Scientists develop urine diagnostic to detect parasitic worms that cause river blindness

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 28 2018Scientists at Scripps Research have developed a urine diagnostic to detect the parasitic worms that cause river blindness, also called onchocerciasis, a tropical disease that afflicts 18 to 120 million people worldwide.Described in the journal ACS Infectious Diseases, the new, non-invasive test may provide an inexpensive method of determining in real time whether a person has an infection, which would give public health officials and doctors critical information for tracking outbreaks and treating current infections.”River blindness affects individuals both in Africa and Latin America, and because many of these endemic regions are difficult to access, what is needed in the field is an inexpensive point-of-care means to monitor the disease,” says Kim Janda, PhD, the Ely R. Callaway Jr. Professor of Chemistry and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research.River blindness is a filarial disease, like elephantiasis, and occurs when the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus takes up residence in the skin. Adult worms pump out babies (microfilaria) at an alarming rate, which are ultimately re-spread by blackfly bites. The microfilariae can migrate to the eye and die, releasing toxins and causing inflammation. People with the disease will slowly go blind without medical intervention.Janda says onchocerciasis monitoring and evaluation are especially necessary steps for people leading elimination efforts. To know if these efforts are working, doctors need to be able to show when disease transmission has been interrupted. The current gold standard for detecting the parasitic worms is a “skin snip” biopsy. However, snips are generally insensitive indicators of infection, and the sensitivity of the skin snip decreases as the density of microfilaria in the skin decreases. Other tests cannot distinguish between past and current infections.Related StoriesTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTDisrupting ChIP Assay Technology with New AdvancementsAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyCurrently, onchocerciasis elimination programs rely primarily on mass drug administration of the therapy Ivermectin to suppress and eventually eliminate transmission of Onchocerca volvulus. Yet, without a means to evaluate if an infection is ongoing, it’s hard to assess if prevention efforts are working–and if it’s safe for people to stop taking medication.The new lateral flow assay took over 10 years to develop, but it is now ready for manufacturing and testing in the field. The key to the assay’s success was in the making of designer antibodies to detect a unique biomarker that only shows up when a human host has metabolized a worm neurotransmitter called tyramine. Humans then secrete this biomarker in urine.A negative on the “dipstick” test shows a colored line in the test. Got the parasite? The test would show no lines.Unlike the skin snip biopsy, Janda says this non-invasive test is the first to use a metabolite produced by adult worms. Moreover, the dipstick’s inexpensive design, coupled with smartphone apps, would offer automatic image processing, which ultimately could translate to address critical gaps in the surveillance and treatment of river blindness.Source: read more

Advanced Bionics announces FDA approval of HiRes Ultra 3D Cochlear Implant

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 31 2018Advanced Bionics (AB) Announces the FDA Approval of the HiRes™ Ultra 3D Cochlear Implant. Built on the HiRes™ Ultra platform and developed by the internal Research and Development Team at AB, the new implant is the Hassle Free and Pain Free choice for recipients undergoing MRI examinations. Even for high resolution MRI examinations there is no need to remove the magnet and no requirement for head bandaging, meaning no hearing downtime for the patient.Hansjuerg Emch, Group Vice President Cochlear Implants (CI), Sonova says, “After many years of research and development, the new magnet technology in our cochlear implants will improve the quality of life for our many recipients due to our hassle free and pain free magnet. We are leading the way and ensuring our recipients have the best possible experiences with our advanced technology. It’s a powerful innovation and makes our efforts so rewarding for patients.”Related StoriesOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairMusic can help develop speech and language skills in hearing-impaired childrenThe new magnet design provides alignment with an external magnetic field in any direction. This allows cochlear implant recipients to move freely around in the strong magnetic field of an MRI machine without feeling pain or discomfort, and without restrictions to the orientation of the head.MRI examinations are already a standard of care for health care professionals and with this in mind AB developed new magnet technology that is compatible with MRI screenings, allowing patients’ peace of mind for any future health issues that necessitate an MRI examination. Previously, patients and surgeons had to contend with the strong magnetic field from MRI machines exerting force on the magnet, causing torque and subsequent pain if the magnet remained in situ, even with head bandaging. Therefore it was common to remove the magnet for high resolution MRI examinations, requiring out-patient surgery and interrupting the patient’s hearing during the healing process. And with the future in mind the new technology has been designed to undergo heavy usage of MRI procedures without any loss of magnetic strength or mobility of the magnet components. Source: read more

Video Wasps Come With Their Own Power Tools

Wasps don’t need to go to the hardware store for a power drill; they’ve got their own. The female parasitic fig wasp (Apocryta westwoodi grandi) can bore deep into tough, unripe figs (as seen in the video above) with a tail-shaped appendage that’s thinner than a single strand of human hair. Fascinated by the piercing strength of the instrument, scientists analyzed its shape and composition. They found that the tip of the appendage looks much like an actual drill bit with teeth that are bolstered by a hint of metal to help cut into the woody fruit. These prongs, which are enriched with zinc, are nearly as strong as the cement dentists use to glue in prosthetic teeth. The finding, published online today in The Journal of Experimental Biology, could help the research team design a miniature device that mimics the wasp’s own unique drilling tool. Sadly, as the video shows, the insect’s power tool is no use against an ant’s deadly pincers.(Video credit: Laksminath Kundanati and Namrata Gundiah) read more

The best response to some cyberattacks may be to ignore them

first_img Staff Sgt. Tracy Smith/Wikimedia Commons Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Policymakers could soon be using game theory to decide how to respond publicly to the cyberattacks that these and other cyber warriors defend against. By Eric SmalleyMar. 6, 2017 , 3:00 AMcenter_img Cyberattacks have damaged an Iranian uranium enrichment facility, brought a multinational oil company’s operations to a halt, and stolen the personnel files of millions of U.S. federal employees. But the best way to deal with these internet perpetrators may be to let them get away with it, according to new research. In some cases, scientists have found, assigning blame publicly leaves the victim worse off.The counterintuitive finding stems from a study sparked by the U.S. government’s claim that North Korea was responsible for hacking Sony Pictures in 2014. The attack exposed confidential information in an effort to blackmail the company into pulling the plug on the film The Interview, which poked fun at North Korea. The U.S. government’s reluctance to provide evidence for its accusation left many cybersecurity experts skeptical. This placed the government in the difficult position of choosing between exposing intelligence sources and having its credibility and motives questioned.To figure out why pointing the finger in cyberattacks is not always the right move, political scientist Robert Axelrod of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and postdoctoral researcher Benjamin Edwards of IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, New York, turned to game theory—the mathematical modeling of competition and cooperation among people, organizations, or governments. They and other researchers have used game theory to study how to carry out and defend against cyberattacks, but the new research takes a broader approach by also factoring in the attacker’s and victim’s political strengths and weaknesses and how much they know about each other. “We’re trying to incorporate that uncertainty and that political climate into the game as well,” Edwards says. The best response to some cyberattacks may be to ignore them Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The team developed a model that was informed by not only the 2014 Sony attack, but also the theft of security clearance–related information for 21.5 million current and former government employees from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, allegedly carried out by Chinese nationals in 2014 and 2015, and the stealing of electronic files from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential election that the Central Intelligence Agency attributed to the Russian government.The scientists developed a game, dubbed the blame game, involving two players. Player A chooses whether to attack player B, and player B chooses whether to blame player A for the attack. Each player can be one of two types. A can either care whether B blames it or not care, and B can either know whether A cares about being blamed or not know. The model calculates how much each side gains and loses from an attack and from the decision to cast blame or not. For example, choosing not to cast blame for a known attack could cost the victim in the form of a public outcry.In cases where the attacker’s domestic and international political standing wouldn’t take much of a hit from being blamed, it makes sense for the victim to refrain from making a public accusation even in the face of criticism for inaction, the team reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For example, Iran did not publicly blame the United States and Israel, the presumed perpetrators of the Stuxnet computer virus attack on an Iranian nuclear facility in 2009 and 2010, because the Iranian government likely recognized that the two countries would be able to brush off Iran’s recriminations. Given that Iran has limited capacity for retaliating and preventing future attacks, blaming the United States and Israel would make Iran look weak.“If they scream publicly but can’t back that up, they incur loss of status,” says Howard Shrobe, a cybersecurity researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge who was not involved in the study. “In some cases not even acknowledging the attack is the best strategy.”Another risk in casting blame is exposing the victim’s intelligence capabilities for little gain, says Herbert Lin, a cybersecurity researcher at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. The new study’s game theory approach does an admirable job of clarifying the nature of the trade-offs involved in weighing whether to commit a cyberattack and whether and how to respond to one, he says.“That kind of analysis is very important to policy planners, because it can help us avoid putting resources where they’re not going to matter very much,” Shrobe says. “Frankly, it’s something I was hoping would be done for quite some time now.”last_img read more

Nanoscavengers could protect people from sarin gas other nerve agents

first_imgIn the current study, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle tried a new tack. They wrapped an organophosphate-targeting enzyme called OPH in a flexible polymer gel coating. The end result was nanometer-size particles capable of going undetected by the immune system and staying in the body longer than the enzyme alone. When given before exposure to nerve agents, the nanoparticles clear the chemicals from the bloodstream.Rats given a single injection of the “nanoscavenger” were completely protected against organophosphate exposure for up to 5 days without side effects. In treated guinea pigs, the nanoscavenger protected animals from multiple sarin injections for 8 days, the team reports today in Science Translational Medicine.The nanoscavenger could essentially act as a vaccine in people, says chemical engineer Shaoyi Jiang, a member of the team. If the therapy is optimized, the protection could potentially last for weeks or even months, he says.Previous bioscavengers haven’t remained in the body long enough to confer protection, or they’ve sparked the body’s immune system to neutralize the antidote with antibodies, notes Jin Montclare, a protein engineer at New York University in New York City, who was not involved with the study. The new work appears to circumvent both of these concerns, she says.Nerve agent nanoscavengers would be most practical for people who are at high risk of exposure to the chemical weapons, such as soldiers or first responders going into a contaminated area, says Janice Chambers, a toxicologist at Mississippi State University in Starkville who wasn’t involved in the work. But she says the therapy probably wouldn’t be useful for short-notice assaults such as terrorist attacks. “By the time you would be exposed and showing the signs of tremors or convulsions, it would be too late” to give the treatment.The authors say the treatment could also help protect people working with certain pesticides. According to the World Health Organization, pesticides containing organophosphates cause 200,000 poisoning deaths per year in developing countries.Next, the researchers plan to test how long the nanoscavenger works in monkeys, and they will also see whether multiple doses can be given. After that, a clinical trial would be needed to test the safety of the therapy in humans. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images ‘Nanoscavengers’ could protect people from sarin gas, other nerve agents 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 Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Emailcenter_img By Emily MullinJan. 2, 2019 , 2:00 PM In the 1980s, thousands of Iranians were killed from exposure to the nerve agents sarin and tobin unleased by Iraqi forces. Similar chemicals have been used against soldiers and civilians in recent wars and terrorist attacks. Now, researchers are reporting a new therapy that may be able to provide long-acting protection against these agents. Though the treatment has only been tested in rodents, some scientists say it could one day prevent lasting brain damage or death in people exposed to these deadly chemical weapons.Nerve agents like sarin belong to a family of chemicals called organophosphates. Although some of these compounds are widely used in much lower concentrations as pesticides, the nerve agents are highly lethal because they get into the body quickly through the respiratory tract, eyes, or skin. Once inside cells, they inhibit an important enzyme whose normal function is to break down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps muscles contract. When too much acetylcholine builds up, victims experience violent muscle spasms and eventually stop breathing.Current antidotes must be given as soon as possible, and although they can help mitigate the symptoms of poisoning, they don’t act directly on nerve agents. As a result, researchers have been trying to develop prophylactic “scavenging” molecules capable of seeking out and degrading nerve agents in the body upon exposure. But such “bioscavengers” have only been able to provide brief protection in various lab animals, and no such therapies have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Hazardous material specialists rescue a doll during a simulated nerve gas attack in San Diego, California.last_img read more

Candace Owens Uses Malcolm X To Justify Hate

first_imgWhat can you expect? This is the same person who told scholar and activist Dr. Cornel West on the propaganda channel’s hateful Laura Ingraham show that welfare is destroying the Black community (when there are more white people on welfare than Black people) and “One hundred years after slavery, the Black community was doing better.” A hilarious comment considering this particular era is when Malcolm X grew up and he clearly didn’t see African Americans “doing better.”If you can stomach it, watch the disturbing clip below.If you didn’t know, the woman who apparently inspired the New Zealand terrorist dropped out of the University of Rhode Island during her junior year. “She dropped out of the University of Rhode Island in her junior year, and went on to educate herself,” reported last year. “She read works by Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Carson and Thomas Sowell.”While there is nothing wrong with not going to college, there is something wrong with constantly insulting the intelligence level of educated people who learned what she didn’t while they were in college. Entertainment, News and Lifestyle for Black America. News told by us for us. Black America’s #1 News Source: Our News. Our Voice. SUBSCRIBE Gov. Cuomo Slams Mayor Bill De Blasio For The Eric Garner Case But He Also Failed The Family SEE ALSO:All The Ways Cops Are Still Trying To Cover Up LaQuan McDonald’s ExecutionOutrageous! Figurines Of White Cherub Crushing Head Of Black Angel Removed From Dollar StoreMeet Jogger Joe, The Man Who Took Racist Cue From BBQ Becky In Tossing Homeless Man’s Clothes Candace Owens, who inspired the New Zealand terrorist that killed Muslims, dropped out of the University of Rhode Island during her junior year. She reportedly left college to “educate herself” and read works by Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Carson and Thomas Sowell.” This could explain why she knows nothing from slavery to the holocaust and especially Malcolm X. She had the nerve to quote  el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.READ MORE: Candace Owens Reportedly ‘Influenced’ New Zealand Mosque Terrorist Jesse Jackson Demands ‘Justice Now’ At EJ Bradford’s Moving Funeral Ceremony “The white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the negro’s friend and benefactor” -Malcolm X— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) June 17, 2019Malcolm X wasn’t a Democrat or a Republican, he believed in Black Nationalism, the Black community having their own — Owens is a person who thinks Black people complain too much about police violence (she once said cops are the “most oppressed” minority in the country) and that the Southern Strategy was a myth.Everything Owens fraudulently stands for, Malcolm X would be against and it’s actually this quote that fits her, “The first thing the cracker does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee. To show that he’s all right. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is all right.”Malcolm also said, “I don’t speak as a Democrat or a Republican, nor an American. I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy -– all we’ve seen is hypocrisy.” Owens believes everything is peachy keen for Black folks and she believes Muslims like Ilhan Omar should be deported. Candace Owens , Cornel West , Fox News A$AP Rocky Being In A Swedish Prison Will Not Stop Her From Going To The Country That Showed Her ‘So Much Love’ Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Braford Jr. More By NewsOne Staff Owens wrote on Twitter, “‘The white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the negro’s friend and benefactor’ -Malcolm X.” Meghan McCain Whines That She Can’t Attack llhan Omar Because Trump Is Too Racist Thanks for signing up! Get ready for Exclusive content, Interviews,and Breaking news delivered direct to your inbox. Get ready for Exclusive content, Interviews,and Breaking news delivered direct to your inbox.last_img read more

4 million needed for December completion of Cathedral renovation project

first_imgShareTweetSharePinThe Roseau Cathedral Renovation Project started in 2013The Roseau Cathedral Renovation Project, which started in 2013, is “nearing completion” says Fr. Nigel Karam, Dean of the Roseau Cathedral. “While it is nearing completion, funds are still needed. There are events annually to raise funds” Karam said at a news conference held on Wednesday to launch the 2019 Family Fun Day, one of the fundraising events for the project. So far, the church has raised $8 million and still needs $4 million for completion.Fr. Karam said that the Cathedral is completely covered but there are still finishing touches to be added to the roofing and that is expected to be completed by the end of July. He added that although the damage caused by Hurricane Maria was “fairly extensive”, most of the work is already done and what is left is mainly the cleaning and redoing of the floors which were completely damaged by the weather conditions. The majority of the tiles on the roof however, remained in place and proved to be resilient. It is hoped that the work will be completed by December and that Christmas Mass will be held at the Cathedral. Fr. Karam suggested that even if the building is not completely furnished, a generator and chairs could be used. He said he hopes that this will at least give the people a boost of inspiration and encouragement.He revealed that they have also received extensive donations from other catholic agencies but Fr. Karam nonetheless urges the public to donate and contribute. “While we get help from the public, it is still ours and it reflects us. A cathedral is a national monument and even in larger cities it is very important” the Catholic priest pointed out.The Roseau Cathedral is one of the largest in the English Speaking Caribbean and a major tourist attraction.last_img read more

After loss at sea Venezuelan archbishop calls for trafficking probe

first_img Advertising Venezuela frees musician jailed after blasting government Advertising Venezuela forces killed thousands, then covered it up, UN says Asylum applications in EU rise as more Venezuelans seek refuge “Migrants are faced with a situation of vulnerability that makes them fragile victims of international trafficking routes,” Marcia de Oliveira, a sociologist and professor at Brazil’s Roraima Federal University, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.According to a report by the British Embassy in Caracas and the Observatory of Organized Crime, a local advocacy group, one in every 150 Venezuelans was living in modern slavery as of 2016.“Irregular migration makes the situation of Venezuelans who leave the country in search of security for themselves and their families more complicated … exposing them to the possibility of being subjected to abusive working conditions,” it said.A second boat carrying some 30 passengers from Venezuela sank on May 16 in the same region. However no migrants or wreckage have been found. More Explained Archbishop Roberto Luckert in an open letter published on Facebook on Tuesday said the sinking of a boat carrying Venezuelan migrants to Trinidad and Tobago in April showed the dire consequences of trafficking.The letter urged authorities “to investigate, follow, prosecute and convict those responsible for the crimes of human trafficking.” It was signed by Luckert and another clergyman.Local church authorities met with families of the missing migrants, according to the letter, most of whom “were women contacted by people who offered them work and better living conditions on the island (of Trinidad and Tobago).” Advertising Best Of Express Thirty-seven passengers were onboard the boat which left Venezuela and sank on April 23. Rescuers found nine survivors and one body, and the other migrants remain unaccounted for.It was unclear whether the passengers left Venezuela voluntarily or were forced as part of a trafficking operation, as the Archbishop’s letter suggested.Local media reported many passengers were being taken to work as prostitutes and some had been deceived about the purpose of the journey.Venezuela’s mass exodus makes migrants more vulnerable to practices like trafficking, according to experts. Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield A man believed to be its pilot was rescued by a fisherman and according to local media had a criminal record of trafficking women for sexual exploitation.As the economic and political crises in Venezuela have grown, about one in 10 Venezuelans – some 4 million people – have fled in the last five years.While most have gone elsewhere in South America by land, an increasing number are making the treacherous sea journey to Trinidad and Tobago. After loss at sea, Venezuelan archbishop calls for trafficking probe Volunteers of the Venezuelan Red Cross organise humanitarian aid in a warehouse in Caracas, Venezuela June 19, 2019. (REUTERS/Manaure Quintero)A top Vatican official in Venezuela has called on authorities to investigate a rise in human trafficking after an apparent smuggling operation gone wrong left more than a dozen people missing. Taking stock of monsoon rain By Thomson Reuters Foundation |Mexico City | Published: June 20, 2019 7:53:34 am Post Comment(s) Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Related News Globally, about 25 million people are estimated to be victims of forced labor, according to the International Labour Organization. After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan last_img read more

Waymo Offers Glimpse of Autonomous Chrysler Minivans

first_imgRide-Sharing Ambitions The introduction of the fully equipped Pacifica minivan is a signal that Waymo may be focusing on autonomous vehicle technology as a means of making driving more efficient and safer for families, suggested Michael Harley, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book.”This is something deep in the heart of what a family would purchase,” he told TechNewsWorld.Waymo has emphasized its track record of operating test vehicles in a safe manner — Krafcik last week posted a copy of Google’s November self-driving report on Twitter.During autonomous testing, 24 Lexus RX450 SUVs and 34 prototype vehicles navigated shared roads and successfully engaged in lane splitting — accommodating motorcyclists that bobbed and weaved, making multiple lane changes, the report shows.The rollout of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans puts Google well ahead of its direct technology industry competitors in the race to get autonomous vehicles in the hands of the public, said Egil Juliussen, principal analyst for automotive technology at IHS Markit.”Basically Google needs more vehicles to test,” he told TechNewsWorld. “They’ve advanced quite a lot.”The testing of such a minivan offers Waymo a more flexible set of options when considering the kind of vehicles it wants to deploy when it makes its first commercial introduction of fully autonomous vehicles.It may be a bit early in terms of pinning down the use case or an autonomous version of the Chrysler Pacifica, however, noted Steven Polzin, director of mobility policy research at the Center for Urban Transportation Research.”This general direction would be consistent with the thinking of folks who are very nervous that automated vehicles will induce additional travel or have significant ’empty’ deadhead miles between trips,” he told TechNewsWorld.”The way to mitigate that consequence is to use automation and logistics to aggregate trips — dynamic carpooling — to increase vehicle occupancy so as to offset the empty miles or induced demand miles,” he said. Rival Pursuits The announcement comes just days after Waymo unveiled new branding and a new team of executives, amid increasing competition to bring autonomous vehicles to the U.S. market.The joint program team has worked to integrate the self-driving computers and other systems into the Chrysler Pacifica minivans to get them ready for use, noted Waymo CEO John Krafcik. The work has included more than 200 hours of extreme-weather testing since the companies originally announced the partnership in June.Waymo and Fiat Chrysler have co-located part of their engineering teams to a new facility in southeastern Michigan to speed development. The companies also have conducted extensive testing at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, and the Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, Arizona, as well as Waymo’s test track in California.FCA sells cars under the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and SRT performance vehicle brands. The firm also distributes under the Alfa Romeo and Topar brands. The Waymo Brand Waymo, the standalone venture that emerged from Google’s self-driving car project, on Monday unveiled a fleet of 100 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans with the latest high-tech sensors, telematics, and other gear designed for fully autonomous operation.Modifications were made to several parts of the Pacifica — including its electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems — to optimize it for fully autonomous driving.With the additional computer equipment, the cars will undergo more challenging tests. They will be subjected to a broader variety of traffic and weather conditions, as well as other variables, with the goal of being ready for introduction by 2017.”Waymo chose the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, as its well-suited for Waymo’s self-driving systems,” said FCA spokesperson Berj M. Alexanian.”As a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the Pacifica Hybrid is fuel-efficient, which is important to Waymo,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Pacifica Hybrid offers a highly refined and comfortable ride experience. Using Pacifica Hybrid also gives Waymo a chance to test a different kind of passenger vehicle.center_img Alphabet placed its secret autonomous vehicle development plans front and center with last week’s announcement of Waymo.”We believe that this technology can begin to reshape some of the 10 trillion miles that motor vehicles travel around the world every year, with safer, more efficient and more accessible forms of transport,” Krafcik noted at the time.Google has spent the equivalent of 300 years of driving time since 2009 testing various prototype vehicles on the roads over more than 2 million miles. It also has conducted roughly a billion miles of testing in simulated environments. Google developed the technology with an eye to a range of autonomous technologies, from ride-sharing fleets and personal vehicles to logistics and last-mile public transport.The next step for Waymo will be to let real people test the technology to run errands, commute to work or get home after a night out, Krafcik said.Waymo likely will make a major push into ride-sharing, which has a huge potential for seniors, the disabled and others who cannot access their own vehicles due to physical or mental challenges.”Waymo stands for a new way forward for mobility, which is indicative that Google is not just pursuing private car ownership model for its autonomous platform,” observed Praveen Chandrasekar, mobility research manager at Frost & Sullivan.Rather, its focus is on the shared mobility market, told TechNewsWorld, “where Level 5 autonomous platform makes a lot of sense, especially in providing mobility for the physically challenged.”As a standalone company under Alphabet, Waymo can operate in a much more agile way than it could as a project within Google, said Kelley Blue Book’s Harley. Despite safety concerns and a variety of setbacks, autonomous car development has been advancing steadily.Uber has launched real-world testing in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, with self-driving test vehicles picking up and transporting passengers in live traffic conditions. A driver is on board to take over if warranted.Still, watchdog groups remain vigilant in making sure the technology doesn’t get ahead of public safety issues.It is reassuring that Google abandoned plans to develop cars that lacked steering wheels and pedals, according to John Simpson, the privacy policy director at Consumer Watchdog.However, Waymo needs to explain to the public how the cars would work and disclose what it has programmed into the secret algorithms it uses to run them, he said.Google’s last disengagement report filed with California regulators showed its self-driving technology failed 341 times over 425,000 miles, Simpson noted, including 272 times because the software could not cope. There were 69 times when the driver intervened for safety reasons. The next report is due on Jan. 1. Improved Safety David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.last_img read more

Experts call for more transparency about jointventure ownership of dialysis clinics

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 4 2018Penn Medicine experts in nephrology and health policy call for more transparency about joint-venture ownership of dialysis clinics to better understand what impact these arrangements may have on patient referrals and clinical outcomes. Currently, physicians who enter into these ventures, in which they share in the management, profit, and losses of a dialysis facility, are not required to disclose the relationship nor discuss it with patients. And no information about dialysis clinic joint-venture arrangements is publicly available. The lack of transparency poses a major barrier for evidence-based health care policy research and deprives patients of critical information, the researchers write in a new Perspective published in the New England Journal of Medicine.Dialysis – the treatment that filters blood for patients with kidney complications – is a profitable business in the United States. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spent $34 billion in 2014 on beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease, and the two largest dialysis companies, DaVita Kidney Care and Fresenius Medical Care, which control 70 percent of the market, reported an annual net income in the range of $1 billion in recent years.”There are a variety of different joint-venture arrangements between dialysis clinics, both for-profit and non-profit, and physicians, but we have no idea what consequences for patients, good or bad, come from such arrangements,” said first author Jeffrey S. Berns, MD, a professor of Medicine and associate chief of Renal Electrolyte and Hypertension in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s only fair to patients that this information be made available so the relationship between joint-venture ownership of dialysis clinics and outcomes of patients with kidney failure who are on dialysis can be studied.” What’s more, ethically speaking, patients should be aware of these ties to make an informed decision about their care, he added.Related StoriesBordeaux University Hospital uses 3D printing to improve kidney tumor removal surgeryFunctional decline highly prevalent in older adults initiating dialysisNew imaging probe allows earlier detection of acute kidney failureJoint ventures are promoted as a way of aligning the interests of nephrologists with those of dialysis providers in order to improve clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. However, that assertion has never been studied. The authors said that such ventures create financial incentives for participating nephrologists that may inappropriately influence decisions about patient care.They ask, “might a nephrologist with a financial stake in a dialysis facility be more likely to recommend that a patient start dialysis? Could there be pressure to refer a patient to a facility in which the nephrologist is a partner, even though other facilities might be closer to the patient’s home, have more convenient dialysis shifts, offer better services or treatment modes, or provide higher-quality care?””It is certainly possible that these concerns are not borne out in practice and that joint ventures actually improve outcomes and patient satisfaction,” the authors wrote. “The only way to find out is with independent, empirical research comparing the outcomes and costs of care among patients receiving treatment at joint-venture facilities with those at other facilities. Unfortunately, such research is not only nonexistent, it is currently impossible to conduct.”Berns and co-authors Aaron Glickman and Matthew S. McCoy, PhD, both from the department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, also recommend nephrology specialty societies follow the lead of the American Medical Association and other professional organizations by developing guidelines mandating disclosure of joint-venture arrangements and any other financial ties between nephrologists and dialysis providers to patients and their families before initiation of dialysis at a particular facility.Berns calls the issue one of the most important, but also one of the least discussed and understood, in the dialysis industry today. Source: read more

CES 2018 Spare Human Bodies a 54K HTC Simulator and Intels PeopleChopping

first_imgIntel’s Human Cuisinart “BFG,” at least in my world, stands for big f*cking gun (thanks to the game Doom). Well Nvidia effectively added a letter and changed the last part to G-Sync Monitor. This is a 65-inch TV with gaming monitor specs. With G-Sync, fast refresh, HDR, 4K — and, I expect, a scary price — this thing was AMAZING. When they announced this at the Nvidia keynote, I think I swooned just a little big.Currently my monitor of choice is a 42-inch Dell, which is pretty damn big, but it isn’t HDR and it isn’t 4K. This has 1,000 nits, a direct array backlight, and Nvidia Shield built in (which means you can connect your game PC to it wirelessly and play your PC game on the big screen). If it were up to me, I’d find a way to put this thing on my desk.If you want to impress your friend who has a 34-inch curved 4K monitor, show him your 65-inch BFGM. Size does, in fact, matter. I lusted for this too, but I have no idea what it costs yet. (I’m guessing it won’t be cheap.)Suddenly I know what I want for my birthday. Dell Embarrasses Apple OK, I hate CES. It really is a horrible event, largely because of the timing — and particularly this year, Las Vegas making it a nightmare to get around — but man did they have cool stuff at the show.Among presentation highlights were Nvidia showcasing a whopping 65-inch gaming monitor TV (I so want one). Lowlights included Intel showcasing a human-carrying drone as something out of a horror movie.Of course, the product I had the most lust for was a US$54K racing simulator being used to showcase the new HTC Vive Pro (the Vive Pro is damn good too). Once again, there was some weird and wonderful stuff at CES.I’ll close with my product of the week: the new Dell XPS 15 laptop, which uses both Intel and AMD technology to give you performance AND long battery life (be still my beating heart). One final comment: When I finally finished, I was drenched in sweat — apparently it gave me one hell of a workout. Hmmm, yes, it is a fitness tool!!! I wonder if my health insurance will cover it. I mentioned I really wanted that $54K racing simulator, but there was another product I thought lustworthy — the new XPS 15. Nvidia BFGM Wrapping Up There was a huge display advertising, I kid you not, replacement human bodies (sign me up, mine is clearly out of warranty).The company is called “Psychasec,” and the folks in the booth explained that you could have the body you wanted after they transferred your consciousness into it. They had several bodies in large canisters on display and one or two in the back in shrink wrap.You could see a ton of people walking through the booth having holy crap moments — a lot of holy crap moments. Sadly, it was a promotion for a new Netflix TV series, Altered Carbon — but it got my attention, and that show is now on my must watch list. Nice job Netflix!! (Altered Carbon starts Feb. 2). One of the most problematic keynotes I’ve ever seen was Intel’s. Typically I complain that folks don’t rehearse, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the content. First, overshadowing it was the CEO’s massive stock sale right before the end of the year. At best, it showcased a complete lack of confidence in his company. (It’s been raising all kinds of flags.) The worst part of the keynote, though, was how Intel showcased a people-carrying drone.Right now, there are two camps — those who think these things will be cool (I’m part of that camp), and folks who think they are dangerous, noisy, and stupid (like Tesla CEO Elon Musk, even though he recently hinted flying would be a feature on a future Tesla).Well, Intel is supposed to be in the “we love it” camp, but let me walk you through what the company did at CES. After a dialog in which it created a mental picture of these things everyplace — kind of like automated taxis — Intel put its version in a big cage (reminiscent of Jurassic Park) and reminded everyone how dangerous all those unshrouded Cuisinart roto blades were. The cage was to keep it from fine-chopping up the audience. Then it lifted slowly about 5 feet, moved forward about 20 feet, and landed with no passenger — but with the looming expectation that it suddenly might turn the audience into hamburger.Then Intel had 100 small drones fly over the audience and announced that it had just set a world record for indoor drones flying in formation without GPS. I was kind of expecting an Alfred Hitchcock The Birds moment. Or something like this. At least that would have distracted us from Intel’s cascading security problems.Suddenly I want an Audi. (You’ll get what I mean if you watch the video I linked to above). HTC Vive Pro Racingcenter_img I have a V8 Jaguar, and it is really annoying to have a Tesla S or X pull up and just dust me. I’m sure Corvette owners feel the same way, and at CES a company called “GXE” presented a solution: an electric Corvette!It starts with an empty frame and body from a current generation (C7) Corvette Grand Sport. (It isn’t the fastest, but it is arguably the most balanced configuration for the car.) It has two motors — one in front and one in back. Sadly it has no 4-wheel drive, so traction is likely an issue, but it gets to a 50/50 balance in the car.Test configurations have this thing getting to 60 in 3.0 seconds (still a little shy of the fastest Tesla) but with a top speed exceeding 200 MPH (which means it would run away from that Tesla at top end.Granted, it costs a whopping $750K, which makes the regular Corvette sound like a massive value. Still, if I were in that price category (which I’ll never be), I’d likely get the Concept_One instead. For a paltry $250K more, it looks like a supercar. Still, with the massive move toward electrics, I expect that now that this Corvette is built it won’t be long until there is a far more reasonably priced electric Corvette from GM. (Jaguar, thank god, is working on an electric XKE as well). I took the Mercedes Benz advanced driving course at Laguna Seca in California — it is fun very technical race course. So, imagine my surprise when I visited the HTC room at the Wynn and they set me down in a racing car simulator, and put the new HTC Vive Pro on my head. I suddenly found myself back on that track.I have the old HTC Vive and it kind of sucks. It’s a pain to set up, and the resolution makes it look like you are looking though a screen door. The HTC Vive Pro is nothing like that. It has decent resolution and in that simulator, it really felt like I was really in a Formula One car.They left me in the thing until I finally got motion sick — but when braking it felt like braking, when accelerating and cornering it felt like I was accelerating and cornering, and when I went off the track I think I knocked some fillings lose.I would have bought both the HTC Vive Pro and the simulator — only thing is, while the Vive Pro is affordable that damn simulator is $54K, and I’m pretty sure my wife isn’t going to let me have one (though that has rarely stopped me before). Vrrrrroooooom! Watch me spin out: Replacement Human Bodies I’ll start with Dell and what for me was one of the funniest announcements. You see, I’ve been arguing that companies that have both phones and PCs, like Apple and Samsung, should have a “better together” strategy so that you could use one (mostly the smartphone) to enhance the other.Apple, which uses a lock-in strategy, should have that so that more of its customers would buy both Apple PCs and iPhones. Did either Apple or Samsung announce something like this? Nooooo! It was Dell.Dell announced the Mobile Connect app, which lets your smartphone (Android or iOS) would work directly with your PC.While you are working, your alerts and caller ID information show up on your PC screen. If you have an Android phone, you can even run the apps there. That way you can keep working and not feel like you must pull your phone out to see what the hell is causing it to annoy you.Way back in the 1980s at ROLM (then a division of IBM) we brought out a product that connected my desk phone like this (I was internal analyst on the product), and I fell in love. Trust me — if you ever use an app like this, you’ll never go back. (When I transferred, I lost that capability and it damn near broke my heart).Dell can do more with Android than with iOS, but even crippled it does more to connect the iPhone to a PC (a new Dell PC, that is — this won’t work on an old one) than Apple does. I just think that’s funny and a little sad. Electric Corvette You start with what must be the coolest and most controversial core technology on the planet: a blend of Intel Core and AMD Vega into a single SoC that basically gives you game-ready performance, a thin profile, and long battery life in a single package.You add a 400 nit (outdoor viewable) screen, up to a terabyte of SSD storage, Thunderbolt ports (like Apple), and make it SD card ready.Give it a touch display, glass touchpad and professionally tuned speakers, and you have something that causes a tech guy to just stand and drool.The pictures of this 2-in-1 don’t do it justice. It is arguably one of the prettiest PCs I’ve ever seen, and one of the few that come in silver that inclines me to consider silver. This is because the silver is metal not paint.It is one of the first products to feature Dell Cinema. I saw that run, and the movies and TV shows played on it look amazing. By the way, you should be able to use it to download and watch movies from both Netflix and Amazon (something you haven’t been able to do with most laptops).Since this was the one thing I lusted after at CES that I could afford, the Dell XPS 15 is my product of the week. Dell XPS 15 Except for Intel, which appears to be doing its best to tank every market it touches now, CES had some amazing products. Sadly, one of the most breathtaking, a replacement body, was a gag — but the HTC digital racetrack demonstration, the electric Corvette, and Dell doing a better job with phone integration than Apple (or any PC company with a phone did) were amazing.I can picture Steve Jobs spinning in his grave thinking Dell is doing a better job integrating the iPhone with Dell computers than Apple is with Macs. That puts an even bigger smile on my face.The only issue for me is that now I’m thinking human-carrying drones are going to go rogue, and rather than wanting to ride in one, I now have an urge to run screaming from them. Thanks, Intel. Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has undergrad degrees in merchandising and manpower management, and an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob.last_img read more

Incidence of stroke has risen steadily among marijuana users show studies

first_img A 30-minute platform discussion in the Exhibition Hall at 10:05 am brings together world experts to discuss how to put people living with stroke and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at the centre of healthcare. If the NCD response is to be successful, it is imperative to leave no-one behind. Patients are by definition at the very centre of healthcare, and people living with and affected by stroke and NCDs will be essential to accelerate the realization of global NCD targets. People living with NCDs, their carers, and NCD survivors must be empowered to deal with the disease in the long term. Furthermore, they need to shape the NCD response and to give an effective response against stigma and discrimination faced by people living with stroke. This applies from the level of advocacy and policy development, through to design, implementation, and evaluation of programmes. Panelists include Dr. Mayowa Owolabi, Professor of Neurology, and Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, University of Ibadan (Nigeria), Jon Barrick, President, Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE) (UK), Stephanie Mohl, Vice President, American Stroke Association (USA) and Jennifer Monaghan, stroke survivor, Living with Stroke program (Canada). For live updates, follow @ncdallliance and #enoughNCDs A study of Nationwide Implementation of Mechanical Thrombectomy in Germany will be presented by Dr. Christian Weimar (8:35 am, Hall H). The study found that a wide range of both IVT and MT rates in German ischemic stroke patients indicates the need for further improvement of access to acute recanalization therapies in many, mainly rural, regions. Dr. David Gladstone of the University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Research Institute will present the results of a study evaluating the use of the drug rivaroxaban versus acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) to prevent strokes in patients with an enlarged left atrium of the heart. The results showed some potential benefit from rivaroxaban but caution was urged. “We are seeing a very intriguing signal here, and it has biological plausibility, but it is going to require independent validation before making any changes to practice recommendations,” Dr. Gladstone said. (8:53 am, Hall H) A Canadian study mapped stroke care facilities across Canada using geospatial software to evaluate access by distance and drive times. It concludes that most Canadians live within a 300-km drive to prevention services (95.5 per cent), endovascular therapy (79.1 per cent) and rehabilitation services (97.8 per cent); however due to Canada’s geography, weather and resource challenges in more rural and remote communities, many of the eligible patients are not able to reach stroke hospitals in time to make a difference in their recovery and are left with lasting deficits from stroke A discussion on chronic and end-of-life care for people with stroke and NCDs takes place in the Exhibition Hall at 12:40. NCDs are typically chronic conditions which require particular care towards the end of life. The WHO estimates that 40 million people are in need of palliative care each year – but that 86% do not receive it. The greatest gaps can be observed in developing country settings. Once implemented, it is imperative that end-of-life care services are holistic, extending far beyond physical treatment. The need for proper psychological and spiritual support for the person at the centre of the care, and for those around them, cannot be underestimated. Panelists include Dr. Pooja Khatri, Professor of Neurology, Director of Acute Stroke, UC Health (USA), Dr. Dylan Blacquiere, Neurologist, Saint John Regional Hospital (Canada), Dr. Gilian Mead, Professor of Stroke and Elderly Care Medicine, University of Edinburgh (UK), and Rita Melifonwu, Founder and CEO, Stroke Action Nigeria (Nigeria) Source: HOT TOPIC: Review of U.S. hospital statistics shows rise in stroke incidence among marijuana users from 2010-14 while overall stroke prevalence remained stableA five-year study of hospital statistics from the United States shows that the incidence of stroke has risen steadily among marijuana users even though the overall rate of stroke remained constant over the same period.The study, presented today during the third day of the World Stroke Congress in Montreal, looked at U.S. hospital statistics from 2010 to 2014. It examined a total of 2.3 million hospitalizations among people who used marijuana recreationally. Of these, 32,231, or 1.4 percent, had a stroke including 19,452 with acute ischemic stroke (AIS).Over the five years studied, the rate of stroke of all types among marijuana users increased from 1.3 percent to 1.5 percent. The rate of AIS increased from 0.7 percent to 0.9 percent. During the same five-year period, the prevalence of stroke among all patients was stable.As result, the researchers conclude that these growing trends of stroke among marijuana users “warrant further prospective studies to evaluate the marijuana-stroke association amidst legalization of recreational use.”The researchers noted in introducing their study that marijuana “has a potential link to stroke owing to cerebrovascular effects of cannabinoids.”HOT TOPIC: Young stroke survivors at high long-term risk of adverse outcomesA significant percentage of strokes – estimated from 8-21 per cent – affect adults under age 45. A Canadian study by senior author Dr. Richard Swartz and his team sought to determine what the future might hold for these young patients who show no early complications from their initial stroke.This analysis of more than 26,000 young stroke survivors using data from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) showed that, although absolute rates of adverse events including recurrent stroke, heart attack, death and institutionalization were low among young clinically stable stroke patients, these patients still showed 7 times the risk of having an adverse complication one year after their initial stroke compared to only twice the risk among older patients. After accounting for other vascular risk factors, long-term risks remained at almost 3 times that of young controls, even for these patients who were clinically stable and had no early complications during what is considered the high-risk period immediately after a stroke.”This study shows us that even young stroke and TIA patients who are clinically stable after their stroke remain at a significant risk of adverse events, like another stroke, death or requiring long- term care,” said lead study author Dr. Jodi Edwards of the Brain and Heart Nexus Research Program at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. “This is important as it highlights the need for guidelines and strategies for long-term aggressive prevention to reduce stroke risk in young stroke patients.”HOT TOPIC: Three studies highlight changes in stroke care in QuebecWith the World Stroke Congress being held in Montreal it is appropriate that there are three presentations concerning the evaluation of different aspects of stroke care in the province of Quebec. The lead author is Dr. Laurie Lambert, Coordinator of the Cardiovascular Evaluation Unit of Quebec’s Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS).The first presentation evaluates changes in processes and quality of care in Québec’s comprehensive stroke centres following a province-wide field evaluation in 2013-14 and the development and implementation of a plan to promote best practices by the Ministry of Health. It found that times to initiating treatment improved, with the proportion treated with thrombolysis in less than 60 minutes increasing from 47 to 80 per cent and that more patients in these centres were admitted to a stroke unit: 91 per cent in 2016-17 compared to 75 per cent previously.The second presentation compares care pathways in the four regional networks and the third compares treatment delays for thrombectomy between direct admission and inter-hospital transfer patients. For transferred patients, median first door-to-puncture time was 171 minutes (142-224). For patients directly admitted to a comprehensive stroke centre, the median first door-to-puncture was 69 minutes (50-100).Related StoriesNew approach to post-stroke rehabilitation proposedNew method improves detection of atrial fibrillation in stroke survivorsStroke should be treated 15 minutes earlier to save lives, study suggestsHOT TOPIC: Canadian researchers identify age and sex differences in stroke careTwo studies by Toronto researchers look at age and sex differences in stroke care in Canada. One study looking at data from 2003-16 concluded that in-hospital deaths from stroke decreased for all patients, but the group most at risk is older women.The second study by the same researchers was presented on Oct. 18 and looked at data from 2014-16. It concluded younger adults are more likely to get alteplase clot-busting medication, access stroke units and be discharged home independently than older adults, and women of all ages are less likely to be discharged home independently.HOT TOPICS: Other presentations of interest on the third day of the Congress: SESSION 4 10:05-10:35 Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 19 2018WHAT: 11th World Stroke Congress brings together leading international stroke experts and an unparalleled scientific program covering epidemiology, prevention, acute care, rehabilitation and recovery in 100s of sessions and oral posters. Congress is attended by stroke professionals, researchers, policy makers, survivors and caregivers from around the world. #worldstroke2018WHERE: Montreal, Canada, Palais des CongrèsWHEN: October 17 – 20, 2018MEDIA OPPORTUNTIES: Stroke experts and people with lived experience of stroke will be available for interviews.TODAY’S CONGRESS HIGHLIGHTSLate-breaking trials 11th World Stroke CongressThe 11th World Stroke Congress, being held Oct. 17-20, 2018, at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal, Quebec, brings together leading international stroke experts and an unparalleled scientific program covering epidemiology, prevention, acute care and recovery in hundreds of sessions and oral posters. The Congress is attended by stroke professionals, researchers, policy makers and people with lived experience from around the world. This is the first time the biennial Congress has been held in North America in 12 years; the 2016 Congress was held in Hyderabad, India. This year’s Congress is jointly organized by the World Stroke Organization (WSO) and the Canadian Stroke Consortium (CSC). Co-presidents are Dr. Werner Hacke, WSO President, and Dr. Mike Sharma, CSC Chair. read more

Scientists discover trigger that turns strep infections into devastating disease

first_img Source: Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Feb 18 2019Discovery may also help scientists develop childbed fever vaccineHouston Methodist infectious disease scientists have discovered a previously unknown trigger that turns a relatively run-of-the-mill infection into a devastatingly ravenous, flesh-eating disease.Group A streptococcus is an organism that causes more than 700 million cases of human infection every year globally. While most of those cases are strep throat, which most people have had, it’s also a common cause of severe invasive diseases.One such disease is childbed fever, which strikes moms and their newborns following childbirth. Not many people are familiar with this uglier, meaner cousin of strep throat, but it can turn serious in a very nasty way, leaving its victims without limbs or worse.”Puerperal sepsis, more commonly called childbed fever, causes a lot of deaths on a global basis in women who are in the process of giving birth or soon after birth,” said James M. Musser, M.D., Ph.D., who is the corresponding author on a paper appearing Feb. 18 in the journal Nature Genetics. “It is estimated that about 10 percent of all women who get childbed fever will end up dying. It’s devastating and can sometimes also cause the child to die.”Musser, who is chairman of the Department of Pathology and Genomic Medicine at Houston Methodist, and his research team did something unprecedented in studying this flesh-eating pathogen. They studied the relationship between three separate entities of group A streptococcus. A first in the field of bacteria research to be conducted at this scale, they looked at the interplay between the genome, transcriptome and virulence. This generated a massive amount of data that lent itself to being able to then use artificial intelligence to analyze it.”By understanding the relationship and interplay between the genome, transcriptome and virulence, we have a much greater chance of being able to successfully create new vaccines and therapies for infected patients, as well as find other ways to prevent or at least minimize how much damage they cause to humans,” Musser said.Taking on the relationships of all three at one time gave them a richer understanding of how the organism ticks and how it really functions to become a pathogen and cause disease.”We and others have been studying this problem for over 100 years, and we still don’t have an effective group A strep vaccine. I believe the future of a lot of bacterial pathogenesis research is in generating and analyzing much larger data sets and using them to better our understanding of disease,” Musser said. “The magnitude of data we generated for this bacterial pathogenesis paper is unprecedented. It opened the door for us to use novel and more sophisticated tools like artificial intelligence to examine it. With these new types of analyses, we’re making an important step toward ultimately having an effective vaccine to eradicate group A strep from the face of the earth.”Having the ability to apply artificial intelligence to the data led them to an unexpected discovery, making it possible to gain new insights into how group A strep causes human infections.Related StoriesCancer killing capability of lesser-known immune cells identifiedBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerNew study reveals ‘clutch’ proteins responsible for putting T cell activation ‘into gear'”One of the very unexpected and exciting things we discovered was a strategy group A strep uses to cause serious disease in humans,” Musser said. “This new mechanism we found controls virulence and determines whether the organism is just a pathogen or a really angry flesh-eating pathogen. That discovery would not have been possible without having this unusually large data set available for analysis with artificial intelligence.”To do this, they looked at the M28 strain of group A streptococcus, which causes a large number of invasive cases and a high incidence of childbed fever, in particular. In many countries, it’s among the top five most common group A strep strains causing serious invasive disease in humans.”Numerically, the M28s are very important causes of human infections, so we wanted to get new insight on it, because if you begin to understand the molecular pathogenesis processes, then you have ability to begin potentially developing new therapeutics and diagnostics,” he said. “We’re now able, using these very large data sets, to analyze them far more extensively and with different sets of eyes than we were able to in the past.”The overall strategy Musser and his colleagues used is one that is commonly used in cancer research.”History teaches us that the more we understand how cancer cells work, the better we’re able to generate new ways to inhibit them from causing human disease. Until 20 years ago, we didn’t understand most of the genetic changes that result in cancers. We now understand those in far more detail because of extensive research and analysis of cancer genes,” Musser said. “In cancer, you can appreciate that it’s going to be very important to not just analyze one aspect, such as the genome of a cancer cell, but also to analyze what proteins are being made by the cancer cell and then exactly how cancer is invading other areas of the body.”Musser’s team took a similar approach by analyzing the three entities of group A strep all at once. He points out that the ability to generate these large data sets at a reasonable cost, like they did in this study, was not possible even as recently as five years ago.”We were able to clearly show new routes about how the M28 strain of group A strep causes infection, and it gives us a roadmap for understanding how this organism causes maternal sepsis,” he said. “This extensive knowledge we now have gives us insight into how one might begin to attack important downstream research like developing a vaccine or new treatment to fight this organism and potentially eradicate it in the future.”The data they generated will be cataloged for others to use in genomics databases, readily available worldwide. Their hope is that by making it freely available to other investigators, others may look at it with fresh eyes and see things his group didn’t notice.last_img read more

Using health IT to reduce disparities in healthcare

first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)May 18 2019An innovative health information technology (IT) program helps primary care providers to detect and manage depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in traumatized refugees, reports a study in a special June supplement to Medical Care. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.Published today, the supplement presents new research and commentaries on the use of health IT to reduce disparities in healthcare access and outcomes. “Health IT has tremendous potential for promoting health equity for racial and ethnic minorities as well as other disparity populations,” according to an editorial by Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD, Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) at the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues.New Strategies for Using Health IT to Reduce Healthcare DisparitiesThe supplement collects 12 original research papers, reporting on innovative health IT approaches to promote health equity in populations at risk of disparities. Dara H. Sorkin, PhD, of University of California Irvine and colleagues evaluate a health IT intervention to improve detection and treatment of mental health disorders in Cambodian refugees at two Southern California clinics. Many refugees from Cambodia and other countries have experienced war-related trauma, placing them at high risk for depression and PTSD.The three-part intervention included an iPad tool to screen for symptoms of depression and PTSD in Cambodian American adults. In addition, primary care professionals were able to access an interactive tutorial on providing “culturally competent, trauma-informed mental health care” for individuals exposed to extreme war trauma. The intervention also included a mobile app providing evidence-based clinical algorithms and guidelines.Related StoriesDogs and cats relieve academic stress and lift students’ mood, according to a new studyTransobturator sling surgery shows promise for stress urinary incontinenceInternational study aims to more accurately describe mental health disordersElectronic mental health screening suggested that depression might be present in about two-thirds of Cambodian refugees and PTSD in about one-third. Primary care providers assigned to the health IT program were about six times more likely to diagnose depression and 20 times more likely to diagnose PTSD.The health IT intervention also led to higher rates of evidence-based and trauma-informed care. Increased use of evidence-based care led to decreased depression symptoms at 12 weeks, although PTSD outcomes were not significantly affected. Dr. Sorkin and colleagues conclude, “This innovative approach offers the potential for training primary care providers to diagnose and treat traumatized patients, the majority of whom seek mental health care in primary care.”The supplement also includes five editorials and perspective pieces, providing expert insights on the role of health IT in promoting health equity in a wide range of underserved groups: racial/ethnic minorities, immigrants, rural or urban populations, veterans, and many others. Dr. Pérez-Stable writes, “Incorporating modern information systems into an ambulatory care practice has the potential to guide population-based health care to maximize access, comprehensiveness, coordination, and quality.”He highlights the emergence of the electronic health record (EHR) as powerful new tool to help meet the NIMHD’s goal: Source:Wolters Kluwer Health To promote scientific discovery in an America where all persons have the same opportunity to live a long and healthy life. The EHR has changed the processes of clinical care and the opportunity to leverage these technological changes to promote health equity is here for the taking.”Eliseo J. Pérez-Stablelast_img read more

Global study reveals viruses as important cause of childhood pneumonia

first_imgPrior to this study, we didn’t know which specific viruses and bacteria are now causing most of the severe childhood pneumonia cases in the world, but public health organizations and vaccine manufacturers really need that information to work toward reducing the substantial childhood mortality that pneumonia still causes.”Study co-principal investigator Maria Deloria Knoll, PhD, a senior scientist in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health, and associate director of science at the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 28 2019Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other viruses now appear to be the main causes of severe childhood pneumonia in low- and middle-income countries, highlighting the need for vaccines against these pathogens, according to a study from a consortium of scientists from around the world, led by a team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.Pneumonia is the leading cause of death worldwide among children under 5 years old, with about 900,000 fatalities and more than 100 million reported cases each year. This makes pneumonia a greater cause of childhood mortality than malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, Zika virus and Ebola virus combined.The study, to be published June 27 in The Lancet, was the largest and most comprehensive of its kind since the 1980s. It included nearly 10,000 children in seven African and Asian countries. After testing for viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens in children with severe hospitalized pneumonia- and in community children without pneumonia- the study found that 61 percent of severe pneumonia cases were caused by viruses led by RSV, which alone accounted for 31 percent of cases. Identifying the germs that cause pneumonia is difficult in individual cases and much more so on a scale of thousands of cases, especially in low- and middle-income countries where most pneumonia deaths occur. Researchers in prior pneumonia studies simply lacked the microbiological and analytical resources to produce estimates of the major pneumonia pathogens, Knoll says. And, in the past two decades, many low- and middle-income countries have introduced effective vaccines against known major bacterial causes of pneumonia- Haemophilus influenzae type b and Streptococcus pneumoniae- so the global mix of pathogens causing childhood pneumonia has changed as a result.The new, IVAC-led study, known as the Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health (PERCH) study, included 4,232 cases of severe hospitalized pneumonia among children under 5 years and 5,119 community children without pneumonia during a two-year period. The study was carried out at sites in Bangladesh, The Gambia, Kenya, Mali, South Africa, Thailand, and Zambia.For their study, researchers took nasal and throat swabs as well as blood, sputum and other fluid samples from cases and controls and tested them for pathogens using state-of-the-art laboratory techniques. Cases for the primary analysis were limited to those whose pneumonia was confirmed by chest X-ray, and children with HIV were considered in a separate analysis because the causes of their pneumonia would likely differ from those without HIV. With analytic methods unique for an etiology study, the researchers compared the pathogens found in samples from severe pneumonia cases to those from other children in the community in order to estimate the likeliest cause of each case. In this way they were able to identify the leading causes of childhood pneumonia among children in these settings.Related StoriesNew research provides welcomed news for countless patients taking PPIsNumber of fully-immunized Australian kids hits record highScientists develop new, rapid test to diagnose bacterial lower respiratory tract infectionsThe researchers concluded that, across all study sites combined, viruses accounted for 61.4 percent of cases, bacteria for 27.3 percent of cases, Mycobacterium tuberculosis for 5.9 percent of cases. Fungal and unknown causes accounted for the remainder of cases.RSV accounted for nearly a third of all cases and was the leading cause of severe pneumonia in each of the seven countries studied. Other top causes were rhinovirus, human metapneumovirus, parainfluenza viruses, and S. pneumoniae bacteria.”We now have a much better idea of which new vaccines would have the most impact in terms of reducing illness and mortality from childhood pneumonia in these countries,” says Katherine O’Brien, MD, who led the PERCH study as a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and now serves as Director of Immunizations, Vaccines and Biologicals at the World Health Organization.RSV has long been known as a common and potentially serious respiratory pathogen among children and the elderly. It remains the leading cause of pneumonia in children younger than 1 year in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Several RSV vaccine candidates are being developed and evaluated in clinical trials. A monoclonal antibody therapy, palivizumab, is available for the prevention of RSV disease in children with underlying medical conditions but is not suitable programmatically or financially for widespread use in routine immunization programs.The analytical technique developed for the study to estimate the cause of individual cases of childhood pneumonia is called the Bayesian Analysis Kit for Etiology Research (BAKER), and is available online as an open-source application for use by other public health researchers.”Estimating the etiology of pneumonia was like a complex jigsaw puzzle where the picture could only be seen clearly by assembling multiple, different pieces of information using innovative epidemiologic and statistical methods,” says Scott Zeger, PhD, Malone Professor of Biostatistics in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Biostatistics. Source:Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Healthlast_img read more

Think youve got the flu Athome doctor consultation app might help

The average wait time to be connected to a doctor? About seven minutes, said Tong.A typical flu patient appointment includes some give and take between doctor and patient, who can use apps on most any device with their phone, tablet or desktop computer to take their temperature, gauge their pulse and blood pressure, and with a digital camera help the doctor examine a patient’s throat.Tong said most of the people he’s treated for flu have been in the early stages of the virus and can still be prescribed with the antiviral medication Tamiflu, which is sent to the customer’s local pharmacy.But Dr. David Jones of Palo Alto, who founded Bay Area House Call Physicians in 2006 to improve access to medical care for elderly and disabled patients, knows telemedicine has its limitations.”If you are young and healthy, it would be great,” he said of the technology. “But it would be a bit naive to think you could adequately care for chronically ill patients just through a screen.”And he wonders how long some of the business models will last—even those like As Jones put it: “These are venture-capital-backed experiments.”At PlushCare, a San Francisco-based competitor started in 2014, the volume of appointments in January is 105 percent higher than last year at the same time—again, due to mounting flu cases.Co-founder and chief medical officer Dr. James Wantuck said doctors can make a flu diagnosis relying on questions and relevant information during the 15-minute-long video visit that costs $99 for uninsured patients, and about a $20 co-pay for those who are insured.”It’s easy and convenient,” said Walnut Creek resident Kelly Davidson, 49, who has used PlushCare since 2016, each time because she came down with a serious case of the flu.”When you’re feeling horrible and don’t want to have to go out and see your doctor, you can stay home in your pajamas and you get pretty much the same service as you would going to a doctor’s office,” said the tech saleswoman.Wantuck said only two to three percent of patients—typically the very old and those with very severe illness—are being sent to the ER because they are too sick to be safely treated by video.Telemedicine is by no means revolutionary. Kaiser Permanente has marketed the service to its patients, while Blue Shield of California offers telehealth to its PPO members in both remote and urban areas for access to specialists.Still, in a 2016 survey by the National Business Group on Health, more than 70 percent of large companies offered employer-sponsored telehealth services in the states where it’s allowed, but only 3 percent of employees had used them in the first half of the year.The biggest concerns consumers seem to have about using telehealth services, according to a Wall Street Journal story that year, are: cost, privacy, and losing the personal relationship with their doctor.It helps, of course, that many doctor consultation app services are covered through a patient’s own health insurance; uninsured individuals can expect to pay a nominal fee, often up to $100, in many cases.Because the Southern California-based does not accept HMO plans, customers such as Maciel—whose family is enrolled in a Kaiser Permanente plan—are billed a flat $99 per visit. If doctors need to refer patients to services such as lab work or imaging specialists, and prescription drugs, more charges are added.Told about the $99 full-freight fee she was probably facing, and one easily covered by Kaiser, Maciel didn’t bat an eye.”When you’ve had no sleep for three nights because of your sick child, you will pay the $99. I don’t mind,” said Maciel, who works as a Spanish translator for the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office.After the session with Liou ended, the doctor concluded Elyse did not have the flu, but another virus. He suggested mom buy saline nasal drops to remove the mucus from the toddler’s nose, and make sure she drinks plenty of fluids, washes her hands, and gets enough rest.As Dr. Liou and his medical assistant packed up their black medical roller bag and left, Elyse—now smiling in her pale pink pajamas—was back in the family room, watching her favorite cartoons. Explore further Citation: Think you’ve got the flu? At-home doctor consultation app might help (2018, January 26) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Alarmed about the country’s deadly flu epidemic, Lisa Maciel knew she needed to get her 2-year-old daughter to a doctor when the toddler’s eyes began to water and she started to run a fever. The doctor will (virtually) see you now ©2018 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. A friend suggested another option: an Uber-like app that sends the doctor to you.At first, the working mom of three kids didn’t know what to expect when she booked an appointment with a company called for a pediatrician to pay a house call to the family’s home in Hayward.But when Dr. John Liou, who previously worked as a pediatrician at St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco, showed up to examine Elyse in the family’s living room on a frigid Friday night, Maciel instantly got it.”It’s quick, it’s in the comfort of your own home, and you don’t expose your child to everyone else in the emergency room,” she said.”This, to me, is just great.”The growing market of on-demand and telemedicine appointments is booming this winter as the flu season continues its rampage across California.Doctor’s offices and hospital emergency rooms are overflowing with flu patients as the death toll from one of the worst flu seasons in more than a decade has risen to 74, including 25 in the Bay Area.But those suffering from less severe symptoms are turning to doctor-consultation apps to avoid the hassle and hold ups of waiting rooms—and the possibility of catching other bugs.While Maciel was comforted by a home visit from a pediatrician, despite Elyse crying every time Dr. Liou poked his otoscope into the 2-year-old’s ears, patients can also connect with physicians who examine them through video conference calls via computer or smartphone.”In the last two months, our visit volume has increased by 100 percent,” said Dr. Ian Tong, chief medical officer at Doctor On Demand, a San Francisco-based telemedicine company co-founded in 2012 by the talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw, his son Jay, and another partner.The Doctor On Demand app that works like FaceTime or Google Hangouts costs $75 for a 15-minute consultation for an uninsured patient.The company—which claims to have 1.5 million registered users—treats a range of non-emergency conditions, such as colds, flu, bronchitis, sinus infections, pediatric issues, urinary tract infections, eye issues, rashes, and even mental health issues. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

Using AI to uncover the mystery of Voynich manuscript

UAlberta researchers are using artificial intelligence to decipher the text in the 15th-century Voynich manuscript, whose meaning has eluded historians and cryptographers since it was discovered in the 19th century. Credit: Yale Library More information: Decoding Anagrammed Texts Written in an Unknown Language and Script. Citation: Using AI to uncover the mystery of Voynich manuscript (2018, January 29) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Provided by University of Alberta This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further The mysterious text in the 15th-century Voynich manuscript has plagued historians and cryptographers since its discovery in the 19th century. Recently, U of A computing science professor Greg Kondrak, an expert in natural language processing, and graduate student Bradley Hauer used artificial intelligence to decode the ambiguities in human language using the Voynich manuscript as a case study.Their first step was to address the language of origin, which is enciphered on hundreds of delicate vellum pages with accompanying illustrations.Kondrak and Hauer used samples of 400 different languages from the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” to systematically identify the language. They initially hypothesized that the Voynich manuscript was written in Arabic but after running their algorithms, it turned out that the most likely language was Hebrew.”That was surprising,” said Kondrak. “And just saying ‘this is Hebrew’ is the first step. The next step is how do we decipher it.”Kondrak and Hauer hypothesized the manuscript was created using alphagrams, defining one phrase with another, exemplary of the ambiguities in human language. Assuming that, they tried to come up with an algorithm to decipher that type of scrambled text.”It turned out that over 80 per cent of the words were in a Hebrew dictionary, but we didn’t know if they made sense together,” said Kondrak.After unsuccessfully seeking Hebrew scholars to validate their findings, the scientists turned to Google Translate.”It came up with a sentence that is grammatical, and you can interpret it,” said Kondrak. “‘She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people.’ It’s a kind of strange sentence to start a manuscript but it definitely makes sense.”Without historians of ancient Hebrew, Kondrak explained, the full meaning of the Voynich manuscript will remain a mystery. He said he is looking forward to applying the algorithms he and Hauer developed to other ancient manuscripts.An avid language aficionado, Kondrak is renowned for his work with natural language processing, a subset of artificial intelligence defined as helping computers understand human language.”We use human language to communicate with other humans, but computers don’t understand this language, because it’s designed for people. There are so many ambiguous meanings that we don’t even realize,” said Kondrak. “Natural language processing helps computers make sense of human language. Not only do we want to talk to computers in our language because it’s easier and more convenient, but also there is a lot of information that exists in the form of written word. Take the internet, for example.” Botanists suggest Voynich illustrations similar to plants in Mexico Computing scientists at the University of Alberta are using artificial intelligence to decipher an ancient manuscript. read more

Alexa send up breakfast Amazon launches Echo for hotels

first_img Explore further Citation: Alexa, send up breakfast: Amazon launches Echo for hotels (2018, June 19) retrieved 18 July 2019 from In this Sept. 27, 2017, file photo, a new Amazon Echo is displayed during a program announcing several new Amazon products by the company, in Seattle. Amazon has launched a version of Alexa for hotels that lets guests order room service through the voice assistant, ask for more towels or get restaurant recommendations without having to pick up the phone and call the front desk. Marriott signed up for the service. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Bonjour, Alexa: Amazon digital assistant heads to Francecenter_img Amazon has launched a version of Alexa for hotels that lets guests order room service through the voice assistant, ask for more towels or get restaurant recommendations without having to pick up the phone and call the front desk. Marriott has signed up for the service, and will place Amazon Echo smart speakers in 10 hotels this summer, including its Westin and St. Regis brands.It is another way for Amazon to sell its voice assistant and devices to businesses and get Alexa in front of more customers. Amazon already sells a version of Alexa for workplaces, and has struck deals to place Alexa in cars and refrigerators. Alexa has become an important part of Amazon’s business because it keeps users attached to Amazon services, such as music streaming.Amazon said data from hotel guests will be deleted daily, and Marriott said those who don’t want an Echo device in their room can ask to have it removed.Hotels will be able to customize the responses Alexa gives their guests, such as nearby restaurant recommendations or pool hours. Other tasks that Alexa for Hospitality can do include checking guests out of their room, turning on the lights or playing lullabies to help them fall asleep.Later this year, Amazon will allow hotel guests to link their account to Alexa so they can listen to their music playlists or audio books during their stay. Shopping, however, won’t be allowed through the hotel version of Alexa, Amazon said. Alexa has a new job: hotel concierge. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

MagicMark A marking menu using 2D direction and 3D depth information

first_imgA recent study presents a novel marking menu, MagicMark, to extend the selection capability of large-screen interactions. By leveraging the 2-D directional information and 3-D depth information, MagicMark supports smooth freehand gestures to complete menu selection without any additional confirmation gesture. It can also provide seamless transition from a novice user to an expert user. Results of an experiment show that MagicMark can significantly improve user performance of command selection in large display interactive environment. Designing optimal menus with no effort PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen Provided by Science China Press Menus are important interactive components of user interfaces, broadly applied to command exploration and selection. However, as one of the important input modalities, 3-D depth information has not been fully utilized for menu control in large displays.To extend the selection capability of large screen interactions, researchers propose MagicMark, a novel marking menu combining 2-D direction and 3-D depth information. It allows users to make menu selection through two interactive techniques: depth-based main menu selection and direction-based submenu selection. In this way, MagicMark supports smooth freehand gesture to complete menu selection without any additional confirmation gesture.With 3-D depth inputs, MagicMark requires less display space than the other hierarchical menus. Besides, as a marking menu, MagicMark can provide seamless transition from a novice user to an expert user. Explore furthercenter_img More information: Fei Lyu et al, MagicMark: a marking menu using 2D direction and 3D depth information, Science China Information Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1007/s11432-018-9385-7 Play Credit: ©Science China Press The results of an experiment show that MagicMark can significantly reduce the selection time comparing to the traditional linear menu without sacrificing accuracy. Researchers attribute this performance gain to the selection mechanism of the MagicMark. Science China Information Sciences reported this novel menu in the sixth issue of 2018. Citation: MagicMark: A marking menu using 2-D direction and 3-D depth information (2018, July 17) retrieved 18 July 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Judge blocks online plans for printing untraceable 3D guns

first_img Citation: Judge blocks online plans for printing untraceable 3-D guns (2018, August 27) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Explore further A U.S. judge in Seattle blocked the Trump administration Monday from allowing a Texas company to post online plans for making untraceable 3D guns, agreeing with 19 states and the District of Columbia that such access to the plastic guns would pose a security risk. States aim to stop internet release of 3D-printed gun plans © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.center_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. In this Aug. 1, 2018, file photo, Cody Wilson, with Defense Distributed, holds a 3D-printed gun called the Liberator at his shop in Austin, Texas. A federal judge in Seattle has granted an injunction that prohibits the Trump administration from allowing a Texas company to post 3D gun-making plans online. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, file) The states sued to stop an agreement that the government had reached with Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed, saying guidelines on how to print undetectable plastic guns could be acquired by felons or terrorists.U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik extended a temporary restraining order, and his new decision will last until the case is resolved. He said Cody Wilson, owner of Defense Distributed, wanted to post the plans online so that citizens can arm themselves without having to deal with licenses, serial numbers and registrations.Wilson has said that “governments should live in fear of their citizenry.””It is the untraceable and undetectable nature of these small firearms that poses a unique danger,” Lasnik said. “Promising to detect the undetectable while at the same time removing a significant regulatory hurdle to the proliferation of these weapons—both domestically and internationally—rings hollow and in no way ameliorates, much less avoids, the harms that are likely to befall the states if an injunction is not issued.”The State Department had reached the settlement with the company after the agency removed the 3D gun-making plans from a list of weapons or technical data that cannot be exported overseas.The states argued that the federal agency didn’t follow the law when it removed 3D guns from the munitions list. They said the government was supposed to notify Congress and provide a 30-day window before making a change to that list, but it did not.Lasnik criticized the government for switching its position on the threat posed by the 3D gun-making plans.Up until April, the government argued the distribution of the guidelines “posed a threat to world peace and the security and foreign policy of the United States,” the judge said.Despite those fears, the government decided that it only needed to restrict the international availability of firearms up to .50 caliber. That’s when they reached a settlement with the 3D gun company.There was no indication the government evaluated the unique characteristics of the plastic guns when it considered deleting that category of weapons from the prohibited list, the judge said.”Nor is there any reasoned explanation for its change in position,” Lasnik said.The federal government didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the judge’s ruling.A lawyer with the U.S. Justice Department had argued against the injunction, saying possessing 3D plastic guns is already against the law, and the federal government is committed to enforcing that law.But the judge said it wasn’t enough.”While the court appreciates the earnestness with which this commitment was made at oral argument, it is of small comfort to know that, once an undetectable firearm has been used to kill a citizen of Delaware or Rhode Island or Vermont, the federal government will seek to prosecute a weapons charge in federal court while the state pursues a murder conviction in state court,” Lasnik said.Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson praised the ruling.”Once again, I’m glad we put a stop to this dangerous policy,” Ferguson said. “But I have to ask a simple question: why is the Trump administration working so hard to allow these untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns to be available to domestic abusers, felons and terrorists?”The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a pro-gun control group that has aggressively fought the online release of the gun plans, praised the judge’s ruling “as a tremendous victory for the American public.”Avery Gardiner, co-president of the group, said 3D-printed guns “represent a supreme threat to our safety and security, and we are grateful that Judge Lasnik recognized it as such.”The states suing are Washington, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.last_img read more