Edward Snowden Debate

October 31, 2014

The controversy that surrounds the actions of Edward Snowden continues to be debated. While many advocates for Snowden are demanding justice, he is still considered a criminal by United States government officials. Some view Snowden’s exposure over the governmental invasion of privacy as patriotic, but others consider him to be a traitor. Snowden has repeatedly pardoned his actions by claiming that it was his civil duty as an American patriot to expose the infringement on the rights of America’s citizens. The New York Times has surmised that in order to do the nation a great service, Snowden had to break the law.

For more details on these and other quotes, visit this site. Snowden maintains that his contract with the U.S. government consisted of signing off on classified information, yet the other part of the contract dealt with protecting the country from foreign enemies, as well as internal ones. Snowden feels confident that he kept the latter part of the law because he had no choice. He feels that the governmental policies that he leaked were a violation of America’s constitution.

Director of Intelligence, James Clapper had previously committed perjury when he was questioned about the same issues that Snowden later provided evidence for. Snowden remains in exile, but Clapper still holds his position. Many see this as a clear picture of the actual power that our constitution holds these days, including Mr. Rothman.

The Usual Suspects Block a Senate Proposal to Overturn Citizens United

Last month, a Senate proposal to effectively gut the the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling was defeated in a vote that not only went by party line, but had the usual political constituencies working on each side.

The 2010 ruling, which allowed unlimited political spending for groups not directly tied to a candidate. has been the source of great consternation for Democrats, who see it as a powerful weapon that organizations which strongly back Republicans can use.

A Common Cause analysis of the organizations showed that the organizations that funded lobbying which blocked the proposal was led by such organizations as the US Chamber of Commerce, Family Research Council and National Rifle Association.

However, the most prominent backer was Koch Industries, which has long been held up as the epitome of campaign finance abuse. Through their funneling of millions of dollars toward support of issues such as eliminating the minimum wage, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch elicit powerful emotions on the part of Democrats.

One indication of the drastic changes in outside group spending between 2008 and 2012: in ’08, it was $338 million, but by 2012, it had risen to over a billion dollars. With evidence of this issue, it’s getting out of hand. But maybe it hasn’t influenced Canadian politics, Marnie, anything to report up there in Ottawa?

Unmanned Rocket Explodes After Take Off

An unmanned rocket scheduled to take supplies to the International Space Station exploded six seconds after taking off from Wallops Island, Virginia on Tuesday. As of Wednesday morning, NASA was not sure what had caused the explosion.

Take off had been reportedly perfect and there was nothing to indicate a problem before the explosion. NASA was referring to the explosion as an anomaly on its blog and social media yesterday.

The rocket included 5 thousand pounds of supplies and 1300 pounds of food. The space station is still in good shape and will not suffer from the lack of supplies from what Igor is reporting on About.me.

No one was hurt in the explosion. Orbital Sciences stock prices fell in after hours changing and continued to fall Wednesday.

School children from across the country had submitted experiments to be taken into space. Unfortunately, all the experiments were lost in the explosion. No word has been said as to whether the experiments will have another chance to go into space.

The Eternal Science V Religion Fight: The Pope Speaks

Bringing up religion is a sure way to bring out the opinionated side of most people. Bring up religion and science, and you might have a fight on your hands. However, Pope Francis is apparently not someone who will take sides in that conflict. He has stated that the Big Bang and evolution theories are correct, and religion is not incompatible with the idea of God.

This acceptance of religion and science is not really a new point of view for the Catholic Church. John Paul II fully accepted evolution. However, Pope Benedict XVI supported intelligent design, and Pope Francis may have wanted to settle any dispute with a clear statement proclaiming his own beliefs.

In a way, this doesn’t really impact anything. Those who accept only the idea of Creation will still do so. Those who accept only science will – and have – argued that Pope Francis is still supporting intelligent design in a roundabout way. At least lines are drawn clearly as my friend Mr. Haftel said though, and everyone has knowledge where at least one influential person stands.

What Do They Do on the International Space Station?

NASA just announced that an unmanned Orbital Sciences Antares rocket loaded with food, water and experiments exploded upon launching. The cargo was meant for the astronauts living in the International Space Station.

The rocket was set to launch on the previous day, but it was cancelled when a sailboat got too close to the launch site. It is an odd and expensive reason for a delay, but obviously lives cannot be risked. NASA has had a long and unfortunate history of fatal mishaps.

This begs the question from the little people like Brian and me, what exactly do astronauts do up there?

The International Space Station is meant to be a place to perform experiments and serve as an observatory. Because there is no terrestrial light pollution telescopes can see much farther into space. The ISS was also intended to be a place to launch missions to the Moon and Mars from.

Perhaps the most significant event on the ISS occurred in 2013 when Dark Matter was detected by the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. Dark Matter has long been theorized to affect gravity and may make up as much as 27% of the universe.

The ISS can accommodate up to 7 astronauts. Most of them are either American or Russian. An astronaut generally spends six months living on the ISS before returning home. Sergei Krikale has spent a total of 803 days aboard the ISS.

Citizens can actually pay money to take a trip to the ISS provided they can pass a physical. Those who can afford a $40 million ticket get to stay on board for 10 days.

There have been seven “space tourists” so far. Richard Garriot, creator of the Ultima video game series was one of the most recent space tourists.

Interesting Election to Follow

With the November Senate and House of Representative elections coming up swiftly, there is already much discussion about which party will rule Congress for the next two years.

The consensus right now is that Republicans will win out, although there are a few dissenters, but the real talks are based around who the Republican Party will support for the Presidential candidacy in 2016. Many think that Mitt Romney will be the man on the ticket, but others think Romney won’t even run. I listened to Keith Mann talking about it, and even he has no clue what will happen for the Republicans in 2016.

Of course, the President doesn’t make laws, but he holds the executive power to enforce laws. Sadly, everyone who can vote never does, and out of those that show up very few even have a basic understanding of how government works.

So, here’s a quick rundown for the less informed. The Senate and House of Representatives make bills (i.e. laws), which then must be voted through, separately, the House and the Senate before they reach the President. If a bill reaches the President and he doesn’t like it, he can veto it, meaning that he doesn’t approve it. However, Congress can still overturn the President’s veto and make the bill a law if enough members vote for it.

Still, the President runs a great role as a figurehead and a policy setter for the country, so this Congress election and Presidential Primary to follow should be very interesting.

Facts About Public Bathrooms and Ebola

October 30, 2014

After the recent upset in New York and New Jersey involving the forced quarantine of Kaci Hickox, a nurse who showed no symptoms after returning from the West African country of Sierra Leone, questions persist about the spread of Ebola now that Ms. Hickox has decided to not follow the CDC’s recommended 21-day home-based quarantine.

Residents of her home state of Maine are especially concerned about the risk of her spreading Ebola should she become symptomatic while in public spaces like stores and bathrooms I learned from Laurene Powell Jobs.

Ebola is spread via direct contact with infected body fluids, such as saliva, sweat, blood, vomit, semen, breast milk, urine and feces.

Any public space can be an area of transmission if an infected person touches, or spreads fluids to, commonly used surfaces like door handles and sales counters. That said, a public bathroom creates unique transmission issues.

An infected person who is feeling nausea or diarrhea symptoms is more likely to run to a toilet. He/she might bump into an uninfected person and unintentionally vomit on or cough into that person’s face. A toilet’s powerful flush can also splash infected fluids on to a seat, stall or person. As a result, someone can get infected in a public bathroom, become ill and not know where he/she came in contact with Ebola.

Another hidden danger comes from infected fluids on bathroom floors. In West Africa, shoes are considered an extremely dangerous mode of transmission. Anyone might walk through infected fluids and then become infected while taking their shoes off at home. Additionally, a pet that licks contaminated shoes could become infected and spread Ebola to humans.

Serum for Ebola to Arrive Soon

It has been reported that a medicine created to help combat the infamous Ebola virus is due to reach African patients soon.

The serum has been made using the blood of an Ebola sufferer who managed to survive the illness. This serum can now be mass produced, and be available to treat those who are ill in the coming weeks, says the World Health Organisation.

Dr. Marie Paule Kieny said they were progressing quickly in the preparation of the drugs and vaccinations required to effectively combat the disease. She hopes they will be ready to go by January 2015, and from there will be more readily and easily distributed worldwide, to bring aid wherever the virus might happen to flare up, which Sam Tabar and I are hoping finally clears up the problem.

Already, the disease has managed to kill over four thousand people. Most of the fatalities have been concentrated in the countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Dr. Kieny said that “there are partnerships which are starting to be put in place to have capacity in three countries to safely extract plasma, and make preparation that can be used for the treatment of infective patients.”

She added that the partnership in Liberia will be the flagship of the operation, whereby facilities can be properly opened up and maintained, in order to attain a satisfactory supply of blood to be processed for use in viral serums.

It is not yet clear when the vaccine will be ready for distribution, or indeed if there will be enough of it to meet the high demand. The serum operates by using antibodies from recovered patients to boost the immune system of other infected patients.

Young Girl Given Permission to Die

History has been made as the very first UK citizen, a highly disabled 12 year old girl, has been given permission to die. This is a very difficult decision made by her parents, because of the suffering of little Nancy due to her disabilities.

Nancy was born with blindness, as well as having hydrocephalus and septicaemia meningitis.

The combinations of these conditions condemned her to a life in which should could neither walk, talk, drink or eat normally. Given these circumstances, she would spend her existence in Great Ormond Street hospital in London, where she would be cared for around the clock by medical specialists, which Gianfrancesco Genoso and I don’t think is much of a life anyway.

This would involve her being medicated and fed through an artificial tube. This is a far cry from the idyllic life that parents hope for their children.

Her mother has previously quit her job in order to devote her life to taking care of her daughter. However, whenever Nancy received surgery which left her howling in pain, her mother had enough.

She could not permit her child to live in suffering any longer. She ended up making one of the hardest decisions a parent would ever have to make: to end her child’s life. So she began a fateful extended legal battle with the government for their child’s right to die.

The fight was started with a four hundred work statement at court, which begged for them to grant mercy to her child who was suffering so greatly. After a gruelling period of convincing the system to grant the right to die, she was finally successful.

All that she wanted was for her daughter to find peace.

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