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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.
“Our colleagues aren’t upset because you lied to Congress for the president. They’re upset because you’ve stopped lying to Congress for the president.” ~ Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., (Feb 27 2019, 1:05 pm ET, as per NBCNews.com) opened his allotted time to question Cohen’s response to a Republican line of attack on Cohen that has run throughout the day. (Republicans have repeatedly highlighted Cohen’s past lying to Congress, which he has admitted and pleaded guilty to. Cohen says he lied to help Trump, but Republicans have questioned whether he lied to help himself.)
- TOMORROW: Tuesday, March 05, 2019 – Special Runoff Election for State Representative District 145
- com (Election Information Line (713) 755-6965)
- Election Day (TOMORROW!) polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- You may vote early by-mail if you are registered to vote and meet one of the following criteria:
- Away from the county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period;
- Sick or disabled;
- 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or
- Confined in jail, but eligible to vote.
- Make sure you are registered:
- Ann Harris Bennett, Tax Assessor-Collector & Voter Registrar
- Orbital maneuvers — Believe it or not, Ripley has made it safely to the space station, Docking required a number of things to go right, and they did. Eric Berger | COM | 3/3/2019, 7:48 AM
- Right on schedule, the Crew Dragon spacecraft fired its Draco thrusters early on Sunday morning and docked safely with the International Space Station. A “soft” capture came at 5:51am ET, when the station was 418km above New Zealand. “Hard” capture, when 12 additional latches secured the spacecraft to the station, occurred 10 minutes later.
- This marked the completion of a major milestone for SpaceX and NASA—the autonomous docking of a Dragon spacecraft with neither the assistance of crew on board the station nor the robotic arm used to grab and guide the cargo version of the Dragon spacecraft during supply missions. …
- NASA astronaut Bob Behnken noted the smoothness of the operation. “It’s one more milestone that gets us ready for flight,” he said. Behnken, along with fellow astronaut Doug Hurley, will fly the first crewed mission of the Dragon spacecraft later this year (or early in 2020).
- NASA last used this docking port on the space station during the final space shuttle mission when Atlantis visited, way back in August 2011. Shuttle docking operations were labor intensive, requiring a lot of manual flying, and up to four crew members on board the orbiter had to actively monitor systems during the approach. With the crew-rated Dragon capsule—at least when everything goes right, like it did today—the astronauts on board will be observers as the spacecraft docks autonomously. …
- … The Russians were concerned enough about Dragon’s approach that they didn’t sign off until late last week, and the Roscosmos cosmonaut on the station, Oleg Kononenko, was instructed to remain in the station’s Russian segment during the docking procedure in case of an emergency. …
- …The Dragon will now remain attached to the space station until early Friday morning, at which time it will undock, fly away from the station, and return to Earth.
- See the more than 80 names receiving House Judiciary Committee letters in its investigation, CNN, Updated 11:59 AM ET, Mon March 4, 2019
- The House Judiciary Committee announced Monday that it is sending letters seeking information and documents from more than 80 groups, organizations and individuals, as part of its sweeping investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign, businesses, transition and administration.
- Dem lawmaker: Republicans aren’t upset Cohen lied to Congress for Trump, they’re upset he stopped
- Jamie Raskin, D-Md., opened his allotted time to question Cohen’s response to a Republican line of attack on Cohen that has run throughout the day.
- “Our colleagues aren’t upset because you lied to Congress for the president,” Raskin said. “They’re upset because you’ve stopped lying to Congress for the president.”
- Republicans have repeatedly highlighted Cohen’s past lying to Congress, which he has admitted and pleaded guilty to. Cohen says he lied to help Trump, but Republicans have questioned whether he lied to help himself.
- ‘Moment of reckoning’: US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports – Residents of cities like Chester, outside Philadelphia, fear a rise in pollution from incinerators after China’s recycling ban, By Oliver Milman (@olliemilman) | COM via WIRED.COM | Thu 21 Feb 2019 01.00 EST Last modified on Thu 21 Feb 2019 15.21 EST
- The conscientious citizens of Philadelphia continue to put their pizza boxes, plastic bottles, yoghurt containers and other items into recycling bins.
- But in the past three months, half of these recyclables have been loaded on to trucks, taken to a hulking incineration facility and burned, according to the city’s government.
- It’s a situation being replicated across the US as cities struggle to adapt to a recent ban by China on the import of items intended for reuse.
- The loss of this overseas dumping ground means that plastics, paper and glass set aside for recycling by Americans is being stuffed into domestic landfills or is simply burned in vast volumes. This new reality risks an increase of plumes of toxic pollution that threaten the largely black and Latino communities who live near heavy industry and dumping sites in the US. …
- … “People want to do the right thing by recycling but they have no idea where it goes and who it impacts,” said Zulene Mayfield, who was born and raised in Chester and now spearheads a community group against the incinerator, called Chester [PA] Residents Concerned for Quality Living. …
- … Some experts worry that burning plastic recycling will create a new fog of dioxins that will worsen an already alarming health situation in Chester. …
- … Until recently, China had been taking about 40% of US paper, plastics and other recyclables but this trans-Pacific waste route has now ground to a halt. In July 2017, China told the World Trade Organization it no longer wanted to be the end point for yang laji, or foreign garbage, with the country keen to grapple with its own mountains of waste.
- Since January 2018, China hasn’t accepted two dozen different recycling materials, such as plastic and mixed paper, unless they meet strict rules around contamination. The imported recycling has to be clean and unmixed – a standard too hard to meet for most American cities. …
- … “This is a real moment of reckoning for the US because of a lot of these incinerators are aging, on their last legs, without the latest pollution controls,” said Claire Arkin, campaign associate at Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. “You may think burning plastic means ‘poof, it’s gone’ but it puts some very nasty pollution into the air for communities that are already dealing with high rates of asthma and cancers.” …
- [The Covanta Environmental Solutions incinerator says] that pollution controls, such as scrubbers in smokestacks, will negate toxins emitted by recyclables. After passing through the emissions control system, the plant’s eventual output is comfortably below limits set by state and federal regulators, the company says, with emissions of dioxins far better than the expected standard.
- The company also argues that incineration is a better option than simply heaping plastic and cardboard in landfills.
- “In terms of greenhouse gases, it’s better sending recyclables to an energy recovery facility because of the methane that comes from a landfill,” said Paul Gilman, Covanta’s chief sustainability officer. “Fingers crossed Philadelphia can get their recycling program going again because these facilities aren’t designed for recyclables, they are designed for solid waste.”
- Covanta and its critics agree that the whole recycling system in the US will need to be overhauled to avoid further environmental damage. Just 9% of plastic is recycled in the US, with campaigns to push up recycling rates obscuring broader concerns about the environmental impact of mass consumption, whether derived from recycled materials or not.
- “The unfortunate thing in the United States is that when people recycle they think it’s taken care of, when it was largely taken care of by China,” said Gilman. “When that stopped, it became clear we just aren’t able to deal with it.”
- MEANWHILE …
- Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning Project, 2/22/2019
- “TEPCO is doing everything in its power to fulfill our responsibilities in regards to the Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning work.
- “We have established basic principles with a focus on the environment, people, technological development, and openness.
- “To realize the decommissioning, we are proceeding with the project using advanced technologies gathered from inside and outside the company, placing top priority on the continued safety operation.
- Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning Project, 2/22/2019
- Most US coal plants are contaminating groundwater with toxins, analysis finds – Of 265 US power plants that monitor groundwater, 242 report unsafe levels of at least one pollutant derived from coal ash, Oliver Milman in New York (@olliemilman) | COM| Mon 4 Mar 2019 00.01 EST Last modified on Mon 4 Mar 2019 10.21 EST
- Almost every coal-fired power plant in the US is contaminating groundwater with unsafe levels of toxic pollution, according to the first comprehensive analysis of the consequences of coal ash waste disposal.
- Of the 265 US power plants that monitor groundwater, 242 have reported unsafe levels of at least one pollutant derived from coal ash, which is the remnants of coal after it is burned for energy. More than half such facilities report unsafe levels of arsenic, a carcinogen linked to multiple types of cancer, with 60% finding elevated lithium, which is associated with neurological damage.
- In all, nine out of every 10 coal plants with reportable data have tainted nearby groundwater with at least one coal ash pollutant, with a majority having unsafe levels of at least four different toxins.
The 10 worst sites in the US for groundwater contamination by ash from coal-fired power plants
“The pollution is basically everywhere you look,” said Abel Russ, attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), which compiled the analysis based on reports issued by individual power plants. “The major concern is that this could be a problem for decades or centuries because once the pollutants leach from the coal ash into the water, they are hard to get out.”
- 40 Years After The Vietnam War, Some Refugees Face Deportation Under Trump, By Shannon Dooling | ORG | March 4, 20199:00 AM ET
- More than four decades after the Vietnam War brought waves of expatriates to the United States, the Trump administration wants to deport thousands of Vietnamese immigrants, including many refugees, because of years-old criminal convictions.
- S. officials have been working behind the scenes to convince the Vietnamese government to repatriate more than 7,000 Vietnamese immigrants with criminal convictions. They have all been ordered removed from the U.S. by a judge. …
- Critics say some of the immigrants committed nonviolent offenses or served their time years ago, and many wouldn’t have been considered priorities for deportation under previous administrations. Moreover, critics say, some of the immigrants came to the U.S. as refugees, seeking protection.
- “They were forced to come here, in many ways, because of the war that was happening in their country,” says Bethany Li, director of the Asian Outreach Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services. …
- 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. …
- 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