WatchInnovation gets a further boost as Ottawa overhauls grant programs

first_img February 27, 20187:42 PM ESTLast UpdatedFebruary 28, 201812:49 PM EST Filed under News Economy Innovation gets a further boost as Ottawa overhauls grant programs Streamlining of grant programs — from 92 to 35 — is said to be the most significant in recent memory Jesse Snyder Comment More Reddit 0 Comments Twittercenter_img Email Share this storyInnovation gets a further boost as Ottawa overhauls grant programs Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Facebook OTTAWA — The federal government is boosting funding for research and innovation while dramatically reorganizing how it doles out money to industry and academic institutions, reducing the number of grant programs from 92 to 35.In its 2018 budget released Tuesday, Ottawa also said it was mulling ways to “simplify” the 22 grant programs administered by Canada’s five regional development agencies — a move that is likely to cause a rift between local agencies and the feds.The changes come as part of broader efforts by the Trudeau government to spur innovation. The 2018 budget layers new, albeit smaller, funding increases on top of the massive spending on innovation introduced in 2016.The moves announced in the budget are said to be the most significant streamlining in recent memory.The 17 programs administered by the National Research Council of Canada will be reduced to around five programs; six programs under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada will be consolidated into one “collaborative research and development” program.Five ways the federal budget may affect average CanadiansFederal budget aims to boost the number of women in the work forceHey big spender, it’s time to turn in those $1,000 billsOttawa to study merits of ‘open banking,’ a catalyst for fintechThe nine grant programs currently administered by Natural Resources Canada, including the Forest Research Institutes Initiative and the Energy Innovation Program, will be consolidated into three separate programs focused on forestry, energy and mining.The government also said it was looking to reorganize the programs offered under Canada’s regional agencies to focus more directly on “helping firms scale up, develop new markets and expand.” The country’s five regional development agencies are locally governed and autonomous from Ottawa, unlike federal bodies that allocate subsidies for businesses.Private firms have long complained that applying for funds is a difficult process, largely due to a confusing thicket of grant programs, advisory services and financial supports offered to Canadian businesses. Last month, the government set up its Innovate Canada online portal, which is meant to funnel all funding applicants through a single, centralized service.Ottawa’s program reorganization comes alongside a spending boost.Funding for academic institutions for research-related activities is set to rise $340 million in fiscal year 2018-19, for a total increase of $3.2 billion over five years, or 25 per cent, from current levels. Direct research funding, excluding program costs, is currently around $3.1 billion every year.“Researchers can make a big, long-term impact on our economy,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters Tuesday.Meanwhile, direct funding to industry for innovation is set to rise $434 million in 2018-19, for a total increase of $2.5 billion over five years. Ottawa currently spends roughly $1.7 billion, excluding operating costs.The federal government’s advisory council on economic growth, set up in 2016 and headed by Dominic Barton of consulting firm McKinsey & Company, called for spending on innovation to rise, coupled with a scrapping of many decades-old grant programs offered to businesses. Funding for innovation as a percentage of GDP has tapered off in Canada over the past 10 years, dipping well below two per cent. South Korea spends as much as four per cent of GDP on innovation.“Doing more of the same is not going to create a successful Canadian innovation eco-system,” said Barton’s report released in February 2017.A separate report last year by University of Toronto president David Naylor, who was appointed by Science Minister Kirsty Duncan in June 2016 to assess research funding in Canada, called for research-related funding to be boosted from $3.5 billion to $4.8 billion. Ottawa’s spending plans fell short of the higher end of that target.The budget included little detail around how programs under regional agencies might be reshuffled, but simply said government officials would spend the next year exploring possibilities. It only said those agencies would “maintain their current functions that support communities in advancing and diversifying their economies.”There are currently 22 innovation grant programs administered by Canada’s five regional agencies, including Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and others.Adjusting the structure of grant programs under regional agencies is a politically sensitive issue for the Trudeau Liberals. Oversight of the agencies was placed under the Innovation, Science and Economic Development department in 2016, but they have long said they need to maintain some level of autonomy in order to allocate funds in the most effective way possible.Ottawa also announced new funding for some regional agencies, including an annual $20 million cash injection, beginning 2018-19, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and a $920 million cash injection, over six years, for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.It said it plans to introduce legislation to enable Western Economic Diversification Canada to “collaborate more effectively with the provinces” in its region.Ottawa also declined to implement a recommendation by Barton to cut tax credits offered to corporations for innovative activities, which currently amounts to roughly $3 billion per year. The government is said to be currently assessing the recommendation.• Email: jsnyder@nationalpost.com | Twitter: Join the conversation → Recommended For YouBeyond Meat’s forecast sends 2019’s IPO darling to new heightsDavid Rosenberg: Deflation is still the No. 1 threat to global economic stability — and central banks know itTrans Mountain construction work can go ahead as National Energy Board re-validates permitsBank of Canada drops mortgage stress test rate for first time since 2016The storm is coming and investors need a financial ark to see them through last_img read more

Brookfield buys most of Oaktree in 48 billion deal to build juggernaut

first_img What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation March 13, 20191:38 PM EDT Filed under News FP Street ← Previous Next → Email Recommended For YouDavid Rosenberg: How weak economic growth is actually fuelling this bull market’s riseIt’s getting harder to be a long-term investor: Here’s how to keep your focus on what really countsDavid Rosenberg: The hopes that fuelled the market rally are all evaporating — and now reality is setting inThe storm is coming and investors need a financial ark to see them throughTrans Mountain construction work can go ahead as National Energy Board re-validates permits Reddit Facebook Joshua Franklin and Debroop Roy Join the conversation → Brookfield Asset Management Inc will buy a 62 per cent stake in Oaktree Capital Group LLC in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about US$4.8 billion.Reuters/Mark Blinch More Share this storyBrookfield buys most of Oaktree in $4.8 billion deal to build juggernaut to rival Blackstone Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn advertisement Twitter Brookfield buys most of Oaktree in $4.8 billion deal to build juggernaut to rival Blackstone The deal is also a bet by Brookfield on the prospects for investing in debt, 70% of Oaktree’s assets under management Reuters Featured Stories Brookfield Asset Management Inc said on Wednesday it will buy most of Oaktree Capital Group LLC in a roughly US$4.8 billion deal, creating an alternative-asset manager that would rival industry leader Blackstone Group in size.The decision by Oaktree, led by distressed debt investor Howard Marks, to sell a majority stake of itself comes after a sustained period in which its stock has underperformed the broader market.Oaktree’s stock is down around 13 per cent in the last five years, even after a price bump on Wednesday following the deal’s announcement. By comparison, the S&P 500 Index is up more than 50 per cent over the same time and Blackstone’s share price is up 4 per cent. Risky bet in the Financial Crisis has small Canadian pension fund leading the biggest private real estate project in U.S. history Caisse accelerates industrial real estate shift with deal for logistics firm Caisse and OMERS’ Oxford team up in $4.7 billion deal for warehouse developer IDI Logistics Brookfield approached Oaktree about the deal sometime during the fall season, a person familiar with the matter said. The deal is also a bet by Brookfield, which currently focuses on private equity, real estate, infrastructure and renewable power, on the prospects for investing in debt, which makes up around 70 per cent of Oaktree’s assets under management.“This transaction enables us to broaden our product offering to include one of the finest credit platforms in the world, which has a value-driven, contrarian investment style, consistent with ours,” Brookfield Chief Executive Bruce Flatt said in a statement.The combined businesses will have about US$475 billion of assets under management, Brookfield said in a statement. Industry leader Blackstone had US$472 billion in assets under management at the end of 2018.Oaktree shareholders can exchange each of their shares for either US$49 in cash or 1.0770 Class A shares of Brookfield. However, Brookfield said the total amount will be paid in 50 per cent stock and rest in cash. The offer represents an 11.8 per cent premium to Oaktree’s Tuesday closing price. The stock was up 11.8 per cent in mid-day trading.Both companies will continue to operate as independent businesses, while Marks, Oaktree’s co-chairman, would join Brookfield’s board of directors.Oaktree shareholders, consisting primarily of its founders, certain members of management and employees, will own the remaining 38 per cent of the company.Starting from 2022, Oaktree’s founders, senior management as well as current and former employee shareholders will be able to sell their remaining Oaktree units to Brookfield over time.© Thomson Reuters 2019 Sponsored By: 0 Comments Commentlast_img read more

EGEB Worlds largest floating solar archipelago coal takes hits in China and

first_imgIn today’s EGEB:The largest sun-tracking solar archipelago is coming to the Netherlands.China can pursue new coal plants, but there’s little reason to do so.Britain broke its own record for continuous coal-free power.South Korea ups its renewable targets. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LVEtRE51hUThe post EGEB: World’s largest floating solar archipelago, coal takes hits in China and Britain, and more appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img read more

WalMarts Recent Disclosures

first_imgLast week, Wal-Mart made several disclosures that touched upon its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act scrutiny and compliance enhancements.This post highlights FCPA and related information in Wal-Mart’s Global Compliance Program Report  on FY 2015; its proxy statement; and its annual report.Walmart’s Global Compliance Program Report on FY 2015The report covers a number of topics including FCPA and related anti-corruption matters.In its recent annual report, Wal-Mart disclosed spending approximately $220 million over the past three years in global compliance program and organizational enhancements.This significant investment in FCPA compliance should be relevant as a matter of law in the future if a non-executive employee or agent acts contrary to Wal-Mart’s policies and procedures and in violation of the FCPA.  (See my article “Revisiting a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Compliance Defense“).Compliance defense detractors say that such a defense will promote “check-a-box compliance” and a “race to the bottom.”There is nothing “check-a-box” about spending approximately $220 million over the past threeyears on FCPA compliance enhancements nor can one credibly argue that if other companies follow Wal-Mart’s enhancements and approach that this is a “race to the bottom.”The key policy issue is this.Wal-Mart has engaged in FCPA compliance enhancements in reaction to its high-profile FCPA scrutiny.Perhaps if there was a compliance defense more companies would be incentivized to engage in compliance enhancements pro-actively.A compliance defense is thus not a “race to the bottom” it is a “race to the top”  (see here for the prior post) and it is surprising how compliance defense detractors are unable or incapable of grasping this point.In the recent Global Compliance Program Report, under the heading “People,” the report states in pertinent part:“Anti-corruption is a particular area of emphasis for our compliance program. During FY15, we continued to develop our internal anti-corruption resources. For example, we supplemented our anti-corruption leadership team by recruiting anti-corruption directors in the eCommerce businesses at Walmart.com.br (Brazil) and Yihaodian.com (China). Working with Walmart’s global anti-corruption team, these new directors conduct due diligence, develop and provide anti-corruption training, and oversee the implementation of anti-corruption policies and procedures.Also in FY14, Walmart began to appoint teams of compliance monitors in each of our international retail markets. These monitors (known as Continuous Improvement Teams) regularly visit our stores, assess the effectiveness of our compliance controls at store level, train our managers and associates on proper compliance procedures, and assist the operators in correcting any issues identified. During FY15, the Continuous Improvement Team completed over 5,500 assessments at our retail locations, identified any deviations from our policies and processes, and collaborated with our store operators to correct over 90% of those issues by year end.In FY15 we expanded this concept by beginning to carry out a multi-year plan to establish teams of compliance monitors focused on anti-corruption policies and our related financial controls. As with the existing Continuous Improvement Teams, these monitors are designed to constantly assess and improve our performance. We began the process of appointing these internal anti-corruption monitors in FY14 and the monitors conducted their first assessments in FY15.In light of the progress in building our internal anti-corruption capabilities, in FY15 we transitioned to our internal staff a number of activities that external consultants had been handling. This increases the capabilities of our internal anti-corruption team, which is critical to the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of our anti-corruption program.”Under the heading “Policies and Processes,” the report states in pertinent part:“[I]n FY14 the company designed an enhanced global anti-corruption training and communication program to further define target audiences for anti-corruption messaging and to more effectively teach anti-corruption principles. This program came to life over the past year in several ways, including:Developing simplified anti-corruption messaging for use in our stores in five key markets;Providing anti-corruption training to our associates around the world in seven languages;Delivering communications from business leaders in each international market regarding integrity and anti-corruption;Enhancing the ways in which we track our anti-corruption training efforts; andExpanding our anti-corruption training beyond our associates to include key third parties who do business with Walmart. In FY15, we provided anti-corruption training to third-party partners in 10 international markets.”Under the heading “Systems and Analytics,” the report states in pertinent part:“With many retail locations and associates throughout the world, we have a wealth of data available to help us anticipate and identify compliance risks. Efficiently collecting and utilizing those data can be a challenge. In FY14, the company launched an ambitious effort to develop and deploy a number of global systems to assist with this task. In FY15, the company spent more than $40 million USD carrying out this effort and made significant progress in installing and utilizing these technologies. This included technology to:Conduct due diligence research on third parties that may interact with governmental entities on our behalf. The technology, for instance, collects information from the third parties about their businesses and key personnel; it then searches various databases to identify adverse news stories, litigation, government sanctions, and politically exposed persons relating to the third parties and their key personnel.Centralize the oversight of our license and permit applications and renewals. In FY15, we extended a global license-management system into 11 of our international retail markets. The expanded management system organizes the licensing and permitting requirements in each market, simplifies the process for applying for licenses, and provides a single repository for documentation associated with our licensing obligations. Our associates now have critical licensing information at their fingertips, along with analytics to predict and prepare for our licensing needs.”*****In its recent proxy statement, Wal-Mart disclosed as follows.“The Audit Committee held 15 meetings in fiscal 2015, seven of which related primarily to its ongoing FCPA-related investigation and compliance matters.”[…]“[E]ach member of the Audit Committee received an additional fee during fiscal 2015. Since 2011, the Audit Committee has been conducting an internal investigation into, among other things, alleged violations of the [FCPA] and other alleged crimes or misconduct in connection with certain foreign subsidiaries, and whether prior allegations of such violations and/or misconduct were appropriately handled by Walmart. The Audit Committee and Walmart have engaged outside counsel from a number of law firms and other advisors who are assisting in the ongoing investigation of these matters. This investigation continues to result in a significant increase in the workload of the Audit Committee members, and during fiscal 2015, the Audit Committee conducted seven additional meetings primarily related to the investigation. Audit Committee members also received frequent updates regarding the investigation via conference calls and other means of communication with outside counsel and other advisors. In light of this continuing significant additional time commitment, in November 2014, the [ Compensation, Nominating and Governance Committee] and Board approved an additional fee of $37,500 payable to each Audit Committee member other than the Audit Committee Chair, and an additional fee of $50,000 payable to the Audit Committee Chair. These additional fees may be received in the form of cash, Shares (with the number of Shares determined based on the closing price of Shares on the NYSE on the payment date), deferred in stock units, or deferred into an interest-credited cash account.”*****In its recent annual report, Wal-Mart disclosed as follows.“The Audit Committee (the “Audit Committee”) of the Board of Directors of the Company, which is composed solely of independent directors, is conducting an internal investigation into, among other things, alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and other alleged crimes or misconduct in connection with foreign subsidiaries, including Wal-Mart de México, S.A.B. de C.V. (“Walmex”), and whether prior allegations of such violations and/or misconduct were appropriately handled by the Company. The Audit Committee and the Company have engaged outside counsel from a number of law firms and other advisors who are assisting in the on-going investigation of these matters.The Company is also conducting a voluntary global review of its policies, practices and internal controls for FCPA compliance. The Company is engaged in strengthening its global anti-corruption compliance program through appropriate remedial anti-corruption measures. In November 2011, the Company voluntarily disclosed that investigative activity to the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). Since the implementation of the global review and the enhanced anti-corruption compliance program, the Audit Committee and the Company have identified or been made aware of additional allegations regarding potential violations of the FCPA. When such allegations are reported or identified, the Audit Committee and the Company, together with their third party advisors, conduct inquiries and when warranted based on those inquiries, open investigations. Inquiries or investigations regarding allegations of potential FCPA violations have been commenced in a number of foreign markets where the Company operates, including, but not limited to, Brazil, China and India.The Company has been informed by the DOJ and the SEC that it is also the subject of their respective investigations into possible violations of the FCPA. The Company is cooperating with the investigations by the DOJ and the SEC. A number of federal and local government agencies in Mexico have also initiated investigations of these matters. Walmex is cooperating with the Mexican governmental agencies conducting these investigations. Furthermore, lawsuits relating to the matters under investigation have been filed by several of the Company’s shareholders against it, certain of its current directors, certain of its former directors, certain of its current and former officers and certain of Walmex’s current and former officers.The Company could be exposed to a variety of negative consequences as a result of the matters noted above. There could be one or more enforcement actions in respect of the matters that are the subject of some or all of the on-going government investigations, and such actions, if brought, may result in judgments, settlements, fines, penalties, injunctions, cease and desist orders, debarment or other relief, criminal convictions and/or penalties. The shareholder lawsuits may result in judgments against the Company and its current and former directors and officers named in those proceedings. The Company cannot predict at this time the outcome or impact of the government investigations, the shareholder lawsuits, or its own internal investigations and review. In addition, the Company has incurred and expects to continue to incur costs in responding to requests for information or subpoenas seeking documents, testimony and other information in connection with the government investigations, in defending the shareholder lawsuits, and in conducting the review and investigations. These costs will be expensed as incurred. For the fiscal years ended January 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013, the Company incurred the following third-party expenses in connection with the FCPA investigation and related matters: These matters may require the involvement of certain members of the Company’s senior management that could impinge on the time they have available to devote to other matters relating to the business. The Company expects that there will be on-going media and governmental interest, including additional news articles from media publications on these matters, which could impact the perception among certain audiences of the Company’s role as a corporate citizen.The Company’s process of assessing and responding to the governmental investigations and the shareholder lawsuits continues. While the Company believes that it is probable that it will incur a loss from these matters, given the on-going nature and complexity of the review, inquiries and investigations, the Company cannot reasonably estimate any loss or range of loss that may arise from these matters. Although the Company does not presently believe that these matters will have a material adverse effect on its business, given the inherent uncertainties in such situations, the Company can provide no assurance that these matters will not be material to its business in the future.”last_img read more

Bracewell Giuliani Adds Trial and Appellate Partner R Casey Low

first_img Lost your password? Password © 2014 The Texas Lawbook.By Brooks IgoStaff Writer for The Texas Lawbook(February 14) — Bracewell & Giuliani recently added depth to its trial and appellate practice with the addition of R. Casey Low to its Austin office as a partner. He was previously a partner at Andrews Kurth, where he practiced for almost 10 years.Low, who focuses his practice on various complex commercial litigation matters, said he was attracted to the firm by the opportunity to expand his antitrust practice.“I knew several people at Bracewell & Giuliani . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content. Remember mecenter_img Username Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook.last_img read more

Use of psychiatric drugs soars in California jails

first_imgMay 8 2018The number of jail inmates in California taking psychotropic drugs has jumped about 25 percent in five years, and they now account for about a fifth of the county jail population across the state, according to a new analysis of state data.The increase could reflect the growing number of inmates with mental illness, though it also might stem from better identification of people in need of treatment, say researchers from California Health Policy Strategies (CHPS), a Sacramento-based consulting firm.Amid a severe shortage of psychiatric beds and community-based treatment throughout the state and nation, jails have become repositories for people in the throes of acute mental health crises.The number of people with mental illness in jails and prisons around the nation is “astronomical,” said Michael Romano, director of Three Strikes & Justice Advocacy Project at Stanford Law School, who was not involved in the research. “In many ways, the whole justice system is overwhelmed with mental illness.”Contributing to the problem in California is that county jails received a large influx of inmates from state prisons to jails as a result of a federal court order to ease prison crowding. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce the prison population because of overcrowding linked to poor medical and mental health care that it said constituted cruel and unusual punishment.Three years later, a state proposition reclassified some felony crimes as misdemeanors, meaning offenders went to county jails instead of state prisons.The new analysis, based on survey data from 45 of California’s 58 counties, opens a window into how the state is coping with the influx. “We think this is the first part of a more systematic discussion about what is going on in the jails and in the broader community with respect to mental health,” said David Panush, a co-author of the report by CHPS, funded in part by the California Health Care Foundation. (California Healthline is an editorially independent publication of the California Health Care Foundation.)Across California and the U.S., far more people with mental illness are housed in jails and prisons than in psychiatric hospitals. That poses well-documented challenges: Insufficient staff training and patient treatment have contributed to inmate suicides, self-mutilation, violence and other problems.One complaint among advocates for the mentally ill has been poor access to psychiatric prescriptions to treat such conditions as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The medications include antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs and others.Jail officials in California say they are trying to better identify inmates who can benefit from such drugs. The numbers suggest that may be working. According to the analysis, an average of 13,776 inmates in the 45 California counties were on psychotropic medications in 2016-2017, up from 10,999 five years ago. But the portion of inmates on psychotropic medications varies widely by county, from 8 percent in Glenn to 32 percent in Sonoma and Napa, according to the analysis. The report is based on data from the Board of State and Community Corrections, an independent state agency.In Los Angeles County, whose jails have been described as the largest mental institution in the country, about 30 percent of the 18,000 inmates are mentally ill and most of those diagnosed are on medication, said Joseph Ortego, chief psychiatrist for correctional health services in L.A. County. Although some still are missed in the screening process, he said, the county jails have improved identification and treatment of inmates and expanded staffing as part of a 2015 settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. The department had alleged inadequate mental health care and suicide prevention in the jails.Overall in jails, some experts say, medications are likely underprescribed. “You need enough mental health professionals to treat the very large numbers of mentally ill people in jails,” said H. Richard Lamb, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the USC School of Medicine. These medications are among the most critical parts of psychiatric treatment, he added: “There probably aren’t enough.”Some advocates for the mentally ill worry, however, that the drugs are at times prescribed inappropriately. Ron Honberg, senior policy adviser at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said that because jails have limited resources for treatment, officials may in some instances administer psychiatric medications “to keep people calm and sedate.”Related StoriesScientists discover how resistance to the chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil arisesMice cured of HIV in an experiment sparks new hopeInnovative single-chip platform speeds up drug development processZima Creason, president and chief executive officer of Mental Health America of California, said medications, while sometimes necessary, are no substitute for comprehensive care for jail inmates.”Sadly, they just throw a bunch of pills at them because there is nothing else,” she said. Jails still need to provide individual and group therapy, more time outside of cells and sufficient recreation time, she said. “Jail is not conducive for real recovery,” she said. “We are never going to put a dent in the numbers unless we provide a therapeutic environment.”Like people on the outside, inmates can be subject to involuntary drug treatment but only if a court deems it appropriate, officials said.Medications are important but are not “the answer to everything,” L.A. County’s Ortega said. “We still need to be ethical and appropriate and do what’s right for the patient and not just medicate them.” He said the county also offers individualized hospital and outpatient care, as well as treatment groups and education. But he said the jails do not have enough exercise yards or spaces for therapy.Other county jail officials, including Alfred Joshua, chief medical officer for the Sheriff’s Department in San Diego County, said the influx of mentally ill inmates and the rising need for psychotropic drugs stems from a lack of resources for patients in the community. “When they have exacerbations of mental illness, they do many times come into contact with law enforcement,” he said.Rebecca Cervenak, staff attorney for Disability Rights California, which has repeatedly investigated jail conditions, said more investment is needed in programs to divert offenders to treatment rather than jail.Some of the most common charges that bring people with mental illness to jail are drug offenses and parole violations. Those who are homeless frequently get charged with panhandling, public urination and related crimes. Inmates with mental illness also typically stay incarcerated longer than others, in part because of difficulty following rules and coping with the crowded or chaotic environment.Edward Vega, 47, was taking medications for his bipolar disorder and schizophrenia but had just run out when he was arrested in August 2017 on suspicion of drug possession. He was convicted and spent five months in the San Diego County jail. When he arrived, he couldn’t quiet voices in his head and felt himself losing control, he said. “I knew if I didn’t get my medication, I was going to hurt someone,” Vega said.A week after being arrested, he said, Vega assaulted a fellow inmate and ended up in isolation, which only made him feel worse. Finally, Vega said, a doctor prescribed medications that helped. Now, three months after his release, he is feeling almost back to normal. “The medication hasn’t totally taken away the voices, but I am able to differentiate reality from fiction,” Vega said.In addition to trying to improve treatment inside the jails, Los Angeles and San Diego county officials say they are working more closely with community organizations to ensure inmates with mental illness get the services they need after their release.Vega said a local community group, the Neighborhood House Association, was able to help in his case, ensuring he got meds and other treatment. “Without the medication, I would probably be right back in jail,” he said.KHN’s coverage in California is supported in part by Blue Shield of California Foundation. This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.last_img read more

Highly stable DNA origami nanostructures may pave way for a plethora of

first_imgMay 31 2018The DNA origami technique is a widely used method for making complex, yet well-defined nanostructures, with applications in biophysics, molecular biology, as well as drug and enzyme delivery. A major challenge, however, has been in achieving long-lasting stability under the conditions required for these applications.Until now, the technique has required high concentrations of magnesium well above those found in the human body.”Conventional DNA origami assembly requires levels of magnesium easily 10-30 times as high as those in normal physiological conditions. With our method, we can go below one thousandth of the minimum magnesium concentration previously reported,” says Adjunct Professor Veikko Linko from Aalto University, who co-led the study with Dr. Adrian Keller of Paderborn University.Related StoriesResearchers develop DNA nanorobots that target breast cancer cellsSlug serves as ‘command central’ for determining breast stem cell healthPatients with HIV DNA in cerebrospinal fluid have high risk of experiencing cognitive deficitsKey to the gentle buffer exchange method developed by the researchers is removing free ions from the buffer solution efficiently but not all residual magnesium from the nanostructures. Previous research has identified low magnesium levels as one of the most critical parameters that reduce DNA origami stability in cell culture media.”We found – quite surprisingly – that just Tris and pure water worked well with low-magnesium levels for all types of structures,” explains Linko.Tris is a common component of buffer solutions used, for example, in biochemistry applications. Findings show that phosphate-based buffers with a high enough concentration of sodium or potassium can also stabilize DNA origami.The study investigated the stability of quasi-one-dimensional, two-dimensional and three-dimensional DNA origami objects. The nanostructures achieved using the technique showed strong structural integrity, maintained even for extended periods of time.”We can store the structures in low-magnesium conditions for weeks and even months without seeing any structural defects. These findings might pave the way for a plethora of biomedical uses that were previously thought impossible, as for example fluorophores and many enzymes are sensitive to magnesium levels,” envisions Linko.The researchers further observed that the more tightly packed the helices in their DNA objects were, the more sensitive they were to the environment in low-magnesium conditions. This suggests that the stability of DNA origami can be enhanced through the optimization of the design procedure.The results have been published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition and the article has been selected as a “Hot Paper”. Source:http://www.aalto.fi/en/current/news/2018-05-29-005/last_img read more

Adherence to Mediterranean diet may be linked to severity in psoriasis

first_imgJul 26 2018Bottom Line: Adherence to a Mediterranean diet, an eating plan filled with fruits and vegetables, legumes, cereals, bread, fish, fruit, nuts and extra-virgin olive oil, may be associated with the severity of the skin condition psoriasis.Why The Research Is Interesting: Psoriasis is a common chronic inflammatory skin condition. Studies have suggested adherence to a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, may reduce the risk of long-term systemic inflammation. This study assessed the association between a score that reflected adherence to the Mediterranean diet and the onset or severity of psoriasis.Who and When: 35,735 respondents who are part of an ongoing, observational web-based questionnaire study launched in 2009, of whom 3,557 reported they had psoriasis; the condition was severe in 878 cases and 299 news cases were recorded as those arising more than two years after inclusion in the study groupRelated StoriesHigh salt intake inhibits tumor growth in mice, shows studyPsoriasis patients frequently use complementary or alternative therapies to treat their symptomsHealthy high-fiber diet could reduce preeclampsia riskWhat (Study Measures): Patients with psoriasis were identified via online self-completed questionnaire and categorized by disease severity; data on dietary intake were gathered during the first two years of participation in the study group to calculate a score reflecting adherence to a Mediterranean diet from 0 for no adherence to 18 for maximum adherence.How (Study Design): This was an observational study. Because researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study they cannot control natural differences that could explain the study findings.Authors: Céline Phan, M.D., of Hôpital Mondor, Créteil, France, and coauthorsResults: There was an “inverse” association between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and the severity of psoriasis, which suggests patients with severe psoriasis adhered less strongly to the Mediterranean diet, even after accounting for other potential mitigating factors.Study Limitations: Study participants were all volunteers and they may be more concerned about their health than the general population, data were self-reported and some data were missing.Source: https://media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/how-was-mediterranean-diet-associated-with-severity-of-psoriasis/last_img read more

Oticon announces smallest ever hearing aid to date

first_img Source:https://www.oticon.global/ The invisible Opn™ hearing aid is Oticon’s smallest ever and is the most discrete in a new collection of in-the-ear hearing aid styles. Now, reluctant users can choose how visible they want their hearing aid to be and wear their hearing aids with confidence. The new hearing aid styles include Oticon’s groundbreaking BrainHearing™ technology which, very simply put, works super-fast to support the brain and help it make sense of sound. It means that in difficult and noisy listening environments, users are given access to the full soundscape with the ability to separate voices from background noise. Oticon calls this the 360° open sound experience and it delivers a much more natural hearing experience than most traditional hearing aids.“One of the biggest hurdles for some, when they are first diagnosed with a hearing loss, is overcoming the qualms they have with wearing a hearing aid,” says Ole Asboe Jørgensen, President, Oticon Brand, Global. “We hope that our new invisible Oticon Opn™ will help those who are reluctant to wear hearing aids to address their hearing loss. On average it takes five to ten years before people seek proper tests or help for their hearing loss; our aim is to help reduce this figure.”Related StoriesDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this AugustWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with aging“At Oticon, we develop hearing aids which support the brain in making sense of sound and therefore make it easier for people with hearing loss to enjoy and engage in regular, healthy social interaction. Considering that socializing is such a vital exercise for brain health – it can even reduce the risk of early on-set dementia – we want to help more people that are living with hearing loss to confidently enjoy the noisy restaurants or family dinners that they find too challenging. We are delighted to be able to offer our advanced audiology technologies in our new discreet styles, especially if it encourages more people to tackle their hearing loss and as a result enjoy life to the full,” concludes Ole Asboe Jørgensen.The new in-the-ear range joins Oticon’s behind-the-ear solutions to expand the Oticon Opn™ hearing aid family, offering a variety of styles and feature combinations to meet even more diverse needs and preferences. Oticon Opn™ in-the-ear hearing aids will be made available globally during 2018. Please check with your local Oticon representative to confirm availability in your region. Aug 22 2018The company behind Oticon Opn™, the world’s first internet connected hearing aid, announces its smallest hearing aid to date featuring Oticon’s revolutionary 360° open sound experienceOnly around 40% of people in the UK who need hearing aids have them. A common deciding factor for many people in choosing a hearing aid is aesthetics. Many would still prefer not to have their hearing aid noticed at all, which is why pioneering hearing aid provider, Oticon, has added an invisible hearing aid to their world renowned range of Oticon Opn™ hearing aids.last_img read more

Desert birds fly more than 2000 kilometers to find ephemeral lakes

first_imgA species of Australian shorebird can detect and then quickly fly to short-lived lakes that form in the middle of the desert after a significant rainfall, new research suggests. The bird, known as the banded stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus), is slightly bigger than the largest sandpipers and typically lives along Australia’s southern coast. But it occasionally flocks inland to breed and raise chicks around the waters that accumulate on salt flats after rains that sometimes occur only once every 2 or 3 years. In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists strapped tracking devices to 21 birds and monitored their movements, in some cases for up to 13 months. The gadgets—about half the size of a matchbox (shown on bird in image above) and powered by solar cells the size of a postage stamp—were programmed to record data for 10 hours and then save energy by shutting down during the 16 hours that followed. The results were surprising: In some instances, birds left two widely separated locations and crossed deserts along very different routes to converge on the same remote inland lake, the researchers report online today in Biology Letters. One of these migrations covered more than 2200 kilometers in 2.5 days, a movement nearly twice as long and twice as rapid as those previously known for other desert waterbirds, the researchers say. Just as surprising was the timing of some of these trips: Whereas some migrations commenced just after the distant rainfalls occurred, several others didn’t begin until weeks after the lake-generating rains had come and gone. Therefore, it isn’t clear what cues the straggling birds used to discern and then home in on the lakes: It’s not likely to have been the long-gone weather patterns associated with the storms that dumped the rainfall, but it could have been smells emanating from the flooded salt lakes or their newly revived bounty of brine shrimp, the team suggests.last_img read more

Canadas government scientists get antimuzzling clause in contract

first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Scientists working for the Canadian government have successfully negotiated a clause in their new contract that guarantees their right to speak to the public and the media about science and their research, without needing approval from their managers.“Employees shall have the right to express themselves on science and their research, while respecting the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector … without being designated as an official media spokesperson,” the new clause states. The ethics code says that while federal employees may talk about their own work, they should not publicly criticize government policy.“This agreement was extremely important in order to ensure that Canadians could trust public science and the decisions that governments make with that science,” says Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, the Ottawa-based union representing about 15,000 federal scientists. “The Institute is proud to be able to be in a position to ensure that no government will be able to take this away from Canadians again.” Email The union says the deal, announced on 12 December, is the first of its kind in the world. It also includes an agreement for the union and government departments to work together to develop broader science integrity policies and guidelines. It will include rules to protect government scientists from political interference in their work, and from having their findings manipulated to support a particular political position.The union began pushing for the provision in 2014, in response to the restrictive communications policies of the previous Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The policies left many researchers feeling they had been muzzled, unable to speak about even the most uncontroversial aspects of their work. A report by the union in 2013 found that 86% of federal scientists felt that they could not publicly share concerns about government policies that could harm public health, safety, or the environment without facing retaliation from their department leaders.The broader scientific community has welcomed the deal, says Kathleen Walsh, executive director of the scientific advocacy group Evidence for Democracy in Ottawa. “It’s a signal of the change in science in Canada in the past year,” she says. Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, which came to power last year, has reversed many of the Harper government’s communication policies, and stated that federal researchers are free to speak about their work.center_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more

Mysterious radio bursts may be coming from neutron star orbiting black hole

first_imgNASA/JPL-Caltech By Daniel CleryJan. 10, 2018 , 1:10 PM Mysterious radio bursts may be coming from neutron star orbiting black holecenter_img Astronomers are closer to finding the source of short enigmatic bursts of radio waves coming from deep space—one of the most puzzling astronomical phenomena to emerge in recent years. Researchers found the first fast radio burst (FRB) 10 years ago, and have since found a handful of others. They initially thought the blasts, lasting just a few milliseconds, came from some cataclysmic event such as the merger of two neutron stars—superdense stellar remnants—to form a black hole. But the discovery in 2012 of an FRB that repeats at regular intervals, dubbed FRB 121102, suggests that whatever is causing this particular FRB is not destroyed in the process. Last year, a team reported pinpointing the location of FRB 121102 to a small galaxy 3 billion light-years away, suggesting a powerful source to be detectable from so far but, puzzlingly, coming from a small galaxy—an unlikely home for heavyweight events. Now, a team using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico has discovered that the polarization of the bursts’ radio waves—the direction in which the waves vibrate—rotates in a fast and unpredictable way. This suggests, they report today in Nature, that the bursts come from somewhere very hot and with a very high magnetic field. Such conditions exist, they say, around a massive black hole (like the one above), and the short duration of the pulses suggests they come from something small, like a neutron star. A neutron star orbiting a black hole then? Maybe, the team concludes, but some other proposed FRB models, like magnetized gas clouds or supernova remnants, could also explain the weird polarization. So no explanation for FRBs yet, but this one seems to live somewhere pretty extreme.last_img read more

Venus flytraps kill with chemicals like those from lightning bolts

first_img PORTLAND, OREGON—Venus flytraps have a well-known way of dispatching their victims: They snare inquisitive insects that brush up against trigger hairs in their fly-trapping pods (above). But now, physicists have discovered that the triggering process may involve the release of a cascade of exotic chemicals similar to the whiff of ozone that tingles your nose after a lightning bolt.To study this process, scientists used an electrical generator to ionize air into a “cold plasma,” which they then gently blew toward a flytrap in their lab.Normally, the flytrap’s closure is caused by an electrical signal created when two or more trigger hairs are brushed. But highly reactive chemicals in the plasma stream such as hydrogen peroxide, nitric oxide, and ozone had the same effect, even when they were blown at the pods too gently to trigger them by motion, they reported here last week at the annual Gaseous Electronics Conference. It’s a useful finding because the types of reactive oxygen and nitrogen molecules in cold plasmas play a major role in biological processes, including cell signaling. But normally, such processes have to be studied through complex analyses of cell cultures. With the Venus flytrap, they can be observed directly, when the pods snap shut.Understanding such processes, the scientists say, could help biomedical researchers and aerospace engineers create a new generation of “intelligent materials” that can use similar signaling processes to change shape as needed, much as the Venus flytrap reflexively snaps shut when it senses its prey. It’s an open and shut case for new research, including a more detailed examination of exactly how the various parts of the plant know how to spring shut at just the right moment. By Richard A. LovettNov. 12, 2018 , 10:45 AM 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 Venus flytraps kill with chemicals like those from lightning bolts Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) markgoddard/iStockPhoto last_img read more

Is ridesharing killing people Yes study suggests but critics are doubtful

first_img By Alex VerkhivkerNov. 15, 2018 , 1:45 PM Ride-sharing services have boomed in many urban areas. Researchers are debating their costs and benefits. Alberto Grosescu/Alamy Stock Photo Is ride-sharing killing people? Yes, study suggests, but critics are doubtful 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 Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img The United States has experienced a dramatic decline in the rate of fatal traffic accidents since the 1980s, economists John Barrios of The University of Chicago in Illinois and Yael Hochberg and Livia Yi of Rice University in Houston, Texas, note in a preprint posted online. In 2010, traffic fatalities dropped to 32,885, the lowest number since the late 1940s. But the decline halted, and then reversed, around 2014 – just when ride-sharing services started to gain a foothold in many U.S. cities.To see whether there might be a relationship, the researchers compared accident figures compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with data from Uber and Lyft on when they launched their services across 2955 cities and communities. They also looked at how much gas drivers in those areas consumed, how many miles they drove, how much time they spent in traffic, and how many new cars they registered.In general, they found that after ride-sharing launched in a city, fatal accidents rose—and so did gas consumption, miles driven, time spent in traffic, and the number of newly registered cars. The accident increases were most concentrated “in large cities (high population), and more impoverished cities (as measured by per capita income),” they write, as well as cities with relatively high use of public transportation. One scenario that could explain the correlations, they suggest, is that as people shifted from public transit to ride-sharing services, more drivers became ride-share entrepreneurs—and then began to have fatal accidents on clogged roads.The researchers are careful to note that “our documented effects alone are unlikely to fully explain the reversal of accident rate trends in recent years,” and that ride-sharing can have benefits, including providing more transit options for consumers and flexible work for drivers. But “the annual cost in human lives is non-trivial,” they write, and their results “point to the need for further research and debate about the overall cost-benefit tradeoff of ridesharing.”Critics of the study say it doesn’t address some important issues. One is the possible role of low gas prices, which tend to lead to an increase in driving, notes economist Joe Cortright of Impresa, a consulting firm based in Portland, Oregon. Gas prices fell precipitously in late 2014, just as accident rates were ticking up, he notes on CityCommentary, a website run by the think tank City Observatory, also in Portland. He also notes that rural areas, which generally lack ride-sharing, saw an even larger increase in crash rates than the studied cities.Lyft and Uber expressed skepticism about the study’s methods. And they argued that their services have increased safety—such as by reducing drunken driving. In a statement, Uber said, “We take our responsibility to help keep people safe seriously.” Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Has the boom in ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft led to an increase in traffic deaths in U.S. cities?That is the provocative question a trio of economists tackles in a recent study. It concludes that the arrival of ride-sharing was associated with a 2% to 3% increase in the number of car occupants and pedestrians killed in accidents between 2011 and 2016.Some researchers are skeptical of the finding, however, and say other factors might be involved. And ride-sharing companies are bashing the study, calling it flawed.last_img read more

Fecal transplants could help patients on cancer immunotherapy drugs

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The research involves drugs that block PD-1, a protein on the surface of immune cells known as T cells. The protein shuts off these immune soldiers’ ability to fight pathogens and other foreign invaders, and tumors can stimulate PD-1 to shield themselves. PD-1 blockers have put some patients’ cancer into remission for years, but most cancers don’t respond.In the past few years, researchers have reported a tentative connection between response levels and the bacteria, viruses, and other microbes in our gut collectively known as the microbiome. The gut microbiomes differ between patients for whom PD-1 blockers work and those for whom they don’t. What’s more, patients who take antibiotics (which temporarily wipe out gut microbiota) prior to or soon after receiving PD-1 blockers tend to see less success. Experiments in tumor-bearing mice have also shown the drugs worked better after the rodents got a fecal transplant from human patients whose tumors shrank after they received the drugs.That inspired an Israeli team to test the idea in people. The group, led by Gal Markel and Ben Boursi at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel, collected stool samples from two patients with metastatic melanoma, or skin cancer that had spread, whose tumors vanished after they got the PD-1 drugs. The team then transferred their feces via colonoscopy to three patients with the same kind of cancer whose tumors seemed impervious to PD-1 drugs. The team also gave the recipients oral pills containing the donors’ dried stool.The gut microbiomes of all three patients changed to more closely match the genetic makeup of the stool donors’ gut microbiomes, clinician and graduate student Erez Baruch reported at the AACR meeting. And in two recipients, the donated microbes appeared to boost their cancers’ responses to PD-1 drugs. One patient’s tumors got smaller, though new ones did appear 2 months after the transplant. Another patient’s tumors eventually shrank, and the man is still doing well after 7 months. Examining biopsies of gut and tumor tissue, the researchers found that posttransplant, the patients’ guts had more of a type of immune cell that senses invaders and activates the immune system; these cells had also infiltrated their tumors along with T cells, indicating that their previously “cold” tumors had become “hot,” or visible to the immune system.Another team is also seeing hints of success, collaborator Giorgio Trinchieri of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, reported at the meeting. In that trial, which gave three participants donor stool via colonoscopy and then PD-1 drugs, one patient who started treatment 10 months ago has seen their tumors shrink. Another patient’s tumors neither shrank nor grew after 3 months of treatment.“The data is similar [in the two studies], which suggests there is a signal,” says oncologist Diwakar Davar of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, who is running the trial with lead investigator Hassane Zarour. “The approach is promising, but we need more clinical and mechanistic data before we can claim it’s working.” Davar says it’s possible the patients’ tumors would have eventually responded to the drugs without the fecal transplant, although that has rarely been reported to happen when treatment doesn’t work early on.One unresolved question is exactly which microbes help ramp up the desired immune activity. In previously published studies, patients in four cities whose tumors responded to the drugs, for example, had widely varying gut microbiomes, possibly because of differences in diet and climate, Trinchieri notes. And Wargo’s team member Christine Spencer of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in San Francisco, California, reported in a poster here that, surprisingly, patients who take probiotics—pills that supposedly contain beneficial gut bacteria—do worse on PD-1 drugs than those who don’t. The bottom line: Researchers still have a lot to learn.*Correction, 7 April, 10:40 a.m.: An earlier version of this story inaccurately described fecal microbiota transplants for C. difficil infections as an approved treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers the transplants investigational. Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press/AP Photo Clinical studies are testing whether cancer immunotherapy drugs work better when patients receive a fecal transplant. Fecal transplants could help patients on cancer immunotherapy drugs By Jocelyn KaiserApr. 5, 2019 , 1:45 PMcenter_img ATLANTA—Oncologists deploy an array of strategies to stop cancer, from chemotherapy to radiation to drugs that boost the body’s immune defenses. Now, another potential therapy is being tested in clinical studies: fecal transplants. Early results from two groups described at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) here this week suggest some patients who initially did not benefit from immunotherapy drugs saw their tumors stop growing or even shrink after receiving a stool sample from patients for whom the drugs worked. However, researchers caution, the results are preliminary.During a fecal transplant, a stool sample from a healthy donor is moved into the gut of a sick person. The idea is that gut microbes from the healthy person will populate the sick person’s gut and improve their health. Fecal transplants are already in use as a treatment for stubborn colon infections of the bacterium Clostridium difficile. But until now, fecal transplants haven’t been tested as part of cancer therapy.Although the two studies have so far followed only a handful of patients for a few months, researchers say their initial results are exciting. “This is the first clinical evidence that you may have an impact on antitumor immunity and potentially even responses,” says melanoma researcher Jennifer Wargo of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, who is leading a similar clinical trial just getting underway. Email 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 Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more

Laser holograms stimulate brain cells in mice to probe roots of perception

first_img Replaying perception In a new study, researchers used light to precisely activate cells in a mouse’s visual cortex, re-creating the brain activity involved in seeing specific patterns. Calcium imagingVertical bar response recalledSubset of tuned neurons stimulated with light Laser holograms stimulate brain cells in mice to probe roots of perception and hallucination Sean Quirin, James Marshel, Cephra Raja, and Karl Deisseroth/Stanford University How many neurons does it take to spark a memory, a sensation, or a movement? Neuroscientists have struggled to answer this question with relatively crude methods that don’t allow them to fire up individually selected brain cells. Two teams, however, have recently adapted optogenetics—a technology for stimulating neurons with light—to precisely awaken particular cells in the visual cortex of a mouse. They showed that zapping just a few neurons could trigger the same brain activity as showing the animals a visual pattern and could make them react as if they had seen that pattern. “Essentially, they take control over the internal world of the brain,” neuroscientist Thomas Knöpfel of Imperial College London says of the new experiments.”We don’t know how many cells it might take to trigger a more elaborate thought, sensory experience, or emotion in a person,” says Karl Deisseroth, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who led one of the new studies, published online this week in Science, “but it’s likely to be a surprisingly small number, given what we’re seeing in the mouse.”That observation might help explain why disordered states—hallucinations, unwanted thoughts, and harmful actions—arise so readily in the brain, Deisseroth says. And single-neuron optogenetics may someday point researchers toward highly targeted ways of stamping out these states and treating symptoms of brain diseases. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country In the two new studies, Deisseroth’s and Yuste’s groups targeted predefined sets of cells by sculpting the laser beam into a hologram with a device called a spatial light modulator. Along with an opsin gene, they injected the gene for a molecule that fluoresces when neurons fire, allowing them to discern what cells were active. They showed the mice a pattern of drifting parallel lines on a screen and trained them to lick at a water spout when those lines were in one of two orientations (horizontal or vertical), but not in the other. They identified the cells “tuned” to fire preferentially for either the horizontal or vertical pattern.Yuste’s group, which published its experiments last month in Cell, found that stimulating as few as two particularly well-connected neurons made the mouse more likely to lick when the vertical bars on screen were hard to discern. In some trials, the stimulation even prompted the animals to lick when there was nothing on the screen.The results, Yuste says, support the long-standing theory that ensembles of co-activated neurons—not individual cells—form the basic building blocks of our perceptions and memories. That’s still a controversial suggestion, says Michael Brecht, a neuroscientist at Humboldt University in Berlin. It’s also possible that individual neurons “just do their thing and contribute incrementally” to brain function, he says—that cells don’t have to form these defined groups in order to collectively represent experiences. But future studies of precisely triggered neurons may yet resolve the role of ensembles, Brecht notes.Deisseroth’s group, meanwhile, activated larger sets of vertically or horizontally tuned neurons than in the Cell study, and evaluated whether mice could distinguish between the two possible perceptions. Using a newly discovered gene from a single-celled marine organism that produces a highly sensitive opsin, they found that zapping sets of roughly 10 to 20 cells that were tuned to one visual pattern or the other improved a mouse’s ability to distinguish increasingly dim on-screen bars. Eventually, this stimulation alone prompted accurate “lick” or “don’t lick” decisions.It’s impossible to know whether the mice really “saw” the absent bars, but both the behavioral tests and imaging suggest “the brain is doing what it does during natural perception,” Deisseroth says.”It’s probably a bit too early” to claim that optogenetic stimulation can fully recreate real vision, which is much more complex than simple moving bars, says Valentina Emiliani, a physicist at a vision institute affiliated with CNRS, the French national research agency in Paris. Still, she says, it’s exciting that hitting a few neurons can call up an entire pattern of brain activity related to vision.The Deisseroth and Yuste labs now plan to use single-neuron optogenetics to find neurons underlying more complex behavior—including symptoms of brain disease. Yuste has launched experiments in mice that aim to reverse symptoms of schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease by stimulating ensembles of neurons that don’t activate as strongly in the diseased mice as healthy ones. Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Researchers used spatial light modulators (above, with mouse for scale) to turn a laser beam into a hologram that stimulated specific neurons in the mouse brain. By Kelly ServickJul. 18, 2019 , 2:00 PM Neuroscientists have spent decades watching how mice behave when parts of their brains are stimulated with electrodes or, more recently, with optogenetics, which involves introducing a gene for one of several light-sensitive proteins called opsins into neurons. In most experiments, researchers awaken opsin-bearing neurons of a specific cell type with a pulse of diffuse blue-green light. But Deisseroth’s group and others have been targeting optogenetics more precisely with a red light–sensitive opsin and the sharp, penetrating beam of a near-infrared laser.”Imagine every neuron in the brain like a key on the piano,” says Rafael Yuste, a neuroscientist at Columbia University who has pioneered such experiments. “You can literally choose which neurons to turn on.” Near-infrared laser “Lick” signal“Don’t lick” signalNeurons tuned to vertical bars RecordingMice saw one of two on-screen patterns while a microscope captured which neurons were “tuned” to respond to one pattern or the other.PlaybackStimulating some of those cells with light reactivated thebrain’s response to a pattern and made mice act as ifthey were seeing it again—with nothing on the screen. L. CARRILLO-REID ET AL., CELL (2019), J. MARSHEL ET AL, Science (2019) ADAPTED BY V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE 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 Zimbabwelast_img read more

John Lennons Last Car to be Auctioned alongside Paul McCartneys Mini Cooper

first_imgWhoever is heading to the 11th Annual Auburn Auction in Indiana on September 1st this year, will have the chance to not only buy a car but also take with them a genuine piece of rock history. This can especially be a win-win for vintage car aficionados who also happen to be great fans of the legendary British rock band, the Beatles. According to an announcement by Worldwide Auctioneers, which is hosting the September auction, two of the vehicles they are offering had once belonged to music icons John Lennon and Paul McCartney respectively. The cars are also offered entirely without reserve.One of the auctioned models is the last car John Lennon ever purchased, a 1979 Mercedes-Benz Turbodiesel Estate Wagon. Along with it, is a customized Morris Mini Cooper, owned by Sir Paul McCartney.John Lennon (left) and Paul McCartney (right) in 1964.According to Mercedes-Benz, John Lennon’s last vehicle purchase also counts as the first Mercedes-Benz 300TD Estate Wagon model which was consigned and shipped to the United States, on Lennon and his family’s demand.Documentation that this was the last car Lennon owned is abundant. The car gets multiple mentions in the book by Frederic Seaman, The Last Days of John Lennon: A Personal Memoir, saying that the Benz was a personal means of transportation to Lennon.More documentation related to the model includes a copy of the original Data Card provided by the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, according to Worldwide Auctioneers.John Lennon singing Give Peace a Chance. Photo by Roy Kerwood CC BY 2.5Lennon picked his Benz roughly two years before he was murdered in front of his apartment building in New York. The wildest of years as a Beatles member were well behind Lennon at this point, as he was largely living a more family-orientated life.Before the Benz arrived, the music icon used a green 1972 Chrysler Town and Country station wagon, not in the best shape possible though. As a Lost and Found episode which originally aired on History Channel in December 2000 tell us, it was Lennon’s personal assistant, Frederic Seaman, who suggested it was high time he bought a new vehicle.Lennon and Ono in 1980, shortly before his murder. Photo by Jack Mitchell CC BY-SA 4.0Accordingly, Lennon and his spouse Yoko Ono opted for the Mercedes-Benz 300 TD Wagon. The vehicle at this point was still not available in the U.S., but it was a manageable issue for someone with a superstar profile. For the sum of reportedly $30,000 (that would roughly amount to $90,000 in today’s money), the music legend expedited the model, shipped to him by the automobile maker from Europe to the States.Ironically, the first model of this car to arrive in America is now remembered as Lennon’s final car purchase. The Benz was parked in Lennon’s apartment building garage the night of December 8, 1980, as he was approached by his killer, Mark David Chapman. It remained in the possession of John Lennon’s family for six more years after his death.10 Most Expensive Cars Sold At AuctionThe Benz model appears to be in a great shape. The car’s original pale pea green color has been redone in golden beige, and its rims have been upgraded as well.1965 Morris Mini Cooper S DeVille. Photo by Worldwide Auctioneers.During the 1990s, Lennon’s Benz was exhibited at the Nashville’s Legends Museum. After 1997, it was transferred to a Toronto-based classic car museum. And as of most recently, it has resided at the Classic Car Museum in Sarasota, Florida, the same museum which also supplies the Paul McCartney’s 1965 Morris Mini Cooper S De Ville, for the same auction.The Cooper was custom built for McCartney and is reportedly one of only four such customized Minis that were provided to the Beatles. It too remains in great shape, both on the inside and the outside.Paul McCartney. Photo by Oli Gill CC BY-SA 2.0Paul’s Mini Cooper originally came with a U.K. registration and it has also appeared in the Magical Mystery Tour surreal comedy TV film. All members of the Beatles starred in this release, which originally aired on BBC1 on Boxing Day, 1967.1957 Bentley S1 Psychedelic Replica. Photo by Worldwide Auctioneers.Other notable appearances of the Mini Cooper? Paul McCartney has been photographed in it, accompanied by his spouse Linda Eastman sitting next to him, among other nostalgia-inducing photos.“Both of these iconic motorcars have amazing, documented provenance and both are fantastic symbols of musical, social and automotive history whose value as offered greatly exceeds that of the cars themselves,” said Principal and Auctioneer, John Kruse, in a press release issued by the Worldwide Auctioneers.He added: “It’s difficult to imagine more celebrated early custodians than John Lennon and Paul McCartney and we’re obviously thrilled to have been entrusted with their sale.”McCartney and Lennon, 1964.More than one hundred other cars are consigned at the scheduled Auburn Auction as well. Watch out also for the splendid-looking 1957 Bentley S1 Psychedelic Replica, which sports a marvelous mashup of 14 different colors.Read another story from us: The car where Bonnie and Clyde met their end was raced in the 80sAll vehicles can be previewed one day ahead of the auction event. The auction itself will take place on Saturday, September 1st, over Labor Day Weekend. The venue that will accommodate the event is the National Auto & Truck Museum, L-29 Cord Building in Auburn, Indiana.Stefan A. is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to The Vintage News. He is a graduate in Literature. He also runs the blog This City Knows.last_img read more

The Katskhi Pillar – The Most Isolated Church in the World

first_imgAlthough it’s not uncommon to hear stories of people who live a solemn life of solitude away from the world, whenever these stories are reported, people are fascinated and awestruck. For most of us, such a concept is far removed from our normal life. Such was the case when news of a monk living alone on top of a giant rock in Georgia broke out.In the western-Georgian region of Imereti lays Katskhi, a tiny village which happens to be home to the Katshki Pillar — a huge natural limestone column that rises 130 feet into the air.Perched on the top is a church and three hermit cells, accessible only by climbing a precarious steel ladder.Monastery near the village of Katskhi, Georgia. The church and the abbot ‘s cell on top of a rocky column.The rock was used by Stylites from at least the 9th century up until the Ottoman invasion in the 15th century.The Stylites are a group of Christian ascetics who chose to follow the example of Saint Simeon Stylites the Elder, spending their days living in solitude on top of pillars in order to become spiritually closer to God.In 1993, the Stylite tradition at Katskhi was revived by a monk named Maxime Qavtaradze.Man’s monastery near the village of Katskhi, Imereti, GeorgiaAfter being abandoned and shrouded in legend for 500 years, the rock was scaled in 1944 by a Georgian mountaineer named Alexander Japaridze.Upon reaching the top, Japaridze found the dilapidated remains of an old church as well as the centuries-old bones of the last Christian ascetic who resided there, reports the Daily Mail.Climbers also came across a slew of other structures, including a wine cellar, a curtain wall, a stone crypt, and three hermit cells. The church was built to honor Maximus the Confessor, a famous Christian monk and theologian.Katskhi Pillar is a single 130-foot-tall towering pillar of rock with a small cell for a single monk at the topSt. Maximus the Confessor’s church is located in the southeast sector of the pillar. The structure is fairly small, measuring just 12 x 15 feet.When excavations were carried out, the group also uncovered eight large containers known as kvevris which are used to hold traditional Georgian wine.Katskhi pillar, Imereti, GeorgiaIn a subsequent ascent up the rock in 2006, the presence of the kvevris along with the construction of a wine cellar provided researchers with enough evidence to conclude that extreme asceticism was a common practice for those who resided there long ago.This would make it the third time in recent history that the rock has been examined by experts hoping to uncover more about its history.The Katskhi pillar in Imereti, Georgia. The orthodox church can be seen high on the rocky cliff.At present, the rock is inhabited by Maxime Qavtaradze, a middle-aged monk who made the abandoned spiritual dwelling his home in 1993.In a rare interview in 2013, Qavtaradze told photographer Amos Chapple that making the decision to live at Katshki Pillar was borne from a much-needed change in his personal life.He explained that after being released from jail on drug-related charges, he felt that the best way to connect with God and purge himself of evil was to meditate up on the Kayshki Pillar, reports CNN.Monolithic limestone natural rock formation known as Katskhi Pillar with a monk’s cell on the top, in Georgia.“It is up here in the silence that you can feel God’s presence,” he claims. For him, living in isolation is the right way to establish a genuine, uninterrupted connection with God.That said, he does come down the mountain periodically to pray together with men who live in the monastery at the bottom of the pillar — a climb that takes him around 20 minutes, according to the Daily Mail.His efforts are supported by the men in the monastery, who send him food and other supplies via a winch.Read another story from us: The Petrifying Well That Turns Objects into StoneMaxime has no regrets about deciding to live his life in borderline isolation. Although climbing a 130 foot ladder does pose its challenges to Maxime’s middle-aged frame, he told Chapple that he’ll continue to make the journey until his body gives up.last_img read more