Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for February 24th, 2012

DRACO, a cure for the flu?

Posted by Anonymous on February 24, 2012

I have a flu today so I thought I’d briefly hunt for a cure before going back to sleep. I don’t want to just treat symptoms, I want a cure. Yes, there may actually be one… in about a decade. I expect my flu to be gone by then, so the slow pace is annoying. With something like this people should get excited, many labs around the world should join in the research, ramp it up, make the damn thing happen.

Forget the flu shot—how about a flu cure? And along with it, a cure for HPV, chickenpox, and West Nile virus? According to a new study published in PloS One, researchers have found a way to disrupt nearly all viruses—including those we haven’t heard of yet.

The experimental antiviral is called DRACO (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizer). In tests, it saved mice infected with a lethal dose of H1N1 influenza.

DRACO targets double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), which appears only in virus-infected cells as part of the virus’s reproduction process. Via a protein, it causes cells with dsRNA to die while preserving uninfected cells. Cleaning up the remains of the dead cells poses no challenge for your body, meaning that a treatment causes few side effects.

Since virtually all viruses depend on dsRNA to reproduce, DRACO could be a breakthrough with wide-ranging applications, says Todd Rider, Ph.D., who invented the therapy with researchers at MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s Chemical, Biological, and Nanoscale Technologies Group. “So far we have tested DRACO against 15 different viruses, everything from the common cold to hemorrhagic fever viruses, and it has been effective against all of them,” Rider says.

via MensHealth

A potentially groundbreaking drug appears effective against a wide range of viral infections, including the common cold, flu, stomach viruses, polio and dengue fever — at least in mice.

The new drug is made from living cell’s own defense systems and works by targeting a type of genetic material found only in those cells infected by viruses, MIT researchers explained.

“Currently there are very few antiviral treatments, and most that do exist are highly specific for individual viruses or have undesirable side effects,” noted lead researcher Todd Rider, a senior staff scientist at Lincoln Laboratory’s Chemical, Biological, and Nanoscale Technologies Group, which is part of MIT.

The new drug is called DRACO (from the more unwieldy “double-stranded RNA activated caspase oligomerizers”). According to Rider, it “has the potential to safely treat or prevent a broad spectrum of viral infections.”

Still, a long road awaits before humans might benefit, if ever. Clinical trials remain years away and any drug available to patients might not materialize for a decade, Rider said. …

“We are hoping to license this technology to a pharmaceutical company that can carry it through larger animal trials and human clinical trials. Realistically, it will probably be at least a decade before you can buy DRACO at the drug store.” Rider said.

Mario Stevenson, a professor of medicine and chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine agreed that the approach is innovative. “But there is a big difference in administering a protein to mice and doing the same protein in humans,” he said. “We have learned the hard way that in going from mice to men there are many hurdles to overcome.”

via USNews

How does Draco work?

Natural proteins in an infected cell detect the presence of a virus. These proteins are sensitive to double stranded RNA, a genetic molecule unique to and present in nearly all viruses.

Todd Rider has taken one of these natural proteins and bound it to another natural protein – also present in all cells – that triggers cell suicide.

To help the new protein penetrate a cell, he added a feature that imitates part of the HIV virus, borrowing that virus’ ability to break into cells.

Once administered, the drug travels to every cell in the body but it will only activate in infected cells.

In a matter of hours, the RNA-sensing part of the drug detects the virus and activates the cell suicide part. When the host cell dies, so does the virus.


I’m wondering if visualizing this cell suicide happening naturally everywhere I detect a viral invader will cure me quickly of this flu that has now moved into my lungs. Worth a try. I’ll sit in the sun in my garden and meditate on healing like this for 30 minutes.

Posted in Biology, Health, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Ghana coach says witchcraft is reason for team split

Posted by Anonymous on February 24, 2012

Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic has revealed deep divisions within the squad, saying some players used witchcraft against their own team-mates.

The Serbian made his claim in a leaked report on the Black Stars’ failure at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, where they were beaten by eventual winners Zambia in the semi-finals.

“We all need to help in changing some players’ mentality about using ‘black power’ to destroy themselves, and also make sure we instil discipline and respect for each other,” the coach said.

In a report delivered to the Ghana Football Association’s (GFA) executive committee, Stevanovic added: “After losing to Zambia, there arose so many accusations amongst the players.

“I have learnt great lessons from African football and also about Ghanaian players’ behaviour on and off the field.

The coach did not name any specific players in that part of the report and the GFA is refusing to comment on the matter, saying it does not discuss any issues arising from leaked documents.

“It has always happened, but players have used it to protect themselves and normally in search of luck,” Sarfo Gyami, who was a member of the Ghana side at the 1992 Nations Cup, told BBC Sport.

“I have never heard of a situation when players have used it against their own colleagues. That is a very bad situation.”

The image of Ghana’s team during the Nations Cup was one of unity, with videos and pictures being beamed from the camp in Franceville of players holding late night prayer and singing sessions as a sign of their strong bond.

But both Stevanovic and GFA president Kwesi Nyantakyi say there were deep divisions.

“During the competition we observed that some players played to achieve personal fame, prominence and excellence to the detriment of the team,” Nyantakyi said at a press conference earlier this week. …

via BBC Sport – Ghana coach says witchcraft is reason for team split.

Posted in Paranormal, Sports | Leave a Comment »

Mali clashes displace nearly 130,000, UN warns

Posted by Anonymous on February 24, 2012

Malian refugees at a camp in Chinegodar, western Niger, close to the Malian border, on 4 February 2012 Nearly 130,000 people have been displaced by fighting between Tuareg rebels and government forces since mid-January in Mali, the UN has warned. The clashes had displaced an estimated 60,000 people inside Mali, and a further 69,000 had fled to neighbouring countries, a spokesman told the BBC. Adrian Edwards warned that basic supplies were urgently needed, as those displaced “don’t have anything”. Dozens are feared to have died, but independent information is scarce.  The Azawad National Liberation Movement MNLA, which wants independence for the northern region of Mali, took up arms last month and has launched attacks on northern towns and army bases. It came after many Tuareg fighters returned from Libya, where they had fought alongside Col Muammar Gaddafi’s forces. Rights groups have urged the government, meanwhile, not to bomb civilians. The resurgence in fighting follows two years of relative peace between the government and the Tuareg.”Over a space of a few weeks we have seen literally tens of thousands of people being displaced to at least four countries surrounding Mali, plus smaller numbers in Togo, Guinea as well,” Mr Edwards said.He said there were an estimated 60,000 inside Mali, as well as some 29,000 in Niger, 22,000 in Mauritania and 18,000 in Burkina Faso. The estimated 130,000 people displaced by the fighting is about 0.8% of the entire Malian population, which was estimated at 15.8m in 2011 – and a far greater proportion of the harsh, arid north part of the country. Mr Edwards warned that there were “quite critical” needs for basic supplies – including shelter, food, water and medicines. …

via BBC News – Mali clashes displace nearly 130,000, UN warns.

Looking for ways to help, this seems like an organization people could donate to… but I don’t know that this would be the best one. Anyone have any thoughts on how to best help these people?

The ICRC regional delegation in Niamey covers Mali and Niger. The ICRC protects and helps people affected by armed conflict in both countries. It visits detainees and provides them with material aid where necessary. … The ICRC strives to promote international humanitarian law among the armed forces and other weapon bearers, and to encourage the authorities to implement it throughout the region. It focuses its efforts on ensuring that international humanitarian law is included in the training and practices of the armed and security forces.

Posted in War | Leave a Comment »

IRS has $1 billion in unclaimed tax refunds

Posted by Anonymous on February 24, 2012

The IRS said today it’s holding $1 billion in unclaimed tax refunds, owed to people who didn’t file a return in 2008. I guess the good news is that, if those taxpayers don’t claim the money — they have until April 17 this year to do so — then that’s some revenue the government can use, to avoid cutting programs, or maybe to shore up Social Security and Medicare. It’s basically a drop in the bucket, but every little bit helps, right?

That said, if the money is yours, go get it! Find out more on this IRS page.

via IRS has $1 billion in unclaimed tax refunds – Personal Finance Daily – MarketWatch.

Posted in Money | Leave a Comment »

Sir Richard Branson wins rights to richardbranson.xxx

Posted by Anonymous on February 24, 2012

http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/58676000/jpg/_58676146_bransons.jpgSir Richard Branson has won control of the domain name richardbranson.xxx.

The tycoon had been in dispute with Australian Sean Truman, who registered the domain name last year.

The National Arbitration Forum (NAF), a US-based adjudication body, ruled that Mr Truman had registered and used richardbranson.xxx “in bad faith”.

The .xxx domain was introduced as a home for pornography and other adult-orientated web sites in 2011.

“We worry about the misuse of Sir Richard’s name and he is pleased that we now have it under our ownership,” said Nick Fox, a spokesman for the founder of the Virgin business empire.

Icann, the body which has overall responsibility for domain names, had ordered the transfer of the richardbranson.xxx domain name to Virgin, Mr Fox added.

Trademark owners were given the opportunity to block the registration of .xxx domain names last year before they were made available for general public registration.

Mr Fox said that Virgin was in the process of doing this when Mr Truman registered it, four days after general availability.

In Mr Truman’s argument to the NAF, he contended that he had registered the domain name as a “souvenir” because of his admiration of Sir Richard.

He argued that Sir Richard has a history of using the “sex sells” principle in his business activities, using “Virgin” as a generic brand name.

The NAF ruled that Mr Truman should have recognized that his registration and control of richardbranson.xxx “would serve to vex or embarrass” Sir Richard. …

via BBC News – Sir Richard Branson wins rights to richardbranson.xxx.

Posted in Politics, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, Religious Nuts, Beat Daughter, 7, to Death for Mispronouncing Word

Posted by Anonymous on February 24, 2012

Kevin-Schatz.jpgElizabeth-Schatz_opt-1.jpgKevin and Elizabeth Schatz adopted three kids from an orphanage in Liberia to live with their other six kids in a remote area outside Sacramento. As it turns out, the children might have been better off remaining in that lawless African shithole…

The Schatz’s homeschooled their nine children and grew their own food. Which would all be well and good if they weren’t also followers of nutbag Tennessee evangelist Michael Pearl. His schtick is to teach parents to beat their children so they become more obedient to God and family.

Apparently their 7-year-old daughter Lydia was struggling with one of her homeschool lessons and she mispronounced a word. That might be expected since the girl’s formative years were spent in Liberia. But the Schatz’s decided that God wanted her beaten. So they did.

Police say Elizabeth held the girl down while Kevin beat her on the back with a plastic tube for hours. The torture caused mas

sive tissue damage.

When Lydia stopped breathing, Elizabeth called 911. Medical workers resuscitated her at a nearby hospital. But Lydia died later Saturday morning.

Police also found that another 11-year-old adopted girl had been beaten for lying and supposedly being a bad influence on Lydia. She is now in critical condition at a Sacramento hospital suffering from kidney failure due to her injuries.

Detectives found a 15-inch piece of tubing believed to have been used in the beatings. Both parents have been charged with murder. …

via Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, Religious Nuts, Beat Daughter, 7, to Death for Mispronouncing Word – True Crime Report.

The above was written two years ago By Pete Kotz on Monday, February 22, 2010.  CNN had the story after they were sent to prison. This follow up is from August 16, 2011:

A California couple is behind bars after pleading guilty to torturing and murdering their seven-year-old adopted daughter.

According to CNN, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz of Paradise, California beat seven-year-old Lydia Schatz to death because they believe “God” wanted them to. The couple beat Lydia for seven consecutive hours, with breaks for prayer, on the day she died. When police arrived at the Schatz residence, Lydia was still alive. An officer administered CPR, but it was too late.

The marathon torture session was allegedly sparked by the mispronunciation of a word during the Liberian-born child’s homeschool lesson.

“We have heard the phrase ‘death by a thousand lashes,” Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey told CNN. “That’s basically what this was.”

Lydia was beaten with, among other things, a 15″ plumbing supply tube, called a “biblical rod” by the Schatzes.

The Schatzes didn’t only beat little Lydia; all nine of their children were victims of regular torture. Eleven-year-old Zariah was beaten so severely that she almost died too; all eight surviving children were placed in foster homes when Kevin and Elizabeth were arrested.

The couple was apparently heavily influenced by a Christian child-rearing book titled To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl of  Tennessee-based No Greater Joy Ministries.

Ramsey told CNN that there is “no doubt” the book influenced the Schatzes.

CNN interviewed the book’s authors at their Tennessee home. “If you spare the rod, you hate your child,” Michael Pearl explained, “but if you love him, you chasten him timely.” “God would not have commanded parents to use the rod if it were not good for the child,” the book states.

Kevin Schatz, who pleaded guilty to torture and murder, will face at least 22 years behind bars. His wife will be locked up for at least 12. At Kevin’s trial, 11-year-old Zariah courageously faced her tormenter and asked him: “Why did you adopt her (Lydia)? To kill her?”

- link

The child abuse manual “To Train Up A Child” has about the same number of positive as negative reviews on Amazon years after it inspired Lydia’s torture and murder by her parents.

5 star:  (867)
4 star:  (73)
3 star:  (16)
2 star:  (13)
1 star:  (956)

There have been many children, not just one, tortured and at least three killed by their parents as a result of this book.

Amazon Comment: There are several news reports of parents who have beat their children to death, and this book was found in the home. Not one or two but several. So how many more innocent children need to be beat or worse yet killed, before you make enough money off this Amazon.com.

Wikipedia: The content of Pearl’s book has been cited as advocating child abuse  …

Here’s another:

Hana Grace-Rose Williams came to Washington state from Ethiopia in 2008 with ringworm, cold sores, parasites and hepatitis B. But none of those things killed her.

Instead, Skagit County authorities say, 13-year-old Hana died because her adoptive parents chronically starved her, abused her and left her outside on a cold May night with inadequate clothing.

On Thursday, more than four months after her death from hypothermia, Carri and Larry Williams, of Sedro-Woolley, were arrested and charged with homicide by abuse in connection with the death of their adopted daughter. They remained in the Skagit County Jail Thursday night on bail of $500,000 each. …

One person told investigators the couple had a book called, “To Train Up A Child,” which teaches parents to switch their children with a plastic tube, starting at the age of 1. It also advocates putting children in cold-water baths for toilet training or putting them outside in cold weather, having them miss meals and sleep on the floor as punishment, the affidavit says.

The book, written by Michael and Debbie Pearl, is offered on Amazon.com for $7.95 but receives many negative reviews, such as, “I can’t believe Amazon.com is allowing this book to be sold on their website. It encourages child abuse! This book teaches parents to treat their children worse than dogs!”

- link

Here’s a third:

http://www.teenadvocatesusa.org/sean_paddock.jpgA few years ago, Lynn Paddock sought Christian advice on how to discipline her growing brood of adopted children.

March 16, 2006 I  North Carolina I  A Johnston County mother accused of murdering Sean, her 4-year-old adopted son, and beating two other
adopted children — surfed the Internet, said her attorney, Michael Reece. She found literature by an evangelical minister and his wife who recommended using plumbing supply lines to spank misbehaving children.

Paddock ordered Michael and Debi Pearl’s books and started spanking her adopted children as suggested. After Sean, the youngest of Paddock’s six adopted children, died last month, his older sister and brother told investigators about Paddock’s spankings.

The Pearls’ advice from their Web site: A swift whack with the plastic tubing would sting but not bruise. Give 10 licks at a time, more if the child resists. Be careful about using it in front of others — even at church; nosy neighbors might call social workers. Save hands for nurturing, not disciplining. Heed the warning, taken from Proverbs in the Old Testament, that sparing the rod will spoil the child.

Paddock and other moms in her rural Baptist church chatted about the Pearls’ strategies for rearing obedient children, Reece said.

“I think she was trying to do the right thing by her children,” he said.

Paddock, 45, faces a possible lifetime behind bars or execution if convicted of causing Sean’s death.

Paddock seems to have carefully followed the Pearls’ teachings. Investigators found 2-foot lengths of plumbing supply line in several rooms of her remote farmhouse.

The Pearls offer shopping advice on their Web site, http://www.nogreaterjoy.org: “You can buy them for under $1.00 at Home Depot or any hardware store. They come cheaper by the dozen and can be widely distributed in every room and vehicle. Just the high profile of their accessibility will keep the kids in line.”  …

There is a movement to get Amazon to remove this and similar books:

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO: Refuse to carry books which advocate the physical abuse of children.

Currently there are several books available to buy on Amazon (both .com and .co.uk) that advocate, endorse and advise on parenting methods that involve the physical abuse of children. Examples of titles include To Train Up A Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl; Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp; and Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman.

Such books, and others like them, promote behaviour which is abusive of children. All of the above books advocate the use of a rod and other implements on children under one.

Such behaviour is abusive to children, and it is also ‘offensive’, which is contrary to Amazon’s Content Guidelines.

It may well also be illegal, as it seems to go far beyond the ‘reasonable chastisement’ currently sanctioned by law in the UK, (where this petition originated) and in many US States. Not only is beating on a regular basis with a rod likely to leave a mark, which is illegal in the UK, it is also likely to amount to inhuman or degrading treatment, which is a breach of human rights.

We wish Amazon to urgently review their decision to stock any book or other product which advises the physical abuse of children.

To read more go to: http://mamamule.blogspot.com/2011/08/amazon-we-find-child-abuse-offensive.html

Beating your child does not produce a well-adjusted disciplined adult. It produces an adult who is deeply psychologically damaged and is very likely to abuse others.

Posted in Crime, Religion | Leave a Comment »


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