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Bills to limit Fed’s policy freedom ‘deeply concerning’: Harker – The Fiscal Times

Posted: February 22, 2017 at 4:39 am

“I am deeply concerned” about efforts in the Senate and House to increase lawmakers’ oversight and control over monetary policy decisions, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Such efforts are expected to re-emerge under U.S. President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress.

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Gene Editing: The Next Step In Evolution – Daily Beast

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:20 pm

With humans on the cusp self-evolution, a new report emphasizes the need for a societal conversation that were not likely to have.

Last week, two developments in gene editing shifted this potent new technology from a possibility to more of a probability. Yet its likely that the news didnt register with most people. Despite the revolutionary potential of a tool that may soon make it possible for Homo sapiens to manipulate DNA and to self-evolve – for better or for worse.

The new technology goes by the funny-sounding name Crispr-Cas9 a method that has the power to cut and paste DNA, the basic code of life in humans and all other organisms, almost as simply as moving letters around on a word processor. Researchers expect to use Crispr-Cas9 to fix or improve DNA sequences linked to diseases like Huntingtons and some cancers. The method could also be used to bump up a persons smarts, height, or stamina, although not yet.

We have within our grasp the technology to change evolution, said Paul Berg, a genetics pioneer from Stanford, about Crispr-tech. This could change the course of biological life.

Discovered in 2012 by scientists in California and Sweden, Crispr-Cas9 moved closer to reality last Tuesday when the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) released a report about the ethics and the proper uses of Crispr-tech. The next day came a patent court ruling that decided who has the rights to commercially exploit some basic components of Crispr-Cas9.

The media dutifully carried the news in the usual this is an important science story manner, while experts weighed in on science blogs and websites. Crispr-Cas9, however, is so far not following the usual pattern of scientific and technological breakthroughs, which typically take decades or even centuries to perfect, and for society to absorb them.

For instance, it took us thirty or forty years to properly build and learn to use the Internet. Even with genetics, the pace has been one of mostly incremental discoveries over decades, with society very slowly absorbing the basics of the science, and what it means for real people beyond what they saw in Jurassic Park and Gattaca.

Gene editing, however, is not following the usual, slow-roll-out pattern of most new discoveries. Crispr-Cas9 is still in its early days, but scientifically is moving at warp speed, playing out in years rather than decades.

Invented just five years ago, the technology allows DNA to be edited with an ease and at a lower cost than previous versions of the technology. Last year, a Pennsylvania high school senior named Michael Zhang even won a prestigious Intel Science Talent Search award for a project using Crispr.

Crispr stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, a natural process used by bacteria to remember the DNA of invading viruses so that that they can identify and destroy similar intruders, aided by DNA-slicing enzymes. In 2012 Jennifer Doudna of the University of California at Berkeley and Emmanuelle Charpentier of Swedens Umea University demonstrated in Science how to co-opt this process and intentionally edit DNA in any organism by using a slicer enzyme called Cas9.

Since Doudnas and Charpentiers breakthrough, a Crispr frenzy has generated thousands of scientific papers in hundreds of labs around the world. It has inspired the formation of companies like Editas, Intellia, and CRISPR Therapeutics that expect the gene editing market to one day generate billions of dollars. (All three companies have issued IPOs in record time). Last November, doctors began the first human trials in China using Crispr for patients with aggressive lung cancer.

Crispr-techs rapid deployment has also launched a brisk debate among scientists and bioethicists. In 2015, 18 prominent scientists and experts in law and ethicsled by Nobel Laureate David Baltimore and Jennifer Doudna published a call in Science magazine for a moratorium on some uses of this technology. As I reported at the time:

The group, which met in Napa, California, last January [2015] for a one-day summit, fretted about a possible slippery slope that might occur from using disease-curing applications that everyone wants, toward uses with less compelling or even troubling implications. They call on scientists to impose a voluntary stoppage while societal, environmental, and ethical implications of such activity are discussed among scientific and governmental organizations.

The group was particularly concerned about editing the germline cellsthe sperm and eggthat could pass alterations down to offspring. These are different than the somatic cells that make-up you and me and our organs and other body parts. They are not involved in reproduction, and wont impact progeny if edited.

Not surprisingly, the Crispr-rush has led to a battle over rival patents. Last week, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued a 51-page ruling that sided with one of the first parties to file early patents, the Broad Institute in Boston. They won against an even early filer, the University of California at Berkeley. At issue was Berkeleys claim to patent uses of Crispr-Cas9 in all cells, versus the Broad claiming a patent for use in certain cells, including human cells. If this sounds confusing, it is, indicating that the legal wrangling over Crispr is just beginning.

The National Academies of Sciences (NAS) issued a 243-page report prepared after the call for the moratorium in 2015, and a subsequent international summit on gene editing held in December, 2015, in Washington, DC, sponsored by the NAS.

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The report provides a detailed assessment of where the science is, and the ethical and societal issues. It lists a number of recommendations, most notably that in rare and limited cases, germline editing might be allowable to save lives, but only following much more research, according to the report, and only for compelling reasons and under strict oversight. One magazine called this a yellow light, although it does represent a big shift from traditional bioethics, which strictly forbade any modifications to the human germline.

The report is dense and written in academic-speak, but it does a good job of elucidating the science and the conundrums. It also cites polls suggesting that the public seems to be in favor of gene editing to treat grave illnesses and to save lives, but is very wary of using this technology for so-called “enhancement.”

Last weeks pronouncements are important in beginning to create a scientific and societal undergirding for Crispr-tech. Yet we still seem a long way off from a societal zeitgeist. Even Hollywood has yet to start spinning Crispr-inspired plotlines, at least that Im aware of.

Nor does the politics of the moment bode well for a proper public conversation about Crispr-techor really about any new and fast-moving scientific enterprise that confronts us with a species-level set of risks and benefits. A failure to elevate this discussion, however, could cause this inevitable and rapidly moving technology to overrun our ability to absorb the implications, and our ability to make intelligent decisions about the future of us, our children, and humanity.

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Gene Editing: The Next Step In Evolution – Daily Beast

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Libertarianism in the United States – Wikipedia

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 3:44 am

Libertarianism in the United States is a movement promoting individual liberty and minimized government.[1][2] Although the word libertarian continues to be widely used to refer to socialists internationally, its meaning in the United States has deviated from its political origins.[3] The Libertarian Party asserts the following to be core beliefs of libertarianism:

Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties.[4][5]

Through 20 polls on this topic spanning 13 years, Gallup found that voters who are libertarian on the political spectrum ranged from 1723% of the US electorate.[6] This includes members of the Republican Party (especially Libertarian Republicans), Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, and Independents.

Libertarianism, like many other concepts, predates the official coinage of that word. In the US the general movement started, philosophically, with the founding of the country itself, which was based on classical liberal ideas, which came to be known in the 20th century US as libertarianism. The ideas of John Locke, fundamental to those of the Founding Fathers, are considered a starting point for libertarian thought. Minarchists like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, influenced by Locke, advocated positions that are not only compatible with modern American libertarianism, but are also considered foundations for that movement.

In the 19th century, key libertarian thinkers, individualist anarchists and minarchists, were based in the US, most notably Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker. These political thinkers argued that government should be kept to a minimum, and that it is only legitimate to the extent that people voluntarily support it, as in Spooner’s No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority. American writers Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson advocated for individualism and even anarchism throughout that century, leaving a significant imprint on libertarianism worldwide.

Moving into the 20th century, important American writers and scholars like H. L. Mencken and Bertrand Russell carried on the intellectual libertarian tradition. They were subsequently bolstered by a new movement who actually used the word, most noteworthy among these being Albert Jay Nock, author of Our Enemy, the State, one of the first people in the world to self-identify as “libertarian”, and European immigrant Ayn Rand, strongly influenced by Nock, who helped popularize the term, as well as Science Fiction author Robert Anson Heinlein, whose writing carried libertarian underpinnings, and who identified himself by the term as well.

In 1955, writer Dean Russell, a classic liberal himself, proposed a solution:

Here is a suggestion: Let those of us who love liberty trade-mark and reserve for our own use the good and honorable word “libertarian”.[7]

Subsequently, a growing number of Americans with classical liberal beliefs in the United States began to describe themselves as “libertarian.”[8] Academics as well as proponents of the free market perspectives note that free-market libertarianism has spread beyond the US since the 1970s via think tanks and political parties[9][10] and that libertarianism is increasingly viewed worldwide as a free market position.[11][12] However, libertarian socialist intellectuals Noam Chomsky, Colin Ward, and others argue that the term “libertarianism” is considered a synonym for social anarchism by the international community and that the United States is unique in widely associating it with free market ideology.[13][14][15]

Arizona United States Senator Barry Goldwater’s libertarian-oriented challenge to authority had a major impact on the libertarian movement,[16] through his book The Conscience of a Conservative and his run for president in 1964.[17] Goldwater’s speech writer, Karl Hess, became a leading libertarian writer and activist.[18]

The Vietnam War split the uneasy alliance between growing numbers of self-identified libertarians, anarchist libertarians, and more traditional conservatives who believed in limiting liberty to uphold moral virtues. Libertarians opposed to the war joined the draft resistance and peace movements and organizations such as Students for a Democratic Society. They began founding their own publications, like Murray Rothbard’s The Libertarian Forum[19][20] and organizations like the Radical Libertarian Alliance.[21]

The split was aggravated at the 1969 Young Americans for Freedom convention, when more than 300 libertarians organized to take control of the organization from conservatives. The burning of a draft card in protest to a conservative proposal against draft resistance sparked physical confrontations among convention attendees, a walkout by a large number of libertarians, the creation of libertarian organizations like the Society for Individual Liberty, and efforts to recruit potential libertarians from conservative organizations.[22] The split was finalized in 1971 when conservative leader William F. Buckley, Jr., in a 1971 New York Times article, attempted to divorce libertarianism from the freedom movement. He wrote: “The ideological licentiousness that rages through America today makes anarchy attractive to the simple-minded. Even to the ingeniously simple-minded.”[23]

In 1971, David Nolan and a few friends formed the Libertarian Party.[24] Attracting former Democrats, Republicans and independents, it has run a presidential candidate every election year since 1972. Over the years, dozens of libertarian political parties have been formed worldwide. Educational organizations like the Center for Libertarian Studies and the Cato Institute were formed in the 1970s, and others have been created since then.[25]

Philosophical libertarianism gained a significant measure of recognition in academia with the publication of Harvard University professor Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia in 1974. The book won a National Book Award in 1975.[26] According to libertarian essayist Roy Childs, “Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia single-handedly established the legitimacy of libertarianism as a political theory in the world of academia.”[27]

Texas congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns for the Republican Party presidential nomination were largely libertarian. Paul was affiliated with the libertarian-leaning Republican Liberty Caucus and founded the Campaign for Liberty, a libertarian-leaning membership and lobbying organization. His son, US Senator Rand Paul continues the tradition, albeit more “moderately”.

The 2016 Libertarian National Convention which saw Gary Johnson and Bill Weld nominated as the 2016 presidential ticket for the Libertarian Party resulted in the most successful result for a third-party presidential candidacy since 1996, and the best in the Libertarian Party’s history by vote number. Johnson received 3% of the popular vote, amounting to more than 4.3 million votes. Johnson has expressed a desire to win at least 5% of the vote so that the Libertarian Party candidates could get equal ballot access and federal funding, thus subsequently ending the two-party system.[28][29][30]

As was true historically, though, there are far more libertarians in the US than those who belong to the party touting that name. In the United States, libertarians may emphasize economic and constitutional rather than religious and personal policies, or personal and international rather than economic policies,[31] such as the Tea Party movement, founded in 2009, which has become a major outlet for Libertarian Republican ideas[32][33] especially rigorous adherence to the US Constitution, lower taxes and an opposition to a growing role for the federal government in health care. However polls show that many people who identify as Tea Party members do not hold traditional libertarian views on most social issues, and tend to poll similarly to socially conservative Republicans.[34][35][36] Eventually during the 2016 presidential election many Tea Party members abandoned more libertarian leaning views in favor of Donald Trump and his right wing populism .[37]

Additionally, the Tea Party was considered to be a key force in Republicans reclaiming control of the US House of Representatives in 2010.[38]

Polls (circa 2006) find that the views and voting habits of between 10 and 20 percent (and increasing) of voting age Americans may be classified as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal, or libertarian.”[39][40] This is based on pollsters and researchers defining libertarian views as

Through 20 polls on this topic spanning 13 years, Gallup found that voters who are libertarian on the political spectrum ranged from 1723% of the US electorate.[6] Most of these vote for Republican and Democratic (not Libertarian) party candidates. This posits that the common single-axis paradigm of dividing people’s political leanings into “conservative”, “liberal” and “confused” is not valid.[41] Libertarians make up a larger portion of the US electorate than the much-discussed “soccer moms” and “NASCAR dads”, yet this is not widely recognized. One reason for this is that most pollsters, political analysts, and political pundits believe in the paradigm of the single liberal-conservative axis.[39]

Well-known libertarian organizations include the Center for Libertarian Studies, the Cato Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the Reason Foundation, the International Society for Individual Liberty (ISIL) and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. The Libertarian Party of the United States is the world’s first such party.

The Free State Project, an activist movement formed in 2001, is working to bring 20,000 libertarians to the state of New Hampshire to influence state policy. As of May 2015, the project website shows that 16,683 people have pledged to move once 20,000 are signed on, and 1,746 participants have already moved to New Hampshire or were already residing there when New Hampshire was chosen as the destination for the Free State Project in 2003.[42] Less successful similar projects include the Free West Alliance and Free State Wyoming.

The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, DC It was founded as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974 by Ed Crane, Murray Rothbard, and Charles Koch,[43] chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries.[nb 1] In July 1976, the name was changed to the Cato Institute.[43][44] Cato was established to have a focus on public advocacy, media exposure and societal influence.[45] According to the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), Cato is number 16 in the “Top Think Tanks Worldwide” and number 8 in the “Top Think Tanks in the United States”.[46] Cato also topped the 2014 list of the budget-adjusted ranking of international development think tanks.[47]

The Center for Libertarian Studies (CLS) was a libertarian and anarcho-capitalist oriented educational organization founded in 1976 by Murray Rothbard and Burton Blumert, which grew out of the Libertarian Scholars Conferences. It published the Journal of Libertarian Studies from 1977 to 2000 (now published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute), a newsletter (In Pursuit of Liberty), several monographs, and sponsors conferences, seminars, and symposia. Originally headquartered in New York, it later moved to Burlingame, California. Until 2007, it supported LewRockwell.com, web publication of CLS vice president Lew Rockwell. It had also previously supported Antiwar.com.

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Fox News’ Todd Starnes Redefines ‘The Deplorables’ – Forward

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:51 am

In his new book, The Deplorables Guide to Making America Great Again, Fox News host and radio talker Todd Starnes proudly declares himself an irredeemable deplorable. He writes (with characteristic humor and directness), Mrs. Clinton matter-of-factly dubbed half of Donald Trumps supporters a bunch of xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic bigots. Im surprised she didnt say we hated puppies too.

Starnes connects being a worthwhile deplorable with traits he also associates with the duties of citizenship:

To this Starnes adds marching orders:

In other words, make yourself an upstanding participant in your society and community even as others are ridiculing and diminishing you.

But the sting of being shouted down as subhuman is not unique to a particular religion or political party. Certainly as a Jew born in the 20th century the notion of being dehumanized and threatened based on a rigid self-serving philosophy is something that resonates with me deeply.

It all begins with the abrogation of free speech; falsely defining it as the freedom of only your views being heard. Absent is true dialogue; replaced by open ridicule. The Nazis branded their disabled victims as useless eaters. Starnes responds defiantly to the demeaning deplorable branding with concrete plans for participation.

Starnes also provides a moral code for deplorables to live by, a way to overcome the marginalizing of others. You dont have to kowtow to the so-called arbiters of public morality, he writes. Dont bend the knee to these people anymore. If someone as brash and occasionally offensive as Donald J. Trump could win the White House, surely you can speak up in your house, your neighborhood, your school system, your city. Remember, the country cant be saved by one man on Pennsylvania Avenue. It takes all of us rowing in the same direction.

Starnes provides the rallying cry and organizational tools for Deplorables. And when I think of Deplorables I of course mean not just Christians, not just vilified Trump supporters, but all of us who at one time or another have been diminished or marginalized for our views. Who doesnt relate to a mean putdown or mischaracterization based on a preconceived notion or negative generalization. We are all of us Jews, all of us Deplorables, all of us humble before the eyes of God.

What we can do about it is bond together, rise up and cast our vote, rejoice in our otherness and our freedom in unexpected ways. Starnes, for instance, celebrates the presence of Chick-fil-A in New York City despite a call for a ban on the chain chicken joint by Mayor de Blasio (who Starnes says eats pizza with a fork). Starnes proposes Chick-Fil-A be the official Deplorable poultry, steeped in corporate values and the Christian faith of its founder. I would of course prefer kosher chicken as my official food, maybe Empire or Schnitzel Express.

Beyond eating chicken, argues for a populist community and religion-based uprising to resist government oppression. It is not the first time such a call is being made and it wont be the last. But it is a refreshing reminder of what every doctor knows – that our bones and arteries and even our hearts and brains all look the same under the microscope, no matter what our critics suppose.

Marc Siegel MD is an internist in New York. His most recent book is The Inner Pulse; Unlocking the Secret Code of Sickness and Health.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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Can Artificial Intelligence Predict Earthquakes? – Scientific American

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:20 pm

Predicting earthquakes is the holy grail of seismology. After all, quakes are deadly precisely because theyre erraticstriking without warning, triggering fires and tsunamis, and sometimes killing hundreds of thousands of people. If scientists could warn the public weeks or months in advance that a large temblor is coming, evacuation and other preparations could save countless lives.

So far, no one has found a reliable way to forecast earthquakes, even though many scientists have tried. Some experts consider it a hopeless endeavor. Youre viewed as a nutcase if you say you think youre going to make progress on predicting earthquakes, says Paul Johnson, a geophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. But he is trying anyway, using a powerful tool he thinks could potentially solve this impossible puzzle: artificial intelligence.

Researchers around the world have spent decades studying various phenomena they thought might reliably predict earthquakes: foreshocks, electromagnetic disturbances, changes in groundwater chemistryeven unusual animal behavior. But none of these has consistently worked. Mathematicians and physicists even tried applying machine learning to quake prediction in the 1980s and 90s, to no avail. The whole topic is kind of in limbo, says Chris Scholz, a seismologist at Columbia Universitys LamontDoherty Earth Observatory.

But advances in technologyimproved machine-learning algorithms and supercomputers as well as the ability to store and work with vastly greater amounts of datamay now give Johnsons team a new edge in using artificial intelligence. If we had tried this 10 years ago, we would not have been able to do it, says Johnson, who is collaborating with researchers from several institutions. Along with more sophisticated computing, he and his team are trying something in the lab no one else has done before: They are feeding machinesraw datamassive sets of measurements taken continuously before, during and after lab-simulated earthquake events. They then allow the algorithm to sift through the data to look for patterns that reliably signal when an artificial quake will happen. In addition to lab simulations, the team has also begun doing the same type of machine-learning analysis using raw seismic data from real temblors.

This is different from how scientists have attempted quake prediction in the pastthey typically used processed seismic data, called earthquake catalogues, to look for predictive clues. These data sets contain only earthquake magnitudes, locations and times, and leave out the rest of the information. By using raw data instead, Johnsons machine algorithm may be able to pick up on important predictive markers.

Johnson and collaborator Chris Marone, a geophysicist at The Pennsylvania State University, have already run lab experiments using the schools earthquake simulator. The simulator produces quakes randomly and generates data for an open-source machine-learning algorithmand the system has achieved some surprising results. The researchers found the computer algorithm picked up on a reliable signal in acoustical datacreaking and grinding noises that continuously occur as the lab-simulated tectonic plates move over time. The algorithm revealed these noises change in a very specific way as the artificial tectonic system gets closer to a simulated earthquakewhich means Johnson can look at this acoustical signal at any point in time, and put tight bounds on when a quake might strike.

For example, if an artificial quake was going to hit in 20 seconds, the researchers could analyze the signal to accurately predict the event to within a second. Not only could the algorithm tell us when an event might take place within very fine time boundsit actually told us about physics of the system that we were not paying attention to, Johnson explains. In retrospect it was obvious, but we had managed to overlook it for years because we were focused on the processed data. In their lab experiments the team looked at the acoustic signals and predicted quake events retroactively. But Johnson says the forecasting should work in real time as well.

Of course natural temblors are far more complex than lab-generated ones, so what works in the lab may not hold true in the real world. For instance, seismologists have not yet observed in natural seismic systems the creaking and grinding noises the algorithm detected throughout the lab simulations (although Johnson thinks the sounds may exist, and his team is looking into this). Unsurprisingly, many seismologists are skeptical that machine learning will provide a breakthroughperhaps in part because they have been burned by so many failed past attempts. Its exciting research, and I think well learn a lot of physics from [Johnsons] work, but there are a lot of problems in implementing this with real earthquakes, Scholz says.

Johnson is also cautiousso much so that he hesitates to call what he is doing earthquake prediction. We recognize that you have to be careful about credibility if you claim something that no one believes you can do, he says. Johnson also notes he is currently only pursuing a method for estimating the timing of temblors, not the magnitudehe says predicting the size of a quake is an even tougher problem.

But Scholz and other experts not affiliated with this research still think Johnson should continue exploring this approach. Theres a possibility it could be really great, explains David Lockner, a research geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey. The power of machine learning is that you can throw everything in the pot, and the useful parameters naturally fall out of it. So even if the noise signals from Johnsons lab experiments do not pan out, he and other scientists may still be able to apply machine learning to natural earthquake data and shake out other signals that do work.

Johnson has already started to apply his technique to real-world datathe machine-learning algorithm will be analyzing earthquake measurements gathered by scientists in France, at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and from other sources. If this method succeeds, he thinks it is possible experts could predict quakes months or even years ahead of time. This is just the beginning, he says. I predict, within the next five to 10 years machine learning will transform the way we do science.

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Lunch & Learn on the First Amendment – The Northfield News

Posted: at 8:58 pm

Norwich Universitys Sullivan Museum and History Center will host a lunch and learn program on the First Amendment in conjunction with a national, pop-up exhibit commemorating the 225thanniversary of the Bill of Rights.

OnWednesday, Feb. 22, atnoon, The Sullivan Museum and History Centerpresents, A Living Document: The First Amendment, Past, Present and Future, a talk by Austin Gray, attorney and longtime professor of civil liberties and Constitutional law. The event includes a light lunch and is free and open to the public.

Gray, of law firm Gray Law PLLC in Barre, Vt., has been teaching at the university level for 20 years and is one of the founding faculty of the Master of Law program at Champlain College. He also teaches Civil Liberties and Constitutional Law at Norwich University. A graduate of Temple University School of Law, Gray is a member of the Vermont, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar Associations.

This presentation is held in conjunction with a new pop-up exhibition from theNational Archives,The Bill of Rights and You,commemorating the 225th anniversary of the ratification of this landmark document. This exhibit spotlights one of the most remarkable periods in American history,explores the origins of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution (collectively known as the Bill of Rights), illustrates how each amendment protects U.S. citizens, and looks at how Americans exercise the rights outlined in the amendments. The Bill of Rightsand Youinvites visitors to connect directly with the people, places, and events that mark this historic documents evolution. The exhibit will be on display in the Museums Rotunda throughMarch 15, 2017.

The Bill of Rights and Youco-curator Jennifer Johnson states: “The Bill of Rights represents the Founder’s vision that it would be the people, through votes, that could change the Constitution with enough consensus. And when the people desired a Bill of Rights, our first 10 amendments were added to our governing charter.”

Visitors are also encouraged to engage in a dialogue by answering the question: What Does Freedom Mean to You? A message board in the Museum Rotunda is available to post your own personal answer.

The Bill of Rights and Youis organized by the National Archives and Records Administration, and traveled by the National Archives Traveling Exhibits Service (NATES). This exhibition was developed in collaboration with the National Archives National Outreach Initiative to commemorate the 225thAnniversary of the Bill of Rights. The exhibition is presented in part by AT&T, Seedlings Foundation, and the National Archives Foundation.

This exhibit is brought to you in collaboration with the Vermont Humanities Council and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. A statewide nonprofit organization founded in 1974, the Vermont Humanities Council strives to make Vermont a state in which every individual reads, participates in public affairs, and continues to learn throughout life.

Norwich Universitys Sullivan Museum and History Center is the only museum in Vermont to be named a Smithsonian Affiliate.Currently, there are two exhibitions focusing on the year leading up the 100thAnniversary of World War One and the 75thAnniversary of World War Two. These exhibits are on display through May 2017 and include various items from the university collection as well as borrowed materials. Some of the artifacts on exhibit include: trench art, World War One and Two posters, patriotic jewelry, artwork, uniforms, medals, objects from the field, weapons and other items from our collection.

The museum is open to the public from 8 until 4 Monday through Friday, but is closed on holidays. Admission is free.For more information about the programs or exhibit, please call802-485-2183or visithttp://academics.norwich.edu/museum.

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Americans Lost $116.9B Gambling In 2016: Report – CardPlayer.com

Posted: at 12:41 am

The amount of money people in America spent on gambling in 2016 was an estimated $116.9 billion, according to data from H2 Gambling Capital. Thats the amount won off of gamblers in areas including brick-and-mortar casinos, state lotteries and regulated online gaming sites.

The Economist first reported on the data, which showed that the U.S. is still by far the largest overall gambling market in the world. China was a distant second with an overall gambling market of $62.4 billion. About $30 billion of that comes from Macau.

The U.S. gambling sector has room for major growth. The American Gaming Association says that about $150 billion is wagered on sports (the handle) each year in the U.S., with nearly all of it coming through illegal channels. Traditional sports betting is only legal in Nevada, where bettors are now wagering about $4.5 billion each year.

Nevada casinos won about $220 million on those wagers last year.

There are efforts on Capitol Hill to legalize sports betting nationwide.

Silver State casinos won $11.26 billion from gamblers last year, a small uptick over 2015.

Online casino gaming is legal in just three U.S. states, but many more are still considering the activity. New York and Pennsylvania stand as the front runners to legalize internet casinos in 2017.

The size of the commercial casino market is worth about $40 billion annually, while tribal casinos win about $30 billion a year. The lottery is the next largest component of the U.S. gambling market, with annual sales in the tens of billions of dollars.

The popularity of the lottery has led to a handful of states bringing it to the internet.

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U-CF School Board adds new member and approves preliminary budget – Chester County Press

Posted: February 14, 2017 at 11:30 am

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U-CF School Board adds new member and approves preliminary budget – Chester County Press

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Editorial: Second Amendment rights in Ramsey – NorthJersey.com – NorthJersey.com

Posted: at 10:58 am

NorthJersey 12:06 a.m. ET Feb. 12, 2017

Ramsey Mayor Deirdre Dillon presides over the standing-room-only crowd of about 150 people hearing the public comments about the ordinance prohibiting the discharge of firearms within town, even at a gun range, at the Ramsey Borough Council meeting on Wednesday night.(Photo: Adam Anik/NorthJersey.com)

We consistently support smart gun laws. There are too many guns in the hands of people who should never have access to a firearm. At the same time, citizens have a constitutional right to own a firearm and a responsibility, if they choose to own one, to know how to use it. So what is happening in Ramsey is troubling.

A developer from Pennsylvania wants to convert the former Liberty Travel building into a firing range with 67 firing stalls, in addition to space for a restaurant and retail sales. It would be called the Screaming Eagle Club.

Council: Ramsey tables vote on gun law, prepares forlitigation

Letter: Ramsey should not fear shooting range

The moniker gives us pause, but Ramsey has an ordinance on the books since 1961 that, while prohibiting the firing of any pistol, shotgun, rifle or other type of firearms anywhere in the borough, exempts indoor and outdoor firing ranges.

As Staff Writer Tom Nobile reported, the borough was set to vote on a change in the ordinance on Wednesday night, but postponed a vote after being informed that litigation opposing the change would ensue. So for now or until the borough lawyers-up with a pro-bono-inclined law firm the proposal is on hold.

We understand that the proposed 60,000-square-foot indoor firing range may not be exactly what Ramsey officials want to see in their community, but we cannot support changing ordinances on the spot to keep out a legal business, particularly one supported by the Second Amendment.

If the borough has a problem with the size of the range and that it will create legitimate safety issues, make that case. If there is concern that adding a restaurant or shops may create a public safety issue, make that case. But we would be surprised if that case would be successful in court.

A firing range of this size will bring a lot of gun-toting folks into Ramsey. Most will be legal gun owners going to a controlled space to hone their skills. The borough should ensure there is proper supervision and safety checks. Yet that will not preclude the possibility of something bad happening.

This past July, a man committed suicide at the Gun for Hire range in Woodland Park. He was the seventh gun-range suicide in New Jersey since 2014. The July death raised concerns over ranges that rent guns to walk-in customers in many cases it is as simple as showing a valid drivers license;no background check is required.

Ramsey officials, as they study legal options, should determine whether they can prohibit gun rentals at the proposed range. That would mitigate some of the risks associated with the facility. We understand why many Ramsey residents dont want the range, but we also recognize that many people do. Wednesdays Borough Council meeting was contentious.

There may be ways for the council to restrict the size and scale of the proposed firing range, but we are wary of the timing of this proposed change to a borough ordinance that had permitted indoor firing ranges in Ramsey.

The developers attorney, James Jaworski, said Wednesday, The Second Amendment protects not just the right to keep and bear arms, but the right to be proficient in the keeping and bearing of arms.

We agree. Citizens have a right to bear arms, and we are all safer when they have been properly trained in their use.

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Editorial: Second Amendment rights in Ramsey – NorthJersey.com – NorthJersey.com

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In-depth gene search reveals new mutations, drug targets in rare adrenal tumors – Medical Xpress

Posted: at 10:47 am

February 13, 2017 Four sub-types of pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma. Credit: Penn Medicine

Casting one of the largest genomic nets to date for the rare tumors of the autonomic nervous system known as pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma (PCC/PGL) captured several new mutations driving the disease that could serve as potential drug targets, researchers from Penn Medicine and other institutions reported this week in Cancer Cell.

Analyzing genetic data of 173 patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas, researchers, including senior author Katherine Nathanson, MD, a professor in the division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and associate director for Population Science at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, identified CSDE1 and fusion genes in MAML3 as drivers of the disease, both a first for any cancer type. The researchers also classified PCC/PGL into four distinct subtypes, each driven by mutations in distinct biological pathways, two of which are novel.

“What’s interesting about these tumors is that while they are astonishingly diverse genetically, with both inherited and somatic drivers influencing tumorigenesis, each has a single driver mutation, not multiple mutations,” Nathanson said. “This characteristic makes these tumors ideal candidates for targeted therapy.” Other cancer types typically contain anywhere from two to eight of these driver mutations.

The discovery of these single drivers in PCC/PGL provides more opportunities for molecular diagnosis and prognosis in these patients, particularly those with more aggressive cancers, the authors said.

PGLs are rare tumors of nerve ganglia in the body, whereas PCCs form in the center of the adrenal gland, which is responsible for producing adrenaline. The tumor causes the glands to overproduce adrenaline, leading to elevated blood pressure, severe headaches, and heart palpitations. Both are found in about two out of every million people each year. An even smaller percentage of those tumors become malignant – and become very aggressive. For that group, the five-year survival rate is about 50 percent.

Matthew D. Wilkerson, MD, the Bioinformatics Director at the Collaborative Health Initiative Research Program at the Uniformed Services University, is the paper’s co-senior author.

To identify and characterize the genetic missteps, researchers analyzed tumor specimens using whole-exome sequencing, mRNA and microRNA sequencing, DNA-methylation arrays, and reverse-phase protein arrays. The four molecularly defined subgroups included: a kinase-signaling subtype, a pseudohypoxia subtype, a cortical admixture subtype, and a Wnt-altered subtype. The last two have been newly classified.

The results also provided clinically actionable information by confirming and identifying several molecular markers associated with an increased risk of aggressive and metastatic disease, including germline mutations in SDBH, somatic mutations in ATRX (previously established in a Penn Medicine study), and new gene fusions – a genetic hybrid, of sorts – in MAML3.

Because the MAML3 fusion gene activates the Wnt-altered subtype, the authors said, existing targeted therapies that inhibit the beta-catenin and STAT3 pathways may also prove effective in certain PCC/PGL tumors.

Other mutations identified in the analysis may also serve as potential targets for drugs currently being investigated in other cancers. For example, glutaminase inhibitors are being tested in SDH-mutant tumors, including breast and lung, and ATR inhibitors are being investigated in blood cancers. Today, there are several U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved targeted therapies for mutations, such as BRAF and FGFR1, among others, also found in PCC/PGL.

“The study gives us the most comprehensive understanding of this disease to date – which we believe will help researchers design better trials and target mutations that will ultimately help improve treatment for these patients,” Nathanson said. “The next step is to focus more on aggressive cancers that metastasize and the drivers behind those tumors.”

Explore further: Mutated ATRX gene linked to brain tumors potential biomarker for rare adrenal tumors too

More information: Lauren Fishbein et al, Comprehensive Molecular Characterization of Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma, Cancer Cell (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.ccell.2017.01.001

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In-depth gene search reveals new mutations, drug targets in rare adrenal tumors – Medical Xpress

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