This video says about itself:
6 Nov 2013
Al Jazeera Exclusive
Studies by Swiss scientists have discovered levels of polonium at least 18 times higher than normal in Yasser Arafat‘s ribs, pelvis and in soil that absorbed his remains.
They say their data is compatible with the theory that the Palestinian leader was poisoned with the radioactive element at a level up to 83 per cent.
A leading forensic scientist now say it’s almost certain he was murdered.
An Al Jazeera investigation triggered the Palestinian leader’s exhumation in November last year.
Al Jazeera’s Clayton Swisher reports from Paris.
By Uri Avnery (former Member of Parliament in Israel):
FROM THE first moment, I did not have the slightest doubt that Yasser Arafat was assassinated.
It was a matter of simple logic.
On the way back from the funeral, I happened upon Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Knesset for the nationalist Arab Balad party, who is a highly qualified doctoral pharmacist. We exchanged views and came to the same conclusion.
The findings of the Swiss experts last week only confirmed my conviction.
FIRST OF all, a simple fact: people don’t just die for no reason.
I visited Arafat a few weeks before it happened. He seemed in reasonably good health. Upon leaving, I remarked to Rachel, my wife, that he seemed more sharp and alert than during our last visit.
When he suddenly became very ill, there was no obvious cause. The doctors at the French military hospital, to which he was transferred at the insistence of Suha, his wife, and where he died, conducted a thorough examination of his body. They found no explanation for his condition. Nothing.
That by itself was very strange. Arafat was the leader of his people, the de facto head of a state, and one can be sure that the French doctors left no stone unturned to diagnose the case.
That left only radiation or poison. Why was no poison detected at the autopsy? The answer is simple: in order to detect a poison, one must know what one is looking for. The list of poisons it almost unlimited, and the routine search is restricted to a small number.
Arafat’s body was not examined for radioactive polonium.
WHO HAD the opportunity to administer the poison?
Well, practically anybody.
During my many visits with him, I always wondered at the lax security precautions.
At our first meeting, in besieged Beirut, I wondered at the trust he put in me. It was known at the time that dozens of Mossad agents and Phalangist spies were combing the city for him. He could not be sure that I was not a Mossad agent myself, or that I was not followed, or that I was not unwittingly carrying some locating device.
Later, in Tunis, the security search of his visitors was perfunctory. The security precautions of the Israeli Prime Minister were immeasurably more stringent.
In the Ramallah Mukata’a (“compound”), no security measures were added. I had meals with him several times, and wondered again at his openness. American and other foreign guests, who were (or seemed to be) pro-Palestinian activists were invited by him freely, sat next to him and could easily have slipped poison into his food. Arafat would joke with his guests and feed them choice tidbits with his hand.
Certain poisons do not need food. Slight physical contact is enough.
YET THIS man was one of the most threatened persons in the world. He had many deadly enemies, half a dozen secret services were bent on his destruction. How could he be so lax?
When I remonstrated with him, he told me that he believed in divine protection.
Once, when he was flying in a private jet from Chad to Libya, the pilot announced that the fuel had run out. He was going to crash land in the middle of the desert. Arafat’s bodyguards covered him with cushions and formed a ring around him. They were killed, but he survived almost without a scratch.
Since then he became even more fatalistic. He was a devout – though unostentatious – Muslim. He believed that Allah had entrusted him with the task of liberating the Palestinian people.
SO WHO carried out the assassination?
For me, there cannot be any real doubt.
Though many had a motive, only one person had both the means and a profound and lasting hatred for him – Ariel Sharon.
Sharon was furious when Arafat slipped through his fingers in Beirut. Here was his quarry, so near yet so far. The Arab-American diplomat Philip Habib managed to make an arrangement which allowed the PLO fighters, including Arafat, to withdraw with honor from the city, with their arms. I was lying on the roof of a warehouse in Beirut Harbor when the PLO troops, flags flying, were driving by to the ships.
I did not see Arafat. His men were hiding him in their midst.
Since then, Sharon made no secret of his determination to kill him. And when Sharon was resolved to do something, he never, but never, gave up. Even in much smaller matters, if he was thwarted, he would return to his effort again and again and again, until he succeeded.
I knew Sharon well. I knew of his determination. Twice, when I felt that Sharon was nearing his goal, I went with Rachel and some colleagues to the Mukata’a to serve as a human shield. Later we had the satisfaction of reading an interview with Sharon, in which he complained that he had not been able to carry out the planned assassination because “some Israelis were staying there”.
THIS WAS much more than a personal vendetta. He – and not only he – saw it as a national aim.
For Israelis, Arafat was the embodiment of the Palestinian people, an object of abysmal hatred. He was hated more than any other human being after Adolf Hitler and Adolf Eichmann. The generations-old conflict with the Palestinian people was personified by this man.
It was Arafat who had resurrected the modern Palestinian national movement, whose supreme aim was to thwart the Zionist dream of taking possession of all the country between the sea and the Jordan. It was he who had led the armed struggle (a.k.a. terrorism). And when he turned towards a peaceful settlement, recognized the State of Israel and signed the Oslo Accords, he was even more hated. Peace was bound to give back a lot of territories to the Arabs, and what could be worse?
The hatred of Arafat had long since ceased to be rational. For many, it was a total, physical rejection, a deadly brew of hate, aversion, enmity, mistrust. In the forty or so years after he appeared on the stage, millions upon millions of words had been written about him in Israel, but I truly believe that I have never seen a single positive word about him.
For all those years, an entire army of paid propaganda hacks conducted a relentless demonization campaign against his person. Every conceivable accusation was thrown at him. The assertion that he had AIDS, which is now so prominent in the Israeli covert propaganda effort, was invented then in order to mobilize homophobic prejudices. Needless to say, no evidence of homosexuality was ever presented. And the French doctors found no trace of AIDS.
IS THE Israeli government capable of deciding to carry out such a deed? It is an established fact that it is.
In September 1997, an Israeli hit squad was sent to Amman to assassinate Khalid Mishal, the Hamas leader. The chosen instrument was levofentanyl, a deadly poison that leaves no traces and produces effects like a heart attack. It was administered by a slight physical touch.
The act was bungled. The killers were detected by passers-by and fled into the Israeli embassy, where they were besieged. King Hussein, generally an Israeli collaborator, was furious. He threatened to hang the perpetrators unless a life-saving antidote was provided at once. The then Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, caved in and sent the Chief of the Mossad to Amman with the required medicine. Mishal was saved.
Later, in 2010, another squad was sent to assassinate another Hamas operative, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel. They bungled the job, too – though they succeeded in killing their prey by paralyzing and then suffocating him, they were filmed by the hotel cameras and their identity disclosed.
God knows how many un-bungled murders have been carried out this way.
Israel, of course, is not alone in this field. Before, a Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, was ill-advised enough to displease Vladimir Putin. He was killed by the same radioactive polonium as Arafat, but before he died an alert doctor detected the poison. Even before, a Bulgarian dissident was poisoned by a tiny pellet fired from an umbrella,. One must assume that every self-respecting secret service has suchlike means of murder.
WHY DIDN’T Sharon kill Arafat before? After all, the Palestinian leader was besieged for a very long time in his Ramallah compound. I myself saw Israeli soldiers a few meters away from his office.
The answer is political. The US was afraid that if Israel was seen killing the PLO chief, a hero to tens of millions around the Arab world, the region would explode against the US. George Bush the son forbade it. The answer was to do it in a way that could not be traced to Israel.
This, by the way, was quite usual for Sharon. A few weeks before his 1982 invasion of Lebanon, he told the US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, about his plan. Haig forbade it – unless there was a credible provocation. Lo and behold, a dastardly attempt was made on the life of the Israeli ambassador in London, the provocation was duly deemed to be intolerable and the war started.
For the same reason, the Netanyahu government now strenuously denies Israeli involvement in the assassination of Arafat. Instead of bragging about the successful operation, our powerful propaganda machine asserts that the Swiss experts are incompetent or lying (probably they are also anti-Semites), and that the conclusions are wrong. A respected Israeli professor is trotted out to declare that it is all nonsense. Even the good old story about AIDS is called out of retirement.
Sharon himself, in his endless coma, cannot react. But his old assistants, all of them seasoned liars, repeat their mendacious stories.
TO MY mind, the assassination of Arafat was a crime against Israel.
Arafat was the man who was ready to make peace and who was able to get the Palestinian people to accept it. He also laid down the terms: a Palestinian state with borders based on the Green Line, with its capital in East Jerusalem.
This is exactly what his assassins aimed to prevent.
See also here.
- Who Might Have Poisoned Yasser Arafat? (bloomberg.com)
- Tests ‘show Arafat was poisoned with polonium’, widow says (telegraph.co.uk)
This video from Israel says about itself:
Mind of peace- Negotiating Israelis and Palestinians with no leaders in the room…
Today, an e-mail says:
Minds of Peace Grassroots Israel-Palestinian negotiations continue in Jerusalem
November 14-15 New Location: Horse Square, Jerusalem, Israel
Despite considerable extreme-right violence on the previous occasion, Minds of Peace is continuing its campaign of grassroots Israel-Palestinian negotiations, held on the streets and public squares of Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians who are not professional diplomats – so as boost and promote the faltering official negotiations.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most entrenched conflicts in the world with disastrous consequences for all the people involved. Many substantial peace-making initiatives have been carried out but have failed to produce a lasting peace. The 22nd session of the Minds of Peace Mini Congress illuminated the stark differences between two sides. Not the two sides at the negotiating table though. The six Israelis and six Palestinians who met in Hamashbir Plaza, Jerusalem on October 24-25 worked to find common ground. Led by Minds of Peace founder Sapir Handelman and Palestinian moderator Ibrahim Enbawi, the Israeli delegation and the Palestinian delegation negotiated possible solutions to their struggle.
The other more difficult side was the contingency of determined demonstrators in the audience who did their best to disrupt the negotiations. The congress started to look like a battle field between right wing extremists and those who support the establishment of a Palestinian state. On Friday the negotiators were surrounded by a fence and police forces. Leaders of the large group surrounding the tables and objecting were invited to join the negotiations, but they preferred to stay on the sidelines preventing progress. Video link of Day two:
However, the two delegations concluded one preliminary agreement despite many efforts to spoil the events with whistles and shouting. Both delegations committed to meet again November 14-15 at Horse Square. “The line between freedom of speech and chaos can be very thin,” commented Handelman. “In order to have peaceful negotiations on our part we have asked religious settlers, who are pro peace, to come to the event, participate in the discussion with the audience and try to relax the atmosphere and asked other people for other organizations, who are “experts” in peaceful dialogue, to participate in the dialogue with the audience.”
November 14-15 negotiations will tackle a conclusive peace pact
with discussions on borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem.
Dr. Sapir Handelman, Chairman of the Board of Minds of Peace is available for interviews
Dr. Daniel Mahgerefteh, of Los Angeles, is the chief executive officer of Minds of Peace and explains, “One of our goals is to directly involve the public in the difficult, messy, and painful peace making process the debate, struggle with compromise, and acceptance. The event is also designed to demonstrate the peacemaking creativity, zeal and power of the public without the political pressures faced by diplomats and government officials.” The congress comprises Israeli and Palestinian delegations made up of people from all walks of life that come to discuss debate and negotiate solutions to the conflict under the guidance of two moderators.
In the October Congress, the two delegations succeeded to conclude a preliminary agreement – Trust Building Measures – the topics are: Prisoners, incitement and violence, and settlements. The members negotiating agreed that the solution to the conflict is: Two states for two people in one land, located between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.
The assembly has five sessions of two hours to conclude peace agreements. The Israeli delegation will include: Zeev Raz – Colonel (ter.) Ze`ev Raz, combat pilot the attack on the Iraqi reactor in 1981, Abie Moses , who lost his wife and young son in a terrorist attack, making him a symbol of bereavement and of standing against terrorism, Orna Oshri, graphic editor of Yedioth Ahronoth, Rabbi Haim Cohen and Yehoshua Meyer a religious settler Kibbutz Kfar Etzion. The Palestinian delegation included academics, educators, business people, former prisoners and students.
In almost all of the congresses, the delegations succeeded to reach peace agreements. “It is an amazing result because the various delegations included people with deferent political views and from all walks of life, for example: settlers and right wingers, ex Palestinian prisoners, generals, business people, academics and people that lost loved ones in the conflict, said founder of Minds of Peace, Sapir Handelman..
Dr. Handelman explains, “This congress demonstrates a classical symptom of intractable conflicts like the Israeli-Palestinian one. Any peacemaking initiative that can lead to a change will increase the level of violence. The extremists, on both sides, will try to crash it. Therefore, it is critical to involve the people in the peacemaking process.”
More information on Minds of Peace:
Media Request: Sari M Cicurel firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Sapir Handelman, Chairman of the Board of Minds of Peace
972-50-307-6927 and email@example.com
Daniel Mahgerefteh, chief executive officer of Minds of Peace – firstname.lastname@example.org
This video says about itself:
Ilham Aliyev has ruled Azerbaijan as its authoritarian leader since the death of his father in 2003. Fraudulent elections and the coercive measures of the security forces have eroded the few freedoms left in the country, whilst censorship has maimed the press and independent media beyond recognition.
By Solomon Hughes in Britain:
Snouts in the oil-rich trough
Friday 18th October 2013
Politicians of all parties are enjoying the junkets laid on by the autocratic Azerbaijani regime, reveals SOLOMON HUGHES
The Azerbaijani electoral commission announced the results of this month’s presidential election before voting even began and it achieved this remarkable feat by releasing the voteless numbers on its official phone app.
It tried claiming that by mistake these were from the last election but they showed figures for this year’s candidates and closely matched the official figures released post-election. The vote-free poll results from Azerbaijan showed that this year’s candidate, Azerbaijan‘s autocratic ruler Ilham Aliyev, won by over 70 per cent. Just as he has for the past decade and his father did before him. Oops. What could be more embarrassing?
How about “hundreds” of Liberal, Labour and Tory MPs having a great big party to celebrate the country which has elections without votes?
That’s what happened when the European Azerbaijan Society, the key propaganda front for the repressive government of the oil-rich and democracy-poor nation, held events at all three party conferences. The society is run by chairman Tale Heydarov and his brother Nijat Heydarov, sons of Azerbaijan’s “Minister of Emergency Situations” Kamaladdin Heydarov, a key ally of President Aliyev.
According to European Azerbaijan Society press releases, more than 200 Lib Dems and the same number of “Labourites” attended their conference events, while “over 400 Conservatives got into the groove” at their Tory Party “jazz reception.”
Given the Azerbaijan government’s tendency to fake political numbers, we should be a bit suspicious of such rounded-up numbers. But even if they are exaggerations, it is still worrying that a vote-fixing autocrat gets so many of our supposed democrats literally dancing to his tune.
Let’s start with the Liberals. According to the Azerbaijan Society leading Lib Dems such as Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, MPs John Leech and John Pugh along with Lord Newby, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip in the House of Lords, came to their party at their recent Glasgow conference.
How so? Azerbaijan is anything but liberal – or democratic.
According to Freedom House, a mainstream pro-US “civil rights” organisation, Azerbaijan is “not an electoral democracy” and its showcase elections are “neither free nor fair.”
There have been pro-democracy protests but “authorities in 2012 used violent tactics to disperse anti-government rallies, detained more than 70 demonstrators and journalists and filed dubious criminal charges against government critics.” Azerbaijan isn’t the worst repressive government in the world but Simon Hughes et al were still dancing and drinking for a dictator.
At the Labour conference the Azerbaijan lobbyists claim that peers, MPs, shadow ministers and trade unionists piled in for their elegant piss-up, although they could only name Bradford MP Gerry Sutcliffe MP. He told the reception that Britain is the “biggest investor” in Azerbaijan and there are strong economic, cultural and sporting ties.
Which makes partying for a dictator totally OK, obviously.
At the Conservative conference Christopher Pincher MP and former Energy Minister Charles Hendry MP were the star guests – something of a comedown from the years the Azerbaijan Society could claim Ken Clarke as its big name friend.
The Azerbaijani lobbyist told Tory partygoers that the country is “a Western-facing, tolerant country. In particular, the UK is important to Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan is important to the UK. Much of this is attributable to the operations of the BP-led Azerbaijan International Operating Company.” Obviously, the stuff about tolerance means nothing to the people thrown in jail by President Aliyev. The stuff about oil is real. They’ve got the oil. They’ve got the dictator who will do a deal with BP to sell it. And they’ve got the money to throw a big party for each of our three political parties.
Last month nine staff from the Slough office of scandal-hit workfare firm A4e were charged with fraud. This is the latest in a long series of complaints about cheating and dismal service from A4e, which relies on the government for almost all its £194 million turnover.
The A4e staff are charged with defrauding the government’s “Inspire to Aspire” training scheme for the unemployed by claiming bonuses for people they did not help. A4e chief executive Andrew Dutton said “There is no place for dishonesty or wrongdoing at A4e.”
But that just isn’t true.
In 2010 A4e was called before the House of Common’s work and pensions select committee. Its written submission admitted it had “found that individual performance incentives, whilst effective in delivering short-term results, may have been a driver for individual malpractice.” In short, its bonuses encouraged some staff to fiddle the figures.
A4e executive Rob Murdoch appeared in person at the 2010 hearings, telling the MPs: “In relation to perverse incentives, we need to take some criticism” because “individual bonuses linked performance which may be a background to the fraud that was perpetrated.” Its bonus system encouraged staff into fraud.
A4e’s solution was to shift from individual to group bonuses, partially “as a safeguard against individuals making fraudulent job outcome claims.” But the Slough case suggests bonus-driven staff turned to group fraud.
The alleged fraud by A4e staff happens in a firm claiming millions in cash for “employment” programmes even though official reports show it has rarely been any good at it – it is one of the worst-performing companies on the government’s privatised work programme.
Both parties treat “benefit fraud” like the worst social evil but the charges that A4e staff were involved in benefit fraud has not stopped top politicians appearing on A4e’s platforms.
At the recent Labour conference, shadow employment minister Stephen Timms took delegates to A4e’s Brighton offices to “celebrate” the firm’s success. Labour harried the Conservatives over their links with A4e, after PM David Cameron made A4e owner Emma Harrison his personal adviser. Timms’s visit suggests a Labour government will actually stick with A4e.
At the Tory conference in Manchester outgoing employment minister Mark Hoban spoke for A4e at a fringe meeting paid for by the firm. He was joined by Andrew Selous MP, PPS to Employment Secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP, with Selous describing A4e’s work as “inspirational.”
Israel to drill for oil in the West Bank. A large reserve may lie under Israel and the occupied territories, but Palestinians are unlikely to reap the benefits: here.
- Prince of Monaco visits Azerbaijan’s exhibition hall at Venice Biennale (en.trend.az)
- Azerbaijan Opposition Rallies Against Election Results (rferl.org)
- Israeli PM congratulates Ilham Aliyev with victory at presidential election (en.trend.az)
- Azerbaijan detains protesters at opposition rally (euronews.com)
- Fail: Azerbaijan releases vote total before the election begins… (bluegrasspundit.com)
- Oops: Azerbaijan released election results before voting had even started (glblgeopolitics.wordpress.com)
- Why UK politicians should be wary of Azerbaijan’s overtures | Emma Hughes (theguardian.com)
- Fairness an Issue, Even After Azerbaijan Votes (pakhlavanews.wordpress.com)
- Azerbaijan’s Aliyev wins a predicted third term as president – euronews (euronews.com)
From Treehugger in the USA:
Extinct tree grows anew from ancient jar of seeds unearthed by archaeologists
October 5, 2013
CC BY 2.0 Wikipedia
For thousands of years, Judean date palm trees were one of the most recognizable and welcome sights for people living in the Middle East — widely cultivated throughout the region for their sweet fruit, and for the cool shade they offered from the blazing desert sun.
From its founding some 3,000 years ago, to the dawn of the Common Era, the trees became a staple crop in the Kingdom of Judea, even garnering several shout-outs in the Old Testament. Judean palm trees would come to serve as one of the kingdom’s chief symbols of good fortune; King David named his daughter, Tamar, after the plant’s name in Hebrew.
By the time the Roman Empire sought to usurp control of the kingdom in 70 AD, broad forests of these trees flourished as a staple crop to the Judean economy — a fact that made them a prime resource for the invading army to destroy. Sadly, around the year 500 AD, the once plentiful palm had been completely wiped out, driven to extinction for the sake of conquest.
In the centuries that followed, first-hand knowledge of the tree slipped from memory to legend. Up until recently, that is.
During excavations at the site of Herod the Great‘s palace in Israel in the early 1960′s, archeologists unearthed a small stockpile of seeds stowed in a clay jar dating back 2,000 years. For the next four decades, the ancient seeds were kept in a drawer at Tel Aviv’s Bar-Ilan University. But then, in 2005, botanical researcher Elaine Solowey decided to plant one and see what, if anything, would sprout.
“I assumed the food in the seed would be no good after all that time. How could it be?” said Solowey. She was soon proven wrong.
Amazingly, the multi-millennial seed did indeed sprout — producing a sapling no one had seen in centuries, becoming the oldest known tree seed to germinate.
Today, the living archeological treasure continues to grow and thrive; In 2011, it even produced its first flower — a heartening sign that the ancient survivor was eager to reproduce. It has been proposed that the tree be cross-bred with closely related palm types, but it would likely take years for it to begin producing any of its famed fruits. Meanwhile, Solowey is working to revive other age-old trees from their long dormancy.
- Scientists have grown an extinct tree from ancient seeds (grist.org)
- Extinct tree seed found in 2000-year-old jar planted, yields a tree (techi.com)
- Dates, A Global History, by Nawal Nasrallah BOOK REVIEW (greenprophet.com)
- 32,000-Year-Old Plant Brought Back to Life (globalrumblings.blogspot.com)
- 32,000-Year-Old Plant Brought Back to Life (topinfopost.com)
This video is called Spalax microphthalmus, Mole-Rat.
Today, there was news about “deaf” frogs which turned out to be not really deaf.
Now, about blind mole-rats which turn out to be blind indeed; however, they turn out to have other strong points.
From the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the USA today:
Blind mole-rats are resistant to chemically induced cancers
Like naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus gaber), blind mole-rats (of the genus Spalax) live underground in low-oxygen environments, are long-lived and resistant to cancer. A new study demonstrates just how cancer-resistant Spalax are, and suggests that the adaptations that help these rodents survive in low-oxygen environments also play a role in their longevity and cancer resistance.
The findings are reported in the journal Biomed Central: Biology.
“We’ve shown that, compared to mice and rats, blind mole-rats are highly resistant to carcinogens,” said Mark Band, the director of functional genomics at the University of Illinois Biotechnology Center and a co-author on the study. Band led a previous analysis of gene expression in blind mole-rats living in low-oxygen (hypoxic) environments. He found that genes that respond to hypoxia are known to also play a role in aging and in suppressing or promoting cancer.
“We think that these three phenomena are tied in together: the hypoxia tolerance, the longevity and cancer resistance,” Band said. “We think all result from evolutionary adaptations to a stressful environment.”
Unlike the naked mole-rat, which lives in colonies in Eastern Africa, the blind mole-rat is a solitary rodent found in the Eastern Mediterranean. Thousands of blind mole-rats have been captured and studied for more than 50 years at Israel‘s University of Haifa, where the animal work was conducted. The Haifa scientists observed that none of their blind mole-rats had ever developed cancer, even though Spalax can live more than 20 years. Lab mice and rats have a maximum lifespan of about 3.5 years and yet regularly develop spontaneous cancers.
To test the blind mole-rats’ cancer resistance, the Haifa team, led by Irena Manov, Aaron Avivi and Imad Shams, exposed the animals to two cancer-causing agents. Only one of the 20 Spalax tested (an animal that was more than 10 years old) developed malignant tumors after exposure to one of the carcinogens. In contrast, all of the 12 mice and six rats exposed to either agent developed cancerous tumors.
The team next turned its attention to fibroblasts, cells that generate extracellular factors that support and buffer other cells. Previous studies of naked mole-rat cells have found that fibroblasts and their secretions have anti-cancer activity. Similarly, the researchers at Haifa found that Spalax fibroblasts were efficient killers of two types of breast cancer cells and two types of lung cancer cells. Diluted and filtered liquid medium drawn from the fibroblast cell culture also killed breast and lung cancer cells. Mouse fibroblasts, however, had no effect on the cancer cells.
To help explain these results, Band and his colleagues looked to the gene expression profiles obtained from their previous studies of blind mole-rats in hypoxic environments. The researchers had found that genes that regulate DNA repair, the cell cycle and programmed cell death are differentially regulated in Spalax when exposed to normal, above-ground oxygen levels (21 percent oxygen) and conditions of hypoxia (3, 6 and 10 percent oxygen). These changes in gene regulation differed from those of mice or rats under the same conditions, the researchers found.
Spalax naturally have a variant in the p53 gene (a transcription factor and known tumor suppressor), which is identical to a cancer-related mutation in humans, Band said. Transcription-factor genes code for proteins that regulate the activity of other genes and so affect an animal’s ability to respond to its environment. The research group in Israel showed “that the Spalax p53 suppresses apoptosis (programmed cell death), however enhances cell cycle arrest and DNA repair mechanisms,” he said.
Hypoxia can damage DNA and contribute to aging and cancer, so mechanisms that protect against hypoxia – by repairing DNA, for example – likely also help explain the blind mole-rat’s resistance to cancer and aging, Band said.
“So now we know there’s overlap among the genes that affect DNA repair, hypoxia tolerance and cancer suppression,” he said. “We haven’t been able to show the exact mechanisms yet, but we’re able to show that in Spalax they’re all related. One of the lessons of this research is that we have a new model animal to study mechanisms of disease, and possibly discover new therapeutic agents.”
Explore further: The naked mole-rat’s secret to staying cancer free
- Zoologger: The rat that defies powerful carcinogens (newscientist.com)
- Study Reveals Naked Mole-rats Secret of Staying Cancer Free (medindia.net)
- Blind mole rats may hold key to cancer (3quarksdaily.com)
- Biologically Supreme: Naked Mole Rat Now Found To Be Immune To Cancer (nocamels.com)
- The naked mole-rat’s secret to staying cancer free (medicalnewstoday.com)
- The rat that defies powerful carcinogens (newscientist.com)
- Simple molecule prevents mole rats from getting cancer (3quarksdaily.com)
- Naked Mole Rats Help Scientists Fight Cancer (scienceworldreport.com)
- The naked mole-rat’s secret to staying cancer free (medicalxpress.com)
This video from Palestine is called Israeli soldiers dance to Gangnam Style at Palestinian wedding.
From Associated Press:
Hebron style: Israeli soldiers’ dance with Palestinians angers top brass
Associated Press in Jerusalem
Thursday 29 August 2013 08.27 BST
A group of Israeli soldiers has danced up a storm of criticism after they were filmed boogying alongside Palestinians while on patrol in the West Bank.
The soldiers were making their rounds in the city of Hebron when they entered a dance hall and joined dozens of Palestinian men dancing to South Korean rapper Psy’s hit Gangnam Style.
The Israeli military said on Thursday that it considers the incident serious, adding “the soldiers exposed themselves to unnecessary danger and were disciplined accordingly,” without elaborating.
Footage aired on Israeli Channel 2 TV shows the solders in uniform, flak jackets and carrying guns.
One was shown hoisted on the shoulders of Palestinian dancers. Other soldiers joined hands and grooved with the partygoers. The channel said the incident occurred on Monday.
Hebron has been a flashpoint of violence between Israelis and Palestinians for decades.
These Israeli soldiers and these Palestinians in Hebron gave an example of non-violence which the whole Middle East and the whole world should follow.
Please, Psy, if you happen to read Dear Kitty. Some blog: then, please take the first plane from Korea to Hebron. Organize the biggest dance party ever there. Invite all Palestinians who were at that wedding. Invite all Israeli soldiers who were at that wedding. Invite all Israeli soldiers and Israeli civilians who want peace. Invite all Palestinians who want peace. Let peace spread throughout the whole world from Hebron.
This video from Israel says about itself:
June 12, 2012
The Jerusalem Shabbat Fund – JSF – provides food coupons l’kavod Shabbat Kodesh for needy Jews throughout Israel.
From daily Haaretz in Israel:
Over 35,000 Israeli kids face poverty as allowances cut takes effect
By Lior Dattel
Aug. 20, 2013 | 4:49 AM
The cuts in child allowances approved as part of the 2013-14 budget will take effect Tuesday. Consequently, allowances for all children born from June 2003 onward will fall to NIS 140 a month, down from NIS 175-263 (the old rate depended on how many children a family had). This means a family with two children under 10 will lose NIS 1,900 a year.
For children born before June 2003, the allowances will fall to NIS 140 for the first two children (down from NIS 175-263), NIS 172 for the third child (down from NIS 295), NIS 336 for the fourth child (down from NIS 460) and NIS 354 for the fifth child onward (down from NIS 389).
Finance Minister Yair Lapid countered in a Facebook post that “Over the years, it’s been proven over and over that child allowances don’t extricate people from poverty, they only perpetuate poverty. There’s only one thing that enables families to leave the cycle of poverty – and that’s work. In families where both parents work, poverty falls below 5 percent.
“Of course we’ll help any needy family, and we’ve allocated hundreds of millions of shekels for nutrition security,” he added. But the nutrition security program doesn’t yet exist: The Social Affairs Ministry set up a committee to devise it, but the panel hasn’t submitted its conclusions.
Moreover, an NII report from 2011 found that the last cuts in child allowances, in 2003, actually increased poverty despite the fact that they also prompted many more people to find jobs. The employment rate indeed rose significantly in the following years, it said, but the poverty rate rose, too, because “the hit to income caused by the loss of allowances wasn’t sufficiently offset by income from work.”
At the beginning of the last decade, the report added, child allowances and other government stipends lifted about 30 percent of children above the poverty line. But by 2011, the rate had fallen to 15.1 percent.
Currently, Israel has the highest poverty rate in the OECD (19.9 percent in 2011), as well as the highest child poverty rate (35.6 percent in 2011). Moreover, its poverty rate has grown faster than that of any other OECD country in recent years.
WASHINGTON — A Republican proposal to cut food stamp spending by 5 percent would eliminate benefits for as many as 6 million Americans, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal D.C. think tank: here.
- BC child poverty rate is worst in Canada (beaconnews.ca)
- Child poverty costing Birmingham nearly £1bn a year (24dash.com)
- Reduced child allowance benefits come into effect (timesofisrael.com)
- Israel’s Poverty Rate The Highest In Developed World (thetruthseeker.co.uk)
- Poverty in BC: It’s way worse than I thought (blogs.vancouversun.com)
- Required Reading: The Cost of Child Poverty (christopherlehman.wordpress.com)
- ACOSS calls for post-election action on child poverty, welfare payments (abc.net.au)
This video says about itself:
Hen Harrier – Circus cyaneus
Filmed using a combination of Swarovski ATS65HD Scope, 25X50WA Zoom Eyepiece and Panasonic G2 using a DCA to attach. Not bad considering it was almost dark!
In England, there was a scandal of Prince Harry killing rare protected hen harriers.
Now, in Ireland, there is a politician emulating Prince Harry in this. A politician of the Rightist Fine Gael party, the biggest party in the coalition government, ramming austerity and bankers’ special interests down the throats of the Irish people. One might almost suspect a connection with the political party Cumann na nGaedheal, from which the present Fine Gael arose, having been founded in 1923 by politicians who did not mind Irish parliamentarians having to swear an oath of loyalty to the British monarchy
From Ireland’s Wildlife blog:
Leader of Limerick County Council calls “open season” on endangered hen harrier
July 25, 2013 by Calvin Jones
Councillor John Sheahan, Cathaoirleach of Limerick Co. Council, has called for “Open Season” on the hen harrier, a protected bird of prey that breeds in the county.
Cllr. Sheahan, who is a member of Fine Gael, said that unless the restrictions on land use in EU sanctioned Special Protected Areas (SPAs) in the county were relaxed before the upcoming Budget 2014, that “open season” should be declared on this legally protected bird species.
The hen harrier is a species of high conservation concern in Ireland and is protected under The Wildlife Act 1976 & Amendment Act 2000 in the Republic and under The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 in Northern Ireland. The species is listed on Annex 1 of the EU Birds Directive and is currently considered an All-Ireland Species of Conservation Concern and a UK priority species.
Six sites in Ireland have been designated as SPAs for the Hen Harrier under legislative framework laid out by the EU Birds Directive. Two of these affect Co. Limerick: The Slievefelim to Silvermines Mountains SPA (Counties Limerick & Tipperary; Site Code: 4165) and The Stacks to Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle SPA (Counties Cork, Kerry & Limerick; Site Code: 4161).
Hen Harriers are Ireland’s only breeding harrier species, and despite ongoing conservation efforts populations are still struggling following decades of persecution and inappropriate land use. Suggestions that these conservation measures should be relaxed is bad enough, and shows a disturbing lack of understanding of the underlying environmental issues. What”s far worse is inciting people to acts of wildlife crime by suggesting they intentionally harm hen harriers, as Cllr. Sheahan clearly appears to be suggesting in his comments.
Here’s a transcript of Cllr. Sheahan’s remarks as reported by the Limerick Leader (via the Raptor Persecution Scotland website). It is outrageous that a serving politician in a position of authority and influence should make such an ill-informed and potentially damaging statement.
If you’d like to contact Cllr. Sheahan you’ll find his contact details on the Limerick County Council Website here (and if sending an email consider copying in Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney — email@example.com — and Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan — firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Raptor Persecution Scotland site also has details of how you can make a formal complaint about Cllr. Sheahan’s remarks, and you can show your support for protecting Irish Hen Harriers by signing this online petition.
Hen harriers have failed to hatch any chicks this year, and are on the verge of extinction in England. Picture: Andy Hay / RSPB
Hen harrier on the brink of ‘extinction’ in England – For the first time since the 1960s, hen harriers have failed to nest successfully in England: here.
- Texel island wildlife update (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Montagu’s harrier nest webcam (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Specieswatch: European eagle owl (guardian.co.uk)
- Crackdown on wildlife crime unveiled (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Fine Gael to deny freedom of Limerick to president Higgins (politics.ie)
- December (treshnishwildlifelog.wordpress.com)
- January (treshnishwildlifelog.wordpress.com)
- March (treshnishwildlifelog.wordpress.com)
This video says about itself:
Biblical Archaeology: City of King David | BBC Documentary
Jun 18, 2013
Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou examines how archaeological discoveries are changing the way people interpret stories from the Bible. Stavrakopoulou visits key archaeological excavations where ground-breaking finds are being unearthed, and examines evidence for and against the Biblical account of King David.
Was the God of Abraham unique? Were the ancient Israelites polytheists? And is it all possible that God had another half? Marshalling compelling evidence from archaeology, Islam and the Bible text itself, she identifies and visits the exact site of Eden.
Did King David’s Empire Exist?
Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou goes on the trail of the Biblical King David and his fabled empire. A national hero and icon for the Jewish people, and a divine king for Christians, David is best known as the boy-warrior who defeated the Philistine giant Goliath. As king, he united the tribes of Israel. But did he really rule over a vast Israelite kingdom? Did he even exist?
Stavrakopoulou visits key archaeological excavations where ground-breaking finds are being unearthed, and examines evidence for and against the Biblical account of King David. She explores the former land of the Philistines, home of the giant Goliath, and ruins in the north of Israel and in old Jerusalem itself purporting to be remains of David’s empire.
From Associated Press:
King David’s Palace Found? Biblical Archaeology Contentious
July 21, 2013 10:17 am
A team of Israeli archaeologists believes it has discovered the ruins of a palace belonging to the biblical King David, but other Israeli experts dispute the claim.
Archaeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel’s Antiquities Authority said their find, a large fortified complex west of Jerusalem at a site called Khirbet Qeiyafa, is the first palace of the biblical king ever to be discovered.
“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” said Yossi Garfinkel, a Hebrew University archaeologist, suggesting that David himself would have used the site. Garfinkel led the seven-year dig with Saar Ganor of Israel’s Antiquities Authority.
Garfinkel said his team found cultic objects typically used by Judeans, the subjects of King David, and saw no trace of pig remains. Pork is forbidden under Jewish dietary laws. Clues like these, he said, were “unequivocal evidence” that David and his descendants had ruled at the site.
Critics said the site could have belonged to other kingdoms of the area. The consensus among most scholars is that no definitive physical proof of the existence of King David has been found.
Biblical archaeology itself is contentious. Israelis often use archaeological findings to back up their historic claims to sites that are also claimed by the Palestinians, like the Old City of Jerusalem. Despite extensive archaeological evidence, for example, Palestinians deny that the biblical Jewish Temples dominated the hilltop where the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site, stands today.
In general, researchers are divided over whether biblical stories can be validated by physical remains.
The current excavators are not the first to claim they found a King David palace. In 2005, Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar said she found the remains of King David’s palace in Jerusalem dating to the 10th century B.C., when King David would have ruled. Her claim also attracted skepticism, including from Garfinkel himself.
Using carbon dating, the archaeologists traced the site’s construction to that same period. Garfinkel said the team also found a storeroom almost 15 meters (50 feet) long, suggesting it was a royal site used to collect taxes from the rest of the kingdom.
Garfinkel believes King David lived permanently in Jerusalem in a yet-undiscovered site, only visiting Khirbet Qeiyafa or other palaces for short periods. He said the site’s placement on a hill indicates that the ruler sought a secure site on high ground during a violent era of frequent conflicts between city-states.
“The time of David was the first time that a large portion of this area was united by one monarch,” Garfinkel said. “It was not a peaceful era.”
Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University agreed that Khirbet Qeiyafa is an “elaborate” and “well-fortified” 10th century B.C. site, but said it could have been built by Philistines, Canaanites or other peoples in the area.
He said there was no way to verify who built the site without finding a monument detailing the accomplishments of the king who built it. Last week, for instance, archaeologists in Israel found pieces of a sphinx bearing the name of the Egyptian pharaoh who reigned when the statue was carved.
- Ancient palace in Israel linked to King David (nbcnews.com)
- Israeli archaeologists say they have discovered King David’s palace (ctvnews.ca)