Poll: Obama at 3-year high, Republicans at bottom of the barrel!

republicanspeedster
Republican road to jobs and prosperity

President Barack Obama enters the latest budget showdown with Congress with his highest job- approval rating in three years and public support for his economic message, while his Republican opponents’ popularity stands at a record low.

Fifty-five percent of Americans approve of Obama’s performance in office, his strongest level of support since September 2009, according to a Bloomberg National poll conducted Feb. 15-18. Only 35 percent of the country has a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest rating in a survey that began in September 2009. The party’s brand slipped six percentage points in the last six months, the poll shows…

“The Republicans are not offering any new solutions,” said poll respondent Cynthia Synos, 62, a political independent who lives in the St. Louis suburb of Greendale, Missouri. “Their answer is always tax cuts and incentives for business. I’ve never heard them say anything innovative to spark the economy that would help the other 85, 90 percent of people that have to deal with the economy as it is…”

Feelings toward Obama are the most positive since December 2009, with 56 percent of Americans holding a favorable opinion of the president and 40 percent a negative one. The Democratic Party he leads is viewed favorably by 47 percent and unfavorably by 43 percent.

Public views of congressional Republicans’ record places an added burden on them in the standoff over automatic spending cuts. Americans by 43 percent to 34 percent say they are more to blame than Obama and Democrats for “what’s gone wrong” in Washington…

Republicans “are not willing to work at all with the president,” said poll respondent Horace Lee Boyd, 64, a political independent and retired wholesale merchandiser who lives in Cullman, Alabama. “When you cease to compromise, you cease to accomplish anything. We’re at a stalemate. He’s willing to compromise and they aren’t.”

RTFA for details, categories and accumulated disgust. Americans are fed up with Congressional inaction and incompetence – and they know who is responsible for the problem.

Meanwhile – Republicans would rather work to try to shift the blame instead of doing something useful.

English League Cup Final: Bradford 0-5 Swansea, Nathan Dyer is Man-of-the-Match


Nathan Dyer opens the scoring

Swansea City secured the first major trophy in their 111-year history as League Two Bradford City were thrashed in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley.

The Bantams had beaten Premier League trio Wigan Athletic, Arsenal and Aston Villa on the way to becoming the first side from English football’s fourth tier to reach this final since 1962.

But Swansea proved a step too far and there was to be no storybook ending to this remarkable campaign as Bradford were taken apart by Michael Laudrup’s side en route to the biggest win in the final of this competition.

The Bantams were swiftly out of their depth and goals from Nathan Dyer and Michu gave Swansea a comfortable half-time lead that was no more than their ordered passing game merited…

Dyer’s second goal just after half-time removed any remaining doubt about the destination of the trophy and a thoroughly chastening experience for Bradford was encapsulated by Swansea’s fourth on the hour. Goalkeeper Matt Duke, a hero of the run to Wembley, was sent off for bringing down Jonathan de Guzman, who scored from the spot.

De Guzman added his own second in stoppage time – not that this stopped Bradford’s supporters rising to acclaim the team that has given them and their city so much to be proud of as they went up to collect their runners-up medals.

I can only echo remarks in the article by Phil McNulty. We all hoped against hope for Bradford City to continue their tale of performances well above their station in the English Leagues. That was not to be.

The polish and professionalism of Swansea City was too much. Their strength and skill capable of scoring at any reasonable chance. Good and ready enough to lift the silverware. Bravo!

Iron in new maize strains absorbed readily, easily


Raymond Glahn and Elan Tako – and broiler chicks

Researchers at Cornell have developed a strain of maize with a high iron bioavailability, meaning more of the iron that is present naturally in these maize lines can be absorbed.

The researchers, all from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service’s Robert Holley Center on the Cornell campus, tested more than 100 maize strains for differences in iron bioavailability. They did this by introducing simulated digestions of the individual maize strains to cultured human intestinal cells and measuring the iron bioavailability. Using a technique known as quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping, they correlated this measure with areas of the maize genome, which helped guide the maize breeding.

Iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency and cause of anemia in the world. Although boosting the nutritional quality of iron in staple food crops can help, increasing iron concentrations in the crop does not guarantee increased iron absorption.

“We had two options: to increase the concentration or to increase the bioavailability. Our maize breeder, Dr. Owen Hoekenga [a Cornell molecular biologist], chose to select for iron bioavailability as these regions appeared more easy to isolate,” said food scientist Elad Tako, lead author of the study…published in the January issue of Nutrition Journal…

As part of the study, the researchers developed techniques to test the results of the cell culture assay in a live animal — in this case, the broiler chicken. Such a model is “cost-effective, easy to handle, sensitive to dietary mineral deficiencies, including iron, and could consume the broad range of staple crops that we plan to test,” said Tako.

In the future, the researchers hope to identify QTLs that govern the availability of other vital nutrients in crops. “We have done a lot with beans, lentils, sorghum, wheat — looking into factors that can affect the bioavailability of iron, but we are also interested in zinc bioavailability,” said Tako.

“Biofortification of grains with iron and zinc not only gives better nutrition for the consumers but it’s also an incentive for the farmers because they promote crop yield. Without that feature, the farmers wouldn’t adopt it,” said Glahn.

The World Health Organization reports that almost a quarter of the world’s population is anemic, with prevalence rates at almost 70 percent in African countries, where maize is an integral part of the diet. “The ultimate game is to take this to an area where the population is iron-deficient,” said Glahn, in hopes of curbing anemia.

Cornell students will get to volunteer for the necessary human studies in the near-term. A worthwhile endeavor if there ever was one.

I always count the volunteer work I did as a human guinea pig in medical studies as advancing the life of my species as much as the decades of activism. And without the risk of being clubbed over the head by some enthusiastic right-wing cretin.

Engineers produce matrix for artificial ear with 3D printer


Professor Bonassar and the matrix for an ear

Cornell bioengineers and physicians have created an artificial ear that looks and acts like a natural ear, giving new hope to thousands of children born with a congenital deformity called microtia.

In a study published online…in PLOS One, Cornell biomedical engineers and Weill Cornell Medical College physicians described how 3-D printing and injectable gels made of living cells can fashion ears that are practically identical to a human ear. Over a three-month period, these flexible ears grew cartilage to replace the collagen that was used to mold them.

“This is such a win-win for both medicine and basic science, demonstrating what we can achieve when we work together,” said co-lead author Lawrence Bonassar, associate professor of biomedical engineering.

The novel ear may be the solution reconstructive surgeons have long wished for to help children born with ear deformity, said co-lead author Dr. Jason Spector, director of the Laboratory for Bioregenerative Medicine and Surgery and associate professor of plastic surgery at Weill Cornell.

A bioengineered ear replacement like this would also help individuals who have lost part or all of their external ear in an accident or from cancer,” Spector said…

The process is also fast, Bonassar added: “It takes half a day to design the mold, a day or so to print it, 30 minutes to inject the gel, and we can remove the ear 15 minutes later. We trim the ear and then let it culture for several days in nourishing cell culture media before it is implanted…”

Bonassar and Spector have been collaborating on bioengineered human replacement parts since 2007. Bonassar has also worked with Weill Cornell neurological surgeon Dr. Roger Härtl on bioengineered disc replacements using some of the same techniques demonstrated in the PLOS One study.

The researchers specifically work on replacement human structures that are primarily made of cartilage — joints, trachea, spine, nose — because cartilage does not need to be vascularized with a blood supply in order to survive.

They are now looking at ways to expand populations of human ear cartilage cells in the laboratory so that these cells can be used in the mold, instead of cow cartilage.

“Using human cells, specifically those from the same patient, would reduce any possibility of rejection,” Spector said.

Bravo! There is no shortage of projects awaiting these pioneers. A solid merger of science and technological advancements.

They believe they are about 3 years away from first human transplant experiments.