The Royal Society | Diets derived from maize monoculture cause maternal infanticides in the endangered European hamster due to a vitamin B3 deficiency
From 1735 to 1940, maize-based diets led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people from pellagra, a complex disease caused by tryptophan and vitamin B3 deficiencies. The current cereal monoculture trend restricts farmland animals to similarly monotonous diets. However, few studies have distinguished the effects of crop nutritional properties on the reproduction of these species from those of other detrimental factors such as pesticide toxicity or agricultural ploughing. This study shows that maize-based diets cause high rates of maternal infanticides in the European hamster, a farmland species on the verge of extinction in Western Europe. Vitamin B3 supplementation is shown to effectively restore reproductive success in maize-fed females. This study pinpoints how nutritional deficiencies caused by maize monoculture could affect farmland animal reproduction and hence their fitness.
Monday, January 30, 2017
Friday, December 16, 2016
The Guardian | Ageing process may be reversible, scientists claim
Wrinkles, grey hair and niggling aches are normally regarded as an inevitable part of growing older, but now scientists claim that the ageing process may be reversible.
The team showed that a new form of gene therapy produced a remarkable rejuvenating effect in mice. After six weeks of treatment, the animals looked younger, had straighter spines and better cardiovascular health, healed quicker when injured, and lived 30% longer.
Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, who led the work at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, said: “Our study shows that ageing may not have to proceed in one single direction. With careful modulation, ageing might be reversed.”
The genetic techniques used do not lend themselves to immediate use in humans, and the team predict that clinical applications are a decade away. However, the discovery raises the prospect of a new approach to healthcare in which ageing itself is treated, rather than the various diseases associated with it.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
The Aviationist | NATO hunting at least one Russian Navy Oscar II Class submarine that is chasing aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea
According to military sources close to The Aviationist, a big hunt is underway in the eastern Med: several MPA aircraft, including U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon jets operating from NAS Sigonella, Sicily, are looking for one, possibly two, Russian Navy submarines operating in the vicinity of a group of warships of the NATO Maritime Group.
What makes the news even more interesting is the fact that the Russian Navy submarine would be an Oscar II Class, that is to say a “carrier killer” sub, designed with the primary mission of countering aircraft carrier battlegroups. Among the NATO vessels in proximity of the Oscar II there is also the French Charles De Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the USS Eisenhower is not too far away either.
Therefore a massive Cold War-style hide-and-seek in underway, keeping both sides quite busy.
Monday, December 12, 2016
Global Guerrillas | WARNING: The Electoral Coup is Underway
This may be the most important thing I've ever written.
On December 19, 2016 the electoral college will vote.
Based on the vote, Trump should receive 306 votes and Clinton will have 232.
However, it is possible for many electors to change their vote. They aren't bound by it.
There's currently a very well funded attempt to influence electors to flip their votes on December 19th to change the outcome of the election.
Despite expectations it has a high chance of success in one of three outcomes:
- Trump falls short of the electoral count (270) to become President and the election is sent to Congress for a decision.
- Clinton gets more than 270 electoral votes and becomes the President.
- A dark horse candidate (Kaisitch, etc.) would get the votes to become President.
In my view: all of these outcomes would end in a disaster.
Backchannel | The Thiel Fellowship was created to prove that a college degree doesn’t matter. It became one of the most elite credentials for young entrepreneurs.
Jesse Leimgruber has 22 employees, and every last one is older than him. He tells me this over coffee at a downtown San Francisco Starbucks that is equidistant from his company’s coworking space and the one-bedroom apartment he shares with his girlfriend. Leimgruber is the CEO of NeoReach, a digital marketing tools firm he started in 2014 with his brother and a friend; they have raised $3.5 million so far, and last year they did over a million dollars in sales. He is 22.
Leimgruber is one of 29 people who make up this year’s class of Thiel Fellows — the crazy smart youth paid by Peter Thiel to double down on entrepreneurship instead of school. Leimgruber has dramatic eyebrows, longish hair, and the kind of earnest perma-grin that creeps across his face even when he’s trying to be serious. He speaks with the authority of a three-time CEO who has learned a lot on the job, explaining a challenge particular to fellows like him: “A common piece of advice is, don’t hire your peers; They probably aren’t qualified.”
Welcome to the 2016 version of Peter Thiel’s eponymous fellowship. What began as an attempt to draw teen prodigies to the Valley before they racked up debt at Princeton or Harvard and went into consulting to pay it off has transformed into the most prestigious network for young entrepreneurs in existence — a pedigree that virtually guarantees your ideas will be judged good, investors will take your call, and there will always be another job ahead even better than the one you have. “We look for extraordinary individuals and we want to back them for life,” says executive director Jack Abraham. He speaks with the conviction of a man who sold a company by age 25, has spent the entirety of his professional life in the cradle of the upswing of the technology revolution, and only just turned 30. With no irony, he adds: “We consider ourselves a league of extraordinary, courageous, brilliant individuals who should be a shining light for the rest of society.”
This is not what Thiel endeavored to build. In 2010, when he set out to take down higher education by plucking kids from the ivory towers of the Ivy League and transporting them to San Francisco, he had his eye on teenagers. In a hastily conceived plan that he announced at a San Francisco tech conference, Thiel said he’d pay $100,000 to 20 people under the age of 20 to drop out of school for two years, move to the Bay Area, and work on anything they wanted. His goal was to jumpstart the kind of big tech breakthroughs — walking on the moon, desktop computing — that he believed the contemporary Valley lacked. He also meant to prove that college was often counterproductive; it required kids to take on debt while laying out a set of overly prescriptive options for their futures. A college diploma, he once said, was “a dunce cap in disguise.”
Reuters | Japan ratifies TPP trade pact to fly the flag for free trade
Japan on Friday ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade pact aimed at linking a dozen Pacific Rim nations, hoping it will one day take effect despite President-elect Donald Trump's pledge that the United States will withdraw from it.
The TPP, which aims to cut trade barriers in some of Asia's fastest-growing economies but does not include China, can not take effect without the United States.
The deal, which has been five years in the making, requires ratification by at least six countries accounting for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the member nations.
Given the sheer size of the American economy, the deal cannot go ahead without U.S. participation.
It has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate and Trump last month promised to withdraw from it after he is inaugurated in January. Instead, he would replace it with bilaterally negotiated trade deals.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the TPP would be "meaningless without the United States".