Garlic fights common food poisoning bacteria

Scientists have found a compound in garlic is 100 times more effective at fighting a common type of bacteria that causes food poisoning, called Campylobacter, than two types of antibiotic.

Campylobacter is commonly found both on the surface of poultry and inside the flesh. Cases of related food poisoning have been rising in recent years, due partly to an increasing fondness for serving ‘pink’ chicken liver pâté.

Now researchers at Washington State University in the US have found that a compound derived from garlic, called diallyl sulphide, is particularly effective at penetrating the slimy film that protects colonies of Campylobacter.

They found that, in a laboratory setting, it was 100 times more effective than the antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, and would often work in “a fraction of the time”.

Barbara Rasco, associate professor of food science, said: “Diallyl sulphide could make many foods safer to eat. It can be used to clean food preparation surfaces and as a preservative in packaged foods like potato and pasta salads, coleslaw and deli meats…”

…Bob Martin, head of foodborne disease strategy at the Food Standards Agency (FSA), said: “Levels of Campylobacter in most raw chicken are high so it’s really important that chefs cook livers thoroughly to kill any bacteria, even if recipes call for them to be seared and left pink in the middle.

“The only way of ensuring the pâté or parfait will be safe to serve to your guests or customers is by cooking the livers the whole way through.”

Of course – if food processors were courageous enough to rely on Science 101 – they could just use a simple zap of gamma rays. They leave no trace and will kill any bacteria in their path.

Although “40 garlic cloves-chicken” is one of my favorite recipes.

Ready to sail on the maiden voyage of Titanic 2?

Queensland billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer has unveiled his plans to build the Titanic II to add to his tourism portfolio.

Mr Palmer said his new company Blue Star Line Pty Ltd had commissioned the state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to build a near replica of the ill-fated Titanic. The cost is unknown…

Mr Palmer said the companies had signed a memorandum of understanding to build the cruise liner in China, with the ship’s maiden voyage from England to North America scheduled for late 2016.

“It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic but of course it will have state-of-the-art 21st-century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems,” Mr Palmer said.

Mr Palmer said the rebuild was a tribute to the spirit of the men and women who constructed the original Titanic. “These people produced work that is still marvelled at more than 100 years later and we want that spirit to go on for another 100 years,” he said.

The Titanic was commissioned by the company White Star Line and was the world’s largest liner, measuring nearly 270 metres long, 53 metres high and weighing approximately 40,000 tonnes.

Asked today if the Titanic II could sink, Mr Palmer told reporters: “Of course it will sink if you put a hole in it…It will be designed as a modern ship with all the technology to ensure that doesn’t happen…

He said the design of the new Titanic would be as close to the original as possible but would have “state of the art engineering” and would run on diesel rather than coal power. “The technology will be 100 years improved,” the spokesman said…

I wish I could afford one of the cheap cabins.

My kin were of the class that did their ocean voyages in steerage as immigrants. Except those who traveled in the hold of English ships built for the transport of slaves and the indentured. In chains.

Former ICE intelligence boss charged with embezzlement

A former intelligence chief for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is accused of embezzling more than $180,000 stemming from a travel voucher fraud and kickback scheme that has defrauded the government of more than $500,000.

James M. Woosley, 48, faces one count of conversion of public money, or embezzlement…

Since October, four other agency intelligence employees, including Woosley’s assistant, have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the scheme, which ran from roughly May 2008 to February 2011…

Woosley’s subordinates allegedly paid his mortgage, helped to pay for a boat he purchased and sent other kickbacks, court records and interviews show. Lateisha Rollerson also created at least two companies that received kickbacks from other agency employees involved in the scheme, interviews and records show…

In a career that spanned 28 years, mostly with the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service, Woosley held various posts, including assignments in Washington; El Paso, Texas; and Los Angeles. He also held foreign postings in attaché offices in South and Central America. He was the assistant regional director for the immigration service in Laguna Niguel, Calif. He was named acting director of the intelligence office in 2009. Woosley and Rollerson resigned within weeks of each other last fall…

Woosley met Rollerson in 2007 and “developed a close, personal relationship” with her, according to court records…In May 2008, after Woosley had another subordinate edit Rollerson’s résumé, she was hired to work as a contract intelligence reports writer. She joined the agency in December 2008, first working in Woosley’s chain of command and then directly reported to him as his personal assistant starting in February 2009, court records show.

Woosley and Rollerson often lived together in Virginia, where she paid many of the bills for both of them, according to court records.

Kyle Barnette, a retired ICE official who worked in Arizona while Woosley was stationed there, said his former colleague knew how to get things done, but also knew where the agency’s skeletons were buried.

There’s no question he was king,” Barnette said. “What he said everybody did.”

Did everybody do what he did, as well? The stealing part I mean.

Insights in human knowledge from the mouths minds of babies

Seated in a cheerfully cramped monitoring room at the Harvard University Laboratory for Developmental Studies, Elizabeth S. Spelke, a professor of psychology and a pre-eminent researcher of the basic ingredient list from which all human knowledge is constructed, looked on expectantly as her students prepared a boisterous 8-month-old girl with dark curly hair for the onerous task of watching cartoons.

The video clips featured simple Keith Haring-type characters jumping, sliding and dancing from one group to another. The researchers’ objective, as with half a dozen similar projects under way in the lab, was to explore what infants understand about social groups and social expectations.

Yet even before the recording began, the 15-pound research subject made plain the scope of her social brain. She tracked conversations, stared at newcomers and burned off adult corneas with the brilliance of her smile. Dr. Spelke, who first came to prominence by delineating how infants learn about objects, numbers, the lay of the land, shook her head in self-mocking astonishment.

“Why did it take me 30 years to start studying this?” she said. “All this time I’ve been giving infants objects to hold, or spinning them around in a room to see how they navigate, when what they really wanted to do was engage with other people..!”

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Two candidates lead the final stretch for presidency of Egypt


Amr Mousa election posters
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Egypt enters the last stage of its first democratic presidential race on Monday with its field narrowing to a two-horse race between the urbane former head of the Arab League and a charismatic Islamist medic jailed for years under Hosni Mubarak.

A poll published in state-run al-Ahram daily on Monday showed veteran diplomat Amr Moussa in the lead, followed by Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, who has emerged in recent days as the leading Islamist candidate after securing the support of the ultra-conservative Salafist movement.

Both men are well ahead of 11 other candidates and, for now, look the most likely to face each other in a second round. That would give Egyptians a stark choice about the future of the Arab world’s most populous state.

Moussa, 75, served for a decade as Mubarak’s foreign minister before taking over the leadership of the Arab League, and must win over voters skeptical of the old elite.

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Black Tomato and Iceland offer a tour inside a volcano

Visitors to Iceland are being given the opportunity to be among the first tourists to enter the magma chamber of a volcano.

The interior of Thrihnukagigur, which has been dormant for around 4,000 years, will be opened to ordinary travellers for six weeks this summer…

The volcano is a 30-minute drive from Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital. Visitors must then embark on a short 40-minute hike across a lava field to reach the volcano, before descending 120 metres to the bottom of the crater in an open cable lift. They will be able to spend around an hour inside the volcano in the company of a team of expert guides.

The tour costs ISK 37,000 (£180) per person, a portion of which will go towards further research into the country’s volcanoes. Visitors must be aged 12 or over, and are advised to bring walking boots, water, sensible outdoor clothing and a camera.

The chamber was first accessed by scientists in 2011, in what was described at the time as an historic development.

Black Tomato, the luxury adventure travel specialist, has launched an “Ultimate Volcano Adventure” package that includes a private, evening trip inside the Thrihnukagigur volcano, a tour of the Thingvellir National Park, and a trip to the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.

I wish I was still the traveling enthusiast I was back in the day. I loved Iceland, then. I’m certain I’d love a special trip like this. For me it would be worth the cost.