Scientists find the key to immortality is — NO SEX!

Who wants to live forever? Some flatworms do, even if it means no sex.

British scientists have found that a species of flatworm can overcome the process of ageing to become potentially immortal and say their work sheds light on possibilities of alleviating ageing and age-related characteristics in human cells.

…The researchers found that the flatworms, known as planarian worms, can continuously maintain the length of a crucial part of their DNA, known as telomeres, during regeneration.

“Our data satisfy one of the predictions about what it would take for an animal to be potentially immortal,” said Aziz Aboobaker, who led the research at Britain’s University of Nottingham. “The next goals for us are to understand the mechanisms in more detail and to understand more about how you evolve an immortal animal…”

Aboobaker’s team studied two types of planarian – those that reproduce sexually, like humans, and those that reproduce asexually by simply dividing in two.

Both types appear to regenerate indefinitely by growing new muscles, skin, guts and even entire brains again and again, Aboobaker explained in a statement about the work, but the asexual ones also renew their stocks of a key enzyme which may mean they can be immortal.

Scientists know that one of the key factors associated with ageing cells is telomere length. Telomeres are sections of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes, protecting them from damage and the loss of cell functions linked to ageing. Shorter telomeres are thought to be an indicator of faster ageing…

In most sexually reproducing organisms the enzyme is most active during early development, but Aboobaker’s team found that in the asexual worms, the planarian version of the enzyme is dramatically increased during regeneration – a factor that allows stem cells to maintain their telomeres as they divide to replace missing tissues…

Now, if they can just sort out the cause-and-effect relationship. We don’t want immortality gained by no sex. We don’t want no sex resulting from immortality.

22 cruise ship passengers robbed in Mexican seaside resort

Twenty-two Carnival Cruise Lines passengers were robbed of valuables and their passports during a shore excursion in the Mexico seaside resort of Puerto Vallarta…

The passengers were robbed Thursday during a guided trail excursion, according to a statement released by the cruise line.

The cruise line did not provide details of the robbery, saying only that there were no injuries and the tour was suspended on future sailings under further notice. “Carnival is working with guests to reimburse them for lost valuables and assist with lost passports or other forms of identification,” the statement said.

The robbery comes two weeks after the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning to Americans to avoid all but essential travel to all or parts of 14 Mexican states, including the state of Jalisco. Puerto Vallarta is the sixth-largest city in Jalisco.

The State Department also warned travelers to use caution in visiting part of Baja California, Colima and Morelos…

Puerto Vallarta has remained a tourism hotspot, drawing college students during Spring vacations as well as cruise passengers.

In related news, Homeland Insecurity Secretary Janet Napolitano says Mexican drug war not a failure.


Passengers panic after “mom” confused with “bomb”

A pilot who used his plane’s intercom to send birthday greetings to a colleague’s mother triggered panic on board after passengers thought he said “bomb” rather than “mom”.

The unnamed Southwest Airlines pilot was asked by an air traffic controller to wish his mother a happy birthday as he flew from Baltimore, Maryland, to New York’s MacArthur airport in Islip, Long Island, on Friday.

Taking to the plane’s intercom, the pilot told passengers that they had a “mom on board,” however, many thought he said a “bomb on board”.

Panicking passengers asked other members of the crew to clarify what the pilot had said, and were assured that there was no bomb. The pilot also went back on the intercom to explain his remarks.

But several passengers have now complained to the authorities about the announcement…

In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said: “Pilots and controllers will sometimes engage in brief greetings…

The FAA has launched a review into the air traffic controller’s request. The pilot, who reported the incident to the authorities at Southwest, is not under investigation.

The passengers who filed complaints should change their diapers – and grow up!

Stefani Germanotta before she was Lady Gaga: The unseen photos

Click on photo to access series

…Before the world tours, “The Fame” or even the dress made of meat, photographer Malgorzata Saniewska knew her simply as her restaurant co-worker, Stefani Germanotta.

In the summer of 2005, Saniewska, who goes by Maggie, happened to be tending bar at the same West Village restaurant where the 19-year-old soon-to-be star worked as a waitress.

Just 24 at the time, Saniewska had moved from her native Poland to the United States two years prior with dreams of becoming a photographer.

But to support herself, “I started working as a bartender,” she recalled. “It was definitely a money thing. I did want to go to school, but I didn’t do research on photography, my focus was to make better money…”

“We were colleagues, we didn’t hang out really heavily, but she’s the nicest girl ever. … She’s down-to-earth,” Saniewska said. “At that time, she gave me a CD of her first single, and I listened to it and I was really impressed. And she’s a beautiful girl. Based on her looks and her personality I thought (a photo shoot) would be great fun.”

Gaga had the perfect location in mind: Her parents’ place on the Upper East Side…

The two young women hopped on a train and headed over there, and set to work creating what Saniewska says became Lady Gaga’s first photo shoot, although Saniewska didn’t know that at the time.

Good photographer’s eye for a subject. Her technique was rough in spots; but, cripes, she was just starting out, too.

Julia Gillard defeats Kevin Rudd – Why did he even try?

Julia Gillard will remain as Australia’s prime minister after winning the resounding backing of her Labor party colleagues in a leadership ballot against Kevin Rudd.

The party room voted 71 to 31 to retain Gillard as leader of the party and therefore the country. It ends a week of vicious bloodletting by Labor parliamentarians, brought to a head with Kevin Rudd’s resignation as foreign minister to mount a challenge.

“This is an absolute massacre,” Michael Glesson, strategist at political lobbying firm Hawker Britton, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Before the vote it was clear that the numbers were hardening against Rudd. He reminded fellow Labor MPs that he was more popular with the public. But, that’s not how you manage leadership in a parliamentary government, dude. He should have known better.

Labor members on all sides upped their calls for unity following the vote. Blah, blah, blah.

Questions over the Labor leadership have dogged the party since Rudd was removed from office in 2010 in an internal party coup. The centre-left Labor party scraped through elections later that year to lead a minority government in a hung parliament. The party’s support has been flat-lining at around 30% of the primary vote for months, though a poll out on Monday did show a slight improvement.

The conservative opposition has again called for an election. They will be ignored. If they had sufficient support they could press a vote for no confidence in parliament. Obviously ain’t about to happen.

This was all happening on a Monday morning in Oz – Sunday evening in the United States. Which happens to be an evening with a certain amount of time parceled out for CNBC Asia and BloombergTV Asia in our household. The network and cable snooze channels are busy, tonight, covering the usual allotment of two or three “news” stories. One will be the Oscars – boring. Another will be the Republican primaries – worse than boring.

Watching business news channels gets us a modicum of realistic news throughout whatever region is being covered – which, on a Sunday night, will be Asia and Oceania.

Even there, Bernie Lo on CNBC was so heartbroken when it was obvious that Gillard would retain her position as PM that he resorted to the questions conservatives have used to whine about parliaments since Cromwell. “Won’t the world worry about Australia having a government that isn’t united?” Conflicts between the rank-and-file and the parliamentary members are common. Bernie knows better.

Cripes. How does the world look at a government like ours – with a stonewall Congress refusing to do any work at all?

Nope. All elections are local is a pretty apt slogan. Folks in Australia will mostly vote in the next national elections for the representatives they believe will do the best job for their locality. A certain portion of that equation will include their feelings about party leadership. But, that ain’t the killer that it can be in the United States where the range of our choices include the resident at 1600 Pensylvania Avenie in DC.

Personally, I’d rather vote for a parliament – one that at least is capable of calling a snap election and allowing us to kick the bums out in 30 days or so.

Dumb crooks of the day – in Spain

There’s nothing like a flat tire to ruin a carefully planned heist.

Spanish police say hooded thieves crashed a van into a courier service warehouse vault and made off with sacks of valuables on Thursday. They then fled in a waiting Audi, but crashed into another car as they merged onto a Madrid highway.

That caused the flat.

The four thieves carjacked another vehicle at gunpoint. No one was hurt and the thieves got away — but left most of their booty in the back seat of the damaged Audi.