Zika: Gene Drive

February 8th, 2016

Via: MIT Technology Review:

A controversial genetic technology able to wipe out the mosquito carrying the Zika virus will be available within months, scientists say.

The technology, called a “gene drive,” was demonstrated only last year in yeast cells, fruit flies, and a species of mosquito that transmits malaria. It uses the gene-snipping technology CRISPR to force a genetic change to spread through a population as it reproduces.

Three U.S. labs that handle mosquitoes, two in California and one in Virginia, say they are already working toward a gene drive for Aedes aegypti, the type of mosquito blamed for spreading Zika. If deployed, the technology could theoretically drive the species to extinction.

“We could have it easily within a year,” says Anthony James, a molecular biologist at the University of California, Irvine.

Any release of a gene drive in the wild would be hotly debated by ecologists. So far, no public health agency has thrown its weight behind the idea. But with Zika sowing fear across Latin America and beyond, the technology is likely to get a closer look. “Four weeks ago we were trying to justify why we are doing this. Now they’re saying ‘Get the lead out,’” says James. “It’s absolutely going to chan­­­­­­­­­ge the conversation.”

Financial Despair, Addiction and the Rise of Suicide in White America

February 8th, 2016


Via: Guardian:

Growing economic inequality and increasing financial struggles are intertwined with other issues such as health and addiction. Some people living on low incomes hesitate to go to the doctor even if they have medical insurance because of the cost of out-of-pocket expenses. Chronic conditions can go untreated and become debilitating.

Pain is a driver of alcohol abuse and addiction to opioid painkillers, which in turn is feeding a growing heroin epidemic in the US. Stress and mental health issues are sometimes driven by constant worries about money and fear for the future as growing numbers of Americans look into a financial abyss at retirement.

Russian Hackers Moved Ruble Rate With Malware

February 8th, 2016

Via: Bloomberg:

Hackers used malware to penetrate the defenses of a Russian regional bank and move the ruble-dollar rate more than 15 percent in minutes, according to a Moscow-based cyber-security firm hired to investigate the attack.

Entergy Says Indian Point Nuclear Plant Leak Isn’t Safety Risk

February 8th, 2016

Mmm hmm.

Via: Bloomberg:

Entergy Corp. said elevated levels of radioactive material found in groundwater at the 2,000-megawatt Indian Point nuclear power facility north of New York City don’t pose a threat to public safety.

Increased levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, were found in three monitoring wells out of several dozen at the plant, New Orleans-based Entergy said in a statement after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday ordered an investigation into the incident. While the levels don’t meet company standards, they are more than a thousand times below federally allowed limits and represent “no health or safety consequence to the public” Entergy said.

Related: 65,000% Spike In Reported Radioactivity After Tritium Leaks At Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

Record Number of U.S. Citizens, Green-Card Holders Cut Ties With U.S. in 2015

February 7th, 2016

Via: Wall Street Journal:

A record 4,279 individuals renounced their U.S. citizenship or long-term residency in 2015, according to data released by the Treasury Department.

Last year was the third year in a row for record renunciations, according to Andrew Mitchel, an international lawyer in Centerbrook, Conn., who tallies and tracks renunciation data. The Treasury Department renunciation list for the fourth quarter, which contained 1,058 names, was released on Friday.

“An increasing number of Americans appear to believe that having a U.S. passport or long-term residency isn’t worth the hassle and cost of complying with U.S. tax laws,” Mr. Mitchel said.

Zika Virus Made Available to Researchers by Rockefeller Foundation in 1953

February 7th, 2016

From ATCC Product Page, Zika Virus (ATCC® VR-84™):


Via: ATCC Press Release:

ATCC, the premier global biological materials resource and standards organization, is poised to assist the medical and life science researchers that are working to address the evolving concerns around Zika Virus infection.

Zika virus is a single-stranded RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family, genus Flavivirus, which also includes the West Nile, Dengue and Chikungunya Viruses. Zika virus is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. For more information on the disease, please refer to the CDC website.

The virus was first deposited into ATCC by Dr. Jordi Casals of the Rockefeller Foundation Virus Laboratory in 1953. Since that time ATCC has made the Zika virus (ATCC® VR-84™) strain MR766 available for research purposes to qualified scientists and laboratories, on a global basis, through a highly vetted process that requires them to demonstrate they have appropriate facilities and safety programs in place (in accordance with Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) guidelines). ATCC is now working to respond to the greatly increased demand for the Zika virus in an effort to support a better understanding of its biology and to foster development of accurate and dependable diagnostic tests.

In addition to ATCC, three stains of the Zika virus are available through BEI Resources, a NIAID Biorepository established to support basic research and develop improved diagnostic tests, vaccines, and therapies. Registration and approval is required by NIAID to obtain these viruses. www.beiresources.org

Research Credit: Pookie

The Hidden Legacy of 70 Years of Atomic Weaponry: At Least 33,480 Americans Dead

February 5th, 2016

Via: McClatchy:

Byron Vaigneur watched as a brownish sludge containing plutonium broke through the wall of his office on Oct. 3, 1975, and began puddling four feet from his desk at the Savannah River nuclear weapons plant in South Carolina.

The radiation from the plutonium likely started attacking his body instantly. He’d later develop breast cancer and, as a result of his other work as a health inspector at the plant, he’d also contract chronic beryllium disease, a debilitating respiratory condition that can be fatal.

“I knew we were in one helluva damn mess,” said Vaigneur, now 84, who had a mastectomy to cut out the cancer from his left breast and now is on oxygen, unable to walk more than 100 feet on many days. He says he’s ready to die and has already decided to donate his body to science, hoping it will help others who’ve been exposed to radiation.

Vaigneur is one of 107,394 Americans who have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after building the nation’s nuclear stockpile over the last seven decades. For his troubles, he got $350,000 from the federal government in 2009.
107,394 sick workers

Throughout this story, you will find references to data points like this: . Each of these, and all of the icons you see in the background, represents a worker who has filed for federal compensation.
Show me.

His cash came from a special fund created in 2001 to compensate those sickened in the construction of America’s nuclear arsenal. The program was touted as a way of repaying those who helped end the fight with the Japanese and persevere in the Cold War that followed.

Most Americans regard their work as a heroic, patriotic endeavor. But the government has never fully disclosed the enormous human cost.

Now with the country embarking on an ambitious $1 trillion plan to modernize its nuclear weapons, current workers fear that the government and its contractors have not learned the lessons of the past.

For the last year, McClatchy journalists conducted more than 100 interviews across the country and analyzed more than 70 million records in a federal database obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Trump Calls for Iowa Election Do-Over, Plane Makes Emergency Landing Hours Later

February 3rd, 2016

Trump is talking about cutting off cheap labor for jobs that can’t be outsourced, and, he wants to, in effect, ban outsourcing to keep jobs in the U.S.

All together now: “Not going to happen.”

However, daring to broach the vote fraud issue this early… Maybe that falls into a different category of indiscretion.

Donald Trump’s Private Plane Makes Emergency Landing in Nashville:

Donald Trump’s private jet made an emergency landing in Nashville Wednesday afternoon after the pilot reported engine problems, officials said.

I haven’t voted for a U.S. Presidential candidate since the 1990s (Ross Perot), so please don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Trump supporter. From what I’ve heard out of Trump, with regard to rounding up illegal aliens for deportation and blanket banning of travel to the U.S. for Muslims, etc. that stuff is dangerous.

I know, I know…

“Kevin, you’re talking about presidential politics.” *gasp*

Yeah, well, when a guy dares to start talking about the unmentionable process related to how the political sausage is made, and then his plane needs to make an emergency landing hours later, that’s Coincidence? in my book.

Via: ABC:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is accusing rival Ted Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses and is demanding a do-over.

“Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

“Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated,” he wrote.

Military Leaders: Register Women for Draft

February 2nd, 2016

Via: Military Times:

The Army and Marine Corps’ top uniformed leaders both backed making women register for the draft as all combat roles are opened to them in coming months, a sweeping social change that could complicate the military’s gender integration plans.

Both services, along with the Navy, have begun work to open all military jobs to any service member after a decision by Defense Secretary Ash Carter in December to lift all gender-based restrictions on combat and infantry roles.

On Tuesday, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told senators during a Capitol Hill hearing that full integration of those jobs will likely take a few years, to overcome logistical and cultural issues.

One of those complications will be how to handle the Selective Service System, which requires all men ages 18 to 26 to register for possible involuntary military service.

Women have always been exempt, and past legal challenges have pointed to the battlefield restrictions placed on them. With that reasoning moot, lawmakers will need to determine what becomes of the system.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Jr. said there needs to be “a national debate” over what the changes mean, balancing social concerns over the idea of drafting women with the reality of national security and military readiness.

But the uniform leaders were more blunt in their assessment.

“It’s my personal view in light of integration that every American physically qualified should register for the draft,” Neller said. Milley echoed those remarks, saying “all eligible men and women” should be required to register.

Open Thread: Presidential Selection Season Again in Duhmerica

February 2nd, 2016

Well, it’s that time again.

You guys know that I don’t pay too much attention to this pointless claptrap, but you can count on me to have ceaseless hostility toward whichever goon is eventually installed. Again, not that any of it matters.

When Lockheed Martin opens its blood slathered maw and roars, “Feeeeeeeeeeeed me,” who is best in a position to make sure that continues to happen as per the familiar routine.

Any of these candidates would do, but my guess is that Hillary, still hanging around like an irritating rash after all these decades, is the most corrupt and compromised of them all—by far. That Hillary thing is the path of least resistance to another Bush-style presidency. You know, after two terms of Obomb-ya’s Bush-style presidency.

Trump and Sanders? Those guys have about as much chance of finding themselves in the White House as I do.

Anyway, that’s the extent of my thinking on the matter, but since some of you apparently want to discuss this, let it rip.

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