Is raw milk the new right wing thing?

The MAGAnuts have been relentless in their efforts to promote alternative realities that postulate that well-respected institutions that are science-based are actually part of a secret cabal that is trying to … well I don’t know what exactly but whatever it is, they tell us that those institutions should not be trusted. In pursuing that goal, they have been promoting alternative theories that go against the scientific consensus in many areas. If the scientific community argues for vaccines, they claim that vaccines are actually harmful. If the scientific community points to the dangers of greenhouse gases and global warming, they say that emitting those gases is good for the environment. It seems like they seize of anything that the FDA, NIH, EPA, and other organizations recommend to promote public health and oppose it. ‘Experts’, you know the people who spend decades studying issues and building up evidence to reach reliable conclusions, are dismissed as know nothings or, worse, as positively evil with a nefarious agenda.

Now these people are arguing that pasteurizing milk is not necessary and can actually be bad for you and that unpasteurized (so-called ‘raw’) milk is to be preferred. See this letter put out by raw milk advocates that asserts the alleged benefits of raw milk that is ‘carefully produced’.
[Read more…]

The surge of the Reform party in the UK

That the Conservative party under the leadership of Rishi Sunak is in deep trouble leading up to the elections on July 4th is well known. But this week brought even more bad news for them with a new poll that suggested that the upstart Reform party under the leadership of political gadfly and provocateur Nigel Farage, has just barely edged ahead of them. This article looks at history of this party and what this swing towards them might mean.

Needless to say Farage, who has targeted to Conservative party since both appeal roughly to the same sections of the electorate, has seized on this latest poll to declare that his party now forms the opposition, not the Conservatives. His goal seems to be to attract disgruntled Conservative voters to vote for Reform. However, that risks splitting the right wing vote and giving an opening for Labour and Liberal candidates to squeak past them to win marginal seats.

In the third of his commentaries on the election, Jonathan Pie looks at the Reform party and its leader.

Easy way to solve the climate crisis

The US southwest is already suffering from heat waves that are expected to spread to other parts of thecountry this coming week.

The scorching heatwave that has swept the US south-east in recent weeks will soon spread to the country’s midwest and north-east regions, affecting nearly 250 million Americans.

Temperatures are stuck at 90F (32C) or above for at least the next week in much of the US, the National Weather Service (NWS) predicted. The NWS defines a heatwave as a period of temperatures exceeding 90F for two or more days, and this one could last until 26 June.

The NWS said: “The first heatwave of the summer begins Sunday over the middle of the nation, before spreading to the midwest and to the north-east by Tuesday then lasting most of next week,” with temperatures expected to approach 105F and break records, with very warm nights.

Parts of Florida have set record high temperatures.
[Read more…]

US Supreme Court opens door to even more carnage

Today the body in a 6-3 opinion struck down a ban on the use of so-called ‘bump stocks’, the device that can convert a semiautomatic weapon (where you have to pull the trigger for each shot) to something that resembles a machine gun, where simply holding the trigger results in the gun firing repeatedly. Needless to say, the latter allows you fire bullets far more rapidly, allowing for greater carnage in the time interval before the shooter is stopped.

The ruling was 6-3, with the court’s liberal justices dissenting from the conservative majority’s decision. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said that a semiautomatic firearm equipped with a bump stock did not meet the definition of a machine gun, which are subject to stricter regulations.

The top court’s ruling in Garland v Cargill nullifies the Trump administration’s 2018 regulation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which ordered anyone who owned a bump stock to destroy it or hand it over to federal agents. The rule was passed after the devastating 2017 mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas, in which a gunman fired more than 1,000 rounds, killing 60 people and injuring almost 500.

[Read more…]

Limited victory for abortion rights

The US Supreme Court unanimously allowed the use of the abortion medication mifepristone.

The nine justices ruled that abortion opponents lacked the legal right to sue over the federal Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the medication, mifepristone, and the FDA’s subsequent actions to ease access to it. The case had threatened to restrict access to mifepristone across the country, including in states where abortion remains legal.

Abortion is banned at all stages of pregnancy in 14 states, and after about six weeks of pregnancy in three others, often before women realize they’re pregnant.

Kavanaugh’s opinion managed to unite a court deeply divided over abortion and many other divisive social issues by employing a minimalist approach that focused solely on the technical legal issue of standing and reached no judgment about the FDA’s actions. Kavanaugh’s seven “pro-life” references to abortion opponents may have been the only language in his opinion that revealed anything of his views on abortion.

About two-thirds of U.S. adults oppose banning the use of mifepristone, or medication abortion, nationwide, according to a KFF poll conducted in February. About one-third would support a nationwide ban.

More than 6 million people have used mifepristone since 2000. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone and primes the uterus to respond to the contraction-causing effect of a second drug, misoprostol. The two-drug regimen has been used to end a pregnancy through 10 weeks gestation.

[Read more…]

You can make a competitive sport out of anything

I have written before at my mystification at the appeal of the various food-eating contests where people compete to see who can eat the most of some item in a given time, or variations thereof. There is something off-putting about seeing people cram food into their mouths. But it seems like you can make a competitive sport out of pretty much anything and once you do, it can draw spectators and media attention

The most famous of these contests is the contest sponsored by a company called Nathan’s where, every July 4th, people compete to see who can eat the most of the company’s hot dogs (and buns) in 10 minutes. The record holder on the men’s side is Joey Chestnut. He has won the title (called the Mustard Belt) 16 times with the record being 76 hot dogs and last year won with a mere 62. On the women’s side, the record holder is Miki Sudo (whose husband competes on the men’s side) who has the record of 48.5 and won last year with 39.5.
[Read more…]

Does getting shot really throw someone back?

It is a familiar trope in any violent action scene. Some gets shot and the impact causes the person to fall back, sometimes even thrown into the air or, more spectacularly, propelled backwards through a glass window. Filmmakers seem to love such scenes but it would never happen in reality. This is because although the bullet is traveling at high velocity, it also has very small mass and so its momentum (mass times velocity( is small, not enough to knock the victim over. At best they might move back a couple of inches

Bullets cause damage by penetrating the body and hitting the various organs inside and causing loss of blood.

This article explains why.
[Read more…]

The GOP war on democratic institutions

It is quite extraordinary how the Republican party seems determined to tear down institutions that have long been seen as fundamental to the smooth functioning of democratic societies.

The most recent and extreme has been the attack on the entire judiciary system in the US in the wake of the many charges that have been leveled against serial sex abuser and convicted felon Donald Trump (SSACFT). He has lost defamation suits brought against him by E. Jean Carroll, business fraud suit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, and the falsifying business records to further his election campaign brought by Manhattan district Attorney Alvin Bragg. He further faces charges of election interference in Georgia brought by Fulton Country district attorney Fani Willis, and two sets of charges involving the possession of classified documents brought by the special prosecutor Jack Smith.
[Read more…]

How did the dog find the camp site?

A man who was driving in Oregon with his four dogs, crashed his pickup truck through a guard rail and fell into a ravine. One of his dogs ran four miles back to the campsite where the family was and this alerted them to the problem and they managed to find them.

The case unfolded as Brandon Garrett was driving with his four dogs north on US Forest Service Road 39 in Baker county, near where his family was camping.

During the trip, Garrett failed to navigate a curve in the road and crashed over an embankment, according to a statement from the Baker county sheriff’s office.

Garrett survived the crash, but the accident left him stranded and forced him to wait – and hope – for help.

Thankfully for him, one of his dogs ran back to the campsite, and the animal’s appearance led the Garrett’s family to realize something had gone wrong. The dog ended up running nearly four miles through the wilderness before tracking down the other campers on 3 June at 9.30am.

What amazes me is that the dog was able to get back to the campsite at all. There have been many stories about the amazing ability of dogs to travel long distances to find their way back home. The article mentions the well known ability of dogs to use their sense of small. But it also mentions them having an inner compass that detects magnetic fields as aids. I had heard of birds using magnetism to navigate but had not heard of that applying to dogs.

Dogs do have an incredibly strong sense of smell that enables them to pick up the minutest traces of scents to track and navigate. But this dog was not going home. The group was camping so this was unfamiliar territory and, since the dog had been traveling by truck, there would have been no scent to follow back to camp. How did the dog know where to go?

Nearly all campus protests were peaceful

There has been an eruption of protests across the world at the absolutely horrific slaughter of people in Gaza by Israel, most of whom are women and children. In the US, college students have been in the forefront of these events . If you have been following them, you might have got the impression that violence was a common element of the protests. But the media coverage has been extraordinarily biased, focusing on the rare violence that occurred, often triggered by the actions of university administrations and the police. These few instances have been exploited by apologists for Israel in the US, especially in Congress, to distract from the real issues raised by the students, by raising the usual claim that any protests against the actions of the Israeli government or the military were antisemitic.

A study finds that in fact, 97% of the protests were peaceful and did not cause any serious damage to property.
[Read more…]