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Member since: 2002
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Britain, Germany push G7 for halt to biofuel mandates to tame food prices

Britain, Germany push G7 for halt to biofuel mandates to tame food prices

LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) - Officials from some G7 countries, including Germany and Britain, will push for temporary waivers on biofuels mandates to combat soaring food prices when leaders from the group of wealthy nations meet on Sunday, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine has sparked a food versus biofuel debate, with some policymakers calling for an easing of mandates for blending biofuels into petrol and diesel to increase the supply of global grain and vegetable oil.

"We're quite keen to look at the issue of biofuel mandates to ensure that crops are prioritised for food consumption and not necessarily for use in fuels," a British government official told Reuters.

It's not clear whether there's broad-based support to temporarily waive biofuel mandates across the G7 members which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the world's largest biofuel producer, the United States. Surging oil and gas prices have also increased the demand for energy sourced from crops.

"The issue of biofuel mandates is at a preliminary stage of discussion at the working level," said a spokesman for Canada's agriculture ministry.

The group begin a three-day meeting in Bavaria, Germany, on Sunday and food security is expected to be on the agenda, after the presidency launched a Global Alliance for Food Security in May to tackle hunger.

It is not clear whether Germany or Britain are considering waivers on biofuels mandates in their domestic market.

Prices of crops used in biofuels have jumped this year, with wheat and corn up by around a quarter, while soybean oil is up by about a fifth.

Grain and vegetable oil crops could be diverted from fuel use to help address the global food crisis, but many governments have laws requiring the production of biofuels, partly to help support local farmers and meet emissions reduction targets...

It's a little late to save what's been lost to palm oil plantations in SE Asia but in the era of climate change because so called "renewable energy" didn't do a damned thing to address climate change, it's a start.

Melinda French Gates on Linkedin.

Melinda French Gates
• 3rd+
Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Founder of Pivotal Ventures. Author of The Moment of Lift.
2h •
2 hours ago


Today, a government in which women have never had an equal voice reached deep into the most private corners of a woman’s life to tell her the choice over what she does with her body is no longer her own. This is America taking a big step backward.

But one court decision was never going to be enough to protect women’s equality. And it will not be enough to dismantle it either. Right now, there are people all over the U.S. who are recommitting to the work ahead.

To ensure that women’s voices are respected in a clinic or doctor’s office, we must also ensure that they are heard at all levels of society—in their homes and workplaces, in capitols and C-suites.

That’s how we create a future where decisions are made by women, not for them.

I have funds to buy reagents, but not remedies

This heart breaking commentary appeared is found in the current issue of Nature, an issue with multiple accounts of inequity in science, in the World View Sections:

I have funds to buy reagents, but not remedies


Ignoring the challenges of research in low-income countries only perpetuates inequity.

by Kondwani Jambo, Nature World View, June 22, 2022.

It may be open sourced. Here's some excerpts:

Recently, I was showing visitors our brand new, white-walled laboratories at the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Programme (MLW) in Blantyre, Malawi. To demonstrate the power of our US$250,000 flow cytometer, I used a $250 vial of antibodies, obtained through grant funding from the UK Medical Research Council. I did this on the first floor, overlooking the city’s Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital.

There, people are dying because they lack access to a $2 course of generic antibiotics or to a hospital bed. Holding a reagent worth enough to treat more than 100 people, as I look out of the window at a hospital with many more patients than the 1,350 it officially has space for, it’s impossible to not feel guilty.

I am an immunologist at the MLW, where I lead a research group, and I’m also a tenured senior lecturer at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK. My research focuses on understanding human immune responses, including the nature of herd immunity, with the aim of optimizing vaccinations.

I tell myself I could be elsewhere in the world, holding the same vial of antibodies — and the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital would still be underfunded and overcrowded. But I’m in Blantyre, which means I’m constantly torn between my research and moral obligations. It’s gut-wrenching to study antimicrobial resistance using expensive genomic sequencing platforms, while not being able to provide a generic antibiotic to a patient who walked kilometres to reach the hospital.

But that’s just how the funding works. Like many global-health researchers, I am permitted to spend money on research consumables or kitting out my lab, but can’t financially contribute to local clinical infrastructure such as hospitals or supplies of medicines. This feels unfair...

...Publishers, meanwhile, could provide a dedicated space for authors to describe the limitations and restrictions under which research is conducted. This could be a short section, entitled ‘context of the research’, in a paper where the authors can detail what it took to do the work, and what is and isn’t possible in that particular setting. For example, when I carry out bronchoscopy studies in Malawi, I must avoid risky repeated invasive sampling of patients, because there are few critical-care facilities to treat them if anything goes wrong. If journals allowed manuscripts to include such detail, then editors and reviewers could make better-informed decisions about the relative value of follow-up experiments, and focus instead on the work already generated and its potential benefit to human health...

...As I look through the window of my lab, leaning against a machine that cost a quarter of a million dollars, it’s disheartening to know that if nothing is done, the logistical and psychological burden of conducting excellent research here in Malawi will grow, and the inequity gap will widen. Simple changes here could matter a great deal.

The Siena Presidential Ranking Poll Screws Up Again. Unfair to James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson.

American Presidents: Greatest and Worst

Donnie still ranks ahead of James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson instead of dead last, 44th as opposed to 46th.

That sucks.

OK, Buchanan started a Civil War, but he inherited the problems leading to it; he didn't create them.

Johnson only got impeached once.

Historians aren't what they used to be.

For Father's Day, My Son Bought Me the Book "Putin's People" by Catherine Belton.


How the KGB Took Back Russian and Then Took On the West

The photograph section is interesting. There's a nice picture ofhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail Khodorkovsky" target="_blank"> Mikhail_Khodorkovsky , once Russia's richest man, behind bars, and since this a book about Putin's people, a picture of Donny as a young man at Trump's Taj Mahal Casino, according to the caption a favorite haunt of Russian Mobsters and emigres, and pictures of Donny with former Soviets, Tevfik Arif and Felix Sater, the latter a convicted member of the Russian "Mafia."

There seems to be a rather long list of entries for Donnie in the Index.

It should be a fun read when I find the time.

'nuf said.

Bored Panda: Hell.

Yes but, Three Mile Island...

Sweltering streets: Hundreds of homeless die in extreme heat

A Karen With A Family Tree With Roots Deep In Slavery.

This morning, over in the Lounge, I excerpted a piece from the New York Times written by Nabil Ayers expressing admiration for his absent father with whom he only had a cursory acquaintance.: It Took Me 49 Years to Ask the Right Question About My Father

Intrigued by Nabil Ayers writing and his interesting subject, I looked into some of his other writing on line, and found this, where he contacted a white relative whose name was (really), Karen:

A Family Tree With Roots Deep In Slavery

Apparently her forbearers "owned" his forbearers.

There is no firewall on the the relatively short article, but it has a certain irony in our increasingly racist country:

The introductory paragraph:

"Well hello there Nabil!

"I welcome your letter.


"So in the little bit of information you shared with me, I am intrigued.

"I have worked for a number of years, 26 in fact, on my genealogy. It has been a passion and at times an obsession.

In her initial email to me, Karen surprised me with her excitement and candor — neither of which I was expecting from the woman whom I had gently accused of being the descendant of the man who owned my ancestors.

"Some of my Ayers ancestors were slave owners. I am aware of this, but know that at least some were included as family and are buried with my ancestors. I hope that was the case always."

After two email exchanges with Karen, I had created a mental image of her. She was older, but not old, possibly in her 60s, with short, cropped, graying brown hair. I imagined her seated at a kitchen table as she typed, in a modest, cozy home somewhere in the South:

"Yes I'm certain we are not blood-related, but it's evident of Ayers connection one way or another.


"I just looked you up on Facebook and found you! You have olive-like complexion and look part white. I don't mean anything negative. Just my observation. Some slaves assumed or took their owners name (don't like this) but for the sake of my attempt to explain... So let's say this Dr. Ayers perhaps was white and he had a child with one of the slaves?"...

It's a short piece, worth a read, I think.

It Took Me 49 Years to Ask the Right Question About My Father

Interesting article in today's New York Times:

It Took Me 49 Years to Ask the Right Question About My Father


I always know when Mother’s Day is approaching. I love thinking about what new vegetarian restaurant I might take my mother to, or which of the many great photos of her from my childhood I’ll post on Instagram. Father’s Day, on the other hand, has never been on my mental calendar. I usually learn it’s coming when I see an ad for a sturdy piece of luggage or golf gear.

I hardly know my father, the jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers — we’ve met only a few times. He and my mother were never really together. With his consent, she got pregnant deliberately, knowing he wouldn’t be part of our lives. I’ve always known that story, and for most of my life, I’ve been OK with it. I had a wonderful childhood thanks to my mother and several formidable male role models. So I never really felt my father’s absence. He didn’t break any promises. He didn’t leave. He was just never there in the first place.

In my mid-30s, I finally got in touch. Roy was surprisingly open, and when we sat down for lunch, our conversation felt easy. But what I’d hoped might become a semiregular meeting turned into a bright spotlight on his absence...

...In June 2021, I scored tickets to a screening of “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” at Marcus Garvey Park, the actual location of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival performances documented in Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Oscar-winning film. About 20 minutes into the concert documentary, the exuberant host Tony Lawrence shouts, “Ladies and gentlemen, from right here in Harlem, soul time!”

And with no warning whatsoever, my father’s image filled the two-story-tall screen, framed by the brilliant yellow, blue and brown backdrop of the festival stage. He looked breezy in a white tuxedo shirt, its cuffs flapping loosely, the top few buttons undone...

...My father was so good, and what he did was so important to him, that it became easier for me to understand why I was never — and would never be — a priority in his life. That 1969 performance helped me to realize that I have everything I’m ever going to get from him. It was time to stop hoping for more.

Most of us with absent fathers think, “What about me?” We rarely stop to ask, “What about him?” It took me 49 years to have that thought. But when I finally did, it allowed me to let some things go...

...My father is now 81, and he’s still touring the world playing music. I believe music will occupy his energy until there’s none left, and that belief makes me happy for him and for the many people whose lives he enriches...

Rather moving, I think.

A Startling Technique: Solution Phase NMR of Live Single Cells for Metabolic Studies.

Early in my career, as I was into organic synthesis, I lived and died pretty much by NMR, simple NMR, 1D NMR.

The analytical technique most important to me these days is mass spec, and recently, as my career approaches its end, I have become aware of the use of flow cytometry which now allows for the isolation of single cells, which has many obvious biomedical applications. I am watching closely the approach of mass spectroscopic analysis.

Scientists like (among others) Vicki Wysocki at the University of Ohio and Caroline Bertozzi at Stanford have greatly advanced the mass spectrometry of biomolecules, the former in such areas as protein/protein interactions and complexes, and the latter, often mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize, in diverse areas such as the very difficult area represented by the proteomic sugar code.

Mass spec, one of the most powerful analytical techniques in the world, however is inherently a destructive technique. You cannot use it on living systems.

Among the many fascinating advances in NMR of which I've learned is the ability to use it in "PAT," Process Analytical Technology - I, and some of the old folks I was with at the time - were somewhat shocked to learn that modern signal processing technology allows for the use of NMR without perdeuterated solvents.

Apparently "that ain't nothing, baby!"

I haven't touched NMR, except in an extremely peripheral fashion, for more than 25 years. Of course many people, even outside of the sciences, are aware of "MRI" "Magnetic Resonance Imaging" (from which the word "nuclear" was stripped to address the fear and assertions of ignorance the word inspires) for the imaging of biological tissues, but today in an issue of Chemical Reviews I learned that people are currently working on the single cell, live, as in living, NMR.

The paper that blows my mind:

Radio Signals from Live Cells: The Coming of Age of In-Cell Solution NMR Enrico Luchinat, Matteo Cremonini, and Lucia Banci, Chemical Reviews 2022 122 (10), 9267-9306.

Some excerpts from the introductory paragraphs:

Progress in Medical Sciences and Life Sciences, in general, require detailed knowledge of the complex biological processes that underlie the function of a cell, the organization and interplay of multicellular structures, and, eventually, of the whole organism. Such a basic understanding has an enormous impact on our life, as it is necessary to understand diseases and to develop better drugs and therapeutic protocols. The cell, be it a pathogenic bacterium or a motor neuron, could be thought of as the fundamental unit of Life. However, a closer look at its inner workings reveals a hugely complex machinery, made up of a multitude of small and large molecules. Membrane proteins and lipids interact with each other in an orderly manner, to create larger structures─membranes─that segregate the inner aqueous solution in different compartments─organelles─and control the diffusion of soluble components in a selective manner. Other proteins dynamically organize as fibrils, making the cytoskeleton, that ultimately allow the cell to maintain its integrity and to control its shape and motility. Inside, DNA, RNAs, and the ribosomes take care of storing and translating the genetically encoded information, while other associated proteins regulate such processes and define the cellular phenotype. The intracellular aqueous compartments are filled with a plethora of soluble ions, metabolites, and macromolecules, which make up the intricated biochemical and signaling pathways that make the cell self-sustaining and ultimately “alive”...

...NMR spectroscopy is the only one able to obtain information on the structure, the kinetics, and the thermodynamics of biological macromolecules at the atomic level, as it can observe them in native-like environments at physiological temperatures, and it can do so in a nondestructive manner. (6) Such a feature has always made NMR spectroscopy appealing for the study of small and large molecules not only in vitro, isolated from their physiological context, but directly inside intact living cells. Compared to other spectroscopic techniques, NMR suffers from an intrinsically low sensitivity; therefore, its applicability to cells was traditionally restricted to the observation of small, highly abundant molecules. Indeed, in the past century, cellular NMR studies were mostly focused on the analysis of cellular metabolism, for example, by exploiting the observation of phosphorus-containing molecules through 31P NMR, or by introducing 13C-labeled precursors for a metabolic flux analysis. In some cases, very abundant small macromolecules could be studied, often because of peculiar properties that made them stand out against the rest of the milieu, as it is the case for highly shifted signals of paramagnetic metalloproteins. Then, in the early 2000s, it became clear that modern NMR spectrometers, with a higher magnetic field and more sensitive hardware, could detect signals from isotopically labeled proteins inside the bacteria in which they were recombinantly expressed. (7) Shortly after, macromolecules─proteins at first, then nucleic acids─were delivered to eukaryotic cells. The cellular NMR approach, reborn as “in-cell NMR”, soon gained widespread recognition, in a time when the scientific community had realized the importance of performing biochemical and biophysical studies in physiologically relevant contexts, and huge advancements were being made in developing techniques, such as single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) and cryo-electron tomography, that would be able to characterize macromolecules in a cellular environment...

...This work provides a detailed overview of the development and applications of in-cell solution NMR approaches during the first ∼20 years since its inception in the modern sense. We first describe the existing approaches for cell sample preparation, the various types and strategies for isotopic incorporation, and the NMR methods that can be applied to living cells. We then review the application of in-cell NMR to different biological questions: how the cellular environment affects the folding thermodynamics of a protein, its structural and dynamic properties, and its interactions with specific cellular partners; whether the structure of a folded protein in cells differs from that determined in vitro...

This is unbelievable.

It's been going on for 20 years, and I missed it entirely.

At the end of my life, I feel great anxiety and shame about what my generation is leaving for future generations: They face unbelievable risks as a result of our unrealized fantasies. A saving grace, perhaps, for all the evil we have done, is that we have left for them a record of unbelievably high technology, the tools from which perhaps, they can escape the miasma of shame we have left for them.

This may be esoteric, but the implications are enormous.
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