Jan 152015
 

There are two main types of age-related disease. One is cancer and the other encompasses metabolic disorders which can lead to heart disease diabetes and kidney damage. Age-related diseases are usually caused by the effects of cellular aging and have been linked to mutations and decay in mitochondria and DNA. These damaging genetic mutations begin to increase in occurrence between the ages of 30 and 40. Research has shown it may be possible to slow or even stop these mutations thereby keeping our bodies vital at the cellular level and preventing the onset of age-related disease. The only regimen ever proven to actually extend life in mammals, but one which most people find hard to follow, is to drastically reduce one’s intake of calories. However, should this prove too difficult, living a healthy lifestyle may be the next best thing. A small study has recently shown that positive lifestyle changes, including the proper management of diet, exercise and stress promotes longer telomeres. Telomeres are protective caps at the end of chromosomes which prevent the loss of genetic information during cell division. Their length has been linked to diseases such as cancers, stroke, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes. Telomeres, made of DNA and protein, work as a shield for chromosomes, keeping them stable. As we age, chromosomes become shorter and weaker, leading cells to stop dividing and eventually die. Scientists have recently discovered a way to stimulate a potent anti-aging protein in living cells called sirtuins, which are a contributor to telomere maintenance and a universal regulator of aging in virtually all living organisms. Sirtuins help cells survive damage, delay cell death, and seem to halt the normal cellular cycle that ends with old cells self-terminating. Sirtuins help rejuvenate cells by increasing their DNA repair processes and stimulating production of protective antioxidants. According to scientists, consuming a single glass of red wine each day could help one jump-start this DNA repair process. Resveratrol, an antioxidant compound found in grapes, nuts, chocolate and red wine is known to improve heart, muscle and bone functions. In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, reducing bad cholesterol and preventing blood clots, resveratrol has also been shown to be effective in boosting sirtuin levels, possibly increasing longevity. Recent research also shows that following a Mediterranean diet by eating an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, poultry and fish rather than lots of red meat, butter and animal fats might be a recipe for a long life because it appears to keep people genetically younger. They claim our scientific community now knows enough to proceed with realistic and practical longevity research, but this is dependent upon the amount of public support and funding it receives.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current aging policy

I support making direct donations to anti-aging researchers and/or identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to increase public funding of anti-aging research

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Low-frequency electromagnetic (EM) radiation is emitted from all electrical devices including power lines, computers, household appliances and the wiring inside the walls of buildings. Radio waves, such as those emitted from cellphones, utility smart meters, automobiles, and data communication networks are also electromagnetic radiation. There are now 330 million personal wireless devices in our nation of 317 million people. Some people who frequently use cellphones complain of headaches, memory loss and sleep problems. There has been an ongoing debate for many years over the possible harmful effects of being in close proximity to sources of electromagnetic radiation. One industry-supported school of thought is that the only potential danger from EM fields stem from its heating effects on human tissue. Others believe EM fields may be harmful in more subtle ways. Much research has been done on possible EM field links to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Studies by the United Nations have shown evidence of a link between EM fields and childhood leukemia but this evidence was not strong enough to be considered casual. Some studies have concluded EM fields should be regarded as carcinogens, while others have concluded that exposure to EM fields are unlikely to cause cancer. Health advocates claim pregnant women and children are most at risk from being exposed to these fields. One Swedish study found those who started using cell phones when they were teens had a 5 times greater risk of brain cancer than those who started as adults. A recent U.S. hospital study of 800 pregnant women measured their exposure to EM fields from things like power lines and microwave ovens. It found the children of mothers who had the highest exposure to EM fields had a 3½ times greater chance of having asthma than children whose mothers who had the lowest EM field exposure. Advocates say new building codes must be enacted, overhead power lines must be buried, and appliances and devices must be shielded to protect us from this potential danger. They say consumers can reduce their exposure to EM fields by using hands-free cellphones and keeping as much distance as possible from power transmission lines and electrical appliances such as TVs, microwave ovens, electric blankets, water heaters and circuit breaker panels. EM shielding opponents say business and industry would incur great expense if forced to protect us from EM radiation, should it prove harmful. Unlike a number of European countries, our government has not set standards for safe exposure to EM fields emitted from power lines.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current electromagnetic field policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to enact federal standards for safe exposure to electromagnetic radiation from power lines, home appliances and wireless devices

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Stem cells are the primordial cells of human beings. These self-renewing, undifferentiated cells can mature into any of the 210 different cell types which make up the tissues and organs of the human body. In 1998, scientists learned how to harvest stem cells from human embryos. In theory, stem cells have the potential to supply fresh transplant material to replace the cells that are lost to many incurable illnesses including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and diabetes. In fact, scientists have recently created insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells from embryonic stem cells, a big step towards curing diabetes. It is believed stem cells can also be used to repair spinal cord injuries and to cure or replace ailing hearts and livers. All told, these major advancements in regenerative medicine could improve the lives of more than 100 million Americans. Over time, technical advances enabled embryonic stem cells to be produced without using embryos. Transplanting genetic material from an adult cell into an egg whose own DNA had been removed, enabled scientists to clone adult cells into embryonic stem cells. Called pluripotent stem cells, these cells are easier to make, provide an unlimited supply of material, and are free of the ethical concerns regarding the destruction of human embryos. Pluripotent stem cells can grow into almost any tissue that is genetically identical to a patient. However, breakthroughs in stem cell research continue to occur at a regular pace. Researchers have recently discovered a way of changing adult cells back into their original embryonic state. Exposing adult cells to a simple acid bath in a low oxygen environment has been found to turn some cells in the body into stem cells that could be used for tissue repair and other treatments. Advocates say the rapid advancements in stem cell research prove revolutionary treatments for illness and injury are close at hand. They say the pace of these advancements depend on the amount of funding dedicated to regenerative medicine research.

Pending Legislation:

S.136 – Ethical Stem Cell Research Tax Credit Act of 2013

H.R.1740 – Patients First Act of 2013

H.R.2164 – Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2012

I oppose reforming current stem cell policy and wish to defeat S.136, H.R.1740, and H.R.2164

I support allowing a tax credit for 30% of qualified stem cell research expenses paid or incurred in a taxable year. Defines “qualified stem cell research expenses” as expenses for carrying out basic and applied research to develop techniques for the isolation, derivation, production, testing, and human clinical use of stem cells that may result in improved understanding of or treatments for diseases and other adverse health conditions. Prohibits a tax credit for any research expenses that may involve: the creation of a human embryo for research purposes; the destruction of or discarding of, or risk of injury to, a human embryo, and wish to pass S.136

I support conducting and supporting basic and applied research to develop techniques for the isolation, derivation, production, testing, and human clinical use of stem cells that may result in improved understanding of, or treatments for, diseases and other adverse health conditions, including pluripotent stem cells that have the flexibility of embryonic stem cells (whether or not such pluripotent stem cells have an embryonic source), provided that such techniques will not involve: the creation of a human embryo for research purposes; the destruction or discarding of, or risk of injury to, a living human embryo, and wish to pass H.R.1740

I support prohibiting any public or private person or entity from: performing or attempting to perform human cloning; participating in an attempt to perform human cloning; or shipping, receiving, or importing the product of human cloning for any purpose; setting criminal and civil penalties for violations. Provides that nothing in this Act shall restrict areas of scientific research not specifically prohibited by this Act, including research in the use of nuclear transfer or other cloning techniques to produce molecules, DNA, cells other than human embryos, tissues, organs, plants, or animals other than humans and wish to pass H.R.2164

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Earth’s atmosphere protects us from asteroids and comets that are up to 50 yards in diameter. Astronomers estimate there are at least 1 million near-earth asteroids (NEA) of this size, and more than 1,000 asteroids with diameters of at least half a mile that could impact our planet with widespread devastation. Surveys by infrared-equipped satellite telescopes have located 93% of these large NEAs and only about 70 now remain uncharted. However, catastrophic damage will likely occur if one of these objects collides with our planet. Massive forest fires, towering tidal waves and extreme weather change are the likely results of a large asteroid strike. Astronomers warn it is only a matter of time before this occurs. One recent strike was the 60 foot, 11,000 ton Chelyabinsk meteor over Russia in 2013 which entered the atmosphere at 41,000 mph, damaged 7,200 buildings, and injured 1,500 people. It exploded 14 miles above ground in a deafening blast that was 20 times more powerful than our Hiroshima bomb. This small meteor arrived totally undetected because it was made of a dark non-reflective substance, had a shallow angle of approach, and no one with a telescope was looking for it. Experts say that if Chelyabinsk had struck ground in a major city, many hundreds or thousands of deaths likely would have ensued. Oddly enough, on the same day of the Chelyabinsk meteor, an asteroid named 2012DA14 flew past the earth. This rock, roughly half a football stadium in width, flew close enough to the Earth as to pass beneath our communication satellites. And as if that were not enough, another similarly-size object named the “Pitbull” was discovered in 2014, as it flew just above our satellites over New Zealand after being detected only a week earlier. Astronomers and astronauts claim these events are further proof that our planet needs a defense against large asteroids. They claim it is possible an asteroid’s trajectory, particularly one arriving from our Southern Hemisphere, could bring it on a collision course with our planet with practically no advance warning. They say that for the first time in human evolution, we have the ability to protect our planet from asteroids and their ensuing catastrophes. Many want us to develop a means to detect, analyze and deflect or destroy large NEAs. Asteroid fragmentation methods include the use of kinetic, gravitational, solar or nuclear energy. Deflection methods include gravity tractors, laser cannons and the attachment of rockets or mass drivers to the NEA.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current asteroid defense policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill authorizing funding for NASA to research and deploy an asteroid defense system

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Reported sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and extraterrestrial encounters have persisted for decades. These reports, from many countries, are often submitted by credible individuals, pilots, law enforcement and military personnel. Some have been tracked by radar stations. Common to many of these reports are the descriptions of incomprehensible speed and agility characterized by these craft. In the 50s and 60s, our government conducted official inquiries into the UFO phenomenon but eventually it either stopped investigating UFOs or stopped confirming its investigations. When a UFO sighting is reported, authorities usually explain it as a weather balloon, swamp gas, air inversion layer or an experimental aircraft or rocket. Many believe these explanations account for only a portion of UFO sightings.

For several days and nights in 1952, military jets were unsuccessfully dispatched to intercept a number UFO’s observed and tracked over Washington DC. A 1980 Suffolk, England incident involved the alleged landing of one or more craft of unknown origin during the course of two nights in Rendlesham Forest, next to a U.S. Air Force base. More recently has been the mass UFO sightings that have been regularly occurring over Mexico City since at least 1992. For years and in broad daylight, thousands have observed and filmed UFO fleets hovering or flying in formation. But perhaps the most famous UFO incident occurred in 1947 when a UFO allegedly crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. After examining the wreckage, military officers from Roswell Army Air Field issued a press release notifying the country that the Army had found the remains of a crashed flying saucer. This announcement was soon retracted and the wreckage was later described as a weather balloon. Strong speculation persists that that our government has performed autopsies on Roswell extraterrestrials and reverse engineered their spacecraft to reveal secrets of alien technology. Roswell’s Area 51 and Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, are the locations where many believe these examinations were conducted. Several former contractors and servicemembers from both of these facilities claim to have seen wreckage and deceased extraterrestrials there.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) is a decades-old organization which attempts to detect radio or light signals from an intelligent alien source. SETI uses optical telescopes as well as radio telescopes, some arranged in large arrays, to listen for intelligent radio signals emanating from stars located within 200 light-years of our planet. So far, none have been detected but a number of astronomers now wish to pursue “Active SETI” programs. This involves not merely listening for a distant signal, but purposefully transmitting radio waves into deep space in an attempt to establish contact with extraterrestrial life. Although this idea is not a new one, some are wary of sending signals to potential unknowns. Others reason that if some of the many thousands of reported UFO sightings are true, then aliens already know we exist. UFO-oligists say our search for extraterrestrial intelligence should begin here, with the ones visiting us now. They also say our government does not have the right to keep evidence of extraterrestrial life from us.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current extraterrestrial policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to mandate government disclosure of all evidence of extraterrestrial life and funding the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life including the use of large radio telescopes and radio telescope arrays

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Our space program has achieved many major milestones over the last 50 years. We have safely landed men on the moon, placed the Hubble telescope in orbit, developed the space shuttle, helped construct the international space station, landed the Curiosity rover on Mars and sent robotic spacecraft to the far reaches of our solar system and beyond. However, with the retirement of our space shuttle fleet, we are now forced to rent seats on Russian rockets in order to access outer space. Many Americans wish to continue our leading role as space pioneers. Some support sending astronauts back to the moon to establish a semi-permanent base for future manned missions to Mars and other destinations. Our next generation of spacecraft, called the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, is somewhat similar in design to our Apollo-era spacecraft. The deep-space capable Orion consists of a cargo launch vehicle and a crew exploration vehicle. It will accommodate 4 to 6 crewmembers and, like Apollo, Orion will reenter Earth’s atmosphere using parachutes and a heat shield. Its maiden flight is scheduled to transport astronauts to the space station later this year. Ultimately, a modified version of the Orion spacecraft is expected to take astronauts to the moon in the early ‘20s and perhaps to Mars soon after. Analysts estimate the cost of building these vehicles and constructing a lunar base to be at least $120 billion. Critics say the money used for these projects could be better spent here on Earth.

Some scientists have questioned the need for a lunar base and the wisdom of manned deep-space exploration. They say many obstacles must first be overcome before subjecting humans to prolonged space travel in microgravity environments. These obstacles include bone-density loss, sleep problems, radiation exposure and psychological adjustment issues. The damage from micro-meteors traveling at thousands of miles per hour and impacting a spacecraft has also not been addressed. Space travel supporters claim a lunar way-station used as a fuel depot and manufacturing site to stage longer missions, makes sense. They claim it would further our knowledge of the long-term effects of low gravity and space radiation on human physiology. They also say the moon’s water resources will facilitate this effort. Opponents argue that manned space exploration is not worth the risk to human life when robotic missions can accomplish more and at a much lower cost. NASA is now operating more than 50 robotic spacecraft that are studying Earth and our solar system, with another 40 unmanned missions in development. Manned-flight supporters claim the problem with robotic machines is that they will only do what they are programmed to do and can only detect the expected. They say robots cannot be programmed to detect the unimaginable, the unknown, or the strange non-carbon life that may someday be encountered.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1446 – REAL Space Act

I oppose reforming current space exploration policy and wish to defeat H.R.1446

I support directing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to plan to return to the Moon by 2022 and to develop a sustained human presence there in order to promote exploration, commerce, science and U.S. preeminence in space as a stepping stone for future exploration of Mars and other destinations, and wish to pass H.R.1446

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Although experts say that Artificial Intelligence is still several decades away, current technology is on the verge of giving us fully weapon systems. For years, our Navy has protected its ships with automated defensive weapon systems that target threats without much human help. Our Army’s counter-mortar system tracks incoming mortar rounds and returns a volley of mortars without direct human input. Once launched, our Air Force’s anti-aircraft missiles seek out the nearest heat source without further human control. However, unlike drones, fully automated weapons will soon have complete autonomy in terms of what they target and how they engage the enemy, all without any human involvement or intervention. One system approaching this capability is the $200,000 Samsung SGR-1 sentry-bot which patrols the Korean demilitarized zone for South Korea. It uses heat and motion sensors to detect intruders and is armed with machine guns and grenade launchers -although these cannot be fired without human authorization. Current research is determining how to make robots better able to operate on their own for extended periods of time, possibly behind enemy lines. Some of today’s semi-autonomous robots are able to independently choose targets to attack and locate power sources on their own. It is estimated that fully autonomous robots are still about 20 years away from deployment. Critics say we should not remove the human factor from lethal battlefield decisions. Others say properly-programmed autonomous weapons can eliminate some human battlefield mistakes such as misidentifying targets or discounting vital intelligence because of cognitive bias. Our Pentagon has recently issued a temporary pledge that it will keep humans in the loop with regards to targeting and the use of deadly force. However, other nations developing these weapons have made no such pledge.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current autonomous weapons policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to introduce an international treaty to ban the development and use of autonomous weapons systems

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Climate geoengineering is the intentional, large-scale manipulation of the Earth’s climate system to reduce the effects of climate change. Our climate is a result of the amount of solar radiation hitting the Earth and the amount of heat reflected and radiated back into space. This balance depends on several variables including reflectivity, cloud coverage, the amount of heat absorbed by the Earth, and the amount of heat trapped in our atmosphere by greenhouse gasses. For geoengineering strategies to succeed, at least one of these variables must be changed. Geoengineering strategies consist of either increasing Earth’s reflectance or blocking incoming solar radiation so we receive less heat, or reducing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere to allow more heat to radiate back into space. It is hoped that reducing the burning of fossil fuels will increase this radiant effect. Scientists worry we are not reducing the 9 gigatons of carbon dioxide we put in the air each year fast enough to avoid significant changes to our climate. They also worry about the albedo effect. As Earth warms and ice melts, this white reflective surface is replaced by dark heat-absorbing oceans and lands, creating a feedback loop that melts more ice and forces our planet to retain more and more heat.

Proposals to increase the reflectance of incoming solar radiation include the injection of sulfur particles into the stratosphere, the whitening of marine clouds and the placement of millions of tiny orbital mirrors or sunshades into space. Other geoengineering proposals are designed to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. One calls for building machines to capture CO2 in sorbent material and remove it for burial. Another involves large-scale ocean fertilization to stimulate growth of marine organisms which absorb carbon. Planting trees and painting rooftops white are examples of small-scale geoengineering. However, scientists say geoengineering by itself is not able fix our climate-change problems. These techniques are meant to complement carbon reduction efforts, not replace them.

In 2007, the UN concluded that geoengineering options for addressing climate change were speculative and unproven -with the costs, benefits and risks not well understood. For these reasons, critics claim large scale geoengineering projects have the potential to make things even worse. For example, sulfur aerosols placed in our stratosphere are known to reduce global temperatures because this gas is also ejected by large volcanic eruptions. In the past, these events have cooled the weather for several years, as these aerosols remain airborne for several years or even decades. However, no one knows how much sulfur is enough to reduce global warming, but it is known that too much could trigger a prolonged global winter. Unfortunately, all large-scale climate geoengineering research has consisted of computer modeling and laboratory testing. None of these projects have yet been attempted. Opponents say geoengineering projects should not be undertaken without the full consent and participation of those who are most vulnerable to the risks and effects of climate geoengineering experiments.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose climate geoengineering and wish to identify a legislator who will sponsor a bill to prohibit these projects until proven safe and effective

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to research viable geoengineering projects that can reduce the effects of climate change

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Nanotechnology is the study of materials and devices measuring less than a nanometer, or one billionth of a meter in size. A human hair is 30,000 nanometers wide. Nanotechnology has been touted as the key to coming breakthroughs in medicine and robotics. Researchers wish to use nanotechnology’s atom-by-atom construction technique to produce objects such as tiny, bacterium-sized devices that can repair clogged arteries, kill cancer cells or repair cellular damage from aging. With the world’s population expected to reach 11 billion by 2050, scientists believe nanotechnology could help governments and industry keep our planet livable by slashing waste and helping provide sustainable food, clean water and pollution-free energy. Proponents say filter systems for drinking and waste water, natural gas pipelines and smokestacks can be designed at the molecular level to remove the smallest impurities.

However, as research continues on these lofty goals, business and industry are already developing uses for nanomaterials in everyday consumer products. Manufacturers have discovered that substances manipulated at the nano-scale have different properties than the same substances manipulated at larger scales. Many cosmetic and sunscreen manufacturers now use microscopic bits of silver called nanoparticles, not to make their products more effective, but to help make sunblock rub on clear. Companies have also added these materials to anti-aging creams, toothpastes and shampoos, as well as food containers and clothing. Critics claim these firms have added nanomaterials to their products without conducting any human testing to determine its safety. Advocates say research indicates nanomaterials can enter the bloodstream through contact with the skin and by ingestion and inhalation. Recent studies have found unhealthy reactions in human intestinal cells after exposure to silver nanoparticles. Nanoparticles can also move in the natural environment once discarded. Advocates say products with nanomaterials should be required to be tested for toxicity before being sold to the public and should be labeled once certified.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.394 – Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities Act

H.R.1385 – Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current nanotechnology policy and wish to defeat H.R.394 and H.R.1385

I support establishing a partnership with private manufacturers to provide funding for pre-commercial nanomanufacturing research and development projects; establishing the nanotechnology research grant program to address the need for clean, cheap, renewable energy; to address technologies for remediation of pollution and other environmental protection technologies; to address the need for sensors and other materials related to homeland security needs; to address health related applications of nanotechnology; allowing a tax credit for nanotechnology education and training program expenses. Establishing: a grant program for the development of curriculum materials for interdisciplinary nanotechnology courses at institutions of higher education; establishing a program to encourage manufacturing companies to enter into partnerships with occupational training centers for the development of training to support nanotechnology manufacturing, and wish to pass H.R.394

I support establishing a safety standard that provides a reasonable certainty of no harm from exposure to a cosmetic or an ingredient in a cosmetic and that protects the public from any known or anticipated adverse health effects associated with the cosmetic or ingredient; issuing guidance prescribing good manufacturing practices for cosmetics and ingredients and wish to pass H.R.1385

 Posted by at 12:00 am