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Kerry meets Iranian Foreign Minister amid reports of eroding Western sanctions pressure, nuke talks deadlock

Posted by Albert Gersh - October 15, 2014

Major outlets and wires focused Wednesday on the dynamics of talks between the P5+1 global powers and Iran, as Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in an effort - per Agence France-Presse (AFP) to "resuscitate troubled talks about limiting Tehran's nuclear programme." The outlet focused among other things on a set of Iranian "red lines," reemphasized last weekend by country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, demanding among other things that the Islamic republic be allowed to expand its uranium enrichment capacity by roughly 19-fold. The explicit position was first laid out by Khamenei last July, and runs opposite to the P5+1's longstanding demand - codified in half a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions and demanded by congressional legislation - that Iran in fact roll back its uranium program. The Associated Press (AP) meanwhile published an extensive backgrounder on the status of the talks. The wire opened its section on "What Might An Agreement Look Like" by noting that Iran had already last November "won tacit acceptance of its biggest priority: recognition of its right to enrich uranium" despite the U.S. and its partners having spent "years... demanding an end to all such activity." The AP noted that the West "now speak[s] only of limiting the amount of centrifuges Iran can have in operation and the amount of material Iran can stockpile for enrichment." Worries have coalesced in recent weeks that Washington may lack sufficient leverage to extract meaningful concessions even under those more modest standards, spurred by a month of new indicators suggesting that the sanctions regime pressuring Tehran may be crumbling in the aftermath of relief provided by the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA). The Obama administration had been vocal last winter in declaring that the core sanctions regime would hold despite the partial relief provided by the JPA, and that congressional efforts to impose pressure were both unhelpful and unnecessary. The controversy saw heated rhetoric - advocates of additional pressure were among other things branded warmongers by figures linked to the White House - and lawmakers may lack sympathy for the administration if it turns out that the Iranians refuse to accept a deal that significantly slashes their nuclear program.

Working in the computational biology laboratory of Prof. Eytan Ruppin at Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Yizhak and colleagues at Bar-Ilan University have developed a computer algorithm that predicts which genes can be “turned off” to create the same anti-aging effect as calorie restriction. Their findings were reported in the journal Nature Communications, and could someday lead to the development of new pharmaceuticals to slow or stop the aging process. Her team’s algorithm, which she calls a “metabolic transformation algorithm,” or MTA, can take information about any two metabolic states and predict the environmental or genetic changes required to go from one state to the other. In the study, Yizhak applied MTA to the genetics of aging. Yeast is the most widely used genetic model because its DNA is, surprisingly, similar to human DNA. After using her custom-designed MTA to confirm previous laboratory findings, she used it to predict genes that can be “turned off” to make the gene expression of old yeast look like that of young yeast. Some of the genes that the MTA identified were already known to extend the lifespan of yeast when turned off. Of the other genes she found, Yizhak sent seven to be tested at a Bar-Ilan University laboratory. There, researchers Orshay Gabay and Haim Cohen found that turning off two of the genes, GRE3 and ADH2, significantly extends the yeast’s lifespan. Since MTA provides a systemic view of cell metabolism, it can also shed light on how the genes it identifies contribute to changes in genetic expression. In the case of GRE3 and ADH2, MTA showed that turning off the genes increased oxidative stress levels in yeast. This mild induced stress may be similar to the stress produced by calorie restriction. She also theorizes that MTA could be applied to finding drug targets for conditions and diseases where metabolism plays a significant role, including obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders and some types of cancer. (via Israel21c)

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