Archive | June, 2013

Reconstructing DNA 1Ma Possible

30 Jun

In Canada, DNA that was buried 7,000 centuries ago has been unearthed and reconstructed. The horse bone was protected by permafrost and found in the Yukon. The technique increased the previous limit by a factor of 10. It now may be possible to reconstruct the DNA of mammals that lived 700,000 years ago. 1 Ma represents one million years ago.

Before this work, the oldest genome that had been recovered was that of a Denisovan human who lived 70,000 years ago. The new finding, if accepted, would extend by tenfold the reach of paleogenomics, the study of ancient genomes reconstructed from fossil bones.

DNA has a half-life of 521 years. There is no hope for reconstructing dinosaurs as they went extinct 65Ma. There remains the ability to clone some of the earliest anatomically modern humans, which began 100,000-200,000 (1-2ka) years ago or even easier, Neanderthals found 50,000 years ago in Europe. Of course, we may already have a little Neanderthal in us already.

Triple Play Service in the US

26 Jun

Comcast, Verizon Editorials Distort True Picture of U.S. Internet Service, Experts Say

The number of people in the US watching TV OTA (Over the Air) has grown over the last 3 years from 14% to over 19%. The main reason proposed, is the cost of cable. The discussion over cable rates these days cannot be stripped out of internet access rates, as the same company you choose for either, will be providing both.

Triple play (Internet, Cable, and phone) rates in the US are at record highs. The average US cost for these services is $160 per month, as compared to $38, for example, in France. Even though the US “invented” the internet, we now have some of the slowest services in the world. (29th and dropping)

Over the course of the last 20 years, nearly $500 billion has been collected by the telecom companies to (allegedly) bring America into the 21st century with an “Information Superhighway,” says Johnston. That works out ot $3,000 per household to have access to high-speed Internet.

And we hear from Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam in a New York Times Opinion that :

“…..the United States has gained a global leadership position in the marketplace for broadband”

What started when AT&T was busted up to “create competition and lower cost” has done everything but that. Comcast Chief Executive David Cohen says “consumer prices have remained relatively stable“. That is not a sign of a competitive environment.

In the UK, the government required that service providers that were building out their networks to share that build out with competitors for a reasonable price. This process is now being proposed for the entire EU per an article by Wired Magazine.

Pricing in the UK decreased as internet service was deployed, per ofCom (Independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries).

Over The Air TV Reception is Growing

24 Jun

A recent survey finds that over 19% of TV viewing households in the US get their TV Over-The-Air (OTA) for free. Three years ago, it was only 14%.

 

 

When the US went to Digital/ HD broadcasting in 1998, broadcast over the air programming remained. Analog transmission went silent in 2009, when all new TVs were required to have a digital tuner. The broadcast signals went Digital, so what you can get OTA is HD content and more. Broadcast on the basic frequency as PBS, for example, are the standard programs and 2 additional programming channels.

Selection of programming has expanded to fill a minority demand.

The majority of Latino households that primarily speak Spanish now use an antenna to get their TV programming, with only 49 percent of those households subscribing to a pay TV service. Also notable: 28 percent of all households with a head of household under the age of 35 use an antenna instead of a pay TV subscription.

The economy is said to be in recovery, but the growing household use of OTA programming would suggest otherwise. Likewise the push by Verizon and AT&T to increase their fees due to reduced subscribers suggests otherwise.

Within this Blog is an article on stripping commercials out of OTA television programming.

If you’d like to see the channels that are available to you by Zip, or street address, go to this link : ANTENNA WEB

 

 

The World Food Prize and Angry Mermaid Award

21 Jun

Monsanto was awarded the World Food Prize for the development of the ability to insert foreign genes into plants. The award, here in the US, is released by the nonprofit World Food Award Foundation, whose contributions include $5M from Monsanto in 2008.

GMO products are banned in Europe. They have a different award. In Copenhagen, Monsanto was awarded the Angry Mermaid Award for many achievements, including the same ability to insert foreign genes into plants.

A YouTube video entitled Seeds of Death is an hour and 19 minute perspective on GMO products and their impact on our planet.

Transplanting Feces 6/20/2013

20 Jun

People that have contracted Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) bacteria have not been able to find a cure until recently. The treatment today, found to be successful over 90% of the time, involves transplanting feces from a healthy patient into the gut of the infected patient. OSU has approved treatment in Ohio.

This week, FDA backed off the requirement for hospitals and doctors to “treat human stool as an unapproved drug”.

So who are those “donors” for the program? As an example of a universal donor is Dr. Hunter Johnson.

8/14/2013 Update – Researchers are now working to generate safe alternatives to the real thing in the laboratory.

They Used to Call It Price Fixing

19 Jun

It used to be that companies could not collude to fix prices and avoid competition.

In 2008, DeBeers settled a lawsuit about price fixing diamonds.

In 2010, DRAM makers settled a price fixing litigation with 33 states.

Even this month, Chocolate manufacturers in Canada were being sued for price fixing chocolate in that country.

Canada’s Competition Bureau said in a statement that Hershey Canada was expected to plead guilty later this month “for its role in the conspiracy to fix the price of chocolate confectionery products in Canada.”

This week the Supreme Court ruled that profit sharing between drug companies that hold patents and generic manufacturers can be legally challenged.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for millions of Americans who depend on generic drugs to treat illness and pain,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “Pay-for-delay drug settlements should receive serious scrutiny because they are frequently anti-competitive, unlawful, and harmful to health-care consumers across the country.”

In the Federal Trade Commission vs. Activis lawsuit, Solvay Pharmaceutical had negotiated an agreement to pay three generic manufacturers between $31M and $42M to withhold a generic version (and patent challenges) of the AndroGel product from the market until 2015. AndroGel is topical testosterone applied in gel form.

The FTC has fought such “pay-for-delay” settlements for a decade as their number has grown, from just three in 2005 to 40 last year. They were joined in this case by a coalition of 36 states that argued the deals should be subject to challenge.

It is suggested that generic manufacturers have to legally challenge a drug patent before they can bring a generic version to market. The “pay for delay” agreements are apparently put in place to avoid the litigation costs. An explanation of the duration, and types of drug patents can be found here.

Either way, the Supreme Court ruling should open the door for generic drugs to make their way to market earlier.

Addendum to Vernon Hershberger Trial

19 Jun

The trial for Vernon resulted in a $1000 fine and no jail time. The verdict on the safety of raw milk remains at large in Wisconsin.