Archive for July 29, 2008

New Daily Alzheimer Drug, “Rember”, Stops Progress of Alzheimer Disease

A new drug halts the devastating progress of Alzheimer’s disease, say British scientists.

It is said to be more than twice as effective as current treatments.

A daily capsule of rember, as the drug is known, stops Alzheimer’s disease progressing by as much as 81 per cent, according to trial results.

Patients with the brain disorder had no significant decline in their mental function over a 19-month period.

‘We appear to be bringing the worst affected parts of the brain functionally back to life,’ said Dr Claude Wischik, who led the research.

It is the first time medication has been developed to target the ‘tangles’ in the brain that destroy nerve cells, leading to deteriorating memory.

The drug helps to disrupt this process, preventing the formation of new tangles and loosening those already created.

Last night the findings were hailed as the biggest breakthrough in the battle against Alzheimer’s since 1907.

Eventually the drug could be used to stop the disease in its early stages before symptoms have even appeared, it is hoped.

It could be available to patients within four years although, in the wake of the NHS ban on the £2.50-a-day drug Aricept, there are concerns over whether it would be funded on the Health Service. The trial was carried out by a team at the University of Aberdeen, led by Professor Wischik, who 20 years ago discovered the ‘tau protein’ which makes up the tangles.

‘This is an unprecedented result in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,’ he said.

‘We have demonstrated for the first time that it may be possible to arrest progression of the disease by targeting the tangles that are highly correlated with the disease. This is the most significant development in the treatment of the tangles since Alois Alzheimer discovered them in 1907.’

Source and rest of story:

Additional information: Times Online.

TauRX Therapeutics Ltd.

Anything that would keep our loved ones from slipping away gradually and losing their memories and finally their lives from this horrible disease would be welcome. While it is primarily thought of as a disease of the very aged, it also strikes people in middle age.


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Tropical and Sub-Tropical Soils Need Organic Materials to Remain Productive

MADISON, WI, JULY 28, 2008 — Tropical soils often behave differently than temperate soils when being farmed. In tropical regions, soils lose nutrients quickly when cultivated. With food shortages looming and soil quality declining rapidly, new farming techniques are needed to make tropical and sub-tropical farming more productive and sustainable. New research from Agronomy Journal shows that no-till management combined with a winter cover crop is most effective in retaining nutrients in tropical soils.

An international team of scientists from Brazil, France, and the U.S. studied the impact of different cover crops, crop rotation, and tillage on soil organic carbon storage after 19 years of crop production on a tropical soil in southern Brazil.

The results, published in the July-August issue of Agronomy Journal, show that no-tillage management combined with crop rotations including winter cover crops with high amounts of crop residues returned annually to the soil, will most likely maintain soil organic carbon stocks, and most likely mimic natural forested condition for tropical and subtropical areas.

This crop management, if adopted by farmers in tropical and sub-tropical regions, can help to keep land productive and sustainable.

Scientist Bill Hargrove from Kansas State University said, “These results have broad implications for agricultural production in tropical areas in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We can manage soils in ways that allow profitable crop production while mimicking natural vegetative conditions under which land is not degraded at accelerated rates.”

Source: American Society of Agronomy

If, of course, the farmers are busily selling the crop aftermath to ethanol plants instead of returning it to their soil, the soil will lose fertility. Another one of those unintended consequences.

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New UGA biomass technology dramatically increases ethanol yield from grasses and yard waste

Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia researchers have developed a new technology that promises to dramatically increase the yield of ethanol from readily available non-food crops, such as Bermudagrass, switchgrass, Napiergrass—and even yard waste.

“Producing ethanol from renewable biomass sources such as grasses is desirable because they are potentially available in large quantities,” said Joy Peterson, professor of microbiology and chair of UGA’s Bioenergy Task Force. “Optimizing the breakdown of the plant fibers is critical to production of liquid transportation fuel via fermentation.” Peterson developed the new technology with former UGA microbiology student Sarah Kate Brandon, and Mark Eiteman, professor of biological and agricultural engineering.

The new technology features a fast, mild, acid-free pretreatment process that increases by at least 10 times the amount of simple sugars released from inexpensive biomass for conversion to ethanol. The technology effectively eliminates the use of expensive and environmentally unsafe chemicals currently used to pretreat biomass.

The technology is available for licensing from the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., which has filed a patent application.

Inexpensive waste products—including corn stover or bagasse, the waste from corn and sugar cane harvests, fast-growing weeds—and non-food crops grown for biofuel, such as switchgrass, Napiergrass and Bermudagrass, are widely viewed as the best sustainable resources for ethanol made from biofuels.

“Using non-food crops that can be grown on marginal lands, like grasses, and fibrous waste streams like corn stover, is important because of the ongoing food-versus-fuel debate,” said Peterson. “When agricultural crops, such as corn or potatoes, are grown for biofuels production, the cost of the starting material may fluctuate greatly because of competing demands for food and feed. The trade-off with using a biomass like grasses is that grasses are harder to break apart than corn or potatoes, and the cost of making the same fuel, like ethanol, rises.”

Developing an efficient, cost-effective process to convert the fibrous stalks, leaves, and blades of plant wastes into simple sugars is the biggest challenge to bio-based ethanol production. Thick, complex plant cell walls are highly resistant to efforts to break them down.

Currently, woody biomass requires soaking under high pressure and temperatures in expensive, environmentally aggressive bases or acids before it is subjected to enzymes that digest it, producing simple sugars. The harsh pretreatment solutions subsequently must be removed and disposed of safely. They also cause formation of side products that can slow down the conversion of the sugars into ethanol.

In contrast, the environmentally friendly UGA technology eliminates the expense of harsh pretreatment chemicals and their disposal, and the formation of side products is minimal.

“The new technology has commercial application for the biomass industry, including producers of sugar cane, corn, switchgrass, Napiergrass and other woody biomass crops,” said Gennaro Gama, UGARF technology manager responsible for licensing this technology. “It may also help renewable energy and biofermentation companies—and local governments.

“By allowing for the use of myriad raw materials, this technology allows more options for ethanol facilities trying to meet nearby demand by using locally available, inexpensive starting materials,” he added. “This would greatly reduce the costs and carbon footprint associated with the delivery of raw materials to fermentation facilities and the subsequent delivery of ethanol to points of sale. Local production of ethanol may also protect specific areas against speculative fluctuations in fuel prices.

“It’s easy to imagine that this easy-to-use, inexpensive technology could be used by local governments, alone or in partnership with entrepreneurs, to meet local demand for ethanol, possibly using yard waste as a substrate,” he said.


Source: University of Georgia

Sigh. Corn stover is NOT a waste product but instead, plays an essential part in adding organic material to soil.

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State Shuts Down FPL’s Renewable Energy Program

State regulators on Tuesday shut down a Florida Power & Light Co. green energy program after an audit revealed most of the money collected from customers was used to pay for administrative and marketing costs.

The Florida Public Service Commission voted unanimously to end the Sunshine Energy Program, in which approximately 39,000 customers voluntarily agreed to pay an extra $9.75 per month for renewable energy projects. The state will continue its investigation into handling of the money and will decide later if it should require FPL to issue refunds or invest it in renewable energy projects in the works.

Commissioners want breakdowns from FPL and its contractors showing how much of the money went to travel expenses, a public relations consultant, salaries, office expenses and marketing.

“It could all be profit,” Commissioner Nathan Skop said. “It all boils down to lack of oversight by this commission, and our failure to review the contract.”

Read the rest of the story at South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

What a surprise.

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Fleeing Murder Suspect Shot, Killed by Jacksonville Police Officer

A murder suspect being chased by a Jacksonville police officer was fatally shot near Mayport this morning, becoming the third person shot by city police in 10 days.

The shooting occurred some time around 4 a.m. in the 2500 block of East Americas Cup Drive. Rick Graham, Jacksonville police’s chief of detectives, said the officer was chasing a murder suspect when the officer shot multiple times. The officer was not hurt, Graham said.

Graham said authorities were conducting a surveillance operation near the Courtyards apartments on Americas Cup Drive when the person showed up. Graham said police were looking for the suspect, but would not say which murder case it involved.

After the suspect arrived at the apartments, a foot chase ensued. The officer then shot multiple times, Graham said. It is unclear what prompted the shooting or if any other weapon was involved.

The first police shooting during this stretch occurred July 20, when two officers fatally shot a knife-wielding man who drove a stolen police car into their vehicles at the Hilltop Village apartment complex. An officer shot a teen Friday after responding to a report of a home invasion at the Palms apartments. The teen was wounded after he drove his car into the officer.

This morning’s shooting was the 16th officer-involved shooting of 2008 for Jacksonville. Police have already killed more people — 10 — than last year when there was a total of 19 police shootings.


Additional information at and

There appear to be several people with their knickers in a knot that a police officer shot and killed a fleeing murder suspect because the news reports did not say that he was armed. The police were informed that this person would be in the vicinity and were staking out the area when the person showed up at 4 a.m. and chose to run.

As a public service to the uninformed among us, here’s a clue:

Florida Statute 776.05 Law Enforcement Officers; Use of Force in Making an Arrest

(3) When necessarily committed in arresting felons fleeing from justice. However, this subsection shall not constitute a defense in any civil action for damages brought for the wrongful use of deadly force unless the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by such flight and, when feasible, some warning had been given, and:

(a) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon poses a threat of death or serious physical harm to the officer or others; or

(b) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm to another person.

The police CAN shoot a person suspected of committing a violent crime that attempts to flee, armed or not.

Update: From News4Jax:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville police announced on Tuesday afternoon that the man who officers shot and killed earlier in the day was a suspect in the slaying of a Mcclenney mother of two.

The shooting happened at the Courtyards Apartments in the Mayport Road area just after 4 a.m.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Chief Rick Graham said police were keeping 29-year-old Brian Brock, a suspect in the death of 26-year-old Trudy Taylor Sarman, under surveillance.

When Brock began to flee on foot, police fired one shot but did not hit the suspect. Police said Brock did not comply with any of their demands and continued to get away from them on foot.

Investigators said when one officer saw Brock hiding in a dark area he fired several shots.

“Detective Reynolds spotted Brock hiding in the dark against an apartment building behind some shrubbery. Detective Reynolds began to shout specific instructions to Brock, and during this moment in time discharged his service weapon several times in Brock’s direction. Brock was struck by the officer’s gunfire,” Graham said.

FirstCoastNews adds some different details:

JACKSONVILLE, FL — The man killed by police gunfire early Tuesday morning had been a suspect in the death of a singer and mother from Macclenny.

Police shot and killed 29 year old Brian Brock at an apartment complex in Mayport.

Investigators called Brock a suspect in the slaying of 26 year old Trudy Sarman. Police found her body at Palms Fish Camp last Thursday afternoon.

Investigators have not said how she died.

Sarman had two young children.

Chief Rick Graham said JSO put Brock under surveillance because he was initially a person of interest in Sarman’s murder.

The officers followed Brock, who had been riding in another person’s car, to an apartment complex on Mayport Road early Tuesday morning.

Police said Brock jumped out of the car and ran.

Officers ran after him and ordered him to stop.

Police say Brock ran to another apartment complex when officer J.J. Reynolds fired a single shot.

Police said Brock continued to run. He hid behind some bushes where officers confronted him again.

Officer Reynolds fired several more shots at Brock. He died at the hospital.

Chief Graham said Brock didn’t have a gun, but police had to use deadly force.

“Something forced that officer to make that decision to exercise deadly force,” said Graham. “Either the suspect did or did not do made the officer choose to use deadly force.”

Investigators said Brock, who once lived in Atlantic Beach, had a criminal past that included a propensity for violence.

The young lady’s memorial service was today.

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Florida Guns at Work Law Upheld Until Argued in Court

TALLAHASSEE, FL (AP) — A federal judge says Florida employees can keep guns locked in their cars while at work — for now.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle released a preliminary injunction Monday night on a law that went into effect July 1. The merits of the case still need to be heard in court.

The new law was challenged in federal court in Tallahassee by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation, who believes it compromises safety. Judge Hinkle heard arguments against the law in late June.

At the hearing, Hinkle said the law is so badly written it’s “stupid.”


I do not care about what the “law” says; when I have to drive home after work in the dark through an area known for crime as well as stop at red lights along the way, I WILL have a loaded firearm within reach for my protection. You better believe I don’t care what the employer has to say about it, either. The judge, employer, or policemen aren’t going to be riding home protecting me; that is up to me.

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