DARPA’s new project: genetic engineering, assembly-line style

DARPA stands for “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.” Who wants to bet that “fuels and medicines” are not the primary objective of this research?

[Emphasis below is mine.]

Darpa, Venter Launch Assembly Line for Genetic Engineering

Darpa, the Pentagon’s far-out research arm, has kicked off a program designed to take the conventions of manufacturing and apply them to living cells. Think of it like an assembly line, but one that would churn out modified biological matter — man-made organisms — instead of cars or computer parts.

The program, called “Living Foundries,” was first announced by the agency last year. Now, Darpa’s handed out seven research awards worth $15.5 million to six different companies and institutions. Among them are several Darpa favorites, including the University of Texas at Austin and the California Institute of Technology. Two contracts were also issued to the J. Craig Venter Institute. Dr. Venter is something of a biology superstar: He was among the first scientists to sequence a human genome, and his institute was, in 2010, the first to create a cell with entirely synthetic genome.

[...] Scientists have tweaked cells in order to develop renewable petroleum and spider silk that’s tough as steel. And a host of companies are investigating the pharmaceutical and agricultural promise lurking — with some tinkering, of course — inside living cells.

[...] Synthetic biology, as Darpa notes, has the potential to yield “new materials, novel capabilities, fuel and medicines” — everything from fuels to solar cells to vaccines could be produced by engineering different living cells. But the agency isn’t content to wait seven years for each new innovation. In fact, they want the capability for “on-demand production” of whatever bio-product suits the military’s immediate needs.

Note: “on demand production of whatever suits the military’s immediate needs.” There you have it. Fuels and medicines – right. What could go wrong? How about the T-Virus? : ) Or as another fictional example, here’s a teaser released in Nov/2010 to Wired magazine — supposedly from Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming movie (March/2013) Elysium:

Library porn: Dublin, Ireland

derangedbutterfly:

Dublin – Trinity College Library by Irish Welcome Tours on Flickr.

Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, with two story dark wooden arches, this is also the largest library in all of Ireland. It serves as the country’s copyright library, where a copy of all new books and periodicals must be sent when they apply for copyright protection. The library is also home to the famous Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript created by Celtic monks around the year 800.

Maddow: The “Reverse Robin Hood” economics of the GOP: poor people have too much money (video)

If you doubt Romney and the Republicans don’t want you to pay to extend Bush’s tax cuts or create new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, then you haven’t been paying attention.

“This man who would be the wealthiest American president in modern history, by a mile. His economic policies? Would raise taxes on poor people. On purpose.” A President Romney would raise taxes on households making less than $20,000 a year by 60 percent, Maddow reported, referring to an AP story from Thursday, whereas people making more than a million dollars per year would get tax cuts averaging 15 percent. It amounts to a kind of “Reverse Robin Hood” economic policy, stealing from the poor to give to the rich. “That’s the problem, according to Mitt Romney,” said Maddow, “Poor people in this country have too much money.”  — Rachel Maddow

 

Morning Bunker Report: Saturday 5.26.2012

WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STANDS FOR TODAY—————————–—

I like competition, and I think the game is like a sport for old guys. I mean, you know, I can’t compete in competitive sports very well, but I can compete in politics, and there’s the—what was the old ABC ‘Wide World of Sports’ slogan? ‘The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.’ The only difference is victory is still a thrill, but I don’t feel agony in loss.” – Mitt Romney, comparing the presidential election to a game, in an interview by Peggy “Drunk at” Noonan, published Thursday in the Wall Street Journal.

“It’s all in the game, yo. All in the game.” Omar Little

Romney argues big spending cuts would cause ‘Depression,’ contrary to Tea Party activists — While rival schools of economic thought have never agreed on each other’s fundamental principles, over the past several decades, the notion that more government spending helps during a recession had gained broad acceptance. But it has been rejected by Tea Party members of Congress and conservative interest groups like the Club for Growth, who have bemoaned Obama’s stimulus package and other efforts to boost the economy as job-killing government spending. Club for Growth declined to comment for this article. The rhetorical thrust of a sharp distinction between the Tea Party’s demand for big cuts and Obama’s supposed propensity to spend has been a central tenet of the GOP’s political messaging over the past two years. And Romney has run afoul of budget-cut purists before, recently over comments he made during a campaign stop in Michigan. “If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy,” Romney said, according to MSNBC. That comment prompted this response from Club for Growth lobbyist Andy Roth: “It’s hogwash. It confirms yet again that Romney is not a limited government conservative.” — HuffPo

  • And so it naturally follows: DC Republicans reinvent themselves as Keynesians to warn of the impending harm to the U.S. economy of cutting government spending. — TPM

A top Mitt Romney campaign adviser on Friday disavowed conspiracy theories pushed by Donald Trump, one of Romney’s most high-profile supporters. The adviser said the campaign could not be held responsible for everything that Romney supporters say. Trump is a birther. He clings to the notion that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not the United States, despite the fact that this theory has been proven to be baseless. Next week, Romney will be holding an event with Trump. In a CNN interview on Friday, Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom said the campaign was going ahead with the May 29 event despite Trump’s birther views. — HuffPo

  • Trump still talking about Obama’s place of birth yesterday — “Look, it’s very simple,” said Trump, who has spent the past 13 months questioning Obama’s constitutional eligibility to occupy the White House (and only doubled down with his stubborn skepticism after Obama produced a long-form birth certificate, certifying he was born on Aug. 4, 1961, in Hawaii, and then hilariously roasted him at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. “A book publisher came out three days ago and said that in his written synopsis of his book,” Trump went on, “he said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. His mother never spent a day in the hospital.” — Lloyd Grove | Daily Beast
  •  Romney-Trump 2012? — Asked Friday in a guest appearance on ABC’s “The View” if he was interested in joining Mitt Romney’s presidential ticket, Donald Trump asked, “Who would turn it down?” – CNN Political Ticker

Let the eagle soar! Paid sick leave for workers: ILLEGAL — Last year, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Wisconsin’s Republican legislature approved a law making it illegal for Wisconsin’s cities to require that businesses provide their workers with paid sick days. Milwaukee had crafted a law mandating paid sick leave for workers within the city, but Walker and Wisconsin GOP nullified it. A judge, in ruling that the state had the ability to preempt Milwaukee’s law, said “I don’t feel real good about how this happened politically.” Louisiana’s legislature is now considering a similar bill to preempt local efforts at requiring paid leave for workers… [...] Just a few cities in the country — Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle — along with the state of Connecticut require that workers receive paid sick leave. The United States is all alone in the industrialized world in not requiring some form of paid leave as a matter of national policy. Each year, the U.S. economy loses $180 billion in productivity due to sick employees attending work and infecting other workers. — Think Progress

Bush signs tax cuts via WikimediaHouse GOP plans August vote to extend Bush tax cuts  — “Knowing that comprehensive reform will take time, we must ensure that while Congress is working to bring about competitive change, government does not increase the cost of business,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote in a note to Republican representatives on Friday. “Before we leave for August, I expect to schedule a vote on legislation preventing the largest tax increase in history.” — Raw Story

  • The Hill reports that vote will happen in July.

Damage done: The Romney campaign seems to have decided that it can’t repair the damage to his chances with Hispanics post-primary and he’ll focus on getting votes elsewhere.  — TPM

WHAT THE PRESIDENT / DEMOCRATS STAND FOR ————————————

“[T]he rate of spending – federal spending increase is lower under President Obama than all of his predecessors since Dwight Eisenhower, including all of his Republican predecessors. That is a fact not often noted in the press and certainly never mentioned by the Republicans. [T]his President has been – has demonstrated significant fiscal restraint and acted with great fiscal responsibility. That is also why he has put forward a balanced plan to further reduce our deficit and debt by over $4 trillion….. I simply make the point, as an editor might say, to check it out; do not buy into the BS that you hear about spending and fiscal constraint [sic] with regard to this administration. I think doing so is a sign of sloth and laziness.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, speaking to the press corps on Wednesday aboard Air Force One

An Obama Spending Spree? Hardly. — The fact that the national debt has risen from $10.6 trillion to $15.6 trillion under Obama’s watch makes for easy partisan attacks. But the vast bulk of the increase was caused by a combination of revenue losses due to the 2008-09 economic downturn as well as Bush-era tax cuts and automatic increases in safety-net spending that were already written into law. Obama’s policies, including the much-criticized stimulus package, have caused the slowest increase in federal spending of any president in almost 60 years, according to data compiled by the financial news service MarketWatch. — TPMDC

Obama calls Romney speech ‘a cow pie of distortion’ — The president said there may be value in Romney’s experience in corporate buyouts, “but it’s not in the White House.” He also noted that the former governor doesn’t talk about his record in Massachusetts. Speaking directly to Iowans, Obama used local lingo to slam Romney: “Governor Romney came to Des Moines last week and warned of a prairie fire of debt,” he said. “But he left out some facts. His speech was more like a cow pie of distortion.” Then he quipped, “I don’t know whose record he twisted the most – mine or his.” — MSNBC

Bill Maher: Obama ‘is a lousy socialist’ — Maher ended Friday night’s “New Rules” segment by calling out the Right’s ridiculous mischaracterization of the President. “…Newt Gingrich called Obama the most radical Leftist President in history. Senator Marco Rubio called him the most divisive figure in American history. Michelle Bachmann said Obama is the most radical President we have ever seen in the history of the country …John Bolton said Obama just doesn’t care about national security. Honestly, there are Mexican drug mules who don’t pull this much stuff out of their ass,” Maher said. Maher, expressing disappointment in Obama’s accomplishments, then said, “If Obama were as radical as they claim, here’s what he would have already done: Pulled the troops out of Afghanistan, given us ‘Medicare for all,’ ended the drug war, cut the defense budget in half, and turned Dick Cheney over to the Hague.” — Raw Story