Scientists Reverse Aging in Mice

Researchers led by Dr. Lige Leng at Xiamen University in China have discovered a new trigger for aging in mice, which may also apply to humans.

The reduction of a protein called menin in the hypothalamus of the brain as we age is linked to an increase in neuroinflammation, which causes metabolic and cognitive disorders.

The hypothalamus is an important control center for the body, regulating many functions such as heart rate, temperature, immune function, and mood. The reduction in menin levels also causes a decrease in the production of the neurotransmitter D-serine.

The study highlights the importance of the hypothalamus in healthy aging and its impact on other parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, which is important for learning and memory.

The findings are published in PLOS Biology.

Several experiments performed on mice supported the study’s findings. The researchers manipulated menin levels in middle-aged “knockout” mice to assess the effect of menin insufficiency.

After reducing the mice’s menin levels, the researchers observed several aging biomarkers, such as reduced muscle fiber size, skin thickness, bone mass, tail tendon collagen cross-linking, clock gene expression, increased ventricular muscle thickness, and DNA methylation levels.

These mice also experienced cognitive decline, slightly shortened lifespan, and were supplemented with menin levels for 30 days. The mice then exhibited improved learning and memory, bone mass, skin thickness, tail tendon collagen cross-linking, inflammation levels, food intake, and metabolic circadian rhythm, and lived longer than they would have otherwise.

Increasing menin levels in the older mice also increased D-serine in the hippocampus, which is essential for communication between neurons to maintain optimal brain function with age. When the researchers administered three weeks of D-serine supplements directly, they found that cognition improved, but not the physiological improvements seen with menin supplementation.

According to Dr. Santosh Kesari, who is the director of Neuro-oncology and a professor at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute, the biology of mice and humans is mostly similar, and he thinks the findings of the study could apply to humans.

He suggested that future studies could examine the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and other markers of aging, metabolism, and inflammation in humans’ blood.

Dr. Kesari, who was not involved in the study, stated that the study “uniquely identifies a critical regulation of aging due to this protein called menin, which is expressed in the hypothalamus.” This implies that menin activity in a small number of neurons may play a key role in maintaining metabolic and cognitive health through the regulation of D-serine levels. The study’s authors suggest that menin may be the critical protein that links genetic, inflammatory, and metabolic aging factors.

Dr. Webb, also not involved in the study, explained that menin protein is found in other areas besides the hypothalamus, including the pituitary and thyroid glands. While this study concentrates on menin’s activity in a small group of hypothalamic neurons, it will be crucial to investigate whether menin’s activity in other parts of the body affects aging. Menin’s function seems to be tissue-specific, acting in opposite ways in different places. For example, it is considered a tumor suppressor in some areas and a factor in the development of leukemia in others.

While the precise mechanism by which menin produces neuroinflammation in the hypothalamus remains unclear, this study offers a new and interesting research avenue for our understanding of aging.

Assailants Burn Priest Alive in Home

Assailants set fire to the living quarters of a Roman Catholic priest in northwest Nigeria and killed him before dawn today, sources said. An assistant priest was also injured in the attack.

According to police, the attackers attempted to enter the home of Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi, located on the grounds of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Kafin-Koro, Paikoro County, Niger state.

They set the building on fire before fleeing when security forces arrived.

“The bandits reportedly attempted to gain entrance into the residence, but it seemed difficult, and they decided to set the house ablaze while the said Rev. Father was burned to death,” Niger State Command spokesman Wasiu Abiodun said in a press statement. “A police tactical team attached to Kafin-Koro Division were immediately drafted to the area, but unfortunately the bandits had completed their evil acts and escaped before their arrival.”

An assistant priest, the Rev. Collins Omeh, was shot in the shoulder during the attack and rushed to a hospital for treatment, Abiodun said.

Area resident David Ndukwe said in a text message to Morning Star News that Achi was dean of the Kafin-Koro Deanery of the Minna Diocese and chairman of the Paikoro County Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

“His assistant, the Rev. Fr. Collins Omeh, was shot by the bandits and wounded, while the rectory, the church’s residence, was burned down.”

Area resident Israel Bitrus grieved the attack.

“It’s a black Sunday for the Catholic Diocese of Minna,” Bitrus said in a text message to Morning Star News.

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report.

Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report.

In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.

‘Baby Loch Ness Monster’ Washes Up on UK Shore

Members of social media site Reddit have been left baffled after images of mysterious sea creature washed up dead on a UK beach were posted on the platform.

The animal has been dubbed ‘baby Loch Ness Monster’ by Reddit users, due to its resemblance to the creature from Scottish folklore.

According to Metro, its corpse was shared on Reddit thread r/CasualUK by a passer-by who was left perplexed by the discovery.

They wrote: “Found this on the beach the other day, anyone know what it is?”

The animal appears to have a flat, rounded head, four legs or fins of varying sizes and a long tail. Its body is dark grey in colour with white spots on its head right down to the tail.

Shocked Reddit users rushed to the comments section to discuss what the creature could be, with one comparing it to a “sleep paralysis demon” while others dubbed the animal “baby Nessie” after the Loch Ness Monster.

On a similar but less mythical theme, some people suggested it could be a “dinosaur”.

The Daily Star reports that other users were more specific and guessed “liopleurodon”, a carnivorous marine reptile that went extinct in the Late Jurassic Period.

While some of the white markings on the washed-up animal do resemble what scientists think the liopleurodon may have looked like, some Reddit users had more realistic suggestions about the species.

One user explained: “It’s a ray without any wings. Male going by the claspers. Probably processed at sea and the carcass was chucked overboard.”

A second user seemed to agree, adding: “It looks like a ray but without fins.”

A few others who claimed to have sea fishing experience all agreed that it was some form of ray, with its wings either removed by fishermen or eaten by a predator.

However, this is not the first time a mysterious sea creature has been found washed up on a beach and found by passers-by

Last month, a pig-like creature was found washed up on a beach in Galway, Ireland.

Images of the unknown sea beast were doing the rounds on social media on November 12, showing the unfortunate sight laid on the popular tourist beach.

According to Galway Beo, the snaps were posted with the caption: “Some sort of sea creature washed up at Bearna Pier beach over the last few windy days.

“Sea Lion? Seal? In fact, it looks like a pig!”

Later, they added: “I looked it up and I reckon it’s a seal as the front flippers are quite short.

“Also discovered we should report all dead seals to Seal Rescue Ireland as they track seal deaths (who knew?). I sent them photos but couldn’t see a tag on its hind flippers and was not brave enough to try to turn it over just in case things got squidgy.”

Party: Dozens of Elephants Get Drunk

All-you-can-drink booze? Count these elephants in!

A herd of two dozen elephants was caught sleeping off hangovers after drinking alcohol made by villagers in India.

The elephants came across the brew — also known as “mahua,” which is a traditional liquor made from the flower of the madhuca longifolia tree — and apparently couldn’t resist a buzz, reported The Times UK.

Elephants are known to be fans of mahua, according to Kartick Satyanarayan, the chief executive of Wildlife SOS.

“When they smell it, they can poke their trunks into kitchens or break down walls to get to it. Once finished, they stagger back home, toppling the odd tree or house on the way,” Satyanarayan said.

Locals from the village of Salipada left the jars of alcohol fermenting in the jungle, allowing these alcohol-loving elephants to dip their trunks in.

The elephants — including nine calves — apparently lost sight of what their alcohol limit was and drank all of the mahua until they blacked out.

Local wildlife officials reportedly woke up the heavy sleepers by beating on drums, and the hungover animals slowly got up and stumbled back into the forest.

This was not the first occurrence of elephants drinking more than they can handle.

In April, a herd of elephants, who some consider “addicted” to the fermented alcohol, killed five people brewing liquor in the Jaisingh Nagar forest range, according to the Daily Mail.

Forest officials warn locals to avoid brewing mahua when elephants are spotted nearby because they can smell the liquor from a distance and move closer to cause drunken havoc.

Man Steals $25 Million Worth of Water

California’s water police struggle to track where water is flowing and whether someone is taking more than they’re supposed to.

A criminal case unfolding in the San Joaquin Valley underscores how the federal government seems to have similar problems.

Prosecutors say they uncovered a massive water theft that went on for 23 years without anyone noticing.

Earlier this year a federal grand jury indicted Dennis Falaschi, the former general manager of the Panoche Water District in the western San Joaquin Valley, on charges of conspiracy, theft of government property and filing false tax returns.

Falaschi’s alleged crime stemmed from the federal government’s operation of the Central Valley Project, the system of reservoirs and canals that dates to Franklin Roosevelt’s administration.

According to prosecutors, Falaschi engineered a brazen scheme to steal $25 million worth of water from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, operator of the Central Valley Project. More specifically, Falaschi stands accused of having his underlings siphon water from the Delta-Mendota Canal, the main conduit for delivering federal water to farms along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and part of Silicon Valley.

He then billed Panoche customers for this stolen water and used the proceeds to pay “himself and other co-conspirators exorbitant salaries, fringe benefits and personal expense reimbursements,” the indictment says.

How Panoche Water District legal trouble started

Falaschi’s legal troubles began in 2017, when the state controller’s office released an audit showing that the financial controls at Panoche were too lax. Among other things, staffers were allowed to use district credit cards to buy Oakland A’s and Raiders season passes, and tickets to a Katy Perry concert.

A month later, Falaschi left Panoche. Then in 2018 the state attorney general’s office charged him and three other former district employees with embezzling $100,000 from Panoche and illegally burying toxic chemicals on district property. Prosecutors said Falaschi allegedly used the embezzled funds to buy a pair of slot machines and some kitchen appliances, among other things. That case is still pending.

The latest indictment covers a scheme that, according to prosecutors, began in 1992 and wasn’t discovered until April 2015 when a canal maintenance worker saw a whirlpool above the equipment that prosecutors say Falaschi had hidden in the canal to siphon off the water.

The theft lasted long enough to enable Falaschi to grab a total of 130,000 acre-feet of water — enough to fill about 15% of Folsom Lake, prosecutors said.

Last year district officials made a civil settlement over the missing water, agreeing to pay $7.5 million to the federal government and another $1 million to an umbrella agency, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which buys water from the feds.

The indictment came months after the civil settlement. The grand jury says Falaschi had several of his employees install a valve mechanism in the canal — submerged below the water line — near the district’s headquarters in Firebaugh.

Falaschi, who now lives in Aptos, could receive up to 24 years in prison if convicted.

He has pleaded innocent to the criminal charges. In a statement, his Fresno lawyer Marc Days blasted the feds for prosecuting Falaschi “over a leak from the government’s rotted pipe which the government failed to repair,” and for relying on the statements of “unreliable and incompetent witnesses motivated by their own self-interest.”

Days said the amount of water the federal government accuses Falaschi of taking pales in comparison to some of the other leaks from the same canal.

He said area farm districts receive “massive amounts of unmetered water,” including one leak that Days alleges siphons off 200 cubic feet a second, an amount that would completely fill Folsom Lake — and then some — within a year. The federal government, Days claims, has known about the problems but fails to do anything to prevent them.

Why missing water goes undetected

Falaschi’s successor at Panoche, Ara Azhderian, said Falaschi’s alleged scheme likely went unnoticed due the sheer size of the Delta-Mendota Canal and the volume of water it delivers.

Two million acre-feet of water moves through the canal in a typical year, and the canal is nearly 117 miles long.

“When you think about the system and how long it is, how big it is … it was such a small amount in the scheme of things as to be undetectable,” he said.

Others say the problems along the canal — whether through massive leaks or by alleged thefts — highlight just how difficult it is to keep tabs on the state’s most precious resource.

“We really don’t know where our water is going,” said Jeffrey Mount, a water expert at the Public Policy Institute of California. “Where it really breaks down for us now is in this ever-tightening water world where we’re having to deal with less. Major chunks of it, we don’t know where it goes and who’s using how much.”

Buffalo Kills Hunter Moments After Being Shot

In a savage moment caught on video, a buffalo brutally avenges itself as it charges and gores the hunter who shot it. The violence caught on tape and shared by The Sun has left the internet shocked. It shows the injured animal charging at the hunter who just shot it.

On October 7, 64-year-old Mario Alberto Canales Najjar, the president of Mexico’s Hunting Federation, saw the animal while hunting in Costa Uruguay Sur, Argentina. The animal was hit with a strong .458 Winchester Magnum. However, the hunting group still didn’t see it drop dead. The enraged buffalo charged toward Najjar in a bloody attack. The guide who was with him at the time opened fire but unfortunately could not save him from the charging beast.

The buffalo only succumbed to his injuries after being shot five times. The hunting group loaded their injured friend into a car and drove him to the hospital nearest them. Unfortunately, the hunter died before he could be admitted to the hospital.

Mario Alberto Canales Najjar was well respected in the hunting community. Leaving behind a wife and two children, he was cremated on October 10 in Gualeguaychu, Argentina. His ashes will be transported to Mexico City. A lawyer by profession and an avid hunter, he strongly believed that legal hunting was key to conservation efforts. In a statement, The Mexican Hunting Federation said that it will honor Najjaras as a “conservationist and tireless fighter for the rights of hunters.”

The allure of hunting water buffalo

Water buffalo is a challenging animal to hunt. When it comes to water buffalo hunting, Argentina is one of the best places in the world. There are three different species of these magnificent animals that can be found living in forests and marshes. This is due to the fact that there is a great deal of land available for them to roam.

Years ago, water buffalo were introduced to Corrientes Argentina and now they live in the Paraná River Delta area. They weren’t good as livestock so people left them or they escaped. Now there are a lot of these wild animals in the province, but they stay in certain areas near water even though there are no fences stopping them from roaming.

The average size of these bulls is 2,100lbs. They are as dangerous as the African Cape Buffalo. River buffalo like deep water while swamp buffalo prefer to wallow in mud holes which they make themselves using their horns. When they wallow, they get coated in a thick layer of mud.

Both are well adapted to a hot climate with temperatures ranging from 0 °C (32 °F) in the winter to 30 °C (86 °F) and greater in the summer. Water availability is important for these breeds since they require wallows, rivers, or splashing water to assist in thermoregulation. Some breeds are even able to tolerate saline seaside shores and sandy terrain.

Feds Arrest 5 Members of “Militia” Run by House Candidate

Federal authorities have arrested and charged five members of a militia allegedly run by a former candidate for Congress for their alleged actions on Jan. 6.

A criminal complaint only names one of the five individuals, Brian Preller, who, according to court records, was arrested in Vermont in connection with the case. Four of the individuals face a felony count of civil disorder, while one faces two misdemeanors.

The other men are John Edward Crowley, Jonathan Alan Rockholt, Tyler Quintin Bensch, and Benjamin Cole, a federal official told NBC News. Crowley, Rockholt, and Bensch were set to appear in federal court in the Middle District of Florida on Wednesday, while Cole is set to appear in the Western District of Kentucky.

The individuals all refer to themselves as members of the “B Squad” and were associated with the Three Percent movement, authorities said in the criminal complaint. They wore “Guardians of Freedom” logos on Jan. 6.

The name “B Squad” and references to “plan B,” the FBI affidavit suggests, referred to “an alternate plan to be in place if they do not get the desired electoral outcome (i.e., the former president remaining in power).”

The leader of the group is referred to as “B Leader” in court filings, but he is not charged.

Although the Justice Department did not name “B Leader,” it included several screenshots from a video of him in the complaint. NBC News was able to identify “B Leader” as Jeremy Liggett, a Florida man who ran in a Republican primary for the U.S. House earlier this year, based off of social media posts, including a copy of the video DOJ used, which was posted by Liggett on social media.

Liggett was also in Washington on Jan. 6 and coordinated the militia members’ travel to the city, according to the complaint. The complaint states that he reserved a block of rooms in a D.C. hotel and that “approximately forty other members of B Squad stayed on the same floor of that hotel on January 5, 2021.”

A phone number listed for Liggett was busy. Liggett did not immediately respond to requests for comment via email.

Brothers Killed by Snakes – Only Days Apart

A 22-year-old man has died by a snake bite just days after he travelled to attend the funeral of his brother, who had also been killed by a snake.

Arvind Mishra, 38, passed away last Tuesday (2 August) after suffering a fatal snake bite. His funeral was held one day later in Bhawanipur village in India, with Indian news agency PTI reporting that family members including his 22-year-old brother, Govind Mishra, travelled to the village to attend.

On Thursday, just over a week later, police confirmed Mishra himself had passed away after being fatally attacked by a snake while sleeping at his home in Ludhiana, in Punjab.

Two victims received snake bites just days after the funeral. Credit: Pexels
Two victims received snake bites just days after the funeral. Credit: Pexels

Another relative who lived in Mishra’s home, 22-year-old Chandrashekar Pandey, was also targeted by the reptile.

Police officer Radha Raman Singh explained: “Govind Mishara was killed after being bitten by a snake in his sleep. One of the relatives of the family, Chandrashekar Pandey, 22, who was in the same house, was also bitten by a snake.”

Pandey had travelled approximately 50 miles with Mishra to attend his brother’s funeral, and is now in critical condition after being rushed to hospital.

Kailash Nath Shukla, a member of the local legislative assembly, went to visit grieving family members in the wake of the deaths and urged officials to take measures to help prevent further incidents.

It is unclear what kind of snakes were involved in the deaths, but India is home to the common krait, saw scaled viper, Russell’s viper and Indian cobra, dubbed ‘the big four’ in the country.

While common kraits typically only bite humans in self-defence, the Indian cobra is responsible for a large number of the venomous bites throughout India every year. Similarly, Russell’s vipers are capable of striking victims from up to five feet away and are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in India each year.

The Indian Cobra are responsible for thousands of deaths in India each year. Credit: Pexels
The Indian Cobra are responsible for thousands of deaths in India each year. Credit: Pexels

The saw scaled viper is the smallest of the ‘big four’, but is known to cause some of the most medically significant snakebites.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates approximately five million snakebites occur in India each year, resulting in up to 2.7 million envenomings – a potentially life-threatening disease caused by the toxins in the bite of a venomous snake.

Published reports suggest between 81,000 and as many 138,000 deaths occur each year from the bites, while envenoming also causes as many as 400,000 amputations and other permanent disabilities.

How One North Carolina Man Saved Apples

Rescuing more than 1,200 lost varieties of apples isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires meticulous organization, persistence, and research methods that range from conventional to one-of-a-kind.

That’s where Tom Brown of Clemmons, North Carolina, enters the picture, according to Southern Living. He’s turned pomological curiosity into a burning passion for recovering the lost gastronomical heritage of the Southeastern United States. To do this, he’s leafed through Antebellum-era orchard catalogs, trudged through countless abandoned groves, and driven tens of thousands of miles.

But these sacrifices come with immeasurable dividends each time he discovers an old apple tree. Accompanying the gastronomical adventure is the satisfaction of knowing he’s preserving a vital aspect of American culture. Not to mention the bragging rights of tasting an apple nobody’s eaten for 50 to 100 years!

Keep reading to learn more about his incredible journey to rediscover lost foodways and a unique aspect of American history.

Birth of the Appalachian Apple Hunter

Although it’s understandable to assume Brown has always fostered a love of Appalachian apples, he didn’t dive into this pursuit until 1998. That’s when he stumbled across Maurice Marshall and his impressive collection of apple varieties at a local market. Recalling the strange assortment of fruit on the table, Brown still remembers the size, color, texture, and flavor differences. Their colorful names stood out to him, too.

Marshall’s assortment of apples looked like a veritable agricultural patchwork, featuring everything from vibrant shades of sunset pink to bright yellow, yellow-streaked, and purplish black. Fun names like Bitter Buckingham, Arkansas Black, White Winter Jon, and Billy Sparks Sweetening accompanied their colorful variance. He still remembers Marshall’s tasting trays with delight and the incredible textures and flavors he experienced while getting introduced to these long-forgotten fruits.

The Historical Apples That America Nearly Lost

Brown’s introduction to historical apples left him begging to know more. Marshall’s tasting trays yielded everything from the rosé wine–colored flesh of Jonathans to the honey-like sweetness and pear texture of Rusty Coats. Giant Twenty Ounce apples offered a tart treat with a peachy finish. Grimes Golden contained traces of white pepper and nutmeg, and Etter’s Gold delivered a semi-firm favorite reminiscent of grapes and peony bouquets.

Once the realization hit of how little he knew about the countless apple species that once filled the Appalachians, Brown delved into research. What he found proved both tantalizing and tragic. Once upon a time, apple varieties numbered in the tens of thousands, with orchards growing more than 14,000 unique varieties as late as 1905.

Fundamental to Survival and Eating Well

The great diversity of these apples reflected the practicality of colonial inhabitants. In a time and place where clean and safe water remained rare, it made more sense to drink cider. As a result, apples became the equivalent of Old World wine grapes today, with East Coast farmers indulging in homestead apple orchards of impressive variety.

The Appalachian climate lent itself to apple growing, and homesteaders experimented with creating new varieties customized for different functions like cider-making, livestock finishing, and crafting vinegar. As Brown explains, “A diverse orchard was fundamental to survival and good-eating alike” (via Atlas Obscura). Apple orchards occupied a unique place in the American garden as one of its most celebrated achievements, per The Appalachian Voice.

The Demise of Appalachian Apples

It’s hard to imagine tens of thousands of varieties of American apples when most grocery stores only carry a handful today. Today’s most popular apple species came to dominate due to two qualities: 1) their rapid development and 2) their ability to remain preserved during long-term storage.

By the 1950s, most small apple orchards were forced out of business. Fast forward a few decades, and you come to the late 1990s. At this point, approximately 11,000 heirloom varieties of apple no longer existed and just 11 types comprised 90 percent of grocery-store sales.

Brown wasn’t one to let more than 250 years of culinary culture and tradition disappear. Instead, he decided to do something about it. Armed with historical seed catalogs, Brown drove thousands of miles, tracking down individuals with old trees in their backyards. He remained driven by the motivation to preserve the past before it was too late. As he notes, “These were foods that people had once cared about deeply, that’d been central to their lives. It felt wrong to just let them die.”

And he’s remained true to his word. More than 1,000 species later, Brown continues to put in the research and legwork to discover new types of apple trees. He’s found most people fascinated by and receptive to his work. The cooperation has led to the rediscovery of many historical apple orchards long-forgotten by descendants of the original orchardists.

What’s more, the excitement of uncovering a fruit people haven’t thought about for decades comes with unique rewards. “Saving an apple from the brink of extinction is a miraculous feeling. It’s incredibly rewarding — and incredibly addictive!”

Hundreds Stranded in Death Valley National Park Amid Flooding

All roads in and out of Death Valley National Park are closed after unprecedented amounts of rainfall caused substantial flooding in the area, park officials said Friday.

Approximately 500 visitors and 500 staff are currently unable to exit the park, which straddles the California-Nevada border, the officials said in a statement. No injuries to staff or visitors have been reported.

The California Department of Transportation expects it will take several hours to open a road on Highway 190 east of the park to allow an exit, park officials said.

Dozens of cars belonging to visitors and staff are buried in several feet of debris and many facilities are flooded including hotel rooms and business offices.

Additionally, the Cow Creek Water system, which provides water to the Cow Creek area for park residents and offices, has failed, according to park officials. A major break in the line due to the flooding is being repaired, officials said.

The park received at least 1.46 inches of rain in the Furnace Creek area, almost an entire year’s worth of rain in one morning, as the park’s annual average is 1.9 inches of rainwater, the park reported.

This was the second-highest amount of rainfall in a day at Furnace Creek, just behind 1.47 inches recorded on April 15, 1988.

The park is working with the California Department of Transportation, and state and county emergency services on assessing the situation and damage.

This is the second flooding event in the park this week. Some roads in and out of Death Valley were closed Monday after flash floods over the weekend inundated the roads with mud and debris, according to the Associated Press.

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