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Sep 25 2014

The Breakfast Club (Science and Tech Thursday)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg So what is “science”?

Well, to put it briefly, science is the study of phenomena characterized by the scientific method of either simply recording results in an objective way (observation)-

Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long.  You can’t be objective about Nixon.

Or proposing a falsifiable hypothesis (a predictive model of reality that can be disproven by experiment) and devising an experiment to test it that is duplicable (if you perform it rather than I, you will get the same results) or supported by multiple independent observations (Economics is not science, it is a pack of tortise shell rattle shaking shamen).

And let’s not forget Einstein’s definition of insanity-

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

That.  Is.  Science.

Also this-

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

Science Oriented Video!

Science/Tech News

Water vapor and clear skies discovered on Neptune-sized planet

Sarah Gray, Salon

Wednesday, Sep 24, 2014 05:03 PM EST

A major discovery was announced on Wednesday by NASA: Water vapor and clear skies were discovered on a Neptune-sized exoplanet outside of our solar system – 124 lightyears away.



The discovery of water vapor may immediately trigger giddy feelings – water is one of the building blocks of life, as we know it. However, the clear skies are just as exciting. Usually thick atmospheres prevent more in-depth study of Neptune-sized exoplanets.



Though, HAT-P-11b is not an Earth-sized planet in an habitable zone, this discovery is still furthering the discovery of more exoplanets. Astronomers hope to apply these similar discovery techniques to super-Earths, other exo-Neptunes and more.

Science/Tech Blogs

The Obligatories, News, and Blogs below.

Obligatories

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

This Day in History

News

Syrian rebels angry that strikes hit al Qaida ally but not Assad

By Roy Gutman and Mousab Alhamadee, McClatchy

September 23, 2014

Anti-government media activists and rebel commanders gave a mixed assessment of U.S.-led airstrikes in northern Syria on Tuesday, saying that some of the Islamic State encampments hit had been evacuated and one building that was struck had been filled with displaced civilians, even as at least one major Islamic State base was seriously damaged and many fighters were killed.

But the greatest damage, they said, may be to the Free Syrian Army, the moderate rebel faction that enjoyed U.S. support for years.

By focusing exclusively on Islamic State insurgents and al Qaida figures associated with the Khorasan unit of the Nusra Front, and bypassing installations associated with the government of President Bashar Assad, the airstrikes infuriated anti-regime Syrians and hurt the standing of moderate rebel groups that are receiving arms and cash as part of a covert CIA operation based in the Turkish border city of Reyhanli.

Rebel fighters argue that they constitute the only friendly ground force available to the international coalition to fill the security vacuum in places that Islamic State fighters are forced to abandon. But rebel commanders said they’d played no role in selecting the targets or planning for the aftermath.

Judge orders BP to stick by Deepwater Horizon payouts agreement

Associated Press

Wednesday 24 September 2014

BP wanted its money back – hundreds of millions of dollars of it – but a federal judge said Wednesday that the oil giant must stick by its agreement with the companies it compensated for business losses due to the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

BP argued that a flawed funding formula in their settlement with alleged victims of the spill enabled many businesses to collect on questionable claims, and that they should be forced to return the money.



The ruling thwarts BP’s latest attempt to control its soaring liability from the spill, which may be nearing $50bn.

No indictments after police shoot and kill man at an Ohio Wal-Mart; Justice Dept. launches investigation

By Mark Berman, Washington Post

September 24 at 2:38 PM

A grand jury in Ohio decided Wednesday not to indict any police officers for the shooting of John Crawford III, who was killed by police at a Wal-Mart in the state last month. Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced Wednesday that it would conduct an independent civil rights review into Crawford’s death.

Crawford was killed at a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, a suburb of Dayton. on Aug. 5. Police said that Crawford was killed after not listening to police orders to drop an air rifle, which can be used to fire pellets or BBs. In addition, someone called 911 and said Crawford was waving the air rifle at people.

However, attorneys for Crawford’s family said surveillance video showed that he was only holding the air rifle, not waving it around. And a man who called 911 told the Guardian earlier this month that Crawford never shouldered the rifle or pointed it at anyone, although he did say that Crawford was “waving it around.”

Navajos to Get $554 Million to Settle Suit Against U.S.

By JULIE TURKEWITZ, The New York Times

SEPT. 24, 2014

In the largest settlement obtained by an American Indian tribe from the federal government, the Navajo Nation will receive $554 million to end a lawsuit alleging that the government mismanaged the community’s assets for more than 50 years.

The settlement, which the Justice Department outlined on Wednesday, is the latest agreement made between the Obama administration and Indian tribes that say the government did not act in their best interests when managing their natural resources. The sum the Navajos will receive exceeds agreements with other tribes by more than $170 million; the arrangement will be formally announced Friday at the Navajo Nation headquarters in Window Rock, Ariz.



The federal government oversees 14 million acres of land held by the Navajo Nation, leasing out parcels for coal and oil extraction, timber harvesting, farming, housing and other purposes in a system that dates back to the 1800s. In 2006, the tribe filed a lawsuit that claimed that the government had failed to invest tribal resources in a way that would maximize profits. The mismanagement dated back to 1946, according to the suit, which sought $900 million in damages.

“When the government negotiated the contracts, they didn’t do a good job in getting a fair market value,” said Andrew Sandler, a lawyer who represents the Navajo Nation. “The government didn’t do a good job in monitoring the extraction to make sure the proper royalties were paid, and the government didn’t do a good job in investing the money.”

The money will be transferred to the tribe within two months, Mr. Sandler said. “Virtually every resource that’s in that part of the country was part of the case,” he said.

Mississippi inmates held for a year without indictments, ACLU says

Associated Press

Wednesday 24 September 2014 17.10 EDT

A Mississippi county has illegally held inmates in jail for as long as a year without appointing counsel or presenting cases to a grand jury, the American Civil Liberties Union argues in a lawsuit, and a law professor said on Wednesday that something similar could be happening elsewhere in the state.



“The county must set reasonable limits on the amount of time someone can remain in jail without a lawyer and without charges,” Brandon Buskey, staff attorney at the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, said in a news release. “Scott County jail routinely holds people without giving them a lawyer and without formally charging them for months, with no end in sight.”



The ACLU said Mississippi law does not limit how much time a district attorney has to present a felony case to the grand jury for indictment, or how long a felony defendant may be held in jail without a valid indictment.

Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity of Fossil Fuels

By JOHN SCHWARTZ, The New York Times

SEPT. 21, 2014

The announcement, timed to precede Tuesday’s opening of the United Nations climate change summit meeting in New York City, is part of a broader and accelerating initiative.

In recent years, 180 institutions – including philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds and local governments – as well as hundreds of wealthy individual investors have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and to invest in cleaner alternatives. In all, the groups have pledged to divest assets worth more than $50 billion from portfolios, and the individuals more than $1 billion, according to Arabella Advisors, a firm that consults with philanthropists and investors to use their resources to achieve social goals.



Ultimately, the activist investors say, their actions, like those of the anti-apartheid divestment fights of the 1980s, could help spur international debate, while the shift of investment funds to energy alternatives could lead to solutions to the carbon puzzle.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones paid woman to keep silent about sexual assault, lawsuit claims

Associated Press

September 24, 2014

An Oklahoma woman says in a lawsuit that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones paid her for at least four years to prevent her from reporting an alleged sexual assault.

Jana Weckerly’s attorney, Thomas Bowers, filed an updated lawsuit Monday that accuses Jones of forcibly touching Weckerly’s genitals and kissing her on the lips without her consent more than 5 years ago, then bullying her into not reporting the alleged attack. The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages.



She also accused Jones, the Cowboys and a longtime lawyer for Jones of taking her cell phone’s memory card, which contained photos that were then leaked and posted on the Internet.

G.O.P. Error Reveals Donors and the Price of Access

By JONATHAN WEISMAN, The New York Times

SEPT. 24, 2014

(S)ometimes, a simple coding mistake can lay bare documents and data that were supposed to be concealed from the prying eyes of the public.

Such an error by the Republican Governors Association recently resulted in the disclosure of exactly the kind of information that political committees given tax-exempt status usually keep secret, namely their corporate donors and the size of their checks. That set off something of an online search war between the association and a Washington watchdog group that spilled other documents, Democratic and Republican, into the open.

The documents (.PDF), many of which the Republican officials have since removed from their website, showed that many of America’s most prominent companies, from Aetna to Walmart, had poured millions of dollars into the campaigns of Republican governors since 2008. One document listed 17 corporate “members” of the governors association’s secretive 501(c)(4), the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, which is allowed to shield its supporters from the public.

“This is a classic example of how corporations are trying to use secret money, hidden from the American people, to buy influence, and how the governors association is selling it,” said Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan group that advocates more transparency and controls over political money.

Miss a Payment? Good Luck Moving That Car

By Michael Corkery and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, The New York Times

September 24, 2014 9:33 pm

The thermometer showed a 103.5-degree fever, and her 10-year-old’s asthma was flaring up. Mary Bolender, who lives in Las Vegas, needed to get her daughter to an emergency room, but her 2005 Chrysler van would not start.

The cause was not a mechanical problem – it was her lender.

Ms. Bolender was three days behind on her monthly car payment. Her lender, C.A.G. Acceptance of Mesa, Ariz., remotely activated a device in her car’s dashboard that prevented her car from starting. Before she could get back on the road, she had to pay more than $389, money she did not have that morning in March.

“I felt absolutely helpless,” said Ms. Bolender, a single mother who stopped working to care for her daughter. It was not the only time this happened: Her car was shut down that March, once in April and again in June.

This new technology is bringing auto loans – and Wall Street’s version of Big Brother – into the lives of people with credit scores battered by the financial downturn.

People see a need for a 3rd party–but will they vote for its candidates?

By David Lightman, McClatchy

September 24, 2014

A majority of Americans, annoyed with Republicans and Democrats, think a third political party is needed, according to a new Gallup poll.



“Americans’ current desire for a third party is consistent with their generally negative views of both the Republican and Democratic parties, with only about four in 10 viewing each positively,” according to a Gallup analysis released Wednesday. Fifty-eight percent saw a need for a third party.

Blogs

Aquagen featuring Rozalla – Everybody’s Free (to feel good)

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