"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."
The first two articles I am including this week clearly show man has been working on the manipulation of animal DNA for some time, with the idea of eventually working on human DNA. (If they are not already doing so in secret.)
As is demonstrated in these articles, man is in the process of creating entirely new animals from manipulating their genomes, which is in essence changing their DNA. These experimental recipes lend themselves to potentially performing the same altered creation of human beings.
From the Word we are told that King David, as quoted above said; "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well". (Psalms 139:14)
The first chapter in the first book of the Bible says: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." (Genesis 1:27,31)
God didn't just make man good but 'very good'. .
It seems these manipulators have stumbled and are rejecting the very first chapter of the first book of God's Word. The Word warns us of rejecting the truth and that if we do God will send strong delusion, that we should believe a lie. (2 Thessalonians 2:11)
Also the verse "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind". (Hosea 8:7)
In Isaiah 14, verse 14, Lucifer said, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." It seems this has always been Lucifer's burning ambition -to be like the most High! In looking at the attributes of the "Most High" we find that Creation is one of them. Native Americans even refer to God as the Creator.
Lucifer (Satan) does not have any original ideas but can only hope to copy or duplicate what he has seen God manifest or do. Satan and his fallen angels/demons oftentimes work through men and women that have yielded to his influence, many times because of their rejection of God's truth.
When Satan does work through man his "creations" generally result in having negative consequences, such as the invention of the atomic bomb.
J. Robert Oppenheimer was an American theoretical physicist and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is best known for his role as the scientific director of the Manhattan Project, the World War II effort to develop the first nuclear weapons at the secret 'Los Alamos National Laboratory' in New Mexico. For this reason he is remembered as "The Father of the Atomic Bomb". In reference to the Trinity test in New Mexico, where his 'Los Alamos' team first tested the bomb, Oppenheimer famously recalled the Bhagavad Gita: "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one." and "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Wikipedia
It's time to play God
If Craig Venter's research leads to engineering new forms of life, mankind has hope for the future
23 August 2009 21.30
The poet Joyce Kilmer wrote, "Poems are made by fools like me, / But only God can make a tree". New research by Craig Venter, one of the main scientists behind the human genome sequencing project, may change all that. His latest research, published in Science, has succeeded in making a new form of life in the laboratory. The hope is that this "synthetic life" will eventually lead to custom-made organisms engineered to tackle the world's woes.
Engineering living organisms isn't new. Scientists have been genetically modifying microbes, plants and animals for decades. GM crops are grown on more than 2bn acres of the world's surface. But this is a kind of genetic tinkering. What Venter and many other scientists envisage is far more revolutionary: engineering entirely new forms of life.
Synthetic life enthusiasts claim that we need new organisms to do the tasks that the existing ones are not so good at. For instance, farmers around the world are increasingly growing biofuel crops. But these crops take up land that would otherwise be used to grow food, which is at least partly why grain prices have soared. There are already efforts to exploit other resources, such as sewage or plant waste. But natural organisms have their own agenda: they want to produce descendants rather than ethanol, so aren't so efficient at making fuel.
Venter is a pioneer of genome mining: excavating organisms living in exotic environments for novel genes. Some of these genes may be perfectly evolved for synthetic biology applications, such as biofuel production. But useful genes are scattered across hundreds of species, some of which can't be grown in the laboratory. What Venter and other scientists want to do is bring these genes together in an easy-to-grow custom-engineered organism.
Several years ago Venter began this challenge by making a minimal cell to provide a kind of chassis capable of bolting on lots of different synthetic biology tools. His latest research has taken the genome of one bacterium, modified it inside a yeast cell and then inserted it into the cell of a related bacterium to create an entirely new organism. The next step will be to add genes and pathways to make biofuel or other products.
Biofuels aren't the only target of synthetic biology. Scientists at the University of Manchester are trying to engineer bacteria to make novel antibiotics. Scientists are also seeking to make anti-cancer drugs, degrade harmful pollutants or produce valuable nutrients. Other scientists envisage more blue-sky projects such as engineering microbes to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or even to terraform Mars.
But why stop with microbes? It will soon be possible to make entirely novel forms of plants or animals (including man). New cereal crop plants might fix their own nitrogen, eliminating the need for costly fertiliser. Or, how about custom-made insects that seek out and kill locusts or malarial mosquitoes?
Of course, the prince of the realm and the anti-GM lobby will howl that we should not be playing God. Yet millions of tons of GM food are consumed each year without a single authenticated case of any harm. And although there have been justifiable concerns about the ecological impact of GM crops, research has tended to conclude they are more benign than conventional farming.
Mankind cannot stand still. Since the 19th century human longevity in the west has been increasing by about five hours every day. Most of our extra years have been bought with advances in science and technology. But much of the world has been left out. With people living longer, population growth, crop yields waning and global warming, we need to innovate. Synthetic biology provides new hope for a bright future.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009
The monkeys that prove babies can be born to THREE parents... and may be the key to halting genetic illness
By David Derbyshire -
27th August 2009
Scientists have produced four baby monkeys who each have three biological parents.
They used an IVF procedure designed to stop the spread of incurable inherited diseases.
Scientists believe the breakthrough could lead to the first geneticallyengineered children within a few years.
Revolutionary: Twins Mito and Tracker are two of the monkeys who were born using an IVF technique that creates babies with three biological parents. They were named after a dye called Mitotracker used in the procedure
It has provoked an ethical storm, however. Critics say it is a step towards an era of hybrid children and warn that it erodes the sanctity of life.
The technique is intended to help women who carry genetic diseases. It involves transferring healthy DNA from the mother's egg cell into an egg donated by another woman.
Children conceived by the technique would inherit DNA from three sources - their mother, the donor and their father.
The American team who produced the macaque monkeys - named Mito, Tracker, Spindler and Spindy - say the technique could be used to eradicate potentially fatal forms of inherited epilepsy, blindness and heart disease.
The diseases, which affect some 150 UK babies a year, are caused by mutations in the mitochondrial DNA which is passed down from mothers to children.
Mitochondria are sausage- shaped 'power packs' that float around inside cells, converting food into energy that the body can use. Each contains a tiny strand of DNA, carrying just 37 of the 20,000 or so human genes. The rest are in the DNA in the cell's nucleus.
Spindler is another of the four monkeys who appear healthy after they were conceived using the new technique
Mitochondrial DNA can only be passed on via mothers' eggs, not through sperm.
Doctors have identified around 50 diseases caused by mutations of this DNA - some of which kill before adulthood. Symptoms include muscle weakness, dementia, blindness, hearing loss and heart and kidney problems.
The U.S. experiment, reported today in the journal Nature, involved researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Centre. They took an egg cell from a mother carrying a mitochondrial disease and removed its nuclear DNA. This was then transferred into a second, healthy egg, whose own nuclear DNA had been removed.
The resulting 'hybrid' eggs contained nuclear DNA from the mother and fully-functioning mitochondrial DNA from the donor, and produced apparently healthy baby monkeys.
Such a process alters the DNA inherited by future generations, however - an idea that has long worried ethicists - although mitochondrial DNA affects only how cells convert food into energy, so children would inherit physical characteristics from their real mother's nuclear DNA.
Josephine Quintavalle, of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: 'This is genetic engineering.
'We should avoid at all costs interfering in the pattern of reproduction that has evolved
over millions of years. The objective is to stop mitochondrial diseases in the next generation - but it would be absurd if it unleashed something worse in generations to come.'
Stephen Green, director of pressure group Christian Voice, said he had concerns that scientists were going 'too far, too fast' and 'playing God'.
He said: 'These things are always done with the best of intentions but we have to think whether this will lead to any unintended consequences. When the child finds out they have two mummies, how will they feel?
'We have to have a lot of sympathy for those with inherited conditions but we need to be very careful before we start interfering with nature.
'There's a thought that because scientists can do something they always want to do it and that's not necessarily the right way'. But Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, of the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh University and leader of the team that cloned Dolly the sheep, said: 'This demonstrates an exciting new route to therapy for diseases such as myopathy, in which muscle fibres do not function properly.
'It also seems likely that mitochondrial malfunction predisposes patients to diseases such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and stroke.'
Last year Newcastle University researchers created ten human embryos using a similar technique. They were destroyed after six days because current UK law says they cannot be kept longer than 14 days.
But the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which comes into effect on October 1, could open the door for a change in the rules.
Ireland's new blasphemy law labeled return to Middle Ages
Peter O'Neil, Europe Correspondent, Canwest News Service
Sunday, August 23, 2009
DUBLIN -- The Irish government plans to bring into force a new law in October that critics say is a return to medieval justice.
The legislation, aimed at providing judges with clear direction on the 1937 Constitution's blasphemy prohibition, imposes a fine of up to 25,000 euros -- about $39,000 -- for anyone who "publishes or utters matter that is [intentionally meant to be] grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion."
Police with a search warrant will be able to enter private premises and use "reasonable force" to obtain incriminating evidence.
The initiative has stunned some Irish and international commentators who say it contradicts Ireland's recent emergence as a more multicultural, tech-savvy country that has in recent years showed its independence from the Roman Catholic church by liberalizing its divorce law.
"It is a wretched, backward, uncivilized regression to the Middle Ages," said prominent atheist author Richard Dawkins in a statement last month, arguing that the law risks shattering Ireland's new image as a "modern, civilized . . . green and pleasant silicon valley."
One Canadian publication lightheartedly warned lawyers attending the Canadian Bar Association's annual conference in Dublin this month to watch their language as they head out to one of the countless pubs in Ireland's capital.
A blog in the New York Times, meanwhile, featured in its coverage a YouTube link to a famous blasphemy scene from the Monty Python comedy classic Life of Brian.
While some have noted that even countries like Canada still have their own blasphemy laws still on the books, the prohibition in western countries is typically considered obsolete.
Canada's last prosecution was in 1935, and the statute is now trumped by free speech provisions in the Charter of Rights.
"You're not introducing new blasphemy laws in the 21st century," Michael Nugent, chairman of the group Atheist Ireland, told Canwest News Service.
"There are a lot of countries that have blasphemy laws but typically they aren't enforced. The United Kingdom abolished theirs last year. These are hangovers from earlier times and certainly in most western countries are anachronisms. Introducing a new blasphemy law seems irresponsible to us."
Nugent said his group intends to come up with a suitably outrageous blasphemy to challenge the law if Ireland's justice minister, Dermot Ahern, implements the law -- passed by parliament in July -- in October.
Ahern has angrily dismissed critics, arguing that, as a republican, he would have preferred to have no blasphemy law at all.
He said he was obliged to come up with clear provisions after the Supreme Court, in a blasphemy ruling a decade ago, dismissed the case because the state had provided no clear definition or sanctions.
A spokesman for Ireland's legal community, meanwhile, said he accepts Ahern's rationale that the new law was a logical compromise between doing nothing and holding a referendum.
Ken Murphy, speaking for the Law Society of Ireland, said he doesn't expect a legal crackdown on blasphemers and suggested that the media reaction is overblown.
"It seems to be more an issue for the international media than it is for the people of Ireland," he told Canwest News Service.
But the critics are questioning why the government didn't just live with the legal void.
Media reports say there is no indication that the Roman Catholic church, still reeling from a report earlier this year about widespread sexual abuse at homes for children over many decades, has taken a position on the matter or lobbied government.
"No one can think of a single thundering priest, austere vicar, irate rabbi or miffed mullah ever calling for tougher penalties for blasphemy," wrote Padraig Reidy in the British newspaper The Guardian.
Atheist Ireland's Nugent also noted that three previous justice ministers never felt the need to respond to the 1999 court decision.
While Ahern has said the likelihood of a blasphemy prosecution is minimal, Nugent said the law as written creates an incentive for groups to show the kind of widespread "outrage" required to justify a prosecution.
As delegates from the nation's main Lutheran denomination gathered in Minneapolis this week to begin a contentious debate on homosexuality, tornado-like winds ripped through the city. The fierce gusts toppled the cross above historic Central Lutheran Church and damaged the roof of the convention center across the street from where the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is holding its biennial General Assembly.
A local Baptist pastor and blogger, John Piper, thought so, interpreting the whirlwind in biblical terms: "A gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture.=2 0Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality."
Turns out the more than 1,000 lay and clergy delegates didn't heed Piper's warning. In a historic move late Friday, they effectively approved openly gay clergy by allowing local congregations to install them as pastors. That makes the 4.7 million-member ELCA the largest U.S. denomination to take such a step, and it puts it in a select category with the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church, which has suffered growing defections and schisms over its embrace of gays and lesbians.
So have Lutherans sown the wind (as the prophet Hosea -- and John Piper -- might have put it) with the prospect of (again) reaping the whirlwind?
It's tempting to think so, given the amount of tumult, not to mention media coverage, that has attended this issue over the past 30 years. Many get the impression the debate over gays in the church is the biggest crisis in Christianity since the Reformation. But the facts on the ground tell another story.
A survey of 2,740 U.S. congregations from 2006-07 found that only one percent of American churches, accounting for just two percent of worshipers, reported a "significant" conflict over the issue of homosexuality in the previous two years -- well behind conflicts over clergy or mon ey.
In addition, congregations accounting for half of all American Christians allow gay and lesbian couples "in committed relationships" to be full fledged‚ members, and nearly one-quarter say openly gay members hold volunteer leadership positions, conclude the authors of the survey, "American Congregations at the Beginning of the 21st Century."
The upshot: "Congregations are more tolerant and inclusive than we might expect them to be, even when it comes to hot-button issues."
Why is this so? The study's authors say that there is a degree of self-selection going on, as "people who feel strongly about this issue probably have found a congregation that shares their views, whatever they are . . . so conflicts within congregations on ideological issues are less common than they might otherwise be."
Also, as the sociologist of religion Scott Thumma explained in my earlier piece on this topic, the attitude toward gays in most churches is one of "live and let live" or "don't ask, don't tell." That holds true even when it comes to senior clergy. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that in Minneapolis alone, two Lutheran churches are officially listed as having vacant senior pastor positions even though both have gay clergy filling those jobs.
"There is a disconnect in most congregation s between proclaimed theology and the reality in the pews," Thumma said. "Megachurches are large enough that they can tolerate an enormous amount of diversity. In smaller congregations you have to try to overlook it . . . But nobody really makes a big deal about gays." In fact, one survey found that well over half of congregants are tired of talking about the issue. And clergy, like Americans generally, report becoming more liberal about same-sex relationships over the years, which could signal an easing of tensions.
That doesn't mean all will be sweetness and light forever and ever, amen.
While Americans overall are increasingly accepting of gay relationships, that is not true of older Americans and regular churchgoers -- who are often one and the same group.
And a recent study of more than 2,600 mainline Protestant clergy in seven denominations found more than half considered the debate over the role for homosexuals as "a crisis in the church." Nine out of 10 of the clergy also said that a "don't ask, don't tell" approach was not acceptable, while also acknowledging that their congregants generally "had a difficult time" talking about homosexuality.
More over, when church leaders -- like those at the ELCA's General Assembly in Minneapolis -- repeatedly return to the issue, it may exacerbate local tensions. "Indeed, national conflicts probably cause rather than reflect conflicts within congregations, meaning that congregations would argue about homosexuality even less if denominations did not sometimes force them to take sides," wrote the authors of "American Congregations at the Beginning of the 21st Century."
But national church leaders on either side of the issue are not likely to let things stand as they are. Conservatives want clarity in the form of a firm statement against gay clergy and same-sex marriages, for example, while liberals and gay activists want a clear statement in support of their equality in the church. (Just six percent of American congregations have written statements officially welcoming gays and lesbians.) And the fretful center would just like to let folks be -- which is the kind of "local option" solution that the Lutherans chose on Friday, and the likely near-term compromise that other churches may adopt, officially or unofficially.
So what about that wind that seemed to foretell a shattered Lutheran church? Some are now saying it was just the Holy Spirit blowing through, with an inspiration for the delegates. But where it will head next no one knows.
Court orders Christian child into government education
10-year-old's 'vigorous' defense of her faith condemned by judge
August 28, 2009
By Bob Unruh
A 10-year-old homeschool girl described as "well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising and intellectually at or superior to grade level" has been told by a New Hampshire court official to attend a government school because she was too "vigorous" in defense of her Christian faith.
The decision from Marital Master Michael Garner reasoned that the girl's "vigorous defense of her religious beliefs to [her] counselor suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view."
The recommendation was approved by Judge Lucinda V. Sadler, but it is being challenged by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, who said it was "a step too far" for any court.
The ADF confirmed today it has filed motions with the court seeking reconsideration of the order and a stay of the decision sending the 10-year-old student in government-run schools in Meredith, N.H.
The dispute arose as part of a modification of a parenting plan for the girl. The parents divorced in 1999 when she was a newborn, and the mother has homeschooled her daughter since first grade with texts that meet all state standards.
In addition to homeschooling, the girl attends supplemental public school classes and has also been involved in a variety of extra-curricular sports activities, the ADF reported.
But during the process of negotiating the terms of the plan, a guardian ad litem appointed to participate concluded the girl "appeared to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith" and that the girl's interests "would be best served by exposure to a public school setting" and "different points of view at a time when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief ... in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs."
According to court documents, the guardian ad litem earlier had told the mother, "If I want her in public school, she'll be in public school."
The marital master hearing the case proposed the Christian girl be ordered into public school after considering "the impact of [her religious] beliefs on her interaction with others."
"Parents have a fundamental right to make educational choices for their children. In this case specifically, the court is illegitimately altering a method of education that the court itself admits is working," said ADF-allied attorney John Anthony Simmons of Hampton.
"The court is essentially saying that the evidence shows that, socially and academically, this girl is doing great, but her religious beliefs are a bit too sincerely held and must be sifted, tested by, and mixed among other worldviews. This is a step too far for any court to take."
"The New Hampshire Supreme Court itself has specifically declared, 'Home education is an enduring American tradition and right,'" said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson. "There is clearly and without question no legitimate legal basis for the court's decision, and we trust it will reconsider its conclusions."
The case, handled in the Family Division of the Judicial Court for Belknap County in Laconia, involves Martin Kurowski and Brenda Kurowski (Voydatch), and their daughter.
The ADF also argued that the issue already was raised in 2006 and rejected by the court.
"Most urgent ... is the issue of Amanda's schooling as the school year has begun and Amanda is being impacted by the court's decision daily," the court filing requesting a stay said. "Serious state statutory and federal constitutional concerns are implicated by the court's ruling and which need to be remedied without delay.
"It is not the proper role of the court to insist that Amanda be 'exposed to different points of view' if the primary residential parent has determined that it is in Amanda's best interest not to be exposed to secular influences that would undermine Amanda's faith, schooling, social development, etc. The court is not permitted to demonstrate hostility toward religion, and particularly the faith of Amanda and Mother, by removing Amanda from the home and thrusting her into an environment that the custodial parent deems detrimental to Amanda."
"The order assumes that because Amanda has sincerely held Christian beliefs, there must be a problem that needs solving. It is a parent's constitutionally protected right to train up their children in the religious beliefs that they hold. It is not up to the court to suggest that a 10-year-old should be 'exposed' to other religious views contrary to the faith traditions of her parents. Could it not be that this sharp 10-year-old 'vigorously' believes what she does because she knows it to be true? The court's narrative suggests that 10-year-olds are too young to form opinions and that they are not yet allowed to have sincerely held Christian beliefs," the ADF said.
"Absent any other clear and convincing evidence justifying the court's decision, it would appear that the court has indeed taken sides with regard to the issue of religion and has preferred one religious view over another (or the absence of religion). This is impermissible," the documents said.
The guardian ad litem had an anti-Christian bias, the documents said, telling the mother at one point she wouldn't even look at homeschool curriculum.
"I don't want to hear it. It's all Christian based," she said.
Obama Plan: Temple Mount Under Arab-Muslim Sovereignty
Elul 3, 5769, 23 August 09 05:31
by Gil Ronen
Israelnationalnews.com) The Middle East peace plan that United States President Barack Obama will unveil soon involves the creation of a Palestinian Authority state by 2011 and the transfer of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem [presumably including the Temple Mount - ed.] to Arab-Muslim sovereignty, Saudi newspaper Al-Ukaz has learned. - According to the report published Sunday in Al-Ukaz, the Obama plan also includes the following elements:
Some parts of eastern Jerusalem [presumably Neveh Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev and the like - ed.] would be transferred to Israeli control.
There would be an international presence in the Jordan Valley and other parts of Judea and Samaria.
The Palestinian Authority terror organizations would be disbanded and turn into political parties.
The large settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria would not be dismantled.
The fate of smaller Jewish settlement areas would be decided in a three-month-long negotiation period.
A reporter for the Saudi newspaper received the information from Hassan Harisha, the Second Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Authority Parliament. Harisha told him that the U.S. has handed over a draft of the peace proposal to the PA and other Arabs for their perusal. - The plan also calls for Judea and Samaria to be demilitarized and for its airspace to remain under Israel control. Israeli-Palestinian Authority security coordination would be strengthened, and the Palestinian Authority state would not be allowed to strike military treaties with other countries in the region. - An "agreed number" of Arab refugees would be absorbed in the Jordan Valley area and in other parts of Judea and Samaria - especially in the area between Ramallah and Shechem. - An international fund would support the refugees and Israel would release Palestinian Authority prisoners three years after a diplomatic accord is signed.
Will he lay out a blueprint? - The Saudi report notwithstanding, the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl estimated Sunday that Obama will not go so far as to present a blueprint for a peace settlement, despite being urged to do so by several Arab governments.
"As the U.N. General Assembly meets in late September, Obama aims to announce the opening of a new negotiating process between Israelis and Palestinians, along with 'confidence-building' steps by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and a number of Arab governments," the columnist wrote. Obama "will probably lay out at least a partial vision of the two-state settlement that all sides now say they support, and the course that negotiations should take. More significantly, he intends to set an ambitious timetable for completing the peace deal -- something that will please Arabs but may irritate Israel."
LIFE WITH BIG BROTHER
Next step in H1N1 scare: Microchip implants
Company developing under-the-skin devices to detect 'bio-threats'
August 22, 2009
By Drew Zahn
VeriChip's microchip implant, about the size of a grain of riceA Florida-based company that boasts selling the world's first and only federally approved radio microchip for implanting in humans is now turning its development branch toward "emergency preparedness," hoping to produce an implant that can automatically detect in its host's bloodstream the presence of swine flu or other viruses deemed a "bio-threat."
VeriChip Corporation currently sells a small, under-the-skin Radio Frequency Identification capsule, or RFID, that patients can opt to have implanted, containing a number computer-linked to their medical records, enabling doctors with a special reader to access the information even if the patient is unconscious or unidentified. The company boasts its microchip, roughly the size of a grain of rice, is the only such implant approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
But VeriChip has also turned its attention to other uses for the technology, including microchips that be used to tag and log human remains after a disaster and implants the company hopes will be able to warn if their host is infected with the H1N1 swine flu virus, the H5N1 bird flu virus or other pandemic agents deemed to be a "bio-threat."
VeriChip is working with a Minnesota company, Receptors LLC, to develop the virus-detection technology.
"As we continue to build on our partnership with Receptors, which started with the development of a glucose-sensing RFID implantable microchip, we are moving beyond patient identification to sensors that can detect and identify illnesses and viruses such as influenza," said Scott R. Silverman, chairman of VeriChip, in a statement. "This is an exciting next step for the future of our healthcare division."
According to a joint white paper released earlier this year by both companies called "An Integrated Sensor System for the Detection of Bio-Threats from Pandemics to Emerging Diseases to Bio-Terrorism," the research's goal is to transform existing glucose-detection technology into pinpointing viruses instead, then couple it with an "in vivo" - meaning implanted inside a living organism - microchip that can alert others of the virus' presence.
The ultimate goal is to develop an implant that can also diagnose which virus is infecting the host.
VeriChip has also announced earlier this month additional forays into emergency preparedness through its VeriTrace system.
According to a statement, the company sold a VeriTrace system, including 1,000 RFID microchips, to Kentucky's Green River District Health Department "for disaster preparedness and emergency management needs."
The company explains that VeriTrace, a separate system from its virus detection or patient records technology, was created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where it was used by the Federal Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. The system includes the microchips, a Bluetooth handheld reader, a customized camera that receives both RFID scanned data and GPS data wirelessly and a web-based database for storing information and images captured during emergency response operations.
The microchips are implanted in human remains following a disaster or, according to one report from the Katrina catastrophe, duct-taped to bones, in order to maintain detailed records, particularly in events that result in hundreds or thousands of fatalities.
"This database ensures the precise collection, storage and inventory of all data and images related to remains and the associated evidentiary items," the statement boasts. "This also allows the recreation of an accurate and complete reconstruction of a disaster setting, crime scene or similar setting where recreation is necessary."
Since Hurricane Katrina, the RFID Journal reports, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Hawaii Department of Health, the Florida Emergency Mortuary Operations Response System and the medical examiner's office in the Department of Heath in Erie County, N.Y, have also purchased the system. Earlier this year, VeriChip announced sales to Maryland's Calvert Memorial Hospital and to Mercer and Atlantic counties in New Jersey.
Bill would give president emergency control of Internet
by Declan McCullagh
August 28, 2009
Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.
They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.
The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.
"I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which counts representatives of Verizon, Verisign, Nortel, and Carnegie Mellon University on its board. "It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill."
Representatives of other large Internet and telecommunications companies expressed concerns about the bill in a teleconference with Rockefeller's aides this week, but were not immediately available for interviews on Thursday.
When Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Commerce committee, and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced the original bill in April, they claimed it was vital to protect national cybersecurity. "We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs--from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records," Rockefeller said.
The privacy implications of sweeping changes implemented before the legal review is finished worry Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. "As soon as you're saying that the federal government is going to be exercising this kind of power over private networks, it's going to be a really big issue," he says.
Probably the most controversial language begins in Section 201, which permits the president to "direct the national response to the cyber threat" if necessary for "the national defense and security." The White House is supposed to engage in "periodic mapping" of private networks deemed to be critical, and those companies "shall share" requested information with the federal government. ("Cyber" is defined as anything having to do with the Internet, telecommunications, computers, or computer networks.)
"The language has changed but it doesn't contain any real additional limits," EFF's Tien says. "It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous (version)...The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process. There's no provision for any administrative process or review. That's where the problems seem to start. And then you have the amorphous powers that go along with it."
Translation: If your company is deemed "critical," a new set of regulations kick in involving who you can hire, what information you must disclose, and when the government would exercise control over your computers or network.
The Internet Security Alliance's Clinton adds that his group is "supportive of increased federal involvement to enhance cyber security, but we believe that the wrong approach, as embodied in this bill as introduced, will be counterproductive both from an national economic and national secuity perspective."
Declan McCullagh is a contributor to CNET News and a correspondent for CBSNews.com who has covered the intersection of politics and technology for over a decade. Declan writes a regular feature called Taking Liberties, focused on individual and economic rights.
Marketers Answer Call to Eliminate High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Corn Refiners Fight Back as Kraft, Pepsi Tout Revamped Products
By Emily Bryson York and Natalie Zmuda - -
Published: August 20, 2009
CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- First it was fat, then it was trans fat, and now it's corn syrup.
The Corn Refiners Association does an all-cable TV buy, focusing on female- and family-oriented networks, like Lifetime, Bravo, TLC and the Food Network.
Consumers are asking manufacturers to remove ingredients they believe are harmful, and high-fructose corn syrup is near the top of many a mother's hit list. Some major manufacturers have responded by removing the offending syrup, and the Corn Refiners Association has staged a full-fledged media assault aimed at what it perceives to be "misinformation" in the media.
Kraft Foods has reformulated a handful of its most popular products in recent years, removing high-fructose corn syrup from Bulls-Eye barbecue sauce, Capri Sun Juice drinks with 25% less sugar, and the majority of its Kraft Salad Dressings line. The company is launching a campaign for Wheat Thins next week, from agency Draft FCB, Chicago. Kraft has reformulated the crackers, more than doubling their whole-grain content, and getting rid of HFCS.
"We saw some consumers were interested in products without high-fructose corn syrup, so we decided as part of this quality improvement to eliminate [it]," said Kraft spokesman Basil Maglaris. He added that Kraft isn't out to eliminate HFCS across the board. Marquee products such as Oreos, of course, still contain the sweetener.
Some beverage companies are also promoting their lack of HFCS. PepsiCo launched "throwback" versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew, which are essentially HFCS-free formulations in retro cans. The products proved successful, leading the company to bring them back for another eight-week run, beginning Dec. 28. A third product, Pepsi Natural, launched this spring and is being positioned as a premium cola. Snapple, meanwhile, went a step further, revamping its entire line of premium juices and teas to eliminate HFCS.
CRA getting message out - Retailers are also climbing onboard the anti-corn bandwagon. Costco has been selling Mexican-made Coca-Cola in some markets, sweetened with sugar rather than syrup, apparently to rave reviews. Costco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Starbucks removed HFCS and trans fat from products in its bakery case this summer.
But the Corn Refiners Association is fighting back. Its campaign, from agency DDB, Chicago, depicts people such as mothers in a kitchen, or a young couple on a picnic blanket, talking about whether corn sweeteners are bad for you. "It has the same amount of calories as sugar, honey, and it's fine in moderation," a woman says while handing her boyfriend a popsicle stick.
"It has really been a nationwide multimedia and advertising campaign targeted principally at moms, given the role they play in buying food," Corn Refiners Association President Audrae Erickson said of her group's effort. The association does an all-cable TV buy, focusing on female- and family-oriented networks, such as Lifetime, Bravo, TLC and the Food Network.
According to TNS Media Intelligence, the Corn Refiners Association spent $12 million in measured media during the first half of 2009. Ms. Erickson declined to give the campaign's budget, but described it as "similar to that of a consumer-package-goods company."
The organization has also orchestrated a massive public-relations campaign through PR agency Weber Shandwick, also in Chicago. The team is reaching out to mommy bloggers to correct the impression that refined sugar is healthier than HFCS. Ms. Erickson said this effort has been different than the usual mommy-blogger outreach. Massive sampling in search of reviews, for instance, "wouldn't be appropriate," she said. It's all part of a "rapid response" function that also contacts media covering the industry, particularly if they describe a reformulation that removes HFCS as a "healthful" transformation.
Missing the point? - The association has also targeted "thought leaders" such as dieticians and physicians, possibly leading to statements from the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association that high-fructose corn syrup is about the same as refined sugar. Ms. Erickson, a former USDA economist, said that the current consumer backlash hasn't affected the corn refiners' wallets yet. Consumers' shift to bottled water and diet sodas from full-calorie colas over the last decade has left the category flat to slightly down in recent years. But current sentiment did spark the campaign. Books such Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma" got many consumers thinking about corn consumption for the first time.
Still, some advocates think they're missing the point.
"I don't know whether it's laughable or tragic that the corn refiners association is likening its product to sugar," Rory Freedman, co-author of "Skinny Bitch," wrote in an e-mail. "Neither HFCS or refined sugar is good for us. Our bodies simply do not like foods that have been highly processed, especially those which cause spikes in our blood-sugar levels."
Michelle Simon, author of "Appetite for Profit," said that the product is also much cheaper than sugar, and it has encouraged people to eat and drink more. "It's the reason why it's only 10 cents more for a large soda," she said.
From The Sunday Times
August 23, 2009
Quangos blackball ... oops, sorry ... veto 'racist' everyday phrases
It could be construed as a black day for the English language -- but not if you work in the public sector.
Dozens of quangos and taxpayer-funded organisations have ordered a purge of common words and phrases so as not to cause offence.
Among the everyday sayings that have been quietly dropped in a bid to stamp out racism and sexism are "whiter than white", "gentleman's agreement", "black mark" and "right-hand man".
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has advised staff to replace the phrase "black day" with "miserable day", according to documents released under freedom of information rules.
It points out that certain words carry with them a "hierarchical valuation of skin colour". The commission even urges employees to be mindful of the term "ethnic minority" because it can imply "something smaller and less important".
The National Gallery in London believes that the phrase "gentleman's agreement" is potentially offensive to women and suggests that staff should replace it with "unwritten agreement" or "an agreement based on trust" instead. The term "right-hand man" is also considered taboo by the gallery, with "second in command" being deemed more suitable.
Many institutions have urged their workforce to be mindful of "gender bias" in language. The Learning and Skills Council wants staff to "perfect" their brief rather than "master" it, while the Newcastle University has singled out the phrase "master bedroom" as being problematic.
Advice issued by the South West Regional Development Agency states: "Terms such as 'black sheep of the family', 'black looks' and 'black mark' have no direct link to skin colour but potentially serve to reinforce a negative view of all things black. Equally, certain terms imply a negative image of 'black' by reinforcing the positive aspects of white.
"For example, in the context of being above suspicion, the phrase 'whiter than white' is often used. Purer than pure or cleaner than clean are alternatives which do not infer that anything other than white should be regarded with suspicion."
The clampdown in the public sector has angered some of the country's most popular writers.
Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider children's spy books, said: "A great deal of our modern language is based on traditions which have now gone but it would be silly -- and extremely inconvenient -- to replace them all. A 'white collar worker', for example, probably doesn't wear one. An 'able seaman', under new regulations, could well be neither. 'Spanish practices' can happen all over Europe. We know what these phrases mean and we can find out from where they were derived. Banning them is just unnecessary."
Marie Clair, spokeswoman for the Plain English Campaign, said: "Political correctness has good intentions but things can be taken to an extreme. What is really needed is a bit of common sense."
Mysterious Tubular Clouds Defy Explanation
By Betsy Mason
August 24, 2009
These long, crazy-looking clouds can grow to be 600 miles long and can move at up to 35 miles per hour, causing problems for aircraft even on windless days.
Known as Morning Glory clouds, they appear every fall over Burketown, Queensland, Australia, a remote town with fewer than 200 residents. A small number of pilots and tourists travel there each year in hopes of "cloud surfing" with the mysterious phenomenon.
Similar tubular shaped clouds called roll clouds appear in various places around the globe. But nobody has yet figured out what causes the Morning Glory clouds.
This shot was captured by photographer Mick Petroff from his plane near Australia's Gulf of Carpenteria.
By Melanie Segala, August 25, 2009
In 1979, Norman Cousins wrote a groundbreaking book. He claimed the best medicine for his painful arthritis was 10 minutes of hearty laughter every day watching Marx Brothers movies. It gave him two hours of pain-free sleep every night.
Thirty years later there's scientific proof that Cousins was right on the money. We now know that laughter improves blood flow to your heart by 50%. It also reduces the risk of blood clots and lowers inflammation. (Cousins' arthritis pain was caused from inflammation.)
Laughing is so good for you in fact, that you can now even find Laughter Yoga classes. And the beauty of it is, you don't even need to have a sense of humor or even be happy. Your mind and body will benefit even if you have to "fake it" at first.
The Bible corroborates the above article. "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance." and "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine"."(Proverbs 15:13 and 17:22)
Especially in the world as it is today, you just have to sit back and have a good laugh every once in a while.
Even God, is going to laugh one of these days soon at the total insanity of the wicked and their attempts to destroy His creation.
It says in Psalms 2:1-4 "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision."
So don't worry about the mess the world is in today, one day soon Jesus is going to return and set up His Kingdom here on earth and clear up the mess man has made out of His creation.
Remember, "The joy of the LORD is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)
We invite you to write us with any comments or questions you may have. You can also contact one of our Christian mystics if you need a heavenly perspective on what's happening in your life. You can write via the web site.
Until next time, have a happy week.
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer."