Japanese scientists reverse aging in human cell

By altering the behavior of two genes responsible for the production of simple amino acids in human cells, scientists have gained a better understanding of how the process of ageing works, and how we could delay or perhaps even reverse it.

The team, led by Jun-Ichi Hayashi at the University of Tsukuba, targeted two genes that produce the amino acid glycine in the cell’s mitochondria, and figured out how to switch them on and off. By doing this, they could either accelerate the process of ageing within the cell, which caused significant defects to arise, or they could reverse the process of ageing, which restored the capacity for cellular respiration. Using this technique to produce more glycine in a 97-year-old cell line for 10 days, the researchers restored cellular respiration, effectively reversing the cell line’s age.

 The finding brings into question the popular, but more recently controversial, mitochondrial theory of ageing, which puts forward the notion that an accumulation of mutations in mitochondrial DNA leads to age-related defects in the mitochondria – often referred to as the cell’s powerhouses because they are responsible for energy production and cellular respiration. Defects in the cell’s mitochondria lead to damage in the DNA, and an accumulation of DNA damage is linked to age-related hair loss, weight loss, spine curvature, osteoporosis, and a decreased lifespan.

But is this theory accurate? The results of Hayashi’s study support an alternative theory to ageing, which proposes that age-associated mitochondrial defects are caused not by the accumulation of mutations in mitochondrial DNA, but by certain crucial genes being turned on and off as we get older.

The team worked with human fibroblast cell lines gathered from young people – from foetus-age to 12 years old – and the elderly, from 80 to 97 years old. They compared the capacity for cellular respiration in the young and old cells, and found that while the capacity was indeed lower in the cells of the elderly, there was almost no difference in the amount of DNA damage between the two. This calls into question the mitochondrial theory of ageing, the team reports in the journal Scientific Reports, and suggests instead that the age-related effects they were seeing were being caused by a process known as epigenetic regulation.

Epigenetic regulation describes the process where the physical structure of DNA – not the DNA sequence – is altered by the addition or subtraction of chemical structures or proteins, which is regulated by the turning on and off of certain genes. “Unlike mutations that damage that sequence, as in the other, aforementioned theory of ageing, epigenetic changes could possibly be reversed by genetically reprogramming cells to an embryonic stem cell-like state, effectively turning back the clock on ageing,” says Eric Mack at Gizmag.

Hayashi and his team supported this theory by showing that they could turn off the genes that regulate the production of glycine to achieve cellular ageing, or turn them on for the restoration of cellular respiration. This suggests, they say, that glycine treatment could effectively reverse the age-associated respiration defects present in their elderly human fibroblasts.

“Whether or not this process could be a potential fountain of youth for humans and not just human fibroblast cell lines still remains to be seen, with much more testing required,” Mack points out at Gizmag. “However, if the theory holds, glycine supplements could one day become a powerful tool for life extension.”

We’ll just have to wait and see. The faster we can solve the debate over how ageing actually works, the faster we can figure out how to delay it.

 

Source:  sciencedaily.com

Monsanto Lawsuit Blacked out by Media

monsanto media black out

monsanto media black out

What happens when one courageous attorney and a few citizens try to take down Monsanto? The MSM doesn’t cover it, for starters.

Efforts to publicize a class action lawsuit against Monsanto for false advertising it’s best-selling herbicide Roundup filed in Los Angeles County Court on April 20, 2015 have been rejected by almost every mainstream media outlet.

It’s no different than Fox, NBC, CNN, or ABC refusing to cover the DARK ACT which would give Monsanto legal immunity and disallow states to demand GMO labeling.

You would think that coverage of something the whole world wants to see – the first step toward the successful downfall of Monsanto –would be a hot news item; a newsworthy tidbit that every paper, radio station, and blog would want to spread across their pages with double bold headlines. But wait. . . just six corporations own ALL of the media in America, so there isn’t much luck there.

That’s why you have to go to sites like Russia Insider or Al Jazeera to find real news outside of certain alternative news channels in the US, and even those are white-washed from Facebook pages, and given secondary ratings on Google pages.

Matthew Phillips, the attorney suing Monsanto in California for false advertising on Roundup bottles, has asked the LA Times, New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, and Reuters, one of the world’s largest news agencies to report on the lawsuit (Case No: BC 578 942), and most enforced a total media blackout.

When I spoke with Phillips over the phone, he said that he has tried posting the suit in Wikipedia’s Monsanto litigation section, but it keeps ‘disappearing.’ He says that he has also noticed posts on Facebook about this lawsuit get removed.

Phillips points out that as long as Monsanto can keep this lawsuit off of most of America’s radar, then his client base would be relegated to just the citizens of California.

If other attorneys were to follow his template-style lawsuit, which he wrote in English, devoid of extraneous legal-speak to encourage others to also take action against Monsanto, then suddenly the plaintiff count could be closer to several million. That is if you were to tally up all the citizens in the US who have purchased a bottle of Roundup from their local DIY store (Lowe’s, Home Depot or Ace Hardware, for example) in the last four years, not suspecting it could demolish their gut health.

Another possibility, according to Phillips, is that Monsanto could try to bump the case up to federal court in order to try to side-step a likely adverse judgment. But in this case the class action suit would also be open to residents other than those of just California. This is surely an idea that Monsanto doesn’t want seeded in the American psyche.

Phillips is extremely confident he has the goods on Monsanto in this case, and barring a sold out judge:

“This is a slam-dunk lawsuit that exposes Monsanto for LYING about Roundup. Contrary to the label, Roundup does indeed target and kill enzymes found in humans — in our gut bacteria — and this explains America’s chronic indigestion!”

His enthusiasm is palpable, as many well-known scientists and professors emeritus have offered to be key witnesses in this suit when it goes to trial. The attorney says he refuses to ‘settle’ the case and hopes that 49 additional attorneys in 49 states use his case as an example. He joked:

“When we allege that Roundup’s targeted enzyme is found in humans, it’s like alleging that the Golden Gate Bridge is found in California.”

The facts of the case really are that obvious.

Phillips also states that ‘false advertising’ and ‘misleading’ are synonyms in California law, so the fact that Monsanto has stated that there are enzymes in its product that don’t target humans – well that’s beyond just misleading. This obvious misjudgment by Monsanto is a well-known secret among many anti-GM scientists. This enzyme is definitely found in humans.

Here is how ‘misleading’ Monsanto’s statement that, “Round Up targets an enzyme only found in plants and not in humans or animals,” truly is:

EPSP synthase, also known as (3-phosphoshikimate 1-carboxyvinyltransferase) is found in the microbiota that reside in our intestinal tracts, and therefore the enzyme is “found in humans and animals.” It is partly responsible for immunity activation and even helps our gut and our brains communicate with one another.

EPSP synthase is among other beneficial microbes that produce neurometabolites that are either neurotransmitters or modulators of neurotransmission.

“These could act directly on nerve terminals in the gut or via ‘transducer’ cells such as enterochromaffin cells present throughout the intestinal tract and are accessible to microbes and in contact with afferent and efferent nerve terminals. Some of these cells may also signal and therefore modulate immune cell activity.”

Furthermore, although this will not be addressed in Phillip’s lawsuit:

“There is increasing evidence that exposure to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, may be an underlying cause of autism spectrum disorders (see [19]).  Glyphosate, the active ingredient, acts through inhibition of the 5-enolpyruvylshikimic acid-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS synthase) enzyme in the shikimate pathway that catalyses the production of aromatic amino acids. This pathway does not exist in animals, but it does exist in bacteria, including those that live in the gut and are now known to be as much a part of our body as our own cells. A widely accepted dogma is that glyphosate is safe due to the lack of the EPSPS enzyme in our body. This however does not hold water now that the importance of our microbiota to our physiology is clear.”

Though Monsanto is only being sued for false advertising in this case, it is an important precedent to set in order to eventually take down one of the biotech giants that is poisoning the planet. It should send a clear message to Dow, Bayer, Cargill, and Syngenta as well.

 

Source:  Globalresearch.ca

War between China and US

China sea war

China sea war

A Chinese state-owned newspaper said on Monday that “war is inevitable” between China and the United States over the South China Sea unless Washington stops demanding Beijing halt the building of artificial islands in the disputed waterway. 

The Global Times, an influential nationalist tabloid owned by the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper the People’s Daily, said in an editorial that China was determined to finish its construction work, calling it the country’s “most important bottom line.”

The editorial comes amid rising tensions over China’s land reclamation in the Spratley archipelago of the South China Sea. China last week said it was “strongly dissatisfied” after a US spy plane flew over areas near the reefs, with both sides accusing each other of stoking instability.

China should “carefully prepare” for the possibility of a conflict with the United States, the newspaper said.

“If the United States’ bottomline is that China has to halt its activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea,” the newspaper said. “The intensity of the conflict will be higher than what people usually think of as ‘friction’.”

Such commentaries are not official policy statements, but are sometimes read as a reflection of government thinking. The Global Times is among China’s most nationalist newspapers.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

The United States has routinely called on all claimants to halt reclamation in the Spratlys, but accuses China of carrying out work on a scale that far outstrips any other country.

Washington has also vowed to keep up air and sea patrols in the South China Sea amid concerns among security experts that China might impose air and sea restrictions in the Spratlys once it completes work on its seven artificial islands.

China has said it had every right to set up an Air Defense Identification Zone in the South China Sea but that current conditions did not warrant one.

The Global Times said “risks are still under control” if Washington takes into account China’s peaceful rise.

“We do not want a military conflict with the United States, but if it were to come, we have to accept it,” the newspaper said. —Reuters

 

Source:  Globalresearch.ca

Science identified the gene for pain

Science has found the gene for pain

Science has found the gene for pain

Scientists have identified a gene essential to the ability to sense pain, a discovery which could be a potential target in the development of new pain relief medications.

The researchers also say there are people who have a mutant copy of the gene and are unable to feel pain from birth.

These people can’t distinguish between unpleasant heat or cold but their other senses, including touch, remain intact.

The study, of people with the rare condition Congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP), is published in the journal Nature Genetics.

The target of new research, to help develop treatments for chronic pain, will be the protein produced by the pain gene.

 

Source:  businessinsider.com.au

Israel demands 6 billion Military Aid for Netanyahu’s Killing Machine

Netanyahu's War Machine

Netanyahu’s War Machine

Israel already gets at least $3 billion annually from Washington – plus a whole lot more. US taxpayers fund its killing machine.

It wants a 50% increase for more wars and ruthless daily persecution of millions of Palestinians – plus terror-bombing Syria, Yemen and southern Lebanon at its discretion as well as regional destabilizing activities.

On May 24, Defense News headlined “Israel Seeks Surge in US Security Support,” saying:

“(W)orking bilateral groups have (been) assess(ing) Israel’s projected security needs in (preparing) a new 10-year foreign military financing (FMF) deal” to begin when the current one expires in 2017.

According to an unnamed security source, Israel wants up to $4.5 billion annually besides additional amounts on request, resupplying its killing machine as needed, increasing amounts of US weapons and munitions in Israel for “emergency use,” and nearly $500 million annually for so-called anti-rocket/missile defense.

Washington’s House approved 2016 national defense authorization funding calls for financing an Israeli anti-tunneling defense system to deal with so-called subterranean threats.

Washington is expected to provide Israel with additional billions of dollars of aid if a nuclear deal with Iran is consummated.

Israel’s only enemies are ones it invents. Not according to AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr claiming it may need $160 billion for “defense” through 2025 – a big increase over current budgeted amounts.

Israeli military spending is for offense, not defense. It wants state-of-the-art weapons for maximum killing machine effectiveness.

According to Kohr, US military aid for Israel “is an essential component of America’s national security strategy” – code language for waging imperial wars of conquest and domination.

Earlier in May, the Al Mezan Center for Human Right reported escalated Israeli attacks on Gaza. The IDF fired on border areas at least six times.

They attacked farmers in their fields. Israeli naval forces assault Gazan fishermen regularly for the crime of fishing.

Palestinian children too close to Israel’s imposed buffer zone are shot at with live fire. Deaths and injuries result.

Gaza remains an active war zone. Overnight Wednesday, Israeli warplanes terror-bombed multiple sites outrageously claiming “Hamas’ territory is used as a staging ground to attack Israel…”

According to Press TV, Israel attacked Gaza despite Hamas and Islamic Jihad denying firing rockets into Israeli territory as its military claims.

Multiple strikes targeted the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, Rafah on Egypt’s border, Khan Younis and Beit Lahia.

The attacks followed a rocket fired by an unknown source striking southern Israel, causing no casualties or damage.

Israel’s Shin Bet security service claims Tuesday’s rocket attack was the third since last summer’s war.

The UN Special Coordinator (UNSCO) called Gaza’s ceasefire “perilously fragile.” Israeli border, air and sea attacks risk renewed war.

Hardline Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said

“if there won’t be quiet in Israel, Gaza will pay a very heavy price, which will cause all who plan to challenge us to regret their actions.”

“Hamas is advised to restrain any attempt to fire rockets at Israel or provoke it, otherwise we will be forced to act with greater power. I would not advise anyone to test us.”

Political analyst Talal Okal believes multiple Israeli attacks are in preparation for more war. Israel wants Palestinian resistance groups disarmed and weakened, he said.

When its provocative attacks are responded to in self-defense, it claims terrorism as justification for naked aggression.

Since December 2008, it waged three premeditated wars without mercy on Gaza. Is a fourth in prospect?

 

Source:  globalresearch.ca

US military robots will leave humans defenceless

US military robots

US military robots

Killer robots which are being developed by the US military ‘will leave humans utterly defenceless‘, an academic has warned.

Two programmes commissioned by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are seeking to create drones which can track and kill targets even when out of contact with their handlers.

Writing in the journal Nature, Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkley, said the research could breach the Geneva Convention and leave humanity in the hands of amoral machines.

“Autonomous weapons systems select and engage targets without human intervention; they become lethal when those targets include humans,” he said.

“Existing AI and robotics components can provide physical platforms, perception, motor control, navigation, mapping, tactical decision-making and long-term planning. They just need to be combined.

“In my view, the overriding concern should be the probable endpoint of this technological trajectory.

“Despite the limits imposed by physics, one can expect platforms deployed in the millions, the agility and lethality of which will leave humans utterly defenceless. This is not a desirable future.”

• Killer robots a small step away and must be outlawed, says UN official
• Britain prepared to develop ‘killer robots’, minister says

The robots, called LAWS – lethal autonomous weapons systems – are likely to be armed quadcopters of mini-tanks that can decided without human intervention who should live or die.

DARPA is currently working on two projects which could lead to killer bots. One is Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) which is designing a tiny rotorcraft to manoeuvre unaided at high speed in urban areas and inside buildings. The other and Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE), is aiming to develop teams of autonomous aerial vehicles carrying out “all steps of a strike mission — find, fix, track, target, engage, assess” in situations in which enemy signal-jamming makes communication with a human commander impossible.

Last year Angela Kane, the UN’s high representative for disarmament, said killer robots were just a ‘small step’ away and called for a worldwide ban. But the Foreign Office has said while the technology had potentially “terrifying” implications, Britain “reserves the right” to develop it to protect troops.

Professor Russell said: “LAWS could violate fundamental principles of human dignity by allowing machines to choose whom to kill — for example, they might be tasked to eliminate anyone exhibiting ‘threatening behaviour’

“Debates should be organized at scientific meetings; arguments studied by ethics committees. Doing nothing is a vote in favour of continued development and deployment.”

• The US army tests a killer robot tank
• Future robots will resemble ostriches or dinosaurs, scientists say

However Dr Sabine Hauert, a lecturer in robotics at the University of Bristol said that the public did not need to fear the developments in artificial intelligence.

“My colleagues and I spend dinner parties explaining that we are not evil but instead have been working for years to develop systems that could help the elderly, improve health care, make jobs safer and more efficient, and allow us to explore space or beneath the ocean,” she said.

 

Source:   telegraph.co.uk

Freelance NSA Spies Private Conversations

NSA Spies

NSA Spies

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know that the National Security Agency collects the phone records of every American in order to keep the country safe from terrorism. But for the past eight months a group of artists claiming to work for the NSA on “a freelance, pro bono basis” have been recording people’s private conversations in popular bars, restaurants, and gyms in Lower Manhattan to ensure that no actionable intelligence falls through the cracks.

“We’re looking for terrorism, we’re looking for signs of plots and schemes that could put the homeland at risk,” one of the group’s “agents” tells us.

The project’s website, We Are Always Listening, includes snippets of actual conversations recorded by tiny, hidden tape recorders placed in The Brindle Room, Café Mogador, and the Crunch Gym in Union Square, among other popular public spaces.

In the recordings, a group of men talk about how a friend is “trying too hard to be one of us,” a woman complains about paying more than $2,000/month in rent, and a man describes a former boyfriend’s fetish: “He wanted me to like, fake double over in pain. Like we’re doing a scene from Batman Returns.”

None of the recordings contain any last names or other forms of information that would allow the people in the recordings to be directly identified, but first names flow freely.

“The reason we broadcast small, small, small, fractions of what we’ve gathered is because we’ve also heard members of the American public say they want a more transparent window into how data is collected,” said the “agent,” who asked to speak anonymously because New York State law requires the consent of at least one party in order to record a conversation (as Governor Cuomo famously discovered).

“Our agents would dispute that having a conversation at a restaurant or a gym is private. There should not be an assumption of privacy.”

The Manhattan DA’s office declined to comment on the group’s activities.

The project is seemingly designed to shake Americans (and, based on the locations the group placed their recorders, the Downtown bourgeoisie) out of their torpor with respect to how the NSA collects data and the federal government’s reliance on millions of independent contractors with security clearances.

“We imagine people are fine with this type of surveillance,” the “agent” said, tongue firmly in cheek. “The general public has mostly spoken in a unified voice saying, well, it’s just what you need to do to keep the country safe.”

For those who believe that posting audio of private conversations online is wrong, or that it surpasses what even the NSA considers appropriate, a button marked “Angry?” on the group’s website directs users to the ACLU’s website that allows you to contact your federal representatives and urge them to kill the portion of the Patriot Act that allows for the NSA’s blanket surveillance (the Senate recently voted to block a bill from the House designed to curtail the government’s collection of phone data).

The “agent” told us that New Yorkers should expect more leaked conversations. If you’ve hung out at 61 Local in Cobble Hill recently, you might want to keep your eye on the group’s website: a tape recorder has been listening there for some time.

 

Source:  gothamist.com

Google closer to developing human-like intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

Computers will have developed “common sense” within a decade and we could be counting them among our friends not long afterwards, one of the world’s leading AI scientists has predicted.

Professor Geoff Hinton, who was hired by Google two years ago to help develop intelligent operating systems, said that the company is on the brink of developing algorithms with the capacity for logic, natural conversation and even flirtation.

The researcher told the Guardian said that Google is working on a new type of algorithm designed to encode thoughts as sequences of numbers – something he described as “thought vectors”.

Although the work is at an early stage, he said there is a plausible path from the current software to a more sophisticated version that would have something approaching human-like capacity for reasoning and logic. “Basically, they’ll have common sense.”

The idea that thoughts can be captured and distilled down to cold sequences of digits is controversial, Hinton said. “There’ll be a lot of people who argue against it, who say you can’t capture a thought like that,” he added. “But there’s no reason why not. I think you can capture a thought by a vector.”

Hinton, who is due to give a talk at the Royal Society in London on Friday, believes that the “thought vector” approach will help crack two of the central challenges in artificial intelligence: mastering natural, conversational language, and the ability to make leaps of logic.

He painted a picture of the near-future in which people will chat with their computers, not only to extract information, but for fun – reminiscent of the film, Her, in which Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his intelligent operating system.

“It’s not that far-fetched,” Hinton said. “I don’t see why it shouldn’t be like a friend. I don’t see why you shouldn’t grow quite attached to them.”

In the past two years, scientists have already made significant progress in overcoming this challenge.

Richard Socher, an artificial intelligence scientist at Stanford University, recently developed a program called NaSent that he taught to recognise human sentiment by training it on 12,000 sentences taken from the film review website Rotten Tomatoes.

Part of the initial motivation for developing “thought vectors” was to improve translation software, such as Google Translate, which currently uses dictionaries to translate individual words and searches through previously translated documents to find typical translations for phrases. Although these methods often provide the rough meaning, they are also prone to delivering nonsense and dubious grammar.

Thought vectors, Hinton explained, work at a higher level by extracting something closer to actual meaning.

The technique works by ascribing each word a set of numbers (or vector) that define its position in a theoretical “meaning space” or cloud. A sentence can be looked at as a path between these words, which can in turn be distilled down to its own set of numbers, or thought vector.

The “thought” serves as a the bridge between the two languages because it can be transferred into the French version of the meaning space and decoded back into a new path between words.

The key is working out which numbers to assign each word in a language – this is where deep learning comes in. Initially the positions of words within each cloud are ordered at random and the translation algorithm begins training on a dataset of translated sentences.

At first the translations it produces are nonsense, but a feedback loop provides an error signal that allows the position of each word to be refined until eventually the positions of words in the cloud captures the way humans use them – effectively a map of their meanings.

Hinton said that the idea that language can be deconstructed with almost mathematical precision is surprising, but true. “If you take the vector for Paris and subtract the vector for France and add Italy, you get Rome,” he said. “It’s quite remarkable.”

Dr Hermann Hauser, a Cambridge computer scientist and entrepreneur, said that Hinton and others could be on the way to solving what programmers call the “genie problem”.

“With machines at the moment, you get exactly what you wished for,” Hauser said. “The problem is we’re not very good at wishing for the right thing. When you look at humans, the recognition of individual words isn’t particularly impressive, the important bit is figuring out what the guy wants.”

“Hinton is our number one guru in the world on this at the moment,” he added.

Some aspects of communication are likely to prove more challenging, Hinton predicted. “Irony is going to be hard to get,” he said. “You have to be master of the literal first. But then, Americans don’t get irony either. Computers are going to reach the level of Americans before Brits.”

A flirtatious program would “probably be quite simple” to create, however. “It probably wouldn’t be subtly flirtatious to begin with, but it would be capable of saying borderline politically incorrect phrases,” he said.

Many of the recent advances in AI have sprung from the field of deep learning, which Hinton has been working on since the 1980s. At its core is the idea that computer programs learn how to carry out tasks by training on huge datasets, rather than being taught a set of inflexible rules.

With the advent of huge datasets and powerful processors, the approach pioneered by Hinton decades ago has come into the ascendency and underpins the work of Google’s artificial intelligence arm, DeepMind, and similar programs of research at Facebook and Microsoft.

Hinton played down concerns about the dangers of AI raised by those such as the American entrepreneur Elon Musk, who has described the technologies under development as humanity’s greatest existential threat. “The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. Ten years at most,” Musk warned last year.

“I’m more scared about the things that have already happened,” said Hinton in response. “The NSA is already bugging everything that everybody does. Each time there’s a new revelation from Snowden, you realise the extent of it.”

“I am scared that if you make the technology work better, you help the NSA misuse it more,” he added. “I’d be more worried about that than about autonomous killer robots.

 

Source:  theguardian.com

One out of Four Workers Has a Stable Job

workers don't have a stable job

workers don’t have a stable job

Only one quarter of the world’s working population holds a permanent and stable job, according to a new report published by the International Labor Organization (ILO) Tuesday.

Even as the number of unemployed people worldwide remains significantly higher than before the 2008 crisis, the few jobs that have been created in recent years have been disproportionately part-time, contingent and low-wage.

The ILO’s World Employment and Social Outlook—Trends 2015 report found that three-quarters of workers are “employed on temporary or short-term contracts, in informal jobs often without any contract, under own-account arrangements or in unpaid family jobs.”

The report notes that worldwide more than 60 percent of workers do not have any sort of employment contract, with most of them working on family farms and businesses in developing countries. But even among those who earn wages or salaries, less than half—only 42 percent—are employed on a permanent basis.

In what are categorized as high-income countries, the share of workers employed on a permanent basis has declined in recent years, from 74 percent in 2004 to 73.2 percent in 2012. For males this decline has been even sharper, with the share working on permanent contracts falling from 73.1 percent to 71.2 percent during the same time.

The report likewise found a global rise in part-time employment. “In the vast majority of countries with available information, the rise in the number of part-time jobs outpaced gains in full-time jobs between 2009 and 2013.”

The ILO notes,

“In France, Italy, Japan, Spain and the [European Union] more broadly, increases in part-time employment occurred alongside losses in full-time jobs—leading in some instances to overall job losses during this period.”

Since 2009, the number of full-time jobs in the European Union fell by nearly 3.3 million, while part-time employment increased by 2.1 million.

Meanwhile, legal protections assuring workers a stable employment schedule have been slashed, with the ILO noting that, “labour protection has generally decreased since 2008.”

“The shift we’re seeing from the traditional employment relationship to more non-standard forms of employment is in many cases associated with the rise in inequality and poverty rates in many countries,”

said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO.

The report found “a shift away from the standard employment model, in which workers… have stable jobs and work full time. In advanced economies, the standard employment model is less and less dominant.”

This phenomenon was mirrored in developing countries where,

“at the bottom of global supply chains, very short-term contracts and irregular hours are becoming more widespread.” As a result, “in emerging and developing economies, the historical trend toward more wage and salaried employment is slowing down.”

The report notes that “nearly eight years have passed since the first signs of crisis emerged in the global economy,” yet “the more recent period has seen global unemployment march higher” and has been “characterized by an uneven and fragile job recovery.”

The ILO estimates that the number of people unemployed worldwide hit 201 million last year, up by 30 million since the eruption of the global financial crisis in 2008. The report notes that, far from making any significant dent in the number of people unemployed worldwide, “providing jobs to more than 40 million additional people who enter the global labour market every year is proving to be a daunting challenge.”

The ILO notes that employment growth has largely stalled worldwide, with the number of jobs available growing by only 0.1 percent each year in developed countries since 2008, compared to a rate of 0.9 percent between 2000 and 2007.

This has corresponded with an overall slump in economic growth. For the “advanced economies” as a whole, growth in the period between 2007 and 2014 averaged about 0.7 percent per year, compared with an annual growth rate of two percent in the period before the crisis.

The report warned that falling wages and continued mass unemployment have contributed to a structural weakness in global demand, resulting in a further slump in the labor market. Director-General Ryder added,

“These trends risk perpetuating the vicious circle of weak global demand and slow job creation that has characterized the global economy and many labour markets throughout the post-crisis period.”

The increasing prevalence of low-wage, part-time and contingent work has coincided with a massive enrichment of the financial elite. Since 2009, the wealth of the world’s richest 400 individuals has nearly tripled, from $2.4 trillion to $7.05 trillion in 2015, according to Forbes magazine. This massive growth of inequality has been the direct outcome of policies carried out by governments throughout the world, which responded to the 2008 crash by pumping trillions of dollars into the financial system while slashing social services and promoting poverty-wage employment.

The findings of the report constitute a scathing indictment of the capitalist system, which is incapable of addressing mass unemployment, poverty or any other social problem. Developing countries, robbed and exploited by imperialism, remain backward and impoverished, while in the “advanced” economies the ruling classes have carried out a relentless assault on jobs, wages and living conditions for the great majority of the population.

There is nothing in the 155-page report to indicate any prospect for improvement in the near future. This fact constitutes an implicit admission that soaring inequality, falling wages, mass unemployment and increasingly contingent employment constitute essential features of the present social order.

 

Source:  globalresearch.ca

14 Thousand Child Abuse Suspects Identified

 

child abuse

child abuse

More than 1,400 suspects, including politicians and celebrities, have been investigated by police probing historical child sex abuse allegations.

The figures were revealed by Operation Hydrant, set up by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

It explores links between child sex abuse by “prominent public persons”.

Of the 1,433 suspects identified, 216 are now dead and 261 are classified as people of public prominence, with 135 coming from TV, film or radio.

Of the remainder:

  • A further 76 suspects are politicians, 43 are from the music industry and seven come from the world of sport.
  • A total of 666 claims relate to institutions, with 357 separate institutions identified.
  • Of these, 154 are schools, 75 are children’s homes, and 40 are religious institutions.
  • They also include 14 medical establishments, 11 community institutions, nine prisons, nine sports venues and 28 other institutions, including military groups and guest houses.

Another 17 institutions are classified as unknown.

The figures are taken from police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

They relate to reports of abuse, or investigations of abuse, which police forces were dealing with in the summer of 2014.

‘Unprecedented increase’

Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC’s lead on child protection, said the referrals were increasing “on an almost daily basis” with the numbers released being a “snapshot in time”.

“We are seeing an unprecedented increase in the number of reports that are coming forward.

“That has brought about a step change in the way the service has had to deal with it.”

He also said police were projected to receive about 116,000 reports of historical child sex abuse by the end of 2015 – an increase of 71% from 2012.

He added: “There is no doubt [Jimmy] Savile has had an effect on us. We are dealing with more and more allegations.”

Ex-DJ Jimmy Savile was revealed after his death to be one of the UK’s most prolific sexual predators.

Jon Brown says abuse is to be found in all areas of society

And Mr Bailey said while there was no figure for the number of victims, it was likely to run into the thousands.

“These figures raise the question, is more abuse being perpetrated?” he said.

“I don’t have the evidence at this moment in time to prove this one way or another.”

Operation Hydrant does not conduct any investigations itself, but gathers information from other inquiries.

There are a number of ongoing investigations into historical sex crimes, including Operation Pallial, which is looking at claims of abuse in care homes in north Wales and an inquiry into Knowl View school in Rochdale, where the late MP Sir Cyril Smith is said to have preyed on boys.

Operation Yewtree has already seen Rolf Harris and former public relations guru Max Clifford jailed for sex crimes.

Mr Bailey said police forces were now moving resources from other departments to focus on past sex crimes.

“More and more officers are being deployed into our vulnerability teams because of this surge in demand. And it’s right they should do that.”

‘Astonishing’ figures

Liz Dux, a lawyer with legal firm Slater and Gordon, which represents 800 child sexual abuse victims, told the BBC the Savile revelations meant people had given victims confidence.

“The hope is the police have enough manpower to do [the investigation] justice, and to give it the importance it deserves.

“What we’ve seen is, not only in relation to celebrities, or well-known politicians, people have generally come forward and said ‘I was abused by a family member, or I was abused in these circumstances, and I now feel able to address it and I now want to see my offender brought to justice’.”

Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC’s programme to tackle sexual abuse, described the figures as “astonishing” and said they showed abuse “permeates all parts of society”.

He added: “We are seeing a seismic shift in people’s willingness and preparedness to come forward now and talk about things that have happened sometimes many, many years or decades ago.

“What we’re beginning to see is a much more realistic picture now of the scale of the problem, and we now need to be looking at ways in which that can most effectively be dealt with.”

 

Source:  BBC.com

Iron levels hasten Alzheimer’s disease

Brain

Brain

High levels of iron in the brain could increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and hasten the cognitive decline that comes with it, new research suggests.

The results of the study, which tracked the brain degeneration of people with Alzheimer’s over a seven-year period, suggest it might be possible to halt the disease with drugs that reduce iron levels in the brain.

 “We think that iron is contributing to the disease progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” neuroscientist Scott Ayton, from the University of Melbourne in Australia, told Anna Salleh at ABC Science.

“This is strong evidence to base a clinical trial on lowering iron content in the brain to see if that would impart a cognitive benefit.”

Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that researchers suspect “begins when two abnormal protein fragments, known as plaques and tangles, accumulate in the brain and start killing our brain cells,” explains Fiona Macdonald for ScienceAlert.

It starts by destroying the hippocampus – the region of the brain where memories are formed and stored – and eventually damages the region where language is processed, making it difficult for advanced Alzheimer’s patients to communication. As the disease’s gradual takeover continues, people lose the ability to regulate their emotions and behaviour, and to make sense of the world around them.

But previous studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease also have elevated levels of brain iron, which may also be a risk factor for the disease.

“There has been debate for a long period of time whether this is important or whether it’s just a coincidence,” Ayton told ABC Science.

The long-term impact of elevated iron levels on the disease outcome has not been investigated, the researchers say.

So Ayton’s team decided to test this, examining the link between brain iron levels and cognitive decline in three groups of people over seven years. The participants included 91 people with normal cognition, 144 people with mild cognitive impairment, and 67 people with diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease.

At the beginning of the study, the researchers determined the patients’ brain iron levels by measuring the amount of ferritin in the cerebrospinal fluid around the brain. Ferritin is a protein that stores and releases iron.

The researchers did regular tests and MRI scans to track cognitive decline and changes in the brain over the study period.

They found that people with higher levels of ferritin – in all groups – had faster declines in cognitive abilities and accelerated shrinking of the hippocampus. Levels of ferritin were also a linked to a greater likelihood of people with mild cognitive impairment developing Alzheimer’s.

Their data contained some other interesting takeaways: The researchers found higher levels of ferritin corresponded to earlier ages for diagnoses – roughly three months for every 1 nanogram per millilitre increase.

They also found that people with the APOE-e4 gene variant, which is known to be the strongest genetic risk factor for the disease, had the highest levels of iron in their brains.

This suggests that APOE-e4 may be increasing Alzheimer’s disease risk by increasing iron levels in the brain, Ayton told ABC Science.

The researchers say their findings, which were published in the journal Nature Communications, justify the revival of clinical trials to explore drugs to target brain iron levels.

In a study carried out 24 years ago, a drug called deferiprone halved the rate of Alzheimer’s cognitive decline, Ayton told Clare Wilson at NewScientist. “Perhaps it’s time to refocus the field on looking at iron as a target.”

“Lowering CSF ferritin, as might be expected from a drug like deferiprone, could conceivably delay mild cognitive impairment conversion to Alzheimer’s disease by as much as three years,” the team wrote.

FDA Cover’s Up Deaths in Drug Trials

FDA

FDA

Does the habitual use of antidepressants do more harm than good to many patients? Absolutely, says one expert in a new British Medical Journal report. Moreover, he says that the federal Food and Drug Administration might even be hiding the truth about antidepressant lethality.

In his portion of the report, Peter C. Gotzsche, a professor at the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark, said that nearly all psychotropic drug use could be ended today without deleterious effects, adding that such “drugs are responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people aged 65 and older each year in the Western world.”

Gotzsche, author of the 2013 book Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare, further notes in the BMJ that “randomized trials that have been conducted do not properly evaluate the drugs’ effects.” He adds, “Almost all of them are biased because they included patients already taking another psychiatric drug.”

Hiding or fabricating data about harmful side effects

The FDA’s data is incomplete at best and intentionally skewed at worst, he insisted:

Under-reporting of deaths in industry funded trials is another major flaw. Based on some of the randomised trials that were included in a meta-analysis of 100,000 patients by the US Food and Drug Administration, I have estimated that there are likely to have been 15 times more suicides among people taking antidepressants than reported by the FDA – for example, there were 14 suicides in 9,956 patients in trials with fluoxetine and paroxetine, whereas the FDA had only five suicides in 52,960 patients, partly because the FDA only included events up to 24 hours after patients stopped taking the drug.

He said that he was most concerned about three classes of drugs: antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and antidepressants, saying they are responsible for 3,693 deaths a year in Denmark alone. When scaling up that figure in relation to the U.S. and European Union together, he estimated that 539,000 people die every year because of the medications.

“Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm – by dropping all antidepressants, ADHD drugs, and dementia drugs (as the small effects are probably the result of unblinding bias) and using only a fraction of the antipsychotics and benzodiazepines we currently use,” Gotzsche wrote.

“This would lead to healthier and more long lived populations. Because psychotropic drugs are immensely harmful when used long-term, they should almost exclusively be used in acute situations and always with a firm plan for tapering off, which can be difficult for many patients,” he added.

Gotzsche’s views were disputed in the same BMJ piece by Allan Young, professor of mood disorders at King’s College London, and psychiatric patient John Crace.

“More than a fifth of all health-related disability is caused by mental ill health, studies suggest, and people with poor mental health often have poor physical health and poorer (long-term) outcomes in both aspects of health,” they wrote.

They also insisted that psychiatric drugs are “rigorously examined for efficacy and safety, before and after regulatory approval.”

 

Source:  globalresearch.ca

PTSD Linked to Accelerated Aging

chromosomes_with_telomeres

chromosomes_with_telomeres

In recent years, public health concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen significantly, driven in part by affected military veterans returning from conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. PTSD is associated with number of psychological maladies, among them chronic depression, anger, insomnia, eating disorders and substance abuse.

Writing in the May 7 online issue of American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System suggest that people with PTSD may also be at risk for accelerated aging or premature senescence.

“This is the first study of its type to link PTSD, a psychological disorder with no established genetic basis, which is caused by external, traumatic stress, with long-term, systemic effects on a basic biological process such as aging,” said Dilip V. Jeste, MD, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences and director of the Center on Healthy Aging and Senior Care at UC San Diego, who is the senior author of this study.

Researchers had previously noted a potential association between psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and acceleration of the aging process. Jeste and colleagues determined to see if PTSD might show a similar association by conducting a comprehensive review of published empirical studies relevant to early aging in PTSD, covering multiple databases going back to 2000.

There is no standardized definition of what constitutes premature or accelerated senescence. For guidance, the researchers looked at early aging phenomena associated with non-psychiatric conditions, such as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, HIV infection and Down’s syndrome. The majority of evidence fell into three categories: biological indicators or biomarkers, such as leukocyte telomere length (LTL), earlier occurrence or higher prevalence of medical conditions associated with advanced age and premature mortality.

In their literature review, the UC San Diego team identified 64 relevant studies; 22 were suitable for calculating overall effect sizes for biomarkers, 10 for mortality.

All six studies looking specifically at LTL found reduced telomere length in persons with PTSD. Leukocytes are white blood cells. Telomeres are stretches of protective, repetitive nucleotide sequences at the ends of chromosomes. These sequences shorten with every cell replication and are considered a strong measure of the aging process in cells.

The scientists also found consistent evidence of increased pro-inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor alpha, associated with PTSD.

A majority of reviewed studies found increased medical comorbidity of PTSD with several targeted conditions associated with normal aging, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal ulcer disease and dementia.

Seven of 10 studies indicated a mild-to-moderate association of PTSD with earlier mortality, consistent with an early onset or acceleration of aging in PTSD.

“These findings do not speak to whether accelerated aging is specific to PTSD, but they do argue the need to re-conceptualize PTSD as something more than a mental illness,” said first author James B. Lohr, MD, professor of psychiatry. “Early senescence, increased medical morbidity and premature mortality in PTSD have implications in health care beyond simply treating PTSD symptoms. Our findings warrant a deeper look at this phenomenon and a more integrated medical-psychiatric approach to their care.”

 Barton Palmer, PhD, professor of psychiatry and a coauthor of the study, cautioned that “prospective longitudinal studies are needed to directly demonstrate accelerated aging in PTSD and to establish underlying mechanisms.”
Source:  scienceblog.com

Bionic Lens 3x better than 20/20

bionic-lens

bionic-lens

Imagine being able to see three times better than 20/20 vision without wearing glasses or contacts — even at age 100 or more — with the help of bionic lenses implanted in your eyes.

Dr. Garth Webb, an optometrist in British Columbia who invented the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, says patients would have perfect vision and that driving glasses, progressive lenses and contact lenses would become a dim memory as the eye-care industry is transformed.

Dr. Garth Webb says the bionic lens would allow people to see to infinity and replace the need for eyeglasses and contact lenses. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Webb says people who have the specialized lenses surgically inserted would never get cataracts because their natural lenses, which decay over time, would have been replaced.

Perfect eyesight would result “no matter how crummy your eyes are,” Webb says, adding the Bionic Lens would be an option for someone who depends on corrective lenses and is over about age 25, when the eye structures are fully developed.

“This is vision enhancement that the world has never seen before,” he says, showing a Bionic Lens, which looks like a tiny button.

“If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away,” says Webb, demonstrating how a custom-made lens that folded like a taco in a saline-filled syringe would be placed in an eye, where it would unravel itself within 10 seconds.

8-minute surgery

He says the painless procedure, identical to cataract surgery, would take about eight minutes and a patient’s sight would be immediately corrected.

Webb, who is the CEO of Ocumetics Technology Corp., has spent the last eight years and about $3 million researching and developing the Bionic Lens, getting international patents and securing a biomedical manufacturing facility in Delta, B.C.

Webb says people who have the specialized lenses surgically inserted would never get cataracts because their natural lenses, which decay over time, would have been replaced. (Laitr Keiows/Wikicommons)

His mission is fuelled by the “obsession” he’s had to free himself and others from corrective lenses since he was in Grade 2, when he was saddled with glasses.

“My heroes were cowboys, and cowboys just did not wear glasses,” Webb says.

“At age 45 I had to struggle with reading glasses, which like most people, I found was a great insult. To this day I curse my progressive glasses. I also wear contact lenses, which I also curse just about every day.”

Webb’s efforts culminated in his recent presentation of the lens to 14 top ophthalmologists in San Diego the day before an annual gathering of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

Dr. Vincent DeLuise, an ophthalmologist who teaches at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, says he arranged several meetings on April 17, when experts in various fields learned about the lens.

He says the surgeons, from Canada, the United States, Australia and the Dominican Republic, were impressed with what they heard and some will be involved in clinical trials for Webb’s “very clever” invention.

“There’s a lot of excitement about the Bionic Lens from very experienced surgeons who perhaps had some cynicism about this because they’ve seen things not work in the past. They think that this might actually work and they’re eager enough that they all wish to be on the medical advisory board to help him on his journey,” DeLuise says.

“I think this device is going to bring us closer to the holy grail of excellent vision at all ranges — distant, intermediate and near.

 

Source:  cbc.ca

China and India sign $22 billion business deal

China and India sign business deals worth more than $22bn

China and India sign business deals worth more than $22bn

China and India signed deals worth more than $22bn in areas including renewable energy, ports, financing and industrial parks, an Indian embassy official said on Saturday.

Namgya C Khampa, of the Indian embassy in Beijing, made the remarks at the end of a three-day visit by the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, during which he sought to boost economic ties and quell anxiety over a border dispute between the neighbours.

Khampa said: “The agreements have a bilateral commercial engagement in sectors like renewable energy, industrial parks, power, steel, logistics finance and media and entertainment.”

China is interested in more opportunities in India’s $2tn economy.

During a visit to India in 2014 by China’s president, Xi Jinping, China announced $20bn in investments over five years, including the establishment of two industrial parks.

Since then, progress has been slow, in part because of the difficulties Modi has had in getting political approval for easier land acquisition laws.

 

Source:  theguardian.com

Gut feeling about your CEO is spot on

Gut feeling about CEO is spot on

Gut feeling about CEO is spot on.

That gut feeling many workers, laborers and other underlings have about their CEOs is spot on, according to three recent studies in the Journal of Management, the Journal of Management Studies and the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies that say CEO greed is bad for business.

But how do you define greed? Are compassionate CEOs better for business? How do you know if the leader is doing more harm than good? And can anybody rein in the I-Me-Mine type leader anyway?

University of Delaware researcher Katalin Takacs Haynes and three collaborators — Michael A. Hitt and Matthew Josefy of Texas A&M University and Joanna Tochman Campbell of the University of Cincinnati — have chased such questions for several years, digging into annual reports, comparing credentials with claims and developing useful definitions that could shed more light on the impact of a company’s top leader on employees, business partners and investors.

They test the assumption that self-interest is a universal trait of CEOs (spoiler alert: it’s alive and well), show that too much altruism can harm company performance, reveal the dark, self-destructive tendencies of some entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses and provide a way to measure and correlate greed, arrogance and company performance.

“We tried to look at what we think greed is more objectively,” said Haynes, who was recently promoted to associate professor of management in UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. “What we’re trying to do is clean up some of the definitions and make sure we’re all talking about the same concepts.”

In their studies, researchers offer plenty of evidence that some leaders are insatiable when it comes to compensation. How much is too much? They don’t put a number on that. But they do add plenty of nuance to the question and point to a mix of motivations that goes beyond raw greed.

“It’s not for us to judge what too much is for anybody else,” said Haynes, “but we can see when the outcome of somebody’s work is the greater good, and when it is not just greed that is operating in them.”

Greed seems all too apparent to many workers. The recent recession left millions without jobs and many companies sinking into a sea of red. At the same time, though, stunning bonuses and other perks were landing in the laps of people at the helm.

Haynes, who joined the UD faculty in 2011, has found the range of pay within companies an intriguing question, too.

“Why is it that in some companies there is a huge difference between the pay of the top executive and the average worker or the lowest-paid employee and in other companies the pay is a lot closer?” she said.

Many a minimum-wage worker, making $15,080 per year, has wondered that, and so have those in the middle class, who may work a year to make what some CEOs make in a day.

But if you make more than anyone else does that mean you’re greedy?

The question is more complicated than water-cooler conversations might suggest. And Haynes and her collaborators go to the data for answers, leaving emotion, indignation and cries for justice to others. They leave others to correlate the data with names, too.

Instead, they offer definitions and analytical tools that add clarity, allow for apples-to-apples comparisons and shed new light on how a leader’s objectives shape company performance.

“It’s possible that high pay is perfectly deserved because of high contributions, high skill sets,” Haynes said, “and just because somebody doesn’t have high pay doesn’t mean they aren’t greedy.”

The marks of greed are found elsewhere — in a reporting category that tracks “other” compensation and perquisites, in the pay rates of other top executives, in compensation demands during times of company stress, for example.

Haynes’ studies included interviews (with anonymity assured), publicly reported data, written surveys, essays and a review of published information and interviews with CEOs.

The studies also examined managerial hubris and how it differs from self-confidence.

“Hubris is an extreme manifestation of confidence, characterized by preoccupation with fantasies of success and power, excessive feelings of self-importance, as well as arrogance,” researchers wrote.

“Say I’m a stunt driver and I have jumped across five burning cars before with my car,” Haynes said. “I’m pretty confident I can do that — and maybe even six. Say I’m not a stunt driver. To say I could jump through six burning cars would be arrogance. And if I drag you to go with me, it could be criminal.”

Risk aversion can harm a company. But risk for short-term gain without thought of the company’s future is a sign of greed.

“Some CEOs take risks and it will pay off,” she said. “They will have reliable performance and we can forecast that. We know their track record. Others take foolish risks not based on their previous performance.”

Such risks may be especially prevalent among young entrepreneurs, who underestimate the resources needed to help a startup succeed and fail to recognize that more than money is at stake.

“While financial capital is an important concern with these behaviors, the effects on human and social capital are often overlooked, despite the fact that they are highly critical for the success and ultimate survival of entrepreneurial ventures,” the researchers wrote.

Generally, researchers found that greed is worse among short-term leaders with weak boards.

The good news, Haynes said, is that strong corporate governance can rein in CEO greed and keep both self-interest and altruism in proper balance. And that is where the greatest success is found.

“Overall, we conclude that measured self-interest keeps managers focused on the firm’s goals and measured altruism helps the firm to build and maintain strong human and social capital,” researchers wrote.

 

Source:  sciencedaily.com

Plasma made from matter and antimatter

Pulsar has atmosphere of matter and anti matter.

Pulsar has atmosphere of matter and anti matter.

One of the all-time great mysteries in physics is why our Universe contains more matter than antimatter, which is the equivalent of matter but with the opposite charge. To tackle this question, our international team of researchers have managed to create a plasma of equal amounts of matter and antimatter – a condition we think made up the early Universe.

Matter as we know it appears in four different states: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma, which is a really hot gas where the atoms have been stripped of their electrons. However, there is also a fifth, exotic state: a matter-antimatter plasma, in which there is complete symmetry between negative particles (electrons) and positive particles (positrons).

This peculiar state of matter is believed to be present in the atmosphere of extreme astrophysical objects, such as black holes and pulsars. It is also thought to have been the fundamental constituent of the Universe in its infancy, in particular during the Leptonic era, starting approximately one second after the Big Bang.

One of the problems with creating matter and antimatter particles together is that they strongly dislike each other – disappearing in a burst of light whenever they meet. However, this doesn’t happen straight away, and it is possible to study the behaviour of the plasma for the fraction of a second in which it is alive.

Understanding how matter behaves in this exotic state is crucial if we want to understand how our Universe has evolved and, in particular, why the Universe as we know it is made up mainly of matter. This is a puzzling feature, as the theory of relativistic quantum mechanics suggests we should have equal amounts of the two. In fact, no current model of physics can explain the discrepancy.

Despite its fundamental importance for our understanding of the Universe, an electron-positron plasma had never been produced before in the laboratory, not even in huge particle accelerators such as CERN. Our international team, involving physicists from the UK, Germany, Portugal, and Italy, finally managed to crack the nut by completely changing the way we look at these objects.

Instead of focusing our attention on immense particle accelerators, we turned to the ultra-intense lasers available at the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, UK. We used an ultra-high vacuum chamber with an air pressure corresponding to a hundredth of a millionth of our atmosphere to shoot an ultra-short and intense laser pulse (hundred billions of billions more intense that sunlight on the Earth surface) onto a nitrogen gas. This stripped off the gas’ electrons and accelerated them to a speed extremely close to that of light.

The beam then collided with a block of lead, which slowed them down again. As they slowed down they emitted particles of light, photons, which created pairs of electrons and their anti-particle, the positron, when they collided with nuclei of the lead sample. A chain-reaction of this process gave rise to the plasma.

However, this experimental achievement was not without effort. The laser beam had to be guided and controlled with micrometer precision, and the detectors had to be finely calibrated and shielded – resulting in frequent long nights in the laboratory.

But it was well worth it as the development means an exciting branch of physics is opening up. Apart from investigating the important matter-antimatter asymmetry, by looking at how these plasmas interact with ultra powerful laser beams, we can also study how this plasma propagates in vacuum and in a low-density medium. This would be effectively recreating conditions similar to the generation of gamma-ray bursts, some of the most luminous events ever recorded in our Universe.

 

Source:  sciencealert.com

Holographic micro battery is 10 micrometers thick

holographic microbattery

holographic microbattery

Researchers and companies alike have been scrambling to come up with a next-generation battery, but one of the more unlikely places we’d expect to hear about it is from the study of holography. Recently, a team of engineers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign demonstrated that porous, three-dimensional electrodes can boost a lithium-ion micro battery’s power output by three orders of magnitude, as first reported in Chemical & Engineering News. But now the team has gone a step further, and has optimized the electrode structure with holograms, the three-dimensional interference patterns of multiple laser beams, in order to generate porous blocks that could used as a sort of scaffolding for building electrodes.

The result: a holographic micro battery that’s only 2mm wide and 10 micrometers thick, with an area of 4mm squared, and 12% capacity fade. The researchers said it’s compatible with existing fabrication techniques, and ideal for large-scale on-chip integration with all kinds of microelectronic devices, including medical implants, sensors, and radio transmitters. To get an idea of scale, the photo above shows the battery’s electrodes in a 2mm by 2mm square on a glass substrate. Batteries like this could power implants small enough to track certain aspects of someone’s health in real time, and without the comparatively vast bulk of existing blood glucose and cardiac monitors, just to cite one example.

“This 3D micro battery has exceptional performance and scalability, and we think it will be of importance for many applications,” said Paul Braun, a professor of materials science and engineering at Illinois, in a statement. “Micro-scale devices typically utilize power supplied off-chip because of difficulties in miniaturizing energy storage technologies.”

Braun said that a supercapacitor-like, on-chip battery of this diminutive size would be ideal for autonomous microscale actuators, distributed wireless sensors and transmitters, monitors, and portable and implantable medical devices. To fabricate the batteries, controlling the interfering optical beams for building 3D holographic lithography isn’t trivial. But “recent advances have significantly simplified the required optics, enabling creation of structures via a single incident beam and standard photoresist processing,” said professor John Rogers, who assisted Braun and his team to develop the technology.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen such tiny micro batteries developed. Back in 2013, researchers 3D-printed a battery that’s just 1mm wide, and in 2014, we saw a graphene-based microbattery that could also power implants. But it’s arguably the most sophisticated and realistic design yet. On the slightly larger front, last month a team of Stanford researchers developed an aluminum graphite battery that could charge up a smartphone in just 60 seconds. But in the end, it may be no surprise that holograms help us engineer better batteries — after all, we could be living inside a hologram all this time.

 

Source:  extremetech.com

 

Carbon Billionaire Al Gore

Al Gore Becomes First ‘Carbon Billionaire’

Al Gore First ‘Carbon Billionaire’

Former US Vice President and Global Warming advocate, Al Gore, has become the world’s first ‘carbon billionaire’ after landing a major carbon deal with Chinese coal mining company Haerwusu, one of the top ten coal mining companies in the world.

Al Gore and his partner David Blood, both principals at Generation Investment Management (GIM) have landed the most lucrative carbon deal to date, reaching an estimated $12 billion dollars in carbon shares, estimate experts, although official numbers have not yet been disclosed.

Haerwusu that has often been criticized by Amnesty International and other human rights groups for the poor working conditions of their employees is believed to have sealed the carbon deal to “improve its international image” in an attempt to facilitate commerce with Europe and America, believe specialists.

The former vice-president announced the news to share holders earlier this week during a press conference at GIM headquarters, in London, England.

“I am proud to say that this is just the beginning” he told share holders, visibly enchanted by the recent deal.

“I told the world 20 years ago that the ice caps would be melted by now. Although we are lucky this has not happened yet, we have been at the forefront of the Global Warming movement all along and today we are reaping what we have sown” he admitted with great pride.

“When a system of carbon taxes and carbon trade is setup all over the world in the near future, GIM will be at the epicenter of this green revolution, and believe me, this is just the beginning” he acknowledged prophetically.

The $12 billion dollar deal signed for a period of 10 years with the Haerwusu company could encourage other companies to join in the global carbon trade, a great thing for GIM share holders who’s profits are estimated by experts to sky rocket in the next years.

 

Source:  worldnewsdailyreport.com

Forty two thousand gun death in Brazil

Gun Deaths

Gun Deaths

A report on violence in Brazil says around 42,000 people were shot dead in 2012 – the highest figures for gun crime in 35 years. The study, by the UN and the government on the most recent available data, said almost all the deaths were murders.

More than half of those killed were young men under the age of 30 – two-thirds were described as black.

The Brazilian Congress is debating a controversial bill that would limit access to firearms.

Gun crime murders have been dropping in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo but rising in the north and northeast of the country.

The northern state of Alagoas is the most violent, with fifty-five gun deaths per hundred thousand inhabitants.

The report says a slow justice system and flawed police investigations as well as the widespread availability of firearms are to blame.

It says Brazil has become a society which tolerates guns to resolve “all sorts of disputes, in most cases for very banal and circumstantial reasons.”

A law to ban the carrying of guns in public and control illegal ownership came into effect in 2004.

It tightened rules on gun permits and create a national firearms register, with strict penalties for owning an unregistered gun.

 

Source:  BBC.com

American prison investing in alternatives to prison

Private Prison

Private Prison

Private prison companies are facing up to the realities of criminal justice reform — and how it could hurt their bottom lines if they don’t rethink their approach soon.

As more states and the federal government have enacted reforms to decrease the number of people in costly, overcrowded prisons, private prison companies have invested in the services that many new criminals will be pushed to instead of prison — probation, parole, and halfway houses.

GEO Group in 2011 acquired Behavioral Interventions, the world’s largest producer of monitoring equipment for people awaiting trial or serving out probation or parole sentences. It followed GEO’s purchase in 2009 of Just Care, a medical and mental health service provider which bolstered its GEO Care business that provides services to government agencies. “Our commitment is to be the world’s leader in the delivery of offender rehabilitation and community reentry programs, which is in line with the increased emphasis on rehabilitation around the world,” said GEO chairman and founder George Zoley during a recent earnings call.

For $36 million in 2013, CCA acquired Correctional Alternatives, a company that provides housing and rehabilitation services that include work furloughs, residential reentry programs, and home confinement. “We believe we’re going to continue to see governments seeking these types of services, and we’re well positioned to offer them,” says Steve Owen, CCA’s ‎senior director of public affairs.

The common refrain, as outlined by a 2011 report from the Justice Policy Initiative, is that private prison companies have hugely benefited from mass incarceration, since they’re paid for each prisoner they hold. And as they’ve benefited, they’ve used the proceeds to lobby lawmakers to not carry out prison reforms, so they can keep a steady flow of prisoners.

But this diversification shows that private prison companies aren’t necessarily all in for mass incarceration anymore. They’re developing other options, too — although they’ll still rely on a steady flow of people under correctional supervision like probation, parole, and home arrest to boost profits.

Still, private prisons are poised to get increased profits from at least one kind of incarceration in which they’ve heavily invested: the detainment of undocumented immigrants. A 2014 Government Accountability Office analysis found that the number of non-citizens in immigrant detention nearly doubled between fiscal years 2005 and 2013. And US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a mandate to keep 34,000 detention beds available — although Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has said this is a mandate to keep the beds, not necessarily fill them.

Source:  Vox.com

Test catches cancer 13 years before it hits

Test can predict cancer up to 13 years

Test can predict cancer up to 13 years

Scientists have developed a new test that can predict with 100 per cent accuracy whether someone will develop cancer up to 13 years in the future.

The discovery of tiny but significant changes taking place in the body more than a decade before cancer was diagnosed helped researchers at  Harvard and Northwestern University make the breakthrough.

Their research,  published in the online journal Ebiomedicine, found protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, which prevent DNA damage were more worn down those who went on to develop cancer.

Known as telomeres, these were much shorter than they should have been and continued to get shorter until around four years before the cancer developed, when they suddenly stopped shrinking.

“Because we saw a strong relationship in the pattern across a wide variety of cancers, with the right testing these procedures could be used eventually to diagnose a wide variety of cancers,” said Dr Lifang Hou, the lead study author, told The Telegraph.

“Understanding this pattern of telomere growth may mean it can be a predictive biomarker for cancer….We found cancer has hijacked the telomere shortening in order to flourish in the body.”

Source:

independent.co.uk

Scientists discover key driver of reversing aging process

A study tying the aging process to the deterioration of tightly packaged bundles of cellular DNA could lead to methods of preventing and treating age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, experts say.

A study tying the aging process to the deterioration of tightly packaged bundles of cellular DNA could lead to methods of preventing and treating age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, experts say.

A study tying the aging process to the deterioration of tightly packaged bundles of cellular DNA could lead to methods of preventing and treating age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, experts say. In the study, scientists at the Salk Institute and the Chinese Academy of Science found that the genetic mutations underlying Werner syndrome, a disorder that leads to premature aging and death, resulted in the deterioration of bundles of DNA known as heterochromatin.

The discovery, made possible through a combination of cutting-edge stem cell and gene-editing technologies, could lead to ways of countering age-related physiological declines by preventing or reversing damage to heterochromatin.

“Our findings show that the gene mutation that causes Werner syndrome results in the disorganization of heterochromatin, and that this disruption of normal DNA packaging is a key driver of aging,” says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a senior author on the paper. “This has implications beyond Werner syndrome, as it identifies a central mechanism of aging–heterochromatin disorganization–which has been shown to be reversible.”

Werner syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes people to age more rapidly than normal. It affects around one in every 200,000 people in the United States. People with the disorder suffer age-related diseases early in life, including cataracts, type 2 diabetes, hardening of the arteries, osteoporosis and cancer, and most die in their late 40s or early 50s.

The disease is caused by a mutation to the Werner syndrome RecQ helicase-like gene, known as the WRN gene for short, which generates the WRN protein. Previous studies showed that the normal form of the protein is an enzyme that maintains the structure and integrity of a person’s DNA. When the protein is mutated in Werner syndrome it disrupts the replication and repair of DNA and the expression of genes, which was thought to cause premature aging. However, it was unclear exactly how the mutated WRN protein disrupted these critical cellular processes.

In their study, the Salk scientists sought to determine precisely how the mutated WRN protein causes so much cellular mayhem. To do this, they created a cellular model of Werner syndrome by using a cutting-edge gene-editing technology to delete WRN gene in human stem cells. This stem cell model of the disease gave the scientists the unprecedented ability to study rapidly aging cells in the laboratory. The resulting cells mimicked the genetic mutation seen in actual Werner syndrome patients, so the cells began to age more rapidly than normal. On closer examination, the scientists found that the deletion of the WRN gene also led to disruptions to the structure of heterochromatin, the tightly packed DNA found in a cell’s nucleus.

This bundling of DNA acts as a switchboard for controlling genes’ activity and directs a cell’s complex molecular machinery. On the outside of the heterochromatin bundles are chemical markers, known as epigenetic tags, which control the structure of the heterochromatin. For instance, alterations to these chemical switches can change the architecture of the heterochromatin, causing genes to be expressed or silenced.

The Salk researchers discovered that deletion of the WRN gene leads to heterochromatin disorganization, pointing to an important role for the WRN protein in maintaining heterochromatin. And, indeed, in further experiments, they showed that the protein interacts directly with molecular structures known to stabilize heterochromatin–revealing a kind of smoking gun that, for the first time, directly links mutated WRN protein to heterochromatin destabilization.

“Our study connects the dots between Werner syndrome and heterochromatin disorganization, outlining a molecular mechanism by which a genetic mutation leads to a general disruption of cellular processes by disrupting epigenetic regulation,” says Izpisua Belmonte. “More broadly, it suggests that accumulated alterations in the structure of heterochromatin may be a major underlying cause of cellular aging. This begs the question of whether we can reverse these alterations–like remodeling an old house or car–to prevent, or even reverse, age-related declines and diseases.”

Izpisua Belmonte added that more extensive studies will be needed to fully understand the role of heterochromatin disorganization in aging, including how it interacts with other cellular processes implicated in aging, such as shortening of the end of chromosomes, known as telomeres. In addition, the Izpisua Belmonte team is developing epigenetic editing technologies to reverse epigenetic alterations with a role in human aging and disease.

 

Source:  sciencedaily.com

The Next GooglePlex

googleplex

googleplex

“The next Googleplex goes way beyond free snacks and massages; it’s a future-proof microclimate,” writes Brad Stone for Bloomberg:

The most ambitious project unveiled by Google this year isn’t a smartphone, website, or autonomous, suborbital balloon from the Google X lab. You can’t hold it, or download it, or share it instantly with friends. In fact, the first part of it probably won’t exist for at least three years. But you can read all about it in hundreds of pages of soaring descriptions and conceptual drawings, which the company submitted in February to the local planning office of Mountain View, Calif.

The vision outlined in these documents, an application for a major expansion of the Googleplex, its campus, is mind-boggling. The proposed design, developed by the European architectural firms of Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studio, does away with doors. It abandons thousands of years of conventional thinking about walls. And stairs. And roofs. Google and its imaginative co-founder and chief executive, Larry Page, essentially want to take 60 acres of land adjacent to the headquarters near the San Francisco Bay, in an area called North Bayshore, and turn it into a titanic human terrarium.

The proposal’s most distinctive feature is an artificial sky: four enormous glass canopies, each stretched over a series of steel pillars of different heights. The glass skin is uneven, angling up and down like a jagged, see-through mountain. The canopies will allow the company to regulate its air and climate. Underneath, giant floor plates slope gently upward, providing generous space for open-air offices and doubling as ramps so the 10,000 employees who will work there can get from one floor to the next without the use of stairs. For additional office and meeting space, modular rooms can be added, stacked, and removed as needed. To accomplish this, Google says it will invent a kind of portable crane-robot, which it calls crabots, that will reconfigure these boxes and roam the premises like the droids in Star Wars

Source:  Disinfo.com

Wal-Mart’s water scam: Making $600 on $1 it spends in California

Walmart Scam

Walmart Scam

According to a report from Sacramento CBS affiliate, Walmart has been bottling its water from a Sacramento water district during California’s historically devastating drought– and it’s making a grotesquely large profit off of it.

CBS 13′s Adrienne Moore reports:

Sacramento sells water to a bottler, DS Services of America, at 99 cents for every 748 gallons—the same rate as other commercial and residential customers. That water is then bottled and sold at Walmart for 88 cents per gallon, meaning that $1 of water from Sacramento turns into $658.24 for Walmart and DS Services.

For comparison, the city of Sacramento says the average family uses 417 gallons of water a day.

The news comes shortly after California Governor Jerry Brown signed an executive order mandating a one-quarter reduction in urban water use state-wide.

Starbucks recently was criticized for bottling its Ethos water in drought-stricken California — so it stopped. Walmart would be wise to adopt the same policy.

 “It’s certainly leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth when you can’t fill up a swimming pool, if you’re building a new home in West Sacramento; you can’t water your lawn if you’re living in this region,” said public relations expert Doug Elmets. “And to find out they’re making a huge profit off of this, it’s just not right.”

A spokesperson from Walmart said the company is “tracking [the drought] closely.”

“Our commitment to sustainability includes efforts to minimize water use in our facilities. We have and continue to work with our suppliers to act responsibly while meeting the needs of customers who count on us across California.”

Source:  salon.com

Brazil’s $900 million World Cup stadium is now useless

Brazil's $900 million World Cup stadium

Brazil’s $900 million World Cup stadium

Brazil spent about $3 billion building 12 new or heavily refurbished stadiums for last year’s World Cup. Officials promised these taxpayer-funded venues would continue to generate revenue for years, hosting concerts, pro soccer games, and other events.

But as Lourdes Garcia-Navarro at NPR reports, most stadiums are failing to generate much revenue at all. The most expensive one, in Brasilia, is most regularly used as a site for a municipal bus parking lot.

One big problem is that several of the stadiums — including Brasilia’s 72,000-seat, $900 million venue — were built in cities where there are only minor league pro teams that don’t draw large crowds. This was done so World Cup games could be spread across the entire country, instead of just the southeast, where most of the top pro teams play. It’s as if we built gleaming new stadiums in Montana and Alaska for hosting a World Cup in the US.

In Brazil, this plan has left some pretty useless, expensive facilities scattered across the country, because these minor local teams don’t sell enough tickets to make playing in the fancy (and expensive-to-maintain) stadiums worthwhile. The rainforest city of Manaus, for instance, is home to a $600 million stadium that was used for exactly four World Cup games. The pro team there currently plays in much smaller training centers, because it’d lose money if it tried to rent out the big stadium.

Many cities have been selling the stadiums to private companies that try to squeeze a bit of revenue out of them, but it’s not easy. In Natal, the NPR story reports, a company bought the stadium, but has made little money renting it out for children’s birthday parties and weddings, and the facility is now for sale once again.

What makes all this even more infuriating is that in many of these cities, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from neighborhoods that were torn down to make way for these stadiums. And even though the World Cup was partly billed as a way to upgrade Brazil’s overall infrastructure, several of the big projects — such as light-rail systems in São Paulo, Cuiaba, and Fortaleza — still aren’t close to being finished.

Of course, the most insane part about all this is that for Brazil, the World Cup was just a prelude to an even bigger waste of public money on sports: the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Though a stadium renovated for the World Cup will be reused for the games, the country will still spend a projected $13.2 billion on other facilities and infrastructure, a number that’s likely to continue climbing as the games approach.

There are economists who study the potential economic impact of these events on the cities that host them, and their findings are unequivocal: they don’t pay. As Victor Matheson, an economist at College of the Holy Cross, told my colleague Brad Plumer, “My basic takeaway for any city considering a bid for the Olympics is to run away like crazy.”

 

Source:   Vox.com

Christian Religion is Dying

Religion Superstition

Religion Superstition

The number of Americans who identify as Christian has fallen nearly eight percentage points in only seven years, according to a new survey.

Pew Research Center found that 71% of Americans identified as Christian in 2014 – down from 78% in 2007.

In the same period, Americans identifying as having no religion grew from 16% to 23%.

Fifty-six million Americans do not observe any religion, the second largest community after Evangelicals.

The United States still remains home to more Christians than any other nation, with roughly seven-in-ten continuing to identify with some branch of Christianity.

In 2007 and then again in 2014, Pew conducted the “Religious Landscape Study”, interviewing 35,000 people each time.

Pew researchers say the losses they discovered were driven mainly by a decrease among liberal Protestants and Catholics and occurred in all regions of the US and among all ages and demographics.

About 5 million fewer Americans now identify as Christian compared to when the study was conducted in 2007.

In the South, those not-affiliated with religion – or as the researchers call them, “nones” – rose to 19% of the population, while in the Northeast they climbed to 25%.

In the West “nones” are a larger group than any religion, making up 28% of the public.

Greg Smith, Pew’s associate research director, said the findings “point to substantive changes” among the religiously unaffiliated, not just a shift in how people describe themselves.

Non-religious Americans have become increasingly organised since 2007, forming political groups designed to keep religion out of public life.

Kelly Damerow with the Secular Coalition for America tells BBC News that the Pew findings “lend credence to the growth we’ve witnessed within our community and that we have the potential to hold a lot of political clout”.

 

Source:   BBC.com

China’s Drone War

China drone war

China drone war

China’s military plans to produce nearly 42,000 land-based and sea-based unmanned weapons and sensor platforms as part of its continuing, large-scale military buildup, the Pentagon’s annual report on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) disclosed Friday.

China currently operates several armed and unarmed drone aircraft and is developing long-range range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for both intelligence gathering and bombing attacks.

“The acquisition and development of longer-range UAVs will increase China’s ability to conduct long-range reconnaissance and strike operations,” the report said.

China’s ability to use drones is increasing and the report said China “plans to produce upwards of 41,800 land- and sea-based unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, between 2014 and 2023.”

Four UAVs under development include the Xianglong, Yilong, Sky Saber, and Lijian, with the latter three drones configured to fire precision-strike weapons.

“The Lijian, which first flew on Nov. 21, 2013, is China’s first stealthy flying wing UAV,” the report said.

The drone buildup is part of what the Pentagon identified as a decades-long military buildup that last year produced new multi-warhead missiles and a large number of submarines and ships.

Additionally, the Pentagon for the first time confirmed China’s development of an ultra-high speed maneuvering strike vehicle as part of its growing strategic nuclear arsenal.

“China is working on a range of technologies to attempt to counter U.S. and other countries’ ballistic missile defense systems, including maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRV), [multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles], decoys, chaff, jamming, and thermal shielding,” the report, made public Friday, states.

“The United States and China acknowledge that the Chinese tested a hypersonic glide vehicle in 2014,” the report noted.

It was the first time the Pentagon confirmed the existence of what is known as the Wu-14 hypersonic glide vehicle, a strike weapon that travels at the edge of space at nearly 10 times the speed of sound.

 

Source:  http://freebeacon.com

Coffee Antioxidant 500 times greater than vitamin C

coffee that mimics effects of morphine

coffee that mimics effects of morphine

The coffee industry plays a major role in the global economy. It also has a significant impact on the environment, producing more than 2 billion tonnes of coffee by-products annually. Coffee silverskin (the epidermis of the coffee bean) is usually removed during processing, after the beans have been dried, while the coffee grounds are normally directly discarded.

It has traditionally been assumed that these by-products ─ coffee grounds and coffee silverskin, have few practical uses and applications. Spent coffee grounds are sometimes employed as homemade skin exfoliants or as abrasive cleaning products. They are also known to make great composting agents for fertilizing certain plants. But apart from these limited applications, coffee by-products are by and large deemed to be virtually useless. As such, practically all of this highly contaminating ‘coffee waste’ ends up in landfills across the globe and has a considerable knock-on effect on the environment.

However, a UGR research team led by José Ángel Rufíán Henares set out to determine the extent to which these by-products could be recycled for nutritional purposes, thereby reducing the amount of waste being generated, as well as benefitting coffee producers, recycling companies, the health sector, and consumers.

In an article published in the academic journal Food Science and Technology, the researchers demonstrate the powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of the coffee grounds and silverskin, which are highly rich in fibre and phenols. Indeed, their findings indicate that the antioxidant effects of these coffee grounds are 500 times greater than those found in vitamin C and could be employed to create functional foods with significant health benefits.

Moreover, Professor Rufián Henares points out: “They also contain high levels of melanoidins, which are produced during the roasting process and give coffee its brown colour. The biological properties of these melanoidins could be harnessed for a range of practical applications, such as preventing harmful pathogens from growing in food products.” However, he also adds: “If we are to harness the beneficial prebiotic effects of the coffee by-products, first of all we need to remove the melanoidins, since they interfere with such beneficial prebiotic properties.”

The researchers conclude that processed coffee by-products could potentially be recycled as sources of new food ingredients. This would also greatly diminish the environmental impact of discarded coffee by-products.

The Ministry of Economics and Finance has recently allocated a new research project to the team under the ‘State R&D programme’, in order to enable them to conduct further studies in the area and re-assess the potential value of coffee by-products.

 

Source:  sciencedaily.com

Doctor who discovered Cancer blames lack of Oxygen

The Man Who Discovered Cancer

The Man Who Discovered Cancer

Dr. Otto H. Warburg won a Nobel Prize for discovering the cause of cancer. There is one aspect of our bodies that is the key to preventing cancer: pH levels.

What Dr. Warburg figured out is that when there is a lack of oxygen, cancer cells develop. As Dr. Warburg said, “All normal cells have an absolute requirement for oxygen, but cancerous cells can live without oxygen – a rule without exception. Deprive a cell of 35% of it’s oxygen for 48 hours and it may become cancerous.” Cancer cells therefore cannot live in a highly oxygenated state, like the one that develops when your body’s pH levels are alkaline, and not acidic.

Most people’s diets promote the creation of too much acid, which throws our body’s natural pH levels from a slightly alkaline nature to an acidic nature. Maintaining an alkaline pH level can prevent health conditions like cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and acid reflux. Eating processed foods like refined sugars, refined grains, GMOs, and other unnatural foods can lead to a pH level that supports the development of these conditions, and leads to overall bad health. In fact, most health conditions that are common today stem from a pH level that is too acidic, including parasites, bacteria, and viruses are all attributed to an acidic pH level.

There is a natural remedy that you can use at home that is simple, and readily available. All you need is 1/3 tablespoon of baking soda, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Mix the ingredients into 8ounces of cold water, and stir well. The baking soda will react with the lemon juice or ACV and begin to fizz. Drink the mixture all at once. The combination will naturally reduce your pH levels in your body and prevent the conditions associated with an acidic pH level. Maintaining a healthy pH level will do wonders for your health, and you will notice the difference after only a few days of the treatment.

 

Source:  buynongmoseeds.com

Swiss Chemical Company Rejects Monsanto’s

v

Monsanto, in Bid for Syngenta, Reaches for a Business It Left Behind

Over the last two decades Monsanto has cast off its century-long history as a chemical company and refashioned itself as an agricultural life sciences company, led by its genetically engineered seeds.

But with its $45 billion bid to acquire the agricultural chemical giant Syngenta — a bid Syngenta rejected on Friday as inadequate — Monsanto appears to be trying to get back into a business it largely abandoned. That is a possible acknowledgment, some analysts say, that the biotech seeds might not be the engine to carry the company forward much longer.

“If you go back 10 years, they put all their marbles on biotechnology and they’ve done fantastically well there,” said William R. Young, managing director of ChemSpeak, a consulting firm following the chemical industry. “But going forward, maybe the growth is limited,” he said. Buying Syngenta “allows for some diversification in product line.”

Syngenta both announced and rejected Monsanto’s unsolicited bid on Friday, saying the offer undervalued Syngenta’s prospects and underestimated “the significant execution risks, including regulatory and public scrutiny at multiple levels in many countries.”

Monsanto offered to pay 449 Swiss francs, or about $490, for each share of Syngenta; 45 percent of the payment would be in cash. The offer represented a 35 percent premium to Syngenta’s closing price on Thursday.Monsanto, in its own statement, said it believed combining the two companies would create “an integrated global leader in agriculture with comprehensive and complementary product portfolios.” It said it was confident in its ability to obtain all necessary regulatory approvals.

The deal would create an agricultural behemoth, combining Monsanto, the world leader in seeds and genetically engineered traits (like herbicide resistance), with Syngenta, the largest producer of agricultural chemicals.

The two companies are in some sense mirror images of each other. They are similar in size, each with over $15 billion in annual revenue. But Monsanto gets most of its revenue from seeds and biotech traits; the rest comes mainly from the herbicide Roundup. Syngenta gets most of its revenue from chemicals, like weed control products, and less from seeds.

So far, investors have seen more potential in the seed business. Monsanto has had a market valuation more than 60 percent greater than Syngenta’s.

Source:  nytimes

Success Regenerating Spinal Cords

Regenerated nerves after spinal cord injury

Regenerated nerves after spinal cord injuryHead Transplant

Working with paralysed rats, scientists in the US have shown how they might be able to regenerate spines after injury and help paralysed people to one day walk again.

The team, from Tufts University School of Medicine, crushed the spines of lab rats at the dorsal root, which is the main bundle of nerve fibres that branches off the spine, and carries signals of sensation from the body to the brain. They then treated the spines with a protein called artemin, known to help neurons grow and function. After the two-week treatment, the nerve fibres regenerated and successfully passed signals over a distance of 4 centimetres.

“This is a significantly longer length of Central Nervous System regeneration than has been reported earlier,” one of the team, physiologist Eric Frank, “But still a long way to go!”

Reporting in a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team says the artemin treatment was successful in regenerating both large and small sensory neurons.

And while that 4-centimetre distance is important, Frank says that’s not all that counts: “The regenerating nerve fibres are growing back to the right places in the spinal cord and brainstem.” He adds that this is pretty impressive, given that their subjects were several months old, which isn’t young in rat years.

The results suggest that the chemical guidance cues that allow the nerve fibres to get to their correct target areas persist in the adult spinal cord, says Frank. This means that while artemin may not help regenerate all nerve fibres -some aren’t receptive to it – it’s likely to help with other neurones to. “If it becomes possible to get these other types of nerve fibres to regenerate for long distances as well, there is a reasonable chance that they can also grow back to their original target areas,” says Frank.

The challenge is getting regenerated nerve fibres to reconnect, so they can do what there are supposed to do, which just might be possible, considering these results. If scientists could achieve that, it would be a big leap forward in improving the lives of paralysed people.

Source:  sciencealert.com

Captain Kidd’s treasure found

captin kidd

captin kidd

Underwater explorers in Madagascar say they have discovered treasure belonging to the notorious 17th-Century Scottish pirate William Kidd.

A 50kg (7st 9lb) silver bar was brought to shore on Thursday on the island of Sainte Marie, from what is thought to be the wreck of the Adventure Galley.

The bar was presented to Madagascar’s president at a special ceremony.

US explorer Barry Clifford says he believes there are many more such bars still in the wreck.

Capt Kidd was first appointed by the British authorities to tackle piracy but later became a ruthless criminal and was executed in 1701.

‘Scepticism’

“Captain’s Kidd’s treasure is the stuff of legends. People have been looking for it for 300 years. To literally have it hit me on the head – I thought what the heck just happened to me. I really didn’t expect this,” Mr Clifford said.

“There’s more down there. I know the whole bottom of the cavity where I found the silver bar is filled with metal. It’s too murky down there to see what metal, but my metal detector tells me there is metal on all sides.”

The BBC’s Martin Vogl tweets that there is much excitement in Madagascar about the discovery and Mr Clifford’s team has no doubt that the discovery is genuine.

The team believes the bar, marked with what appears to be a letter S and a letter T, has its origins in 17th-Century Bolivia.

It believes the ship it has found was built in England, however there is bound to be scepticism and calls for more proof that the bar was linked to Capt Kidd, our reporter says.

One option would be to take samples of wood from the ship to analyse, he says.

The location of the ship, thought to have sunk in 1698, has been known about for many years but the silver bar was only discovered earlier this week.

Mr Clifford said that while diving in the wreck, his metal detector picked up signals but it was too muddy for him to see anything.

UK ambassador to Madagascar Timothy Smart, who attended the ceremony, said he hoped that Mr Clifford’s latest discovery would raise Madagascar’s profile as a tourist destination.

The plan is to exhibit the bars in a museum.

 

Source:  BBC.com

 

Most likely culprit for schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is eight different diseases

Schizophrenia is eight different diseases

Researchers have found a gene that links the three previously unrelated biological changes most commonly blamed for causing schizophrenia, making it one of the most promising culprits for the disease so far, and a good target for future treatments.

Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental disorder that usually appears in late adolescence, and changes the way people think, act and perceive reality. For decades, scientists have struggled to work out what causes the hallucinations and strange behaviour associated with the disorder, and keep coming back to three neuronal changes that seem to be to blame. The only problem is that the changes seemed to be unrelated, and, in some cases, even contradictory.

But now, researchers from Duke University in the US have managed to find a link between these three hypotheses, and have shown that all three changes can be brought about by a malfunction in the same gene.

Publishing in Nature Neuroscience, the researchers explain that their results could lead to new treatment strategies that target the underlying cause of the disease, rather than the visible changes or phenotypes, associated with schizophrenia.

“The most exciting part was when all the pieces of the puzzle fell together,” lead researcher, Scott Soderling, a professor of cell biology and neurobiology from Duke University, said in a press release. “When [co-researcher Il Hwan Kim] and I finally realised that these three outwardly unrelated phenotypes … were actually functionally interrelated with each other, that was really surprising and also very exciting for us.”

So what are these three phenotypes? The first is spine pruning, which means that the neurons of people with schizophrenia have fewer spines – the long part of a brain cell that passes signals back and forth. Some people with schizophrenia also have hyperactive neurons, and excess dopamine production.

But these changes just didn’t seem to make sense together. After all, how could neurons be overactive if they didn’t have enough dendritic spines to pass messages back and forth, and why would either of these symptoms trigger excess dopamine production? Now, researchers believe that a mutation in the gene Arp2/3 may be to blame.

Soderling and his team originally spotted the gene during previous studies, which identified thousands of genes linked to schizophrenia. But Arp2/3 was of particular interest, as it controls the formation of synapses, or links, between neurons.

To test its effect, the researchers engineered mice that didn’t have the Arp2/3 gene and, surprisingly, found that they behaved very similarly to humans with schizophrenia. The mice also got worse with age and improved slightly with antipsychotic medications, both traits of human schizophrenia.

But most fascinating was the fact that the mice also had all three of the unrelated brain changes – fewer dendritic spines, overactive neurons and excess dopamine production.

They also took things one step further and showed, for the first time, that this lack of dendritic spines can actually trigger hyperactive neurons. This is because the mice’s brain cells rewire themselves to bypass these spines, effectively skipping the ‘filter’ that usually keeps their activity in check.

They also showed that these overactive neurons at the front of the brain were then stimulating other neurons to dump out dopamine.

“Overall, the combined results reveal how three separate pathologies, at the tiniest molecular level, can converge and fuel a psychiatric disorder,” Susan Scutti explains over at Medical Daily.

The group will now study the role Arp2/3 plays in different parts of the brain, and how its linked to other schizophrenia symptoms. The research is still in its very early stages, and obviously has only been demonstrated in mice and not humans. But it’s a promising first step towards understanding this mysterious disease.

“We’re very excited about using this type of approach, where we can genetically rescue Arp2/3 function in different brain regions and normalise behaviours,” Soderling said. “We’d like to use that as a basis for mapping out the neural circuitry and defects that also drive these other behaviours.”

Source:  sciencealert.com

Enzyme that change a person’s blood type

Blood Type

Blood Type

Scientists have discovered that a particular type of enzyme can cut away antigens in blood types A and B, to make them more like Type O – considered the ‘universal’ blood type, because it’s the only type that can be donated to anyone without the risk of provoking a life-threatening immune response.

The team, from the University of British Columbia of Canada, worked with a family of enzymes called 98 glycoside hydrolase, extracted from a strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Over many generations, they were able to engineer a super high-powered enzyme strain that can very effectively snip away blood antigens where previous generations of the enzyme struggled. “A major limitation has always been the efficiency of the enzymes,” one of the team, Stephen Withers, said in a press release. “Impractically large amounts of enzyme were needed.”

Getting the right type of blood when you need it is crucial, and it has to do with the different types of residue that can accumulate the surface of red blood cells. Both blood types A and B have this residue – A has an N-acetylgalactosamine residue, and B has a galactose residue – and Type AB has a mixture of both. Only Blood Type O is free from this residue, which means it can be received by any patient, no matter what type they’re carrying.

Withers and his team managed to create their ‘mutant’ enzyme strain using a technology called directed evolution, which allows them to insert many different types of mutations into the gene that codes for it, and by progressively selecting strains that are the best at snipping away the blood antigens, were able to create an enzyme that’s 170 times more effective at it than its parent strain. They published their results in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

“The concept is not new, but until now we needed so much of the enzyme to make it work that it was impractical,” said Withers. “Now I’m confident that we can take this a whole lot further.”

While the current enzyme strain is not yet capable of removing 100 percent of the antigens from Blood Types A and B, which is where it needs to get if the researchers want to make any real use of it, the team is confident that they’ll get it there so they can try it out in clinical trials. Even the smallest amount of antigen in donated blood can set off a dangerous immune response in the recipient.

“Given our success so far, we are optimistic that this will work,” says Withers.

Source:  sciencealert.com