Ireland – “A quiet revolution has taken place”

❝ Ireland’s prime minister on Saturday hailed the culmination of “a quiet revolution” in what was once one of Europe’s most socially conservative countries after a landslide referendum vote to liberalize highly restrictive laws on abortion.

Voters in the once deeply Catholic nation backed the change by two-to-one, a far higher margin than any opinion poll in the run up to the vote had predicted, and allows the government to bring in legislation by the end of the year…

❝ No social issue had divided Ireland’s 4.8 million people as sharply as abortion, which was pushed up the political agenda by the death in 2012 of a 31-year-old Indian immigrant from a septic miscarriage after she was refused a termination.

Campaigners left flowers and candles at a large mural of the woman, Savita Halappanavar, in central Dublin. Her parents in India were quoted by the Irish Times newspaper as thanking their “brothers and sisters” in Ireland and requesting the new law be called “Savita’s law”.

Overdue, just. A profound beginning that shouldn’t be a surprise in a nation that set aside ideological crap-meisters a few years back to dedicate a disproportionate chunk of government funds to raising the educational level of the whole nation. Too bad we haven’t that kind of courage in Congress or the White House.

Ireland got expanded personal freedom. We got chump change.

Swallow “bacteria on a chip” — diagnose gastrointestinal ailments

❝ MIT researchers have built an ingestible sensor equipped with genetically engineered bacteria that can diagnose bleeding in the stomach or other gastrointestinal problems.

This “bacteria-on-a-chip” approach combines sensors made from living cells with ultra-low-power electronics that convert the bacterial response into a wireless signal that can be read by a smartphone…

❝ In the past decade, synthetic biologists have made great strides in engineering bacteria to respond to stimuli such as environmental pollutants or markers of disease. These bacteria can be designed to produce outputs such as light when they detect the target stimulus, but specialized lab equipment is usually required to measure this response.

To make these bacteria more useful for real-world applications, the MIT team decided to combine them with an electronic chip that could translate the bacterial response into a wireless signal.

RTFA for, literally, the gory details.

98% of Fed Grant dollar$ to fight opioid addiction – going to counties that voted for Trump


Unloading sharps at the Mountain Center in Española, NM

❝ Despite Rio Arriba County having historically high opioid overdose rates, it did not make a list of 220 counties the federal government will focus on when allocating $100 million in grant money to create prevention, treatment and recovery programs for people suffering with opioid addiction.

The U.S. Department of Health and the Human Services Health Resource and Services Administration will use a 2016 Centers for Disease Control study that identified 220 counties vulnerable to an outbreak of HIV and rising of Hepatitis-C. Of the 220 counties on the list, 215 of them voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 general election. All of the counties have majority white, non-Hispanic populations…

❝ Rio Arriba County is about 70 percent Hispanic and 13 percent white, non-Hispanic.

❝ Instead of focusing on rural communities with the highest opioid overdose rates, the 2016 study identified six indicators that were associated with increased HIV and Hepatitis-C infection rates. These included drug overdose deaths, prescription opioid sales, per capita income, unemployment, potential buprenorphine prescriptions and being a white, non-Hispanic county.

You could look at the details of this administration’s decision and wonder what exactly are they trying to do? Are they focusing on a single demographic and arbitrarily deciding these folks are the only ones worth trying to save from addiction?

Or are they applying Trump-level ignorance and over-simplification? Trump gets lots of votes from white junkies and their families; so, they get the dollar$ in social and medical aid for their addiction.

EPA grants waiver to oil refinery owned by billionaire Trump supporter


Welcome, Don Carlo! I owe you.

❝ A fossil fuel company owned by former Donald Trump adviser and billionaire Carl Icahn received a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency meant to help small refineries struggling to meet fuel standards.

The waiver would exempt Icahn’s refinery in Oklahoma from the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which could save it tens of millions of dollars…

❝ With the waiver, Icahn’s company, CVR Energy Inc., can avoid compliance with an EPA biofuel regulation that mandates that businesses spend money to mix oil and gas products with ethanol or buy renewable fuel credits.

The Obama administration had denied the refinery an exemption…

❝ Icahn was an early supporter of Trump’s candidacy for the presidency…Icahn previously served as Trump’s special regulatory adviser but in August stepped down from the position after lawmakers raised concerns about his role playing both an adviser and an investor.

Who expects the fake president’s pimp to cut his profits?

GDPR comes with teeth – and it starts up May 25th

❝ GDPR is the European Union’s latest effort to protect the personal privacy of its citizens – and it comes with teeth. As a Regulation rather than a Directive, all member states, including the UK, must comply without the additional step of national ratification.

Businesses and people who don’t live or work in the EU aren’t immune. Anyone who has customers in the EU, or works with information processors in the bloc, is subject to the GDPR. In light of this, it’s a little scary to note that, as of today, 64% of US firms either don’t know or don’t care about GDPR.

❝ The concept of privacy protection makes sense, but whenever a governmental body steps into a debate, and then regulates, there is usually collateral damage. The scope of GDPR is wide and the impacts are nuanced and complex – which means there will be winners and losers once the regulation kicks in.

Unsurprising, the European Union is going ahead with privacy protection that American politicians haven’t the backbone to consider. In a globalized marketplace, American corporations – particularly those living and profiting from the Internet – will have to make the effort even while the profit pimps in Congress/White House are working at destroying access and affordability to the Web.

Major companies ask Feds to expand electric transmission infrastructure


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❝ Five major global companies—all of which have ambitious clean energy goals in the U.S.—have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to intensify its focus on expanding the nation’s electric transmission system as one key part of its push for grid resilience.

❝ In letter sent to FERC last Wednesday, the corporate entities stressed that although the situation is “no emergency requiring immediate action” the federal grid regulators should seriously consider an improved and upgraded transmission line network in their proceedings on grid resiliency.

EL&P notes that the companies include Cargill, General Mills, Nestle, P&G and Unilever. They are among more than half of Fortune 100 firms-including Apple and others-which have set targets for getting half or up to all of their energy needs from renewable sources over the next few decades.

The companies argue that the nation’s transmission grid is not adapting to the future realities. Time for a nudge. Political, economic – did I mention political?