Thursday, October 23, 2014

The West's Battle For Freedom

This week’s special episode of The Glazov Gang was joined by Geert Wilders, the founder and leader of the “Party for Freedom” — which is currently the fourth-largest party in the Dutch parliament. Mr. Wilders is best known for his brave stance against, and truth-telling about, Islam. He is the author of Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me. He came on the program to crystallize the only way the West will be able to preserve itself.

Don’t miss it!

 

 

This is Long Overdue!

AWED Friends:
 
Over the years we have been sent several great ideas for wind energy related signs and billboards.Conversely we have received many requests asking for advertising suggestions.To marry these two, it seems appropriate that we put together a basic collection of these — so that we can all profit from the good ideas of others.  We've just put up a page that shows some sample wind energy Billboards, and another page that has some wind energy related Yard Signs.  These are just samples, as can not possibly show all the ideas that creative citizens world-wide have come up with. However, if you are aware of superior examples we have missed (or corrections to any of the references we’ve made), please let me know the details.  Our belief is that this is ultimately a Public Relations issue.
 
John Croz, Jr.

Cartoon of the Day!


Chilling Free Speech

Andrew P. Napolitano

Earlier this week, the federal government’s National Science Foundation, an entity created to encourage the study of science —encouragement that it achieves by awarding grants to scholars and universities— announced that it had awarded a grant to study what people say about themselves and others in social media. The NSF dubbed the project Truthy, a reference to comedian Stephen Colbert’s invention and hilarious use of the word“truthiness.”…….We already know the National Security Agency has the digital versions of all telephone conversations and emails sent to, from or within the U.S. since 2005. Edward Snowden’s revelations of all this are credible and substantiated, and the government’s denials are weak and unavailing — so weak and unavailing that many NSA agents disbelieve them. But the government’s unbridled passion to monitor us has become insatiable. Just two months ago, the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses broadcasters, threatened to place federal agents in cable television newsrooms so they can see how stories are generated and produced. The FCC doesn’t even regulate cable, yet it threatened to enhance its own authority by monitoring cable companies from the inside.   What’s going on here?......The government is worried about speech.  Big deal. Speech is none of the government’s business. History teaches that the remedy for tasteless speech is not government repression — it is more speech. In a free society, when the marketplace of ideas is open and unfettered, the truth is obvious. But in a repressive society, the truth becomes a casualty. Which society did the Framers give us?

You may also wish to read these next two articles:

As the NSA scandal matures, outrage fizzles into business as usual »
It's been 16 months since The Guardian published its first story on the National Security Agency's bulk collection program, launching a series of reports that would introduce the public to cryptic terms like PRISM and Boundless Informant…...

The USA PATRIOT Act is anything but patriotic »
Sunday is the anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act. The clever wordsmiths in the halls of power gave the act a high-sounding name. But like most laws passed by the psychopaths in the Washington cesspool, the law is the opposite of its name……



Why I Don't Write About Pottery From the Ming Dynasty



Sometimes it's good to recognize your limitations. For example, I could describe how DNA works, or how to make crystal meth, poison your neighbor or blow stuff up. I won't, but I could. And I'd know what I was talking about.  Perhaps I could also write something about teapots from the Ming Dynasty if I read about it on Wikipedia, but in reality I wouldn't know one if it fell off the Chrysler Building onto my head.

Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for The New York Times. As such, he has written about a wide range of topics such as politics, human rights, poverty, foreign affairs, and economics. He does this extremely well, as demonstrated by his multiple awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes. He also appears to be nothing short of brilliant, and an all-around good guy as well.

But sometime prior to May 2nd, when his last column, "How Chemicals Affect Us" was published, he may have been walking a little too close to the Chrysler Building......To Read More.....

Avoid those thermal paper cash receipts, says well known anti-science BPA critic, vom Saal

Posted on by admin


If you believe what you read about BPA and its harmful effects on human health, a topic that we here at ACSH have taken on many times, the latest development from Frederick vom Saal, Professor of Biological Sciences at Missouri University and perhaps the best-known fringe anti-BPA activist posing as a scientist, might stop your shopping habits, or at least make you think twice before choosing to get a receipt. In his latest fear-mongering attempt, he tries to link BPA from receipts to increased levels of BPA in the blood stream. So what?

Researchers had subjects use hand sanitizer and then hold thermal paper receipts. Subjects then ate French fries using their hands. Following the consumption of the fries, researchers measured the level of BPA in the blood of the subjects, and found that BPA was “absorbed very rapidly.”

To which vom Saal concludes: “BPA from thermal papers will be absorbed into your blood rapidly; at those levels, many diseases such as diabetes and disorders such as obesity increase as well. Use of BPA or other similar chemicals that are being used to replace BPA in thermal paper pose a threat to human health.”…..To Read More….

GMOs and the need to feed 9 billion

Originally Posted Here on by admin

Dr. Robert Fraley, a top researcher at Monsanto, was recently quoted in a Nebraska Radio Network article, stating that he believed that those opposing GMOs are “extreme voices” and that most people are “in the middle.” Dr. Fraley, who is often referred to as the “father of agricultural biotechnology,” according to the environmental editor at National Geographic, Dennis Dimick, estimates that 70 to 80 percent of Americans believe GMOs are safe. While this sounds like great news, it is important to note that this information is not coming from a study or survey, but instead seems to be based on Dr. Fraley’s own experiences speaking to audiences.

Hopefully Dr. Fraley’s estimates aren’t too far from the truth, as the latest issue of National Geographic brings to attention the looming problem of feeding a population of 9 billion people — the world’s population reliably predicted for 2050 —a 35 percent increase from today’s population. The NatGeo’s Dimick also expresses his support for GMOs: “In a world where we need to improve productivity, things like drought, salt and heat tolerant crops are so important and should be allowed to happen, even if they do involve the use of genetic engineering.”

The National Geographic article estimates that crop production will need to double to feed a population of 9 billion. This is a challenge that would prove impossible without the use of life-saving biotechnology. For more information on how genetically modified farming can feed a hungry world, check out ACSH’s publications on agricultural biotechnology here.

Seed patent primer: Is the use of GMOs preventing farmers from reusing their seeds?

XiaoZhi Lim | October 21, 2014 | Genetic Literacy Project

Anti-GMO campaigners often attack Monsanto and other large agricultural companies for suing farmers who illegally save their seeds and replant them. But most non-GMO seeds as well as genetically modified versions are patent protected for companies to recoup their investment costs. If these intellectual protection rights were removed, would farmers go back to saving seeds and replanting them in subsequent years?

In some cases, yes. Some crops are able to produce viable seed that can be saved and replanted to yield offspring that perform similarly to their parents. But for other crops, most notably hybrid corn, no. In the case of crops that have been improved by hybridization in conventional breeding, saving seeds for replanting doesn’t make sense as any saved seed will not perform as well as their parents.

Let’s take a look at the process of hybridization in conventional breeding. Hybridization is when breeders take two distinct, but related plants and mate them, commonly by pollinating the plants by hand. For example, a breeder could cross a big corn plant that is susceptible to disease with another that is small but more resistant to disease to produce a hybrid plant that is both big and resistant to disease. This resulting hybrid plant is called F1 hybrid (first-filial generation).....To Read More....

Bleeding of Aloha: Ugliness of the anti-GMO movement in Hawaii

Joni Kamiya | October 21, 2014 | Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

The last two years have been very tumultuous here in our state in regards to biotechnology. With a 12 month growing season, Hawaii is one of the great places for the large ag companies to run their breeding programs. With anti-GMO/anti-corporate ag sentiment on the rise, Hawaii has been the subject of the heavy hand of activism based in fear and misinformation. It hasn’t been pretty.

Here’s a summary of what’s happening across our state, county by county.

Last year, in the county of Kauai, the notorious anti-GMO bill to create buffer zones and disclosure for the spraying of pesticides was passed and then invalidated in federal court. This did not stop the mainland based SHAKA Movement from managing to garner some 9000 signatures to get an anti-GMO, anti-ag bill placed on the ballot in the county of Maui.....To Read More.....

Green coffee means more green for Dr. Oz, but considerably less for the company that sold the junk

Posted Here on October 21, 2014 by admin

As you well know, at ACSH, our job is to talk about and reveal junk science. This is usually not especially difficult, since the same set of “errors” that make junk science junk appear over and over. In the following case, “not especially difficult” became “ridiculously easy,” since virtually every aspect of the junk involved was handed to us on a silver platter. It doesn’t get any better than this—made up data, woefully inadequate peer review, and Dr. Oz, which puts this episode into the “Hall of Shame” without the obligatory five-year waiting period.

A paper that appeared in 2012 in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy claimed that consumption of green coffee bean extract caused overweight people to lose a substantial amount of weight, even without any changes in their diet or exercise routine......Dr. Oz became enamoured with the product. So much so that the show could have been renamed “The Buy GCA and You Will Turn Into Brad Pitt Show.” Dr. Oz got ripped to shreds by Senator Claire McCaskill in a congressional hearing on the safety of dietary supplements. Also, ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom had a few unflattering things to say about this unseemly incident on Science 2.0.   It turned out that the data from India was made up, and Vinson and Burnham withdrew their paper, as reported by Retraction Watch......To Read More.....

Muzzling cultural dissent, at home and abroad



The European Court of Human Rights has defined a democratic society as one which exhibits tolerance, broad-mindedness and pluralism. Western democracies, however, are often Orwellian in their redefinition of these very terms, as exemplified in the recent Houston subpoena scandal.

Tolerance has come to mean disdain for social viewpoints which run contrary to the cultural orthodoxy of the day. Broad-mindedness means blindly accepting the overly permissive moral values of the Left. And, ironically, pluralism has taken on an identity which excludes dissenting voices.  Americans should take note that, in Europe, this new cultural identity has led to a democratic deficit and a “government knows best” attitude.

The story goes that Nicolas Sarkozy, when asked why he wouldn’t allow the French to vote on the Lisbon Treaty after the French public previously voted down the proposed European Constitution, said it was because the French would not get the answer right. This mentality is, of course, not unique to Europe. In states throughout America, a single judge has often been responsible for overturning the democratic will of millions of voters to constitutionally affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman......To Read More.....

A fool and his money

By Washington Examiner | October 22, 2014

This year, Americans roll their eyes once again at a campaign to vilify the age-old practice of rich people spending their money to spread political messages. The attacks are mostly one-sided, with Democrats using both the campaign platform and the floor of the Senate to denounce two people in particular.  They are, of course, Charles and David Koch, billionaire philanthropists who have used some of the money they earned to advance their libertarian view of the world. Their flagship group, Americans for Prosperity (which is actually not exclusively funded by them), spent an impressive $37 million on ads to affect election outcomes in 2012.   This time around, though, a liberal billionaire is stealing their thunder.

Tom Steyer, who reaped large returns at his hedge fund from oil investments, is now safely rich and has thus begun a crusade against the use of hydrocarbon fuels. He hopes to prevent America from becoming an oil-exporting nation and to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.....To Read More.....

From Benny Peiser's Global Warming Policy Foundation

German Industry Issues Stark Warning Ahead Of EU Climate Summit
Eastern Europe Attacks EU’s Unilateral CO2 Plans

As EU heads of state prepare to thrash out an agreement on the bloc’s 2030 energy and climate change goals at a summit opening in Brussels tomorrow (23 October), energy-intensive industries in Germany have reiterated warnings that a European “solo effort” would come with billions in losses. “If Europe chooses a solo effort through a one-sided climate protection target of 40% less emissions, it would mean billions in losses for us that our global competitors would not otherwise have gained. The damage done to competitiveness among energy-intensive companies in the EU would be considerable,” said Utz Tillmann, a spokesman for the Energy Intensive Industries of Germany (EID). --EurActiv, 22 October 2014


The EU’s plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 has come under heavy assault as an increasing number of eastern European nations rally behind Poland’s threat to scupper a landmark climate deal this week. “I do not think that we can go with this current deal. If there is no change then we will walk away,” said Tomáš Prouza, the Czech Republic’s state secretary for European affairs. “The numbers just do not add up.” One ambassador predicted the most difficult summit since the height of the eurozone crisis. “Both sides are in their trenches, shelling each other,” he said. --Henry Foy and Christian Oliver, Financial Times, 20 October 2014

The leaders of the 28 members of the European Union are set to meet here on Thursday to reassert their global leadership in climate protection, but they will first need to finesse deep divisions over how to generate and distribute energy. Reaching a deal this week would give the union bragging rights before a United Nations climate conference in Paris scheduled for late 2015, by making it the first major global emitter to put forward its position. Polish leaders, however, have hinted that they may veto any agreement. And the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has already warned that the summit meeting may end in deadlock, requiring further discussions. Analysts have warned that if a deal is reached, it will most likely be a messy compromise. --James Kanter, The New York Times, 21 October 2014

The UK Government’s enthusiasm for domestic and EU-wide green policies is not shared by countries in central and eastern Europe, many of whom are extremely reluctant to sign up to the EC’s targets. In 2011, George Osborne announced that the UK would go no faster than the rest of Europe with regards CO2 emissions targets. If agreement on emissions reductions cannot be reached at a European and a global level, the Government would come under growing pressure to suspend unilateral targets post 2020. --Global Warming Policy Forum, 22 October 2014

Our power stations are ageing fast. We have eked out their lifespan for longer than expected, but replacements are urgently needed. Yet for years, our politicians have failed to act, promoting costly and over-subsidised renewables rather than building new gas or nuclear plants. To make matters worse, much of our capacity has been scrapped, in compliance with environmental restrictions set in Brussels. If things continue as they are, the prospect has been raised of Seventies-style restrictions on energy use, even rolling blackouts. That is a grim prospect for a 21st-century economy. --Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, 21 October 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Energy and Environmental Newsletter

Our latest Energy and Environmental Newsletter, is now online. There is some great material there, so please set aside some time to check it out. Below are some highlights.

This is a sample of some interesting energy articles in the current Newsletter —
Here are some examples of worthwhile global warming reports —
Thank you for your continued support!
 
John Droz, Jr. Physicist & Environmental Advocate

As always, please pass this on to open-minded citizens. If there are others who you think would benefit from being on our energy & environmental email list, please let me know. If at any time you'd like to be taken off the list, please let me know that too.

Dr. Roy W. Spencer: 2014 Winner of the Outstanding Evangelical Climate Scientist Award

 
Dr. Roy Spencer was a senior scientist for climate studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he and Dr. John Christy received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites. He is now a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Dr. Spencer’s work with NASA continues as the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. His diligent work on tracking the planet’s temperature provided a tamper-proof source of data with which to test predictions of man-made global warming. Spencer received a B.S. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Michigan in 1978 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1980 and 1982…..To Read More……

Dr. Willie Soon: 2014 Winner of the Courage in Defense of Science



Dr. Willie Soon, an astrophysicist and geoscientist, is a leading authority on the relationship between solar phenomena and global climate. His discoveries challenge computer modelers and advocates who consistently underestimate solar influences on cloud formation, ocean currents, and wind that cause climate to change.

Since 1992, Dr. Soon has been an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory. He is also receiving editor in the area of solar and stellar physics for New Astronomy. He writes and lectures both professionally and publicly on important issues related to the sun, other stars, and the Earth, as well as general science topics in astronomy and physics….To Read More…..

Dr. S. Fred Singer: 2014 Winner of the Lifetime Achievement in Climate Science Award



Dr. S. Fred Singer was among the first and is still the most prominent scientist in the world speaking out against global warming alarmism. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of many books, including Climate Change Reconsidered (several volumes), a comprehensive critique of the assessment reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Dr. Singer, an atmospheric and space physicist, founded the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) and the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). He continues to serve as chairman of SEPP and as a member of the leadership team of NIPCC.

Dr. Singer has published more than 200 technical papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, including Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Energy & Environment, EOS: Transactions of the AGU, Geophysical Research Letters, International Journal of Climatology, Journal of Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Nature, and Science. His editorial essays and articles have appeared in Cosmos, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New Republic, Newsweek, Journal of Commerce, Washington Times, Washington Post,and many other publications. His accomplishments have been featured in front-cover stories appearing in Time, Life, and U.S. News & World Report...... To Read More....

Most published medical research is FALSE — 85% of research funding WASTED, says Stanford study

Here’s the study.

Most published medical research is false!  In 2005, in a landmark paper viewed well over a million times, John Ioannidis explained in PLOS Medicine why most published research findings are false. To coincide with PLOS Medicine’s 10th anniversary he responds to the challenge of this situation by suggesting how the research enterprise could be improved.

Research, including medical research, is subject to a range of biases which mean that misleading or useless work is sometimes pursued and published while work of value is ignored. The risks and rewards of academic careers, the structures and habits of peer reviewed journals, and the way universities and research institutions are set up and governed all have profound effects on what research scientists undertake, how they choose to do it and, ultimately, how patients are treated. Perverse incentives can lead scientists to waste time producing and publishing results which are wrong or useless. Understanding these incentives and altering them provides a potential way for drastically re-shaping research to improve in medical knowledge.........“The achievements of science are amazing yet the majority of research effort is currently wasted,” asserts Ioannidis. He calls for testing interventions to improve the structure of scientific research, and doing so with the rigor normally reserved for testing drugs or hypotheses......To Read More.....

 

Artificial Science On…Artificial Sweeteners

By Michael D. Shaw

This originally appeared here and I would like to thank Mike for allowing me to publish his work.  RK

artificial sweetenersThis one has it all: Research from a prestigious institute published in a prestige journal; a provocative and contrarian set of findings; topical subject matter, sure to attract mainstream media; and the use of ultra high-tech genome sequencing in the too-cool-for-school realm of the gut biome. Just published online in Nature, the study is entitled “Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota.” [Suez et al.]

At last! We now have a scientific answer to the paradox as described in the official press release: “For years researchers have been puzzling over the fact that non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) do not seem to assist in weight loss, and some studies have suggested they may even have an opposite effect.” Not so fast.

The most significant use of NAS is in diet soft drinks. When first introduced, they were consumed principally by people trying to cut down on their sugar intake, and these people were either overweight, diabetic, or both. Nowadays, although they have gone more mainstream, it is still true that the products are consumed by the overweight/diabetic group. So, let’s first consider human nature.

If you are counting calories, and drink a fair amount of soda, merely by switching to a diet beverage, you could be saving hundreds of calories per day. Given this windfall benefit, might you be inclined to cheat on your diet a wee bit? Could such cheating equal or even surpass the benefits of the diet soda?

Related to this is the inherent difficulty in obtaining accurate data on food consumption. Nearly all diet studies are based on self-reporting, which is not only fudged on a frequent basis, but such falsifications can be glaringly obvious. How many diet studies are full of subjects who are on a 1000 calorie per day regimen, or even less—as documented by their self-reported food logs—but cannot seem to lose a pound?

Could human nature help explain our “paradox”? Nonetheless, if we assume that some dieters don’t cheat, we still have to explain how a non-caloric substance can somehow promote or sustain obesity. A good study might concentrate on the chemistry of a particular NAS, and even focus on how that substance interacts with the intestinal microbiota. Alternatively, a good study could track dietary intake of lean and obese individuals, and subject them to continuous lab tests (students, faculty, and employees of research universities would be convenient participants).

Alas, Suez et al is far from a good study. Indeed, it is fatally flawed right out of the gate. As an aid to readers, the paper highlights its findings in bold type. The very first finding is “Chronic NAS consumption exacerbates glucose intolerance.” And the first sentence of that paragraph betrays the flaw:

To determine the effects of NAS on glucose homeostasis, we added commercial formulations of saccharin, sucralose or aspartame to the drinking water of lean 10-week-old C57Bl/6 mice. Since all three commercial NAS comprise approx. 5% sweetener and approx. 95% glucose, we used as controls mice drinking only water or water supplemented with either glucose or sucrose.”

Here’s the problem. Saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame are vastly different chemicals, even if they are all perceived by human taste receptors as sweet. Yet, these sweeteners were fed—interchangeably—to the subject mice. Note that the researchers are positing some sort of chemical/physiological effect of these NAS with the gut biome, but they are mixing—and are not accounting for—the properties of the three different chemicals. There is no meaning whatsoever to a biochemical evaluation of NAS as a “group.” One wonders why they did not also include lead, notoriously sweet-tasting, and quite sadly consumed in household paint chips by young children in the past.

But, give the researchers their due. They did further work on saccharin, incredibly also putting the mice on a high (60%) fat diet. Surprise! Many of them became glucose intolerant. And that’s a good thing, since otherwise they would have gained weight to beat the band. Basic physiology, anyone?

As almost an afterthought, humans were part of the study, even if they could not be subjected to fecal transplantation, outrageous diets, and bizarre gut biome kill-off, as were the hapless rodents. To be kind, the researchers could have done a better job with the humans, as well.

All told, 381 non-diabetic humans were involved, and evidently some of them were overweight. A number of conclusions were drawn based on questionnaires, and sketchy extrapolation. From this group, seven healthy, non-users of NAS (and presumably normal weight) volunteers became part of a 7-day experimental study, which lacked a control group. Yet, the researchers boldly proclaimed that “most” (4 out of the 7) developed significantly poorer glycemic responses, when given a large amount of saccharin. As before, diet details were based only on questionnaires, and the number of potential confounding factors is massive.

Rest assured that a comprehensive analysis of this work would have yielded dozens more flaws. Do we really need another example of how the post World War II promise of Science has fallen short—unless you happen to be a researcher on the receiving end of bounteous grants?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Paradigms and Demographics Afternoon Edition

----Featured Article --- Who Was the Last President to Have a Great Second Term?  - Calvin Coolidge (1925-1929). Since Coolidge only served part of a first term (after Harding died), his case is unusual. But Coolidge finished his second term with the lowest misery index (unemployment plus inflation) of any president in the last one hundred years. He lowered tax rates, cut federal spending, and had budget surpluses every year of his presidency.   Seven presidents since Coolidge (Obama will be the eighth) had second terms, and these second terms showed mixed success at best and more often disastrous problems.   FDR in his second term tried packing the Supreme Court. And when the Senate shot that down, he then tried ”purging those Democrats who opposed him by campaigning against them for re-election. However, almost all of his Democratic opponents won anyway. The next two-termer was Harry Truman, who fought the Korean War during his second term, and ended his presidency with almost the lowest approval ratings in modern U.S. history. Eisenhower had a recession in his second term, and his party lost 47 seats in the off-year elections during that beleaguered term. Nixon, of course, had to resign during his second term. Reagan’s second term was a mixture of good policies and the problems of Iran Contra. Clinton was impeached during his last years in office. George W. Bush lost control of both the House and the Senate during his second term, and his approval ratings were barely better than Nixon’s and Truman’s….

Obama insiders reap riches at trio of healthcare IT firms -A trio of giant information technology firms that dominate the rapidly growing market for digital medical documents enjoy special insider access to key policymakers as the federal government implements its 2009 mandate that healthcare providers convert to electronic health records. The three firms — Cerner Corp., Epic Systems and Allscripts Healthcare Solutions — accounted for more than $5.6 billion in annual electronic health records sales in 2013. Boosting their revenues are the federal mandate and a $30 billion subsidy program to encourage sales, both of which were strongly backed by President Obama in his healthcare reform agenda. Steering the mandate’s implementation is the Health IT Policy Committee, a federal advisory commission within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the Department of Health and Human Services.

New Record: Federal Tax Revenues Top $3T for 1st Time - Inflation-adjusted federal tax revenues not only hit a record high in fiscal 2014, but marked the first time that tax revenues have ever topped $3 trillion, according to the latest Monthly Treasury Statement. In fiscal year 2014, inflation-adjusted federal tax revenues hit a record $3,020,848,000,000, but the federal government still ran a $483,350,000,000 deficit during that time.  Each month, the Treasury publishes the government’s “total receipts,” including all revenue from individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, social insurance and retirement taxes (including Social Security and Medicare taxes), unemployment insurance taxes, excise taxes, estate and gift taxes, customs duties, and “miscellaneous receipts.”

Federal Debt Now $200,000 Per Full-Time Private-SectorWorker - Which will be greater: the burden of student debt on Americans who went off this fall to their first year of college, or the amount of federal debt per full-time private-sector worker when these students earn their degrees and start looking for jobs?  There is no doubt: It will be the amount of federal debt per full-time private-sector worker. As of last Friday, the total debt of the federal government was $17,858,480,029,490.28, according to the U.S. Treasury. That equaled $200,258.81 for each of the 89,177,000 full-time private-sector workers that, according to the Census Bureau, were in the United States in 2013.

To argue that consumers are not rational is to argue for more state control - A reader directed me to an article in The Atlantic that purported to explain Why Economics Is Dead Wrong About How We Make Choices. Being aware of the anti-market prejudices of so-called journalists I expected the worse: my expectations were not confounded. Derek Thompson, the author of this little masterpiece, tells his readers that [t]he old economic theory of consumers says that “people should relish choice.” Bulldust! Economics has never said any such thing.…… If one is going to argue that consumers are not rational then this will lead to the conclusion that “wise men” in power will have to make the decisions for them, which is basically what the left believes. Under their guidance goods would be produced to satisfy human needs, as defined by them, and not for profit. No wonder it is no accident that these attacks on economics invariably lead to a demand by leftists for more state control…..

Union takes mandatory dues, calls Walmart owners robbers - Accusing Walmart’s owners of “robbing America,” a labor union fueled by workers’ mandatory dues led protests recently demanding full-time hours and $15 hourly wages for the mega-retailer’s employees. Walmart’s corporate headquarters, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., says the company has more than 1.3 million employees and in 2013 promoted 170,000 “to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay.” This summer, The Wall Street Journal reported on a study concluding Walmart store managers are paid an average of $92,462.
 
GOP senator alleges collusion between EPA, progressive policy group in drafting carbon rules  - Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) are accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of inappropriately collaborating with an activist organization to craft the agency’s controversial carbon emissions policy, pushing those affected to the margins in the process. It’s an accusation that rises above impropriety, though. The Daily Signal reports that both Issa and Vitter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, are directing their congressional staff to “look into whether the EPA broke federal law in developing carbon emissions regulations.”  At issue is the EPA’s advisory relationship with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a progressive environmental group that has long been at odds with the business community over the perceived need for stricter regulations.  Vitter claims that emails between EPA staff and the NRDC reveal a tight relationship between the activists and the EPA — a relationship that places the NRDC in a favored status not enjoyed by other parties potentially affected by the new rules.

Center for FoodSafety attacks GMO drought tolerant crops, distorts big picture  - A recent article by Douglas Gurian-Sherman of the Center for Food Safety on the green food website Civil Eats has me scratching my head. The subject was attempts to breed drought tolerant corn and the fact that conventional breeding methods currently outpace biotech attempts in creating commercially viable strains.

Cancer cure? Patients’ blood reprogrammed to destroydiseased cells  - The blood cells of cancer patients, reprogrammed by doctors to attack their leukemia and re-infused back into the patients’ veins, led to complete remissions in 27 of 30 people. That’s especially exciting because those patients had failed all conventional treatments. The report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is an extension of data presented previously at the American Society of Hematology’s annual meeting. Not all of the remissions lasted, the report showed. Nineteen patients in the study remain in remission 2 to 24 months later, and 15 of them didn’t need any additional treatment. Seven patients relapsed between 6 months and 9 months after their infusion; those included three people whose cancers spread beyond the blood cells the new treatment targets. Five patients left the study for alternative therapy.

Vaccination coverage among United States kindergarteners  -  With the new school year well under way, the CDC has some good news to report . Its annual vaccination coverage report documents the vaccination coverage among our nation’s kindergarten children. Although the report found high levels of vaccination coverage overall, it also highlights clusters of unvaccinated children, putting certain communities at risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. The report is based on data from federally funded state, local and territorial immunization programs and includes vaccination coverage for a total of over four million kindergarten children.

According to the report, 94.7 percent of kindergarten children received 2 doses of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR), 95 percent received the diphtheria, tetanus toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP), and 93.3 percent received two doses of the varicella vaccine. Total exemption rate was about 2 percent. The highest rate of exemption was reported in Oregon, and two states, Kansas and Maine, reported increases in percentage of kindergarteners with exemptions. And although the overall numbers are good, 26 states and DC reported vaccination rates below 95 percent for two doses of the MMR vaccine. Colorado’s kindergarteners have the lowest rates of vaccination overall, with only 81 percent of them receiving the MMR, DTaP and/or the varicella vaccine.

Ebolaidiocy and other (de)pressing matters: Part 1 - Since there is hardly a day that goes by without a good dose of mind-numbing idiocy about Ebola, we figured ACSH ought to weigh in now and then. After all, the worst “Ebola science” isn’t a whole lot different from half of the other stuff that poses as science that we dissect daily. Here is our Part 1 challenge: Come up with something dumber than this, and we will all hand wash and wax your car.

 “Fearing Ebola, some US communities take dramatic steps”

 OK, this doesn’t sound too bad, only because the headline does not betray what’s inside. This left us with our mouths hanging open. Today’s “winner” is Portland, ME, which apparently does not grasp the basic fundamentals of epidemiology—that you have to actually be exposed to something before you can catch it. In this case, a teacher who had traveled to Texas for a conference was placed on a three-week paid leave of absence when she returned. Why? Well, it makes perfect sense to those having the intellectual capacity of a box of Froot Loops. After all, the teacher made the reckless decision to stay in a hotel ten miles away from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas—the hospital where Thomas Duncan died. ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom makes several points:…..

After wasting tax dollars, officials at CDC, NIH claim budget cuts hurt Ebola preparedness -  Here’s a lesson about how government works: Public officials think they should always have a larger pot of taxpayer money, no matter how badly they have misspent, misprioritized and misused the taxpayer money they already have.

Biotech crops on the rise— gradually but surelyovercoming phony fears - According to a recent report, since 1996 there have been over 5 billion acres of biotech crops harvested. And not only do these crops provide food for millions, they also reduce the use of pesticides, can add nutritional value to foods, and, according to some studies, reduce the release of greenhouse gases as well. In spite of such benefits, the anti-GMO crowd continues to promote false and misleading ‘disinformation’ about bioengineered crops. They ignore the fact that humans have been modifying the genetics of both food crops and animals ever since agriculture began some 10,000 years ago. Now, thanks to modern biotechnology, we have the ability to more accurately and efficiently make and monitor such changes than ever before. “There has never been any substantiated, scientifically sound evidence that bioengineered crops threaten the health of people or animals consuming them, or that they cause environmental damage.” says ACSH’s Dr. Ruth Kava. “Indeed,” she continues, “such crops have the potential to increase food crop production, while protecting marginal lands from cultivation. As the world population continues to expand, we will increasingly need these crops to meet the growing need.”

For more information about bioengineered crops, read ACSH’s recent publication on agricultural biotechnology here.

More ‘Walker is Hitler’ rhetoric appears from the left -  “WALKERS MOTTO DIVIDE & CONQUER SO WAS HITLERS,” proclaims the grammatically challenged, hand-written sign pinned to posts just off of Mariner Road near Wisconsin Highway 83 in Hartland.

Embattled Veterans Affairs procurement official abruptly resigns - Susan Taylor, the subject of a scathing inspector general's report issued Sept. 26, had been targeted for firing by VA officials.  
 
Congressional probe finds federal regulators targeted legal businesses - A congressional probe found evidence Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation officials forced banks to sever ties to legal businesses with negative public images. Regulators pressured the banks to cut off the accounts of entire industries whose practices they "disfavored" as part of a multi-agency program created in 2013 by the Justice Department and known as Operation Choke Point. Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the panel's subcommittees, said entire industries were being "disfavored" without regard for the performance of individual companies. Issa is a California Republican. Jordan is an Ohio Republican. Justice officials said the purpose of the program is to shut down a variety of businesses they think pose a “reputational risk” to the banks, according to a May congressional report.....
 
Time for Conservative Cultural Surrender? - [On] NBC's "Meet the Press"…newly installed host Chuck Todd stubbornly persisted in the usual Republicans-in-deep-trouble narrative. Based on the judicial failure to take up gay marriage cases, Todd previewed the program by asking, "Is it time for conservatives to surrender in the culture wars?" Later, Todd underlined his point: "Whether it's on abortion, whether it's on same-sex marriage, whether it's on marijuana legalization, the culture wars have shifted to the left. Many Republicans are trying to acknowledge that general public shift. And yet, it's going to cause some heartburn."  We're in the middle of an election cycle where red-state Democrats are running away from President Obama on gun ownership, on border control and on energy and "climate change" crackdowns. So isn't proclaiming a "national shift to the cultural left" a rather desperate spin for the losing side?...... Now flip that script, and imagine Chuck Todd asking Planned Parenthood whether their public stand for "post-birth abortion" is politically smart. The national media hounded Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock about rape exceptions in 2012 Senate races, but this fall they won't whisper the name "Kermit Gosnell" or mention the 2013 hearing in the Florida legislature where a local Planned Parenthood staffer insisted it was a "woman's right to choose" whether a baby born alive can be murdered…… As the Democratic Party skids toward defeat, NBC can only ask, "Is the GOP retreating?"

The Price of Papal Popularity - Normally a synod of Catholic bishops does not provide fireworks rivaling the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where Mayor Richard Daley's boys in blue ran up the score on the radicals in Grant Park.  But, on Oct. 13, there emanated from the Synod on the Family in Rome a 12-page report from a committee picked by Pope Francis himself — and the secondary explosions have not ceased.  The report recognized the "positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation" and said "homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community." As for Catholics who divorce and remarry without an annulment, we must avoid "any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against." Hailed by gay rights groups, the document stunned traditionalists….
 
Perkins to Olson: ‘If Love is the Only Factor, Where DoYou Draw the Boundary?’ - In a debate on Fox News Sunday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins questioned Ted Olson, an attorney who fought against California’s same-sex marriage ban, about what could define marriage if love is the only consideration. “If love is the factor, what boundaries are there?” Perkins asked Olson, a registered Republican who was on the legal team that successfully fought to have the gay marriage ban in California struck down. “What court after court after court has said, that allowing people of the same sex to marry the person that they love, to be part of the community and to be treated equally, does no damage to heterosexual marriage,” Olsen said ……. “Let me ask you, what are the boundaries, though?” Perkins said. “If it’s just love, what are the boundaries? “Where can we go with marriage?” he asked. Host Chris Wallace then weighed in by suggesting Perkins was insinuating that gay marriage could open the floodgates to polygamy or even bestiality…… “Sadly, when marriage is elastic enough to mean anything, in due time it comes to mean nothing,” Moore said.

Criminalizing Innocent Christian Behavior - Where are all the atheist freedom lovers we always hear about? It's time for them to start standing up for religious liberty. The left and militant gay movement are getting bolder and bolder, and too many Christians are stewing in their apathy.  It seems that with each passing month, this senseless tyranny advances. The latest is that two Christian ministers in Idaho, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, have allegedly been ordered to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies at their chapel or face fines or jail sentences.  This nightmare began Oct. 7, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated Idaho's marriage laws and legalized same-sex marriage in that state, which allowed Idaho county clerks to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses a week later.