Daily Archives

Q & A: Retractions – Is the pressure of the publish-or-perish mentality driving more researchers to misconduct?

The Scientist – After six articles from a single research group—the laboratory of Naoki Mori at the University of the Ryukyus in Japan—were retracted from ‘Infection and Immunity’ earlier this year, Editor-in-Chief Ferric Fang did some soul searching. He and Arturo Casadevall, editor-in-chief of the American Society for Microbiology journal mBio and Fang’s long-time friend and colleague, decided to explore the issue more deeply in an editorial published this week (8th Aug.) in Infection and Immunity. Fang, a bacteriologist at the University of Washington, recently talked with The Scientist about the rising number of retractions, why high profile journals may have more retractions, and what pressures lead some scientists to fudge their data. Read article
(August 8)

Italian debt: PM Berlusconi announces new measures

BBC – The 45bn euro ($64bn: £40bn) plan aims to balance Italy’s budget by 2013, a year earlier than had been planned by slashing public spending and jobs. PM Silvio Berlusconi said the measures were painful but unavoidable. On Monday the European Central Bank announced it would buy Italian debt in a successful effort to lower its cost of borrowing. Read article

Scientists Successfully Predict Volcano Eruption

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Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi to have talks with government

BBC – Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is set to hold a second round of talks with a minister from Burma’s army-backed civilian government. Read article

India Sues Monsanto Over Genetically-Modified Eggplant

Forbes – The already-explosive politics surrounding genetically-modified (GM) eggplant (brinjal) in India is getting still more explosive with a government agency’s decision to prosecute the developers of the insect resistant-eggplant eggplant. Read article

Libyan rebels capture part of Brega, push north

Reuters – Libyan rebels said they had captured part of the oil town of Brega on Thursday while their forces in the west pushed toward Zawiyah, trying to get within striking distance of Muammar Gaddafi’s capital. Gaddafi is clinging to power despite a near five-month-old NATO air campaign, tightening economic sanctions, and a lengthening war with rebels trying to end his 41-year rule. Read Article

Australia – Call for GM ban to be reinstated following spill

ABC – Some grain growers in Western Australia are calling for a ban on genetically modified crops to be reinstated following a crash which spilled tonnes of GM canola onto the road. The accident happened when a truck caught fire yesterday afternoon on Albany Highway near Williams, south-east of Perth. Read article

UK – The Bank of England’s Growing Pains

WSJ – The Bank of England highlighted downside risks to both U.K. growth and inflation in its latest quarterly Inflation Report. But the report’s fine print also suggests that once growth picks up, the U.K. economy doesn’t have much headroom. Read Article

Syrian forces kill 20 protesters after Friday prayers

Reuters – Syrian forces shot dead at least 20 protesters Friday, activists said, as tens of thousands demanded the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad, chanting “we will kneel only to God.” Defiant protest marches unfolded across the country despite a military crackdown that has intensified since the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan, triggering sanctions and condemnation abroad. Read Article

Shell confirms oil leak in North Sea

Guardian – Royal Dutch Shell has said it is working to contain an oil leak at its Gannet Alpha platform in the North Sea, but declined to specify the size of the leak. “We can confirm we are managing an oil leak in a flow line that serves the Gannet Alpha platform. We deployed a remote-operated vehicle to check for a subsea leak after a light sheen was noticed in the area,” a Shell spokesman said. Read article

C.I.A. Is Disputed on Civilian Toll in Drone Strikes

NY Times – On May 6, a Central Intelligence Agency drone fired a volley of missiles at a pickup truck carrying nine militants and bomb materials through a desolate stretch of Pakistan near the Afghan border. It killed all the militants — a clean strike with no civilian casualties, extending what is now a yearlong perfect record of avoiding collateral deaths. Or so goes the United States government’s version of the attack, from an American official briefed on the classified C.I.A. program. Here is another version, from a new report compiled by British and Pakistani journalists: The missiles hit a religious school, an adjoining restaurant and a house, killing 18 people — 12 militants, but also 6 civilians, known locally as Samad, Jamshed, Daraz, Iqbal, Noor Nawaz and Yousaf. Read Article

Next Generation: Hundreds of Cell-Analyses at Once

The Scientist – A new microfluidics chip lets researchers analyze the nucleic acids of 300 individual cells simultaneously. THE DEVICE: Like a pinball machine, the tiny stationary levers within this new microfluidics chip, direct cells into compartments just large enough to fit one cell. With 300 compartments per chip (a number that could be easily scaled to 1,000 or more), each cell is washed and then lysed, with its contents channeled to a new compartment where real time quantitative PCR begins, reading out the DNA as it’s amplified. Measuring many individual cells at once allows researcher to distinguish individual differences between cells as they react to environmental changes, or to look at genetic changes in the mixed-cell make-up of a tumor. Down the road, the chip could have clinical and diagnostic applications as well. Read article

Romney Tells Hecklers: ‘Corporations are People’

Newsy – MITT ROMNEY: “Do I believe that Social Security should take no part in deficit reduction negotiations?” … “Social security, Medicare, and Medicaid account for about half of federal spending. (That’s a lie!)” … “Corporations are people, my friend. Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. (LAUGHTER)” Read article

Milestone – Our 25,000th Article Published! (13 August 2011)

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US – Financial turmoil evokes 2008 comparison

NYT (MSNBC) – It feels eerily familiar: Stocks are plummeting. The economy is slowing. Politicians are scrambling to find solutions but are mired in disagreement. Many Americans are wondering whether they are in for a repeat of the financial crisis of 2008. Read Article

Climate Fact Of The Day – Study: Severe low temperatures devastate coral reefs in Florida Keys – attributed to North Atlantic Oscillation

Global Change Biology DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02487.x
Article first published online: 24 JUL 2011

Catastrophic mortality on inshore coral reefs of the Florida Keys due to severe low-temperature stress

Dustin W. Kemp1,*, Clinton A. Oakley2, Daniel J. Thornhill3,4, Laura A. Newcomb4, Gregory W. Schmidt2, William K. Fitt1

Coral reefs of the Florida Keys typically experience seasonal temperatures of 20–31 °C. Deviation outside this range causes physiological impairment of reef-building corals, potentially leading to coral colony death. In January and February 2010, two closely spaced cold fronts, possibly driven by an unusually extreme Arctic Oscillation, caused sudden and severe seawater temperature declines in the Florida Keys. Inshore coral reefs [e.g., Admiral Reef (ADM)] experienced lower sustained temperatures (i.e., < 12 °C) than those further offshore [e.g., Little Grecian Reef (LG), minimum temperature = 17.2 °C]. During February and March 2010, we surveyed ADM and observed a mass die-off of reef-building corals, whereas 12 km away LG did not exhibit coral mortality. We subsequently measured the physiological effects of low-temperature stress on three common reef-building corals (i.e., Montastraea faveolata, Porites astreoides, and Siderastrea siderea) over a range of temperatures that replicated the inshore cold-water anomaly (i.e., from 20 to 16 to 12 °C and back to 20 °C). Throughout the temperature modulations, coral respiration as well as endosymbiont gross photosynthesis and maximum quantum efficiency of photosystem II were measured.
In addition, Symbiodinium genotypic identity, cell densities, and chlorophyll a content were determined at the beginning and conclusion of the experiment. All corals were significantly affected at 12 °C, but species-specific physiological responses were found indicating different coral and/or Symbiodinium cold tolerances. Montastraea faveolata and P. astreoides appeared to be most negatively impacted because, upon return to 20 °C, significant reductions in gross photosynthesis and dark respiration persisted. Siderastrea siderea, however, readily recovered to pre-treatment rates of dark respiration and gross photosynthesis. Visual surveys of inshore reefs corroborated these results, with S. siderea being minimally affected by the cold-water anomaly, whereas M. faveolata and P. astreoides exhibited nearly 100% mortality. This study highlights the importance of understanding the physiological attributes of genotypically distinct coral-Symbiodinium symbioses that contribute to tolerance, recovery, and consequences to an environmental perturbation. These data also document effects of a rarely studied environmental stressor, possibly initiated by remote global climate events, on coral-Symbiodinium symbioses and coral reef communities. READ PAPER

Guatemala arrests civil conflict massacre suspects

BBC – Guatemalan police have detained two men accused of taking part in the massacre of 268 people during the civil war. Lucas Tecu and Mario Acoj are the first suspects to be arrested over the 1982 killing in Plan de Sanchez. The army and members of a civil defence force, to which the two belonged, suspected the villagers of supporting a left-wing rebel group. Witnesses said the victims were rounded up, had grenades thrown at them, and those who tried to flee were shot. Read Article

Oldest Known Wood

The Scientist – Woody plants make up some today’s most impressive and diverse flora, but when and how they evolved is largely unknown. Now, two relatively small fossils provide new clues, and suggest that wood evolved at least 10 million years earlier than previously documented, according to a study published today (August 11) in Science. Read article

The Virtual Physiological Rat

The Scientist – Lab rats are finally catching a break. The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee has received a 5-year, $13 million grant to establish a National Center for Systems Biology, reports Newswise. The first task of the Center will be to create a virtual lab rat—a computer model that will gather all available research data for rats into one place. Read article

Students clash with police in Chile

Reuters – Tear gas and water cannon is used as police forcibly remove 50 students from a Santiago high school which they had occupied. Read article

US- Ratigan blasts US political-banking ties

msnbc- The Dylan Ratigan Show, 9th August 2011

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Europe – Growing Concern Over France’s Top Credit Rating Spreads Market Anxiety

NY Times – With the sense of economic crisis deepening in Europe after the United States debt downgrade, investors have played Who’s Next with the shrinking list of nations that still hold the top rating of AAA. And their sights have landed on France. Read Article

Syrian forces kill 17, U.S. threatens more sanctions

Reuters – Syrian forces killed at least 17 people in raids near the Lebanon border and in the country’s Sunni tribal heartland, activists said, pursuing a military campaign to crush street protests against President Bashar al-Assad. Read Article

Heart disease risk greater for women smokers

The Guardian – Smoking is more likely to give women heart disease than men, a study has found. Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke may have a more potent effect on women due to biological differences, scientists believe. US researchers analysed pooled data on around 4 million individuals from 86 studies. After adjusting for other risk factors, they found the increased risk of heart disease linked to smoking was 25% higher for women. Read article