Birth of ‘living materials’ at MIT combines synthetic biology, materials engineering

by Kenrick Vezina

Illustration by Yan Liang, via MIT News.

A team at MIT has combined techniques from synthetic biology and materials engineering to create hybrid “living materials”: bacteria engineered to take up functional nanoparticles and grow into thin layers with usable properties, like electrical conduction or light emission. This achievement is a perfect follow-up to news from earlier this month that another group at MIT had successfully created bionic plants   [Emphasis Others] (Read our Gene-ius post on the news here.)

Anne Trafton, writing for MIT News, reports: 

These “living materials” combine the advantages of live cells, which respond to their environment, produce complex biological molecules, and span multiple length scales, with the benefits of nonliving materials, which add functions such as conducting electricity or emitting light. 

The organic analog of choice is bone. As Amina Kahn at the Los Angeles Times puts it:

 Our bones are remarkable feats of engineering; strong and yet light, shot through with holes and yet able to bear incredible loads. This super-strong natural material is built as cells incorporate hard minerals like calcium into living tissue

The MIT team, led by assistant professor of electrical engineering and biological engineering Timothy Lu, was inspired by this interplay of living cells with nonliving components.

The process Lu and his team used begins with the bacteria E. coli and genetic engineering. They chose E. coli because it naturally produces thin, slimy films that adhere to surfaces — it’s this adhesion that’s key. In order to adhere to surfaces, E. coli produces “curli fibers”, comprised of repeating protein chains.

The MIT team replaced the bacteria’s ability to produce curli fibers with an engineered genetic circuit that only produces curli fibers if given a certain molecule. Now the team essentially has an on-off switch for the bacteria and can control the formation of biofilms: supply the bacteria with the trigger molecule and they produce curli fibers and form biofilms.

On top of this, the team engineered another set of E. coli with a similar on-off switch but based on a different molecular trigger. And these bacteria were modified one step further: researchers altered the genes coding for the creation of curli fibers so that the protein chains would grab on to gold nanoparticles

So they had two varieties of engineered bacteria, both controllable via distinct molecule of their choosing, and one of the two’s ability to latch onto its environment with curli fibers has been co-opted to make the bacteria gather tiny bits of gold from its environment. 

Take both varieties, grow them together; manage their growth relative to one another with the two on-off molecules; and supply some nanoscale bits of gold. The researchers did just this and managed to coax the bacteria to build a tiny film laced through with gold nanowires: a conductive surface comprised of living cells

And the conductive biofilm is just one of several proofs-of-concept to come out of this project. 

The team was also able to embed quantum dots — semiconductor nanoparticles that glow a particular color after being illuminated by light — in their biofilm through a similar technique.

The final success lies in getting their modified cells to communicate with one another, as emphasized by the Christian Science Monitor. The molecular “on-off switches” described above don’t necessarily need to be supplied manually; in fact the researchers produced a third variety of E. coli which naturally produced the chemical trigger, activating the generation of gold-locking curli fibers in the second variety.

The potential applications for these living materials include batteries and solar cells, diagnostic devices and scaffolds for tissue engineering. According to Trafton, “The researchers are also interested in coating the biofilms with enzymes that catalyze the breakdown of cellulose, which could be useful for converting agricultural waste to biofuels.”

This latest breakthrough is sure to be one of many similar efforts that blurs the perceived boundaries between living and nonliving, artificial and organic. We’re increasingly able, as Lu and his team demonstrate, to manipulate our world at the level of molecules and atoms — whether those are DNA molecules or gold nanowiring.

 
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The article first appeared here.

Report: Dozens of FBI Agents Admit Agency Corrupted Hillary Probe, Considering Legal Action

by Benjamin Arie


Being subpoenaed to appear in front of a judge is something most people want to actively avoid, but a report regarding the Obama-era FBI suggests dozens of agents want to have their day in court to expose government corruption.

During Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Friday, the conservative host said he has learned that more than two dozen FBI agents want to be subpoenaed in order to testify about widespread abuses and political bias that occurred at the bureau during the Hillary Clinton email scandal.

“We have an (Inspector General) report coming out, and I’m told as many as 28 people that have knowledge of the Clinton email server scandal want to be subpoenaed so they can tell the story of corruption at the highest levels of the bureau at that they love,” Hannity said. It appears that Hannity isn’t the only one who sees a major rift between top-level FBI figures, like former Director James Comey, and the hardworking agents who want to see justice served.




Sara Carter, an investigative journalist whose reporting on Comey, the FBI and Clinton scandals has been proven correct with shocking accuracy, agreed with the Fox host.

“There are a lot of FBI agents that want to come out and speak,” Carter told Hannity. “A lot of them are current agents, which makes it very difficult for them, so they need to be subpoenaed. These are the things that Congress needs to act on.”

A growing stack of evidence backs up that claim.

The Daily Caller recently reported that several FBI agents have quietly come forward and admitted that many good people at the bureau are worried about speaking out because of career and legal reprisals from above.

FBI agents concerned about corruption are “hunkering down because they see good people being thrown to the dogs for speaking out and speaking out does nothing to solve the problems,” the Daily Caller quoted one agent who communicated via a former White House official.

Those rank-and-file agents believe the upper levels of the agency think they can get away with anything, while middle-level personnel are left powerless to speak out.

“It’s a question of basic credibility — Congress, the executive, and oversight are not seen to have any gravitas or seriousness,” The Daily Caller quoted its FBI source, who for obvious reasons wanted to stay anonymous. “The inmates have been running the asylum and they don’t respect, much less fear, their overseers. We know we’ll be hung out to dry.”

So-called “whistle-blower protections” are supposed to shield witnesses of abuse, but these are not always as strong as they should be.

“I’ve worked hard to strengthen legal protections, especially for FBI employees,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said.

You have a right to cooperate with Congressional inquiries, just as you have a right to cooperate with the Inspector General. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying,” Grassley added.

But FBI members are apparently not convinced.

“Even with the enactment of the new (whistle-blower protection) law, what is the deterrent for retaliation against Whistleblowers?” an FBI source told the Daily Caller.

“The FBI executives will just stall, ignore, and run out the clock until the victim runs out of money for legal fees or else retires,” the agent noted.

Being ordered to testify under oath could be a sort of long-shot “Hail Mary” play to shine a light on the truth.  “That is why the new whistleblowers want to be subpoenaed,” the agent said, according to the Caller. “They simply don’t have the resources to fight the inevitable retaliation that will ensue, regardless of the new law.”

There is a clear hesitation for witnesses of “deep state” corruption to come forward — and that’s where Congress may come into play.

By subpoenaing FBI members who have direct knowledge of corruption and political games within the bureau, lawmakers could give the good people who are still with the agency the protection they need to expose the truth.

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Cost Functions Should Not be Used to Make Education Spending Decisions

by Kansas Policy Institute


June 1 - Wichita - A cost study recommending a school funding increase upwards of $2 billion survived a peer review by a scholar the Legislature hired; but, another respected school finance scholar says cost studies should not be used to set funding levels.

Benjamin Scafadi, Ph.D., a professor of economics and director of the Education Economics Center at Kennesaw State University, says, “cost function studies do not provide valid and reliable estimates of the minimum 'cost' of achieving a given outcome.” 

Knowing the Legislature’s WestEd cost study would define the conversation on education spending and impact further judicial proceedings, Kansas Policy Institute partnered to do an independent peer review with Dr. Scafidi.  His findings disprove the notion that spending more money causes student achievement to improve. 

In response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Gannon V case, the Kansas Legislature recently contracted with a vendor conducting a $285,000 study to analyze the “cost” of educating public school students in grades K-12. The Legislature asked the vendor, WestEd, to “estimate the minimum spending required to produce a given outcome within a given educational environment.” WestEd used a “cost function” approach to estimate the costs of providing students in each public school in Kansas with an adequate education. 

Dave Trabert, president of the Kansas Policy Institute, commented, “These cost studies may be done with the best of intentions, but they fail to provide results that are useful in guiding policy decisions. In practice they only take a partial look at one variable – spending – and ignore all other variables that impact learning.”

Scafadi said, “The estimates vary widely and do not track with historical data on spending and achievement.” The review outlined the reasons why supposed “cost” functions do not provide valid and reliable estimates of the minimum “cost” of achieving a given outcome.

“One glaring problem we found with the WestEd study is that researchers do not have access to data on all external factors that impact the cost of educating students.” Trabert said.

Scafidi’s study for Kansas Policy Institute included in its exhaustive review a complete recommendation of best practices that should be performed to “check carefully for robustness and reliability of results.”

His data determined it unreasonable to conclude that giving the Kansas public school system, as currently constituted, a large boost to spending would significantly improve student outcomes.

“Given the vast sums of taxpayer funds at stake, the Kansas Governor, Legislature, and the State Supreme Court should implement the five best practices, as laid out in my review, to discover the truth about the relationship between spending and valuable student outcomes.” Scafadi concluded.




Editor's Note: Such mathematical games accomplish little more than feed the lawyers who feast on endless court decisions that force the Kansas Legislature to raise taxes violating both the separation of powers and the people's right to determine fiscal policy.

The Transhumanist Declaration 2.0

by Dirk Bruere


This was the winner of the competition for a new declaration that was held by Transhumanity. As such it is currently the definition adopted by Zero State. It is shorter than those it was based upon with many of the negative caveats concerning its dangers condensed into a single point.

The Transhumanist Declaration 2.0 

*  Humanity stands to be profoundly affected by science and technology in the future. We assert the desire ability of transcending human limitations by overcoming aging, enhancing cognition, abolishing involuntary suffering, and expanding beyond Earth. We intend to become more than Human.

*  The single defining factor of Transhumanism that separates it from all previous philosophies is the proposed use of technology to transcend what it means to be Human.

*  However this needs to be constrained by some basic ethical principles, not least for our own benefit and indeed survival. We advocate the well-being of all sentience, including humans, non-human animals, and any future artificial intellects, modified life forms, or other intelligences to which technological and scientific advance may give rise. This is to be seen as a consequence of the adoption of Abolitionism, defined by philosopher David Pearce, as our core ethic. 

*  We favour allowing individuals wide personal choice over how they enable their lives, live their lives and if necesary end their lives. This includes use of techniques that may be developed to enhance intellect, mood, concentration, memory; anti-ageing therapies; reproductive choices and  technologies that seek to alter genotype and phenotype. We also seek to develop artificial intelligences by various methods. 

*  We recognize that humanity faces serious risks, especially from the misuse of new technologies. However, whilst these dangers need to be explored and guarded against the spirit must be one that embraces the Proactionary Principle rather than the Precautionary Principle. We must not allow timidity to rob us of our unique future.

 *  Positive Transhumanist ideas and ideals need to be infused into public life at all levels, from popular culture and art, to politics and religion. Technologies that facilitate Transhumanist goals need to be adequately funded. The political leadership of our societies need to ensure the benefits are made available to all citizens in a non coercive manner.

Dirk Bruere

Attended Nottingham University and later what is now Westminster University, and has a BSc in Physics. Subsequently pursued a career in electronics and computer research and is a research engineer at Surface Measurement Systems. A founder member of Zero State (ZS) and a member of the Futurists Board of the Lifeboat Foundation. Founder of The Consensus in 2002CE, a political party with a core philosophy of Transhumanism, which has been influential in Zero State and the Wave. Other interests include the interface between technology and theology explored in the books TechnoMage and The Praxis, and was co-presenter of a UK radio show, OneTribe. Head of The Praxis, a ZS spiritual organization. For several years held the position of Branch Master in the World Shorinji Kempo Organization, teaching Zen and martial arts, although is now retired from a teaching role.  See Zero State, at:  http://wavism.net/group2/

This was the winner of the competition for a new declaration that was held by Transhumanity. As such it is currently the definition adopted by Zero State. It is shorter than those it was based upon with many of the negative caveats concerning its dangers condensed into a single point.

 




[Note: In their own words. The article first published here -- DNI]





President John F. Kennedy Intended To Splinter The CIA Into a Thousand Pieces

by Bradlee Dean

 

I will splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the wind." —John F. Kennedy


Why was John F. Kennedy so adamant about abolishing the Central Intelligence Agency?


History shows that shortly after he made this statement, he was assassinated on the streets of Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.   Most Americans are also aware that after the assassination President Johnson reversed President Kennedy’s orders on Vietnam while conveniently appointing former CIA director Allen Dulles, who was fired by President John F. Kennedy for lying and manipulating when it came to the “Bay of Pigs,” as the fox in the chicken coop to the “Warren Commission” to investigate John F. Kennedy’s assassination (Jeremiah 11:9).

The rest is history. The truth fell in the streets the day (Isaiah 59:14) that the American people refused to deal with those who were responsible for the murder of their president.

LBJ's Mistress Blows Whistle On JFK Assassination [YouTube Video]

While the truth was not acted upon that day, it did not fall dead. It has an affinity with the soul of man. The seed, however broadcast, will catch somewhere and produce a hundred fold, and it has.   One has to ask, what is the function of the CIA? Well, look it up.

CIA's primary mission is to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist the President and senior US government policymakers in making decisions relating to national security.”

If you believe this, then you deserve what you have got coming.

What they say that they do and what they actually are doing are two different stories. The fruit of the CIA has been war, world destabilization, media propaganda, murder, bribery, etc. … Listen to former CIA agent John Stockwell.

“It is the function of the CIA to keep the world unstable, and to propagandize the American people to hate, so we will let the establishment spend any amount of money on arms....”

Of course, they have been in cahoots with the military industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned Americans about back in   January 17, 1961. [YouTube Video]

The CIA has become a propaganda outlet.

We can see what former CIA director William Casey said when reinforcing what John Stockwell stated,

“We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American people believe is false.” -William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

Disinformation is exactly what they have been spewing out of the CIA for a long, long time, not only in our country, but in other countries as well.

Dr. Udo Ulfkotte came out in 2016 exposing the CIA by stating the following:

“The entire mainstream media is totally fake!”
“Taught to lie, to betray the people and not to tell the truth to the public.”
“The CIA gets control over all of the majority of journalists.” [YouTube Video]

Udo Ulkotte was found dead on January 13, 2017.

Is the CIA alive and well concerning their crimes?

On February 1, 2017, the CIA popped its ugly head up once again. This time they were exposed for fake news about an assassination attempt on the Syrian leader, Bashar Assad.

When are the American people going to hold accountable not only corrupt politicians who are using the media as a cover for their crimes, but also those who are behind the crimes? (Deuteronomy 4:1)

Remember that Adolph Hitler’s third Reich was “made on propaganda,” according to Joseph Goebbels.   Who does propaganda work best on? The least intelligent (Hosea 4:6) said none other than the devil incarnate, Adolph Hitler.

“All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”

It has been said that not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.  Until the American people understand what they are allowing through the likes of the CIA and other bureaucracies, nothing will change.

“I never would have agreed to the formulation of the Central Intelligence Agency back in forty-seven, if I had known it would become the American Gestapo.” –President Harry Truman. 


America, it would be wisdom on our part to finish what President Kennedy intended to do with the CIA.





Training urged as midwives deal with female genital mutilation cases

 by Claudia Calleja


There have been "quite a number" of women who underwent female genital mutilation and who have turned up at the hospital to give birth, a conference on FGM organised by the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses heard this morning.

 Antoinette Saliba, senior midwife and university lecturer said the patients were often "anxious and so afraid".

There was no local policy on how these cases should be tackled. For example, there was no policy on how to go about the reversal of the infibulation (the sewn vagina) before the woman gave birth. This could be done at various stages including during pregnancy or during the first stages of labour. It was against the law for the vagina to be re-sutured after birth, even though some husbands requested this.

Ms Saliba spoke about the importance of education and also the need to incorporate training on FGM for midwives that was currently obtained through experience

Laura Pullicino, a nurse who works with the Jesuit Refugee Services, said she was involved in a project with the UNHCR during which she spoke to women and men and explained to them that FGM was not accepted in Europe and why

During group sessions men and women were shown a video clip of the procedure. The clip showed a girl, about five years old, screaming as she was held down by women while her genitals were cut and sewn shut. "You could see the tears in the eyes of the women even after so many years. 

Some women were angry that their culture was being questioned but some recognised that it should not continue. Women spoke about the strong social pressure they felt to undergo FGM as otherwise they were isolated by their community. The women spoke about their experience during intercourse with some husbands slitting them with a knife

Group sessions with men revealed that some men said this was done to control their women to ensure they were not promiscuous. When they were shown the video clip some men could not take the images. It turned out they never witnessed an FGM procedure

They defended their tradition but were open to discussion. One man said that, now that he saw how it was done, he would never send a woman for the operation.

 Ms Pullicino said there was the need for more sensitivity from healthcare professionals in Malta and she gave the example of a gynaecologist who asked: "What can I do for her? Why did she let them do it to her in the first place?"

 She spoke about the need for more training and education.

Labour MP Chris Fearne urged nurses and midwives to report any cases of female genital mutilation which they knew of and that would soon become a crime under Maltese law.

 In September, Dr Fearne tabled a private members bill in Parliament to make FGM illegal in Malta. This will also apply to cases where Maltese girls are taken abroad for the procedure to be carried out overseasThe bill is being given a second reading next week and is expected to become law since there seemed to be consensus in Parliament, he said.

 Dr Fearne, a paediatric surgeon, said nurses and midwives were duty bound to report any cases they became aware of. Failing to do so made them, and anyone who did not report such a case, liable to a fine and the new law would exempt them from patient confidentiality in such cases.

 He said it was important to educate people that FGM was not a good thing and to "scare" anyone from performing it in Malta or on a Maltese citizen. He said the World Health Organisation estimated that between 150 million and 200 million women in the world were living with the consequences of FGM but little was known as the western world tended to ignore this.

 "But now we were seeing migrant communities coming into Europe and the subject needs to be discussed," he said.

 "This is not a stand against something from a foreign culture but against something that is intrinsically wrong," he said.

 FGM is a common cultural ritual carried out in many African countries. There are three man types of FGM carried out on young girls. One includes snipping off the clitoris, another removes the clitoris and the inner labia and, in the most severe case, the outer labia are also removed and there is the fusion of the wound.

Women suffer in future as intercourse is painful with some men not managing to penetrate their wives and resorting to creating a slit with a knife. This also creates complications during labour with two per cent of babies dying because of FGM.

 



A 2013 article republished here as a community education effort  The article first appeared here.

Politics Comey Disaster: Agent Who Quit Over Rigged Hillary Investigation Heads to Congress

by Cillian Zeal


An FBI agent who allegedly quit the bureau over his belief that the Hillary Clinton email investigation was rigged will testify before the House of Representatives, The Hill reported.

The joint investigation between the House Judiciary and the Oversight Committees — led by Republican Reps. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, respectively — has been a source of consternation for Republicans and Democrats alike.

Conservatives have complained about the slow pace of the examination into how the Clinton email investigation was conducted, noting that only two witnesses have appeared before it.

Democrats, of course, have complained that it exists at all, since anything that distracts from the endless investigation into how President Donald Trump is really a Russian plant is simply frivolous — particularly if it implicates former FBI Director James Comey, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or former President Barack Obama in any wrongdoing.

Well, now we’re finally about to see some fireworks. Three top witnesses are going to testify before lawmakers: John Giacalone, who was in charge of the Clinton investigation for the first seven months; Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division; and Michael Steinbach, former head of the FBI’s national security division and the man who succeeded Giacalone.

All three are of particular interest, especially since Priestap was the supervisor of FBI agent Peter Strzok, whose anti-Trump text messages have thrown the objectivity of the entire investigation into doubt.

However, the real headliner here may be Giacalone. Shortly after then-FBI Director Comey announced he wouldn’t be pursuing charges against Hillary Clinton for the email server, Fox News pundit Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote a column in which he claimed Giacalone had quit the bureau because he believed the investigation was rigged.

In the Oct. 28, 2016 column, Napolitano claimed at that at the start of the Clinton email investigation, “agents and senior managers gathered in the summer of 2015 to discuss how to proceed. It was obvious to all that a prima-facie case could be made for espionage, theft of government property and obstruction of justice charges. The consensus was to proceed with a formal criminal investigation.”

“Six months later, the senior FBI agent in charge of that investigation resigned from the case and retired from the FBI because he felt the case was going ‘sideways’; that’s law enforcement jargon for ‘nowhere by design,'” Napolitano wrote.

“John Giacalone had been the chief of the New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., field offices of the FBI and, at the time of his ‘sideways’ comment, was the chief of the FBI National Security Branch.”

“The reason for the ‘sideways’ comment must have been Giacalone’s realization that DOJ and FBI senior management had decided that the investigation would not work in tandem with a federal grand jury. That is nearly fatal to any government criminal case. In criminal cases, the FBI and the DOJ cannot issue subpoenas for testimony or for tangible things; only grand juries can,” Napolitano continued.

“Giacalone knew that without a grand jury, the FBI would be toothless, as it would have no subpoena power. He also knew that without a grand jury, the FBI would have a hard time persuading any federal judge to issue search warrants.”

Napolitano speculated there were several possible reasons that the case went “sideways.” One was that Obama feared having to testify if Clinton went to trial (he had sent emails to the private server, after all, meaning he was aware of it). There was also the fact that a Clinton indictment could have led to Trump becoming president, and Obama simply couldn’t countenance that. (Less than two weeks after Napolitano’s column was written, it must be noted, that reason became moot.)

Either way, if the investigation had indeed gone “sideways,” it would need to have done so with approval from the highest levels — certainly James Comey and possibly Barack Obama.

Whether or not Giacalone has any concrete evidence of this or not is another issue entirely. My guess would be no, given that we’re going on two years since Comey’s infamous news conference and we still haven’t heard anything to that effect from Giacalone.

However, of all of the congressional testimonies we’ve seen over the past few years, this could be one of the most underreported. John Giacalone may open up a gigantic can of worms for Comey and Clinton — one that drags them back in the spotlight for reasons significantly less pleasant than their book tours.

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Measuring THT in Natural Gas

by Applied Analytics

 

Natural gas for direct consumption is odorized for safety reasons. In the odorizing process, a substance with extremely high odor is added to natural gas in a controlled method.
 

Natural gas for direct consumption is odorized for safety reasons. In the odorizing process, a substance with extremely high odor is added to natural gas in a controlled method. The odorized natural gas is then transmitted via pipelines into crowded urban settings and eventually into homes, schools, and workplaces.
 
In many cases, the smell of the gas is the only mechanism for leak detection and prevention of catastrophic explosions. Mercaptans are often used as odorants due to their low odor threshold. In Europe, tetrahydrothiophene (THT) is commonly used. Since the pipeline material absorbs some of the odorant out of the natural gas stream, the THT level is continuously monitored to ensure the gas is adequately odorized throughout the pipeline.

Case study:

At one border crossing in Western Europe, where custody of a natural gas pipeline is transferred, the operators depend on Applied Analytics technology to continuously validate odorant level at several points. An OMA-300 Process Analyzer is installed at each monitoring point with a dedicated sampling system for handling the high pressure natural gas.
 
Application: THT in Natural gas
Location: Western Europe
Equipment: OMA-300 Process Analyzer
Span Check: 5 PPM THT in Methane
 
Figure 1 visualizes how the OMA-300 sees the absorbance spectra of (a) un-odorized natural gas, (b) natural gas odorized with THT, and (c) 5 ppm THT in span gas. Sales-quality natural gas contains mostly methane, which does not absorb in the UV range. The absorbance curve seen in Figure 1 from 245-285 nm is the fingerprint of the aromatic compounds often present in low amounts in natural gas. To isolate THT absorbance, the unit is calibrated to the aromatic background. This procedure for interference-free, reliable odorant measurement is only possible with a multi-wavelength instrument that can properly subtract the aromatic absorbance.
 
Figure 1: UV absorbance spectra of un-odorized natural gas, odorized natural gas, and THT in span gas.
Each of the measurement checkpoints at this site receives natural gas flowing from a different source, such that each analyzer is being fed a stream with unique gas background matrix.
 
Figure 2 shows the absorbance spectra measured by the OMA-300 at various checkpoints. Table 1 shows the actual readings of THT in these natural gas streams.
 
Figure 2: UV absorbance spectra of THT in different natural gas sources.


 
Table 1: THT readings obtained from the lab and the online OMA-300 Process Analyzer.
Gas Source THT(PPM) THT OMA(PPM)
Gas 1 4.78 4.42
Gas 2 1.96 1.81
Gas 3 4.50 4.32
Gas 4 4.60 4.26
Gas 5 2.75 2.83

Conclusion

At this site, the OMA-300 has simplified pipeline operation by providing interference-free, automated odorant monitoring, giving the operators at-a-glance odorant levels at multiple checkpoints. Applied Analytics technology is trusted with the critical task of ensuring gas safety downstream into populated areas.



Federal Judge Rules: Way Trump Uses Twitter Is Illegal

by George Upper


There’s been a lot of theorizing about the effect of social media on the 2016 presidential election, most of it — in the establishment media, anyway — focused on how Donald Trump’s campaign, with or without the help of the Russians, “stole” the election from Hillary Clinton by selectively planting “fake news” on Facebook.

But Trump’s social media advantage during the campaign was never on Facebook; it was always on Twitter, from his announcement through the election and inauguration.

And, while it wasn’t obvious at the time, that’s when swamp water began seeping into Trump’s online presence, with the ultimate result being that federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump cannot block users from access to his Twitter account without violating the First Amendment to the Constitution after seven plaintiffs — we don’t have their names, but I’m guessing they don’t hail from right-of-center heartland America — sued over the practice.

The judge ruled that, because blocking accounts that disagree with him on Twitter prevents those users from expressing their disagreement with him on what was essentially a public forum amounted to government suppression of their right to free speech, according to The New York Times.

Now, given the circumstances, the judge could hardly have decided anything differently. It’s not the judge in the wrong here; it’s the circumstances surrounding the judge’s decision.

Essentially, Federal District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that, because Trump and Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, “exert governmental control over certain aspects of the @realDonaldTrump account,” the account is an official government account and blocking the seven plaintiffs from it because of their political views violated their First Amendment rights. 

Again, that’s true. But that’s not the problem.  The problem is that this should never have been an “official government account” in the first place. 

Donald Trump — with the help of media experts in his employ, one would imagine — built his following on Twitter long before he ever ran for office, and he continued to build it — and expertly so — during his campaign.  If the account had remained under his personal control, he could block or not block anyone he chose.

But that’s not what happened.

“The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and cannot be justified by the president’s personal First Amendment interests,” the judge, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1999, wrote in her decision.  The White House is apparently considering an appeal, although the basis for such an action was not mentioned and remains unclear, given the present circumstances.  

“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our next steps,” said the Justice Department, which is representing the president in the case.

‘The right thing for the president and his social media director to do would be to log into the president’s account and unblock everyone who has been blocked on the basis of viewpoint,” said Jameel Jaffer, the plaintiffs’ attorney and the executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, which joined the case as a plaintiff itself.

The court, however, did not order the president to take such an action which would, on the face of it, appear to mean that any government employee or elected official with a social media account funded with taxpayer money would have to take the same action or face similar lawsuits.  Again, since White House staffers became involved, free speech is a legitimate issue in this case. But was it really necessary for that to happen? Isn’t the president’s Twitter account really that, a personal account?  

And the president should be able to communicate directly with the American people without the intervention of federal bureaucrats. Shouldn’t he?

The court, however, did not order the president to take such an action which would, on the face of it, appear to mean that any government employee or elected official with a social media account funded with taxpayer money would have to take the same action or face similar lawsuits.  Again, since White House staffers became involved, free speech is a legitimate issue in this case. But was it really necessary for that to happen? Isn’t the president’s Twitter account really that, a personal account? 

And the president should be able to communicate directly with the American people without the intervention of federal bureaucrats. Shouldn’t he?


Rutgers Student Going Public Against Financial Aid for Illegals

by Jack Davis


The bottom line of a new New Jersey law is that breaking the law pays off, according to a Rutgers University student angered over a law that lets illegal immigrants collect financial aid. 

“It’s just absurd that we’re giving illegal immigrants more and more incentives to break the law,” said Nick Knight said, according to Fox News. “I’m going to be paying for that debt after college.”  Knight said putting those who break the law above everyone else is wrong.   “I think they’re taking the word ‘Dreamers’ and trying to put it in a positive light,” Knight said. “But in reality, it’s not fair for everybody else, for people who go through the process, for people who pay taxes and for people who come over here legally.”

Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy put a very different spin on the bill when he allowed New Jersey to become the ninth state in the U.S. to dole out financial aid to illegal immigrants.

“New Jerseyans support the ability of our Dreamers to not only remain in our state but to become a strong and contributing part of our society and economy,” he said, according to NJ.com.  “By allowing them to not only go to college but to qualify for financial assistance, we are living up to that ideal,” he said.

The battle over financial aid to illegal immigrants is currently being fought in New Jersey’s neighbor, New York.

For the past seven years, the Democrat-controlled New York State Assembly has passed legislation that would allow the children of illegal immigrants to receive financial aid. However, the GOP-controlled state Senate has refused to approve the bill, which has received support from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Illegal immigrants and their supporters are demanding that New York follow New Jersey’s lead and putting heat on Cuomo, who is facing a primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon, to get the job done.

“I am disappointed that Gov. Cuomo and the State Senate have not introduced a similar bill, which would change our lives. New York needs to follow the example of New Jersey and provide the same access to higher education to all students, regardless of their immigration status,” said Jennifer Macías, an illegal immigrant who attends Queensborough Community College, according to Voices of NY

New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has said his GOP colleagues are unlikely to change the stance on financial aid for illegal immigrants. 

“Our members are very strongly opposed to the Dream Act,” he told the Albany Times-Union.

“I’m going to put it in plain and simple terms: There’s tons of middle-class families in the state of New York who are struggling,” Flanagan said. “I met with college students who are working two and three jobs just to go to community college. So my primary obligation, and I think the position of our members is, let’s make sure we’re taking care of the hard-working middle class taxpayers who are struggling right now.”