Category: Heartland

A Shocking, Shameful High School Football Halftime Show

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On September 29, two police officers, 31-year-old Zach Moak and 35-year-old James White, were killed in a shootout in Brookhaven, Mississippi. “This is the worst day we can have in law enforcement,” said Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher in the wake of the murders.

Less than one week later, Brookhaven High School hosted Forest Hill High School for a Friday night football matchup. For one evening, it seemed as though the people of Brookhaven, reeling from the loss of their two heroes, would be able to put their grief aside and root for their Panthers. Unfortunately, this temporary escape from despair for the hundreds of Brookhaven students and families in the stands was short-lived.

During the halftime ceremony, the Forest Hill High School Band did the unthinkable: They mocked the tragedy that occurred in Brookhaven less than one week earlier. In a completely shameful display, Forest Hill band members, dressed as doctors and nurses, pointed fake AR-15 rifles at students wearing law enforcement uniforms.

Brookhaven student Sarah McDonald said, “I was sad because of what happened last weekend, and it felt like they were making fun of it.” A Brookhaven alumnus said, “I was shocked by the halftime performance just because of everything that our community is going through.”

Fortunately, the public backlash against the reprehensible halftime skit has been strong and swift.

The president of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police, Walter Armstrong, said the skit was “deplorable, disgusting, and outrageous … The adults in charge here should know better.”

Gov. Phil Bryant said, “This is unacceptable in a civilized society … Someone should be held accountable.”

Of course, one would assume someone would be held accountable. How about Forest Hill High School Band Director Demetri Jones? As of this writing, Jones has been put on administrative leave, but he has yet to be fired.

Dr. Errick L. Greene, superintendent of Jackson Public Schools, said, “You have my commitment that we will investigate it fully and take additional appropriate action with respect to procedures and personnel.”

Superintendent Greene, I sure hope your “appropriate action” includes the immediate termination of all school employees who knew about, let alone planned and organized, this repulsive skit.

Unfortunately, I am not confident Greene will follow through on his commitment. Immediately after the grotesque skit became public fodder, Greene seemed to defend the act by claiming, “Based loosely on the movie, ‘John Q,’ the band’s performance depicted a hostage scene that included toy guns.”

Dr. Greene, are you serious? What in the world does a 2002 movie in which Denzel Washington plays a character who holds doctors and nurses hostage have to do with high school football? Greene’s response is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to defend a vicious halftime skit that everyone immediately recognized was meant to rub salt in Brookhaven’s raw emotional wound.

As a former high school teacher, I have witnessed my fair share of outrageous and egregious acts by students, teachers, and district officials. In fact, my former superintendent resigned due to multiple ethics violations and an FBI investigation of alleged embezzlement. However, I must say that the despicable actions of Forest Hill High School Band Director Demetri Jones, Superintendent Greene, and, to some extent, the Forest Hill students who willingly participated in this cruel skit far outweighs anything I’ve ever experienced on school grounds.

Across the board, the public school system is failing. Bullying and violence on school grounds is rampant, test scores are stagnant, and far too many teachers—and band directors, apparently—care more about social justice than academics.

The disgraceful halftime performance by the Forest Hill band is just the latest example of the awful state of the public education system. In most situations, at least in the private sector, inept institutions are held accountable.

However, the U.S. government-run school system has lacked accountability for decades. America’s public school districts have become gargantuan monopolies that face little competition and are routinely held hostage by powerful teachers unions, who use political donations and their grassroots voting efforts to control many state and federal lawmakers.

The U.S. public education system is sclerotic, does not adequately educate children, and fails to instill values and principles, let alone maintain common decency. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: We should break the government education monopoly by allowing parents to decide the best educational option for their children—whether that be public, charter, private, parochial, or a homeschool.

Expanding educational choice would force all schools (especially public schools) to operate on a level playing field, improving efficiency. Furthermore, all schools would finally be held accountable, reducing the likelihood of future deplorable actions by out-of-touch band leaders and increasing educational outcomes across the board.

Vía The Freedom Pub https://ift.tt/2P5JQ9P

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Leftist Big Tech: ‘Communist China? Heck Yes. The US Military? Heck No.’

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The domestic Left really doesn’t like America or Americans very much.

In fact, it’s quite reasonable to say the Left loathes America and Americans.

Antifa: US Security Agencies Label Group ‘Domestic Terrorists’

Black Lives Matter: FBI Terrorism Unit Says ‘Black Identity Extremists’ Pose a Violent Threat

Occupy Wall Street Labeled ‘Terrorists’ By The FBI

US Domestic Terrorism: Earth Liberation Front

Weather Underground Bombs the Capitol, Pentagon

25 Reasons Why I Hate America

Top Ten Reasons to Hate Americans

An Uneasy America: ‘Why We Hate Us’

Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium

In this anti-America hater-ism – the domestic Left has very much in common with some other really AWFUL people.

The Islamic State Reveals Why it Hates Us, and So Do Their Islamic Supremacist Cohorts

Parents of ‘Hezbollah’s Boy Scouts’ Renew Hate for America

‘Why I Hate America?’ by Hamas Operative Khalid Amayreh

Iran Lawmakers Shout ‘Death to America,’ Burn U.S. Flag

North Korea Celebrates ‘Hate America’ Month

China Rails Against US

Speaking of Communist China…

China Hates Us

Communist China Blasts Second Amendment

China ain’t a fan of the First Amendment either.

China’s Digital Dictatorship

China Has Launched Another Crackdown on the Internet

China Censors Bad Economic News Amid Signs of Slower Growth

China’s Scary Lesson to the World: Censoring the Internet Works

In fact – China is earnestly trying to expand its censorious reach.

Digital China Goes Global

China Presses Its Internet Censorship Efforts Across the Globe

In fact – China wants to dominate everyone…and everything.

One Thing Way Worse Than Too Much US Government? Too Much Chinese Government

China Increasingly Challenges American Dominance of Science

And who’s bending over backwards to help Communist China challenge American dominance of science – and everything else?  And help Communist China censor everyone and everything?

Why…it’s America’s Leftist Big Tech.

A Generation Grows Up in China Without Google, Facebook or Twitter

Well…Leftist Big Tech can’t have that.  So…let the anti-freedom Communist-China-capitulations commence.

Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal

Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China

Amazon Goes All-In for Communist China Censorship to Suppress Freedom of Chinese Citizens

And, of course, Apple sold out to Communist China LONG ago.

Apple Can’t Resist Playing by China’s Rules

Apple Capitulates to Chinese Censorship

Microsoft too goes above and beyond.

We’re Staying in China, Says Microsoft

Microsoft to Continue Censorship in China

Microsoft Created A Censoring Chatbot For China That Won’t Talk About Trump

New Research Claims that Microsoft’s Bing Censors Heavily within China, Even More So than Baidu:

“Chinese Web monitoring service GreatFire is once again raising objections to the way Microsoft’s Bing operates in China – this time round claiming that it censors heavily within the country, even more so than domestic search engine Baidu.”

Get that?  Microsoft is censoring harder…than a Communist Chinese search engine.  Excellent.

Microsoft is so aiming to please the Communist Chinese….

Microsoft Accused Of Censoring Search Results – In The U.S.:

“Microsoft Corp denied on Wednesday it was omitting websites from its Bing search engine results for users outside China after a Chinese rights group said the U.S. firm was censoring material the government deems politically sensitive.

“GreatFire.org, a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group, said in a statement on Tuesday that Bing was filtering out both English and Chinese language search results….”

Speaking of Leftist Big Tech censoring in the US: These mega-companies are willing if not eager to censor conservatives…so as to suck-up to Communists-Leftists – because they themselves are Communists-Leftists.

They’ll suck-up censor in China – and here in the US.

Google, Facebook, YouTube Censorship of Conservative Sites, Voices Just Like Communist China

Tech Companies Apple, Twitter, Google and Instagram Collude to Defeat Trump

Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Slapped with Class-Action Lawsuit over Conservative Censorship

These Screenshots Show How Google Shadowbans Conservative And Pro-Trump Content

The Purge: YouTube Mass-Censors Conservatives, New Right, Classical Liberals

Facebook Has Become The World’s Most Dangerous Censor

Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News

Facebook Censors Prominent Conservatives

Facebook Censors Conservatives Articles

Twitter Employees Admit To Censoring Conservatives, Banning Them For Political Reasons

Liberal Journos Prove Twitter is Censoring Conservatives

How Apple and Google Are Censoring the Mobile Web

Big Tech’s Borg employees are more than happy to work for companies that censor speech.  Here – and all over the world.  All at the behest of the Communism-Leftism in which they so vociferously believe.

But Big Tech’s Borg employees won’t work for companies – that work for the US Defense Department.

Google Exits Pentagon ‘JEDI’ Project After Employee Protests:

“Google is dropping its bid for a multi-billion dollar Pentagon cloud computing project called JEDI after a spate of employee protests….The decision follows a months-long protest by Google’s workers, who oppose the company profiting from government defense contracts.”

Get that?  Big Tech’s employees have zero problem with their companies profiting from doing Communist China’s bidding.

But work for the US military – which has time and again saved the planet from itself?  Heck no:

“More than 4,000 employees signed a petition demanding ‘a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.’ A dozen employees also resigned in protest.

“‘This plan will irreparably damage Google’s brand and its ability to compete for talent,’ the employees wrote.”

But for these idiots – working for a decade-plus FOR THE COMMUNIST CHINESE…doesn’t “damage Google’s brand.”

Is it just Google and its employees?  Heck no.

An Open Letter to Microsoft: Don’t Bid on the US Military’s Project JEDI – Signed by Employees of Microsoft:“We joined Microsoft to create a positive impact on people and society, with the expectation that the technologies we build will not cause harm or human suffering….When we decided to work at Microsoft, we were doing so in the hopes of ‘empowering every person on the planet to achieve more,’ not with the intent of ending lives and enhancing lethality.”

Again – these Leftist idiots work for a company that has spent two-plus decades – DOING COMMUNIST CHINA’S BIDDING.  The idiots continue:

“For those who say that another company will simply pick up JEDI where Microsoft leaves it, we would ask workers at that company to do the same. A race to the bottom is not an ethical position. Like those who took action at Google, Salesforce, and Amazon, we ask all employees of tech companies to ask how your work will be used, where it will be applied, and act according to your principles.”

Leftist Google buckled to its Leftist employees.  Leftist Microsoft’s Leftist employees are looking for a similar buckling – not just from Leftist Microsoft, but every single Leftist Big Tech company.

To not work for the United States military.

After decades of working for Communist China.

Leftists possess way too much self-esteem.  Leftists possess way too little self-awareness.

I’m not at all sorry: These people are idiots.

[Originally Published at RedState]

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Who Should We Thank for All Those Wonderful Fruits and Vegetables? ‘Not Mother Nature’

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Half of the vegetables grown in the United States are from California. “California is famous for three things: “Hollywood, Silicon Valley and vegetables,” says John Purcell, Monsanto’s global vegetables R&D lead. There’s more similarity between those last two than you might think.

The Central Valley of California stretches about 450 miles, running parallel to the Pacific Ocean and encompassing an area the size of a small country. The sun shines three hundred days a year and the hot summers and cool winters are ideal for growing crops. Over two hundred fruits and vegetables thrive — fields of tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, broccoli and watermelon are spread across the valley like a rainbow tapestry.

The big players in vegetable technology — agribusinesses such as Dow, Syngenta and Monsanto (now merged with Bayer) — all have a presence. Monsanto’s Woodland vegetable research facility is the largest seed research center in the world. On its 212 acres sit offices, a seed library, greenhouses, a genetic marker lab and fields upon fields of fruits and vegetables.  Last year, Monsanto brought me to Woodland at their expense to gather with a group of reporters to “gain an inside look at where agricultural technology (AgTech) is today, and where it’s heading in the not-so-distant future,” per the email invite.

Most of the fresh vegetables at my local California supermarket come from the Central Valley. Here the idea of “agricultural technology” has plausible deniability. Browsing the produce section, the most common word I see on packages is some version of “natural”: There’s NatureFresh peppers, Naturipe strawberries and NatureSweet tomatoes, to name a few. There’s no hint that technology has been involved in creating any of these.

A packaged medley of colorful cherry tomatoes advertises itself as “Wild Wonders.” What passes for a “Wild Wonder”? The brown tomato in the bunch is the mini Kumato, a patented plant with a thirteen-page dossier. Every tomato in the package is a trademarked variety, grown inside sophisticated hydroponic greenhouses that firmly keep out the wilderness.

Real, wild tomatoes are pea-sized and “aren’t very good,” according to Mark Oppenhuizen, Monsanto vegetable R&D strategy and operations lead. These domesticated beauties have been radically transformed by a multitude of human decisions, starting in Mexico during pre-Columbian times. These are tomatoes nature had never generated. The flavors are wonderful, but there’s nothing wild about them. It’s a complete fiction.

These tomatoes remind me of a headline I ran across a couple of years ago: “A tomato contains more technology than an iPhone.” That headline is a metaphor that perfectly encapsulates the point that every modern crop is the result of mankind taking the given in nature and transforming it into something radically different.

And it’s not just tomatoes — examples of this are all over the place. Corn began as a grass-like plant with tiny cob-like fruits. It wasn’t very nutritious and was completely unrecognizable (without a biology degree, anyway) as the precursor of corn. Wild bananas are tiny, with pulpy flesh, riddled with seeds and encased in a tough peel. Before domestication, they were lean and mean. Kale, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli all come from the same wild mustard plant, which more closely resembles an old stick than any of these modern vegetables.

Each vegetable that we enjoy has been transformed through thousands of human decisions into highly advanced products. In other words, into pieces of technology, much like an iPhone. But this isn’t something we celebrate, let alone acknowledge. In the grocery store, natural mythology reigns supreme. And anything that upsets that narrative is likely to be passed over by customers.

When we see a smartphone or a computer, the curved lines of metal bezels and high-gloss black plastic immediately signal that this is something created by humans for humans. But with food it’s different. When we see the succulent curves of a tomato or the cheery and convenient yellow peel of a banana, we give the credit for these attractive qualities to the wrong thing entirely. We pluck them from plastic boxes in air-conditioned grocery stores underneath signs that crow “all natural” with nary a thought of how unjust that is to the human beings who created them.

According to the makers of the Wild Wonder tomatoes, customers shouldn’t be turned off by the deep brown color of the Kumato since “the brown tone is not due to genetically modified whatevers.” “We don’t do that,” they assure customers without a hint of self-consciousness.

It’s not Mother Nature we should be thanking — it’s mankind and its scientists.

As I step through the black security fence that encloses Woodland, I’m reminded of the controversy that surrounds Monsanto. Environmentalist groups, such as Millions Against Monsanto and Greenpeace, have made careers out of demonizing and attacking this agricultural company. Just typing the word “Monsanto” into an internet search spits back a list of millions of headlines, rife with conspiracy theories about the allegedly dangerous “unnatural” foods this “evil” company is creating.

Its very existence of pushes against a food mythology that most people hold dear: the idea that when it comes to food, natural is better. What I found behind the security gate wasn’t mustache-twirling scientists making food worse through technology, but food entrepreneurs using the latest technology to improve food: in ways both big and small.

Consider the tomato

The great thing about the capitalist grocery store is that shoppers don’t have to be too concerned about where their food comes from in order to fill their carts. Tomatoes almost always make it onto my grocery list, and I don’t often stop to consider them when unceremoniously placing them into my basket. But for those who stop to consider the tomato, the experience is fantastic. And it has the mark of humanity all over it.

While in Woodland, I found myself sitting at a table about to do just that.

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The mock taste test is about to begin. Inside each cup hides a single cherry tomato.

In front of me sits a clean, blue plastic tray set with numbered cups, a plain white napkin and plastic utensil, all neatly arranged. As I sit and begin to fiddle with what’s in front of me, I hear a voice from the front that chides, “Leave the cups in the order you found them.” That’s Chow-Ming Lee, consumer sensory lead at Monsanto. Later I’ll learn why — everything in front of me has been placed there purposefully. I’m there with a group of reporters, participating in a mock taste test. This is how Lee sets up to gather data on his favorite fruit: tomatoes.

Lee is obsessed with every detail of tomatoes and engrossed by how consumers experience them. Using the data he gathers in taste tests like this one, he can direct breeders to create better-tasting, higher-quality tomatoes that are ever more tempting. For Lee, finely dialing in each aspect of the tomato adds up to “product advancement.” Like all science, it’s serious business.

The samples in front of me are labeled clearly with three-digit numbers — not one or two digits, which testers might subconsciously identify with their personal favorite numbers. Three digits are anonymous enough, but not so lengthy as to be overwhelming. Even the one-through-nine scale we will use to rate the tomatoes has been studied. “The data set is challenging,” says Lee. To get good data, you must be fastidious, doing everything possible to minimize the “noise.”

I open sample 956. There’s a cherry tomato staring back up at me. I focus. In a moment, I’m going to have to rate it. Isolated in this way, it occurs to me that I’ve never really considered a tomato before.

It’s incredible.

It’s a swirl of perfect tomato red in deepening shades, more oblong than spherical. It’s firm, yet it springs back when I squeeze it between my fingers. Lee directs us to pop it into our mouths whole, so as not to “weaponize it.” I oblige.  As I bite, there’s a pleasing crunch as the flavor bursts out of a void I didn’t even know existed. I experience it in waves as I chew. A bite of acid is balanced, then overtaken by a note of sweetness. It finishes with a lingering cadence that I can only name as “tomato.” I don’t even have the vocabulary to describe this.

After I’m finished, I’m left wanting another. Being able to design this kind of experience would make any smartphone engineer jealous.

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Dr. Chow-Ming Lee explains how to eat a cherry tomato. Pop it into your mouth whole, so as not to “weaponize it.”

According to Lee, consumers use all of their senses “to come up with one simple conclusion: I like it.” And if they don’t like it, it can send breeders back to the drawing board. In iPhone engineering, this would be called “usability,” or “focus group testing.” And Lee is “serious about getting good data.” Lee envisions a day when his data could help taste-testing robots “estimate consumers” and predict which varieties are likely to succeed in actual consumer testing.

All this so that shoppers like me can pick up delicious tomatoes from grocery stores without having to think too much about it.

As for tomato 956, I gave it a six. As good as it was, I can somehow imagine even better. Lee says that a six is pretty good for a tomato. After all, he says, “it’s not chocolate.”

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The seed library at Monsanto Woodland. This gene bank contains millions of seeds, says Mark Oppenhuizen.

Match.com for lettuce

When growing the hardiest and best-tasting vegetables, it all comes down to having the right seeds. Just as a golfer brings all of his clubs to the course, not knowing which type of shot he will need to make, breeders need a diversity of seeds if they are going to create the next generation of plants.

Wild tomatoes, for example, may not be all that appetizing but they are adapted to grow in a variety of climes in their native South America. That means wild tomato seeds could offer breeders valuable traits, like disease resistance, ability to survive in a drought or even striped skin, if you are into that kind of thing. But Mother Nature’s gene pool is useless without a great deal of work — it must be turned into a resource. Nature doesn’t catalog, collect and systematize genes for human use. That’s what a seed library is for.

In refrigerated rooms at Woodland stand row upon row of shelves, lined with boxes of seeds stacked twice the height of a man. There are millions of seeds in the library, and each packet has a story. Some contain seeds that breeders created last year, others were collected from the wild in seed expeditions in the 1940s and 50s, while others contain varieties popular in gardens in the 1800s. “Our seed companies go back over a hundred years,” says Oppenhuizen.

Related article:  University report blames Greenpeace, radical environmentalists for blocking GM Golden Rice, costing millions of lives

Each packet has a scannable QR code that calls up all known information about the variety in the library database, from disease susceptibility to morphology. Information is constantly being added. But seeds aren’t kept here as museum marvels — one of those seeds might hold the key to solving a problem. Using modern technology, seed librarians aid farmers in their quest to render harmless the chaos and unpredictability of nature.

This is what is known as a “working library,” says Oppenhuizen, and in plant problem-solving, “having a diversity of seed is really critical.” For example, if farmers report a fungus sickening their lettuce crop, researchers like Staci Rosenberger, a plant pathologist at Monsanto, get hold of a sample, implant it on a live host to keep it alive and hunt through the library to find a lettuce equipped with genes that would give it some measure of immunity.

A diversity of seed in the library means a better chance that she’ll be able to find a lettuce that could help. “It’s like Match.com for lettuce,” says Purcell, the R&D lead.

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A box of watermelon seeds, pulled from the library.

When the right lettuce is found, it is bred with the affected variety. But there is no guarantee that the seeds from this cross will grow into varieties that are both disease-resistant and appetizing. It will take many generations of selective breeding to create just the right lettuce. And it is impossible to tell by looking which seed might be an offspring headed in the right direction. “Marker-assisted breeding” makes that job fast and predictable. Before this technology existed, even a dedicated farmer with careful notes could spend a lifetime breeding generation after generation of plants, one per season, with only a hope that the right lettuce would eventually emerge.

Today, offspring lettuce seeds can be sent not into the ground but into Woodland’s genetic marker lab, where a “seed chipper” takes tiny DNA samples.

The genetic marker lab is the most high-tech part of the facility. Once inside we are not allowed to photograph the machines — the competition could figure out exactly how they function. Marker-testing machines here look at millions of DNA samples a year to help breeders determine which genes should make it into the ground. Marker-assisted breeding is like the artificial selection our ancestors practiced for ages, only this isn’t blind. By peeking at the genes within the seed, researchers can help determine which seeds will contain desirable traits, without having to “plant and check.”

Genes are like recipes in an organism’s cook book — they determine what traits the plant will have, from the shape of a leaf to the color of a fruit. Lab technicians prepare tiny, pinhead-sized DNA samples by the thousands and feed them through a machine that determines what those traits are.

A tomato, for example, has approximately 31,000 genes, more than a human. Along those long and winding roads of DNA, about a hundred regions have been “flagged” or matched to the traits they produce in the plant, including regions that control disease resistance, color and flavor.

Researchers in this part of the facility act like the Lewis and Clark of the plant genome. They explore uncharted DNA, creating maps and flagging genes that will help breeders decide which seeds should be planted. Instead of canoes and pencils, they use molecular biology, statistics, information technology and precisely engineered machines to complete their expeditions. All this to help breeders upgrade lettuce, melons and tomatoes.

And it’s not only positive traits that marker-assisted breeding can screen for. In potatoes, for example, breeders must keep a close eye on the glycoalkaloid production. Glycoalkaloid is a natural substance potatoes produce in defense against insects and fungus, but potatoes that produce too much can be toxic to humans. Monsanto scientists don’t concentrate on potatoes, but elsewhere, potato scientists are working to flag genes that control this trait to help avoid accidentally breeding toxic tubers.

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Top: An unappetizing lettuce grows from library seeds. Bottom: Various seeds in dishes.

Marker-assisted breeding is not considered “genetic engineering,” although in terms of the goal of creating superior plants, there is little difference between the two methods. DNA is the software of the plant — it tells the hardware how to grow. Marker-assisted breeding screens for the seeds with the best operating systems, created in the random happenstance of sexual propagation; genetic engineering, on the other hand, changes the code directly. In genetic engineering, single genes that produce desirable traits are transferred one at a time from one plant into another before breeding.

Each technology has its advantages. Genetic engineering is the clear winner when desired genes are known or when the gene that is key to creating a superior vegetable comes from a different species. For example, Golden Rice borrows genes from corn and a common soil microorganism. These additional genes give rice the power to produce pro-Vitamin A, the same nutrient, found in carrots and spinach, that helps to prevent blindness. A rice-only mating program could not possibly create it. Conventional marker-assisted breeding is the winner when a trait is controlled by many genes, or when the genes that code for the trait you are looking for aren’t precisely known.

Genetic engineering is a relatively new technology, emerging in the last thirty years, but in terms of the goal of food improvement, it is not different in kind from older technologies involving cruder forms of genetic modification such as artificial selection. It is interesting to note that the most precise tools, transgenics (GMOs) and more recent advances in new breeding techniques such as gene editing, are also the ones most viciously attacked by environmentalists. They work tirelessly to shut down any attempt to use genetic engineering, whereas messy marker-assisted breeding, in all its technical glory, somehow escapes their ire.

enetic engineering is considered impious because it isn’t “natural,” or as one prominent anti-GMO activist puts it, because it is “pollution” of the genome. In truth, the foods we enjoy today are the product of thousands of years of human-influenced changes. Genetic modification that did not — could not — have occurred ‘naturally’. Thankfully, the abundant foods now available have been radically altered from their natural states; improving food is a distinctly human activity, and an intensely moral one, no matter the tool we reach for.

Prepare for change

In Silicon Valley, an entrepreneurial attitude is part of its identity That attitude is called “crushing it” or “changing the world.” Changing the world can mean engineering a new app that everyone wants or writing code that controls a fleet of self-driving cars.

I found the same entrepreneurial attitude alive in “Vegetable Valley.” In Vegetable Valley, changing the world could mean you uncovered a disease-resistant strain of romaine or cherry tomatoes have a smoother finish this year thanks to your data. And what goes into “changing the world” this year may not be good enough to do it next year.

Back at the mock taste test, Lee notes that this changeability is one of the exciting challenges in the science of consumer preference testing. A tomato that has done well one year may not the next — trends change, as well as consumer expectations. Once they have tasted better, they will expect it again the next season. “It’s not stagnant,” he says. “You have to be prepared for change.”

The grocery store is full of change, if you stop to notice. Miniature watermelons are now available. So are tiny peppers and carrots cut baby-sized. Garlic on the other hand, is grown colossal-sized and strawberries seem huge compared to what I used to get as a child. I experienced a jolt of delight earlier this year when heads of neon purple and orange cauliflower showed up next to the plain white variety. I buy them just for the fun of it. Hopefully, genetically engineered apples that don’t brown when sliced will soon be available. I’ll even buy Kumatoes as a thank-you to some anonymous food innovator who thought that I would find a deep-chocolate-colored tomato intriguing.

It’s only through human technology that we have access to a cornucopia of ever-improving produce.

But there’s no indication that the natural food myth is changing. Organic foods, an entire segment of food production, philosophically opposed to any sort of technology in food, swells every year. Although it only represents about 4 percent of the market, Americans spent $45 billion on organic foods last year. Labels that advertise food as “not genetically engineered” are ubiquitous. Even Monsanto, with its technologically advanced Woodland facility, doesn’t do much to dispel the myth beyond the fence surrounding the research center. They tell us on their website that agriculture’s success is attributed to farmers working in “harmony with nature.”

It’s time to ditch the mythology.

When it comes to growing food, nature is the wild we tame, the chaos and disease that we keep out of the greenhouse and the raw genetic materials we transform into seed resources. The real story of agriculture is the transformation of the rare, inefficient and scarce into the common, plentiful and cheap. It’s the story of creating living technology to solve problems that have plagued generations before us. It’s the entrepreneurial quest for the best, even in the face of the pretty good. Agricultural technology is something to celebrate, not shun.

Philosopher Ayn Rand said that a scientist “is a man whose mind does not stand still.” And if it is to make our lives better, the technology created by scientists can’t stand still either. That’s true for both smartphones and tomatoes.

“I live and eat and breathe tomato,” says Lee. “Why tomatoes?” I ask him. “It’s complex,” he says. “Tomatoes are challenging.”

Meeting the challenge is what it means to be human.

[Originally Published at the Genetic Literacy Project]

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The IPCC’s Latest Climate Hysteria

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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report 15 claims the latest disaster “tipping point” is just 12 years away. If governments around the world fail to make “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” human civilization and our planet face cataclysm, the IPCC asserts.

MIT Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Physics Richard Lindzen accurately called the hysteria-laden report and press releases from this power-grabbing agency “implausible conjecture backed by false evidence and repeated incessantly … to promote the overturn of industrial civilization.”

In fact, the IPCC insists that fossil fuel use must be slashed from over 80% of global energy today to zero by 2050 – and the world must spend $2.4 trillion per year for the next 17 years to subsidize the transition to renewable energy. That’s on top of the $2 trillion per year already being spent on Climate Crisis, Inc.  research, consulting, carbon trading and renewable projects. The likely total bill: $60-80 trillion by 2036!

These massive upheavals are essential, the IPCC claims, because average global temperatures cannot be “allowed” to rise more than another 0.5 degrees C (0.9 F) “above pre-industrial levels.” That’s around 1850, when the Little Ice Age ended. Indeed, the IPCC now says all warming since then is due to fossil fuels!

IPCC officials also want to use climate chaos scares to redistribute the world’s resources and wealth – and “transform” the capitalist model into a one-world centrally/UN planned and controlled economic system.

Adding to the pressure for immediate action, the increasingly politicized Nobel committee awarded half of its Prize in Economics to William Nordhaus for his work trying to show that carbon taxes and other pricing mechanisms for fossil fuels are more effective and efficient than direct government controls.

It’s all just in time for the November US elections and December climate confab in Katowice, Poland.

The IPCC claims and demands are laughable, but expected after years of corruption and conflicts of interest. They are also belied by the world’s rapidly increasing reliance on fossil fuels to lift and keep people out of poverty, create jobs, and improve human health, nutrition, welfare and living standards.

Germany is building new coal-fired power plants and demolishing ancient forests and villages to extract more coal. China plans to double its coal use and (plant-fertilizing) CO2 emissions by 2030. India expects to increase its coal use and CO2 output threefold. Africa and the rest of Asia are racing to catch up.

Equally important, the IPCC disaster claims are contradicted, refuted and even demolished by real-world data, evidence and studies by scientists who are not on government and alarmist payrolls.

A 986-page 2013 report by 49 scientists from 14 countries analyzed hundreds of studies examining the physical aspects of climate change. The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change report, Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science, presents a detailed, authoritative, independent and persuasive analysis of the natural and human causes of climate change and their impacts on our planet.

The 1038-page 2014 NIPCC report Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts was prepared by 30 scientists from 11 nations. It summarizes and quantifies the real-world biological implications – and benefits – of a moderately warmer planet with more plant-fertilizing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

A recent, first-ever audit found temperature data shortages so severe during the 1800s and early 1900s, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, that the information is useless for analyzing climate trends as fossil fuel use increased. The audit also cites repeated data adjustment errors, a near absence of quality control checks, and patently ridiculous errors: for example, the IPCC reported that a town in Colombia endured three months in 1978 at an average daily temperature of over 80 degrees C (176 F)!

Yet these data are the foundation for IPCC computer models, horror stories and energy policy demands.

A new NIPCC report, CCR II: Fossil Fuels (by 117 scientists, economists and other experts from 11 countries) examines and refutes claims that climate change impacts on people and the environment justify dramatic reductions in fossil fuel use. To the contrary, the report carefully documents, fossil fuels hugely benefit human employment, communication, mobility, health, living standards and longevity.

For example, coal, oil and natural gas production and use affect far less surface area than wind, solar and biofuel energy, thereby keeping more wildlife habitat in its natural state. Fossil fuels also deliver plentiful, reliable, affordable energy that is the foundation for human prosperity, health and welfare.

All these studies strongly suggest that Dr. Nordhaus’s work is a solution in search of an exaggerated and largely fabricated manmade climate problem. Carbon taxes and other energy pricing systems are really an expensive, burdensome, unworkable new form of government control through price mandates. They fail to acknowledge or consider true market mechanisms and tradeoffs – thereby allowing crony capitalists, bureaucrats and activists to impose economy-wrecking price-hikes on nearly all goods and services.

Over the past four decades, “climate sensitivity” factors have steadily declined and temperature, polar ice, sea level, hurricane, tornado, drought and other real-world observations have trended far below IPCC claims that fossil fuels are causing dangerous and unprecedented problems. However, Dr. Nordhaus has consistently accepted IPCC assertions and built his carbon-pricing theories on that shaky foundation.

Actual scientific evidence increasingly shows that human effects on global climate are likely too small to be measured against the background of natural variation, much less cause “unprecedented climate mayhem.” Most climate model forecasts of future warming due to human activities violate accepted principles of scientific forecasting and have been far above actual temperature measurements.

“Public choice” research by Gary Becker, James Buchanan, Ronald Coase, Elinor Ostrom and other Nobel Prize Laureates explains why legislators, regulators and interest groups repeatedly exaggerate ecological and other threats: the hyperbole and sensationalism advance their financial interests, fame, stature or ideological agendas. In all too many cases, costly government regulations are imposed that benefit the few, while reducing opportunity, health and welfare for millions.

To the extent it is a problem, manmade climate change will not be solved by markets or by government intervention. Climate and extreme weather are still poorly understood phenomena that involve the interaction of numerous natural (and some human) forces. Addressing the hypothesized human causes involves the needs and choices of billions of people, thereby producing countless positive and negative externalities along the way. Fossil fuel benefits today and over the past 200 years have been huge and well documented, while the costs are uncertain but clearly orders of magnitude smaller than benefits.

Wind and solar provide insufficient electricity, at high prices, below rated capacity, from extensive land, using vast raw materials – making them unable to power modern economies or lift nations out of poverty.

The world is not dealing with a “tragedy of the commons” – but with an “opportunity of the commons,” an chance to use wealth created by fossil fuels to support environmental policies based on sound science, rather than ideology or scare tactics; study the actual causes of climate change, and predict changes accurately; and find the best ways for societies to respond to future climate and weather challenges.

The fact that externalities almost always exist does not necessarily justify government intervention, In fact, governments often struggle to find solutions to complex conflicts or disparate access to public goods. Coase taught that negative externalities can be traded, while Ostrom demonstrated that solutions are most likely found in private institutions that can tap the value-creating power of human genius, reliable information, private property rights, voluntary exchanges and negotiated tradeoffs.

Nordhaus and other economists need to acknowledge these facts, ClimateGate and data falsification problems within IPCC circles – and the fundamental right of people everywhere to improve their lives using fossil fuels … until equally accessible, reliable and affordable alternatives are developed.

Up to now, the IPCC and its allies have behaved too much like crooked prosecutors, witnesses, judges, juries and agitators in a capital case against fossil fuels. We cannot let them decide humanity’s future.

Vía The Freedom Pub https://ift.tt/2q25s9f

Heartland Weekly – Streamline FDA Process to Cure Cancer

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If you don’t visit Freedom Pub and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! Heartland Weekly is here for you every Monday with a highlight show. Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

Trump Doesn’t Predict 7 Degree Warming
James Taylor
Washington Examiner
Last Friday, the Washington Post printed a news whopper: “Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100.” One problem: It isn’t true.

Streamline FDA Process to Cure Cancer
Ed Hudgins
The Hill
To win the fight against cancer we need to focus not only on innovative research but also on the institutional problems of the Food and Drug Administration.

What Sort of Energy Do You Want For Your Future?
H. Sterling Burnett
Townhall
Should governments dramatically raise the price of fossil fuels to fight purported human-caused climate change? Or continue to use cheap and abundant energy?

John Doe Raids, Five Years Later
Host: Jesse Hathaway
Guest: Matt Kittle
Five years ago, Wisconsin law enforcement officers conducted predawn, armed raids on the homes of everyday citizens seeking evidence of campaign finance violations.

Judging Teachers with Merit Pay
Host: Lennie Jarratt
Guest: Will Flanders
Flanders, research director at Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) discusses WILL’s latest study on how ACT 10 increased student test scores across the state of Illinois.

In the Tank – Ep. 161
Host: Jim Lakely
Guests: John Nothdurft and Andy Singer
Lakely fills in to leads a discussion about new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the rise of leftist mobs, the media flip-out over Kanye West’s meeting with President Trump, and more.

Book Review: Socialism Is Evil
Jay Lehr
American Thinker
In Socialism Is Evil: The Moral Case Against Marx’s Radical Dream (available for free by clicking here), author and Heartlander Justin Haskins tackles an imminent threat to America.

CA Won’t Allow Health Insurance Choices
Sarah Lee
Orange County Register
California Democrats would prefer residents go bankrupt paying for expensive Obamacare health insurance instead of allowing them to purchase more affordable, short-term plans.

Trump Making America Great
Chris Talgo
Townhall
The U.S. economy is flourishing, and more Americans are thriving than at any time in modern U.S. history because of Trump-onomics.

Fracking is Still Misunderstood
Jay Lehr and Tom Harris
Albuquerque Journal
Just over a decade ago, America’s energy outlook was revolutionized by technological advances in hydraulic fracturing, commonly called ‘fracking.’

More Misplaced Green Outrage
Richard Trzupek
Epoch Times
Environmental justice is an inherently flawed concept that disproportionately affects the poor and downtrodden through unnecessary, burdensome regulation.

More Misplaced Green Outrage
Greg Walcher
Heartland.org
Greens are angry that the Department of the Interior modified a rule they wanted to use to attack energy and ranching.

Vía The Freedom Pub https://ift.tt/2IZ7DD9

CO2 Science: Carbon Dioxide Not Temperature Driver

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The researchers at CO2 Science recently summarized a 2017 study in the journal Climate that indicates across geologic history, the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide has had no relation to temperature or climate conditions.

The study’s author, W. Jackson Davis, Ph.D., executive director of the Environmental Studies Institute, analyzed a comprehensive assemblage of empirical databases consisting of 6,680 proxy temperature and 831 proxy carbon dioxide measurements to examine the relationship between historic temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide from 522 million years before present (Mybp) to now. Davis says his data assemblage is “the most accurate quantitative empirical evaluation to date of the relationship between atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature.”

Davis found neither a causal association nor a correlation between carbon dioxide levels temperatures over millions of years.

“For example, Davis reports, (1) ‘a carbon dioxide concentration peak near 415 My[bp] occurs near a temperature trough at 445 Mybp,’ (2) ‘similarly, carbon dioxide concentration peaks around 285 Mybp coincide with a temperature trough at about 280 My[bp] ….’” Ultimately, Davis concludes “more than 95 percent of the variance in temperature [across millions of years] is explained by unidentified variables other than the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide,” which Davis writes, “corroborate the earlier conclusion based on study of the Paleozoic climate that ‘global climate may be independent of variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration,’” the summary reports.

Davis concludes although “correlation does not imply causality, but the absence of correlation proves conclusively the absence of causality.”

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Marxists Are Winning Via America’s Education System, U of W Professor Says

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Dr. Duke Pesta’s experiences as an educational reformer, university professor, high school teacher, and the administrator of an online home school curriculum uniquely qualify him to address the current state of education in our country. Dr. Pesta is currently a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh and Academic Director of Freedom Project Education.

Referring to himself at one point as an “educational evangelist,” Dr. Pesta advances his educational messages to the public with much passion and enthusiasm.  As said by Pesta, his was a tough talk to present during his allotted one-half time slot from 2:00 – 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 15, 2018, at Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Council XLVII held in St. Louis from September 14-15-16 at the Marriott St. Louis Airport, Saint Louis, Missouri.

Dr. Pesta described the state of education in terms of a “grave situation.”  The goal of learning informational facts through the educational process has been supplanted by the “social reorganization (indoctrination) of our kids.”  As to English classes, no longer is writing being taught, basic grammar or sentence structure (syntax).  Instead, Freshmen writing classes have been gutted, replaced by amorphous writing exercises designed to reinforce social justice pieties, instead of stressing good writing and sound composition.

As to the teachers and professors hired by colleges, liberals are hired and dominate college campuses.  Dr. Pesta related an incident at Brown University where Lisa Littman, an assistant professor, published a study titled “Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports.” Because the study concluded that Rapid-onset gender dysphoria among teens and young adults may be a social contagion linked with having friends who identify as LGBT, it was quickly yanked from Brown’s news releases after a transgender activist feeding frenzy.

Freedom of speech is being stifled on college campuses or any idea that does not jive with the dictates of progressive thinking.  We are judged as anti-science, if we assert that man-made global warming is a hoax.

As related by Dr. Pesta, accusations are now enough to shuts down arguments.  Such behavior surfaced in the current Kavanaugh hearing circus.  Democrats serving on the Senate Judicial Committee were never going to confirm Kavanaugh.  Allegations were enough by Christine Blasey Ford to cement their votes against Kavanaugh, even when there was no collaborating evidence.

Pesta likewise discussed the travesty of kids not being given foundational books to read in their entirety.  Children need only to understand the books.  This led to a discussion by Pesta of the lens system of education, which had its beginning 25 years ago.  Looking at books through “lenses” that advocate progressive thought and ideology is a way to misread texts, projecting left wing ideas onto them.  In simple terms, books are distorted through the lens systems approach, which has resulted in the infiltration of Cultural Marxism (social justice education) within Western educational institutions.   Pesta used the teaching of history as an example. Presumed to know about history, students are then asked to look at the text, only to be told the text doesn’t mean what it really says.  Pesta then went on to provide an example from a Shakespearean play in which Marxism was projected back to Shakespeare, forcing students to 400-year-old plays through the lens of Marxist economics. Pesta related this way of reading to imposing a mirror between students and texts, through which they only see their own culture and ideas as reflected back to them.

As to the attitude of students, ignorance is combined with arrogance. In years past students were humble in what they didn’t know. Today, the less students know the more they think they know.  In that students are being restricted in their learning experiences to those prescribed by a progressive educational program promoted by their liberal professors, brainwashing is occurring purposely to keep students ignorant. Listen here to this compelling interview, Why Cultural Marxism is Destroying America, by Duke Pesta and Stefan Molyenux.

Diversity has become an obsession on college campuses.  According to Dr. Pesta, those who speak the loudest about diversity are the ones trying to destroy it.  At the University of Madison beef gelatin in ice cream became an issue.   Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison argued that the serving of ice cream, which often contains beef gelatin, in facilities like dining halls, makes Muslim and vegan students feel unwelcome on campus, even though ice cream is an iconic part of the culture in dairy-rich Wisconsin.  As Pesta remarked, ice cream with beef gelatin, or removing the Confederate flag, do not constitute real issues of concern; instead, they serve as ways for Marxists to win through leveling the foundation of our Western civilization in the minds of kids.

Why is education so wanting in this nation?  For Dr. Pesta, some blame can be placed on leftists who in the 60’s and 70’s became deans and professors at colleges.  As an expert on Common Core, having delivered more than 350 talks around the country alerting parents to its dangers,  Pesta stated how Common Core represents the federal takeover of education.  Even so, the federal government only contributes 6% or so to your state’s educational budget.  Most importantly, our Founding Fathers made no provision for public schools.  The Leftist, progressive slant of Common Core can be traced back to the time of John Dewy who idolized Russian education.  Nelson Rockefeller was the primary supporter of Dewey.

The results produced by Common Core leave much to be desired.  Dr. Pesta described Common Core as the pulling down of cultural Marxism into the public schools.” As reported by Dr. Pesta, at the 8th grade level only 35% of students are proficient in math, while 37% can’t read at the 8th grade level. In examining the name given to what has resulted in government control of education — Common Core — “Common” denotes the lowest common denominator, and “Core” raises the question of how all students benefit from the same core curriculum?

The real purpose of education is no longer just to gain knowledge.  It has been replaced by a social agenda that aims to produce adults who will all fit into the mold that has been prescribed for them through Common Core teaching.  In that teachers pass through a social justice pedagogy assures that this nation’s education system will remain wanting and below the standards set by many other nations.

Bio information

Dr. Duke Pesta received his M.A. in Renaissance Literature from John Carroll University and his Ph.D. in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature from Purdue University.  He has taught at major research institutions and small liberal arts colleges on a wide variety of subjects at the graduate and undergraduate level, including courses on Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, the Bible, Russian literature, Christian Apologetics, and C.S. Lewis.  His book, The Renaissance and the Postmodern: A Study in Comparative Critical Values, was published by Routledge in 2016.

Dr. Pesta’s experiences as an educational reformer, university professor, high school teacher, and the administrator of an online home school curriculum uniquely qualify him to address the current state of education in our country.  Dr. Pesta is currently a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh and Academic Director of FreedomProject Education.

As Academic Director of FreedomProject Education, a fully accredited, Common Core Free, online Classical school, built on Judeo-Christian values for students from Kindergarten through High School, Dr. Pesta has delivered more than 350 talks around the country alerting parents to the Dangers of Common Core.   In 2014 I was fortunate to hear one of Dr. Pesta’s talks warning about Common Core here in Illinois.  Here is the article Thorner wrote when I heard Dr. Pesta speak in 2014 at the Northern Illinois Patriots: Chilling Truth Behind Common Core State Standards.

Listen here to Common Core:  101 – 5 Minute Breakdown with Duke Pesta, published on Feb. 20, 2005, by Freedom Project Media.

[Originally Published at Illinois Review]

Vía The Freedom Pub https://ift.tt/2yBbGRj

Experiencing Hurricane Michael in Georgia

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Here is some information about hurricane Michael you westerners never get to witness.

My introduction to Hurricane Michael was initially limited.  The television in my Georgia home comes by way of DISH satellite and my reception was blocked by heavy rain from about 5 o’clock Wednesday afternoon until 10 a.m. Thursday morning.  So I sat in my house hearing heavy rain fall with wind gusts that propelled nuts against my roof having no idea what was happening in Florida or South Georgia.  Three inches or rain fell in my yard in 12-hour period.

By five p.m. Thursday I had information about Michael from TV news.  At a category 4, Michael was the most powerful hurricane to hit the Florida panhandle in more than 100 years.  Michael was the most powerful hurricane to ever hit Georgia.  Wind speeds in Southwest Georgia were over 100 mph and terrible damage was done to a town in Southwest Georgia fifty miles inland from the Florida border and more than 100 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.

Atlanta had wind gusts over 40 mph and a tornado stuck the city at 2 a.m. Thursday morning in the Southwest part of the city doing considerable damage over a four-mile path.

Panama City and adjacent areas were demolished by Michael with wind speeds over 15 mph when it stuck Wednesday noon.  Possible hundreds are still missing who decided to ride out the storm.

Southwest Georgia is an agricultural area with cotton crops and peanut and pecan growing.  The high winds and rains ruined these crops.

High winds did property damage over the entire path of Michael as it traversed from Southwest Georgia through Northeast Georgia into South Carolina.  This was the reason Michael was the most damaging hurricane in Georgia history.  Might also be the most damaging hurricane in Florida history.  Property damages is in the multi-billions of dollars.

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EPA’s Non-Politicized Science Benefits Americans

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President Donald Trump committed to fundamentally transforming the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from an agency producing politicized science to one instilling sound scientific standards for research. By doing so, Americans should expect improved environmental and health outcomes.

Currently, regulatory costs top $1.9 trillion annually, which amounts to $14,842 per U.S. household. That’s nearly $15,000 less for Americans to pay for health insurance, medical bills, education expenses, groceries, gasoline, or entertainment. Because the economic and social implications of regulations are profound, the science they are built upon must be impeccable.

Over the last few decades — under Republican and Democratic administrations — EPA formed a cozy relationship with radical environmental activists and liberal academic researchers. With the support of environmental lobbyists who despise capitalism (expressed by consumers’ free choices in the marketplace) EPA bureaucrats, in pursuit of more power and expanded budgets for the agency, funded researchers who, because they were largely dependent on government grants for the majority of their funding, were only too happy to produce results claiming industry was destroying the earth.

Of course, the only way to prevent environmental collapse was more government control of the economy. However, these reports were produced despite the fact poverty and hunger have steadily declined and people are living longer and more productive lives than ever before.

As Jay Lehr, a colleague and science director at the Heartland Institute told me once, “For decades, EPA has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the environmental left. Together, radical environmentalists and EPA bureaucrats, including the members of all their advisory panels, have used their considerable power to thwart American business at every turn.”

Under Trump, EPA changed how it pursues science to pay greater fealty to the scientific method and remove temptations for scientific self-aggrandizement and corruption.

Not surprisingly, researchers, environmentalists, and bureaucrats, seeing their power curtailed and their gravy train ending, are crying foul saying the Trump administration is undermining science. However, in reality this is simply not true.

EPA’s scientific advisory panels are tasked with ensuring the research the agency uses to develop and justify regulations is rigorous, has integrity, and is based on the best available science.

To better ensure this, EPA ceased automatically renewing the terms of board members on various panels. EPA is now filling its scientific panels and boards on a competitive basis as each board member’s term expires.

This should improve the science EPA uses to inform its decisions, by expanding diversity — diversity of interests, diversity of scientific disciplines, and diversity of backgrounds — thus bringing in a wider array of viewpoints to EPA decision-making.

In addition, to reduce opportunities for corruption, EPA ceased allowing members of its federal advisory committees to apply for EPA research grants and instituted policies to ensure advisory panel members and grant recipients have no other conflicts of interest. It was always a foolish practice to allow those recommending, often determining, who gets EPA grants to also be in the running for those grants. However, this was business as usual at EPA, where grant makers awarded themselves, research teams they were members of, or their friends billions of taxpayer dollars over the years.

In April, then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declared “The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end.” Pruitt proposed requiring the data underlying scientific studies used by EPA to craft regulations be available for public inspection, criticism, and independent verification.

For years, EPA bureaucrats have used the results of studies by researchers who would not disclose the data underlying their results to be examined and retested for confirmation or falsification. Fortunately, EPA is finally ending this unjustifiable practice.

Many scientists have objected to EPA’s new secret science policy because they claim the studies EPA uses have undergone “peer review.” However, the peer review process is often nothing more than other researchers, often hand-picked by the scientists whose research is being reviewed, sitting around in their ivory towers reading the reports and saying, “this looks okay or reasonable to me.”

Unless the reviewers are able examine the underlying data and assumptions, and attempt to replicate the results, peer review is unable to ensure the validity of studies used to underpin regulations. Absent transparency and replicability, peer review is hollow.

Another long overdue EPA regulatory reform was the decision to end exclusive use of the “Linearity No Threshold” (LNT) model when assessing the dangers of radiation, carcinogens, and other toxic substances in the environment. Going forward, EPA will incorporate uncertainty into its risk assessments using a variety of other, more realistic models.

The LNT model assumes there is no safe dose of ionizing radiation or exposure to various other chemicals or toxins. Relying on flawed studies from the effect of ionizing radiation on fruit flies from the 1950s, EPA and other regulatory agencies have used LNT as a basis for regulation of environmental clean-ups, setting safety standards for nuclear plants, and limiting low dose radiation treatments for medical patients, a policy that has cost lives and billions of taxpayer dollars.

Although science has progressed phenomenally since the 1950s, with copious amounts of research showing the LNT model is seriously flawed, EPA and other agencies never questioned the LNT standard. That is, until now.

In fact, adverse effects from low dose exposures to radiation and most other chemicals and potential toxins are often non-existent. Indeed, substances that may be harmful in large quantities can be beneficial in small amounts, a process known as hormesis.

In the commonly paraphrased words of Swiss physician and astronomer Paracelsus, “the dose makes the poison.” Vitamins, which are valuable in small quantities, and even water, which is literally necessary for life, can become deadly if too much of either is taken over a short period of time. Or consider sun exposure. While exposure to too much sunlight can contribute to skin cancer, sunlight is required to catalyze the final synthesis of Vitamin D, which strengthens the bones, helping prevent osteoporosis and rickets. There is also ample evidence sunlight can help fight depression and several skin and inflammatory ailments.

Replacing reliance on the untenable LNT model with other models of exposure and response will result in better safety and health protocols, potentially saving billions of dollars and thousands of lives each year.

In service of the American people and the pursuit of continued American greatness, science practices at EPA are improving under President Trump. One can only hope equivalent changes are adopted at other executive agencies so the regulations they produce are grounded in the best available science, free of political corruption and bureaucratic incentives for agency mission creep and growth.

[Originally Published at American Spectator]

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To Pay Or Not To Pay: The Big Business Of College Sports

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As the leaves start to fall and tailgaters fire up their grills, the eternal question of whether or not college athletes should be paid has returned to the forefront of barroom banter. As big-time college sports — football and basketball in particular — have boomed into a billion-dollar business, the issue of compensation (or lack thereof) for these athletes is more relevant than ever.

When it comes to the issue of paying big-time college athletes, Americans are more divided than fans at a Notre Dame vs. Michigan game. The Washington Post recently asked, “Do you think that college football and basketball players deserve to be paid in addition to receiving scholarships based on how much money they generate for universities, or do you think scholarships are adequate compensation?” The results: 38% of Americans believe college football and basketball players should be compensated beyond scholarships, and 52% of Americans believe college scholarships are enough compensation.

Those who believe big-time college athletes should not be paid argue that these players already receive ample financial compensation in the form of a full-ride scholarship. In 2017, 351 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I schools awarded a total of $2.6 billion in athletic scholarships. That year, the average annual NCAA Division I scholarship for men’s basketball players was $16,154 and $21,749 for football players.

“First, the pay-the-athletes position is predicated on the mistaken assumption that college athletes receive no compensation. … Athletes receive scholarships that cover tuition, fees, books, and room and board,” stated Francis T. Cullen, distinguished research professor emeritus at the University of Cincinnati.

“Second, the campaign to pay players ignores the fact that the vast majority of college athletes, including most females, participate in sports that do not produce much, if any revenue. Who, then, is to be paid?” continued Cullen. “It is neither legal nor moral to pay some athletes and not others. And since most college athletic programs already are subsidized by general funds from university budgets, there simply is not enough money to pay every athlete playing every sport.”

Athletes Seek Piece Of The Action

On the other side of the debate, proponents of paying college athletes point out that the NCAA and major universities are raking in money and players deserve at least a share of the pie. In 2017, the NCAA generated more than $1 billion in revenue, and this figure is likely to increase as TV contracts and marketing agreements expand more than a college lineman’s appetite.

Across the United States, athletics departments are banking off the college sports bonanza. For example, the University of Alabama “reported $174.3 million in revenue in 2017 and $15.6 million in profit, with the football department accounting for $108.2 million in revenue and $45.9 million in profit,” according to Chip Patterson, CBS sports writer.

Richard Karcher, assistant professor of sport management at Eastern Michigan University, states, “College sports is the only industry in this country whereby the court system has essentially ruled that competing sellers (universities) of a commercial product (FBS football and D-I men’s basketball) are allowed to conspire to suppress the value of the human capital that generates their profits.”

Karcher adds, “The NCAA’s ‘Principle of Amateurism’ is grounded in a historic and antiquated paternalistic ideal that these adult athletes with unique talents are children (‘student-athletes’) who should be thankful for the ‘opportunity’ to participate and must be protected from the evil forces of commercialization.”

An amateur is commonly defined as someone who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid basis. Thus, the main question becomes, to what extent should these amateur athletes be compensated for their time and efforts?

College Sports: A Corrupt System?

If the status quo is not working — just consider the endless corruption and under-the-table payments that regularly occur on college campuses — then maybe it is time to consider alternatives.

For instance, maybe the NFL and NBA should revise their minimum age requirement policies. The NFL requires players be out of high school for at least three years. The minimum age limit to play in the NBA is 19. After all, 18-year-olds can be drafted into a war, but they can’t choose whether or not they want to play “dangerous” college sports.

Perhaps it is time the NCAA reforms its ridiculously complex regulations on player compensation. For example, would a player stipend really jeopardize the integrity of the athletic program?

Or what if big-time college athletes were given options on the allotment of their scholarship money? Even more radically, what if college athletics were subject to free-market forces and players were compensated based on supply and demand?

Although the likelihood of a national consensus on the issue of whether or not college athletes should be paid is lower than the odds of your favorite team winning the national championship every year, it doesn’t mean we should give up on a solution. As the old saying goes, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

[Originally Published at Investor’s Business Daily]

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