Cleveland car chase ended with 2 dead, 137 shots fired — and the 2 dead apparently unarmed!

A night-time car chase in Cleveland that ended on a schoolyard where more than 100 shots were fired at the suspect’s vehicle appeared to be over when an officer opened fire again, a prosecutor said in announcing charges against the patrolman and five police supervisors.

Cleveland patrol officer Michael Brelo stood on the hood of the suspect’s car and fired at least 15 shots through the windshield – five fatal – at the two unarmed people inside, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said Friday.

McGinty cited a US supreme court ruling this week that said police can’t fire on suspects after a public safety threat has ended. He said the other officers on the scene had stopped firing after the November 2012 chase ended.

“This was now a stop-and-shoot – no longer a chase-and-shoot,” McGinty said in announcing two counts of manslaughter against Brelo. “The law does not allow for a stop-and-shoot.”

Driver Timothy Russell was shot 23 times. Passenger Malissa Williams was shot 24 times. No gun was found on them or in their vehicle. The chase had begun when an officer thought he heard a gunshot from a car speeding by the police and courts complex, jumped into his patrol car and radioed for help. Police don’t know why Russell didn’t stop.

Brelo fired a total of 49 shots. In all, 137 shots were fired at the schoolyard, authorities say. None of the other 12 officers who fired shots were indicted, McGinty said Friday. Five supervisors were charged with dereliction of duty for failing to control the chase.

The killings have been decried as a racially motivated execution – both victims were black – and are part of a wide-ranging federal investigation, including into the police department’s use of deadly force and its pursuit policies.

Lots more details if you want to RTFA. This all happened a year-and-a-half ago. Legal wheels always grind slowest when cops and racism are involved. The copper who jumped on the hood of the halted car and fired at least 15 times through the windshield deserves whatever may be the maximum sentence for manslaughter with a firearm – in Ohio. He has been indicted on two counts of manslaughter.

Do I think racism was part of the equation? In what country did this take place? Racism is as American as baseball and apple pie.

Massive volcano eruption in Indonesia grounds flights in Australia


Click to enlargeSofyan Efendi

A huge volcanic eruption in Indonesia has covered the region in a vast cloud of ash, grounding flights in Australia and south east Asia.

Sangeang Api, a volcano off the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, which lies in one of the most active areas of the Pacific ‘ring of fire’, has erupted at least three times since Friday…

Dramatic images show smoke, ash and debris shooting into the sky, while a flying saucer shaped current of gas wraps around the plumes.

All flights have been cancelled from Darwin airport, Australia’s Northern Territory capital, and disruption is expected for days as the cloud could reach as far south as Brisbane.

The ash cloud from the first eruption is around 20,000 and 50,000 feet high and around 15 km wide, according to reports. It is moving south-easterly over Australia. A second, now over Darwin is sitting at around 45,000 feet, while a third is over Bali.

Wow!

Turning back the destruction of Louisiana’s coastline


General Honoré replacing Bush’s flunky – turning around the Hurricane Katrina rescue effort

After decades of watching our state being ravaged to support the nation’s oil and gas addiction, the people of Louisiana have had enough.

Last summer, an independent government authority responsible for flood protection for the New Orleans area sued more than 90 oil and gas companies for damaging coastal marshes that protect the city.

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East didn’t specify the damages it sought. But the cost of rebuilding and protecting the state’s coastal marshlands has been estimated at roughly $50 billion.

Now those industries and their political allies here in the state capital are trying to kill this legal challenge by passing a law that would restrict the authority’s power to sue over violations of state coastal permits. Proponents have said it would provide defendants with grounds to seek the lawsuit’s dismissal.

This isn’t the first effort to kill this lawsuit. More than a dozen bills have been introduced in the State Legislature since March to effectively do so. All but one has stalled. A final effort to restrict the authority’s power to sue these industries is expected to come Thursday before the State House of Representatives, where it has the support of the Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, and legislative allies of oil and gas. The bill has already passed the Senate. The House needs to defeat the bill.

That won’t assure us that the oil and gas industries will fix the damage they’ve caused to our coast over decades. But it will give the citizens of Louisiana their day in court to stand up and say, “We’ve had enough.”

The fertile marshes, tidal flats and barrier islands of coastal Louisiana are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. These coastal lands provide essential habitat to migratory and native waterfowl. They are home to shrimp, crabs and oysters that feed the nation. They are the nursery for the rich bounty of marine life in the Gulf of Mexico and the source of tens of thousands of jobs.

To the people of metropolitan New Orleans and south Louisiana, these coastal lands are also something much more: the first line of defense against the single greatest threat we face — catastrophic flooding because of hurricanes. But these lands have been vanishing before our eyes.

Republican governor Bobby Jindal and the other pimps for Big Oil from both parties in the Louisiana Legislature did what they were paid to do. They voted YES for the bill preserving oil companies, gas companies, chemical plants from being sued for the damage they do to the state of Louisiana wetlands with their pipelines and canals.

General Russel Honoré’s Green Army has been effectively blocked by a Fifth Column of political gangsters who are owned lock, stock and barrel by the gas and oil extractive industries of Louisiana. The corrupt thugs in the statehouse pass a retroactive law to protect their moneyboys from a law suit already in process and considered apt and appropriate by the courts of that state.

Time for that Green Army to march to the polls, General.

Thanks, Mike

Offer vegetables early, often, to toddlers and healthy eating becomes a habit


Broccoli is still my favorite – steamed then sauteed in olive oil and garlic

Children can learn to eat new vegetables if they are introduced regularly before the age of two, suggests a University of Leeds study.

Even fussy eaters can be encouraged to eat more greens if they are offered them five to 10 times, it found.

The research team gave artichoke puree to 332 children aged between four and 38 months from the UK, France and Denmark…One in five cleared their plates while 40% learned to like artichoke.

The study also dispelled the popular myth that vegetable tastes need to be masked in order for children to eat them…During the study, each child was given between five and 10 servings of at least 100g of artichoke puree…The puree was either served straight, or sweetened with added sugar, or vegetable oil was mixed into the puree to add energy.

The researchers found there was little difference in the amount eaten over time between those who were fed the basic puree and those who had the sweetened one, suggesting that making vegetables sweeter does not encourage children to eat more…

Overall, they did find that younger children ate more artichoke than older children in the study…Prof Marion Hetherington, study author from the Institute of Psychological Sciences at Leeds, said this was because children become picky and wary at a certain age.

“If they are under two they will eat new vegetables because they tend to be willing and open to new experiences…After 24 months, children become reluctant to try new things and start to reject foods – even those they previously liked…”

Prof Hetherington said her research, which is published in the journal PLOS ONE and funded by the EU, offered some valuable guidance to parents who want to encourage healthy diets in their children.

“If you want to encourage your children to eat vegetables, make sure you start early and often…Even if your child is fussy or does not like veggies, our study shows that five to 10 exposures will do the trick.”

There’s part of the skill. Parents have to know better before they can teach their children to eat better, healthier diets. Cripes, just reading this reminds me of what my mom did. She tried my sister and me on a range of green veggies and – in addition to traditional Italian salads – she simply let us choose which of the several veg she offered during those earliest years – as long as we chose one or more to be our own.

It meant she always was left with preparing twice as many choices for a meal – because damned if my sister and I would choose the same thing. We wouldn’t even pick the same ice cream for a treat walking home from our Friday night treat at the neighborhood movie house.

Whey beneficially affects diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in obese adults Eat cheese!

Gervais, cheese, wine

New evidence shores up findings that whey protein, which is found in milk and cheese, could have health benefits for people who are obese and do not yet have diabetes. The study, which appears in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research, examined how different protein sources affect metabolism.

Lars O. Dragsted, Kjeld Hermansen and colleagues point out that obesity continues to be a major public health problem worldwide. In the U.S. alone, about 35 percent of adults and about 17 percent of children are obese, a condition that can lead to a number of health issues, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. One risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people who are obese is high levels of fat in their blood after meals. But recent research has found that these levels partly depend on the kind of protein included in the meal. Studies have suggested that whey protein can lower the amount of fat and increase insulin, which clears glucose in the blood, keeping sugar levels where they’re supposed to be. But the details on whey’s effects were still vague, so the team took a closer look.

They gave volunteers who were obese and non-diabetic the same meal of soup and bread plus one kind of protein, either from whey, gluten, casein (another milk protein) or cod. The scientists found that the meal supplemented with whey caused the subjects’ stomachs to empty slower than the others’. These subjects also had lower levels of fatty acids in their blood after meals but higher amounts of the specific types of amino acids that boost insulin levels.

No doubt there will be both more specific – and broader – schemes of research following on from this work. If anything, this speaks directly to the Mediterranean Diet once again. I would especially recommend boiled milk cheeses like mozzarella, scamorze and ricotta.

But, those are just my Italian genes speaking. 🙂

Big Dairy + Nanomaterials = Microscopic pieces of stuff in your food

The rapid emergence of nanotechnology suggests that size does, indeed, matter. It turns out that if you break common substances like silver and nickel into really, really tiny particles—measured in nanometers, which are billionths of a meter—they behave in radically different ways. For example, regular silver, the stuff of fancy tableware, doesn’t have any obvious place in sock production. But nano-size silver particles apparently do. According to boosters, when embedded in the fabric of socks, microscopic silver particles are “strongly antibacterial to a wide range of pathogens, absorb sweat, and by killing bacteria help eliminate unpleasant foot odor…”

According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies—a joint venture of Virginia Tech and the Wilson Center—there are more than 1,600 nanotechnology-based consumer products on the market today. If SmartSilver Anti-Odor Nanotechnology Underwear sounds like a rather intimate application for this novel technology, consider that the PEN database lists 96 food items currently on US grocery shelves that contain unlabeled nano ingredients. Examples include Dannon Greek Plain Yogurt, Silk Original Soy Milk, Rice Dream Rice Drink, Hershey’s Bliss Dark Chocolate, and Kraft’s iconic American Cheese Singles, all of which now contain nano-size titanium dioxide. As recently as 2008, only eight US food products were known to contain nanoparticles, according to a recent analysis from Friends of the Earth—a more than tenfold increase in just six years.

All of which raises the question of safety. Radically miniaturized particles are attractive to the food and textile industries for their novel properties. Nano-size titanium dioxide, for example, is used as a color enhancer—it makes white foods like yogurt and soy milk whiter, and brightens dark products like chocolate. But what unintended effects might it have?

…Remarkably, the US Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the safety of the food supply, both 1) acknowledges that nanoparticles pose risks that are substantially different from those of their regular-sized counterparts, and 2) has done nothing to slow down their rapid move into the food supply.

So what’s the remedy? Rather than require rigorous safety studies before companies can lace food with nanoparticles, the FDA’s policy draft proposes “nonbinding recommendations” for such research. Even that rather porous safety net doesn’t yet exist—the agency still hasn’t implemented the draft proposal it released more than two years ago.

No one can say with scientific conviction that nanomaterials are positive or negative in their effect on the processed foods we delight in. Still, choices mostly made for cosmetic reasons shouldn’t be devoid of regulation and standards.

Next time you feel like hollering at the FDA [almost daily in my household] give ’em a nudge about this one.

Thanks, Mike

New questions about radioactive leak at waste storage facility in New Mexico


Not exactly tidy

New questions are being raised about what was mixed with the waste that caused a radiation release from the government’s underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday that Los Alamos National Laboratory approved using products that some experts say are widely known to cause a heat reaction when mixed with other contents in the drums that were shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said the leading theory continues to be that the leak was caused by a reaction between nitrate salts and the organic cat litter packed with the waste to absorb moisture. However, emails posted online by the New Mexico Environment Department show Los Alamos approved using other organic ingredients known to be incompatible with nitrate salts in the waste.

Department chemist Cole Smith called the products “a bad combination.”

But, why waste time on sound chemistry when you can blame environmental controls? Especially when the accusations come from sources earning a lifelong income rationalizing nuclear weapons.

The emails show that Los Alamos approved the use of two products requested by contractor EnergySolutions to neutralize the pH balance of drums sent to the nuclear waste dump.

In one email asking for approval in August 2013 to use a new liquid, EnergySolutions industrial hygienist Zeke Wilmot noted “criticality safety issues are not my area of expertise,” using a term referring to nuclear engineering that focuses on preventing an inadvertent nuclear chain reaction.

Wilmot said “it may be advisable to have LANL personnel weight in on these issues as well…”…A subcontractor approved the change in September.,,

Flynn said…investigators are getting closer to figuring out what happened, but sampling still needs to be done on the materials inside the breached container.

Sometime in the next three years or so, DOE investigators may be able to acquire those samples and investigate the chemistry behind the reactions that caused the radioactive leak. Instead of relying on snap judgements from professional mouths.

I don’t pretend to sufficiently up-to-date knowledge of the chemistry involved. But, my involvement with the American nuclear industry dates back to the late 1950’s – including weapons designs so stupid as to be incongruous, as lethal to the military using them as they could be to any “enemy”.

Thanks, Mike

Human-Chicken Interactions project gets off the ground


Modern chickens are descended primarily from the red junglefowl

The meat and eggs of domestic chickens are a source of protein for billions. Yet how and when the birds were domesticated remains a mystery. The answers to these questions could reveal a wealth of information about the genetics of domestication, as well as human behaviour, and how we can improve our husbandry of the birds.

In a bid to learn more about the chicken and its lineage, the UK government is funding a £1.94-million (US$3.3-million) effort to determine how the chicken went from being a wild fowl roaming the jungles of southeast Asia several thousand years ago to one of the world’s most abundant domesticated animals. The Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human–Chicken Interactions project — ‘Chicken Coop’ for short — will examine human history from the perspective of the fowl…

But no domestic animal has been moulded and remoulded by humans as extensively as chickens, says Greger Larson, an evolutionary geneticist. The animals have been bred for eating, egg-laying and fighting. And in the case of one particularly vocal breed, the creatures have even been strapped to the masts of Polynesian boats to act as foghorns. “Chickens are polymaths,” he says…

Because…mutations are so common in contemporary chickens, Larson’s team and others assumed that humans influenced these traits through selective breeding early in the course of domestication. But DNA from chickens recovered at archaeological sites across Europe, spanning the period from around 280 bc to ad 1800, has turned that idea on its head. In an analysis published last month, Larson’s team reported that none of 25 ancient chickens would have had yellow legs, and that just 8 out of 44 birds carried two copies of the TSHR variant…universal in modern breeds. So even 200 years ago, chickens may have been very different from those we know today.

With the help of other Chicken Coop members, Larson is also trying to get to grips with the wider evolutionary forces that shaped modern chickens. He hopes to determine why, for instance, chickens have not been wiped out by disease. This might have been expected because their very rapid selection — much of which has taken place since 1900 — should have led to inbreeding and, by whittling down immune genes, a reduced ability to respond to infections.

I love chicken almost as much as I love pork. I wasn’t raised with any religious or philosophical beliefs that inhibit the consumption of animal protein. So, no problem there. 🙂

Until modern science comes up with a sound reason to avoid healthfully-raised specimens of foods my progenitors used to catch in the wild – and eat – I will continue to do the same. Though restricting my hunt to the aisles of markets of all types, from chain stores to local farmers.

South Dakota Court allows ‘pink slime’ lawsuit to proceed

The South Dakota Supreme Court is allowing a $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit to proceed against television network ABC over its coverage of a meat product that critics derided as “pink slime.”

The decision on Thursday allows the plaintiffs to potentially depose news anchor Diane Sawyer, two of the networks correspondents and other defendants.

Dakota Dunes-based Beef Products Inc. sued the network in 2012 for its coverage of the meat product the industry calls “lean, finely textured beef.” BPI alleges that the coverage led to plant closures and layoffs because it misled consumers into believing the product was unsafe.

Attorneys for ABC in court filings say the network in each of its broadcasts stated the FDA deemed the product safe to eat.

It just looks disgusting until you kill the beast and thoroughly cook it.

Then, consider the quality of politicians who think this crap is a taste treat.

Thanks, Mike

CO2 hits 400 parts per million, highest monthly average in human history

The World Meteorological Association announced Monday that the average monthly concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the northern hemisphere exceeded 400 parts per million in April, the highest monthly average on record.

A press release from the United Nations’ weather agency says crossing the “threshold is of symbolic and scientific significance and reinforces evidence that the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities are responsible for the continuing increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases warming our planet.”

According to the WMO’s release, CO2 levels have risen more than 40 percent, up from pre-industrial levels of around 278 ppm, since human’s began burning fossil fuels. CO2 can remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, longer still in the oceans. Because plants absorb more carbon dioxide during summer months when their foliage is more dense and plentiful, CO2 levels fluctuate from season to season and tend to peak in the spring. The northern hemisphere, due to higher levels of human industrial activity than the southern hemisphere, tends to have a more pronounced seasonal cycle.

But even with April’s reading representing a seasonal peak, Earth’s atmosphere hasn’t seen levels as high as 400 ppm for millions of years.

“This should serve as yet another wakeup call about the constantly rising levels of greenhouse gases which are driving climate change. If we are to preserve our planet for future generations, we need urgent action to curb new emissions of these heat trapping gases,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said…”Time is running out.”

Scientists are essentially conservative in the methodology they choose to analyze the real world; but, they are relentless. While skeptics prance about and prate this week’s talking points from the Koch Bros and the other fossil fuel barons – real science moves steadily onward. There may be dialectical moments of sharp new understanding. In general, though, the core characteristic is step-by-step until a qualitative level is raised.

And then the process starts anew.

Reserve junk science politics for philistines who put profits before people’s needs.