By Guy Faulconbridge and Kylie MacLellan LONDON (Reuters) -British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office apologized to Queen Elizabeth on Friday after it emerged that staff had partied late into the night in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral, at a time when mixing indoors was banned. Johnson is facing the gravest crisis of his premiership after almost daily revelations about a series of social gatherings during COVID-19 lockdowns, some held when ordinary people could not bid farewell in person to dying relatives. After building a political career out of flouting accepted nor...
'Quick reaction force' waited for orders within sight of the Capitol — but Oath Keepers say they’re from another group
An enduring mystery from the Jan. 6 insurrection remains unclear, and one photojournalist doesn't understand why the FBI isn't doing more to solve it.
The indictments of Oath Keepers co-founder Stewart Rhodes and others on seditious conspiracy charges show that militia members stashed firearms and ammunition at a Virginia hotel so "quick reaction forces" could quickly move the weapons to the U.S. Capitol, but there's no indication they ever left the Comfort Inn Ballston, reported HuffPost.
“We will have several well equipped QRFs outside DC,” Rhodes wrote on Jan. 6 before leaving. “And there are many, many others, from other groups, who will be watching and waiting on the outside in case of worst case scenarios.”
There's very little known about the specific actions those other groups took, or who they are, but photojournalist Jay Westcott believes he saw some of them at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial about an hour after a military "stack" of Oath Keepers breached the Capitol.
“It is a straight line of sight three miles to the Capitol building,” Westcott said. “The radios that they had were very capable of getting there.”
He saw the suspicious-looking group at about 3:30 p.m. using radio equipment at the memorial, and he shot some photographs from a distance.
“The thing about that location is you have access to every major road into D.C. just from that one spot,” Westcott said. “A quick reaction force with a lead foot, they could’ve been in the Capitol building in less than 10 minutes.”
Westcott reached out to the FBI afterward to share the evidence he'd gathered, and his employer ARLNow published the photos in March with the men's faces blurred out, but he said investigators have contacted him at any point.
“I haven’t heard anything. I’ve heard zero,” he said. “It’s unbelievably frustrating to know that I have hard evidence, tangible physical evidence that shows details, that shows faces, and that the government and FBI have the technology to take advantage of that and haven’t.”
The FBI declined to comment on the QRFs or Westcott's claims, but the current acting president of the Oath Keepers reviewed the photos and insisted she didn't recognize the men.
“I don’t think that’s them,” said Oath Keepers head Kellye Sorelle. “Nobody recognized them.
Westcott said he's willing to share his photos with the FBI, which he realizes complicates his role as a journalist.
“It’s a sticky situation to be in," he said. "On one hand, as a journalist I have a responsibility to protect my notes and raw files as protected under the First Amendment ... [but] if they had succeeded, there wouldn’t be a First Amendment to protect anymore.”
Meat alternatives are suddenly everywhere, from burger joints to supermarket shelves to restaurant-grade food.
One problem? For men, in particular, there is often a visceral attachment to slaughter-derived meat. This could pose a stumbling block for an industry worth an estimated $A9.4 billion globally in 2020 and seeing significant growth, with grocery sales in Australia up by 46% in 2020.
Our new research is based on interviews with 36 men who recently went to vegan restaurants in Sydney and tried a plant-based burger. We found none of these men, who usually eat animal meat four to five times a week or more, were likely to include plant-based alternatives in their diets permanently.
But why? That’s the interesting part. Many of our interviewees made a strong link between animal meat and their own masculinity. “I don’t want to end up with my friends laughing at me over a plant-based burger,” one said. Another told us plant-based burgers were “ruining [his] reputation as a man”. A third said he felt guilty choosing plant-based burgers: “I was feeling I was sacrificing my manhood, my masculinity. It’s even worse when you are kind of forced to do it as everyone around is doing it. There is no other option.”
Why do some men react so strongly to meat alternatives?
We interviewed men aged 18-40, as these are the generations most likely to embrace flexitarianism (meat-reduction) and include more plant-based foods. That’s why it was surprising to see the strength of their negativity.
We believe two psychological responses are at work:
- The men we interviewed saw the idea of a vegan-only menu as a blow to their freedom to choose, regardless of whether they enjoyed the burger. They were determined to restore their freedom. This is in line with the idea of psychological reactance, which suggests people will react very strongly to perceived loss of freedoms
- on the other hand, the men we interviewed wanted to impress or please their girlfriends or partners who had taken them to the restaurant. This is linked to impression management theory, which describes how we strive to be in control of how others see us. Earlier research has shown men, in particular, can buy into eating larger and unhealthy meals as part of impression management. Our interviewees had to juggle how their partner saw them as well as how their friends and other men would see their choices.
Plant-based burgers are hitting the mainstream – but are they meaty enough for some men?
What happens when these two theories collide? You get themes emerging like these:
- focusing on the novelty of a vegan restaurant. One 18 year old told us: “You don’t need to be a vegan to go and try a veggie burger. I am not a vegan, but everyone is talking about [these burgers]. I am not even kidding, they are so popular.” A 29 year old said: “We used to go out and eat steaks and burgers in pubs and steakhouses […] now we are mingling with the veggie burger eaters. Strange world!”
- protecting masculinity through food choice. A 22 year old told us: “Friends nowadays can trace you everywhere. I don’t want to end up with my friends laughing at me over a plant-based burger,” while a 19 year old said he had to “guard what [my girlfriend] is saying in front of my male friends. I think she is smart enough and understands the implications of this. We do have a vegan friend, and everybody is constantly fooling him and it’s very annoying to think that I can get in his place with my vegetarian burger”
- scepticism over the taste of the plant-based burgers. One 32 year old told us it was “tasteless for me […] not even close to real meat. You could have it once but that’s it”
- concerns over the health of plant-based burgers. A 21 year old told us plant-based burgers were not better for health compared to meat. “They are ultra-processed imitations,” he said.
Why does this matter?
The emergence of this new industry is a clear response to urgent calls to change our current food systems due to the heavy environmental footprint of animals bred for meat, destruction of pristine habitat to create more fields, as well as animal welfare concerns. Our reliance on meat also affects our health, both on an individual and population level. New alternatives to animal-sourced meat represent the start of the transition to more sustainable food choices.
Clearing land for meat animals is a major source of biodiversity and wilderness loss.
Unfortunately, plant-based alternatives can only help us tackle our overlapping environmental crises of climate change, extinctions, wilderness loss and pollution if people actually want to eat them in preference to animal muscle. This may mean improving the ingredients used in some alternative products and reducing the processing to boost how healthy they are.
Forcing people to abandon animal meat is a non-starter, given how strongly we react to perceived loss of freedoms. That means we need to go after the psychological reasons some men, in particular, have such a strong attachment to animal meat.
How can we do that? Social marketing would be a good start, given the successes of previous common-good campaigns around making tobacco use less popular, uptake of sunscreen and COVID vaccinations.
Our study shows any marketing messages to encourage men to take up plant-based alternatives will need to be tailored very carefully. These could include:
- describing plant-based foods as a deliberate choice to make to improve nutrition, reduce health risks and improve the environment. This approach would be likely to suppress the reactance backlash
- presenting new forms of male identity focused on food to describe a masculinity centred around caring for themselves and for wilderness to create a positive impression management.
Even with reluctant or avoidant eaters, the plant-based sector is still expected to grow strongly, adding $3 billion to the Australian economy by 2030.
Just imagine if we could bring everyone along – even self-described carnivores.
Dora Marinova, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University; Christopher Bryant, Research associate, University of Bath, and Diana Bogueva, Team Manager/ Adjunct Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Sydney
US court suspends naming restrictions on fake meat firmsUS court suspends naming restrictions on fake meat firms Items like the 'Impossible Whopper' at Burger King are driving a boom in plant-based meat GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
A new treatment helped frogs regenerate their amputated legs – taking science one step closer to helping people regrow their body parts, too
Our bodies connect us to the world. When people lose parts of their bodies to disease or traumatic injury, they often feel that they’ve lost a part of who they are, even experiencing a grief akin to losing a loved one. Their sense of personal loss is justified because unlike salamanders or snarky comic book characters like Deadpool, adult human tissues generally do not regenerate – limb loss is permanent and irreversible.
Or is it?
While there have been significant advances in prosthetic and bionic technologies to replace lost limbs, they cannot yet restore a sense of touch, minimize the sensation of phantom pains or match the capabilities of natural limbs. Without reconstructing the limb itself, a person won’t be able to feel the touch of a loved one or the warmth of the sun.
We are researchers in regenerative and developmental biology and biomedical engineering. Our recent study in the journal Science Advances showed that just 24 hours of a treatment we designed is enough to regenerate fully functional and touch-sensitive limbs in frogs.
During very early development, cells that will eventually become limbs and organs arrange themselves into precise anatomical structures using a set of chemical, biomechanical and electrical signals. In considering ways to regenerate limbs, we reasoned that it would be much easier to ask cells to repeat what they already did during early development. So we looked for ways to trigger the “build whatever normally was here” signal for cells at the site of a wound.
One of the major challenges in doing this, however, is figuring out how to create an environment that encourages the body to regenerate instead of forming scars. While scars help protect injured tissue from further damage, they also change the cellular environment in ways that prevent regeneration.
Axolotls are known for their powerful regenerative abilities.
Some aquatic animals such as the axolotl have mastered regeneration without scar formation. And even in early human development, the amniotic sac provides an environment that can facilitate regenerative mechanisms. We hypothesized that developing a similar environment could override scar formation at the time of injury and allow the body to reactivate dormant regenerative signals.
To implement this idea, we developed a wearable device made of a silk hydrogel as a way to create an isolated chamber for regeneration by blocking other signals that would direct the body to develop scars or undergo other processes. We then loaded the device with a cocktail of five drugs involved in normal animal development and tissue growth.
We chose to test the device using African clawed frogs, a species commonly used in animal research which, like humans, does not regenerate limbs in adulthood. We attached the device onto one leg stump for 24 hours. We then removed the device and observed how the site of the lost limb changed over time. Over the course of 18 months, we were amazed to find that the frogs were able to regenerate their legs, including fingerlike projections with significant nerve, bone and blood vessel regrowth. The limbs also responded to light pressure, meaning that they had a restored sense of touch, and allowed the frog to return to normal swimming behavior.
Frogs that were given the device but without the drug cocktail had limited limb regrowth without much functional restoration. And frogs that weren’t treated with the device or the drug cocktail did not regrow their limbs, leaving stumps that were insensitive to touch and functionally impaired.
Interestingly, the limbs of the frogs treated with the device and the drug cocktail weren’t perfectly reconstructed. For example, bones were sometimes fragmented. However, the incompleteness of the new limb tells us that other key molecular signals may be missing, and many aspects of the treatment can still be optimized. Once we identify these signals, adding them to the drug treatment could potentially fully reverse limb loss in the future.
While prosthetic and bionic limbs can help amputees regain their independence, they do not fully restore function.
The future of regenerative medicine
Traumatic injury is one of the leading causes of death and disability in Americans. And limb loss from severe injury is the most frequent source of lifelong disability. These traumatic injuries are often caused by automobile accidents, athletic injury, side effects of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and even battlefield injuries.
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The possibility of decoding and awakening dormant signals that enable the body to regenerate parts of itself is a transformative frontier in medical science. Beyond regrowing lost limbs, regenerating heart tissue after a heart attack or brain tissue after a stroke could extend life and dramatically increase its quality. Our treatment is far from being ready to use in humans, and we only know that it works when applied immediately after injury. But uncovering and understanding the signals that allow cells to regenerate means that patients may not have to wait for scientists to really understand all the intricacies of how complex organs are constructed before they can get treated.
Making a person whole again means more than just replacing their limb. It also means restoring their sense of touch and ability to function. New approaches in regenerative medicine are now beginning to identify how that may be possible.