Out of all the possible molecules in the world, just two form the basis of life’s grand variety: DNA and RNA. They alone can store and pass on genetic information. Within their repetitive twists, these polymers encode the stuff of every whale, ant, flower, tree and bacterium.
But even though DNA and RNA play these roles exclusively, they’re not the only molecules that can. Vitor Pinheiro from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology has developed six alternative polymers called XNAs that can also store genetic information and evolve through natural selection. None of them are found in nature. They are part of a dawning era of ‘synthetic genetics’, which expands the chemistry of life in new uncharted directions.
By NATE SILVER
SAN FRANCISCO – I live in Brooklyn, where President Obama won 81 percent of the vote this month. It’s hard to find anywhere in the country that is more Democratic-leaning.
But San Francisco qualifies. Here, Mr. Obama won 84 percent of the vote, while Mitt Romney took just 13 percent. Even John McCain, who won 14 percent of the vote four years ago, performed slightly better than Mr. Romney did.
And unlike the New York metropolitan area, where Long Island, the borough of Staten Island and many suburbs in New York and New Jersey remain competitive in presidential elections, it is hard to find any significant pockets of support for Republican candidates in the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area.
Instead, Mr. Obama won the nine counties of the Bay Area by margins ranging from 25 percentage points (in Napa County) to 71 percentage points (in the city and county of San Francisco). In Santa Clara County, home to much of the Silicon Valley, the margin was 42 percentage points.
Over all, Mr. Obama won the election by 49 percentage points in the Bay Area, more than double his 22-point margin throughout California.
Although San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley have long been liberal havens, the rest of the region has not always been so. In 1980, Ronald Reagan won the Bay Area vote over all, along with seven of its nine counties. George H.W. Bush won Napa County in 1988.
Republicans have lost every county in the region by a double-digit margin since then. But Democratic margins have become more and more emphatic. Mr. Obama’s 49-point margin throughout the Bay Area this year was considerably larger than Al Gore’s 34-point win in 2000, for example, or Bill Clinton’s 31-point win in 1992.
Sounds like Rick ‘Smart People’ Will Never Be On Our Side’ Santorum is right.
Washington Journal, a daily phone-in program, is a platform for the defamation of Israel and Jews. C-SPAN executives Susan Swain and Rob Kennedy, like network founder Brian Lamb before them, stonewall public complaint.
PBS’ “Newshour” aired back-to-back stories about Gaza and Israel resuming normal life. The Gaza segment is filled with civilians and devastation. In contrast, viewers do not see a single Israeli victim of Hamas rockets, nor is there one shot of destruction in southern Israel.
In Operation Pillar of Defense, some media, relying on Palestinian sources, exaggerate the proportion of civilian casualties in Gaza. They give less weight to Israeli figures and ignore the fact that 2 out of 3 fatalities are men between ages 18-40.
When President Obama was locked in painful spending negotiations with House Republicans last spring, his exceedingly meticulous budget director, Jacob J. Lew, went to the Oval Office to propose some complex budget changes. As Mr. Lew delved deeper and deeper into the numbers, Mr. Obama put up his hand, signaling him to stop.
“Jack, it’s fine,” the president said, according to Gene Sperling, Mr. Obama’s economics adviser, who witnessed the exchange. “I trust your values. I trust your judgment on this.”
Today Mr. Lew is the White House chief of staff (and on the shortlist to become the next Treasury secretary), and Mr. Obama has entrusted him with an even bigger task: guiding the White House through potentially treacherous negotiations with Congressional Republicans to avert automatic tax increases and spending cuts on Jan. 1, which economists warn could throw the country back into recession.
An agreement by year’s end could lead to a long-term deficit reduction plan, helping Mr. Obama live up to his promise to bring both parties together and sealing Mr. Lew’s reputation as the master of the Washington budget deal. But if the talks fail, Mr. Obama might be remembered as the president who could not break partisan gridlock in Washington, and Mr. Lew could wind up with a blot on his nearly impeccable record.
“This is a reset moment for the administration and for Jack,” said Tom Daschle, a former Senate Democratic leader. “It’s a window that will close in a few weeks, but it really is an opportunity to start over. Part of the message of the election was ‘You guys have got to work together.’ ”
But Mr. Lew’s last go-round with Republicans, the debt ceiling talks in the summer of 2011, ended uncharacteristically badly. Mr. Lew, still the budget director at the time, irked Speaker John A. Boehner and his staff, who viewed him as an uncompromising know-it-all. Mr. Lew’s defenders call it an aberration.
“I think it’s because Jack knows the numbers, and they couldn’t pull a fast one,” said David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s chief political adviser.
An Army private charged with sending U.S secrets to the website WikiLeaks had a history of suicidal thoughts and aloof behavior that outweighed a psychiatrist’s opinion that he was no risk to intentionally hurt himself, two former counselors testified Sunday.
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Jordan and Marine Master Sgt. Craig Blenis testified on the sixth day of a pretrial hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning at Fort Meade, near Baltimore. The hearing is to determine whether Manning’s nine months in pretrial confinement at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., were so punishing that the judge should dismiss all charges. The 24-year-old intelligence analyst is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the secret-spilling website in 2009 and 2010.
The counselors, both of whom worked in the brig, sat on a board that recommended to the brig commander that Manning remain in maximum custody and on either injury-prevention or suicide-risk status — conditions that kept him confined to his cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing.