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Comment: Re: Oxitec This stuff can be very risky indeed .. (Score 1) 150 150

I should also note that the Oxitec technology is very targeted - it only affects one (Ae. aegypti) out of 3,500 mosquito species. Where it is currently being used (the Americas), that species in a non-native invasive species, introduced only in the last few decades. No native species at all depends on Ae. aegypti and they make up less than 1% of any American mosquito population.

Comment: Re: Oxitec This stuff can be very risky indeed .. (Score 1) 150 150

Bats don't depend on them at all as far as we can tell. Studies of the stomach contents of bats (and purple martins, another supposed mosquito abated) found less than 1% of their diet consists of mosquitoes. They just aren't nutrient dense - you'd have to eat a lot of mosquitoes to support the metabolism of a bat (flying mammals have high metabolisms). Insectivorous bats primarily eat moths and wasps. Mosquitoes are a rounding error in terms of their diet.

Comment: Oxitec (Score 1) 150 150

I wonder if this would be any more effective than the GMO mosquitoes developed by Oxitec. It's a fascinating technology - the mosquitoes are modified to have a "dominant lethal" allele that can be suppressed by feeding the mosquitoes tetracycline. They raise a generation of mosquitoes with access to tetracycline, separate out the males, and release them into the wild, where they breed with wild females. All their offspring die during the larval phase. The release plan usually overwhelms the local wild male population, so the population crashes hard (90+%) within a generation or two. And the trait doesn't "escape" because it's 100% lethal even with just one allele.

They've had a lot of success in their field trials - Brazil is moving forward with it, as are several Caribbean islands. They were going to use it one the Florida Keys but, of course, someone sued to stop it, so it's on hold ATM.

Comment: Re: Why not just kill them all? (Score 1) 150 150

Actually, Nature asked a bunch of ecologists that very question and the response was, basically, kill them all.

But we don't need to go that far. Of the 3,500 species of mosquito, only 40 spread human disease. Eradicate every single one of those and you still have 3,460 species of mosquito to fill every conceivable mosquito niche. If I remember correctly, there's another 30 or so species that target important domesticated species (dogs, cows, horses, etc), so wiping those out would be a nice phase 2.

Human-vectoring mosquitoes cause enormous human suffering for vanishingly little environmental utility. Getting rid of them would be a big win for the environment - as long as they are around, we will be forced to use pesticides that have real negative environmental consequences.

Comment: Re:More than PR (Score 1) 385 385

The first and third cases involve policy (should the government kill Americans without benefit of trial while not actively involved in an imminent threat to life and should the government sell and encourage the use of surplus military equipment to local police forces) while the second is about technique (if you have to shoot someone because they are an active, imminent threat to life, he doesn't care if you use a gun, a drone or a lightsaber).

There's nothing particularly flip-floppy about those three statements. You have to actively spin them to make them conflict.

Comment: Re:More than PR (Score 1) 385 385

Actually, the religious zealots tend to be for sentencing and prison reform too (prison ministries like Chuck Colson's have had a big effect on evangelicals). So, while you may not be able to count on them for total WoD reform, there's a subset of issues where you have a massive majority - liberals, libertarians, Buckleyite conservatives and evangelicals.

Comment: Re:It wasn't a filibuster (Score 1) 385 385

It didn't pass. Paul stopped 11 minutes before midnight to allow the possibility of a compromise whipping of the USA Freedom Act (which didn't happen).

Paul is against the USA Freedom Act (which he considers weak sauce compared to an outright repeal/sunsetting of the Patriot Act), but all the other anti-Patriot Act Senators are for the UFA. This was his compromise with them, not with the pro-Patriot Act Senators. As the "filibuster" technically took place during the discussion of a separate bill, the Patriot Act extension couldn't be brought up until that other bill was tabled or voted on. Paul didn't leave enough time to do that.

Comment: Re:They're called trees. (Score 1) 128 128

There are two main sources on that page for forest numbers - the World Bank and an About.Com page. The World Bank numbers are what are being used for the individual countries. The US + Canada number is a misreading of the About.com page, which is about the entire North American continent (including Mexico). The About.com page gets its data from the UN Food and Agriculture (FOA) Forestry site, which uses a different method of determining forest cover as they are primarily concerned about forests as an agricultural product.

Comment: Re:What's with the inclusion of "climate change"? (Score 1) 92 92

Not funding but mission creep. It's endemic with any NGO - once the original raison d'être disappears, rather than fold up shop, they just move on to the next bit of do-goodery. Sometime, that's a good thing - the March of Dimes built up a working infrastructure for funding polio eradication and decided to broaden the scope from eradicating infant paralysis (polio) to general improvement of infant health once the fight against polio was (largely) won.

Other times, it leads to ridiculous concepts like atomic scientists trying to remain relevant by adding climate change and life sciences (on which they have no expertise) to their already somewhat dubious atomic clock (again, they had little expertise in balance of power diplomacy and had no real idea what the true level of threat of nuclear war was).

Comment: Re: In other news (Score 1) 609 609

You seriously think the Democratic bench is stronger than the Republican one? Speaking as someone who was very aware that Obama was going to blow out both McCain and Romney, 2016 is shaping up as a bad Democratic year. Hillary is the Democrats best bet - Warren is not a good campaigner and really only has rabid support among the most progressive wing of the party. Anthony Weiner couldn't even stay in the NYC Mayoral race without self-destructing.

If Hillary implodes, it's going to be a brutal blowout unless O'Malley can get some traction and the Republicans nominate from the bottom half of their bench (Jindal, Santorum, Huckabee).

Comment: Re: In other news (Score 1) 609 609

Not actually true. Two of her aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, used clintonemail.com addresses too. So any communications between the three of them are potentially lost.

I'm too lazy right now to find an unbiased source of the info but I originally heard it on NPR yesterday. First Google search lands here. The latest NYT articles definitely mention Abedin having a clintonemail account.

Emails between Abedin, Clinton and the wife of the Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi apparently fell into the memory hole. Not really interested in the Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy chatter but this was backdoor diplomacy that should have had some sort of record, even if it ended up classified.

"Experience has proved that some people indeed know everything." -- Russell Baker

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