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SpaceX to Fly Two Tourists to the Moon in 2018

By Sydney Robinson

Private space exploration company SpaceX has announced its most ambitious mission yet—a plan to orbit the moon in 2018.

The company headed by scientific and tech mind Elon Musk claims that their mission is on-target, including having recruited two astronauts that have elected—and paid a hefty chunk of change—to have the privilege of going into space.

If everything goes as planned, the two space tourists would launch in late 2018 in a Dragon 2 capsule launched by SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. They would float past the moon before being pulled back in by gravity and returned to the Earth's surface.

If SpaceX is successful in their venture, the two volunteers will be the first of humanity to take the trip in more than 40 years. Since the successful trips around and on the moon more than 40 years ago, no man (or woman) has made it anywhere close to the big cheese in the sky—mostly due to the fact that scientists felt they had gathered enough information and could not justify another expensive and dangerous trip around the moon just for the sake of doing it.

Still, SpaceX clearly has something to prove and taking a trip around our small orbiting crater is an important next step. SpaceX has announced plans in the past to take humanity all the way to Mars in the next few years, so this trip will be considered a vital prerequisite for that ambitious project.

Meanwhile, some are skeptical that SpaceX is attempting too much too soon.

Mary Lynne Dittmar, executive director of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, said in the New York Times:

"It strikes me as risky. I find it extraordinary that these sorts of announcements are being made when SpaceX has yet to get crew from the ground to low-Earth orbit."

While the tourists would be trained, they would mostly be relying on automated systems during their trip, meaning that they would have nowhere near the survival training that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronauts experience. If something were to go wrong, they wouldn't be much help in saving themselves or their spacecraft.

This new venture of private companies tackling the space race is a test for the government and society. If SpaceX can prove its worth by safely transporting these tourists and returning them back home, safe and sound, it will go a long way in proving that the private tech and space company has what it takes to get us to Mars.

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Ring of Fire.

Health

1,700 Flint Residents File Class-Action Lawsuit Against the EPA

By Sydney Robinson

More than 1,700 residents of Flint, Michigan, are seeking legal compensation in a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. government for the handling of the lead water crisis in their city.

The litigation has been a long time coming for a community that has suffered well over two years with poisoned water and for most of that time, the state and federal government denied there was a problem at all.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday and it lists more than 1,700 damaged citizens who claim that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed at every level of the crisis. The lawsuit alleges that the EPA failed to notify residents soon enough and did little to force state or local officials to take action to mitigate damages.

According to the lawsuit:

"This case involves a major failure on all levels of government to protect the health and safety of the public. Local, state and federal agencies and employees, working individually and at times in concert with each other, mismanaged this environmental catastrophe."

Already, several local state-appointed emergency managers have been arrested and charged in connection with deliberate decisions to endanger residents' lives in exchange for cost-cutting procedures. These criminal cases will likely contribute to the lawsuit as well.

Despite the fact that poisoned water in Flint has been common knowledge for about a year, residents have been told that they will likely need to continue drinking bottled water until 2020. Even as lead levels fall below the national threshold, the infrastructure for the new, clean water system will take years to complete.

In the meantime, these residents are hoping to receive compensation for the life-altering effects of lead poisoning. Even if the water became crystal clear tomorrow, the effects of their families being poisoned for an extended period of time will never lessen. Lead poisoning is particularly harmful to children who can experience significant cognitive impairments and learning disabilities as a result.

In short, compensation from the federal government is the least these people are entitled to, especially because their lives and the lives of their children will never be the same.

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Ring of Fire.

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Gov. Brown to Trump: 'We’ve got Scientists, We’ve Got Lawyers and We’re Ready to Fight'

By Sydney Robinson

Though Donald Trump's reign of terror includes the promise to revoke all progress made on the climate change front, certain elected officials are not willing to take his destructive refusal to accept basic scientific facts lying down.

California Gov. Jerry Brown responded to indications from the Trump campaign to end the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's climate change research with a declaration that California intends to continue carrying out climate research no matter what the POTUS orders.

Speaking to a room full of scientists on Wednesday, Brown appeared defiant of the PEOTUS and assured the assembled scientific minds that California would remain a strong ally to the cause.

"Whatever Washington thinks they are doing, California is the future. If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite. We're going to collect that data."

Brown's comments were met with loud applause, but what he is proposing is a steep goal of Trump truly does shut down climate research at the national level.

But of course, considering that our President-elect once claimed climate change was a hoax invented by "Jnya" (or "China" for the rest of us), we can't imagine that he will ever take a rational stance on the issue.

Even as recent as earlier this month, the PEOTUS took a softer stance, but still maintained that "no one knows" what is truly causing global warming. Scientists everywhere heaved a collective sigh, staring longingly at their life's work.

As is so often the case, we will have to put our hopes in the progressive California. As Brown promised, "We've got the scientists, we've got the lawyers and we're ready to fight."

Watch the video below:

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Ring of Fire.


Politics

Want to Watch Michael Moore’s Trumpland? Now's Your Chance

[Editor's note: So you want to watch Trumpland? You can now watch it via iTunes, by clicking here.]

By Sydney Robinson

On Tuesday, we shared that filmmaker and social commentator Michael Moore had just released a surprise film, Michael Moore in Trumpland.

Coming on the tail of his exploration of U.S. foreign relations and our history of war, Moore released Where to Invade Next earlier this year. But apparently that wasn't enough to keep Moore busy, so he released this second film.

When we first reported on this story, we didn't have any details as to how a regular Joe Schmo in any place other than New York City could see the film. With less than three weeks until the election, time is clearly running out for Americans to see the film and allow it to shape their political views before they head to the ballot box.

But now, Moore has teased on his Twitter account Wednesday that the film will be accessible to everyone in the U.S. in 48 hours, meaning that by Friday, everyone should know the score.

Our guess is that Moore will release it onto one of the many popular streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon or even Hulu. He also might just post it publicly to YouTube or onto a website of his own. Either way, he had better prepare for some high volume users as everyone is dying to know what this secret film contains.

[Editor's note: At EcoWatch, where dying to know what Michael Moore's secret film contains. We are crossing our fingers it hits on climate change, since future generations lost again at last night's presidential debate.]

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Ring of Fire.

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Van Jones Declares 'Water Is Life, Oil Is Death' at Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

By Sydney Robinson

Journalist-turned-activist Van Jones is the most recent prominent voice to join the Dakota Access Pipeline protest which is fighting to stop the development of a pipeline that would damage the Earth and encroach upon native lands.

Jones spoke before a group of Native Americans and allies over the weekend when he made a strong declaration:

"This is as simple as I can say it: water is life, oil is death. Water is life, oil is death. That's not hyperbole. What is oil? Oil is some stuff that's been dead for millions and millions of years. Oil has been dead for 60 million years. Coal has been dead for 150 million years."

Seem a bit obvious? Jones wasn't done there. He then launched into a poetic, spoken-word-esque speech about how the death of oil and coal have spread death across the world:

"Somebody's gotta brainstorm to go and dig up a bunch of dead stuff and then burn it. Burn it in their engines, burn it in their power plants. And then they're shocked. They're shocked that having pulled death out of the ground, we now have death in the lungs of our children in the form of asthma. And we now have death on our oceans in the form of oil spills. And we now have death in the skies in form of climate chaos. What did you think was gonna happen when you started digging up all this death? What did you think was gonna happen?"

Finally, Jones made a call to action for the world to turn toward vibrant, living sources of energy and leave the death in the Earth from where it sprung:

"So we stand for life. Let's power a new civilization based on a living sun, based on the living wind, based on the living imagination of our children and based on the cleanliness, and the purity, and the sacredness of our water."

Watch Jones's speech below.

Health

Did Johnson & Johnson's Talcum Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer?

Baby powder is one of the most commonly-used household products in America—but could it be a major cause of ovarian cancer? Earlier this year, a jury in Missouri ordered Johnson and Johnson to fork over $72 million to the family of a woman who claimed to develop ovarian cancer after using its branded baby powder. Hundreds of other women are making the same claim.

Watch as Ring of Fire's Mike Papantonio and Sam Seder discuss this issue:

Transcript from the video:

Seder: Pap, this week there was a huge award ordered by a state jury in Missouri against Johnson & Johnson for the company's, I guess, knowledge that the talcum based baby powder in Shower to Shower that they were selling for years had the ability to cause cancer in some…

Papantonio: Yeah, Ovarian cancer. They said more than that, Sam. The attorney that handled this is a friend and he's a great lawyer. Jere Beasley. The reason we're involved in this case, the reason I'm handling this case also, is because I really want women to understand that why would you possibly take a risk of using this Shower to Shower or Johnson's Baby Powder when there's any risk of Ovarian cancer? The studies right now, actually as early as the 1980s, the studies started showing there's a connection between the minerals that are found in this powder. Because it's mined. It's mined from the ground. This talcum is mined from the ground, but there's minerals that cause inflammation in the organ systems. Anytime you have inflammation that sometimes leads to scar-based cancers and what's happening Sam, is that they're finding the minerals that they can trace back to the powder in the tumors that are found in these women.

The question then becomes … You had the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer come out just … They did a study and they said, "Look. A woman who uses this on a regular basis has a 30 to 60 percent increase of Ovarian cancer." It's not a … That's not a coincidence. Harvard did a study. They said … It was even more compelling. They said a women doesn't even have to use it regularly. She puts herself at risk every time she uses it, because once that talcum … Once the minerals from the talcum powder absorb into the body they then become an … They create an inflammatory process. The Journal of National Cancer Institute talked about the use of talc in Ovarian cancer in 2014. They weren't equivocal about their findings.

The interesting thing about this case is that this is information that Johnson & Johnson knew since the 1980s. The documents in this case are … They're awful when you start determining what did they know. That's what the jury reacted to. This wasn't just … The question, Sam, was not only were they negligent. They obviously were negligent. The question was also, "Did they show reckless disregard for human life?" and the jury came back and said, "Yeah, they did." Sometimes if … Sam, if this were a medicine, if this were something that maybe was a life-saving medicine you had to take it, there'd be some risk-benefit analysis. There is risk-benefit analysis here. This is just absolutely no benefit.

Seder: My understanding is that there was a sense within Johnson & Johnson that they knew that these … The reporting of these links was going to drive down their sales and so they re-oriented who they were going to try and sell this to. My understanding is too is that they had been basically aware they were going to have to pay the piper at one point and have been preparing for this litigation in some way for maybe decades.

Papantonio: Yeah, they have. Matter of fact what they is they went out and hired what I call "biostitutes." Those are … You find 'em at places like Yale and Princeton. They're these scientists or these professor types that will say anything for the right amount of money. What they did is they went out and they phonied up some epidemiology. The epidemiology they tried to show that it's impossible for this to cause Ovarian cancer even though you're finding … You're tracing the minerals right to the ovary. The problem is when you have a company like this that has this much head-start they get to change the epidemiology, because they secretly pay for the epidemiology to make it look like there's no connection. That's what they did here. That's why Jere did such a wonderful job in this case. Actually working his way through that and showing that that's a fraud. That you can go hire a "biostitute," which is nothing more than a scientific whore, for the right money and they're going to say whatever you want 'em to say. That's what Johnson & Johnson did here in this case.

Seder: Pap, just tell us, in a case like this there are a lot of potential plaintiffs out there, so what happens next? You've had this … You have this award. I assume Johnson & Johnson tries to appeal. What … Walk us through what happens next.

Papantonio: What's going to happen next is this. First of all you're going to have lawyers that have virtually zero experience thinking, "I can go handle these cases." They can't. A guy like Beasley does the same thing we do. We specialize in these cases. This is what we do ... (laughs). What ends up happening is very often you'll have some lawyer go grab a bunch of these cases for people that need to have good representation and they'll end up making bad law in jurisdictions. This is what my prediction is on this case. You're going to … It's going to be like the scene in Jaws where the characters in the little rowboats, "I'm going to go catch the big white shark," but what ends up happening is they do so much harm to the project itself.

What I always try to tell people is know who you're hiring on something like this, because it can go bad for a lot of women. A lot of women are suffering from Ovarian cancer directly related to this talc and so the question then becomes … You have to … Simply because somebody advertises and says, "I handle these cases," you need to find out who they are, because I say that not just for … I say that, because they can upset the entire process and a lot of people can be left out in the dark, because some lawyer who knew … Had no clue on what they were doing tried to handle this case against Johnson & Johnson, blew it and made bad law that affects women all over the country. That the first thing I always talk about.

The second thing is that this case will continue … We're going to continue … There's going to be documents that keep showing up. The documents that Jere Beasley put in front of the jury are really bad. They showed really reckless disregard, terrible conduct by Johnson & Johnson and that's why the jury came back like they did. My prediction is those documents will even get worse as this case goes forward.

Seder: Wow. Really just amazing. I have to say that in the 10, now gosh 12 years that I have known you and I hear these stories from you that you deal with on a day to day basis, when you find these documents in these corporations and I am … I still have the ability to be amazed at the callousness and just the sheer sense that these folks, because they're making a dollar, owe nothing to the general public or their customers. It is shocking to me. Pap, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you much.

Papantonio: Thank you, Sam.

Learn more about the relationship between Talcum Powder use and Ovarian Cancer.

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