When will Alexa Google Assistant and other chatbots finally talk to us

first_imgA San Diego, California, family plays rock, paper, scissors with Amazon’s Alexa. Tribune Content Agency LLC/Alamy Stock Photo By Matthew HutsonJun. 20, 2017 , 12:45 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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What do these digital helpers—known as chatbots—have in store for us? Science talked with Alexander Rudnicky, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who studies human-machine conversations, about what chatbots can and can’t do, how they learn from us, and whether we can prevent them from adopting our worst behaviors. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.Q: Let’s start with a pretty basic question. What is a chatbot?A: Originally, they were dialogue systems that could have some sort of purposeful interaction with a human through text or speech. In the research community, the term “chat” has come to refer to non–goal-directed interaction, the way two people might talk to each other at a party. Q: How can chatbots learn from humans?A: The computer first needs to figure out that it doesn’t know something. Then it needs to figure out the right questions to ask. Think of it as an active form of learning—interactive, in fact. It’s modeling how humans learn from each other.Q: Are there other ways chatbots can actively learn from us?A: They could also use experimentation. If I’m rambling on about something and your attention wanders, I have to change what I’m saying to get you back in tune. You might give an automatic system the ability to note engagement, but then it has to find good strategies to get your attention back. It might learn to yell at you. Maybe that’s not such a good idea. But there are a lot of things it could try.Q: How do Siri and Alexa fit into all of this? A: I don’t consider Siri to be a chat system in the strict sense. I would call it merely an information access system. It allows you to call someone in your contacts, figure out what the weather is, or learn how to get somewhere. The programmers also did some clever stuff, like putting in answers to questions like “Will you marry me?” If you have a few hundred of those, people start thinking, “Wow, she’s really real.” Alexa has more skills, but it’s fundamentally the same thing.Q: What are the biggest challenges in programming chatbots?A: Historically, a developer would have to enumerate all the possible ways someone might say something. That was a big stumbling block for a very long time. More recent systems use what’s called “intent recognition” to get at the underlying meaning of what someone says. They use word associations, then find the closest known expression, and respond to that. Carnegie Mellon University When will Alexa, Google Assistant, and other ‘chatbots’ finally talk to us like real people? Another challenge is in being able to make use of context and world knowledge. So if I ask a system, “Hey, I’d like to go out to dinner with my friends yesterday,” what I said doesn’t make any common sense. There has to be a part of the system that says, “I should tell this person that I don’t understand that.”Q: How do we avoid offensive chatbots like Microsoft’s Tay, which began echoing Twitter users’ racist and anti-Semitic sentiments?A: That was a great case study of “Let’s build a bot that learns from people.” People started jerking it around. You can imagine that one thing missing there was a better model of what it ought to be learning about. On the other hand, people are really inventive when they want to cause problems. I don’t know if you can control it.Q: What problems are you trying to solve in your own research?A: I’ll describe one project. People do all sorts of complicated things with their smartphones. They might be using several apps at the same time. If you ask people what they’re doing, they might tell you things like, “I was planning an evening out with my friends, and I wanted to check up on restaurants and shows, message back and forth, look at a map, and so forth.” Would it not be interesting, or at least useful, if a chatbot could notice that you’re doing something purposeful across different apps, ask what it is, and then gradually start helping you out? The most minimal thing it could do is, the next time you say, “I want to organize a dinner,” it would know the apps to display. A more sophisticated task would be passing information from one app to another. It might put the restaurant information into a message to your friends, for example.Q: Is it possible for different chatbots to combine their knowledge?A: On some level, those are issues of standards. They all need to agree on the same representation of knowledge, called an ontology. If they do then in principle, yes, you can do that kind of sharing. But there are serious privacy issues with sharing knowledge. If I consistently use one of these agents, it’s going to know a lot about me, about my friends, about what kind of food I like. Maybe I don’t care, but maybe there’s other stuff that I really wouldn’t want others to know about me.Q: Do you worry about people mistrusting assistants that seem human, but aren’t quite human enough—what robotics researchers refer to as the “uncanny valley”?A: We can run into people and there’s just something really weird about them. They’re not quite following the conventions or the rules of interaction. They’re operating outside of our expectations, which is kind of disturbing. The uncanny valley thing is basically what happens when your models aren’t good enough, but just good enough to sort of pass. There’s nothing intrinsically interesting about it other than it’s a symptom of a shortcoming.Q: So when will Alexa finally seem real?A: What would seem real to me is a system that has much better context awareness, for example knowing not to offer things at the wrong times or talk about the obvious, and one that has better introspection, knowing when it doesn’t know something, admitting it, and asking for advice.last_img read more

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How Google is making music with artificial intelligence

first_img Fred Bertsch google Q: What examples does Magenta learn from?A: We trained the NSynth algorithm, which uses neural networks to synthesize new sounds, on notes generated by different instruments. The SketchRNN algorithm was trained on millions of drawings from our Quick, Draw! game. Our most recent music algorithm, Performance RNN was trained on classical piano performances captured on a modern player piano [listen below]. I’d like musicians to be able to easily train models on their own musical creations, then have fun with the resulting music, further improving it. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Can computers be creative? That’s a question bordering on the philosophical, but artificial intelligence (AI) can certainly make music and artwork that people find pleasing. Last year, Google launched Magenta, a research project aimed at pushing the limits of what AI can do in the arts. Science spoke with Douglas Eck, the team’s lead in San Francisco, California, about the past, present, and future of creative AI. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.Q: How does Magenta compose music?A: Learning is the key. We’re not spending any effort on classical AI approaches, which build intelligence using rules. We’ve tried lots of different machine-learning techniques, including recurrent neural networks, convolutional neural networks, variational methods, adversarial training methods, and reinforcement learning. Explaining all of those buzzwords is too much for a short answer. What I can say is that they’re all different techniques for learning by example to generate something new.  00:0000:0000:00 Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe How Google is making music with artificial intelligence Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Q: How has computer composition changed over the years?A: Currently the focus is on algorithms which learn by example, i.e., machine learning, instead of using hard-coded rules. I also think there’s been increased focus on using computers as assistants for human creativity rather than as a replacement technology, such as our work and Sony’s “Daddy’s Car” [a computer-composed song inspired by The Beatles and fleshed out by a human producer].Q: Do the results of computer-generated music ever surprise you?A: Yeah. All the time. I was really surprised at how expressive the short compositions were from Ian Simon and Sageev Oore’s recent Performance RNN algorithm. Because they trained on real performances captured in MIDI on Disklavier pianos, their model was able to generate sequences with realistic timing and dynamics.Q: What else is Magenta doing?A: We did a summer internship around joke telling, but we didn’t generate any funny jokes. We’re also working on image generation and drawing generation [see example below]. In the future, I’d like to look more at areas related to design. Can we provide tools for architects or web page creators?  Email A musician improvises alongside A.I. Duet, software developed in part by Google’s Magenta  By Matthew HutsonAug. 8, 2017 , 3:40 PM Magenta software can learn artistic styles from human paintings and apply them to new images. Q: How do you respond to art that you know comes from a computer?A: When I was on the computer science faculty at University of Montreal [in Canada], I heard some computer music by a music faculty member, Jean Piché. He’d written a program that could generate music somewhat like that of the jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. It wasn’t nearly as engaging as the real Keith Jarrett! But I still really enjoyed it, because programming the algorithm is itself a creative act. I think knowing Jean and attributing this cool program to him made me much more responsive than I would have been otherwise. Q: If abilities once thought to be uniquely human can be aped by an algorithm, should we think differently about them?A: I think differently about chess now that machines can play it well. But I don’t see that chess-playing computers have devalued the game. People still love to play! And computers have become great tools for learning chess. Furthermore, I think it’s interesting to compare and contrast how chess masters approach the game versus how computers solve the problem—visualization and experience versus brute-force search, for example.Q: How might people and machines collaborate to be more creative?A: I think it’s an iterative process. Every new technology that made a difference in art took some time to figure out. I love to think of Magenta like an electric guitar. Rickenbacker and Gibson electrified guitars with the purpose of being loud enough to compete with other instruments onstage. Jimi Hendrix and Joni Mitchell and Marc Ribot and St. Vincent and a thousand other guitarists who pushed the envelope on how this instrument can be played were all using the instrument the wrong way, some said—retuning, distorting, bending strings, playing upside-down, using effects pedals, etc. No matter how fast machine learning advances in terms of generative models, artists will work faster to push the boundaries of what’s possible there, too.last_img read more

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Human finger bone points to an early exodus out of Africa

first_imgBut the tantalizing discoveries of 100,000-year-old stone tools found in the mountains of Oman and decidedly human fossils in the Israeli Levant dating to 177,000 to 194,000 years ago forced anthropologists to consider the possibility of earlier migrations. Teeth found in Chinese caves have been dated to between 80,000 and 120,000 years, although the dates are based on the caves’ stalagmites, not the teeth themselves.Some have tried to reconcile these findings with the late-exodus narrative by claiming there may have been an early, but ultimately doomed, first wave migration out of Africa some 120,000 years ago, after which humans more or less stayed put on the continent for another 60,000 years. Others have argued there were several migrations in and out of Africa throughout this whole period.Yet proponents of the multiple-migration hypothesis have so far lacked the archaeological equivalent of a smoking gun: a directly dated early modern human fossil found far outside Africa’s borders. That’s what Huw Groucutt, a paleoarchaeologist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and his team were looking for when they began excavating sites in the Arabian Desert more than 10 years ago. The Al Wusta site in Saudi Arabia’s Nefud Desert is a dry, arid place today, but it sat on the lush banks of a lake 88,000 years ago. Human finger bone points to an early exodus out of Africa Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Michael PriceApr. 9, 2018 , 11:15 AM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email This finger bone (four sides shown) represents the oldest directly dated human fossil found outside of Africa and the Levant. In 2014, they discovered a site named Al Wusta in Saudi Arabia’s arid Nefud Desert that once sat on the banks of a large freshwater lake. Dozens of sharpened stone tools buried in the sediment hinted that it might be a special place. Their hunch paid off 2 years later, when study co-author and paleontologist Iyad Zalmout of the Saudi Geological Survey in Jeddah found a small bone stuck in the sediment. “He said, ‘This is a human finger,’” Groucutt recalls. “That night back at the hotel, we were Googling ‘human finger bone’ and, yeah, it looked like our species.”It was an intermediate phalanx, the bone between a fingertip and finger knuckle. It’s 3.2 centimeters long and was probably was part of a middle finger. Professional anatomists analyzed 3D scans of the bone and concluded that it was a match for our own species, rather than another early hominins such as Neandertals or a member of Australopithecus.Next, the team used a technique called uranium series dating to gauge the bone’s age. Researchers bored a microscopic hole into it with a laser and measured traces of radioactive elements within. By comparing the ratios of uranium and thorium present in the bone, scientists can tell its age. The Al Wusta finger bone clocked in at 88,000 years old, the researchers report today in Nature Ecology & Evolution. A hippopotamus tooth found at the site was dated to 90,000 years old, as were the sediment layers surrounding the stone tools. If humans were migrating out of Africa about 90,000 years ago—a time intermediate to the 120,000- and 60,000-years-ago hypotheses—“that shows there were probably multiple dispersals,” Groucutt says.John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, says the authors have convincingly shown the finger bone is likely a hominin of some sort. “Still, I doubt whether anyone can identify a single isolated finger bone as a modern human, as opposed to any other form of hominin,” such as Neandertal, he says.Katerina Harvati, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, agrees, noting there’s so much anatomical overlap between hominin species that she’d like to see additional fossils confirm it. If the findings hold up, she says, they fit nicely with other lines of evidence pointing to multiple out-of-Africa migrations. They also raise questions about how long these early migrants’ descendants lived on. For more than a decade, a team of archaeologists and anthropologists scoured the Arabian Desert for evidence that some of the earliest members of our species once traversed these formerly green lands. Now, they may have it. An ostensibly modern human finger bone uncovered in Saudi Arabia in 2016 has been dated to about 88,000 years old, making it the oldest directly dated fossil of our species found outside Africa or its immediate vicinity in the eastern Mediterranean. The discovery supports the idea that early modern humans spread into Eurasia earlier and more often than many previously believed.Although some say it’s hard to identify our species, Homo sapiens, by a single bone, the findings appear unimpeachable, says John Shea, an anthropologist at the State University of New York in Stony Brook who studies human origins, but wasn’t involved in the study. “This isn’t one of those cases where someone dashed off into the field, found something after a day or two of fieldwork, and then ran to the media with it,” he says. “They earned this find the old-fashioned way: hard work.”Several competing theories explain when and by what routes our earliest ancestors migrated out of Africa after they evolved there as early as 300,000 years ago. For decades, the fossil evidence favored the hypothesis that anatomically modern humans stayed on the continent, with an occasional jaunt into neighboring Israel, for hundreds of thousands of years until a wave of migrants swept into Eurasia—and then throughout the world—between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago. Klint Janulis Ian Cartwright last_img read more

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Tweeting while flying kills migratory birds

first_imgRoger Hart/University of Michigan Photography By Helen SantoroApr. 2, 2019 , 7:01 PM Texting while driving can be deadly. So can tweeting while flying, a new study finds—among some species of migratory birds. Researchers have found that birds using faint, high-frequency vocalizations known as flight calls during their nighttime migrations are losing their bearings, crashing into buildings, and possibly luring more birds to their untimely ends.Many bird species, including warblers, thrushes, and sparrows, use nocturnal flight calls to help the flock navigate while migrating. Past studies have found that these birds chirp more often when flying over urban areas with lots of artificial light, leading scientists to wonder whether the light disorients them and causes them to call out even more.To see whether there was any connection between these flight calls and the number of birds crashing into city buildings, researchers used 40 years’ worth of bird collisions in Chicago, Illinois, which just this week was named one of the most dangerous cities for migratory birds. The team also used 1 year of data on bird collisions in Cleveland, Ohio, totaling more than 70,000 flight records from 93 species. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Tweeting while flying kills migratory birds Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The species that frequently collide with buildings are the ones that use nocturnal flight calls, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of Royal Society B. The calls themselves could be part of a vicious cycle, the scientists add: Birds disoriented by the artificial lights call out, attracting other birds, which then also crash into the bright buildings.By illuminating this key avian behavior, scientists hope to better understand the human impact on our feathered friends—and convince people to turn their lights off at night.*Correction, 3 April, 5:35 p.m.: This story has been updated to provide an accurate list of species that use nocturnal flight calls.last_img read more

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Brain stimulation could let some blind people see shapes made of light

first_img Patient BAA, who is 35, lost her sight when she was 27. She can still detect light and dark, but for all intents and purposes, she is blind. Now, she—and other formerly sighted people—may one day regain a limited form of vision using electrodes implanted in the brain. In a new study, such electrodes caused parts of BAA’s and other people’s visual cortexes to light up in specific patterns, allowing them to see shapes of letters in their mind’s eyes.The work is a step forward in a field that emerged more than 40 years ago but has made relatively little progress. The findings suggest technical ways to stimulate images in the brain “are now within reach,” says Pieter Roelfsema, a neuroscientist who directs the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam and wasn’t involved in the work.Research to electrically spur blind people’s brains to see shapes began in the 1970s, when biomedical researcher William Dobelle, then at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City, first implanted electrodes in the brain to stimulate the visual cortex. Typically, the rods and cones in retinas translate light waves into neural impulses that travel to the brain. Specialized layers of cells there, known as the visual cortex, process that information for the rest of the brain to use. Brain stimulation could let some blind people ‘see’ shapes made of light iStock.com/seyfettinozel By Michael PriceNov. 16, 2018 , 12:00 PM Dobelle’s implants took advantage of a phenomenon known as retinal mapping. The visual field—the plane of space you see when you look out into the world—roughly maps onto a segment of the visual cortex. By electrically stimulating parts of this brain map, Dobelle could cause flashes of light called phosphenes to appear in the minds of people who were blind, but who had experienced at least a few years of vision. By stimulating different electrodes, he could get phosphenes to flash in different parts of a person’s visual field.Dobelle dreamed of stimulating many phosphenes at once to create images, a bit like pixels on a computer screen. Yet this line of research stalled, says Michael Beauchamp, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. When researchers tried to stimulate a complex image made of many phosphenes, such as a letter of the alphabet, people’s brains seemed to smudge the intended image into something unrecognizable.He and Baylor colleagues William Bosking and Daniel Yoshor had an idea: What if, instead of stimulating all the phosphenes in a shape at once, they stimulated them in sequence, like the lights of a marquee that go off one after another? To test the idea, they found four sighted people with epilepsy who were having electrodes implanted in their brains to help control their symptoms. With the participants’ consent, the researchers added a panel of 24 tiny electrodes on the map segment of the visual cortex.In a series of experiments, Beauchamp and colleagues stimulated these electrodes in sequences that mimicked the shapes of letters, such as C and Z. The flashes happened about 50 milliseconds apart and together, they traced the shape of a letter. The participants would then use a stylus to draw on a computer screen the images that flashed into their minds. They did phenomenally well, producing the patterns of letters with ease, Beauchamp and colleagues reported last week at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, California, and on the preprint server bioRxiv.Next, the researchers repeated the test with patient BAA. She had previously been outfitted with a brain implant similar to the ones the participants with epilepsy used. She used a touchscreen to draw the patterns that sprang into her mind during stimulation. Like the sighted participants, she managed to produce patterns that were close to those programmed by the researchers.So far, the researchers have experimented only with letter patterns—between five and 10 letters per participant—but they hope to soon work with basic shapes such as squares and circles. For formerly sighted people, this work could one day lead to a device that uses a person’s cellphone camera to observe their environment and convert what it sees into basic shapes and outlines that could be beamed directly into their brains, Beauchamp says. “You could have a navigation mode, a face recognition mode, a reading mode—a variety of modes that could help blind people go about their lives.”But the technique isn’t likely to work in people who were born blind. That’s because during early childhood development, their visual cortexes are often taken over by other functions, such as auditory processing. Roelfsema also points out that Beauchamp’s team can stimulate only about 20 phosphenes per second. That’s fine for relatively simple shapes and letters, but the kind of potential Beauchamp dreams of requires higher resolution. One possible solution is implanting the electrodes deeper within the cortex, Roelfsema says. Cortically implanted electrodes produce smaller phosphenes, he says, meaning researchers might be able to fire several electrodes at once without the phosphenes smudging together. That, combined with the new sequenced approach, could allow for more complex images. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Trump officials deleting mentions of climate change from US Geological Survey press

first_img Trump officials deleting mentions of ‘climate change’ from U.S. Geological Survey press releases Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Originally published by E&E NewsA March news release from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) touted a new study that could be useful for infrastructure planning along the California coastline. At least that’s how President Donald Trump’s administration conveyed it.The news release hardly stood out. It focused on the methodology of the study rather than its major findings, which showed that climate change could have a withering effect on California’s economy by inundating real estate over the next few decades. An earlier draft of the news release, written by researchers, was sanitized by Trump administration officials, who removed references to the dire effects of climate change after delaying its release for several months, according to three federal officials who saw it. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed that California, the world’s fifth-largest economy, would face more than $100 billion in damages related to climate change and sea-level rise by the end of the century. It found that three to seven times more people and businesses than previously believed would be exposed to severe flooding.“We show that for California, USA, the world’s fifth largest economy, over $150 billion of property equating to more than 6% of the state’s GDP and 600,000 people could be impacted by dynamic flooding by 2100,” the researchers wrote in the study.The release fits a pattern of downplaying climate research at USGS and in other agencies within the administration. While USGS does not appear to be halting the pursuit of science, it has publicly communicated an incomplete account of the peer-reviewed research or omitted it under President Trump.“It’s been made clear to us that we’re not supposed to use climate change in press releases anymore. They will not be authorized,” one federal researcher said, speaking anonymously for fear of reprisal.In the Obama administration, press releases related to climate change were typically approved within days, researchers said. Now, they can take more than six months and go through the offices of political appointees, where they are often altered, several researchers told E&E News.In the case of the California coastline study, the press release went through the office of James Reilly, the director of USGS, a former astronaut who is attempting to minimize the consideration of climate change in agency decisions. Reilly is preparing a directive for agency scientists to use climate models that predict changes through 2040, when the effect of emissions is expected to be less severe. The New York Times first reported on the directive.At his 2018 confirmation hearing, Reilly promised to protect the agency’s scientific integrity.“If someone were to come to me and say, ‘I want you to change this because it’s the politically right thing to do,’ I would politely decline,” Reilly told lawmakers. “I’m fully committed to scientific integrity.”A spokeswoman for USGS said the agency has no formal policy to avoid references to climate change.“There is no policy nor directive in place that directs us to avoid mentioning climate change in our communication materials,” said Karen Armstrong, the spokeswoman.“Scientists at USGS regularly develop new methods and tools to supply timely, relevant and useful information about our planet and its processes, and we are committed to promoting the science they develop and making it broadly available,” she added.The agency’s press release about the California coastline study was significantly altered to mask the potential impact of rising temperatures on the state’s economy. Instead, it described the methodology of the study and how it relied on “state-of-the-art computer models” and various sea-level rise predictions.“USGS scientists and collaborators used state-of-the-art computer models to determine the coastal flooding and erosion that could result from a range of peer-reviewed, published 21st-century sea level rise and storm scenarios,” the final press release said. “The authors then translated those hazards into a range of projected economic and social exposure data to show the lives and dollars that could be at risk from climate change in California during the 21st century.”The USGS release didn’t include the dollar figures outlined in the study.An earlier draft of the press release, which was put online by the environmental group Point Blue Conservation Science, a participant in the study, compared the possible effect on Californians to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The release had stark recommendations for coastal planners and emphasized that by the end of the century, a typical winter storm could threaten $100 billion in coastal real estate annually.“According to the study, even modest sea level rise projections of ten inches (25 centimeters) by 2040 could flood more than 150,000 residents and affect more than $30 billion in property value when combined with an extreme 100-year storm along California’s coast,” the draft stated. “Societal exposure that included storms was up to seven times greater than with sea level rise alone.”The agency has omitted climate change from other press releases.A release in 2017 that publicized a study on how polar bears were expending more energy due to a loss of sea ice did not mention climate change. It noted that a “moving treadmill of sea ice” in the warming Arctic forced polar bears to hunt for more seals and placed pressure on their population in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, without stating that climate change is a key driver of sea ice conditions.Another USGS release, on shifting farming regions due to climate change, mentioned “future high-temperature extremes” and “future climate conditions” but not climate change. The first sentence of the study that it was intended to promote mentions climate change. It was published in Scientific Reports.Some of the USGS studies point to national security repercussions. One study released last year found that a military installation in the Pacific Ocean that would play a role in a possible nuclear strike by North Korea could become uninhabitable in less than two decades due to climate change. The study, which was ordered by the Department of Defense, was released by USGS without a press release.USGS conducts important climate research and manages the Landsat satellite system that has tracked human-caused global changes for almost 50 years. Government researchers study sea-level rise and glacial melt and manage regional climate adaptation centers housed at universities from Hawaii to Massachusetts.Allowing valuable information to fall through the cracks is a waste of taxpayer dollars and could prevent science from being included in policy decisions, said Joel Clement, a former climate staffer for the Department of the Interior, USGS’s parent agency. Clement, who is now a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said the promotion of studies is an important way to get information into the hands of planners, homeowners, and policymakers. He said Interior appears to be suppressing climate science.“It’s an insult to the science, of course, but it’s also an insult to the people who need this information and whose livelihoods and in some cases their lives depend on this,” Clement said. “What’s shocking about it is that this has been taken to a new level, where information that is essential to economic and health and safety—essentially American well-being—is essentially being shelved and being hidden.”In the last year of the Obama administration, USGS distributed at least 13 press releases that focused on climate change and highlighted it in the headline, according to an E&E News review. Since then — from 2017 through the first six months of 2019 — none has mentioned climate change in the headline of the press release, according to the list of state and national releases posted on the USGS website. Some briefly mentioned climate change in the body of the release, while others did not refer to it at all.Other studies have been quietly buried on the agency’s webpages.That subtle form of suppression fits a pattern elsewhere in the federal government.Politico recently reported that officials at the Department of Agriculture buried dozens of studies related to climate change. In one case, agency officials tried to prevent outside groups from disseminating a climate-related study. The research looked at how rice provides less nutrition in a carbon-rich environment. That could have global consequences because hundreds of millions of people have rice-based diets around the world.The Interior Department has been accused of deleting climate change references from previous press releases. In 2017, The Washington Post reported that the agency deleted a line mentioning climate change in a press release about a study on flood risks to coastal communities. That line was: “Global climate change drives sea-level rise, increasing the frequency of coastal flooding.”Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, is under investigation for his ties to the energy industry while serving in government. A separate investigation is exploring whether he sought to block an Interior Department study on the dangers that a pesticide posed to endangered species.There is no evidence that Trump political appointees at the agency have blocked climate studies from taking place, but the censoring of press releases has affected the work of researchers worried about their jobs, according to another federal researcher.“We are pretty cognizant of political pressures, and with these press releases people are definitely biting their nails over ‘how should we word this’ and if there are proposals within USGS, should we use climate change or not,” the researcher said. “It’s a lot of stuff that definitely filters down, and it affects the reality of people on the ground doing the work when you’re not sure of how I should present this. It’s definitely a huge waste of time.”Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2019. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country NASA By Scott Waldman, E&E NewsJul. 8, 2019 , 10:45 AM Read more… Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Under Director James Reilly, the U.S. Geological Survey has drawn criticism for deemphasizing concerns about climate change.last_img read more

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Icon of the Fashion Industry Karl Lagerfeld Dies at 85 – Tributes

first_imgKarl Lagerfeld, one of the most prolific and influential designers of the 20th and 21st centuries, has died in Paris. He was 85 years old. Lagerfeld is considered a key force in the creation of the modern luxury fashion industry. News of his death followed reports in late January 2019 that Lagerfeld missed Chanel’s spring 2019 haute couture show in Paris because of health problems. Since he took the helm of Chanel in 1983, he had never missed the opportunity to speak to fashion fans after a show.Fendi store opening – Karl Lagerfeld. Photo by Christopher William Adach CC BY-SA 2.0Tributes poured onto social media on February 19th, with Donatella Versace posting: “Karl your genius touched the lives of so many, especially Gianni and I. We will never forget your incredible talent and endless inspiration. We were always learning from you.”Henry Holland quoted Lagerfeld himself: “To design is to breathe, so if I can’t breathe I’m in trouble. RIP.”And Elton John wrote on Instagram: “What a talent. What an appetite for life. Wonderful and lethal company. Never a dull moment. Love, Elton xx.”Karl Lagerfeld; Anna Wintour. Photo by Robin Platzer/Twin Images/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty ImagesLagerfeld was one of the most acclaimed designers in fashion thanks to his unparalleled talent to design for three brands at once. In addition to clothing design, he was also a respected photographer and director, whose work has been featured in magazines and advertisements.Vogue magazine writes: “Lagerfeld was Creative Director of Chanel, the French house founded by Gabrielle Chanel, for an era-defining, age-defying 36 years. Upon assuming the reins in 1983, Lagerfeld swiftly revived Chanel, reinterpreting the house founder’s iconic tweed skirt suits, little black dresses, and quilted handbags. He did it via the lens of hip-hop one season and California surfer chicks the next — he was a pop culture savant — without ever forgetting what the revolutionary Coco stood for: independence, freedom, and modernity.”Paris, France – July 8, 2014: Chanel shop in place Vendome in Paris. Chanel is a fashion house founded in 1909 specialized in haute couture and luxury goods.Lagerfeld was also a distinctive physical presence on the fashion scene with his dark suits, white pony-tailed hair, and tinted sunglasses. “I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that,” runs one legendary quote attributed to him. “It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long.”Related Video: In Remembrance of Stan LeeKarl-Otto Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg to Otto Lagerfeld, a managing director of the German branch of the American Milk Products Company, and the former Elisabeth Bahlmann. He later immigrated to France, where he studied drawing and history. His first position at a fashion house was in the 1950s at the couture house of Pierre Balmain.Lagerfeld with Hermann Bühlbecker, Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco (2011). Photo by get noticed communications CC BY-SA 2.0In 1963, he began freelancing at Chloe, considered to be France’s first ready-to-wear label, and in the 1970s he became creative director at the Roman furrier label Fendi, a post that he held until his death.His greatest achievement was undoubtedly at Chanel. The brand had lost its prominence in the years before Lagerfeld. As he told WWD, “Nobody cared about [Chanel] anymore. She was the most démodé thing in the world.”‘Karl Lagerfeld’ Store in der Kö-Galerie Düsseldorf. Photo by 9EkieraM CC BY-SA 3.0As the New York Times put it, “In his 80s when most of his peers were retiring to their yachts or country estates, he was designing an average of 14 new collections a year ranging from couture to the high street, and not counting collaborations and special projects.His signature combinations of ‘high fashion and high camp’ attracted Rihanna; Princess Caroline of Monaco; Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; and Julianne Moore.”Read another story from us: Black is the New Black – A History of Fashion’s Favorite ColorLagerfeld was responsible for so many shows, stores, and events that in 2017, the mayor of Paris awarded him the city’s highest honor, the Medal of the City of Paris, for services to the metropolis.Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. Her new book, The Blue, is a spy story set in the 18th-century porcelain world. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com.last_img read more

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Dominica disaster preparedness group launched in Canada

first_imgShareTweetSharePinExecutive Director of SAFE-D (Canada) Trade and Investment Commissioner for Dominica in Canada Frances DelsolDominica diaspora disaster preparedness group SAFE-D (Canada) was launched on Saturday, July 6, 2019A new disaster preparedness and relief group formed by Dominicans living in Canada, the Security Awareness for Emergencies in Dominica group, SAFE-D (Canada), is to be launched on Saturday, July 6, 2019 at 7:00 pm at the Canadian Forces Dennison Armory, 1 Yukon Lane, Toronto (Allen Road & Sheppard) Canada.SAFE-D (Canada) was formed to support the Commonwealth of Dominica in the event of any major National Emergency arising from natural or man-made disasters. SAFE-D (Canada) has the exclusive purview of disaster preparedness, relief and response activities between the Dominica-Canadian diaspora and Dominica.SAFE-D (Canada)’s Executive Director, Trade and Investment Commissioner for Dominica (Canada), Frances Delsol, says the new group has several goals.“SAFE-D (Canada) has a mission with various objectives: To provide immediate aid to alleviate the impact of natural or other disasters in Dominica; to work in partnership with the Government of Dominica and the Office of Disaster Management in Dominica; to identify crucial needs in the aftermath of disasters; to take a proactive approach to disaster preparedness activities ahead of the hurricane season; and to mobilize the diaspora and partners to provide immediate aid to Dominica in the event of a disaster,” Delsol explains.She adds that the group will also collect relief supplies and donations on Dominica’s behalf.SAFE-D (Canada) will work with other disaster-focused partner agencies such as Global Medic, Caribbean North Charities Foundation, and Canadian Caribbean Disaster Relief Action among others, who can share resources to assist the Commonwealth of Dominica. Executive Director of SAFE-D (Canada) Frances Delsol introduces some of the members of the new group: (l-r) Hetty Lawrence, Lucia Stewart, Andria  Lewis-Alexander , Newton Francis, Jacqueve Colaire and Ursula FontaineLeft to right- Harry Harahk (Caribbean North Charities Foundation, Francine Harris (Dominica Convent High School Alumni Association), Bishop Thomas Parillon, Jerry Grymek – Discover Dominica, Pam Harahk (Caribbean North Charities Foundation), Apostle Lovelace St.John, Gideon Exeter (Canadian Caribbean Disaster Relief Action), and Frances Delsol Executive Director of SAFE-D (Canada).last_img read more

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The financial future of the county remains uncertain

first_img By Toni Gibbons       NAVAJO COUNTY — The question of reintroducing the Jail District Tax to the voters in November was raised at the Navajo County Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 8, afterSubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Ad Photo by Toni GibbonsAssistant County Manager Bryan Layton explained the grim realities the county is facing over the next five years as a result of the failure of the Jail District Tax to the Navajo County Board of Supervisors. The financial future of the county remains uncertaincenter_img January 16, 2019last_img

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Tamil Nadu man his pregnant wife hacked to death in suspected case

first_img Advertising 3 Comment(s) Top News LiveKarnataka floor test: Will Kumaraswamy’s 14-month-old govt survive? Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Tamil Nadu: Couple hacked to death over inter caste marriage, woman's father arrested Tamil Nadu: The couple had married in April with support from the boy’s family.In a case of suspected honour killing, a couple was hacked to death by a group of people in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district in the early hours of Thursday morning, ANI reported. T Solairajan and his pregnant wife A Petchiammal alias Jothi were allegedly killed over their inter-caste marriage. Jothi’s father, who was reportedly against the marriage, has been arrested in connection with the double murder. The couple, who belonged to different groups of Scheduled Caste, married in April with support from Solairajan’s family. They were staying in a single room accommodation at Thanthai Periyar Nagar since then.The couple was murdered by a gang armed with knives when they were sleeping outside their house after a power cut in the area, The Hindu reported.The incident came to light when Solairaja’s mother arrived at their home and found the bodies lying in a pool of blood with multiple knife injuries. The bodies have been sent for autopsy. By Express Web Desk |New Delhi | Published: July 5, 2019 10:27:12 am Kulbhushan Jadhav ‘guilty of crimes’, will proceed further as per law: Imran Khan last_img read more

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Kim Trump and Xi to resume a shifting dance of diplomacy

first_imgWashington | Published: June 20, 2019 3:53:09 pm Taking stock of monsoon rain US House votes to set aside impeachment resolution against Trump Unbowed, Trump intensifies attacks on four Democratic congresswomen Advertising There is no question Xi’s position has weakened since May 2018, when he played host to Kim in the Chinese city of Dalian, a month before Trump met the North Korean leader for the first time in Singapore.At that time, Trump had yet to impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese exports. And he was counting on Xi’s support to give teeth to United Nations sanctions against the North. Trump said he suspected that Xi, whom he described as a “world-class poker player,” had advised Kim to play hardball, in part to give Beijing leverage in its trade talks with Washington.“There was a different attitude by the North Korean folks after that meeting,” he said. “I can’t say that I’m happy about it.”Now, Xi is dealing with a Chinese economy that is flagging, in part because Trump imposed the tariffs, and an unprecedented show of defiance in Hong Kong, where the Chinese government has been blindsided by enormous demonstrations against the local government’s proposed extradition law.That, as much as any competitiveness with Trump, could explain Xi’s decision to become the first Chinese leader to visit Pyongyang in 14 years.“He’s looking for ways to bolster his standing,” said Kurt M. Campbell, who served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs under President Barack Obama. “It does secure his stature and standing as a leader, and there aren’t many other places he can do that.”Xi, analysts said, will scarcely relish his visit to North Korea. He is staying barely two days and avoided scheduling the trip on dates that would have had greater historic resonance, like June 25, the date in 1950 that North Korea invaded the South, or Oct. 19, the date in 1950 when China entered the Korean War on the North’s side.“There’s not a lot of love here, to say the least,” Pollack said. “In that sense, it is something of a minimalist visit, though Kim will try to milk it as much as possible, and Xi might try to milk it for his own purposes.”While Xi has been far less fulsome than Trump about his personal relationship with Kim, the United States and China are largely in sync on North Korea. Both want Kim to avoid provocations like nuclear tests or missile launches. Both have supported draconian sanctions as a way to pressure him. U.S. officials have said they believe Xi can play a constructive role with Kim.What is less clear is how much goodwill that will buy Xi with Trump on trade. Early in his presidency, Trump offered to delay some of his most aggressive moves as long as China was helpful in pressuring the North. But after Singapore, where he claimed to have developed his own rapport with Kim, he abandoned that linkage, imposing a 25% tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods.Trump’s relationship with Kim has waxed and waned as well. The North Korean leader recently sent Trump a letter that the president described as “beautiful.” But it contained no proposals for how to restart the stalled negotiations over its nuclear program.Trump’s rally on Tuesday in Florida may have offered a glimpse of his current feelings for his two friends. He said nothing about Kim, with whom, he once said, he had fallen in love. But he did say he had spoken at length with Xi — “terrific president, a great leader of China.” “We’ll see what happens,” he added, “but we’re either going to have a good deal and a fair deal or we’re not going to have a deal at all, and that’s OK, too.” Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach US House rejects Saudi weapons sales; Trump to veto Post Comment(s) Best Of Express Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield donald trump, us president donald trump, president trump, xi jinping, chinese president xi jinping, kim jong un, north korea kim jong un, kim jong un north korea, trump kim xi, donald trump xi jinping kim jong un, world news, Indian Express Chinese president Xi Jinping and US president Donald Trump (File photo)By Mark Landler More Explained “If Xi can’t say something to Trump on trade, it would suggest that his visit to Pyongyang was for naught,” said Jonathan D. Pollack, an expert on China and North Korea at the Brookings Institution. “Xi, like everyone else in Asia, is trying to reposition himself in light of a very unpredictable American president.”Yet on both fronts, the Chinese president faces an uphill battle.Kim’s talks with Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, broke down after it was clear there was a chasm between the North Korean and U.S. positions — one that China can hardly bridge.And while there are also signs that the trade war is causing economic damage in the United States — particularly among farmers and manufacturing workers — the president himself seems sanguine that tariffs are a political winner, allowing him to continue to drive a hard bargain with China. Advertising Trump’s call with Xi — initiated by Trump, according to China’s state media — suggested he did not want to be left on the sidelines in a negotiation that he views as one of his marquee foreign-policy projects. But it also turbocharged the stock market on the day the president formally opened his re-election bid, since investors viewed it as a sign that the United States and China might finally settle their debilitating trade war.If anything, Xi faces even greater pressure than Trump from the tariffs, not to mention the angry protesters who have taken to the streets of Hong Kong. And for Kim, who is still nursing the wounds of his failed summit meeting with Trump in February, the Chinese president’s long-sought visit, which was set to begin Thursday, is another step in his return to the world stage.Given all these crosscurrents, it seemed inconceivable that the timing of Xi’s visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, was accidental. Administration officials said they expected the Chinese leader to try to make headway with Kim on the nuclear talks and then use that as leverage with Trump in the trade negotiations, when they meet at the Group of 20 gathering in Osaka.Xi himself stoked those expectations, publishing a rare article on Wednesday in the North Korean ruling party’s official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, in which he said China was willing to draw up a “grand plan” with the North Koreans that would “realize permanent peace” on the Korean Peninsula. Related News Advertising US President Donald Trump revels in his friendships with the leaders of China and North Korea, but can seem jealous when his two friends spend time with each other. He once griped that President Xi Jinping of China encouraged a visiting Kim Jong Un of North Korea to take a harder line in his nuclear diplomacy with the United States.So when the Chinese president announced a surprise visit to North Korea this week, Trump reacted by rushing to nail down his own date with Xi — an “extended meeting” in Osaka, Japan, a week later. “Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi,” an eager Trump said on Twitter.It was only the latest move in what has become a kind of strongmen’s dance, involving a trio of unlikely partners whose motives for getting together are deeply divergent but whose interests occasionally harmonize. Their phone calls, letters and face-to-face meetings reveal how the power balance among the three fluctuates, depending on the geopolitical winds and their own domestic political circumstances. After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan last_img read more

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Former IAF airman donates Rs 108 crore to Defence Ministry

first_img CBR Prasad (left) with Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. (Source: ANI)A former Indian Air Force airman donated Rs 1.08 crore to the Ministry of Defence, news agency ANI reported. Airman CBR Prasad met Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday and handed over the cheque to him. “Rajnath Singh was happy to see that such a small sepoy was giving his entire savings back to the defence,” he said. Advertising 27 Comment(s) Advertising Rajnath Singh’s first call: Choice for top civil, defence posts By Express Web Desk |New Delhi | Updated: July 16, 2019 1:43:00 pm Related News Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra gets three-month extension The 74-year-old, who runs a poultry farm, added: “After fulfilling my family responsibilities, I thought I should give back to the defence whatever I got from there. I decided to give Rs 1.08 crore to the defence forces.”Prasad served the IAF for around nine years before quiting to take up a job offer at the Indian Railways. However, he started a poultry farm after failing to land the job.“After 9-years I left the Indian Air Force (IAF) because the Indian Railways offered me a good job. Unfortunately, I did not get that job. I started a small poultry farm for my livelihood. Fortunately, I did well,” he said. Congress questions govt on why ‘obsolete’ AN-32 fleet of IAF was not replaced Asked if his family approved the idea, Prasad said, “Absolutely, no problem. I have given my daughter 2 per cent of my property and one per cent to my wife. Rest 97 per cent, I am giving back to society.”Recalling his days of struggle, he said “I left home with Rs 5 in my pocket and earned 500-acre land with my bare hard work.Prasad also said he set up a sports campus to trains kids with the aim to compete in Olympics. He said: “As a child, I dreamt of winning an Olympic medal but could not do so. I built a sports university-like campus in about 50 acres of land, I have been training children for last 20-years.”last_img read more

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Largest ever HIV prevention study delivers sobering message

first_img Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Community health workers with the Population Effects of Antiretroviral Therapy to Reduce HIV Transmission study did door-to-door HIV testing of 1 million people annually for 3 years. SEATTLE, WASHINGTON—The recipe for ending HIV epidemics seems straightforward. Introduce widespread testing. Immediately put those who test positive on antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, which suppress the virus to undetectable levels so those people won’t infect others. The number of new infections will drop, and the epidemic will peter out.But massive, costly studies done in the past few years have failed to show this strategy can reliably curb the spread of the virus, to the frustration of researchers. The latest and largest ever study presented here last week at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections did show a modest benefit. But confusingly, there was almost no decline in infections in the study group where it was most expected.Ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic may be harder than anticipated, it seems. “ARVs on their own are not the magic bullet,” says Collins Iwuji, an epidemiologist at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in the United Kingdom who helped run one of the earlier studies, a South African treatment as prevention (TasP) trial. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Kim Cloete center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Jon CohenMar. 11, 2019 , 3:55 PM Largest ever HIV prevention study delivers sobering message The new study, called Population Effects of Antiretroviral Therapy to Reduce HIV Transmission (PopART), included 1 million adults in Zambia and South Africa. When it began in late 2013, research had shown that ARVs can not only stave off disease, but also prevent people from infecting others. But whether these benefits would translate from an individual to an entire community was unclear.PopART randomized 21 communities into three arms. One received annual house-to-house HIV testing and immediate treatment for those infected (A); another got the same testing, but treatment followed existing country guidelines and was offered only to HIV-infected people who already had evidence of some immune damage (B); and the third got no intervention from the study (C).After 3 years, an analysis that sampled more than 12,000 people in each of the three arms found group B had 30% fewer new infections than group C. But in arm A, where presumably even more people were treated, the researchers found only 7% fewer infections than in arm C, which wasn’t a statistically significant difference. “When we first saw the results we thought it was the other way around, that arm A and B results got reversed,” says Richard Hayes of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who headed PopART. “We had four statisticians review the data. It’s true I’m afraid.”“We have a lot of work to do” to explain the unexpected outcome, he adds. Among the factors that could have boosted the infection risk in A are migration of infected people, clustering of sexual networks that had highly infectious individuals, or more sexual risk taking.François Dabis, who heads the French Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis in Paris and was the principal investigator of the earlier TasP study, says he’s heartened that PopART at least found an impact in arm B. TasP compared immediate treatment with treatment according to South African guidelines; the results, published last year, showed no population benefit from immediate treatment at all, likely because many people who tested positive didn’t seek the free care available.SEARCH, a large study staged in Kenya and Uganda that used health fairs to do community-wide testing, had more success getting infected people on treatment. But SEARCH investigators reported last summer that they, too, had come up empty-handed. In the middle of the trial, the two countries adopted new World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommending that all HIV-infected people get treatment immediately, effectively robbing the study of its control group. (WHO’s recommendations complicated analyses in PopART and TasP as well.) A fourth study in Botswana did find a 30% drop in new cases from widespread testing and treatment, but it had far fewer people and barely reached statistical significance.Diane Havlir of the University of California, San Francisco, one of SEARCH’s principal investigators, welcomes one clear message from the studies: that widespread testing has the power to identify the majority of infected people, an essential component of the “Ending AIDS” agenda. “We are one step closer and have data for the next steps,” Havlir says.Nor is anyone ready to give up on universal treatment. “We’re not going in the wrong direction,” Dabis says. “What we’re saying is it’s more complex to achieve reductions in incidence than we anticipated.” Like many others, he says offering ARVs as pre-exposure prophylaxis to people at high-risk of infection is a key missing component of these studies.“But we have to be humble,” Havlir says. The four studies, which together cost more than $200 million, failed to clarify a central question: What percentage of infected people needs to start treatment and completely suppress HIV for an epidemic to peter out? Based on a mathematical model, the Ending AIDS campaign promoted by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS set 2020 goals of getting 90% of infected people to know their status, 90% of that group to be on treatment, and 90% of those to have undetectable virus levels. PopART’s A and B arms both reached this triple target, as did SEARCH and the Botswana study.But perhaps it wasn’t enough. “Ninety-ninety-ninety was an advocacy slogan that got translated into programmatic goals,” says Kevin DeCock, a Kenya-based epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta who was on PopART’s scientific advisory board. “It remains to be shown what epidemiologic control is. We’re not out of the woods.”last_img read more

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PAC1R mutation in children with autism may be linked to severity of

first_imgRelated StoriesNew gene-editing protocol allows perfect mutation-effect matchingTransgenerational BPA exposure may contribute to autism, study findsProblem behaviors may provide clues on gastrointestinal issues in children with autismAll told, the project is the fruit of six years of painstaking research and data collection, say the researchers. That includes banking patients’ saliva samples collected during clinical visits for future retrospective analyses to determine which genetic mutations were correlated with behavioral and functional brain deficits, Corbin adds.”Lauren Kenworthy, who directs our Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, and I have been talking over the years about how we could bring our programs together. We homed in on this project to look at about a dozen genes to assess correlations and brought in experts from genetics and genomics at Children’s National to sequence genes of interest,” he adds. “Linking the bench to bedside is especially difficult in neuroscience. It takes a huge amount of effort and dozens of discussions, and it’s very rare. It’s an exemplar of what we strive for.” Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 8 2019A mutation of the gene PAC1R may be linked to the severity of social deficits experienced by kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), finds a study from a multi-institutional research team led by Children’s faculty. If the pilot findings are corroborated in larger, multi-center studies, the research published online Dec. 17, 2018, in Autism Research represents the first step toward identifying a potential novel biomarker to guide interventions and better predict outcomes for children with autism.As many as 1 in 40 children are affected by ASD. Symptoms of the disorder – such as not making eye contact, not responding to one’s name when called, an inability to follow a conversation of more than one speaker or incessantly repeating certain words or phrases – usually crop up by the time a child turns 3.The developmental disorder is believed to be linked, in part, to disrupted circuitry within the amygdala, a brain structure integral for processing social-emotional information. This study reveals that PAC1R is expressed during key periods of brain development when the amygdala – an almond-shaped cluster of neurons – develops and matures. A properly functioning amygdala, along with brain structures like the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum, are crucial to neurotypical social-emotional processing.”Our study suggests that an individual with autism who is carrying a mutation in PAC1R may have a greater chance of more severe social problems and disrupted functional brain connectivity with the amygdala,” says Joshua G. Corbin, Ph.D., interim director of the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children’s National Health System and the study’s co-senior author. “Our study is one important step along the pathway to developing new biomarkers for autism spectrum disorder and, hopefully, predicting patients’ outcomes.”The research team’s insights came through investigating multiple lines of evidence: Source:https://childrensnational.org/center_img They looked at gene expression in the brains of an experimental model at days 13.5 and 18.5 of fetal development and day 7 of life, dates that correspond with early, mid and late amygdala development. They confirmed that Pac1r is expressed in the experimental model at a critical time frame for brain development that coincides with the timing for altered brain trajectories with ASD. They looked at gene expression in the human brain by mining publicly available genome-wide transcriptome data, plotting median PAC1R expression values for key brain regions. They found high levels of PAC1R expression at multiple ages with higher PAC1R expression in male brains during the fetal period and higher PAC1R expression in female brains during childhood and early adulthood. One hundred twenty-nine patients with ASD aged 6 to 14 were recruited for behavioral assessment. Of the 48 patients who also participated in neuroimaging, 20 were able to stay awake for five minutes without too much movement as the resting state functional magnetic resonance images were captured. Children who were carriers of the high-risk genotype had higher resting-state connectivity between the amygdala and right posterior temporal gyrus. Connectivity alterations in a region of the brain involved in processing visual motion may influence how kids with ASD perceive socially meaningful information, the authors write. Each child also submitted a saliva sample for DNA genotyping. Previously published research finds that a G to C single nucleotide polymorphism, a single swap in the nucleotides that make up DNA, in PAC1R is associated with higher risk for post-traumatic stress disorder in girls. In this behavioral assessment, the research team found children with autism who carried the homozygous CC genotype had higher scores as measured through a validated tool, meaning they had greater social deficits than kids with the heterozygous genotype.last_img read more

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Counseling appointments fail to reduce weight gain during pregnancy shows study

first_img Source:https://www.tum.de/nc/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/detail/article/35173/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 16 2019If a pregnant woman gains excessive weight, it can pose a problem for both the mother and child. As a solution, regular counseling appointments have been proposed. Based on results with 2286 women, a team of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in cooperation with the Competence Center for Nutrition (KErn) has now shown that although counseling appointments as part of routine prenatal care can encourage a healthier lifestyle, it does not reduce weight gain.If a woman gains excessive weight during pregnancy, it could lead to gestational diabetes, an increased risk of cesarean section or excessive birth weight of the newborn. The goal of the Bavarian Healthy Living in Pregnancy Study (GeliS) was to make pregnant women aware of the problem and to improve their dietary behavior and physical activity. More than 70 medical and midwife practices in Bavaria participated in the study.Women in the study group received three counseling sessions (30?45 minutes each) from week 12 of pregnancy, followed by another consultation several weeks after childbirth as part of their preventive check-ups. They also received additional information material as well as forms that allowed them to independently record and monitor their weight gain and physical activity. The control group only received the information material.Slight reduction in newborn weightStudy Director Professor Hans Hauner, Professor of Nutritional Medicine at the TUM, explains the initial findings: “Unfortunately, the counseling concept proved unsuccessful and had no measurable effect on maternal weight gain.” Despite the counseling, over 45 percent of the participants gained more weight than recommended by the international standard of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) ? over 14 kilograms on average. Nor did the counseling lead to a reduction in complications such as gestational diabetes, hypertension or premature labor.Related StoriesPre-pregnancy maternal obesity may affect growth of breastfeeding infantsOpioids are major cause of pregnancy-related deaths in UtahNew research examines whether effects of alcohol/pregnancy policies vary by raceNevertheless, his research team did find some positive effects: An initial look at the extended data shows that many pregnant women did in fact pay close attention to their diet and exercised regularly. In addition, more than 85 percent of women continued the program to the end and readily took the advice they received to heart. “Evidently, that was not enough to reduce their weight gain. What we saw, however, was a reduction in the size and weight of the babies of the women who participated in the program. That, too, is a small but important achievement,” Hauner says. The study team also recommends that counseling sessions be started before the 12th week of pregnancy.Main criterion: suitability for routine useIn addition, a special feature of the study was the fact that the counseling sessions were integrated into routine prenatal check-ups. It is the largest study in the world to use this approach. “It was important to us that the concept be suitable for routine use. The pregnant women did not have to appear for any additional appointments, and the effort on the part of the doctors and midwives was well defined. Only such solutions are practicable. “Numerous studies have looked after and monitored pregnant women with the help of separate regular appointments,” Hauner says. “Even if that has a positive effect, it’s not a practical solution for all pregnant women ? and that should be the goal,” Hauner says.last_img read more

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Castrationresistant metastatic prostate cancer responds to combination of immune checkpoint inhibitors

first_img Source:https://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/castration-resistant-prostate-cancer-responds-to-immunotherapy-combination.h00-159300678.html Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 15 2019Two checkpoint inhibitors provide early encouraging results for immunologically cold diseaseSome patients with metastatic prostate cancer respond to a combination of immune checkpoint inhibitors after hormonal therapy and chemotherapy have failed, according to early results from a clinical trial led by investigators at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center presented today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.Principal investigator Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology at MD Anderson, said the results of combining the CTLA-4 blocking drug ipilimumab with the PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab provide an encouraging step for a cancer that’s been highly resistant to immune checkpoint therapies.Research by Sharma and 2018 Nobel Laureate Jim Allison, Ph.D., chair of Immunology, leaders of MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform, provided a rationale for combining the two drugs. The platform is part of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program™, a collaborative effort to accelerate the development of scientific discoveries into clinical advances that save patients’ lives.Among castration-resistant patients who had progressed after second-generation hormonal therapy (cohort 1), 25 percent (8 of 32) had their tumors shrink from the immunotherapy combination at a median follow-up of 11.9 months. Among those who progressed after chemotherapy and hormonal therapy (cohort 2) 10 percent (3 of 30) had a response at median follow-up of 13.5 months.”This was the first combination trial of two immune checkpoint therapies in prostate cancer,” Sharma said. “These results support the idea that immune checkpoint blockade can play an important role in the treatment of these patients and provide the foundation to test this strategy in a larger clinical trial.”There were four complete responders, two in each cohort, among the 62 patients who could be evaluated for tumor growth.Side effects from the combination were consistent with those experienced in previous combination trials for other cancers, with 42 percent of patients in cohort 1 and 53 percent in cohort 2 experiencing grade 3 to 5 adverse events. Among cohort 1, 33 percent had to discontinue participation due to adverse events, with 35.6 percent having to withdraw from cohort 2. The most common adverse events were diarrhea, fatigue, skin rash, nausea and hypothyroidism. Four patients died from treatment-related adverse events, two in each cohort.Related StoriesResearchers identify potential drug target for multiple cancer typesLiving with advanced breast cancerStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskDisease progression was the most common reason to leave the trial, with 51.1 percent of cohort 1 and 44.4 percent of cohort 2 discontinuing for that reason.The researchers also analyzed a number of biomarkers and found that higher tumor mutational burden was associated with response.Combination heats up cold tumorIn previous clinical trials, neither drug succeeded as single therapy against prostate cancer, a so-called “cold” malignancy because it does not attract the attention of the immune system. Few T cells, the adaptive immune system’s targeted warriors, infiltrate prostate tumors.In a phase I trial, no patients responded to nivolumab alone because the PD-1 inhibitor requires an immune response to be under way in order to attack tumors.The multi-center combination clinical trial by Bristol-Myers Squibb, maker of both drugs, was organized after research published in Nature Medicine by Sharma and Allison, provided scientific underpinning for the combination in prostate cancer.Analyzing tumor samples before and after treatment in a clinical trial of ipilimumab and the anti-hormonal drug Lupron, Sharma, Allison and colleagues found that ipilimumab caused an immune response to the cancer reflected by major T cell penetration of tumors.They also found that PD-L1, a ligand that turns on the PD-1 checkpoint on T cells, was heavily expressed by the tumor and surrounding tissue in response, shutting down the T cell attack. Sharma and Allison hypothesized that combination treatment would induce an immune response with ipilimumab and then protect that response from deactivation by PD-1 with nivolumab.Sharma said investigators and sponsor Bristol-Myers Squibb are designing a follow-up trial that includes altering either the dosing or scheduling of ipilimumab with the goal of reducing side effects.Patients in the current trial, CheckMate-650, will be assessed for overall response rate and radiographic progression-free survival as primary endpoints and overall survival as a secondary endpoint.Allison has received royalties from Bristol-Myers in the past in connection with the development of ipilimumab but no longer receives such payments.last_img read more

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First Global Forum of Face Equality International takes place in London

first_imgMar 12 2019The first Global Forum of the new alliance, Face Equality International, is taking place this week, 12th-14th March in central London. Representatives of 19 NGOs and charities have traveled from around the world to take part — to discuss how best to promote face equality and stamp out disfigurement discrimination wherever it happens. The delegations include leaders of the nine ‘founding NGOs’ such as the Sunshine Welfare Foundation in Taiwan, Smile Train, the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and FACES in the US, the European Cleft Organization in the Netherlands, the Smile Foundation in South Africa and Changing Faces in the UK. They will be joined by some of the 18 NGOs that have joined Face Equality International since it was launched just four months ago.  Related StoriesSolid fuel use linked with increased risk of hospitalization or death from respiratory diseasesWhat’s the best time of the day to lose weight?Loose double-stranded RNA molecules spur skin rejuvenationFace Equality International is the brainchild of Dr James Partridge OBE, the founder and former CEO of the UK charity Changing Faces. He says that disfigurement is a neglected global human rights issue: “Wherever they live in the world, people with disfigurements — whether from cleft lips and palates, birthmarks, burns, acid violence, facial paralysis like Bell’s palsy, skin conditions such as psoriasis and vitiligo or after facial cancer — have to deal with many psychological, social and economic challenges in living confident, successful lives in the 21st century”.  “All the Members know from their clients/users that having a facial difference can mean someone is isolated and friendless, facing bullying, ridicule and staring in public, low expectations in school, problems getting work and harassment in the workplace, abuse on social media and stereotyping in the media. The unexpected but encouraging growth in membership in the three months since our launch shows the need for our organization”.Face Equality International will challenge such unfairness and discrimination by mobilizing NGOs around the world and sharing the lessons of how to advocate for face equality effectively — such as awareness-raising initiatives with teachers, culture and business people, and ripostes to everyday incidents of facial prejudice in the media. The alliance will also campaign for people with disfigurements around the world to be properly protected by law from facial discrimination in workplaces, on social media, in schools or public places.Topics to be debated at the Global Forum include how to best challenge social media abuse and influence the attitudes of the public and the media, and how to prepare teachers to create inclusive education and to meet the targets laid down in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Forum will also be the first opportunity for Members to explore how the work together effectively. Source:https://faceequalityinternational.org/news/media-release-12-mar-19/last_img read more

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Study reveals another surgical option for patients with irreparable rotator cuff tears

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 18 2019The arthroscopic superior capsule reconstruction (SCR) surgical technique offers patients with irreparable rotator cuff tears restored shoulder function and the opportunity to return to sports and physically-demanding work, according to research presented today at the AOSSM/AANA Specialty Day in Las Vegas, Nevada. The study, which examined patient outcomes up to five years after surgery, built upon earlier research which examined short-term patient results.”We studied 30 patients who were treated with arthroscopic SCR, and consistently saw improvements in outcomes related to shoulder function and the daily lives of those treated,” noted lead researcher Teruhisa Mihata, MD, PhD, from Osaka Medical College in Osaka, Japan. “The technique allowed 11 of 12 patients who had previously worked to return full-time at five-year follow-up, and all eight who had participated in sports to return to play.”Related StoriesAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyPenn Medicine and Grand View Health partner to provide advanced orthopedic careTen-fold rise in tongue-tie surgery for newborns ‘without any real strong data’The study measured both American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) and Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores in patients, which improved significantly at both one and five years after surgery. The average ASES scores rose from 29.0 before surgery to 83.0 at one year and 92.3 at five years after surgery, with JOA scores rising from 51.5 before surgery to 85.9 and 91.4, respectively. Active elevation increased from 85 degrees prior to surgery to 151 degrees 5 years after the operation. Out of 30 patients followed for five years, only three (10%) experienced graft tears. Those who demonstrated graft healing also showed no sign of glenohumeral osteoarthritis during the five-year period.”Our latest research shows continued promise for the arthroscopic SCR technique, particularly to restore a patient’s shoulder function and allow them to return to work or sports if they so choose,” said Mihata. “We plan to continue studying longer-term outcomes for patients, focusing on continued function and the appearance of osteoarthritis.” Source:https://www.sportsmed.org/aossmimis/Members/About/Press_Releases/2019-Specialty-Day/Treating-Irreparable-Rotator-Cuffs-Injuries.aspxlast_img read more

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Study Pathogenetic downregulation of adenosine linked to restless leg syndrome

first_img Source:https://home.liebertpub.com/news/is-adenosine-the-missing-link-in-restless-leg-syndrome/3534 Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 4 2019Researchers have identified a common mechanism implicating adenosine in the cause of restless leg syndrome (RLS) symptoms — the periodic limb movements characteristic of RLS and the state of enhanced arousal that both disrupt sleep. Preclinical findings in a rat model of RLS and clinical results in humans together suggest that targeting the pathogenetic downregulation of adenosine A1 receptor (A1R) may be a promising therapeutic strategy, according to an editorial published in Journal of Caffeine and Adenosine Research, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. Click here to read the full-text article free on the Journal of Caffeine and Adenosine Research website until May 3, 2019.Related StoriesAn active brain and body associated with reduced risk of dementiaNeural pathways explain the relationship between imagination and willingness to helpStudy offers clues about how to prevent brain inflammation in Alzheimer’sRLS is a common disorder, with about 5% of individuals in the U.S. and Europe reporting symptoms, as described in the article “The Adenosine Hypothesis of Restless Legs Syndrome”. More than one pathogenetic mechanism likely underlies the spinal cord-related and non-spinal cord-related aspects of the disorder, and researchers have long looked for a biochemical link that could serve as a new therapeutic target. A combination of preclinical and clinical findings has shown that brain iron deficiency (BID) is an early factor in the pathophysiology of RLS and that BID in rodents causes downregulation of A1Rs in the brain.”Based on these results,” Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Caffeine and Adenosine Research, Sergi Ferré, MD, PhD, and his research colleagues in the Integrative Neurobiology Section, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health (Baltimore, MD), “have hypothesized that a hypoadenosinergic state secondary to A1R downregulation could be mostly responsible for the hyperglutamatergic and hyperdopaminergic states of RLS that determine the sensorimotor symptoms of RLS as well as the hyperarousal component.” They add, “We, therefore, predicted that inhibitors of equilibrative nucleoside transporters, by increasing the striatal extra-cellular levels of adenosine, could provide a new therapeutic approach for RLS.”last_img read more

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More openness transparency in assessment of active substances in plant protection products

first_img Source:https://www.bfr.bund.de/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 15 2019No third party may fundamentally publish the work of another without their consent. The BfR is therefore exercising its rights as a scientific institute.This procedure is independent of the scientific assessment. Addendum I has been published for years on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) website. All professionally qualified conclusions are therefore publicly accessible.Related StoriesPlant foods may transmit antibiotic-resistant superbugs to humansUnited Nations sounds alarm bell on drug-resistant infectionsNHS braces itself for more deaths following listeria outbreakMore openness and transparency in the assessment of active substances in plant protection products – that was the plea of BfR President Professor Dr Andreas Hensel at the hearing before the special committee of the EU Parliament on the approval of plant protection products last year. The BfR has been supporting the further improvement of the assessment procedures for years. The original toxicological studies prepared by industry should be freely accessible in the same way that the assessment reports published by EFSA already are. The existing laws should be complied with here, however.Unrestricted public access to scientific information is desirable in the view of the BfR. Glyphosate has been assessed as non-carcinogenic by the BfR in line with the latest available knowledge. This decision was reached on the basis of an independent, comprehensive assessment of all available scientific studies. After making their own assessments, all of the assessment authorities all over the world which had the original data at their disposal concluded that glyphosate should not be classified as carcinogenic to humans according to the latest available knowledge.last_img read more

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