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Jul 20, 2017, 06:49 PM
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 21 
 on: Today at 04:41 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Using a taro patch in Hawaii, this couple teaches the islands’ values to youths

Dean and Michele Wilhelm mentor young people facing challenging circumstances. Taro farming provides an opportunity for the couple to weave regional culture into the lessons.   

Eva Botkin-Kowacki
CS Monitor
7/20/2017   

July 13, 2017 Kailua, Hawaii—Dean and Michele Wilhelm dreamed of creating a space that was restorative and healing for others, perhaps a relaxing retreat for couples or families. They had no intention of becoming taro farmers.

But Mr. Wilhelm started taking the tropical vegetable from their backyard garden to use in his work as a teacher for at-risk youths and incarcerated juveniles. At the same time, the family began cultivating community through gatherings around traditional Hawaiian food. It became clear that taro farming was just the way for the couple to realize their dream.

Now, nearly 10 years after buying land with all the conditions for a successful taro patch, the Wilhelms are carrying out their vision by running Hoʻokuaʻāina, a nonprofit organization. They use taro farming as a means of teaching Hawaiian values and mentoring youths facing challenging circumstances.

“Dean tells us that the purpose of the place is to grow people,” says Zack Pilien, a Hoʻokuaʻāina intern. “Growing taro is a byproduct.”

Some researchers have suggested there are links between an erosion of Hawaiian culture, Western influence in the islands, and higher rates of substance abuse, poverty, mental illness, and other social problems among Native Hawaiians. Drug use is particularly prevalent among youths: About 60 percent of Native Hawaiian students have used drugs by 12th grade, compared with 46 percent statewide, according to statistics from the Hawaii State Department of Health.

The Wilhelms hope that instilling Hawaiian values in at-risk youths will help bolster their sense of self-worth and encourage them to be contributing members of society. And taro farming is a fitting vessel for that culture-based mentoring.

Taro, called kalo in the Hawaiian language, is both a root and leafy vegetable. The root can be prepared and served like a potato or in traditional dishes such as poi, and the leaves are often used to wrap fish or pork in a Hawaiian dish called laulau.

But taro is much more than a dietary staple for Hawaiians. The traditional tale of the first kalo plant is also the story of the origins of the Hawaiian people – and the Wilhelms use this narrative to help teach a sense of kuleana, or responsibility.

The story varies, but the gist of it is that a god and goddess have a baby who dies. The first kalo plant grows where they bury that child. Then they have another child who lives and becomes the first human. “This human being cares for its elder sibling, and that elder sibling in turn then cares for that child,” Dean says. “It’s a reciprocal relationship.”

The Wilhelms use the story to discuss the responsibility people have to care for the natural world, and for others. They also talk to those they mentor about a sense of self-respect. “We’re looking to increase positive self-esteem and for them to be able to understand that their life has meaning and purpose,” Mrs. Wilhelm says.

A session in the taro patch

Once a week about a dozen boys who are between 13 and 17 years old join Dean in the mud of the lo’i, or taro patch. The teenagers live at a safe house, called Ke Kama Pono, for at-risk youths.

Dean starts the work session with a Hawaiian proverb, such as “ ‘A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia,” or “No task is too great when accomplished together by all.” The group discusses how the proverb applies to work in the lo’i or other parts of their lives before jumping into the mud – which is often four feet deep – to weed, harvest, or do whatever is needed that day.

When the teens get tired or act uninterested in the work, Dean strikes the right balance between “stern, direct, and compassionate all at the same time,” says Jared Laufou, direct care counselor at Ke Kama Pono. “His tone of voice is never demeaning, but it’s this kind of tone where he expects you to do your job.”

The boys aren’t used to being entrusted with a project, Mr. Laufou explains. “For a lot of them, they have failed to accomplish something and maybe have been criticized about their failures, so they learned to run away from projects. But working with Uncle Dean at his lo’i, they’re held accountable.”

The Wilhelms see positive changes, such as in the teens’ posture, as they carry themselves with more pride. They also make eye contact more readily, Michele notes.

The changes go beyond the lo’i, Laufou says. As new residents in the safe house realize how their labor at the lo’i can affect the taro, something clicks and they connect that to how their chores help the household function. “I see them actually understanding what hard work is and what it can do, and how it helps more than just themselves but other people around them as well,” he says.

One young man’s story

Wyatt Allen, age 21, says he probably wouldn’t have graduated from high school “if it weren’t for Uncle Dean and going to the lo’i.” He did not live at Ke Kama Pono, but he had struggled in school and skipped class. To engage students like him, a high school teacher decided to try an alternative approach to learning – the Hoʻokuaʻāina mentoring program.

Working in the lo’i taught Mr. Allen perseverance. At times the tasks or the heat would seem too challenging, but he says he learned that “sometimes in life, it’s like that. You want to give up and drop everything, but you can’t. You just have to push through it.”

After Allen graduated from high school, he interned on the farm until he found another job last September.

The Wilhelms’ initial vision grew out of the support they received from their community during a rough patch early in their marriage. “We were crushed and had no hope,” Michele recalls, but people stuck by the couple.

“We were restored” through that support, Dean says. “And once you feel that, you can’t help but want to touch others and restore others as well.”

When they bought the property for the lo’i, it was a tangled rainforest that no developer wanted to touch. Clearing it felt like a never-ending challenge, they say. But looking out at the land, “I could see the taro growing” in my mind, Dean says. “And more importantly, I could see life. I could see people.”

A break from the outside world

Now, going to the taro patch is like leaving the outside world behind for a little while. As one drives down the dirt road to the lo’i, the noise of traffic on the nearby Pali Highway gives way to the sound of the taro leaves rustling in the wind.

Creating that quiet, peaceful space is key in helping the youths let their guard down, Michele says. “We saw these young boys with so much anger and hurt and pain coming with this rugged defense. It takes a couple weeks to get through that, but once they figure out that they can let it down in the mud,” she says, then they start saying things like “I feel so safe” or “I feel at peace.”

The Wilhelms hope that Hoʻokuaʻāina will continue to evolve to include more organizations with individuals who would benefit from the mentoring program. Already the nonprofit has expanded to include weekly community days to bring together people from the area and an internship program to mentor young adults from a variety of backgrounds.

The Wilhelms do sell the taro grown on the farm and hope that the revenue will help pay for the mentoring program in the future. But currently, much of it is funded by grants.

Mr. Pilien, the Hoʻokuaʻāina intern, says it’s hard to put into words the feeling of being at the lo’i, but he doesn’t want to leave.

“I know I can’t be there obtaining this feeling and this experience from Uncle Dean forever,” he says. So he hopes to build a similar program to teach others using farming. Much like the Wilhelms were touched by others’ investment in them, Pilien wants to pass along that feeling.

• For more, visit hookuaaina.org.
How to take action

UniversalGiving helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations around the world. All the projects are vetted by UniversalGiving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause. Below are links to three groups aiding young people:

Global Volunteers aims to advance peace, racial reconciliation, and mutual understanding between peoples. Take action: Volunteer in St. Lucia to help change the lives of children in poverty.

Globe Aware has a mission that includes working with children in slums and other disadvantaged youths. Take action: Contribute funds to build a community center in Romania for the Roma.

Seeds of Learning promotes learning in developing communities of Central America while educating volunteers about the region. Take action: Donate money to support students in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

 22 
 on: Today at 04:38 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
The myth of drug expiration dates

Pro Publica
20 Jul 2017 at 00:46 ET   

The box of prescription drugs had been forgotten in a back closet of a retail pharmacy for so long that some of the pills predated the 1969 moon landing. Most were 30 to 40 years past their expiration dates — possibly toxic, probably worthless.

But to Lee Cantrell, who helps run the California Poison Control System, the cache was an opportunity to answer an enduring question about the actual shelf life of drugs: Could these drugs from the bell-bottom era still be potent?

Cantrell called Roy Gerona, a University of California, San Francisco, researcher who specializes in analyzing chemicals. Gerona had grown up in the Philippines and had seen people recover from sickness by taking expired drugs with no apparent ill effects.

“This was very cool,” Gerona says. “Who gets the chance of analyzing drugs that have been in storage for more than 30 years?”

The age of the drugs might have been bizarre, but the question the researchers wanted to answer wasn’t. Pharmacies across the country — in major medical centers and in neighborhood strip malls — routinely toss out tons of scarce and potentially valuable prescription drugs when they hit their expiration dates.

Gerona and Cantrell, a pharmacist and toxicologist, knew that the term “expiration date” was a misnomer. The dates on drug labels are simply the point up to which the Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical companies guarantee their effectiveness, typically at two or three years. But the dates don’t necessarily mean they’re ineffective immediately after they “expire” — just that there’s no incentive for drugmakers to study whether they could still be usable.

ProPublica has been researching why the U.S. health care system is the most expensive in the world. One answer, broadly, is waste — some of it buried in practices that the medical establishment and the rest of us take for granted.  We’ve documented how hospitals often discard pricey new supplies, how nursing homes trash valuable medications after patients pass away or move out, and how drug companies create expensive combinations of cheap drugs. Experts estimate such squandering eats up about $765 billion a year — as much as a quarter of all the country’s health care spending.
Help Us Investigate Wasted Health Care Dollars

Experts say the United States might be squandering a quarter of the money spent on health care. That’s an estimated $765 billion a year. Do you believe you’ve encountered this waste? Tell us.

What if the system is destroying drugs that are technically “expired” but could still be safely used?

In his lab, Gerona ran tests on the decades-old drugs, including some now defunct brands such as the diet pills Obocell (once pitched to doctors with a portly figurine called “Mr. Obocell”) and Bamadex. Overall, the bottles contained 14 different compounds, including antihistamines, pain relievers and stimulants. All the drugs tested were in their original sealed containers.

The findings surprised both researchers: A dozen of the 14 compounds were still as potent as they were when they were manufactured, some at almost 100 percent of their labeled concentrations.

“Lo and behold,” Cantrell says, “The active ingredients are pretty darn stable.”

Cantrell and Gerona knew their findings had big implications. Perhaps no area of health care has provoked as much anger in recent years as prescription drugs. The news media is rife with stories of medications priced out of reach or of shortages of crucial drugs, sometimes because producing them is no longer profitable.

Tossing such drugs when they expire is doubly hard. One pharmacist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital outside Boston says the 240-bed facility is able to return some expired drugs for credit, but had to destroy about $200,000 worth last year. A commentary in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings cited similar losses at the nearby Tufts Medical Center. Play that out at hospitals across the country and the tab is significant: about $800 million per year. And that doesn’t include the costs of expired drugs at long-term care pharmacies, retail pharmacies and in consumer medicine cabinets.

After Cantrell and Gerona published their findings in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012, some readers accused them of being irresponsible and advising patients that it was OK to take expired drugs. Cantrell says they weren’t recommending the use of expired medication, just reviewing the arbitrary way the dates are set. 

“Refining our prescription drug dating process could save billions,” he says.

But after a brief burst of attention, the response to their study faded. That raises an even bigger question: If some drugs remain effective well beyond the date on their labels, why hasn’t there been a push to extend their expiration dates?

It turns out that the FDA, the agency that helps set the dates, has long known the shelf life of some drugs can be extended, sometimes by years.

 In fact, the federal government has saved a fortune by doing this.

For decades, the federal government has stockpiled massive stashes of medication, antidotes and vaccines in secure locations throughout the country. The drugs are worth tens of billions of dollars and would provide a first line of defense in case of a large-scale emergency.

Maintaining these stockpiles is expensive. The drugs have to be kept secure and at the proper humidity and temperature so they don’t degrade. Luckily, the country has rarely needed to tap into many of the drugs, but this means they often reach their expiration dates. Though the government requires pharmacies to throw away expired drugs, it doesn’t always follow these instructions itself. Instead, for more than 30 years, it has pulled some medicines and tested their quality.

The idea that drugs expire on specified dates goes back at least a half-century, when the FDA began requiring manufacturers to add this information to the label. The time limits allow the agency to ensure medications work safely and effectively for patients. To determine a new drug’s shelf life, its maker zaps it with intense heat and soaks it with moisture to see how it degrades under stress. It also checks how it breaks down over time. The drug company then proposes an expiration date to the FDA, which reviews the data to ensure it supports the date and approves it. Despite the difference in drugs’ makeup, most “expire” after two or three years.

Once a drug is launched, the makers run tests to ensure it continues to be effective up to its labeled expiration date. Since they are not required to check beyond it, most don’t, largely because regulations make it expensive and time-consuming for manufacturers to extend expiration dates, says Yan Wu, an analytical chemist who is part of a focus group at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists that looks at the long-term stability of drugs. Most companies, she says, would rather sell new drugs and develop additional products.

Pharmacists and researchers say there is no economic “win” for drug companies to investigate further. They ring up more sales when medications are tossed as “expired” by hospitals, retail pharmacies and consumers despite retaining their safety and effectiveness.

Industry officials say patient safety is their highest priority. Olivia Shopshear, director of science and regulatory advocacy for the drug industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, says expiration dates are chosen “based on the period of time when any given lot will maintain its identity, potency and purity, which translates into safety for the patient.”

That being said, it’s an open secret among medical professionals that many drugs maintain their ability to combat ailments well after their labels say they don’t. One pharmacist says he sometimes takes home expired over-the-counter medicine from his pharmacy so he and his family can use it.

The federal agencies that stockpile drugs — including the military, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Veterans Affairs — have long realized the savings in revisiting expiration dates.

In 1986, the Air Force, hoping to save on replacement costs, asked the FDA if certain drugs’ expiration dates could be extended. In response, the FDA and Defense Department created the Shelf Life Extension Program.

Each year, drugs from the stockpiles are selected based on their value and pending expiration and analyzed in batches to determine whether their end dates could be safely extended. For several decades, the program has found that the actual shelf life of many drugs is well beyond the original expiration dates.

A 2006 study of 122 drugs tested by the program showed that two-thirds of the expired medications were stable every time a lot was tested. Each of them had their expiration dates extended, on average, by more than four years, according to research published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Some that failed to hold their potency include the common asthma inhalant albuterol, the topical rash spray diphenhydramine, and a local anesthetic made from lidocaine and epinephrine, the study said. But neither Cantrell nor Dr. Cathleen Clancy, associate medical director of National Capital Poison Center, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the George Washington University Medical Center, had heard of anyone being harmed by any expired drugs. Cantrell says there has been no recorded instance of such harm in medical literature.

Marc Young, a pharmacist who helped run the extension program from 2006 to 2009, says it has had a “ridiculous” return on investment. Each year the federal government saved $600 million to $800 million because it did not have to replace expired medication, he says.

An official with the Department of Defense, which maintains about $13.6 billion worth of drugs in its stockpile, says that in 2016 it cost $3.1 million to run the extension program, but it saved the department from replacing $2.1 billion in expired drugs. To put the magnitude of that return on investment into everyday terms: It’s like spending a dollar to save $677.

“We didn’t have any idea that some of the products would be so damn stable — so robustly stable beyond the shelf life,” says Ajaz Hussain, one of the scientists who formerly helped oversee the extension program.

Hussain is now president of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Education, an organization of 17 universities that’s working to reduce the cost of pharmaceutical development. He says the high price of drugs and shortages make it time to reexamine drug expiration dates in the commercial market.

“It’s a shame to throw away good drugs,” Hussain says.
The drugs kept in emergency crash carts at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, outside Boston, Massachusetts, often expire before they can be used and must be thrown away. (Erik Jacobs for ProPublica)

Some medical providers have pushed for a changed approach to drug expiration dates — with no success. In 2000, the American Medical Association, foretelling the current prescription drug crisis, adopted a resolution urging action. The shelf life of many drugs, it wrote, seems to be “considerably longer” than their expiration dates, leading to “unnecessary waste, higher pharmaceutical costs, and possibly reduced access to necessary drugs for some patients.”

Citing the federal government’s extension program, the AMA sent letters to the FDA, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, which sets standards for drugs, and PhRMA asking for a re-examination of expiration dates.

No one remembers the details — just that the effort fell flat.

“Nothing happened, but we tried,” says rheumatologist Roy Altman, now 80, who helped write the AMA report. “I’m glad the subject is being brought up again. I think there’s considerable waste.”

At Newton-Wellesley Hospital, outside Boston, pharmacist David Berkowitz yearns for something to change.

On a recent weekday, Berkowitz sorted through bins and boxes of medication in a back hallway of the hospital’s pharmacy, peering at expiration dates. As the pharmacy’s assistant director, he carefully manages how the facility orders and dispenses drugs to patients. Running a pharmacy is like working in a restaurant because everything is perishable, he says, “but without the free food.”

Federal and state laws prohibit pharmacists from dispensing expired drugs and The Joint Commission, which accredits thousands of health care organizations, requires facilities to remove expired medication from their supply. So at Newton-Wellesley, outdated drugs are shunted to shelves in the back of the pharmacy and marked with a sign that says: “Do Not Dispense.” The piles grow for weeks until they are hauled away by a third-party company that has them destroyed. And then the bins fill again.

“I question the expiration dates on most of these drugs,” Berkowitz says.

One of the plastic boxes is piled with EpiPens — devices that automatically inject epinephrine to treat severe allergic reactions. They run almost $300 each. These are from emergency kits that are rarely used, which means they often expire. Berkowitz counts them, tossing each one with a clatter into a separate container, “… that’s 45, 46, 47 …” He finishes at 50. That’s almost $15,000 in wasted EpiPens alone.
Newton-Wellesley Hospital throws away about $200,000 in expired drugs each year. Studies have shown that many expired drugs are still potent and usable. (Erik Jacobs for ProPublica)

In May, Cantrell and Gerona published a study that examined 40 EpiPens and EpiPen Jrs., a smaller version, that had been expired for between one and 50 months. The devices had been donated by consumers, which meant they could have been stored in conditions that would cause them to break down, like a car’s glove box or a steamy bathroom. The EpiPens also contain liquid medicine, which tends to be less stable than solid medications.

Testing showed 24 of the 40 expired devices contained at least 90 percent of their stated amount of epinephrine, enough to be considered as potent as when they were made. All of them contained at least 80 percent of their labeled concentration of medication. The takeaway? Even EpiPens stored in less than ideal conditions may last longer than their labels say they do, and if there’s no other option, an expired EpiPen may be better than nothing, Cantrell says.

At Newton-Wellesley, Berkowitz keeps a spreadsheet of every outdated drug he throws away. The pharmacy sends what it can back for credit, but it doesn’t come close to replacing what the hospital paid.

Then there’s the added angst of tossing drugs that are in short supply. Berkowitz picks up a box of sodium bicarbonate, which is crucial for heart surgery and to treat certain overdoses. It’s being rationed because there’s so little available. He holds up a purple box of atropine, which gives patients a boost when they have low heart rates. It’s also in short supply. In the federal government’s stockpile, the expiration dates of both drugs have been extended, but they have to be thrown away by Berkowitz and other hospital pharmacists.

The 2006 FDA study of the extension program also said it pushed back the expiration date on lots of mannitol, a diuretic, for an average of five years. Berkowitz has to toss his out. Expired naloxone? The drug reverses narcotic overdoses in an emergency and is currently in wide use in the opioid epidemic. The FDA extended its use-by date for the stockpiled drugs, but Berkowitz has to trash it.

On rare occasions, a pharmaceutical company will extend the expiration dates of its own products because of shortages. That’s what happened in June, when the FDA posted extended expiration dates from Pfizer for batches of its injectable atropine, dextrose, epinephrine and sodium bicarbonate. The agency notice included the lot numbers of the batches being extended and added six months to a year to their expiration dates.

The news sent Berkowitz running to his expired drugs to see if any could be put back into his supply. His team rescued four boxes of the syringes from destruction, including 75 atropine, 15 dextrose, 164 epinephrine and 22 sodium bicarbonate. Total value: $7,500. In a blink, “expired” drugs that were in the trash heap were put back into the pharmacy supply.

Berkowitz says he appreciated Pfizer’s action, but feels it should be standard to make sure drugs that are still effective aren’t thrown away.

“The question is: Should the FDA be doing more stability testing?” Berkowitz says. “Could they come up with a safe and systematic way to cut down on the drugs being wasted in hospitals?”

Four scientists who worked on the FDA extension program told ProPublica something like that could work for drugs stored in hospital pharmacies, where conditions are carefully controlled.

Greg Burel, director of the CDC’s stockpile, says he worries that if drugmakers were forced to extend their expiration dates it could backfire, making it unprofitable to produce certain drugs and thereby reducing access or increasing prices.

The 2015 commentary in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, called “Extending Shelf Life Just Makes Sense,” also suggested that drugmakers could be required to set a preliminary expiration date and then update it after long-term testing. An independent organization could also do testing similar to that done by the FDA extension program, or data from the extension program could be applied to properly stored medications.

ProPublica asked the FDA whether it could expand its extension program, or something like it, to hospital pharmacies, where drugs are stored in stable conditions similar to the national stockpile.

“The Agency does not have a position on the concept you have proposed,” an official wrote back in an email.

Whatever the solution, the drug industry will need to be spurred in order to change, says Hussain, the former FDA scientist. “The FDA will have to take the lead for a solution to emerge,” he says. “We are throwing away products that are certainly stable, and we need to do something about it.”

Help us investigate wasted health care dollars: Experts say the United States might be squandering a quarter of the money spent on health care. That’s an estimated $765 billion a year. Do you believe you’ve encountered this waste?  Tell us.

Help us investigate wasted health care dollars: Experts say the United States might be squandering a quarter of the money spent on health care. That’s an estimated $765 billion a year. Do you believe you’ve encountered this waste?  Tell us.

 23 
 on: Today at 04:33 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Eager beavers experts at recreating wildlife-rich wetlands, study reveals

Four re-introduced beavers in Scotland engineered a network of dams, canals and ponds that left the landscape ‘unrecognisable’ from the original drained pasture

Damian Carrington Environment editor
Guardian
7/20/2017

The extraordinary ability of eager beavers to engineer degraded land into wildlife-rich wetlands has been revealed by a new study in Scotland.

Scientists studied the work of a group of four re-introduced beavers over a decade and found their water engineering prowess created almost 200m of dams, 500m of canals and an acre of ponds. The result was a landscape “almost unrecognisable” from the original pasture that was drained over 200 years ago, with the number of plant species up by nearly 50% and richly varied habitats established across the 30 acre site.

Beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK in the 17th century, but a few hundred now live in Scotland, where they are now deemed a native species again. Interest is growing rapidly in controlled releases in the rest of the UK, where only a few dozen live, with a group in Devon being monitored closely and an application for reintroduction in Wales being considered.

The researchers say their new work provides solid evidence that beavers can be a low-cost option in restoring wetlands, an important and biodiverse habitat that has lost two-thirds of its worldwide extent since 1900.

“Wetlands also serve to store water and improve its quality – they are the ‘kidneys of the landscape’,” said Professor Nigel Willby, at Stirling University and one of the study team. Earlier research by the team showed how beaver dams can slow water flows, reducing downstream flood risk and water pollution.

Beavers build their elaborate waterworks to create pools in which they can shelter from their traditional predators, bears, wolves and wolverines. The new research, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, regularly surveyed the site near Blairgowrie in Tayside where two beavers were released in 2002 and began to breed in 2006. Beavers live 10-15 years in the wild and the average number of beavers present during the study was four.

“After 12 years of habitat engineering by beaver, the study site was almost unrecognisable from its initial state,” the scientists concluded: “The reintroduction of such species may yet prove to be the missing ingredient in successful and sustainable long-term restoration of wetland landscapes.”

Alan Law, another member of the team from Stirling University, said: “We know lots about the benefits of beavers in natural settings, but until now we did not know the full extent of what they can achieve in present-day landscapes where restoration is most needed.”

He said wetland restoration usually involves ditch blocking and mowing or grazing to maintain diversity: “Beavers offer an innovative, more hands-off, solution to the problem of wetland loss. Seeing what beavers can do for our wetlands and countryside highlights the diverse landscape we have been missing for the last 400 years.”

However the scientists said beaver reintroductions had to be carefully managed to deal with the potential impacts on farmers, who fear crops being raided by beavers and damage to embankments that protect low-lying fields and other areas from floods.

“Any species introduction, particularly if it has not been in this country for hundreds of years, can have a massive impact on the many benefits that the countryside delivers,” said Mark Pope, chair of the National Farmers Union’s environment forum. “The impact of beavers is assessed across the whole landscape considering the impacts on all land uses. This study is just one piece of that big jigsaw. We need to learn from Scotland’s experiences before any decisions are taken on the future status of beavers.”

Anglers are also concerned about the impact of beaver dams on salmon and other fish, fearing they might block migration upstream. But Wilby said: “The main conclusions from recent studies were that the overall effect of beavers was positive.” This is because greater biodiversity provides more food for the fish and the deeper pools maintain stable cool water temperatures, even as the climate warms.

“I think as long as beavers have plenty of space to form a decent number of territories, there are enormous potential benefits,” said Wliby. “Sometimes the negative views of farmers can dominate.”

 24 
 on: Today at 04:31 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Scientists reverse brain damage in drowned US toddler

International Business Times
20 Jul 2017 at 00:30 ET

In what is believed to be a world first, scientists have reversed brain damage in a toddler that drowned in a swimming pool. Using oxygen therapy, scientists were able to restore her ability to walk and talk just months after the accident, in which she spent 15 minutes submerged in a swimming pool and two hours where her heart did not beat on its own.

The accident took place in February 2016. Two-year-old Eden Carlson had managed to get through a baby gate and fall into the family swimming pool and was in the 5 degree Celsius water for up to 15 minutes before being discovered.

After being resuscitated and treated in hospital for just over a month, she was unresponsive to all stimuli. She was immobile and constantly squirmed and shook her head. MRI scans showed deep injury to the brain’s gray matter, as well as loss of white and gray matter.

In a bid to reverse the brain damage, researchers at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine and the University of North Dakota School of Medicine began treating her with two types of oxygen therapy.

This includes normobaric oxygen therapy, where levels of oxygen given are the same as at sea level, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), where they are given pure oxygen at pressures higher than that of the atmosphere within a special chamber.

Fifty five days after the drowning accident, doctors started giving Eden normobaric oxygen for 45 minutes twice per day. This appeared to make her more alert and awake, and she stopped squirming. She started laughing more and was able to move her arms and hands, and grasp with her left. Scientists also noted eye-tracking movements and some speech.

After 78 days, Eden began HBOT therapy, with 45 minute sessions five days per week for four weeks. After 10 sessions, her mother said she was almost back to normal other than motor function. After 39 sessions—coupled with physical therapy—Eden was able to walk and her speech had returned to normal. Her cognitive abilities had improved and motor function was almost restored to pre-drowning levels.

An MRI scan a month after the 40th HBOT session showed almost complete reversal of the brain damage initially recorded. Researchers believe the oxygen therapy, coupled with Eden having the developing brain of a child, had activated genes that promote cell survival and reduce inflammation—allowing the brain to recover. The case report is published in the journal Medical Gas Research.

Paul Harch, who treated Eden, said in a statement: “The startling regrowth of tissue in this case occurred because we were able to intervene early in a growing child, before long-term tissue degeneration. Although it’s impossible to conclude from this single case if the sequential application of normobaric oxygen then HBOT would be more effective than HBOT alone, in the absence of HBOT therapy, short duration, repetitive normobaric oxygen therapy may be an option until HBOT is available."

Concluding, the researchers say that to their knowledge, this is the first reported case of gray matter loss and white matter atrophy (types of brain damage) reversal with any therapy and that treatment with oxygen should be considered in similar cases. “Such low-risk medical treatment may have a profound effect on recovery of function in similar patients who are neurologically devastated by drowning."

 25 
 on: Today at 04:28 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
July 20, 2017

T. Rex couldn’t run, new study finds

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

While movies such as Jurassic Park would have you believe that a Tyrannosaurus rex would be capable of chasing down its prey at high speeds, new research published this week in the journal PeerJ has revealed that the massive predator could manage a top speed of just 12 mph.

In their study, William Sellers, a professor at the University of Manchester School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and his colleagues explained that the enormous carnivore was too large and too heavy to have traveled faster than 5.4 meters per second (12 mph) without collapsing.
While that’s about the equivalent of a brisk walk, as Gizmodo pointed out, the T. rex would still have been able to overtake most humans, as the typical person can sprint at speeds of between 8 and 15 mph, with only elite athletes capable of reaching velocities in the 20 mph range.

Sellers and his colleagues conducted an in-depth analysis of T. rex biomechanics, combining two different techniques – multi-body dynamic analysis (MBDA) and skeletal stress analysis (SSA) – and combining them into a single simulation model for improved accuracy. They discovered that the creature’s leg bones would have buckled under their own weight at higher speeds.

Predator would have still to be faster than its potential prey

Running gaits, the professor explained in a statement, would have resulted in “unacceptably high skeletal loads” and, most likely, in broken legs for the sprinting predator. The new study counters previous research suggesting that the T. rex was capable of running at speeds of up to 45 mph.

“Different studies using differing methodologies have produced a very wide range of top speed estimates,” Sellers noted. However, by utilizing “a new approach that combines two separate biomechanical techniques,” his team established that “true running gaits would probably lead to unacceptably high skeletal loads in T. rex,” he added.

Paleontologists had never combined MBDA and SSA to study the biomechanical properties of an animal before, Gizmodo said, and the new method allowed them to account for the amount of pressure that bones can manage before breaking. The new simulations calculated all of the forces in the limb bones of the T. rex to see what type of speed and impact that they could handle.

In addition to determining that the T. rex was far slower than some studies have suggested, the study authors concluded that the creature walked briskly in a “bird-like” manner. Even so, as the website noted, it still would have been more than capable of tracking down prey, as nearly all of the herbivores present in its environment would have traveled at much slower speeds.

“Our previous simulations of theropod bi-pedal running did not directly consider the skeletal loading but these new simulations do calculate all the forces in the limb bones and these can be used directly to estimate the bone loading on impact,” Sellers said. “It would be very valuable not only to investigate the gait of other species but also apply our multiphysics approach to different growth stages within that species.”

 26 
 on: Today at 04:27 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
July 20, 2017

Fossils suggest all domestic dogs trace back to a single wolf population

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

Given the vastly different appearances of different dog breeds, it might be difficult to accept that all of them can trace their ancestors back to a single group of wolves, but that’s exactly what new research published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications claimed happened.

In their paper, Dr. Krishna Veeramah, an assistant professor of ecology & evolution in the Stony Brook University College of Arts & Sciences, and his colleagues wrote that DNA collected from a pair of prehistoric dogs from Germany suggested that all modern dogs shared a single origin.
The genomes of those ancient dogs indicate that they were the likely progenitors of modern-day European dogs, the research team said, and their findings counter research published in 2016 that suggested that dogs were actually domesticated on two separate occasions, The Verge noted.

“Contrary to the results of this previous analysis,” we found that our ancient dogs from the same time period were very similar to modern European dogs, including the majority of breed dogs people keep as pets,” Dr. Veeramah explained in a press release. “This suggests that... there was likely only a single domestication event for the dogs observed in the fossil record from the Stone Age and that we also see and live with today.”

More DNA samples needed to end the debate once and for all

While the new study suggests that modern canines were domesticated once, between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago, a different group of scientists published a paper last year which suggested that dogs were actually domesticated twice – once in Europe and once in Asia, with some of the latter dogs eventually replacing some early European dogs, according to Nature and The Verge.

However, after studying a 7,000-year-old dog fossil, as well as two others dating back between 4,700 and 5,000 years ago, and comparing their genome sequences to those of 5,649 wolves and modern dogs, Dr. Veeramah’s team disputes those findings. Instead, they argue that a lone group of dogs were likely domesticated, then later divided into two groups (Eastern and Western).

One of the reasons for the single-domestication conclusion of the new study, The Verge noted, is the fact that the authors of the 2016 two-domestication study shared their data with the authors of the newer paper. The team behind the earlier study reported findings traces of what they believed may have been an earlier, extinct European lineage in a 5,000-year-old Irish dog fossil. However, the authors of the newer paper said that they found no such evidence in the dog’s DNA – instead, they reported finding a technical error they believe tainted the earlier study’s findings.

Dr. Veeramah admits that this is likely far from the end of the debate over the origins of modern-day dogs. “Archaeologists suggest one and geneticists suggest another. People are always getting very different answers,” he explained in an interview with Nature. “More ancient dog DNA from genomes will ultimately solve the problem.”

“If we can add in other ancient samples from all around the world, it'll give us a more comprehensive picture of population history and likely dog origins,” noted Cornell University geneticist Adam Boyko, who was not involved in the research. Those samples, however, must come from different parts of the world and different eras emphasized Boyko, who according to Nature is currently building an international database of canine genomes.

 27 
 on: Jul 19, 2017, 07:05 AM 
Started by Deva - Last post by Deva
Hi Wei,

Excellent application of E.A! What you have written accurately reflects the core evolutionary intentions of the Sun in the 1st house relative to the North Node in Leo in the 9th house. Yes, the Sun in the 1st house symbolizes the ability to continue to "move forwards" in new ways in any evolutionary condition which then becomes a vehicle through which the Soul actualizes It's personal truth (Sun in the 1st house, North Node in Leo in the 9th house).

Hi All,

The next step of the practice thread is to add the sign of the planetary ruler of the North Node. In our example chart the planetary ruler of the North Node in Leo in the 9th house is the Sun in Sagittarius in the 1st house. The sign conditions the expression of the house. How does the sign of Sagittarius condition the expression of the Sun in the 1st house? It re-iterates the theme of discovery of personal truth, alignment with Natural Law, and elimination of delusive beliefs. Self-discovery, development of the independent voice, and a new evolutionary cycle are linked with alignment with personal truth and Natural Law, personal honesty, and elimination of all delusive beliefs. In essence, a new evolutionary cycle is put into motion as the Soul becomes self- honest, discovers It’s personal truth, and aligns with Natural Laws as reflected in the manifested Creation. In so doing, all forms of dishonesty and delusive beliefs will be purged.

There is a vast difference between a “belief” and Natural Laws which are based upon principles that are self-evident within Nature and reflected in the manifested Creation. Natural Laws reflect actual knowledge, or truth, of something and does require a belief. As mentioned previously to illustrate this point, I do not need a belief to know that the sky is blue, I simply know it to be true. The key point within this is that the truth inherently exists in and of itself, and is not a product of intellect or belief. The Jupiter, Sagittarius, 9th house archetype correlates to the intuition. The intuitive component within consciousness knows what it knows without necessary knowing how it knows it. 

In the context of the Sun in Sagittarius in the 1st house, the Soul will require freedom and independence in order to discover It’s personal truth from within. The evolutionary need is to ask and answer the 9th house questions, what is “truth,” from within oneself. The Soul will initiate actions through which discovery of personal truth and alignment with Natural Law can take place. In this way, the individual can become their own teacher through the knowledge gained from direct experience instead of a belief. A new evolutionary cycle can begin as the individual acts upon the knowledge of Natural Laws as reflected in the manifested Creation. The sense of special destiny and creative actualization will be linked the new evolutionary cycle and discovery of personal truth (North Node in Leo in the 9th house, planetary ruler, the Sun, in Sagittarius in the 1st house). Conversely, the individual may act to recycle delusive beliefs of the past, and convince and convert others due to the emotional security that is derived from these beliefs.

Consensus State: In the Consensus State, this will manifest as development of the independent voice, and initiation of action relative to the discovery of personal truth as defined by the beliefs within the mainstream society. In this evolutionary state, the Soul will desire to advance within society through developing an independent voice within the mainstream that reflects It’s personal truth. This can then become a vehicle for creative actualization to take place (Sun in Sagittarius in the 1st house, North Node in Leo in the 9th house). For instance, the individual could become certified within a given field, and then put into motion a new way of teaching the beliefs within the mainstream. This then allows progression within the social strata to take hold. However, some individuals will recycle delusive beliefs and their “lot in life,” and creatively actualize in a way that reflects those beliefs.

Individuated State: In the Individuated State, this will manifest as the development of an independent voice with within an alternative field, discovery of personal truth as defined outside the beliefs of the mainstream society. In this evolutionary state, the Soul will desire to initiate actions in which liberation from the beliefs within the mainstream can take place. The individual will need freedom and independence in order to discover from within their personal truth outside the viewpoints and beliefs of any social group, and creatively actualize that truth. In so doing, a new cycle of evolutionary becoming that is based upon self-honesty, alignment with Natural Law, and actualization of special gifts within an alternative field can take hold. (Sun in Sagittarius in the 1st house, North Node in Leo in the 9th house). For example, the Soul could teach metaphysical or philosophical principles through direct experience and knowledge of these principles. This could then become a vehicle for creative actualization of personal truth within an alternative field to occur in a new way.   

Spiritual State: In the Spiritual State, this will manifest as development of the independent voice through union with the Source, and initiation of actions in which alignment with Natural Laws and principles as reflected in the manifested Creation can take place. In this evolutionary state, personal truth will be defined by Universal, Timeless principles that are applicable regardless of the passage of time. A new evolutionary cycle that is based upon direct knowledge and experience of these principles, and creative actualization that reflects Natural Law can be put into motion. For instance, the individual could teach knowledge of universal laws and principles in a new way that is based upon direct experience. Nature, and the natural laws therein, can become a primary teacher. In this way, spiritual development can take place outside the influence of any spiritual community or organization which reflects a new cycle of becoming (Sun in Sagittarius in the 1st house, North Node in Leo in the 9th house).

Please write out in your own words how the sign of Sagittarius will condition the expression of the Sun in the 1st house relative to Evolutionary State.

Namaste,

Deva

 28 
 on: Jul 19, 2017, 06:35 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Auroras Light Up Uranus: NASA Shares Photo Of Planet’s Sky

By Elana Glowatz
IBF
7/19/2017

The gorgeous streams of light in Earth’s atmosphere known as auroras are not special to our planet, and now astronomers are learning more about the ones on Uranus.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has released an image of auroras flaring on that icy, ringed planet in our outer solar system, a composite made by images from the Voyager 2 space probe and the Hubble Space Telescope that is in orbit around Earth. They look a bit like lightning shocks, stark white against the planet’s blue atmosphere.

According to NASA, auroras bring swirls of light to our sky when charged particles, such as electrons, that are blown in this direction — from the Sun, for example — interact with gases in Earth’s atmosphere. Their shape comes from how they move when they encounter our planet’s magnetic fields, and they can be spotted in places that are nearer to Earth’s poles.

A similar process takes place on other planets where there are auroras, like Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn.

With the recent observations of auroras on Uranus, which NASA called the “most intense auroras ever seen on the planet,” astronomers are learning more about how they work out there.

“By watching the auroras over time, they collected the first direct evidence that these powerful shimmering regions rotate with the planet,” NASA said. “They also re-discovered Uranus’ long-lost magnetic poles,” which scientists had lost track of a few decades ago.

It may sound easy to find a planet’s poles, but Uranus makes things more difficult because it is almost orbiting on its side, with its poles pointing toward the Sun rather than perpendicular to it.

 29 
 on: Jul 19, 2017, 06:29 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Egypt faces water insecurity

New Europe
7/19/2017

Egyptian farmers along the lower Nile have little information to guide them as upriver barrage threatens to compound the impacts of global warming. While some blame Ethiopia, which is building a hydropower dam upriver, experts point to climate change and the demands of a growing population.

As reported by Climatechangenews.com, the Nile’s fresh water flow to Egypt may be cut by up to 25% over the next five or 15 years.

“Nobody is telling farmers how to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” said Magda Ghoneim, a socio-economist and professor of agricultural development at Ain Shams University. “Adding the pressure of a dam puts Egypt on the verge of catastrophe. Soon enough we won’t [find food to] eat.”

The challenges for farmers are myriad: new diseases and insects, unprecedented humidity, rising seas contaminating groundwater with salt. Indeed, when Abo Khokha tried pumping underground water to make up for reduced river flow, he found only half the usual volume, with a higher level of salinity.

A study recently published in Nature found that climate change is bringing greater variability in the Nile River flow this century compared to the last. In the Nile’s seven-year cycle of flood and drought, the former is becoming heavier, and the latter more extreme.

Egypt’s five million feddans (21,000 square kilometres) of crops consume more than 85% of the country’s share of Nile water. With an annual supply of 600 cubic metres per person, the country is approaching the UN’s “absolute water scarcity” threshold, as the population closes in on 100 million. Water is a sensitive subject.

 30 
 on: Jul 19, 2017, 06:22 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Sweden mixes it up to fight inequality

New Europe
7/19/2017

Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg, has launched a rather unique initiative to boost equality by mixing social classes, genders and ethnicities.

The city has opened “family centres” targeting support at the families who need it most.

As reported by The Guardian, Gothenburg, and Sweden as a whole, takes equality very seriously. The country, ranked first out of 152 countries in Oxfam’s new Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, has long been regarded across the world as a paragon of fairness.

The Gothenburg mayor’s flagship programme Equal Gothenburg, promises long-term investment to create a more egalitarian city.

“For many years, we have had projects to fix inequality,” said Mayor Ann-Sofie Hermansson. “We’d take some money, we’d have a project in the suburbs, and then the money ends and the project stops. The idea of Equal Gothenburg is no more small projects: we should think about equality all the time when we plan.”

The centre-left has governed the country for 81 of the past 100 years, striving to be “the people’s home” – or folkhemmet – in which the social democratic state was like a family, caring for all and with no one left behind. Sweden became one of the most socially equal countries in the world.

Yet despite its reputation, even Sweden has had to acknowledge its own inequality problem in recent decades.

Last year, the United Nations children’s agency (Unicef) reported that Sweden was on a “downward trajectory” in terms of the life chances for its poorest children, a growing number of whom were “very disadvantaged”. A Swede with only a basic education can expect to live five years less than a university-educated compatriot, according to the country’s Public Health Agency.

“It is a very big problem and there are a lot of political questions,” says Michael Ivarsson, director of Equal Gothenburg. “You have to be very humble.”

In November, the city will host a special Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth.

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