Author Archives: Heidi

How Syrians Saved an Ancient Seedbank From Civil War

Wired

A year and half after the war began, the fighting drew close enough to Aleppo that the Center’s international staff was advised to leave Syria. That left about 50 Syrian staff members responsible for completing the second round of the evacuation: shipping as many samples as possible to the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. That’s the “backup to the backup,” the genebank designed to outlast all other genebanks from its location in the Arctic Circle and come to the rescue in case of worldwide, catastrophic crop destruction, explains Salazar, whose organization oversees the Svalbard collection.

Even as the area around the genebank fell under the control of two competing armed groups and the remaining staff reckoned with several kidnappings, they managed to backup 80 percent of the center’s collection in Svalbard. The last shipment farrived at Svalbard in March 2014—nearly two years after Amri and much of the rest of the international staff had relocated to Rabat, Morocco. Last month, the Center won the Gregor Mendel Innovation Prize—coveted among plant breeders—for its rescue and preservation of the genebank. And amazingly, the Aleppo site continues to be operational. The Syrian staff has managed to keep the electricity on and the genebank intact through four years of war.

Now comes the hard part: planting the seeds the team sent away and regenerating those crops far from home. Usually, genebanks store about a pound of each kind of seed they collect, but the “safety duplicated” samples stored at other genebanks are only about half an ounce, says Thomas Payne, the head of the genebank at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center outside of Mexico City, which stores many of ICARDA’s emergency backups.

Half an ounce isn’t enough to share with farmers, one of a genebank’s central missions. “What is the value of having all that material secured but not accessible?” Payne says. The Center has granted Payne and his team permission to open their duplicated wheat samples and start planting them at the Mexican center, both to help bulk up the collection and make sure the samples are still viable. After all, “just because something’s in the refrigerator, it doesn’t mean it’s alive,” Salazar points out.

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Filed under Culture, Farming, Middle East

A horrific statistic

“He told me that if I told anybody, my parents wouldn’t believe me; he’d come get me. As a matter of fact, he told me my parents wouldn’t love me anymore. He brainwashed me,” Merryn explained. “No one had been educating me, ‘You don’t keep these kinds of secrets. You’ll be believed; this isn’t your fault.'”

“There’s no sign across the forehead that says ‘I was abused.’ And yet one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday,” — Erin Merryn.

Now the little girl turn activist is working to pass a law that would empower children. She wants to protect them from the nightmare she experienced for years.

Author and activist Erin Merryn is on a mission to protect children from being sexually abused. With millions of victims in the United States alone, the Illinois woman is taking her fight to all 50 states and beyond.

People magazine named her one of 15 women changing the world. With a bubbly baby girl, supportive husband, and infectious personality, you’d never guess Erin Merryn has endured tragic, unimaginable acts.

This vibrant 30-year-old is a survivor of sexual abuse.

Many are. I am a survivor and I do not want others to endure what I did. Implement this law in each state.

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Filed under Culture, Preventing child sexual abuse

May we start with the UN?

DailyCaller

United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said humanity “really should make every effort” to reduce global population trends to protect the environment and fight global warming in an interview with Climate One.

The U.N. predicts the global population will number 9 billion people by 2050 — a number that makes many environmentalists worry. Climate One Founder Greg Dalton pressed Figueres on whether or not she thinks there are policies to reduce the 9 billion 2050 estimate.

“I mean we all know that we expect nine billion, right, by 2050,” Figueres told Dalton in an interview. “So, yes, obviously less people would exert less pressure on the natural resources.”

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Filed under "Global Warming", Ecology, Stupidity, Unnecessary Nations, Useful Idiots

Native Americans Tribes Defend Traditional Marriage

CBNNews

Months before the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue of gay marriage, Native American tribes have taken steps to defend traditional marriage.

Eleven tribes with a total membership approaching a million people will not recognize same-sex marriages.

Just weeks after North Carolina began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, the state’s Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians updated its law to prevent gay couples from having marriage ceremonies on tribal land.

Tribes that don’t recognize same-sex marriage include the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and the Navajo Nation.

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Filed under American Indians, Culture, LGBT

Indiana Shows the Left Has No Concept of Freedom

TheFederalist

Work with me a little bit to follow this logic. If the government says gay marriage is legal, then it is required for all private citizens to approve of and cooperate with it. That which is not forbidden is mandatory.

Now, when we say that gay marriage is legal, what we actually mean is that the government is required to offer and recognize these marriages. But Tomasky assumes that what the state must do, private citizens must do also. If a law binds the actions of the state, it is also binding on Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public. There is no distinction, in Tomasky’s mind, between government action and private action.

God forbid that the concept of freedom should allow you, as an individual, to resist social changes you don’t like. Clearly, the best way to protect religious liberty is to never invoke it in defense of anything that is really, really unpopular. Or at least, anything that is really unpopular among New York and DC elites.

See what I mean when I say that the left has no concept of freedom? It may have some concept of a range of disagreement that is socially acceptable and on which the state chooses to remain neutral—though with the revival of old-fashioned Political Correctness, that range is getting increasingly narrow, even for the true believers. But they have no concept of a right to do something or think something or say something simply because it is what you think and want, regardless of whether society as a whole approves of it. And without that, there is no concept of freedom.

To be sure, the concept of freedom was damaged long ago. The whole reason the new religious freedom laws are necessary is because the ever-expanding power of the state has built up so many controls that already interfere with every little aspect of life. (The original, federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed in response to a court case involving drug laws.) So the laws inevitably clash with citizens’ private judgment and personal convictions in myriad ways. And these new laws are not even an absolute protection against that interference.

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Filed under Cronyism, Culture, Democrats, Elitism, Employment, Entitlement, Homofascism, Hypocrisy, LGBT, Liberals, Politics, Religious Freedom, Stupidity, Useful Idiots, What is Diversity?

Hypocrisy at its finest…

Apple’s gay CEO slams Indiana, yet opens stores in Saudi Arabia

In what Indiana‘s governor and his supporters describe as defense of any given individual’s religious convictions, detractors roundly decry as blatant discrimination against the LGBT community. Possibly the best explanation of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) rendered down to two sentences would be that as reported by CBS News on March 30, 2015, “Supporters say it protects a person or business owner from government persecution when following their religious beliefs. But opponents say the measure gives businesses a free pass to refuse gay and lesbian customers on religious grounds.”

Despite the Hoosier State’s Governor Mike Pence stressing the new law wouldn’t legalize discrimination against certain individuals or groups, but instead would protect the religious convictions of service providers such as pro-life pharmacists forced to sell abortifacients (abortion-inducing drugs), a number of high profile pro-LBGT advocates have slammed Pence and the Indiana legislature. One of the more prominent would be Apple CEO Tim Cook, who the Gawker.com news portal tagged in 2011 as “The Most Powerful Gay Man in America.”

As reported by CBS, Cook took to the editorial pages of The Washington Post slam the RFRA as he believes it “goes against the very principles our nation was founded on.” Not done yet, Cook also opined “On behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement.”

However, Cook made no mention of Apple Inc. expanding to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last year. As reported by Arabian Business on Dec. 20, 2014, Apple opened two new stores in Riyadh and Al Khobar. According to Apple’s official website, the corporation has well over 14 retail stores within the Kingdom, as well as numerous other stores the width and breadth of the Muslim World. A number of the same Muslim-majority nations also adhere to Islamic Shari’a law which clearly states homosexuality to be illegal.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes it a bit further. Saudi Arabia executes homosexuals. Publicly executing homosexuals isn’t the only Shari’a compliant move taken in the oil rich nation. Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the powerful Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared in 2012 that it is “necessary to destroy all the [Christian] churches of the region.” Not finished with calling for the death of homosexuals or bulldozing churches, the Sheikh also gave the official thumbs-up for 10-year-old girls to be married off against their will.

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Filed under "Community Organizers", Apple, Cronyism, Culture, Elitism, Entitlement, Government, Hypocrisy, Islam, LGBT, Liberals, Middle East, Shariah, Stupidity, Useful Idiots

Republicans warn world that Obama U.N. plan could be undone

Yahoo

The Obama administration’s plan for U.N. climate change talks encountered swift opposition after its release Tuesday, with Republican leaders warning other countries to “proceed with caution” in negotiations with Washington because any deal could be later undone.

The White House is seeking to enshrine its pledge in a global climate agreement to be negotiated Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris. It calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by close to 28 percent from 2005 levels within a decade, using a host of existing laws and executive actions targeting power plants, vehicles, oil and gas production and buildings.

But Republican critics say the administration lacks the political and legal backing to commit the United States to an international agreement.

“Considering that two-thirds of the U.S. federal government hasn’t even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

But elements of the administration’s climate policy already face legal challenges. On April 16, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. will hear arguments from 13 states opposed to as-yet-unfinalized regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that target emissions in existing power plants.

And McConnell’s warnings echoed the tone of a March 9 “open letter” from 47 Republican senators to Iran, in which they warned a Republican president would not be bound to honor a nuclear agreement struck by Democrat Obama without congressional approval, calling it a “mere executive agreement.”

Some observers said that resistance to the administration’s climate policies leaves foreign governments questioning whether Obama’s commitments can last.

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Filed under "Global Warming", "Intelligence", "Transparency", Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, Executive Order, Government, Hypocrisy, Liberals, Politics, President

Always have an exit strategy…

Losing a job is always terrible. For workers over 50, it’s worse

Older workers who do lose a job spend longer periods out of work, and if they do find another job, it tends to pay less than the one they left. A new survey from the AARP sheds a lot of light on how older people react to sudden unemployment, what their new work looks like, and why.

So what happens if you do find another job? According to the AARP survey, although older people often found the working conditions at their new jobs were better than their old one, nearly half found that the new job paid less.

People who’ve spent a long time developing a specific skill set have more limited options when they go out looking for something new, and indeed, 53 percent of re-employed respondents said they changed occupations. Employers can be reluctant to hire someone who might come with higher health-care costs and have a shorter future with the company.

That’s why avoiding job loss in the first place is so important.

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Filed under Economics, Employment, Retirement

Harry Reid’s appalling defense of his attack on Mitt Romney’s tax record

WaPo

Reid, in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, not only refusing to apologize for the claim but defending it — in a very weird way.

“Romney didn’t win, did he?” Reid said in response to Bash’s question of whether he regretted what he had said about Romney.

Think about that logic for a minute. What Reid is saying is that it’s entirely immaterial whether what he said about Romney and his taxes was true. All that mattered was that Romney didn’t win.

Where to begin?

How about with the fact that this all-means-justify-the-ends logic — assuming the end is your desired one — is absolutely toxic for politics and, more importantly, democracy.

If you can lie — or, at a minimum, mislead based on scant information or rumor — then anything is justified in pursuit of winning.

But allowing elected officials to say anything they want about people running for office — and requiring zero proof in order to report those claims — seems to be a bridge too far. And to defend that behavior by saying, “Well, we won, didn’t we?” feels like the junior high school logic that shouldn’t be employed by the men and women trusted with representing us in Washington — or anywhere else.

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Filed under Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, Hypocrisy, Liberals, Politics

Anglo Saxon remedy kills hospital superbug MRSA

NewScientist

Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together… take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek… let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…

So goes a thousand-year-old Anglo Saxon recipe to vanquish a stye, an infected eyelash follicle.

The medieval medics might have been on to something. A modern-day recreation of this remedy seems to alleviate infections caused by the bacteria that are usually responsible for styes. The work might ultimately help create drugs for hard-to-treat skin infections.

The project was born when Freya Harrison, a microbiologist at the University of Nottingham, UK, got talking to Christina Lee, an Anglo Saxon scholar. They decided to test a recipe from an Old English medical compendium called Bald’s Leechbook, housed in the British Library.

Some of the ingredients, such as copper from the brass vessel, kill bacteria grown in a dish – but it was unknown if they would work on a real infection or how they would combine.

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Filed under Health, History, Medical Discoveries