Author Archive | majestic

Anglo-Saxon antibiotics are just the start – it’s time to start bioprospecting in the past

That old Anglo-Saxon remedy reported yesterday has got people “bioprospecting” the past according to the Guardian:

Bioprospecting – the search for new drugs and commercial products from the natural world – is big business, and has recently turned towards the search for new antibiotics. The collaboration at the University of Nottingham between a microbiologist and an Anglo-Saxon scholar may show the way for a new kind of bioprospecting, one that looks to the past, rather than the present, for future therapies and cures.

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Leech. Photo by Karl Ragnar Gjertsen (CC)

 

Antibiotics: hidden cures

I’ve already posted my historical hints for discovering a new antibiotic, but perhaps we’d have developed one sooner if twentieth century historians paid more attention to past publications. From the 1870s onwards a series of scientists noted that Penicillium fungus seemed to inhibit the growth of bacteria, and in 1875 John Tyndall presented evidence to the Royal Society that the Penicilliumfungus had an antibacterial action.

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Health and Community Advocates Overwhelmingly Oppose Vitter-Udall Takeover of Nation’s Toxic Chemical Safety Laws

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Photo: Thekohser (CC)

If you’ve seen the powerful disinformation documentary Unacceptable Levels you know that the amount of toxic chemicals in everyday household products is literally out of control. A proposed new law would make things even worse: The Udall-Vitter TSCA bill (S.697) now in Congress aims to block state actions while delaying federal reviews up to 7 years with no deadline for restricting even the most dangerous chemicals. Here’s the statement from the coalition opposing the bill:

Today, advocates from more than 50 environmental justice, health, sustainable business and community organizations delivered a letter to the United States Senate in opposition to S. 697, which could block states from taking new actions to protect consumers and communities from exposure to toxic chemicals.

Advocates noted that the proposed bill would actually be worse than current law and would fail to create effective reform of the nation’s toxic chemical safety program. The law would only require the U.S.… Read the rest

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Tesla’s Dream Of Wireless Transmission Of Electricity Realized In Japan

Nikola Tesla’s dream realized? Phys.org says it’s happening in Japan:

Japanese scientists have succeeded in transmitting energy wirelessly, in a key step that could one day make solar power generation in space a possibility, an official said Thursday.

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“Tesla coil (discharge).” by Daniel Grohmann (CC)

Researchers used microwaves to deliver 1.8 kilowatts of power—enough to run an electric kettle—through the air with pinpoint accuracy to a receiver 55 metres (170 feet) away.

While the distance was not huge, the technology could pave the way for mankind to eventually tap the vast amount of  available in space and use it here on Earth, a spokesman for The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

“This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly two kilowatts of  via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device,” he said.

JAXA has been working on devising Space Solar Power Systems for years, the spokesman said.

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DEA Agents Investigating Silk Road Embezzled Bitcoin

Cops pilfering criminals’ loot isn’t exactly new, but perhaps it is when the bounty is Bitcoin. From the Guardian:

“French Maid” wasn’t Carl Force’s officially sanctioned darknet alias.

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In his capacity as an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency agent, and a senior member of the team investigating the deep-web drug market Silk Road and its owner, Force used the alias “Nob”.

Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road known then as “Dread Pirate Roberts”, believed Nob to be a drug smuggler operating in the US with criminal underworld connections.

But Force also created “French Maid” and “Death from Above” – separate aliases not sanctioned by his bosses which he used to extort from Ulbricht hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bitcoin, according to a complaint filed in a US district court in California.

In 2013, after a two-year investigation, the FBI arrested Ulbricht. In February 2015 he was found guilty on charges of money laundering, conspiracy to traffic drugs and attempted purchase of a murder-for-hire.

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Minecraft Swatting Arrest: 13-Year-Old Teen Busted

Somehow you know that the current swatting craze is going to end with a tabloid tragedy. New Media Rockstars reports on the Minecraft swatter who’s making headlines (and on his way to juvenile court):

A 13-year-old Camarillo, Calif. teen has been arrested for swatting at least three different people, including a Minecraft rival.

SWAT Team Members Will Roll

According to Kotaku, “The boy made two of the calls to nearby addresses, one for his teacher, another targeted at a ‘female classmate.’ The third call, however, was to New Jersey, aimed at what Ars Technica reports was a ‘rival Minecraft gamer’.”

Police were allegedly already investigating the boy for one of the instances in which he used his computer to anonymously call in a “domestic terrorism” complaint to the police department at the home of one of his enemies. Because of the threat for real violence, the SWAT team (hence the term “Swatting”) must respond to these sorts of calls, even though, by now this “prank” is known, cliché, and tired…

[continues at New Media Rockstars]

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How Scientology Controls John Travolta and Tom Cruise

According to ‘Going Clear’, that is. From the Washington Post (which annoyingly refers to Scientology as a church as opposed to a nutty Sci-Fi cult):

HBO hired 160 lawyers when the network decided to air “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” the two-hour documentary based on Lawrence Wright’s book. This makes sense when you watch the film, directed by Alex Gibney, which aired Sunday night. Ex-Church of Scientology members and officials reveal secrets of the organization, and tell horror stories of psychological and physical abuse during their time in the controversial religion — and after they escaped. (For the record, the church unleashed a series of attack ads against the film and says that it’s “bigoted propaganda” and ” built on falsehoods invented by admitted liars.”)

One particularly fascinating subject that the documentary tackles is the relationship between celebrities and the church, which has been well-documented particularly with two of its most famous members: John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
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The Stock Market Is Rigged

John Crudele is one of the curmudgeons of financial reporting and in his regular column for the New York Post he confirms what many regular Joes have been thinking:

The stock market is rigged.

When I started making that claim years ago — and provided solid evidence — people scoffed. Some called it a conspiracy theory, tinfoil hats and that sort of stuff. Most people just ignored me.

But that’s not happening anymore. The dirty secret is out.

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New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Mika-93 (CC)

 

With stock prices rushing far ahead of economic reality over the last six or so years, more experts in the financial markets are coming to the same conclusion — even if they don’t fully understand how it’s being rigged or the consequences.

Ed Yardeni, a longtime Wall Street guru who isn’t one of the clowns of the bunch, said flat out last week that the market was being propped up.

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New streaming apps could boost citizen journalism

If any disinfonauts are live streamers let us know via twitter (@disinfo) so we can let the rest of y’all know to check you out. AFP via Yahoo News says you’re the future of citizen journalism:

When three buildings collapsed and ignited a blaze in New York, a smartphone app brought the live video feed to anyone online wanting to watch.

The disaster took place, coincidentally, the same day as the launch of Twitter’s new livestream app Periscope, which became a window for the breaking news event.

The event showed how Periscope and rival app Meerkat, which can deliver live video through Twitter to anyone online, could become an important tool for citizen journalism.

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By feeding live video through Twitter to anyone online, these apps eliminate the need to upload to YouTube or transfer to broadcasters like CNN to get a wide audience.

While social media has empowered citizen journalism for years, the use of live video could become a powerful tool for these reporters and change the way people get news.

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Inmates Drink Ayahuasca As Therapy In Brazilian Prison

Imagine this: a prison system that actually wants to turn its inmates into better people. As unlikely as that might seem in a world where the prison-industrial complex is spreading its dark shadow worldwide, in Brazil one prison is actually trying to send back prisoners to society as improved people by treating them with ayahuasca (for more information on ayahuasca review our archive). The New York Times reports from:

JI-PARANÁ, Brazil — As the night sky enveloped this outpost in Brazil’s Amazon basin, the ceremony at the open-air temple began simply enough.

Dozens of adults and children, all clad in white, stood in a line. A holy man handed each a cup of ayahuasca, a muddy-looking hallucinogenic brew. They gulped it down; some vomited. Hymns were sung. More ayahuasca was consumed. By midnight, the congregants seemed strangely energized. Then the dancing began.

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The foul brew: Ayahuasca. Photo by Sascha Grabow (CC)

 

Such rituals are a fixture across the Amazon, where ayahuasca has been consumed for centuries and entire religions have coalesced around the psychedelic concoction.

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The Hedge Clippers: Exposing Hedge Fund Politics

The Hedge Clippers are taking up where Occupy Wall Street left off, picketing the homes and meeting places of prominent hedge fund titans, reports the New York Times:

Two weeks ago, several busloads of New Yorkers made a pilgrimage to Greenwich, Conn., to visit the waterfront estate of the hedge fund titan Paul Tudor Jones II, where, suffice it to say, they were not invited in to see the china. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and the protesters, many of them ordinary working people who have felt cheated by the inequities of a tax system that favors the rarefied few, were there to call attention to Mr. Jones’s educational agenda, built on the premise that theextravagantly rich know better how to teach reading, and to his support of Republican candidates and causes in the New York State Legislature that disadvantage the poor and working class.

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It is this kind of political spending, a total of $1.6 million over the past 12 years, they maintain, that undermines his philanthropic efforts through the Robin Hood Foundation, the poverty-fighting charity he created.

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