Saturday, December 22, 2007

Little Drummer Boy

I played my best for him.

Perhaps we shall see the day when men of good will can live in peace again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ben Franklin
Hated Jews:
Muslims Attempt
To Rewrite
American History

From Jihad Watch:

"Syrian Cleric Muhammad Sa'id Ramadhan Al-Bouti: Benjamin Franklin Called upon Americans to Deport Jews from the U.S.," from MEMRITV:

Following is an excerpt from a public address delivered by Syrian cleric Muhammad Sa'id Ramadhan Al-Bouti, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on December 10, 2007:

Muhammad Sa'id Ramadhan Al-Bouti: We have no interest in war. We all dream about peace. But it is Israel that fans the flames of war, like Lyndon LaRouche said yesterday. I would like to conclude my speech by quoting the will that Benjamin Franklin read out loud to his American "sons" – but the sons and grandsons have torn this will to shreds.

In a speech that Benjamin Franklin delivered at the committee for the drafting of the U.S. constitution in 1789, he warned the committee, and the Americans in general, of the Jewish danger for America and the world. Let me read his speech to you, translated into Arabic.

There is a great danger threatening the United States of America. That danger is the Jewish danger. Gentlemen, in whichever land the Jews have settled, they have corrupted the morals, and lowered the level of commercial honesty. They always isolate themselves and never mix with others. Because of their feelings of persecution, they always attempt to choke the nations economically, like they did to Portugal and Spain.

Since 1700 [sic.], they have been lamenting their fate. But gentlemen, if the world were to give them Palestine, which they claim along with other property, they would soon find a reason to start lamenting their fate once again. How come? Because they are vermin – he was referring to grave-dwellers who leave their tombs to suck the blood of others. They cannot live among their own kind. They live at the expense of Christians and others who do not belong to their race.

If they are not deported from the United States by the Constitution, within a century they will be streaming into our country in such large numbers that will enable them to rule the country, destroy us, and change the form of government for which we Americans shed our blood, and for which we have sacrificed our lives, our property, and our personal freedom.

If we do not deport the Jews, our children will become, within 200 years, field laborers working to feed the Jews, while the Jews will stay in the banks, gleefully rubbing their hands. I warn you, gentlemen, that if you do not deport the Jews once and for all, your children and grandchildren will curse you in your graves.

The values of the Jews are not the same as those of the Americans, and they will not be the same even if they live among us for ten generations. A leopard cannot change its spots. The Jews will pose a danger to this country, if they are allowed in. They will destroy our institutions.

I think I can declare this truth openly. I do not live in Germany or Europe, and so I do not need to whisper these things. We are in a country from which we want to declare who is the number one enemy lying in wait for world peace. Thank you, and may God be with you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kyoto Protocol

That's right, it actually clouds the issue. The issue, when it comes to the environment is that as nations develop they increase their output and, at first, this leads to an increase in pollution. However, over time, the more developed a nation becomes, the less pollution it produces in relation to its total output.

But, you'd never know it if you talked to environmentalists.

Check this out:

The Kyoto treaty was agreed upon in late 1997 and countries started signing and ratifying it in 1998. A list of countries and their carbon dioxide emissions due to consumption of fossil fuels is available from the U.S. government. If we look at that data and compare 2004 (latest year for which data is available) to 1997 (last year before the Kyoto treaty was signed), we find the following.

· Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.

· Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.

· Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.

· Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.

In fact, emissions from the U.S. grew slower than those of over 75% of the countries that signed Kyoto.

Below are the growth rates of carbon dioxide emissions, from 1997 to 2004, for a few selected countries, all Kyoto signers. (Remember, the comparative number for the U.S. is 6.6%.)·

Maldives, 252%.·
Sudan, 142%. ·
China, 55%. ·
Luxembourg, 43% ·
Iran, 39%. ·
Iceland, 29%. ·
Norway, 24%. ·
Russia, 16%. ·
Italy, 16%. ·
Finland, 15%. ·
Mexico, 11%. ·
Japan, 11%. ·
Canada, 8.8%.

That’s right – that industrial cipher, Luxembourg where their ridiculous wealth is a result of being a parasitic bank and tax haven investing other people’s hard earned money, and basically being a member of as many morally vane alphabet-soup international organizations as is possible.

Note that the countries with the highest increase in smog are developing nations, not the most technologically advanced nations.

Synthetic DNA
The Verge
Of Creating
New Life Forms

Paging Dr. Moreau (from the Washington Post):

It has been 50 years since scientists first created DNA in a test tube, stitching ordinary chemical ingredients together to make life's most extraordinary molecule. Until recently, however, even the most sophisticated laboratories could make only small snippets of DNA -- an extra gene or two to be inserted into corn plants, for example, to help the plants ward off insects or tolerate drought.

Now researchers are poised to cross a dramatic barrier: the creation of life forms driven by completely artificial DNA.

Scientists in Maryland have already built the world's first entirely handcrafted chromosome -- a large looping strand of DNA made from scratch in a laboratory, containing all the instructions a microbe needs to live and reproduce.

In the coming year, they hope to transplant it into a cell, where it is expected to "boot itself up," like software downloaded from the Internet, and cajole the waiting cell to do its bidding. And while the first synthetic chromosome is a plagiarized version of a natural one, others that code for life forms that have never existed before are already under construction.

The cobbling together of life from synthetic DNA, scientists and philosophers agree, will be a watershed event, blurring the line between biological and artificial -- and forcing a rethinking of what it means for a thing to be alive.

"This raises a range of big questions about what nature is and what it could be," said Paul Rabinow, an anthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley who studies science's effects on society. "Evolutionary processes are no longer seen as sacred or inviolable. People in labs are figuring them out so they can improve upon them for different purposes."

That unprecedented degree of control over creation raises more than philosophical questions, however. What kinds of organisms will scientists, terrorists and other creative individuals make? How will these self-replicating entities be contained? And who might end up owning the patent rights to the basic tools for synthesizing life?

Some experts are worried that a few maverick companies are already gaining monopoly control over the core "operating system" for artificial life and are poised to become the Microsofts of synthetic biology. That could stifle competition, they say, and place enormous power in a few people's hands.

"We're heading into an era where people will be writing DNA programs like the early days of computer programming, but who will own these programs?" asked Drew Endy, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

At the core of synthetic biology's new ascendance are high-speed DNA synthesizers that can produce very long strands of genetic material from basic chemical building blocks: sugars, nitrogen-based compounds and phosphates.

Today a scientist can write a long genetic program on a computer just as a maestro might compose a musical score, then use a synthesizer to convert that digital code into actual DNA. Experiments with "natural" DNA indicate that when a faux chromosome gets plopped into a cell, it will be able to direct the destruction of the cell's old DNA and become its new "brain" -- telling the cell to start making a valuable chemical, for example, or a medicine or a toxin, or a bio-based gasoline substitute.

Unlike conventional biotechnology, in which scientists induce modest genetic changes in cells to make them serve industrial purposes, synthetic biology involves the large-scale rewriting of genetic codes to create metabolic machines with singular purposes.

"I see a cell as a chassis and power supply for the artificial systems we are putting together," said Tom Knight of MIT, who likes to compare the state of cell biology today to that of mechanical engineering in 1864. That is when the United States began to adopt standardized thread sizes for nuts and bolts, an advance that allowed the construction of complex devices from simple, interchangeable parts.

If biology is to morph into an engineering discipline, it is going to need similarly standardized parts, Knight said. So he and colleagues have started a collection of hundreds of interchangeable genetic components they call BioBricks, which students and others are already popping into cells like Lego pieces.

So far, synthetic biology is still semi-synthetic, involving single-cell organisms such as bacteria and yeast that have a blend of natural and synthetic DNA. The cells can reproduce, a defining trait of life. But in many cases that urge has been genetically suppressed, along with other "distracting" biological functions, to maximize productivity.

"Most cells go about life like we do, with the intention to make more of themselves after eating," said John Pierce, a vice president at DuPont in Wilmington, Del., a leader in the field. "But what we want them to do is make stuff we want."

J. Craig Venter, chief executive of Synthetic Genomics in Rockville, knows what he wants his cells to make: ethanol, hydrogen and other exotic fuels for vehicles, to fill a market that has been estimated to be worth $1 trillion.

In a big step toward that goal, Venter has now built the first fully artificial chromosome, a strand of DNA many times longer than anything made by others and laden with all the genetic components a microbe needs to get by.

Details of the process are under wraps until the work is published, probably early next year. But Venter has already shown that he can insert a "natural" chromosome into a cell and bring it to life. If a synthetic chromosome works the same way, as expected, the first living cells with fully artificial genomes could be growing in dishes by the end of 2008.

The plan is to mass-produce a plain genetic platform able to direct the basic functions of life, then attach custom-designed DNA modules that can compel cells to make synthetic fuels or other products.

It will be a challenge to cultivate fuel-spewing microbes, Venter acknowledged. Among other problems, he said, is that unless the fuel is constantly removed, "the bugs will basically pickle themselves."

But the hurdles are not insurmountable. LS9 Inc., a company in San Carlos, Calif., is already using E. coli bacteria that have been reprogrammed with synthetic DNA to produce a fuel alternative from a diet of corn syrup and sugar cane. So efficient are the bugs' synthetic metabolisms that LS9 predicts it will be able to sell the fuel for just $1.25 a gallon.

At a DuPont plant in Tennessee, other semi-synthetic bacteria are living on cornstarch and making the chemical 1,3 propanediol, or PDO. Millions of pounds of the stuff are being spun and woven into high-tech fabrics (DuPont's chief executive wears a pinstripe suit made of it), putting the bug-begotten chemical on track to become the first $1 billion biotech product that is not a pharmaceutical.

Engineers at DuPont studied blueprints of E. coli's metabolism and used synthetic DNA to help the bacteria make PDO far more efficiently than could have been done with ordinary genetic engineering.

"If you want to sell it at a dollar a gallon . . . you need every bit of efficiency you can muster," said DuPont's Pierce. "So we're running these bugs to their limits."

Yet another application is in medicine, where synthetic DNA is allowing bacteria and yeast to produce the malaria drug artemisinin far more efficiently than it is made in plants, its natural source.

Bugs such as these will seem quaint, scientists say, once fully synthetic organisms are brought on line to work 24/7 on a range of tasks, from industrial production to chemical cleanups. But the prospect of a flourishing synbio economy has many wondering who will own the valuable rights to that life.

In the past year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been flooded with aggressive synthetic-biology claims. Some of Venter's applications, in particular, "are breathtaking in their scope," said Knight. And with Venter's company openly hoping to develop "an operating system for biologically-based software," some fear it is seeking synthetic hegemony.

"We've asked our patent lawyers to be reasonable and not to be overreaching," Venter said. But competitors such as DuPont, he said, "have just blanketed the field with patent applications."

Safety concerns also loom large. Already a few scientists have made viruses from scratch. The pending ability to make bacteria -- which, unlike viruses, can live and reproduce in the environment outside of a living body -- raises new concerns about contamination, contagion and the potential for mischief.

"Ultimately synthetic biology means cheaper and widely accessible tools to build bioweapons, virulent pathogens and artificial organisms that could pose grave threats to people and the planet," concluded a recent report by the Ottawa-based ETC Group, one of dozens of advocacy groups that want a ban on releasing synthetic organisms pending wider societal debate and regulation.

"The danger is not just bio-terror but bio-error," the report says.

Many scientists say the threat has been overblown. Venter notes that his synthetic genomes are spiked with special genes that make the microbes dependent on a rare nutrient not available in nature. And Pierce, of DuPont, says the company's bugs are too spoiled to survive outdoors.

"They are designed to grow in a cosseted environment with very high food levels," Pierce said. "You throw this guy out on the ground, he just can't compete. He's toast."

"We've heard that before," said Jim Thomas, ETC Group's program manager, noting that genes engineered into crops have often found their way into other plants despite assurances to the contrary. "The fact is, you can build viruses, and soon bacteria, from downloaded instructions on the Internet," Thomas said. "Where's the governance and oversight?"

In fact, government controls on trade in dangerous microbes do not apply to the bits of DNA that can be used to create them. And while some industry groups have talked about policing the field themselves, the technology is quickly becoming so simple, experts say, that it will not be long before "bio hackers" working in garages will be downloading genetic programs and making them into novel life forms.