What a backup reservoir looks like during a drought

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Click to enlarge — New Mexico Sailing Club’s marina at Heron Lake

The San Juan-Chama Project, which delivers water from the mountains of southwest Colorado to central New Mexico, had the first shortfall this year in its four-decade history after three consecutive years of bad snowpack.

Water managers say the impact on Rio Grande Valley water operations was small, but the implications are significant – a demonstration that a supply once seen as dependable backup to a faltering Rio Grande might not be as reliable as once thought. Albuquerque and Santa Fe pull San-Juan Chama water from the Rio Grande for their local water supplies…

The first-ever shortfall comes just a year after a federal study warned that climate change would mean less reliable supplies from the project as temperatures warm during the 21st century…

Scientists are not ready to blame the shortfall on climate change, but they point out that the pattern seen in recent years is consistent with last year’s U.S. Bureau of Reclamation study of the risks to the San Juan-Chama Project posed by climate change…

Studies using tree rings to estimate long-term water supplies showed there were risks of shortfalls even without climate change, said hydrologist Dagmar Llewellyn, the study’s lead author.

“It isn’t just climate change,” she said in an interview.

But the warmer temperatures in recent decades can add to problems caused by a lack of winter snow, Llewellyn said. With a longer growing season and greater evaporation, less of the rain and snow that does fall makes it into the region’s rivers.

“The difference is it’s hotter,” she said. “For the same precipitation, you’re going to have less water…”

Llewellyn’s study concluded that, by the 2020s, the previously unheard of possibility of a San Juan-Chama Project shortfall could happen on average once every six years.

But, hey – gubernatorial elections are every four years. Republicans should be able to lie their way into continuing control of the legislature and the governor’s mansion. Between Koch Bros/Oil Patch Boys money and Democrats whose primary concern is which wardheeler’s kid is next in line to run for office – no problemo.

The bittersweet Diabetes economy

In 1997, a group of experts convened by the American Diabetes Association changed the definition of type 2 diabetes, lowering the blood sugar threshold, and instantly as many as 1.9 million more Americans had the condition.

The same pattern played out in 2003, in an even bigger way, when the association changed the definition of a condition known as pre-diabetes and — overnight — 25 million more Americans were affected.

In the decade that followed, the diabetes industry boomed — thanks in part to a 2008 declaration by two endocrinology groups that pre-diabetes could be treated with drugs if diet and exercise didn’t lower blood sugar.

Last year, sales of diabetes drugs reached $23 billion, according to the data from IMS Health, a drug market research firm. That was more than the combined revenue of the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association.

But from 2004 to 2013, none of the 30 new diabetes drugs that came on the market were proven to improve key outcomes, such as reducing heart attacks or strokes, blindness, or other complications of the disease, an investigation by MedPage Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved all of those drugs based on a surrogate endpoint: the ability to lower blood sugar. Many of the new drugs have dubious benefit; some can be harmful.

“We have an entire industry — a diabetes economy — that revolves around glycemic control,” said David H. Newman, MD, director of clinical research at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York…

We’ve called a sign of the disease the disease, but there are no rigorous studies that prove we understand how to treat the illness rather than its symptoms,” Newman said…

To be sure, type 2 diabetes — once known as adult-onset diabetes — is a serious problem in America, often requiring drugs. The condition can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, amputations, and more immediate symptoms, especially in those with very poor glycemic control.

The surging number of cases has closely paralleled increasing rates of obesity, sedentary living, and an aging population.

But the number of people with diabetes or pre-diabetes and who are candidates for drugs has been magnified by organizations and doctors with financial ties to drug companies…

RTFA and follow the Money Trail.

As often as my political opinions have indicted what President Eisenhower called The Military-Industrial Complex – as individuals searching for honesty in politics and economics, we need to spend more time confronting the Medical-Industrial Complex.

One of those delightfully-American diseases for which there is no cure; but, an enormous profit center grounded in treating symptoms for the rest of your life.

2-year-old kills his mom at a Walmart — with her own gun

A 2-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his mother after he reached into her purse at a northern Idaho Walmart and her concealed gun fired…

Veronica Rutledge, 29, was shopping with her son and three other children, Kootenai County sheriff’s spokesman Stu Miller said. Rutledge was from Blackfoot in southeastern Idaho, and her family had come to the area to visit relatives.

She had a concealed weapons permit. Miller said the young boy was left in a shopping cart, reached into his mother’s purse and grabbed a small-caliber handgun, which discharged one time…

There do not appear to be reliable national statistics about the number of accidental fatalities involving children handling guns.

If there were, the NRA would start a national campaign to outlaw publication of those statistics.

Idaho lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year allowing concealed weapons on the state’s public college and university campuses.

Being able to kill someone is much more important than being able to learn. Unless there is a special season on college campuses that handgun hunters like me don’t know about.

Think anyone other than the USA will build Skynet, Robot Wars against humans?


Mitch McConnell’s new intern

Due to technological revolutions outside its control, the Department of Defense (DoD) anticipates the dawn of a bold new era of automated war within just 15 years. By then, they believe, wars could be fought entirely using intelligent robotic systems armed with advanced weapons.

So, they may as well help it along. Right?

Last week, US defense secretary Chuck Hagel ann​ounced the ‘Defense Innovation Initiative’—a sweeping plan to identify and develop cutting edge technology breakthroughs “over the next three to five years and beyond” to maintain global US “mili​tary-technological superiority.” Areas to be covered by the DoD programme include robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, Big Data and advanced manufacturing, including 3D printing…

The Pentagon plans to monopolize imminent “transformational advances” in nanotechnology, robotics, and energy…

Pointing out that “sensitive personal information” can now be easily mined from online sources and social media, they call for policies on “Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to determine the Department’s ability to make use of information from social media in domestic contingencies”—in other words, to determine under what conditions the Pentagon can use private information on American citizens obtained via data-mining of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and so on.

Just in case the NSA missed anything.

Yet the most direct military application of such technologies, the Pentagon study concludes, will be in “Command-Control-Communications, Computers and Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (C4ISR)”—a field led by “world-class organizations such as the National Security Agency (NSA).”

RTFA for lots more scary crap from the government sector responsible for bringing us everything from Agent Orange to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.

Let me say it once again. Either takeover the Democrats and install a backbone or go the 3rd Party route to twist their arms and inspire the courageous action needed to forestall this version of the future. Because you know we ain’t gonna have any robots big enough to fight back against theirs.

Ibuprofen experiment extends life span

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Ibuprofen stress apparently triggered longer life in yeast

Yeast cells like these lived longer when researchers dosed them with the drug ibuprofen.

Ibuprofen can banish headaches and soothe throbbing joints, but the drug may have another benefit. A new study shows that it increases longevity in lab organisms, raising the possibility it does the same thing in people.

Researchers used to scoff at the idea of extending life span, but it turns out to be surprisingly easy—at least in organisms such as mice and worms. Drugs that prolong survival of these creatures—aspirin and the antidiabetes compound metformin, for example—are already in many of our medicine cabinets. Several studies suggest that ibuprofen is also worth a look. Ibuprofen suppresses inflammation, which underlies many age-related diseases and might contribute to aging itself. In addition, people who take ibuprofen for a long time have a lower risk of developing two age-related illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, several analyses found.

Michael Polymenis and colleagues found that tryptophan levels declined in yeast cells exposed to ibuprofen. They also showed that the drug spurs destruction of a protein that enables cells to absorb tryptophan.

Ibuprofen doesn’t have a huge impact on tryptophan levels, though, decreasing them by about 15% to 20% in the yeast. To explain how this modest drop in tryptophan concentration promotes longevity, the researchers invoked a counterintuitive mechanism. Numerous studies have found that instead of killing organisms, moderate amounts of stress—such as intermediate doses of radiation or toxic chemicals—actually increase life span. A mild tryptophan deficiency triggered by ibuprofen might work in the same way, the researchers speculate. “We figure it’s one more type of stress that seems to be conducive to life span,” Polymenis says…

“There are two new good ideas here,” says gerontologist Richard Miller of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who is one of the participants in the U.S. National Institute on Aging’s Interventions Testing Program (ITP), in which researchers at three institutions are gauging whether a variety of compounds alter the life spans of mice. One is the revelation that “some anti-inflammatory drugs that people are taking may have beneficial effects that are unrelated to inflammation,” he says. The other is the possible involvement in the aging of proteins that transport amino acids into cells, which could lead researchers to new ways to tweak life span.

Nollen and Miller say the study supports testing ibuprofen in mice

To folks who are impatient, Miller cautions against extrapolating the study’s results, especially because the side effects of long-term ibuprofen use can include fatal stomach bleeding. “I think any person who says, ‘Anything that works in yeast is something I want to take,’ is asking for trouble.”

I’ll second that thought.

The race to block a Pacific oil route with a real estate development

oil terminal site
Click to enlargeDavid Kasnic

Environmental passions, which run hot in the Northwest over everything from salmon to recycling, generally get couched in the negative: Don’t fish too much, don’t put those chemicals up the smokestack, don’t build in that sensitive area.

But here in southern Washington, some environmental groups are quietly pushing a builder to move even faster with a $1.3 billion real estate project along the Columbia River that includes office buildings, shops and towers with 3,300 apartments.

The reason is oil.

Two miles west of the 32-acre project, called the Waterfront, one of the biggest proposed oil terminals in the country is going through an environmental review, with plans to transfer North Dakota crude from rail cars to barges. Up to four trains, carrying 360,000 barrels of oil, would pass every day through this city’s downtown, only a few hundred feet from the Waterfront’s towers, westbound from the Bakken shale oil fields…

The result is a sort of race to the crossing: If the Waterfront can get its bricks and mortar in the ground before the terminal is approved — possibly late next year, with litigation likely to follow — more people would be living and working near the oil-train line. Compounding what opponents, led by the city, say are the dangers of spills or derailments, would make the terminal’s path to approval steeper…

The Waterfront project, Brett VandenHeuvel said, makes the threats from the oil trains “more tangible and more real.” At least 10 large crude oil spills have been reported since early 2013 because of train accidents in the United States and Canada, including one in Quebec that caused a fire and explosion and killed 47 people…

The Vancouver city manager, Eric J. Holmes, said every advance at the Waterfront potentially changed the final arguments on the terminal, which he thinks could be years away, perhaps ending up before the State Supreme Court.

If the city itself changes in the meantime, he said, those final arguments about oil and rail and safety will change, too. “If it adds to the argument about our community’s safety, we’ll certainly invoke it,” he said.

Go for it, folks. The history of American courts ruling on behalf of NIMBYs is pretty strong. That the sum of struggle benefits the whole region – excepting folks profiting from the fossil fuel economy – ain’t a difficult motivator.

One more police shooting of unarmed Black man ruled a Homicide

An unarmed black man was shot three times by Los Angeles police officers, once each in the back, side and arm, according to a coroner’s report released on Monday, more than four months after his death.

The autopsy on Ezell Ford, which was first obtained by the Los Angeles Times, officially classifies his death as a homicide. It was released ahead of a Wednesday deadline imposed by the city’s mayor.

Ford, a mentally ill 25-year-old, was shot dead 11 August after police say he lunged for an officer’s gun. Police have released few details about why Ford was stopped in his South Los Angeles neighborhood by two officers assigned to the department’s anti-gang unit. A statement released shortly after Ford’s death said two officers attempted to stop him on a sidewalk, but he “continued walking and made suspicious movements” before the interaction escalated.

If you’re one of our readers outside the United States – understand that a suspicious movement includes believing you have human rights if you’re not white.

Los Angeles Police Department chief Charlie Beck said blah, blah, blah

Police officials say they delayed release of the autopsy to allow time for witnesses to come forward. They have made public pleas for witnesses from the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood to contact them…

Yes, progress is being made in the society that Republicans and other idjits say is a post-racial society – and also believe in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

In that vein, in Congress, the House Majority Whip – Republican Steve Scalise – says it was just ignorance on his part when he was guest speaker at a convention for white supremacists as a state representative. The “progress” part is admitting he’s an ignoranus.

Pay attention!

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Click to enlarge

Al Jazeera America is one of the two foreign-owned, USA-based news channels that gets the bulk of my TV news time. They are modeled on the original CNN – before it was crushed by Time-Warner – and many former CNN pros have ended up at AJAM.

The plight of the AJ crew in Egypt is critically supported worldwide. Which means they receive damned little attention in the parochial environs of these United States. Which is sad on a whole ‘nother level.

Watch the show, tonight, if you have the chance. And access.