Links — May 12, 2009, 2:55 pm

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Previously, some researchers and law-enforcement officials have raised red flags. In a paper published in Nature Biotechnology in 2007, a group of scientists and FBI officials called for better oversight of so-called synthetic DNA, an ingredient widely used by professional biologists and hobbyists, saying it could theoretically lead to the creation of harmful viruses like Ebola or smallpox, since their genomes are available online. ‘Current government oversight of the DNA-synthesis industry falls short of addressing this unfortunate reality,’ the paper said. Ms. Aull, who lives with a cat and three roommates who are ‘a little bit weirded out’ by her experiments, says the worries are overblown. DIY biologists are trying to ‘build a slingshot,’ she says, ‘and there are people out there talking about, oh, no, what happens if they move on to nuclear weapons?’”

In California, the Hayward Area Planning Association is developing a… community called Quarry Village on the outskirts of Oakland, accessible without a car to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and to the California State University’s campus in Hayward. Sherman Lewis, a professor emeritus at Cal State and a leader of the association, says he ‘can’t wait to move in’ and hopes that Quarry Village will allow his family to reduce its car ownership from two to one, and potentially to zero. But the current system is still stacked against the project, he said, noting that mortgage lenders worry about resale value of half-million-dollar homes that have no place for cars, and most zoning laws in the United States still require two parking spaces per residential unit.”

This evening, the president and first lady will host what Michelle Obama’s press office describes as ‘an evening celebrating poetry, music and the spoken word in the East Room of the White House.’ That’s right: The first family is hosting a poetry jam… As White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers made clear in an email to Lynn Sweet, tonight’s event is not a poetry ‘slam’– which is different than a poetry ‘jam.’ ‘Slam is a competition,’ she noted. ‘There will be no competition.’”

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In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.

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"Si told me that various paintings had spoken to him, but he wished they had been hung closer together 'so they could talk to each other.' This observation planted a seed that would come to fruition years later in his mature work."
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"Amid the festivities and the flood of celebrities, it would be easy for Americans to miss that the central plank of the long-standing cold war against Cuba — the economic embargo — remains very much alive and well."
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