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+ - Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon to Local Law Enforcement?->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "To this day, Russian authorities refuse to disclose the incapacitating chemical agent (ICA) they employed in their attempt, 12 years ago, to save 900 hostages held in a theater by Chechen fighters. Malcom Dando elaborates on a new report that Russia, China, Israel, and a slew of other countries are continuing research into ICAs, and the apparent indifference of the international community into such research. Proponenets of ICAs have long promoted their use in a variety of scenarios, including that of law enforcement, because in theory these chemicals incapacitate without permanent disability. Critics, however, point out that these weapons rely on exact dosage to prevent fatality, and that the ability to 'deliver the right agent to the right people in the right dose without exposing the wrong people, or delivering the wrong dose' is a near-impossible expectation. ICAs represent the further misuse and militarization of the life sciences and a weakening of the taboo against the weaponization of toxic substances, and the idea that they could be used in law enforcement situations is a disturbing one."
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+ - How the Big Bang's alternatives died

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "It’s such a part of our cosmic and scientific history, that it’s difficult to remember that it’s only been for the past 50 years that the Big Bang has been the leading theory-and-model that describes our Universe. Ever since the 1920s, when Edwin Hubble discovered the apparent expansion of our Universe, we’ve recognized that it’s a much bigger place than simply what’s in the Milky Way. But the Big Bang was hardly the only game in town. Yet the discovery of not only the Cosmic Microwave Background, but the detailed measurement of its temperature and spectrum, was able to rule out every single alternative as a non-viable model."

+ - Ebola does not require an "Ebola Czar," nor calling up the National Guard->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "David Ropeik explores risk-perception psychology and Ebola in the US. 'But officials are up against the inherently emotional and instinctive nature of risk-perception psychology. Pioneering research on this subject by Paul Slovic, Baruch Fischhoff, and others, vast research on human cognition by Daniel Kahnemanand colleagues, and research on the brain’s fear response by neuroscientists Joseph LeDoux, Elizabeth Phelps, and others, all make abundantly clear that the perception of risk is not simply a matter of the facts, but more a matter of how those facts feel. (Melissa Finucane, Slovic, and others have called this the “affect heuristic.”)'"
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+ - The tiny islands that China wants in the South China Sea->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "It's always the natural resources, isn't it? China is claiming tiny islands known as the Spratlys and Paracels chains, respectively, and is even going so far as to dump millions of tons of rock and sand to extend landmass, due to suspected reserves of oil and natural gas surrounding them. This would also give China 'what would effectively be an unsinkable aircraft carrier and a new set of facts on the ground.' The Spratlys are made up of about 750 little bits of land that lie due south of China and southeast of Vietnam. (The Paracels have fewer islands, but with more landmass.) Both China and Vietnam fervently claim the island chains as their own, as do the governments of the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.' As this article points out, this area of the South China Sea has been a flashpoint for decades."
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+ - The very small Islamic State WMD threat->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "With ISIS running amok over such a large swathe of territory, it’s no surprise that rampant fears of the group obtaining Weapons of Mass Destruction are growing. 'But it is important to be realistic about the threat. It remains unlikely that the group will be able to acquire and effectively use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.' Terrific read by two proliferation experts."
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+ - Who's in charge during the Ebola crisis?-> 1

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Epidemics test the leadership skills of politicians and medical infrastructures, which is clear as this article goes through the different ways West African countries have dealt with the Ebola crisis. Now that fears are spreading about a US outbreak (highly unlikely, as this article points out), it may be time to look at the US medical infrastructure, which, of course, in many ways is far superior to those West African countries where the virus has spread. But there is an interesting twist to how disease outbreaks are handled in the US: 'The US Constitution—written approximately 100 years before the germ theory of disease was proven by French chemist Louis Pasteur and German physician Robert Koch—places responsibility for public health squarely on the shoulders of local and state political leaders...one could argue that the United States is hobbled by an outdated constitution in responding to epidemics. State and local jurisdictions vary tremendously in their public health capabilities.'"
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+ - Pentagon unveils plan for military's response to climate change

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Rising sea levels and other effects of climate change will create major problems for America's military, including more and worse natural disasters and food and water shortages that could fuel disputes around the world, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday. From the article: "The Pentagon’s '2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap' describes how global warming will bring new demands on the military. Among the report's conclusions: Coastal military installations that are vulnerable to flooding will need to be altered; humanitarian assistance missions will be more frequent in the face of more intense natural disasters; weapons and other critical military equipment will need to work under more severe weather conditions. 'This road map shows how we are identifying — with tangible and specific metrics, and using the best available science — the effects of climate change on the department’s missions and responsibilities,' Hagel said. 'Drawing on these assessments, we will integrate climate change considerations into our planning, operations, and training.'”"

+ - Ahmet Uzumcu: Getting rid of chemical weapons in Syria and beyond->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Terrific interview with Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, which won last year's Nobel Peace Prize. 'The mission committed to getting rid of Syria’s arsenal in less than 10 months. It didn’t know if it would have enough funding, and Syria was in the midst of a raging civil war. Despite these impediments, the mission managed to destroy 97 percent of Syria’s chemical weapons within one year. Along the way, Uzumcu accepted the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of his organization.'"
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+ - New anti-nuclear movement should push for an old idea: a comprehensive test ban->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes ""This call for a new push on ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty includes a terrific (short) animated video of how nuclear test monitoring actually works, and details why the new "humanitarian impact" movement could help get the CTBT ratified by those countries that haven't yet done so (guess who?). Interesting piece.""
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+ - Why a new anti-nuclear movement should push for an old idea: a comprehensive tes->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "This call for a new push on ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty includes a terrific (short) animated video of how nuclear test monitoring actually works, and details why the new "humanitarian impact" movement could help get the CTBT ratified by those countries that haven't yet done so (guess who?). Interesting piece."
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+ - Swing Theory: Local Dancers Reject Traditional Gender Roles ->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Interesting piece about West Coast Swing dancers challenging the traditional gender roles of "leading" and "following." As more competitions in the field open up to "degendered" dance roles, will the organizations that award points begin to recognize winners even if they have switched gender roles? The times, they are a changing."
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+ - What You Might Not Know About 'Getting Roofied'->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Although based on anecdotal evidence, this article describes the rise in the number of people who report having been "roofied"--that is, having had a drug slipped into their drinks by bartenders, acquaintances, etc. Men are reporting the experience at increasing rates, and the drug of choice isn't necessarily rohypnol: Reported drugs include '...GHB (or “liquid Ecstasy”), Zolpidem (also known as Ambien), scopolamine, and a few lesser-known benzodiazepines, like temazepam or midazolam. It is probably no longer accurate to say “She was roofied” — but then “She was midazolamed” lacks a certain something.' Although sexual assault doesn't seem always to be the intent, it's a pretty appalling phenomenon."
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+ - Is it possible to have any fun at all without burning fossil fuels?-> 1

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Dawn Stover looks at unrealistic expectations and the distribution of limited energy resources: 'This is a question that should move from the fringes of the energy debate to its very heart. Economists and energy experts shy away from issues of equity and morality, but climate change and environmental justice are inseparable: It’s impossible to talk intelligently about climate without discussing how to distribute limited energy resources. It’s highly unlikely that the world can safely produce almost five times as much electricity by 2035 as it does now—which is what it would take to provide everyone with a circa-2010 American standard of living, according to a calculation by University of Colorado environmental studies professor Roger Pielke Jr. The sooner policy makers accept this reality, the sooner they can get to work on a global solution that meets everyone’s needs. First, though, they need to understand the difference between needs and wants.' Not something most people even think about."
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+ - It's the deforestation: How to prevent Ebola Outbreaks->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Laura Kahn points to deforestation as the real culprit behind the Ebola outbreaks: 'Environmental destruction and widespread deforestation seem to constitute a common thread in causing the emergence of many of the deadliest viruses known to humanity. Some of the world’s highest rates of deforestation have occurred in West Africa; the Guinea rainforest has shrunk to one-fifth of its former size. Liberia and Sierra Leone are also threatened by massive forest-clearing operations. Deadly viruses such as Ebola and Nipah emerge in human populations after widespread deforestation destroys the habitats of fruit bats to make way for agriculture.' This article is from July, but is an appropriate read given new outbreaks of the disease."
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+ - Is Republican Climate-Science Denialism a Mental Block?->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Jonathan Chait explores recent political science studies that suggests messaging is the problem with getting Republican voters to understand and believe in climate change, but points out that the messaging is wrong because the premise is wrong. Chait points out that voters really don't get their political stands from their values, but rather they get their political stands from the party elites they trust. Goes on to document some of the flip-flops of notable Republicans (like Chris Christie) on climate solutions such as cap and trade. Good read."
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