cold fjord writes: The New Zealand Herald reports, "Researchers at Oregon State University have patented a new strain of succulent red marine algae that tastes like bacon when it's cooked. The protein-packed algae sea vegetable called dulse grows extraordinarily fast and is wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. It has been sold for centuries in a dried form around northern Europe, used in cooking and as a nutritional supplement... Chris Langdon has created a new strain of the weed which looks like a translucent red lettuce. An excellent source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants the "superfood" contains up to 16 per cent protein in dry weight... It has twice the nutritional value of kale.... "... this stuff is pretty amazing. When you fry it, which I have done, it tastes like bacon, not seaweed. And it's a pretty strong bacon flavour."" — More at OSU.
cold fjord writes: Yahoo reports, "Former Attorney General Eric Holder said today that a “possibility exists” for the Justice Department to cut a deal with... Edward Snowden that would allow him to return to the United States... Holder said “we are in a different place as a result of the Snowden disclosures” and that “his actions spurred a necessary debate” that prompted President Obama and Congress to change policies... “I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists.”... Melanie Newman, chief spokeswoman for Attorney General Loretta Lynch... immediately shot down the idea... “This is an ongoing case so I am not going to get into specific details but I can say our position regarding bringing Edward Snowden back to the United States to face charges has not changed,”... Robert Litt, the chief counsel to Director of National Intelligence... recently privately floated the idea that the government might be open to a plea bargain in which Snowden returns to the United States, pleads guilty to one felony count and receives a prison sentence of three to five years in exchange for full cooperation with the government.... Litt has made clear to Snowden’s representatives that “nothing is going to happen unless he comes in and moves off this idea, ‘I’m entitled to a medal.’”... Snowden’s lawyer, said any felony plea by Snowden that results in prison time would be unacceptable to his client.... any suggestion of leniency toward Snowden would likely run into strong political opposition in Congress as well as fierce resistance from hard-liners in the intelligence community who remain outraged over his wholesale disclosure of highly classified government documents. "
cold fjord writes: The Washington Times reports, "Gay activist and former “Star Trek” supporting actor George Takei doubled down on his “clown in blackface” attack on Supreme Court Clarence Thomas on Thursday night and implied that the jurist was a race traitor for not striking down state marriage laws last week. In a Facebook post, Mr. Takei said that blackface is not racist and/or that it is acceptable for an outsider to tell a black man that he is a racist caricature. He also used an analogy that would imply that Justice Thomas is actually white. “‘Blackface’ is a lesser known theatrical term for a white actor who blackens his face to play a black buffoon,” Mr. Takei wrote on his Facebook page Thursday evening. “In traditional theater lingo, and in my view and intent, that is not racist. It is instead part of a racist history in this country.” In addition to being used by white actors, blackface was also sometimes used by black actors on stage and film to look darker than they were and/or to play even-more-racist-than-usual caricatures. Mr. Takei also continued his criticism of Justice Thomas’s dissent in Obergefell vs. Hodges, and added another racial angle to it. In his Thursday night Facebook post, Mr. Takei said this opinion also proved Justice Thomas was no longer really black."
cold fjord writes: The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory reports, "... a chat between husband and wife has evolved into an intriguing scientific discovery. The results, published in May in BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) Open, show a “highly significant” correlation between periodic solar storms and incidences of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and giant cell arteritis (GCA)... The findings by a rare collaboration of physicists and medical researchers suggest a relationship between the solar outbursts and the incidence of these diseases that could lead to preventive measures if a causal link can be established. RA and GCA are autoimmune conditions in which the body mistakenly attacks its own organs and tissues.... Inspiring this study were conversations between Simon Wing, a Johns Hopkins University physicist and... his wife, Lisa Rider, deputy unit chief of the Environmental Autoimmunity Group at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences... Rider spotted data from the Mayo Clinic... showing that cases of RA and GCA followed close to 10-year cycles. “That got me curious,” Wing recalled. “Only a few things in nature have a periodicity of about 10-11 years and the solar cycle is one of them.” Wing teamed with physicist Jay Johnson of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory... to investigate further. When the physicists tracked the incidence of RA and GCA cases compiled by Mayo Clinic researchers, the results suggested “more than a coincidental connection,” said Eric Matteson, chair of the division of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic... The findings found increased incidents of RA and GCA to be in periodic concert with the cycle of magnetic activity of the sun."
cold fjord writes: It looks like Homeopathy is in for a rough stretch ahead as shown in a chart and noted by Steven Novella at NEUROLoOGICAblog, "Homeopathy is perhaps the most obviously absurd medical pseudoscience. It is also widely studied, and has been clearly shown to not work. Further, there is a huge gap in the public understanding of what homeopathy is; it therefore seems plausible that the popularity of homeopathy can take a huge hit just by telling the public what it actually is.... In 2010 the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee completed a full report on homeopathy in which they concluded it is witchcraft – that it cannot work, it does not work, and support for homeopathy in the national health service should be completely eliminated. In 2015 the Australian government completed its own review, concluding that there is no evidence that homeopathy works for anything. Homeopathy is a placebo.... The FDA and the FTC in the United States are now both receiving testimony, questioning their current regulation of homeopathy.... There is even a possibility that the FDA will decide to do their actual job – require testing of homeopathic products to demonstrate efficacy before allowing them on the market. If they do this simple and obvious thing, the homeopathic industry in the US will vanish over night, because there is no evidence to support any homeopathic product for any indication." — More on the FDA hearings at Science-Based Medicine
cold fjord writes: Writing at Wired, Bruce Schneier states that he believes that China and Russia actually do have the Snowden documents, but that the path by which they got them may be different than what has been reported: "... The vulnerability is not Snowden; it’s everyone who has access to the files. I’ve handled some of the Snowden documents myself, and even though I’m a paranoid cryptographer, I know how difficult it is to maintain perfect security. It’s been open season on the computers of the journalists Snowden shared documents with since this story broke in July 2013. And while they have been taking extraordinary pains to secure those computers, it’s almost certainly not enough to keep out the world’s intelligence services..... Which brings me to the second potential source of these documents to foreign intelligence agencies: the US and UK governments themselves. I believe that both China and Russia had access to all the files that Snowden took well before Snowden took them because they’ve penetrated the NSA networks where those files reside. After all, the NSA has been a prime target for decades."
cold fjord writes: Nature reports, "Fjords are known for their otherworldly beauty. But these high-latitude inlets also have an outsized role in the carbon cycle, a study finds. Although fjords account for about 0.3% of Earth's surface area, they sequester 18 million tonnes of carbon per year — 11% of the total absorbed by marine sediment... The team measured the concentration of carbon in the sediment at the bottom of four fjords in New Zealand, then combined the data with observations from previous studies of fjords around the world. An analysis of the full data set reveals that every square kilometre of fjord sediment sequesters around five times more carbon each year than the equivalent area of the ocean's continental shelves, home to the next most-absorbent sediments.... there is still much to learn about individual fjords.... Alaska's fjords absorb a great deal more carbon than do those in any other location, and researchers do not understand why. Such questions will grow in importance as Earth warms and glaciers recede, creating more fjords. The study suggests that these newly formed landscapes may buffer more of the excess carbon pumped into the planet than previously thought...." Link to Original Source
cold fjord writes: The Economist reports, "Nowadays, a naughty encounter is but a click away, thanks to smartphone apps... and listings websites such as Craigslist. But with convenience comes less happy consequences, as a paper just published in MIS Quarterly suggests. Jason Chan of the University of Minnesota and Anindya Ghose of New York University have looked specifically at what effects a local Craigslist site has on its state's rates of reported HIV cases.... Drs Chan and Ghose looked at HIV rates in 33 states between 1999 and 2008... The arrival of Craigslist, they found, was correlated with an average increase of 15.9% a year in the number of HIV infections compared with what would have been expected had it not been launched... That held true even after controlling for national and local HIV trends (which were often in decline), the level of urbanisation, and changing rates of people getting tested for the virus."
cold fjord writes: The Weekly Standard reports, "... the Affordable Care Act aims to make the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) universal. This plan actually began with the 2009 stimulus... Doctors and other health providers have been offered incentives to convert patient information and health histories to a compatible and transferable electronic format, and as of June 2014, 75 percent of eligible doctors and 92 percent of eligible hospitals had received payments under the program. This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which details the efforts of some 35 departments and agencies of the federal government and their roles in the plan to "advance the collection, sharing, and use of electronic health information to improve health care, individual and community health, and research."... Now that HHS has publicly released the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, the agency is seeking the input from the public before implementation. The plan is subject to two-month period of public comment before finalization. The comment period runs through February 6, 2015." — Among the many agencies that will be sharing records besides Health and Human Services (HHS) are: Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Justice and Bureau of Prison, Department of Labor, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Office of Personnel Management, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
cold fjord writes: The Local (DE) reports, "The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence service, spied on some citizens living abroad, a former lawyer for the spies told MPs on Thursday. Dr Stefan Burbaum... said that some Germans were targeted as “office holders”, a legal loophole the spies used to circumvent the law that protects Germans citizens from being spied on by its own intelligence agency.... the German spies argue that a citizen working for a foreign company abroad is only protected in his private life, not in his professional communications... "The office holder is the legal person," Burbaum said.... “This construct of an office holder is just as absurd in practice as it appears in the law,” Konstantin von Notz of the Green party said. Further, foreigners' communications conducted abroad are not protected, even if they are in contact with German people or work for a German company. MPs... criticized the BND's ability to operate in a “lawless zone” when it came to spying on foreigners.... the BND regularly retains traffic which it had not received specific permission to investigate which it collects during such trawls. In this way, access acquired under the “G10 law” becomes a “foot in the door” to otherwise closed-off sources of data, Burbaum said." — The parliamentary investigation was initiated by reports that Chancellor Merkel's phone was being tapped by NSA but later it was found that at least five countries were tapping Merkel's phone.
cold fjord writes: The Washington Examiner reports, "In a survey of nearly 7,000 in the agriculture field, found that most scientists agree that climate change is happening, but just 50.5 percent blame mankind. “More than 90 percent of the scientists and climatologists surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with more than 50 percent attributing climate change primarily to human activities,” said the Purdue report published in the authoritative Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society and highlighted by MRC Business. “Contrary to the repeated insistence of both climate alarmists and the media, scientists do not all agree on the standard climate alarmism talking points,” said MRC’s review of the scholarly report from one of the nation’s leading ag schools. “More shocking was that just 53 percent of climatologists surveyed thought ‘climate change is occurring, and it is caused mostly by human activities.’ While that number of climatologists was small, the result is still significant,” added MRC."
cold fjord writes: The Hill reports, "States have abandoned electronic voting machines in droves, ensuring that most voters will be casting their ballots by hand on Election Day. With many electronic voting machines more than a decade old, and states lacking the funding to repair or replace them, officials have opted to return to the pencil-and-paper voting that the new technology was supposed to replace. Nearly 70 percent of voters will be casting ballots by hand on Tuesday, according to Pamela Smith, president of election watchdog Verified Voting. "Paper, even though it sounds kind of old school, it actually has properties that serve the elections really well," Smith said. It’s an outcome few would have predicted after the 2000 election, when the battle over “hanging chads” in the Florida recount spurred a massive, $3 billion federal investment in electronic voting machines." — There are also reports of various issues, including "calibration issues" which have resulted in votes to the wrong candidate.