France on fire.
Programming Note: The morning News Items e-mail will be distributed tomorrow, Saturday, 1 July. It will not be distributed on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday (Independence Day) It will resume distribution on Wednesday, 5 July. News Items and Political Items “columns” will be distributed at various times over the long holiday weekend.
1. A team of researchers led by Feng Zhang at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT has uncovered the first programmable RNA-guided system in eukaryotes — organisms that include fungi, plants, and animals. In a study in Nature, the team describes how the system is based on a protein called Fanzor. They showed that Fanzor proteins use RNA as a guide to target DNA precisely, and that Fanzors can be reprogrammed to edit the genome of human cells. The compact Fanzor systems have the potential to be more easily delivered to cells and tissues as therapeutics than CRISPR/Cas systems, and further refinements to improve their targeting efficiency could make them a valuable new technology for human genome editing. (Sources: broadinstitute.org, nature.com)
2. Protests over the fatal police shooting of a teenager rocked France for a third straight night on Thursday (6/29), with cars burned, buildings vandalized and hundreds arrested in cities across the country. 249 police were injured in outbursts of violence overnight, according to the French Interior Ministry. The nighttime unrest followed a march earlier on Thursday in memory of the 17-year-old, named Nahel, whose death has revived longstanding grievances about policing and racial profiling in France's low-income and multiethnic suburbs. The Elysée announced early on Friday that President Emmanuel Macron would cut short a trip to Brussels, where he was attending a European Union summit, to chair a crisis meeting on the violence – the second such sit-down in as many days. An internal security note indicated authorities were expecting a "theatre of urban violence", with around 40,000 police and gendarmes – along with elite Raid and GIGN units – deployed in several cities. (Source: lemonde.fr/en)