The Rise in Agriculture for the Next ECM

first_img Categories: Agriculture Tags: Agriculture, China The Fall Army Worm (FAW; Spodoptera frugiperda) is a crop-eating pest that was first detected in China back in January 2019. It has now spread across China’s southern border and currently impacts about 8,500 hectares (127,000 mu) of grain production in Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan, and Hainan provinces. Officially, Chinese authorities have employed an emergency action plan to monitor and respond to the pest. FAW has no natural predators in China and its presence may result in lower production and crop quality of corn, rice, wheat, sorghum, sugarcane, cotton, soybean, and peanuts among other cash crops. Experts warn that there is a high probability that the pest will spread across all of China’s grain production area within the next 12 months.This is obviously a contributing factor to what the computer is projecting for agriculture. Keep in mind that the patterns the computer identifies come from the price movements. We have wheat prices back to 1259. Clearly, the projections it makes are all inclusive of weather and disease, for everything unfolds in a cycle. Agricultural Loans Declining Right on Target »center_img « Are we Heading into a Food Shortage? last_img read more

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Increased physical activity helps individuals with coronary heart disease to live longer

first_img Source:https://www.ntnu.edu/ May 31 2018Increased physical activity, not weight loss, gives individuals with coronary heart disease a longer lease on life, according to a new study conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).NTNU researchers have found that heart disease patients can gain weight without jeopardizing their health, but sitting in their recliner incurs significant health risks.Weight loss seems to be associated with increased mortality for the participants in the study who were normal weight at baseline. The survey, which is an observational study based on data from HUNT (the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study), was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).Researcher Trine Moholdt in NTNU’s Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging collaborated on the study with cardiologist Carl J. Lavie at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, and Javaid Nauman at NTNU.They studied 3307 individuals (1038 women) with coronary heart disease from HUNT. Data from HUNT constitute Norway’s largest collection of health information about a population. A total of 120,000 people have consented to making their anonymized health information available for research, and nearly 80,000 individuals have released blood tests.HUNT patients were examined in 1985, 1996 and 2007, and followed up to the end of 2014. The data from HUNT were compared with data from the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry.During the 30-year period, 1493 of the participants died and 55 per cent of the deaths were due to cardiovascular disease.”This study is important because we’ve been able to look at change over time, and not many studies have done that, so I am forever grateful to HUNT and the HUNT participants,” said Moholdt.Exercise and live longerThe study revealed that people who are physically active live longer than those who are not. Sustained physical activity over time was associated with substantially lower mortality risk.Participants in the study were divided into three categories: inactive; slightly physically active, but below recommended activity level; and physically active at or above recommended activity level.The recommended activity level is at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity or 60 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity.A little is better than nothingThe risk of premature death was higher for the group of patients who were completely inactive than for either of the other groups. The prognosis for people who exercise a little bit, even if it is below the recommended level, is better than not exercising at all.”Even being somewhat active is better than being inactive, but patients have to maintain the activity level. Physical activity is perishable – if you snooze you lose its benefits,” Moholdt says.Exercise hardHUNT participants were asked how hard the exercise activity was for them. Moholdt points out that this is a good way to determine the intensity of the exercise. A half-hour walk can be experienced very differently depending on how fit the person is.The question then becomes how to translate these findings into practical guidelines.”The clinical guidelines for heart disease patients currently include having normal weight and being physically active. I would put more emphasis on the exercise aspect. When it comes to physical activity, you have to do what gets you in better shape. That means training with high intensity. Do something that makes you breathe hard, so that it’s hard to talk, but not so hard that you can’t do it for four to five minutes,” says Moholdt. She adds that heart disease patients are often in poor shape, so it often doesn’t take much to get into high intensity mode.Related StoriesRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaResearch opens possibility of developing single-dose gene therapy for inherited arrhythmiasStudy explores role of iron in over 900 diseasesWhen asked whether any of the study results were unexpected, Moholdt said that they weren’t surprising in terms of physical activity. “But the fact that gaining weight posed no increased risk when patients were already overweight, I think is a bit surprising,” she said.Correlation between weight loss and increased mortalityThe results indicate that weight gain does not seem to increase risk for already overweight patients, which would mean that it isn’t dangerous for a fat heart patient to gain a few pounds. What is dangerous is if the person does not engage in any form of exercise.The findings in the study showed higher mortality among normal weight heart patients who lost weight. Moholdt points out that the survey is an observation study that does not look at underlying causes. It may be that patients who lost weight were sicker.The obesity paradoxThe development of cardiovascular disease has a causal relationship with obesity. Despite this strong correlation, the results from major meta-analyses indicate that people with cardiovascular disease who have a body mass index (BMI) above the normal weight range have better prognoses. This is often called the obesity paradox.”What we’ve known for a while is that for heart patients it seems to be an advantage to be fat – the so-called obesity paradox. But although it seems like it pays to be overweight and that weight loss affects these patients adversely, all of these data are based on observation studies. To prove causality, randomized controlled trials are needed,” says Moholdt.The relationship between BMI and life expectancy is complicated and depends on several factors. Erroneous sources are plentiful. Results from another analysis showed that normal weight, healthy non-smokers have the lowest risk of premature death.Slimming down isn’t necessarily wrongThis study’s results do not mean that it is never a good idea for an overweight heart patient to slim down. Moholdt and her colleagues note in their JACC article that “in our view, desired or intentional weight reduction may be useful for overweight or obese individuals, although little data supports this view in studies of coronary heart disease patients.”One hypothesis is that weight loss is associated with improved survival among overweight and obese coronary heart disease patients. This correlation was not evident in the study.”It may be that weight is less important for heart patients, but we know that physical activity is very important,” Moholdt says.Get rid of the bathroom scaleShe believes that many people start exercising to lose weight, and then quit when they don’t get the desired results in the form of weight loss.Moholdt encourages people to get rid of their bathroom scale. She says that numerous studies have shown that body composition changes through exercise and that muscles weigh more than fat.”Exercise has a beneficial effect on all organs in the body – on the brain, heart, liver, vascular system and of course on our musculature,” she says.last_img read more

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Researchers reverse tauinduced memory deficits in animal models

first_img Source:https://www.templehealth.org/News/TempleResearchersSuccessfullyReversebrCognitiveImpairmentsinMicewithDementia?id=3247&showBack=true&PageIndex=0&cid=13 Jun 8 2018Reversing memory deficits and impairments in spatial learning is a major goal in the field of dementia research. A lack of knowledge about cellular pathways critical to the development of dementia, however, has stood in the way of significant clinical advance. But now, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) are breaking through that barrier. They show, for the first time in an animal model, that tau pathology – the second-most important lesion in the brain in patients with Alzheimer’s disease – can be reversed by a drug.”We show that we can intervene after disease is established and pharmacologically rescue mice that have tau-induced memory deficits,” explained senior investigator Domenico Praticò, MD, Scott Richards North Star Foundation Chair for Alzheimer’s Research, Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology, and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple at LKSOM. The study, published online in the journal Molecular Neurobiology, raises new hope for human patients affected by dementia.The researchers landed on their breakthrough after discovering that inflammatory molecules known as leukotrienes are deregulated in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In experiments in animals, they found that the leukotriene pathway plays an especially important role in the later stages of disease.”At the onset of dementia, leukotrienes attempt to protect nerve cells, but over the long term, they cause damage,” Dr. Praticò said. “Having discovered this, we wanted to know whether blocking leukotrienes could reverse the damage, whether we could do something to fix memory and learning impairments in mice having already abundant tau pathology.”To recapitulate the clinical situation of dementia in humans, in which patients are already symptomatic by the time they are diagnosed, Dr. Praticò and colleagues used specially engineered tau transgenic mice, which develop tau pathology – characterized by neurofibrillary tangles, disrupted synapses (the junctions between neurons that allow them to communicate with one another), and declines in memory and learning ability – as they age. When the animals were 12 months old, the equivalent of age 60 in humans, they were treated with zileuton, a drug that inhibits leukotriene formation by blocking the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme.Related StoriesA program of therapy and coping strategies works long-term for family dementia carersWhy women who work are less likely to develop dementiaCalling on global community to prevent dementia by preventing strokeAfter 16 weeks of treatment, animals were administered maze tests to assess their working memory and their spatial learning memory. Compared with untreated animals, tau mice that had received zileuton performed significantly better on the tests. Their superior performance suggested a successful reversal of memory deficiency.To determine why this happened, the researchers first analyzed leukotriene levels. They found that treated tau mice experienced a 90-percent reduction in leukotrienes compared with untreated mice. In addition, levels of phosphorylated and insoluble tau, the form of the protein that is known to directly damage synapses, were 50 percent lower in treated animals. Microscopic examination revealed vast differences in synaptic integrity between the groups of mice. Whereas untreated animals had severe synaptic deterioration, the synapses of treated tau animals were indistinguishable from those of ordinary mice without the disease.”Inflammation was completely gone from tau mice treated with the drug,” Dr. Praticò said. “The therapy shut down inflammatory processes in the brain, allowing the tau damage to be reversed.”The study is especially exciting because zileuton is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of asthma. “Leukotrienes are in the lungs and the brain, but we now know that in addition to their functional role in asthma, they also have a functional role in dementia,” Dr. Praticò explained.”This is an old drug for a new disease,” he added. “The research could soon be translated to the clinic, to human patients with Alzheimer’s disease.”last_img read more

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Preventive treatment for recurrent pregnancy loss proved ineffective in large study

first_img Source:https://www.eshre.eu Jul 3 2018An immune response to pregnancy (in which the uterus rejects the embryo or fetus) is said to explain a large number of otherwise “unexplained” miscarriages. Thus, preventive treatment designed to suppress this immunological rejection during implantation and pregnancy has become a commonly accepted – albeit innovative – approach to preventing recurrent pregnancy loss. A range of “immunomodulatory” treatments are offered, most of which are non-evidence based and the latest of which is a drug known as recombinant human granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (rhG-CSF), a regulator of neutrophils and other lymphocytes activating and protecting the immune system. This is widely used (and licensed) in cancer medicine to increase white blood cells after chemotherapy.Now, a large randomized placebo-controlled study – the largest of its kind, the RESPONSE trial – described here today at the 34th Annual Meeting of ESHRE has found no evidence that rhG-CSF given in the first trimester of pregnancy improves outcomes in women with a history of unexplained recurrent pregnancy losses. The results are presented by honorary research fellow Dr Abey Eapen from Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham, UK, and the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, USA. The study, a controlled randomized trial involving 150 women with a history of unexplained miscarriage, was performed at 21 hospitals in the UK.As background to the study, Eapen said that evidence in favor of rhG-CSF in the prevention of recurrent pregnancy loss was based on just one single-center randomized trial and four further observational studies, which all suggested a statistically significant increase in pregnancy and live birth rates in the treatment groups.In this study, with an endpoint defined as clinical pregnancy rate at 20 weeks gestation, 76 women were randomised to rhG-CSF and 74 to placebo. All subjects had had at least three unexplained miscarriages, were aged between 18 and 37 years, and were trying to conceive naturally.At follow-up, results showed a clinical pregnancy rate at 20 weeks of 59.2% in the rhG-CSF group, and of 64.9% in the placebo group, suggesting a neutral effect of the treatment. With further follow-up, these rates were similarly evident in live birth.Related StoriesLiving with advanced breast cancerNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerSugary drinks linked to cancer finds study”Worldwide, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor is widely used in reproductive medicine to treat pregnancies conceived both naturally and after assisted reproduction following recurrent miscarriages,” said Eapen. “Some studies have suggested statistically significant improvements in clinical pregnancy rates, but we here have high quality evidence that rhG-CSF is not an effective treatment for patients with unexplained recurrent miscarriages.”Miscarriage – whether recurrent or not – is a common and distressing complication of pregnancy, especially in IVF when so much emotion and effort has been invested in treatment. Estimates are that around 1-2% of all couples experience recurrent pregnancy loss, but Eapen said that it is difficult of estimate the actual numbers using rhG-CSF. “It’s a relatively new treatment and is offered mainly through private miscarriage and IVF clinics.”He also described reproductive immunology is a “relatively new and young” branch of reproductive medicine. “We first need to agree on an acceptable definition based on reliable and reproducible laboratory investigations before labeling a miscarriages as immune-mediated,” he said. “Most of immunotherapy medications tested so far through high-quality trials have been shown to offer no benefit. Women diagnosed with recurrent miscarriages are vulnerable, so it’s important that, if they’re given immune modulatory treatment for recurrent miscarriages, they are counseled about success rates and potential risk/benefits, even in a research setting, let alone routine clinical practice.”Even after a diagnosis of recurrent miscarriage, the majority of pregnancies do have a favorable outcome. “But,” said Eapen, “it is still very important that these women are investigated and managed in a specialist miscarriage clinic for counseling, support, evidence-based investigation, and an opportunity to take part in research. Healthy diet and management of modifiable risk factors may also help.”last_img read more

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Eliminating malariacarrying mosquitoes does not impact ecosystem shows study

first_img Source:https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/187427/removing-malariacarrying-mosquitoes-unlikely-affect-ecosystems/ Jul 27 2018By combining studies on one species of malaria-carrying mosquito, researchers found that no other animals rely solely on them for food.The study, by Imperial College London researchers, suggests the mosquito can be reduced or even eliminated in local areas without impacting the ecosystem.Locally eliminating this one species of mosquito could drastically cut cases of malaria, although the team note that more research is needed in the field to test that the ecosystem is not significantly perturbed.In 2016, there were around 216 million malaria cases and an estimated 445,000 deaths, mostly of children under five years old. There are many strategies currently being proposed to eliminate malaria, and one promising solution is using genetically modified mosquitoes to suppress local populations of mosquitoes.In sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of malaria cases occur, only a handful of mosquito species carry malaria out of the hundreds present. An international team of researchers led by Imperial, called Target Malaria, are targeting one of these species, Anopheles gambiae, for possible suppression in the future using genetic engineering.However, before this is attempted the team need to predict the impact of locally suppressing An. gambiae. Now, in a report published today in Medical and Veterinary Entomology, the team have reviewed previous studies into this species of mosquito to see how it fits into the ecosystem.They found that some animals do eat An. gambiae, but those that do also eat other species of mosquito and other insects, meaning they do not need A. gambiae to survive.Lead author Dr Tilly Collins, from the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial, said: “As adults, An. gambiae mosquitoes are small, hard to catch, most mobile at night and not very juicy, so they are not a rewarding prey for both insect and vertebrate predators. Many do eat them — sometimes accidentally — but there is no evidence that they are a big or vital part of the diet of any other animal.Related StoriesScientists identify malaria’s Achilles’ heelSouthern Research team aims to discover new, safer antimalarial medicinesHuman liver cell protein aids development of malaria parasite, study finds”There is one curious jumping spider known as ‘the vampire spider’ that lives in homes around the shores of Lake Victoria and does have a fondness for female blood-fed mosquitoes. Resting blood-fed females are easy and more nutritious prey as they digest their blood meal, but this spider will readily eat other available mosquito species as opportunity arises.”The team also looked at mosquito larval habitats. The female mosquitoes tend to lay their eggs in small, temporary ponds and puddles away from predators. When laid in larger ponds, any predators that feed on them also eat many other things preferentially.As well as what eats An. gambiae, the team also reviewed what competes with them. If a species is removed from an ecosystem, it can mean that a competitor species – one that uses a similar food resource, for example – grows much larger in numbers to fill the space.This can become a problem if the competitor species carries its own dangers, such as if it carries a different human disease like yellow fever.The team found that other species of mosquito are most likely to compensate for fewer An. gambiae, although lab studies and field studies, as well as evidence from past eliminations of mosquitoes for example by insecticide spraying, do not always agree.To validate and improve their findings, the Target Malaria project is launching a four-year study led by the University of Ghana and the University of Oxford that will study An. gambiae in the local environment in Ghana.last_img read more

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Dolphins May Be Leaving Popular US Aquarium

The National Aquarium is considering moving its eight Atlantic bottlenose dolphins to a marine sanctuary, The Baltimore Sun reports. The popular tourist site, located in Baltimore, Maryland, says that it is responding to concerns that keeping such cognitively advanced animals in captivity is inhumane. Scientists have recently sparred over whether dolphins, whales, and other cetaceans belong in aquariums, with some claiming that the confined spaces cause stress, depression, and disease, and other stating that removing these animals would kill important research. The public itself may be souring on such displays, spurred, in part, by the 2013 documentary, Blackfish, which explored the ethics of keeping killer whales in captivity. The National Aquarium has hired a team of consultants to advise on the fate of its dolphins and to help it reimagine the aquarium experience. “We know so much more today about the animals and about our evolving audience,” aquarium CEO John Racanelli told The Sun. “We have to evolve.” read more

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Researcher sues to block retraction of golden rice paper

A researcher whose nutrition study in Chinese children was found in breach of ethical regulations is going to court to salvage a paper describing her results. Nutrition scientist Guangwen Tang is suing the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and Tufts University, where she has worked for more than 25 years, to prevent the retraction of her 2012 paper in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.The society intends to withdraw the paper because a Tufts investigative panel found ethical lapses in the study last year; Tang argues that retraction is tantamount to defamation, according to a report by Courthouse News Service, which states that she filed her suit on 9 July.According to Adrian Dubock, executive secretary of the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board in Switzerland, which was not directly involved in the study, ASN twice asked Tang and her six co-authors to withdraw the paper voluntarily, which they declined to do. The society recently decided to retract the paper on its own, Dubock says—but it has agreed to a 90-day stay after Tang filed her lawsuit, to see if the matter can be settled out of court. (At the moment, the paper is still up on the journal’s website.) Tang, with whom Dubock is in close contact, thinks the problem can be addressed with a “relatively minor modification” to the paper, he says; she told him that a full retraction would damage her reputation. The journal’s editor, Dennis Bier of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, says that ASN’s lawyer is handling inquiries about the issue; ASN could not be reached this morning. Tang and a representative for Tufts University did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment.The controversial study was carried out in 2008 among 72 schoolchildren in Hunan province; it aimed to find out how well golden rice—a genetically modified crop aimed at fighting vitamin A deficiency and blindness—is converted into vitamin A in children’s bodies. A month after it was published in August 2012, the study caused a massive uproar in China, where Greenpeace and Chinese media claimed that U.S. researchers were conducting unethical experiments on Chinese children.An investigative panel at Tufts found several ethical problems with the study in a report released last year. Tang had provided “insufficient evidence” that the study was approved by a Chinese ethical panel, for instance; the researchers had not obtained all the necessary consent forms before the trial started; and dates on consent forms appeared to have been changed. Tang, who is Chinese-born, was barred from human research for 2 years and ordered to take a refresher course in clinical trial ethics.Dubock says that a few months ago, a wealthy philanthropist—whose name he declined to share—offered to bankroll Tang’s lawsuit. “My understanding is that this person is very troubled by socially important issues that affect the disadvantaged,” Dubock says. He says that Tang is also suing the university, where she closed her lab earlier this year, because “it’s Tufts’s actions that have caused the journal to decide to retract the paper.”The Declaration of Helsinki, a set of ethical principles for human studies, says that papers about “research not in accordance with the principles of this Declaration should not be accepted for publication”; it does not specifically recommend retraction of papers if ethical flaws are discovered after publication. 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Dulling pain may also reduce empathy

first_imgLooking at photos of starving refugees or earthquake victims can trigger a visceral sense of empathy. But how, exactly, do we feel others’ agony as our own? A new study suggests that seeing others in pain engages some of the same neural pathways as when we ourselves are in pain. Moreover, both pain and empathy can be reduced by a placebo effect that acts on the same pathways as opioid painkillers, the researchers found.“This study provides one of the most direct demonstrations to date that first-hand pain and pain empathy are functionally related,” says neurobiologist Bernadette Fitzgibbon of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, who was not involved in the new research. “It’s very exciting.” Previous studies have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to show that similar areas of the brain are activated when someone is in pain and when they see another person in pain. But overlaps on a brain scan don’t necessarily mean the two function through identical pathways—the shared brain areas could relate to attention or emotional arousal, among other things, rather than pain itself. 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img Social neuroscientist Claus Lamm and colleagues at the University of Vienna took a different approach to test whether pain and empathy are driven by the same pathways. The researchers first divided about 100 people into control or placebo groups. They gave the placebo group a pill they claimed to be an expensive, over-the-counter painkiller, when in fact it was inactive. This well-established placebo protocol is known to function similarly to opioid painkillers, while avoiding the drugs’ side effects.Then, the team asked the participants to rate the amount of pain they felt from small electric shocks and gauge the pain they thought someone in an adjacent room felt from the same type of shocks. Those receiving the placebo pill reported less pain and rated other’s pain as lower than participants who received no pill at all. When the researchers watched the participants’ brains with fMRI, activation in brain areas that included both the empathy network and the pain network were dampened by the placebo, strengthening the idea—suggested by previous fMRI studies—that the two are driven by the same underlying processes in the brain.Next, the team asked whether blocking the opioid pathway would restore empathy to normal levels. They repeated the experiment but gave some participants naltrexone, a drug that blocks the brain pathways through which opioid painkillers function. Those who took naltrexone no longer had the placebo-induced decrease in either pain or empathy, the researchers reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The result suggests that turning on the opioid pathways in the brain—as both placebo painkillers and true opioids do—can simultaneously dampen both pain and empathy.“There’s still a lot of debate going on about whether empathy is really grounded in the same neural networks as pain,” says neuroscientist Christian Keysers of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam. “But this study, by showing that both systems relate to the opioid system, certainly moves that debate forward.” “It’s a really impressive study,” says neuroscientist Tor Wager of the University of Colorado, Boulder, citing the clever experimental setup. But the findings could be interpreted in multiple ways, he cautions. Because opioid pathways are involved in diverse processes in the brain that aren’t all directly related to pain, he says, “I didn’t come away with the impression that this definitively means that empathy and pain share fundamental processes.”Lamm’s group next plans to study whether individual variations in opioid pathways in the brain affect empathy. “There are certainly variations in how we empathize,” Lamm says. “So we’d like to know whether that’s also rooted in differences in this pain mechanism.” Emaillast_img read more

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Scientists build heat engine from a single atom

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Heat engines are everywhere—in the power station steam turbines that light up your neighborhood, the internal combustion engine that runs your car, and the engines that push passenger jets through the sky. Typically they weigh a ton or more apiece, heating and cooling some trillion trillion (no, this is not a typo!) molecules to generate power. Now, physicists in Germany have made what could be the world’s smallest heat engine using just a single particle: an ion of calcium.The new device makes far too little power to supply us with energy anytime soon. But Jacob Taylor, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, says it provides experimental data for “a quiet revolution” in statistical physics, the study of how heat flows both in microscopic systems and on the scale of everyday life.Any heat engine converts thermal energy (heat) into mechanical energy (motion). A medium of some sort, usually a gas, draws heat from a hot body—or bath—to do mechanical work, such as moving a piston. It then dumps any unused heat into a cold bath. In the latest work, carried out by physicist Kilian Singer of the University of Mainz in Germany and colleagues, the calcium ion doubles as both the working medium and the piston; electrical noise provides the hot bath, and a laser beam the cold bath. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Rossnagel et al., Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany center_img To make their engine, the researchers first enclosed the ion (a calcium atom with one electron removed) inside an 8-millimeter-long funnel-shaped electrical trap created by four electrodes. They then heat it with noise generated by another set of electrodes. The noise—a randomly fluctuating electric field—transfers energy to the ion, causing it to wiggle back and forth inside the trap and move toward the broad end of the funnel, making the engine’s power stroke. The noise is then turned off, and the calcium ion slows down. It cools after colliding with particles of light from a laser beam that constantly shines through the funnel trap. This cooling forces the ion back to the narrow end of the trap, where the electrical field is strongest. Then the cycle begins again. In the new engine, a calcium ion converts heat to motion when it is hit by noise coming from a set of electrodes. When the noise stops, the ion slides back into its starting position, and the process begins again.By turning the noise on and off at just the right rate, the researchers can tune the engine so that the frequency of the ion’s up-and-down motion exactly matches the trap’s natural oscillation frequency. When this happens, the ion travels ever farther along the funnel from one cycle to the next—like a playground swing that gets higher and higher if you push it at just the right moment in each cycle. The result is a sort of flywheel that gradually builds up usable energy.Currently, the team dumps that energy by letting another laser absorb it. Singer says it could be potentially tapped to drive a tiny electrical generator, although the amount involved—about 10-24 joules per cycle—is so tiny that billions of single-ion engines would be needed to generate useful power. Running all of those engines in parallel would require a radically new kind of integrated circuit in place of the bulky equipment used in the current experiment.Instead, Singer says, the main aim of the current work is to “prove the validity of thermodynamics in the single-atom regime.” He says the values for the power and efficiency of the engine—the former calculated from the number and frequency of the ion’s phonons (vibrational mechanical energy)—are very close to what theory says they should be.Peter Steeneken, a physicist at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, says the German group provides “convincing evidence” for having built a single-ion engine. He adds that the work “provides a way to study the ultimate and fundamental limits of the application of heat engines.” But he agrees that practical applications are hard to envisage.Taylor says it will be interesting to see how the quantum-mechanical behavior of tiny heat engines differs from the “classical” physics that governs familiar engines. The current device takes in about 1000 phonons per cycle from the noise—a minuscule amount of energy, but still “about a factor of 1000” too high for scientists to observe real quantum phenomena, he says. “While the experiment is a beautiful demonstration of how a single atom can be used as a heat engine,” Taylor says, “there is still substantial work to go until deviations from classical thermodynamics can be seen.” Emaillast_img read more

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Brain pollution Evidence builds that dirty air causes Alzheimers dementia

first_img © Spencer Lowell LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA—In a barbed wire–enclosed parking lot 100 meters downwind of the Route 110 freeway, an aluminum hose sticks out of a white trailer, its nozzle aimed at an overpass. Every minute, the hose sucks up hundreds of liters of air mixed with exhaust from the roughly 300,000 cars and diesel-burning freight trucks that rumble by each day.Crouched inside the trailer, a young chemical engineer named Arian Saffari lifts the lid off a sooty cylinder attached to the hose, part of a sophisticated filtration system that captures and sorts pollutants by size. Inside is a scientific payload: particles of sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, black carbon, and heavy metal at least 200 times smaller than the width of a human hair.The particles are too fine for many air pollution sensors to accurately measure, says Saffari, who works in a lab led by Constantinos Sioutas at the University of Southern California (USC) here. Typically smaller than 0.2 µm in diameter, these “ultrafine” particles fall within a broader class of air pollutants commonly referred to as PM2.5 because of their size, 2.5 µm or less. When it comes to toxicity, size matters: The smaller the particles that cells are exposed to, Saffari says, the higher their levels of oxidative stress, marked by the production of chemically reactive molecules such as peroxides, which can damage DNA and other cellular structures.  A cloudy suspension of smog particles, collected near a Los Angeles, California, freeway, will be turned into an aerosol and piped into tanks holding laboratory mice. Modes of attack Pollutant particles might make their way to the brain and damage it directly, or they might attack it from a distance, by triggering the release of inflammatory molecules. Where the risk is greatest is far from clear. Burning just about anything produces PM2.5: oil and gas, firewood, vegetation. Federal- and state-funded networks of air quality monitors in the United States get turned off and on according to political whim, and are frustratingly uneven. According to the American Lung Association less than a third of U.S. counties have ozone or particle pollution monitors, and coverage is especially sparse in rural areas. Those that exist have only measured PM2.5 since 1997—before that, EPA did not monitor particles smaller than PM10.Over the past several years, however, new computational models have made it possible to fill in some of the gaps in monitoring data, Gray says. In September 2016, NIEHS and the National Institute on Aging launched several new epidemiological studies that will use such modeling to look at the link between air pollution and brain health. One, based in Seattle, Washington, will estimate participants’ lifetime exposure to PM2.5 pollution and correlate it with the incidence of dementia, says Lianne Sheppard, a biostatistician at the University of Washington in Seattle.For their study of the Seattle region, Sheppard and her colleagues will take advantage of a model they developed for an earlier study of air pollution and atherosclerosis. Creating it, she says, took “a huge amount of behind-the-scenes work.” First, they compiled more than a decade of air monitoring data on PM2.5 and other pollutants from 600,000 locations across the United States. For each location, they calculated 800 different geographic variables, such as the distance to ports, factories, refineries, residual oil, and roads. Then they fitted their models to the monitoring data using a 25-by-25-meter grid and estimated PM2.5 concentrations in each grid cell. Building on the model, Sheppard and colleagues will create an even more detailed estimate of past air pollution levels in and around Seattle. To survey dementia in the region, the team will tap the Adult Changes in Thought study, which has monitored 5000 elderly people in the Seattle area for more than 20 years. Although all the participants were cognitively normal when they joined, at age 65 or so, roughly 1000 have since developed dementia, including 859 Alzheimer’s cases. When the participants die and donate their brains to science, as more than 600 already have, pathologists examine their brain tissue for abnormal protein deposits, cerebrovascular damage, and other signs of cellular stress. Combined with genetic studies, Sheppard says, such analyses will allow her group to probe “not just the epidemiology of the relationship between air pollution and cognition, but start drilling down to mechanisms” that explain how airborne pollutants affect the human brain. I think [air pollution] will turn out to be just the same as tobacco—there’s no safe threshold. © Spencer Lowell C. Bickel/Science Caleb Finch, University of Southern California Caleb Finch and Todd Morgan, USC neuroscientists who combine studies of aging and the brain, are in charge of the analysis. In mice that breathed the dirty air, they have found, the brain’s microglia release a flood of inflammatory molecules, including tumor necrosis factor a, which is elevated in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and has been linked to memory loss. The pollution-exposed mice also showed other signs of brain damage, the group has reported in several recent papers: more amyloid b than in the control mice and shrunken and atrophied neurites, the cellular processes that extend from neurons toward other cells.Just how the fine airborne particles might travel from a rodent’s nasal cavity to its brain is a mystery. But a research team led by Günter Oberdörster at the University of Rochester in New York has used traceable, radioactive specks of elemental carbon to demonstrate that inhaled particles smaller than 200 nanometers can get through the delicate tissues lining a rodent’s nasal cavities, travel along neurons, and spread as far as the cerebellum, at the back of the brain, triggering an inflammatory reaction. To understand what the animal studies might mean for people, however, scientists need to correlate air pollution exposure with human brain scans and with results from rigorous cognitive testing. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Some of the health risks of inhaling fine and ultrafine particles are well-established, such as asthma, lung cancer, and, most recently, heart disease. But a growing body of evidence suggests that exposure can also harm the brain, accelerating cognitive aging, and may even increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The link between air pollution and dementia remains controversial—even its proponents warn that more research is needed to confirm a causal connection and work out just how the particles might enter the brain and make mischief there. But a growing number of epidemiological studies from around the world, new findings from animal models and human brain imaging studies, and increasingly sophisticated techniques for modeling PM2.5 exposures have raised alarms. Indeed, in an 11-year epidemiological study to be published next week in Translational Psychiatry, USC researchers will report that living in places with PM2.5 exposures higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) standard of 12 µg/m3 nearly doubled dementia risk in older women. If the finding holds up in the general population, air pollution could account for roughly 21% of dementia cases worldwide, says the study’s senior author, epidemiologist Jiu-Chiuan Chen of the Keck School of Medicine at USC.Deepening the concerns, this month researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada reported in The Lancet that among 6.6 million people in the province of Ontario, those living within 50 meters of a major road—where levels of fine pollutants are often 10 times higher than just 150 meters away—were 12% more likely to develop dementia than people living more than 200 meters away. The field is “very, very young,” cautions Michelle Block, a neuroscientist at Indiana University in Indianapolis. Nonetheless, it’s a “hugely exciting time” to study the connections between pollution and the brain, she says. And if real, the air pollution connection would give public health experts a tool for sharply lowering Alzheimer’s risks—a welcome prospect for a disease that is so devastating and that, for now, remains untreatable.Demented dogs in Mexico City in the early 2000s offered the first hints that inhaling polluted air can cause neurodegeneration. Neuroscientist Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, now at the University of Montana in Missoula, noticed that aging dogs who lived in particularly polluted areas of the city often became addled, growing disoriented and even losing the ability to recognize their owners. When the dogs died, Calderón-Garcidueñas found that their brains had more extensive extracellular deposits of the protein amyloid b—the same “plaques” associated with Alzheimer’s disease—than dogs in less polluted cities. She went on to find similarly elevated plaque levels in the brains of children and young adults from Mexico City who had died in accidents, as well as signs of inflammation such as hyperactive glia, the brain’s immune cells. Calderón-Garcidueñas’s studies didn’t have rigorous controls, or account for the fact that amyloid b plaques don’t necessarily signal dementia. But later work lent weight to her observations. Those tubes of fine particles from the 110 freeway have played a key role. In a basement lab at USC, Sioutas and his team aerosolize the pollutants with a hospital nebulizer, then pipe the dirty air into the cages housing lab mice that have been engineered to contain a gene for human amyloid b. Control animals housed in the same room breathe clean, filtered air. After a designated period—220 hours over several weeks, in a recent experiment—the team hands the rodents over to colleagues at USC, who kill the animals and check their brains for signs of neurodegeneration. Scientists let one group of mice breath polluted air for several weeks, while exposing another to clean air. After several weeks, they examine the brains of both groups. That’s not easy to do, as long-term, historical data on pollution exposures are scarce in the United States and many other countries, says Kimberly Gray, a program administrator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Durham, North Carolina. But in a September 2016 review of 18 epidemiological studies from Taiwan, Sweden, Germany, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all but one showed an association between high exposure to at least one component of air pollution and a sign of dementia. The review, published in Neurotoxicology, included a 2012 analysis of 19,000 retired U.S. nurses, which found that the more fine particulates the nurses were exposed to, based on monitoring data near their homes, the faster they declined on cognitive tests. For every additional 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air they breathed, their performance on tests of memory and attention declined as if they had aged by 2 years, says Jennifer Weuve, an epidemiologist at Boston University, who led the analysis.Imaging studies also suggest that pollution attacks the human brain. In a 2015 analysis of brain MRI scans of people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term cardiovascular study in New England, researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston found that the closer people had lived to a major roadway—and thus the more PM2.5 they had likely been exposed to—the smaller their cerebral brain volume. The association held up even after adjusting for factors such as education, smoking, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.Shortly after that study was published, USC’s Chen reported another example of brain shrinkage: In 1403 elderly women, the total volume of white matter—the insulated nerve fibers that connect different brain regions—decreased by about 6 cubic centimeters for every 3.5-µg/m3 increase in estimated PM2.5 exposure, based on air monitoring data from participants’ residences for 6 to 7 years before the brain scans were taken. Chen’s white matter findings are consistent with studies of cultured neurons, which show that exposure to PM2.5 can cause myelin—the fatty insulation that wraps around neuronal axons—to “peel up at the ends, like a Band-Aid,” Block says.  Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email By Emily UnderwoodJan. 26, 2017 , 9:00 AM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Some people may be more susceptible than others. In the Translational Psychiatry study, Chen’s team found that women carrying the Alzheimer’s risk gene APOE4 faced a disproportionately higher risk from pollution. And recently, Finch has started to examine the overlap—and potential synergy—between PM2.5 and cigarette smoke. The smoke is itself rich in ultrafine particles and can trigger the production of amyloid plaques and neuroinflammation in mouse models. Although smoking was once considered protective against Alzheimer’s, prospective studies have since established tobacco smoke as a major risk factor, he says. In 2014, for example, a report published by the World Health Organization attributed as much as 14% of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide to smoking. Pollution may take a greater cognitive toll on the poor, in part because they are more likely to live in places with higher PM2.5 exposures, such as near major roadways or ports. Jennifer Ailshire, a USC sociologist, says stresses linked to poverty also could amplify the effects of the toxic particles. In one of her most recent studies, elderly people who rated their neighborhoods as stressful—citing signs of decay and disorder, such as litter and crime—did worse on cognitive tests than people who were exposed to similar pollution levels, but lived in less stressful neighborhoods, she says. “Living in L.A. [Los Angeles], we are all exposed to a lot of pollution, but some of us are fine,” she says. When seeking to reduce the negative health impacts from air pollution, cities “might want to try to focus specifically on reducing pollution in communities particularly vulnerable to these exposures,” she says. But no one studying the suspected effects of pollutant particles on the brain is eager to do triage. If PM2.5 is guilty as charged, they say, the goal for policymakers worldwide should be to push down levels as far as possible. When all the research is in, Finch says, “I think [air pollution] will turn out to be just the same as tobacco—there’s no safe threshold.”last_img read more

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Space laser will map Earths forests in 3D spotting habitat for atrisk

first_imgThe GEDI laser will penetrate tropical forest treetops to map the understory’s 3D structure. BRUSINI Aurélien/hemis.fr/Hemis/Alamy Stock Photo Space laser will map Earth’s forests in 3D, spotting habitat for at-risk species Tallying up the biomass in a forest—and monitoring changes to it—is no easy task. You can cordon off a patch of forest and use tape measures to assess tree growth, hoping your patch is representative of the wider forest. Or you can turn to aerial or satellite photography—if the pictures are available and sharp enough. But even the best cameras can’t see past the forest canopy to the understory below.On 5 December, scientists gained a new tool for this tricky business when NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) was launched on a SpaceX rocket. The instrument, the size of a large refrigerator, will be attached to the International Space Station, where it will begin to gather data on the height and 3D structure of tropical and temperate forests. The campaign will help scientists understand whether forests are slowing or amplifying climate change, and identify prime habitat for valued species. “We’ve wanted this data set desperately,” says Ralph Dubayah, a geographer at the University of Maryland in College Park and the project’s principal investigator.GEDI will harness a technology called light detection and ranging (lidar). Like its cousin radar, lidar sends out pulses of electromagnetic energy and measures the reflections. But whereas radar uses radio waves, GEDI’s lidar uses laser light, firing 242 times per second in the near-infrared. The focused, high-frequency radiation offers sharp resolution and can penetrate dense forests, bouncing not only off the treetops, but also off midstory leaves, branches, and the ground. Dubayah and his colleagues will combine GEDI data with ground measurements and statistical models to produce maps of tropical forest carbon that, at 1 kilometer resolution, should vastly shrink the errors of previous maps. Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Gabriel PopkinDec. 5, 2018 , 1:20 PM Countries that want to use the carbon stored in their forests to help meet Paris agreement climate targets may use those maps to gauge progress, says Naikoa Aguilar-Amuchastegui, director of forest carbon science at the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C. Researchers tracking forest degradation, due to the selective logging of individual trees and fuelwood harvesting from the understory, are eager for the data, too. Those activities are invisible to imaging satellites such as Landsat, says Laura Duncanson, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “GEDI gets you that third dimension,” she says.The 3D maps could also identify the rich structure and variety of forests that harbor at-risk species such as the orangutan, says Scott Goetz, an ecologist at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and a mission deputy principal investigator. The maps could find priority areas for conservation, and even help plan habitat corridors for wildlife migrating because of climate change.The finely tuned laser will also resolve the heights of treetops and the ground more precisely than previous instruments—crucial for monitoring the health of the carbon-dense mangrove forests that shroud tropical coastlines, says Goddard research scientist Lola Fatoyinbo Agueh. Knowing how high the mangroves sit above the water could determine whether they will keep pace with sea level rise or die back, releasing stored carbon—a key input for climate models, she says.GEDI’s perch on the space station—chosen to keep its cost below a $94 million cap—comes with a drawback, however. Its view will be confined to latitudes between 51.6° north and south. That means it will miss the boreal forests of North America and Asia. And it will likely get booted after 2 years to make room for a Japanese instrument. The short mission will make it harder to answer an urgent question: Are tropical forests overall a carbon sink, capturing some of the emissions from vehicles and industry, or a source? That depends on whether forest growth is sequestering more carbon than deforestation and degradation are releasing. But seeing such a trend requires years of continuous data, says Wayne Walker of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. “Nothing’s better than a long-term record.”GEDI also can’t distinguish tree species, which vary in carbon density. Dubayah is using species-specific measurements from about 5000 field plots to calibrate the GEDI data. But with more than 40,000 tree species in the tropics, that’s just a start, says Oliver Phillips, an ecologist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, who runs a large tropical forest plot network. “A large ground effort is needed to get maximum value from this,” Phillips says.Researchers may be able to work around some of these limitations. Alessandro Baccini, a remote sensing scientist also at Woods Hole, hopes to train machine-learning algorithms to extend carbon estimates into the past and future by using GEDI’s carbon maps to calibrate long-term forest-cover data from imaging satellites. He adds that by combining data from GEDI and ICESat-2, a NASA lidar satellite launched in September that primarily measures ice sheets but is flying over the whole planet, investigators could construct a global carbon map—one that includes the boreal forest. Still, Baccini wants more. “Why can’t we have a proper mission designed for vegetation that is global?” he asks. 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Private research funders court controversy with billions in secretive investments

first_img BULENT KILIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES Private research funders court controversy with billions in secretive investments Wellcome committed more than $926 million of its holdings to at least 57 tax haven funds, documents from the Paradise Papers indicate. Other offshore investments were shown in the foundation’s tax returns. (Totals could not be determined but in 2007, Wellcome’s offshore holdings were so extensive that Appleby ranked the foundation as its 14th largest client.) In a statement to Science, Wellcome officials declined to discuss the size or placement of its assets in offshore accounts, saying they “do not collect or keep” data relating to tax domicile. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which has $20.4 billion in assets, holds at least $891 million in offshore funds, from which it earned $123 million in the year ending 31 August 2017, according to public documents. It declined to discuss its investments. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, which has $10.8 billion in assets, has placed at least $3 billion in offshore havens. Foundation officials discussed their investing practices with Science. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, has no apparent involvement in offshore funds, according to the Paradise Papers and public documents. Three other private research funders—the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, all based in Silicon Valley in California—have made offshore investments of up to $168 million each, according to the Paradise Papers and public documents. In written statements, the foundations said they comply with tax laws but declined to comment otherwise. Gabriel Zucman, University of California, Berkeley Foundations that invest in tax havens need to know that … they are alongside criminals, tax evaders, and kleptocrats. A cargo ship steams through the Bosphorus past Istanbul, Turkey. The Wellcome Trust invests through an offshore fund in a firm selling ship fuel, which is a major source of particulate air pollution. It also funds studies that highlight the dangers that particulate pollution poses to human health. Foundation officials and philanthropy experts say offshore investment can play an important role in enabling those charities to meet their fiduciary responsibility to nurture their endowments. But the practice also opens the foundations to intense criticism. “Foundations that invest in tax havens need to know that … they are alongside criminals, tax evaders, and kleptocrats,” says Gabriel Zucman, a University of California, Berkeley, economist who has studied offshore investing. Such foundations are helping “normalize these practices and blow up the volume, so the infrastructure exists also for the illegal uses,” says Annette Alstadsæter, an economist at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Oslo. “They are robbing the taxpayers,” says economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, and “are giving life to an institutional arrangement which is basically nefarious and bad for our global society.”Maximizing valueFor at least a century, wealthy individuals and institutions have moved money outside their home nations—for example, by parking it in the anonymous numbered accounts made famous by Swiss banks. In recent decades, however, the popularity and complexity of offshore investing has grown dramatically. Some small nations and territories—including the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Malta—have aggressively moved to become offshore havens by promising secrecy, light regulation, and low or no taxes on profits.As of 2014, at least 8% of the world’s financial wealth—some $7.6 trillion—was invested in funds based in offshore havens, estimates Zucman, who wrote a seminal 2015 book on the topic. Offshore funds enabled companies to legally avoid paying $130 billion in U.S. taxes each year, he estimates. And illegal tax evasion involving offshore funds subtracted an additional $35 billion annually.In the past, many philanthropies—which national governments ordinarily exempt from most taxes because they are seen as providing a public service—would have viewed tax avoidance as shameful, says Brooke Harrington, an economist at Copenhagen Business School. But no more. In the United States, for example, many foundation officers regard minimizing taxes “almost as a necessity,” she says. “If you don’t do that, you’re not fulfilling your responsibility to donors. Kind of the way corporate directors will say: ‘It’s our duty to maximize shareholder value, and that includes reducing our tax payments to as close to zero as possible.’”But some foundation officials tell Science that, because their tax burdens are already low, other factors are more important to their decisions to invest offshore. For example, fund managers increase profits for themselves and their clients by avoiding costly regulatory red tape, says Edmond Ghisu, chief investment counsel at Robert Wood Johnson. Offshore havens often have minimal requirements on “how many records [funds] need to have” and “how open their books and records need to be to investors,” he says. The Cayman Islands, for example, “has risen to the top” in popularity among money managers because it has scant reporting requirements, Ghisu says. FoundationEndowment assets*Known offshore investments FoundationBill & Melinda Gates FoundationEndowment assets*$51.8 billionKnown offshore investmentsNone FoundationWellcome TrustEndowment assets*$29.3 billionKnown offshore investments$926 million FoundationHoward Hughes Medical InstituteEndowment assets*$20.4 billionKnown offshore investments$891 million FoundationRobert Wood Johnson FoundationEndowment assets*$10.8 billionKnown offshore investments$3+ billion FoundationWilliam and Flora Hewlett FoundationEndowment assets*$9.9 billionKnown offshore investments$168 million FoundationDavid and Lucille Packard FoundationEndowment assets*$7.9 billionKnown offshore investments$140 million FoundationGordon and Betty Moore FoundationEndowment assets*$6.9 billionKnown offshore investments$40 million By Charles PillerDec. 6, 2018 , 2:00 PM Critics of offshore investing also say that foundations, by lending their sterling reputations to offshore strategies, are helping legitimize tactics that others widely use to bend or break the law—including investors eager to conceal lawful but extreme tax avoidance as well as criminals seeking to hide illicit profits and launder money. Such practices deprive governments around the world of revenue, the critics note, worsening economic inequality and undermining efforts to repair crumbling infrastructure. The secrecy surrounding offshore funds complicates efforts to document exactly how much money major research charities have moved into such vehicles—or where the cash ends up. Science gained some insight by reviewing publicly available tax returns and financial statements and by searching the roughly 13.4 million leaked documents in the Paradise Papers, more than half of which came from Appleby, a global law firm founded in Hamilton, Bermuda, and one of the world’s leading offshore dealmakers. (The papers were shared with Science by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington, D.C., which acquired them from the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Munich, Germany.)Science examined seven of the largest private research funders and found that, according to conservative estimates, they have in recent years placed and committed more than $5 billion to funds in offshore tax and secrecy havens. Missing data and a lack of precision in many documents, however, suggest the philanthropies’ investments are larger. Among the investigation’s findings: Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Dana Bezerra, Heron Foundation At Wellcome, where researching the effects of climate change has become one focus of giving, officials consider environmental issues when making investment choices, the trust said in a statement to Science. But Wellcome declined to discuss how those concerns have shaped its offshore investments. And public records indicate environmental issues have not prevented the foundation from taking hefty, ongoing, direct equity stakes in fossil fuel companies—including Royal Dutch Shell of The Hague, Netherlands, and Schlumberger of Houston, Texas—whose operations have drawn criticism from climate change, environmental, and human rights advocates.Wellcome has resisted calls to divest from the firms, saying the investments serve as leverage to influence corporate practices. “Engaging with these companies will strengthen their commitments toward reducing carbon emissions more effectively than divestment,” it argued. The foundation declined to describe how it engages with the companies or to what effect. But even if direct shareholders can wield influence through moral suasion or proxy votes, critics of offshore investing note that such engagement is rarely possible for investors in offshore energy funds, which are often structured to insulate owners from company actions.Wellcome also notes that its investment profits—directly from Shell or indirectly through Cayman Islands funds that invest in energy firms—fuel the trust’s good works, including projects that fight the impacts of global warming. But Dana Bezerra, a prominent advocate for ethical investing by charities and head of the Heron Foundation in New York City, questions that reasoning. “It’s a justice question,” she says. “I have yet to meet a community willing to trade off our ability to generate returns with their clean water and healthy soil, on the promise that we’ll be back to fix it with charitable dollars in the future.” (Heron, she says, screens its entire $307 million investment portfolio to ensure that it supports—or at least does not counter—the foundation’s philanthropic goal to fight poverty.)Canines in the CaymansTo some critics of offshore investing, its biggest downside is secrecy. The lack of transparency can make it difficult for donors, grant recipients, and the public to reach their own conclusions about whether an offshore investment poses a potential conflict.Most offshore funds, for example, carry vague names that offer few hints about their purpose. For example, Howard Hughes holds $187 million in “Coastland Relative Value Fund Ltd.” and “Cerberus HH Partners LP” (managed by a company named after the mythological three-headed hound that prevents the damned from escaping through the gates of hell). Robert Wood Johnson has $143 million in another canine-inspired fund, “Hound Partners OS.” All three are based in the Caymans.The funds rarely reveal to the public where they place investments—and normally also bar their investors from sharing that information. Both Wellcome and Robert Wood Johnson, for example, say confidentiality agreements with fund managers prohibit them from making such disclosures. Fund managers often want to avoid leaks of sensitive information that could move markets or aid competitors.Sometimes, even investors don’t know how offshore funds use their money. O’Neil says in his experience, there are “only a few funds that really don’t tell us anything.” But contracts revealed in the Paradise Papers specify that investors often have no “liability, obligation, or responsibility whatsoever” for how a fund operates or any obligation to verify that the fund has actually used its money for planned investments.Such opacity is not appropriate for charitable institutions, established for social benefit, Bezerra says. “Not only should you [provide investment details], but you are compelled to because you are managing money in the public trust,” she says. “Shouldn’t we be more than a private investment company that uses its excess cash flow for good?”Changing the incentivesTo reduce ethical conflicts, Stiglitz says policymakers should change charity governance rules to make it “a violation of fiduciary responsibility to engage in something that might have reputation risk,” such as investing in an offshore tax haven with a “sleazy” repute.Persuading policymakers to make such changes, however, is likely to be difficult, in part because foundations typically operate under a patchwork of national and local laws. Instead, some observers believe action will have to come from foundation board members and officials. One needed reform, Bezerra says, is to end—or at least curb—the “perverse incentive” that foundations create for their investment officers, who make many of the day-to-day decisions about how to grow or protect a charity’s endowment. Their compensation is often tightly tied to how well their investment portfolio performs. And good performance is handsomely rewarded. In 2016, Wellcome’s Danny Truell (who retired last year) made $5.8 million and O’Neil made $1.8 million; last year, Landis Zimmerman of Howard Hughes made $3 million. Each was by far the highest paid employee of his foundation.At Wellcome, the incentives are based on performance of the portfolio as a whole. Robert Wood Johnson ties compensation for O’Neil and others to both investment performance and “alignment of investment objectives with foundation’s mission and strategic objectives,” such as maximizing returns and ensuring that no funds are invested in tobacco, alcohol, or firearms.center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Offshore funds can also open doors to a wider array of investment options and top advisers, who often run the funds from offices in financial centers such as New York City or London. Ghisu, for instance, says his foundation looks first for “the best managers, to maximize our returns so that we have resources that we can deploy in support of our mission.” Wellcome takes a similar position. “Many of the best-performing funds have offshore domiciles,” it wrote in a statement. “Our successful long-term investment strategy,” it added, “is based on exposure to a globally diversified range of asset classes.”Normally, fund managers, not the foundations, choose investments. But some foundations bar certain investments that they believe would pose conflicts of interest. Robert Wood Johnson, for instance, says it has no involvement in firearms, alcohol, or tobacco. “For us to invest in, say, a tobacco company, would be so antithetical to what we want to do that it would be a travesty,” says Brian O’Neil, the foundation’s chief investment officer.Yet Robert Wood Johnson’s offshore investments and managers have still generated controversy. Tax returns show that since at least 2014, the foundation has invested heavily in Cayman Islands funds managed by GSO Capital Partners, a unit of the investment titan Blackstone Group, headquartered in New York City. The foundation’s most recent filing showed about $50 million in those funds. GSO has drawn harsh criticism for how it handles credit default swaps—a once-exotic type of risk-hedging security that became notorious for contributing to the Great Recession. U.S. lawmakers and regulators have reined in the swaps, which are legal, but they remain less regulated elsewhere. “The hedge fund industry can’t do what it wants to do under the onshore regulations of the U.S. because it’s too risky,” Harrington says. “But the Caymans will let them do it.”In particular, GSO has drawn scrutiny for swaps that involve distressed companies and a strategy in which GSO offers a troubled firm an incentive to intentionally default on a loan, triggering a process that enables GSO to realize hefty profits. For years, such deals have attracted substantial media attention and lawsuits. A recent investigative story in the Financial Times said such practices made GSO the industry’s “biggest predator.” GSO told the paper it has acted legally and in a manner “consistent with the expectations of its sophisticated market participants.”In April, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission took notice, decrying the kinds of actions taken by GSO as “manipulation” that “may severely damage the integrity” of the market. GSO then stepped away from a pending deal. At about the same time, Robert Wood Johnson officials raised their own concerns with GSO. O’Neil says the firm has “really backed off ” from the controversial swaps.Critics contend that offshore machinations increase income inequality by reducing tax funds for public services while shifting the tax burden from companies and wealthy individuals to the middle class. And, as studies funded by Robert Wood Johnson itself have suggested, inequality can damage public health. For example, the foundation underwrote a landmark 2015 study showing extreme income inequality—rather than poverty alone—is a key contributor to ill health and shorter life expectancy. The foundation has also funded grassroots campaigns to address such problems, including a public-private partnership in Richmond, where residents suffer from some of the nation’s worst income inequality. But O’Neil rejects the suggestion that the foundation’s own investment practices contribute to inequality. “I don’t think you can take the harm that is caused by that and impute it to us.” Email A few years ago, scientists funded by the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s wealthiest private philanthropies, published sobering findings about the deadly effects of air pollution. In a long-term study of elderly residents of Hong Kong, China, those exposed to higher levels of smog—especially tiny particles of soot produced by burning fossil fuels—were more likely to die of cancer than people who breathed cleaner air.The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention in 2016 by researchers from the University of Hong Kong and the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, is one of many to highlight the health threats posed by soot. And it is just one product of the extensive investments that Wellcome, with $29.3 billion in assets, has made in environmental science. “We aim to stimulate research excellence and develop global collaborations to drive change,” the London-based philanthropy explains on a web page that highlights its commitment to making “cities healthy and environmentally sustainable.”The trust does not highlight, however, that some of the more than $1.2 billion it has handed out annually in recent years comes from investments in companies that contribute to the same problems the philanthropy wants to solve. Not long before the Hong Kong study was published, for example, the trust became an investor in Varo Energy, a company based in Cham, Switzerland, that sells fuel to shipping firms. One of Varo’s main products is bunker fuel for marine engines: a cheap, sulfurous residue of oil refining that is a major source of soot pollution. Particulates billowing from ship stacks contribute to the premature deaths of 250,000 people annually, researchers estimate. Shouldn’t we be more than a private investment company that uses its excess cash flow for good? Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe When money flows offshore The Paradise Papers and publicly available financial statements reveal some, but not all, offshore investments and commitments by seven private foundations that are major funders of scientific research. (*Restricted and unrestricted net assets, as of most recent audited financial statements.) Wellcome didn’t invest directly in Varo. But according to a trove of confidential documents known as the Paradise Papers, many of them leaked from a law firm that helped manage such deals, Wellcome committed $50 million to an offshore investment fund, Carlyle International Energy Partners, based in the Cayman Islands. That fund, in turn, owns a stake in the energy firm. (Wellcome declined to give details on its offshore holdings.)Large investors commonly use offshore funds to maximize returns, in part by reducing the taxes investors would otherwise pay to their home nations. Though offshore investments can be legal, they are controversial—partly because the funds’ activities are nearly always tightly held secrets. And Wellcome’s investment in bunker fuel illustrates a common contradiction facing some major scientific grantmakers involved in offshore investing. Specifically, offshore investments can have impacts that diminish or negate the high-minded social experiments, education, and research backed by science funders, according to a Science investigation. And their routine use of offshore funds raises questions about transparency, accountability, and social responsibility. STEPHAN SCHMITZ/FOLIO ART PARADISE PAPERS; FOUNDATIONS’ MOST RECENT TAX RETURNS AND AUDITED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS Requiring managers to place social, environmental, and philanthropic goals—not just investment returns—at the heart of their investment choices need not mean they will miss financial targets, Bezerra says. Last year, Heron’s holdings gained nearly 16%, according to the foundation. In comparison, at Robert Wood Johnson—the major science philanthropy most heavily concentrated in offshore funds—the portfolio rose by about 13%.Such policy changes would probably require approval from a foundation’s board of directors. In general, however, board members often prefer to focus on grantmaking and rarely become deeply involved in investment decisions, philanthropy experts say. At Wellcome, for instance, former board member Peter Smith says investment issues arose just a few times during his 10-year tenure, from 2005 to 2014. In one case from 2013, he recalls, board members learned from media reports that Wellcome had invested in a payday lender accused of preying on the poor. The 13-member board ultimately directed trust staff to divest from the company, says Smith, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.”There is a tension,” Smith says, “between the philanthropic mission that the trust has as a charity and the way in which it invests to maximize the income … which [charity officials] say they have a duty to do.” But the tensions surrounding offshore investments never came up at any board meeting he attended, he says. Smith didn’t pass judgment when asked whether the trust’s holdings in a bunker fuel merchant contradict the charity’s goals. But, “If there were things that were ethically dubious, then I would have expected it to be discussed at the board level,” he says.James Gavin, a physician and diabetes expert at Healing Our Village, a health care company in Atlanta, who served as a trustee of Robert Wood Johnson a decade ago, says that if offshore investing undermines the foundation’s philanthropic goals, “that would be of extreme concern.” But he, too, doesn’t recall board discussions of the practice.The increased scrutiny surrounding offshore investing, driven partly by the release of the Paradise Papers, is making it more likely that charities—including research funders—will have to grapple with the issue, observers say. That’s a good thing, says Dana Lanza, who heads the Oakland, California, nonprofit Confluence Philanthropy, which encourages foundations to align investment choices with their philanthropic mission. Foundations that invest heavily in offshore havens, she says, need to ask themselves a basic question: “Do you owe it to the world to be an ethical investor?”The methodology for this story is available online. Jia You contributed reporting. The story was supported by the Science Fund for Investigative Reporting.last_img read more

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Geneedited livestock could be a boon to farmers in developing countries

first_imgQ: How did you become interested in this work?A: I was born in the western part of Cameroon. If it wasn’t for livestock, I wouldn’t have received any education. My school fees were paid always by sales from livestock. I studied genomics during my Ph.D. and increasingly realized the power of what it could do. I was always thinking about what I could do back in the environment I came from, either improving [the] health of people, animals, and things like that.Q: What challenges do livestock farmers in developing countries face?A: Productivity is really, really low for a range of reasons. If you look at milk production, for instance, on average, dairy cattle in sub-Saharan Africa in the best-case scenarios are producing five times less than what you would get in temperate climates [i.e. places with advanced economies]. In advanced economies, what has really helped is very structured and long-term breeding programs. Animals are continuously monitored for inbreeding and stuff like that. In most of sub-Saharan Africa, you don’t have those breeding programs in place. So it makes it very difficult for you to track genetic material over several generations.More than 50 years ago, the easiest thing was just to import some animals from temperate climates. But because of the climate, it didn’t work. The animal is really not adapted to the hotter environment.Another option was breeding tropical livestock with these temperate animals. But you’re dependent on luck because you didn’t even know what genes to look for. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Cattle in sub-Saharan Africa tend to make less milk or meat than those raised in advanced economies. Email Biologist Appolinaire Djikeng uses genetic techniques to identify livestock with useful traits. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Ben Sadd/Minden Pictures WASHINGTON, D.C.—Raising livestock is a vital source of income in developing countries. But these nations lack sophisticated breeding programs, so their cows and chickens don’t make as much milk, eggs, or meat as their counterparts in advanced economies. And because most farmers in developing countries have just a few animals, they risk losing all or most of their livelihood if a disease wipes out their livestock.The Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health—based in Edinburgh and Nairobi—aims to help farmers in developing countries grow hardier and more productive animals with a little help from modern gene-editing techniques. Researchers can make tiny changes to DNA that mimic traditional breeding, but faster, and they can help identify which animals might be best for breeding.Biologist Appolinaire Djikeng heads the center, which works with scientists and policymakers in developing countries. He spoke about the center at the annual meeting here of AAAS (which publishes Science) earlier this month and sat down with Science to chat about his work. This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Q: How do you use genetic tools to improve livestock?A: Our work is focusing on looking at improving livestock productivity and focusing on a number of traits. That trait could be fast growth, it could be resistance to disease, it could be productivity, like milk production, egg production, and quality of the meat.For less complex traits, you can identify a single gene or a single variation in DNA that confers that trait. But for other traits, it’s going to be less obvious. It could be an association, a combination of many, many genes, or a very large genomic region. If we get a single gene or a single variant which is linked to an important trait, then you can do genome editing.But in cases where it is a group of genes that are conferring that trait, you’re limited. You cannot do genome editing. What you’re left to do is to select animals that have that genomic region and enter conventional breeding.Q: How does your work help farmers with their breeding?A: If we have an animal that is very suitable for [breeding], we can do a genetic profile for that animal to be easily identifiable. You document it not only visually, but also based on the genome and the genetic profile.And what we rely on is really reproductive technologies. Let’s say you have a sire that farmers agree is the best sire. You can quickly multiply using artificial insemination for most farmers to have the same animal in the community.Q: How have you engaged with policymakers?A: We realized that the best way to engage them was to invite them to see what’s happening. For example, the official opening of the facilities in Nairobi, Kenya, was with the former president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki. When he came to visit, one lady from our program talked to him about the work that they’re doing to address a disease of sweet potato. And the president was really impressed. It wasn’t somebody from a different country telling him what was happening. That was really building the trust.I think that that was the beginning. It got in the press, and everybody talked about it. Then we started hosting groups of politicians from the Parliament who came to learn, and they asked questions. I think that’s a very good way of engaging. When you engage people at that level, there is trust, and they actually come to you with problems.I go to my village and tell people about it, they’ll trust me because their problems are my problems. I’m not going to tell them to do something that I wouldn’t do myself. Gene-edited livestock could be a boon to farmers in developing countries Callum Bennetts By Erika K. CarlsonFeb. 27, 2019 , 10:10 AMlast_img read more

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Pamela Turners Funeral Set As Cop Goes Unpunished

first_img Everything We Know About Sadie Roberts-Joseph’s Murder Investigation The family has sent me a picture of #PamelaTurner . Please share this instead of that mugshot. #BLMHOU #SayHerName pic.twitter.com/QtrJb1rUos— Ashton P. Woods (@AshtonPWoods) May 15, 2019Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who was representing Turner’s family, was expected to discuss the findings of an independent autopsy during a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Houston alongside other attorneys as well as Turner’s sister, Antoinette Dorsey-James, and her children, Chelsie Rubin and Cameron January.The website of the Harris County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed last week that the “manner of death” for Turner was “homicide.” The primary cause of death was listed as “multiple gunshot wounds.” However, Delacruz has remained gainfully employed by the Baytown Police Department more than a week after the “homicide” that police said he happened when approached her in an apartment complex parking lot because she had outstanding warrants. Crump said last week that was a lie.“The police sought to criminalized [sic] this unarmed #blackwoman who the police officer executed her at 10:40pm on May 13, 2019 in Baytown, Texas, a suburb of Houston, Texas,” Crump tweeted last Thursday morning before Delacruz’s identity had been confirmed. “The Baytown Police Department are lying on #pamelaturner when they say she had outstanding warrants.” 31 Black Women Who Died In Police Custody The Evolving Relevance Of ‘The Talk’ Turner’s children ripped into the Baytown Police Department during a press conference last week.“My mom is not a horrible person, she’s so loving, she’s so caring,” Rubin said.“My mother was not an evil person, she was not a criminal,” January added. “I won’t stand here and let ya’ll make her look like that… I didn’t receive a phone call. They didn’t want to tell us how things were done or give us any information. I had to sit there and replay this video of my mother getting murdered.”Turner’s death appeared to be the latest evidence that police routinely react to Black and brown suspects vastly different from white ones despite the level of threat posed to officers. That point was proven and then some this week when an “armed and dangerous” white man accused of shooting and killing one police officer while injuring two others in an Alabama trailer park was somehow able to be peacefully arrested.SEE ALSO:Sounds About White! Eric Garner’s Killer Is Using Every Trick In The Book To Delay His TrialMississippi Police Officer Charged With Murdering A 32-Year-Old Black Mother Baytown Police seemingly tried to blame Turner for her own death, releasing a statement that said she used Delacruz’s Taser against him, purportedly prompting him to fear for his life and shoot her. “During the course of the attempted arrest, the female began struggling with the officer, which forced the officer to deploy his Taser,” Baytown Police Department Lt. Steve Dorris said May 14, the morning after the shooting. “That deployment was not effective, and the female was able to get the officer’s Taser away from him. (She) actually tased the officer, which forced the officer to draw his duty weapon and fire multiple rounds at the suspect.”However, the video of the fatal encounter, recorded by a bystander, did not appear to show Turner reaching for anything. In fact, Turner can be heard on the video telling Delacruz he was harassing her.Despite all of the above, Delacruz was placed on paid administrative leave, a curious status for someone who the county’s medical examiner said definitely committed a “homicide” after he apparently ignored his police training and resorted to lethal force against the unarmed Turner. Adding insult to literal injury was the fact that Delacruz reportedly lived in the same apartment complex and knew Turner, who screamed “I’m pregnant!” in the seconds before she was hot, was suffering from mental illness.“He never gave her any verbal commands,” Crump told the Final Call recently. “There’s nothing on that video that shows that she was a threat to him in any way where he had to use unnecessary, unjustifiable, unimaginable, excessive force like he did in that video when he shot her five times at point blank range while she laid on the ground. It is just the most horrific murder that we’ve ever seen by one of these police officers killing an unarmed Black person, much less, an unarmed Black woman, which makes it all the more reprehensible.” Baytown Police Department , Baytown police shooting , fatal police shooting , Juan Manuel Delacruz , Pamela Turner , Texas The unarmed grandmother of three who was shot and killed by a police officer in suburban Houston last week was set to be laid to rest on Thursday. Pamela Turner died after Baytown Police Officer Juan Delacruz fired multiple shots at close range following his botched attempt to arrest her for what lawyers described as a false pretense.READ MORE: Will Police Public Executions Of Black People Ever Stop?The 45-year-old’s funeral services were scheduled to take place Thursday morning at Lilly Grove Baptist Church in Houston. Rev. Al Sharpton was slated to give Turner’s eulogy and his National Action Network civil rights organization announced it was paying for the funeral services. More By Bruce C.T. Wright USA, New York, Protesters of police killing march in New York demanding Justice For All Unpacking Mayor Pete’s ‘Douglass Plan’ For Black Americalast_img read more

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Longunderfunded Lyme disease research gets an injection of money—and ideas

first_img Long-underfunded Lyme disease research gets an injection of money—and ideas By Jennifer Couzin-FrankelApr. 17, 2019 , 3:00 PM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Months after a U.S. Congress–mandated working group sounded the alarm about tickborne illnesses and urged more federal action and money, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is readying a strategic plan for these diseases. Last week it also, serendipitously, issued a rare solicitation for prevention proposals in tickborne diseases. The new pot of money, $6 million in 2020, represents a significant boost; NIH spent $23 million last year on Lyme disease, by far the most common tickborne illness, within $56 million devoted to tickborne diseases overall.”I’m happy for anything” new going toward research, says John Aucott, director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center in Baltimore, Maryland, who chaired the group that wrote the 2018 report. Strategies that may garner support include vaccines that target multiple pathogens carried by ticks or that kill the ticks themselves.Aucott’s panel included academic and government scientists as well as patient advocates; it formed as a result of the 2016 21st Century Cures Act. The group’s report described tickborne diseases as a “serious and growing threat.” About 30,000 confirmed Lyme disease cases were reported last year to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but the agency believes the real number to be more than 300,000. Cases of Lyme disease have roughly tripled since the 1990s as ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative bacterium, have spread in response to climate change, neighborhoods encroaching on animal habitats, and other ecologic shifts. Emailcenter_img The Lyme disease field has for years been mired in controversy—researchers receive hate mail from angry and desperate patients, and scientific disputes can be vitriolic. That may have left government agencies reluctant to wade too deep into the fray. “I think the discussion is starting to shift,” says Monica Embers, a microbiologist at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She and others still hope for additional money from NIH and CDC for diagnostics and treatment research. CDC’s budget for Lyme disease grew this year from $10.7 million to $12 million—the first increase in 5 years, albeit a modest one. “Preventing infection is going to go a long way if we can do it,” Embers says.Symptoms of Lyme disease vary but can include a rash at the site of the tick bite, fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. After a course of antibiotics, 10% to 20% of those infected remain sick, and the question is why: Some scientists believe the bacterium can persist in the body, but others dismiss the idea. This dispute, combined with patients whom doctors often can’t help, has created a fractious field unlike almost any other.The $6 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is slated to fund up to 15 projects. The funding “will get new technology out of the shadows,” spurring development of nascent approaches and collaborations, says Maria Gomes-Solecki, a veterinarian at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis who has designed an oral vaccine for mice and other rodents against B. burgdorferi. It kills the bacterium in ticks feeding on the animals. A company called US Biologic, also in Memphis, is seeking marketing approval for the vaccine from the Department of Agriculture and hopes to sell it to homeowners and health departments.”Vaccines are certainly going to be at the top” of prevention priorities for tickborne diseases, says Samuel Perdue, chief of the Basic Sciences Section in NIAID’s Bacteriology and Mycology Branch in Bethesda, Maryland, noting that the institute already funds some vaccine research.The only Lyme vaccine for people had a difficult history: It was almost 80% effective but was pulled from the market in 2002 after safety concerns surfaced and sales tanked. Since then, tickborne diseases have become a growing problem, and the black-legged tick can transmit many of them, says Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. He favors developing a vaccine that protects against multiple pathogens, possibly by targeting ticks instead. Some scientists are studying how to design a tick-killing vaccine for people that reacts to the tick’s salivary proteins. Ostfeld knows firsthand that this is possible: After exposure to dozens of tick bites during fieldwork, his immune system now kills ticks when they begin to feed on him. “I’m not alone,” he says. “There are people who seem to attack the tick.” Animal models have backed the approach.Nonvaccine prevention efforts are underway as well. Across 24 neighborhoods in Dutchess County in New York, Ostfeld and ecologist Felicia Keesing of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, are leading an effort to test whether a tick-killing fungus and a pesticide that kills ticks when applied to animals can reduce infection rates in people and pets. Much of that project is supported by the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, which has spent more than $42 million on Lyme and other tickborne disease research since 2015. Two other groups, the Global Lyme Alliance and the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, have together directed more than $20 million to research in recent years. “These foundations are giving a lot of money,” says Embers, who receives foundation support. “They want translational research, and they want answers.”Foundations are keen to address the third rail of Lyme disease: how Borrelia bacteria persist—if they do—in treated patients who don’t get better. NIH’s strategic plan is due this summer, but Ostfeld says researchers coming together could make it easier for the agency to boost funding in a polarized field. “The responsibility,” he suggests, “lies at least in part with the community to try to avoid so much acrimony and to try to find areas of agreement.” Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe ISTOCK.COM/DIETERMEYRL The black-legged tick can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.last_img read more

Read More Longunderfunded Lyme disease research gets an injection of money—and ideas

Ancient City Containing Huge Pyramid Unearthed in China

first_imgRecent news from China tell us of the discovery of a massive stepped pyramid. It rose at least 230 feet high and measured 59 acres at the base. The imposing pyramid structure was situated in the heart of a long lost city that at one time encompassed an area of 988 acres, making it one of the largest in the world for its era.According to Antiquity, the journal which released the news in August 2018, the city and the pyramid were evidently a prominent center of power at the time — some 4,000 years ago.Eyes and anthropomorphic symbols adorning the pyramid have been interpreted as something that could have designated the structure’s special status in both religious and economic terms. Remnants of extensive stone walls and ramparts testify the city was capable of defending itself.Shaanxi Province, China. Photo by Till Niermann CC BY SA 3.0These reports come after several years of excavation at the Shimao ruins, located in China’s northern province of Shaanxi. Archaeologists have been aware of the site since its discovery in the mid-1970s, the original name of which is unknown, but they little idea had of its significance until now.It had previously been assumed the neolithic stone remnants were what’s left of a small town connected to the Great Wall of China. But the city of Shimao turns out to predate the Great Wall, which was built between 2,700 and 400 years ago.The Great Wall of China.Another strange aspect is the city’s location, which has been traditionally considered as being on the periphery of early Chinese civilization. Why was there such a thriving center in China’s Central Plains in such an early era?According to the archaeology team, the city would have flourished for some five centuries, with life centered around the pyramid. Bearing in mind the vast territory Shimao occupied, the city would have also scored high on the list of largest settlements from antiquity.The origin of the human remains has been traced to Zhukaigou, another archaeological site to the north of Shimao.The pyramid is composed of 11 stone-supported steps. Whoever ruled the city had the privilege to live on the uppermost part of it — a large plaza where palace remnants have been found.Researchers have described the palace in the study to have been made of rammed earth, pillars of wood, with a roof covered with tiles. More remains include those of a colossal reservoir for water and ancient leftovers of daily life.Archaeological excavation.While the pyramid housed the reigning Shimao elites, researchers wrote, part of its space was reserved also for producing arts and crafts.Theories that the Shimao occupants may have reigned over their neighborhoods are also discussed. Archaeologists have located “six pits containing decapitated human heads” around the complex. The origin of the human remains has been traced to Zhukaigou, another archaeological site located to the north of Shimao.Things you may not know about The MayansThe study suggests the Zhukaigou people could have been captured in times when Shimao expanded, according to morphological analysis carried out within the research scope, as reported by Live Science.More intriguing findings and aspects that speak of the power and prestige of this ancient city? Carved jade artifacts were found in voids between stone blocks composing the numerous structures around Shimao. A mural that was also found is now in the game to receive the title of China’s oldest, at around 4,000 years of age.A jade artifact found at Shimao. Photo by Siyuwj/ CC BY SA 4.0Not to mention how secured the pyramid was with all its protection of stone walls, parapets, and refined bulwarks by the main gate entrance. Movement through the entrances must have been heavily controlled. Everything about the design of the pyramid implies the rules to enter were rigid. Not everyone would have been invited to chip in on any of the important rituals or political gatherings held on the plaza area on the top.The pyramid’s height itself is imposing enough. Even people occupying the remotest dwellings in the area would have been able to see it.Artifacts found at Shimao. Photo by Siyuwj CC BY-SA 4.0As the researchers note in the paper, the pyramid “could well have provided a constant and overwhelming reminder to the Shimao population of the power of the ruling elites residing atop it – a concrete example of the ‘social pyramid.’”Read another story from us: “Hunger Stone” Warnings – Haunting Messages From the Past Uncovered by DroughtSo suddenly, everything we knew about early Chinese civilization feels undermined. Which were its “centers” and which were its “peripheries”? What was the real name of Shimao and who were the people who led the city to prosper? We are left to wonder for a while.Stefan is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to The Vintage News. He is a graduate in Literature. He also runs the blog This City Knows.last_img read more

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Termination of Indias designation as GSP beneficiary is done deal US

first_img P Rajagopal, Saravana Bhavan founder sentenced to life for murder, dies Best Of Express Post Comment(s) Trump secures billion dollar deal to eradicate AIDS from US in a decade Advertising “That suspension is a done deal. Now the task is how do we look ahead; how do we work under the second Modi Administration, to identify a path forward?” the official said, reflecting the Trump administration’s decision that the GSP termination is final.On March 4, the move had come alongside a letter reportedly sent by US president Donald J Trump to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives stating his intent to terminate India’s position as a GSP beneficiary as New Delhi has not assured this equitable and reasonable access to its markets.Under the United States GSP program, certain products can enter the United States duty-free if beneficiary developing countries meet the eligibility criteria established by its Congress.“We believe there’s enormous potential to grow our trade relationship and to help stimulate the jobs that Prime Minister Modi is committed to bringing to an overwhelmingly young Indian population. We believe that if India is prepared to address policies including data localisation and e-commerce measures, that served to stifle international investment from top tier companies, that we can continue to make significant progress moving forward,” the official said according to PTI. The GSP, which is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme, allows duty-free entry for over 3,000 products from designated beneficiary countries. India has been the biggest beneficiary of the GSP regime, and accounted for over a quarter of the goods that got duty-free access into the US in 2017.Hours after Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister for a second term, the Trump administration has prioritised working with New Delhi to ensure that US companies have a level playing field.“The persistent market access issues, which we were engaged with our Indian counterparts over the last year, led us to announce in March that we would be suspending or withdrawing India’s benefits under the generalised system of Preferences Program,” PTI quoted a senior State Department official as saying. Advertising Chandrayaan-2 gets new launch date days after being called off center_img Hold the applause until Hafiz Saeed is convicted: US committee to Donald Trump By Express Web Desk |Washington | Updated: May 31, 2019 12:55:41 pm US House rejects Saudi weapons sales; Trump to veto Suspension of preferential trade status for India under GSP is 'done deal': US The 60-day notice period ended on May 3. A formal notification is now expected anytime. (representational)Two months after the United States announced its intention to “terminate” India’s designation as a beneficiary of its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), the Trump administration has said it will not go back on its decision and has termed the GSP trade programme suspension a “done deal”. The 60-day notice period ended on May 3. A formal notification is now expected anytime. Related News “But I think we need to be looking forward at how do we relaunch an ambitious set of discussions between our trade teams in order to address these outstanding irritants,” the official said, asserting that there is every reason to believe that the GSP suspension will move forward. He also said that India needed to address some of its major concerns in particular those related to market access and data localisation.“Data localisation is a phenomenon that’s been taking place globally where we’ve seen increasing digital protectionism. While we recognise that there are legitimate security and privacy and law enforcement issues related to data protection, we’re looking at nearly eight per cent of India’s GDP, about USD 160 billion is associated with IT firms who depend upon the free flow of data,” PTI quoted the official as saying.So, the US does not want to see market access barriers to American firms in India when the Indian companies currently enjoy largely unfettered access to the US markets, the official said. Ayodhya dispute: Mediation to continue till July 31, SC hearing likely from August 2 last_img read more

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Kiran Bedi blames Tamil Nadus corrupt politics for water scarcity Stalin demands

first_img Advertising On Sunday, Bedi had tweeted, “A question with possible answers: India’s 6th largest city Chennai has become the first city in the country to run dry. The same city was in floods due to copious rains just 4 years back. Where lies the problem? Ans: Poor Governance, Corrupt Politics, Indifferent Bureaucracy+.”Bedi’s tweet evoked strong reactions from the leaders across the state, including Stalin. On Monday, DMK legislators staged a walkout from the Assembly after Speaker P Dhanapal did not allow Stalin, who is also the Leader of Opposition, to raise an issue involving remarks by Bedi on the water scarcity citing Assembly rules that forbade discussions about Governor. Stalin’s party also wanted Bedi to apologise for her comments and urged President Ram Nath Kovind to remove her from the office immediately and make everyone understand the values of Indian Constitution.A Question with Possible Answers:India’s 6th largest city #Chennai has become d first city in d country to run dry. The same city was in floods due to copious rains just 4 yrs back. Where lies the problem ?Ans: Poor Govenance,Corrupt Politics, Indifferent Bureaucracy+ pic.twitter.com/CDKnblCFcV— Kiran Bedi (@thekiranbedi) June 30, 2019“Only then the dignity of her office will be saved. Tamil Nadu people are compassionate and patriotic,” Stalin was quoted by PTI as saying.Condemning the remarks by Bedi, Stalin led his party members in staging a walkout. Comments made by him and Law Minister C V Shanmugam on the issue were expunged by the Chair. DMK protests against Kiran Bedi for calling Tamils ‘selfish and cowardly’ Advertising By Express Web Desk |New Delhi | Published: July 2, 2019 12:55:42 pm Opposition MPs from Tamil Nadu protest Kiran Bedi’s remarks on state Best Of Express P Rajagopal, Saravana Bhavan founder sentenced to life for murder, dies “It is condemnable that the Puducherry Lt Governor has made some callous remarks not knowing these (or) by ignoring these facts. ….. It does not befit the post she holds. She should not shirk her responsibility of ensuring the rightful share of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Cauvery river and she should confine herself to the job entrusted to her and maintain dignity,” she added as reported by PTI.Meanwhile, the AIADMK party unit in Puducherry said they would urge the Centre to take action against Bedi.Both the AIADMK and DMK in the Union territory have announced protests against her. Asking Bedi to withdraw her remarks, the AIADMK said it will hold protests, while the DMK said it will organise a “lay siege to Raj Nivas,” protest tomorrow.(With PTI inputs)center_img 0 Comment(s) Kiran Bedi blames Tamil Nadu's 'poor governance, corrupt politics' for water scarcity; MK Stalin demands apology Kiran Bedi’s tweet evoked strong reactions from the leaders across the state including DMK Chief MK Stalin. (File)Reacting to Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi’s tweet, in which she had blamed the Tamil Nadu government for the water crisis in the state, DMK chief MK Stalin demanded an apology from her. Chandrayaan-2 launch on July 22 at 2.43 pm: ISRO Ayodhya dispute: Mediation to continue till July 31, SC hearing likely from August 2 Related News Kiran Bedi expressed regret, put issue to rest: Rajnath Singh in Parliament “If political parties were criticised by her, it could have been tolerated but her remarks were against the people, he said, adding the comments were “uncivilised and insulted the people of Tamil Nadu. The Puducherry Lt Governor’s comments are condemnable. We will not accept it for any reason, we have staged a walkout condemning it,” he said.After this, the Puducherry Lieutenant Governor said she shared only the people’s perception. “It is not my personal view and hence there is nothing personal in the message,” PTI quoted Bedi as saying.On the other hand, the ruling AIADMK in the state lashed out at Bedi for her comments, saying it did not befit her office. “The Centre itself has admitted that half of Indian districts were suffering from water shortage… Chennai has received 62 per cent less rain last year compared to 2017,” party’s literary wing secretary and former minister B Valarmathi said in a statement.She also said, “Despite the four reservoirs supplying water to Chennai drying up, the government was providing 525 million litre a day (mld), which was 75 mld more than what was being supplied in 2017.”last_img read more

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JK Rise in drug use sends alarm bells ringing

first_img Advertising Top News “We have never seen such a situation. The number of drugs addicts has doubled. The disturbing trend is that at present, we have 11 patients admitted, and nine of them are heroin addicts. It is very alarming and something needs to be done to tackle this problem,” Dr Yasir Hassan Rather, who heads the drug de-addiction centre in Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, told The Sunday Express.According to official data, the de-addiction centre has witnessed an unprecedented increase in the number of patients visiting the hospital’s Out Patients Department (OPD) since 2016. In 2016, the hospital saw 489 patients, which increased to 3,622 in 2017 and then 5,113 in 2018. As far as the Indoor Patients Department (IPD) is concerned, hospital officials say the trend is equally disturbing: in 2016, the hospital’s IPD department admitted 207 patients for drug abuse, which increased to 374 in 2017. In 2018, the number almost doubled to 624 cases.At the SMHS’ drug de-addiction centre, addicts say there is easy availability of drugs everywhere. Doctors and staff said the trend is likely to increase if effective measures are not taken at this stage. A doctor at the centre told The Sunday Express that the “easy availability” of drugs like heroin is now sending more patients to the hospitals now. “If it is not taken care of, it will definitely finish the coming generation. Look what has happened to Punjab…,” the doctor said. Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach At the SMHS’ drug de-addiction centre, addicts say there is easy availability of drugs everywhere in Jammu and KashmirDoctors in Kashmir have raised an alarm after the number of drug users in the Valley has significantly increased over the past two years. Aggravating the situation is the quickly changing pattern of drug consumption in the Valley, with doctors coming across an increasing number of abusers using synthetic drugs like heroin. Advertising After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan LiveKarnataka floor test: Will Kumaraswamy’s 14-month-old govt survive? EXPLAINED How govt plans to fight crisisWith easy availability of drugs luring more youths, the state government last year released its first drug de-addiction policy. The police has been approved, and various stakeholder organisations have prepared an annual action plan which is currently under the consideration of a state-level implementation committee headed by Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam.The story is same at the other drug de-addiction centre in Srinagar. Dr Muzaffar Khan, who heads the drug de-addiction facility in the Batmaloo Police Control Room, says they are noticing two changes of late. “First, the number of patients is increasing and second, the nature of drug abuse has changed,” he said.“I have registered 65 patients so far this month and last month it was 70. I would register hardly 10-20 per month around a year ago,” he said. “Last year, if I would see 10 patients, nine of them would use cannabis and medicinal opioids and one patient would be abusing heroin. Now it is the reverse…”The issue of drug abuse has also become a concern for separatist and religious leaders in the Valley. Recently, Kashmir’s chief cleric and Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq spoke about the drug menace during his Friday sermon at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar.Talking to The Indian Express, the Mirwaiz said, “Everyone is concerned about the sudden rise of easy availability of drugs like heroin in the market… The use of drugs like heroin by youth is very disturbing. We have started working on this and within a week or so we are calling all the religious figures to discuss this serious issue. We are starting a campaign through mosques, shrines and Imam Bada so that awareness will be created among the people how serious is the issue.we are also considering even calling of social boycott of those elements who are involved in selling drugs to youth.”J&K Police officials attribute the rise of heroin cases in Kashmir to the shifting of smuggling routes to Jammu and Kashmir from Punjab.“The change of (smuggling) routes from Punjab to J&K is the reason why we are seeing an increase in the availability of drugs like heroin here,” Ahfadul Mujtaba, IGP crime branch and nodal officer J&K for Narcotics Control Bureau said. Written by Adil Akhzer | Srinagar | Updated: July 7, 2019 5:31:18 am 1 Comment(s)last_img read more

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Current Session may be extended to clear pending legislation

first_img Advertising Related News Govt cancels postal exams after Tamil Nadu members disrupt Rajya Sabha Opposition criticises low priority to agriculture in Budget Written by Abantika Ghosh, Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Published: July 17, 2019 2:39:47 am Advertising Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Bill passed in Rajya Sabha parliament, parliament live, parliament live today, lok sabha live, parliament monsoon session live, monsoon session live, monsoon session live today, parliament monsoon session, rajya sabha live, nia bill, nia amendment bill, live news, indian express Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing BJP MPs during the Parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, has hinted at this possibilityWith the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament set to end on July 26, and with disruptions interrupting proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, the government may look to extend the current term. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing BJP MPs during the Parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, has hinted at this possibility. Modi, according to sources, told the Parliamentary Party meeting that the government has pending legislative agenda so the session may be extended.Some, like the NIA Bill, have been cleared by the Lok Sabha but others, like the triple talaq Bill, for which the Business Advisory Committee has not even allocated time yet, the urgency is more. There is currently an ordinance in force which criminalises instant triple talaq, which will lapse once the current session is over. The government, though, also has the option of renewing the ordinance.Parliament sources said extending the session is a “possibility”, and the government may take up only those Bills in the extra days for which there are currently ordinances in force. Apart from the triple talaq ordinance, these include ones on Jammu and Kashmir reservation, Aadhaar laws, Companies Act and Indian Medical Council Act.A government source said: “There is pending business, it is true, but overall there has been much business including legislative business, completed during the session. The government obviously retains the option of extending it if they feel the need, but there is much consensus building that needs to be done before that decision is finally taken…”There has been no formal or informal communication to Opposition parties on extending the session. “This is a rumour they float every session. This is serious business. The real issue here is how they are passing Bills without scrutiny. That cannot be allowed,” said Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien. Post Comment(s)last_img read more

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