Barley genome unveiled
An international consortium of scientists has published a high-resolution draft of the barley genome in a move that could not only improve yields and disease resistance, but may also hold the key to better beer. “This research will streamline efforts to improve barley production through breeding for improved varieties,” said Professor Robbie Waugh, of Scotland’s James Hutton Institute, who led the research. “This could be varieties better able to withstand pests and disease, deal with adverse environmental conditions, or even provide grain better suited for beer and brewing.” Barley which has been malted is a key ingredient in brewing beer along with hops and yeast.
Drug lord’s parents probed
Mexico’s top anti-drug prosecutor says authorities are seeking permits to exhume the remains of the parents of deceased drug lord Heriberto Lazcano, to obtain material for DNA testing. The testing is aimed at confirming that a body stolen from a funeral home Oct. 8 was indeed Lazcano’s. The navy says Lazcano’s body was identified through fingerprints after he was killed in a shootout with marines on Oct. 7. Prosecutor Jose Cuitlahuac Salinas said on Wednesday that Lazcano’s parents died years ago, and are buried in central Hidalgo state. He did not say what sample from the body would be used for comparison, but an autopsy was performed before the body was stolen and officials apparently saved blood or bloody clothing.
Milan McDonald’s closes
Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, with its glittering Gucci and Louis Vuitton stores, has long attracted tourists eager to marvel at the posh heart of the world’s fashion capital. For two decades, the marble-floored arcade has also been the location for a branch of McDonald’s. The restaurant was a popular meeting point. However, apparently not everyone was “lovin’ it.” On Tuesday, the restaurant closed its doors for the last time — to make way for a new Prada outlet. “For stores like Prada or Gucci, to have a McDonald’s across from them probably didn’t play well into the prestige of the gallery,” Italian luxury adviser Salvo Spagna said. Reports suggested McDonald’s is planning to sue the City of Milan for 24 million euros (US$31 million) in damages and lost revenue, though others speculated they had struck a deal. During the day, several thousand young people queued up outside the restaurant (one of Italy’s busiest McDonald’s locations) to mourn its closing and get one last burger, which the chain gave away free in order to “go away with a smile,” according to company representatives.
Guards drunk, on drugs
A private security company working for the US government in Afghanistan is in hot water after a video surfaced allegedly showing several of its employees drunk and on drugs, US broadcaster ABC reported on Wednesday. The video posted on the Web site of ABC purportedly taken at an operations center belonging to US defense contractor Jorge Scientific shows men with nude torsos downing vodka shots and wrestling with each other. Another man, identified as the medic of the group, is shown in a dazed state after shooting up with Ketamine, a strong anesthetic. Contractors working for the US Army are banned from the use of alcohol and drugs. The cellphone video, shot earlier this year, was provided to ABC by two former employees of the company, Jorge Scientific.