Category Archives: Fail!

China cloning pigs and gene sequencing ‘cute animals’ at ridiculous rates: Shanghaiist

Looks like China might be able to solve its potential food and endangered species crises in one go, through industrial-scale cloning. The Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) clones 500 pigs each year, making it the world’s largest center for pig cloning. It also has plans to gene sequence millions of humans, plants, and other animals, but apparently only if they\’re cute. BBC reports:

The scale of ambition is staggering. BGI is not only the world\’s largest centre for cloning pigs – it\’s also the world\’s largest centre for gene sequencing.

To illustrate the scale of this operation, Europe\’s largest gene sequencing centre is the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge. It has 30 machines. BGI has 156 and has even bought an American company that makes them.

…..Again, a comparison for scale: a recently-launched UK project seeks to sequence 10,000 human genomes. BGI has ambitions to sequence the genomes of a million people, a million animals and a million plants.

Wang Jun is keen to stress that all this work must be relevant to ordinary people through better healthcare or tastier food. The BGI canteen is used as a testbed for some of the products from the labs: everything from grouper twice the normal size, to pigs, to yoghurt.

Species that taste good is one criterion. Another he cites is that of industrial use – raising yields, for example, or benefits for healthcare.

\”A third category is if it looks cute – anything that looks cute: panda, polar bear, penguin, you should really sequence it – it\’s like digitalizing all the wonderful species,\” he [Wang Jun, chief of BGI] explains.

(So I guess if you\’re endangered and ugly, you\’re screwed?)

via China cloning pigs and gene sequencing ‘cute animals’ at ridiculous rates: Shanghaiist.

Erdogan takes on the Internet – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has never been at peace with the Internet. His animosity toward it increased after last summer’s Gezi Park protests proved how effective this medium can be in mobilizing the public politically. Already under international scrutiny over its negative approach to press freedoms and the freedom of expression, his government has now prepared draft legislation that will enable it to arbitrarily decide which websites the public will be allowed to enter, and which ones will be banned.

via Erdogan takes on the Internet – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.

Jewish extremists cut down fruit trees in revenge attack | Maan News Agency

“Reminds one of how the KKK used to operate in in the American South.” Suspected Jewish extremists cut down fruit trees belonging to Israeli-Palestinians overnight in an apparent revenge attack for Palestinian villagers detaining Jewish settlers, police said Friday.

The vandals left placards in the orchard reading

“Regards from Esh Kodesh,” the West Bank settlement outpost whose residents were assaulted and briefly detained on Tuesday when they entered the Palestinian village of Qusra, some wearing masks.

The vandals struck near Kfar Qasim, an Israeli Arab town that borders the West Bank some 40 kilometers west of Qusra, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

Seven of the dozen settlers involved in the original incident were meanwhile remanded in custody on Thursday night, Samri added.

via Jewish extremists cut down fruit trees in revenge attack | Maan News Agency.

US pair accused of illegally importing rare snake from Brazil, breeding it to make money

A brother and sister from the U.S. have been indicted on charges of illegally importing a rare boa constrictor from Brazil.

The U.S. Attorney\’s Office in Utah says 39-year-old Jeremy Stone and 34-year-old Keri Stone brought the snake into the country through a shipment that went through Miami.

Authorities say they paid thousands of dollars to administrators at a Brazilian zoo to get the white leucistic boa. They say the two falsely reported the snake had been caught in the wild in Guyana.

Prosecutors say Jeremy Stone bred the boa constrictor with other snakes at his reptile business and sold the offspring for tens of thousands of dollars.

Stone sold the snakes he bred to buyers in the United States, Canada and Italy, the indictment says.

via US pair accused of illegally importing rare snake from Brazil, breeding it to make money.

Berlin pledges annual ‘Day of German expellees’ | Germany | DW.DE | 08.01.2014

Current government  leans more to the right to counter neo-Nazis or to pander to aging super-nationalists who were used as an excuse by Hitler to begin WWII?

In the early 1950s, the expellees organized in territorial groups “to remember the culture and history of their lost homelands, and to represent their demands,” historian Kittel says. The communities formed by the associations helped many get over their loss.

Initially, the groups had close ties to the Social Democrats – until Chancellor Willy Brandt recognized Germany’s eastern borders, drawn after World War Two, dashing all hopes the expellees may have had of a return. Today, the 20 remaining exile groups in Germany are affiliated mainly with the Christian Democrats – and are grappling with waning membership.

It’s not a surprising development, says Franke: some things can only be kept alive if they are shared in a community like a village. When people move elsewhere, it’s normal that they should find no resonance for their traditions. “You just have to fit in,” he says: even if a memorial day won’t bring back the traditions, it will at least make it possible to commemorate the people.

A date for the day of remembrance has not yet been set.

via Berlin pledges annual ‘Day of German expellees’ | Germany | DW.DE | 08.01.2014.

Erdogan’s corruption defense falls flat – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Erdogan’s approach to this scandal, however, is best challenged — surprisingly — by his very own party members. Justice and Development Party (AKP) Burdur Deputy Hasan Hami Yildirim resigned on the last day of 2013, bringing the total resigned deputies from the ruling party to seven.

“It’s necessary to correctly identify the problem and the request,” he said Dec. 31. “The issue is not to cut short Turkey’s growing success story. The issue does not embed a conspiracy, foreign powers’ intervention, a mob or a gang. And it certainly is not a coup attempt against the government. In simple terms, the problem and the request is a call for democracy. The people demand that the ruling party not cover up these corruption allegations, but faces them, to come clean.”

Yildirim added, “If, however, there needs to be a conspiracy, I believe that conspiracy is the government’s approach in presenting anything negative about its policies as a conspiracy.” Other resigning deputies echoed Yildirim and warned the public that the government is trying to cover up the corruption allegations, and that is not acceptable.

via Erdogan’s corruption defense falls flat – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.

Israel’s march of folly to the Jordan Valley – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Many losers. They are the citizens of Israel, whose fate has been sealed, in the best case, by a group of cynics who treat them like idiots. In the worst case, the future of their state, its standing and image are in the hands of negligent and ignorant representatives.

The ministers who raised their hands in favor of imposing Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley are making a mockery of a key position adopted by the government in which they serve. How can one take seriously the declarations of Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution, when an important ministerial committee decides to annex the Jordan Valley, which constitutes 28.3% of the land on which a Palestinian state is supposed to be established? What do they propose to do with the approximately 60,000 Palestinians living in 29 villages around Jericho, Wadi al-Fara’a and the northern Jordan Valley?

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is certainly right: Israel does not have a Palestinian partner — especially not for a permanent agreement that expropriates the Jordan Valley from the Palestinian state, perpetuates the annexation of East Jerusalem and rams the Ariel bloc of Jewish settlements into the heart of the West Bank. There has not been and will never be a Palestinian partner for a Bantustan-style two-state solution.

It is obvious that there is no Israeli partner for an agreement that provides the 1948 Palestinian refugees with the right to return to Israel. The Palestinian leadership has given up the demand to enable hundreds of thousands of refugees to return to their homes. This was made abundantly clear in an interview granted last year to Israel’s Channel 2 in which Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he would be satisfied with a visit to his birthplace of Safed as a tourist. The PA has been gearing up in recent years to absorb most of the refugees who will want to settle in the new state, on land between a reconfigured Green Line (according to a land swap agreement) and the Jordan River.

via Israel’s march of folly to the Jordan Valley – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.

Erdogan Threatened By Expanding Turkey Corruption Scandal – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Erdogan reacted obstinately to the protests in the summer, berating his critics as \”bums\” and having his security forces fire tear gas at them. He has also proved to be relentless in the current crisis. Some 500 police officers have been transferred, and Erdogan also attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to gain control over investigations by decree. But in contrast to the Gezi protests, this time Erdogan will not be able to bring the crisis under control by taking a tough approach. It is already becoming clear that the scandal could break apart his party.

Erdogan\’s goal of having himself elected president in the summer is becoming more and more tenuous. He would like to endow the position with significantly more power, but he is now unlikely to secure the necessary two-thirds majority in parliament. But under Turkey\’s Political Parties Law, he can no longer run for prime minister. It\’s possible that he will try to rewrite the law to remain in power, but there is already growing resistance within the AKP to such a move. President Abdullah Gül, in particular, now opposes his longtime ally.

Finally, the economy, the most important factor in persuading many citizens to vote for Erdogan, is growing weaker. The Turkish lira recently fell to a record low. Foreign investment, which brought in capital that fueled the boom of recent years, has been in decline for some time. If investors continue to withdraw money from Turkey, the result could be an economic slump, which could cost Erdogan votes.

The opposition is sending a candidate with serious prospects of winning the race for mayor of Istanbul in next March\’s local elections. This makes AKP officials increasingly nervous, because they know that whoever loses Istanbul will lose Turkey.

via Erdogan Threatened By Expanding Turkey Corruption Scandal – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

güle güle kapı yolu dışarı vurmak izin vermeyin

Deadly car bomb strikes southern suburb of Lebanon’s capital – France – France 24


The Lebanese capital has been hit by a series of bombs in recent months, including one last week that killed a former minister and political adversary of Hezbollah.

In November, another 25 people were killed by suicide bombers at the Iranian embassy in southern Beirut, and explosions have also hit other nearby Hezbollah districts and Sunni mosques in the northern city of Tripoli.

Sectarian tensions in Lebanon have mounted in recent months due to the conflict in neighbouring Syria. Hezbollah has sent fighters to Syria to join the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, who is from the Alawite sect of Shiite Islam, while Sunni Muslims from Lebanon have gone to Syria to fight alongside the rebels trying to topple him.

via Deadly car bomb strikes southern suburb of Lebanon’s capital – France – France 24.