CNN iReporter posts ‘Asteroid to hit Earth’ story — a day’s worth of fear and trembling and rumors till someone realizes it is crap!

For a while Monday, the world was about to end…Well, possibly.

I was unaware of this development, until Technically Incorrect reader Dan Melton sent me a helpful image of an article that appeared Monday on CNN.

It was headlined: “Giant asteroid possibly on collision course with Earth.” We’ve heard this sort of thing before, but more often in Weekly World News…This, however, was CNN. Although it was a part of CNN known as iReport, an area where people post their news and CNN tries to see if some of it is true.

asteroid after our butt

The poster, Marcus 575…insisted: “Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have detected a large object the size of Manhattan possibly on a collision course with Earth. Using their Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), the 10-mile wide object was found approximately 51 million miles from Earth.”

What might have given the article away was that, in the second paragraph, it mentioned that impact was most likely on March 35, 2041.

Yet several major publications linked to it

CNN has now removed the article. It has added a message that reads: “NASA has confirmed via email that this story is false. A spokewoman (sic) for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory says that the largest object detected by NEOWISE measures 3 km in diameter and poses no risk to Earth.”

In many if not most instances, blogging should not be confused with journalism. Even the PR-as-entertainment-posing-as-news level of journalism practiced on television requires more fact-checking than this.

Thanks, Mike

Deadly pig virus re-infects Indiana farm

An Indiana farm has become the first to confirm publicly it suffered a second outbreak of a deadly pig virus, fueling concerns that a disease that has wiped out 10 percent of the U.S. hog population will be harder to contain than producers and veterinarians expected.

The farm, through its veterinarian, publicly acknowledged on Tuesday a repeat incident of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has killed up to 7 million pigs and pushed pork prices to record highs since it was first identified in the United States a year ago…

The state and federal effort to stamp out PEDv has operated on an assumption that a pig, once infected, develops immunity and will not be afflicted by the disease again for at least several years. Likewise, farms that had endured the disease were not known to suffer secondary outbreaks.

But a year after the virus was identified, repeat outbreaks have occurred at farms but not been publicly confirmed before now. These so-called secondary outbreaks are a challenge to efforts to stem the disease, which is almost always fatal to baby piglets…

The incidence of the disease “re-breaking” on farms after it appeared to have been wiped out, indicates that the risk for ongoing severe losses from the virus is bigger than previously expected. The lack of long-term immunity also means hog producers must keep up strict bio-security measures to fight the disease, which has already spread to 30 states.

The virus does not pose a risk to human health and is not a food safety issue, according to the USDA.

So, no risk to human health or food safety. You just won’t be able to afford pork in the near future.

Crap workmanship on Keystone XL pipeline construction results in more demanding standards

Safety regulators have quietly placed two extra conditions on construction of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline after learning of potentially dangerous defects involving the southern leg of the Canada-to-Texas project.

The defects — high rates of bad welds, dented pipe and damaged pipeline coating — have been fixed. But the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration wants to make sure similar problems don’t occur during construction of the pipeline’s controversial northern segment, which is on hold pending a decision by the Obama administration.

One condition requires TransCanada to hire a third-party contractor chosen by the pipeline safety agency to monitor the construction and make reports to the safety administration on whether the work is sound.

The second requires TransCanada to adopt a quality management program to ensure “this pipeline is — from the beginning — built to the highest standards by both Keystone personnel and its many contractors…”

Inspections by the safety agency found TransCanada wasn’t using approved welding procedures to connect pipes, the letter said. The company had hired welders who weren’t qualified to work on the project because TransCanada used improper procedures to test them, the letter said. In order to qualify to work on a pipeline, welders must have recent experience using approved welding procedures and pass a test of their work.

The weld failure rates are “horrible,” said Robert Bea, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. “The level of defects is indeed cause for alarm and indicative of something that is going on in the Keystone organization that isn’t satisfactory.”

Then you might add in a conservation movement in Nebraska that is old-fashioned the way Teddy Roosevelt would be an old-fashioned conservative. There is an alliance of farmers and ranchers wedded to Native American tribes, Republicans and Democrats alike, who will not stand for eminent domain, high-handed Texas-style tactics [even if practiced by a Canadian pipeline company] and politicians who roll over for Big Oil.

The governor of Nebraska approved a revised pipeline route through the state. The alliance – represented by three ranchers – took him to District Court who knocked it out of the park. Now it’s up to the State Supreme Court.

Thanks, Mike

Melatonin makes old bones stronger


Melatonin molecule

McGill researchers have shown that melatonin supplements may make bones stronger in old rats. This suggests a possible avenue for the prevention of osteoporosis. Bones are built up by certain cells known as osteoblasts during the daytime and broken down by others (osteoclasts) at night. As we age, we sleep less, and so the cells that break down the bones are more active.

By giving old rats melatonin supplements to regulate their circadian rhythms, the McGill researchers have been able to make their bones denser, less brittle and more flexible. Next step is to explore whether melatonin supplements prevent bone breakdown or can actually repair damage…

The process of bone breakdown and buildup is affected by our circadian rhythms. The cells which break down our bones (known as osteoclasts) are more active at night, while those responsible for bone formation (osteoblasts) are more active during daylight hours. “As we age, we sleep less well, which means that the osteoclasts are more active,” says lead researcher Faleh Tamimi. “This tends to speed up the process of bone breakdown.”

It is already well established that melatonin plays a role in regulating our body clocks and can potentially help us sleep better. So the researchers suspected that a melatonin supplement would help regulate the circadian rhythms of the elderly rats, thus reducing the activity of the osteoclasts and slowing down the process of bone breakdown. And that is exactly what they found.

RTFA for details of the study. I agree with the conclusions and why they were reached.

I’ve spent a century or two with dentists from a car crash BITD. Meanwhile, Medicare enabled diagnosis a decade ago of sleep apnea – an ailment I long suspected – and now I experience deep, complete sleep and consider myself a poster child for CPAP therapy. I fall asleep in about 30 seconds and sleep like a stone, waking a bit creaky only because I don’t move the whole night.

My dental surgeon says I drive him crazy because my jawbone seems to be turning into granite. 🙂