U.S. Releases Report Showing Elevated Health Risks from Nonstick Chemicals

June 21st, 2018

Hair on fire lunatic fringe people who have assumed this for decades: Right again.

Via: Science Magazine:

President Donald Trump’s administration has released a politically charged toxicology report about nonstick chemicals showing they can endanger human health at significantly lower levels than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has previously called safe.

The draft report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a toxicological profile of four types of stain- and water-resistant chemicals.

It finds that so-called “minimum risk levels” for the toxins should be seven to 10 times lower than standards set by EPA in 2016.

The lowest level included in the ATSDR report is 12 parts per trillion in drinking water, which is greater than 80% below the current maximum safe level EPA has advised for two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

By contrast, the 2016 EPA voluntary health advisory for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) warned that exposure to the chemicals at levels above 70 parts per trillion could be dangerous.

The report’s release follows mounting congressional pressure from both sides of the aisle after news surfaced last month that a White House official in January had warned that releasing the report would be a “potential public relations nightmare” (E&E Daily, May 15).


Synthetic Biology Raises Risk of New Bioweapons

June 20th, 2018

When “it” finally happens, my complete lack of surprise will coincide with a sense of wonder that “it” didn’t happen sooner.

U.S. Researchers Trying to Create Pandemic Avian Flu

Baxter International “Unintentionally” Sent Flu Samples to Companies that Contained H5N1 Avian Flu

Scientist Makes H5N1 Highly Contagious

New Bird Flu ‘Has Unique Traits’

Bird Flu Researchers to Continue Work on Engineered Virus

Scientists Sequence Black Death Bacteria DNA

Britain: Scientists Reconstruct Black Death Plague with Genetic Material Taken from Ancient Corpses Buried Under Royal Mint

And Now… Plague Sweeps Through al Qaeda Terror Training Camp, Killing 40

Bill Gates Funds Research Into ‘Flying Syringe’ Mosquitoes to Deliver Vaccines

Via: Guardian:

The rapid rise of synthetic biology, a futuristic field of science that seeks to master the machinery of life, has raised the risk of a new generation of bioweapons, according a major US report into the state of the art.

Advances in the area mean that scientists now have the capability to recreate dangerous viruses from scratch; make harmful bacteria more deadly; and modify common microbes so that they churn out lethal toxins once they enter the body.

The three scenarios are picked out as threats of highest concern in a review of the field published on Tuesday by the US National Academy of Sciences at the request of the Department of Defense. The report was commissioned to flag up ways in which the powerful technology might be abused, and to focus minds on how best to prepare.


We Are All Prisoners of the Surveillance State

June 20th, 2018

Via: The Rutherford Institute:

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

Stingray devices mounted on police cars to warrantlessly track cell phones, Doppler radar devices that can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, license plate readers that can record up to 1800 license plates per minute, sidewalk and “public space” cameras coupled with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology that lay the groundwork for police “pre-crime” programs, police body cameras that turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras, the internet of things: all of these technologies add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home.

As French philosopher Michel Foucault concluded in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, “Visibility is a trap.”

This is the electronic concentration camp—the panopticon prison—the Village—in which we are now caged.


Severe Obesity Rates Surging in Rural America

June 20th, 2018

Via: Reuters:

Severe obesity rates have been on the rise nationwide since the turn of the century, disproportionately affecting children and adults in rural communities, two U.S. studies suggest.

Researchers examined data on height and weight collected from 2001 to 2016 for adults 20 and older and for youth ages 2 to 19. Severe obesity rates were higher in rural areas for youth as well as for men and women, while overall rates of obesity were higher only for rural women, researchers report in JAMA.

In rural communities, severe obesity rates more than tripled for men and more than doubled for women during the study period, while climbing 29 percent among young people. Obesity rates in rural areas, meanwhile, rose about 9 percent among children and teens and about 36 percent for adults.


U.S. Army: Robots for Ground Combat by 2028

June 20th, 2018

Via: FCW:

Robotics is crucial to Army Secretary Mark Esper’s strategic vision, and he wants to have unmanned vehicles on the battlefield by 2028.

Esper previewed the Army’s soon-to-be-released strategic vision calling for unmanned vehicles as an integral part of the force at a Brookings Institute event June 5.

“I think robotics has the potential of fundamentally changing the character of warfare. And I think whoever gets there first will have a unique advantage on the modern battlefield,” Esper said.

“My ambition is by 2028, to begin fielding autonomous and certainly semi-autonomous vehicles that can fight on the battlefield,” he said.


General Electric Loses Place in Elite Dow Jones Industrial Average

June 19th, 2018

Disclosure: I sell solar power systems in New Zealand.

Via: Reuters:

General Electric Co has lost its spot in the Dow Jones Industrial Average after over a century in the blue chip stock index, a new blow to a company that once towered over the American business landscape but is now struggling to retain its standing as an industrial powerhouse.

A decade and a half ago GE was the world’s most valuable public company. But it foundered in several key industrial markets in recent years, and a diversion into financial services steered it into the eye of the global financial crisis in 2008.

Immelt also built up GE’s exposure to manufacturing and servicing coal and gas-fired electricity plants, only to see demand for such plants fall dramatically in recent years as sales of suddenly cost-competitive renewable wind and solar systems increased.


Tesla Model 3: Musk Claims ‘Extensive and Damaging Sabotage’ by Employee

June 18th, 2018

Via: CNBC:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent an email to all employees on Monday morning about a factory fire, and seemed to reference possible sabotage.

Now, CNBC has learned that Musk also sent an e-mail to all employees at Tesla late on Sunday night alleging that he has discovered a saboteur in the company’s ranks.

Musk said this person had conducted “quite extensive and damaging sabotage” to the company’s operations, including by changing code to an internal product and exporting data to outsiders.


Trump Orders Creation of Space-Focused U.S. Military Branch

June 18th, 2018

Oh sure, it’ll make the Pentagon more efficient: At incinerating trillions of taxpayer dollars.

Also, there’s Carol Rosin’s account of her time with Wernher Von Braun, which might finally be coming into play:

The strategy that Wernher Von Braun taught me was that first the Russians are going to be considered to be the enemy. In fact, in 1974, they were the enemy, the identified enemy. We were told that they had “killer satellites”. We were told that they were coming to get us and control us – that they were “Commies.”

Then terrorists would be identified, and that was soon to follow. We heard a lot about terrorism. Then we were going to identify third-world country “crazies.” We now call them Nations of Concern. But he said that would be the third enemy against whom we would build space-based weapons.

The next enemy was asteroids. Now, at this point he kind of chuckled the first time he said it. Asteroids- against asteroids we are going to build space-based weapons.

And the funniest one of all was what he called aliens, extraterrestrials. That would be the final scare. And over and over and over during the four years that I knew him and was giving speeches for him, he would bring up that last card. “And remember Carol, the last card is the alien card. We are going to have to build space-based weapons against aliens and all of it is a lie.”

Via: Reuters:

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he was ordering the creation of a sixth branch of the military to focus on space, a move critics said could harm the Air Force.

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” Trump said before a meeting of his National Space Council.

“We are going to have the Air Force and we’re going to have the ‘Space Force.’ Separate but equal. It is going to be something,” he said later.

The United States is a member of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bars the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space and only allows for the use of the moon and other celestial bodies for peaceful purposes.

The idea of a Space Force has been raised before, by Trump and previous administrations, with proponents saying it would make the Pentagon more efficient.


San Francisco Tourists Shocked By Aggressive Vagrants, Discarded Needles, Dead Bodies

June 18th, 2018

Via: ZeroHedge:

San Francisco – a Democratic stronghold known for cable cars, quaint architecture and its diverse culture, has become a bastion of squalor and crime as city dwellers and visitors alike dodge aggressive, drug-addled vagrants. And it’s beginning to scare the tourists…


Inside the Former Texas Walmart Where 1,400 Immigrant Children Are Held

June 16th, 2018

Via: WGN:

The strangeness of the largest migrant children’s center in the United States, near the border with Mexico, shows up in the details.

Here, there are 1,469 boys, ages 10 to 17, housed inside the 250,000-square-foot shell of a former Walmart superstore. None of the 313 bedrooms have doors. Or ceilings, so that children lying in their beds look up past where their walls end to the scaffolding of the superstore roof high above. The hundreds of children neatly lined up for their supper of barbecued chicken or sandwiches file past murals of presidents, including one of Donald Trump, alongside with a curious quote from him in Spanish alongside the English: “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”

With that increase, as of Wednesday, ORR spokesman Brian Marriott said, the office was holding 11,351 children in more than 100 shelters across 17 states.

At the Casa Padre shelter, which opened last year, the surge in numbers has been palpable. In March, the nonprofit Southwest Key Programs, which also operates 26 other shelters in Texas, Arizona and California, had a capacity of 1,186, according to a licensing document posted in the shelter. More recently, as children flooded into the system, they had to get a variance from Texas regulators to boost its capacity temporarily to 1,497. The average population of the shelter has jumped by nearly 300 in less than a month, said Martin Hinojosa, director of compliance for Southwest Key Programs.

Today, the shelter is almost at capacity again. Five cot-like beds have been squeezed into bedrooms built originally for four.

Juan Sanchez, the founder and president of Southwest Key Programs, refused to discuss the “zero-tolerance” policy.

“Our goal is to reunite these children with their families as soon as we can do that,” he told reporters Wednesday. He said that more than 70% of the 5,129 children at Southwest Key Programs shelters were unaccompanied, rather than separated from their parents. However, he conceded that the number of children separated was rising.

Flashback: Obama’s Illegal Alien Facilities


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