Friday, October 27, 2006

Belinda Carlisle in Moscow (live 2006)



Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Discovery Channel :: News - Travel :: China's Yellow River Turns Red

Discovery Channel :: News - Travel :: China's Yellow River Turns Red:

"Oct. 24, 2006 — A half-mile section of China's Yellow River turned 'red and smelly' after an unknown discharge was poured into it from a sewage pipe, state media said Monday.

The incident in Lanzhou, a city of 2 million people in western Gansu province, follows a string of industrial accidents that have poisoned major rivers in China over the last year, forcing several cities to shut down their water systems."

The Dilbert Blog: Good News Day

The Dilbert Blog: Good News Day:

"The day before yesterday, while helping on a homework assignment, I noticed I could speak perfectly in rhyme. Rhyme was a context I hadn’t considered. A poem isn’t singing and it isn’t regular talking. But for some reason the context is just different enough from normal speech that my brain handled it fine.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
Jack jumped over the candlestick.

I repeated it dozens of times, partly because I could. It was effortless, even though it was similar to regular speech. I enjoyed repeating it, hearing the sound of my own voice working almost flawlessly. I longed for that sound, and the memory of normal speech. Perhaps the rhyme took me back to my own childhood too. Or maybe it’s just plain catchy. I enjoyed repeating it more than I should have. Then something happened.

My brain remapped.

My speech returned."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

These bacteria use radiated water as food

These bacteria use radiated water as food:

"BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Researchers from Indiana University Bloomington and eight collaborating institutions report in this week's Science a self-sustaining community of bacteria that live in rocks 2.8 kilometers below Earth's surface. Think that's weird? The bacteria rely on radioactive uranium to convert water molecules to useable energy.

The discovery is a confirmed expansion of Earth's biosphere, the three-dimensional shell that encompasses all planetary life.

The research has less Earthly implications, however. It will likely fuel optimism that life exists in other deep subsurface environments, such as in groundwater beneath the permafrost on Mars."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

FDA Approves Once-Daily JANUVIA(TM), the First and Only DPP-4 Inhibitor Available in the United States for Type 2 Diabetes - AlphaTrade FN

FDA Approves Once-Daily JANUVIA(TM), the First and Only DPP-4 Inhibitor Available in the United States for Type 2 Diabetes - AlphaTrade FN:

"U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved JANUVIA(TM) (sitagliptin phosphate), the first and only DPP-4 inhibitor available in the United States for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. JANUVIA has been approved as monotherapy and as add-on therapy to either of two other types of oral diabetes medications, metformin or thiazolidinediones (TZDs), to improve blood sugar (glucose) control in patients with type 2 diabetes when diet and exercise is not enough. The recommended dose of JANUVIA is 100 mg once daily. JANUVIA should not be used in patients with type 1 diabetes or for the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis, as it would not be effective in these settings."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Vitamin D levels linked to breast cancer progression

Vitamin D levels linked to breast cancer progression

17/10/2006 - Increasing vitamin D levels may help curb the development and progression of breast cancer, suggests a small study from Imperial College London.

“This report, while being an observational study, clearly shows that circulating vitamin D levels are lower in patients with advanced breast cancer than in those with early breast cancer,” wrote lead author Dr Carlo Palmieri in the Journal of Clinical Pathology (doi.10.1136/jcp.2006.042747).

Both forms of the vitamin, D2 and D3, are hydroxylated in the liver and kidneys to form 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the non-active ‘storage' form, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, the biologically active form that is tightly controlled by the body. Scientists use serum 25- hydroxyvitamin D levels as a measure of vitamin D status.

This observation adds to an ever-growing body of evidence linking vitamin D status with incidence and risk of various cancers, including breast, colorectal and prostate. Indeed, the link between vitamin D intake and protection from cancer is not and dates from the 1940s when Frank Apperly demonstrated a link between latitude and deaths from cancer, and suggested that sunlight gave “a relative cancer immunity.”

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dynamic Stark Control of Photochemical Processes -- Sussman et al. 314 (5797): 278 -- Science

Dynamic Stark Control of Photochemical Processes -- Sussman et al. 314 (5797): 278 -- Science

Dynamic Stark Control of Photochemical Processes

Benjamin J. Sussman,1,2 Dave Townsend,1 Misha Yu. Ivanov,1 Albert Stolow1,2*

A method is presented for controlling the outcome of photochemical reactions by using the dynamic Stark effect due to a strong, nonresonant infrared field. The application of a precisely timed infrared laser pulse reversibly modifies potential energy barriers during a chemical reaction without inducing any real electronic transitions. Dynamic Stark control (DSC) is experimentally demonstrated for a nonadiabatic photochemical reaction, showing substantial modification of reaction channel probabilities in the dissociation of IBr. The DSC process is nonperturbative and insensitive to laser frequency and affects all polarizable molecules, suggesting broad applicability.

1 Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences, National Research Council of Canada, 100 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R6, Canada.
2 Department of Physics, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Report Says Nonprofits Sold Influence to Abramoff - washingtonpost.com

Report Says Nonprofits Sold Influence to Abramoff - washingtonpost.com

By James V. Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 13, 2006; 1:32 AM

Five conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, "appear to have perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Senate investigators said in a report issued yesterday.

The report includes previously unreleased e-mails between the now-disgraced lobbyist and officers of the nonprofit groups, showing that Abramoff funneled money from his clients to the groups. In exchange, the groups, among other things, produced ostensibly independent newspaper op-ed columns or news releases that favored the clients' positions.

Officers of the groups "were generally available to carry out Mr. Abramoff's requests for help with his clients in exchange for cash payments," said the report, issued by the Senate Finance Committee. The report was written by the Democratic staff after a yearlong investigation and authorized by the Republican chairman, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

Abramoff has pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy and could go to prison as early as next month. Prosecution and defense lawyers jointly filed papers yesterday asking a judge to recommend that he be sent to a federal facility in Cumberland, Md., to make it easier for him to cooperate with the ongoing probe. The investigation has resulted in one conviction and seven guilty pleas -- including one from a lawmaker, Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), who is to appear today before a federal judge in the District.

The Senate report released yesterday states that the nonprofit groups probably violated their tax-exempt status "by laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. Abramoff's direction; taking payments in exchange for writing newspaper columns or press releases that put Mr. Abramoff's clients in a favorable light; introducing Mr. Abramoff's clients to government officials in exchange for payment; and agreeing to act as a front organization for congressional trips paid for by Mr. Abramoff's clients."

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography in Photoshop CS2

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography in Photoshop CS2:

"High dyanmic range (HDR) images enable photographers to record a greater range of tonal detail than a given camera could capture in a single photo. This opens up a whole new set of lighting possibilities which one might have previously avoided—for purely technical reasons. The new 'merge to HDR' feature of Photoshop CS2 allows the photographer to combine a series of bracketed exposures into a single image which encompasses the tonal detail of the entire series. There is no free lunch however; trying to broaden the tonal range will inevitably come at the expense of decreased contrast in some tones. Learning to use the merge to HDR feature in Photoshop CS2 can help you make the most of your dynamic range under tricky lighting—while still balancing this trade-off with contrast."

The "Citizendium"

The "Citizendium"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Science & Technology at Scientific American.com: Tiny Genome May Reflect Organelle in the Making

Science & Technology at Scientific American.com: Tiny Genome May Reflect Organelle in the Making:

"The bacterial species having the smallest genomes are typically those that spend their entire lives inside a host, exchanging nutrients that the host cannot synthesize in return for free room and board. Because the host supplies nourishment for these so-called endosymbionts, they are able to get by with fewer genes of their own. This reduction seemed to have limits, though. By randomly damaging bacteria, researchers had found about 300 genes essential for their growth. Accordingly, endosymbionts had never really dipped below a genomic sequence length of 500,000 to 600,000 base pairs."

Enter Carsonella rudii, which lives inside a special collection of cells in the abdomen of a certain psyllid, a flying insect that feeds on amino acid-deficient plant sap. Carsonella's genome is a mere 160,000 base pairs long, report Nancy Moran of the University of Arizona and her colleagues in the October 13 Science. The streamlined microbe contains at most 182 genes, which are smaller and overlap more with one another than is usual for bacteria. C. rudii is rich in genes for protein synthesis but lacks many genes for membrane synthesis, energy metabolism and DNA replication. Some of these genes may have been transferred to the host, which could be supplying its symbiont with essential enzymes, Moran notes. "If so, it would be very much like an organelle," she says. The mitochondrion and chloroplast are presumed endosymbionts that were assimilated into nascent plant and animal cells long ago. "This has never been shown to happen in an animal cell, because it's more difficult, but it's possible that Carsonella has basically done the same thing,"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ribosomal RNA - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ribosomal RNA - Wikipedia

What is 16s rRNA

What is 16s rRNA

CDC - Sequencing of 16S rRNA Gene: A Rapid Tool for Identification of Bacillus anthracis

CDC - Sequencing of 16S rRNA Gene:

Bacteria Don't Have Species :: Astrobiology Magazine ::

Bacteria Don't Have Species :: Astrobiology Magazine :::

"Astrobiology Magazine: You have argued that bacteria don't have species. I wonder if you could explain that idea.

Lynn Margulis: Bacteria are much more of a continuum. They drop their genes all the time. Like we say in What is Life?, it's like going swimming in a swimming pool, going in blue-eyed and coming out brown-eyed, just because you've gulped the water. Obviously, animals don't do that. But that's what bacteria do, all the time. They just pick up genes, they throw away genes, and they are very flexible about that.

Say you have a bacterium like Azotobacter. This is a nitrogen-fixing bacterium. It takes nitrogen out of the air and puts it into useable food. Nitrogen fixing is a big deal. It takes a lot of genes. If you put a little something like arsenium bromide in a test tube with these organisms, and put it in a refrigerator overnight, lo and behold, the next day the cells can't do this anymore, they can't fix nitrogen. So by definition you have to change them from one genus to another."

AMD Unveils Barcelona Quad-Core Details

AMD Unveils Barcelona Quad-Core Details:

"Processor architecture designs take years from initial conception to the first shipping CPU sliding out of the fab assembly. So it's clear that AMD's new CPU architecture has been in the works for some time. Whether that's a problem or not vis à vis the competition isn't yet known, since AMD isn't yet talking about performance details.

What is known is that Barcelona—as AMD has dubbed this first iteration—isn't so much a brand-new architecture as it is a highly refined, tweaked version of the existing AMD x86-64. Those tweaks are numerous and significant. It's probably fair to suggest that Barcelona is to the current Opterons as Intel's Core 2 is to the Pentium M—designed from the ground up, on a base of the old with a lot of new stuff rolled in.

The details of Barcelona discussed in this article were presented by Ben Sander, who led the performance modeling group for Barcelona. Sander's team cranked real-world application traces through iterations of the new processor—both simulated and real. Although he's uniquely positioned to discuss performance, Sander didn't really comment on performance yet. What he discussed instead were some of the enhancements built into Barcelona.

With these thoughts in mind, let's take a look at some of the shiny new features."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Mars orbiter looks down on rover

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Mars orbiter looks down on rover



Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity near the rim of Victoria Crater. Victoria is an impact crater about 800m (half a mile) in diameter at Meridiani Planum near the equator of Mars. Opportunity is the dot at the centre of the zoomed image. (Nasa/JPL/UA)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: John Boehner = Denny Hastert, at least -- Plus, key questions for Tom Reynolds

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: John Boehner = Denny Hastert, at least -- Plus, key questions for Tom Reynolds

...now there seems to be still another Boehner version, as The Palm Beach Post reports this morning: "Boehner told the Dayton Daily News he was '99 percent' sure he talked to Hastert about the matter, but also said he did not recall their conversation."

So: (a) Boehner told Hastert about Foley and Hastert assured him they were "taking care of it"; (b) Boehner does not remember whether he ever talked to Hastert about Foley; (c) Boehner affirmatively claims that it "is not true" that he spoke with Hastert; and now, (d) Boehner is "99 percent" sure he talked to Hastert about Foley but remembers nothing about the converstaion. Does that sound like someone qualified to be Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, let alone Denny Hastert's replacement for Speaker of the House?

And this event has gone under-noticed because it happened late afternoon last Friday. Nancy Pelosi introduced a Motion on the House floor to mandate that the House Ethics Committee investigate how Foley was able to engage in such inappropriate conduct with Congressional pages and whether the House leadership failed in its duties. Boehner blocked the motion by claiming that they only learned of it that day, and therefore introduced a motion of his own -- which the GOP majority quickly approved -- to have the question of whether there will even be an investigation decided by the House Ethics Committee, the majority 5-member GOP contingent of which (out of 10 Committee members) is composed of the most subservient GOP backbenchers selected exactly for that reason. Predictably, they still have not decided whether they will even "investigate" at all.

The GOP-controlled House is a legislative body which routinely passes the most monumental legislation within days or even hours of its being completed, without there being anywhere near sufficient time for representatives even to read the bill, let alone contemplate its merits or deliberate in any meaningful way. Just this past week, Boehner's House Republican caucus voted to legalize torture, indefinite detention powers and warrantless eavesdropping before the ink on the final drafts was even dry.

They routinely shove legislation down the throats of House members as quickly as they can. Yet Boehner claimed that more time was needed to contemplate a very short and straightforward Motion directing the House Ethics Committee to investigate the Foley matter. The duplicity and obstructionism is hard to fathom, but that is how Congressional Republicans operate. Boehner not only helped conceal Mark Foley's behavior with pages, but he then actively obstructed an attempt to have the House investigate this matter by invoking the flimsiest and most transparently deceitful rationale to do so.

(2) Following up on what I really believe is the most incriminating fact yet -- that it was Tom Reynolds' current Chief of Staff, Kirk Fordham, who negotiated on behalf of Mark Foley to try to persuade ABC not to release the sexually explicit IMs -- last night I e-mailed the post I wrote about the Fordham-ABC negotiations to Brian Crowley, The Palm Beach Post reporter who first reported that Fordham was working to help Foley manage the crisis. I asked Crowley if he knew whether it was Fordham who negotiated with ABC (this was before Aravosis reported that he confirmed that it was). Crowley did not answer, but he did include this in his article this morning:

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Ted Rall Online

Ted Rall Online

101 People Who Are Really Screwing America - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

101 People Who Are Really Screwing America

Moyers on America | PBS

Moyers on America | PBS

The Blog | Alec Baldwin: The Embarrassed Republicans | The Huffington Post

The Blog | Alec Baldwin: The Embarrassed Republicans | The Huffington Post

Alec Baldwin Alec Baldwin Bio

Blitzer To GOP Rep: "Yes Or No: Do You Have Any Evidence" That Dems Knew About Foley Emails?... | The Huffington Post

Blitzer To GOP Rep: "Yes Or No: Do You Have Any Evidence" That Dems Knew About Foley Emails?... | The Huffington Post

Posted October 8, 2006 12:14 PM wildwolfweb.jpg

This morning on CNN's Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer hosted a segment on the Foley page scandal with guests Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY). McHenry was slinging accusations that Democrats had knowledge of Foley's inappropriate emails to pages, and held the information until before midterm elections, even though there is no evidence of such a maneuver and ABC News, after breaking the story, said that their sources were Republican.

CQ Says GOP In Danger Of Losing Both Houses | TPMCafe

CQ Says GOP In Danger Of Losing Both Houses | TPMCafe

CQ Politics today weighed in with a big-picture overview of many of its recent ratings changes to races, and its new macro-analysis finds that the GOP is in danger of losing both the Senate and the House:

As a result of these ratings changes, CQPolitics.com’s Balance of Power Scorecard now shows the Republicans short of a majority of seats in both chambers.

CQ also notes -- ominously for the GOP -- that "several additional ratings changes are imminent." CQ's full analysis here.

Lawmaker Saw Foley Messages In 2000 - washingtonpost.com

Lawmaker Saw Foley Messages In 2000 - washingtonpost.com

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 9, 2006; Page A01

A Republican congressman knew of disgraced former representative Mark Foley's inappropriate Internet exchanges as far back as 2000 and personally confronted Foley about his communications.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) confirmed yesterday that a former page showed the congressman Internet messages that had made the youth feel uncomfortable with the direction Foley (R-Fla.)

Bush cites authority to bypass FEMA law - The Boston Globe

Bush cites authority to bypass FEMA law - The Boston Globe:

"By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | October 6, 2006

WASHINGTON -- President Bush this week asserted that he has the executive authority to disobey a new law in which Congress has set minimum qualifications for future heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

Congress passed the law last week as a response to FEMA's poor handling of Hurricane Katrina. The agency's slow response to flood victims exposed the fact that Michael Brown, Bush's choice to lead the agency, had been a politically connected hire with no prior experience in emergency management.

To shield FEMA from cronyism, Congress established new job qualifications for the agency's director in last week's homeland security bill. The law says the president must nominate a candidate who has ``a demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management" and ``not less than five years of executive leadership."

Bush signed the homeland-security bill on Wednesday morning. Then, hours later, he issued a signing statement saying he could ignore the new restrictions. Bush maintains that under his interpretation of the Constitution, the FEMA provision interfered with his power to make personnel decisions.

The law, Bush wrote, ``purports to limit the qualifications of the pool of persons from whom the president may select the appointee in a manner that rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office."

The homeland-security bill contained measures covering a range of topics, including terrorism, disaster preparedness, and illegal immigration. One provision calls for authorizing the construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border.

But Bush's signing statement challenged at least three-dozen laws specified in the bill. Among those he targeted is a provision that empowers the FEMA director to tell Congress about the nation's emergency management needs without White House permission. This law, Bush said, ``purports . . . to limit supervision of an executive branch official in the provision of advice to the Congress." Despite the law, he said, the FEMA director would be required to get clearance from the White House before telling lawmakers anything.


The Majority Report

The Majority Report

Sam and Janeane

CIA Leak Investigation - washingtonpost.com

CIA Leak Investigation - washingtonpost.com

Understanding the Plame Affair

IMG ALT• Key Players in the Plame Affair
Analysis and short biographies of the main individuals involved in the investigation of the leak of Valerie Plame's identity to the press.
Explaining the Charges
Q & A: The Leak Case Facts
Timeline: Libby's Role
Full Text of Indictment: U.S. vs Libby
Full Text of Complaint: Plame v. Cheney et al (pdf)
Special Counsel's Press Release Detailing Libby Indictment
Transcript: Fitzgerald's 10/28 Press Conference
President Bush's Remarks

The Fleecing of Black Borrowers - washingtonpost.com

The Fleecing of Black Borrowers - washingtonpost.com:

"According to new Federal Reserve Board data, less than one-fifth of non-Hispanic white borrowers took out high-priced loans last year. But for African Americans, the proportion was more than half. Black borrowers paid -- and will continue to pay for the life of these loans -- high prices at more than triple the rate that whites did. And Latinos were more than 1 1/2 times more likely than whites to pay high prices.

Liberals will cite these numbers as evidence of lending discrimination. Conservatives will argue that minorities should pay higher prices because they have lower incomes and less wealth, making them financially riskier. These explanations tell only part of the story."

The home loan market is what economists call "inefficient" and what the rest of us might call plain unfair: Minorities -- and many whites -- receive high-priced loans when they are financially qualified for lower-priced loans.

Why? As an official of the American Bankers Association, quoted in The Post, put it: "People shop more for a loaf of bread than they do for a mortgage."

But why don't Americans shop for the best loan price? Perhaps it's because loan officers and brokers present a certain price as "the rate for which you qualify" and some 40 percent of Americans then erroneously believe that under the law this is the best rate for which they qualify. Because lenders are less likely to suggest to minorities that they have any choice, more than 65 percent of African Americans believe this is indeed the rate they must pay.

Consumers who know that the law does not control prices may think their loan broker will shop for the best price. But lenders pay brokers kickbacks ("yield spread premiums") for selling loans priced higher than those for which borrowers qualify. Data show that brokers are more likely to fleece minority borrowers than white borrowers to "earn" these kickbacks.


Bush Balks at Criteria for FEMA Director - washingtonpost.com

Bush Balks at Criteria for FEMA Director - washingtonpost.com:

"President Bush reserved the right to ignore key changes in Congress's overhaul of the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- including a requirement to appoint someone with experience handling disasters as the agency's head -- in setting aside dozens of provisions contained in a major homeland security spending bill this week.

Besides objecting to Congress's list of qualifications for FEMA's director, the White House also claimed the right to edit or withhold reports to Congress by a watchdog agency within the Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for protecting Americans' personal privacy."

Rock Star Rattles Radical Islam - washingtonpost.com

Rock Star Rattles Radical Islam - washingtonpost.com:

"By Rebecca U. Cho
Religion News Service
Saturday, October 7, 2006; Page B09

To the millions of Indonesian youths who sell out his concerts, Ahmad Dhani is a superstar who has commanded the nation's rock scene for more than a decade.

But the charismatic leader of Dewa, one of Indonesia's top bands, isn't just any entertainer crooning about the heartaches of romantic love. Dhani is an ambassador for peace, using his music to lead Indonesia's youth away from radical Islam."

This week, the Muslim rocker was in the United States to share his message of religious tolerance with an entirely different audience: top U.S. government and military leaders at a national conference on homeland defense.

Dhani, 34, says attacking the ideology that motivates terrorists is the key to suppressing radical Islam.

With a longtime acquaintance, former Indonesian president Abdurraham Wahid, Dhani spoke to the group on Tuesday about a long-term strategy to combat religious extremism.

"The countries in the West cannot be disengaged from the Muslim world," Dhani said in an interview before his speech. "Building up the values of tolerance is critical in Indonesia and the Muslim world in order to defeat terrorism."


Crooks and Liars » Olbermann’s Special Comment: It is not the Democrats whose inaction in the face of the enemy you fear

Crooks and Liars » Olbermann’s Special Comment: It is not the Democrats whose inaction in the face of the enemy you fear:

"'If you listen closely to some of the leaders of the Democratic Party,' the President said at another fundraiser Monday in Nevada, 'it sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is — wait until we're attacked again.'

The President doesn't just hear what he wants. He hears things, that only he can hear.

It defies belief that this President and his administration could continue to find new unexplored political gutters into which they could wallow.

Yet they do.

It is startling enough that such things could be said out loud by any President of this nation.

Rhetorically, it is about an inch short of Mr. Bush accusing Democratic leaders; Democrats; the majority of Americans who disagree with his policies — of treason.

But it is the context that truly makes the head spin.

Just 25 days ago, on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, this same man spoke to this nation and insisted, quote, 'we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us.'

Mr. Bush, this is a test you have already failed."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fortress America?

Fortress America?:

Five years and $44 billion later Americans are as vulnerable to a biological attack as they were when envelopes containing anthrax spores turned up in government and media mail rooms.... hard on the heels of 9/11, someone sent anthrax spores through the US mail to journalists and politicians. Five people died, and at least 17 more got sick. The culprit was never caught.

This relatively unsophisticated attack confirmed fears, already growing in the US, that with a bit more effort a determined bioterrorist could spread disease and mayhem across the nation. To combat the threat, the Bush administration launched an unprecedented biodefence effort. To date it has spent $44 billion – three-quarters of it aimed at protecting civilians – on new organisations, training, and buying existing remedies such as the classic smallpox vaccine.

Has this massive spending made Americans any safer? According to experts at the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh, the answer is no. Last month, they announced that the Us remains unable to defend itself against any anthrax attack involving more than a few envelopes. So what has gone wrong? The centrepiece of the administration's biodefence effort is Project BioShield. Launched in 2004, it is designed to turn drug companies into defence contractors, delivering products to counter potential bioweapons. Project BioShield has $5.6 billion to spend by 2014 on drugs to be stored in what is known as the strategic National stockpile. Yet, contrary to expectations, the pharmaceutical industry has not beaten a path to Project BioShield's door. The sluggish response has prompted a bill in Congress, expected to pass this year, that attempts to make BioShield more industry friendly.

Yet many biosecurity specialists say these adjustments do nothing to alter the fact that Project BioShield may be missing the point. They see problems in two crucial areas: the limited range of pathogens that BioShield is targeting, and inadequate plans for deploying the countermeasures it do"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

PentaxLife

PentaxLife

K10D battery is actually Minolta

Minolta NP-400 batteryAccording to PDML user Thibault Massart aka Thibouille (you can reach him at DPreview forums as well), Pentax K10D proprietary Lithium battery is actually widely available (and cheaper - priced around $20 USD) Minolta NP-400.

Shel, a rep at the Pentax booth at Photokina told me (and was not supposed to so I won’t say his/her name) that those batteries for the K10D are the same as Minolta **-400. Don’t remind the first letters but according to the quick search I did on google they may be NP-400 which you should be able to find easily (and cheaper) than from Pentax.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Super chow, laced with semi-synthetic vitamin E derivative, inhibited spread of cancer in mice

Super chow, laced with semi-synthetic vitamin E derivative, inhibited spread of cancer in mice:

"PHILADELPHIA -- A chemically altered form of vitamin E mixed into mouse chow dramatically reduced spread of aggressive mammary cancer in mice, suggesting that the compound in pill form could be used to treat human metastatic cancer, according to a report in the October 1 issue of the journal Cancer Research."

New wood-plastic composites to boost industry, help use waste products

New wood-plastic composites to boost industry, help use waste products

"Composite products made from wood and plastic are highly desirable for their low maintenance and ability to resist rot," said Kaichang Li, an associate professor in the OSU Department of Wood Science and Engineering. "But their use has been limited because of high cost and low strength, a result of inadequate adhesion between the wood fibers and plastic."

Fundamentally, Li said, this is because wood and plastic are like oil and water, and do not mix well. Wood is hydrophilic – it absorbs water – and plastic is hydrophobic, repelling it. A "compatibilizer," typically a polymer that bridges the interface between the wood and plastic in these products, improves stress transfer and increases their strength and stiffness.

The new wood-plastic composites use superior compatibilizers developed in Li's laboratory, and an innovative technology for mixing wood and thermoplastics such as nylons, in which the melting temperature of the plastic is higher than the wood degradation temperature.

Compound Eyes, Evolutionary Ties

Compound Eyes, Evolutionary Ties

By Kim McDonald

Click for larger image.

Photo Credit:
Andrew Zelhof, UCSD

Click for larger image.

Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered that the presence of a key protein in the compound eyes of the fruit fly (which glow at center due to a fluorescent protein) allows the formation of distinct light gathering units in each of its 800 unit eyes, an evolutionary change to an “open system” that enabled insects to make significant improvements in visual acuity and angular sensitivity. In contrast, beetles (shown surrounding the fruit fly), bees and many mosquito species have the light-gathering units fused together into a “closed system.”

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice - washingtonpost.com

Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice - washingtonpost.com

On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately.

Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away. There was no practical way she could refuse such a request from the CIA director.


ScienceDaily: Geologists Find First Clue To Tyrannosaurus Rex Gender In Bone Tissue

ScienceDaily: Geologists Find First Clue To Tyrannosaurus Rex Gender In Bone Tissue


Tissue within T. rex bone led to a determination of the dinosaur's gender. (Credit: North Carolina State University)

Paleontologists at North Carolina State University have determined that a 68 million year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil from Montana is that of a young female, and that she was producing eggs when she died.

The proof, they say, is in the bones.

In a case of a literal “lucky break,” the scientists discovered unusual bone tissue lining the hollow cavity of the T. rex’s broken leg bone. In a paper published in the June 3 issue of the journal Science, Dr. Mary Schweitzer, assistant professor of paleontology with a joint appointment at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, and her technician, Jennifer Wittmeyer, along with colleagues at Montana State University, share their findings and say that the presence of this particular tissue provides evidence of the dinosaur’s gender and a connection between the extinct giants and living birds, specifically ostriches and emus.

Pharyngula: The Special Favors for Fundamentalists Act of 2005

Pharyngula: The Special Favors for Fundamentalists Act of 2005

Our Republican overlords have taken one more step on the road to theocracy with the approval of H.R. 2679, the Public Expression of Religion Act. You can read the full text of the bill, but here's the gist:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a court shall not award reasonable fees and expenses of attorneys to the prevailing party on a claim of injury consisting of the violation of a prohibition in the Constitution against the establishment of religion brought against the United States or any agency or any official of the United States acting in his or her official capacity in any court having jurisdiction over such claim, and the remedies with respect to such a claim shall be limited to injunctive and declaratory relief.

What this does is give religious organizations a special privilege, bestowing on them a small measure of impunity in breaking the law, all with the intent of discouraging citizens from seeking relief from violations of the prohibition against establishment of religion. It's a curious thing: it's basically saying that someone can be found guilty of law-breaking, but if they are carrying out their criminal activity in the name of religion, there is a whole class of punishments that cannot be applied to them, and specifically, lawyers working to prevent violations of church and state will not be rewarded for their efforts if successful. They are legislating to support violations of the Constitution.

Nice and sneaky. The religious bigots know they want to break the law, so the solution is to put hurdles in place to inhibit attempts to make them accountable.

Scientists recover T. rex soft tissue - Science - MSNBC.com

Scientists recover T. rex soft tissue - Science - MSNBC.com:

If we can isolate certain proteins, then perhaps we can address the issue of the physiology of the dinosaur," Schweitzer said.

Of course, the big question is whether it will be possible to see dinosaur DNA. "We don't know yet. We are doing a lot in the lab now that looks promising," Schweitzer said.


"To make sure she was seeing what she thought she was seeing, Schweitzer, a biologist by training, compared the Tyrannosaur samples with bone taken from a dead ostrich. She chose an ostrich because birds are thought to be the closest living relatives of dinosaurs and ostriches are big birds.

Both the dinosaur and ostrich blood vessels contained small, reddish brown dots that could be the nuclei of the endothelial cells that line blood vessels."

Science Now

Can this be true?

Science Now:

"When paleontologists find fossilized dinosaur bones during a dig, they usually do everything in their power to protect them, using tools like toothbrushes to carefully unearth the bones without inflicting any damage. However, when scientists found a massive Tyrannosaurus rex thigh bone in a remote region of Montana a few months ago, they were forced to break the bone in two in order to fit it into the transport helicopter. This act of necessity revealed a startling surprise: soft tissue that had seemingly resisted fossilization still existed inside the bone. This tissue, including blood vessels, bone cells, and perhaps even blood cells, was so well preserved that it was still stretchy and flexible.

A scanning electron microscope revealed that the dinosaur blood vessels, which are 70 million years old, are virtually identical to those recovered from modern ostrich bones. The ostrich is today’s largest bird, and many paleontologists believe that birds are the living descendants of dinosaurs. Scientists may be able to confirm this evolutionary relationship if they can isolate certain proteins from the recently discovered T. rex tissue. These proteins could also help solve another puzzle: whether dinosaurs were cold-blooded like other reptiles or warm-blooded like mammals.

Does this discovery of soft dinosaur tissue mean that scientists will soon be able to clone a Tyrannosaurus rex? Probably not – most scientists believe that DNA cannot survive for 70 million years. Then again, before this discovery, most scientists believed that soft tissue could not survive for 70 million years either."

Rolling Stone : Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

Rolling Stone : Was the 2004 Election Stolen?: YES!!!

"Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House."

Edward A. Villarreal. Powered by Blogger.

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