Thursday, February 28, 2013

This virus can steal it's host's immune system

Source: Nature via io9

Tufts University researchers recently uncovered an adaptation they could only describe as "remarkable": a virus that captures its host's immune system, which it then uses for an ensuing attack.

A virus, in this case a bacteriophage (or just "phage"), can acquire a fully functional and adaptive immune system.

Armed with its host's immune system, the phage can kill the cholera bacteria and multiply to produce more phage offspring — which then go on to kill more cholera bacteria. It does this by targeting and destroying specific inhibitory genes of the host cell by cutting the target genes into pieces. It's by disarming these genes that the phage can also disarm the host cells, allowing it to infect and kill them.

It's worth noting, however, that the phage is not actually producing its own immune system; it doesn't have the genetics for it. Instead, it has to capture one, effectively parasitizing another organism's genome.

The discovery is also interesting in that it could lead to phage therapy — the use of phages to treat bacterial diseases. Given the rise of so-called superbugs and the ever-decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics, an advanced genetically designed phage therapy could prove to be the intervention we're all waiting for.

Size Estimates of the Object That Disintegrated Over Chelyabinsk, Russia

Source: NASA

New information provided by a worldwide network of sensors has allowed scientists to refine their estimates for the size of the object that entered that atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at 7:20:26 p.m. PST, or 10:20:26 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (3:20:26 UTC on Feb. 15).

The estimated size of the object, prior to entering Earth's atmosphere, has been revised upward from 49 feet (15 meters) to 55 feet (17 meters), and its estimated mass has increased from 7,000 to 10,000 tons. Also, the estimate for energy released during the event has increased by 30 kilotons to nearly 500 kilotons of energy released. These new estimates were generated using new data that had been collected by five additional infrasound stations located around the world – the first recording of the event being in Alaska, over 6,500 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk. The infrasound data indicates that the event, from atmospheric entry to the meteor's airborne disintegration took 32.5 seconds. The calculations using the infrasound data were performed by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

"We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average," said Paul Chodas of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "When you have a fireball of this size we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface and in this case there were probably some large ones."

The trajectory of the Russia meteor was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, which hours later made its flyby of Earth, making it a completely unrelated object. The Russia meteor is the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sleep loss affects gene activity

Source: Science News

For one week the volunteers slept at least eight hours per night. Then, participants were allowed just under six hours of sleep each night for another week. People were sleepy and sluggish after that week, and blood tests showed that the activity of 711 of their genes had changed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Survival Capsule to protect against tsunami, tornado, hurricane and earthquake

Source: Survival Capsule LLC

The Survival Capsule is a patent-pending, personal safety system (PSS) designed as a spherical ball to protect against tsunami events, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and storm surges. Built with strength and survivability in mind, by a team of experienced aerospace engineers, the survival capsule will operate safely and efficiently in the harsh circumstances and environments to which a natural disaster would expose it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Source tells why Military Trains in US Cities

There have been quite a few urban training exercises recently coordinated between the military, DHS, DOD and/or local law enforcement. This article summarizes many of the exercises that have been carried out in many cities around the US recently and then there's discussion of tips from "anonymous" sources within DHS and DOD.

Source: The Allegiant

I spoke with a high-ranking, military source in DHS. Preferring to remain unnamed for obvious reasons, he told me, “DHS and DOD are conducting desensitizing exercises all across the U.S.,” he paused, then added, “we’re being prepared for mass civil unrest in major U.S. cities. DOD will be expected to help – when we’re requested.”

I asked if there was a timeline for expecting civil unrest in our cities and why should we expect it to begin with. I was told that there were many reasons, but that the continued devaluation of our currency, the predicted history-setting prices for gasoline this summer and the continued gun control debate are forming a perfect storm of civil discontent. When this storm hits, it will most assuredly produce mass casualties. When does DHS expect this to happen? This summer.

From a high-ranking source deep within DHS, who has strong DOD ties, we are being told that joint DOD-local law enforcement exercises are to desensitize us to military occupation. When asked if there was any concern about violating Posse Comitatus, he stated “no concern at all,” and added, “That’s been a non-issue for a long time.”

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Don't Blink, or You'll Miss Another Bail-Out

Source: New York Times

Late last Wednesday, the New York Fed said in a court filing that in July it had released Bank of America from all legal claims arising from losses in some mortgage-backed securities the Fed received when the government bailed out the American International Group in 2008. One surprise in the filing, which was part of a case brought by A.I.G., was that the New York Fed let Bank of America off the hook even as A.I.G. was seeking to recover $7 billion in losses on those very mortgage securities.

It gets better.

What did the New York Fed get from Bank of America in this settlement? Some $43 million, it seems, from a small dispute the New York Fed had with the bank on two of the mortgage securities. At the same time, and for no compensation, it released Bank of America from all other legal claims.

When I asked the Fed to discuss this gift to the bank, it declined.

San Jose man accused in Oakland bombing plot could face competency evaluation

The FBI has once again protected us from an FBI plot to use fake weapons of mass destruction provided to an insane and gullible man by the FBI.

Source: San Jose Mercury News

The Arizona-raised Matthew Llaneza moved to San Jose in March 2011 and lived in an RV in front of his estranged father's home. The one-time Marine attracted police attention a month later when after being hospitalized for a suicidal episode, San Jose officers discovered he had an AK-47 assault rifle and three high-capacity magazines, which he bought in Arizona but are illegal to own in California.

The ensuing probe -- which yielded a suspended prison sentence -- revealed Llaneza suffered from psychosis and bipolar disorder, according to a probation report. He told interrogators that secret government police and Mexican drug cartels were hunting him. Llaneza's mental state reportedly improved while he was in jail, thanks to in-custody counseling and medication, and was ordered to continue treatment when he was released in November 2011.

It's unclear how Llaneza came to the FBI's attention.

Department of Justice spokesman Dean Boyd said this week in an email that while he could not comment specifically on the Llaneza arrest, no threat can be summarily dismissed and that undercover stings have been effectively used to thwart violent plots and protect the public, adding "the public record of guilty pleas and convictions in such cases speaks for itself."

According to the FBI, the defendant met Nov. 30 with an undercover agent who led Llaneza to believe he was connected with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Llaneza proposed a car-bomb attack on a Bank of America branch on Hegenberger Road. On the morning of Feb. 8, Llaneza drove there and parked an SUV filled with a dozen 5-gallon buckets of chemicals prepared by the FBI to simulate explosives. Llaneza was arrested after trying to detonate the fake bomb with a cellphone.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lake-drilling team discovers life under the ice

Source: Nature News & Comment

Researchers hope that the survival strategies of the subglacial microbes might offer clues to what the biology of extraterrestrial life might be like — Jupiter’s moon Europa, for instance, is thought to host a large sub-surface ocean of water where such life might be able to exist.

Scientist Explains the Weird Shiny Thing on Mars

A shiny protuberance was found in photos sent from the Mars Curiosity rover and it has caused quite a bit of speculation on various "alternative media" blogs and on-line discussion forums. This is the first explanation I've seen that makes any logical sense.

Source: Universe Today

images from the Curiosity rover showed what looked like a piece of shiny metal sticking out from a rock. Some of our readers suggested that it might be a handle or knob of some kind. It’s a knob, yes, says Ronald Sletten from the Mars Science Laboratory team, but a completely natural formation.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Insects Should Be in Your Diet

Source: The Scientist Magazine

Insects can be produced more sustainably and with a much smaller ecological footprint than vertebrate livestock. They are very efficient at transforming a wide variety of organic matter into edible body mass. For example, cows consume 8 g of feed to gain 1 g in weight, whereas insects can require less than 2 g of feed for the same weight gain. This is partly due to the fact that insects are poikilothermic, or “cold-blooded,” and thus use less energy to maintain body temperature. This efficiency reduces the amount of animal feed needed to generate the same amount of “meat,” cutting the amount of water used for irrigation; the area of land dedicated to growing food for livestock; and the use of pesticides that can be expensive, harmful to the environment, and pose a risk to human health.

Additionally, many insects, such as flies, crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles, can consume agricultural waste or plants that humans and traditional livestock cannot. By converting biomass that is not consumable by humans into edible insect mass, insects don’t compete with the human food supply, as do vertebrate livestock such as cows and chickens, which are primarily fed with grain and corn.

Imminent Muslim Terror Threat Debunked by New Study

Source: Activist Post

... virtually every terrorist attack to occur or even be attempted inside the United States in recent memory has been wholly hatched by the FBI, CIA, or other related agencies including but not limited to the U.S. State Department.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

EU Upset by Microsoft Warning About US Access to EU Cloud

Source: PCWorld

Microsoft admitted that it may have to hand over European customers' data on a new cloud service to U.S. authorities. The company may also be compelled by the Patriot Act to keep details of any such data transfer secret. This is directly contrary to the European directive, which states that organizations must inform users when they disclose personal information.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

53 Percent of Americans polled believe federal government threatens freedom

'Government A Threat,' Majority Of Americans And 3 Of 4 Conservative Republicans Tell Poll

Fifty-three percent of Americans now say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms -- the first time a majority has agreed with that statement since Pew began polling on the question in 1995.

Houston Authorities Were Not Warned About Urban Warfare Drill

Source: ABC affiliate KTRK

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Loud gunfire, schools on temporary lockdown, helicopters flying overhead -- what looked like a dangerous situation Monday was actually a drill.

We now know this was an exercise involving the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, the Houston Police Department and other agencies. They won't tell us exactly what they were doing, only that it was some kind of exercise to help them prepare for deployment in an urban environment.