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EPA To Limit Science Used To Write Public Health Rules

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: The Trump administration is preparing to significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations, overriding protests from scientists and physicians who say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policymaking. A new draft of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, titled Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, would require that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the agency could consider an academic study's conclusions. E.P.A. officials called the plan a step toward transparency and said the disclosure of raw data would allow conclusions to be verified independently. The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements. And, unlike a version of the proposal that surfaced in early 2018, this one could apply retroactively to public health regulations already in place. [...] [The draft] shows that the administration intends to widen its scope, not narrow it. The previous version of the regulation would have applied only to a certain type of research, "dose-response" studies in which levels of toxicity are studied in animals or humans. The new proposal would require access to the raw data for virtually every study that the E.P.A. considers. "E.P.A. is proposing a broader applicability," the new regulation states, saying that open data should not be limited to certain types of studies. Most significantly, the new proposal would apply retroactively. A separate internal E.P.A. memo viewed by The New York Times shows that the agency had considered, but ultimately rejected, an option that might have allowed foundational studies like Harvard's Six Cities study to continue to be used. Harvard's Six Cities study is a 1993 project that "definitively linked polluted air to premature deaths" and is "currently the foundation of the nation's air-quality laws," the report says. "When gathering data for their research, known as the Six Cities study, scientists signed confidentiality agreements to track the private medical and occupational histories of more than 22,000 people in six cities. They combined that personal data with home air-quality data to study the link between chronic exposure to air pollution and mortality. But the fossil fuel industry and some Republican lawmakers have long criticized the analysis and a similar study by the American Cancer Society, saying the underlying data sets of both were never made public, preventing independent analysis of the conclusions."

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InShaneee
5 hours ago
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Uber CEO on Saudi murder of journalist: "We've made mistakes too"

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Uber is significantly backed by Saudi investments and the country's sovereign wealth fund controls a seat on its board. In this video, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is asked by Axios's Dan Primack about the Saudi regime's murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based journalist and dissident.

"It's a serious mistake," Khosrowshahi said. "We've made mistakes too, right? With self-driving, and we're recovering from that mistake ... So I think that people make mistakes. It doesn't mean that they can never be forgiven. I think they've taking is seriously."

Primack challenged his comparison of a political assassination, as described in a CIA report, to the presumptively accidental killing of a pedestrian by a self-driving car.

"I didn't read that part of the CIA report," Khosrowshahi said. "You're obviously deeper in it."

Khosrowshahi, however, is now very deep in something else.

Khosrowshahi later backtracked, telling Axios after the interview had ended that he had misspoken. “I said something in the moment that I do not believe,” said the CEO in a statement. “When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused.”

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InShaneee
8 hours ago
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GIF site Gfycat announces mass deletions, threatens Archive Team with lawsuit

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Gfycat is a site that people upload GIFs to so they can share them with other people reliably. Used most conspicuously to host memes, clips from other media, and animated porn, it announced Wednesday that it was planning to permanently delete old, anonymously-posted images within days. Archive Team, a web preservation initiative coordinated by Jason Scott, set about archiving the site's soon-to-vanish content. So Gfycat's CEO, Dan McEleney, threatened it with a lawsuit, describing archival of the memes it hosts as a "denial of service attack" and demanding compensation.

The fallout is ongoing on Twitter, with users of the site panicking about their old content and the company asking for (and being refused) private negotiations with Internet Archive, which Scott points out is not the same entity as the legally-threatened Archive Team.

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InShaneee
3 days ago
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The trailer for Richard Stanley's Color Out Of Space is a real mind-melter

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It should come as no surprise that Richard Stanley, the witchy and eccentric filmmaker behind Hardware, has delivered a truly mind-melting adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story. As the director himself has recounted many times, his mother used to read him to sleep with Lovecraft stories, which explains a lot. Stanley…

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InShaneee
4 days ago
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Handmade Gaming Dice Kickstarter Raises $1.5 Million In A Day

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Up until the moment she launched the Kickstarter campaign yesterday, Dispel Dice creator Karen Wang was worried that no one would want her handcrafted, sharp-edged, custom gaming dice. A day later, more than 12,000 backers have pledged over $1.5 million toward her dazzling gemlike creations. Turns out people like…

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InShaneee
4 days ago
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Bill Gates Is Worried About Living on $7 Billion. Millennials Have Some Thoughts About That.

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It was the dodge that launched a thousand memes.

Bill Gates, the second-wealthiest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $107 billion, declined to say Wednesday whether he’d vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for president, given her proposed plan to tax billionaires at a rate of 6 percent.

And after a glib comment that he’d have to “do a little math” about what his net worth would be in a world post-Warren, the under-45 crowd had a few choice words for the 64-year-old Microsoft co-founder.

Chiefly: OK, boomer.

“I'm not Bill Gates, so his math is probably better than mine, but he's worth 106 billion dollars, so if you took away 100 billion, it seems like that would leave him with SIX FUCKING BILLION DOLLARS,” Carter Bays, the producer and screenwriter, tweeted.

“Congratulations to all the journalists who propped up Bill Gates for years without asking hard questions about his beliefs or his philanthropy,” said Michael Hobbes, the reporter who has written extensively about how the Gates Foundation’s philanthropic efforts have negatively affected education programs.

On Twitter, people started re-circulating Tik Tok videos of young people trying to spend Gates’ wealth on his behalf. Spoiler alert: He could own every NFL team and still be a multi-billionaire.

The responses — some earnest, some dripping in irony — highlighted the cultural rift between the baby boomer generation and its younger counterparts.

And if there is a culture war, the phrase “ok boomer” has become its de facto rallying cry, a way to dismiss the more conservative politics that older generations represent.

Politics like, for example, not taxing the ultra-wealthy to fund social services.

“If I had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine,” Gates said on Wednesday during a financial conference hosted by the New York Times. “But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”

He also declined to say who he’d cast his vote for given the choice between Trump and Warren. “I hope the more professional candidate is the electable candidate,” he said.

(To be clear, Warren’s proposal would not tax Gates’ wealth at a rate of over 90 percent, as Gates suggested; it would be six percent for people worth more than $1 billion. Warren has said the revenue from that tax would fund healthcare for the entire country.)

Even Tom Steyer, the 62-year-old billionaire funding his own race for the presidency, weighed in.

“@BillGates, a wealth tax is the right thing to do,” he tweeted Wednesday night. “Don’t panic — you’ll be alright.”

But Gates is far from the only billionaire to bemoan Warren’s plan.

Financier Leon Cooperman publicly sparred with Warren last week after writing in a letter that she treats wealthy people like “an ungrateful child.”

“Warren’s tax could cut roughly in half the fortunes of the very wealthy over its first 10 years. The aggressiveness of her plan should not be understated,” Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, tweeted this week.

He later told Vox in an interview: “No group of Americans should be treated as a tool to raise the welfare of the rest of society.”

Cover: Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation speaks onstage at 2019 New York Times Dealbook on November 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times)



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InShaneee
4 days ago
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