The current political landscape is shifting, and it seems as though it continues to take stances that are in utter opposition to the realm of science and evidence--a practice that has new head of Harvard Medical School, Geroge Q. Daley, quite worried.

Daley, who is no stranger to medical research butting heads with politics, was a prominent stem cell scientist in 2001 when the Bush administration restricted federal funding for Daley’s field of embryonic stem cells. This move against the research community, that many saw as a good-will gesture for Bush’s Republican antiabortion constituents, is believed to have had a chilling effect on a cutting-edge area of biological advancement.

Since the early 2000’s, many scientists in the field, including Daley, have become activists, fighting for federal funding in order to continue exploring what they believe to be one of the most opportunistic areas of research.

President Obama would eventually reverse the Bush administration executive order that gutted the field’s federal funding in 2009, and as a result, cell-based therapies are now being used in clinical trial testing and new medical insights have been gained.

Daley, as a de facto spokesman for medical research and its practice, has taken over a high-profile job at a time when the current government administration not only seems to not care about research and its advancement, but actively opposes it in some areas.

Daley believes that his past experiences working in a field that was suppressed by the government will serve him now during a time of “confusion and alternative facts.”

The Washington Post conducted an interview with Daley recently and learned that his greatest fear is that mankind’s health and wellness will deteriorate if we continue “reverting to a pre-Enlightenment form of thinking.”

The interview can be found below:

Right now, there’s uneasiness in the scientific and medical communities over how evidence and research will be treated, ranging from vaccines to climate change. Having lived through a time when your work was directly politicized and targeted, what are your thoughts about how to approach a situation like that?

I think that the lessons that I learned in the early challenges and policy debates around embryonic stem cells have a lot to teach us for how to advocate forcefully in today’s world. We have to, as scientists, stick to our message, which is that science and evidence is the way to make informed decisions — whether those decisions are about advancing human health and wellness, or about advancing the environment and maintaining not only healthy air quality, but reducing risks to catastrophic climate change. These are all fundamentally, at some level, challenges and risks to human health.

If I had one worry, as we see the cacophony of confusion and alternative facts, it's that we’re reverting to a pre-Enlightenment form of thinking, which will take us back to the days of blood-letting and faith-healing. And this is wrong. This is not the way to advance health and wellness for the greatest number, not a way to face our challenges. We are facing some of the greatest global challenges today — not just with global warming, but with threats to emerging pathogens, whether it’s Ebola or Zika. And if we start to question the nature and value of things like vaccines in human health, how are we going to be able to confront the challenges of new pathogens?

Do you think that this is something that's already happening, or is it a future worry?

The storm clouds are on the horizon. If I just speak to one issue that has a very direct effect on our community: Our biomedical research enterprise, as well as our clinicians draw on the best and brightest, from not only the United States, but around the globe. We are a magnet, we’re seen as the beacon of the best, cutting-edge research and the most effective and impactful clinical training and health care delivery. I’ve met with students from Iran and Syria who are here studying and about to graduate. And they’re worried that their parents are not going to be able to come see them receive their PhD or their MD. We’re worried about the pipeline — not only of trainees who keep us at the cutting edge, but patients. Our health care centers are magnets for patients from all over the world, and in many cases from the Middle East, and it stands in the way of our mission.

The immigration policy of the Trump administration is evolving as we speak, but it sounds like you're worried about the message that recent actions send.

Our concern is that there is a megaphone that screams across the globe. Over the couple-hundred-year history of our country, it has been emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty: Give us your tired, your poor. We are a welcome beacon to immigrants from all across the globe; that’s been the message that has built our country. And now the recent message that has been sent is giving pause to those folks in other parts of the world, making them think twice about whether this is a welcoming community for them. I’ve already heard that some of our applicants to post-doctoral positions or training programs in our graduate schools are starting to be diverted to programs in Europe that are saying, "Hey, what can we do to take advantage of the talent pool that might not be going to the United States." That is chilling to me.

What are your thoughts on the plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and what should come next?

We now have, in Massachusetts, 96 percent of people covered, and I do think that’s created a sense in our medical students and our residents and our trainees, and even up to our faculty, that universal access [to health care] is a human right. I remember in my times in the hospital, there was something absolutely wonderful about the fact the homeless person coming off the street with a heart attack got the same intense, compassionate care as the Berkeley professor who had a heart event at Logan Airport — and that’s an actual case that took place when I was in training. There’s probably no other experience in my time as at trainee at the Harvard hospitals that made me feel more proud about the mission of Harvard medicine. I think that’s an aspiration — there was an attempt by the Obama administration to capture that as an aspiration, as the noblest calling of medicine, and I think that anything that is put in it place has to attempt to meet those same aspirations.

Stem cell science has come under political attack in the past, and Vice President Pence has said he opposes embryonic stem cell research. Are you worried about the future of your field?

I always felt very strongly and passionately, as an advocate for stem cell research of all kinds. To be able to use the new technology and biology of regenerative medicine to serve the relief of suffering and the treatment of disease, I just think is a very noble calling. I’ve always argued that we need to exploit every possible advantage in the fight against disease. I would continue to advocate for research on all sorts of stem cells. And if there is an attempt to restrict the research in the future, I will be out there again, speaking from the scientific and medical perspective to justify this work.

h/t WashPo

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'Blind' Stray Cat Found to Have Beautiful Eyes After Being Rescued

It’s not easy being a stray animal. Your meals come as often as they go, your trips to the vet are few and far in between (if any), and you have to deal with diseases like mange.

This is Cotton, a stray cat who was thought to be blind because the skin disease he was suffering from had literally swollen his eyes shut. Cotton was discovered in the streets of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, after the hungry cat “came out of nowhere” in hopes of snagging some of the food a man had put out for his own cat.

The man said Cotton appeared to be “very hungry, like if he had not eaten in days.” The man took to social media to see if anyone would be willing to help Cotton out and give him some much needed TLC. Luckily, Carmen Weinberg, founder of Animal Friends Project, saw the post and decided to take him in, at least until he was healthy enough to find a permanent home.

“Early the next morning, I drove to pick him up. I took him immediately to my vet… and they confirmed that he was suffering from mange.”

It was only after Cotton was eating normally again and his mange started to clear up that Cotton’s stunning eyes were revealed. One blue one and one yellow one, staring lovingly out at the world around him.

“Little by little he started to gain weight. It was a nice surprise to see that he had one blue eye and one yellow eye. His hair started to grow again…”

Now, all that’s left on Carmen’s mind is finding Cotton a home deserving of such a loving cat who ‘likes to be wherever you are.’

Who else wants to take Cotton home?

Please share with friends and loved ones who would love to hear Cotton’s tale!

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This Giant Canada Lynx Makes An Adorable Noise When Given Head Rubs

It’s often said that a cat is a cat regardless of how big it is, and that seems to certainly be true when it comes to Max the Canada Lynx!

Cats are known for making a subtle rumbling noise when they’re happy and content, known as purring, and it turns out that the big ones do so as well. Give them a nice head rub, scratch their ears and cheeks, and you’ll have a purring machine in no time.

Except Max’s purr sounds a little different than the purring you’re used to. Because he’s a much larger cat, his purr sounds more like an small engine running than any type of cat. Watch as Max receives some TLC and starts purring like you’ve never heard before.

Bernadette Hoffman is Max’s caretaker, and while he isn’t fully tame, he also isn’t exactly wild. Max was born in captivity at a zoo, but was eventually rescued by Bernadette and taken to her home in upstate New York where she houses him in both indoor and outdoor enclosures.

In fact, Max helps Bernadette run her wildlife education program as an education animal ambassador. Her program visits school children and public events to help educate people on the protection of the Earth and all of the endangered species that also call our planet home.

Source: Max Canada Lynx - I'm a Big Baby by socialsupplies on Rumble

In March of 2002, the Canada Lynx made the endangered species list after a combination of hunters and loss of habitat caused their population numbers to dwindle.

Check out this big cuddly cat and then share with friends and loved ones who would also love to see what a big cat purrs like!

h/t SunGazing

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THIS Is What Happens When a Rabbi, a Priest and an Atheist Smoke Cannabis Together

Marijuana is, and probably has been, one of the most controversial drugs to ever be consumed by man, especially in the modern era. The substance has been illegal for decades, even though people have always used it recreationally, regardless of any type of authoritative entity telling them not to.

If you’ve smoked weed before, you know that it’s not a dangerous, life-altering substance that will have you out on the streets overnight without a job. If you’ve never smoked weed before, you might think that it’s fairly dangerous.

Either way, this footage of a priest, a rabbi and an atheist smoking weed together says more about the substance than anyone ever could.

Watch as these three men, who all come from different backgrounds, light up a joint and take a few bong rips before discussing major topics such as life, God and religion--managing to do so in a peaceful, tolerant, open and accepting way.

Even if you take nothing away from the conversations being had, you can at least tell people that you’ve seen a priest, a rabbi and an atheist smoke weed together!

Please share with friends and family who would also love to watch this spectacular event!

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Mysterious Whale 'Super-Groups' Discovered Off Coast of South Africa

Humpback whales aren’t known for being social butterflies of the ocean. In fact, they tend to be introverted and somewhat isolated, traveling in small packs that rarely ever go over seven individuals. Which is why researchers aren’t exactly sure what to make of the mysteriously large number of whales that have been discovered off the southwest coast of South Africa in the past few years.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Ken Findlay, lead researcher out of Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa.

In the years of 2011, 2014 and 2015, at least 22 sightings of humpback whale ‘super-groups’ were reported by research vessels. That’s not including the numerous other sightings by public entities traveling the region.

"[W]e propose that the 'super-group' feeding phenomenon (as tightly spaced large groups of whales) is a relatively recent behaviour exhibited by these whales," says Findlay and his team.

"[N]o such dense feeding aggregations have been reported elsewhere in low or mid latitudes during Southern Hemisphere humpback whale migrations. Indeed, aggregations of whales of this size have seldom been reported in the literature, with 'large' groups often numbering in the range of 10 to 20 or less."

Oddly enough, it’s not just the large packs of whales that is mysterious--it’s also the fact that they’re near South Africa at a time when they’re typically feeding in the polar regions of Antarctica.

Researchers aren’t 100 percent sure what the true reason behind this strange behavior is, but they have a few theories floating around. The first one being that it could be due to changes in ocean conditions that are subsequently altering the amount of food that is available. The other one being that the population of humpback whales is rising.

Humpback whales were seen to gather around the coasts of South Africa back in 1914 when their population numbers were incredibly high, leading researchers to ponder whether or not they are simply reverting back to an old feeding pattern that was seen before the whaling industry killed off a majority of the creatures.

Whatever the reason may be, scientists say these new patterns are likely here to stay--because what’re you going to do about the gatherings of a creature that weighs 66,000 pounds? If the coasts of South Africa are to be the next big humpback whale feeding ground, it’s important for us to make sure that they are safe.

"Despite the unknown cause of this recent behaviour, we postulate that the area has developed or is developing into an important seasonal humpback whale feeding ground that attracts significant immigration into the region in the late austral spring/early summer," concludes Findlay’s team.

You can read more about the study here!

h/t Science Alert

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