By Alison Abbott Leading neuroscientists are joining forces to study the brain — in much the same way that physicists team up in mega-projects to hunt for new particles. The International Brain Lab (IBL), launched on 19 September, combines 21 of the foremost neuroscience laboratories in the United States and Europe into a giant collaboration that will develop theories of how the brain works by focusing on a single behaviour shared by all animals: foraging. The Wellcome Trust in London, and the Simons Foundation in Washington DC have together committed more than US$13 million over five years to kick-start the IBL. The pilot effort is an attempt to shake up cellular neuroscience, conventionally done by individual labs studying the role of a limited number of brain circuits during simple behaviours. The ‘virtual’ IBL lab will instead ask how a mouse brain, in its entirety, generates complex behaviours in constantly changing environments that mirror natural conditions. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.
By Chris Massie and Andrew Kaczynski In a pair of 2015 speeches, President Donald Trump’s nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas described transgender children as evidence of “Satan’s plan,” lamented that states were banning conversion therapy and argued that sanctioning same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and bestiality. Jeff Mateer, the current first assistant attorney general of Texas, was serving at the time as general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty advocacy group known before 2016 as the Liberty Institute. He faced criticism from LGBT rights groups for his work with the organization, such as opposing the expansion of nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people in the city of Plano. If confirmed by the US Senate, he will serve on the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. In a May 2015 speech, titled “The Church and Homosexuality,” Mateer discussed a Colorado lawsuit in which the parents of a transgender girl sued her school for preventing her from using the bathroom of her choice. “In Colorado, a public school has been sued because a first grader and I forget the sex, she’s a girl who thinks she’s a boy or a boy who thinks she’s a girl, it’s probably that, a boy who thinks she’s a girl,” Mateer said in a video posted on Vimeo in 2015 and reviewed by CNN’s KFile. “And the school said, ‘Well, she’s not using the girl’s restroom.’ And so she has now sued to have a right to go in. Now, I submit to you, a parent of three children who are now young adults, a first grader really knows what their sexual identity? I mean it just really shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.” Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.
By Hemant Mehta Australians are debating whether to legalize marriage equality, and just as we saw in our own country, religious people are coming out against it using the worst possible arguments. Former tennis star and current bigot Margaret Court said back in May that the LGBTQ movement brainwashes children, just like Hitler did. Since that argument didn’t go over so well, she recently tried a new one: Mrs Court, a Christian minister based in Osborne Park, said the consequences of a Yes vote would be severe. “It’s not about marriage. It will affect Christian schools, it will affect freedom of speech,” she said. “There will be no Mother’s Day, there will be no Father’s Day, there will be no Easter, there will be no Christmas.” I don’t quite get the logic there. If gay people can get married, then Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? Will we not have parents anymore? Will people spend so much money on gay weddings that they have nothing left to spend on Christmas gifts? WHY CAN’T SHE EXPLAIN?! Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.
By Justin Gillis As Hurricane Harvey bore down on the Texas coast, few people in that state seemed to understand the nature of the looming danger. The bulletins warned of rain falling in feet, not inches. Experts pleaded with the public to wake up. J. Marshall Shepherd, head of atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia and a leading voice in American meteorology, wrote ahead of the storm that “the most dangerous aspect of this hurricane may be days of rainfall and associated flooding.” Now we know how events in Texas turned out. Dr. Shepherd and his colleagues have spent their careers issuing a larger warning, one that much of the public still chooses to ignore. I speak, of course, about the risks of climate change. Because of atmospheric emissions from human activity, the ocean waters from which Harvey drew its final burst of strength were much warmer than they ought to have been, most likely contributing to the intensity of the deluge. If the forecasts from our scientists are anywhere close to right, we have seen nothing yet. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.
By Cristina Marcos The House voted on Thursday to prevent D.C. from receiving funding to implement a local law making it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers based on reproductive health decisions. An amendment offered by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) to a 2018 government-spending package would prohibit the use of funds for the District to implement the law, which bans employers from punishing workers for obtaining contraception, family planning services or abortions. Palmer’s amendment was adopted on a mostly party-line vote of 214-194. Eleven Republicans joined with all but two Democrats in opposing the effort. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.