Scammers target Bridgeport area over fake PUD billsCoroner IDs victims of suspected

first_imgThe Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says businesses in the Bridgeport are reporting someone is calling and claiming to represent the Douglas County PUD and requesting payment over the phone for overdue account balances.  The Sheriff’s office verified with PUD officials the calls were from a scammer.Douglas PUD Information Officer Megan Vibbert says overdue account holders are notified several ways of an overdue balance.  The first notification arrives in the mail and is followed up later, if necessary by an automated phone call requesting payment. Audio Playerhttps://www.kpq.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/121419-Vibbert1.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Vibbert also suggested Douglas PUD customers consider downloading the SmartHub app giving them account access anytimelast_img read more

Lean Times Ahead for Russian Science Academy

MOSCOW—After months of turmoil, the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) has emerged from a landmark meeting diminished—but intact. On 27 March, RAS members approved a new charter that redefines its role in Russian science, while its leadership revealed just how little funding the academy has at its disposal.Under a law that went into effect on 1 January, RAS subsumed sister academies for medicine and for agriculture and turned over management of its real estate and assets—including all the institutes of the merged academy—to a new Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations (FASO). Meeting for the first time since the merger, RAS members voted overwhelmingly to approve a charter that RAS President Vladimir Fortov says will “preserve the traditions and norms that have been developed in the academy for 300 years.” Critically, Fortov tells ScienceInsider, the charter allows RAS to retain the right to appoint institute directors, with input from FASO. The charter is now awaiting formal approval by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.Nevertheless, RAS now commands considerably fewer resources. FASO will receive the lion’s share of the academy’s former budget, about $2 billion a year, to cover institute costs such as salaries and electricity. Much of the research funds formerly disbursed by RAS—about $1.3 billion planned for 2014 to 2016—will now be distributed competitively by the Russian Scientific Fund, a new agency that will operate independently of both the academy and FASO. RAS will get about $225 million for special initiatives and research infrastructure. “We haven’t lost all our funding once and forever,” Fortov says. But even that dollop of money resides in a FASO account. read more

Whales and dolphins squeal with delight

first_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 Like a dog wagging its tail in anticipation of treats to come, dolphins and belugas squeal with pleasure at the prospect of a fish snack, according to a new study. It’s the first direct demonstration of an excitement call in these animals, says Peter Madsen, a biologist at Aarhus University in Denmark who was not involved in the study. To hunt and communicate, dolphins and some whale species produce a symphony of clicks, whistles, squeaks, brays, and moans. Sam Ridgway, a longtime marine biologist with the U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, says he heard distinctive high-pitched squeals for the first time in May 1963 while training newly captured dolphins at the Navy’s facility in Point Mugu, California. “We were throwing fish in, and each time they would catch a fish, they would make this sound,” he says. He describes it as a high-pitched “eeee,” like a child squealing in delight.Ridgway and his collaborators didn’t think much of the sound until later in the 1960s, when dolphins trained to associate a whistle tone with a task or behavior also began making it. Trainers teach animals a task by rewarding them with a treat and coupling it with a special noise, like a click or a whistle. Eventually only the sound is used, letting the animal know it will get a treat later. The whistle was enough to provoke a victory squeal, Ridgway says. Meanwhile, beluga whales would squeal after diving more than 600 meters to switch off an underwater speaker broadcasting tones. “As soon as the tone went off, they would make this same sound,” Ridgway says, “despite the fact that they’re not going to get a reward for five minutes.” He also heard the squeal at marine parks in response to trainers’ whistles. Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Ridgway suspects the squeals are tied to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the reward centers of mammal brains. Since 1956, scientists have identified reward systems involving dopamine neurons in rats, dolphins, monkeys, and humans, among other mammals. Dopamine release can take about 100 to 200 milliseconds, so Ridgway pored over 4 decades of recordings made in open waters to time the animals’ responses. He found that the dolphins take an average of 151 milliseconds to make their squeals and belugas take about 250 milliseconds. Though Ridgway and colleagues didn’t directly measure dopamine in the brain, that’s enough time for dopamine to spark the sound, he and colleagues report online today in The Journal of Experimental Biology.Ridgway, who is semiretired, says the victory squeals were never a specific research project, but he wanted to publish the results to tie together 52 years of observations.Marc Lammers, a biologist at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology in Kaneohe who studies cetacean communication and behavior, says dopamine release is a novel way to explain these emotive calls. But conditioned responses in captive, trained animals may not necessarily translate to involuntary pleasure sounds in wild animals, he adds. Wild belugas and dolphins emit bursts of these sounds in a variety of settings, from feeding sessions to aggression or courtship aimed at other animals. What’s more, squeals, squawks, or creaks sound differently to us than to cetaceans, which hear at a much higher resolution, Lammers says. “They’re our best attempt at putting a label on a certain type of sound, rather than describing the acoustic quality of the sounds themselves,” he says. “Just because that’s what it looks like or sounds like, or that’s the context—it’s hard for us to know what’s inside the animal’s head.”Wild dolphins and whales have been shown to produce mews, rasps, buzzes, and creaks to alert other animals when food is available. But this study doesn’t show that victory squeals are an intentional form of communication, either for food sharing or simply emotional sharing, says Paul Manger, a biologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. “To support the idea that somehow there’s a social context to it, they’d have to take the experiments further and show some intentionality; intention to share or deceive,” Manger says. Further work using two dolphins at a time could help clarify whether the calls have some social context, or are just involuntary cries of delight, he says.(Video courtesy of Sam Ridgway, National Marine Mammal Foundation)last_img read more

Smoke from distant fires could create more deadly tornadoes

first_imgSmoke from fires in Mexico and Central America may have worsened one of the largest tornado outbreaks in recent decades, a new study suggests. In the afternoon and evening of 27 April 2011, more than 120 tornadoes ravaged a swath of the southeastern United States, killing 313 people. (Tornado shown, which occurred later that year, was not part of the historic outbreak.) At the same time, meteorologists noted several layers of smoke-filled air over the region that could be tracked back to fires set to clear agricultural lands for spring planting in eastern Mexico and Central America. Researchers have now used a computer model to assess the possible effects of smoke on the region’s weather that day. In the simulations that included smoke-filled air, storm clouds were lower and thicker (and average wind speeds at 1 kilometer above ground were higher) than they were in the no-smoke models, the team reported online ahead of print in Geophysical Research Letters. The smoke-induced increase in wind speed at an altitude of 1 km enhanced a phenomenon called wind shear, the difference in wind velocity between one layer of the atmosphere and another. Although lower, thicker storm clouds and increased wind shear don’t directly cause tornadoes, they have been shown to intensify a tornado’s strength if one does form. As a result, the presence of smoke wafting into a region from distant fires should be included in weather models, the researchers say.last_img read more

US senators advance biomedical innovation bills but key NIH funding issue unresolved

first_imgThe tally of biomedical innovation bills trickling through the U.S. Senate got an update yesterday: 18 down, with at least one more to go. Lawmakers on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee held the last of three meetings to approve bills that, once bundled together, will form a companion to the House of Representatives’s mammoth 21st Century Cures bill. That legislation, which the House passed this past July aims to spur medical breakthroughs through reforms at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration.But a final piece of the puzzle—a Senate agreement on how to increase funding for those agencies, and by how much—is still missing. The House version of 21st Century Cures includes $8.75 billion in so-called mandatory spending for NIH, dedicated money not subject to annual appropriations which would be provided by selling oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.Republicans in the Senate, however, initially balked at the idea of mandatory funding. But a chorus of Democratic lawmakers on the HELP committee—the loudest among them Senator Elizabeth Warren (D–MA)—insisted that no innovation bill would get their support without such funding. The chair of the HELP committee, Senator Lamar Alexander (R–TN), has been supportive of mandatory funding, but has noted that his committee doesn’t have the jurisdiction to call for selling off petroleum reserves to pay for the spending. Still, he told the committee yesterday he was still optimistic about devising a funding plan that could win a majority vote in the full Senate. “I don’t have any intention of taking the work product of this committee to the floor without having a bipartisan agreement … about a surge in funding for the National Institutes of Health,” he told the committee. “Without that agreement, we don’t get this bill. But without this bill, we don’t get mandatory funding either.”The leader of another key Senate panel signaled at a hearing today that he may be open to such “surge” funding. Senator Roy Blunt (R–MO), chair of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees NIH’s budget, reiterated his opposition to a White House proposal to use mandatory funding for NIH’s regular budget in 2017, calling it “risky.” But he said he and Alexander have discussed a short-term “surge focused on specific projects,” which “might be different.”NIH Director Francis Collins later explained in response to a question from Alexander—who also sits on the spending panel—that the agency thinks it could spend such a special fund on five specific areas without facing a “cliff” when the money runs out. NIH could submit a “workplan” with “timetables” and “specific dollar figures,” Collins said.Among the measures that the HELP panel approved yesterday were a bill broadly authorizing President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, another that cuts down on administrative requirements for NIH employees, and a long-discussed proposal to speed the regulatory approval of antibiotics for serious infections in limited populations.Committee staff is now working to assemble those and related bills into a final Cures package. Alexander has indicated the final bill could be available as early as next week, and said yesterday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–KY) has agreed to schedule a floor vote on the bill if the committee can produce it.With reporting by Jocelyn Kaiser.last_img read more

Climate scientists wary of Trump Please come to France says presidential hopeful

first_img“We like innovation. We want innovative people,” Emmanuel Macron says. 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 Climate scientists wary of Trump: Please come to France, says presidential hopeful For most scientists, moving to France is easier said than done, says Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C. “It’s not as if you can just pick up a NASA climate satellite and just reassign it to France,” Halpern says. “But politicians the world over now recognize that science is a global endeavor, and seem increasingly eager to ensure that it is not disrupted by political interference. Gag orders and immigration bans do make it more challenging for scientists to do their work.”  Macron began wooing disgruntled U.S. scientists at a mass rally in Lyon, France, on Saturday. After a clip made the rounds on social media, he recorded a new message that has him looking straight into the camera and delivering his message in English, a language most French politicians never use in public. “I do know how your new president has decided to jeopardize your budget, your initiatives, as he is extremely skeptical about climate change,” Macron says. “I have no doubt regarding climate change and how committed we have to be regarding this issue.”He goes on to assure French and European researchers that, should he become president, France will “reinforce its investments” and make good on the Paris climate agreement. “And second, a message for you guys,” he continues. “Please come to France. You are welcome. … We like innovation. We want innovative people.””I can see how it would be appealing for scientists to spend more time doing research and less time dealing with harassment,” Halpern says. “But it’s less likely that other countries are going to make sure that U.S. states and cities have the right data to respond to drought and sea level rise, so I’d prefer that the U.S. continue to be a welcoming place for all scientists.”And some U.S. scientists might not find the French research climate so enticing. France’s overall spending on R&D is currently at 2.23% of gross domestic product, whereas the United States is at 2.79%, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. French researchers have often taken to the streets during the past decade to protest budget reductions, and there are complaints about an abundance of bureaucracy in French research organizations. Macron has made the environment a leading issue in his campaign, but has said relatively little about science policy so far.Macron is a former investment banker and minister of economy, industry and digital affairs in the cabinet of former Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls. He left the government in 2016 to start his own party, En Marche!, which has a social-liberal platform to end the traditional left-right divide, “unblock France,” and get the economy moving again. Emmanuel Macron/En Marche! Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The mediagenic wunderkind of French presidential politics has a message for U.S. scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs working on climate change and worrying about their future under President Donald Trump: Come to France.In a video posted to his Facebook and Twitter accounts late last night (and hashtagged #ScienceMarch), Emmanuel Macron renewed his commitment to fighting global warming and extended a warm welcome: “We want people working on climate change, energy, renewables, and new technologies. France is your nation.”He may well get an opportunity to make good on his promise. Polls released this week suggest that Macron, the founder of a new center-left party who is campaigning on environmental protection, has soared past two more traditional candidates and is likely to face Marine Le Pen, the leader of the extreme-right National Front, in the 7 May runoffs. One poll says he’d defeat her with 63% of the votes. By Martin EnserinkFeb. 10, 2017 , 8:15 AM Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) I have a message for you guys. #ScienceMarchpic.twitter.com/ZnkFIIksdx—Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) 10februari 2017last_img read more

Losing Indonesian candidate challenges election in court

first_imgBy AP |Jakarta | Published: May 25, 2019 11:15:54 am Sandiaga Uno (L), who is the vice-presidential candidate for Prabowo Subianto, and legal team director for Prabowo-Sandi National Campaign Team (BPN), Hashim Djojohadikusumo wave after delivering a media briefing about taking the election result for a constitutional court challenge, in Jakarta, Indonesia (Reuters)The defeated candidate in Indonesia’s presidential election filed a challenge against the result in the country’s top court, just days after seven people died in rioting by his supporters in the capital. Related News Indonesian woman jailed for reporting sexual harassment to seek amnesty Advertising Post Comment(s) Strong quake causes panic in eastern Indonesia, tsunami warning lifted Advertising Undersea quake south of Indonesia’s Bali causes brief panic The legal move is the latest step in what analysts say has been a monthslong campaign by former Gen. Prabowo Subianto to discredit the election.Members of his campaign including his brother, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, arrived Friday night at the Constitutional Court in Jakarta, where a large digital clock was counting down the time left for challenges to the election. The court has a month to make its judgment.Official results released Tuesday by the Election Commission showed President Joko Widodo won 55.5% of the votes in the April 17 poll, in line with preliminary counts on election day. Subianto, who also lost to Widodo in 2014, has declared himself the winner and alleged massive fraud but provided no credible evidence.The election supervisory agency earlier this week rejected Subianto’s complaint about the election’s integrity after evidence of vote rigging provided by his team consisted of printouts of online articles.Police say the 24 hours of rioting that started Tuesday night in Jakarta was orchestrated. Tens of thousands of police and soldiers remain on high alert in the capital.last_img read more

In letter researchers call for fair and just treatment of Iranian researchers

first_imgIranian wildlife scientists using camera traps to study animals including the Asiatic cheetah have been accused of espionage, but some government officials have called the charges baseless. Charles Sharp (CC BY 4.0) Update: In a letter released today, more than 330 conservationists and scholars from 66 countries assert that the imprisoned Iranian environmentalists “worked and carried themselves with the highest moral integrity” and call for a “fair and just evaluation of the evidence, access to lawyers of their choice, and a transparent trial.” In the letter addressed to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, the authors, including primatologist and United Nations Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall, “strongly condemn” the possibility that “the neutral field of conservation could ever be used to pursue political objectives,” and they declare that they “are convinced our colleagues had no such part.”Here is our earlier coverage from 30 October:Prosecutors in Iran have charged four conservationists with “sowing corruption on Earth”—a crime punishable by death. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Richard StoneNov. 21, 2018 , 10:45 AM In letter, researchers call for ‘fair and just’ treatment of Iranian researchers accused of espionagecenter_img The environmentalists, who work with the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Tehran, were arrested in January on suspicion of espionage. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards accused them of using camera traps—intended for monitoring rare Asiatic cheetahs and other wildlife—to eavesdrop on the nation’s ballistic missile program. Many observers view the detainees as pawns in a power struggle between the hardline Revolutionary Guards and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s relatively moderate administration, which in a review last spring determined that the spying accusation is baseless. But Rouhani’s allies have been powerless to secure the conservationists’ release.“The scientific community can do a lot by challenging the narrative that is being sold by [the Revolutionary Guards],” says Kaveh Madani, a water management expert at Imperial College London who served as Iran’s deputy vice president for the environment for several months before leaving the country in April after coming under escalating pressure from hardliners. “People trust the scientific community, and once they come with their counternarrative, the hardliners cannot sell their BS easily.”Human rights organizations learned last week that the charges against the four—believed to be Taher Ghadirian, Houman Jowkar, Morad Tahbaz, and Niloufar Bayani—have been upgraded to a capital offense. “This is a very bizarre charge to bring against environmental activists,” and “totally unprecedented,” says Tara Sepehri Far, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in New York City.Two of the accused serve on International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) panels that weigh evidence of the status of wildlife populations and recommend whether to add or remove species from IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Ghadirian and Jowkar are members of the cat specialist group, and Ghadirian is also on the bear specialist group. “IUCN is deeply alarmed by the charges,” says IUCN Species Survival Commission Chair Jon Paul Rodríguez, a conservation biologist at the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research in Caracas. Camera traps are “indispensable” for tracking the status and biology of threatened species, he says. “As far as I am aware, practically the only information we have on the Asiatic cheetah comes from camera traps.”Iranian security officers have detained five other environmentalists on similar accusations; one, Kavous Seyed-Emami, co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, died in mysterious circumstances in Tehran’s Evin Prison in February. Authorities claim he committed suicide. No trial date has been set for the remaining eight detainees. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) 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 Zimbabwelast_img read more

Exclusive North Korea claimed to be free of HIV But infections appear

first_img The authors call on the international community to do more to help the country fight HIV/AIDS. And they warn that a spiraling epidemic could prompt North Korea’s government to adopt “austere measures to contain the disease,” including criminalizing HIV status and detaining or deporting people living with the virus.The unusual collaboration took root in 2013. “Our North Korean colleagues reached out to us,” says Taehoon Kim, co-founder of DoDaum, a nonprofit in New York City that runs health and education projects in North Korea. “They first expressed concerns about HIV in rural regions and inquired whether we could do anything about this.” Aided by a common language, DoDaum’s Korean-American experts and their North Korean counterparts “developed a good rapport,” Kim says. “We started to travel to more distant parts of the country to meet with patients and understand the issues at play.”The team learned that internal reports painted a far darker picture of HIV prevalence than was publicly known. In 2015, North Korea’s Centers for Disease Control had documented a steady uptick in infections over the previous decade. Then, in September 2018, North Korea’s National AIDS Commission finished a countrywide survey pointing to a sharp escalation in infections. The national prevalence now stands at 0.069%, the team estimates. (To arrive at that number, the authors extrapolated from infections detected in groups known to be at high and low risk.) North Korea’s HIV prevalence is low compared with many countries; the U.S. figure is about 0.6%, according to Beyrer, whereas several African countries have double-digit rates.Still, North Korea is struggling to combat the problem. “Reliably diagnosing and treating patients remains an elusive goal,” Kim says. Only three labs nationwide use modern assays to screen for HIV. Kim says DoDaum has put about 3000 North Korean patients on combined antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. But tightened international sanctions on North Korea have made it harder to import the drugs, which are not produced domestically. These days, 30% to 40% of medications don’t clear customs at the China–North Korea border, Kim says.Complicating treatment efforts is North Korea’s high rate of tuberculosis (TB), including multidrug-resistant strains. “People with HIV progress more quickly if they have TB,” Beyrer says. And some treatments for drug-resistant TB “are very toxic … [so] clinicians need to be able to manage those side effects,” adds report co-author Mary Smith Fawzi, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Both TB and HIV, Beyrer notes, are aggravated by malnutrition, a perpetual scourge in rural North Korea.At first, North Korean officials asked DoDaum to keep quiet about the mounting HIV infections. But as the situation turned bleaker, DoDaum’s liaison—Kim Mun Song, a physician and external affairs director at the North Korean Ministry of Public Health in Pyongyang—felt that the team had to speak out. “On the one hand, reporting the existence of these patients may lead to a backlash from the central government, as they are very much afraid of communicable diseases in general,” Kim Mun Song told Science. “On the other hand, not reporting and not recognizing the existence will perpetuate the issue of not having treatments.”According to North Korea’s National AIDS Commission, HIV is most common among blood donors and people who inject drugs. That pattern differs from the one seen in China’s northern provinces that border North Korea, Wu says. There, he says, men having sex with men account for 60% to 70% of HIV cases, followed by heterosexual contact. Female sex workers and their clients also have a higher prevalence in North Korea than counterparts in China, Wu notes. “We think the profile is different across the border because there is such limited cross-migration,” Smith Fawzi says.The elevated HIV infection rates among blood donors “is very worrisome,” Beyrer says. He recalls a scandal in central China in the 1990s, when more than 37,000 blood plasma donors—mostly rural farmers—were infected with HIV. Investigators blamed for-profit outfits that pooled blood and reused contaminated equipment. Similar lapses could be occurring in North Korea, where quality assurance and safety mechanisms “are rather haphazard,” Kim Mun Song says.The international community should launch an urgent campaign to provide ARVs to infected people in North Korea, the authors say, as well as a longer-term effort to rebuild the nation’s health system and establish academic exchanges. WHO’s office in Pyongyang could offer much-needed technical assistance, Smith Fawzi says. WHO did not respond to a request for comment.If HIV infections continue to climb, North Korea could take draconian measures “to contain the disease at all costs,” Taehoon Kim warns. North Korean statutes permit the government to move ill people against their will or deport them, he notes. Officials “see this as a geopolitical concern that can pose a threat to the regime,” he says.Such responses are “a realistic concern,” Kim Mun Song says. “But we hopefully will not have to take measures that violate human rights.” 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 In December 2018, at an event in Pyongyang marking World AIDS Day, government officials and World Health Organization (WHO) staff celebrated an improbable feat: a corner of our planet was still untouched by HIV. North Korea had zero reported cases of HIV infection, said physician Thushara Fernando—at least to his knowledge. Fernando, who was then WHO’s representative to North Korea, chalked up that astounding success to prevention and widespread HIV testing.In fact, North Korean health officials were quietly tracking a mushrooming AIDS threat. North Korea actually had 8362 HIV-positive individuals in 2018, estimates a report that a team of researchers from North Korea and the United States has submitted to the preprint server medRxiv. The first confirmed infection of a North Korean citizen came in January 1999, the researchers say, and infections have surged in the past few years.“That’s an impressive takeoff,” says Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, who has conducted extensive HIV/AIDS research in Asia. North Korea’s HIV prevalence “is much higher than I expected,” adds Zunyou Wu, chief epidemiologist at China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing. Yonhap News/YNA/Newscom Exclusive: North Korea claimed to be free of HIV. But infections appear to be surgingcenter_img Email Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, at military hospital. A new report warns that poor medical practices in the country, including tainted blood supplies, could be contributing to HIV infections. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Richard StoneJun. 24, 2019 , 4:10 PMlast_img read more

Device uses light to treat overactive bladder

first_img Source:Tiny, implantable device uses light to treat bladder problems. By Sally Robertson, B.Sc.Jan 2 2019Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine have developed an implantable device that could one day help people with bladder problems, without the need for electronic stimulators or medication.Magic Mine | ShutterstockAs reported in the journal Nature, the tiny soft device detects overactivity in the bladder and uses light from integrated LEDs to reduce the urge to urinate.The researchers found that the device worked in laboratory rats, but they hope it could one day be developed to help humans with overactive bladder for whom incontinence, pain, burning or a frequent urge to urinate are often sources of distress.Many people with such bladder problems are currently treated with electronic stimulators that control a nerve in the bladder to improve overactivity.Senior investigator Dr. Robert Gereau says that although there is a benefit to that sort of nerve stimulation, there are also some off-target side effects that result from a lack of specificity with those older devices. They can disrupt nerve signaling in other organs, for example.The researchers hope their new implantable device will bypass such side effects.Using a minor surgical procedure, the soft, stretchy device is fitted around the bladder, where it then expands and contracts as the organ fills and empties.Proteins called opsins are injected into the bladder and carried by a virus that binds to neurons in the organ, making those cells light sensitive. Those nerve cells can then be activated using optogenetics – the control of cell behavior through light.Bluetooth communication enables the team to read real-time information and a simple algorithm is used to see whether the bladder is full or empty and when it is emptying too frequently.Gereau Lab | Washington UniversityThe researchers believe a similar device could be used to treat people, although those devices would be larger and could be implanted using catheters rather than surgery.”We’re excited about these results. This example brings together the key elements of an autonomous, implantable system that can operate in synchrony with the body to improve health,” said Dr. John Rogers, co-senior author.The team also thinks the approach could be used to treat other conditions, such as chronic pain or to stimulate pancreatic cells to secrete insulin, for example.However, one potential obstacle is using the viruses to bind light-sensitive proteins to cells in organs. We don’t yet know whether we can achieve stable expression of the opsins using the viral approach and, more importantly, whether this will be safe over the long term. That issue needs to be tested in preclinical models and early clinical trials to make sure the strategy is completely safe.”Dr. Robert Gereau, Co-senior Authorlast_img read more

New machine learning method predicts if atypical ductal hyperplasia will turn cancerous

first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Feb 13 2019Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH) is a breast lesion associated with a four- to five-fold increase in the risk of breast cancer. ADH is primarily found using mammography and identified on core needle biopsy. Despite multiple passes of the lesion during biopsy, only portions of the lesions are sampled. Other variable factors influence sampling and accuracy such that the presence of cancer may be underestimated by 10-45%. Currently, surgical removal is recommended for all ADH cases found on core needle biopsies to determine if the lesion is cancerous. About 20-30% of ADH cases are upgraded to cancer after surgical excision. However, this means that 70-80% of women undergo a costly and invasive surgical procedure for a benign (but high-risk) lesion.A Dartmouth research team led by Saeed Hassanpour, PhD, found a machine learning method to predict ADH upgrade to cancer. Having this information can potentially help clinicians and low-risk patients decide whether active surveillance and hormonal therapy is a reasonable alternative to surgical excision. Evaluation of the model showed that the team’s machine learning approach can identify 98% of all malignant cases prior to surgery while sparing from surgery 16% of women who otherwise would have undergone an unnecessary operation for a benign lesion. Their results, Prediction of Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia Upgrades Through a Machine Learning Approach to Reduce Unnecessary Surgical Excisions has been recently published in JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics.”Our results suggest there are robust clinical differences between women at low versus high risk for ADH upgrade to cancer based on core needle biopsy data that allowed our machine learning model to reliably predict malignancy upgrades in our dataset,” says Hassanpour. “This study also identified important clinical variables involved in ADH upgrade risk.”Related StoriesBariatric surgery should be offered to all patients who would benefitRewiring of nerves gives movement to paralyzed arms and handsNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryUsing surgical excision to rule out malignancy is not without harm as 70-80% of women undergo invasive surgical excision for benign ADH lesions. “Our model can potentially help patients and clinicians choose an alternative management approach in low-risk cases,” says Hassanpour. “In the era of personalized medicine, such models can be desirable for patients who value a shared decision-making approach with the ability to choose between surgical excision for certainty versus surveillance to avoid cost, stress, and potential side effects in women at low risk for upgrade of ADH to cancer.”The team soon plans to expand the scope of their model by including other high-risk breast lesions such as lobular neoplasia, papillomas, and radial scars. They also plan on further validating their approach on large external datasets using state and national breast cancer registries, and collaborating with other medical centers.Saeed Hassanpour, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Data Science, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, and Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the Departments of Biomedical Data Science and Epidemiology at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, and member of the Cancer Population Science Research Program at Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center. His research interests include biomedical informatics, machine learning, and personalized medicine. Source:https://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/last_img read more

New case study describes adolescent patient with rapidonset schizophrenia and Bartonella infection

first_img Source:https://news.ncsu.edu/2019/03/bartonella-schizophrenia/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 19 2019In a new case study, researchers at North Carolina State University describe an adolescent human patient diagnosed with rapid onset schizophrenia who was found instead to have a Bartonella henselae infection. This study adds to the growing body of evidence that Bartonella infection can mimic a host of chronic illnesses, including mental illness, and could open up new avenues of research into bacterial or microbial causes of mental disorders.Bartonella is a bacteria most commonly associated with cat scratch disease, which until recently was thought to be a short-lived (or self-limiting) infection. There are at least 30 different known species of Bartonella, and 13 of those have been found to infect human beings. The ability to find and diagnose Bartonella infection in animals and humans – it is notorious for “hiding” in the linings of blood vessels – has led to its identification in patients with a host of chronic illnesses ranging from migraines to seizures to rheumatoid illnesses that the medical community previously hadn’t been able to attribute to a specific cause.Related StoriesResearchers find new physical evidence in the brain for types of schizophreniaNew machine-learning method more precisely quantifies a known indicator for psychosisExploring how schizophrenia and depression are related to drug consumptionIn a case study published in the Journal of Central Nervous System Disease, an adolescent with sudden onset psychotic behavior – diagnosed as schizophrenia – was seen and treated by numerous specialists and therapists over an 18-month period. All conventional treatments for both psychosis and autoimmune disorders failed. Finally a physician recognized lesions on the patient’s skin that are often associated with Bartonella, and the patient tested positive for the infection. Combination antimicrobial chemotherapy led to full recovery.”This case is interesting for a number of reasons,” says Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt, Melanie S. Steele Distinguished Professor of Internal Medicine at NC State and lead author of the case report. “Beyond suggesting that Bartonella infection itself could contribute to progressive neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, it raises the question of how often infection may be involved with psychiatric disorders generally.”Researchers are starting to look at things like infection’s role in Alzheimer’s disease, for example. Beyond this one case, there’s a lot of movement in trying to understand the potential role of viral and bacterial infections in these medically complex diseases. This case gives us proof that there can be a connection, and offers an opportunity for future investigations.”last_img read more

New technique uses UV and red light to decontaminate organs before transplantation

first_img Source:http://www.fapesp.br/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 12 2019A new technique for the decontamination of organs before transplantation using ultraviolet and red light irradiation has been developed by Brazilian and Canadian researchers and is described in an article published in the journal Nature Communications.The research is supported by São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP and has been partially conducted at the Optics and Photonics Research Center (CEPOF), hosted by the University of São Paulo (USP) at São Carlos in São Paulo State (Brazil).”This biophotonic technique is revolutionary, as it helps avoid the transmission of diseases during organ transplantation,” said Vanderlei Bagnato, Full Professor at the University of São Paulo, Director of its São Carlos Physics Institute (IFSC-USP), and principal investigator for CEPOF, one of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDCs) supported by FAPESP.Bagnato’s group partnered with researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada, which has the world’s largest lung transplantation program, having performed 197 such surgeries in 2018 alone. According to the thoracic surgeon Marcelo Cypel, who heads the service, the number of transplants could be higher if organs could be decontaminated, especially when the prospective donor has a chronic viral infection such as hepatitis C.”Ten patients have so far been tested [using the biophotonic therapy],” Cypel said. “The new technique significantly reduced transplant organ viral load in eight of these patients. The procedure all but eliminated the virus in two others.”The method described in the article (“Inactivating hepatitis C virus in donor lungs using light therapies during normothermic ex vivo lung perfusion”) involves ultraviolet and red light irradiation to reduce viral and bacterial loads in infected organs to prevent the transmission of diseases such as hepatitis to transplant recipients.In addition to FAPESP, the research was also funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation, and Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).According to Bagnato, the technique was initially developed to treat lungs but is being adapted for livers and kidneys. “This should greatly improve postoperative conditions for transplant recipients,” he said. “It will also enable us to use organs that we must currently reject because of the level of contamination.”Two-step decontaminationLungs are decontaminated before transplantation by having the blood replaced by a preservation liquid in a procedure known as perfusion that was developed in Canada by Cypel.”Perfusion reduces the viral and bacterial loads but cannot eliminate them completely. As a result, the patient has to be treated with antibiotics and antivirals for three months after the transplant,” Cypel explained.”Thinking about ways to further reduce or eliminate the viral load in organs for transplantation, specifically hepatitis C virus, I considered the possibility of using ultraviolet light decontamination methods, which are commonly employed to decontaminate blood, for example. So about four years ago, we began partnering with Bagnato and his team at São Carlos. He and his colleagues came over to visit us and study the technique. Only a month later they sent us the first prototype of the ultraviolet irradiation decontamination machine.””The biophotonic decontamination technique developed at our São Carlos laboratory consists of two specific procedures performed concurrently,” said Cristina Kurachi, a professor at IFSC-USP and a participant in the project.During perfusion, while the researchers make the liquid circulate in the lung to be transplanted, they add molecules to the lung tissue, and biophotonic decontamination takes place directly in the organ through irradiation with red light with a wavelength of 660 nanometers (nm) until photodynamic oxidation eliminates the microorganisms in the tissue.Related StoriesNon-pathogenic bacteria engineered as Trojan Horse to treat tumors from withinCurved shape of bacteria can make it easier to find foodStructure of bacteria responsible for traveler’s diarrhea decipheredAt the same time, the viral load is flushed away by the circulating liquid, which is continuously decontaminated by ultraviolet irradiation with a wavelength of 254 nm.”The ultraviolet irradiation directly destroys microorganisms by breaking down the molecules present in bacteria and viruses. The bacteria are killed, and the viruses are completely inactivated. Red light irradiation decontaminates indirectly via photosensitization,” Kurachi said.This biophotonic therapy involves the introduction of a photosensitizing drug into the perfusion liquid. Activation of the drug requires oxygen molecules (present in viruses) and red light irradiation at a specific wavelength (660 nm). When the photosensitizing drug is bathed in this red light, its molecules absorb energy, which is transferred to the oxygen molecules in the virus, making them highly oxidized. This causes irreversible damage to the membranes and genetic material of several viruses, including hepatitis C virus and HIV-1.”The perfusion solution is special and very expensive,” Bagnato said. “It’s made in such a way as to preserve the organ. Because of the cost, as little as possible is used in the procedure. Thanks to the technique and equipment we’ve developed, a liter of the perfusate can be flushed through the organ hundreds of times to remove the contaminants completely.”The method was first tested on human lungs rejected for transplantation to determine whether the tissue viral load could be reduced by irradiation. According to Cypel, the viral load was found to have fallen drastically after the procedure.”The next step was to subject pig lungs to the same procedure and then transplant them to see if the procedure caused any biochemical or morphological damage to tissue. It did not,” Cypel said.Finally, the technique was tested on patients. “In the first ten transplants we performed, the new technique eliminated hepatitis C virus from organs donated to two patients. In the other eight patients, viral load fell sharply after surgery but rose again seven days later, and the patients had to be given antiviral treatment for three months,” he said.”An important finding was that when the virus wasn’t eliminated it reappeared in the patient’s lab tests after seven days. With this information, we’ve since performed two other transplants where antiviral treatment concentrated in the first week after the operation. The virus was eliminated in both cases,” Cypel said.According to Bagnato, this biophotonic therapy will be refined to assure even sharper reductions in the viral and bacterial loads, increasing the chances of successful transplants. “Our aim is to have light-based therapy eliminate all viral and bacterial contaminants in organs to be transplanted. If so, it may even be possible to do without the perfusate,” he said.The clinical part of the project is being conducted by Cypel and his group in Toronto. The researchers at IFSC-USP designed the new biophotonic technique, developed the instruments, and are participating in the analysis of the results. In addition to Bagnato and Kurachi, the Brazilian team at IFSC-USP also includes Natalia Inada.A patent application has been filed in Canada, and two multinationals have expressed an interest in studying the possibility of producing and marketing the equipment. The researchers are now working on the implementation of a liver and kidney decontamination program in Brazil.”All this has only been possible thanks to the philosophy introduced by FAPESP’s RIDC program, which encouraged us to collaborate internationally and at the same time produce practically relevant knowledge,” Bagnato said.last_img read more

Study provides better understanding of bacterias role in recurrent UTIs

first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)May 13 2019A new finding by researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center shows that several species of bacteria reside in bladder tissue of postmenopausal women who experience recurrent urinary tract infections (RUTIs).The results, published online April 17 in the Journal of Molecular Biology, represent the first systematic analysis of biopsies from patients in this population. The findings provide a better understanding of the interaction between bacteria and host tissue, which might lead to more effective treatment strategies.Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are irritating and painful, sometimes debilitatingly so. The majority of UTIs are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli, which normally lives in human intestines but sometimes gets into the urinary tract, where it is not welcome.The infections, which predominantly occur in women, typically can be treated effectively with antibiotics. But for some postmenopausal women, UTIs recur so frequently that they become a chronic condition, requiring daily doses of increasingly powerful antibiotics as the infection-causing bacteria gradually become resistant to each new drug.Related StoriesStructure of bacteria responsible for traveler’s diarrhea decipheredStudy shows how gastric stem cells fight colonizing bacteria’Scissors’ component of CRISPR/Cas9 sometimes gets stuck”For older women, these infections can go on for tens of years,” said Dr. Nicole De Nisco, assistant professor of biological sciences at UT Dallas and lead author of the study. “Eventually, a patient’s last resort might be removing the bladder.”Most of the epidemiological research on UTIs has been done with women in their 20s and 30s, a much earlier age range than the typical onset of menopause.”One of the reasons urinary tract infections have been overlooked is because they affect women, an understudied group in general when it comes to disease, and older women in particular, who are even more understudied,” De Nisco said.To investigate the pathogenic mechanisms and immune responses related to recurring UTIs, De Nisco and her colleagues analyzed urine and biopsies from 14 postmenopausal women who had undergone cystoscopy with fulguration of trigonitis, a procedure aimed at treating antibiotic-resistant UTIs by removing inflamed bladder tissue.They found that in addition to the expected E. coli, bacteria in urine samples included Klebsiella pneumoniae and Enterococcus faecalis, while species in biopsied tissue included E. coli, Staphylococcus hominis and Bacillus firmus.”Our findings confirm that bacteria do form communities within the bladder wall of RUTI patients, which was not previously known,” De Nisco said. “This research is a critical step toward better understanding the mechanisms of recurring urinary tract infection and inflammation in postmenopausal women.”Source: https://www.utdallas.edu/news/research/recurring-urinary-tract-infections-bacteria-2019/last_img read more

Amazon and Lidl are creating upheaval for big Charlotte grocers new report

Explore further The arrival of Lidl and Amazon’s massive purchase of Whole Foods last summer appear to have put pressure on the area’s top grocers last year, costing them market share and pushing them to roll out creative ways to win over customers. “Between Whole Foods/Amazon and Lidl, I think next year is going to be significant,” national supermarket analyst Phil Lempert said of Charlotte’s growing grocery competition.What’s nextWhen Amazon acquired Whole Foods last summer for $13.7 billion, the e-commerce giant started lowering prices on dozens of popular staples, including bread, milk and produce. Whole Foods opened its store in Waverly last May, bringing its total number of area stores to three.At No. 14 on the Chain Store Guide report, Whole Foods isn’t one of Charlotte’s top grocers, but it still saw its market share increase to 1.5 percent last year from 1 percent the year before.Amazon is likely to keep snatching customers from existing grocers here (like Harris Teeter and Publix) as it lowers prices at Whole Foods, making it more “mainstream,” Lempert said. Furthermore, Whole Foods will open its uptown location later this year, adding a convenient new option for office workers and uptown dwellers, especially as hundreds of new luxury apartments open along the booming Stonewall Street corridor. As another perk for customers, Amazon started offering delivery of Whole Foods products to its Prime members this year in several markets.Intense price competition and pressure to offer online ordering following Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is pressuring supermarket chains, analysts from Fitch Ratings wrote in a March report.”There is a heightened sense of urgency to maintain market share due to aggressive expansion by German hard discount chains Aldi and Lidl and a loss of dollar share to the restaurant industry, which has captured a greater portion of total U.S. food expenditures since 2015,” the Fitch report said.On the other side of the price spectrum, Bi-Lo announced in March that as part of a planned bankruptcy filing it would close 94 stores this spring, including six in the Charlotte region. That will likely have a sizable impact on other local grocers, as Bi-Lo was the area’s No. 6 grocer, with 4.9 percent market share.Charlotte has seen a number of other prominent and long-standing grocers close over the last year, including the homegrown organic chain, Healthy Home Market.Filling in the gap for the Bi-Lo closures could be dollar chains such as Family Dollar (owned by Dollar Tree) and Dollar General, both chains that sell food at prices that are lower than traditional grocery chains, Lempert said. Another company to fill in is Lidl, which has several more stores planned in the area.Aldi, a close competitor with Lidl, saw its market share decline last year, falling to 2 percent from 2.2 percent.Lempert said he expects Lidl to continue with its aggressive pace of growth this year. “I think Lidl is waiting a bit to see what Aldi does,” he said of Aldi, which has been renovating its stores across the country. “(Lidl) is learning a lot, then they’re going to hit it hard.”The total amount Charlotte shoppers spent on groceries over the last year declined slightly, according to the Chain Store Guide report, even as the area added new residents at a fast pace. This could be because of increased spending on Amazon Fresh and other e-commerce options, which are not tracked by the report because they do not have retail locations in the area.Grocers respond to competitionLongstanding grocers are not taking the increased competition lightly.To stand out amid growing competition, hometown grocer Harris Teeter, started in the Great Depression and later acquired in 2014 by the grocery giant Kroger, has been adding perks you wouldn’t find at a traditional supermarket, including wine bars, beer growlers and even gas stations, the company said.”Our stores with amenities such as beer/wine bars and sit-down eating areas are creating a space where our customers visit, not only to do their shopping, but also to come together in a social capacity. It’s exciting to see a grocery store become a social hub within the thriving neighborhoods of our hometown,” Harris Teeter spokeswoman Danna Robinson said in an email.Publix continues its aggressive expansion throughout Charlotte, even adding stores across the street from Harris Teeter locations. That’s the case in Cotswold, where Publix is expected to open its latest area store some time in the second quarter. In March, the chain also opened a Lake Norman location, as well as its second Cabarrus County store in Harrisburg.Walmart and other stores will also continue to forge ahead with their e-commerce initiatives as shoppers turn more to online shopping, Lempert said, citing the retailer’s purchase of online retailer Jet.com.”Over the last year, we have continued to invest in serving our Charlotte-area customers through the launch of innovations like our pick-up towers and scan-and-go app,” said Kate Mora, regional vice president for Walmart stores in North Carolina.As Whole Foods becomes more “mainstream,” other organic grocers will fill the void left in the “upscale” category that Whole Foods leaves behind, Lempert said. The organic grocer Sprouts opens its first location in Charlotte this week in Ballantyne, for instance.”You’re doing to see more ‘Whole Foods wannabes,’ if you will, as Whole Foods moves out of that space,” Lempert said. Citation: Amazon and Lidl are creating upheaval for big Charlotte grocers, new report shows (2018, April 6) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-amazon-lidl-upheaval-big-charlotte.html ©2018 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Amid these changes, Matthews-based Harris Teeter, however, remains Charlotte’s top grocery chain with 19.8 percent of the area’s market share, according to a new report on 2017 grocery revenue. Not far behind are two lower-cost grocers, Walmart and Food Lion.Over the last year, several grocers, including Harris Teeter and its competitor Publix, lost market share amid growing competition, especially from Amazon/Whole Foods. Harris Teeter, which dropped from 20.1 percent a year earlier, also closed a few stores last year, including its location on Johnston Road in Ballantyne and its 201central beer/wine store in Huntersville.Publix, a Florida company that entered the Charlotte market with its first store in Ballantyne in 2014, is once again Charlotte’s No. 4 grocer, with 7.1 percent of the area’s market share, down slightly from 7.2 percent a year before., according to an annual report sent to the Observer from sales-tracking firm Chain Store Guide.Meanwhile, Walmart came in at No. 2 with 18.6 percent of the region’s market share, unchanged from the year before. No. 3 was Food Lion with 18.1 percent, also flat year-over-year.For their part, Harris Teeter and Publix say they’re fighting for market share by adding new stores with fancy amenities meant to woo customers and create a unique shopping experience.A major disruptor throughout the country’s increasingly intense grocery competition last year was Lidl, the low-cost German chain that opened its first stores in the Carolinas last fall. Although the discount supermarket chain has slowed its pace of growth since then, it still looks to have taken at least some market share from existing stores here. According to Chain Store Guide, the “other operations” category that includes Lidl grew to 3.6 percent last year, up from 1.7 percent.In a changing marketplace that has seen new stores arrive and some close up shop in the past year, the next year should bring even more churn in Charlotte’s cutthroat grocery industry. More grocery options in Charlotte means some stores are forced to lower their prices to stay competitive, putting more pressure on already-thin profit margins. Kale to go: Amazon to roll out delivery at Whole Foods This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

YouTube overhauls kids app after complaints about content

Citation: YouTube overhauls kids’ app after complaints about content (2018, April 25) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-youtube-overhauls-kids-app-complaints.html © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The updates allow parents to switch off the automated system and choose a contained selection of children’s programming such as Sesame Street and PBS Kids. But the automated system remains the default.”For parents who like the current version of YouTube Kids and want a wider selection of content, it’s still available,” said James Beser, the app’s product director, in a blog post Wednesday. “While no system is perfect, we continue to fine-tune, rigorously test and improve our filters for this more-open version of our app.”Beser also encouraged parents to block videos and flag them for review if they don’t think they should be on the app. But the practice of addressing problem videos after children have already been exposed to them has bothered child advocates who want the more controlled option to be the default.”Anything that gives parents the ability to select programming that has been vetted in some fashion by people is an improvement, but I also think not every parent is going to do this,” said Josh Golin, director of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “Giving parents more control doesn’t absolve YouTube of the responsibility of keeping the bad content out of YouTube Kids.”He said Google should aim to build an even cleaner and safer kids’ app, then pull all the kid-oriented content off the regular YouTube—where most kids are going—and onto that app.Golin’s group recently asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether YouTube’s data collection and advertising practices violate federal child privacy rules. He said advocates plan to meet with FTC officials next week. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further The updates that begin rolling out Thursday are a response to complaints that the YouTube Kids app has repeatedly failed to filter out disturbing content.Google-owned YouTube launched the toddler-oriented app in 2015. It has described it as a “safer” experience than the regular YouTube video-sharing service for finding “Peppa Pig” episodes or watching user-generated videos of people unboxing toys, teaching guitar lessons or experimenting with science.In order to meet U.S. child privacy rules, Google says it bans kids under 13 from using its core video service. But its official terms of agreement are largely ignored by tens of millions of children and their families who don’t bother downloading the under-13 app.Both the grown-up video service and the YouTube Kids app have been criticized by child advocates for their commercialism and for the failures of a screening system that relies on artificial intelligence. The app is engineered to automatically exclude content that’s not appropriate for kids, and recommend videos based on what children have watched before. That hasn’t always worked to parents’ liking—especially when videos with profanity, violence or sexual themes slip through the filters. YouTube is overhauling its kid-focused video app to give parents the option of letting humans, not computer algorithms, select what shows their children can watch. This March 20, 2018, file photo shows the YouTube app on an iPad in Baltimore. YouTube is overhauling its kid-focused video app to give parents the option of letting humans, not computer algorithms, select what shows their children can watch. The updates that begin rolling out Thursday, April 26, are a response to complaints that the YouTube Kids app has repeatedly failed to filter out disturbing content. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) Child advocates ask FTC to investigate YouTube The YouTube app and YouTube Kids app are displayed on an iPhone in New York on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. YouTube is overhauling its kid-focused video app to give parents the option of letting humans, not computer algorithms, select what shows their children can watch. The updates that begin rolling out Thursday are a response to complaints that the YouTube Kids app has repeatedly failed to filter out disturbing content. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane) read more

Iran orders internet providers to block Telegram

It said the Tehran prosecutor ordered that both mobile and desktop versions be blocked in a way that would not allow users to bypass the restrictions using a virtual private network (VPN).The app was still working late Monday. There was no immediate comment from Telegram.Last month the head of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said Iran would block Telegram for reasons of national security. Since then, many government-affiliated users have switched to local alternatives.The app, which is billed as an encrypted messaging service, was used by organizers of anti-government protests in December and January. Some 25 people were killed and 5,000 arrested during the demonstrations, which were the largest since those that followed the disputed 2009 election.The app was temporarily shut down during the protests, but some users continued to access it through proxies and VPN services.Iran blocks social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, and censors others. While top officials have unfettered access to social media, Iran’s youth and tech-savvy citizens use proxy servers or other workarounds to bypass the controls.Iranian authorities say Telegram has been used to spread lies and incite public opinion, and that it has also been used by terrorists and pornographers.The government has said Telegram and other foreign messaging apps can obtain licenses to operate if they transfer their databases into the country. Privacy experts worry that could more easily expose users’ private communications to government spying. Iran bans government bodies from using foreign message apps © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Explore further Iranian authorities have ordered internet service providers to block access to Telegram, a popular messaging app used by an estimated 40 million Iranians, state TV reported Monday. Credit: CC0 Public Domain Citation: Iran orders internet providers to block Telegram (2018, April 30) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-iran-internet-block-telegram.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

California nixes plans for highspeed LASF rail line

first_imgCalifornia Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that he was abandoning plans to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, citing the high cost and the time it would take. “Let’s be real,” the newly elected Newsom said in his first State of the State address. “The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long.”There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”Newsom said he planned to concentrate instead on completing a high-speed rail link between the central and more rural towns of Merced and Bakersfield to reinvigorate the region’s economy.”I know that some critics will say this is a ‘train to nowhere’,” he said. “But that’s wrong and offensive.”The people of the Central Valley endure the worst air pollution in America as well as some of the longest commutes,” he added. “And they have suffered too many years of neglect from policymakers here in Sacramento. They deserve better.”Plans for an LA-San Francisco bullet train had been backed by Newsom’s predecessors Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger and the line was expected to be completed in 2033, years behind schedule. The rail service was intended to decongest key airports and highways that have reached saturation points in the most populous and richest state in the nation. The 520-mile journey would take less than three hours.The project, however, has run into repeated delays and legal challenges. An initial estimated cost of about $40 billion when voters first approved the project in 2008 has ballooned to $77 billion.Construction on the rail line began in 2015 in Fresno under Phase One, and since then crews have been working on 119-mile (191-kilometer) stretch in the Central Valley. © 2019 AFP Explore further California bullet train staff recommend German operatorcenter_img Citation: California nixes plans for high-speed LA-SF rail line (2019, February 12) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-02-california-nixes-high-speed-la-sf-rail.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. A model of the high speed “Fuxing” bullet train made by Chinese rail giant CRRC is on display at Innotrans, the railway industry’s largest trade fair, in Berlin on September 19, 2018.last_img read more

Huawei will make do without Google but how well

first_imgLife without Google is normal in China. About 1.4 billion Chinese people wake up each day to check WeChat instead of Gmail, navigate with Baidu instead of Google Maps, and watch videos on Youku instead of YouTube. Citation: Huawei will make do without Google, but how well? (2019, May 21) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-huawei-google.html Google v Huawei hits millions of smartphone users Explore further A lack of U.S. components for Huawei network gear could slow its rollout of 5G cellular service, which is important for Qualcomm. “The longer-term impact is Huawei is important for 5G infrastructure networks, and if they’re unable to ship, 5G could really grind to a halt,” said Mike Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity.Huawei’s phones run on Android and include the Google Play set of apps in devices sold abroad. Most Google apps are not available on models sold in China, where they are illegal.Huawei will still have access to the open source version of Android’s operating system, but Google will not provide access or technical support on its proprietary apps and services, the company said.Google reassured Huawei users on Twitter on Monday that existing phones would retain access to Google Play. But future phones will lose access to the Google Play store, apps such as Gmail and YouTube, and updates to the Android operating system.Google did not respond to questions about how it would keep existing Huawei phones’ access to Google services. “We are complying with the (Trump administration) order and reviewing the implications,” the company said in a written statement.Huawei is the world’s second-largest smartphone seller, ahead of Apple and behind Samsung. It accounts for about a third of the European smartphone market, but is lesser known in the U.S. market because carriers such as AT&T and Verizon don’t sell Huawei devices.”They were en route to become the biggest smartphone seller in Europe, and not just in Europe but worldwide,” said Francisco Jeronimo, London-based associate vice president of IDC, a global market intelligence firm.The ban completely changes the picture, he said. “Without access to Google services it’s nearly impossible for them to sell smartphones outside China.”If Google does not get a U.S. license to sell to Huawei, the Chinese company would struggle to sell its phones outside China and mobile carriers might stop selling Huawei phones, hampering Huawei’s international expansion, he added.But if Google lost the Huawei market—and potentially that of other Chinese players—it would also threaten Android’s global business.Elliott Zaagman, co-host of the China Tech Investor podcast, said the ban would hurt both Huawei and American businesses.Huawei bought $70 billion worth of components for its products last year, including $11 billion from U.S. businesses.Zaagman said that “$11 billion is a lot of money and hurts a lot of big American companies as well. You’ve got to believe that a lot of lobbyists are in Washington trying to find loopholes to this ban.”Huawei has been in conflict with the U.S. since last year, when Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the request of the U.S. on charges of financial fraud.Washington has pressured allied governments to ban Huawei equipment over cybersecurity concerns, particularly that the Chinese government will be able to access and control key infrastructure through 5G networks built by Huawei.Huawei denies accusations that the company has engaged in activities threatening U.S. national security.In China, state and public support for Huawei have grown amid an escalating U.S.-China trade war, including the Trump administration’s recent move to increase tariffs on $200 million in Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.Beijing has criticized U.S. actions against Huawei as politically motivated.”China supports Chinese companies defending their legitimate rights according to laws,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lu Kang said at a news conference Monday.”In terms of what measures either Chinese companies or Chinese government would take, please wait and see,” he said.The day after Trump’s executive orders, China officially arrested two Canadians—a former diplomat and a businessman—who had been in custody since December, when they were detained shortly after Meng’s arrest in Canada. China has accused both of espionage.Huawei has been developing its own operating system, but company spokespeople said as recently as last week that it preferred to use Android.If no exceptions to the ban are given, however, Huawei and other Chinese companies may move toward developing an alternative operating system and ecosystem of apps for their phones sold abroad.Huawei did not respond to specific questions about how it would move forward. It will provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei products, the company said in a written statement.”We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally,” the statement said.The idea of a smartphone with no Google may sound absurd to Western consumers.But China already has 43 percent of the global smartphone market—significant power, according to Jeronimo.He predicted that even if the trade war ends and bans on Huawei are withdrawn, Chinese technology companies would build an alternative operating system within the next five years, so that they can rely less on unstable foreign supply chains.”It’s very likely that the biggest Chinese makers, Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, Lenovo, they will work with the Chinese government to build an alternative to Android,” he said. “This would completely change the smartphone market and would open the door for other alternatives to come up either in China or Europe or somewhere else.”center_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. ©2019 Los Angeles Times Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. But will the rest of the world want to buy phones that use only these Chinese alternatives?Under a Trump administration blacklist, Huawei will have to either persuade consumers to do that, or scale down and limit itself to the Chinese market.On Sunday, Google suspended business with the Chinese telecommunications giant, following two executive orders President Donald Trump signed last week. Those orders ban U.S. purchase of technology from companies deemed a threat to national security and block Huawei from buying American products without U.S. government approval.That means Huawei would be cut off from crucial hardware such as chips, processors and modems from Qualcomm, Intel and other American companies.Unless the ban is dropped as part of ongoing U.S.-China trade talks, Huawei could end up leading a “decoupling” of the American and Chinese tech worlds that encompasses everything from supply chains to the end user’s choice of apps.Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei scoffed at the orders on Saturday, telling Japanese media in Shenzhen, China, that the company would be “fine” without U.S. components.”We have already been preparing for this,” Ren said.Huawei reportedly has a stockpile of enough chips to keep the company going for several months. Its subsidiary HiSilicon also designs and supplies chips for Huawei smartphones, though industry experts say their chips are not on par with American ones.HiSilicon President He Tingbo wrote a letter to her staff on Friday saying the firm has been developing backup chips for years in case an “extreme scenario” like this one unfolded, and would help enable Huawei to be self-sufficient.Huawei is not a major customer for San Diego-based Qualcomm, which supplies 50% of the global market for smartphone processors. Analysts believe the smartphone chips that Qualcomm sells to Huawei are limited to a few models sold outside China. Huawei does license Qualcomm’s cellular patents, but the two companies are in a dispute over how much is owed in patent fees. Investors worry that Huawei could stop making payments.last_img read more