January 3, 2013

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Scientists Unlock the Secret of Panda Blood

Contains super antibiotic compounds

A compound found in the blood of the giant panda may hold the secret to fighting the next wave of global super bugs, say Chinese scientists. Studies at the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University have found that the animals produce a powerful antibiotic, called cathelicidin-AM, capable of killing both standard and drug-resistant strains of various bacteria and fungi. Scientists have already artificially synthesized the compound, eliminating the need to harvest it directly from the endangered animal. Only 1,600 giant pandas remain in the wild and they are notoriously bad at breeding, especially in captivity.

Via The Daily Telegraph

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    Photo: stockex/Flickr

Burry Stander Struck and Killed by Car

Taxi hit Olympic mountain biker

Burry Stander, one of the top cross-country mountain bike racers, died on Thursday after been hit by a taxi while on a training ride. The 25-year-old South African was riding on the South Coast with his wife, pro rider Cherise Stander, when he was struck and killed. The 2009 U-23 cross-country world champ, Stander had competed in the Beijing and London Olympics and had won the fifth round of the 2012 World Cup.

The reaction on social media drew attention to the uneasy relationship between cyclists and the cars that dominate their training grounds. "Shocking news about Burry Stander's tragic death. Time to stand up for cyclists rights on the roads," wrote South African rugby player Victor Matfield on Twitter. Robbie Hunter, who rides for Team Radio Shack, tweeted: "I seriously hope this idiot who is responsible fries in Jail for life!!! #BurryStander NationalHero...."

Considering the number of high-profile—and often tragic—cyclist/car collisions in the past couple years (Iñaki Lejarreta, killed; Bradley Wiggins, injured; Euskaltel Cabedo, killed; Carla Swart, killed—too many to name) have training rides become the most dangerous element of any pro sport? And what will it take for that to change?

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Grazing horse     Photo: mariachily/Flickr

HBO Sued Over Horse Deaths

Former AHA employee alleges abuse cover-up

Barbara Casey, who worked for the American Humane Association for 13 years, most recently as the director of production in the group's film and television unit, has filed a lawsuit against her former employer, HBO, and Stewart Productions. In the lawsuit, recently filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Casey says that she was wrongfully terminated after attempting to report criminal activity she witnessed on the set of Luck, the David Milch-produced horse racing drama starring Dustin Hoffman that was canceled in March after three animals died during filming.

"AHA bowed to political and financial pressure and refused to report the Production Defendants' conduct to the authorities," according to the suit, in which Casey describes observing drugged, sick, and underweight horses being used for work on the show. Casey also argues that, in order to save time and money, Luck producers would intentionally misidentify horses so that AHA animal safety representatives could not track their medical histories.

"We took every precaution to ensure that our horses were treated humanely and with the utmost care, exceeding every safeguard of all protocols and guidelines required of the production," HBO told The Hollywood Reporter in a prepared statement. "Barbara Casey was not an employee of HBO, and any questions regarding her employment should be directed to the AHA."

Via The Hollywood Reporter

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    Photo: currybet/Flickr

Mauritius Bans Plastic Bags

Present wildlife choking hazard

Paper or prison? In order to protect local wildlife, the government of Mauritius has banned the use of plastic bags, and those in violation—whether buying, manufacturing, or importing—could face anything from a fine to up to a full year behind bars. According to ministry official Mohamed Yahya, more than 70 percent of the cattle and sheep that die in the nation’s capital, Nouakchott, die from eating plastic bags. Government officials also noted the fatal effect plastic-bag waste has on fish as further reason for the ban. A number of other African countries, led by Rwanda in 2006, have passed similar laws. 

Via BBC

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