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Upgrade Your Brain: Liquid Hard Drive Implants Could Increase Intellect

Upgrade Your Brain: Liquid Hard Drive Implants Could Increase Intellect

Storing photos, documents and other files in brain-implantable liquid could one day be a reality after researchers discovered a new method of storing data in microscopic particles suspended in a solution. “If we could enumerate all of those different patterns – or states – and understand how you can go from one state to another, then it would be possible to encode information,” says Glotzer. “The more colours you can have, the more states you can have, and the more states you can have, the more information you can store.”

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Future soldiers to be immune to bio-weapons

Future soldiers to be immune to bio-weapons

The next generation American soldiers may be immune to biological weapons. Scientists have for the first time genetically modified red blood cells (RBC) to carry a range of valuable payloads — from drugs, to vaccines, to imaging agents — for delivery to specific sites throughout the body. RBCs normally carry oxygen from the lungs to the living tissues and are the most numerous of all the cells, accounting for about a quarter of the 100 trillion cells of the human body.

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Inside the Military’s New Office for Cyborgs

Inside the Military’s New Office for Cyborgs

The new office, named the Biological Technology Office, orBTO, will serve as a clearinghouse for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, programs into brain research, synthetic biology and epidemiology. The office will cover everything from brewing up tomorrow’s bioweapon detectors and connecting humans to computers to designing entirely new types of super-strong living materials that could form the basis of future devices. Here are the key areas in more detail.

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China’s military worries that its only children recruits are “wimps”

China’s military worries that its only children recruits are wimps

China’s millions of only children—known as “little emperors” for how they are doted upon by parents and grandparents—may turn out to be terrible soldiers. As much as 70% of the Chinese military (paywall) is made up of men and women who are the only children in their family, according to a professor at the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University—a figure that gives some military policymakers reason to worry.“Soldiers from the one-child generations are wimps who have absolutely no fighting spirit,” warned the Study Times, an ideology-focused government publication.

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UK Child taken forcibly from womb by social services

Child taken from womb by social services

A pregnant woman has had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section by social workers. Essex social services obtained a High Court order against the woman that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb. The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman, an Italian who was in Britain on a work trip, because she had suffered a mental breakdown. The baby girl, now 15 months old, is still in the care of social services, who are refusing to give her back to the mother, even though she claims to have made a full recovery. The case has developed into an international legal row, with lawyers for the woman describing it as “unprecedented”.

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“Frankenstein” organs proposed for human enhancement


Using 3D printing, A British artist has produced prototypes of “frankenstein-esque hybrid organs” that could hypothetically solve a variety of serious human health problems. Agatha Haines from the Royal College of Art 3D-printed organs utilizing advantageous features of rattlesnakes, leeches, and electric eels. Using the electrolyte cells from an electric eel, Haines created an ‘organic defibrillator’ (she dubbed it Electrostabilis Cardium). If this hybrid organ recognized signs of cardiac failure, it could deliver a shock of 600 volts to restart the heart.

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Arafat may have been poisoned with Polonium 210 – Lancet claims

One of the world’s leading medical journals has supported the possibility that Yasser Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader, was poisoned with the radioactive element polonium 210. The British The Lancet journal has published a peer review of last year’s research by Swiss scientists on Arafat’s personal effects. It endorsed their work, which found high levels of the highly radioactive element in blood, urine, and saliva stains on the Palestinian leader’s clothes and toothbrush.

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23andMe receives patent to create designer babies, but denies plans to do so

Thanks to personal genomics companies like 23andMe, it’s becoming quicker and easier for us to find out who we are. But will the same technology one day allow us to decide who our babies will be — before they’re even born? That’s the question raised by a newly issued patent, which grants 23andMe rights to a system that allows parents to pick and choose their children’s traits prior to undergoing fertility treatment. The system, according to the patent, could be used to “[identify] a preferred donor among the plurality of donors,” based on genetic information.

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Scientists create DNA tracking tags, might soon be used to track protesters as well as animals

For example, in some schemes a DNA “fog” might be used to spray violent protesters when there are not enough law enforcement personnel to immediately subdue the lot of them. That tag will be unique, and mark anyone who bears it, at least for a while. Over time however, the signal will spread and degrade. Multiple tags could be used to mark multiple events or increase reliability of a single event. Clearly though, finding a way to contain your marking agent at the outset is the cleanest option.

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UK bioethicists promoting a second wave of eugenics

Eugenics is alive and well in British academia. Stephen Wilkinson, of Lancaster University, recently published “Eugenics and the Ethics of Selective Reproduction”, together with another bioethicist, Eve Garrard. Their focus is the moral challenges that IVF and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) offer to parents who want a child of a particular type. After carefully framing the arguments, they endorse: embryo selection techniques to avoid disease and disability in children, selecting embryos to produce a child with a disability such as deafness, and sex selection.

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Total Recall: Scientists create new memories by directly altering neurons in the brain

Neurobiologists at UC Irvine (UCI) have succeeded in creating new memories in the brains of rats. The same process should allow scientists to create memories in human (and other mammalian) brains, too. The UCI neurobiologists say that this is the first evidence that memories can be created by directly altered neurons in the cerebral cortex. To create the memory, the researchers played a series of test tones to the rodent test subjects. When a specific tone played, the researchers stimulated the nucleus basalis, releasing acetylcholine (ACh). This jolt of ACh then causes the cerebral cortex to turn that specific tone into a memory.

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Neuroscience the New Face of Warfare

The experts, looking at the scope for neuroscience in future military conflict, said researchers on the cutting edge of medical science should remember that their work could have other, more harmful uses. “However, understanding of the brain and human behavior, coupled with developments in drug delivery, also highlight ways of degrading human performance that could possibly be used in new weapons.” Rapid progress in the ability to map brain activity and manipulate its responses with stimulants could change the face of warfare, a panel of experts said.

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Why The U.S. Is Building A High-Tech Bubonic Plague Lab In Kazakhstan

When Kazakhstan’s Central Reference Laboratory opens in September 2015, the $102-million project laboratory will serve as a Central Asian way station for a global war on dangerous disease.“DOD’s involvement in biosurveillance goes back probably before DOD to the Revolutionary War,” Andrew C. Weber, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, told American Forces Press Service last year. “We didn’t call it biosurveillance then, but monitoring and understanding infectious disease has always been our priority, because for much of our history, we’ve been a global force.”

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Scientists Control One Person’s Body With Another Person’s Brain

Sit down for this one. Researchers at the University of Washington have figured out how to send commands from one person’s brain to control a different person’s muscle movement. In technical terms, it’s the world’s first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface. How’d they do it? Vulcan mind meld? Nope, just the regular ol’ internet. What in the hell? Here’s how it went down: In one building, computational neuroscientist Rajesh Rao sat wearing an electroencephalography cap, which measures the brain’s electrical activity. Dr. Rao watched a simple computer game, firing a cannon at a target. At the right moment, Dr. Rao imagined moving his right hand to hit the “fire” button, being sure not to actually move his hand.

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A taste of the future: Bionic eye will receive software updates to enable color vision, increased resolution

Providing us with a delightful glimpse of the future of humanity and bionic implants, Second Sight — the developer of the first bionic eye to receive FDA approval in the US — is currently working on a firmware upgrade that gives users of the Argus II bionic eye better resolution, focus, and image zooming. The software update even provides users with color recognition, even though the original version of the device only provides black and white vision. The Argus II, to give its proper classification, is a retinal prosthesis.

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Harvard creates brain-to-brain interface, allows humans to control other animals with thoughts alone

Researchers at Harvard University have created the first noninvasive brain-to-brain interface (BBI) between a human… and a rat. Simply by thinking the appropriate thought, the BBI allows the human to control the rat’s tail. This is one of the most important steps towards BBIs that allow for telepathic links between two or more humans — which is a good thing in the case of friends and family, but terrifying if you stop to think about the nefarious possibilities of a fascist dictatorship with mind control tech.

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China’s Flying Propaganda Weapon Will Blow Your Mind

“When carrying out a mission, the airplane will use its own ‘programs’ to forcefully overpower enemy television stations, radio stations and wireless communication networks, interfere with the enemy’s propaganda dissemination programs, affect the enemy’s military-civilian morale, and create rumors and confusion, thus causing the enemy, from government to everyday citizens, to have ‘nervous breakdowns’ and achieving their goal of rendering them helpless and unable to fight.”

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‘Neural dust’ brain implants could revolutionize brain-machine interfaces and allow large-scale data recording

In a potential neuroscience breakthrough, University of California Berkeley scientists have proposed a system that allows for thousands of ultra-tiny “neural dust” chips to be inserted into the brain to monitor neural signals at high resolution and communicate data highly efficiently via ultrasound. The neural dust design promises to overcome a serious limitation of current invasive brain-machine interfaces (BMI): the lack of an implantable neural interface system that remains viable for a lifetime.

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Xbox One to feature biometric targeted advertisements

Now that both Microsoft and Sony have announced new platform offerings, details are starting to slowly emerge, and biometrics have come up in conversations more than once –most recently, in regards to the Xbox One and its use of facial recognition ad-targeting.

According to an interview in SickTwiddlers, through the system’s Kinect camera, ads can be targeted based on who is seen sitting in front of the console and is something the company has considered very seriously. Dashboard advertisements are a core part of the Xbox experience.

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Pest Control: Syngenta’s Secret Campaign to Discredit Atrazine’s Critics

To protect profits threatened by a lawsuit over its controversial herbicide atrazine, Syngenta Crop Protection launched an aggressive multi-million dollar campaign that included hiring a detective agency to investigate scientists on a federal advisory panel, looking into the personal life of a judge and commissioning a psychological profile of a leading scientist critical of atrazine.Recently unsealed court documents reveal a corporate strategy to discredit critics and to strip plaintiffs from the class-action case.

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The Singularity Is Near: Mind Uploading by 2045?

By 2045, humans will achieve digital immortality by uploading their minds to computers — or at least that’s what some futurists believe. This notion formed the basis for the Global Futures 2045 International Congress, a futuristic conference held here June 14-15.

The conference, which is the brainchild of Russian multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov, fell somewhere between hardcore science and science fiction. It featured a diverse cast of speakers, from scientific luminaries like Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis and Marvin Minsky, to Swamis and other spiritual leaders.

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App Will Let Health Insurer Track Customer Behavior

A smartphone app that launches this week gives the health insurance company Aetna access to detailed user health-tracking data. As costs spiral upward, health-care companies could turn to such apps as a way to monitor customers and encourage healthy behavior.

At MIT Technology Review’s Mobile Summit in San Francisco last week, Martha Wofford, consumer platform vice president at Aetna, said the company would launch an app called CarePass to serve as a portal for an individual’s health-related activity and, if he allows it, his medical records, too.

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Myanmar state sets 2-child limit for Muslims

Authorities in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state have introduced a two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya families in an effort to ease tensions with the Rohingya’s Buddhist neighbours after a spate of deadly sectarian violence, an official said on Saturday.

The measure was enacted a week ago after a government-appointed commission investigating the violence issued proposals to ease tensions, which included family planning programmes to stem population growth among minority Muslims, said Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing.

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Scientists Create First Cloned Human Embryo

The process that created Dolly the sheep in 1996 has now been proven successful in humans. Scientists have made an embryonic clone of a person, using DNA from that person’s skin cells. In the future, such a clone could be a source of stem cells, for super-personalized therapies made from people’s own DNA.

It’s unlikely that this clone could develop into a human, say the scientists, a team of biologists from the U.S. and Thailand. The team plans to publish a paper in the future detailing why not, Nature reported.

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Scientists create hybrid flu that can go airborne

A team of scientists in China has created hybrid viruses by mixing genes from H5N1 and the H1N1 strain behind the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and showed that some of the hybrids can spread through the air between guinea pigs. The results are published inScience1. Flu hybrids can arise naturally when two viral strains infect the same cell and exchange genes. This process, known as reassortment, produced the strains responsible for at least three past flu pandemics, including the one in 2009. There is no evidence that H5N1 and H1N1 have reassorted naturally yet, but they have many opportunities to do so.

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Burma proposes family planning regime to control Muslims

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said the recommendation that the population Muslims should be controlled in the long term was outrageous. “It’s quite chilling to start talking about limiting births of one particular group,” he said. “Will coercive measures get taken on the ground even if the union government says people can take this voluntarily?”

The report said concerns expressed by Buddhists in Rakhine state over the rising population of Muslims they see as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh had “undermined peaceful coexistence” between the two groups. It said the introduction of family planning education “would go some way to mitigating” the crisis.

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“In vitro eugenics” is coming, predicts Australian bioethicist

The production of embryos using sperm and eggs generated with stem cells rather than through sex would also be useful in studying genetic diseases and for drug testing. But Dr Sparrow points out that it would be splendid for eugenics. Generations of people could be created in Petri dishes, eliminating unsatisfactory genes in the quest for better human beings. “In effect,” he writes enthusiastically, “scientists will be able to breed human beings with the same (or greater) degree of sophistication with which we currently breed plants and animals.”

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Do you own your genes, or can Big Pharma patent them?

Somebody should check and make sure that Kim Dotcom hasn’t started funding any research in genetics. Maybe those guys from the Pirate Bay, too. With a paper that must send chills of fear and vindication down the spine of every internet freedom fighter, researchers from Cornell University this week presented evidence that genetic copyright is a “direct threat to genomic liberty.” Could this be the newest, most easily altruistic frontier in copyright banditry?

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Brain Scan Predicts Whether Convicts Will Re-Offend: Welcome To The Sci-Fi Future

In a twist that evokes the dystopian science fiction of writer Philip K. Dick, neuroscientists have found a way to predict whether convicted felons are likely to commit crimes again from looking at their brain scans. Convicts showing low activity in a brain region associated with decision-making and action are more likely to be arrested again, and sooner.The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the prisoners’ brains during computer tasks in which subjects had to make quick decisions and inhibit impulsive reactions.

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How future apps will target and market your brainwaves

Electroencephalography, which is widely known as a medical diagnostic test has more potential uses. An EEG device is typically a headset with a small number of electrodes placed on different parts of the skull in order to detect the electrical signals made by your brainwaves.

One company, Government Works Inc., is developing BCI headsets for lie detection and criminal investigations. By measuring a person’s responses to questions and images, the company claims to be able to determine whether that person has knowledge of certain information or events (leading to conclusions, for instance, about whether that person was at a crime scene).

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China Is Engineering Genius Babies

At BGI Shenzhen, scientists have collected DNA samples from 2,000 of the world’s smartest people and are sequencing their entire genomes in an attempt to identify the alleles which determine human intelligence. Apparently they’re not far from finding them, and when they do, embryo screening will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation’s intelligence by five to 15 IQ points. Within a couple of generations, competing with the Chinese on an intellectual level will be like challenging Lena Dunham to a getting-naked-on-TV contest.

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Designing Life: Should Babies Be Genetically Engineered?

Designing Life: Should Babies Be Genetically Engineered

The increasing power and accessibility of genetic technology may one day give parents the option of modifying their unborn children, in order to spare offspring from disease or, conceivably, make them tall, well muscled, intelligent or otherwise blessed with desirable traits.

Would this change mean empowering parents to give their children the best start possible? Or would it mean designer babies who could face unforeseen genetic problems? Experts debated on Wednesday evening (Feb. 13) whether prenatal engineering should be banned in the United States.

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Indian Women Dumped In Field After Mass Sterilisation Campaign

Indian Women Dumped In Field After Sterilisation

The women had all undergone surgical procedures at a hospital in the Malda district of West Bengal, around 360 kilometres (220 miles) north of Kolkata, which officials admitted was not equipped to accommodate such a large number of patients. The scandal came to light after news channel NDTV aired amateur footage of unconscious women being carried out of the hospital by men and then placed on open land.“This is inhuman and we have ordered a probe into the incident,” he added.

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Terrorism likely behind avian flu outbreak: Indonesia intelligence


Fretting that terrorists might one day unleash bioweapons in Indonesia, the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) says it will monitor the recent outbreak of a new strain of avian influenza in Indonesia.

BIN chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman said that the agency was on alert and would continue to monitor the spread of the new strain, identified as H5N1 clade 2.3.2, which has re-portedly been behind the deaths of tens of thousands of ducks in the nation.

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Surveillance State: Ecuador Implements “World’s First” Countrywide Facial- and Voice-Recognition System


Ecuador has installed a nationwide system that lets government officials ID “several million” people by their voices and faces, Slate reported. If an Ecuadorian agency taps a phone line, for example, it is now able to match the voices in a call with a database of “voiceprints” of known criminals, suspects and persons of interest. The voice system is 97 percent accurate, says the system’s maker, SpeechPro

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Inception helmet creates alternative reality


The Substitutional Reality (SR) system, developed by researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute’s Laboratory for Adaptive Intelligence, is made of cheap, commercially available electronic components: a panoramic video camera used for recording, a computer for storing the recorded footage, and a head-mounted visual display that can switch seamlessly between the recorded footage and a live feed captured by a camera and microphone attached to it.

“In a dream, we naturally accept what is happening and hardly doubt its reality, however unrealistic it may seem on reflection.” says Keisuke Suzuki, the lead author of a recent paper describing the SR system. “Our motivation is to explore the cognitive mechanisms underlying our strong conviction in reality. How can people trust what they perceive?

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Hackers backdoor the human brain, successfully extract sensitive data


With a chilling hint of the not-so-distant future, researchers at the Usenix Security conference have demonstrated a zero-day vulnerability in your brain. Using a commercial off-the-shelf brain-computer interface, the researchers have shown that it’s possible to hack your brain, forcing you to reveal information that you’d rather keep secret.

In a real-world scenario, the researchers foresee a game that is specially tailored by hackers to extract sensitive information from your brain — or perhaps an attack vector that also uses social engineering to lull you into a false sense of security. It’s harder to extract data from someone who knows they’re being attacked — as interrogators and torturers well know.

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Yummy: 3D printed meat development funded


Scientists have already been experimenting with bio-printing in the field of regenerative medicine. The hope is that if you need a kidney transplant in the future, doctors will simply be able to print you a new one.

Apparently, growing meat is easier than growing organs. In Modern Meadow’s grant application to the Department of Agriculture, the company points out that ”as meat is a post mortem tissue, the vascularization of the final product is less critical than in medical applications.” Mmm, I can smell that sizzling bio-printed post mortem tissue already.

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2045 Avatar Project: Do Billionaires Crave Eternal Life?

A brain in a bot is just a way station to Nirvana, which would ultimately involve downloading the brain’s contents into a computer. That and other tweaks to the technology will take a few decades, Itskov says, which is why he calls his project the2045 Initiative. It held its first meeting in Moscow in February and has just opened an office in San Francisco. It is planning a big meeting in New York’s Lincoln Center in June 2013.

In ages past, those who would cheat Death generally talked of an elixir, but nowadays their line of patter tends to run in a cybernetic vein.

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Is it time for a genetically engineered Superman?

So: want to have Superman-like strength? The military is developing exoskeletons that strap onto soldier’s bodies and do the heavy lifting, literally. Soldiers in the field typically tote upwards of 100 pounds on their backs. Strap-on exoskeletons could make this vastly less stressful while also reducing the back injuries that are endemic in the army. Want to stave off the cognitive deficits caused by too little sleep?

Or how about getting by on four hours a night? Something called transcranial magnetic stimulation can help you do that. Or maybe you’d like to move objects using only the power of your mind? It’s possible – and you don’t have to be Uri Geller. In 2011, the Guinness Book of World Records issued an award to the NeuroSky MindWave, a brainwave reader, for the “heaviest machine moved using a brain control interface.”

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Life Imitating Art: Robot avatar body controlled by thought alone

For the first time, a person lying in an fMRI machine has controlled a robot hundreds of kilometers away using thought alone.

.”The ultimate goal is to create a surrogate, like in Avatar, although that’s a long way off yet,” says Abderrahmane Kheddar, director of the joint robotics laboratory at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan.

Teleoperated robots, those that can be remotely controlled by a human, have been around for decades. Kheddar and his colleagues are going a step further.

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Indian police ‘still using truth serum’

It is the sort of scene that belongs in a film noir, not a 21st-century democracy: an uncooperative suspect being injected with a dose of “truth serum” in an attempt to elicit a confession. But some detectives in

India still swear by so-called narcoanalysis despite India’s highest court ruling that it was was not only unreliable but also “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.

The technique is back in the news after officers from India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) asked a judge for permission to administer Sodium Pentothal to a high-profile Indian politician and his financial adviser embroiled in a corruption case.

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Global Family Planning Summit aim to reverse years of family planning neglect

A major summit is being planned for July that aims to pour money into family planning in the developing world after almost two decades of neglect, particularly during the Bush years.

Parallel to this, millions of dollars are being spent by the Gates Foundation on developing more efficient forms of contraception, particularly injections that might only be required once every six months or annually.

The executive director of the UN Population Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin, in an interview with the Guardian, described proposals at the summit to turn family planning into a global movement as “transformational”.

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A Future of Self-Surveillance?: Tech Pioneers Track Bodily Functions Day and Night

Larry Smarr’s large intestine appears to float in the middle of the room, nestled like a stuffed sausage between his other virtual organs.

Smarr, a computer science professor, adjusts the dark-tinted 3D glasses perched on his nose and picks up an electronic pointer. “And this is where the wall of my colon is inflamed,” he says, pointing out a spot where the intestinal walls are indeed noticeably swollen.

A supercomputer combined MRI images of the 63-year-old professor to create the three-dimensional illusion now projected on the wall. It gives the impression that the viewer could go for a stroll inside the researcher’s abdomen.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody could look inside their own bodies like that?” asks Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunication and Information Technology (Calit2) in La Jolla, near San Diego.

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Brain scans of small group of people can predict actions of entire populations

Brain scans of a small group of people can predict the actions of entire populations, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Oregon and the University of California at Los Angeles.

The findings are relevant to political advertising, commercial market research and public health campaigns, and broaden the use of brain imaging from a diagnostic to a predictive tool.

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Russian Defense ministry tests electromagnetic weapon, might use it to suppress mass protests

Experts from the science and research center of Russia’s Defense Ministry are testing a unique electromagnetic weapon with non-lethal effects, Interfax news agency reported Tuesday.

As the center’s director, Dmitry Soskov said, the weapon would be most effective in local conflicts, where there is no solid frontline. It would also be very useful while suppressing mass riots in cities.

“The new weapon is designed to have non-lethal effects on humans. It has a striking factor in the form of electromagnetic radiation of very high frequency. The directed ray causes intolerable pain,” Soskov said.

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Uzbekistan’s policy of secretly sterilising women

The BBC has been told by doctors that Uzbekistan is running a secret programme to sterilise women – and has talked to women sterilised without their knowledge or consent.

Adolat has striking looks, a quiet voice and a secret that she finds deeply shameful.

She knows what happened is not her fault, but she cannot help feeling guilty about it.

Adolat comes from Uzbekistan, where life centres around children and a big family is the definition of personal success. Adolat thinks of herself as a failure.

“What am I after what happened to me?” she says as her hand strokes her daughter’s hair – the girl whose birth changed Adolat’s life.

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Riots may be controlled with chemicals

Future riots could be quelled by projectiles containing chemical irritants fired bypolice using new weapons that are now in the final stages of development.

The Discriminating Irritant Projectile (Dip) has been under development by the Home Office’s centre for applied science and technology (Cast) as a potential replacement for plastic bullets.

Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that last summer’s riots in England provided a major impetus to Home Office research into new-generation riot control technology, ranging from the Dip to even more curious weaponry described by Cast technicians as “skunk oil”.

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Chinese Regime Indirectly Admits Organ Harvesting: Bioethics Professor

Professor Arthur Caplan heads the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. He said on Tuesday that China’s Vice Minister of Health Huang Jiefu may have confirmed what some rights group have long suspected—that the Chinese regime has been harvesting organs from imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners as part of the regime’s persecution of the spiritual practice.
Huang acknowledged last week that executed prisoners remained the primary source of organs for the country’s expanding organ transplant industry.
[Professor Arthur Caplan, Director of the Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania]:
“I found it startling, because no one has actually said anything from that official source that high up about the use of prisoners.”

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Marketing to Your DNA: The Suits Want To Know More About You

The potential for DNA marketing was presented yesterday at SXSW by Paul Saarinen, of the agency Yamamoto in Minneapolis, and Dr. Scott Fahrenkrug of the University of Minnesota (Disclosure. I wasn’t there and rely on the Social Media Today report for the detail).

Rohan Jay Miller, author, explains:

“If a company could access your DNA and could find out you like bitter tastes or are lactose intolerant they could market very specifically to your tastes. Sequencing a person DNA used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the cost is dropping dramatically. Today it costs $1,000 to sequence your DNA, which provides about a million points of data about your body.”

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Disturbing ‘Gattacan’ Actions: Can You Be Fired for Your Genes?

The number of complaints about genetic discrimination are on the rise

In 2010, Pamela Fink, an employee of a Connecticut energy company, made a new kind of discrimination claim: she charged that she had been fired because she carries genes that predispose her to cancer. Fink quickly became the public face for the cutting edge of civil rights: genetic discrimination.

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Microchip Implant Gives Medication On Command

For people who face frequent needle jabs to treat chronic conditions, a new technology is on the horizon that might make treatment a lot less painful.

Researchers report that a new wirelessly controlled microchip, implanted under the skin, can safely and reliably give osteoporosis patients the daily dose of a drug that they need for at least 20 days in a row. The findings were presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Vancouver and published online Thursday in Science Translational Medicine.

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More Than Human? The Ethics of Biologically Enhancing Soldiers

Our ability to “upgrade” the bodies of soldiers through drugs, implants, and exoskeletons may be outstripping the ethical norms of war as we’ve understood them.

If we can engineer a soldier who can resist torture, would it still be wrong to torture this person with the usual methods? Starvation and sleep deprivation won’t affect a super-soldier who doesn’t need to sleep or eat. Beatings and electric shocks won’t break someone who can’t feel pain or fear like we do. This isn’t a comic-book story, but plausible scenarios based on actual military projects today.

In the next generation, our warfighters may be able toeat grass,communicate telepathically,resist stress, climb walls like a lizard, and much more. Impossible?

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Are We Ready for a ‘Morality Pill’?

If continuing brain research does in fact show biochemical differences between the brains of those who help others and the brains of those who do not, could this lead to a “morality pill” — a drug that makes us more likely to help? Given the many other studies linking biochemical conditions to mood and behavior, and the proliferation of drugs to modify them that have followed, the idea is not far-fetched. If so, would people choose to take it? Could criminals be given the option, as an alternative to prison, of a drug-releasing implant that would make them less likely to harm others? Might governments begin screening people to discover those most likely to commit crimes? Those who are at much greater risk of committing a crime might be offered the morality pill; if they refused, they might be required to wear a tracking device that would show where they had been at any given time, so that they would know that if they did commit a crime, they would be detected.

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DNA Hackers: Synthetic biology weaponized virus, zero-day exploit to infect your brain?

rom the let’s get futuristically freaky department, future hacking crimes could take a decidedly sinister twist; not hacking to breach systems but brains, bodies and behaviors. This DNA hacking goes way beyond potentially using police bees to bust biohackers, or even storing unhackable data in box of bio-encrypted bacteria. It’s not science fiction to hack insulin pumps or to use jamming signals to stop hackers from lethal pacemaker attacks, but now bioengineers and security futurists are warning that the day is coming when criminals and bioterrorists hunt for vulnerabilities that will give a new meaning to zero-day exploits. In the future, a weaponized virus will aim to infect you, your brain and body biology, and not just your computer or mobile device.

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Sterilisation: Peru’s darkest secret

That allegation may now finally be tested in court, after Peru’s Attorney General last month reopened an investigation into the alleged forced sterilisations during the government of Alberto Fujimori, President from 1990 to 2000, who is currently serving a 25-year prison term for embezzlement and directing death squads during the crackdown against the Maoist Shining Path.

The investigation will look at the entire issue of forced sterilisations while focusing on one sample case, of Mamerita Mestanza, a 33-year-old, Quechua-speaking mother-of-seven, from the Andean region of Cajamarca. She died in 1998 from complications from sterilisation surgery that health officials allegedly harassed her into accepting.

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893 Turks die in major drug companies’ experiments

Drug experimentations conducted by pharmaceutical giants have killed 893 Turks, the Independent reported.

Turkey is listed sixth of the countries that report the most deaths due to experimentations, with India taking the lead at over 1,700 victims who lost their lives during experiments run by American, British and European pharmaceutical companies.

The Independent’s investigation revealed plenty of gruesome details including experiments cancelled following abuses of illiterate or uninformed subjects in need of either money or treatment.

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Paul Ehrlich, a prophet of global population doom who is gloomier than ever

The population of Earth has doubled since Paul Ehrlich first warned the world that there were too many humans. Three and a half billion people later, he is more pessimistic than ever, estimating there is only a 10% chance of avoiding a collapse of global civilisation.

“Among the knowledgeable people there is no more conversation about whether the danger is real,” Ehrlich told the Guardian. “Civilisations have collapsed before: the question is whether we can avoid the first time [an] entire global civilisation has given us the opportunity of having the whole mass collapse.”

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UK Kevorkian Politics: Elderly patients condemned to early death by secret use of do not resuscitate orders

* Inspectors who visited Queen Elizabeth Hospital, run by University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation trust, found no evidence that any of the patients whose files were marked DNR had been informed about the decision, nor their relatives told. The hospital’s own audit showed that in one ward, 30 per cent of cases did not involve any such conversations.

* At University Hospitals Bristol Foundation trust, there was no evidence that a DNR order placed on a patient had been discussed with the person or next of kin. A junior doctor told inspectors that they did “not tend to discuss” such decisions with families.

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India’s Kerala State to Adopt Two-Child Policy to Curb Population

Women’s rights leaders as well as Christian and Muslim organizations have criticized a new Kerala state police that restricts couples from having more than two children.

The new stipulations were passed in the Kerala Women’s Code Bill 2011 and was prepared by the Indian state’s Commission for the Rights and Welfare of Children and Women.

The move comes as India continues to witness a population boom and state governments are looking at ways to curtail the explosion.

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Dengue fever: CIA’s bio attack on Pak suspected

Fears are growing in Pakistan that the spread of dengue fever also known as break-bone fever may have been caused by some kind of biological experiment or deliberate release of virus by foreign elements.

Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) representatives have called on security agencies to investigate fears of deliberate spread of dengue virus in Pakistan. According to a report, the PMA members and experts have demanded in-depth investigation over mysterious spread of Dengue virus in Punjab.

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PR Firms Get Back In The Behaviour Modification Business

PR. Two letters that can spark a volatile emotional reaction in many people. And judging from a recent article in the Guardian detailing its psychologically manipulative roots in Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, they can’t be blamed. Bernays first used public relations during World War I to sell the idea that the purpose of the war was ‘bringing democracy to all of Europe.’ The campaign was tremendously effective, which made Bernays realize that public opinion could be shifted by appealing to the unconscious. PR and other practices spearheaded by Bernays can be credited for creating the modern day consumer, one that is based not on practical needs but emotional gratification.

As Bernays put it, “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it?”

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Achtung Baby: German Women Seek Pure Blood Aryan Men In India

Nobody knows of their real origin or if they are indeed Aryans. But, regarded as long-lost members of a purebred ‘Master Race’ settled in the Himalayas, Brokpas attract curious visitors, some of who try to satisfy their fantasy of having pure Aryan babies.

In 2007, filmmaker Sanjeev Sivan released his documentary Achtung Baby: In Search of Purity on the phenomenon of German women travelling to Indian villages by the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir to get impregnated by men they believe to be racially pure Aryans. These villages are inhabited by a tribe called Brokpas, who are rumoured to be the ‘last pure specimens’ of the Aryan race. Across the world, several people still regard Aryans as the ‘Master Race’—tall, blue-eyed blondes endowed with superior intelligence and values.

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World Bank Calls On Ghana To Check Population Growth

Mr Javed Talat, Executive Director of the World Bank on Monday called on the Ghana Government to fashion out mechanisms that would help check the ever-growing population to solve development challenges.

He said Technology was fast moving towards reductions in job creation such that unchecked population growth could become disastrous to developing countries in terms of high rates of unemployment.

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Is gender selection of a fetus ethical?

In countries such as China and India, the cultural preference for boys is well-documented, and parents for years have been using ultrasound and amniocentesis — followed by abortion — to avoid giving birth to girls. In some parts of rural India, where basic health care is hardly available, local clinics have sophisticated ultrasound machines used privately — and illegally — for sex selection.

Such practices have already skewed sex ratios in these countries. In China in 2005, there were 32 million more men under 20 than women. This has cast a shadow over the young men’s prospects of marriage and raised concerns about social instability and expansion of the sex industry.

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Repay student loans by selling a kidney, says British academic

Kidney donors should be paid £28,000 for their organs, says an academic who claims the move could help students pay off their university debts. In a comment published online at BMJ.com, Dr Sue Rabbitt Roff of the University of Dundee said that paying live donors would encourage more to come forward and so shorten waiting lists. Dr Roff said three people die in the UK each day because they could not get a kidney transplant.

While the UK currently has a reimbursement model in which the NHS covers donors’ costs for several weeks, Dr Roff suggests a new approach:

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Regulations proposed for animal–human chimaeras

Source: Nature News UK lays out first framework to govern ethically sensitive research field. Alison Abbott The increasingly sophisticated blending of different species to create chimaeras is pushing biology into a new ethical dimension. Last year, scientists used new stem-cell technologies to create a mouse with a functioning pancreas composed entirely of rat cells. So […]

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Ireland: Women ‘skimping on contraception due to recession’

Source: Population Matters Women are putting off gynaecological check-ups and skimping on contraception to  save money as the recession bites, a leading sexual health clinic has warned. More women are also self-treating sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) while  the number seeking fertility tests has fallen for the first time in a decade. Well Woman said it was concerned […]

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