The Widdershins

Archive for July 2018

Knowing about CRISPR-Cas9 may even turn out to be useful, unlike most of the news while we wait.

Okay, so what is that endless acronym? It’s used as shorthand to refer to a very accurate way of inserting a snippet of DNA into a chromosome. For instance, if someone has cystic fibrosis, there’s a very small mutation that causes the whole problem. You can, theoretically, use CRISPR-Cas9 to insert a corrected segment of DNA in the right place in the affected person’s cells and make the problem go away permanently. The cells incorporate the corrected DNA and when they make new cells, they pass on the corrected information.

 

CRISPR-Cas9 and DNA
CRISPR-Cas9 working on some DNA, image from NIH Director’s blog

 

Sounds like every genetic problem is solved, right? It would be if that’s all there was to it. For a while people thought so and optimism ran rampant. Wall St. bid up the prices of a new cohort of shaky biotech stocks and hung breathless on every snippet of gossip about new treatments in the works for FDA approval.

Plenty of non-scientists are still in that starry-eyed mood, but the research data has suddenly turned grim.

It appears that the process of inserting a bit of DNA using CRISPR-Cas9 causes multiple off-target mutations. The target (in my hypothetical example the cystic fibrosis gene) may be corrected, but there are other changes that appear all over the place. Most frighteningly, they can appear in regulatory segments of the DNA. Those are not the bits that code for something, such as mucus production. They regulate how active a gene that codes for something is, or they regulate when it activates.

Obviously, that’s rather important. Messing with regulatory activity can have disastrous and unforeseen consequences, even if the target gene did get fixed. It’s like changing the index and table of contents in a textbook on molecular biology. Changing a page number here and there is tiny compared to throwing out an entire chapter, but the whole book becomes useless.

There is a note of hope. These unwanted changes were found after using a type of CRISPR process (“single specificity targeting”) which has a much higher chance of error than the alternative (“double specificity targeting”). Researchers are looking at that less error-prone process now. If it solves the problem of unwanted changes, we can go back to ringing joy bells.

But until we know that for a fact, don’t let anyone talk you into taking a flier on some startup curing stupidity using CRISPR. And don’t let anyone you care about take a trip to Singapore for the cure to old age. Yes, I’m trying to be funny. In reality, even the CRISPR-based therapies closest to approval are still in the research phase. If you have a chance to have input on anything to do with regulation — a vote or a townhall meeting or anything like that — point out that there are massive unresolved issues that can’t be waved away by saying, “What could possibly go wrong?”

Now back to our regular programming of WAITING FOR THIS WHOLE GODDAMN CRIME FAMILY AND ALL ITS ACOLYTES TO GET TOSSED IN THE JUG. (I am not good at waiting.)

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Closing In

Posted on: July 27, 2018

Things are moving. Faster and faster. Say what you will about Bob Mueller, but his investigation is moving faster than anyone couple have expected. Republicans in Congress may try to interfere in his investigation – from Nunes to Paul Ryan himself – but it’s not stopping Mueller himself. Aside from the guilty pleas and plea bargains – and Manafort’s trial already under way – he has now seems to have flipped Trump’s personal lawyer, his fixer-upper of many years, Michael Cohen. Cohen has been cleaning up after Don for years; he knows where a lot of the bodies are buried, especially mistresses. It’s why I remain puzzled why Trump seems to have abandoned Cohen after Mueller raided Cohen’s offices and home. It seems to me that would have been the time Cohen needed to be reassured and protected. For some reason Trump decided Cohen wasn’t worth saving. I don’t know why… seems like he should have been one of Trump’s personal priorities. Feeling abandoned, Cohen embraced his new role as an “honest man.” He hired Lanny Davis to be his lawyer. Even Michael Avenatti considered representing him.

Among things Cohen has on Trump are tapes, many tapes of private conversations. And now Cohen says he is willing to testify that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting; he knew who was coming and the knew why. A lot rests on that meeting; it shows actual collusion. So far Trump maintains he had no idea it happened, even though his son, son in law and campaign manager thought enough of this meeting to attend it. Cohen says Trump knew. We know that Junior made phone calls to “blocked” numbers before the meeting and after it. And in the original statement written aboard Air Force One, Trump denied all involvement. That’s the one a Trump spokesman quit over, claiming he feared what they were committing obstruction of justice. That’s the one Hope Hicks said she’d make sure Junior was protected. All these things put together present a damning picture of Trump. He knew, of course he knew. There’s no way he did not know. So he asked Russians for help, he accepted their help and he has spent every waking moment since then trying to cover it all up.

As Trump sees the circle closing in, how will he react? Will he lash out? If he lashes out (of course he will lash out!), who will he attack? Iran? Mueller? Will he fire Mueller? His lackeys in Congress tried to impeach Rosenstein, though they have since abandoned their articles of impeachment. The impeachment, with Jim Jordan at the helm, led Nancy Pelosi to state in a press conference that perhaps Jordan was trying to deflect attention from what’s happening with him in Ohio. She threw that out there casually, as if the accusations against “Gym” Jordan were not very serious. It was a very clear threat. Pelosi will drag Jim Jordan. What will Trump do? What do you think, Widdershins?

Hey, guys. Here is a quick ‘holdover’ post to get us through ’til DYB is back tomorrow. The last one is getting hard to load. (for me at least) What’s happening?

Good Weekend Widdershins! Seriously, how are we suppose to keep up with all of this? We’ve got 25 Russians indicted whose names I can’t pronounce, let alone spell. We’ve got a bunch more newly sanctioned Russians, same. We’ve got Manafort, Gates, Page, Papadopoulos and even Tad Devine. We’ve got Stone, Assange, Rohrbacher, Guiliani. We’ve got a Russian honeypot situation offering sex for a position in an “political special interest group” (come on – it’s the NRA), thus we have US Person1s and US Person2s. We’ve got the Trump kids, especially Jr. Oops, I almost forgot Flynn. Can you imagine the flow chart in Mueller’s office?

I definitely think Michael Cohen will start naming names to cover his own bee-hind. Or maybe he’ll just let his tapes speak for him. (Lordy, there are tapes!) Manafort, I’m not so sure about. He knows they have him dead to rights on so many charges, he’s going to prison for a looong time. While my head spins trying to keep up with it all and connect the dots, I’m pretty sure I know the name of at least one person who has it all down pat. Robert Mueller.

Let’s do some songs today that name names. Here’s a few to start us off.

Elton John – Daniel

Janis Joplin – Me & Bobby McGee

John Denver – Annie’s Song (sorry about the silliness at the beginning)

Fleetwood Mac – Rhiannon

Johnny Cash – A Boy Named Sue

And last, but not least…

YG & Nipsey Hussle – FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)

Open thread.

Well, as Hillary Clinton tweeted, now we know. Some of us have known for a while that Trump was an actual traitor. Not hyperbole traitor, but an actual one in the sense that hetrump-putin-summit-crisis-time-magazine-cover1.jpg literally committed (and continues to commit) treason against his own country. But many others are just waking up right now, in a post-Helsinki press conference world and saying: “Wait, whaaaaaaat?” Samantha Bee did a great skit on how shocked everyone is and while Republicans aren’t really shocked – GOP is complicit and they don’t actually care – the most galling part is where members of the media say they’re shocked. Motherfuckers have been reporting the wrong news for about 4 years now. It’s really too bad Hillary didn’t lay out her case for Trump’s treason in an email because maybe then they’d have read it.

I don’t think Trump intends to commit treason. I think he just wants to be rich and powerful. That’s why he accepted Putin’s help. To make money. But he’s so stupid it never occurred to him his actions were treasonous. Never crossed his mind. And when it was brought up, he doubled down – because Trump would never not do that. He would never admit he fucked up, never accept responsibility and try to fix it. No, his cover-up is now of gargantuan proportions. NYTimes reported late yesterday that Trump was shown raw intelligence before the inauguration showing that Putin himself gave the green light for the campaign to infiltrate US elections. This means Trump has been covering up his crime with full knowledge of what he was doing since before he was inaugurated. Trump hasn’t been stumbling about in ignorance. No, he knew exactly what Putin did and he continues to this day to deny it. Trump attacks the intelligence community and the FBI, never Putin. He still, to this day, has not said one bad thing about Putin. At the presser, when he was asked if there was anything he would fault Russia for he responded with a direct criticism of the US instead. “We have been foolish.” What does Putin have on Trump? I don’t think it’s just a pee tape, at least not in the way Steele described in his dossier. If it’s a sex tape of some kind, it’s more than just hookers peeing on a bed. It may be Trump being peed on in the bed. Or it’s money. There’s a reason for why Trump has not released his tax returns. What the bloody hell is in those tax returns that he prostrates himself before Putin in front of TV cameras?

One other important point on the news that Trump was briefed with raw intelligence on what Putin did. The intelligence included information from a source very close to Putin. This is significant because normally a newspaper would have been asked to leave out details like that because it would put people in harm’s way. The fact that the Times published that info suggests that they know the source is already burned (and likely dead.) And to that point, Trump was shown this information two weeks before he was inaugurated. On January 27 reports started coming in raising red flags on surprise purges in Putin’s inner circle. All those Russians dropping like flies we were tracking in 2017? That started after Trump was shown the raw intelligence. And it wouldn’t be the last time the Trumps betrayed intel like that. Remember all those Saudi purges, which likely came from intelligence given to them by Jared Kushner.

DiepX-2XcAEgR0X.jpg

Also, let me mention the list of evidence Bob Mueller says he will present in court in the government’s case against Paul Manafort. The list includes about 30 emails and text messages and memos Tad Devine sent Paul Manafort through 2014, just a few months before he became chief strategist for Bernie Sanders. These communications are presented as evidence of crimes being committed. Think about that!

f-manafort-a-20180704-870x541.jpg

Paul Manafort in the middle; Tad Devine to Manafort’s immediate right; and Konstantin Kilimnik – also under indictment by Mueller – is in the blue shirt on the left.

I wonder what new devilry Friday news dump will bring.

Yup. It’s treason. It’s been treason. It’s ongoing treason. The Republicans know it. The Democrats know it. The 100-year-old hermit in the Himalayas knows it. Our allies and enemies know it.

Now what?

Well, we have to finally force the conversation that never should have been. Donald Trump should never have been the Republican candidate for President. The media should have destroyed his corrupt, treasonous ass in 2015. But alas, Hillary’s vagina dentata was more frightening than the prospect of a corrupt, treasonous foreign agent in the White House…and now we’re all paying the price.

We have to talk about things like, what is the next step if the Republicans decide that the only remedy we have for rogue Presidents, impeachment, is not going to happen?

We have to talk about the illegitimacy of the 2016 election, because the Republicans had the DNC’s analytics handed to them, by Russia; stole voter data from at least one state board of elections; and hacked into voter databases. They had a blueprint to sway impressionable voters, and if they didn’t sway enough, well, they’d just do the typical Republican thing and mess with the voting machines. It didn’t take much…just 70,000 people in three states, out of about 120 million eligible voters.

Allegedly.

We have to talk about the fact that we have a President who is more loyal to Vladimir Putin than to our Constitution.

These conversations are unimaginable because they have never happened before. The difficulty we’re having in imagining them, however, does not excuse us from the duty to have them. As Americans who love our country and revere the Constitution, this is a crisis beyond anything we ever thought possible. We must absolutely speak of these things and we must address them, quickly.

What will Republicans do? This is the most important question of our time.

If the Republicans will not impeach Trump for treason, then we must get in the streets until they are forced to do so. We cannot wait until November to fix this mess. The fish has rotted from the head, and we must get rid of every stinking trace of it before we can clear the stench.

This is an open thread.

Hello Widdershins!

It’s a bananas world out there. Let’s stay on top of it, but let’s also chillax a little with some music. Our theme today is: favorite covers. Sometimes the cover is better than the original! (I think that’s basically true of everything Bob Dylan’s ever written.) Sometimes the cover is different enough that they both work. Sometimes a song’s been covered so many times (Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” must be in the dozens at this point.) So what are some of your favorites? Here are a few of mine. This is not exhaustive and will be amended in the comments!

 

The first show Letterman hosted after 9/11 featured Tori Amos singing Tom Waits’ “Time.”

Boy George and The Pet Shop Boys recorded a brilliant cover of Dave Berry’s “The Crying Game” for the movie of the same name (which was named after the Berry song).

Madonna made a powerful cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I want you” with the British electronic duo Massive Attack.

Sophie B. Hawkins’ magnificent cover of Bob Dylan’s “I want you” (not to be confused with Gaye’s) impressed Dylan himself.

The Civil Wars’ surprising cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” is a work of genius.

Gavin Friday made a wonderfully spooky cover of U2’s “The Fly.”

Adele’s cover of The Cure’s “Lovesong” is wonderful.

A ravishing cover of Queen’s “These Are The Days of Our Lives” by George Michael, Lisa Stansfield and Queen.


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Blog Archive

July 2018
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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
2.2 years to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

Need Reminders?

Never too early to shop for Christmas

“Look this way”

Manafort’s Jail Photo

Indeed who?

Trump spam

IOW Dumb = Happy?

Simply Put

Ironic

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