Saturday, February 25, 2017

Desert Dwellers Evolve to Drink Poison

Quebrada Camarones
Desert people evolve to drink water poisoned with deadly arsenic
PEOPLE in a south American desert have evolved to detoxify potentially deadly arsenic that laces their water supply.

For settlers in the Quebrada Camarones region of Chile’s Atacama desert some 7000 years ago, water posed more than a bit of a problem. They were living in the world’s driest non-polar desert, and several of their most readily available water sources, such as rivers and wells, had high levels of arsenic, which can cause a variety of health problems.

The arsenic contamination here exceeds 1 microgram per litre: the highest levels in the Americas, and over 100 times the World Health Organization’s safe limits. There are virtually no alternative water sources, and yet, somehow, people have survived in the area. Could it be that arsenic’s negative effects on human health, such as inducing miscarriages, acted as a natural selection pressure that made this population evolve adaptations to it? A new study suggests this is indeed so.
OK, bad journalism warning.  1 microgram per litre (liter for us 'Muricans) is a perfectly acceptable level for arsenic in drinking water. The US upper limit is 10. I'm quite sure the scientists gave them the right number (probably as 1 mg/L or 1000 micrograms/liter) and the journalist mistranslated it for the article. Seawater, which you wouldn't want to drink much of, because of toxic levels of perfectly normal salts, contains about 1 microgram per liter
The body uses an enzyme called AS3MT to incorporate arsenic in two compounds, monomethylarsonic (MMA) acid and dimethylarsinic (DMA) acid. People who metabolise arsenic more efficiently convert more of it into the less toxic, more easily expelled DMA.
I was aware of this because I did a lot of arsenic research back in the day. For example, some phytoplankton have a problem with arsenic when phosphorus is low (phosphate and arsenate are chemical analogues), and have evolved efficient systems for methylating and excreting the As as MMA and DMA.
Mario Apata of the University of Chile in Santiago and his colleagues looked at variations in the gene coding for AS3MT in nearly 150 people from three regions of the country. They found higher frequencies of the protective variants in people from Camarones: 68 per cent there had them, as opposed to just 48 and 8 per cent of people in the other two. “Our data suggest that a high arsenic metabolization capacity has been selected as an adaptive mechanism in these populations in order to survive in an arsenic-laden environment,” the researchers conclude (American Journal of Physical Anthropology,
Just another example of how humans are constantly evolving to adapt to their environment. Even such traits we take for granted as blue eyes, blond hair and fair skin, are relatively recent additions to the human tool kit.

Reason #5457 Trump Was Elected

Over-regulation. Americans as a whole think they are over-regulated. Generally speaking, they perceive themselves as not needing regulation, but that the other guy does. Donald Trump, with a background in business, has a credible chance of making a dent in the administrative state:

#CPAC 2017: ‘The Deconstruction of the Administrative State’ — Steve Bannon

President Trump is “maniacally focused” on keeping the promises he made to America during his campaign, White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday during a panel with chief of staff Reince Priebus. That includes enforcing immigration law — “protecting the sovereignty of the United States,” as Priebus said — and an agenda of deregulation that Bannon called the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”

Bannon warned the audience in the Potomac Ballroom at the Conservative Political Action Conference to expect intensifying attacks on Trump the “corporatist, globalist media” that is opposed to the president’s agenda of economic nationalism. “If you think you are getting your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken,” said Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News. “We want you to have our backs . . . to hold us accountable for what we promised.”
It's long past time to do something about the creeping over-regulation of America. In that same vein: GOP Leaps on Congressional Review Act to Kill Obama Rules
A law that’s been successfully used only once until now is the conduit for a whole lot of action on Capitol Hill.

Republicans in Congress are expected to send a stream of bills — most of which require a single sentence — to President Donald Trump’s desk, using a process known as the Congressional Review Act to repeal agency rules. The act was tucked into 1996 legislation tied to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s famous “Contract with America.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, at a press conference last week, joined a group of Republican leaders who have trumpeted using the CRA to roll back regulations put in place under President Barack Obama. The law allows Congress to repeal certain rules of the previous administration under a fast-track process that requires only a simple majority in the Senate. Congress generally has 60 days to begin repeal of those rules.

Rule 5 Saturday - A Hunger for a Hungarian - Barbara Palvin

Without further ado, this week's Saturday Rule 5 special is Barbara Palvin:
Barbara Palvin (pronounced [ˈbɒrbɒrɒ ˈpɒlvin]; born 8 October 1993) is a Hungarian model, actress and former Victoria's Secret model. She is named as the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit "rookie of the year". She also appeared on the 2016 Love Magazine's advent annual video recreating Sharon Stone's iconic "Basic Instinct."
A worthy impersonation. Trust me on this.

Discovered on the streets of Budapest at the age of 13, Palvin shot her first editorial in 2006 for Spur Magazine. Palvin subsequently moved to Asia where she maintained a steady stream of bookings. Since then, Palvin has been on the cover of L'Officiel (Paris, Russia, Turkey, Thailand, Singapore), Vogue (Portugal), Marie Claire (Italy, Hungary), Glamour Hungary, Elle (Britain, Italy, Korea, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Serbia, Hungary), Allure, Harper's Bazaar and Jalouse Magazine. Palvin has appeared in campaigns for Armani Exchange, H&M, Victoria's Secret, and Pull & Bear. In February 2012, she became an ambassador for L'Oréal Paris.  In 2016, Palvin was revealed to be a part of the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Rookie Class.
Back in 2014 she hooked up with Justin Beiber. I won't hold that against her, but I will hold it against him.

Barbara Palvin on Twitter, Barbara Palvin on Instagram. A certain amount of NSFW material exists...

Priscilla Presley, original first lady of Rock n Roll, graces this week's GOODSTUFFs BLOGGING MAGAZINE (282nd Issue). In an effort to stay a breast of current events, he has also included plenty of FAKE NEWS for your entertainment!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dakota Access Protesters Evicted, Leave Behind Scorched Earth

Some protesters have decided to end their time at the camp by burning down structures that were built on the site. From the Associated Press:
Some of the praying protesters said burning the structures — which appeared to include a yurt and a teepee — was part of the ceremony of leaving. As heavy rain turned to snow, some said they expected no trouble during the eviction, despite a heavy law enforcement presence.
“People are being very mindful, trying very hard to stay in prayer, to stay positive,” said Nestor Silva, 37, of California. “I am not aware of any plans for belligerence.”…
Dom Cross, an Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, said he planned to return home after living at the camp since September.
“There’s a lot of sadness right now. We have to leave our second home,” he said.

After months of showdowns with police, local law enforcement will finally clear the camp today. Authorities are being gracious to the exiting protesters. There will be buses provided to give them a ride to Bismark, ND. Each protester will be given food, a voucher for one night in a hotel and a bus ticket to take them anywhere in the United States. Fox News reports that authorities are even offering some kind of symbolic arrest aimed at giving the protesters something akin to an honorable way out of the protest. However, anyone who stays past today’s 2pm deadline and refuses the offer will be arrested and charged. One way or another, the camp will be cleared out today.

Once it is empty the work of cleaning up the mess left behind by up to 10,000 protesters will continue. The area where the camp is located is in a flood zone that washes into the local river. There is concern that abandoned cars, garbage and human waste could all wind up in the river if it is not removed before flooding takes place.
Now, that's some real environmentalism there.

Does anyone recall the origin of the standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge? I do.
In 2012, Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr., 73, and Steven Dwight Hammond, 46, were both convicted of two counts of arson on federal land, in relation to two fires they set in 2001 and 2006. In a mid-trial settlement agreement, the Hammonds agreed to not appeal the arson convictions in order to have other charges dismissed by the government. The Hammonds were also told the prosecutor would seek the mandatory minimum sentence of five years. Ultimately, Dwight Hammond was sentenced to three months' imprisonment and his son Steven was sentenced to a year and a day's imprisonment, which both men served. However, in 2015, the sentences were vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which then remanded re-sentencing. In October 2015, a judge re-sentenced the Hammonds to five years in prison (with credit for time served), ordering that they return to prison on January 4, 2016.
The Hammonds were charged under anti-terrorism laws for starting brush fires on their own land that inadvertently spread into the adjoining wildlife refuge, fires which they put out after a few acres of brush were burned, with no help from the government. The Bundy's seized on this incident as an example of how the Federal Government was oppressing ranchers.

I'll bet none of these protesters will be charged under that law. Instead they get free bus tickets home. None of them were shot to death.

From yesterday's news The Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp is no more
Many of the 200-300 protesters remaining at the Dakota Access Pipeline main camp, known as Oceti Sakowin, packed up and left yesterday. Some chose to burn down shelters they had built over the past several months on their way out. But a few holdouts remained today so police moved in and cleared the camp one final time. From the Seattle Times:
Police moved on the camp Thursday morning in dozens of armored personnel carriers, as a helicopter and fixed-wing airplane circled overhead. Police moved tent to tent and shack to shack with guns drawn, clearing out demonstrators. By 2:09 p.m. Central Time, it was over.
As many as 100 demonstrators were in the camp, according to activists, but authorities estimated 50.
Apparently 39 people were arrested today. Authorities had previously offered anyone who wanted to leave some food, a hotel voucher and a bus pass to anywhere in the country. Total cost of the cleanup of the site is starting at $800,000 though it’s believed that could go as high as $1.2 million by the time everything is done. Meanwhile, environmental groups such as which supported the protest are vowing to continue the fight. . .
I hear the Indians were getting pretty tired of the filthy hippies.

Yet She Persisted

California state senator removed after criticizing Tom Hayden
A Republican legislator and Vietnamese refugee was dragged from the state Senate floor Thursday morning when a Democratic leader ordered her removed after she tried to criticize the late Tom Hayden, a former state senator and vocal opponent of the war in Vietnam.

State Sen. Janet Nguyen, R-Garden Grove (Orange County), who was born in what was then Saigon, spoke briefly in Vietnamese, but her microphone was shut off less than 30 seconds after she began to repeat her remarks in English.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County), who was presiding over the short floor session, called on Nguyen to sit down a dozen times, telling her she was out of order. But when Nguyen continued to read her statement into her dead microphone, Lara took stronger action.

“Sergeants, please remove Senator Nguyen from the chamber,” he said. “Have her removed immediately.”
Jane Fonda and Tom Hayeden,
The couple named their son Troi after
 a Vietcong martyr who attempted to assassinate
 U.S. Defence Sectretary Robert McNamara 
- before wisely changing it to Troy

In her statement, which Nguyen posted on her state Senate website, she argued that she was offering “another historical perspective” on Hayden, a founder of the 1960s radical group Students for a Democratic Society, one of the “Chicago Seven” arrested at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and a peace activist who served 18 years in the state Legislature.

Nguyen said she stepped out of the Senate chamber during Hayden’s memorial Tuesday, “out of respect to his family, his friends and you (senators).”

But she argued that Hayden “chose to work directly with the Communist North Vietnamese government to oppose the efforts of the United States forces in South Vietnam,” siding with a government “that enslaved and or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family.”
Tom Hayden's death in Oct. 2016 went unremarked here. Some career highlights:
Like his allies the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who were assassinated in 1968, Mr. Hayden opposed violent protests but backed militant demonstrations, like the occupation of Columbia University campus buildings by students and the burning of draft cards. He also helped plan protests that, as it happened, turned into clashes with the Chicago police outside the Democratic convention.
. . ..
In 1974, with the Vietnam War in its final stages after American military involvement had all but ended, Mr. Hayden and Ms. Fonda, who were married by then, traveled across Vietnam, talking to people about their lives after years of war, and produced a documentary film, “Introduction to the Enemy.” Detractors labeled it Communist propaganda, but Nora Sayre, reviewing it for The New York Times, called it a “pensive and moving film.”
. . .
He made the first of several trips to Vietnam in 1965, accompanying Herbert Aptheker, a Communist Party theoretician, and Staughton Lynd, a radical professor at Yale. While the visit was technically illegal, it was apparently ignored by the State Department to allow the American peace movement and Hanoi to establish informal contacts. The group went to Hanoi and toured villages and factories in North Vietnam. Mr. Hayden wrote a book, “The Other Side” (1966), about the experience.
 . . .
Directing an S.D.S. antipoverty project in Newark from 1964 to 1967, Mr. Hayden, in his last year there, witnessed days of rioting, looting and destruction that left 26 people dead and hundreds injured. The experience led to “Rebellion in Newark” (1967), in which he wrote, “Americans have to turn their attention from the lawbreaking violence of the rioters to the original and greater violence of racism.”

In 1968, Mr. Hayden helped plan antiwar protests in Chicago to coincide with the Democratic National Convention. Club-swinging police officers clashed with thousands of demonstrators, injuring hundreds in a televised spectacle that a national commission later called a police riot.

But federal officials charged Mr. Hayden and others with inciting to riot and conspiracy. The Chicago Seven trial became a classic confrontation between radicals and Judge Julius Hoffman, marked by insults, angry judicial outbursts and contempt citations.

Reason #5456 Trump Was Elected

The horror is not the realization that an inbred, arrogant cabal is intent on changing human behavior and controlling human thought.

That, I always took it, was a given.

The horror comes from the realization of just how fucking incompetent and dumb they are.
Their answer to a mild discomfort to a very small minority (where to go to the bathroom to feel normal) is to force the discomfort on a larger population because, shut up, bigots!

The social justice war for transgenders is merely a way to keep the LBGTQRSTUVWXYZ outrage machine alive, after they won on gay marriage. Outside the liberal and Clinton archipelago, very few people want to worry about private parts in bathrooms:

Maryland DNR Planning for Rays

Not a Cownose Ray, and not the Chesapeake Bay
DNR developing plan for cownose rays
As you may have read previously in The Capital, the state experienced a $1 billion swing (yes, that's billion with a "b") since last spring. What used to be a $450 million surplus is now roughly a $544 million deficit. So instead of figuring out how to disperse the monies — improve bridges and roads, enhance Chesapeake water quality and habitats, etc. — lawmakers and Gov. Larry Hogan now face the challenge of closing the gap.

If past is prologue then it's not too far afield to wonder if some outdoors programs could potentially face the budgetary knife. It's also worth noting that in Virginia the Saltwater Sport Fishing Tournament was on the budgetary chopping block until sport anglers got fired up enough to galvanize their opposition. They told their state legislators that cutting this extremely popular program, which is funded by their license fees, is simply unacceptable. Fishermen even threatened to buy their angling license from the Potomac River agency since there is reciprocation. At last check amendments to bills working through that legislature would restore the funds, as well as ensure the monies were spent on the specific sport fishing programs as intended.
So, money is tight. Politicians like to spend more than they like to tax, and in Maryland, they like to tax plenty. So what's that got to do with the Cownose Rays?
It's no surprise that legislation resulted from last year's blow-up over bowhunting tournaments for cownose rays. In fact, it's an issue that's been brewing for a few years. Last month the Department of Natural Resources proposed regulations to "prohibit the use of projectile gear (archery equipment, gig, spear and spear gun) for taking cownose rays during the period from July 1 through Dec. 31." That prompted the Maryland Bowhunters Society and the Maryland Hunting Coalition to ask DNR Secretary Mark Belton why the agency is moving forward if they haven't yet adopted a fisheries management plan for these migratory fish. A fair question.
The ban is largely based on "animal rights" concerns generated from bloody pictures from ray bow-fishing tournaments, not a real concern over the population of Cownose Rays, which is quite robust.
Last week, the state Senate unanimously passed a measure that imposes a moratorium on contests that kill cownose rays in Maryland waters while the DNR develops its plan. A House companion bill (HB211) was scheduled for a hearing this past Wednesday but when I looked online I did not see any outcome. Neither bills take a position on bowfishing parties on charter boats, focusing only on tournaments and/or contests. Even though I don't hunt rays, where I come down on the issue is fairly simple: I'd settle for some common sense, perhaps a rare commodity, tailored to the 21st century. Virtually all other sport fish have a set season. For rays I favor one after they spawn — July 15 until Sept. 30 might work — as well as a daily limit; three or four rays per day per angler seems reasonable. Perhaps even limit the number of tournaments, and attach some requirement or strongly encourage for bow anglers to report their catch. The "whack 'em & stack 'em" mentality I've seen dockside is not just unsustainable it seems unnecessarily vulgar.
It strikes me that having DNR spend it's time and money generating a plan for managing a species which is not thought to be in any significant danger, which is not often a species targeted, despite large numbers, based on the uneducated feelings of a few whiny anti-sportsmen is a waste of money, of which DNR is always in need.

The regulations above seem merely designed to forbid ray fishing tournaments; there is no evidence whatsoever that these pose any threat to the Cownose Ray.

I like to catch a ray or two on light tackle each year (they show up at "Location X" sometime in June. It's a little like having a runaway freight train at the other end of the line, a strong steady pull. The challenge is to get your terminal tackle back intact. Sometimes I succeed.