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Member since: Sun Jul 31, 2011, 05:36 PM
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N. Korea: 'Mobile weapons' capable of striking US

Source: AP

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- A senior North Korean army official says his country is armed with "powerful mobile weapons" capable of striking America.

Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho emphasized the importance of defending the North against the U.S. and South Korea as Pyongyang marked the 80th anniversary of the nation's army Wednesday.

He told officials at the April 25 House of Culture that the weapons could defeat the U.S. "at a single blow."

North Korea made another unusual claim Monday, promising "special actions" that would reduce Seoul's government to ashes.

North Korea is believed to have nuclear weapons but not the technology to put them on long-range missiles. A rocket launch that the U.S. claimed was a North Korean attempt to test missile technology failed this month.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_NKOREA?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Peres: Now's the time for peace deal with the Palestinians

In pre-Independence Day interview with 'The Jerusalem Post', president expresses confidence in PA's Abbas, saying he is "constant in his announced position – for peace, against terror, and for a two-state solution."

Israel has never faced a better opportunity to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians than it has today under the leadership of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, President Shimon Peres told The Jerusalem Post in a pre-Independence Day interview on Tuesday.

“I think the Palestinian window is still open,” Peres said. “Everybody makes mistakes in his sayings and doings, but President Abbas is constant in his announced position – for peace, against terror, and for a two-state solution. I think we have never had a wider basis to conclude peace than under his leadership.”

Peres added that the need for a new peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians was “immediate,” and suggested that it could represent “a real contribution to pacify... the stormy Middle East.”

On Iran, he said he believed that US President Barack Obama would not allow “an extreme group of people” to build a nuclear bomb.

“I think Israel owes a great deal of appreciation to its unbelievable friends all over the world, beginning with the United States of America, and her president, Obama,” Peres said. “President Obama, during his tenure as president, did everything he promised to strengthen the security of the State of Israel, [thereby] deterring the danger of war and helping to advance the chances of peace.”


Baby Dolphin Die-Offs Continue in the Gulf

SCIENCE -- April 24, 2012 at 4:22 PM EDT

An unusually high number of dead dolphins - including stillborn and infant calves - have washed up along the Gulf of Mexico shores in the two years since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded into flames, unleashing tens of thousands of barrels of oil into the ocean.

More than 100 dolphin strandings already this year add to a pattern of death and disease among the marine mammals. In a normal year before the spill, about 74 strandings would be reported in the area. That number has increased eightfold in the past two years. Since February 2010, more than 600 have been found on the shores between the Louisiana-Texas border and the western coast of Florida.

And many of these dolphins have serious health problems -- lung disease, liver problems and low blood sugar -- according autopsies on the animals and other research.

Scientists suspect oil as a major culprit, but linking the spill definitively with the dolphin die-offs has been tricky. Decomposition causes tissue to decay, making the animals difficult to study.

"In all of the dolphin deaths... only 17 percent are stranded alive or stranded in fresh-dead conditions," said Jenny Litz, a research fishery biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who is studying the die-offs. Decomposition makes it much harder to study tissues during a necropsy.


Netanyahu says backs "contiguous" Palestinian state

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support on Tuesday for the first time for Palestinians to establish a contiguous state, saying their future country should not look like "Swiss cheese".

But only hours earlier, a ministerial committee in his right-wing government granted Israeli legal status to three previously unauthorized Jewish settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, drawing Palestinian and international criticism.

Palestinians fear such outposts and the 130 formal settlements Israel has built in the territory it captured in a 1967 war will deny them a viable state.

Asked on CNN's Erin Burnett Outfront program whether he would accept the Palestinians' belief they should have a country that is contiguous, Netanyahu replied: "Yes."

"Not as a Swiss cheese? No," Netanyahu added, addressing a key Palestinian concern, that the state they seek would be comprised of pockets of villages and towns surrounded by Israeli settlements.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/24/us-palestinians-israel-settlements-idUSBRE83N12920120424

Peres: Now's the time for peace deal with the Palestinians


Ann Romney defends her role as one of the most privileged women in America

Stamford, Connecticut (CNN) - Ann Romney, Monday night, defended her role as a stay-at-home mother and described herself and her presidential candidate husband as a couple in touch with women concerned about the economy.

Appearing at a GOP dinner in Connecticut, Romney acknowledged the controversy stirred up weeks ago by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen who criticized the mother of five for having not "worked a day in her life."

"We are grateful for the response that we got from that and appreciative of recognizing that women have choices in life, and some choices are not all the same, but we value everyone's choice that they make in their profession," Romney said.

She added her husband, Mitt Romney, treats her as "an equal partner" and supports her role in their family.

"He would remind me all the time that my job was more important than his, that his job was temporary, that mine was going to bring forever happiness. And he believed it, he didn't just say it, he believed it," she said.

Romney appeared acutely aware of the perception fueled in part by Rosen's comments that she may be out of touch with American women.


2 homes that the stay at home mom lived in while she was taking care of her family.....




Synthetic DNA Created, Evolves on Its Own

Step aside, DNA—new synthetic compounds called XNAs can also store and copy genetic information, a new study says.

And, in a "big advancement," these artificial compounds can also be made to evolve in the lab, according to study co-author John Chaput of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. (See "Evolution vs. Intelligent Design: 6 Bones of Contention."

Nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA are composed of four bases—A, G, C, and T. Attached to the bases are sugars and phosphates. (Get a genetics overview.)

First, researchers made XNA building blocks to six different genetic systems by replacing the natural sugar component of DNA with one of six different polymers, synthetic chemical compounds.

The team—led by Vitor Pinheiro of the U.K.'s Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology—then evolved enzymes, called polymerases, that can make XNA from DNA, and others that can change XNA back into DNA.

This copying and translating ability allowed for genetic sequences to be copied and passed down again and again—artificial heredity.

Last, the team determined that HNA, one of the six XNA polymers, could respond to selective pressure in a test tube.


Astronomy Picture of the Day


maybe those space rock hunters can find a few more of these ice rocks......

How Ancient Viruses Invaded Our Genomes --New Clues Discovered

Scientists have uncovered clues as to how our genomes became riddled with viruses. The study reveals important information about the so–called 'dark matter' of our genome. For years scientists have been struggling with the enigma that more than 90 percent of every mammal's genome has no known function. A part of this 'dark matter' of genetic material is known to harbour pieces of DNA from ancient viruses that infected our ancestors going back as far as the age of the dinosaurs.

Researchers at Oxford University, the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York and the Rega Institute in Belgium wanted to know how these ancient viruses got into their hosts' genomes in such abundance.
The team searched the genomes of 38 mammals covering a large range of species: from mouse, rat and bat to human, elephant and dolphin. Genetic material from all of the residing viruses was collected and then compared using mathematical models.

The findings revealed that one particular group of viruses had lost the ability to infect new cells. Their genetic material is still able to amplify itself but the whole lifecycle of the virus is passed within a single cell. This change, they found, was followed by a dramatic proliferation of the virus' genetic material within the genomes.

A comparison with all of the other viruses in the genomes revealed this to be a universal phenomenon, and that loss of cell infectivity is associated with a roughly 30-fold increase in the abundance of the virus.


The Operator -- What does the 2012 campaign’s biggest donor really want?

In early 2010, Karl Rove convened a group of businessmen for lunch at a private club in Dallas. The guests included some of the richest and most influential people in Texas. T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider from Amarillo, was there, as was Harlan Crow, the prodigal son of Trammell Crow, the most prominent real estate developer in the country in his day. Some of the men had contributed to Rove’s campaigns for a quarter of a century.

Rove had come to them with a new proposition. He and his partner, former George W. Bush White House counselor Ed Gillespie, were traversing the country to drum up financial support for an organization called American Crossroads. Taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s recent obliteration of limits on corporate campaign contributions in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Rove and Gillespie were building an independent campaign operation with the aim of taking Congress back from the Democrats that November and, two years later, pulling the plug on Barack Obama’s presidency. “All of us,” Rove told the group, according to an account of the meeting in The Wall Street Journal, “are responsible for the kind of country we have.”

After Rove finished, one of the men spoke up. “I’m in,” Harold Simmons said.

Simmons, the billionaire owner of a Dallas-based constellation of companies in industries ranging from sugar-refining to nuclear waste disposal, had been financing Rove’s campaigns since 1986. He had donated $90,000 to Bush’s gubernatorial campaigns and $2.5 million to Bush-allied political organizations during his presidential runs. Gale Norton, Bush’s interior secretary, had previously been a Washington lobbyist for one of Simmons’s companies. When Bush held his first white-tie dinner at the White House in 2007, in honor of Queen Elizabeth, Simmons and his third wife, Annette, were among the guests eating spring lamb off the Lenox china.

Still, nobody knew just how “in” Simmons intended to be until this February, when Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings revealed him to be the single largest contributor in American politics. In late March, the Dallas billionaire told the Journal that, along with his wife and his holding company, Contran, he had donated $18.7 million to Republican political organizations—not just Crossroads ($14.5 million) but also independent expenditure groups aligned with Mitt Romney ($800,000), Rick Santorum ($1.2 million), Newt Gingrich ($1.1 million), and Rick Perry ($1.1 million)—and that he planned to give nearly twice that much by November.

Simmons’s appearance at the top of the donors list marked the second reordering of the conventional wisdom regarding what the post–Citizens United frontier of campaign finance would look like. At first, doomsayers predicted that groups like Crossroads—the independent-but-not-really organizations known as super PACs—would become de facto fronts for behemoths like Exxon Mobil and Walmart. Then came the South Carolina primary and Gingrich’s unlikely resurrection thanks to a $5 million contribution to the Gingrich-aligned Winning Our Future super PAC from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Suddenly, it appeared that American politics had been hijacked not by corporations, but by a handful of mildly eccentric plutocrats driven by personal hobbyhorses: Adelson’s Israel hawkishness or the Santorum-backing multimillionaire Foster Friess’s fear of Al Qaeda training camps in Latin America.

for The rest of the Story about the man who wants to own America.... The story of an American Capiltalist at work..


Public Utility, Private Profit: Privatization of Water Is as Benign as Lucifer

San Rafael, California -- There hasn’t been much rain this season where I live. Personally, I don’t mind much. I like sunny days, summer weather, dry fairways at San Geronimo. The deer are not very happy, having to spend more time on my street than they’d prefer but they’ve had to come down from the hills a bit looking for food.

Where I live the reservoirs are still mostly full from the last winter’s rain and we will not experience any delays or service interruptions. I pay for water every month, the local water district sends a bill, costs maybe 30 bucks if everybody showers a lot and there are loads of clothes.

Drinking water, all I have to do is open the tap.

I take water for granted, did even during drought years when we recycled water for the garden and to flush toilets. Shower with a friend, the saying went, and we did, although that didn’t really seem to save much water.

Every year about 2 million people, most of them children, die from lack of water, either directly or indirectly through lack of sanitation; that’s twice as many people as the United States killed in Iraq. Estimates of international agencies put the number at 1.1 billion who do not have access to enough water to drink, cook with, or properly bathe.

Water in Marin County is a public utility. There’s a water board elected by the voters and various projects from time to time. For most of my life I was not even aware that water might be a problem for some people, blissfully wrapped in the Bay Area cocoon. What I’d heard seemed to be passing news bulletins. Droughts somewhere, I wasn’t sure. Relief efforts.

I’ve also been ignorant about nearly everything else in the world. I don’t think I really got how deeply evil some corporations were. I didn’t understand how money worked, nor what the World Bank was about, nor the International Monetary Fund. They sounded benign. They are about as benign as Lucifer.

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