Bio-luminescent technology for easy tracking of GMO

by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) May 03, 2012

Dr Guy Kiddle from Lumora, who led the research, explained that LAMP-BART was able to detect as little as 0.1% GM contamination of maize, and, compared to PCR, was more tolerant of contaminating polysaccharides, meaning that the DNA clean-up process did not need to be as thorough.

It is important to be able to monitor genetically modified (GM) crops, not only in the field but also during the food processing chain.

New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Biotechnology shows that products from genetically modified crops can be identified at low concentration, using bioluminescent real time reporter (BART) technology and loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP).

The combination of these techniques was able to recognize 0.1% GM contamination of maize, far below the current EU limit of 0.9%.

In agriculture GM crops have been bred to improve crop yield or viability. For example some are resistant to herbicides or viruses.

They are also used in the pharmaceutical industry to produce proteins such as collagen. However there is a constant debate about the safety of these crops and whether the man-made transgenes might enter the wild population by cross-fertilization.and produce herbicide resistant weeds.

Careful handling and sampling techniques are required to assess the GM content of a crop. The most common technique is polymerase chain reaction (PCR), however, this involves complex extraction procedures and rapid thermocycling, both of which require specific equipment.

To overcome these problems researchers from Lumora Ltd. assessed whether they could use LAMP to amplify DNA at a constant temperature and use BART to identify GM-specific DNA in real time.

Dr Guy Kiddle from Lumora, who led the research, explained that LAMP-BART was able to detect as little as 0.1% GM contamination of maize, and, compared to PCR, was more tolerant of contaminating polysaccharides, meaning that the DNA clean-up process did not need to be as thorough.

He commented, “This method requires only basic equipment for DNA extraction, and a constant temperature for DNA amplification and detection. Consequently LAMP-BART provides a ‘field-ready’ solution for monitoring GM crops and their interaction with wild plants or non-GM crops.”

GMO detection using a bio-luminescent real time reporter (BART) of loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) suitable for field use Guy Kiddle, Patrick Hardinge, Neil Buttigieg, Olga Gandelman, Clint Pereira, Cathal J McElgunn, Manuela Rizzoli, Rebecca Jackson, Nigel Appleton, Cathy Moore, Laurence C. Tisi and James A.H. Murray BMC Biotechnology (in press)

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Report warns of diminished tornado tracking, hurricane forecasting, climate change study

Written by
Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Predicting the weather is tricky enough. Now a new government-sponsored report warns that America’s ability to track tornadoes, forecast hurricanes and study climate change is about to diminish.

The number and capability of weather satellites circling the planet “is beginning a rapid decline” and tight budgets have significantly delayed or eliminated missions to replace them, according to a National Research Council analysis released Wednesday.

The number of in-orbit and planned Earth observation missions by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is projected to drop “precipitously” from 23 this year to only six by 2020 based on information provided by both agencies, the report found. As a result, the number of satellites and other instruments monitoring Earth’s activity is expected to decline from a peak of about 110 in 2011 to fewer than 30 by the end of the decade.

“Right now, when society is asking us the hardest questions and the most meaningful questions, we’re going to be even more challenged to answer them,” said Stacey W. Boland, a senior systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and a member of the committee that wrote the report. “We’ll slowly become data-starved here.”

The report, Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Midterm Assessment of NASA’s Implementation of the Decadal Survey, credits NASA with finding creative ways to prolong the life of existing satellites and working with international partners to fill in forecasting gaps.

But, the authors said, glue and scissors only go so far.

When a similar analysis was issued five years ago, eight satellites were expected to be in space by 2012 tracking a variety of conditions, such as global precipitation, ocean topography and carbon emissions. Only three are now in orbit. Of the remaining five, two failed, one was canceled and two others are not expected to launch until at least next year.

The pipeline looks emptier over the next decade.

Of the 18 missions recommended in the 2007 report through 2020, only two are close enough to completion to register launch dates.

Dennis Hartmann, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle, and chair of the committee, warned that the loss of capacity will have “profound consequences on science and society, from weather forecasting to responding to natural hazards.”

NASA and NOAA are facing what all other government agencies are confronting: a record federal debt that has most in Congress talking about ways to cut programs, not expand them. The debt is approaching $15.7 trillion, or more than $50,000 per U.S. citizen, and even military leaders say the government’s spiralling sea of red ink poses a huge threat to the nation’s economic stability.

Lawmakers and the Obama administration have treated NASA better than most agencies. Its budget for the fiscal 2013 year is proposed to be relatively flat, a small victory given that many other agencies are facing deep cuts.

As a way to improve the efficiency of the nation’s civilian satellite program, a key Senate panel voted last month to shift the acquisition — but not operation — of weather satellites from the NOAA to NASA.

But even if Congress changed course today and decided to fund these missions, there would still be a lag because of the time it takes to build a satellite, Boland said.

“Once you’re even in implementation, it still takes several years to get from there to a launch pad,” she said.


Cyber Space


Four Irish, British suspects helped in Stratfor hack: US


AP file photo

Anonymous rally in Madrid in May 2011.

Federal prosecutors said four Irish and British men charged in a crackdown on the international hacking group Anonymous also helped breach the security analysis company Stratfor last year.

In an indictment made public on Wednesday, Manhattan federal prosecutors said the four men, previously charged in March, were part of the “Antisec” faction of Anonymous that disclosed in December that it had hacked into Strategic Forecasting Inc, or Stratfor.

Stratfor is dubbed a “shadow CIA” because it gathers non-classified intelligence on international crises.

Until Wednesday, only 27-year old Chicago hacker Jeremy Hammond had been formally charged with the Stratfor breach. Hammond, who is in custody in New York, was formally indicted on Wednesday for the first time, and has yet to be arraigned. His lawyer declined comment.

Hammond’s arrest was announced on March 6 along with charges against the four suspected “AntiSec” members, Donncha O’Cearrbhail and Darren Martyn of Ireland, and Jake Davis and Ryan Ackroyd of Britain.

Read Full Article Here



Sylvia Westall , Reuters

Twitter users in Kuwait face tougher regulation


Getty Images file

Kuwaitis hold a picture of 13-year-old boy Hamza al-Khatib, killed during anti-regime protests in Syria, as they take part in a demonstration in support of the Syrian uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Kuwait City on June 24, 2011.

Kuwait is about to take a firmer line on regulation of social media, uneasy about people who it says use Twitter and Facebook to stoke sectarian tensions and wary of spillover from turmoil in nearby Gulf states and Syria.

Although Kuwait has largely been spared the sectarian violence that flares in other countries in the region, the Sunni government is constantly aware of the potential for Sunni-Shi’ite tensions to boil over.

Authorities are particularly sensitive to developments in Bahrain, where the Sunni monarchy has cracked down on mainly Shi’ite Muslim protesters. Kuwait also borders Iraq and Saudi Arabia and sits across the Gulf from non-Arab Shi’ite power Iran.

Lately there are signs that frictions are heating up, and much of the activity is being stoked online.

“Twitter is becoming a platform that many people are using and many people are watching. You cannot look at this without neglecting what is happening in the region,” said Kuwaiti Twitter user and blogger Jassim al-Qamis.

Twitter has enjoyed runaway popularity in Kuwait, whose oil wealth and freer political system have helped to shield it from Arab Spring-style anti-government demonstrations.

One million accounts were registered in the country of 3.6 million inhabitants as of April, a two-fold rise in 12 months, according to Paris-based Semiocast, which compiles Twitter data.

“You have the extreme Islamists in Kuwait and you have a tension between Saudi and Iran. This is fuelling the discussion here,” said Qamis, who has written online about the unrest in Bahrain and has 2,000 followers tracking his Twitter messages.

“People are becoming proxies of powers in the region. Kuwait has become a battlefield for this.”

The rift between Sunnis and Shi’ites dates back some 1,400 years, originating in a debate over who would succeed the Prophet Mohammad as leader of the Muslim community. But it now can also encompass different political, social and historical outlooks and splits down ethnic lines.

Shi’ites make up about one third of Kuwait’s 1.1 million nationals and vocal members can be found in senior positions in parliament, media and business.

Sunni writer Mohammad al-Mulaifi was sentenced to seven years in jail and fined nearly $18,000 after a court ruled in April that he had posted falsehoods on Twitter about sectarian divisions in Kuwait and had insulted the Shi’ite faith.

Lawyers and rights activists said this appeared to be the strictest punishment so far for comments posted online.

Insulting religions or religious figures is illegal in Kuwait and the penalty is usually a fine or prison term. Lawmakers recently voted in favor of a legal amendment which could make such offenses punishable by death.

But it is the case of a Kuwaiti Shi’ite charged with insulting the Prophet Mohammad that has triggered the biggest public uproar.

Read Full Article Here

CISPA: Steamrolling Civil Liberties

The devilish details of amendments to the House-passed cyber-security bill, CISPA.

(This analysis first appeared at Balkinization, a noted civil liberties and legal blog).

After a flurry of last minute amendments last week, the House unexpectedly passed CISPA on Thursday evening. A week ago, I described my concerns with the version of the bill that made it out of the House Committee on Intelligence. In the intervening week, there was considerable outcry around the bill led in part by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Learning their lesson from SOPA, the House decided to invite civil liberties constituencies to the table so as to avoid having to witness another implosion of a major legislative goal. As a result, a number of amendments were introduced that began to address some of the most egregious parts of the bill, and, in response, some members of the civil liberties community decided to withhold further, vocal opposition. Then, on Thursday evening, it all fell apart. As Josh Smith at the National Journal described, the CISPA that was passed by the House on Thursday didn’t reflect this negotiation:

The Center for Democracy and Technology and the Constitution Project never really dropped objections to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, but after discussions with the bill’s sponsors, the groups said on April 24 they would not actively oppose the bill and focus on amendments instead. But on April 25, the House Rules Committee shot down 22 of 43 submitted amendments to the bill, known as CISPA. All but one Republican amendments were made in order, while four out of 19 Democratic amendments and four with 10 bipartisan support made the cut. Five amendments were withdrawn.

Unhappy with this outcome, the civil liberties groups are doubling down their efforts for the next stage of this battle — the Senate.

That’s the quick recap of what happened last week.

This bill still poses serious issues. Here is the version of the bill that reflects all the amendments made. For those who want to compare, this is the original bill without the amendments and these are the eleven amendments that were added on top of it.

I’ll spend the rest of this post providing a summary of the amendments made and provide my thoughts on the problems they create and solve. I’ve ordered them, roughly, by importance.

1. Goodlatte Amendment: Provides more detail around what “cybersercurity” means under this bill:

This amendment places under the umbrella of cybersecurity:

(i) a vulnerability of a system or network of a government or private entity;

(ii) a threat to the integrity, confidentiality, or availability of a system or network of a government or private entity or any information stored on, processed on, or transiting such a system or network;

(iii) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy a system or network of a government or private entity; or

(iv) efforts to gain unauthorized access to a system or network of a government

or private entity, including to gain such unauthorized access for the purpose of exfiltrating information stored on, processed on, or transiting a system or network of a government or private entity

Cyber threat information, under this amendment, now specifically covers information relating to a threat to the “integrity, confidentiality, or availability of a system or network of a government or private entity or any information stored on, processed on, or transiting such a system or network.”

Confidentiality is defined as “including the means for protecting proprietary information.” This sounds a lot like intellectual property. If that’s correct, than it means that cybersecurity threats now include intellectual property piracy. Accordingly, private companies can send warrantless surveillance information regarding threats of copyright piracy to the government, and the government is authorized to act on them. It’s not exactly the Son of SOPA, but it does elevate the crime of copyright piracy so that it is now on par with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and Stuxnet type viruses.

Read Full Report Here


Survival / Sustainability


Survival Food Storage Safety

by M.D. Creekmore

Meat, fish, poultry, dairy, and fresh bakery products are dated with a “sell by date” to indicate how long the food can be displayed for sale. Also, the “sell by date” allows a reasonable amount of time after the purchase in which the product can be used. Consumers should always purchase food before the “sell by date” expires. Cereals, snack foods, frozen entrees, and dry packaged foods may be marked with a “best if used by date.” The products are not at their best quality after this date, but can still be used safely for a short period of time thereafter. Safety

Other foods, such as unbaked breads, are marked with an “expiration” or “use by date,” which means the product should not be consumed after that date. Do not purchase any food not used by that date. The freshness date is located on the food package and serves as an indicator of product quality.

Read Full Article Here



How To Make And Use Herb Preparations

by M.D. Creekmore  

Summited by anonymous Bill

Making your own herbal concoctions for medicinal purposes is really not that difficult. And since the best herbal preparations are those made when the plants are fresh, the better off you are to grow your own herbs and make your own preparations.

But even the best plants can be ruined if you use the wrong kind of process in preparing your remedies. Your choice depends on the parts of the plant to be used, the form in which the remedy will be taken, and the desired result.

Remember that herbal remedies are not one-shot wonder cures. Their effectiveness is based largely on a gradual cure.

The following ways of preparing your fresh herbs are those most commonly used in herbal medicine. Always use an enamel or non-metallic pot.

Infusion – this is a beverage made like tea, combining boiled water with the plants and steeping it to extract the active ingredients. The normal amounts are about 1/2 to 1 ounce of the plant to one pint of boiled water. You should let the mixture steep for five to ten minutes, covered, and strain the infusion into a cup.

Cold Extract – preparing herbs with cold water preserves the most volatile ingredients, while extracting only minor amounts of mineral salts and bitter principles. Add about double the amount of plant material used for an infusion to cold water and let sit for about 8 to 12 hours, strain and drink.

Read Full Article Here



EatTheWeeds: Episode 05: Wild mustard greens

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Learn with Green Deane how to recognize and prepare wild mustard, Brassica ssp., springtime salad ingredient, pot herb and wild food from http://www.eattheweeds.com



“Tuition Fees are Class War!” CUNY Brooklyn College Students Roughed Up By Police for Demanding Fairer Treatment

Calling for an end to policies that make college less accessible to lower-income students, CUNY activists held a peaceful sit-in that was violently broken up by police.

Every gate at the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College had doubled security—no one was getting in without a student ID.

That and the rain might have dampened turnout for a mass student day of action calling for increased access to higher education and supported by the likes of Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the student activists who rallied on the quad and then marched into Boylan Hall, chanting, “1, 2, 3, 4, tuition fees are class war! 5, 6, 7, 8, students will retaliate!”

It took police, batons and riot cuffs to do that.

I was able to get onto campus with the name of a professor given to me by one of the student organizers–the last time I visited the campus, I had no problem walking by the guards, but this time a student was left in tears because her ID wasn’t properly validated and she couldn’t get to class. Some CUNY graduate students from other campuses were able to join the Brooklyn College students for their rally, which included a banner drop from the top of Boylan Hall (also reading “tuition fees are class war”). “They didn’t give access to a rally about access,” commented Biola Jeje, one of the students involved in the action, later to AlterNet.

Arriving on the quad just after 1pm, I was just in time to follow the march into Boylan Hall and up the stairs. The students, a mix of men and women, many of whom wore red squares on their shirts or backpacks in solidarity with the Quebec student movement, took the stairs and lined up arm-in-arm in front of the office of the college president, Karen Gould.

Campus police followed the students up the stairs and lined up behind them as they sat down, still with their arms linked together, still singing. They mic-checked their demands, the crowd surrounding them repeating their calls for the college president to meet with them to discuss tuition hikes, the surveillance and racial profiling of Muslim and other students, and funding student services, as well as the over-arching presence of security on campus. And they stressed that they would not move.

The university president, they pointed out, might not have the power to change the tuition hikes they were fighting, but she did have the choice to come and meet with them and she chose instead to send campus police.  “We had a petition going around that had over 1000 signatures for free printing, extension of library hours, free course packets. Those are ways besides rescinding the tuition hikes, to help students who were dealing with the tuition hikes,” Jeje said of the students’ demands to the president.

A clarinetist accompanied them as they turned once again to songs, declaring “The Italians fought fascists with this song” and keeping the mood, for the moment, cheerful, yet militant.

In 1969 we shut this school down, in 1989 we shut this school down. In 1995 guess what we did? We shut this school down!” the crowd echoed as the police moved closer.

These peaceful students are not leaving by Sarah Jaffe

Those of us standing were herded backward and the police began yanking students to their feet, pulling them apart and pushing them down the hallway. “They yanked us up and just threw us away,” Jeje said later.

In front of me, an older man dressed in a suit tried to move forward and was roughly pushed back by an officer. He declined to give me his name, but he told the police, “I’m a college professor!” He was threatened with arrest for disorderly conduct by a large plainclothes security officer when he pressed his case for staying close. Others loudly proclaimed their right to be in the hallway as the police continued to shove students down the hall—and more of them streamed up the stairs, batons out, plastic riot cuffs dangling from their belts.

Read Full Report Here



The 99% Movement Has Something for Everyone — But Is it Occupy?

How will the 99% Spring impact the Occupy Movement?
 May 3, 2012  |

Photo Credit: sashakimel on Flickr

A version of this article was originally published by Salon.com

By all measures the Occupy movement is a powerful brand. It has thousands of spin-offs such as Occupy our Homes, Occupy Money, Occupy the Hood, Occupy Gender Equality and Occupy the Food System. It has powerful name recognition, snagging “word of the year” honors in 2011. And now ardent supporters are manning the ramparts to defend its integrity.

Adbusters, the culture-jamming magazine that helped spark Occupy Wall Street, is accusing unions and liberal groups clustered under the banner of the 99% Spring of tarnishing Occupy’s sterling name. Launched in February by groups like Greenpeace, the Service Employees International Union, MoveOn and Rebuild the Dream, the 99% Spring announced it would train 100,000 people in April for “sustained nonviolent direct action” against targets like Verizon, Bank of America and Walmart.

These groups, Adbusters belllowed in an online missive titled “Battle for the Soul of Occupy,” are “the same cabal of old world thinkers who have blunted the possibility of revolution for decades.” Adbusters fingered MoveOn as one of the primary saboteurs of Occupy, and linked to an article in Counterpunch that claims the 99% Spring “is primarily about co-option and division, about sucking a large cross-section of Occupy into Obama’s reelection campaign, watering down its radical politics, and using these mass trainings as a groundwork to put forward 100,000 ‘good protesters’ to overshadow the ‘bad protesters.’”

It’s a fiery broadside, but there’s little evidence to back it up. I queried occupiers from San Francisco, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Little Rock and New York who joined 99% Spring trainings and not one witnessed election-year politicking. Others stressed the coalition includes organizations that would bolt if it was promoting the Democrats. One core organizer of the 99% Spring who preferred to remain anonymous blew his stack when I asked if there weren’t legitimate reasons for occupiers to be suspicious of the effort. “Why don’t people look at the fact that MoveOn, this huge organization that has set much of the tone for the progressive movement for the last 10 years, is now trying to engage in a radical culture shift by moving its members from clicktivism to getting them to put their bodies on the line in nonviolent street protests and militant eviction defenses in their neighborhoods. Maybe Occupy is worried about its own viability.”

Some observers go further, claiming that Occupy is the one co-opting MoveOn. Josh Harkinson writes in Mother Jones: “It seems that America’s best-known progressive fundraising organization is now taking its cues from Occupy Wall Street.” Nathan Schneider, writing in Waging Nonviolence, takes a more nuanced approach by concluding that while the 99% Spring is indeed co-optation, there is also an opening. Because the thousands who participated in the 99% Spring are a juicy target, he argues that Occupy should be asking how to “turn these people’s attention to structures of oppression, rather than to stump speeches and delegates?” Schneider gives voice to the many Occupy activists who want to engage with broader forces. As one activist observes, “The worst thing we could do right now is make Occupy Wall Street into a small ‘radicals only’ space.”

But the real story is how the main groups behind the 99% Spring – such as MoveOn and Rebuild the Dream – have created a meta-brand known as the 99% Movement that encompasses a product line including 99% Power99% Candidates99% Unitinga 99% Voter Pledge, and events like All in for the 99% and 99% Spring Bank Protests. (Rebuild the Dream, MoveOn and SEIU are sponsors of nearly every formation.) Broadening the coalition to include radical left organizations that reject electoral politics is a sophisticated way to enhance the overall brand. Such groups can feel confident they are maintaining their independence from elections by participating in the 99% Spring, but they are still building the 99% brand, which will then be used in forms like the 99% voter pledge and 99% candidates to boost the Democratic Party’s fortunes come fall.

Read Full Report Here



May Day Multimedia Wrapup! See All Our Pics In One Place, Plus AlterNet Staff Talk General Strike on TV

 Last night, AlterNet reporters Sarah Seltzer and Joshua Holland talked about the actions in NYC and the Bay Area, respectively, on The Big Picture With Thom Hartman:

May Day – Is this the kick off of OWS spring?

Published on May 2, 2012 by

Workers of the world are uniting in a global day of action to commemorate International Workers Day. In hundreds of cities across America and around the world – in London, Barcelona, Toronto, Kuala Lampur, and Sydney – there were calls for a general strike with no working, no shopping and no banking. One thing you might have noticed in today’s rallies and marches, is that a majority of those taking part in the action are young people. That’s because they’ve figured out that Reaganomic austerity policies they’re pushing back against are harming them the most. According to a new study by the International Labour Organization, trickle-down austerity measures like the ones passed in Europe and by Republicans here in the United States disproportionately hit young workers the hardest. In austerity-wracked Ireland – a third of young workers are unemployed. And in austerity-hit Spain – more than half of all workers under age 25 are unemployed. And here in the United States – where Republicans have forced the President’s hand on budget cuts – including cuts to Pell grant programs – half of our nation’s recent college graduates are out of work or underemployed. If young people can’t find work out of college – then a whole generation of entrepreneurs, teachers, and engineers could be lost. For a round-up of today’s action from New York City – I’m joined by Occupy participants Sarah Seltzer, Associate Editor-Alternet, and Mark Bray, Press Liaison-OWS.

See Full Series  Of Reports Here



Articles of Interest

US drug-busting authorities apologized to a student who said he was driven to drinking his own urine and trying to kill himself after being abandoned in a cell for five days.

Daniel Chong, 23, was mistakenly left in a cell in San Diego after being arrested with eight other people on April 21 in raid in which Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents seized guns, ammunition and drugs.

The University of California (UC) student has filed a claim seeking $20 million in compensation after the “life-altering” incident, in which he says he was left in a tiny 5 ft. by 10 ft. cell, broadcaster NBC reported.

Lacking food or drink, he decided to drink his own urine. He also ingested a powdery substance found inside the cell, which was later revealed to be a methamphetamine.

“I had to do what I had to do to survive. I hallucinated by the third day,” he told NBC, adding that he lost 15 pounds (7 kg) during the ordeal. “I was completely insane.”

Chong tried to take his own life by breaking the glass from his glasses and attempting to carve “Sorry mom,” on his arm. Nurses later found pieces of glass in his throat, leading him to believe he swallowed the shards.

The DEA confirmed details of the incident, in a statement emailed to AFP.

“The individual in question was at the house, by his own admission, to get high with his friends. All defendants were brought back to the DEA office to be fingerprinted, photographed, and interviewed.

“While being processed, the suspects were moved around the five cells at the DEA facility. Each suspect was interviewed in separate interview rooms, and frequently moved around between rooms and cells.

It added: “Seven suspects were brought to county detention after processing, one was released and the individual in question was accidentally left in one of the cells.”

DEA San Diego Acting Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman added: “I am deeply troubled by the incident that occurred here last week.

“I extend my deepest apologies to the young man and want to express that this event is not indicative of the high standards that I hold my employees to. I have personally ordered an extensive review of our policies and procedures.”

Chong told NBC he was mystified at how they could have simply forgotten him. “They never came back, ignored all my cries and I still don’t know what happened,” he said.

“I’m not sure how they could forget me.”

Sourced from Agence France-Presse

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