Archive for August 30th, 2013

Miniature ‘human brain’ grown in lab

Miniature ‘human brain’ grown in lab

Miniature “human brains” have been grown in a lab in a feat scientists hope will transform the understanding of neurological disorders.

The pea-sized structures reached the same level of development as in a nine-week-old foetus, but are incapable of thought.

The study, published in the journal Nature, has already been used to gain insight into rare diseases.

Neuroscientists have described the findings as astounding and fascinating.

The human brain is one of the most complicated structures in the universe.

Scientists at Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences have now reproduced some of the earliest stages of the organ’s development in the laboratory.

Brain bath

They used either embryonic stem cells or adult skin cells to produce the part of an embryo that develops into the brain and spinal cord – the neuroectoderm.

This was placed in tiny droplets of gel to give a scaffold for the tissue to grow and was placed into a spinning bioreactor, a nutrient bath that supplies nutrients and oxygen.

The cells were able to grow and organise themselves into separate regions of the brain, such as the cerebral cortex, the retina, and, rarely, an early hippocampus, which would be heavily involved in memory in a fully developed adult brain.

The researchers are confident that this closely, but far from perfectly, matches brain development in a foetus until the nine week stage.

The tissues reached their maximum size, about 4mm (0.1in), after two months.

The “mini-brains” have survived for nearly a year, but did not grow any larger. There is no blood supply, just brain tissue, so nutrients and oxygen cannot penetrate into the middle of the brain-like structure.

One of the researchers, Dr Juergen Knoblich, said: “What our organoids are good for is to model development of the brain and to study anything that causes a defect in development.

“Ultimately we would like to move towards more common disorders like schizophrenia or autism. They typically manifest themselves only in adults, but it has been shown that the underlying defects occur during the development of the brain.”

The technique could also be used to replace mice and rats in drug research as new treatments could be tested on actual brain tissue.

To read the full article, click the link.

Swiss banks to divulge names of wealthy US tax avoiders, pay billions in fines

Swiss banks to divulge names of wealthy US tax avoiders, pay billions in fines

About a hundred Swiss banks will avoid prosecution by divulging the names of US clients who have allegedly avoided tax by using secret accounts. The banks could face fines of up to 50 percent of the asset value if they provide full disclosure.

The settlement will apply to second-tier Swiss banks and will be open to banks not already under a US criminal investigation. This rules out the second-largest Swiss bank, Credit Suisse; the largest European bank HSBC Holdings Plc and Julius Baer Group Ltd, as well as several regional banks.

Under the deal, each bank will set its own non-prosecution or deferred-prosecution agreement with the US authorities. “The program is intended to enable every Swiss bank that is not already under criminal investigation to find a path to resolution,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

The fines are set to reach up to 50 percent of the aggregate value of any undeclared accounts held by wealthy Americans, depending on the time the accounts were opened. To decide whether they can afford paying billions of dollars in fines and participate in the deal, Swiss banks will have to assess the cost of potential penalties versus the risk of US prosecution.

“It’s a choice between two evils,” a tax lawyer with Poledna Boss Kurer AG in Zurich, Walter Boss, told Reuters. If they don’t cooperate with the US, the US might indict them,” he stated.

It’s hoped the breakthrough agreement with the world’s largest off-shore financial center with about $2.2 trillion of assets will boost the US campaign against tax evasion by citizens hiding their funds abroad. It means, Switzerland will finally cease to be a “secret banking heaven” for Americans out of reach of US tax authorities.

“This program will significantly enhance the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to aggressively pursue those who attempt to evade the law by hiding their assets outside of the United States,” US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

“In addition to strengthening our partnership with the Swiss government, the program’s requirement that Swiss banks provide detailed account information will improve our ability to bring tax dollars back to the US Treasury from across the globe,” he added.  

Some unidentified Swiss banks who are not cooperating with the US justice system, could face punishment, the Attorney General has warned, saying that the agreement creates “significant risks for individuals and banks that continue to fail to cooperate, including for those Swiss banks that facilitated US tax evasion but fail to cooperate now, for all US taxpayers who think that they can continue to hide income and assets in offshore banks, and for those advisors and others who facilitated these crimes.”

To read more, click the link above.

California School District Hires Company to Spy on Students’ Facebook, Twitter Activities

California School District Hires Company to Spy on Students’ Facebook, Twitter Activities

Madison Ruppert
Activist Post

Southern California’s Glendale Unified School District has hired an outside company to spy on their students’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube activities, going truly above and beyond in the name of student safety.

While it’s hardly surprising to see public schools invading the privacy of their students, be it through iris scanning or forcing students to wear RFID-enabled identification cards, this is truly unusual.

Richard Sheehan, the superintendent of the Glendale district, told CBS Los Angeles that a Hermosa Beach, California company called Geo Listening is busy analyzing the online posts of some 13,000 students across eight middle and high schools in his district.

“The whole purpose is student safety,” Sheehan said. “Basically, it just monitors for keywords where if a student is considering harming themselves, harming someone else.”

The system is reportedly aimed at giving information that school administrators consider critical to their personnel as quickly as possible.

“We do monitor on and off campus, but we do pay attention during school hours,” Sheehan said to CBS Los Angeles. “We do pay more attention to the school computers.”

Geo Listening specifically markets itself to schools seeking to spy on their students, or as they put it, monitor for students “crying for help.”

To read the full article, click the link above…..

Public School Is One Of The Most Dangerous Places You Could Possibly Put Your Children

Public School Is One Of The Most Dangerous Places You Could Possibly Put Your Children

By Michael Snyder, on August 26th, 2013

Would you willingly send your kids into a war zone?  No way.  Would you willingly send your children into a federal prison?  Of course not.  So why would you send them to a public school?  In America today, kids are being killed on the way to school, at school and on the way home from school.  Mass shootings are becoming increasingly common, the influence of gangs in our schools is on the rise and sometimes the biggest threat of danger comes from the teachers and the security officials that are supposed to be there to “protect” our children.  But violence is not the only thing for parents to be concerned about when it comes to our public schools.  The truth is that public schools in the United States have become government indoctrination centers, and many teachers are constantly looking for opportunities to inject as much propaganda as they possibly can into classroom instruction.  After a dozen years of this, many students leave high school virtually brainwashed and nearly incapable of thinking for themselves.  This is one of the reasons why so many high school students seem like they are dumb as a rock.  Our young people spend most of their young lives in prison camps where they are constantly being told what to think instead of being trained how to think.  Why would anyone want to subject their children to that?

When it comes to their children, safety is the number one priority for most parents.  They expect that their children will be kept safe going to school, while they are at school, and coming home from school.

Unfortunately, school is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to be for our children.  And I am not just talking about the mass shootings that have happened in recent years.

For example, 260 school children have been killed in the city of Chicago alone over the past three years, and now things are about to get even worse.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article about the impact that budget cuts and school closings are having on school safety in Chicago…

To read the full article, click on the link above.