No big deal


Just move along, nothing to see here:

Scientists are monitoring an iceberg roughly six times the size of Manhattan — one of the largest now in existence — that broke off from an Antarctic glacier and is heading into the open ocean.

NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt said on Wednesday the iceberg covers about 255 square miles (660 square km) and is up to a third of a mile (500 meters) thick. Known as B31, the iceberg separated from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier last November, Brunt added.

“It’s one that’s large enough that it warrants monitoring,” Brunt said in a telephone interview, noting that U.S. government organizations including the National Ice Center keep an eye on dozens of icebergs at any given time.

The iceberg’s present location is not in an area heavily navigated by ships.

“There’s not a lot of shipping traffic down there. We’re not particularly concerned about shipping lanes. We know where all the big ones are,” she said.

Scientists are especially interested in this iceberg not only because of its size but because it originated in an unexpected location.


Heart Attack Grill - Las Vegas

This is probably good news:

WASHINGTON — Criticism over new cholesterol treatment recommendations appears to be growing, judging by remarks made by cardiologists this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, the group that issued the new guideline last November along with the American Heart Association.

Doctors are supposed to use the guideline to help them determine whether to prescribe statins for patients without heart disease to prevent future heart attacks or strokes. But cardiologists complain that a new risk calculator tool — which takes into account age, race, gender, and heart risks such as high blood pressure and cholesterol — overestimates cardiovascular risks, especially in older Americans.

“I don’t know anyone who’s using it,” Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist at UCSF School of Medicine, said during an interview at the meeting. “I still use the old Framingham risk score to assess heart attack risk.” (The latest version of Framingham is more than a decade old and doesn’t predict stroke risk.)

She and others are concerned that the new risk calculator tool will result in more healthy patients being unnecessarily put on statins to prevent heart disease. Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers estimated that the risk tool overestimated heart risks by 75 to 150 percent in a paper published last fall in the journal Lancet. And a new Duke University analysis published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine predicted that the calculator tool would make 13 million more American adults eligible for statins, including 87 percent of men ages 60 to 75 and 54 percent of women in that age group.

“The tool puts a far greater percentage of Americans in the high-risk group for heart disease, but that implies a certainty that we don’t really have,” said Dr. Michael Blaha, a clinical research fellow at Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute, in a presentation he gave at the meeting. “In some ways, it’s a step backward because it puts so much reliance on age to assess risk.”

Kochs trying to suppress vote in state they already supposedly won

David Koch & Charles Koch - The Koch Clowns


Conventional wisdom is that Republicans are guaranteed a Senate pickup in West Virginia, where Sen. Jay Rockafeller’s retirement has created an open-seat race in this reddening state. While I wouldn’t peg the GOP’s chances at 100 percent, it’s certainly hard to see a legit path to Democratic victory.

But if it’s such a gimme, why are the Kochs working hard to suppress the vote?

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant attacked Americans for Prosperity, a conservative nonprofit backed by billionaires Charles and David Koch, on Tuesday for distributing “misleading” and “confusing” voter registration mailings, according to the Associated Press.The leaflets, sent out to at least eight different counties, warned residents that if they did not update their voter registration before April 22, they could become ineligible to vote in the upcoming May 13 election. The mailer also included a voter registration card and prepaid envelope.

Americans for Prosperity claims that it’s just a generic non-partisan voter registration effort. Yet one of the counties mentioned, Marion, is among the more Democratic ones, giving Sen. Joe Manchin a 64-33 victory margin. And while President Barack Obama lost every county in the state in 2012, Marion’s 42 percent was among his best showing.

There’s also Berkeley and Jefferson Counties, both part of the DC metro area, among the fastest-growing in the state, and among the state’s most Democratic. In fact, Jefferson gave Obama his best showing in the state with 47 percent.

So AFP is innocently trying to goose voter registration in the state’s most Democratic regions? How helpful of them! And how full of shit, too.

Frack you, too

Natural Gas Rig

This certainly cheered me up!

A family claiming they were sickened because of pollution from hydraulic fracturing operations near their home should be awarded $2.95 million for their troubles, a jury ruled on Tuesday.

The Parr family had sued Aruba Petroleum Inc. in 2011, alleging the oil and gas producer exposed them to hazardous gases, chemicals and industrial waste that seeped into the air from 22 wells drilled near the family’s 40-acre plot of land, which sits atop the Barnett Shale.

The jury returned a 5-1 verdict saying Aruba “intentionally created a private nuisance,” awarding $275,000 for losses on property value, $2 million for past physical pain and suffering, $250,000 for future physical pain and suffering, and $400,000 for mental anguish.

“They’re vindicated,” David Matthews, one of the Parr’s attorneys, wrote on his firm’s blog Tuesday. “I’m really proud of the family that went through what they went through … It’s not easy to go through a lawsuit and have your personal life uncovered and exposed to the extent this family went through.”

Uh oh

Dangerous Tornado Threat to Arise From Texas to Nebraska This Weekend

Massive tornado outbreak this weekend:

Spring 2014 has been a quiet tornado season thus far, but that’s about to change this weekend, if the predicted forecasts that meteorologists are looking at hold true. Weather experts say conditions are lining up for a series of powerful tornadoes to hit an area ranging between Tennessee and Texas from Saturday through Monday. The National Weather Service predicts a “significant multi-day severe event” in the South plains on Sunday, moving into the Mississippi Valley on Monday.

The extreme warnings stem from an interaction between an East-moving low-pressure system over the Rockies mixing with wetness from the Gulf of Mexico. That will cause the creation of supercell thunderstorms, Slate’s Eric Holthaus explains, all kept in place in the South-Southwest by a high-pressure system in Canada. That makes the area ripe for a “big severe threat” this weekend, according to The Weather Channel, an extra level on top of today’s “severe threat.”

Holthaus notes that the best historical comparisons to a weather pattern like this point to some of the worst tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. That includes the April 26, 1991, stretch of tornadoes from Texas to Iowa that caused a billion dollars in damage and included a rare F5-strength tornado. For those in need of a refresher, here are FEMA’s guidelines for how to prepare for tornadoes.



I really hate going to doctors, because so many of them don’t listen. (I’m now in the doctor-eyeroll phase of my life.) I finally conveyed to my new internist that no, it’s not normal for me to be short of breath –and sleepy all the time. I walked out of his office with paperwork for a sleep study and a cardiac stress test.

The last time I had a sleep study was in ’99. The neurologist I saw then told me I didn’t have sleep apnea, as he first thought — but I did have narcolepsy. He told me the readouts showed that I was rarely out of REM cycle, even when I was awake. (Which explained a lot.)

So it seems likely I will soon be entering the Wonderful World of CPAP. Anyone have any tips?

Obama to bail on net neutrality?

BREAKING: 3 judges just sided with Verizon and struck down Net Neutrality. As of right now, anything on the Internet can be censored by your ISP, and no one can stop them. Read on if you dare:

Sounds like it:

Net neutrality is not dead. But it may be about to take a big blow to the head.

The Wall Street Journal has a foreboding scoop that provides details on an early draft of the Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules. And to put it mildly, Internet activists will not be thrilled.

According to the WSJ’s sources, the FCC’s plan would restructure the rules that govern online traffic by granting Internet service providers the ability to give some websites “preferential treatment” — i.e. faster traffic — in exchange for money.

If such rules were imposed, activists fear Internet service providers would make bandwidth-exhaustive websites — think Netflix and Skype — pay more for smoother delivery, which would theoretically mean higher prices for customers in turn.

According to the WSJ, companies in need of faster connections would have to pay for preferred treatment on the “last mile” of networks that connect to customers’ homes. Such pay-to-play schemes were banned under the old rules.

In a statement provided to Mashable, which the site described as “vague,” the FCC confirmed that its proposal would offer broadband providers “the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers.”

But there is some good news. The FCC’s proposal will ban Internet service providers from the most outright discriminatory practices, like blocking a legal website that offers a service that the Internet provider also offers. Unfortunately for defenders of the original tenets of net neutrality, these proposed rules will not be enough.

Land of the free and home of the brave

After 3 hours, I made it to the front of the airport security line in Atlanta. And after a cancelled flight, a missed rebooked flight, I finally caught a break with a delayed flight to Chicago. I'm just thankful I don't have to sleep in an airport.

Makes me proud to be an American!

In February 2012 Shinwari, who has lived in the US since he was 14, flew to Afghanistan to get married. He says that before he could get home to Omaha, Nebraska, he was twice detained and questioned by FBI agents who wanted to know if he knew anything about national security threats. A third FBI visit followed when he got home.

The following month, after Shinwari bought another plane ticket for a temporary job in Connecticut, he couldn’t get a boarding pass. Airport police told him he had been placed on the US no-fly list, although he had never in his life been accused of breaking any law. Another FBI visit soon followed, with agents wanting to know about the “local Omaha community, did I know anyone who’s a threat”, he says.

“I’m just very frustrated, what can I do to clear my name?” recalls Shinwari, 30. “And that’s where it was mentioned to me: you help us, we help you. We know you don’t have a job; we’ll give you money.”

Shinwari is one of four American Muslims in a new lawsuit who accuse the FBI of placing them on the no-fly list, either to intimidate them into becoming informants or to retaliate against them for declining.

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