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Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

150 human animal hybrids grown in UK labs secretively

In Europe News, Tech, World News on July 29, 2011 at 10:38 am

By Daniel Martin

Scientists have created more than 150 human-animal hybrid embryos in British laboratories.

The hybrids have been produced secretively over the past three years by researchers looking into possible cures for a wide range of diseases.

The revelation comes just a day after a committee of scientists warned of a nightmare ‘Planet of the Apes’ scenario in which work on human-animal creations goes too far.

Last night a campaigner against the excesses of medical research said he was disgusted that scientists were ‘dabbling in the grotesque’.

Figures seen by the Daily Mail show that 155 ‘admixed’ embryos, containing both human and animal genetic material, have been created since the introduction of the 2008 Human Fertilisation Embryology Act.

This legalised the creation of a variety of hybrids, including an animal egg fertilised by a human sperm; ‘cybrids’, in which a human nucleus is implanted into an animal cell; and ‘chimeras’, in which human cells are mixed with animal embryos.

Scientists say the techniques can be used to develop embryonic stem cells which can be used to…

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6 ways food is being used as a weapon

In World News on July 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

By Activist Post

Hungry people will do anything for food, which means that those who have control over food can use it as leverage. In 1974, Henry Kissinger suggested using food as a weapon to induce targeted population reduction in a previously classified 200-page reportNational Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.  The primary tactic to be applied is that food aid would be withheld from developing nations until they submitted to birth control policies:

There is also some established precedent for taking account of family planning performance in appraisal of assistance requirements by AID [U.S. Agency for International Development] and consultative groups. Since population growth is a major determinant of increases in food demand, allocation of scarce PL 480 resources should take account of what steps a country is taking in population control as well as food production. In these sensitive relations, however, it is important in style as well as substance to avoid the appearance of coercion.

So, food was to be used as just another method of imperial colonization to force countries to conform their policies to those desired by the controllers. Notably, this tactic only works as a blunt weapon on territories enduring a severe economic collapse and with little resources for food production. Today, however, it appears that the entire globe is receiving an arsenal of food bombs as there appears to be a multifaceted attack on people’s access to food.  In other words, what has been an admitted…

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Pentagon to use genetic code to identify perfect soldier?

In Americas, Tech on July 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

By Joe Wolverton

Old soldiers never die, they just pass on their genetic code?

report issued by a defense science advisory panel suggests that the Pentagon may begin collecting DNA from military personnel to identify the genome sequence that defines a good soldier. Findings reported by JASON, an independent group of scientists which advises the U.S. government on matters of science and technology, recommends that the Pentagon take advantage of “the rapidly falling cost of gene sequencing by preparing to engage in the mass sequencing of the genomes” of the men and women of the armed forces.

The physicists, biologists, chemists, oceanographers, mathematicians, and computer scientists that comprise the JASON project, point out that the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have access to an untapped source of valuable genetic information and are “uniquely positioned to make great advances” in the science of genetic research in this crucial field. Specifically mentioned are the decades of archived medical records and DNA samples already on file at the VA.

commentary on the report published by the ACLU claims:

Specifically, the report recommends that the Pentagon begin collecting [and] sequencing soldiers’ DNA for “diagnostic and predictive applications.” It recommends that the military begin seeking correlations between soldiers’ genotypes and phenotypes (outward characteristics) “of relevance to the military” in order to correlate the two. And the report says — without offering details — that both “offensive and defensive military operations” could be affected.

The privacy concerns of such a program are obvious. The threshold question that the Pentagon would have to…

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Time travel impossible, say scientists

In Tech on July 28, 2011 at 11:46 am

By AFP

Hong Kong physicists say they have proved that a single photon obeys Einstein’s theory that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light — demonstrating that outside science fiction, time travel is impossible.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology research team led by Du Shengwang said they had proved that a single photon, or unit of light, “obeys the traffic law of the universe.”

“Einstein claimed that the speed of light was the traffic law of the universe or in simple language, nothing can travel faster than light,” the university said on its website.

“Professor Du’s study demonstrates that a single photon, the fundamental quanta of light, also obeys the traffic law of the universe just like classical EM (electromagnetic) waves.”

The possibility of time travel was raised 10 years ago when scientists discovered superluminal — or faster-than-light — propagation of optical pulses in some specific medium, the team said.

It was later found to be a visual effect, but researchers thought it might still be possible for a single photon to exceed light speed.

Du, however, believed Einstein was right and…

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Not Dollar, Not Euro, But Gold

In World News on July 28, 2011 at 11:46 am

By Antoaneta Becker

Growing concerns about the slow death of the dollar rather than a saviour’s goodwill are underpinning China’s widely publicised purchases of European government debt, according to experts. But as the Eurozone debt crisis spreads from Greece and Portugal to countries like Italy and threatens the very survival of the euro, China’s finance mandarins and keepers of the country’s 3 trillion dollars foreign reserves are looking yet again at gold as the anchor of stability.

Yu Yongding, a former adviser to the Central Bank of China and strong critic of U.S. treasury bonds, an asset in which about 1.2 trillion dollars of China’s foreign reserves are invested, has been calling on Chinese rulers to diversify as much as possible of China’s holdings to guard against a weaker dollar.

Speaking at a global economic forum in Beijing this month Yu said the U.S. debt and its ratio against the country GDP were rising, and predicted trouble for all U.S. assets and the global economy.

Yu is in company of big banks like Goldman Sachs predicting a slow and steady decline of the dollar. Yu believes that from 1929 to 2009 the purchasing power of the greenback has declined by 94 percent. Goldman Sachs forecasts…

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Unpatched iPhones/iPads secure connections not so secure

In Tech on July 28, 2011 at 1:22 am

By Chester Wisniewski

Yesterday I wrote about Apple’s latest fixes for iWork and iOS and encouraged folks to update. Now that more information is available it is clearly critical that all users update as soon as possible, unless they only use their device for telephone calls.

Moxie Marlinspike posted a message on his blog yesterday announcing an update to a tool called sslsniff. The sslsniff tool has been around for quite some time (nine years!) and allows users to easily perform man-in-the-middle attacks against SSL/TLS connections. The new version of sslsniff knows how to identify vulnerable Apple devices and allows anyone to snoop on secure communications.

WHAT? Yes, you read that correctly. The flaws in iOS 4.3.4, 4.2.9 and 5.0b3 and lower are a lot more serious than Apple’s description of their fix: “This issue is addressed through improved validation of X.509 certificate chains.”

Oddly the flaw in iOS was a widespread flaw in WebKit and Microsoft’s CryptoAPI nine years ago. It allows any valid certificate purchased from a Certificate Authority to sign any other certificate, which the client device will then consider valid.

This allows anyone who can capture traffic from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with man-in-the-middle techniques to…

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Lax limits on agrotoxics in drinking water

In Americas on July 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm

By Mario Osava

Brazil sets acceptable drinking water limits for 22 different types of pesticides and fertilisers, 13 heavy metals, 13 solvents and six disinfectants. However, these are sometimes exceeded for economic reasons or due to inadequate monitoring.

Up to 1977, health authorities decreed that water for human consumption could not contain residues of more than 12 toxic agricultural chemicals or 10 metals, with no further details.

Since then the regulations have been updated twice, in 1990 and 2004, with amendments that have “legalised” residues of new chemical inputs used in agriculture and industry, complained Dr. Wanderlei Pignati, a professor at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT).

The European Union, in contrast, only permits five agrotoxics, with maximum limits that are lower than the concentrations allowed in Brazil, and a total allowable concentration of pesticides that prevents all the individual agrotoxics from reaching their maximum tolerated level, a precaution that is not applied in Brazil.

Quality control of drinking water is still focused on eliminating bacteria, and does not take into account the increase in chemical contaminants, which…

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Norway attacks: The public must be trusted with the facts

In Europe News, World News on July 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm

By Ian Reeves

No doubt Anders Behring Breivik will have been sorely disappointed that the presiding judge banned the media from attending his first hearing. Because although there’s still plenty we don’t know about his motivation for slaying nearly 100 of his countrymen, it’s clear enough that he wanted the media to play a key role in his grotesque project.

His manifesto – all 1,500 rambling pages of it – was emailed widely to those sympathetic with his far-right views, and he will have known that its wider dissemination would be assured after his plan was carried out. It contains many references to UK newspapers – including appreciative comments about Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips and pieces for the Sunday Times by Jeremy Clarkson.

Then, as his plan neared fruition, he belatedly decided that social media could also play a powerful role. Both his Facebook and Twitter accounts appear to have been set up just a few days before his attack, and just over 500 people had read his single tweet, a quote from John Stuart Mill.

Breivik is by no means unique among mass murderers in understanding the role that the media plays when their terrible crimes are perpetrated.

Perhaps most notably the Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho actually paused during his…

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Breakthrough hailed in quest for ‘God particle’

In Tech, World News on July 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm

By London Independent

You wait millions of years for a God particle to come along, and then two clusters turn up at once.

Scientists in the US announced they may have detected the elusive and potentially universe-changing Higgs boson particle yesterday, just two days after rivals in Switzerland signalled that they, too, have caught their first sight of it.

The physicists working at the Fermilab facility in Illinois may not be as well known as their more illustrious competitors at the Cern Institute near Geneva, which attracted widespread media attention and predictions of an apocalypse when its Large Hadron Collider was turned on in 2008.

However, Fermilab have their own version of the $10 billion collider, known as the Tevatron, in which they are also accelerating beams of protons and antiprotons around tunnels many miles long at extreme speeds. Both teams are doing this to create high-energy collisions between the particles, which they believe should produce the mysterious Higgs boson.

This puzzling sub-atomic object is the key missing element in the Standard Model theory of particle physics, hence its “God particle” nickname.

If its existence can be proven, it will confirm our understanding of why some elements of our universe have…

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Hungary destroys all Monsanto GMO maize fields

In Europe News on July 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm

By Sheele Tyler

In an effort to rid the country of Monsanto’s GMO products, Hungary has stepped up the pace. This looks like its going to be another slap in the face for Monsanto. A new regulation was introduced this March which stipulates that seeds are supposed to be checked for GMO before they are introduced to the market. Unfortunately, some GMO seeds made it to the farmers without them knowing it.

“Almost 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary” deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development, Lajos Bognar said. “The GMO maize has been ploughed under”, said Lajos Bognar, “but pollen has not spread from the maize”, he added.

Unlike several EU members, GMO seeds are banned in Hungary. The checks will continue despite the fact that seed traders are obliged to make sure that their products are GMO free, Bognar said.

During their investigation, controllers have found Pioneer and Monsanto products among the seeds planted.

The free movement of goods within the EU means that authorities will not investigate how the seeds arrived in Hungary but…