Canada OKs production of GM salmon eggs on commercial scale


Canada has given the go-ahead to commercial production of genetically modified salmon eggs, bringing the world’s first GM food animal closer to supermarkets and dinner tables.

…Environment Canada said it had granted a US biotechnology firm, AquaBounty Technologies permission to export up to 100,000 GM fish eggs a year from a hatchery in Prince Edward Island to a site high in the Panamanian rainforest.

The decision marked the first time any government had given the go-ahead to commercial scale production involving a GM food animal.

The move clears the way for AquaBounty to scale up production of the salmon at its sites in PEI and Panama in anticipation of eventual approval by American authorities…

AquaBounty has been raising GM salmon for several years on an experimental basis, growing fish eggs at a lab in PEI and then flying them to a ramshackle test site at a secretive inland location in the Panamanian rainforest, where they were grown to full size, and then ultimately destroyed.

The GM fish splices growth genes from a Chinook salmon and a seal eel onto an Atlantic salmon – which AquaBounty claims enables the altered animal to grow twice as fast as a regular fish

The company has also fought to win over the public to the idea of GM fish. Within the last year, supermarket chains such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes, have said they will not stock GM salmon…

But Stotish said in the statement the company planned to go into commercial production once those other approvals are in place.

About as overdue as any science-based product facing irrational fear and superstition might be. Aside from folks never having been able to distinguish any difference between like-prepared samples of these salmon and other quality spec farm-raised varieties, there hasn’t been any peer-reviewed science that demonstrated differences – dangerous or otherwise – about these salmon.

Cripes, the Luddites probably wouldn’t eat any kind of eel on their own either.

NSA surveillance achieves what every dictator loves – self censorship


Many groups have claimed that the NSA’s surveillance program is an unconstitutional violation of privacy. But a different type of challenge is growing teeth. Led by civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, more than 20 organizations, with interests ranging from marijuana to guns, are currently suing the federal government. They believe the NSA surveillance program has a chilling effect on speech, thus violating the First Amendment.

…the PEN American Center, a group that defends free expression and human rights, managed to get a sense of its scope. Of the more than 500 writers they surveyed, one in six said they had avoided writing or speaking about a certain topic, and almost one in four reported that they had self-censored via e-mail or on the phone.

In the survey, which was conducted online by the public opinion research firm the FDR Group, writers expressed wariness about researching and writing on national security, the Middle East, the drug wars, liberal organizing like the Occupy movement, and child abuse and child pornography. Sixteen percent of survey respondents said they refrained from conducting Internet searches or visiting websites on topics that may be considered controversial or suspect…

“I think people were afraid that something would put them on a watch list, impede their ability to travel,” Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of the PEN American Center, told America Tonight. “Writers who have an immigration status that gets reviewed periodically on some occasions expressed concern.”

One PEN member described undergoing two special security searches on the U.S.-Mexico border last summer, and discovering that he or she (the respondents were anonymous) was on a government list. The member believes it’s because of an essay he or she wrote about finding a poem on a Libyan Jihad website, and seeing how its message “might be a comfort to jihadists…”

By far the greatest concern, however, was about communicating with sources abroad. Thirty-nine percent reported they thought it was “very likely” that a phone call made to a region of the world known to be hostile to the U.S. would be recorded.

…Americans care a whole lot about freedom. In fact, if any value could be called the country’s core, freedom of speech would probably win. And – “the uber-users of free expression,” as Nossel puts it — the authors, the journalists – are especially concerned about the NSA’s reach. Sixty-six percent of PEN’s survey respondents disapprove of the NSA’s surveillance apparatus…

Freedom of speech is also a powerfully bipartisan rallying cry. In June, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the NSA, claiming the mass collection of phone records undermined both privacy and freedom of association. In September, the NRA filed a legal brief in support, expressing its concern that the NSA could track its members, potential members and supporters, “potentially chilling their willingness to communicate with the NRA.”

“In some ways, it doesn’t matter how many members it is. Once it’s one person, it’s unconstitutional.”

The games these creeps play are endlessly devious and corrupt. One of their favorites I became accustomed to – once the FBI learned I wouldn’t provide them info on folks opposing the VietNam War – they’d go to less experienced, newer, younger activists to ask questions about my activities. They made it seem as threatening as they could to me; but, the intent was to intimidate those just starting to question the Establishment.

The tactic often had the desired effect on young folks just setting out on a career and trying to bring their conscience along with them.

UN helps eloped Saudi woman fight for asylum – and love

UNHCR officials in Yemen told the BBC Huda’s application was likely to be approved on the grounds that she could face mistreatment, even death, at the hands of her family if returned home.

In Yemen, it is being celebrated as a modern day Romeo and Juliet story.

Huda crossed the border several weeks ago, followed by her boyfriend, Arafat, who was working in Saudi Arabia.

Huda – who is in her early 20s – says she decided they had to elope after Arafat’s marriage proposal was rejected by her family.

The two have been held in an immigration detention centre in Yemen since their arrival.

Huda is charged with illegally crossing the border.

The same charge against Arafat was dropped, but he refused to be freed, wanting to remain with her in prison.

The two get to meet once a week when Huda’s asylum case is heard in court.

At first, her application to do this through the UNHCR was rejected by the ministry of the interior…But UNHCR officials in Yemen say the judge allowed her request last week…

She then filled out a form known as the Refugee Status Determination. While this is being studied, she is under UN protection and cannot be deported.

The UNHCR officials have told the BBC that it is very likely that she will be granted full refugee status in the next few days, which would mean that Huda and Arafat would be freed and able to marry

For its part, the UNHCR says that if Yemen does for whatever reason bow to Saudi pressure over the case and try to have Huda deported, it has an alternative plan which could see the two lovers united in another country.

Fundamentalist religions of just about any sort drive me up a tree. They seem to exist only to oppress women, stifle love, prevent kindness between human beings and in general make this short life we have as miserable as possible.

My best wishes to the young couple. I hope they manage to find somewhere to marry and continue their love without the interference of state religion.

Rodney Dangerfield’s widow keeps bottle of his sweat in the fridge

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Joan Dangerfield, widow of comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield, explained why she keeps a bottle of her husband’s sweat in the refrigerator.

The 60-year-old widow opend her house to THR on Nov. 22, 2013, what would have been her late husband’s 92nd birthday. While talking to reporters, Joan Dangerfield explained that the sweat collection began at a time when Rodney realized perspiration could be worth a lot of money.

“I discovered that Elvis had a handkerchief that was apparently stained with his sweat and it went for a lot of money. So Rodney had a ‘eureka’ moment. He said, ‘I sweat more than anybody! My sweat has to be as good as Elvis’ sweat, right?'” she told THR.

She proceded to ordering hundreds of perfume-sample bottles and began preserving her husband’s sweat.

My job became the ‘sweat collector,'” she explains. “I’d take a sponge and spoon and collect his sweat — about an inch at a time. I thought we could water it down but he said, ‘No, that wouldn’t be right…’ “

The operation was eventually shut down by the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, where Rodney performed a lot, after they said they couldn’t offer the sweat over an insurance issue. Still, Joan Dangerfield keeps it because it has sentimental value for her.

Um, OK.