Private Exchange Benefiting From Health Law Some StateRun Marketplaces Still Struggling

first_imgeHealthInsurance reports that interest in health coverage ginned up by the new federal law has helped new memberships rise 50 percent. Meanwhile, NPR examines the mixed record of the 14 states running their own marketplaces.USA Today: Private Exchange Sees Surge In Health Care EnrollmentThe number of customers on the nation’s largest private health insurance exchange increased by 50 percent in the final three months of 2013, a direct result of demand created by the Affordable Care Act, the company’s CEO said Thursday. Gary Lauer, CEO of eHealth Insurance, said individual memberships rose 50 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012, from 113,600 applications in the last three months of 2012 to 169,800 in 2013 (Kennedy, 2/20).NPR: As Deadline Nears, State Insurance Exchanges Still A Mixed BagWith a bit more than a month left for people to sign up for health insurance plans set up under the Affordable Care Act, the federal website known as healthcare.gov finally seems to be working smoothly — in 36 states. But what’s happening in the 14 states that are running their own exchanges? (Rovner, 2/21).Some health law supporters are concerned about mental health benefits –Politico Pro: Mental Health Parity Supporters Worry About Exchange PlansThe long fight to ensure mental health parity is now focusing on Obamacare plans, with advocates fearing that some are already in violation of federal law and regulations. All plans sold on the Affordable Care Act’s new exchanges, plus most other private-market policies, must begin complying in July with final rules to a 2008 law that requires insurers to cover mental health care the same way they cover care for physical ailments. … But ensuring that plans fully follow the law and its final rules will be tricky. In particular, problems are anticipated with the new state-based marketplaces since many have modeled benefits after small-group plans, which are exempt from the law if they were created before March 23, 2010 (Cunningham, 2/20). And in other news from the states –Los Angeles Times: Anthem Blue Cross Widens Enrollment Lead On California’s ExchangeInsurance giant Anthem Blue Cross stretched its lead over rival Blue Shield of California in the state’s health care-coverage exchange, new data show. Anthem signed up 223,630 people through Jan. 31, or 31 percent of California’s exchange market as part of the health care law. Anthem is a unit of Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc., the nation’s second-largest health insurer (Terhune, 2/20).The Washington Post: More Than 12,000 Congressional Staffers Have Enrolled In Health Plans Through ObamacareThousands of people have purchased health coverage through the District of Columbia’s new small-business insurance marketplace, but only a tiny fraction of them actually own or work for a small business. The rest are members of or work for a single large organization — Congress (Harrison, 2/20).The CT Mirror: Access Health CT Claims An ‘Olympic Bump’Are the Olympics boosting enrollment in Connecticut’s health insurance exchange? Access Health CT, as the exchange is known, has been advertising heavily during broadcasts of the winter games, and Chief Marketing Officer Jason Madrak says it’s experienced something of an “Olympic bump.” In the week after the opening ceremony, Access Health’s website traffic rose 31 percent over the prior week, the number of accounts created rose by 24 percent, and the number of daily enrollments rose by 67 percent (Becker, 2/20).The CT Mirror: Access Health CT Marketing Obamacare ‘Exchange In A Box’Connecticut’s health insurance exchange has run more smoothly than many of its counterparts across the country, and now officials at the state’s insurance marketplace are in discussions about franchising the system to other states. The concept is to market a “turnkey”-type exchange program that other states could use, rather than building their own insurance marketplaces from scratch, said Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT, the state’s exchange. He refers to it as an “exchange in a box.” Counihan said Access Health officials have met with officials from five states about the idea (Becker, 2/20). The CT Mirror: Access Health CT Spanish-Language Website To Launch FridayAfter months of delays, the Spanish-language website for Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is slated to be available Friday. James Wadleigh, chief information officer of Access Health CT, the state’s exchange, said the Access Health website will undergo maintenance Thursday night. On Friday morning, the Spanish-language site will be up. In addition, there will be some changes to the existing website, he said, including one aimed at making it easier for people to enroll in catastrophic plans (Becker, 2/20). The Wall Street Journal: Nevada’s Health Exchange Director To ResignNevada’s insurance exchange director, Jon Hager, announced his resignation Thursday, days after he had described “a difficult month” for the online insurance portal set up under the federal health care law. The 39-year-old former Navy pilot told the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange board that he would be leaving March 14, the board confirmed (Radnofsky, 2/20). Private Exchange Benefiting From Health Law; Some State-Run Marketplaces Still Struggling This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Medicare Costs Rise On Long Hospice Stays

first_img Pharmaceutical costs are also in the news — Medicare beneficiaries who live in urban areas may save money on their prescription drugs this year because they have better access to pharmacies in drug plan networks that charge lower copayments or coinsurance, according to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Such “preferred cost-sharing pharmacies” have been on the rise, adding another layer of calculation — and sometimes confusion — for Medicare beneficiaries who are trying to find the best price for their drugs. (Andrews, 2/19) The Wall Street Journal: Lengthy Hospice Care Boosts Medicare Bills Medicare reimbursement for cardiac imaging isn’t just dramatically higher in a hospital outpatient department, compared to a physician’s office: It’s an entire episode-of-care cost level higher. (Dickson, 2/18) Kaiser Health News: Urban Medicare Beneficiaries May See More Drug Savings This Year  For more than a year, top officials from Medicare, the nation’s largest health plans, medical societies and major employer and consumer groups hammered away at a dreadful task: Get everyone to agree to use identical quality measures for the treatment of heart disease, cancer and other common conditions. (Evans, 2/18) Medicare pays hospice agencies to care for patients who are close to death. For some beneficiaries of the taxpayer-funded program, hospice has become a way of life. Between 2005 and 2013, about 107,000 patients received hospice care for an average of nearly 1,000 days spread out over four or more calendar years, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Medicare billing records. Medicare’s hospice program, which has been around for 33 years, is supposed to be only for patients who doctors certify are likely to die within six months, or about 180 days. (Weaver, Wilde Mathews and McGinty, 2/18) Modern Healthcare: The Hard Work Ahead On Adopting Uniform Quality Measures Modern Healthcare: Doctors Say Medicare Pays Three Times More For Care In Hospital Outpatient Departments Medicare Costs Rise On Long Hospice Stays Medicare’s hospice program was started for patients likely to die within 180 days, but thousands with dementia and other conditions have spent far more time. In related news, doctors say outpatient care is also boosting Medicare’s bills and the health industry faces challenges meeting quality requirements. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Huawei HongMeng OS will likely be faster than Android – but itll

first_img Show More Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend. We use industry standard tests to evaluate products in order to assess them properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. Trusted Reviews may get a commission if you buy through our links. Tell us what you think. We’d also like to send you special offers and news just by email from other carefully selected companies we think you might like. Your personal details will not be shared with those companies – we send the emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please tick here if you are happy to receive these messages.By submitting your information, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. Sign up for the Mobile NewsletterSign Up Please keep me up to date with special offers and news from Goodtoknow and other brands operated by TI Media Limited via email. You can unsubscribe at any time. ——————————————————————————————————–Grab these great Prime Day savingsSave £40 on the Kindle Paperwhite£160 off the Dell Inspiron 14 Chromebookcenter_img This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Huawei’s HongMeng OS, will ‘likely’ be faster than Google Android, according to the company’s founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei.The Chinese tech mogul made the claim during an interview with French publication Le Point on Friday. He didn’t get into specifics about how much faster the Huawei made operating system is, but a previous report in the Global Times reported the OS could be as much as 60% speedier.HongMeng OS is a new operating system Huawei is developing as a potential replacement for Android. The company has reportedly been working on it for quite some time, but was forced to speedline its development after a US executive order forced numerous tech companies to cut ties with it in May.Related: Best Android phone 2019The executive order forced Google to diminish its ties with Huawei, making it unclear if future Huawei phones, such as the Huawei Mate 30, will be able to get an official Android license. Without it the phones will not get official software support from Google and will be cut off from key things, including the Play Store.Outside of this details about HongMeng OS are fairly thin on the ground, though it will apparently work on numerous different technologies outside of smartphones and tablets. These include desktops, cars and even data centres according to Le Point’s report.Zhengfei also reportedly indicated the company may choose to move to use HongMeng even if the US ban was lifted. Trusted Reviews contacted Huawei for comment on Le Point’s report but at the time of publishing hadn’t heard back.Related: Amazon Prime Day Smartphone DealsEven if the company’s OS is as optimised as Zhengfei indicates, it will have one key problem to get round: it needs an app store. In China, where Google has a very small footprint, there are multiple different mobile app stores. But in the West most Android users predominantly use the official Play Store.Unless Huawei can miraculously find an equally well stocked marketplace, or somehow make its own – something Microsoft and BlackBerry  tried and failed to do – HongMeng OS could struggle to get any traction outside of its home territory.last_img read more

Philips Hue Sale Get the Starter Kit Discounted with a Free Google

first_img Sign up for the Mobile NewsletterSign Up Please keep me up to date with special offers and news from Goodtoknow and other brands operated by TI Media Limited via email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Perhaps the bundle deal to end all bundle deals, upgrade your smart home ecosystem and pick up a Philips Hue Ambiance Mini Bulb B22 kit and Google Home Mini for a ridiculously low price of just £69.99.With a combined value of £159.99, why not hit two birds with one stone and make the most of this fantastic Currys PC World Black Tag sale deal? Able to control your sparkly new Philips Hue bulbs with the Google Home Mini, it goes without saying these two gadgets go hand in hand.At an amazing value for money, you can purchase them for a reduced rate of just £69.99, saving you well over half the original individual cost. Philips Hue and Google Home Mini BundleHue White and Colour Ambiance Mini Smart Bulb B22 Starter Kit & Google Home Mini Chalk BundleA brilliant kickstart to your smart home ecosystem, bag the Philips Hue B22 starter kit and Google Home Mini smart speaker together in a great value for money bundle deal.Currys PC World|Save £90|Now £69.99View DealNow £69.99|Save £90|Currys PC World We’d also like to send you special offers and news just by email from other carefully selected companies we think you might like. Your personal details will not be shared with those companies – we send the emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please tick here if you are happy to receive these messages.By submitting your information, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. Deals This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.center_img Complete with its very own Hue Bridge, the Philips Hue Ambiance Mini B22 Smart Bulb Starter Kit also comes with two of its signature bulbs. Both white and colour ready, the variety these bulbs can offer is astronomical, boasting over 16 million colours and a mind-bending 50,000 variations of white light alone.Related: Amazon Prime Day Smart Home DealsAble to control via the Philips Hue smartphone app, the Hue Bridge still remains to be the heart of your smart lighting network. That said, you can also link up your smart bulbs to a smart speaker, too. Enter, the Google Home Mini.The Google Assistant is here to answer your every beck and call. Set reminders and alarms, request it to play music and, of course, control your smart home devices all with one easy voice command. Philips Hue and Google Home Mini BundleHue White and Colour Ambiance Mini Smart Bulb B22 Starter Kit & Google Home Mini Chalk BundleA brilliant kickstart to your smart home ecosystem, bag the Philips Hue B22 starter kit and Google Home Mini smart speaker together in a great value for money bundle deal.Currys PC World|Save £90|Now £69.99View DealNow £69.99|Save £90|Currys PC World The ideal complimentary bundle, this is a fantastic purchase to kick start your smart home ecosystem. Save £90 and bag yourself a Google Home Mini smart speaker to partner up with the Philips Hue B22 starter kit in this not to be missed Currys PC World bundle.Want to stay up to date with Amazon Prime Day 2019? We’ve got you covered. For more amazing offers, follow us @TrustedDealsUKWe may earn a commission if you click a deal and buy an item. That’s why we want to make sure you’re well-informed and happy with your purchase, so that you’ll continue to rely on us for your buying advice needs. Show More Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links.Tell us what you think – email the Editorlast_img read more

Green Deals Anker Roav Electric Pressure Washer 119 shipped Reg 160 more

Source: Charge Forward AnkerDirect via Amazon offers its Roav HydroClean Electric Pressure Washer for $118.99 shipped when promo code ROAVWW22 is applied during checkout. Regularly $160, today’s offer is a match of our previous mention and the best available. This electric pressure washer is powered by an 1,800W motor that provides 2100psi of pressure. It includes a 35-foot cable and 26-foot hose. Ships with three spray nozzles as well. Rated 4.2/5 stars. more…The post Green Deals: Anker Roav Electric Pressure Washer $119 shipped (Reg. $160), more appeared first on Electrek. read more

Indian Road tested Maruti Suzuki Wagon R EV launching at pollutionfighting 10k

first_imgThe Maruti Suzuki Wagon R EV is expected to launch next year in India, and the car has been spotted road testing. It could be one of the most important vehicle/platforms in the ongoing battle against climate change and pollution in the world’s most air-polluted country. more…The post Indian Road tested Maruti Suzuki Wagon R EV, launching at pollution-fighting $10k appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

Sport in brief

first_img Since you’re here… Share on Pinterest Sun 10 Feb 2008 21.59 EST Sport Sport Share on Facebook Support The Guardian Shares00 … we have a small favour to ask. The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on Twitter Reuse this content Share on Facebookcenter_img Topics Share via Email Share via Email Share on Twitter Share on Messenger Eagles soar to open four point lead at topThe Newcastle Eagles went four points clear at the top of the BBL Championship last night with a comfortable 112-82 win at Cheshire Jets. As they had in the BBL Trophy semi-final eight days previously, the Eagles settled the game in the first quarter, leading 34-13 after 10 minutes. The Eagles’ main challengers in the title race may yet turn out to be the Scottish Rocks, who won for the eighth time in their last nine outings when they crushed Sheffield 82-56, with 17 points from Rob Yanders. Elsewhere, Plymouth kept themselves in third place by scoring the last seven points of a 73-70 win over Leicester, with Andrew Lasker scoring 25 points. Rob DugdaleFour-wicket Ishant leaves Australia flounderingA stunning spell of fast bowling from Ishant Sharma set up a five-wicket victory for India against Australia in the Commonwealth Bank Series in Melbourne. Ishant, right, was in destructive form, claiming four wickets as the hosts were dismissed for 159 inside 44 overs. India stuttered in reply but 44 from Sachin Tendulkar and an unbeaten 39 from Rohit Sharma were enough to see them home. Australia’s captain, Ricky Ponting, said: “India bowled well and fielded well but we have some work to do on our batting. We played a few loose shots at the top of the order. When you have a low total to defend you have to find a way of getting wickets. We were not good enough.” ReutersHall takes Masters as home advantage fails WebbEngland’s Lisa Hall claimed the biggest title of her career with a final round of 66 in the ANZ Ladies’ Masters, which was cut to 54 holes because of bad weather at the Royal Pines Resort in Queensland. Hall finished 13 under par on 203 to win by a shot from South Korea’s Shin Hyun-ju, who three-putted the last from 25 feet for a 68. Australia’s Karrie Webb, who won the Australian Open last week and was aiming to extend her record to seven victories in the Masters, finished in fifth place on 10 under after a 70. For Hall, 40, it was a fourth European Tour title and she said: “This really is special. To beat Karrie Webb in her own back yard makes this a great win.” Elspeth BurnsideMurphy punishes Doherty errors to retain Malta CupShaun Murphy retained the Malta Cup in a field featuring all the world top 16 except Ronnie O’Sullivan and Steve Davis by beating Ken Doherty 9-3 in the final at the Hilton Conference Centre, Portomaso. The world No3’s ranking will not be improved by the success, however, because the tournament lost its world ranking status this year. In the final the balls did not run kindly for large breaks, but solid potting and tight safety, with Doherty’s mistakes, saw Murphy home. A day earlier Murphy had seemed to be heading for a semi-final defeat when he trailed China’s Ding Junhui 3-0 but he responded with a 137 clearance – the highest break of the week – before winning 6-5. Clive Everton First published on Sun 10 Feb 2008 21.59 EST Sport in brief Share on WhatsApp Share on LinkedInlast_img read more

Lescott sinks City as Everton climb back into fourth

first_imgmatch reports Everton First published on Mon 25 Feb 2008 22.27 EST @DTguardian Share on Messenger Share on Pinterest Daniel Taylor at the City of Manchester Stadium Share on Twitter Share via Email Share on Facebook Shares11 Share on WhatsApp Topicscenter_img Bill Shankly used to rely on an old saying at Anfield that “first is first and second is nowhere”. These days, finishing fourth is the best Liverpool can hope for and there are even signs that they may have to suffer the indignity of being barged out of the Champions League places by the team from across Stanley Park – a side, lest it be forgotten, whom Rafael Benítez has infamously described as a “small club”.Everton resented that suggestion and they seem to be doing everything in their power to make Benítez rue his words. This victory, courtesy of first-half goals from Yakubu Ayegbeni and Joleon Lescott, propelled David Moyes’s impressive team back above Liverpool into fourth, three points clear of their neighbours, albeit having played a game more.The question of whether they can dig in their heels promises to be almost as intriguing as the title race itself but one certainty is that Manchester City can be discounted with immediate effect. Sven-Goran Eriksson’s team turned down a cul-de-sac last night and, having been thoroughly outplayed, they lie eighth, their lowest position of the Swede’s reign. On this evidence it looks about right.City, it must be said, were poor and occasionally wretched, their frustrations encapsulated in the third minute of stoppage time when Martin Petrov flicked his boot at Leon Osman and was shown a red card for his petulance. Everton were significantly better in all departments. They might conceivably have had three penalties, all for handball, and the score would have been embarrassing had it not been for Joe Hart’s goalkeeping and the referee Rob Styles’s bewildering leniency.Fabio Capello was here and will have been impressed by Hart even if it is bemusing that a 20-year-old who began the season as Eriksson’s third-choice goalkeeper is now being spoken of as a serious contender for the England team. The name of Lescott may also have featured prominently in Capello’s notebook – presumably with a tick rather than a cross – but Micah Richards had a dismal evening in front of the new England manager. All that can be said in his mitigation is that he was not the only one.Moyes’s team were quicker to the ball, stronger in the tackle and played with an urgency that was strangely missing from the home side. All of which spares Styles another inquest into his officiating, given that there were two occasions when Richards inexplicably jabbed out his right arm to handle the ball inside the penalty area and a less obvious one when Nedum Onuoha did the same.The sense of injustice seemed to spur on the visiting players. Their passing was crisp, they played with width and penetration and looked particularly incisive when attacking down the left. City, in stark contrast, looked unrecognisable from the side who had beaten Manchester United in their last game – which was strange and, for Eriksson, deeply irritating given that he had chosen the same team.Perhaps, in hindsight, Eriksson will regret not starting with Elano and Vedran Corluka, both of whom had been suspended at Old Trafford. His team did not manage a noteworthy attempt on goal in the opening half and, once the first goal went in, Everton were so utterly in command they could conceivably have put the result beyond doubt by half-time.As it was, their superiority was rewarded with only one more goal, Lee Carsley’s deep cross picking out Lescott in a congested penalty area and the defender jumping highest to loop a well directed header beyond Hart. It summed up City’s performance that Richard Dunne, their usually imperious captain, was outjumped in the process, but it was totally in keeping with the way the game had gone since the first few minutes when Hart had to rush from his goal-line to save adroitly at Yakubu’s feet. After 29 minutes Steven Pienaar’s curling effort flicked off the crossbar and, within 60 seconds, Everton took the lead when Yakubu touched the ball to Tim Cahill, set off for the six-yard area and arrived just in time to turn in the return pass.Equally disappointing for Eriksson must have been the lukewarm response from his team after the interval. True, there was an improvement but this owed much to Everton sitting back on their lead and the away side rarely looking troubled. Eriksson introduced Elano and his new striker, Felipe Caicedo, but their increased possession seldom amounted to anything and at the other end they continued to look vulnerable.Everton might, indeed, have scored a third when Yakubu surged down the left and cut the ball back for Cahill, who was denied by Michael Ball’s saving tackle and Dunne’s clearance. Hart’s one-handed save thwarted Carsley late on and, soon afterwards, the City supporters began to drift away, a few of them wondering perhaps how early next season’s Intertoto Cup will interrupt summer. Share on LinkedIn Soccer Reuse this content Manchester City Share on Twitter Soccer Lescott sinks City as Everton climb back into fourth Mon 25 Feb 2008 22.27 EST Share on Facebook Share via Emaillast_img read more

Vantage Drilling Announces Closure Of DOJ Investigation Just Dont Call It A

first_imgI hope the usual suspects don’t muddy up the conversation again by calling this one a “declination.” (See here for the recent post).As highlighted in this August 2015 post, Houston-based Vantage Drilling disclosed:“In July 2015, we became aware of media reports that our agent utilized in the contracting of the Titanium Explorer drillship has entered into a plea arrangement with the Brazilian authorities in connection with the agent’s role in obtaining bribes on behalf of former Petrobras executives.  We have since confirmed that our agent, who has represented multiple international companies in their contracts with Petrobras, has entered into such discussions and provided evidence to the Brazilian authorities of an alleged bribery scheme between the former Petrobras executives and a former director of Vantage.The former director, Mr. Su, was the sole owner of the company that owned the Titanium Explorer at the time the alleged bribe was paid.  We have not been contacted by any governmental authority in connection with these allegations.  However, we voluntarily contacted the SEC and the Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) to advise them of these recent developments.  We continue to investigate the matter, but as of now, our internal and independent investigations have found no evidence of wrongdoing by our employees or participation in any manner with the inappropriate acts alleged to have been conducted by the agent.We cannot predict whether any governmental authority will seek to investigate this matter, or if a proceeding were opened, the scope or ultimate outcome of any such investigation. If the SEC or DOJ determines that we have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (the “FCPA”), or if any governmental authority determines that we have violated applicable anti-bribery laws, they could seek civil and criminal sanctions, including monetary penalties, against us, as well as changes to our business practices and compliance programs, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.On August 21, 2012, we filed a lawsuit against Mr.  Su, a former member of our Board of Directors and the owner of F3 Capital, our largest shareholder, asserting breach of fiduciary duties, fraud, fraudulent inducement and negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment based on Mr. Su’s conduct in his dealings with the Company both immediately prior to, and during his tenure as one of our directors. On June 20, 2014, we received notice that Mr. Su had filed a countersuit against the Company and certain of the Company’s current and former officers and directors. The countersuit alleges fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference with contract, and unjust enrichment and seeks indemnification from us with respect to the matters that are the basis of our lawsuit.”As highlighted in this May 2016 post, the company disclosed in pertinent part:“In connection with our cooperation with the DOJ and SEC, we recently advised both agencies that in early 2010, we engaged outside counsel to investigate a report of allegations of improper payments to customs and immigration officials in Asia. That investigation was concluded in 2011, and we determined at that time that no disclosure was warranted; however, in an abundance of caution, we are reviewing the matter again in light of the allegations in the Petrobras matter.”Yesterday, the company issued this release which states:“[The company] has received a letter from the United States Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) acknowledging Vantage’s full cooperation in the DOJ’s investigation concerning possible violations by Vantage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”), and indicating that the DOJ has closed its investigation without any action.The investigation arose in 2015 from allegations of improper payments to former officials of Petróleo Brasileiro S.A (“Petrobras”) in connection with the contracting of the Titanium Explorer drillship to Petrobras. From the outset of the investigation, the Company has provided its full cooperation to the DOJ and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).Mr. Ihab Toma, Vantage’s Chief Executive Officer, stated, “We are very pleased with the closure of the DOJ’s investigation. Vantage has been, and remains, firmly committed to conducting its operations in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including the FCPA.”It is the Company’s understanding that the parallel investigation by the SEC remains open at this time, and Vantage continues to cooperate with the SEC with regard to that investigation.” Learn More & Register FCPA Institute – Boston (Oct. 3-4) A unique two-day learning experience ideal for a diverse group of professionals seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge and practical skills through active learning. Learn more, spend less. CLE credit is available.last_img read more

Elevate Your FCPA Knowledge And Practical Skills At The FCPA Institute –

first_img Strategies For Minimizing Risk Under The FCPA A compliance guide with issue-spotting scenarios, skills exercises and model answers. “This book is a prime example of why corporate compliance professionals and practitioners alike continue to listen to Professor Koehler.” Order Your Copy Interested in elevating your Foreign Corrupt Practices Act knowledge and practical skills?For professionals in the FCPA space – or wishing to join the FCPA space – this is what the FCPA Institute is all about and the next FCPA Institute will be in Phoenix on January 17-18, 2019.The FCPA Institute is different than a typical FCPA conference.At the FCPA Institute, information is presented in an integrated and cohesive manner by an expert instructor with FCPA practice and teaching experience. Moreover, the FCPA Institute promotes active learning by participants through issue-spotting videos, skills exercises, small-group discussions and the sharing of real-world practices and experiences.To best facilitate the unique learning experience that the FCPA Institute represents, attendance at each FCPA Institute is capped at 25 participants.In short, the FCPA Institute elevates the FCPA learning experience for a diverse group of professionals and is offered as a refreshing and cost-effective alternative to a typical FCPA conference. The goal of the FCPA Institute is simple: to develop and enhance fundamental skills relevant to the FCPA, FCPA enforcement, and FCPA compliance best practices in a stimulating and professional environment with a focus on learning.The FCPA Institute presents the FCPA not merely as a legal issue, but also as a business and accounting issue.  The FCPA Institute is thus ideal for a diverse group of professionals such as in-house and outside counsel; business executives; finance, accounting and auditing professionals; and other compliance professionals seeking sophisticated FCPA knowledge and practical skills.Set forth below is a sampling of what FCPA Institute “graduates” have said about their experience.“Unlike other FCPA conferences where one leaves with a spinning head and unanswered questions, I left the FCPA Institute with a firm understanding of the nuts and bolts of the FCPA, the ability to spot issues, and knowledge of where resources can be found that offer guidance in resolving an issue.  The limited class size of the FCPA Institute ensured that all questions were answered and the interactive discussion among other compliance professionals was fantastic.” (Rob Foster, In-House Counsel, Oil and Gas Company)“The FCPA Institute was one of the best professional development investments of time and money that I have made since law school. The combination of black letter law and practical insight was invaluable. I would highly recommend the FCPA Institute to any professional who has compliance, ethics, legal or international business responsibilities.” (Norm Keith, Partner, Fasken Martineau, Toronto).“The FCPA Institute is very different than other FCPA conferences I have attended.  It was interactive, engaging, thought-provoking and at the completion of the Institute I left feeling like I had really learned something new and useful for my job.  The FCPA Institute is a must-attend for all compliance folks (in-house or external).” (Robert Wieck, CPA, CIA, CFE, Forensic Audit Senior Manager, Oracle Corporation)The FCPA Institute is a top-flight conference that offers an insightful, comprehensive review of the FCPA enforcement landscape.  Professor Koehler’s focus on developing practical skills in an intimate setting really sets it apart from other FCPA conferences.  One of the best features of the FCPA Institute is its diversity of participants and the ability to learn alongside in-house counsel, company executives and finance professionals. (Blair Albom, Associate, Debevoise & Plimpton)“The FCPA Institute was a professionally enriching experience and substantially increased my understanding of the FCPA and its enforcement. Professor Koehler’s extensive insight and practical experience lends a unique view to analyzing enforcement actions and learning compliance best practices. I highly recommend the FCPA Institute to practitioners from all career stages.” (Sherbir Panag, MZM Legal, Mumbia, India)“The FCPA Institute provided an in-depth look into the various forces that have shaped, and that are shaping, FCPA enforcement.  The diverse group of participants provided unique insight into how, at a practical level, various professionals evaluate risk and deal with FCPA issues on a day-to-day basis.  The small group setting, the interactive nature of the event, and the skills assessment test all set the FCPA Institute apart from other FCPA conferences or panel-based events.” (John Turlais, Senior Counsel, Foley & Lardner)FCPA Institute participants not only gain knowledge, practical skills and peer insight, but can also elect to have their knowledge assessed and earn a certificate of completion upon passing a written assessment tool. In this way, successful completion of the FCPA Institute represents a value-added credential for professional development. Attorneys who complete the FCPA Institute may also be eligible to receive Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) credits. In addition, previous FCPA Institute participants have successfully obtained continuing education units from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics for attending the FCPA Institute.To learn more about the FCPA Institute and to register, click here.last_img read more

Trump v Federal Reserve – Why

first_imgQUESTION: Good afternoon Martin,Do you gander that President Trump is aware that a higher dollar will cream the economy and is doing all he can to fight that trend?Maybe he is reading AE but like other politicians still thinks he can manipulate the economy?Trump is battling the Fed over interest rates. What does it mean for your money?MDCANSWER: Trump does realize that there has been a flight to the dollar. I believe his bashing the Fed to lower rates is inspired by the hope of keeping a lower dollar for trade. I do not believe higher rates are on his radar with respect to the markets. He is probably seeing briefings of the rise in rates and what is taking place with the national debt.As far as what does it mean for your money: the trend from public debt to private will be accelerated by this trend. I believe that the Fed will try pegging rates with caps rather than engaging in QE as Europe has done. Categories: Interest Rates Tags: Federal Reserve, Interest Rates « When Will Interest Rates Rise? center_img Public v Private Interest Rates & Sovereign Debt Crisis »last_img read more

Knowing Whats Best Isnt Everything

first_imgby, Margit Novack, GuestBloggerTweetShareShareEmail0 Shareselder-home-sliderMrs Jones, this chicken is the freezer is from 2002. Do you want us to throw it away?” I asked. “Oh no,” said Mrs. Jones. “ I just sautee it with some butter and seasoning and it tastes fine.” “But it’s ten years old, It can’t possibly be good for you. “I’m 92, it can’t be that bad.”And that’s when I began to think about surplus safety.Culture changing expert Dr. Bill Thomas argues that when dealing with elders, we focus almost exclusively on the down side of risk, and in doing so, inadvertently remove the possibility of upside of risk — the opportunity for growth and new experiences. As a result we create environments with a “surplus of safety.”This concept has caused me to rethink my job as a Senior Move Manager — someone who specializes in creating safe physical environments for elders.Part of my job is advising against throw rugs and for chairs with arms, for placing things needed every day on shelves where they can be reached without a stool, and more. Ever mindful of the devastating impact of a fall, I urge clients to downsize sufficiently so their belongings will fit in their new surroundings, and ask them not to be present while we unpack so they can avoid the stress of move day. I want to protect them, because they haven’t moved in 40 years and I help people move every day, so I know what is best for them.But do I?Relocation Stress Syndrome (RSS) is the name given to the physiologic and psychosocial disturbances that result from transferring from one environment to another. At first, psychologists believed that this occurred primarily in involuntary transfers to long term care settings, but today scientists agree that RSS can occur in moves to many settings and even when moves are voluntary and planned.The symptoms of RSS are loneliness, depression, anger, apprehension, dependency, confusion, anxiety and withdrawal and can affect anybody who moves to a new home. Minor characteristics include changes in sleeping and eating habits, insecurity, lack of trust and need for excessive reassurance.When experiencing relocation stress, the process depends on a number of variables, such as age and stage of life, personality, number of losses, amount of preparation and the degree and type of support before, during and after the move. RSS is experienced until a sense of control is regained.Given the support we provide before, during and after the move, involvement by Senior Move Managers and family members must decrease the likelihood of RSS, right?But here’s the rub. When we take excessive control of the move to maximize the outcome, are we taking control away from our clients and parents?Another culture change advocate, Kort Nygard, tells the story of a man in a long term care setting who asked for something meaningful to do. How did he define “meaningful?”“Where if I screw up, something bad happens.”Are we so focused on helping clients and parents achieve “good moves” that we reduce their opportunity for risk and control? If control over one’s move is so important in minimizing RSS, are we inadvertently contributing to the very thing we want to avoid?I agree that being in an over cluttered home, with potential physical hazards, can decrease one’s sense of control. But you and I have that choice — the opportunity to make bad decisions. Shouldn’t our clients and our parents have it too? Are we patronizing them by urging them to do what we want because we know best, even when it conflicts with what they want? The fact that things don’t fit in a new home does not mean that clients didn’t part with a great deal. Instead of helping them feel good about what they did accomplish, are we making them feel bad about what they didn’t?The desire to help clients and parents have a good move while maximizing their sense of acheivement and control is a conflict that seems inherent in what Senior Move Managers do. Let’s remind ourselves to not “over-protect” our clients.As expressed succinctly by Kort’s friend, part of what makes life meaningful is knowing that what you do matters and has consequences. Retaining the right to make decisions, even bad decisions, is a key ingredient of being in control.Related PostsSurplus Safety….More Than Meets the EyeI had the privilege recently of attending a symposium about “surplus safety,” put together by the Erickson School at the University of Maryland at Baltimore and funded by the Maurice Rothschild Foundation. Many thanks to these organizations for convening a group of more than 30 of the best and brightest…Myrtle Beach-The Joys of Upside Risk!A few months ago, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Bill Thomas discuss “Surplus Safety” at the Eden Alternative Conference. I sat there at the time in complete agreement with him but not really taking to heart all that … Continue reading →Surplus Safety SymposiumOn Wednesday and Thursday this week I will be taking part in a groundbreaking symposium sponsored by The Erickson School at UMBC focused on the concept of Surplus Safety I’ve been developing with Dean Judah Ronch. The goals of this two-day symposium are huge. GIGANTIC. We have brought together a…TweetShareShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Scientists successfully transfer memory of one animal to another

first_img Source:http://www.eneuro.org/content/early/2018/05/14/ENEURO.0038-18.2018 By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDMay 16 2018UCLA neuroscience researchers have successfully transferred the memory of one animal to another via injections of RNA. This futuristic study has made possible hopes for similar transfers among higher animals too including humans. The study also provides understanding about the ways in which the brain stores memories and could be the next big thing in memory loss, dementia and related diseases. The study was published in the online journal eNeuro that is the online publication of Society for Neurosciences.The study led by scientist David Glanzman works with RNA transfers and provides understanding of these genetic materials in memory and learning. Experts are sceptical about the research though because the brains of the slugs are much simpler in comparison to higher animals and humans and it could be a distant possibility to imagine same could be done for humans. This new study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.For the experiment the team gave mild electric shocks to marine snail Aplysia californica. These snails quickly learned to withdraw their siphons and gills when they were shocked. This lasted for up to a minute and was clearly a defence manoeuvre. The manoeuvre was repeated when the snail was mildly touched as well. Snails that were not shocked earlier withdrew their siphons and gills briefly when touched. This indicated that the shocked snails had memories of the shocks.Related StoriesWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskLiving a healthy lifestyle may help offset genetic risk of dementiaWhy women who work are less likely to develop dementiaNext the researchers extracted RNA from the nervous systems of these snails that had been shocked. They injected this RNA into snails that had not been shocked. They also injected some unshocked snails with RNA from other unshocked snails. The results showed that the unshocked snails that received RNA from the shocked snails were ones that withdrew for longer durations when confronted with a soft touch compared to those that were unshocked and received RNA from unshocked snails. This meant that the memory of the electric shocks were transmitted from the shocked snails to the unshocked and un-exposed snails.RNA works as messenger and a template for protein formation. Till date synapses and connection between neurons have been the basis for memory and learning. This is a new concept in memory and learning that is being explored say researchers. Glanzman said about the results, “It’s as if we transferred a memory”.As a next step the team took the sensory neurons of the snails in petri dishes. They found that neurons of the snails that have been shocked are more excitable compared to the neurons of the snails that have not been shocked. Glanzman said that the memories seem to be stored within the nucleus of these neurons where these RNA can stimulate or block the actions of the genes by turning them off or on. He explained that the changes within the neurons is mediated by the RNA as seen by this experiment. He said that although several researchers would disagree, he is convinced that memories may remain even if the synapses come and go. This has to mean that the memories are stored in some form within the nucleus.center_img Image Credit: Lisa S. / Shutterstocklast_img read more

Researchers develop system to monitor elderly people in their own homes

first_img Source:https://www.uji.es/com/investigacio/arxiu/noticies/2018/6/monitoratge/ Jun 12 2018Research staff from the Universitat Jaume I in the fields of information technology, psychology and business have developed a monitoring system based on indoor location using mobile devices. The purpose of this system is to improve the observation of the positioning of elderly people, in their own homes and in a non-intrusive way, from Wi-Fi signals.This new system detects, in the quickest possible way, changes in the behavior of elderly people, which allows the intervention of caregivers or their relatives with all the available information. The procedure does not need any additional infrastructure; it is able to issue warnings before an unusual behavior of the people monitored and allows the caregivers to check this behavior through a web interface.The study was directed by the lecturer Óscar Belmonte from the GIANT Research Group (Machine Learning for Smart Environments) with the participation of Raúl Montoliu, from the same group; Antonio Caballer, from the Intervention and Evaluation in Socio-educational Contexts Research Group, and Merche Segarra from the Department of Business Administration and Marketing.According to data from the Spanish Institute of Statistics, referring to the year 2016, 41.7% of people who live alone in Spain are over 65 and 70.7% of them are women. Most of them prefer to live in their own home and not in residences. There are even studies that indicate that, in economic terms, it is better to live in your own home, but this implies that care and attention, in terms of time and economic organization, fall mostly on the family.”We start from the concept of health and active aging established by the WHO”, explains the researcher Antonio Caballer. “In this sense, we talk about the use of new technologies to improve the feeling of loneliness, participation, the level of safety and to keep older people in their homes the maximum possible time, without having to go to senior centers”.Teleassistance has allowed providing care and assistance services to the elderly remotely, in a minimally intrusive way, and in their own homes. This service has been used to detect anomalies that pose an imminent risk to the person’s health, such as a fall. With the new system proposed by the UJI team, it will be possible to detect possible risky situations, such as if a person stays in bed more than usual or has not gone to the kitchen to cook.Related StoriesTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTTrump administration cracks down on fetal tissue researchAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapy”Our purpose is to study the evolution in a person’s long-term health. If there is a continuous deterioration in their cognitive or physical functions, we should realize as soon as possible and try to determine the moment in which this deterioration began”, explains Óscar Belmonte, main researcher of the study.The system uses objective parameters to determine the usual behavior of the elderly people within their own home, so that it establishes behavior patterns and warns when a deviation occurs. From the signal emitted by Wi-Fi access points, it is possible to build algorithms that, once trained, estimate the user’s position according to the intensities measured by a device carried by the user (a mobile phone, laptop, smart watch or any other device with a wireless connection chip). “Once the model of a person’s data is constructed, we have to check each day if their behavior coincides with the learned behavior or if there are behavioral changes”, says Belmonte.The behavior pattern is extracted from the data provided by indoor location algorithms. Thus, once the behavior of the person is known, it can be monitored to detect possible deviations from the known pattern. In this way, it will be possible to evaluate if either the deviations are occasional, or they indicate a progressive change in the behavior or a possible risky situation.The Universitat Jaume I has granted an aid to validate this new system with people over 55 within the StartUJI program for the Valorization of Research Results of the Research Promotion Plan 2017. The project will last 15 months.last_img read more

Study opens new potential avenue for treating ovarian cancer

first_imgJun 14 2018Researchers at Houston Methodist Research Institute and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have found a prescription drug, Calcitriol, approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of calcium deficiency and kidney diseases, may increase the likelihood of surviving ovarian cancer.Their preclinical research, reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, integrated computational modeling and biology experiments in cell lines and mouse models to pinpoint a molecular pathway between malignant cells and supportive cells, called fibroblasts, associated with poor prognosis for patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer, the most common and difficult form of the disease.A review of potential drugs by Houston Methodist researchers indicated that a synthetic and active form of a vitamin D analog called Calcitriol might break up molecular communication between cancer cells and fibroblasts, a finding confirmed in mouse models by MD Anderson researchers.This study opens a new potential avenue for treating ovarian cancer. Since Calcitriol is an FDA-approved drug, no additional research is needed before the drug can advance to human clinical trials for ovarian cancer. The researchers are working to address regulatory procedures, planning and funding required to open a clinical trial.”Targeting cancer cells might not be the only solution to treating cancer. Other cells in the tumor and surrounding microenvironment, such as fibroblasts, immune cells, fat cells and other supportive cells make up the very complex ecosystem of tumors that we need to understand,” said Samuel Mok, Ph.D., professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine and co-senior author of the study.Using a computer modeling technique pioneered by co-senior author Stephen Wong, Ph.D., the Houston Methodist team processed and analyzed genomic big data to identify crosstalk targets and screen FDA-approved drugs. Their approach allowed them to look at the complexity of the interactions among tumor cells and different types of supporting cells to see a full map of their intricacies.”In this era of big data, we can systematically identify pathways and therapies, as we’re using an unbiased approach to look at all possibilities,” said Wong, chair of systems medicine and bioengineering and John S. Dunn Sr. Presidential Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Engineering at Houston Methodist. “Our computational modeling can tell you which pathway is important for a particular disease. It allows for the heterogeneous tumor data to be fed in to the model to precisely identify these pathways, giving us a comprehensive view and allowing us to see specifically which malfunctioning cells to target.”Fibroblasts make and maintain connective tissue that provides a scaffolding for organs. To better understand their role, Mok, co-lead author Tsz-Lun Yeung, Ph.D., and colleagues carved out fibroblasts from tumor samples to study separately, using a precise process called laser microdissection.They studied gene expression by these cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and found the fibroblasts had two distinct expression, or signatures that they named CAF-C and CAF-N.Related StoriesUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerStudy: Nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessarySugary drinks linked to cancer finds study”A survival analysis of these two CAF types in 46 ovarian cancer patients showed that patients with CAF-C fibroblasts had a poor prognosis, with median overall survival of 16 months compared to 33 months for the other type,” Mok said.Smad signaling between cancer cell, fibroblastsThe next step was to sort out what, specifically, makes the CAF-C group promote aggressive disease. Using a multi-cellular crosstalk modeling tool developed by Wong, called CCCExplorer (Cell-Cell Communication Explorer), co-lead author Jianting Sheng, Ph.D., and colleagues of the Houston Methodist team input gene-expression profiles from micro-dissected fibroblasts and neighboring ovarian cancer cells provided by Mok to compute, predict and prioritize crosstalk pathways and cell-to-cell interactions in the tumor microenvironment.”We identified a signaling pathway, called Smad, as the culprit of poor ovarian cancer outcomes,” Wong said. “Reprogramming these cells by targeting their communication networks presents an opportunity for the development of new cancer treatment strategies. If we focus on targeting these supportive cells in the tumor microenvironment instead of the tumor, itself, it could lead to less toxic, more effective treatments.”Experiments by Mok and colleagues confirmed the primacy of Smad signaling. Gene expression analysis again clustered patients into two groups; those with high expression of Smad-regulated genes had median overall survival of 15 months compared to 26 months for those with low expression.Wong and colleagues at Houston Methodist applied another computational module in their CCCExplorer tool to predict known drugs that have passed phase I safety trials that might target Smad signaling. Calcitriol was selected for further studies in part because previous research shows it can inhibit the binding of Smad proteins to their target genes.MD Anderson cell line experiments showed Calcitriol blocks Smad signaling. Treating ovarian-tumor bearing mice with Calcitriol reduced cancer cell proliferation and tumor volume while lengthening median overall survival from 36 to 48 weeks.”We know that cells in the tumor microenvironment actually support the cancer and may contribute to its aggressiveness. This study opens up a new potential avenue for developing ovarian cancer treatments,” said co-author Karen Lu, M.D., chair of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine at MD Anderson and J. Taylor Wharton, M.D., Distinguished Chair in Gynecologic Oncology.”These researchers have developed a unique and powerful concept to decode crosstalk and interactions among different cell components in the complex tumor microenvironment,” said Jenny C. Chang, M.D., director of Houston Methodist Cancer Center and Emily Herrmann Chair in Cancer Research. “Instead of testing one hypothesis at a time, the modeling tool now allows the cancer researchers and drug designers to comprehensively evaluate major intercellular crosstalk pathways simultaneously to find novel targets for ovarian and other cancers.” Source:https://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/2018/06/md-anderson-houston-methodist-scientists-detect-new-ovarian-cancer-target.htmllast_img read more

Study Rare lymphoid cells play key role in development of inflammatory arthritis

first_imgAug 10 2018Immunologists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg have demonstrated that ILC2, a group of rare lymphoid cells, play a key role in the development of inflammatory arthritis. ILCs have several functional similarities to T-cells and are important agents of our congenital immune system. The FAU researchers’ findings could form the basis for new approaches for treating rheumatoid arthritis. The findings have now been published in the renowned journal Cell Reports.Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of inflammatory joint conditions. In contrast to osteoarthritis, where patients’ joints degenerate, the symptoms of arthritis such as overheating, swelling and redness, occur in flare-ups and are frequently caused by disturbances in the immune system. The disease mainly affects the fingers and toes, but also knees, shoulders and hip joints. Around one percent of the population suffer from the condition and women are three times more likely to suffer from it than men. Treatment usually focuses on easing pain and slowing down the progression of the disease as there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis.Rare immune cell regulates arthritisImmunologists at FAU have now proven that ILC2, a rare form of lymphocyte, plays a key role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Although ILCs, so-called ‘innate lymphoid cells’, do not have the T cell and B cell receptors nor cell type markers that are otherwise typical for lymphocytes, they are pivotal in defending the human body from pathogens. They are often the ‘first aiders’ who alarm the immune system before the actual immunisation begins. ‘From earlier research, we know that ILC2 can initiate the suppression of chronic inflammation by producing the cell signal molecule IL-9’, says project manager Dr. Mario Zaiss from the Department of Medicine 3 – Rheumatology and Immunology at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen. ‘In our current study, we specifically examined the role of ILC2s in the early stage of rheumatoid arthritis’.Related StoriesStill-to-be-approved drug proves to be new option for treating active rheumatoid arthritisResearchers identify new clues on tissue damage in rheumatoid arthritis and lupusMultiple breaches of injection safety practices identified in New Jersey septic arthritis outbreakILC2 only helps before the onset of the diseaseFirstly, Zaiss and his colleagues were able to demonstrate that the number of ILC2 in the peripheral blood and in the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis is significantly higher than in healthy people. Laboratory tests confirmed the regulatory function of ILC2. When the researchers reduced the number of these immune cells genetically, this exacerbated the progression of the disease later on, while increasing the number of ILC2 during therapy significantly reduced the arthritis. The researchers, however, cannot hold out any hope that they will be able to cure patients who already have inflammatory arthritis through targeted enrichment of ILC2. ‘There is no doubt that ILC2 has a regulatory effect during the early stage of arthritis,’ explains Mario Zaiss. ‘However, any treatment must start before the onset of the disease – transferring ILC2 later on does not improve symptoms.’Further research is set to find safe methods of increasing the number of ILC2 in the body in a targeted manner. Researchers must also find new and reliable methods of detecting signs of arthritis before the onset of the disease as this is the only time when these rare lymphocytes can be used as a treatment. Source:https://www.fau.eu/2018/08/06/news/research/can-rare-lymphocytes-combat-rheumatoid-arthritis/last_img read more

UKs leading sight loss charity invites applications from brightest minds in ophthalmic

first_imgMy application was ambitious because Fight for Sight are not afraid to fund ideas that break new ground. I feel very fortunate to receive this early career researcher funding to grow my existing research skills, develop new ones, and gain experience as a Chief Investigator managing and developing my own research project.I am working hard to make sure I deliver a successful project that will, in the future, benefit people living with dementia and those who are caring for them. If you’re an early career researcher and thinking of applying, do – the benefits are huge!” We’re delighted to open the call for our latest funding round. Both funding streams will provide an opportunity for clinicians, scientists and allied health professionals to deliver impactful research. We encourage researchers to apply and take this opportunity to carry out their pioneering research.” Related StoriesTrump administration cracks down on fetal tissue researchAXT enhances cellular research product portfolio with solutions from StemBioSysResearch on cannabis use in women limited, finds new studyAdditionally, the charity is also calling for applications for their annual Project Grants Award which offers up to £170,000 for three years for clinical and non-clinical research scientists to undertake research in all fields of ophthalmic and vision research.Fight for Sight is partnering with Alzheimer’s Research UK to co-fund research addressing dementia and visual impairment. The Fight for Sight / Birdshot Uveitis Society Project Grant particularly encourages projects investigating disease activity and biomarkers.Dr Neil Ebenezer, Director of Research, Policy and Innovation at Fight for Sight, said: Aug 17 2018Fight for Sight, the UK’s leading sight loss charity, has announced that the Project Grants Awards and the recently established Primer Fellowship call is now open for applications.The charity will provide funding of up to £60,000 for two individuals to undertake vision related research for one year. One of the Fellowships is funded in collaboration with The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.The Fellowships were established in order to fund trainee ophthalmologists at an early stage in their career. The charity is calling upon the brightest minds among eye health professionals to undertake ophthalmic and vision research. The aim of the Fellowship is to help equip those who wish to embark on research fellowships in the future, leading to better and more impactful research.Dr Marianne Coleman, a previous Primer Fellowship recipient from The University of Surrey who is using the funding to determine whether binocular vision and pupil response testing should be included in dementia-friendly eye-testing guidelines said: Source:http://www.fightforsight.org.uk/news-and-views/articles/news/charity-invites-applications-from-brightest-minds-in-vision-research/last_img read more

Brain region for stress control is enlarged in people with depression finds

first_img Source:http://www.cbs.mpg.de/presse/depression-hypothalamus Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 20 2018According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 322 million people worldwide were affected by depression in 2015–4.4 percent of the world’s population. In the search for the underlying causes of this widespread disorder, researchers have concluded that it could arise from predisposition combined with an individual’s environmental stress factors.So far, it is known that people more predisposed to depression show a dysregulation of the endogenous stress response system, otherwise known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis), which is normally triggered when we are faced with a stressful situation. This response increases the amount of cortisol, providing the body with more energy when faced with a potential threat or challenge. Once the challenging situation has passed, several control mechanisms in the HPA axis normally ensure the system returns to a balanced state.Related StoriesStudy reveals long-term benefits of stress urinary incontinence surgeryTransobturator sling surgery shows promise for stress urinary incontinenceDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this AugustIn people who suffer with depressive disorder or who are more predisposed, this is not the case. Instead, a malfunction of the feedback mechanism results in a stress response operating at full throttle, even when there is no apparent stressful situation. Until now, the underlying reason for this hyperactive stress response system and the role of the hypothalamus as its overall control unit has remained unclear.In a recent study with 84 participants, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the University Clinic in Leipzig have revealed that in people with an affective disorder, the left hypothalamus was on average five per cent larger than that of their healthy counterparts. ‘We observed that this brain region is enlarged in people with depression as well as in those with bipolar disorder, two types of affective disorders’, says Stephanie Schindler, a PhD student at both research institutes involved in the study and first author of the underlying publication just published in the scientific journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. Furthermore, in one of the groups of participants with depression it was also revealed that the more severe the depression, the larger the hypothalamus was. Medication did not have any effect on the size of the hypothalamus.These relations were found out using a high-resolution 7-Tesla MRI scanner. The severity of disorders was measured using standardized questionnaires and interviews.Although studies have shown this brain structure to be more active in people with depression or bipolar disorder, it is not yet known what role a larger hypothalamus plays. ‘Higher activity could lead to structural changes and thus to a larger volume of the hypothalamus normally the size of a one cent coin’, says Stefan Geyer, one of the study’s principal investigators and head of the research group Anatomical Analysis of the Organization of the Human and Non-Human Primate Brain at MPI CBS.last_img read more

Pregnancy resculpts womens brains for at least 2 years

first_imgA first-of-its-kind study has revealed that the architecture of women’s brains changes strikingly during their first pregnancies, in ways that last for at least 2 years. In particular, gray matter shrinks in areas involved in processing and responding to social signals. This may mean that new mothers’ brains are more efficiently wired in areas that allow them, for instance, to respond to their infant’s needs or to detect threatening people in their environments. The changes correlated with standard tests of a mother’s attachment to her infant—and they occurred whether a woman conceived naturally or using in vitro fertilization.“We certainly don’t want to put a message out there along the lines of ‘pregnancy makes you lose your brain,’” says the study’s lead author Elseline Hoekzema, a neuroscientist at Leiden University the Netherlands who is also the pregnant mother of a 2-year-old. “Gray matter volume loss can also represent a beneficial process of maturation or specialization.”Pregnancy is a time of dramatic, hormone-driven physiological and physical changes. Blood volume, hormone levels, absorption of nutrients, and other physiological capabilities grow dramatically. Other changes, according to anecdotal reports from pregnant women, are not so salubrious, like forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Whereas animal studies have shown that pregnancy is associated with apparently long-lasting anatomical brain changes—accompanied by adaptive changes, such as rodent mothers becoming better at foraging for food—virtually no studies have drilled down on anatomical changes in the human brain during pregnancy. 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Emailcenter_img Hoekzema and her colleagues set out to change that. Working in Spain, in affiliation with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, they used MRI scanning to examine the brains of 25 women who had never had children, both before they became pregnant and again from 3 weeks to a few months after they gave birth. The team also scanned 19 first-time fathers at the same intervals, 17 men without children, and 20 women without children who did not become pregnant during the study. Then, they used computer-based analyses to measure changes in gray matter volume.The findings showed highly consistent gray matter volume losses in the mothers and not in the other groups, the team reports today in Nature Neuroscience. The changes occurred primarily in areas of the brain involved in social tasks like reading the desires and intentions of others from their faces and actions. The hippocampus, a region associated with memory, also lost volume. What’s more, the team found that the mothers’ scores on a standard test that gauges the degree of a mom’s attachment to her infant could be predicted to a significant degree based on the changes in their gray matter volume during pregnancy.The scientists also used MRI scans to watch the women’s brains work in real time, as they looked at photos of their own infants and of other babies. Several of the brain areas that had lost gray matter during pregnancy responded with the strongest neural activity to their own babies as opposed to the photos of other infants.(Comparisons between the brain’s response to photos of a mother’s own infant and to photos of other infants is a common measure researchers use to gauge neural responses to babies.)Two years later, 11 of the 25 mothers—those who had not become pregnant again—returned for MRI scans. The scans showed that gray matter loss remained—except in the hippocampus, where most volume had been restored. The changes were so consistent that a computer algorithm could predict with 100% accuracy whether a woman had been pregnant from her MRI scan.The researchers could not explain with certainty what the findings mean–they do not have the kind of access to the women’s brains that scientists have to rodents’, for instance—but they speculate that the gray matter losses might confer an adaptive advantage, Hoekzema says. She notes that a similar decline in gray matter volume occurs during adolescence, when neural networks are fine-tuned for more efficiency and more specialized functions. Scientists not involved in the study noted that not only is it the first to demonstrate widespread anatomical changes in the pregnant human brain, but that it goes further by showing that the changes last for at least 2 years. “It opens the door to the possibility that it might cause changes in parenting that might have implications in decision-making and behavior later in life,” says Mel Rutherford, an evolutionary psychologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.He adds that he would like to see similar studies in adoptive parents and in mothers who give up their children for adoption. That might strengthen the evidence from the current study that the changes arise solely from the physical fact of pregnancy and not, for instance, from the stress and sleep deprivation that all parents experience early in an infant’s life. (In the current study, the brains of the new fathers did not change despite these stresses.)Abbe Macbeth, a neuroscientist with Noldus Information Technology, a behavioral research consultancy in Leesburg, Virginia, and herself the mother of 6- and 9-year-olds, says that less can be more when the brain restructures itself to respond to life changes. “There is all this anecdotal talk about pregnant women forgetting things, but that can occur in areas that don’t necessarily have anything to do with caring for our offspring,” she says. “That’s what nature wants us to focus on. This paper shows that.” Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more

Underground labs in China are devising potent new opiates faster than authorities

first_img By adding chemical groups, illicit chemists in China have created new analogs of fentanyl, some of them even more potent than the original. Many are sold openly to U.S. buyers as “research chemicals.” Weaker variations Email Canadian police seized these printer ink bottles from China full of carfentanil, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine. By Kathleen McLaughlinMar. 29, 2017 , 9:00 AM CINCINNATI, OHIO—Miller Atkinson was an addict from the very first time he shot up with heroin. “I fell in love with it. Everything else fell to the wayside,” says the 24-year-old. “There was nothing that could have stopped me from getting high.”And that’s what he did every day, for 9 months, in his family’s upper middle class neighborhood in this Midwestern city. He dropped out of the University of Cincinnati. Like other users, he built up a tolerance to heroin and needed larger doses to find euphoria. Then, about 4 years ago, a powerful new combination hit the streets here: heroin cut with fentanyl, a synthetic opiate about 100 times more potent than morphine that’s used to alleviate pain during and after surgery and in late-stage cancers. “It started trickling in, and we were like, ‘Wow, that was good, we need to get more of that,’” he says. “It was more intense.” So much so that friends who shot up with fentanyl-laced heroin started dying.Atkinson was one of the lucky ones. After several misdemeanors and a felony heroin possession charge, he got his life back on track, and he is now studying for the law school entrance exam. Two milligrams of fentanyl—just a few grains clinging to a sample vial—is a lethal dose. 3-methylfentanyl C23H30N2O Carfentanil C24H30N23 Furanylfentanyl C23H30N2O2 ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE Stronger variations V. Altounian/Science Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Opiates 2.0 AP PHOTO/CLIFF OWEN 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 Fentanyl and its analogs are new faces of a worsening scourge. The United States consumes 85% of all the world’s natural and synthetic opiates, which in 2015 factored in 33,091 U.S. deaths, up more than 4000 from the previous year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. When average U.S. life expectancies for men and women edged downward last year, for the first time in decades, many health professionals blamed opiate abuse.The opium poppy is no longer the starting point for many of the opiates on the street. The new compounds, often sold mixed with heroin, originate in illicit labs in China. “For the cartels, why wait for a field of poppies to grow and harvest if you can get your hands on the precursor chemicals and cook a batch of fentanyl in a lab?” says Tim Reagan, resident agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) Cincinnati office. But enforcement is tough. Chinese labs producing the synthetic opiates play hide-and-seek with authorities. On their websites, they list fake addresses in derelict shopping centers or shuttered factories, and use third-party sales agents to conduct transactions that are hard to trace. The drugs themselves are easy to find with a Google search and to buy with a few mouse clicks. A recent check found more than a dozen Chinese sites advertising fentanyl, carfentanil, and other derivatives, often labeled as “research chemicals,” for sale through direct mail shipments to the United States. On one website, carfentanil goes for $361 for 50 grams: tens of thousands of lethal doses.The cat-and-mouse game extends to chemistry, as the makers tinker with fentanyl itself. Minor modifications like adding an oxygen atom or shifting a methyl group can be enough to create whole new entities that are no longer on the list of sanctioned compounds. Carfentanil itself was, until recently, unregulated in China.The coroner’s office in Cincinnati overflows with work. Lab analysts have set up shop in makeshift office spaces in the hallway. They are coping with a months-long case backlog created by the waves of new opiates washing into the region. In Hamilton County, as in many other jurisdictions, drug dealers can be charged with manslaughter when a customer overdoses and dies, but prosecutors can’t charge a dealer without verifying what he sold. To confirm that victims have overdosed on illegal opiates and to support prosecution of drug dealers, Sammarco’s team must parse the chemical composition of seized samples.Other users can’t help, as they generally “don’t know what they’re taking,” says Tom Fallon, a lead investigator with the Hamilton County Heroin Task Force. A computer readout of one sample in the crime lab here illustrates why. The batch includes heroin, of course, but also caffeine, an antihistamine, an unidentified fentanyl compound, carfentanil, and another nasty analog, furanylfentanyl. Some recently seized batches have also been laced with ketamine, an anesthetic that has gained popularity in China as a recreational drug.When the carfentanil wave struck, the county lab scrambled to prepare its analytical tools. One challenge was simply finding samples to compare to seized material. Veterinarians no longer use the substance, and commercial labs don’t stock it. Eventually the coroner’s office procured an expired batch from a nearby zoo. By October 2016, the county toxicology lab had fine-tuned its testing of blood and urine samples using a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, which can find carfentanil at its smallest detectable dose. The machine shears mystery molecules into fragments, weighs them, and compares the pattern of masses to those from a known molecule. Like splitting Lego creations, breaking up the molecules produces the same pattern each time. Acetyfentanyl C21H26N2O Butyl-fentanyl C23H30N2O Furanylfentanyl C24H26N2O2 Former addict Miller Atkinson remembers when fentanyl-laced heroin hit the streets in Cincinnati: “It started trickling in, and we were like ‘Wow, that was good, we need to get more of that.’” DEA classified fentanyl as a schedule II drug decades ago, which makes it a felony to sell or use the opiate without a prescription. But in China, until recently, fentanyl was largely unregulated. In late 2015, the drug agency persuaded its Chinese counterpart to add 116 synthetic drugs to its list of controlled substances; fentanyl and several analogs were included. In response, underground Chinese labs began tweaking the fentanyl molecule, which is easy to alter for anyone with basic knowledge of chemistry and lab tools. By adding chemical groups, unscrupulous chemists have created new, unregulated variants, some of them even more potent than the original.Public awareness of the crisis spiked last spring, after music icon Prince’s death from an overdose of fentanyl. But in the months since then, the chemical one-upmanship has deepened the opiate crisis, as new and nastier substances appear on the streets in places like Cincinnati. The fentanyl derivatives not only allow makers and dealers to elude law enforcement; they blindside public health authorities and make addiction even riskier. “It’s just going to get worse,” Reagan says.Last July, police and scientists here were bracing for a new villain—perhaps the deadliest fentanyl cousin yet. “We were hearing about something so dastardly we had to be prepared,” recalls Lakshmi Sammarco, the coroner for Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati. Carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer that apparently had never been studied in humans, was showing up mixed into heroin in nearby cities and felling addicts. That month, a Canadian man was arrested in Calgary after authorities intercepted a 1-kilogram package of carfentanil labeled as “printer accessories,” which he had ordered from China. Other synthetic opiates had found their way into Ohio via Canada, so it was only a matter of time before carfentanil would make the journey as well. “We all looked at each other and said, ‘Alright, buckle your seat belts, this is going to get very bumpy,’” Sammarco says.Fentanyl crosses the blood-brain barrier with ease. It binds to opioid receptors and floods the brain with dopamine, which creates intense euphoria but also slows the heart and depresses breathing. For most individuals, a lethal fentanyl dose is about 2 milligrams—an amount so minuscule that in a test tube it looks like a few grains of salt clinging to the glass. Carfentanil is 100 times stronger, making it about 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Crime labs keep autoinjectors of naloxone, the lifesaving opioid receptor antagonist, within reach in case their personnel are accidentally exposed to synthetic opiates.Realizing what they were facing, Sammarco and her colleagues shifted into crisis mode, warning first responders that carfentanil overdoses could require double or triple doses of naloxone. They cautioned users not to dose up alone, and banned cops and emergency crews from testing drugs at crime scenes. (Last September, 11 police in Connecticut fell ill after accidentally inhaling fentanyl that was kicked up into the air during a drug bust.)Then, the bomb went off. Over 6 days in late August 2016, Hamilton County saw 176 drug overdoses, primarily from carfentanil, the coroner’s office says. After the initial shock wave, use of the drug ebbed—it was simply too powerful and dangerous for addicts and dealers looking to make a quick profit. “We get a little bit of breathing room,” Sammarco says. “But we’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop.”Hoping to stem the tide of synthetic opiates, DEA has taken the fight to China, as prolific a maker of illicit drugs as it is of legitimate chemicals. According to a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report last month, “China is a global source of illicit fentanyl and other [new psychoactive substances] because the country’s vast chemical and pharmaceutical industries are weakly regulated and poorly monitored.” In response to U.S. pressure, China has scheduled fentanyl and several other derivatives. © MADDIE MCGARVEY Underground labs in China are devising potent new opiates faster than authorities can respond Another challenge with carfentanil is the dearth of literature on how much would cause a human to overdose or die, explains Bob Topmiller, Hamilton County’s toxicologist. First responders and crime lab chemists are now building a body of research on its effects. “We’re not a research lab,” he says, “but there’s a lot of information we’ve been able to obtain over the last several months that we’ve been able to share with other labs,” such as molecular structures and toxicology reports.Like other regions around the United States coping with a tide of mystery opiates, Hamilton County gets help identifying the compounds from DEA’s own facilities, including the Special Testing and Research Laboratory, a plain building in an industrial development in Sterling, Virginia. In contrast to the Hamilton County coroner’s office, the Sterling lab is brightly lit and uncluttered. Director Jeffrey Comparin and his team have at their disposal an arsenal of detection and chemical dissection tools for identifying unknown drugs. “It’s not uncommon for us to build up a molecular model from scratch as we go,” he says. A DEA chemist demonstrates by snapping a methyl group onto a plastic model of fentanyl.China eventually banned methylfentanyl, driving down its production and pushing it deeper underground. Its crackdown on fentanyl and several analogs in 2015 led to a marked decline in those synthetic opiates in the United States, DEA says. And last month, after extensive negotiations with DEA, China added carfentanil and three more fentanyl analogs to its list of controlled substances.Even before China scheduled carfentanil, the scourge had begun to fade in Ohio. Sammarco expects the final toll from that analog in Hamilton County last year, after all analyses are completed, will top 70 deaths. But a new threat has appeared. Traces of an unidentified fentanyl analog have cropped up in several batches from crime scenes. Hamilton County’s scientists will search for a molecular match, add it to the list—and hope the new wave is less deadly than the last.last_img read more

Mapping Mexicos hidden graves

first_img Email The team unveiled its findings at a press conference last Thursday. In addition to 43 municipalities with hidden graves publicly reported in 2016—mostly in the states of Veracruz and Guerrero—the model identified 45 other municipalities as having a 70% or higher chance of containing unreported graves. Topping that list is Coyuca de Benítez in Guerrero, with an 86% chance. Five of the 10 with the highest probabilities—including Nogales, Sonora, and Juarez, Chihuahua—are in states along the U.S. border. Places least likely to contain hidden graves include the southern states of Quintana Roo and Yucatán. Mapping Mexico’s hidden graves Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Lizzie WadeJun. 26, 2017 , 1:00 PM Daniel Becerril/Reuters Pictures 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 Hundreds of hidden graves have been reported in Mexico. Here, forensic technicians overlook the likely site of a hidden grave near Monterrey. Credits: (Graphic) J. You/Science; (Data) Data Cívica/Universidad Iberoamericana Where the bodies may be buried Researchers predicted which municipalities in Mexico were most likely to contain hidden graves in 2016, using a new statistical model. Municipalities in Guerrero, Michoacán, and along the northern border were most likely to contain undiscovered hidden graves. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) MEXICO CITY—More than 30,000 people have disappeared without a trace in Mexico, most since violence skyrocketed after the government began battling drug cartels in 2006. Police investigations rarely solve such crimes, so many families are left to search on their own for the hidden graves that may hold their relatives. Last week, a team of data scientists and human rights researchers released a new tool for the searchers: a map predicting which municipalities in Mexico are most likely to house hidden graves.“Without a doubt these hidden graves are one of the most critical signs of the human rights crisis we’re experiencing in Mexico,” says Denise González, coordinator of the Human Rights program at the Ibero-American University (Ibero) here, and a participant in the project. The Mexican government has reported 200 or so—a considerable undercount, activists say. After 2 years of scouring local and national press reports, González’s team documented 390 hidden graves discovered from 2009 to 2014, containing at least 1418 bodies. “I’m convinced we have more information about clandestine graves than the government itself,” González says. Mexico’s Attorney General’s office did not respond to request for comment. When Patrick Ball was introduced to Ibero’s database, the director of research at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group in San Francisco, California, saw an opportunity to turn the data into a predictive model. Ball, who has used similar models to document human rights violations from Syria to Guatemala, soon invited Data Cívica, a Mexico City–based nonprofit that creates tools for analyzing data, to join the project.The team built its model using data from municipalities where hidden graves were reported in the media from 2013 to 2016. They classified each according to 35 geographic and socioeconomic variables, including murder rate, average level of education, and distance to the U.S. border. Their model then found municipalities with similar characteristics and determined the likelihood that they, too, would contain hidden graves. “It’s very innovative,” says Jan Jarab, representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights here. “And it’s not just academic—it could be of very practical use in the searches.”But Teresa Vera Alvarado, a Mexico City resident who joined search brigades after her sister disappeared, thinks that because the model is based on press reports, it probably still leaves out the majority of hidden graves. The Mexican press faces censorship and threats from both organized crime and the government; according to The New York Times, more than 100 Mexican journalists have been murdered since 2000, and 25 others have disappeared. The families of the disappeared—who are carrying out most of the searches—are the best source of information, she says. To take their knowledge into account, González and her team will begin to meet with searchers in September.Mónica Meltis, the executive director of Data Cívica here, agrees that many graves may remain invisible to the model, because they could follow different patterns than those reported in the press. Nevertheless, each discovery feeds the model new information and makes it more powerful, she says. “We can use scientific tools to shed light on what we haven’t yet been able to observe.”Jorge Ruíz, a human rights researcher at Ibero, hopes the model’s stark results will push the government to finally act. The state—not the families—should be searching for hidden graves, he says. “We want to obligate the government to assume more responsibility for disappearances in Mexico.” Meltis agrees: “If the government really wants to search, like it says it does—well, search! Here’s a guide of where to look.”last_img read more

A lobsters underbelly is so tough you could use it instead of

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) A lobster’s underbelly is so tough, you could use it instead of car tires By Sid PerkinsFeb. 19, 2019 , 4:40 PM Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country ClassicStock/Alamy Stock Photo A lobster’s shell is pretty tough. But the transparent material on the underside of its tail may be even more amazing: Lab tests show the thin, stretchy substance is as sturdy as the rubber used to make tires.Like the shell surrounding a lobster’s body, the flexible material on the underside of the crustacean’s tail contains chitin, a fibrous material found in the exoskeletons of many insects and crustaceans. But the team’s tests revealed the substance is about 90% water, which lends the material elasticity. It also has a plywoodlike arrangement of microscopic layers, each with chitin fibers running largely in one direction, but with those in the neighboring layers running in somewhat different orientations. This same sort of arrangement helps give plywood consistent strength in several directions that a single layer of wood doesn’t have, the researchers note.The layered membrane is somewhat floppy and stretches to almost twice its normal length before it begins to stiffen, the team reports in a forthcoming issue of Acta Biomaterialia. Stretching the material further makes it get even stiffer, they note. Overall, the material is as tough as those used to make garden hoses, tires, and conveyor belts. Another advantage of the layered arrangement of the membrane: Cuts or gouges that penetrate only a few outer layers typically don’t propagate into the intact layers, which renders the material “fault tolerant.” 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 Similar materials could be used to make flexible joints, such as elbows and knees, in armor or hard suits, the researchers suggest.last_img read more

A homespun Canadian telescope could explain mysterious radio signals from the distant

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 By Daniel CleryMar. 14, 2019 , 9:30 AM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Edo Berger, Harvard University Deflected windparticles The CHIME telescope was designed to chart the structure of the universe by mapping hydrogen gas. But it may discover dozens of FRBs in its daily scans of the sky. Burst catcher So much is unknown about FRBs, including whether repeaters and single FRBs comefrom the same sources, that many possible explanations are still in play. Engine room A white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole merging with another one of these massive objects could lead to a burst. But it could not repeat. Merger A neutron star collapsing into a black hole or a star made of quarks could emit a single radio pulse. It, too, would not repeat. Collapse Giant black holes at galactic centers emit jets. Bursts could occur when a jet hits a nearby black hole or gas cloud. Galactic jets Cosmic strings, defects in the fabric of spaceleftover from the big bang, could kink and emit a radio blast. Fault in our stars Electrons in intergalactic space delay low frequencies more than high. High-frequency pulse Low-frequency pulse Milliseconds Magnetar FRBs Shots in the dark Fast radio bursts (FRBs) have puzzled theorists since their discovery in 2007. Their short duration and dispersed frequencies imply compact, distant sources. One possibility is a magnetar, a highly magnetized neutron star, the city-size cinder of an exploded star. Young magnetars blast out flares of electrons and ions. When a flare hits slower moving clouds of ions, it creates a shock wave. Electrons in the shock wave gyrate around magnetic field lines and emit alaserlike pulse of radio waves. Flare Earth Antenna array Magneticfield line Gyrating electron Radio signal Slower movingionized gas Incomingburst Mesh surface Radiation-shieldedshipping containershouse computers. 82 m 100 meters (m) Victoria Kaspi, an astronomer at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, realized CHIME would be an ideal net to catch radio bursts. Just days before I visit, CHIME—still in its shakedown phase—had made global headlines for bagging 13 new FRBs, bringing the total known to more than 60. Nearly that many theories exist for explaining them. One of the few things researchers know for sure, from the nature of the pulses, is that they come from far beyond our Milky Way. But in an instant, each event is over, leaving no afterglow for astronomers to study and frustrating efforts to get a fix on their origin.Whatever generates FRBs must be compact to produce such short pulses, astronomers believe, and extremely powerful to be seen at such great distances. Think neutron stars or black holes or something even more exotic. FRBs can repeat—although strangely, only two of the dozens known appear to do so. The repetition could rule out explosions, mergers, or other one-time cataclysmic events. Or repeating and solitary FRBs could be different animals with different sources—theorists just don’t know. What they need are numbers: more events and, most important, more repeaters, which can be traced to a particular environment in a home galaxy. CHIME will deliver that by surveying the sky at high sensitivity. Its troughs don’t move, but they observe a swath of sky half a degree wide, stretching from one horizon to the other. As Earth turns, CHIME sweeps across the entire northern sky. Sarah Burke-Spolaor, an astrophysicist at West Virginia University in Morgantown, says its sensitivity and wide field of view will enable it to survey a volume of the universe 500 times bigger than the one surveyed by the Parkes radio telescope in Australia, which discovered the first FRB and 21 others. “CHIME just has access to that all day, every day,” she says.Once CHIME’s commissioning phase is over later this year, scientists think it could find as many as two dozen FRBs per day. “Within a year, it will be the dominant discoverer of FRBs,” says Harvard University astrophysicist Edo Berger.The strange-looking telescope has been a labor of love for the small team behind it—labor being the operative word. A contractor assembled the dishes, lining the troughs with a radio-reflective steel wire mesh. But everything else was painstakingly assembled by researchers from UBC, the University of Toronto, and McGill University in Montreal. That includes 1000 antennas fixed beneath the gantry at each trough’s focus, 100 kilometers of cabling, and more than 1000 computer processors that sit inside radiation-shielded shipping containers next to the dishes.”Everyone has put their hands on the telescope,” says Milutinovic, who puts in shifts monitoring it and its computer systems. It’s not just a desk job. Although he left alone two baby ospreys that nested on a tall pole near the telescope, he has called in conservationists to remove other birds that set up house in the telescope’s structure, along with the occasional rattlesnake. When a humidity sensor in one of the computer containers goes off at night, Milutinovic makes the 25-minute drive to the deserted observatory to check it out. He worries about other nocturnal visitors. “I’ve seen the tracks of coyote, and there’s a bear that hangs around here.”In a field in which front-rank telescopes cost billions, the CA$20 million CHIME looks set to have an impact out of all proportion to its price tag. “CHIME shows you can build a telescope that makes the world news pretty cheaply,” Milutinovic says.Hydrogen huntNone of that was part of CHIME’s original job description. Back in 2007, a group of cosmologists in Canada had the idea of building a cheap telescope to measure the 3D distribution across the universe of hydrogen gas clouds, which glow faintly at radio frequencies. The aim, says Keith Vanderlinde of the University of Toronto, was to map ripples in the density of matter created soon after the big bang and chart their expansion over cosmic history. A change in the expansion rate would tell researchers something about dark energy, the mysterious force thought to be accelerating the universe’s growth. “Any handle we can get on it would be a huge boon to physics,” Vanderlinde says.CHIME would also be an excellent machine for studying pulsars. Pulsars are neutron stars, dense cinders of collapsed giant stars, that shoot electromagnetic beams out of their poles while rotating like a celestial lighthouse, sometimes thousands of times per second. Astronomers on Earth detect the beams as metronomic pulses of radio waves. CHIME will monitor 10 pulsars at a time, 24 hours a day, for hiccups in their perfect timekeeping that could result when passing gravitational waves stretch intervening space.When CHIME was conceived, few people were thinking about FRBs because the first, found in 2007 in archival Parkes telescope data, was such an enigma. It had a high dispersion measure, meaning the pulse was smeared across frequencies because free electrons in intergalactic space had slowed the burst’s low-frequency radio waves disproportionately. The high dispersion measure suggested the burst came from billions of light-years away, far beyond our local group of galaxies.The pulse was still bright, implying the source’s energy was a billion times that of a pulsar pulse. Yet its short duration meant the source could be no bigger than 3000 kilometers across because signals could not cross a larger object fast enough for it to act in unison and produce a single, short pulse. A citysize pulsar could fit in that space. But how could a pulsar detonate so powerfully?Astronomers were tempted to dismiss that first burst as a mirage. But it was no anomaly: Another pulse was uncovered in Parkes archival data in 2012. Then, after an upgrade with new digital instruments, Parkes detected four more in 2013, all with high dispersion measures, suggesting cosmically distant origins. That paper “made me a believer,” says McGill astronomer Victoria Kaspi, who was working to integrate pulsar monitoring into CHIME.The paper also sparked a realization: CHIME could be adapted to look for FRBs, too. “Vicky called me up and said, ‘You know, this would also make a good FRB machine,’” recalls Ingrid Stairs, a collaborator of Kaspi’s at UBC.Unlikely partnersThe upgrade was not easy. Catching FRBs requires finer time and frequency resolution than mapping hydrogen. CHIME’s data would have to be logged every millisecond across 16,000 frequency channels, Kaspi says. To do that meant tinkering with the correlator, the fearsomely parallel computer that chomps through the 13 terabits of data streaming every second from CHIME’s 1024 antennas—comparable to global cellphone traffic.The time-critical astrophysicists needed a different output from the sensitivity-is-everything cosmologists. The cosmologists, eager to map the cosmic clouds, could get by without the extra resolution. At the end of each day, they could download data onto a hard disk and ship it to UBC for leisurely processing. But that wasn’t an option for the FRB hunters, who needed high-resolution data that would quickly overwhelm a hard drive. Kaspi and her colleagues devised algorithms to scan in real time just a few minutes of high-resolution data stored in a buffer. If an event is detected, the key 20 seconds of data around it are saved. If there’s nothing, they’re dumped. Searching for FRBs is “smash and grab science,” says team member Paul Scholz of the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Okanagan Falls. A homespun Canadian telescope could explain mysterious radio signals from the distant universe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) PENTICTON, CANADA—Reporting from the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory here requires old-school techniques: pad and pen. Upon arrival, I must turn off my digital recorder and cellphone and stash them in a shielded room with a Faraday cage—a metal mesh that prevents stray electromagnetic signals from escaping. The point is to keep any interference away from the observatory’s newest radio telescope, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME).On a clear, cold day in January, Nikola Milutinovic stands on the vertiginous gantry that runs along the focus of one of CHIME’s four 100-meter-long, trough-shaped dishes. Milutinovic, a scientific engineer at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, scans their reflective surfaces for snow, which generally sifts through the metallic mesh but sometimes sticks and freezes. Snow-covered hills surround him, shielding CHIME from the cellphone towers, TV transmitters, and even microwave ovens of nearby towns. “If you switched on a cellphone on Mars, CHIME could detect it,” he says.CHIME’s quarry is neither so faint nor so close. The telescope is smaller and cheaper than other leading radio observatories. But by luck as much as design, its capabilities are just right for probing what may be the most compelling new mystery in astronomy: signals from the distant universe called fast radio bursts (FRBs). Discovered in 2007, FRBs are so bright that they stick out in the data like a peak in the nearby Canadian Rockies—so long as a telescope is watching and its electronics are fast enough to pick out the pulses, which last only a few thousandths of a second. Email C. BICKEL/SCIENCE As test observations began in 2017, the team got twitchy about how many FRBs CHIME would see. CHIME was observing at frequencies of 400 to 800 megahertz (MHz), lower than the 1.4-gigahertz frequency used to detect most FRBs. A 300-MHz survey at a different telescope had found nothing, and another survey at 700 to 800 MHz saw just a single burst. “It was worrying, especially in the lower part of the band,” Stairs says.Those worries evaporated in July and August 2018, when the team struck gold with the 13 new FRBs, even though sections of the telescope were sporadically taken offline for adjustments. The haul, published in Nature in January, included one repeater—only the second yet discovered. Kaspi declined to provide an update on the number of FRB discoveries since last summer, citing two unpublished papers in the works. But she says CHIME is “fulfilling expectations.” “It’s a bit like drinking from a firehose, but in a good way,” she says.Theories aboundTheorists want all that CHIME will deliver, and then some. A poverty of information is allowing ideas to run riot. “Almost every aspect of FRBs is in play for theorists,” Berger says. An online catalog of FRB origin theories had 48 entries at the time of writing. Many theorists initially put forward models based on the violent collapse or merger of compact objects, including white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, and black holes. But the discovery of repeaters shifted speculation to sources that would not be destroyed in the act of generating a burst.Active galactic nuclei, the supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies, spew winds and radiation that might trigger a burst by striking nearby objects—a gas cloud, a small black hole, or a hypothetical quark star. Or the bursts might come from more speculative phenomena, such as lightning strikes in the atmospheres of neutron stars or the interaction of hypothetical dark matter particles called axions with black holes or neutron stars. Amanda Weltman, a theorist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, does not discount even more fanciful ideas such as cosmic strings, hypothetical threadlike defects in the vacuum of space leftover from the moments after the big bang. They “could be releasing fast radio bursts in a number of ways,” she says.But as the number of detected FRBs moved from single digits into dozens, astronomers realized the bursts could be downright common, detectable by the thousands every day if the right telescopes were watching. “That’s a serious problem for a lot of models,” Berger says.FRB 121102, the first repeating event detected, may be the most revealing FRB so far. The Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico saw its first burst in 2012, but since then dozens more have been seen coming from that spot on the sky. In 2017, the 27-dish Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico revealed the FRB resides in the outskirts of a distant dwarf galaxy and that the location coincides with a weak but persistent radio source. That dim radio glow may emanate from a supernova remnant—an expanding ball of gas from a stellar explosion, which could have formed a black hole or neutron star that powers the FRB. In another clue, the polarization of the FRB’s radio waves rotates rapidly, suggesting they emanate from a strong magnetic environment. Almost every aspect of [fast radio bursts] is in play for theorists. CHRISTINNE MUSCHI Brian Metzger, a theorist at Columbia University, believes a young magnetar—a highly magnetized neutron star—resides at the center of the cloud and powers the bursts. In a scenario developed with his colleagues, its magnetic field serves as a fizzy store of energy that occasionally flares, blasting out a shell of electrons and ions at nearly the speed of light—an outburst resembling a coronal mass ejection from our sun, but on steroids. When the flare hits ion clouds leftover from previous flares, the resulting shock wave boosts the strength of the clouds’ magnetic field lines and causes electrons to spiral around them in concert. Just as synchrotrons on Earth whip electrons around racetracks to emit useful x-rays, those gyrations spawn a coherent pulse of radio waves.Magnetars are often invoked to explain such energetic events, Metzger says. “They’re a catch-all for anything we don’t understand. But here it’s kind of warranted.” CHIME team member Shriharsh Tendulkar of McGill wonders whether objects such as magnetars could explain both repeaters and single-burst FRBs. Single-burst FRBs might “start out regular as repeaters, then slow as [the source’s] magnetic field weakens,” he says.But according to Weltman, it’s too early to declare the mystery solved. “There are so many clues here, but they do not yet point to a single conclusive theoretical explanation,” she says.Knowledge in numbersAs observers amass new FRBs, different classes of events may emerge, perhaps offering clues about what triggers them. FRBs may also turn out to come from specific types of galaxies—or regions within galaxies—which could allow theorists to distinguish between active galactic nuclei and other compact objects as the sources. “We need statistics and we need context,” Metzger says.In the coming years, other FRB spotters will come online, including the Hydrogen Intensity and Realtime Analysis eXperiment in South Africa and the Deep Synoptic Array in California. With their widely spaced arrays of dishes, both facilities will precisely locate FRBs on the sky—something CHIME can’t do for now. “They’re all going for localization because they know CHIME will clean up on statistics,” Scholz says.The CHIME team, not to be outdone, is drawing up a proposal to add outriggers, smaller troughs at distances of hundreds of kilometers, which will record the same events from a different angle and so help researchers pinpoint them. “With all these new efforts, there’ll be substantial progress in the next few years,” Metzger says.For now, as CHIME’s commissioning phase winds down, Milutinovic’s job is to ensure that it keeps doing its job. “You want it to be boring,” he says. “It’s the weather that gives us most issues”—snow on the troughs, summer heat waves that tax the cooling system for the electronics. Then there’s the grass, a wildfire risk. Every summer, the observatory invites ranchers to graze their cattle on-site—not only to be neighborly, but also because cows emit less radio frequency interference than a lawn mower. But they can’t graze right around CHIME because they might chew on cables. So Milutinovic relies on diesel-powered mowers, which, lacking spark plugs, pose less of an interference problem.But he longs for an even better high-resolution grass-cutting tool. “We thought of having a CHIME goat.”*Correction, 15 March, 11:15 a.m.: An earlier version of this story misstated Paul Scholz’s affiliation.last_img read more

Jungle Bay Resort Spa reopens

first_imgShareTweetSharePinSam Raphael speaking at the reopening of Jungle Bay five-star resortJungle Bay Resort and Spa has reopened its doors as a 5-star hotel at Morne Acouma in Soufriere.The resort was destroyed by landslides caused by Tropical Storm Erika on August 27th 2015, leaving 65 persons jobless as a result. Forty farmers farmers also relied on purchases from Jungle Bay for their livelihood. There was  no loss of life or injuries at the time of disaster as guests were relocated to the Delices Primary School.Developer of Jungle Bay Resort, Sam Raphael encourages Dominicans here and abroad to see this reopening as an opportunity to open more businesses on island.He spoke at the opening ceremony and official vine cutting on Sunday, June 30th 2019 in Soufriere.“I encourage Dominicans at home and abroad to see this as an improvement in an enabling environment for business and to seize the opportunity like I encourage the people from Soufriere and the surrounding environment,” Raphael said“We are going to need additional hotel rooms…there will be spin off businesses for accommodation of guest houses and so on,” Raphael stated. “Certainly, we need a lot of activity because we don’t want our people to be bored. We don’t want them to say we’re tired of eating that hotel food; we want them to get that local food. We want activities, things for them to do, specialty niche activities that they can enjoy.”He said hotels that are being built all over Dominica can also be used as business opportunities for Dominicans.  Jungle Bay will have 85 rooms, two restaurants, swimming pools, fourteen studio spas, two yoga studios and many other amenities on completion. The first 30 rooms were opened on Sunday (phase one) and the remaining rooms should be completed by next year.Close to 60 permanent staff members are currently employed at the resort along with a little over 100 construction workers. Overtime the hotel staffing is expected to increase to 160 workers.last_img read more