Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth booked his place in the Indonesia Open Super Series Badminton tournament finals after producing a spectacular performance to defeat Son Wan Ho of Korea in an intense semi-final contest here in Jakarta on Saturday.In a gruelling last-four contest that lasted for 73 minutes, Srikanth defeated the second-seed 21-15, 14-21, 24-22 to set up the summit clash against Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai.The Indian shuttler, who had produced a rich vein of form as he swept aside Tzu Wei Wang of Chinese Taipei 21-15, 21-14 in a one-sided quarterfinal clash yesterday, came out with a strong performance as he won the first game rather comfortably 21-15 against Wan Ho.Srikanth continued his form in the second game as well leading 5-2 before the World No. 1 made a comeback to close the gap to a solitary point at the break, Srikanth leading 11-10.The Korean then went along in the second half of the game as he dominated Srikanth, and eventually closed the game 21-14.The third game went on neck and neck as Wan Ho took a slender lead at the break, 11-10 and then a three point lead at 13-10.However, both matched each other point for point as they were tied 15-all and later 18-all.A HawkEye call by Wan Ho was overruled with the 22nd ranked Indian trailing 20-19 at match point and the third game was tied at 20-all.Srikanth then had three match points but the Wan Ho showed why he is the number one ranked player with his grit and class and came back every time to level the match up.advertisementThe 24-year-old from Hyderabad, however, brought an end to what was a marathon match on his fourth match point and entered his second consecutive Super Series final.Earlier, Sakai defeated India’s HS Prannoy 21-17, 26-28, 18-21 in a gruelling last-four contest that lasted for one hour and sixteen minutes to enter the finals.The Indian shuttler, who had stunned World and Olympic Champion Chen Long of China to enter the semifinals, won the first game 21-17 but his Japanese opponent came out with a more aggressive approach in the second game to build an early lead.However, Prannoy stuck to his natural game and clawed his way back to take an 18-17 lead. From then on the lead kept shuttling between the two till the Japanese edged out the mammoth game 28-26.Sakai, who is ranked 20 places lower to Prannoy, came out strong in the final game and built a healthy lead. However, the Indian came back again and took the lead which Sakai, holding on is nerves in the final stages, won the game 21-18 to seal the final berth.Both Prannoy and Sakai were appearing in their first Super Series semi-final. Their only previous meeting was at the Indonesia Open in 2013, where Sakai won 21-13, 14-21, 21-17.
Fredericks: West Ham boost from Bournemouth drawby Paul Vegas25 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveRyan Fredericks says West Ham United have gained plenty of confidence from their 2-2 draw with Bournemouth on Saturday.The Hammers came back twice to steal a valuable away point which leaves in fourth place on the Premier League table.”Coming back like that gives us a lot of positive feelings,” Fredericks called the club’s website.”We’re a confident bunch anyway and we know we can go anywhere and pick up a result.”We didn’t panic when we went 2-1 down. Obviously it was frustrating to go behind, especially so early in the second half, but we knew we were going to get chances. “We have very good forward players who always create chances so we knew that as long as we didn’t concede a third we’d always have a chance of getting back in the game.”We’re a different beast this season. We don’t want to just be up there and think ‘it’s nice to be here’. We think we’re good enough to stay in and around these positions so we’re going to fight for every point, every goal and I think teams know that when they play against us it’s never going to be an easy game.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
APTN National NewsA four-year Aboriginal literacy project started by former prime minister Paul Martin is beginning to see results.The project focused on two First Nation schools in southern Ontario.And the test scores are in.APTN’s Delaney Windigo has the story.
TORONTO – Wall Street set another record high Tuesday on relatively minor movements as Canada’s largest stock index inched forward and the loonie cleared 80 cents US.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 84.07 points to 22,641.67. The S&P 500 index edged up 5.46 points to 2,534.58 and the Nasdaq composite index added 14.99 points to 6,531.71.North of the border, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index advanced 23.51 points to 15,728.51.“It’s a little sleepy today, pretty slow,” said Cavan Yie, a portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management. “All you’re seeing is optimism in the markets being sustained.”“If you look at Canada,” Yie added, “the banks keep chugging along with share prices near all-time highs, with solid fundamentals to support them.”The TSX’s financials subsector was up nearly half a percentage point on Tuesday.Looking ahead to Friday, investors will be eyeing Statistics Canada’s labour force survey for September.RBC Economics Research has said Canadian employment is expected to continue to increase that month, rising 10,000 though this would be down from the 22,000 increase in August.“The slowing largely reflects the expectation that the gain in service-producing jobs drops to just 5,000 after the 35,900 surge in August,” it said in an investor’s note.Meanwhile, some U.S. economic reports may look abnormally weak because of the hurricanes that have recently struck the United States, such as this week’s upcoming report on hiring. But investors are expecting to see temporarily weaker numbers, which would limit the impact.In currency markets, the Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 80 cents US, up 0.03 of a cent.The November crude contract fell 16 cents to US$50.42 per barrel and the November natural gas contract was down two cents at US$2.90 per mmBTU.The December gold contract gave back $1.20 cents to US$1,274.60 an ounce and the December copper contract was unchanged at US$2.96 a pound.Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.
BRUSSELS – Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump jolted the NATO summit Wednesday by turning a spotlight on Germany’s ties to Russia and openly questioning the value of the military alliance that has defined American foreign policy for decades.Trump declared that a joint natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel’s government “totally controlled” and “captive to Russia.” So, in a stroke, he shifted attention away from his own ties to the Kremlin just days before he meets one-on-one with Putin.With scorching language, the president questioned the necessity of the alliance that formed a bulwark against Soviet aggression, tweeting after a day of contentious meetings: “What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?”German Chancellor Merkel hit back immediately, not only denying Trump’s contention but suggesting that his comfortable upbringing in the U.S. gave him no standing to spout off on the world stage about Germany.Drawing on her own background growing up in communist East Germany behind the Iron Curtain, she said:“I’ve experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union, and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions and that’s very good.”Trump demanded by public tweet that members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025” for their military efforts. He then rattled U.S. allies further by privately suggesting member nations should spend 4 per cent of their gross domestic product on the military — more than even the United States currently pays, according to NATO statistics.It was just the latest in Trump’s demands and insults that critics fear will undermine a decades-old alliance launched to counter-balance Soviet aggression after World War II. And it came just days before Trump planned to sit down with Putin in Finland at the conclusion of what has become a contentious European trip.Trump has spent weeks berating members of the alliance for failing to increase military spending, accusing Europe of freeloading off the U.S. and even raising doubts about whether he would come to members’ defence as required if they were ever attacked.Trump’s tongue-lashing accelerated during a pre-summit breakfast, when he traded his usual long-distance Twitter attacks for a face-to-face confrontation with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.“We’re supposed to protect you against Russia but they’re paying billions of dollars to Russia and I think that’s very inappropriate,” Trump said, repeatedly describing Germany as “captive to Russia” because of the energy deal. He urged NATO to look into the issue.Trump’s harsh words for Merkel, whose country has hosted tens of thousands of U.S. troops that have been key to post-WWII stability in Europe for seven decades, struck at the core of the alliance. West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a critical factor in the alliance’s success in facing down the Soviet Union until its collapse. Reunified with the East, Germany became the largest European economy in NATO in 1990.The president’s beef was with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would bring gas from Russia to Germany’s northeastern Baltic coast, bypassing Eastern European nations like Poland and Ukraine and doubling the amount of gas Russia can send directly to Germany. The vast undersea pipeline is opposed by the U.S. and some other EU members, who warn it could give Moscow greater leverage over Western Europe. It’s expected to be online at the end of 2019.Environmental-conscious Germany is trying to reduce its reliance on coal and is phasing out nuclear power by 2022, so it hopes to use natural gas to partially fill the gap until the country’s electricity grid can cope with fluctuating levels provided by renewable energy.Hours after the breakfast, Merkel and Trump appeared to play nice as they met along the summit’s sidelines. Trump told reporters the two had a “very, very good relationship” and congratulated Merkel on her “tremendous success.”While Trump went after Germany for its ties to Russia, he himself has been accused by critics of being too eager to improve relations with Moscow. He’s also dismissed the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia tried to undermine Western democracy by meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help him win.Trump also lobbed fresh complaints about allies’ “delinquent” defence spending and suggested at one point that NATO allies commit to spending 4 per cent of their GDP on defence — twice the goal they’ve set for 2024.“I have great confidence they’ll be spending more,” he said.However, a formal summit declaration issued by the NATO leaders Wednesday reaffirmed their “unwavering commitment” to the 2 per cent pledge set in 2014 and made no reference to any effort to go higher.Trump has repeatedly mischaracterized the spending target, wrongly describing it as a fee that countries pay to NATO or the U.S. rather than their own military. NATO estimates that 15 members, or just over half, will meet the benchmark by 2024 based on current trends.Back in the U.S., Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement describing Trump’s “brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany,” as “an embarrassment.”“His behaviour this morning is another profoundly disturbing signal that the president is more loyal to President Putin than to our NATO allies,” they wrote.Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, also criticized Trump’s rhetoric.“I do believe everybody should get to 2 per cent quickly, but the NATO alliance is something that’s very important to the United States and our citizenry, and things that are said to try and create instability, all that it does is strengthen Putin,” Corker said, describing concerns “about conciliatory things that could occur in Helsinki” when Trump sits down with the Russian president.But Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, a strong supporter of the president, said the pipeline issue strikes at the “heart of NATO unity.”“The pipeline gets cheap Russian gas to Germany while bypassing smaller Eastern European nations, allowing Russia to pressure them while Germany is held harmless,” he tweeted, adding: “No amount of preening in Berlin will cover this nakedly selfish policy.”___Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Darlene Superville and Zeke Miller in Washington, Matthew Lee in Brussels and Maria Danilova in Moscow contributed to this report.___Follow Colvin and Lemire on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj and https://twitter.com/JonLemirePresident Donald Trump barrelled into a NATO summit Wednesday with claims that a natural gas pipeline deal has left Germany “totally controlled” and “captive to Russia” as he lobbed fresh complaints about allies’ “delinquent” defence spending during the opening of what was expected to be a fraught two-day meeting.Trump also suggested that NATO allies commit to spending 4 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence — double the current goal of 2 per cent by 2024.The president, in a testy exchange with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that kicked off his visit, took issue with the U.S. protecting Germany as it strikes deals with Russia.“I have to say, I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia,” Trump said at a breakfast with Stoltenberg. “We’re supposed to protect you against Russia but they’re paying billions of dollars to Russia and I think that’s very inappropriate.”Trump repeatedly described Germany as “captive to Russia” because of the energy deal and urged NATO to look into the issue.German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed back firmly, insisting that Germany makes its own decisions and drawing on her own background growing up in communist East Germany behind the Iron Curtain.“I’ve experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions and that’s very good,” she said.The president appeared to be referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would bring gas from Russia to Germany’s northeastern Baltic coast, bypassing Eastern European nations like Poland and Ukraine and doubling the amount of gas Russia can send directly to Germany. The vast undersea pipeline is opposed by the U.S. and some other EU members, who warn it could give Moscow greater leverage over Western Europe. It’s expected to be online at the end of 2019.Environmental-conscious Germany is trying to reduce its reliance on coal and is phasing out nuclear power by 2022, so it hopes to use natural gas to partially fill the gap until the country’s electricity grid can cope with fluctuating levels provided by renewable energy. The alternatives, including U.S. supplies, are more expensive.In their back-and-forth, Stoltenberg stressed to Trump that NATO members have been able to work together despite their differences. “I think that two world wars and the Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart,” he told the president, trying to calm tensions.Trump’s dramatic exchange with Stoltenberg set the tone for what was already expected to be a tense day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance as Trump presses jittery NATO allies about their military spending ahead of his meeting next week with Putin.“The United States is paying far too much and other countries are not paying enough, especially some. So we’re going to have a meeting on that,” Trump said, describing the situation as “disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States.”“They will spend more,” he later predicted. “I have great confidence they’ll be spending more.”And with that, he went on to push allies at the summit to double their commitment on defence spending.“During the president’s remarks today at the NATO summit, he suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 per cent of their GDP on defence spending, but that they increase it to 4 per cent,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She said the president raised the same issue at NATO last year and that, “Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations.”However, a formal summit declaration issued by the NATO leaders Wednesday reaffirmed their “unwavering commitment” to the 2 per cent pledge set in 2014 and made no reference to any effort to get to 4 per cent.Trump’s pipeline criticism was an unusual line of attack for a president who has proclaimed himself eager to improve relations with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and dismissed the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia tried to undermine Western democracy by meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Trump win. Trump has long argued that improving relaxations with Russia would be good for both nations.Back in the U.S., Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement describing Trump’s “brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany,” as “an embarrassment.”“His behaviour this morning is another profoundly disturbing signal that the president is more loyal to President Putin than to our NATO allies,” they wrote.Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch also took issue with Trump, saying “I don’t agree with that. Germans wouldn’t agree with that. They are a very strong people.”But Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, a strong supporter of the president, said the pipeline issue strikes at the “heart of NATO unity.”“The pipeline gets cheap Russian gas to Germany while bypassing smaller Eastern European nations, allowing Russia to pressure them while Germany is held harmless,” he tweeted, adding: “No amount of preening in Berlin will cover this nakedly selfish policy.”Despite Trump’s claims about Germany, Merkel served as a forceful advocate for imposing — and maintaining — sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea in 2014, arguing that it violated the principles of the international order established after World War II. The president is also not the first leader to point to the impact of Nord Stream 2 on Europe, echoing complaints from Eastern European allies who note it would cut out transit countries such as Poland and Ukraine.Trump and Merkel met later Wednesday on the sidelines of the summit and kept their remarks polite during a photo opportunity with the press.Trump told reporters the two had a “very, very good relationship” and congratulated Merkel on her “tremendous success.” Asked if they had discussed the pipeline, he said they had, but declined to elaborate.Merkel, for her part, called the two nations “good partners” and said “we wish to continue to co-operate in the future.”Trump then met with French President Emmanuel Macron, who said he disagreed with Trump’s pipeline assessment. But the two appeared on good terms, with Trump joking about the fact that Macron had been asked about it.Trump has long pushed NATO members to meet their agreed-to target of 2 per cent by 2024 and has accused those who don’t of freeloading off the U.S.He tweeted from the summit: “What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are their only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.”NATO estimates that 15 members, or just over half, will meet the benchmark by 2024 based on current trends.Brussels is the first leg of a weeklong European tour that will include stops in London and Scotland, as well as a highly anticipated meeting next week with Putin.__Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Darlene Superville and Zeke Miller in Washington and Maria Danilova in Moscow contributed to this report.__Follow Colvin and Lemire on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj and https://twitter.com/JonLemire
Americans’ path to homeownership is likely to get more expensive this year, even as a severe shortage of homes for sale shows signs of easing.Mortgage rates, which climbed through much of last year, will continue to rise in 2019, driving up homebuyers’ borrowing costs and shutting others out of the market entirely. The projected result: a cooling housing market and falling home sales nationally.“On the whole, it’s going to be more expensive for buyers next year, despite the fact that they’ll have more options,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.The U.S housing market stalled in 2018 after a long period during which price increases outpaced income growth. That had been offset by historically low mortgage rates, until rates began rising steadily a year ago.While still low by historical standards, the average rate on a 30-year home loan was 4.55 per cent last week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. That’s up from 3.99 per cent a year earlier.Realtor.com and Redfin forecast the rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage will rise to 5.5 per cent by the end of 2019. Zillow expects rates will reach 5.8 per cent. That would be rates’ highest level since the last recession.A mere extra half percentage point can boost monthly payments and add tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the typical 30-year loan.“Rising mortgage rates will take a bite out of affordability on top of an already supply- constrained and high-priced housing market,” Trulia senior economist Cheryl Young wrote in her forecast.As mortgage rates increase, so does the pressure on would-be buyers to lock in a rate and close a deal.Nate Vogel, a homebuyer in the Denver suburb of Lafayette, has felt some of that pressure after about a year looking for a home without success.Because of the limited number of homes for sale, especially under $500,000, the software engineering manager recently decided to look at homes at the top of his budget, $650,000. But that could be a problem if mortgage rates continue climbing.“If that interest rate goes up another per cent, that would make things much more uncomfortable,” said Vogel, 37. “At this point, no matter what house I buy, I’m sure the interest rate will probably be higher and the payment will be more.”Higher mortgage rates have already started dampening home sales. As of November, sales of previously occupied U.S. homes were down 7 per cent from a year earlier, the steepest decline since May 2011, when the housing market had yet to bounce back from the bust.Realtor.com predicts U.S. home sales will fall another 2 per cent in 2019.It’s not all bad news for would-be buyers, though. Economists project home prices will rise more slowly in 2019. Zillow’s forecast calls for prices to increase nationally by about 3.8 per cent. Realtor.com has them rising at just 2.2 per cent.Another plus for buyers: The number of homes on the market is expected to continue rising, albeit from historic low levels. The inventory of U.S. homes for sale was up 4.2 per cent as of November to 1.74 million units.Alex Veiga, The Associated Press
The General Election this time has been marked by a significant amount of violence in the run-up to the polls in several parts of the country. The bitterness amongst the contesting parties in states like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra precipitated clashes between rival workers testing the efficacy and impartiality of the local police. The institution of the State Electoral Officer did not seem to be strong enough in monitoring the performance of the district police officials and taking action against those who showed serious dereliction of duty. Violence around polling booths is a negation of democratic rights of the voters and by now India should have been able to practice zero tolerance towards this malaise. It is high time a commission examined the ways and means of ensuring peace during elections and defined specific policy measures in this regard for the future. It is highly regrettable that the largest democracy in the world cannot liberate the election process of street-level violence. Clearly, in the federal scheme of things, it is the state police chief who has to take direct responsibility for it and demonstrate his or her apolitical credentials while handling law and order during elections with an iron fist. There should be no delay in the implementation of the Supreme Court order issued last year against the practice of appointing officiating DGPs – that also clearly laid down that the UPSC will draw up a panel of three names in consultation with the state government and that the state government will make one of them the DGP of the state on the basis of merit-cum-seniority. This is the single most important Police reform that the Centre must put in place at once. Another area of political violence that showed up during and outside of elections, concerns the injurious fallout from public speeches that tended to instigate caste, communal or regional conflicts. Pungent wit and some name-calling without violating the law of defamation could be a legit part of electioneering but deliberately indulging in identity politics and questioning the symbols of nationalism became much too obvious in the poll fray this time. India is vulnerable to communal and caste tensions and freedom of expression cannot be allowed to cross the legal limits put on it by the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1972 that created Sections 153A & 153B to define cognizable and non-bailable offences pertaining to sectarian speeches. The police machinery of the districts has to be strengthened a great deal with manpower and technological equipment to enable it to handle this rampant criminality committed by the people in public life today. Follow up on the blatant violations of law noticed in this General Election should continue even after the poll process is over. The most dangerous form of political violence that is steadily permeating our nation, however, is the rise of new terror emanating from faith-based motivation. Terrorism by definition is the resort to ‘covert violence for a perceived political cause’. In the absence of such a ’cause’, the violence will just be sheer criminality; and terrorism is not that, certainly. A cause demands ‘commitment’ which in turn is rooted in ‘motivation’. India has seen diverse motivations behind terror movements and insurgencies – ‘ideological’ that sustained Maoism or assertion of ‘ethnic identity’ that was the case with North-East insurgent groups – but the new global terror that is now afflicting the world and becoming a prime security threat to India is a class apart since it is linked to the call of ‘defence of Islam’ or Jihad. This is an outcome of the complications connected with the ‘war on terror’ launched against the Islamic radicals by the US-led West post 9/11 on the one hand and the cross border terrorism started by Pakistan to settle scores with India using India- specific terror outfits under the ISI control, on the other. Developments in recent times have made Pakistan the world repository of Islamic militancy and the agencies in that country are now manoeuvring the entire spectrum of militants from Al Qaeda-Taliban combine and ISIS at one end to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen at the other. The keenness of the US to work for the withdrawal of American troops from Syria and Afghanistan has given a lot of residual advantage to Pakistan in terms of its plans to use Islamic militants as a strategic resource for furthering its foreign policy objectives. India has much to feel concerned about the way the US was relying on Pakistan to reach a settlement with the Taliban. While this is the scene in Afghanistan, the recent terror bombings against Christians and Western tourists in and around Colombo have been claimed by ISIS. What is more significant, the local radical outfit, the National Towheed Jamaat, complicit in this covert offensive in Sri Lanka is found to have links with Pakistan and South India. It is already known that Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) operating out of Pakistan with patronage from ISI has the avowed aim of establishing Islamic State in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. India, unlike the US, is directly in the arc of Islamic militancy and needs to strategise for national security against this new threat of faith-based terror. It is extremely disquieting that political discourse in India – and this became sharper in the election campaign – has tended to drag Pakistan into the discussions on minorities here. This trend has started from Jammu and Kashmir where the regional parties have openly advocated a communally-based ‘solution’ by talking of the Valley and not about the integral state of J&K that is home to many religions. They have strengthened the hands of Pakistan which finds it convenient to project Kashmir as a Muslim issue and create a communal divide in the domestic politics of India. The same effect is produced by some opposition leaders at the national level who criticised the ‘muscular’ policy of the Modi government towards Pakistan but maintained deliberate silence on the infiltration of terrorists by Pakistan’s ISI across the LOC to create violence in the state. The campaign for General Election this time has deepened the communal antagonism on majority-minority line and left the country vulnerable to Pak machinations to generate militancy as a byproduct of communal disharmony. In the initial decades after Independence, India witnessed communal riots primarily because of the legacy of Partition but these subsided as the democratic processes took firm root and equality of rights played out for everybody. The rise of new global terror that invokes the cause of Islam has made it possible – particularly because of the mischief of Pak agencies – for radicalisation to seep into India, howsoever small may be its spread in the country so far. The events at Colombo come as a wake-up call for our security set-up. Various communities of India at the level of average citizens want to lead a peaceful life and make use of whatever opportunities of economic advancement that would become available to them. It should not be difficult to achieve a convergence amongst all communities on the external threats to national security if the leaders of the communities did not seek political power by dividing the people. Our laws and security policy should provide for quick punishment for those who tried to gain from the advocacy of violence in course of projection of religion into politics. Our ruling dispensation should be upfront about it – this seems to be the major learning from the 2019 national election. (The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau. Views expressed are strictly personal)
By SALEH MWANAMILONGO, Associated PressKINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Ebola vaccinations will begin Monday in the two rural areas of Congo where the latest deadly outbreak was declared this month, the health ministry said Saturday, as the number of confirmed Ebola cases rose to 35, including 10 deaths.A vaccination campaign is already under way in Mbandaka, the city of 1.2 million on the Congo River where four Ebola cases have been confirmed. About 100 health workers have been vaccinated there as front-line workers face high risk from the virus, which is spread via contact with the bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead.In this photo taken Friday, May 25, 2018, UNICEF staffer Jean Claude Nzengu, center, talks with members of an Ebola vaccination team as they prepare to administer the vaccine in an Ebola-affected community in the north-western city of Mbandaka, in Congo. (Mark Naftalin/UNICEF via AP)The vaccination campaign will begin Monday in the rural areas of Bikoro and Iboko in the country’s northwest, health ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga told The Associated Press.“The health minister can be found at this moment in Bikoro for assessing the preparations for the vaccination campaign,” Ilunga said.Of the 10 confirmed Ebola deaths, five have occurred in Bikoro, two in Iboko and three in the Wangata area of Mbandaka.In addition to the confirmed Ebola cases there are also 13 probable cases and six suspected ones, the health ministry said.The World Health Organization emergencies chief has said the next few weeks are crucial in determining whether the outbreak can be brought under control. Complicating factors include its spread to a major city, the fact that health workers have been infected and the existence of three or four “separate epicenters” that make finding and monitoring contacts of infected people more difficult.WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a meeting in Geneva on Saturday that “I am personally committed to ensuring that we do everything we can to stop this outbreak as soon as possible.”This is Congo’s ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976, when the hemorrhagic fever was first identified.There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.WHO is using a “ring vaccination” approach, targeting the contacts of people infected or suspected of infection and then the contacts of those people. More than 600 contacts have been identified.WHO also is accelerating efforts with nine neighboring countries to try to prevent the Ebola outbreak from spreading there, saying the regional risk is high. It has warned against international travel and trade restrictions.___Associated Press writer Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.
February 18, 2003A team of new workshoppers is assigned to the rebar crew. [Photo & Text: sa] Construction crew members Gabriel Hendrix and Brad Bishop instruct workshoppers Chiara Voicu and Michael Ray Teslow in the art of tying rebar. [Photo & Text: sa] Michael and Chiara work on the third floor beam of the East Crescent Complex. [Photo & Text: sa] The partially finished beam. [Photo & Text: sa]
Russian service provider Komkor, which operates in Moscow and St Petersburg under the Akado brand, is making two of its premium sports offerings available à la carte.Since August 17, boxing channel Boks TV has been available à la carte. Akado will make football service Futbol available on the same basis from September 1.Sales director Andrei Agayev said that making channels available à la carte was one of the tools available to the operator to attract and retain customers.
Ukrainian telco Kyivstar has added a number of new channels to its TV programming line-up.The operator has added news channel PravdaTUT to its line-up, along with Ukrainian information and music service RTI, a TV version of a radio service.Kyivstar has also added Tsentralny Kanal, a channel focusing on life and culture in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America’s news service Nastoyashcheye Vremya (Current Time).The latter channel was recently added to rival cable operator Volia’s TV offering.Last week Kyivstar also removed Russian channel Karusel from the line-up of its Home TV package after the country’s National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting removed the channel from the list of service that it said met the requirements of the European Convention on Trans-frontier Television.
We’ve written before about the idea of personalized medicine and how an increasing number of doctors and research scientists seek to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach that has defined drug R&D and patient treatment for centuries. Today, the trend is to focus more on matching the biological characteristics of each person with the best treatment options available – and in the future even perhaps to develop specific drugs for specific patients. But it’s not just doctors who are moving toward more personalized health care. A growing number of average individuals is taking an interest in the concept as well. Thanks to advancements in technology, a revolution in data-driven personal health monitoring (often referred to as “self-quantification”) has become possible. This revolution is changing the face of health care as we know it. Gary Wolf is a self-described spokesman for the “self-quantification” movement. With the help of various wearable technologies and smartphone apps, Wolf regularly records approximately 20 of his own vital signs – including heart rate, glucose levels, blood pressure, and more. But he’s not collecting data for the sake of collecting data. He has successfully applied this self-analysis to get his high blood pressure under control. Not all self-trackers are as extreme as Wolf, but he is far from alone. The Quantified Self website has attracted thousands of self-trackers from around the world to share their knowledge and experiences. As the technologies improve and it becomes even easier to self-quantify, demand to do so will only increase. How much? According to ABI Research analyst Jonathan Collins, while a solid 30 million wearable, wireless monitoring devices (including those for medical and clinical use) were sold in the US last year, that figure is expected to balloon to 160 million devices a year by 2017. Furthermore, a recent report from IMS Research indicates that the wearable-technology market already generates $2 billion a year in sales, and will represent a minimum revenue opportunity of $6 billion a year by 2016. The market for wearable technologies in health care alone is projected to exceed $2.9 billion a year by 2016. A popular example of one of these “wearables” is the Basis B1 watch, which, in addition to telling time, has a number of sensors to provide an overview of one’s health. The device includes a heart-rate monitor, 3D accelerometer, thermometer, and galvanic skin response sensor. Then there is “Smart Clothing” from AiQ. The company’s BioMan T-shirt has ribbed “smart sleeves” that measure heart rate, respiration rate, and skin temperature and can be further customized to measure skin moisture and electrophysiological signals such as EKG, EEG, and EMG. There’s even a “Smart Bra” from First Warning Systems that measures minute variations in temperature caused by the growth of blood vessels that develop in the breast to supply cancerous tissue with blood. This could allow a tumor to be detected years before it would be visible in a traditional mammogram or even an MRI. In addition to wearables, smartphones will play a large role in the future of self-quantification. Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California, says that advancements in smartphone technology and downloadable apps will help people take better control of their health by tracking it with increasing precision. In his book The Creative Destruction of Medicine, Topol describes how we will soon start running common medical tests on our smartphones, lessening the frequency of doctor’s office visits. Imagine a world in which you just take a picture of a rash on your skin with your smartphone, upload it to a medical app, and receive a tailored diagnosis. Or better yet, simply breathe into a sensor on your phone and receive a diagnosis for whatever ails you. That reality is probably still a long way off, and the technological hurdles are high; but it’s hard to imagine that it’s not coming. On the nearer horizon, modern wearable technologies could be supplanted by electronic skin tattoos that monitor all kinds of things. We’re actually closer to this reality than you might think. Materials scientist John Rogers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign first demonstrated so-called “epidermal electronics” in his lab several years ago. These devices – which consist of ultrathin electronics, sensors, electrodes, and wireless power and communication systems – could theoretically attach to the skin and record and transmit electrophysiological measurements for medical purposes. Early versions of the technology were not rugged enough to stand up to the activities of everyday life, but Rogers has now figured out how to “print” the electronic tattoo directly onto the skin so it can be worn for up to two weeks. Rogers is now focused on developing and refining the wireless power sources and communication systems that need to be integrated into the system. He says the technology could potentially be commercialized within the next couple of years. Whatever the timeline for electronic skin tattoos and other technologies that help us self-quantify, we think it’s safe to say that this revolution we’re seeing in personal health monitoring will only pick up steam along the way. Analysts from Ernst & Young predict that over the next decade as much as 50% of health care will shift out of the hospital and clinic, and we will increasingly conduct virtual visits with doctors and nurses through our mobile devices. These changes will require new roles and business models across the board; but at the end of the day, it’s hard to argue against better, more frequent access to information about what’s going on inside our bodies, in order to allow us to live healthier lives. Bits & Bytes Yet More Leaked Samsung Galaxy S IV Pics Appear Hours Before Launch (TechCrunch) Samsung is unveiling a new version of its flagship phone tonight. The phone will be called the Galaxy S4. The latest leaked photos show a device that looks a lot like the company’s previous flagship phone, the Galaxy S3. While the phone may lack a new design, it’s rumored that it will include several bold, new features such as floating touch, which allows users to hover a finger over the screen to interact with it. The Gigabot 3D Lets You Print Things that Are Bigger than a Few Breadboxes (TechCrunch) The standard crop of 3D printers is all well and good, but what about those times when you need to print something really big? Austin-based startup re:3D has built a machine that could fill that void. It’s called the Gigabot, and it is touted as being the first large-format 3D printer designed for the home. In Your Pocket, a Lost-and-Found (New York Times) Here’s a neat gadget for those who are prone to losing stuff. The Linquet Mini is a small dongle that you can place on any item you might lose and connect it to your smartphone with Bluetooth. Provided the tagged items stay in a specified range of the smartphone, everything will remain silent. But when any tagged item is moved out of range, the smartphone will sound an alarm. Engineering College Lets Students Shop with Biometric Scans Instead of Credit Cards (Popular Science) South Dakota School of Mines is trying out a new way to pay for things. Instead of using cash and cards, students pay by linking accounts to their fingerprints. The main difference between this technology and existing technologies is that it detects hemoglobin, making it nearly impossible for a criminal to steal your identity.
Every time I write an article that mentions god – even if used as a descriptive reference to “the gods” – I get insulting and arrogant comments from atheists. And it’s not just me; you can see the same thing all over the Internet. To put it simply, these people are bullies, striking unbidden with fast, hard blows. It’s not about truth; it’s about dominance. Not all atheists do this, obviously. I have quite a few atheist friends who are decent, kind people. But an abusive strain of atheism has taken root in recent years, and I think it’s time to confront it. Here’s the key: The goal of these bullies is not to find truth or even to defend it; it’s to put down other people – to insult, humiliate and laugh at the fools who believe in any sort of god, even people who use references to god. These people slash and burn. They labor to destroy, not to build. I used to have a standing offer: that I would publish any atheist book that did not criticize, but instead told people how atheism would make their lives better. The result? No one ever submitted a manuscript. The Irony of It All Last week I wrote an article entitled Are you a Gorilla or a God? In it, I explained that the worst of human behavior is gorilla-like and the best god-like. I went on to explain the gorilla side this way: Dominant gorillas seek status and the power to control others. The submissive apes seek to pass along their pain to the apes below them. In response to the article (which mentioned gods!), I received the business end of that atheistic slash and burn. But these people never realized that they were placing themselves precisely into the position I had assigned to the gorillas: slapping and biting smaller animals to make themselves dominant. A Defense of Atheism I don’t have a problem with atheism per se. I was actually raised as an atheist, by a mother whose love I never for a moment doubted. And, as I say, I have friends who are atheists. The opinion, by itself, doesn’t bother me. I think atheism is a valid opinion. I happen to disagree with it, but I disagree with a lot of things – that doesn’t mean I go about to destroy them all. Our goal should be to improve people, not to chop them up. One essential flaw I find with strident atheism is that no one can know enough to make that pronouncement. Here’s what I mean: I think it is 100% fair to say, “I’ve never seen evidence of a God, so I don’t think there is one.” Some atheists will say that putting God outside of the universe was merely a trick to avoid evidence. But even if it did begin as a trick, the idea stands on its own, and saying, “I know that there is no god at all, anywhere,” is unsound. But, again, to say, “I see no evidence and don’t think there’s a God” is an entirely fair and rational opinion. The Unfair Atheist Argument You’ve all seen the technique: The aggressive atheist picks their spot and pounces with references to the very worst examples of theism, and implies that all believers are that way. But most believers have no desire at all to burn witches or stone homosexuals. To paint them as being that way is not only unfair; it is abusive. These atheists will, of course, pull together abstract arguments, saying, “Your book says that, and you say you believe the book, so you defend burning witches.” The truth, however, is that modern believers want nothing to do with burning witches, inquisitions, or any other horrors. (In fact, they would oppose them strongly.) The atheists know this, of course; they’re just trying to slash and burn. A kinder, better atheist would say, “You believers really should explain why you no longer accept some of the things written in your book.” That would be honest and helpful. Can We All Get Along? Yes, of course we can. Only one thing needs to be absent (on both sides): the desire to injure and dominate. Atheists and theists can be friends and co-travelers. I’ve spent pleasant hours with evangelists for atheism. We disagreed, we got over it, and we enjoyed each other’s company. It really comes back to the basic principles that we learned as children: You don’t try to bully them, and they shouldn’t try to bully you. Play nice. It isn’t that hard. Paul Rosenberg FreemansPerspective.com What I don’t think is fair, is to say, “I know there is no such thing as God.” This is especially true regarding the Judeo-Christian God, who is said to exist beyond our universe. Until they can look beyond the universe, no one can say for sure.
In This Issue. * Only 3 currencies are up today. * Gold loses ground again! * Aussie jobs report sends A$ down! * A treat from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! The Dollar Swings Its Mighty Hammer. Good Day! And a Tub Thumpin’ Thursday to you! It’s snowing again outside, but so far it’s just a dusting, no biggie. What a roller coaster ride this week’s weather has been! Much like the week for the currencies and metals. Our St. Louis U Billikens squeaked out a win last night, and I finished all my writing assignments ahead of time! Do I get a Gold Star? Well. The dollar is swinging its mighty hammer again this morning The euro, Swiss franc and Danish kroner are the only currencies with any gains VS the dollar this morning, while the Aussie dollar (A$) is bringing up the rear. The A$ loss overnight has been HUGE! And one has to wonder if it’s a little overdone, with the chance of a bounce-back at this point. I’m going to be talking about why now it’s more important than ever to be diversified in currencies and metals at one of my presentations in Orlando in two weeks. And one of the things I’m going to be talking about in that presentation is the fact that everyone, except me and a few others, is on the dollar’s side these days. Doesn’t that worry you? It does me. As I’ve seen this before folks. 2005, 2008, 2011 immediately pop into my mind as years that everyone jumped on the dollar’s bandwagon, but the euphoria didn’t have multi-year staying power, and eventually the dollar went right back to its underlying weak trend. Long time readers know how I don’t like the phrase: This time it’s different. So, I don’t see how this time it will be different for the dollar, do you? Here’s why I think this dollar strength will all unwind eventually. In 2008, the Fed Heads and Treasury implanted extraordinary financial intervention to save the banking system from collapse. But to me, all they did was push the problems down the road a couple of years. And now that the Fed has decided to begin to unwind those programs, I believe all hell is going to break loose, and it could set the dollar up for its ultimate decline. Now, it all might turn out to be seashells and balloons for the economy, and we’ll never look back on why we worried so much about the extraordinary financial programs, and I would be wrong. But all that remains to be seen, eh? And if I am wrong, then I’ll go back and sue my economics professors! HA! But here’s something to think about regarding the economy’s strength. From MarketWatch yesterday. “The country’s top three mortgage lenders confirmed this week that new home loans dropped last year as mortgage rates rose, with earnings results Wednesday morning from Bank of America showing a 46% year-over-year drop in the fourth quarter.” And if the economy is so strong, then why did Macy’s and JC Penney announce store closings and jobs losses? At JC Penney, they’re going to close 33 stores and lay off 2,000 workers. Going on to other things. The December Labor Report for Australia printed as we suspected. weak! Headline employment fell 23,000 in December. November’s gain of 15,400 was in effect, wiped out. I don’t think the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is going to panic at the disco here, and rush to cut rates. But it won’t take but one or two more of these weak labor reports before they do cut rates. The data sent the Aussie dollar (A$) reeling and I mean reeling badly! As I said above, I don’t get why the A$ was punished this harshly, on a jobs report was not good, but also not horrible. So, to me the selling was overdone. We’ll have to see, eh? In the Eurozone this morning. Germany, which is the largest economy in the Eurozone, printed their CPI numbers, and they printed bang on with the forecasts of a .4% gain in December, and an annualized increase of 1.2%… This was a good print for Germany and the Eurozone as a whole, for the recent trend in consumer inflation for the region was on a downward path, so the euro was rewarded for this data. The return of the Carry Trade! I had just hit the “send” button yesterday when a story shot across the screens pronouncing the return of the Carry Trade. OK. long time readers know all about the Carry Trade of the past. Sell yen, and buy a high yielding currency like Aussie or kiwi.. Well, here we go again. The funding currency now can be one of many given the zero interest rate policies of Japan, U.S., Swiss, Eurozone, and the currency to buy has changed to the Brazilian real. This won’t make the leaders in Brazil too happy. For they still want a real that’s not too weak to invite inflation, and not to strong, to hurt exports, but one that’s just right. Yeah, like the Goldilocks and the 3 Bears story. The problem is that Central Banks very rarely get a Goldilocks currency level. So, if the story is correct, and this is the new Carry Trade, the Brazilian Central Bank and Gov’t are going to have to get used to some currency strength. If they don’t think that will happen to the real when it’s used as the buying currency in the Carry Trade, they should call up the Central Bankers in Australia and New Zealand, for they know the truth! The Chinese renminbi / yuan was pushed down again the Peoples Bank of China (PBOC) last night. The roller coaster ride in renminbi / yuan just keeps going, but I don’t worry about these downward moves in the currency. They are just speed bumps. I do wonder about the news I saw on the Bloomberg this morning though, that China’s holdings of U.S. Treasuries increased $12.2 Billion in November. I thought the Chinese said they saw no reason to continue to add Treasuries? Well, I had better go back and check when they said that. I’ll be right back! OK, I’m back, did you miss me? HA! Well, from my archives, I see it was around the end of November that the Chinese said that. So, just like a star that burns its brightest right before it goes dark. Maybe the Chinese made this one last truck load buy of Treasuries and then did a Roberto Duran, and said, “no mas”. For it’s not like the Chinese to say one thing and do another. Recall the other day when I wrote a quickie about Bitcoin? Well, in that quickie, I talked about a “lot of stuff” that gives me the willies about Bitcoin, and yesterday, my colleague and friend, Jack Stapleton, sent me an article by Louis Basenese on a very scary technical flaw he found with Bitcoin. I’m sure it will take a day or two before he allows his article to be posted on the internet, so look for it. I know Louis, and he’s very good at researching things, so take his words with many grains of salt. Yesterday, the U.S. Data Cupboard printed a couple of items for us to look at. First, there was the December PPI (wholesale inflation), which came in as expected at +.4%, and +1.2% year on year. But that should remove some of the sweat from the Fed Heads’ foreheads, as they fear deflation Big Time. We also saw the TIC Flows. Remember when the markets would get all lathered up on this data, which shows the net foreign purchases of Treasuries? For if the foreigners didn’t buy enough Treasuries the deficit would not be financed correctly. But then the Fed began buying Treasuries by the boat load, and this data became non-interesting. But with the unwinding of the Fed buying of Treasuries going on, will this data become important once again? Probably not. For in reality, I don’t see the Fed buying to ever stop. But for those of you keeping score at home, the Net TIC Flows were a negative $16.6 Billion! That means that we didn’t see many foreign buyers. This Monetizing of the debt (bond buying by the Fed) is really going to end up being a problem for the U.S. economy folks. My spider sense is tingling on this. I’ve talked so much about this monetizing of the debt that a long time reader, Bob, sent me something that made me laugh, and so I thought to share it with you! You know those Direct TV adds, where they say, so you get frustrated with cable, and when you get frustrated you. and so on? Well, Bob did one on Monetizing Debt. When you print money you monetize your debt. When you monetize your debt you think you owe less money. When you think you owe less money you go and spend more money you don’t have. When you spend money you don’t have you go bankrupt. When you go bankrupt your creditors seize your house. When you have no house you are homeless, put your belongings in a shopping cart and sleep in a underpass under newspapers. While sleeping in an underpass someone steals your shopping cart. Don’t let anyone steel your shopping cart, stop printing money. Thanks Bob! Before I head to the Big Finish we have some filing to do. And Under the Question of Did you know? Lies the information that’s going around right now, that 70% of the time, the first 10 days of the year were indicative of how stocks would do the rest of the year. The statistics date back to 1940. So, a good number of years, eh? I guess given the softness of the stock market the first 10 days, one would be leery of what will happen by year’s end. For What it’s Worth. I have a rather long one for you today from the Mises Institute. I did only print a snippet of the article that talks about how hyperinflation ruins a currency. Then goes on to talk about how the U.S. wants inflation to rise. Let’s listen in. “Our monetary leaders do not understand the true nature of money and banking; thus, they advocate monetary expansion as the cure for every economic ill. The multiple quantitative easing programs perfectly illustrate this mindset. Furthermore, our monetary leaders actually advocate a steady increase in the price level, what is popularly known as inflation. Like previous hyperinflations throughout time, the actions that produce an American hyperinflation will be seen as necessary, proper, patriotic, and ethical; just as they were seen by the monetary authorities in Weimar Germany and modern Zimbabwe. Neither the German nor the Zimbabwean monetary authorities were willing to admit that there was any alternative to their inflationist policies. The same will happen in America. The most likely trigger to hyperinflation is an increase in prices following a loss of confidence in the dollar overseas and its repatriation to our shores. Committed to a low interest rate policy, our monetary authorities will dismiss the only legitimate option to printing more money – allowing interest rates to rise. Only the noninflationary investment by the public in government bonds would prevent a rise in the price level, but such an action would trigger a recession. This necessary and inevitable event will be vehemently opposed by our government, just as it has been for several years to this date. Instead, the government will demand and the Fed will acquiesce in even further expansions to the money supply via direct purchases of these government bonds, formerly held by our overseas trading partners. This will produce even higher levels of inflation, of course. Then, in order to prevent the loss of purchasing power by politically connected groups, the government will print even more money to fund special payouts to these groups.” Chuck again. I love reading stuff form the Ludwig von Mises Institute. The whole article posted on their site is full of information on how the U.S. is moving toward a hyperinflationary economy, and in the end what that will do to the dollar. So, if you like Austrian economics theory, like I do, then you might want to visit this site now and then. To recap. The dollar is swinging its mighty hammer again this morning, with only 3 currencies, euro, Swiss francs, and Danish kroner, showing some gains VS the dollar. Gold is down again this morning, as everyone, but Chuck and few others, are jumping on the strong U.S. economy and dollar bandwagon. We saw this in 2005, 2008, and 2011 folks, will we see it all end badly for the dollar again? Aussie jobs report was weak (-23K) and the A$ got whacked! Looks a bit overdone to Chuck. Currencies today 1/16/14. American Style: A$ .8785, kiwi .8305, C$ .9150, euro 1.3615, sterling 1.6340, Swiss $1.1015, . European Style: rand 10.9125, krone 6.1625, SEK 6.4755, forint 221.00, zloty 3.0635, forint 20.2050, RUB 33.39, yen 104.60, sing 1.2730, HKD 7.7550, INR 61.53, China 6.1065, pesos 13.29, BRL 2.3740, Dollar Index 81, Oil $94.63, 10-year 2.89%, Silver $20.03, Platinum $1,423.56, Palladium $740.79, and Gold. $1,238.92 That’s it for today. I just saw a guy on TV promoting his book that talks about how difficult it is to be a “man” these days. Really? You know, a term that I no longer hear, is that, “he’s man’s man” Oh well. Nice win by the Billikens last night. Tonight our Blues play again, they have to jam in as many games as they can, as the NHL will take a two week break for the Olympics in Feb. Little Braden Charles and Everett Patrick were at the house yesterday, I caught them both jumping on the bed. they were having a blast, laughing, and having fun, but mean old me, made them stop. They were too cute! They will be a handful as they get older. Well, two more days and then I’ll be gone for awhile. I’m so looking forward to next week. and with that, I’ll get out of your hair for today. I hope you have a Tub Thumpin’ Thursday! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837
Since Zika emerged as a threat to babies, it has been a mystery exactly how much of a danger the mosquito-borne virus poses to children.But now, the largest study to follow kids who were exposed to the virus in the womb is providing more answers.The study involved 1,450 babies who had been exposed to the virus, and who were 1-year-old by February 2018. Six percent were born with birth defects, and 14 percent developed problems that could be blamed on the virus by the time they turned 1, the study found.”We’re beginning to see the full spectrum of the impact of Zika,” says Margaret Honein, director of the Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC released the study Tuesday.”This is really our first look at how these children are doing as they grow and develop, and really emphasizes that the Zika story is not over, particularly for these children,” Honein says.Zika triggered an international public health emergency in 2016 when a large outbreak in Brazil revealed that the virus could cause babies to be born with very small heads and severely damaged brains when pregnant women get infected. The condition is called microcephaly.It slowly has become more apparent that Zika-exposed babies could develop a range of other problems as well, including seizures, damaged vision and developmental disorders.The CDC reported last year that about 5 percent of babies exposed in the womb are born with microcephaly and other birth defects. But the extent of the risk as children get older is just now starting to become clear.The new analysis included babies born in U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico and in U.S. freely associated states, such as the Marshall Islands. It found that the risk for birth defects including microcephaly and vision damage is slightly higher — about 6 percent. And 1 in 7 — 14 percent — developed some kind of problem that could have been caused by the virus by their first birthday.For example, 20 babies in the new analysis whose heads were normal at birth had microcephaly by the time they turned 1.”That happened because their brain was not growing and developing properly,” Honein says.Babies also developed complications including cognitive problems, difficulties walking, moving and swallowing, and seizures.”It’s really important that parents and doctors work together to make sure children get all the evaluations they need, even if they look healthy when they are born,” Honein says.For example, only about one-third of the Zika-exposed babies in the study had an eye exam by an eye specialist.It’s also important to continue to follow these children, she says.”We are still in the early stages of learning about Zika. So we don’t yet know what sort of problems might emerge when the children are 2 years old or 3 years old or when they reach school age,” Honein says.There are no major Zika outbreaks occurring right now. But Honein stresses Zika is still being transmitted in many countries and outbreaks still could occur.So pregnant women and couples trying to conceive should continue to protect themselves while living or visiting places where Zika is being transmitted. The virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, but can also be spread sexually.The CDC on Tuesday also issued new interim guidance for men who were exposed to the virus. The agency is now recommending these men wait three months after exposure before trying to conceive. The CDC had previously recommended waiting six months. But the latest science suggests the virus doesn’t remain infectious in semen as long as previously thought. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Source:https://alleninstitute.org/what-we-do/brain-science/news-press/press-releases/announcing-allen-institute-immunology-new-research-endeavor-focused-human-immune-health-and-disease Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 13 2018The Allen Institute today announced the launch of the Allen Institute for Immunology, a new division of the Institute that is dedicated to studying the human immune system. Seeded by a generous commitment of $125 million by Allen Institute founder, the late Paul G. Allen, the new Institute will work to understand the dynamic balancing act of the human immune system, how it senses friend from foe and what goes wrong when we’re ill.”Paul Allen always challenged us to go after the really hard problems, to do work that would have a significant impact in our scientific fields,” said Allan Jones, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Allen Institute. “Understanding the human immune system in detail and figuring out what goes wrong in disease is an incredibly complex but solvable problem. I’m thrilled to see us launch into this new area of complexity in biology with a real opportunity to directly impact human health.”The Allen Institute for Immunology’s goal is to improve human immune health and lay the groundwork for better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent immune-related diseases. In its initial phase, the Institute will focus on studies of two cancers, multiple myeloma and melanoma, and three autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, specifically, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The researchers will also take a deep dive into the immune systems of healthy volunteers with the goal of understanding what makes a “normal” immune baseline and how to help patients return to that healthy state.Thomas F. Bumol, Ph.D., is the Executive Director for the Allen Institute for Immunology. Bumol joins the Institute from Lilly Research Laboratories where he worked for more than 35 years, most recently as Senior Vice-President of the Biotechnology and Immunology Research component and the Site Head of Lilly’s Biotechnology Center of San Diego. His work at Lilly focused on drug discovery and early clinical development of treatments for many disease areas including diabetes, pain and immune-related diseases such as psoriasis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.”By unraveling the mysteries of the dynamic immune system in healthy individuals and focusing the same cutting-edge tools on patients in various disease states, we believe we will find new ways to diagnose and ultimately treat disease,” Bumol said. “We are looking at problems that have large unmet needs. Patients are not only suffering from these immune-based illnesses, patients are dying from some of these disorders, and we would like to change that.”Related StoriesAXT enhances cellular research product portfolio with solutions from StemBioSysComplement system shown to remove dead cells in retinitis pigmentosa, contradicting previous researchNon-classical monocytes directly involved in regulation of immune responseThe Allen Institute for Immunology will build off the model of large-scale team science established by the Allen Institute’s two other research divisions, the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Allen Institute for Cell Science, and will work directly with samples and data from patients and healthy volunteers, thanks to a unique partnership with five leading research organizations: Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of California San Diego with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and the University of Pennsylvania.”The new focus on immunology draws on the Allen Institute’s 15-year history of groundbreaking basic and translational scientific discovery,” said Marshall Horwitz, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Dean of UW Medicine and chair of the scientific advisory board for the Allen Institute for Immunology. “By building new tools for its study, the Allen Institute for Immunology will help lead the way forward in deciphering the mysteries of the immune system while unleashing its power to prevent and treat a wide range of afflictions.”There are more than 80 different autoimmune diseases and more than 100 human cancers, as well as many more diseases that involve the immune system, affecting tens of millions of people around the world. Yet researchers are not even close to a complete understanding of what makes a healthy immune system, let alone what goes wrong in that system in disease. The Allen Institute for Immunology aims to fill that knowledge gap with detailed studies of the foundational components of the immune system — its cell types and networks — and how those components change over the course of one to three years in both healthy volunteers and patients with different immune-related diseases.Beyond the direct findings the research teams will make by studying the initial five diseases, their in-depth studies of healthy adult and childhood immune systems will enable other researchers around the world to make discoveries that could lead to new treatments for many more diseases. Like the other research teams at the Allen Institute, the Allen Institute for Immunology researchers will make their data and tools openly available online for anyone in the scientific community to use.”This is just the tip of a really big iceberg of opportunity,” Bumol said. “If this model works, we’ll have applications that will go way beyond these first few diseases we’re studying. We’ll see the impact grow across a large swath of human health.”
Rana Nawas left the corporate world nearly two years ago to produce and host a podcast—one that is now considered the most popular in the Arab world. Podcasts take growing role in shifting media landscape Rana Nawas hosts the English-language podcast ‘When Women Win’, seeking to tell the stories of successful women from around the world The English-language series, “When Women Win”, tells the stories of successful women from all over the world and, according to Apple, has become the most listened to podcast in the Middle East.It first gained traction in 2017 in Dubai, where it is produced, before it started to spread across the region.Nawas said she created the series “to give women all over the world access to role models” by highlighting the “extraordinary things” ordinary women are doing.”I’ve been surprised at how the region has embraced ‘When Women Win’,” the 40-year-old told AFP, adding aviation giant Emirates Airline would start airing her show this month.”There’s clearly a thirst for this content, there’s clearly a thirst for female role models,” said the Briton of Lebanese and Palestinian origins.”When Women Win”, which is available to download in 144 countries, is the most popular podcast even in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to Nawas.”I’ve been… surprised that actually my biggest market is Saudi Arabia,” said the former sales executive at an aviation company.”Everybody tells you (Saudis) only consume Arabic video content, so I was really delighted… to know that they also consume English-language audio content.”Nawas, whose show is entirely self-funded, said she hopes to be able to draw financing from other sources.”It’s not sustainable,” she told AFP.”I am hoping in a couple of years, once I have the impact that I want… to start bringing investors on or bringing advertisers or sponsors on board.”Nawas gets messages about the podcast from around the world via social media, including Instagram and LinkedIn, and believes the podcast will gain even more popularity.”I think the global future of podcasts is very positive, and the reason is people are not going to get less busy. We are only getting busier,” she said.”We need ways to consume content where it is a secondary activity.”She said most people listen to podcasts on mobile devices during their commute, or while cleaning or cooking. Explore further © 2019 AFP ‘Third-culture kids’Like Nawas, Sudanese-born Omar Tom and friends created a podcast in 2016 that touches on topics they feel are neglected in traditional media.One such issue his English-language podcast—the Dukkan Show—focuses on is life in the Gulf for members of its huge expatriate population.In the show, the hosts chat to guests as if sitting in a dukkan—or “corner store”—where it is common culture in the Arab world to socialise with friends and neighbours.”I wanted to fight a couple of stereotypes,” said Tom, 30, who is sporting a Made in Sudan T-shirt.”One was the Sudanese stereotype when I first started, which is the lack of representation in media, and if there is a representation it doesn’t always speak for the diaspora or for the third-culture kids.”As Arabs we don’t look so good in international and western media. So how do we tackle that? The only way to do that is to speak in a language that everybody would understand, which at the moment just happens to be English.”‘Here to stay’Many young Arab people now prefer podcasts over traditional radio programmes.For Rami Baassiri, 26, podcasts allow him to be more productive and do two things at once.”There’s a lot of downtime in my day, whether I’m commuting to work, driving, in the gym, in queues in the mall, at the airport, so I like to make use of that time,” he told AFP.”I think of podcasts as radio on demand.”Radio … is very random. Podcasts allow me to control the radio by choosing whoever I want to listen to, whatever I want to listen to.”Reem Hameed, a Canadian who takes part in the Dukkan Show, said podcasts are “here to stay and in the Arab world”.”We have, in the Arab world, an amazing tradition of radio. If you think about how deep radio and its history falls into the Arab world, podcasting is a natural, digital extension of that,” said Hameed, 36, who is of Iraqi and Filipino origins.Podcasts have been spreading across the Arab region, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon.In Jordan, the platform Sowt—or “voice”—has aired an array of podcasts that touch on subjects ranging from politics to music since its launch in 2017.Hebah Fisher, chief executive and co-founder of Dubai-based network Kerning Cultures, the first venture-funded podcast company in the Middle East, said podcasts are the future.”Our seed round is a strong signal for the podcast industry in the Middle East: the medium is taken seriously, and its value for listeners and users is clear,” she told AFP in an emailed statement.”Podcasting is the future of media.” Citation: Podcasters find niche in the Arab world (2019, May 12) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-podcasters-niche-arab-world.html This document is subject to copyright. 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