A 2017 Guide To Travel Trends, In Case You Need A Holiday Already

A whole new year to travel is before us — but where to go and what to do? Pauline Frommer from Frommer’s Travel guides looks at the travel ideas for 2017.

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Women Who Count: 3 Smart STEM Romances

Hold Me, by Courtney Milan

When Octavia Spencer first read the script for Hidden Figures — based on a book about the African American women who did the math for our early space launches — she thought it was fiction because it seemed too good to be true. Her disbelief reveals how conditioned we are to think that only white men make notable contributions to science, technology, engineering and math — and how important it is that we celebrate stories of the women who do.

Big Hollywood movies based on true stories are an excellent way to do this. Narrative has a role to play as well, especially when it comes to another form of popular media: Romance novels, the second largest category of fiction in the U.S. Long derided as mere smut, these days romance novels feature heroines in the STEM fields — and the prejudices and obstacles they face on the way to a personal and professional happy ever after.

The romance in Courtney Milan’s Hold Me is off to a rocky start when the hero, Jay na Thalang, assumes the heroine must be a lab supply salesperson when she shows up at his graduate studies lab. Not only is Maria Lopez a woman, she’s a pretty, “done up” woman with an interest in shoes and planning her brother’s wedding. She cannot possibly be smart enough to be worthy of his time and attention.

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But unbeknownst to both Jay and Maria, they are already friends online — or at least their avatars are. When they meet as just minds (enabling Jay to imagine that she is a frumpy, nerdy girl) they are friends and trusted confidants who discuss problems both scientific and, eventually, personal. As long as she isn’t an undeniably sexy female body, Jay can respect her intelligence.

Much of the conflict between the hero and heroine in this book stems from the hero’s assumptions about a woman’s brains based merely on her appearance; what Jay comes to realize is that the problem lies with him.

Even Odds by Elia Winters continues with the theme of a woman’s body getting in the way of her brain — not for her, but for the men in the room. Isabel Suarez, a design manager at a gaming firm, just wants to focus on the work. Whereas Maria flaunts her femininity, Isabel learned she must hide hers in order to succeed professionally, so she wears baggy clothes, pulls her hair back and smiles tightly when one coworker’s comments make her uncomfortable:

His words were teasing, but Isabel bristled. This is what she’d wanted, though. It was better just to be sexless and professional, treated like another one of the guys, if she wanted to be taken seriously.”

Complications ensue when romance blossoms with her new coworker. Being open about their relationship means owning that she is more than just a sexless work automaton and opening herself up to judgment. Isabel only gets her happy ever after when she can allow both sides of herself to flourish — with the love and support of her enlightened hero (and an equally enlightened HR department).

Beginner's Guide: Love And Other Chemical Reactions

In Beginner’s Guide: Love And Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes, Kaya Rubio is happy being all brain: she lives and breathes her work as a molecular biologist and has optimized her life so she can focus on it completely. While the plot of her story is familiar — single girl seeks date for family wedding — the approach she takes is novel. When it comes to finding love, Kaya devises “The Boyfriend Experiment” which draws on scientific principles and peer reviewed papers.

Her hero is her negative control, a man so wrong he can’t possibly be right. He introduces her to romance — spontaneous, messy, emotional, pleasurable, utterly confounding logic and reason — and to another side of her herself, showing that needn’t sacrifice her heart for her brain.

Being romance novels, these stories do end happily: The heroines get to be brilliant and beautiful. They can be smart and sexy and loved for it. It’s a message repeated in so many romances, whether these titles or my own historical novel, Lady Claire Is All That, which features a heroine based on Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer. Professional success doesn’t have to come at the expense of personal happiness.

It’s a message that matters, especially with regard to women and heroines in STEM. Those who develop technology we use are creating the world we live in, and having women build it is the best way to ensure that the sexism and misogyny that have held us back so far isn’t baked into our future.

Stories have an important task to do here: They show all the different ways smart women can succeed personally and professionally, without having to hide their brains or their bodies in order to live happily ever after.

Maya Rodale is a bestselling romance author.

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Bacon, Eggs, Cheese — And Spaghetti? The Italian Twist On A Hangover Cure

Pasta Carbonara is made with spaghetti, eggs, cheese and pork. FooDFactory/Getty Images hide caption

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FooDFactory/Getty Images

On New Year’s Day, Portland restaurant Ava Gene’s will be serving brunch to the hungry and hung-over masses. And amidst the frittatas, French toast, and grits, there will be Chef Josh McFadden’s own favorite: pasta carbonara.

McFadden, who has cooked carbonara at New York Italian restaurants, fell in love with it for breakfast while living at the American Academy in Rome. A plate of spaghetti doesn’t look anything like your local greasy spoon’s 2-2-2 special, but McFadden says the dish is a whole lot more familiar than you might think. “It’s literally the same thing as taking toast, putting an egg on the toast, and then putting said toast in your mouth. And with coffee? Amazing.”

Yes, the refined starch takes the form of noodles. But the other basic breakfast building blocks — including a dose of something in the bacon family — are the same. Hot pasta (most often spaghetti) is drained and tossed with beaten eggs, cheese (Parmigiano or pecorino Romano), and cooked pork (guanciale, pancetta, and bacon all make appearances). The hot noodles cook the eggs, which set with the pork fat and residual cooking liquid to create a lusciously rich sauce, not too different from a hollandaise.

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So how did a dish that hits these all-American notes come out of Italy? According to food historian Anthony Buccini, recipes for pasta dressed with fat, eggs and cheese (cacio e uova) go back well into the 19th century. But mentions of carbonara — the dish that adds cured pork to the mix — don’t show up until after World War II. And, according to one popular theory, this might not be a coincidence.

“In effect,” says Buccini, “the claim is that there was a joining together of American taste for — and supplies of — bacon and powdered eggs [thanks to military rations], with the local Roman love of pasta asciutta [a simple sauced dish]; Roman cooks came up with the recipe to make use of the American supplies and to satisfy the foreign troops, perhaps with some prodding from those troops who missed their familiar bacon and egg combination.” It’s a beautiful story of food traditions melding and evolving. But is it true?

Buccini is skeptical, noting there is “little in the way of compelling evidence” that carbonara was inspired by American GIs, rather than being a simple variation to a large family of traditional pasta dishes. The Oxford Companion to Italian Food also rejects the WWII theory, stating: “The absurdity of this at a time of hardship and intolerable shortages calls for no comment.”

But others, like Jeremy Parzen, a food historian and translator who teaches at Italy’s University of Gastronomic Sciences, think it’s not so far-fetched to conceive of American tastes shaping Italian cuisine. “American culture played a huge role in how Italy developed after the war,” Parzen explains. “Essentially after the war, with the Marshall Plan, we rebuilt Europe. And whereas the French became snobbish, the Italians embraced American culture. They embraced American film, American music… They love their own food, but they also love food from all over the world.”

Until the definitive source of the carbonara is unearthed, the debate will continue. But there’s one thing almost all Italian chefs agree on — do not include cream. While this is a creamy dish, its lusciousness should come from the emulsion you get when you toss the eggs with the hot pasta and pork fat. This does require a delicate touch to get right, but it’s not much more than navigating tossing and temperature. Even with a hangover, it should be doable.

And in a true nod to American palates, Chef McFadden admits that it’s not with bad with a little shake of a nice hot sauce, especially when you serve it as a morning-after breakfast.

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Alt-Right Infighting Simmers Around Inaugural 'DeploraBall'

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shows a bumper sticker reading “I am a Deplorable” at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on October 10, 2016. The term references comments by Hillary Clinton that suggests Trump supporters are “deplorables.” Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

Editor’s note: This post includes language that some readers will find offensive.

A rift has surfaced within the alt-right, the movement closely associated with white supremacism that has been celebrating Donald Trump’s election as president. In fact, they are planning a big event around Trump’s inauguration — the “DeploraBall.”

Organizers of the event, which plays off Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” swipe at Trump supporters, have rescinded the invitation of a prominent social media personality with the alt-right movement, Tim Treadstone, better known by his Twitter handle @bakedalaska.

He tweeted on Monday anti-Semitic and racist comments that included “it’s a common fact the media is run in majority by Jewish people, it’s similar to observing blacks are good at basketball.”

Jesse it’s a common fact the media is run in majority by Jewish people, it’s similar to observing blacks are good at basketball 🏀 congrats! https://t.co/Pe76guONwV

— Baked Alaska™ (@bakedalaska) December 26, 2016

Another alt-right leader, author and organizer of the DeploraBall, Mike Cernovich, appears to have reached out directly to Treadstone to tell him it was not wise to raise the “JQ?” – or Jewish Question when he is a featured guest at the event. Cernovich also urged no Nazi salutes either, a gesture popular with the movement.

“I don’t get angry on the internet” –@Cernovich

Lol pic.twitter.com/nnL4OQehBT

— Baked Alaska™ (@bakedalaska) December 27, 2016

That’s when things got heated and turned public.

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Treadstone posted the private correspondence between he and Cernovich. Then posted a 45 minute tirade he titled “Oy vey! Banned from Deploraball”

Oy vey! Banned from Deploraball! https://t.co/ORro6CxtCh

— Baked Alaska™ (@bakedalaska) December 27, 2016

The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi publication, weighed in on the feud and sided with Treadstone: “The Deploraball is apparently an attempt at a sanitized, cuckolded, pro-Jew version of the NPI conference.” It also lashed out at the events organizers for previously uninviting leading alt-right figures like Richard Spencer and Sam Hyde.

Others sided with Treadstone and took to burning Cernovich’s book “Gorilla Mindset.”

As we have reported, the alt-right was energized by the election of Trump and had been optimistic their controversial views, which embrace white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideas, were finding their way into mainstream politics. A further jolt was given to alt-right supporters following Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon, who previously ran Breitbart News, to be his senior strategist. Bannon has said in the past that Breitbart is “a platform for the alt-right,” but after the election said there should be “zero-tolerance” for anti-semitism.

Rekt @Cernovich pic.twitter.com/IgW26hV5Av

— AnimeRight UB (@UntergroundBoss) December 27, 2016

This is not the first snag organizers for the DeploraBall have garnered unwanted attention surrounding the event. Earlier this month, Fox News reported that a Washington, D.C.-area venue was receiving threatening calls after deciding against hosting the ball.

The DeploraBall is scheduled for Jan. 19 at the National Press Club, a day before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

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7 Women Trailblazers Who Took A Stand In 2016

Halima Aden wore a navy blue, embroidered burkini –€” a full-body bathing suit –€” during the swimsuit competition. Courtesy of Future Productions LLC hide caption

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Courtesy of Future Productions LLC

With so much attention paid to high-profile women in 2016, from Hillary Clinton to Wonder Woman, it’s easy to lose sight of lesser-known women who are blazing a trail in low- and middle-income countries. In ways big and small, these women have moved the needle on gender equality by being activists, role models or simply taking a stand.

Here’s a roundup of some of the many memorable women we profiled on Goats and Soda in 2016.

Halima Aden, the beauty pageant contestant who wore a burkini

The 19-year-old Somali-American wanted to compete for Miss Minnesota USA and didn’t let the fact that she is a hijabi — a Muslim woman who wears hijab — stop her. In the swimsuit portion of the competition, she wore a burkini, a type of modest swimwear specially made for hijabis. She grabbed headlines for her confidence, from the States to Somalia. “Beauty isn’t one-size-fits-all,” she says. “If I can find different ways to spread that message, I will.”

Sitawa Wafula, founder of Kenya’s first mental health hotline

Sitawa Wafula found out she had bipolar disorder at the age of 24. In October, she was named one of Kenya’s “40 Women Under 40.” Courtesy of Thumbi Mwangi hide caption

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Courtesy of Thumbi Mwangi

Wafula has bipolar disorder, but she had a hard time getting diagnosed in her native Kenya. Some people thought she was cursed — and even worse, there just weren’t many mental health facilities in Kenya where she could get good information about her condition or medications. So she established Kenya’s first text message mental health hotline so anyone in the country could send in questions to trained volunteers. She’s become a role model in Kenya — and this year, named one of her country’s 40 women under 40.

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Shahd Al-Swerki, a mom who slammed a teacher who shamed her daughter

When Al-Swerki’s three-year-old daughter stripped nude in front of some boys in preschool, the teacher was frantic, acting as if the girl had ruined her future. At first, Al-Swerki was filled with panic and shame. But she was determined to raise her daughter to be comfortable with her own body — an awareness she herself wasn’t taught as a young Palestinian girl. “I will never allow anyone to control my reactions and feelings toward any incident happening to my daughter. To my husband. To me. To my life,” she says.

Jacqueline de Chollet, a Swiss aristocrat who tackles child marriage

Jacqueline de Chollet of Switzerland, now 78, helped found the Veerni Institute, which gives child brides and other girls in northern India a chance to continue their education. Yana Paskova for NPR hide caption

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Yana Paskova for NPR

What was supposed to be a vacation to northern India ended up changing her life — and the lives of almost 200 child brides and other girls. After a chance encounter with a woman in a remote village, De Chollet, the daughter of a Swiss baron, was inspired to start a school for girls in Jodhpur. Called the Veerni Institute, the school requires parents to sign a contract stating that they won’t send their daughter to live with their husband until the girl graduates from high school. In exchange, the girl gets free room, board and education.

Petrona Choc Cuc, a victim of sexual violence who testified against her abusers

It happened during Guatemala’s civil war in the 1980s, but Choc Cuc hadn’t forgotten. This year, the 75-year-old Mayan Indian went to court and told a three-panel judge how soldiers killed her husband, captured her and her daughter, and repeatedly raped her. Many women were too scared to come to court, but not Choc Cuc. Her testimony was critical. In February, two military officials were sentenced to over 100 years of prison each for their war crimes.

Rita Superman, a police chief who fights human trafficking

Rita Superman is the head of the police anti-trafficking unit in Cyprus. Kristin Adair/NPR hide caption

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Kristin Adair/NPR

Superman has found that sometimes a five-minute conversation is all it takes to turn a victim’s life around. She shares the story of Sylvia, from Bulgaria, who was arrested in Cyprus for prostitution. Superman asked her: Do you like what you’re doing? Are you satisfied with your work? No one had ever asked Sylvia those questions before. Sylvia was inspired to go to a shelter and press charges against her captor. It’s moments like these that moved the U.S. State Department to honor Superman this year for her activism against human trafficking.

Neetu, child bride turned prize-winning wrestler

Neetu trains nearly 8 hours a day at a wrestling facility in Rohtak, India. Her coach says, “She doesn’t take a break for even one minute.” Poulomi Basu/for NPR hide caption

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Poulomi Basu/for NPR

She was a child bride. Today, she’s a prize-winning wrestler eyeing the 2020 Olympics. Neetu, a full-time athlete, an occasional Bollywood actor and a mom of two, is seen as an inspiration in India. “She’s changed everything,” says a woman from her village. “Everybody believes that a girl can now say — ‘I want to do something.’ “

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Unexpected Risks Found In Editing Genes To Prevent Inherited Disorders

The genes in mitochondria, which are the powerhouses in human cells, can cause fatal inherited disease. But replacing the bad genes may cause other health problems. Getty Images/Science Photo Library hide caption

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Getty Images/Science Photo Library

In September, reproductive endocrinologist John Zhang and his team at the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City captured the world’s attention when they announced the birth of a child to a mother carrying a fatal genetic defect.

Using a technique called mitochondrial replacement therapy, the researchers combined DNA from two women and one man to bypass the defect and produce a healthy baby boy — one with, quite literally, three genetic parents.

It was heralded as a stunning technological leap for in vitro fertilization, albeit one that the team was forced to perform in Mexico, because the technique has not been approved in the United States.

The technique is spreading quickly, gaining official approval this month from the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority in the U.K. The move will allow clinics to apply for permission there to carry out the treatment, with the first patients expected to be seen as early as next year.

But for all the accolades, the method also has scientists concerned that the fatally flawed mitochondria can resurface to threaten a child’s health.

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Earlier this month, a study published in Nature by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, head of the Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, suggested that in roughly 15 percent of cases, the mitochondrial replacement could fail and allow fatal defects to return, or even increase a child’s vulnerability to new ailments.

The findings confirmed the suspicions of many researchers, and the conclusions drawn by Mitalipov and his team were unequivocal: The potential for conflicts between transplanted and original mitochondrial genomes is real, and more sophisticated matching of donor and recipient eggs — pairing mothers whose mitochondria share genetic similarities, for example — is needed to avoid potential tragedies.

“This study shows the potential as well as the risks of gene therapy in the germline,” Mitalipov says. This is especially true of mitochondria, because its genomes are so different than the genomes in the nucleus of cells. Slight variations between mitochondrial genomes, he adds, “turn out to matter a great deal.”

Mitochondria are the energy powerhouses inside our cells, and they carry their own DNA, separate from our nuclear genome.

The danger lies in the fact that mitochondria are in some ways like aliens inside our cells. Two billion years ago they were free-floating bacteria basking in the primordial soup. Then one such microbe merged with another free-floating bacterium, and over evolutionary time, the two formed a complete cell. The bacteria eventually evolved into mitochondria, migrating most of their genes to the cell nucleus and keeping just a few dozen, largely to help them produce energy.

Today, our nuclear genome contains around 20,000 genes, while a scant 37 genes reside in the mitochondria. And yet the two genomes are intensely symbiotic: 99 percent of the proteins that mitochondria import are actually made in the nucleus.

Mitochondria also still divide and replicate like the bacteria they once were, and that constant replication means that mutations arise 10 to 30 times more often in mitochondrial genes than in the nucleus. If too many mitochondria become dysfunctional, the entire cell suffers and serious health problems can result. Faulty mitochondria are implicated in genetic diseases, as well as many chronic conditions from infertility to cancer, cardiac disease and neurodegenerative diseases. That’s because when mitochondria falter, the energy system of the cell itself is compromised.

A three-parent baby could solve the problem by overriding faulty mitochondria, but it also raises the stakes, because the procedure does not completely replace the defective mitochondria with healthy ones.

When the mother’s nucleus is transferred, it’s like a plant dug up out of ground — a bit of the original soil (in this case, the mother’s mitochondria) is still clinging to the roots. That creates a situation that never happens in nature: Two different mitochondrial genomes from two different women are forced to live inside the same cell. In most cases, a tiny percentage (usually less than 2 percent) of the diseased mitochondria remain — but that tiny percentage can really matter.

In his new study, Mitalipov crafted three-parent embryos from the eggs of three mothers carrying mutant mitochondrial DNA and from the eggs of 11 healthy women. The embryos were then tweaked to become embryonic stem cells that could live forever, so they could be multiplied and studied. In three cases, the original maternal mitochondrial DNA returned.

“That original, maternal mitochondrial DNA took over,” Mitalipov says, “and it was pretty drastic. There was less than 1 percent of the original maternal mitochondrial DNA present after replacement with donor DNA and before fertilization, and yet it took over the whole cell later.”

Mitalipov warns that this reversal might not only occur in the embryonic stem cells; it could also occur in the womb at some point during the development of a baby. Complicating things further, Mitalipov found that some mitochondrial DNA stimulates cells to divide more rapidly, which would mean that a cells containing the maternal mitochondrial DNA could eventually dominate as the embryo developed.

Some mitochondrial genomes replicate much faster than others, says University of California molecular biologist Patrick O’Farrell, who called Mitalipov’s research both impressive and in keeping with his own thinking on the matter.

A diseased mitochondrial genome could behave like a super-replicating bully, O’Farrell says, re-emerging and having a large impact on the three-parent baby at any time. It could also affect that child’s future offspring. “The diseased genome might stage a sneak comeback to afflict subsequent generations,” O’Farrell says. On the other hand, he says, the super-replicators could act as “superheroes,” if they carry healthy, fit DNA that is able to out-compete a mutant genome.

The nuclear genes donated by a father could also influence the behavior of the mitochondria in ways we cannot yet predict, O’Farrell says. For example, the father might introduce new genes that favor the replication rate of a defective bully genome. Or the father might introduce genes that help a “wimpy” healthy genome survive and thrive.

Mitalipov’s proposed solution to the problem is to match the mitochondria of the mother and the donor, since not all mitochondria are alike. Human mitochondria all over the earth are in a sense a billion or more clones of their original mother, passed down in endless biblical begats from mother to child. Yet, even as clones, they have diverged over time into lineages with different characteristics. These are called haplotypes.

O’Farrell mentions blood types as a comparison. Just as you would not want to transfuse blood type A into someone with blood type B, you might not want to mix different lineages. And while he says he thinks the idea of matching lineages is brilliant, he suggests going a step further. “I say let’s … try to get a match with the dominating genome so that the defective genome will ultimately be completely displaced.”

In fact, he adds, the ideal would be to look for one superhero genome, the fastest replicator of all – one that could displace any diseased genome.

To find out which branches are super replicators, O’Farrell hopes to collaborate with other laboratories and test the competitive strength of different haplotypes. Earlier this year, O’Farrell’s laboratory published work showing that competition between closely related genomes tends to favor the most beneficial, while matchups between distantly related genomes favor super replicators with negative or even lethal consequences. There are, he says, at least 10 major lineages that would be distinct enough to be highly relevant.

Mitalipov says that most of the time, matching haplotypes should ensure successful mitochondrial transfers. However, he cautions that even then, tiny differences in the region of the mitochondrial genome that controls replication speed could cause an unexpected surprise. Even in mitochondria from the same haplotype, there could be a single change in a gene that could cause a conflict, he says.

In his study, Mitalipov zeroes in on the region that appears responsible for replication speed. In order to find out a mother’s haplotype, he says, full sequencing is necessary, and this region from the donor’s egg should also be looked at to be sure it matches the mother’s. Today, it costs a few hundred dollars to sequence a woman’s mitochondrial genome.

But battles between mitochondrial genomes are only one part of the emerging story. Some research suggests that nuclear genes evolve to sync well with a mitochondrial haplotype, and that when the pairing is suddenly switched, health might be compromised.

Research in fruit flies and in tiny sea creatures called cephalopods shows that when the “mitonuclear” partnership diverges too much, infertility and poor health can result. In some cases, however, the divergent pairs are above average and can actually lead to better health.

Swapping as little as 0.2 percent of mitochondrial DNA in laboratory animals “can have profound effects on the function of cells, organs, and even the whole organism, and these effects manifest late in life,” according to mitochondrial biologist Patrick Chinnery of the University of Cambridge, writing in November in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Because of all these unknowns, a U.S. panel recommended last February that mitochondrial replacement therapy, if approved, implant only male embryos so that the human-altered mitochondrial germline would not be passed down through the generations.

Most scientists approve of this advice, but biologist Damian Dowling of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, has reservations about even this solution.

His own research in fruit flies shows that males may actually be more vulnerable than females to impaired health from mitochondrial replacement. Since females pass on mitochondria, natural selection will help daughters sift out any mutations that might be harmful to them, and keep their nuclear and mitochondrial genes well matched. Males aren’t so lucky: If mutations don’t harm females but do harm males, the males may have to suffer impaired fertility and go to their graves earlier.

This is known as the “mother’s curse” — a term coined by geneticist Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago in New Zealand to describe the biological baggage that mothers unwittingly pass down to their male babies.

The bottom line, according to biologist David Rand of Brown University, who studies mitochondrial genomes, is that when you swap mitochondria, the reaction is “highly unpredictable.”

And that’s why many experts are calling for caution even amid all the excitement following the three-parent Mexico trial — though there is reason to believe they aren’t being heard.

A three-person baby has now been born in China, and two more may soon be born in Ukraine, according to Nature News. Zhang, meanwhile, continues to encourage potential patients in Mexico: “We have received interest both locally and abroad,” he says, “and we invite people to learn more about the treatment.”

Doug Wallace, head of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is among those calling for a more methodical approach to the technique, though he says he doesn’t think there’s any way to put the brakes on now. “I think what’s happened is we’re going to see more and more trials and some families are going to be exceedingly fortunate — and perhaps some will be an unfortunate part of the learning set.”

Research on mitochondria has to catch up, Wallace says, and while matching haplotypes is a good idea, it isn’t so easy to do in practice. “Finding women to be egg donors is going to be a major limitation,” he says — especially when you’d first have to survey a large group to find compatible mitochondrial DNA.

Still, for women desperate to conceive a healthy child this may seem reasonable. Wallace adds that mitochondrial replacement therapy might find favor even outside those seeking to avoid passing on fatal genetic mutations — such as older women simply facing reduced fertility. “There’s no proof that’s the case,” he says, but if it came to pass, that could mean a therapy that might change the DNA of tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of babies conceived by this method.

That would have a real impact on the long-term future of society, Wallace adds, and we don’t yet fully understand all of the implications.

“I think it’s an exciting possibility,” he says, “but also a little disconcerting.”

Jill Neimark is an award-winning science journalist and an author of adult and children’s books. Her most recent book is “The Hugging Tree: A Story About Resilience.”

A version of this article originally appeared at Undark, a digital science magazine published by the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program at MIT.

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Chief Justice John Roberts Lauds Federal District Judges In Year-End Report

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Andrew Harnik/AP hide caption

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Andrew Harnik/AP

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts praised the often-overlooked work of federal district judges in his Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, avoiding any talk of politics in regards to the country’s judicial system.

Incoming president Donald Trump will have more than a 100 vacancies to fill at the district and appellate court level nationwide. He’ll also be able to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republican-controlled Congress has refused to hold a hearing on President Obama’s nominee for that empty seat.

The future of those judicial vacancies was a key issue in the presidential election.

Roberts’ focus, however, was on the work of lower court judges, who he called “selfless, patriotic and brave individuals.”

Congress has authorized 637 district court judgeships across the country. And the people working in those positions do so largely out of the public eye, Roberts wrote.

“You might be asking at this point why any lawyer would want a job that requires long hours, exacting skill, and intense devotion—while promising high stress, solitary confinement, and guaranteed criticism. There are many easier and more lucrative ways for a good lawyer to earn a living. The answer lies in the rewards of public service. District judges make a difference every day, and leave a lasting legacy, by making our society more fair and just,” he wrote.

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The report also looked at year-to-year differences in the filings brought to the federal judiciary. The most striking difference was the number of cases in which the United States was the defendant, which increased 55 percent. Roberts wrote that the increase was due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Welch v. United States, which provided a new basis for certain prisoners convicted under the Armed Career Criminal Act to challenge their sentences.

Bankruptcy petitions fell to their lowest number since 2007 and the number of defendants charged with drug and immigration crimes both showed slight decreases.

Roberts wrote that the most difficult part of a judge’s job is sentencing an individual who is found guilty of a crime.

He wrote: “The judge must consider the perspectives of the prosecutor, the defendant, and the victim, and impose a penalty that, by design and necessity, will alter the direction of the defendant’s life.”

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Turkey Nightclub 'Terror Attack' Leaves At Least 35 Dead, More Than 40 Wounded

First aid officers carry an injured woman at the site of an armed attack on January 1, 2017 in Istanbul. At least 35 people were killed in an armed attack Saturday on an Istanbul nightclub where people were celebrating the New Year. IHLAS NEWS AGENCY/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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At least 35 people were killed and more than 40 others wounded during New Year’s celebrations Saturday after a gunman dressed in a Santa Claus costume opened fire at an Istanbul nightclub, Turkish state media reports.

Provincial Gov. Vasip Sahin has described the incident as a terrorist attack.

“A terrorist with a long-range weapon … brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Sahin told reporters.

Turkish anti-riot police officers stand guard at the site of an armed attack Jan. 1, 2017 in Istanbul. YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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The attack occurred at Reina, one of the city’s most popular nightclubs, where it’s believed some 500-600 revelers were celebrating the start of the New Year. Reuters reports that the attacker shot a police officer and at civilians before entering the nightclub. Many inside were said to have jumped into the neighboring Bosphorus waterway in an attempt to save themselves from the gunfire.

According to the Associated Press, several ambulances and police vehicles were dispatched to the scene, an area described as “on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait in the Ortakoy district.” The cosmopolitan neighborhood is home to many clubs, restaurants and art galleries.

Says Reuters:

“Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Claus and others as street vendors, state news agency Anadolu reported.”

This latest attack comes just two weeks after Russian ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was shot dead by off-duty Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas and three weeks after a bomb attack killed 44 people at a football stadium in Instabul. A Kurdish militant group claimed responsibility for the latter.

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Turkey, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State has faced numerous security threats. In all, there have been at least six attacks in Turkey this year, claiming more than 200 lives.

Meantime, the White House is condemning the attacking, calling it a “horrific terrorist attack” and offering to assist Turkey.

According to the AP, White House spokesman Eric Schultz says President Obama — who’s vacationing with his family in Hawaii — was briefed on the attack by his national security team and asked to be updated as the situation develops.”

The AP adds:

“White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says the attack on ‘innocent revelers’ celebrating New Year’s shows the attackers’ savagery. He says the U.S. sends thoughts and prayers to the relatives of those killed.

Price says the U.S. supports its NATO ally Turkey as both countries fight terrorism.”

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