Compound extends lifespan of old test mice 28 to 38 percent

Does it make your nose bigger, too?

The giant monoliths of Easter Island are worn, but they have endured for centuries. New research suggests that a compound first discovered in the soil of the South Pacific island might help us stand the test of time, too.

On July 8, the journal Nature…reported that the Easter Island compound – called “rapamycin” after the island’s Polynesian name, Rapa Nui – extended the expected lifespan of middle-aged mice by 28 percent to 38 percent. In human terms, this would be greater than the predicted increase in extra years of life if cancer and heart disease were both cured and prevented.

The rapamycin was given to the mice at an age equivalent to 60 years old in humans

Discovered in the 1970s, rapamycin was first noted for its anti-fungal properties and later was used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients. It also is used in stents, which are implanted in patients during angioplasty to keep coronary arteries open. It is in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer…

“We believe this is the first convincing evidence that the aging process can be slowed and lifespan can be extended by a drug therapy starting at an advanced age,” said Randy Strong, Ph.D., who directs the NIA-funded Aging Interventions Testing Center in San Antonio.

“In addition,” Dr. Z. Dave Sharp said, “the findings have immediate implications for preventive medicine and human health, in that rapamycin is already in clinical usage…”

The original goal was to begin feeding the mice at 4 months of age, but because of a delay caused by developing the new formulation, the mice were not started until they were 20 months old – the equivalent of 60 years of age in humans. The teams decided to try the rapamycin intervention anyway.

“I did not think that it would work because the mice were too old when the treatment was started,” Dr. Richardson said. “Most reports indicate that calorie restriction doesn’t work when implemented in old animals. The fact that rapamycin increases lifespan in relatively old mice was totally unexpected.”

Added Dr. Strong: “This study has clearly identified a potential therapeutic target for the development of drugs aimed at preventing age-related diseases and extending healthy lifespan. If rapamycin, or drugs like rapamycin, works as envisioned, the potential reduction in overall health cost for the U.S. and the world will be enormous.”

The looneybirds will be offering capsules stuffed with Easter Island dirt within the month. As seen on TV.

Whining over cities getting < 2/3's of transportation stimulus

Two-thirds of the country lives in large metropolitan areas, home to the nation’s worst traffic jams and some of its oldest roads and bridges. But cities and their surrounding regions are getting far less than two-thirds of federal transportation stimulus money.

This is where tears are supposed to well up into your eyes.

According to an analysis by The New York Times of 5,274 transportation projects approved so far — the most complete look yet at how states plan to spend their stimulus money — the 100 largest metropolitan areas are getting less than half the money from the biggest pot of transportation stimulus money. In many cases, they have lost a tug of war with state lawmakers that urban advocates say could hurt the nation’s economic engines.

Don’t state lawmakers represent the whole state? Will they be replaced en masse for not favoring cities?

RTFA and you’ll learn those interviewed for this article oppose the concept of spreading the money throughout each state. For whatever their reasons.

The Times analysis shows that a little more than half of the stimulus money will be spent on “pavement improvement” projects, mostly repaving rutted and potholed roads. Nearly one-tenth of it will be spent to fix or replace bridges. More than a quarter of the money will be spent to widen roads or build new roads or bridges.

Professor Gutfreund came up about the dumbest analysis I’ve ever seen when he criticized “formulas that give priority to state-owned roads, often found far outside of urban areas”. Does this guy drive anywhere? State roads connect cities, connect other roads. I guess you could whine about most of each road being outside of cities; but, then, isn’t that why they’re called “highways”?

Cripes! Most of all roads are built outside cities – excepting city streets.

Murdoch denies $1.6 million settlement for wiretaps

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The Guardian has reported that Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper subsidiary paid about $1.6 million to settle court cases involving allegations that its reporters worked with private investigators to hack into the cellphone messages of numerous public figures. Among those whose cellphones were tapped or hacked into were the former deputy prime minister and at least one other cabinet minister…

The Guardian report could not be independently verified [yet]. The newspaper cited an unnamed “senior source” at Scotland Yard as saying that staff members at News International, the Murdoch subsidiary that owns four major newspapers in Britain, including The Times of London, The Sunday Times and two tabloids, The News of the World and The Sun, had used private investigators to hack into “thousands” of cellphones to obtain confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemized telephone bills. It cited another source “with knowledge of the police findings” as saying that the investigators had tapped “two or three thousand” cellphones.

The Guardian article, citing those sources, said that the targets of the hacking included John Prescott, who was deputy to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and a cabinet member, Tessa Jowell, as well as lawmakers from all three of Britain’s major political parties. Accessing stored phone messages covertly is illegal in Britain, except for the police or intelligence agencies acting with a warrant…

The Guardian article caused an immediate uproar, with demands from politicians and others for the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown to order a police investigation and to explain why earlier police inquiries had not resulted in any action against the Murdoch-owned papers.

So, uh, why not, Gordon?

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Who asked for Ireland’s blasphemy law? And why?

I’m not sure which piece of unpopular Irish news is being buried by which: the announcement of a second referendum on the Lisbon treaty, or the shuffling through of a law creating penalties for blasphemy, an offence that has never properly existed in the Irish state.

Never did anyone suggest we needed tough blasphemy laws. Until the justice minister, Dermot Ahern, decided we needed to fill the “void” left by our lack of one…

In 1999, there was an attempt to prosecute a newspaper for a cartoon mocking the church, but the judge in that case noted that he could not prosecute, because there was no definition of what legally constituted blasphemy. Well now there is. And it concerns itself with what might or might not cause “outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of [a] religion” (note, not just Christianity, as was the case with English blasphemy law: this is, at least, equal opportunities idiocy).

As Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland has pointed out:

The proposed law does not protect religious belief; it incentivises outrage and it criminalises free speech. Under this proposed law, if a person expresses one belief about gods, and other people think that this insults a different belief about gods, then these people can become outraged, and this outrage can make it illegal for the first person to express his or her beliefs.”

So Irish law has now enshrined the notion that the taking of offence is more important than free expression. If something might cause a motivated group to be “outraged”, rather than, say, cause them to live in fear, then it is illegal, with a fine of up to €25,000 payable.

The arrogance and opportunism of that common breed of lawyer/politician often defies belief. How can these dunderheads come up with such crap – and pretend the populace as a whole is hammering at the doors of legislative birth for redress?

More lies and deceit from the class that profits the most from crime.

Pakistan military winding up operations in tribal zone

Qamar Zaman Kaira and Athar Abbas

Federal Minister…Qamar Zaman Kaira said that security forces have successfully completed military operations in Swat and Buner, clearing out militants and making the area safe for return of the displaced local population.

Speaking at a press conference with military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas, he said the possibility of isolated incidents of terrorism in the areas cannot be ruled out, as such individual acts can take place even in the settled areas despite all security arrangements…

Kaira said the returnees will be provided transport facility and one month ration and will be entitled to food support till December…

The meeting was told that the area had been cleared of the terrorists and some limited pockets of resistance were in the process of being eliminated. Major population centers and main roads leading to Swat valley and most other areas of the division stand cleared, while top leadership of Malakand based terrorists is being pursued relentlessly, terrorists command and control, logistics and training infrastructure has been destroyed and substantial middle and low level leadership has been killed or apprehended.

Confidence isn’t always an admirable military attribute. I hope their intelligence is accurate enough to impede the resurgence that the Taliban surely intend.

General Athar Abbas said the provincial government, with active support of Army’s special support group has ensured restoration of maximum essential services like electricity, gas, water, roads, fuel stations and banking system. Civil administrative set up and local police services are now adequately functional.

He said the Army will stay in Swat adding that the size and location will depend upon operational requirements for conducting search and destroy operations where required. He said the hideouts of the terrorists will remain target of the security forces. These will be intelligence led operations, which will fully involve the local community in identifying hiding terrorists in their respective areas…

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Flaw opens ATMs to hackers – but, no demo at Black Hat

An ATM vendor has succeeded in getting a security talk pulled from the upcoming Black Hat conference after a researcher announced he would demonstrate a vulnerability in the system.

Barnaby Jack, a researcher with Juniper Networks, was to present a demonstration showing how he could “jackpot” a popular ATM brand by exploiting a vulnerability in its software.

Jack was scheduled to present his talk at the upcoming Black Hat security conference being held in Las Vegas at the end of July. But on Monday evening, his employer released a statement saying it was canceling the talk due to the vendor’s intervention.

“Juniper believes that Jack’s research is important to be presented in a public forum in order to advance the state of security,” the statement read. “However, the affected ATM vendor has expressed to us concern about publicly disclosing the research findings before its constituents were fully protected. Considering the scope and possible exposure of this issue on other vendors, Juniper decided to postpone Jack’s presentation until all affected vendors have sufficiently addressed the issues found in his research.”

In the description of his talk on the conference web site, Jack wrote that, “The most prevalent attacks on Automated Teller Machines typically involve the use of card skimmers, or the physical theft of the machines themselves. Rarely do we see any targeted attacks on the underlying software. This presentation will retrace the steps I took to interface with, analyze, and find a vulnerability in a line of popular new model ATM’s. The presentation will explore both local and remote attack vectors, and finish with a live demonstration of an attack on an unmodified, stock ATM…”

He can present it later. Missing the thrill of dazzling his peers ain’t as important as satisfying the goal of communicating security flaws to all concerned parties. Especially since Juniper participated in that decision.

Human Shrub ambushes cheapskate Colchester council

A guerrilla gardener resembling a B-movie villain has been taking direct action against an Essex council decision to slash its flowers and shrub budget.

The self-styled Human Shrub, covered in green foliage, struck for the second time on Sunday when he replaced weeds with flowers to transform dormant plant containers in Colchester, eastern England.

The shrub, whose identity remains a secret, first emerged earlier this year when he protested in full plant regalia outside the town hall against Colchester council’s plan to turf over rose beds to save money. He waved a banner urging people to “save his brothers the shrubs, and sisters the roses”.

The council reversed its decision to tear out and grass over one in five roadside flower beds in Colchester following protests, in an affair dubbed “shrubgate” by opposition councillors.

The Human Shrub was back at the weekend, taking direct action to reinvigorate the town’s empty or weed-strewn plant containers.

The activist may have become a superhero to those unhappy at the state of the town’s green spaces but Colchester council is distinctly unamused at the antics of the guerrilla gardener, who bears more than a passing resemblance to the comic book character Swamp Thing.

The Colchester Council amuses me. RTFA – and their rationale over the latest adventure is that “the planting season had yet to begin”.

What? Has Colchester suddenly been moved above the treeline on Ben Nevis? What planting season starts in July?

Leave the Human Shrub alone – or fix the problem. Dictating livability to a township based on budget constraints is a politician’s solution – not that of a human being. Or Human Shrub.