Dark matter: Absence of evidence, or evidence of absence? Physicists are learning more about what dark matter isn’t. That will help them find out what it is – The Economist Nov 2nd 2013

COSMOLOGY and particle physics—or at least, the popular versions of them—tend to the grandiose. The Higgs boson, recently discovered at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory, is not just any old particle. To the despair of many physicists, it has been dubbed the “God particle”. Books on cosmology promise to reveal the “fabric of the cosmos”, while their academic authors discuss different flavours of a “theory of everything”.

The reality, though, is more disappointing—or perhaps more exciting, depending on your point of view. Physicists have excellent, accurate theories to describe the behaviour of the matter that makes up atoms. But they also know that this matter constitutes less than 5% of the substance of creation. The remainder is split between “dark energy”, a notional force assigned responsibility for the accelerating expansion of the universe, and “dark matter”, ghostly stuff whose existence seems necessary to make sense of the arrangement of the heavens. Both are the subject of intense study, and both remain deeply mysterious.

On October 30th the team running the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment, in a mine 1,500 metres below South Dakota, announced the results of their first three months spent hunting for dark matter: nothing. That is big news. It contradicts evidence from several other experiments, which offered hints that dark matter had been spotted. And LUX is the most sensitive dark-matter detector yet built.

Article continues: http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21588829-physicists-are-learning-more-about-what-dark-matter-isnt-will-help-them-find

Conservationist inspires reverence for wilderness – By FRANCES BEINECKE | 10/31/13 5:07 AM EDT

Margaret “Mardy” Murie and Frances Beinecke (left) are pictured in this composite. | AP Photos

Murie was ‘grandmother of the conservation movement,’ Beinecke writes. | AP Photos

The following essay is part of a series in which dozens of women will reveal what women they most admire. The series is part of “Women Rule,” a unique effort this fall by POLITICO, Google and The Tory Burch Foundation exploring how women are leading change in politics, policy and their communities. See more essays here.

I traveled to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska this summer and got to experience one of the wildest landscapes left on Earth. I saw grizzly bears playing in the grass, wolves tracking caribou and wildflowers blooming in a riot of color. One afternoon, I stepped into a tiny visitor center and saw a tribute to the woman who helped protect the refuge and 100 million acres more of America’s natural heritage: Margaret “Mardy” Murie.

Mardy, who died in 2003, was a force of nature and my conservation heroine and role model. She navigated the male-dominated worlds of frontier Alaska, the oil and gas industry — and Capitol Hill to preserve our wilderness crown jewels. In the process, she became an inspiration to a generation of women entering the environmental arena in the 1970s. She was hailed as the “grandmother of the conservation movement.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/frances-beinecke-margaret-murie-99116.html#ixzz2jIkFvNDU

Poll Reveals An Astonishing Majority Of Conservatives Want A White Male Dominated Congress – AUTHOR: STEPHEN D. FOSTER JR. OCTOBER 31, 2013 8:01 AM

New poll reveals Conservatives want only white men in Congress. The GOP-led House's 2012 committee chairs.

Still think the GOP isn’t sexist and racist? This new poll is a real eye-opener. It shows conservatives don’t want any more women or minorities in Congress. Photo of The GOP-led House’s 2012 committee chairs from “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

If you still don’t think that the Republican Party is sexist and racist, get ready to have your eyes opened. A new poll finds that an astonishingly high number of conservatives actually want Congress to be dominated by white men.

New poll shows conservatives don’t want more women or minorities in Congress.

According to a new poll from ABC/Fusion, only 5 percent of conservative Republicans think more minorities in Congress would be a good thing. Apparently, most feel it would be a bad thing to have a more diverse Congress. It’s really pathetic that a mere 5 percent bucked their own party to say that more minorities should be sent to Washington DC.

The above statistic is just further proof that the Republican Party has become staunchly anti-minority. This spells major trouble for conservative candidates in future elections. In 2012, 93 percent of African-Americans, 71 percent of Latinos, and 73 percent of Asians voted for President Obama and Democrats. If conservatives continue to alienate minority voters, the GOP will be a minority in governing for years to come.

But that’s not all the new poll reveals. It also shows how Republicans feel about more women being elected to Congress. And it’s not pretty. No pun intended.

The ABC/Fusion poll shows that only 26 percent of conservatives and 23 percent of Republicans support electing more women to the House and Senate. The low number demonstrates why the GOP is struggling with female voters. In 2012, 56% of women voted for President Obama. The 12 point gender gap helped Democrats regain some House seats and retain control of the Senate. But it also catapulted a record number of women to Congress. Clearly, Republicans aren’t doing well with women, and it stands to get worse as the GOP escalates their war on women.

Article continues: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/10/31/new-poll-conservatives-congress/

Drone Victims Appear Before Congress for First Time -by George Zornick on October 29, 2013 – 4:06 PM ET

Rafiq ur Rehman

Rafiq ur Rehman and his children, Zubair and Nabeela, appear at a briefing on October 29, 2013. Photo by George Zornick.

One year ago this month, Rafiq ur Rehman’s children were gathering okra in a field in Pakistan with their 67-year-old grandmother, Mammana Bibi. A loud buzzing noise quickly grew louder, and a US drone fired a missile into the field. International news reports carried American claims that multiple militants had been killed in the strike, but there was actually only one death: Mammana Bibi. The two children were injured in the attack.

On Tuesday morning, Rafiq, his son Zubair, age 13, and his daughter Nabeela, 9, sat in a crowded room on Capitol Hill in front of a bank of television cameras and told their story.

“Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day. Some media outlets reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother’s house. Others reported that the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house,” Rafiq said in quiet Urdu, which was then repeated in English by a translator. (The translator at one point became emotional and had to collect herself.)

“As a teacher, my job is to educate,” Rafiq continued. “But how do I teach something like this? How do I explain what I myself do not understand? How can I in good faith reassure the children that the drone will not come back and kill them, too, if I do not understand why it killed my mother and injured my children?”

Article continues: http://www.thenation.com/blog/176882/drone-victims-appear-congress-first-time

While the fights over Obamacare are sure to go on for years, the health care law is one of the least understood social programs of our time. “Understanding Obamacare: POLITICO’s Guide to the Affordable Care Act” is a plain-English explainer of how the law is supposed to work, and what’s likely to happen when the coverage begins. Written by POLITICO Senior Policy Reporter and health care expert David Nather, the guide also includes a series of reality checks to help you sort out the truth behind the political arguments you’re most likely to hear.

Introduction: Understanding Obamacare

Whatever you think of Obamacare, this guide is intended to help you understand what’s at stake for consumers, employers and physicians — and help you cut through the political rhetoric as the law’s biggest test begins.

Download a PDF of the full guide

Media organisations have revealed startling details about US espionage in recent weeks. The disclosures can be traced back to three people who don’t play by the rules – intelligence leaker Edward Snowden and his chief disseminators, the Guardian newspaper reporter Glenn Greenwald, and independent film-maker Laura Poitras. – By Tara McKelvey BBC News Magazine

How is the NSA’s vault of secrets being unlocked?

By Tara McKelveyBBC News Magazine

Glenn Greenwald
Glenn Greenwald is the lead reporter on the Snowden leaks

The National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly collected data on millions of US customers of Verizon, a telecom firm, and on 60 million calls in Spain. It is also said to have obtained data on 70 million digital communications in France – and spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel for years.

The revelations, which appeared in articles co-written by Mr Greenwald or Ms Poitras in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, French paper Le Monde, Germany’s Der Spiegel and two Spanish newspapers, El Mundo and El Pais, shed light on an organisation which, as experts explain, is even more shadowy – and hard to cover – than the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The media reports have unnerved diplomats, spies and politicians. In August UK authorities detained Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, at Heathrow Airport – and confiscated Snowden documents he had been carrying.

Article continue: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24677237

Getting beyond the ‘drunk slut’€™ narrative on college campuses by Jill Filipovic October 31, 2013 5:00AM ET

Commentary: Telling young women not to drink in order to avoid rape focuses on the wrong group of people.

 Drinking on college campuses
The focus should be on those who sexually assault, rather than on the behavior of the victims.
David Hogsholt/Getty Images

On college campuses, fall semesters are winding down and post-final, pre-holiday parties will soon kick into high gear. Hard partying brings with it alcohol-related problems, including sexual assault. Common sense advice to female students often boils down to “avoid drinking,” as alcohol is involved in the lion’s share of college sexual assault cases. But what if everything we thought we knew about rape on college campuses is wrong? What if the so-called common sense advice we dole out to young women actually makes it easier for rapists to commit crimes and harder for them to be prosecuted?

Certainly alcohol is involved in a significant proportion of sexual assaults, particularly on college campuses. One in four American women will be sexually assaulted, and alcohol is involved in about half of those assaults — consumed by the perpetrator, the victim or both. In college sexual assaults, the numbers are even starker: One study estimated that alcohol was involved in up to 80 percent of incidents. The solution seems simple. If getting drunk puts young women at risk for rape, then telling them to stop getting drunk would lead to a decrease in sexual assault rates. That advice has been doled out on college campuses, in public service ads and — most recently, as a response to the highly charged cases of alleged sexual assault involving high school students in Steubenville, Ohio, and Maryville, Mo. — in publications across the political spectrum, from Slate to The Globe and Mail.

Article continues: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/31/getting-beyond-theadrunkslutanarrativeoncollegecampuses.html

Nixon, Obama, and How We Lost Trust in the U.S. Government by Stuart Stevens Oct 31, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

After Nixon’s obfuscation on Vietnam, the press viewed those in power with a skepticism verging on cynicism. That changed with Obama—though his Obamacare untruths are worse.

  • The Vietnam War dominated the presidential campaign of 1968. The North Vietnamese Tet Offensive was launched on January 30, in the middle of the primary battle. A month later, shortly before the war forced President Johnson out of the race, a UPI reporter interviewed Nixon and wrote: “Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon vowed Tuesday that if elected president, he would ‘end the war’ in Vietnam. He did not spell out how.”

The Daily Beast/Elena Scotti

Despite Nixon explicitly saying a few weeks later that he had “no gimmicks or secret plans” for the war, soon there was talk of Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the war. As Walter Wells later wrote in the International Herald Tribune: “Even though Richard Nixon didn’t have one, the notion that he had a secret plan to end the Vietnam war helped him win the presidency in 1968.”

Fast forward to 2009. President Obama is trying to sell his health-care plan. He knows the majority of Americans who have health insurance are satisfied with their coverage and that the new plan could be seen as threatening. Unlike Social Security and Medicare, which were new programs, Obamacare would be supplementing and replacing current systems.

So to answer that concern, the president could not have been clearer. On June 5, 2009, he told the American Medical Association: “And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future.”

He went on to repeat his promise many times. “The president’s pledge that ‘if you like your insurance, you will keep it’ is one of the most memorable of his presidency,” wrote Glenn KesslerThe Washington Post’s fact checker, on Wednesday.

The problem was, the promise wasn’t true, and within a few days of the first pledge, the Associated Press challenged its credibility. In that story, officials sought to walk back the president’s remarks: “White House officials suggest the president’s rhetoric shouldn’t be taken literally: What Obama really means is that government isn’t about to barge in and force people to change insurance.”

OK, that’s reasonable. And had the president changed his rhetoric accordingly, all would be well. But he didn’t. Instead, despite his own White House admitting it wasn’t accurate, Obama kept repeating the same promise, and as late as this week, Valerie Jarrett, his closest adviser, was tweeting, “Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans.”

Article continues: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/31/nixon-obama-and-how-we-lost-trust-in-the-u-s-government.html