Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blunt label: 'Monsanto's Man in Washington'

Staff St. Louis Business Journal

Sen. Roy Blunt reportedly pushed forward a provision, which was added to an unrelated bill, that compels the USDA to overlook federal court decisions blocking its approvals of new genetically modified crops.

Blunt said he worked with Monsanto to craft the provision, reports Mother Jones, which labels the Missouri senator as "Monsanto's Man in Washington."

Monsanto contributed $64,250 to Blunt's campaign in 2012 and $44,250 to his 2010 campaign.


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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Algeria president in France for tests after minor stroke

By Lamine Chikhi

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was transferred to France for medical tests on Saturday night after suffering a minor stroke, Algeria's official news agency said.

Bouteflika, who has ruled over the North African oil and gas producer for more than a decade, had an "transient ischemic attack" or mini-stroke on Saturday but his condition was not serious, the APS agency said, quoting the prime minister.

The 76-year-old is part of an older generation of leaders who have dominated politics in a country that supplies a fifth of Europe's gas imports and cooperates with the West in combating Islamist militancy.

He has rarely appeared in public in recent months, prompting speculation about his health.

"The president felt unwell and he has been hospitalised but his condition is not serious at all," Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal was quoted as saying by APS.

The president was then moved to France, on the recommendation of his doctors.

Bouteflika and other members of Algeria's elite have controlled Algeria since it won independence from France in a 1954-62 war.

In the early 1990s, the military-backed politicians overturned an election which Islamists were poised to win and then fought a conflict with them in which about 200,000 people were killed.

They also saw off the challenge of Arab Spring protests two years ago, with Bouteflika's government defusing unrest through pay rises and free loans for young people.

Bouteflika has served three terms as president of the OPEC member and is thought unlikely to seek a fourth at an election due in 2014.

U.S. diplomatic cables leaked in 2011 said Bouteflika had been suffering from cancer but it was in remission.

More than 70 percent of Algerians are under 30. About 21 percent of young people are unemployed, the International Monetary Fund says, and many are impatient with the gerontocracy ruling a country where jobs, wages and housing are urgent concerns.

A transient ischemic attack is a temporary blockage in a blood vessel to the brain. it typically lasts for less than five minutes and "usually causes no permanent injury to the brain", the American Stroke Association said on its website.

The attacks should be seen as a warning as a third of people who experience them go on to have a full stroke within a year, the organisation added. (Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Editing by Andrew Heavens)


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3 Easy, Small Herb Garden Ideas | Care2 Healthy Living

Building a small herb garden is a great way to get started with gardening. Vertical herb gardens don?t take up much space, and they are fairly low-maintenance. If you start early enough, you can start your herb garden from seeds. Don?t worry if you get a later start on your vertical herb garden. You can still transplant starter plants, which you can buy at a nursery. I recently saw herb starter plants at my local farmer?s market for about $3/plant. That?s more than the cost of seeds, but reasonable for a few plants. Remember that small containers need to be watered often. Since there is so little soil and water inside the containers, the sun can quickly dry out the plants. Be sure to water your small vertical herb garden daily. Ready to get started? Here are three ideas for vertical herb gardens that DIY-ers of any level can make.

Photo and project by Home Repair Tutor via

Mason jar vertical herb garden: Stain and finish a board. Mount mason jars on the board vertically with hose clamps and wood screws. Fill jars with a layer of activated charcoal, then potting soil. Plant small herb plants in the soil. With containers that do not drain, like Mason jars, you need the layer of activated charcoal to prevent the roots from rotting. Be careful not to overwater. If possible, drill holes in the bottoms of the jars. The author of the post that I link to here doesn?t mention the activated charcoal, but my experience with planting terrariums tells me that it is important to water moderately and to put a layer of false drainage, like activated charcoal, underneath the soil. Photo by Home Repair Tutor, a Pittsburgh handyman.

Creative Cain Cabin via

Mini kitchen herb garden with bunting: The lovely Dawn from Creative Cain Cabin posted this project, which is an attractive kitchen herb garden in an enameled metal tub. To make an herb garden like hers, thickly plant herbs in a rectangular trough, place the trough on a small plastic container in a large metal tub. That?s it! Make sure that your garden gets plenty of sun. Rotate to expose all sides of the plants to equal amounts of sun.

Crafts a la Mode via

Shoe bag vertical garden: An over-door shoe rack or magazine holder makes a perfect ?frame? for a vertical garden. Fill the pockets with potting soil, and tuck plants into the soil. This is a very space-efficient way to grow a garden, and the idea for using an over-door magazine holder comes from Two Succulent Sisters via Crafts a la Mode.

Whether you are remodeling your deck and want to create an herb garden on it, or if you are starting a garden on your kitchen windowsill, you can use these three ideas for small herb gardens to maximize your space while growing delicious herbs.

Offbeat Gardening: 10 Creative Container Ideas


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Israel responds to Gaza rocket fire with airstrike

JERUSALEM (AP) ? Israel responded to rockets fired from the Gaza Strip with airstrikes on sites used by Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory, the military said on Sunday.

It said its jets struck "a terrorist weapon storage facility and a Hamas training installation" after rockets landed in southern Israel the night before. It also closed a closed a key border crossing with the territory. Gaza health officials said nobody was hurt in the strikes.

On Saturday, thousands of Israelis had been outside in parks and forests celebrating the Jewish holiday of Lag Baomer with traditional bonfires. The rockets exploded in open areas and caused no injuries.

Rocket fire from Gaza has declined since a military campaign in November, before which militants were firing rockets on an almost daily basis and launching other attacks on Israeli towns across the border. Sporadic fire still persists however.

The military said it "will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians" and that it will not allow the situation to return to where it stood before the November campaign.

Israel holds Gaza's militant Hamas rulers responsible for all attacks from the territory. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the attack that the perpetrators will "pay a heavy price." Speaking at a government meeting Sunday, Netanyahu said he will "not allow a policy of sporadic fire" to continue. He said such fire will be met with a "very strong" response.

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A shadowy extremist Muslim Salafi group has been behind recent attacks in the area, including one last month where rockets were fired from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

Hamas sees the Salafis as a threat to its rule and routinely arrest members of the ultraconservative movement in Gaza. Salafis view even Hamas's hardline interpretation of Islamic law as too moderate and the two groups have clashed violently in the past.

Along with the airstrikes, Israel responded to Saturday's rocket fire by closing the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza. It said another terminal will be open for humanitarian cases.


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Friday, April 26, 2013

The Real Estalker: Buckle Your Real Estate Safety Belts...

...The Times of London reveals?(via Curbed) an unfathomably rich but unnamed member of an unidentified Arab royal family is fixin' to fling his titanic central London mansion on the market in a blaze of international real estate shock, awe and publicity with a intergalactic ?250,000,000 price tag. That totals, according to Your Mama's trusty currency conversion contraption, a belly ache making $381,493,000 for all us Americanos.

The elegant, 1830-ish Georgian semi-detached terrace house?is that a proper description??stands four floors above ground with another two subterranean levels that total a downright civic 50,000 (or so) square feet. It's less than half as big as a basic Wal-Mart and it's positively miniature compared to the gargantuan royal palaces some Arab royal families maintain but it is?almost as large as the White House that weighs in at around 56,000 square feet.

A Greek temple-like porte cochere on the front facade stands out like a sore thumb against the rhythmic but featureless office block that dominates and absolutely oppresses the otherwise usually coveted tail end of the swanky cul-de-sac. Worse, perhaps, is the even more disagreeable office tower that looms forbiddingly directly across the narrow lane. Ugly and menacing office buildings aside,?The Times goes on to reveal that India's multi billionaire Hinduja brothers also maintain one or more lavish residences on the terrace that's just a hop, skip, and a jump down The Mall from Buckingham Palace.

?Who's to say the Arab royal will get anywhere near his sky high asking price that?The Times?notes is "almost double the record for a residential property in the UK."Unidentified sources told the property gossips at?The Times?that the owner recently refurbished the redonkulously baronial residence that will likely appeal to a sovereign wealth fund for use as and embassy or ambassadorial residence.

If Your Mama was the betting type?and we're not?we'd throw down our pennies on someone more ? like an obscure multi-billionaire commodities tycoon nobody who reads Vanity Fair has ever heard of from some place most Americans?including Your Mama?could probably neither pronounce nor pick out on a map will come along and snatch that thing up so his pampered youngest daughter and her retinue of handlers and keepers will have a decent place to live while she "attends" Central St. Martins.

What do the children think? What's the profile for a ?buyer of this house at a quarter billion dollars?

photo: Google


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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Toxicity profile informs decision on preferred conditioning regimen in autologous transplant for neuroblastoma

Apr. 24, 2013 ? The stem cell transplant regimen that was commonly used in the United States to treat advanced neuroblastoma in children appears to be more toxic than the equally effective regimen employed in Europe and Egypt, according to a new study to be presented at the 26th annual meeting of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology Oncology in Miami April 24-27. The U.S. regimen was associated with more acute toxicity to the kidneys and liver.

This and other research informed the recent decision of the Children's Oncology Group (COG) to switch to the busulfan-based regimen used for years in Europe and Egypt, said senior author Leslie E. Lehmann, MD, clinical director of pediatric stem cell transplantation at Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC) in Boston.

Both approaches to high-risk neuroblastoma employ high doses of chemotherapy to eradicate cancer cells followed by infusion of the patient's previously collected stem cells to allow the patient to recover more quickly and safely. Since 2007, physicians at DF/CHCC and others in the Children's Oncology Group had been using a combination of high-dose carboplatin, etoposide, and melphalan to prepare patients for transplant, said Lehmann. European centers have preferred busulfan and melphalan over the platinum-based regimen.

"We have had a long-standing collaboration with Children's Cancer Hospital Egypt in Cairo, which is under the leadership of senior author Dr. Alaa Elhaddad," Lehmann said. "We decided to compare the toxicities in patients who received care that was very similar except for the drugs used in the preparative regimen.

"We found there was no difference in survival, but our regimen was associated with more liver and kidney toxicity and more bloodstream infections," she noted. "This was very useful information as COG contemplated switching to the European approach."

In addition to the idea of using toxicity data to choose between approaches of similar efficacy, Lehmann noted, "This study demonstrates you can have true collaboration between transplant centers located in very different parts of the world."

First author of the study is Yasser Elborai, MD, of the Children's Cancer Hospital Egypt.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, via Newswise. The original article was written by Richard Saltus.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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