By Clare Wilson and Debora MacKenzie | NEWSCIENTIST.COM | Health, 24 January 2019
- Bacteria that cause gum disease have been implicated as a cause of dementia. Here’s what you need to know.
- What is gum disease and why should I be worried about it? Gum disease, also known as gingivitis in its mild form, occurs when bacteria accumulate in tooth plaque, causing inflammation, receding gums and bleeding. If it progresses to the more serious form, periodontitis, it can lead to abscesses and tooth loss.
- So why are we talking about it now? It turns out that one of the key bacteria that cause gum disease – Porphyromonas gingivalis – may also be the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia. …
- What should I do about it? Researchers are working on a vaccine and a specific anti-toxin for gingivalis, but these are some years away from reaching the clinic. Until then, your best bet is taking the usual steps to avoid gum disease.
- Which are? Listening to your dentist, for a start. They advise cleaning your teeth twice a day, and flossing or using interdental sticks to get plaque out from the gaps. Too vigorous brushing can get oral bacteria into the bloodstream, so take it easy. But if plaque is allowed to build up it can become mineralised, turning into hard tartar, which encourages the growth of more plaque towards the tooth roots.
- Gum disease may be the cause of Alzheimer’s – here’s how to avoid it, By Clare Wilson and Debora MacKenzie | NEWSCIENTIST.COM | Health, 24 January 2019