Republicans plan to delay Kagan vote for another week

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Why? Because they’re Republicans.

A GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Monday that he expects Republicans to delay for a week the panel’s confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

The Judiciary Committee, which held four days of hearings on Kagan’s nomination before Congress went on its Fourth of July recess, is scheduled to vote on Tuesday.

It’s just the normal way of doing business,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said when asked why his party would delay the vote, which is permitted by committee rules.

Kagan is expect to be approved by the committee, which includes 12 Democrats and seven Republicans.

You certainly wouldn’t expect the Party of NO to act like the Party of Accomplishment.

CEOs say their businesses will grow over the next year

CEO confidence is up even amidst talk of a double dip recession, according to the Vistage CEO Confidence Index 2nd quarter results. While CEOs of small to medium sized businesses have lowered their expectations for the pace of growth in the overall economy, they remain confident that, over the next twelve months, they will increase revenues and profits, as well as hire new employees.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, CEO confidence indexed at 48.7 – an all-time low since the survey began in 2003. According to University of Michigan’s Dr. Richard Curtin, who has directed the survey since its inception, CEO confidence rose to 94.4 this quarter, marking the sixth consecutive quarterly increase.

According to Vistage International Chairman and CEO Rafael Pastor, the Q2 results are particularly significant, “CEOs of small to medium size companies have adjusted to the lean economy, are doing more with less, and have positioned their companies for success. Their continued confidence sends a strong message that small and medium sized businesses will be among those who will lead our overall economic recovery.”

Other highlights of the survey of more than 1,600 CEOs of small to medium sized businesses, all of whom are members of Vistage International include:

Planned declines in employment fell to just 9% in the 2nd quarter of 2010, the lowest level in three years. Plans to expand their workforce were reported by 44% of all CEO’s in the 2nd quarter survey, unchanged from the prior quarter…

Small Business in China. Nearly 25% of the CEOs surveyed say they are or will be doing business in China, a remarkable percentage of SMBs.

Small to medium businesses are generally considered to drive about 75% of the U.S. economy. I happened to see Rafael Pastor on TV, this afternoon, answering questions about this survey. It got pretty funny – since the Wall Street analyst doing the interviewing was obviously trying to get dour analysis from a guy who was pretty stoked about the optimism reflected in the quarterly study.

Secret ingredient in honey that kills bacteria

Sweet news for those looking for new antibiotics: A new research published in the July 2010 print edition of the FASEB Journal explains for the first time how honey kills bacteria. Specifically, the research shows that bees make a protein that they add to the honey, called defensin-1, which could one day be used to treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that could combat antibiotic-resistant infections.

“We have completely elucidated the molecular basis of the antibacterial activity of a single medical-grade honey, which contributes to the applicability of honey in medicine,” said Sebastian A.J. Zaat, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam. “Honey or isolated honey-derived components might be of great value for prevention and treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria…”

After analysis, the scientists concluded that the vast majority of honey’s antibacterial properties come from that protein. This information also sheds light on the inner workings of honey bee immune systems, which may one day help breeders create healthier and heartier honey bees.

We’ve known for millennia that honey can be good for what ails us, but we haven’t known how it works,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, “Now that we’ve extracted a potent antibacterial ingredient from honey, we can make it still more effective and take the sting out of bacterial infections.”

Mix it in with some 85% Colombian dark chocolate – and dessert will rock with healthy vibes.

Hilarious! NRA slammed by Tea Party nutballs, GOP wackos

Harry Reid’s owned guns longer than Republicans have been able to spell NRA

The National Rifle Association, the powerful lobbying group that has been a longtime nemesis of liberals, is facing mounting criticism from influential allies on the right and even from its own board over a series of recent moves they say are selfish, short-sighted and ultimately harmful to the conservative movement.

Critics cite a list of transgressions, from considering an endorsement of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), to endorsing moderate Republicans — and even Democrats — rather than their more-conservative challengers, to taking a cautious approach to Second Amendment court cases and President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees.

And they are especially angry about the group’s willingness to play ball with Democratic leaders on campaign finance legislation vigorously opposed by congressional Republicans, powerful business groups and nearly the entire conservative movement.

Republican congressional leaders have privately conveyed their unhappiness to NRA officials, but online conservative activists linked to the tea party movement have been vociferous in their criticism.

“The NRA is all about the NRA — helping their organization and not necessarily the cause,” said influential conservative blogger Erick Erickson, who has repeatedly taken to his blog RedState in recent weeks to urge conservatives to turn their backs on the NRA…

Har! Rightwingers believe that single issue organizations should kneel to all of their ideology.

Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, said the criticism ignores the reason the NRA is such a powerful brand: that it focuses on its core mission of advancing gun owners’ rights, rather than on trying to advance the goals of the conservative movement, writ large…

Technically, the NRA — a $300 million organization with unrivaled lobbying power, a massive member-services operation and an active political-action committee — is nonpartisan. It derives significant clout from its ties to conservative, pro-gun Democrats and in recent years has increased its contributions to Democrats as they retook Congress and then the White House.

Absolutely hilarious. These dumb bunnies, these lockstep demagogues believe that anyone who agrees with one portion of their religion must obey all the other precepts in the rightwing catechism. Perish the thought someone has an independent thought or conclusion.

I criticize the NRA often for it’s moribund politics, presuming they’ll fall in line with whatever the Teabagger Right upchucks, this week. Refreshing to see a touch of dedication to what was – after all – their original mandate.

DARPA’s pharmed blood starts pumping – real soon now

More troops than ever are surviving their battlefield injuries, often overloading the military’s health care system. Massive blood shortages continue to plague military trauma care, and the problem is complicated by the remote, inaccessible locations of today’s war zones.

In 2008, Darpa, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research arm, launched the Blood Pharming program, with the goal of manufacturing mega doses of universal-donor red blood units (O-negative) using a compact, self-contained system. “Pharming” is the process of genetically engineering animals or plants to generate mass quantities of medically useful substances, like hormones or antibodies. In this case, Darpa wants a synthetic platform that’s engineered to cultivate blood cells.

Now Arteriocyte, the Cleveland, OH biotech firm that got $1.95 million for the project, has sent off an initial shipment of their pharmed blood product to the Food and Drug Administration for an independent evaluation of the company’s blood-growing process. It hopes to pass muster with agency’s safety regulators.

The blood was produced using hematopoietic cells, derived from umbilical cord-blood units. It’s a trick that scientists have pulled off for years. The hard part is making quantities of red stuff that are large enough for military or medical utility. Currently, it takes Arteriocyte scientists three days to turn a single umbilical cord unit into 20 units of RBC-packed blood. The average soldier needs six units during trauma treatment.

But while Arteriocyte think they’ve mastered the formula for pharmed blood, the company’s got a ways to go to make it financially viable. A single unit of pharmed blood currently runs them $5,000.

Still, given the price tag of transporting and storing donated blood, Darpa’s betting that a unit of pharmed blood will make financial sense once it costs less than $1,000.

On paper, human trials are 3 years away. We still have a couple years of wars to wind down – I hope – and the pressures of battefield medicine will speed up the priority, I’m certain.

Using holographic optical tweezers to manipulate nanoparticles

Star Trek fans will remember “tractor beams,” lasers that allowed the Starship Enterprise to trap and move objects. Tel Aviv University is now turning this science fiction into science fact — on a nano scale.

A new tool developed by Tel Aviv University, Holographic Optical Tweezers (HOTs) use holographic technology to manipulate up to 300 nanoparticles at a time, such as beads of glass or polymer, that are too small and delicate to be handled with traditional laboratory instruments. The technology, also known as “optical tweezers,” could form the basis for tomorrow’s ultra-fast, light-powered communication devices and quantum computers, says Dr. Yael Roichman of Tel Aviv University’s School of Chemistry.

She’s using these tweezers to build nano structures that control beams of light, aiding in the development of anything from optical microscopes to light-fuelled computer technology, she reports…

Photons are already used in optical fibers that bring us everyday luxuries like cable TV. But Dr. Roichman says this technology can be taken much further. In her lab at Tel Aviv University, she is advancing the previous study of photonic crystals, which control and harness light, by manipulating a variety of particles to create 3D heterogeneous structures. The ability to insulate light in a novel way, preserving its potential energy, is central to this goal.

No known material today can resist the flow of light — its energy is either absorbed by, reflected off, or passed through materials. But Dr. Roichman has devised a new layering technique using special crystals central to the creation of photonic devices. These photonic crystals are arranged to create a path along which light can travel. If they’re arranged correctly, she says, the light is trapped along the path…

One more tool, one more addition to experimentation with light at the photon level. And nanoparticles.