February 12, 2009 archive

Did burst of gene duplication trigger human evolution

Nearly 10 million years ago, segments of DNA in the genome of a common ancestor of humans, gorillas and chimpanzees began to duplicate copies at a greater rate than in the past, contributing to diseases like autism and schizophrenia.

But that gene duplication also may be responsible for a genetic flexibility that has resulted in some uniquely human characteristics.

“Because of the architecture of the human genome, genetic material is constantly being added and deleted in certain regions,” says Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and geneticist Evan Eichler, who led the project that uncovered the new findings. “These are really like volcanoes in the genome, blowing out pieces of DNA,” he added.

US, Russian orbiting satellites collide for first time

One U.S. communications satellite has collided with one defunct Russian satellite in space, NASA said Wednesday.

The first such collision in space occurred Tuesday nearly 805 km over Siberia, NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries said.

A pair of massive debris clouds was produced after the crash, the spokesman said, adding that the magnitude of the accident was still unknown.

Pope says Holocaust denial unacceptable

Pope Benedict XVI has told Jewish leaders that any denial of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable, especially if a priest does it.

Benedict said during a meeting on Thursday at the Vatican with about 60 American Jewish leaders that he is preparing to visit Israel.

The audience was scheduled after Benedict lifted the excommunication of a traditionalist bishop who denied the Holocaust, sparking outrage among Catholics and Jews alike.  

US military struggles to track weapons for Afghans

The United States has been shoveling weapons into the hands of Afghan troops but has no firm system in place or enough personnel to ensure they do not wind up in the hands of Taliban fighters, according to a new independent study.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press, came to light Wednesday as Kabul underwent a devastating attack by heavily armed militants. The fighters stormed three government buildings of the fortified capital, killing 20 people and wounding 57 others.

Afghanistan officials said the eight attackers _ armed with Kalashnikov rifles, grenades and explosive vests _ died in the assault, bringing the death toll to 28.

Open Thread


Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.

Happy Birthday Abe!

America, the gangster republic

A former unit of US conglomerate Halliburton agreed to pay 579 million dollars in criminal and civil penalties to settle a long probe into bribery in Nigeria, US officials said Wednesday.

Authorities said the agreement represented the second largest fine ever in connection with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Kellogg Brown & Root LLC pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges related to “its participation in a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials” to obtain contracts, the Justice Department said.

SOURCE: http://rawstory.com/news/afp/K…

What else is new? KBR is still getting huge contracts from the US military in Iraq, while soldiers are being electrocuted by defective KBR-installed wiring. This is a familiar pattern. Big corporations get away with massive corruption by fingering a scapegoat and paying fines, then the corruption starts all over again. The article about the Nigerian payoffs neglects to point out that Dirty Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton while this scheme was being hatched. In how many companies can millions of dollars in bribes be paid without the knowledge of the CEO?

It is time for America to apply its enthusiasm for capital punishment to corporations. Corporation charters can not only be granted by government; they can be revoked. Congress should immediately pass legislation mandating the de-chartering and dissolution of any corporation whose officers have repeatedly been convicted of corrupt practices. This would do much more to reform our corruption-riddled country than the ritual wrist-slaps our courts are currently administering in the name of “justice.”

Seamus O’Bama

Crossposted from the Wild Wild Left

Filed under “No shit, Seamus”…

“If stuff hasn’t worked and people don’t feel like I’ve led the country in the right direction, then you’ll have a new president.”

Obama’s statement is refreshingly bold for a politician, who rarely take responsibility for anything. Anything that fails that is. I’m positive that statement made people on the brink of losing everything feel like Obama himself is risking everything in his personal life too. This week he repeatedly made sure the blame for the current situation lay directly on the previous administrations lap. These darn bad guys messed us up, and you and I have it all on the line, folks!

Brilliant framing all around, doncha think?

However, he reserves the right to say, in the future, “Well the Republican’s way brought us here, the Democrats tried to restructure the economy with a bill and the Republicans watered it down with more of the same, and that’s why it failed. Now lets try it our way.” I predict within a year we will be hearing THAT speech. Pass the buck one-oh-one. Always leave yourself an out.

Mandatory lyric:

(…set up like a bowling pin,

knocked down,

it gets to wearing thin…)

The truth of the matter to me? He has been hard selling a watered down bill, yes, but rather than push the one we asked for; he is setting up the Republicans for more fall-guy blame. He is Campaigning already.

A new president, indeed.

Docudharma Times Thursday February 12

Bankers Need Bribes To Work    

Thursday’s Headlines:

Elderly immigrants find life in U.S. a tough go

Maoris win battle to control All Blacks’ haka ritual

Editor arrested for ‘outraging Muslims’

Tsvangirai sets out plans to restore rule of law and revive devastated economy

Brutal retreat of LRA rebels in Congo

Video Paradiso: how an Italian town rescued a priceless film collection

Kremlin relents as schoolgirl Anastasia Ivliyeva forces it to bridge the guinea pig gap

Key to who will govern Israel: Avigdor Lieberman

Iraq Cabinet member’s exit raises gender, sectarian issues

Amid mass migration to cities, Bolivians learn to adapt to urbanization

Obama’s Battle on Stimulus Shows Threats to His Agenda



Published: February 11, 2009

WASHINGTON – It is a quick, sweet victory for the new president, and potentially a historic one. The question now is whether the $789 billion economic stimulus plan agreed to by Congressional leaders on Wednesday is the opening act for a more ambitious domestic agenda from President Obama or a harbinger of reduced expectations.

Both the substance of his first big legislative accomplishment and the way he achieved it underscored the scale of the challenges facing the nation and how different a political climate this is from the early stages of recent administrations.

While it hammered home the reality of bigger, more activist government, the economic package was not the culmination of a hard-fought ideological drive, like Lyndon B. Johnson’s civil rights and Great Society programs, or Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, but rather a necessary and hastily patched-together response to an immediate and increasingly dire situation.

FBI expects number of major financial bailout fraud cases to rise

Investigations will focus on big-name companies and the cases are likely to be similar in scope and complexity to that of failed energy giant Enron, Deputy Director John Pistole tells a Senate panel.

By Josh Meyer

7:50 PM PST, February 11, 2009

Reporting from Washington — Despite an expected wave of fraud in the trillion-dollar bailout that aims to stop the ongoing financial meltdown, federal law enforcement officials told Congress on Wednesday that they have nowhere near the level of resources to combat it.

Top FBI and Justice Department officials said they believed mortgage fraud and other types of corporate criminal behavior has contributed to the economic tailspin. And they said they already have more than 2,300 open investigations into suspected illegal financial activity — including 38 probes specifically linked to the crisis.

Those investigations are already straining the resources of the FBI and the Justice Department, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole and Acting Assistant Atty. Gen. Rita Glavin said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But the problems will worsen exponentially as the economy plunges, and as the Obama administration and Congress spend more than $1 trillion in various bailout and stimulus packages in an effort to forestall foreclosures, corporate bankruptcies and a prolonged economic depression, they said.



Out of Work and Challenged on Benefits, Too

In Record Numbers, Employers Move to Block Unemployment Payouts

By Peter Whoriskey

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, February 12, 2009; Page A01

It’s hard enough to lose a job. But for a growing proportion of U.S. workers, the troubles really set in when they apply for unemployment benefits.

More than a quarter of people applying for such claims have their rights to the benefit challenged as employers increasingly act to block payouts to former workers.

The proportion of claims disputed by former employers and state agencies has reached record levels in recent years, according to the Labor Department numbers tallied by the Urban Institute.

“You’re a p- – -y and a scared little kid”, 3rd Installment of “Coming Home”

The subject title above is the third installment of a week long series of reports being run at Salon.com.

The first two installment reports can be found in links below or with this link of what I posted previously

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Blood on the Tracks

No Hate

The train of progress

moves down the track

unencumbered by those

left behind


for the good

of an all too small

Lives consumed

as so much chum

to the hatred

Promises are always made

to come back

to rectify the wrongs

but the train

by its nature

always moves forward

Happiness denied

in the name

of progress

Must we wait

for another train

of doubtful existence

to arrive sometime

after we die?

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–October 17, 2008

Late Night Karaoke

Nikai Thursday

Obama DOJ Advocates Immunity From Civil Torture Litigation

I listened to the oral arguments of the Jeppesen civil lawsuit seeking damages from an aircraft company for its role in the rendition & torture of 5 suspected terrorists. It was shocking to hear that Obama wants to continue Bush’s policy to elevate state secrets from an evidentiary privilege to blanket immunity. Under this view, the subject matter of a lawsuit is grounds for dismissal even if the plaintiff does not need any classified evidence to prove its case. This is not the standard created by the US Supreme Court, the law governing criminal litigation or the proposed law for civil litigation. The judges also seemed surprised:  2 of the 3 judges asked the DOJ lawyer if he was “representing” the “thoroughly vetted” positions of the Obama administration.  Some Democrats reacted by introducing a bill today to require judges to determine “whether a blanket claim of secrecy by the government is necessary to protect national security.”  (h/t Meteor Blades)

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