GMO Apples? Bite Me.

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granny smith applesThe apple has joined the long list of genetically engineered foods approved by the US Department of Agriculture. Last Friday, the USDA declared that the Arctic Apple, in Golden Delicious and Granny varieties, “doesn’t pose any harm to other plants or pests.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says they aren’t required to approve it, but will conduct a ‘voluntary review.’ There hasn’t been (and won’t be) any safety testing regarding human health.

Created by Okanogan Specialty Fruit, these apples won’t brown after being cut or bruised. Seemingly geared toward restaurants and institutional purchasers, this apple will give consumers no visible indication that it should no longer be eaten due to age. Imagine being served apples slices that were cut several weeks ago.

Using technology called RNA interference, these apples have extra copies of certain naturally occurring genes. These extra genes turn off the chemical compound that causes oxidation which is why apples turn brown. Unfortunately, that same chemical compound enables the apple tree to fend off pests, which means these apples will likely require heavier pesticide applications to remain viable. Some advancement huh?

According to a recent analysis of recent USDA data by the Pesticide Action Network, apples tested positive for 42 pesticides. They also top the Environmental Working Group’s list of (non-organic) foods most heavily contaminated with pesticide residues.

This new apple, like much of its GMO predecessors solves nothing regarding real food security, nutrition or safety issues and exists primarily to serve business interests, according to Katherine Paul, who works with the Organic Consumers Alliance. She wrote this piece on the issue last week. The apples are expected to be available in 2017.

Want to avoid GMOs? Use these resources and buy organic.

Author of new French radiofrequency protection law speaks

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IF

On January 29th, French lawmaker Laurence Abeille (Europe Ecologie-Greens) made history when her law regulating public exposure to radiofrequency radiation was adopted. The law (2) “on sobriety, transparency, information and consultation for exposure to electromagnetic waves” is the first such law in France and Ms. Abeille thinks the first in Europe at a national level.

The bill bans all wireless devices in “spaces dedicated to the care, resting and activities of children under 3 years,” primarily nurseries and daycare centers. In primary schools, wi-fi will be off by default and turned on only when no alternative is available. Within the next year, the national government will produce a report about people suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity and microwave ‘hot spots’ will need to have their levels reduced.

Laurence Abeille
     Laurence Abeille

Although significantly watered down from her original version filed two years ago, Ms. Abeille feels this is a very important first step to protecting the people of France, and especially children, from uncertain but potentially serious health effects from constant microwave exposure. We have a detailed discussion about the law, the struggle to get it passed, her plans to make sure it is properly implemented and how she wants to continue working on this issue.

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French Lawmaker on Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity – “Really Terrifying…It Could Happen To You.”

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Last Thursday, France adopted a novel law regulating public exposure to radiofrequency radiation. Drafted by Laurence Abeille (Europe Ecologie-Greens), the law is the first in France to use a precautionary approach regarding health risks from wireless technologies and to address sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

Major provisions include a ban on all wireless devices in “spaces dedicated to the care, resting and activities of children under 3 years,” primarily nurseries and daycare centers. Use of wi-fi will still be allowed in primary schools, but only when no alternative is available and it must be disabled when not in use.

This morning I conducted a lengthy interview with Ms. Abeillle about the law. I’ll post far more of it soon, but wanted to quickly share her remarks about what it was like to meet people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

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from Le Monde (French original, English below)

by Pierre Le Hir, Le Monde, Jan 29, 2015

Two years in the works, the law governing public exposure to electromagnetic fields generated by wireless technology (base stations, mobile phones, tablets …) was adopted by the Members of the National Assembly [MNAs], Thursday, January 29 in late morning, when time was set aside in favor of the Greens. It was voted by the whole majority, while the UDI Party abstained – except Bertrand Pancher (Meuse) who voted in favor – and the UMP voted against it, seeing it as a barrier to the development of digital industries.

This law – the first in France to establish a precautionary approach addressing the potential health risks of radio frequencies – is the result of a real obstacle course, during which its initial ambitions were seriously downgraded. The Bill, filed in January 2013 by the MNA for Val-de-Marne Laurence Abeille (Europe Ecologie-Greens) had been referred to committee by the Socialists, before returning to the National Assembly in January 2014, under a watered-down form, and then to be adopted in first reading by the Senate in June 2014, in an even planed release.

Despite these successive setbacks, the environmental group decided to submit the Bill to a vote as is to prevent his return to the Senate where it would have suffered new delays and probably additional knife strokes. Its adoption is thus final and welcomes Mrs Abeille, “the application decrees will be able to be taken without further delay “.

NOT LOWERING THE LIMITS

Finally, the “Law on sobriety, transparency, information and consultation for exposure to electromagnetic waves” appears as a compromise between the supporters of a stricter supervision of the sector and wireless phone operators, opposed to any regulatory obstacle. “This present text does not fully address all the issues, recognizes the Green MNA. However, it is an essential first step.

The major novelty is the introduction into French law of a principle of “sobriety” of public exposure to electromagnetic fields. As virtuous as it is, this principle, however, remains vague and non-binding. It is thus no longer question of lowering the exposure limits in force, which depending on the frequencies involved, are between 41 and 61 volts per meter (V/m), while the original Bill was aimed to scale them back to “as low as reasonably possible” or 0.6 V/m.

HOT SPOTS

The National Frequency Agency (AFNR) will nevertheless make every year a national census of “atypical points” or “places where the level of public exposure substantially exceeds that generally observed at the national scale”. Operators will have to remedy them within six months, “subject to technical feasibility”.

The average exposure in France is now about 1 V/m, but a study of the Operations Committee on mobile waves (Copic), covering sixteen municipal representative of the French territory and published in 2013, reported some exposure peaks “up to 10 V/m at maximum transmitter power”, even if the levels remained below 0.7 V/m in 90% of cases. The AFNR considers up to now as atypical places where exposure exceeds 6 V/m.

In matters of transparency, the installation of antennas will now be subject to prior notice to mayors and presidents of inter-municipal bodies. And these may in turn – but are not required – to organize a consultation with residents. In addition, a campaign of “awareness and information on the responsible and rational use of mobile devices” will be conducted.

WI-FI PROHIBITED IN DAYCARE CENTERS

A section of the Act is devoted to the protection of babies. Wireless devices will be banned in “the spaces dedicated to the care, resting and activities of children under 3 years”, that is to say, nurseries and daycare centers. However, contrary to the initial desire of environmentalists, Wi-Fi will remain permitted in primary schools. It will however have to be disabled outside “digital educational activities”.

Finally, the often-dramatic situation of people suffering from electro-hypersensitivity receives the first consideration. The government will have to submit a report to Parliament on this issue within a year.

‘Anti-wave’ associations also prefer to consider the glass half full rather than half empty. “This act, which is the first dedicated to the issue of electromagnetic waves and their impact on the environment and health, marks a first step in the legal recognition of the need to regulate the development of mobile phone communications and all wireless applications, ” says the association for the regulation of mobile phone base stations (Priartem). In its view, “this first legislative effort must be an encouragement to go further in protecting people “.

CALLS FOR CAUTION

This act arrives in a context of accelerated development of sources of electromagnetic fields, in particular with the deployment of very high-speed 4G mobile communications. As of January 1st 2015, ANFR indicates the number of 4G base station sites authorized in France was, for all operators, 18,699 – compared to 12,525 a year earlier – and 15,424 are in service.

If there is no scientific consensus around the potential health risks from radiofrequencies, many studies and opinions have called for caution. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified them as “possibly carcinogenic”. And in 2013, the National Agency Health Safety of Food, Environment and Labor (ANSES) recommended to “limit exposure of the population to radio-frequencies – especially from mobile phones – especially for children and heavy users “. It also called for “controlling the overall exposure from base stations”.

Europe Backs Away from Protecting the Electrohypersensitive

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sign warning nonionizing radiationThe European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is an advisory body, comprised of several bureaus and sections, designed to assist policy making at the European Parliament, Council and Commission.

Last year, its Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society section (TEN) started a process to create an opinion regarding how to alleviate the problems people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) face in daily life.  Discussion included how the EU currently handles the problem, why they should be more proactive and how.

In December 2014, the TEN Rapporteur, Bernardo Hernandez Barteller, produced a series of draft opinions which resulted in this finalized draft. Among many points, the final draft acknowledged that microwave radiation seemed causally linked to the symptoms experienced by electrohypersensitive people and that when away from these fields, people stopped suffering. The British research and advocacy group Powerwatch has produced a useful summary of the draft opinion.

Numerous EHS advocacy groups from across Europe joined forces and submitted a letter expressing their concerns about the issue and support for a strong opinion. It seemed like the draft would go to a plenary session of the full EESC for a vote on January 21, 2015. However, a counter-opinion written by EESC member Richard Adams, appeared and rapidly changed everything.

Adams’ counter-opinion took an extremely different approach to the issue of electrohypersensitivity, failing to address basic questions regarding the social and economic impacts imposed on EHS sufferers. It instead focused on how global and national health agencies refute linkage between exposure to microwave radiation and the wide variety of symptoms experienced by the electrohypersensitive. The counter-opinion does not dismiss the existence of the condition or the suffering of electrohypersensitive people, but suggests that instead of looking at avoiding microwave radiation, they should instead engage in talking therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy, implying that these people really just have psychological problems. This widely outraged those who suffer from the condition, those who advocate on their behalf and scientists who feel that their work has demonstrated a strong link between exposure to microwaves and EHS.

At the final plenary session on January 21, both the Rapporteur’s opinion and Adams’ counter-opinion were introduced and then there was an opportunity for EESC members to speak. After roughly an hour of discussion, the vote was called. The counter-opinion was voted on first, however when this  was first mentioned early in the plenary, there seemed to be a tone of surprise in the voice of the official who announced this would happen. Listen for yourself and decide.

Just prior to the vote, an EESC member protested what he felt was a procedural error in that Mr. Adams was allowed to speak following the Rapporteur which is not supposed to happen. I am currently looking through the EESC rules and procedures and attempting to talk with those officials to try and determine if any irregularities did occur in the process. When I learn more, I will post it above.

The counter-opinion was approved 136-110 with 19 members abstaining which meant that the original opinion from the Rapporteur was simply dismissed without any vote.

I interviewed Richard Adams about a week after the vote to try and learn more about why he drafted his counter-opinion, why it focused almost exclusively on issues other than economic and social ones, what is his awareness of the literature regarding electrohypersensitivity and exposure to microwave radiation and what his counter-opinion would do to alleviate the daily problems that EHS people must face.

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A New Section for Music Projects

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A couple of weeks ago, I started posting audio from my music focused radio broadcasts and I’ll continue to do so sporadically. First up are specials I produced about The Grateful Dead covering black artistsThe Great! Society (featuring Grace Slick) and The Jerry Covers Project, similar in concept to the Dead covering black artists special but without any focus on who was the original artist.

EPA Sued Over Nanotechnology Pesticides

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The Center for Food Safety (CFS), in conjunction with several other groups, filed a lawsuit last week against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the agency’s failure to regulate new nanomaterial pesticides. The lawsuit results from several years of EPA inaction on a 2008 legal petition demanding that they regulate these pesticides.  George Kimbrell, a senior attorney with CFS said “Six years ago we provided EPA a legal and scientific blue print to address to regulate these novel materials under its pesticide authority. The agency’s unlawful and irresponsible delay ends now.”

Nanotechnology involves manipulating materials at the atomic and molecular level. Nanomaterials are so small that they cannot be seen with an ordinary microscope — a strand of human hair is 50,000 to 80,000 nanometers wide. Beyond being really really small, nanomaterials often behave differently because of their size, in ways that are unpredictable compared to the same material/s produced at a larger scale.

These unknown properties increase the potential for biological interaction and toxicity. If nanomaterials enter the blood stream, they can move freely through all organs and tissues. As Jaydee Hason, CFS senior policy analyst puts it, “Nanomaterials are novel technologies that pose unique risks unlike anything we’ve seen before.”

Nano-silver is the most common nanomaterial in consumer products, often used for its antimicrobial properties. However, since they are intended to kill bacteria, the products qualify as pesticides , which the EPA recognizes. In their petition six years ago, CFS identified 260 nano-silver consumer products, a number that is now over 400. While a definitive number is hard to find since there are no labeling requirements for nano-scale products, The Project on Emerging Nanotechnology says there over 1600 consumer products using nanotechnology.

According to the EPA, “silver nanoparticles have been incorporated into many consumer products…dietary supplements, laundry detergents, body soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, disinfectant sprays, kitchen utensils, clothing and children’s toys.”  This despite a lack of knowledge regarding “release of silver nanoparticles” from these products, how and where they may travel once loose, and an inadequate understanding of “the physico-chemical properties of nanoscale silver [regarding] transport, transformation, exposure, and bioavailability of this element.”

CFS is representing itself, its sister nonprofit, the International Center for Technology Assessment, as well as, Beyond Pesticides, the Center for Environmental Health, Clean Production Action, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in the lawsuit.

 

Egypt Bans New ‘Exodus’ film for “Historical Inaccuracies”

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exodus mythUpdate 12/31 – Morocco has also banned the film but for reasons unrelated to history. Shortly after Egypt, the United Arab Emirates also banned the film.

Citing “historical inaccuracies” as the cause, Egyptian officials have banned the new film ‘Exodus’ according to Variety. Key among the film’s problems are “the film’s depiction of Jews as having built the Pyramids and the Biblical story of a miracle by Moses causing the Red Sea to part so that the Jewish people could escape from the pursuing Egyptian army.”

According to Ancient Egypt Research Associates, Egyptians built the Giza pyramids between 2589 BC and 2504 BC. Many other sources offer the same general dates for pyramid construction.

Since the famed pyramids were built hundreds of years pre-dating Abraham (father of Judaism) and there’s no archaeological evidence of the Exodus occurring, the next question is whether Jews were ever held in Egyptian bondage at all. Juan Cole comments that “Israeli leader Menachem Begin asserted in speeches that Jews built the pyramids” though I don’t know if this is the beginning of the false assertion or not. Cole further mentions that at the time in question there were probably not “‘Jews’ as opposed to Canaanites with a special emphasis on a particular deity among others.”

Is it ethical to continue telling the Passover story as typically presented when the premise of “The story of Passover has its beginning in the days of Abraham” is clearly false?

An Epidemic of Wireless Spousal Stalking

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The Independent reports today about warnings from domestic violence campaigners regarding epidemic levels of covert surveillance by abusive spouses of their partners’ cell phones and computers. Easy to obtain, inexpensive software and hardware packages allow one “to eavesdrop on the victims of domestic violence via their mobiles and other electronic devices, enabling abusers clandestinely to read texts, record calls and view or listen in on victims in real time without their knowledge.” Campaigners are also concerned that the British police and justice system are unaware of how large the problem is and how to appropriately address it.

Findings from two recent surveys by Women’s Aid and Digital Trust revealed astonishing numbers. Over 40% of domestic violence victims seeking help from Women’s Aid report they had been tracked or harassed through electronic devices. The Digital Trust, which assists victims of online stalking, says that over half of abusive partners “used spyware or some other form of electronic surveillance to stalk their victims.”

Activists are increasingly concerned at Christmas time when children may visit estranged parents and receive electronic gifts loaded with spyware as a way to gain access to personal information and whereabouts of their ex. Today, it is quite easy to hide spyware in innocuous gifts where they remain inconspicuous and untraceable.

Speaking to The Independent, Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said “Domestic abuse is about control and perpetrators will use any means available to maintain and increase their control.” Another campaigner noted that stalking occurs in a variety of domestic settings including partners who live together and those who have already split apart.

That Smartphones Affect the Brain Isn’t Really News

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It’s been known for decades that microwave radiation affect brain and other living tissue. A BBC report that University of Zurich scientists, investigating activity in zones related to touch with the thumb, forefinger and middle finger, have ‘discovered‘ brain changes among smartphone users, is of no significance.

It’s pretty astonishing that this counts as news when little is publicized about the over 200 studies going back nearly 30 years demonstrating actual health related impacts to brain tissue from exposure to microwave radiation. There are several thousands of other studies looking at health impacts to the rest of your body. Several chapters of The Bioinitiative Report focus or touch on brain effects from microwave radiation.

Ground-breaking Swedish researcher Lennart Hardell has repeatedly found significant (brain) cancer risk associated with cell phone use. His team’s latest paper “confirm a statistically significant increased risk for glioma” which is a brain / spine cancer originating in glial cells.

glioma incidence risk Hardell 2014The risk for developing glioma increased after “time from first use of the wireless phone and number of hours [of] use over the years.” After 10 years of cell phone use, you would be 1.5 times more likely to develop glioma; users of 25 years or more had triple the normal risk. Other research has found decreased survival rates in patients who develop glioblastoma multiform from use of cellular and cordless phones.

What if we end up creating a persistent increase in brain cancers among people only 30 years old? Is the convenience of cell phones and wi-fi worth that? Have we already witnessed the beginning of a surge in brain cancers from widespread wireless use?

Measure 92 Recount Appears Likely

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Update 7:30 pm

The margin has shrunk by another 20%, down to just under 1100 votes and a margin of 0.08%. Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown said it is unlikely she would order a recount before the first week of December.

141121 430pm OR M92 votes

Original post – 3:15 pm

New numbers this hour show that the margin between sides on Measure 92 are within 0.1% of each other, half of what’s needed to force an automatic recount.

141121 2pm OR M92 votes

While The Oregonian called this race the morning after Election Day (and they still stand by it), almost no other media outlet would do so independently. And in the last two weeks, there has been scarce coverage of the race…until the last 48 hours. Now OPB, KGW, KPTV, KOIN and the Statesman Journal are all reporting that a recount is likely. The Oregon Right to Know campaign also says a recount is assured. A spokesperson for the ‘No on 92’ campaign remains confident that the measure will fail.

Opium and the Stock Market, MH17 and Still Counting Votes

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The United Nations released a report yesterday about opium production in Afghanistan, noting that the acreage under production reached a new record. The number of opium producing acres has tripled since 2002. Before the US invaded Afghanistan, there had never been even 100,000 acres in opium production, now the figure is 224,000 acres.

UN opium production afghanistan 94-14This chart shows the number of acres in Afghanistan in poppy production over the last 20 years. When I first saw it, I quickly thought of how well the stock market has been doing over the last 20 or so years, and specifically the past six. Why? Because I’ve read people smarter than me about this who have written about the connection between illegal drug money and Wall Street results.

 

 

dow jones 1994-2014Here is the chart showing the Dow Jones average from the same time frame as the UN opium one above. Similar shape and trending don’t you think?

 

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RT reports on newly released radar data associated with the crash of MH17 in eastern Ukraine last July, which shows “one or two warplanes in the air close to the Malaysian airliner”. According to Sergey Melnichenko, CEO of Aviation Safety consultancy, there were multiple planes, almost certainly military jets. Just weeks ago, Der Speigel reported that Fred Westerbeke, the lead investigator with the Dutch National Prosecutors’ Office which has been looking at the crash, said his team is willing to consider that another plane shot down the Malaysian jet. Most theories thus far have focused on the idea of a ground-based attack on the plane. More

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The count continues for Oregon Measure 92, which is still failing by around 5200 votes. The Oregon Secretary of State has taken the unprecedented move of releasing the list of voters whose ballots haven’t been counted due to signature issues. There are approximately 13,000 ballots in this pool and all of those voters should have already received a letter informing them of the problem. Voters have until next Tuesday the 18th to correct the problem by visiting their local county election office.

To Recount Measure 92

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Updated figures show the narrowing of the margin (6634 votes) between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ on Measure 92 continues. However, absent something unexpected regarding the remaining count or a legal challenge to it, Oregon will not be labeling GMOs. Or will it?

From my last post, let’s assume the 40,000 uncounted votes figures is accurate as of Friday at 5:18pm. Since then, the state reports that another 16,632 votes were counted, leaving 23,368 votes still to count. From those newly counted ballots, Measure 92 gained a net of +1666 votes (gap of 8300 then, 6634 now). But if ‘Yes on 92’ can only gain a net of 10% of still uncounted votes, then they can’t win, there just aren’t enough uncounted votes remaining. But winning isn’t everything, because if you can force a recount, you have another chance.

Oregon law states (bold is mine): “If the official canvass of votes of an election reveals that the difference in the number of votes cast for or against any measure is not more than one-fifth of one percent of the total votes cast for and against the measure, the Secretary of State, in the case of a measure for which the Secretary of State is the filing officer, and the county clerk who conducted the election in the case of any other measure shall order a full recount of all votes cast for the measure.

Current Measure 92 vote count is 1,475,696. Add the supposed remaining 23,368 votes and that gives a vote total of 1,499,064. A margin of “one-fifth of one percent” is 2,998. So the real question now becomes, can ‘Yes on 92’ whittle the lead down to just under 3000 votes?

Technically, they can. But how likely is it?
141110 5pm OR M92 votes
Not surprisingly, the ‘Yes’ side is winning biggest in Multnomah county (62.37%). The best case scenario for ‘Yes’ is that every remaining uncounted ballot is in Multnomah county, but I doubt this is true. If they fall exactly at the ratio shown thus far in the counting, that only widens the gap. So how many of the uncounted vote does ‘Yes’ need to force a recount?  58%.

So this race is definitely not over, but it will be if ‘Yes on 92’ can’t pick up at least 13,553 of the remaining votes, once again, assuming the uncounted numbers are accurate. Adding those numbers in would put ‘Yes’ at 748,084 and ‘No’ at 750,980, still a clear defeat of the measure but a margin of only 2,895 votes which would be less than 0.2% of the votes on Measure 92. And we’re headed into a recount.

Keep in mind though that hitting 58% is something the ‘Yes’ campaign achieved only in Multnomah county (Lane is currently at 57.54% ‘Yes’). As has been the trend in this particular race, as the trailing side has steadily made up ground, possible reinforcements have been reduced just a little quicker.

 

Oregon Measure 92 – Is It Over Yet?

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Just before 5pm today, the Oregon Secretary of State updated their website, adding just over 20,000 votes since late Wednesday afternoon. Measure 92 still trails by about 10,000 8300 (5:18pm #) votes and there are approximately 40,000 still to count.

141107 5pm OR M92 votes

Advocates of the measure insist they aren’t defeated yet. Earlier this afternoon, The Oregonian published a story which opens:

“Plenty of Measure 92 supporters have questioned how The Oregonian could declare the GMO labeling measure defeated Wednesday morning when the vote is so close — 50.4 percent against, 49.6 percent in favor — and so many votes are yet to be counted.

The short answer is: math.

The newspaper can declare with confidence that voters have rejected Measure 92 because, with such a high percentage of votes counted, the 40,000 or so remaining votes are not enough to close the 10,500 votes that separate the pro and con votes tallied so far.”

Did you catch the switch they made there? This quote starts by talking about how The Oregonian called the election on Wednesday morning (10:21 am) when there were at least 70,000 and possibly 100,000 votes to count. But in the next paragraph they are talking about being able to “declare with confidence” the failure of the ballot measure since there are only “40,000 or so remaining votes” left uncounted, which is Friday evening data.

You can’t use Friday 5pm data, to explain what you did two days earlier. The rest of the article explains how what is now known, appears to that Measure 92 cannot mathematically achieve victory. The ‘Yes on 92’ campaign remains silent on the matter for now.

Oregon Measure 92 – GMO Labelling Remains Undecided

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Update 6:00 pm

Measure 92, the ballot initiative seeking to label most genetically modified food in Oregon, is still failing but the margin continues to narrow. Right now, the ‘no’ vote has 50.35% of the vote, a lead of under 9900 votes and the narrowest margin they’ve enjoyed today. But it might be too late, as the number of uncounted votes may no longer be enough, given the close nature of the outcome in many counties, to change the result.

OR Measure 92 6pm statewide totals

Update 4:35 pm

A whole new batch of county voting numbers should be released in about half an hour. The attached image shows statewide totals as of less than 30 minutes ago.

OR Measure 92 4pm statewide totals

The gap between sides on Measure 92 has been seesawing up and down all day. Right now, Measure 92 is failing by a little over 13,000 votes statewide. Knowing how many uncounted ballots still exist is crucial. This includes those that are damaged, unsigned etc…, and knowing how many will be challenged during the next weeks.

 

Originally posted 1:45 pm

Two hours ago, I posted a shorter version of this on Facebook, not realizing that I would decide to blog about this as I have too many other things to do, but this race is very interesting.

At 10:21 am this morning The Oregonian, based on an internal analysis, said that Measure 92 lost. I had run some numbers based on the percent of votes counted and the actual totals and realized that there are still a very significant number of uncounted votes out there. This race was definitely not over.

I called The Oregonian and spoke with the reporter who wrote their piece, asking him if they jumped the gun on calling the race. I told him that public numbers showed something like 70,000 uncounted votes, while Measure 92 was behind by only 16k votes (this is at 11:30 am).

I was told that The Oregonian had their own in-house analysis of numbers, trends through the night and in what counties there were known uncounted votes to decide to call the race.

They obviously have more resources to throw at this, but I still think the Oregonian jumped the gun on this one and so does the Yes on 92 campaign.

Oregon Secretary of State vote tally

Politico – Oregon Ballot Measures

Ebola in sneezes? No. Yes. No. Yes.

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Originally postedNov 1, 2014; 10:00 pm

The CDC has made a second extremely important and bizarre reversal regarding public health information on its website this year. The first was about the health risks of microwave radiation from cell phones and a new one is all about how the Ebola virus can spread.

Months ago, they had language urging individuals to exercise caution when using a cell phone due to the radiation they emit. Then they reversed themselves and said ‘we don’t urge caution at all when using a cell phone.’ Hear my interview with a CDC official about this.

Earlier this week, the CDC uploaded a poster (thank you! Wayback Machine) which says: CDC ebola droplet poster1

“Ebola is spread through droplets.” 

It then talks about “droplet spread,” which is that gross spray that inconsiderate people create when they sneeze or cough without covering their nose and mouth. Next, “Droplet spread happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person…” To me this means that Ebola can be spread through sneezing and coughing.

Right?

Ha ha, WRONG! Today, after realizing (again) that people pay attention to what they put up on their website, the CDC removed the first Ebola poster and replaced it with this one.

CDC ebola droplet poster2So what’s new in this version? Miraculously, now “There is no evidence that Ebola is spread by coughing or sneezing.” Huh?!

The new poster continues that “Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola.” Among these potentially infectious ‘body fluids’ are “large droplets (splashes or sprays) of respiratory or other secretions.”

Yesterday, the World Health Organization updated its guidelines on “personal protective equipment” (PPE) for health care workers dealing with Ebola patients. “Experts agreed that it was most important to have PPE that protects the mucosae – mouth, nose and eyes – from contaminated droplets and fluids.” The WHO doesn’t mention where these droplets come from, but I’ll guess that, at least in part, they’re concerned about sneezes and coughs.

Meanwhile, a new analysis regarding the spread of Ebola in the US, predicts that it is “quite possible” that there will be several cases in every major city by the end of the year.

Ebola Spreads Through Droplets – Can Survive, Remain Infectious for Weeks on Cold Surfaces

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Originally posted Oct 28, 2014; 8:30 pm

The CDC had to come clean sooner or later, many had already broached the topic.

As I noted several days ago, airborne transmission of Ebola is possible, though the only known instance occurred in non-human primates and with a different strain of the virus. But now the CDC now warns that ‘droplet spread’ is a possible method of aerosol transmission. Droplet spread occurs when someone coughs or sneezes, spraying virus inside droplets. The CDC considers the danger zone to be within 3 feet of the sick person, though I’d assume 8 feet is probably safer. To most people, including me, this is airborne transmission in practicality, but in medical parlance it is not. To the CDC, true airborne transmission occurs “when a germ floats through the air after a person talks, coughs, or sneezes” which is a little different, but the fact remains that one can touch nothing and still get Ebola.

That’s bad. But what’s even worse is that Zaire Ebola virus can “survive for long periods in different liquid media and can also be recovered from plastic and glass surfaces at low temperatures for over 3 weeks” (pdf). Got that?

That’s from research conducted over 4 years ago.

The most pertinent details relate to significant quantities of virus being present dried on plastic ebola survival dried onto cold surfaceand glass after 15 days (at 4°C). Two other important positive findings are that no virus could be recovered from materials at room temperature and no virus could be recovered of any metal surface. But for glass and plastic, is dried Ebola infectious after a week or two in cold temperatures?

“This study has demonstrated that filoviruses are able to survive and remain infectious for cell culture, for extended periods when suspended within liquid media and dried onto surfaces. In addition, decay rates of a range of filoviruses, within small-particle aerosols, have been calculated, and these rates suggest that filoviruses are able to survive and remain infectious for cell culture for at least 90 min.”

I hope this virus dies out quickly in the U.S. (and everywhere of course), because an Ebola outbreak in cold temperature, at least for some strains, seems prone to present transmission problems that I imagine no one really wants to face.

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