Evolution of secretin family GPCR members in the metazoa

first_imgBackground Comparative approaches using protostome and deuterostome data have greatly contributed to understanding gene function and organismal complexity. The family 2 G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are one of the largest and best studied hormone and neuropeptide receptor families. They are suggested to have arisen from a single ancestral gene via duplication events. Despite the recent identification of receptor members in protostome and early deuterostome genomes, relatively little is known about their function or origin during metazoan divergence. In this study a comprehensive description of family 2 GPCR evolution is given based on in silico and expression analyses of the invertebrate receptor genes. Results Family 2 GPCR members were identified in the invertebrate genomes of the nematodes C. elegans and C. briggsae, the arthropods D. melanogaster and A. gambiae (mosquito) and in the tunicate C. intestinalis. This suggests that they are of ancient origin and have evolved through gene/genome duplication events. Sequence comparisons and phylogenetic analyses have demonstrated that the immediate gene environment, with regard to gene content, is conserved between the protostome and deuterostome receptor genomic regions. Also that the protostome genes are more like the deuterostome Corticotrophin Releasing Factor (CRF) and Calcitonin/Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CAL/CGRP) receptors members than the other family 2 GPCR members. The evolution of family 2 GPCRs in deuterostomes is characterised by acquisition of new family members, with SCT (Secretin) receptors only present in tetrapods. Gene structure is characterised by an increase in intron number with organismal complexity with the exception of the vertebrate CAL/CGRP receptors. Conclusion The family 2 GPCR members provide a good example of gene duplication events occurring in tandem with increasing organismal complexity during metazoan evolution. The putative ancestral receptors are proposed to be more like the deuterostome CAL/CGRP and CRF receptors and this may be associated with their fundamental role in calcium regulation and the stress response, both of which are essential for survival.last_img read more

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Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles

first_imgThis legacy explains why state-building and democratisation are such huge challenges. “As a diplomat, it’s essential to learn the language and engage in the culture. My great regret in coming here is that although I’ve been studying Pushtun in London I haven’t had the time to master it.” The lessons will continue in Afghanistan, he says, although since his new teacher speaks no English he will be learning Pushtun through the medium of French.A fluent Arabic speaker, Sir Sherard has specialised in the Middle East for much of his diplomatic career. After a First in Greats at Hertford in the mid-70s, he took the Foreign Office entrance exam and to his “amazement” was offered a job. His first year saw him based in London as desk officer for Ireland. Coincidentally a friend from Balliol had just entered the much smaller Irish diplomatic service – his first position was desk officer for Africa and Asia.This was followed by language training in Lebanon, although he had to finish his studies in London: along with other British nationals he was evacuated as the tail-end of the civil war saw Syrian forces firing Katoosha rockets over the Foreign Office school where he studied. He was one of the last graduates of the famous Middle East Centre for Arab Studies, which Egypt’s President Nasser called the “British spy school”. Later he became private secretary to the late Robin Cook. The notoriously prickly foreign secretary hated to be bothered by trivia before important meetings, Sir Sherard recalls. At one European conference news of Cherie Blair’s pregnancy had just come through, but he decided it would be best not to mention it in his morning briefing to a grumpy-looking Cook. Unfortunately, as soon as Cook entered the conference chamber, Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern asked him to give the prime minister his congratulations on the “wonderful news”. A baffled Cook assumed that Ahern must have been talking about some sudden breakthrough in the Northern Ireland peace process. Unimpressed by Ahern’s frivolous tone, he replied, “I will pass on your congratulations, but you do realise this has taken Tony three years of hard work.”One of the privileges to come with being the minister’s private secretary was being able to indicate, within reason, what job he wanted next. Having learnt Arabic and served in Cairo, Sir Sherard wanted to see the other side of the Middle East conflict. After immersion training in Hebrew, which he picked up by living with an Israeli family in Hendon, he became Britain’s ambassador to Israel, at the centre of diplomatic efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.“Neither side is gaining from the situation. Israel’s true friends should help bring about a settlement, which means engagement with both sides.” The answer – a two state solution – has been known since 1937, Sir Sherard says. First the Arabs rejected it, and now in recent years Israeli worries mean that it has been delayed again. His time as ambassador taught him much about the “sense of insecurity” amongst Israelis. “The general worry that Israel will be pushed back into the sea – whether or not one thinks this is justified, considering Israel’s military power and its support from America – is a reality of Israeli politics that needs to be recognised.”Relations between Arabs and Jews have not always been so bleak. “Before the creation of Israel there were huge Jewish communities across the Middle East in Baghdad, Cairo, Beirut, and elsewhere. A sad consequence is that these communities have disappeared. The connection between the Jewish people and the wider Middle East has been lost.”His stint in Israel was followed in 2003 by a posting as ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Moving an ambassador from Tel Aviv to Riyadh proved a controversial decision. “It was never done before, and may never be done again,” he explains, admitting that he was initially treated with “some suspicion” in the Saudi capital. There were also awkward moments where, due to the similarity of Hebrew and Arabic, he accidentally used Hebrew words instead of Arabic ones. However, he soon struck up a close relationship with his Saudi colleagues, who affectionately nicknamed him ‘Abu Henry’ after his eldest son.Because of the big British commercial and security interest in Saudi Arabia, the embassy has to deal with “a huge range of activity” – much of it based on meeting the needs of British expats. Fear of al-Qaida led to the number of British nationals in the country falling from 30,000 to 20,000 during one year of Sir Sherard’s tenure. Yet he remains cautiously upbeat about its future: “A key point to remember is that it’s the only country in the Arab world that was never properly colonised, which is a source of pride, but also a burden in the sense that the interior population is very religious, devout, and conservative. The reality for a ruler who wants to bring reform, like King Abdullah, is that he must take the population with him. He can’t just impose his will without risking serious disorder.”For the scores of Oxford students mulling a career in foreign affairs, he advises that the most important qualities are adaptability and an open mind, “coupled with a strong sense of judgement… and a sense of humour”. He insists that the Foreign Office is not the preserve of white males with double firsts from Oxbridge, pointing out that almost half of the staff in the Saudi Arabia embassy are female. “You have to be prepared for tough conditions. Our job is to understand what makes foreign countries tick. It’s not just understanding for its own sake. The role of the diplomat is more important than ever. Countries have more to do with each other than ever before, and a country like Britain – which engages in the world – needs to understand to influence in Britain’s interest and the international interest.” Again, optimism and realism. Joe MacDonald talks to the British Ambassador to Afghanistan about his career as an envoy Six years after the US and Britain began the aerial bombing campaign against the Taliban, Afghanistan remains unstable, violent, and desperately poor. Its people have a life expectancy of 46 and its basket case economy depends on the heroin trade, with over half of its GDP coming from drugs. The government of President Hamid Karzai, who won presidential elections three years ago, has little control beyond the capital Kabul. In the badlands bordering Pakistan, the resurgent Taliban are establishing control and launching attacks on Nato forces – 82 British soldiers have died since operations began in 2001, all but four of them within the last two years.So all things considered, British Ambassador to Afghanistan would seem to be a job demanding in equal parts optimism and realism. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, speaking to Cherwell soon after his arrival in Kabul on the 15th of May, does not mince his words: “The lack of development is really quite shocking. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world – we need to do all we can to help Afghanistan.”His posting comes as part of the upgrade of the British diplomatic effort: soon the embassy will be one of the largest in the world. Day to day, the job of staff is to understand Afghanistan and to integrate British government efforts. Also on the in-tray are daily engagements with the Afghan government and coordination with the rest of the international community, be it foreign embassies, the UN, NATO, or the EU.With security the foremost concern in Afghanistan, working closely with the military is also a big part of Sir Sherard’s role (“it brings out the sad tank-spotter in me”, he jokes on his blog). Security is just one part of the state-building effort. “The British military understand better than anyone what we call the comprehensive approach to building stability,” he says. Military force can only be one element in “a much wider approach” to economic development and establishing the rule of law. Yet reconstruction efforts remain seriously hampered by the government’s lack of authority and the widespread violence ensuing. Sir Sherard insists that the insurgency is being pushed back, but points to the complexity of the situation. Afghanistan’s recent history makes bleak reading. After three decades of war and suffering under the communists, the warlords and the Taliban, the country was hardly ripe for democratisation. It was only with the rise to prominence of the hardline Islamist movement that any stability was achieved in the country. Few other nations recognised the Taliban regime as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, oppressive policies ensuring their pariah status. Minority ethnic groups such as the Hazara were persecuted and massacred. Islamic punishments such as stoning and amputation were introduced and religious minorities were forced to wear identification tags. Women were banned from work and education – one edict demanded that windows in Kabul be blacked out so that housebound women would not be visible to passers by. Even shaving was banned.last_img read more

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Oxford duped by bogus uni

first_imgOxford has been giving credibility to a fake university by allowing it to use Univerity premises, a BBC investigation has revealed.The documentary exposed the ‘Irish International University,’ which has hired rooms in the Divinity School near the Bodilean Library for academic ceremonies, even though the IIU has been told repeatedly to stop claiming university status. Photos of the ‘Convocation’ ceremonies were posted on the organisation’s website.Although it claimed to have a campus in Dublin, the IIU exists only as a business with a postal address. The organisation approached Oxford to host cermonies after it was denied a venue at Cambridge.In Michaelmas Cherwell revealed that a British-Malaysian company, Oxford Centre for Leadership, had held ‘graduation’ ceremonies for its ‘5-day Millionaires MBA programme’ at Keble, and used images of the college on its website. Keble subsequently banned the company from hiring out its facilities again.Seán Ó Foghlú, Chief Executive of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland said, “The Irish International University is not a recognised higher education institution in Ireland, nor are its awards nationally recognised in this country.”“In Ireland the title of “University” is regulated. The Irish International University is registered only as a business name. In fact, [the Department of Education and Science have] written to IIU on a number of occasions instructing them to cease using the term University.”A spokesperson for Oxford said, “Oxford University will not be renting its facilities to the Irish International University in the future. This is not an institution with which we wish to develop a relationship.”The BBC also discovered that the IIU’s Honorary Chancellor, His Excellency Baron Knowth was actually Professor Jeffrey Wooller, a chartered accountant from London. His professorship was awarded by IIU, and his ‘Baron’ title has been purchased.The IIU’s web pages also promised that its degrees are backed by the ‘Quality Assurance Commission’, an organisation which was discovered to be owned by the IIU’s Executive President, Prof. Hardeep Singh Sandhu.In a statement, the IIU argued that the accusations of deception were unfounded.It read, “The BBC investigation into an education scam perpetrated by a UK private college in the United Kingdom should be well applauded in undressing the true art of corrupt educational practices but not in the expense of the Irish International University; a reported story with no true essence.”“Yes the ceremonies held are for graduates from various study centres in Africa and Asia as we have always claimed to be a ‘Transnational University’ , thus Oxford and Cambridge for its educational image was used for graduation, not seduction.”The IIU had booked a dinner in September last year at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, but was denied the venue after further investigation by the college. The IIU was then able to book an room in Oxford at short notice to host its ‘Eighth Convocation ceremony’, held on 29 September at Convocation House in the Bodleian Library. According to the IIU’s website the ‘European Gala Event & Networking’ was also held last year at the Divinity School.A Cambridge University spokesperson said, “Regrettably from time to time others attempt unfairly to trade off our internationally renowned reputation. The university’s solicitors have objected on a number of occasions to IIU’s use of logos and other material which falsely suggest an association or connection with the University.”Gregory Hayman, Head of Communications at Cambridge University explained that the IIU had approached individual colleges to use their conference facilities. He explained that each college has its own policy on renting out its property but said it seemed that the IIU had “slipped through the net by booking rooms for functions out of term time.”The organisation has 5,000 students worldwide, thousands of graduates, and encourages foreigners to spend thousands of pounds in return for one of its qualifications.by Nadya Thormanlast_img read more

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Patisserie UK folds after losing Costa contract

first_imgLees Foods’ Patisserie UK subsidiary has been placed into administration after attempts to sell it as a going concern proved unsuccessful. Patisserie UK, a bespoke manufacturer of coffee shop round cakes, loaf and tray cakes, desserts and biscuits, suffered due to the loss of a major customer – Costa Coffee – last year. When Lees Foods acquired the business in 2007, Costa represented 75% of Patisserie UK’s sales, but according to the company, within three weeks of the acquisition Costa announced it was to source a quarter of this business elsewhere.“In late December 2008, Costa Coffee notified Patisserie UK that it would be transferring all of its then remaining requirements from Patisserie UK to other suppliers. It has not been possible to replace this level of sales in an appropriate time frame and consequently the company is in a loss-making situation,” read a statement from Lees.Established in 1994, Patisserie UK currently employs 41 people at its Livingston base in West Lothian. “At a time when the other parts of the Group have been performing satisfactorily, it is with regret that the Board had to arrive at this disappointing decision,” commented Raymond Miquel, chairman and managing director of the Lees Group.Following a trading update from the company in February, its directors carried out a review of the business after a “disappointing” performance in 2008, with losses for the 12 months to 31 December 2008 totalling over £20,000. According to Lees Foods, its other subsidiaries – Lees of Scotland and Waverley Bakery – will not be affected by the decision and continue to trade in line with expectations.David Hunter, from Scotland-based charted accountants Campbell Dallas, has been appointed as administrator for Patisserie UK.last_img read more

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Droppa & Droppa to supply The Bread Factory

first_imgFree-from bakery firm Droppa & Droppa Specialist Foods has won a contract to supply a number of its gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free breads to London-firm The Bread Factory.Hendon-based The Bread Factory supplies artisan breads and morning goods to a number of top restaurants and hotels in London, and has a six-outlet retail business Gail’s.“We have tried many gluten-free breads in the past, but none match up to the taste and texture of Droppa & Droppa’s bread,” said Dana Laor, customer care manager at The Bread Factory. “Our clients are very excited about serving exceptional gluten-free breads to their customers, including poppy seed and sun-dried tomato & basil loaves.”Family business Droppa & Droppa already supplies The Lanesborough Hotel in Hyde Park and The Runnymede Hotel in Windsor, as well as several independent cafés, restaurants, health food shops and direct to the consumer via its web-based mail order business.“By supplying The Bread Factory we hope that coeliacs and those who are wheat and/or dairy intolerant can enjoy good baked goods as much as the next person,” commented joint-owner Jocelyn Droppa.last_img read more

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Two Classic David Bowie Records Will Be Re-Released For Record Store Day

first_imgAs Record Store Day is fast approaching, vinyl appreciators continue to build excitement as various artists announce their participation. The late great David Bowie will throw his name onto that list, as his estate is re-issuing two classic Bowie records for the occasion.Come April 16th, a picture disc version of the single “TVC15” and of the album The Man Who Sold The World will be available for purchase. The “TVC15” single was the 2nd track from Bowie’s 1976 album Station To Station, with “Golden Years” coming out as the leading single. On the B-side of the new release will be “Wild Is The Wind,” a 2010 single making its vinyl debut. You can see this picture disc release in the image above.Meanwhile, 1970 album The Man Who Sold The World will also get the picture disc treatment. According to the press release, “this picture disc features the original German LP fold out round cover with artwork designed by Witt of Hamburg. The sleeve originally unfolded to reveal two foot wide circular images of those featured here on the picture disc… The original version of this release is the rarest of the Mercury versions of the album, which include the ‘Dress Sleeve’ and the ‘Cartoon/Cowboy Cover’.”See the image below:last_img read more

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Divided by trade

first_imgOne look at remarks from the presidential candidates and it’s clear that their attitudes on trade deals are less than favorable.Donald Trump argues that foreign trade agreements increase corporate wealth at the expense of the blue-collar worker. Bernie Sanders’ website states that multinational corporations “have benefited greatly while millions of American jobs have been shipped overseas.” Even Hillary Clinton has retuned her message on trade in recent weeks, backing away from previous support for the multilateral trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.Those stances, pundits and politicians argue, reflect voter attitudes. But just exactly how have those attitudes taken shape? According to research by political psychologist Diana C. Mutz, Americans’ views on trade are connected to their sense of compatriotism and a strong “us-versus-them” mentality.In analyzing results of a national survey, Mutz and her colleagues found that views on trade were less affected by party affiliation and job security than you might expect. Instead, she said, “very consistently, measures of domestic racism predict trade preferences. Higher prejudice levels are linked to anti-trade views.”“What these things have in common,” said Mutz, “is a tendency to divide the world into us and them; a tendency to think of the world in terms of in groups and out groups.”Mutz, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a current Guggenheim Fellow, presented her research Tuesday at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study’s Kim and Judy Davis Dean’s Lecture in the Social Sciences. The talk was the first in a new series that will bring scholars and experts to Radcliffe to discuss topics across the arts and sciences.While the vast majority of economists think trade is a win both for the United States and its partners, Americans overwhelmingly see it as harmful at home but beneficial to other countries.In an effort to unravel that view, Mutz and her colleagues asked 3,000 people how much they would support a particular trade policy based on who won and who lost. In one set of conditions, the United States gained and the trading partner lost. In another scenario, the United States lost and the trading partner gained. In the third iteration, both parties gained.Predictably, most Americans favored the policy that benefited the United States over the trading partner. What was surprising, Mutz said, was the finding that “no amount of trading-partner gain will compel Americans to support trade in the absence of the gains for the U.S. itself.”“The bottom line from this first finding,” she added, “is that putting Americans first is a highly acceptable form of in group favoritism.”Additionally, Mutz found that the tendency to see trade as a form of competition renders even a win-win trading scenario unacceptable to many Americans. That mindset, said Mutz, “lends itself really easily to this inter-group competition way of viewing the world where we’re only happy if we can beat the other guy.”How does media coverage affect people’s trade attitudes? Mutz suggested that the harms of globalization and trade are “easy to report on,” versus stories about job gains, which are often covered in more abstract terms. Past research suggests that people are better able to relate to the plight of one person versus thousands, said Mutz, and that “negative consequences are a lot easier to visualize than positive ones.”Survey comments back her hypothesis. People often reported that they pictured one jobless person far more vividly than “the large collective.”The heightened relevance of her findings is not lost on Mutz. Factors driving support for Trump, she said, include measures of racial prejudice, anti-immigration views, and high levels of social dominance orientation — belief in social hierarchies.“The need to win, win, win, and dominate others and be the best and the top and first and so forth, all of those kinds of things, and those reasons for favoring him, are part of the same complex of attitudes and ways of viewing the world.”last_img read more

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Gear: Car Camping Essentials

first_imgWhat’s not to love about car camping? All the comforts of home rolled out into the woods, plus your favorite gadgets and techy tools to boot? You get breathtaking views, all the fresh air you want, and if the weather turns or things get weird, you’re only a car ride away from a Denny’s or Motel 6. And for most of us, car camping brings back all the child hood memories of camping with the family – both good and bad.According to the Outdoor Industry Association, of the 43 million people who camped last year, 38 million of those were car, RV, or backyard camping, and manufacturers are taking notice of this fact.When I’m heading out for a weekend of climbing or paddling, car camping frees me to focus on the gear and preparedness for my sport, not my camping gear. With that, here are a few Blue Ridge Outdoors picks for some must-have car camping favorites.Grand TrunkFounded in 2002, Grand Trunk is making a splash in the travel market with its outdoorsy accessories, including an awesome new hooded travel pillow, a packable travel blanket (also ideal for picnics), handy utility pouches, and its popular hammocks — new this summer is a very cozy double hammock in updated prints, perfect for wet and uneven camping environments. The Parachute Nylon Double Hammock ($64.99) is 10.5 by 6.5 feet and holds up to 400 pounds. Material is stretchy and mildew resistant with triple stitched seams; rope and nautical-grade hanging biners included. www.GrandTrunkGoods.comBlack DiamondWhen it comes to lighting up your campsite – and digging through your vehicle looking for your wine bottle opener – you really don’t want to take any chances, which is why I recommend one of the most dependable and reliable outdoor brands in the world for your lighting needs, despite there being so many great options available. The BD Voyager ($39.95) lantern is simple, durable and serves the dual function of non-glaring camp lantern and flashlight, perfect for late night trips to the cooler or the latrine. For personal lighting, choose one of the new BD headlamps with PowerTap Technology for super easy brightness adjustments with just the tap of a finger. The proximity mode on the new Spot Headlamp ($39.95) is awesome for reading in your tent, cooking, etc., while 130 lumens are still available when the dog runs off and you need some real candlepower to find him. For ten dollars more, the Storm is the fully waterproof version. www.blackdiamondequipment.comKeltyWhen it comes to comfort camping, few brands do it all quite as right as Kelty, from tents to packs, pads, coolers, lanterns, sleeping bags and camp furniture. Before your next outing, I suggest adding the folding Basecamp Kitchen ($184.95) to the car camping kit. It provides wind-protected surface area for food prep, cooking and playing cards after dinner if you like. Durable aluminum can handle up to 100 pounds and collapses into its carry sack at 8 by 32 inches. A fabric panty holds drygoods and pots and pans and it’s a cinch to accessorize. www.kelty.comSlumberjackSlumberjack is another one of those classic family camping brands, still offering great value and comfort. For sleeping in comfort outdoors, the inflatable mattress is the go-to solution, perfect for unruly mother-in-laws or others insisting on a slight upgrade from the cold hard ground. The Slumberjack Haymaker inflatable bed is made for use outdoors and even has a soft flocked top and comes with a battery powered pump (twin $59.95; queen $69.95). Throw a fitted sheet on it or just a sleeping bag. www.slumberjack.comTherm-a-restConsider throwing the Therm-a-rest Vela Double ($279.95) down blanket over your air mattress or two sleeping pads pushed together. The 650-fill down is the perfect amount of warmth for Blue Ridge nights and breaths better than other materials. www.thermarest.comTiclaIn the “brands you might not have heard of yet” category, Ticla represents everything about car camping you already knew, but couldn’t find available at specialty outdoor retail. But now you can. Ticla offers car-camping specific gear including sleeping pads, bags, shelters and tents…all meant to be easy to use and store with an emphasis on functionality and aesthetics, not weight. Their new Tortuga (3-person $275; 4-person $350) is being called the quintessential car camping tent – featuring 360-degree views even with the fly on; kid and dog proof materials and construction; and oversized traditional architecture. The Besito ($100) sleeping bag has the same luxurious comfort and style. It’s available as part of the company’s GOOD Kit ($180) which includes the sleeping bag, the Tsubo sleeping pad ($90), and roomy storage bag, eliminating the hassle of trying to stuff a sleeping bag into a tiny sack. www.ticla.comSierra DesignsSpeaking of comfort, nothing says luxurious car-camping comfort (or cabin, yurt, or condo) like a pair of down booties. If your (read, her) feet are warm, you will be warmer all over. This classic piece of camp gear has been revamped for men and women…men now get an easy-to-throw-on Moc ($65) and women get a plush and stylish mid-calf Bootie ($65). Both are extremely packable and still boast durable ripstop nylon construction, slip-resistant bottoms, clip/pull loops and 700-fill down. Rumor has it these booties will be discontinued so snatch them up. www.sierradesigns.comHelinoxAnother great option for sleeping near the vehicle if you’re not into air mattresses is the classic cot. Well, now there’s a cot available that’s so light and easy to set up, you’ll be taking it canoeing and backpacking, not just car camping. The Helinox Cot One ($299.95) pretty much revolutionizes the very concept of the cot, bringing it down to about four pounds with next-generation materials and industrial design. And it holds up to 320 pounds of flesh. If you’re not looking to drop three-hundred bucks, settle for the Helinox Chair One ($99.95) – again, one of the lightest and easiest to set up and down folding camp chairs on the market. www.bigagnes.comGSI OutdoorsOne of the most trusted names in camping and still family held, GSI is especially known for their durable camp kitchenware and innovative accessories. And once you have a set of dedicated and reliable pots, pans, dishes and utensils for camping, you’ll thank yourself every time out. One of our favorites is the new 4.7-liter Halulite cooking pot ($44.95), featuring dual locking stainless steel bail handles, integrated straining holes (no need to carry a colander), silicone thumb pads for handling, and a spiral-turned base that helps it stay put. The enduring Destination Kitchen Set 24 ($49.95) gives you everything you need to serve a family of four and stays put in a handy carrying case. You’ll also want to add the Vortex hand-crank blender ($99.95) to the gear box, because eating good food and making fancy drinks is really what car camping is all about. GSI even has a new line of campground games designed to be packable and durable, even for backpacking. New items include Freestyle Bocce ($30), Table Tennis, Kubb, and classics like Chess ($12), Checkers and Backgammon. www.gsioutdoors.comLowa Bahia SandalsOften overlooked, Lowa makes sandals just as rugged and functional as Chaco or Keen. Their super-grippy outsole is lightweight and flexible, providing great traction on and off the water. ($110) lowaboots.comFarm to Feet socksThese socks feel good—and not just because they are soft and comfy. Based in North Carolina, Farm to Feet sources 100% of their merino wool from U.S. ranches, and every stitch is 100% made in America. These socks keep feet dry and blister-free on creek-splashing trail runs and muddy mountain hikes. ($12) farmtofeet.comLifestrawIt’s not just for Third World countries. Lifestraw is just as effective for campers needing to purify drinking water. And for each Lifestraw sold in the States, one child in the develping world receives clean water for a year. ($19) buylifestraw.comlast_img read more

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Struck by lightning in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

first_imgCampers recovering after being struck by lightning in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Two people were transported to the hospital after being struck by lightning while camping at Balsam Mountain Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Family members of the injured say that District Court Judge Roy Wijewickrama and another woman were struck by lightening around 1:30 in the afternoon on Saturday when an isolated thunderstorm rolled through the area, striking two cars in the campground parking lot. The four people inside of the cars were uninjured, but Wijewickrama and the unnamed woman were outside of the cars and knocked to the ground. Both are expected to recover. Wijewickrama’s wife, Julie, told News 13 WLOS that he is in “stable condition and progressing daily.”last_img read more

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Main Cocaine Supplier for Los Zetas is Captured

first_img In September, Marines in San Luis Potosí captured Iván Velásquez Caballero, alias “El Talibán” and “Z-50.” The most important incident took place on October 7, when a team of Marines killed Los Zetas kingpin Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, alias “The Executioner,” during a gun battle in Progreso, Coahuila. Argentinean authorities recently captured an alleged drug trafficker who was reportedly a key cocaine supplier for Los Zetas in Buenos Aires. The alleged drug trafficker used multiple identities to move about in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Uruguay. Official sources reported he usually traveled with bodyguards. According to the Colombian news daily, Argentinean security forces followed “Mi Sangre” after planting a sophisticated tracking device in one of his cars. At least 10 Los Zetas leaders have been captured or killed since 2009, authorities said. By Dialogo November 23, 2012 Carlos Ramírez Acosta, a security analyst and head of Prisma Consulting firm, based in Mexico City, said that cooperation between countries battling transnational criminal organizations is increasing. This has resulted in “a significant exchange of information at the intelligence level,” which contributes to the arrests of drug traffickers, the analyst added. “Mi Sangre” is wanted in Colombia and in the United States for cocaine trafficking. On October 30, Argentinean security forces arrested Henry de Jesús López Londoño, a Colombian national who is also known as “Mi Sangre,” “Salvador,” and “Carlos Mario,” in a Buenos Aires supermarket, when he was with his wife and 10 bodyguards, according to news reports. Though the capture of “Mi Sangre” will hurt the cocaine trafficking operations of Los Zetas, it will not cripple it, according to Ramírez Acosta. The capture of “Mi Sangre” is a “temporary limitation,” the security analyst reflected, because the transnational criminal organization will turn to other suppliers. From the 1990s through 2005, “Mi Sangre” was a lieutenant to Colombian drug kingpin Diego Fernando Murillo, alias “Don Berna,” who in turn led Colombian drug cartel Oficina de Envigado. In 2005, “Don Berna” surrendered to Colombian authorities, while in 2008 he was extradited to the United States, where he plead guilty to cocaine trafficking charges and was sentenced to 31 years in prison. The transnational criminal organization has “suffered serious blows in the last months: loss of territory, capture or death of (its) regional leaders and internal fighting for the control of the organization,” according to a Mexican Military report titled “National Strategy against Organized Crime and its Impact on National Security.” For more than a decade, “Mi Sangre,” was one of the leaders of Los Urabeños, a Colombian paramilitary group which engages in drug trafficking, said authorities, adding that he had met with Los Zetas operatives the day before his arrest. In October, Marines in Coahuila captured Salvador Alfonso Martínez Escobedo, alias “The Squirrel,” who is suspected of ordering the massacre of 72 migrants in Tamaulipas in August 2010. The capture of “Mi Sangre” is the latest in a series of blows against Los Zetas. In addition to killing The Executioner, the Mexican Armed Forces and Federal Police have captured several key Los Zetas operatives in recent months: According to Colombian daily El Tiempo, cooperation between security forces from Colombia, Argentina and the United States led to the arrest of “Mi Sangre.” Before his capture, he was the “main cocaine supplier” for Los Zetas, said General José Roberto León, the chief of Colombia’s National Police. In July, Marines in the city of Puebla captured William de Jesús Torres Solórzano, a.k.a. “The Worm Eater” and “El W,” who is suspected of being a key financial operator for Los Zetas. The Worm Eater was allegedly responsible for trafficking drugs from Guatemala to the United States, according to authorities.last_img read more

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