Scientists grow mini human brain

A cross-section of an entire organoid

A cross-section of an entire organoid. Image credit: Copyright: IMBA/ Madeline A. Lancaster

A miniature human brain the size of a pea has been grown from stem cells by scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna, Austria.

Layers of brain cells with defined regions form “cerebral organoids” that resemble embryonic brains.

It is hoped that the organoids will be useful for analysing how conditions such as schizophrenia or autism occur in the brain.

Coverage: BBC, MIT Technology Review, New Scientist, Live Science

Cerebral organoids model human brain development and microcephaly: Nature


NSA spies on UN

NSA Logo Parody

By EFF (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations’ New York headquarters has been bugged by the National Security Agency (NSA). According to documents seen by Germany’s Der Spiegel,  the NSA has cracked the encryption code protecting the videoconferencing system at the United Nations.

Coverage: Der Spiegel, Reuters, RT, SMH, Mashable,

Information about Edward Snowden: Wikipedia

Information about the original Snowden leak: The Guardian

Information on PRISM: Prism-breakThe NSA’s Prism: why we should careRT

Kim Dotcom’s article in the Guardian on Prism

Syria Strike: Britain votes no and US Congress still to vote

Syrian Flag

Image courtesy of creativedoxfoto/

President Barack Obama has stated that he will ask the US Congress to authorise military action against Syria in response to the chemical attack which the US has stated killed 1,429 people.

The comes after the British parliament voted against military intervention.

The UN inspectors have inspected the site but have said that no conclusions can be drawn until laboratory tests are completed.

Coverage: BBC, CNN, Reuters,, RT

Syria Conflict: BBC

Q&A: Threatened strike on Syria: BBC

Syria ‘chemical weapons’ crisis: LIVE UPDATES: RT

The Oatmeal on Syria

3 year sentence for the juvenile in the Delhi gang-rape and murder trial

December 22 2012 Protests

December 22 2012 Protests By Nilroy (Nilanjana Roy) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

The first sentence has been handed down in the trial for the gang-rape and murder of a woman on a bus in Delhi last year that sparked protests across India.

The 18 year old man, who was a juvenile at the time , has been given the maximum sentence of 3 years for his role in the crime.

The other men charged with the attack are facing the death penalty.
Coverage: the Guardian, BBC, CNN, ReutersVictims blamed in India’s rape culture: CNN
Delhi rape: India looks within itself for answers: BBC
How India treats its women: BBC

Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority warns more leaks may occur

Japan Nuclear Symbol

Image courtesy of jannoon028/

The Fukushima nuclear plant  has more than 330,000 tonnes of water  stored in pits, basements and tanks with varying levels of toxicity. The 300+ tonne water leak last week was from a tank similar to the others across the site. The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority is concerned that further spills may occur from the badly constructed tanks.

Why Fukushima is worse than you think – CNN

Q&A Fukushima Leak Problems – BBC

Fukushima’s toxic water pool grows as Tepco dithers – the Age

Yemen Prime Minister escapes assassination attempt

Yemen Flag

Image courtesy of domdeen/

Mohammed Salem Basindwa’s (Prime Minister of Yemen) was returning home when gunmen opened fire on his motorcade. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but Yemen has had problem with Al Qaeda targeting government officials.

Coverage: BBC, Reuters

Embassies and consulates closed in Yemen due to Al Qaeda threat: BBC

International outrage at Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws

Equality Image

Image courtesy of nongpimmy/

There has been international backlash calling for the boycotting of the 2014 Winter Olympics and protests have been held around the world from Amsterdam to Glasgow to New York criticising Russia’s new anti-gay laws.

The main focus of the protests is the law that makes “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors” illegal. This archaic law is a step backwards for the country that only decriminalized homosexuality 20 years ago.

A senior Russian MP has also stated that Russia may introduce bans on gay men donating blood and organs.

Coverage: RT, BBC, CNN, Reuters, The Age, Washington Post

Q&A: Gay rights in Russia – BBC Article