Monday, February 21, 2011

Elderly birdwatcher pushed off Victoria cliff

Taken from the Ottawa Citizen

VICTORIA — An elderly birdwatcher was seriously injured Sunday afternoon when he was pushed off a 12-metre cliff in Victoria.

“It’s pretty tragic,” said Victoria police Sgt. Barrie Cockle. “He was just standing on the cliff minding his own business when, for some unknown reason, a younger man ran up the bank, which is a 40-foot cliff, and pushed the old fellow down.”

A 29-year-old man was arrested at the scene and is in police custody awaiting charges, said Cockle.

“We’re waiting to see how the elderly man is doing to see what we will do with the suspect,” he said.

A passerby rushed to the aid of the injured man and called paramedics, said Cockle. When the suspect continued to hang around, the passerby helped diffuse the situation.

“Initially, it was a bit tense,” said Cockle. “He’s done an amazing job here.”

A police boat was out on the water for training exercises when the call came in. Officers in the boat brought the injured man off the beach to another location, where an ambulance was waiting. The man was taken to Royal Jubilee Hospital.

“We don’t believe his injuries are life-threatening, but he’s badly hurt,” said Cockle. “When you’re in your 70s and you’re breaking bones, you’ve got serious injuries.”

What the heck?? What kind of d-bag does that??

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cannibal Britons drank from skulls

Taken from the Ottawa Citizen

A gruesome discovery in the Cheddar Gorge suggests ancient Britons indulged in cannibalism and drank from the skulls of their victims.

Scientists have analysed the remains of three humans - including a child of three - who appear to have been killed for food, butchered, and eaten. The bones showed evidence of precision cuts to extract the maximum amount of meat and the skulls were carved into cups and bowls.

The fragments, which are 14,700 years old, are thought to be the oldest examples in the world of skull cups and represent the first evidence of ritual killing found in Britain. At the time, humans knew how to bury their dead, meaning the remains are most likely the result of premeditated cannibalism.

"At the time, life was very tough," said Prof Chris Stringer, a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum, who helped excavate the cups from Gough's Cave, in Somerset. "Cannibalism would have been a good way of removing groups competing with you and getting food for yourself.

"There was also a feeling that if you ate your enemy you gained some of his power."

"What is more sinister is that these were quite sophisticated hunter-gatherers - very like us," he added. "They could make tools and painted cave art. They also had quite complex burials for the people they were not eating, treating the dead with reverence."

Kinda reminds me of the comic Joel found and put it on Facebook:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fluoride Debate

Taken from

On Feb. 8, Calgary city council voted 10-3 in favour of removing fluoride from the city's drinking water. Earlier in the day, city council considered and rejected putting the issue to a plebiscite during the 2013 municipal election. Council also rejected the idea of referring the matter to an expert panel.

The issue of fluoridation has proved a lightning rod for Calgarians, and has been a contentious issue for many Canadian municipalities in the past. To capture both sides of the debate, CBC News spoke to two health-care professionals.

Dr. Robert C. Dickson is a family physician leading the anti-fluoridation campaign in Calgary. Dr. Lynn Tomkins is a Toronto dentist and president of the Ontario Dental Association and she supports fluoridation in community water.

Family physician Dr. Robert C. Dickson leads the anti-fluoride in drinking water campaign in Calgary. (CBC)
CBC: What is your position on fluoride in drinking water?

Dr. Dickson: Putting a toxic chemical like fluoride in the water just to make a small difference and to be affecting so many body systems at the same time is not ethical and is not safe. Fluoridation does not work. It does not work ingested. It's like trying to ingest your sunscreen. Fluoride works topically.

Even the Centers for Disease Control in the States has said that, they've admitted that. The American Dental Association has admitted that. Health Canada has admitted that. So fluoride does not work ingested, it works topically.

So let's put it on our teeth. Let's put it on with brushing. Let's put it on at the dentist, if you choose. Let's not put it inside our bodies where it doesn't work and where it causes a lot of harm and a lot of toxicity. It works on the exterior of the teeth. So there's very very little — if any — effect coming from the inside out. It works topically on the teeth. That's why dentists do it in their offices. They put the fluoride on your teeth, you're very careful not to swallow any there, you spit it out. And then you brush with fluoride. You brush with fluoridated toothpaste — and that goes topically as well.

Dr. Lynn Tomkins, president of the Ontario Dental Association, supports fluoridation. (CBC)
Dr. Tomkins: We know that community water fluoridation is safe and effective and it reaches all populations and it prevents tooth decay. So we are very, very much in favour of community water fluoridation. There's a tremendous body of scientific evidence that does show that water fluoridation — in the right amount — is safe and it is effective.

We have the support of over 90 national and international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, Health Canada — they all agree that water fluoridation is safe and effective.

We all benefit from water fluoridation, because the fluoride that is secreted in your saliva bathes your teeth daily and that helps reduce decay. It's an important adjunct to all of the other things you do to keep your teeth healthy and you do benefit from it at any age.
CBC: How do you feel about communities voting to eliminate fluoride?

Dr. Dickson: In Calgary, we've been working with city council for years and years, and the new council and mayor — they're much more open-minded and they're ready to tackle this. The majority of councillors are on our side. They're ready to step out and make some changes for the health of our people.

It's about time we wake up as a society. We've been sleeping too long and letting people make decisions for us that aren't really necessarily healthy for us. It's a sign that we're backing away, but it's way too slowly. B.C. is 95 per cent not fluoridated. Quebec is about the same. Europe is 98 per cent not fluoridated. And guess what? Their teeth are just as good as ours. They have no epidemics of dental problems. One of the best graphs — if you Google the World Health Organization data — all the major fluoridated countries, and 14 of the non-fluoridated countries in the world — and their rates of tooth decay over the last 50 or 60 years.

And the rates of tooth decay are going down at exactly the same rate in the fluoridated countries and the non-fluoridated countries. So right there that shows you that it's not water fluoridation that's doing it. And one of the graphs that came out that was very similar — going back to the 1800s, when they first started collecting data on teeth decay — and teeth decay at that time was pretty high. Graph goes down on linear line toward lower cavities.

Look at when fluoride came in the 50s and 60s — you can draw a line on that graph — and the slope of that line is exactly the same.

It's not good for poor kids. We've got studies to prove that. We'll go to areas where there's a lot of poor children, we'll fluoridate part of the community and we'll not fluoridate another community of poor kids. It's exactly the same, there's no change after years.

Dr. Tomkins: It's so important for the people making the decision in the community to have the right information, to have the scientific information that shows the benefit of the fluoridation and the right amount. Rather than being put to a vote, it would be much better if it was decided by the public health officials and made part of their mandate.

In Kitchener-Waterloo, you have 60 years of evidence that the water is safe, it's effective, it's not causing illness in the population and it's preventing tooth decay. There is actually abundant evidence that it is making a difference. It does make a huge difference in populations. And I can tell you that my colleagues in Waterloo tell me that they can tell if a patient has been raised in Kitchener-Waterloo sometimes just by looking at their mouths and the number of cavities they have. My own personal experience from Montreal and Toronto, 35 years of age, their mouths are very different. So we do see a big difference.

Good lord. Next they'll be saying that Fluoridated water turns people into communists. Oh wait. There's a flow chart for that.

(I am aware that this flow chart is a joke.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

British 'hero granny' foils jewel thieves

Freakin' awesome!!

Taken from the Ottawa Citizen

LONDON - A British grandmother who "clobbered" a gang of sledgehammer-wielding jewel thieves with her handbag credited her "mother's instinct" for spurring her into action, media reported Wednesday.

Ann Timson, 71, was captured on video hitting three of the six helmet-clad robbers, causing one to fall off his moped as he tried to make his escape during the botched raid in Northampton, central England.

"I saw a kid run up to the doorway of the jeweller," Timson explained. "Three lads followed him and when I saw their arms going, I thought the kid was being beaten up.

"My mother's instinct kicked in and I ran across the road shouting at the lads to stop it.

"As I got closer I saw it was a robbery, and then I was even more angry," the former market trader added. "One of the gang shot off . . . I clobbered him with my shopping. I landed several blows against one lad . . . and brought him to the ground. He raised a hammer to me so I kept hitting out. It seemed to be over in seconds."

Four men have been charged in connection with the crime.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Scientists grow 'cultured' meat in a lab

Taken from the Ottawa Citizen

In a small laboratory on an upper floor of the basic science building at the Medical University of South Carolina, Vladimir Mironov, M.D., Ph.D., has been working for a decade to grow meat.

A developmental biologist and tissue engineer, Dr. Mironov, 56, is one of only a few scientists worldwide involved in bioengineering "cultured" meat.

It's a product he believes could help solve future global food crises resulting from shrinking amounts of land available for growing meat the old-fashioned way . . . on the hoof.

Growth of "in-vitro" or cultured meat is also under way in the Netherlands, Mironov told Reuters in an interview, but in the United States, it is science in search of funding and demand.

The new National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, won't fund it, the National Institutes of Health won't fund it, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration funded it only briefly, Mironov said.

"It's classic disruptive technology," Mironov said. "Bringing any new technology on the market, average, costs $1 billion. We don't even have $1 million."

Director of the Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Center in the Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology at the medical university, Mironov now primarily conducts research on tissue engineering, or growing, of human organs.

"There's a yuck factor when people find out meat is grown in a lab. They don't like to associate technology with food," said Nicholas Genovese, 32, a visiting scholar in cancer cell biology working under a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals three-year grant to run Dr. Mironov's meat-growing lab.

"But there are a lot of products that we eat today that are considered natural that are produced in a similar manner," Genovese said.

"There's yogurt, which is cultured yeast. You have wine production and beer production. These were not produced in laboratories. Society has accepted these products."

If wine is produced in winery, beer in a brewery and bread in a bakery, where are you going to grow cultured meat?

In a "carnery," if Mironov has his way. That is the name he has given future production facilities.

He envisions football field-sized buildings filled with large bioreactors, or bioreactors the size of a coffee machine in grocery stores, to manufacture what he calls "charlem" -- "Charleston engineered meat."

"It will be functional, natural, designed food," Mironov said. "How do you want it to taste? You want a little bit of fat, you want pork, you want lamb? We design exactly what you want. We can design texture.

"I believe we can do it without genes. But there is no evidence that if you add genes the quality of food will somehow suffer. Genetically modified food is already normal practice and nobody dies."

Dr. Mironov has taken myoblasts -- embryonic cells that develop into muscle tissue -- from turkey and bathed them in a nutrient bath of bovine serum on a scaffold made of chitosan (a common polymer found in nature) to grow animal skeletal muscle tissue. But how do you get that juicy, meaty quality?

Genovese said scientists want to add fat. And adding a vascular system so that interior cells can receive oxygen will enable the growth of steak, say, instead of just thin strips of muscle tissue.

Cultured meat could eventually become cheaper than what Genovese called the heavily subsidized production of farm meat, he said, and if the public accepts cultured meat, the future holds benefits.

"Thirty per cent of the earth's land surface area is associated with producing animal protein on farms," Genovese said.

"Animals require between 3 and 8 pounds of nutrient to make 1 pound of meat. It's fairly inefficient. Animals consume food and produce waste. Cultured meat doesn't have a digestive system.

"Further out, if we have interplanetary exploration, people will need to produce food in space and you can't take a cow with you.

"We have to look to these ideas in order to progress. Otherwise, we stay static. I mean, 15 years ago who could have imagined the iPhone?"

If the 'cultured meat' had the same texture, taste, look, smell and nutrional value, I'd be strangely comfortable with the idea.