April 2017 Archives

Another Fail from the Idiot-In-Chief

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Judge blocks Trump's order on sanctuary cities

A federal judge has blocked a directive from President Donald Trump seeking to deny federal funding to so-called "sanctuary cities" and other localities that decline to cooperate in enforcement of federal immigration laws.

San Francisco-based U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday barring federal officials nationwide from carrying out the portion of a Jan. 25 Trump executive order aimed at cutting off grants to local governments that won't provide assistance to federal authorities in locating and detaining undocumented immigrants.

Orrick cited public comments from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in concluding that the order appeared intended to sweep more broadly than allowed by federal law. The judge, an Obama appointee, called "not legally plausible" the Justice Department's arguments that Trump was simply trying to secure compliance with current law.

"If there was doubt about the scope of the Order, the President and Attorney General have erased it with their public comments," Orrick wrote. "The Constitution vests the spending power in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds."

On Removing Civil War Monuments

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Hitting the nail on the head

This Turkey is Not Grade A

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Putting Trump's job rating into historical perspective

Not only is Trump's 40% job rating the worst for a new president in the history of the NBC/WSJ poll; it's the worst rating -- period -- for a newly elected president approaching his first 100 days since the 1950s.

Eisenhower: 73% (April 1953)
Kennedy: 78% (April 1961)
Nixon: 61% (April 1969)
Carter: 63% (April 1977)
Reagan: 67% (April 1981)
Bush 41: 58% (April 1989)
Clinton: 52% (April 1993)
Bush 43: 57% (April 2001)
Obama: 61% (April 2009)
Trump: 40% (April 2017)

Emoluments? What emoluments?

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Virus Linked to Celiac Disease

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Could a normally harmless virus cause a sensitivity to gluten?

by Taboola

A new study has found that a certain type of virus could trigger a person's immune system to overreact to gluten, leading to celiac disease. The findings, published Thursday in Science, provide an explanation for why certain individuals develop celiac disease, while others do not.

"This is the first study to show that a virus can change the way our diet is seen by the immune system," Dr. Bana Jabri of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and senior author of the study, told NBC News. The virus turns off the body's "peacekeeper" response to gluten, tricking the immune system into thinking gluten is a harmful invader that needs to be attacked.

Researchers at the University of Chicago and University of Pittsburgh infected mice with reoviruses -- a harmless type of virus that normally does not make people sick. The mice infected by reoviruses developed a super-charged immune system response when fed gluten, causing them to experience more of the inflammation specific to celiac disease. By comparison, the immune system of mice not infected with these viruses had a much milder response to gluten.

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Jabri found these results in human patients as well. People with celiac disease had more antibodies to reoviruses in their blood compared to healthy individuals. Furthermore, these people with more antibodies were found to have more of the celiac disease inflammation.

Whether a person was infected with reoviruses at some point in the past could explain why they develop celiac at a certain age or had worse symptoms compared to others who were not infected, Jabri said.

An estimated 40 percent of the population have the genes that predispose them to celiac disease, but while 95 percent of people eat gluten, only 1 percent end up developing the disorder, said Dr. Paul Green, director of the Celiac Center at Columbia University in New York.

Viruses in the gut

Normally people are able to tolerate gluten without their immune system being put on alert. Celiac disease occurs when the immune system recognizes gluten, commonly found in wheat or other grains, as harmful. This causes the immune system to attack a person's small intestine, limiting their ability to absorb important nutrients. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and anemia.

The reovirus link to an autoimmune response in the gastrointestinal system makes sense, Dr. Gerard Mullin, director of the Celiac Disease Clinic at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine told NBC News.

"We have more viruses in our gut than bacteria and we know very little about what they do at this point," said Mullin.

The University of Chicago team now wants to study children with genetic predisposition to celiac for evidence of reovirus infection. A New England Journal of Medicine study from two years ago showed that 30 percent of children who had the high risk "celiac genes" ultimately developed the disease.

In the future, families at high risk for celiac disease may change when they introduce foods containing gluten into a baby's diet. These same families may also consider vaccinating their children against reoviruses, although experts currently advise against testing for it. In addition, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended against routine screening for celiac.

Still, the new findings shed light on what some researchers see as a mysterious disorder.

"Now we can starting thinking about preventing celiac in a different way," Jabri said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 3 million Americans have celiac disease, with 97 percent undiagnosed.

So why do some people with the disease-causing genes end up getting the disorder while others remain healthy?

"This study demonstrates the mechanism that a viral infection can cause a switch in the immune system that results in the development of food intolerance," said Green, noting that further study might show that other organisms such as bacteria may do the same.

Black Hole Selfies

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It's Albert Einstein's weirdest prediction -- that the universe is sprinkled with massive objects so dense that not even light can escape them. Although Einstein was skeptical the theory was true, it has held for over a century. Today, astronomers are fairly convinced that nearly every galaxy (including our own) harbors a black hole so massive that it gobbles down any nearby gas and dust, often ripping stars to shreds. And while no one has seen a black hole directly, astronomers might finally be on the brink of doing just that.

For the next 10 days, eight radio observatories at six locations across the globe will be pointed toward the supermassive black hole that hides in the Milky Way's center. Should the weather cooperate at these observatories -- which span the peak of the world's tallest volcano in Hawaii, the frigid landscape at the South Pole, and the ski-covered slopes of the Sierra Nevada in Spain -- astronomers will collect data at a scale never attempted before in physics.

Related: The Hunt For Alien Megastructures Is On

The hope is to image the black hole's event horizon, the gravitational point of no return, for the first time. Although it's but a tiny shadow against a glowing backdrop of radiation in the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the image would provide further evidence that black holes exist, put Einstein's general theory of relativity to one of its most stringent tests, and ultimately help astronomers understand how black holes rule over their respective galaxies.

"We hope to see the un-seeable," says Shepard Doeleman, director of this Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). "We want to see something that by its very nature tries to do everything it can not to be seen. It's the ultimate cloaking device."

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Cruelty

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R

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Word

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Keeping Michael alive

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