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Monday, 29-Mar-2010 00:59 Email | Share | | Bookmark
A Face-Off Between Rivals in Thailand

BANGKOK — Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of Thailand met Sunday with leaders of the antigovernment protest movement here, the first significant effort to defuse two weeks of street protests.

The meeting, an unscripted and unusual face-off among hardened political rivals that was carried live on Thailand’s main akoya pearl pendants television channels, failed to make progress on the primary demand of protesters, that new elections be called. Both sides agreed to meet again on Monday.

“All of us now have only one question,” Jatuporn Prompan, a protest leader at the meeting, asked the china wholesale wish pearl set prime minister. “Will you dissolve Parliament or not?”

Mr. Abhisit, looking uncomfortable at times, said he would “make a decision based on a consensus from the entire country” and questioned whether new elections would solve Thailand’s four-year-old political crisis.

The talks came as the capital was hit by several weekend grenade attacks that wounded soldiers, the latest in a spate of such episodes in the past two weeks.

The demonstrators, who are known as red shirts, number in the tens of thousands and have become amber earrings increasingly assertive. On Saturday they demanded that soldiers stop guarding the government district where the protests are taking place. The military agreed and removed hundreds of troops from all but one main government office.

The protesters, many of whom are supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister removed in a 2006 coup, are mainly from the poorer strata of society and include a large number of farmers. They criticize the influence of what they call the “aristocracy” and cite the coup and two court decisions that banned Thaksin-backed political parties as events that have stifled the voices of a majority of citizens.

Critics of the red shirts accuse them of being the foot soldiers of Mr. Thaksin, whose five years in power bitterly pearl wholesale divided the nation.

Mr. Thaksin, who lives abroad, has been convicted of abusing power and using his office to advance his business interests.

The three protest leaders were generally cordial in the meeting on Sunday, patiently jotting notes when the prime minister spoke, in contrast to the fiery speeches in which they have denounced Mr. Abhisit as a puppet of the elite and the military. The meeting room was quiet enough to hear water being poured.

But tensions remained close to the surface. Weng Tohjirakarn, a protest leader, warned the prime minister that the government was faced with a battle between a small elite and a “huge number from the purper pearl beads lower classes.”

Mr. Abhisit had initially refused to meet with the protest leaders but changed his mind, “to bring back the peace and to avoid possible violence and confrontation,” an official said.

Monday, 29-Mar-2010 00:56 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Unearthing the Secret Sex Lives of Truffles

Truffles are the fruit of fungi that infect the roots of certain trees. They are of keen interest to pigs, particularly sows, because some secrete androstenol, a hormone produced by boars before mating. People who nature pearl ring use sows to hunt for truffles often find it hard to prevent a sex-crazed animal from eating the truffle she has found and may lose fingers in the attempt.

It turns out the truffles too have a sex life, said Dr. Francis Martin, a plant biologist at the University of Nancy in France and leader of the research team. The precious fungi had long been thought to pendant jewelry enhancers lead an asexual existence, but Dr. Martin and his colleagues have found that they have two sexes, or mating types.

The information is of great significance to truffle growers, whom Dr. Martin now advises to inject roots with both sexes of truffle spore. The truffle then benefits from the purpose of sex, which is of course to pendant jewelry enhancers generate new combinations of genes and fresh diversity.

Truffle growers in France and Italy have a mixed reaction to the work of Dr. Martin’s team on the truffle’s genome. On the one hand, they “are always complaining we are not doing enough for them,” Dr. Martin said. On the other, “they don’t want us to get the magic recipe to produce truffles by the ton because then the price would go down.”

The Périgord black truffle has a large genome, made of 125 million units of DNA that contain about 7,500 genes, Dr. Martin and his colleagues report online Sunday in the journal Nature. Figuring out what each gene does will take many years, but certain patterns of activity are evident.

Nestled underground in the roots of its oak tree host, the truffle fungus has a suite of genes for detecting cultured akoya brooch light. These are either to help it avoid sunlight and stay safely beneath the earth, or to help it sense the passage of the seasons.

It has another suite of genes for exchanging nutrients with its host. The fungus earns its keep, providing more food for the oak than the tree’s roots can obtain alone.

Truffle-infected trees can often be recognized because a patch of bare earth develops around the trunk. The fungus seems to deter competitors of its tree aggressively, perhaps by producing illusion pearl necklace some plant toxin. Dr. Martin has not yet identified the responsible genes. They may be hard to detect, he said, because they are probably unique to the truffle fungus.

The fungus’s major concern is to spread its spores, a matter of some technical difficulty for an organism that lives underground. So it produces the redolent odors that will compel surface dwellers of all kinds to search for it, eat it, and distribute its spores after they have dined.

At the top end of this truffle food line are people, some of whom will pay as if truffles were worth their weight in gold. Such is human wickedness that fake truffles abound, some of them stained with walnut juice to resemble the Périgord black truffle.

People make secrets of the recipes for inoculating trees with spores and the location of truffle groves. They will steal each others’ trained truffle dogs. Dogs have taken over truffle detection duties from pink pearl ring pigs because if one is trying to harvest a truffle wood discreetly without alerting the locals, it’s generally a mistake to show up walking a pig on a leash.

In the middle of the food line are boars and squirrels, driven wild by the truffle perfumes designed to mimic their own sex hormones. Dr. Martin said he had traced most of the genes whose products manufacture these chemicals.

Last, there are the truffle flies which lay their eggs in the truffle. From the fungus’s perspective, the insects are just another way of spreading its spores. So it attracts them by releasing anisole and veratrole, two insect pheromones, when the truffle has reached maturity. Truffles can often be detected by looking for congregations of truffle flies.

Don’t the fly’s eggs and larvae degrade the edibility of the truffle? It seems the opposite is the case. “If collected at late maturation stages, the truffles will likely carry eggs and larvae — adding proteins and aroma to the truffle,” Dr. Martin said.

Though the black truffle has a large genome, it has fewer genes than other fungi, possibly because it has chosen a very specialist lifestyle and so needs fewer genes than does a generalist fungus.

The regional nature of the truffle somewhat resembles that of wines. Since people of Périgord, Provence and sterling silver ring other regions each claim their truffles are the best, Dr. Martin hopes to develop genetic methods for identifying regional varieties of truffle, so that each could have an official designation of origin similar to those that protect local wines and cheeses in France.

Monday, 29-Mar-2010 00:55 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Timeline: Bomb attacks in Greece

January 2007 - Guerrillas fire a grenade at the U.S. embassy in Athens, hitting its facade.

April 2007 - Gunmen attack the Nea Ionia police station in Athens. In May, the Revolutionary Struggle group, which has emerged as Greece's most serious domestic security threat since the dismantling of the November 17 guerrilla group in 2002, claim responsibility for this and the January attack.

October 24, 2008 - An attempted bomb attack outside Royal Dutch Shell's headquarters in the south of Athens fails. The Revolutionary Struggle group later claim responsibility.

January 5, 2009 - Weeks after the freshwater pearl bracelet police shooting of a teenager in December 2008, gunmen linked to the Revolutionary Struggle seriously wound a 21-year-old policeman guarding the Culture Ministry in Athens. They said it was in revenge for the death of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

February 3 - Left-wing guerrillas from the Rebel Sect group fire shots and throw a grenade at a police station in Athens. A fortnight later, gunmen fire at least a dozen shots outside a private TV station, without injuring anyone in either attack.

March 4 - Arsonists throw gas canisters and firebombs causing a fire which seriously damages the Piraeus leverback pearl earrings Bank branch in the northern Athens suburb of New Psychico.

March 11 - Revolutionary Struggles says it was behind two bomb attacks at Citibank branches in Athens. One attack was outside the headquarters on February 18 and the other, a bomb that went off outside a Citibank branch in Athens on March 10.

March 13 - A bomb explodes near Athens central police headquarters, causing serious damage to a state sterling jewelry building and shops but no injuries. The leftist urban guerrilla group Popular Will later claims responsibility.

May 12 - A powerful bomb wrecks a Greek Eurobank branch in the outskirts of Athens. There are no injuries. Revolutionary Struggle claims the bombing.

May 20 - A time bomb goes off outside the office of a Greek investment company, damaging three floors of the central Athens building. Popular Will says it planted the bomb.

May 19 - Two small time bombs explode at Greek police stations under construction, causing minor damage but wholesale south sea pearl no injuries. The leftist group Fire Conspiracy Cells later claims responsibility.

June 17 - A Greek anti-terrorism policeman is killed in Athens. He was shot several times at close range. On June 22, the far-left Rebel Sect urban guerrilla group claims the killing.

July 11 - A bomb explodes at the entrance to the home of former deputy minister Panagiotis Hinofotis in southern Athens, causing damage but no injuries. The Fire Conspiracy Cells group later claims responsibility.

Sept 2 - The Athens bourse is struck by a bomb causing extensive damage, but it opens for trading at the usual time. Aweek later the militant guerilla group, the Revolutionary Struggle, claims responsibility.

-- A home-made bomb explodes outside a government building in the northern city of Thessaloniki, causing minor damage. The Fire Conspiracy Cells group later claims responsibility.

Jan 10 - A small bomb goes off outside parliament without causing any injuries. Fire Conspiracy Cells claim responsibility two days later.

Feb 16 - A bomb explodes outside the Athens offices of JP Morgan, the second largest U.S. bank by assets, causing minor damage. No group has claimed responsibility.

March 19-20 - Makeshift bombs explode outside a police detention center, the home of a leading member of the illusion pearl necklace Pakistani community in Greece and the far-right, nationalist Golden Dawn group in Athens, within a space of 30 hours.

The Fire Conspiracy Cells group later said it was behind all three small bomb attacks.

(Writing by David Cutler and Renee Maltezou, London Editorial Reference Unit)

Monday, 29-Mar-2010 00:54 Email | Share | | Bookmark
In Britain, Family Buys Ailing Paper

By last Thursday, when they struck a deal to buy another respected but failing British paper, The Independent, the question had become whether the Lebedevs had improbably emerged as among the best hopes for preserving serious journalism in Britain.

“I think it was too flattering for me,” Alexander Lebedev, 50, said wryly of the recent coverage, in an interview by shell pearl earrings telephone from Moscow, while on his way to meet a business partner, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader. “I hope I don’t get spoiled.”

Reports in Britain on the Independent deal once again mentioned his K.G.B. past, his vast riches ($2 billion, according to Forbes) and his political aspirations. But this time around, much of wholesale shell strand it also credited the Lebedevs with keeping alive two money-losing daily papers that probably would have died without the new owners, and not interfering with The Standard’s news coverage.

“There was skepticism, but we have turquoise fashion jewelry had as yet no evidence that Mr. Lebedev believes in anything other than financing a serious free press,” said Tim Luckhurst, head of the journalism center at the University of Kent. “He talks very passionately about this, and it seems as if he means it.”

Last October, the Lebedevs changed The Evening Standard, which serves the London region, into a free paper without paring back its content — this, in a nation where free papers have tended to be breezy digests. It also nearly tripled its circulation, to more than 600,000. Aided by the deaths of two free London dailies last year, The Standard claims that it has jade jewerly gained far more in advertising revenue than it has lost in reader payments.

“We’ve gone from a paper that was losing almost £500,000 a week,” or about $745,000, “to now half that or even less,” said Evgeny Lebedev, 29. As chairman of The Standard — he will hold the same title at The Independent — he is much more closely involved than his father in the paper’s operation.

Have the Lebedevs hit upon a new business model for a struggling industry — one that may pose a threat to their competitors?

Through the months of negotiations over The Independent, one of Britain’s national papers, the news media have speculated about whether it might also go free, or at least cut its £1 price. That purper pearl necklace could undercut the other serious national newspapers, particularly The Guardian, whose left-of-center editorial stance is the most similar to The Independent’s.

“One thing we do know is we can’t go forward in its present form,” Evgeny Lebedev said of The Independent, which lost £12.4 million (about $18.5 million) last year. “There needs to be some sort of change in the business model.”

The Lebedevs say they have made no decisions on a new strategy. More strikingly, they say they care about how other papers would be affected — a far cry from the usual, cutthroat view of the press baron.

“If you’re trying to save a good paper, you don’t try to damage the others,” Alexander Lebedev said.

Experts doubt that a paper could become free across Britain without losing enormous sums of money, because the cost of distribution is so great.

“He has the distribution network in London, so he could turn The Independent in London only into a free newspaper, and continue to charge for it elsewhere,” said Roy Greenslade, a former editor at several major British papers, who writes media commentary for both The Guardian and The Standard. The other papers “are quite worried about what he will do.”

Whatever he does, Alexander Lebedev will continue to cut an unusual figure. He began reading British newspapers in the 1980s, as part of his K.G.B. work gathering intelligence on the British economy. For several years, the agency stationed him in London.

Monday, 29-Mar-2010 00:53 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Athens bombing kills one, injures two: police

Bomb attacks by militant leftist groups are frequent in Greece and usually target police, public buildings or businesses. Sunday's explosion was the first in years to kill someone. Urban violence increased in the country after the police shooting of a teen-ager in December 2008.

"A bomb exploded, we have one ring mountings dead, a man who was dismembered, and two injured, a woman and her daughter," a police official said.

Police later said the dead shell pearl earrings person was a 15-year-old teen-ager and that the injured women, were his 44-year-old mother and 11-year-old sister.

"The woman, who was slightly wish pearl sterling silver pendant injured, and the girl, whose injuries were more serious, have been taken to hospital," said the police official who declined to be named.

Police said the victims were Afghan immigrants.

The bomb, which went off outside an association for business management, also damaged cars and adjacent buildings. Police cordoned off the area and anti-terrorism police were investigating the scene.

"There was no warning, there wholesale shell strand was nothing," a second police official said.

Several suspected members of guerrilla groups have been arrested in recent months.

Self-proclaimed guerrilla group Fire Conspiracy Cells claimed responsibility on March 22 for three small-scale bomb attacks against police and a far-right group.

Urban violence last caused the loss of human life in June 2009, when Rebel Sect, another guerrilla turquoise bracelet group, claimed responsibility for the killing of an anti-terrorism policeman.

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou gemstone jewelry and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Paul Casciato)

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