Friday, November 30, 2012

Native Americans and Northern Europeans more closely related than previously thought

ScienceDaily (Nov. 30, 2012) ? Using genetic analyses, scientists have discovered that Northern European populations -- including British, Scandinavians, French, and some Eastern Europeans -- descend from a mixture of two very different ancestral populations, and one of these populations is related to Native Americans. This discovery helps fill gaps in scientific understanding of both Native American and Northern European ancestry, while providing an explanation for some genetic similarities among what would otherwise seem to be very divergent groups.

This research was published in the November 2012 issue of the Genetics Society of America's journal Genetics.

According to Nick Patterson, first author of the report, "There is a genetic link between the paleolithic population of Europe and modern Native Americans. The evidence is that the population that crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia into the Americas more than 15,000 years ago was likely related to the ancient population of Europe."

To make this discovery, Patterson worked with Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics David Reich and other colleagues to study DNA diversity, and found that one of these ancestral populations was the first farming population of Europe, whose DNA lives on today in relatively unmixed form in Sardinians and the people of the Basque Country, and in at least the Druze population in the Middle East. The other ancestral population is likely to have been the initial hunter-gathering population of Europe. These two populations were very different when they met. Today the hunter-gathering ancestral population of Europe appears to have its closest affinity to people in far Northeastern Siberia and Native Americans.

The statistical tools for analyzing population mixture were developed by Patterson and presented in a systematic way in the report. These tools are the same ones used in previous discoveries showing that Indian populations are admixed between two highly diverged ancestral populations and showing that Neanderthals contributed one to four percent of the ancestry of present-day Europeans. In addition, the paper releases a major new dataset that characterizes genetic diversity in 934 samples from 53 diverse worldwide populations.

"The human genome holds numerous secrets. Not only does it unlock important clues to cure human disease, it also reveal clues to our prehistoric past," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GENETICS. "This relationship between humans separated by the Atlantic Ocean reveals surprising features of the migration patterns of our ancestors, and reinforces the truth that all humans are closely related."

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Genetics Society of America, via Newswise.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. N. Patterson, P. Moorjani, Y. Luo, S. Mallick, N. Rohland, Y. Zhan, T. Genschoreck, T. Webster, D. Reich. Ancient Admixture in Human History. Genetics, 2012; 192 (3): 1065 DOI: 10.1534/genetics.112.145037

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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U.S. gives Iran until March to cooperate with IAEA

VIENNA (Reuters) - The United States set a March deadline on Thursday for Iran to start cooperating in substance with a U.N. nuclear agency investigation, warning Tehran the issue may otherwise be referred to the U.N. Security Council.

The comments by U.S. diplomat Robert Wood to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency signaled Washington's growing frustration at a lack of progress in the IAEA's inquiry into possible military dimensions to Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran - which was first reported to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program by the IAEA's 35-nation board in 2006 and then was hit by U.N. sanctions - rejects suspicions it is on a covert quest for atomic bomb capability.

But its refusal to curb nuclear work with both civilian and military applications, and its lack of openness with the IAEA, have drawn tough Western punitive measures and a threat of pre-emptive military strikes by Israel.

A year ago, the IAEA published a report with a trove of intelligence indicating past, and some possibly continuing, research in Iran that could be relevant for nuclear weapons.

The IAEA has since tried to gain access to Iranian sites, officials and documents it says it needs for the inquiry, but so far without any concrete results in a series of meetings with Iran since January. The two sides will meet again in December.

In his statement, Wood requested IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano to say in his next quarterly report on Iran, likely due in late February, whether Tehran has taken "any substantive steps" to address the agency's concerns.

"If by March Iran has not begun substantive cooperation with the IAEA, the United States will work with other board members to pursue appropriate board action, and would urge the board to consider reporting this lack of progress to the U.N. Security Council," Wood said, according to a copy of his statement.

"Iran cannot be allowed to indefinitely ignore its obligations ... Iran must act now, in substance," Wood said.

Amano earlier told the board that there had been no progress in his agency's year-long push to clarify concerns about suspected atom bomb research in Iran, but said he would continue his efforts.


A simple majority in the IAEA board would be required to refer an issue to the U.N. Security Council, which has imposed four sanctions resolutions on Iran since 2006.

It is unclear whether Russia and China - which have criticized unilateral Western sanctions on Iran - would back any U.S. initiative to report Iran again to the Security Council.

Wood later told reporters he hoped the December talks between the IAEA and Iran would be fruitful. But, he added, "I have my doubts about the sincerity of Iran."

The 27-nation European Union told the board that Iran's "procrastination" was unacceptable. "Iran must act now, in a substantive way, to address the serious and continuing international concerns on its nuclear program," it said.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, criticised what he called "political noise" and "pressure" from the United States and the EU.

Diplomacy between Iran and the powers - the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, and Britain - has been deadlocked since a June meeting that ended without success.

Both sides now say they want to resume talks soon, after the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama, and diplomats expect a new meeting in Istanbul in December or January.

Iran is ready for a "face-saving" negotiated solution to the nuclear dispute, but the West must accept the reality that Tehran would never suspend uranium enrichment, Soltanieh said.

Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear energy plants, Iran's stated aim, and also provide bomb material if processed further, which the West suspects is Iran's ultimate aim.

The West wants Iran to suspend enrichment, but Iran is showing no sign of backing down.

Iran "has provocatively snubbed the international community by expanding its enrichment capacity in defiance of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions," Wood said.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)


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The Alumni Program, an Effective Way to Help Beat Addiction | Right ...

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Right Step?s Alumni Program Is an Effective to Help Beat Addiction

Drug Abuse Alumni ProgramThe first step to overcoming alcohol dependence or a drug addiction is obvious: Get professional help from a quality treatment facility ? sooner than later.

But what about the next step, the one that follows initial treatment?

As the recovery process is a life-long pursuit ? and a difficult one, at that ? many recovering addicts find both hope and comfort from a support team of friends and peers who have ?have been there and done that.? Indeed, establishing relationships with other recovering alcoholics and addicts who know, first-hand, just what challenges befall the road to recovery can be the key to a successful, life-long victory over substance abuse woes.

This ?family? has a special, common bond that serves its members, both in happy times and, especially, when challenges arise, after an initial visit or stay at a drug treatment center. When those in recovery meet, play, volunteer, learn and socialize together, they have an opportunity to facilitate the healing process. Also, they know that they are never alone ? a realization that wields significant clout in the quest to beat alcohol and drug addiction.

The Mayo Clinic calls this ?family? by a name: The social support network. By definition it is a circle of people in like circumstances who, by interacting, increase the sense of belonging, purpose, and self-worth among its members, while promoting positive reinforcement and improved mental health. [Source]

In other words ?

A social support network is just what the recovering drug addict needs ? immediately after treatment, as well as down the road.

Right Step?s Alumni Program establishes just such a social support network of recovering people, along with valuable structure that can help a person trying to maintain a sober lifestyle. Alumni Services provide support, as all alums share the common experience of recovery and can relate to post-treatment temptations. Further, the program helps people in recovery interact with others who have been through the process and who can share a positive word of advice.

Right Step offers its Alumni Services Program to graduates who successfully complete any Right Step treatment program. The program is another step ? a big step ? after treatment that provides the social support network that is so vital to the road to recovery.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Big Tobacco uses trade pacts to thwart new laws

A pack of Marlboro Menthol cigarettes intended for sale in Australia. As of Dec. 1, all cigarettes sold in the country must be sold in plain packaging with graphic warnings covering 75 percent of the front and 90 percent of the back of the pack under a groundbreaking law.

By Myron LevinFairWarning

As countries around the world ramp up their campaigns against smoking with tough restrictions on tobacco advertising, the industry is fighting back by?invoking international trade agreements to thwart the most stringent rules.

A key battlefront is Australia, which is trying to repel a legal assault on its groundbreaking law requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packs without distinctive brand logos or colors. Contesting the law, which takes effect Dec. 1, are the top multinational cigarette makers and three countries ? Ukraine, Honduras and Dominican Republic ? whose legal fees are being paid by the industry.

The dispute underlines broader concerns about trade provisions that enable foreign companies to challenge national health, labor and environmental standards. Once a country ratifies a trade agreement, its terms supersede domestic laws. If a country?s regulations are found to impose unreasonable restrictions on trade, it must amend the rules or compensate the nation or foreign corporation that brought the complaint.

In the case of Australia?s plain packaging law, the tobacco industry and its allies are challenging the measure as a violation of intellectual property rights under trade agreements the nation signed years ago.

Public health advocates fear the legal attack will deter other countries from passing strong measures to combat the public health burdens of smoking. The ?cost of defending this case, and the risk of being held liable, would intimidate all but the most wealthy, sophisticated countries into inaction,? said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington D.C.

The advocates also say countries should be free to decide how best to protect public health, without being second-guessed by unelected trade panels. Moreover, they argue, tobacco products, which kill when used as intended, should not be afforded the same trade protections as other goods and services.

Worldwide, nearly 6 million people a year die of smoking-related causes, according to the World Health Organization, which says the toll could top 8 million by 2030. With fewer people lighting up in wealthy nations, nearly 80 percent of the world?s 1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

Marlboro, the world's top-selling brand, is shown packaged under labeling laws of, clockwise from upper left, the U.S., Egypt, Djibouti, Hungary.

Countries have been emboldened to pass more stringent measures by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In effect since 2005, the treaty has committed about 175 nations to pursue such measures as higher cigarette taxes, public smoking bans, prohibitions on tobacco advertising, and graphic warning labels with grisly images such as diseased lungs and rotting teeth (The U.S. has signed the treaty, but the Senate has not ratified it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered graphic warnings for cigarette packs, but an industry court challenge on 1st Amendment grounds has stalled the rule.)

Cigarette makers say they acknowledge the hazards and the need for regulations. ?We actually support the vast majority of them,? said Peter Nixon, vice president of communications for Philip Morris International, which has its headquarters in New York, its operations center in Switzerland, and is the biggest multinational cigarette maker with 16 percent of global sales.

Bans on cigarette ads spread
But the industry has watched with growing concern as more than 35 countries have adopted total or near-total bans on cigarette advertising. Its big profits depend on consumer recognition of its brands. Yet in many countries, the once-ubiquitous logos and imagery are receding, leaving the cigarette pack as a last refuge against invisibility.

Now the pack, too, is under attack. Along with plain packaging laws such as Australia?s, countries are weighing retail display bans that keep cigarette packs out of view of consumers, and laws requiring graphic health warnings so large that there is barely any room for trademarks. Tobacco companies contend that countries enforcing such rules are effectively confiscating their intellectual property and must pay damages.

The industry also claims that measures like plain packaging are counterproductive. ?We see no evidence ? none at all ? that this will be effective in reducing smoking,? Nixon of Philip Morris International said in an interview. In fact, he said, generic packaging likely will increase sales of cheap, untaxed counterfeit smokes, thus increasing consumption.

Todd Rosenberg / Philip Morris

Louis Camilleri, chairman and CEO of Philip Morris International.

Louis C. Camilleri, chairman and CEO of Philip Morris International, drew a line in the sand in remarks to Wall Street analysts in November, 2010. The company would use ?all necessary resources and?where necessary litigation, to actively challenge unreasonable regulatory proposals,?? Camilleri said, specifically mentioning plain packaging and display bans.

Up to now, tobacco-related trade disputes have mostly involved quotas or tariffs meant to protect domestic producers from foreign competition.??

The key issue now, though, isn?t traditional trade barriers, but whether health regulations unduly restrict the movement of goods. In challenging anti-smoking rules, the industry has drawn on global treaties, such as the 1994 pact known as TRIPS (the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of International Property Rights), that include broad protections for intellectual property and foreign investment.

In the hands of aggressive corporations, such long-standing provisions have become ??the ticking time bomb for this century as governments tackle problems like tobacco, the environment, obesity, access to essential medicines,? said Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Two recent legal decisions showed that such cases are no slam dunk for the industry.? In September, a court in Oslo, Norway, rejected a lawsuit by Philip Morris Norway AS that challenged the country?s retail display ban. The company had claimed that in enforcing the ban, Norway had violated the European Economic Agreement by failing to adopt the least trade-restrictive measures to achieve its public health goals.

The court, siding with Norway?s government, found that other measures would not be as effective in insuring that ?as few as possible youngsters begin to smoke.??

Australia also triumphed in the first round of its legal defense of plain packaging. Rejecting a lawsuit by the four top global companies -- Japan Tobacco Inc. and Imperial Tobacco, along with British American and Philip Morris International ? Australia?s High Court upheld the law as legal and constitutional.?

The law requires that all cigarettes be sold in drab olive-brown packs, with pictorial warnings covering 75 percent of the front and 90 percent of the back.

The goal is to reduce ?the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products to consumers, particularly young people,? a spokeswoman for Australia?s Department of Health and Ageing said in an email to FairWarning.

But two major challenges remain.

Australia law challenged under trade pacts
In one, Philip Morris Asia has accused Australia of violating a 1993 bilateral trade pact between Hong Kong and Australia. Such agreements, known as investor-state treaties, allow a foreign investor by itself to bring an arbitration claim for damages against a country.

The case is before an arbitration panel of the U.N. Commission on International Trade Law.

In the other, Ukraine, Honduras and the Dominican Republic earlier this year brought their challenges before the World Trade Organization.

The complaint in March by Ukraine was a striking paradox. Its trade ministry filed the challenge within hours of Ukraine?s president signing a ban on tobacco advertising, and its parliament voting to ban public smoking ? revolutionary moves in chain-smoking Eastern Europe. Trade officials took the action despite Ukraine having no tobacco exports to Australia, and therefore no apparent financial interest in its anti-smoking policies.

But prodded by the tobacco industry, the trade ministry branded the plain packaging law as a violation of intellectual property rights that Australia was bound to protect.

Honduras and the Dominican Republic soon joined the attack on Australia, filing similar complaints with the WTO.

Cigarette makers are paying for heavyweight lawyers to represent the three countries.?

As company representatives have told FairWarning, Philip Morris International is paying the firm of Sidley Austin to represent the Dominican Republic, while British American is picking up legal expenses for Ukraine and Honduras.?

?We are happy to support countries who, like us, feel plain packaging could adversely affect trade,? said British American spokesman Jem Maidment.?

It?s not unusual in trade disputes for corporations to give legal assistance to governments with mutual interests. In this case, however, the three countries appear to have little, if any, direct stake in Australia?s tobacco control policies.

While tobacco exports from Ukraine to Australia are nonexistent, exports from Honduras and Dominican Republic in the past three years have averaged $60,000 (U.S.) and $806,000, respectively, according to figures from Australia?s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Responding in April to an inquiry from Ukrainian journalists, the country?s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade said it had ?a policy of supporting Ukrainian producers and protecting their interests in the internal and external markets.? In this case, the ministry said, it had ?received concerns? about Australia?s law from the Ukrainian Association of Tobacco Producers, made up of the top tobacco multinationals, and from the Union of Wholesalers and Producers of Alcohol and Tobacco Association.?

Konstantin Krasovksy, a tobacco control official in Ukraine?s Ministry of Health, told FairWarning the countries had allowed themselves to be used. ?Honduras, Dominican Republic and Ukraine agreed to be a prostitute,? he said.

Honduran officials, in an April press release, said Australia?s law ??contravenes?? its trade obligations. It noted that the tobacco industry ?employs several hundred thousand people directly and indirectly throughout the supply chain in Honduras.?

The Dominican Republic, a major cigar exporter, also said plain packaging ?will have a significant impact on our economy.?? In a written statement to FairWarning, Katrina Naut, director general for foreign trade with the country?s Ministry of Industry and Commerce, said that if other countries join Australia in adopting plain packaging, it will lead to falling prices for name-brand tobacco products and ?an increase ? rather than a decrease ? in consumption and illicit trade.??

Uruquay vs. Philip Morris
Among supporters of Australia, none is more vociferous than the government of Uruguay. It recently told the WTO?s Dispute Settlement Body that the global trading system ?should not force its Members to allow that a product that kills its citizens in unacceptable and alarming proportions continues to be sold wrapped as candy to attract new victims.?

Uruguay?s stance reflects its own high-stakes battle with Philip Morris.

The tobacco giant has challenged Uruguay?s requirement of graphic warnings on 80 percent of cigarette packs. Philip Morris is also fighting a rule that limits cigarette marketers to a single style per brand, making it illegal to sell Marlboro Gold and Green along with Marlboro Red.

The challenge by Swiss units of Philip Morris cites a 1991 bilateral treaty between Switzerland and Uruguay. Since filing the complaint in 2010, the tobacco company has also closed its only cigarette factory in Uruguay.

The regulations ?are extreme, have not been proven to be effective, have seriously harmed the company?s investments in Uruguay,? according to a statement by Philip Morris International.

Uruguay, with a population of less than 3.5 million and an annual gross domestic product of about $50 billion, seems a poor match for the tobacco giant, which had sales of $77 billion in 2011.

Amid reports that government officials were seeking a face-saving settlement, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced in late 2010 that it would fund the legal defense of Uruguay?s anti-smoking laws. New York Mayor and businessman Michael R. Bloomberg, an ardent tobacco foe, affirmed the support of his namesake charity in a call to Uruguayan President Jose Mujica.

Advocates fear other countries may have a harder time standing their ground. ?Bloomberg has been very generous, but his resources are not unlimited and he can?t pay to defend every tobacco regulation in every country,? said Chris Bostic, deputy director for policy for the group Action on Smoking and Health.

The Uruguay case could be pivotal, said Dr. Eduardo Bianco, president of the Tobacco Epidemic Research Centre ?in Uruguay. ?If they (Philip Morris International) succeed with Uruguay they would send a clear message to the rest of the developing countries: ?take care about us, you can be next.?"

FairWarning ( is an online, investigative news organization based in Los Angeles that focuses on safety and health issues.

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    Immune system could play a central role in age-related macular degeneration

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 27, 2012) ? Changes in how genes in the immune system function may result in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of visual impairment in older adults, based on preliminary research conducted by National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigators.

    "Our findings are epigenetic in nature, meaning that the underlying DNA is normal but gene expression has been modified, likely by environmental factors, in an adverse way," said Dr. Robert Nussenblatt, chief of the National Eye Institute (NEI) Laboratory of Immunology. Environmental factors associated with AMD include smoking, diet, and aging. "This is the first epigenetic study revealing the molecular mechanisms for any eye disease."

    The study identified decreased levels of DNA methylation, a chemical reaction that switches off genes, on the interleukin-17 receptor C gene (IL17RC). The lack of DNA methylation led to increased gene activity and, in turn, increased levels of IL17RC proteins in patients with AMD. IL17RC is a protein that promotes immune responses to infections, such as fungal attacks.

    The study, conducted by research teams from the NEI and other NIH institutes, including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; the University of Melbourne, Australia; and Oregon Health and Science University, appears in the Nov. 29 issue of Cell Reports.

    "Our study also suggests IL17- and IL17RC-mediated immune responses can be crucial in causing AMD," added Dr. Lai Wei, also of NEI's Laboratory of Immunology and first author on the paper. "By measuring IL17RC gene activity in at-risk patients, we have also potentially identified an early method to detect AMD."

    AMD damages the light-sensitive cells of the macula, the central part of the retina that allows us to see fine visual detail. As the disease progresses, patients encounter great difficulty reading, driving, or performing hobbies and tasks that require hand-eye coordination. Treatments exist to prevent severe vision loss in certain types of advanced AMD but none prevent or cure the disease. Currently, 2 million Americans have advanced AMD and another 7 million have intermediate stages.

    Recent studies have identified several genes with alterations that increase the risk of developing the disease. In addition, environmental risk factors have also been suggested as possible causes of the disease. One explanation may be that environmental exposures influence DNA methylation, which regulates gene expression. Changes in this process may result in the production of too much or too little of a gene's protein, leading to cellular dysfunction and disease. Changes in DNA methylation have been implicated in cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and many other diseases.

    To test whether changes in DNA methylation might play a role in AMD, the investigators evaluated three pairs of twins -- one pair identical and two pairs fraternal -- where only one of the siblings had AMD. Identical twins have the same genetic makeup while fraternal twins share about half of their DNA. Because of their similar genetic backgrounds, identical and fraternal twins can be helpful in studying the differences between the effects of genetics and the environment. When compared with the unaffected twins, methylation patterns were altered in 231 genes of affected twins. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that environmental exposures may epigenetically regulate expression of many genes and lead to AMD.

    Among the 231 genes, the investigators found that DNA methylation was absent in a region of the IL17RC gene in twins with AMD. The lack of methylation in the IL17RC gene led to increased gene activity and, in turn, increased levels of its protein in circulating blood. The investigators further validated these findings by comparing seven siblings with and without AMD as well as 202 AMD patients and 96 control subjects without the disease. These studies also found increased IL17RC levels in circulating blood and, most importantly, in the retina of patients with AMD but not controls.

    Based on these results, the authors propose that chronic increased levels of the IL17RC protein in the retina likely promote inflammation and recruitment of immune cells that damage the retina and lead to AMD.

    "This study strongly implicates epigenetic DNA methylation as another crucial biological pathway for understanding the molecular basis of AMD," according to Nussenblatt.

    The investigators next plan to evaluate what environmental factors may be responsible for the regulation of IL17RC and how the epigenetic regulation leading to the chronic inflammation in AMD patients can be reversed by novel therapies. They will also evaluate the role of epigenetics in other eye diseases.

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    Story Source:

    The above story is reprinted from materials provided by NIH/National Eye Institute.

    Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

    Journal Reference:

    1. Lai Wei, Baoying Liu, Jingsheng Tuo, Defen Shen, Ping Chen, Zhiyu Li, Xunxian Liu, Jia Ni, Pradeep Dagur, H.?Nida Sen, Shayma Jawad, Diamond Ling, Stanley Park, Sagarika Chakrabarty, Catherine Meyerle, Elvira Agron, Frederick?L. Ferris, Emily?Y. Chew, J.?Philip McCoy, Emily Blum, Peter?J. Francis, Michael?L. Klein, Robyn?H. Guymer, Paul?N. Baird, Chi-Chao Chan, Robert?B. Nussenblatt. Hypomethylation of the IL17RC Promoter Associates with Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Cell Reports, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.10.013

    Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

    Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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    Mexico's drug war bright spot hides dark underbelly

    CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) - Inside a notorious Mexican prison where armed convicts used to roam freely, selling drugs and deciding who was allowed in, the state is in control again. Prisoners are back in their cells and the once overcrowded complex sparkles with cleanliness.

    But outside on the dusty streets of Ciudad Juarez, store owners lock themselves behind their doors, fearful of police and carefully vetting customers to avoid becoming the next victims of still rampant crime.

    For four years, the city on the border with Texas was convulsed by daily slaughter, becoming the murder capital of the world and a shocking illustration of the Mexican government's failure to contain violence among warring drug cartels.

    Once best known as a party town for Americans hopping across the border for cheap thrills, Ciudad Juarez fell into chaos with about one in every six of the 60,000 victims of Mexico's bloody drug war over the last six years dying here.

    This year, though, the violence in Ciudad Juarez has fallen dramatically, prompting political leaders to hold up the city as a symbol of progress and offering hope to Mexico's incoming president, Enrique Pena Nieto, in the fight against crime.

    "It's a completely different city now," said mayor Hector Murguia, who took office for a second time in October 2010, just as the violence in Ciudad Juarez reached its peak.

    Homicides and kidnappings fell by more than 60 percent from last year in the first 10 months of 2012, and extortion was down 12 percent, city data shows. In October, Ciudad Juarez had just 28 murders, down from 253 in the same month in 2010.

    The government of Ciudad Juarez's home state of Chihuahua has hailed the results as proof that tougher policing works, claiming a new record for catching criminals in Mexico. It has also transferred hundreds of gang members from local prisons to jails elsewhere in Mexico, dismantling power structures that continued to direct crime from behind bars.

    A number of drug war experts say security has also improved because the Sinaloa Cartel of Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman now has a firm hold on the city after squeezing out the Juarez Cartel, for long aligned with the local police. Senior government officials deny this, and one said the gangs are likely biding their time to see what Pena Nieto does after he takes office on December 1.

    For all the success in reducing violence, drug trafficking is still flourishing; police are widely suspected of colluding with the cartels; reports of human rights abuses are rife; and many businesses pay a de facto tax to the gangs.

    National police data shows incidence of property-related crime - which includes extortion, fraud and looting - is heading for its worst year in Chihuahua since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006. His term has been dominated by the drug war and he sent more than 10,000 soldiers and federal police to Ciudad Juarez when violence erupted there in 2008.

    U.S. demand continues to fuel the drug trade, and a U.S. congressional report this month said Mexican cartels still had "firm control" of border smuggling routes. Mexican consultancy Risk Evaluation says the amount of cocaine and marijuana smuggled across the U.S. frontier was up at least 20 percent this year compared to 2010, and methamphetamine by 40 percent.


    Instead of bringing peace, the security buildup in Ciudad Juarez spawned more chaos. Corrupt soldiers and police were soon infected by the criminal malaise sucking the life out of the city, extorting, kidnapping and killing at will.

    "Unfortunately, there were people wearing federal police badges and army insignia who only came here to make money," said municipal police officer Roberto Hernandez, 37.

    By the end of 2011, most of the army and federal police had been pulled out. To regain the upper hand, Chihuahua beefed up intelligence gathering and investigations and also introduced tougher sentences for criminals.

    State governor Cesar Duarte said since he took office two years ago, Chihuahua has executed a record 98 percent of arrest warrants issued and put 95 percent of suspects on trial.

    "Where the news was once about deaths, deaths, and more deaths, today it's about arrests, arrests, arrests and convictions," he told Reuters. His government has put 8,000 people behind bars and moved 2,000 criminals to other jails around Mexico to break the power of prison networks, he said.

    Inside Ciudad Juarez's main prison, walkways and yards once filled with convicts in civilian clothes chatting in the sun are now empty. When prisoners emerge, all wear regulation gray.

    "A year ago you couldn't have been here," said Chihuahua's head of social re-integration, Gonzalo Diaz. "The prisoners had the keys to the cells and they were in charge. It was the most dangerous prison in the world."

    Regardless of improvements on the inside, the hold exercised by criminals on the city outside is palpable.

    One recent Saturday afternoon, the main road through the center of Ciudad Juarez was almost deserted.

    On block after block on the 16 de Septiembre avenue, nearly half the businesses were closed, abandoned or burned out. Many of the stores that were open had their doors locked, admitting strangers only after they were satisfied they meant no harm.

    "Everyone who is open here is paying extortion," said a man in his 30s working in a forlorn hairdressing salon on the street. "If you don't pay, the place burns down."

    That Saturday the salon had four clients in 4-1/2 hours. Before the violence flared up in Ciudad Juarez it would have had about 60, said the man, who asked to remain anonymous.

    Of some two dozen people working in the city Reuters spoke to about extortion, nearly all said their business paid it or that they knew of others who did - or they declined to comment.

    They said payments vary from 100-150 pesos ($7.70-$11.50) a week for taxi drivers to 5,000 pesos at a mechanic's workshop employing three and 6,000 pesos at a funeral home with 15 staff.

    A bus driver said operators of 40-seat vehicles had to pay as much as 5,000 pesos a month for a single bus. Children as young as 12 have been used to collect extortion, police say.

    For some residents of Ciudad Juarez, paying extortion has even become a token of security in areas where the gangs rule.

    "A guy in our neighborhood who ran a store got so fed up with kids stealing stuff, he eventually said 'Who do I have to pay extortion to around here?' Once he started paying, the problems stopped," said the manager of a funeral home.


    The torrent of robberies, shootouts and disappearances have drained the city's economy, forcing many people out. A study by a local university estimated nearly 240,000 of the city's 1.3 million people had left by the end of 2011.

    In 2006, Ciudad Juarez accounted for about 1.9 percent of Mexican economic output, according to studies by bank Banamex. By the end of 2010 its share had fallen to 1.2 percent.

    "Juarez is exhausted by gore, poverty, terror and business flight," said Charles Bowden, a U.S. author of various books on the city. "This, coupled with a population flight, means there are fewer people left to kill. All the people who refused to pay extortion are dead, and the living have taken note."

    Many streets in the Riberas del Bravo district are largely deserted following months of fighting and gunfire.

    Rows of neat little homes stand gutted, stripped of every item of value but their stone frames, the walls plastered with graffiti and entrances littered with debris and weeds. On one street in the area, only 12 of 39 houses had not been abandoned.

    "You feel very lonely," said Antonio, 38, a beautician who described regular battles between gangs on the street and seeing a man beaten to death with rocks outside his front door last year. Since the spring it has been mostly quiet, he said.

    Locals say the city is much safer since the army and federal police withdrew, but corruption inside the local police remains a problem. "Very few of us hang out together after work because of the fear, the paranoia," said police officer Hernandez.

    For Hugo Almada, an academic who sits on a Ciudad Juarez security panel made up of local officials and civilians, the violence had less to do with drug trafficking itself and more to do with splits "within the state" over who controlled the money.

    "What we saw was police, the military, politicians, entrepreneurs, drug traffickers and killers on the one side - and another group of the same people on the other," he said. ($1 = 13.0292 Mexican pesos)

    (Editing by Kieran Murray and Mohammad Zargham)


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    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Obama says debt-cutting deal can be reached soon

    WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama said Wednesday he believes that members of both parties can reach a "framework" on a debt-cutting deal before Christmas, making his case with a mix of optimism and pressure on congressional Republicans to keep tax rates from rising on the middle class.

    Obama, pushing ahead with his campaign to increase revenue by hiking taxes on wealthier Americans, was joined by about a dozen middle-class Americans at a White House event in the midst of negotiation on how to avoid a so-called fiscal cliff at year's end when across-the-board tax hikes and steep spending cuts kick in.

    "I am ready and able and willing and excited to go ahead and get this issue resolved in bipartisan fashion so that American families, American businesses have some certainty going into next year," Obama said.

    He took special note of reports that some Republicans have expressed a willingness to extend the current expiring tax rates for households earning less than $250,000. Conservative Oklahoma GOP Rep. Tom Cole told GOP colleagues in a private meeting on Tuesday that it's better to extend tax cuts for 98 percent of taxpayers than engage in a prolonged fight that risks increasing taxes on everyone. Cole is a longtime GOP loyalist and a confidant of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

    "I'm glad to see, if you've been reading the papers lately, that more and more Republicans in Congress seem to be agreeing with this idea that we should have a balanced approach," Obama said, noting that the Senate has already passed legislation to extend current rates to those middle class taxpayers.

    "The Democrats in the House are ready to vote for that same bill today," he said. "If we can get a few House Republicans to agree as well, I'll sign this bill as soon as Congress sends it my way. I've got to repeat: I've got a pen. I'm ready to sign it."

    He made an appeal to the public to pressure Congress, arguing that similar efforts late last year to extend a payroll tax cut resulted in congressional passage.

    "When the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens," he said.

    While expressing confidence that he and Congress could strike a bargain for a "framework in the coming weeks,"

    Obama says we need to "approach this problem with the middle-class in mind."

    The president is urging the public to pressure Congress through social media, pointing to (hashtag)My2K on Twitter ? a reference to the estimated $2,200 tax increase a typical middle-class family of four would see if the Bush tax cuts expire.

    The president is also meeting with corporate executives at the White House on Wednesday and then traveling to Pennsylvania on Friday to push for upper income bracket earners to pay higher tax rates. It's part of a campaign to pressure Republicans in Congress to support raising taxes on the wealthy.


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    Nexus 7 gets its turn at 4.2.1 -- it's pushing now or can be manually flashed

    Nexus 7

    Just as we saw this morning with the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10, the Nexus 7 is getting updated to Android 4.2.1 via an OTA update. There's nothing groundbreaking here, its simply a bug fix for the omission of December from the people application and an update to add joysticks and gamepads as HID devices. 

    But updates are updates, and we know that plenty need to get them ASAP. Thanks to XDA, the manual download link is available and advanced users can flash at will. You'll end up with build number JOP40D, and everyone you know that was born in December is now allowed to get a year older again. Grab the OTA package below, and head into the forums for questions about flashing.

    OTA  package download; via XDA


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    Roasted Carrot Onion Soup with Dukkah Spice | Food Loves Writing

    roasted carrot onion soup with dukkah spice |

    I don?t know about you guys, but, for me, the days that follow Thanksgiving are, no contest, the least inspired days, cooking-wise, all year long. It?s not that there?s a lack of food?my parents? fridge is no doubt still full, today on Tuesday, with bowls and bowls of leftovers from Thursday?s spread, and that meal was just one of the many we took part in all weekend. It?s not that there?s a lack of ideas?I checked into my Google Reader sometime Sunday and tucked away recipes for pumpkin risotto and oaty shortbread and red lentils and spinach in masala sauce.

    It?s just that, listen, we are full.

    carrots |

    Maybe you feel the same way? Between my parents? place and Tim?s relatives? house and a favorite restaurant and a new favorite snack (full or not, I?ll take an entire case of those, thankyouverymuch), we ate our weight in holiday meals, and by Sunday night, when we returned to our kitchen, where the refrigerator was the polar opposite of where we?d been, the bearer of a paltry bag of carrots, eggs, butter and one-and-a-half kombuchas from last week, it was all we could do to drink a glass of water and go to sleep.

    roasted carrots & onions |

    Coming home from a long weekend like this last one means many things?exhaustion, unpacking, laundry and looming work?but also, the minute we pulled up to our driveway, it means mail. After our few days away, the mailbox we share with neighbors was, of course, stuffed, holding junkmail, our Christmas cards (hooray! and, by the way, if you haven?t ordered yours yet, my friend Sarah?s doing a $75 Minted giveaway!) and, best of all, this month?s issue of Bon Appetit.

    roasted carrot onion soup with dukkah spice |

    So yesterday morning, amidst cleaning and ebay-selling and conference-calling and work, I flipped through the magazine in case, by some miracle, a lunch could be made with what we had on hand. Enter this roasted carrot onion soup with dukkah spice.

    roasted carrot & onion soup |

    I ended up replacing a pound of the carrots with onion, the fennel seeds with anise and the pistachios with hazelnuts (there was exactly 1/2 cup of hazelnuts in the pantry! would you believe it!) to make it work, but, all in all, this beautiful and spice-filled soup is a perfect testament to making do with what one has?and, made of the ever-affordable carrots and onions, topped with a unique spiced mixture unlike anything I?ve ever tried, combined with the container of vegetable broth I?ve been freezing since my last Tamar-Adler-vegetable-scraps-boiling a few weeks back, this recipe is also a testament to the fact that while some of the best meals we enjoy are the Thanksgiving feasts?others are the simplest, just a bowl of soup and a spoon.

    Roasted Carrot Onion Soup with Dukkah Spice
    Services four to six

    I?ve made carrot soup before, right after my mom bought me my first Le Creuset, but this version, topped with a nutty spice blend, is an entirely different taste experience. When you stir the finely chopped hazelnuts and spices through each bowl, the entire recipe takes on new life.

    Note, also, that the original recipe also suggested adding a dollop of yogurt to each bowl (but, as you can imagine, that wasn?t something we had on hand yesterday).

    1/2 cup hazelnuts
    2 tablespoons sesame seeds
    1 teaspoon coriander powder
    1 teaspoon cumin powder
    1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
    1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more, to taste)
    1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces
    1 pound onions, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    1 quart of vegetable broth

    In a large skillet over medium-low heat, toast hazelnuts until fragrant, around five minutes. Let them cool and rub handfuls between your palms, letting the skins fall to the skillet. Separate the toasted, mostly skinned nuts to a plate and set aside. Dump out the skins in the trash and fill the skillet with the sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, anise seeds and black peppercorns. Toast for about one or two minutes, stirring often, until very fragrant. Set aside onto same plate with nuts. Let cool. Transfer mixture to food processor, adding one teaspoon salt. Coarsely grind. (Note: this spice mixture may be made up to a week ahead of time and kept, airtight, at room temperature.)

    Preheat oven to 375F. Place carrots and onions on rimmed baking sheet, and toss with melted butter, adding a little salt (and pepper, if desired) all over. Roast until vegetables are tender and just beginning to turn golden, about 45 minutes. Let them cool.

    Transfer carrots and onions to a blender, and add the quart of broth. (Don?t use a food processor here. Use a blender or a Vitamix. If you do use a food processor, the broth will spill out through the middle and out onto the counter and the floor and all over your hands, just trust me.) Blend until very smooth, about two or three minutes.

    Pour the mixture into a stockpot over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You may add water to reach the consistency you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper, but keep in mind the dukkah spice mixture has salt in it, as well.

    Divide soup among bowls and top with dukkah spices to taste.

    About Shanna Mallon

    Nashville newlywed behind Food Loves Writing. We like whole foods, talking about truth and sharing our lives with the sweet online community.

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    Jane McGonigal: Gaming Can Make a Better World - MMORPG ...

    Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains in a 20-minute TED talk.


    Jane McGonigal is a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games?or, games that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems. She believes game designers are on a humanitarian mission?and her #1 goal in life is to see a game developer win a Nobel Peace Prize.


    Jane McGonigal asks: Why doesn't the real world work more like an online game? In the best-designed games, our human experience is optimized: We have important work to do, we're surrounded by potential collaborators, and we learn quickly and in a low-risk environment. In her work as a game designer and director of game R&D at the Institute for the Future, she creates games that use mobile and digital technologies to turn everyday spaces into playing fields, and everyday people into teammates. Her game-world insights can explain--and improve--the way we learn, work, solve problems, and lead our real lives.


    Several years ago she suffered a serious concussion, and she created a multiplayer game to get through it, opening it up to anyone to play. In "Superbetter," players set a goal (health or wellness) and invite others to play with them--and to keep them on track. While most games, and most videogames, have traditionally been about winning, we are now seeing increasing collaboration and games played together to solve problems.


    Although the TED talk was in 2010, the question Jane asked I believe is still worthy of thinking about today.




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    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Use of stem cells in personalized medicine

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2012) ? Johns Hopkins researchers report concrete steps in the use of human stem cells to test how diseased cells respond to drugs. Their success highlights a pathway toward faster, cheaper drug development for some genetic illnesses, as well as the ability to pre-test a therapy's safety and effectiveness on cultured clones of a patient's own cells.

    The project, described in an article published November 25 on the website of the journal Nature Biotechnology, began several years ago, when Gabsang Lee, D.V.M., Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Institute for Cell Engineering, was a postdoctoral fellow at Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York. To see if induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) could be used to make specialized disease cells for quick and easy drug testing, Lee and his colleagues extracted cells from the skin of a person with a rare genetic disease called Riley-Day syndrome, chosen because it affects only one type of nerve cell that is difficult if not impossible to extract directly from a traditional biopsy. These traits made Riley-Day an ideal candidate for alternative ways of generating cells for study.

    In a so-called "proof of concept" experiment, the researchers biochemically reprogrammed the skin cells from the patient to form iPSCs, which can grow into any cell type in the body. The team then induced the iPSCs to grow into nerve cells. "Because we could study the nerve cells directly, we could for the first time see exactly what was going wrong in this disease," says Lee. Some symptoms of Riley-Day syndrome are insensitivity to pain, episodes of vomiting, poor coordination and seizures; only about half of affected patients reach age 30.

    In the recent research at Johns Hopkins and Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Lee and his co-workers used these same lab-grown Riley-Day nerve cells to screen about 7,000 drugs for their effects on the diseased cells. With the aid of a robot programmed to analyze the effects, the researchers quickly identified eight compounds for further testing, of which one -- SKF-86466 -- ultimately showed promise for stopping or reversing the disease process at the cellular level.

    Lee says a clinical trial with SKF-86466 might not be feasible because of the small number of Riley-Day patients worldwide, but suggests that a closely related version of the compound, one that has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for another use, could be employed for the patients after a few tests.

    The implications of the experiment reach beyond Riley-Day syndrome, however. "There are many rare, 'orphan' genetic diseases that will never be addressed through the costly current model of drug development," Lee explains. "We've shown that there may be another way forward to treat these illnesses."

    Another application of the new stem cell process could be treatments tailored not only to an illness, but also to an individual patient, Lee says. That is, iPSCs could be made for a patient, then used to create a laboratory culture of, for example, pancreatic cells, in the case of a patient with type 1 diabetes. The efficacy and safety of various drugs could then be tested on the cultured cells, and doctors could use the results to help determine the best treatment. "This approach could move much of the trial-and-error process of beginning a new treatment from the patient to the petri dish, and help people to get better faster," says Lee.

    Other authors of the paper are Christina N. Ramirez, Ph.D., Nadja Zeltner, Ph.D., Becky Liu, Constantin Radu, M.S., Bhavneet Bhinder, Hakim Djaballah, Ph.D., and Lorenz Studer, Ph.D., of the Sloan-Kettering Institute; and Hyesoo Kim, Ph.D., Young Jun Kim, M.D., Ph.D., InYoung Choi, Ph.D., and Bipasha Mukherjee-Clavin of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

    The work was supported by funds from New York State Stem Cell Science (NYSTEM), the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), the state of Maryland (TEDCO, MSCRF), the Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research, the Experimental Therapeutics Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the William Randolph Hearst Fund in Experimental Therapeutics, the L.S. Wells Foundation, and the National Cancer Institute (grant number 5 P30 CA008748-44).

    Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

    Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:

    Story Source:

    The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine, via Newswise.

    Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

    Journal Reference:

    1. Gabsang Lee, Christina N Ramirez, Hyesoo Kim, Nadja Zeltner, Becky Liu, Constantin Radu, Bhavneet Bhinder, Yong Jun Kim, In Young Choi, Bipasha Mukherjee-Clavin, Hakim Djaballah, Lorenz Studer. Large-scale screening using familial dysautonomia induced pluripotent stem cells identifies compounds that rescue IKBKAP expression. Nature Biotechnology, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2435

    Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

    Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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    Greece, round 3: Let the debt relief talks begin - Blogs - Financial ...

    Notes from the EU

    About this blog Blog guide
    Welcome. If you have yet to register on you will be asked to do so before you begin to read FT blogs. However, our posts remain free.

    This blog covers everything from the European Union's foreign and economic policies to the fortunes of its political leaders - as well as the more light-hearted aspects of life in Europe.

    To comment, please register for free with and read our policy on submitting comments.

    All posts are published in UK time.

    Contact the Brussels blog team: Peter Spiegel, Joshua Chaffin, Alex Barker and Stanley Pignal.

    See the full list of FT blogs.


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    Chizik, among 5 college football coaches fired

    Auburn coach Gene Chizik watches from the sidelines during the second half of a 49-0 loss to Alabama in a NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. Chizik was fired Sunday after a 3-8 season by Athletic Director Jay Jacobs. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Auburn coach Gene Chizik watches from the sidelines during the second half of a 49-0 loss to Alabama in a NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. Chizik was fired Sunday after a 3-8 season by Athletic Director Jay Jacobs. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2012, file photo, North Carolina State head coach Tom O'Brien looks to an official regarding a call during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Clemson at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. The school fired O'Brien Sunday, Nov. 25, ending a tenure that was good enough to reach four bowls yet never could reach the ACC championship game. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro, File)

    Colorado head coach Jon Embree, center, leaves the field after Utah's 42-35 victory over Colorado in an NCAA college football game in Boulder, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    Boston College coach Frank Spaziani watches during the first half of NCAA college football game against North Carolina State on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Ethan Hyman) MANDATORY CREDIT

    Purdue head coach Danny Hope watches a replay as his team played Indiana during the second half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. Purdue defeated Indiana 56-35. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

    Gene Chizik, Frank Spaziani and Danny Hope got the pink slips many expected were coming after disappointing seasons.

    North Carolina State getting rid of Tom O'Brien took more than a few people off guard. So did Colorado letting Jon Embree go after only two seasons.

    Sunday was a tumultuous one around college football, with five coaches losing their jobs to bring the total openings in FBS to 12 ? including four in the Southeastern Conference.

    Chizik was fired by Auburn after one of the most stunning and dramatic falls in college football history. The Tigers won the second national championship in program history behind Cam Newton in 2010. This season, Auburn finished 3-9 and did not win an SEC game. The Tigers lost the Iron Bowl 49-0 to rival Alabama.

    Auburn endured the worst slide within two years of winning a national championship of any team since The Associated Press poll started in 1936 and hadn't lost this many games since going 0-10 in 1950. The decision came 17 months after Auburn gave Chizik a contract worth some $3.5 million annually through 2015 with a hefty buyout of $7.5 million.

    "When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made," Chizik said in a statement.

    He was 33-19 in four seasons and 15-17 in SEC games.

    More than 6-6 was expected from Purdue this season, but Hope and the Boilermakers needed a late rush just to get bowl eligible.

    Hope won't get to coach Purdue's latest bowl game. He went 22-27 in four seasons.

    Spaziani's Boston College teams have had progressively worse records in each of his four seasons. The Eagles went 2-10 this season. He finished 22-29 as the head coach.

    North Carolina State finished 7-5 this season, and 4-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, including an upset of Florida State. Not great, but not all that far away from expectations.

    Still, it wasn't enough to get O'Brien a seventh season.

    O'Brien went 40-35 after coming to Raleigh from Boston College following the 2006 season. He took the Wolfpack to three bowl games, but won't coach in a fourth when N.C. State receives its bid next week. He went 22-26 in ACC play with not nearly enough marquee victories.

    Athletic director Debbie Yow said O'Brien's buyout would be $1.2 million over four years.

    "Coach O'Brien and I agree on the goal of becoming a Top 25 program. We just don't agree on what it takes to do that, how to get there," Yow said.

    Colorado finished this season 1-11 and Embree was 4-21 in his two seasons since replacing Dan Hawkins.

    Associated Press


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    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Smelling a white odor

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 22, 2012) ? You can see the color white; you can hear white noise. Now, Weizmann Institute researchers show that you can also smell a white odor. Their research findings appear online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

    The white we see is actually a mixture of light waves of different wavelengths. In a similar manner, the hum we call white noise is made of a combination of assorted sound frequencies. In either case, to be perceived as white, a stimulus must meet two conditions: The mix that produces them must span the range of our perception; and each component must be present at the exact same intensity. Could both of these conditions be met with odors, so as to produce a white smell? That question has remained unanswered, until now, in part due to such technical difficulties as getting the intensities of all the scents to be identical.

    A research team in the Neurobiology Department, led by research student Tali Weiss and Dr. Kobi Snitz, both in the group of Prof. Noam Sobel, decided to take up the challenge. They began with 86 different pure scents (each made of a single type of odor molecule) spanning the entire "smell map," diluted them to obtain similar intensities and then created blends. Each blend contained a different mixture of odors from various parts of the smell map. These blends were then presented in pairs to volunteers, who were asked to compare the two scent-blends.

    The team discovered that the more odors that were blended together in the paired mixtures, the more the subjects tended to rate them as similar -- even though the two shared no common components. Blends that each contained 30 different odors or more were thought to be almost identical.

    The researchers then created a number of such odor blends, giving them a nonsense name: Laurax. Once the subjects were exposed to one of the Laurax mixes and became accustomed to the smell, they were exposed to new blends -- mixtures they had not previously smelled. They also called some of these new blends "Laurax," but only if those contained 30 or more odors and these encompassed the range of possible smells. In contrast, mixtures made of 20 scents or fewer were not referred to as Laurax. In other words, Laurax was a white smell. In a follow-up experiment, volunteers described it as being neutral -- not pleasant, but not unpleasant.

    "On the one hand," says Sobel, "The findings expand the concept of 'white' beyond the familiar sight and sound. On the other, they touch on the most basic principles underlying our sense of smell, and these raise some issues with the conventional wisdom on the subject." The most widely accepted view, for instance, describes the sense of smell as a sort of machine that detects odor molecules. But the Weizmann study implies that our smell systems perceive whole scents, rather than the individual odors they comprise.

    Also participating in the research were Adi Yablonka in the group of Prof. Noam Sobel and Dr. Elad Schneidman, also of the Neurobiology Department.

    Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

    Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:

    Story Source:

    The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Weizmann Institute of Science.

    Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

    Journal Reference:

    1. T. Weiss, K. Snitz, A. Yablonka, R. M. Khan, D. Gafsou, E. Schneidman, N. Sobel. Perceptual convergence of multi-component mixtures in olfaction implies an olfactory white. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1208110109

    Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

    Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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    Preparation for the Great Critical Incident: First Aid Emergency ...

    By J.W. Caesar

    Hosea 4: 6 (KJV) My people perish from a lack of knowledge.

    Knowledge is power for survival when it comes to overcoming disasters. It is vital to get educated on how to survive in the event of a myriad disaster scenerios. Many people die or get injured because they did not adequately plan, prepare or mitigate for unseen emergencies. In order to win the war on disasters; American citizens must take disaster preparation seriously and strengthen themselves mentally, spiritually, and physically to overcome the challenges in the future.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency states on their website that there are actions that should be taken before, during, and after an event that are unique to each hazard. Each person or group should identify the hazards that have happened or could happen in their area and plan for the unique actions for each hazard. They further note that mitigation can be defined as actions to reduce loss of life and property by decreasing the impact of disasters.? What this means is??taking action now??before the next disaster?to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, insuring against risk).? Effective mitigation requires that we all understand local risks, address the hard choices, and invest in long-term community well-being. Without these actions, people jeopardize their safety, financial security, and self-reliance and quality of life.

    Building an emergency kit with first aid equipment and taking medical classes are best practices in mitigation that can assist in reducing risk and loss to families and the community.? It is important to analyze what type of hazards would affect the community during a disaster, as well the decision to shelter in place or evacuate to a safe location.? By following this risk analysis process, it would help clarify what type and size of container or bag to place first aid items inside, the quantity, what too and what not to pack, where to pack it, the environment, hazard scenario and number of people it can provide care too. Your first aid kit or emergency supplies should be designed around an all hazards approach that insures against the risk of not being able to treat or prevent hazards from overtaking you and your group. These hazards can cause temporary or permanent damage to the critical infrastructure of this nation. Therefore everyone should be a stakeholder in public safety and security of this nation. As a result, many are designing their first aid kits around temporary disaster events where there is a short recovery period, while others are preparing their kits for a total collapse of the system where medical resources will be hard to find.

    Caution: for medical legal and health safety reasons-Disaster Preparers should think about:

    1. Preparing physically, mentally, and spiritually now to adapt to changes caused by impact of disasters and?continuity of civil and infastructure recovery.
    2. Familiarizing with their local, state and federal laws on the boundaries of giving care to humans, pets and livestock.
    3. Getting prior training on how to use the items in the first aid kit.
    4. Working as a trained and covenant group, not loner.
    5. Trying to get written certification or medical authority to perform certain procedures.
    6. Not going beyond their scope of practice or their medical certifications.
    7. Abiding by the local laws of what is allowed in your first aid or medical kit.
    8. (Personal, Force, Asset?Protection)Avoiding making themselves a target for thieves, murderers, drug addicts that use false emergency scenes or requests for help.

    A first aid kit can be purchased at many stores, disaster preparedness organizations and online merchants. Medical supplies can also be purchased individually to build your own kit.? Some have also combined the two as one mitigation measure. Others have crafted their own replacement first aid products by improvising. They use tampons for bleeding, card board for splints, and other homemade items, or pet supplies for their kit?s inventory. The real issue is finding the right items and kit skin for your needs. There are many questionable claims to first kits such as the number of people that it can actually treat in an emergency, the quality, sterility and durability of items, the protective covering of the container or bag and excessive prices for minimal supplies. This is why it is vital to do a risk analysis and make appropriate mitigation decisions for your own needs from an all hazards approach.

    ?Non exhaustive Example of items for Emergency First aid Survival Kit:

    Airway Control Kit

    _____ Pocket Mask kit

    _____ Breathing Barrier with gloves kit

    Diagnostic Instruments/Tools

    _____ First aid booklet _____Trauma/Bandage scissors _____Protective Face masks

    _____12 hour Cyalume Lightsticks _____Candles_____Straws

    _____ Scissors, fine point_____ Splinter Forceps _____Nail clippers ____Tweezers

    _____ Disposable Penlight or flashlight _____Head Lamp _____ Flashlight

    _____Permanent Markers_____Pen _____Pencil_____Writing Paper Tablet _____

    _____ Disposable Gloves_____ Splints_____Trash bags ______Ziploc bags

    _____Duct Tape_____Clear tape____Painter?s tape____Scotch tape

    _____Lockman tool_____Knife_____Razor_____ Box Cutter

    _____Cable ties______Rope______String_____Plastic Wrap______Foil

    ______Belts______Straps____Batteries____Heavy protective gloves

    Circulation/Bleeding Control Shock Kit

    _____ Triangular Bandages(Cravats)______Rubber Latex gloves_______ Eye protection

    ______Military Field Dressing bandages______Abdominal bandages___Burn Kit

    ______ Large Absorbent pad dressings _____ Elastic Bandages

    ______Gauze Roll Bandages______ Adhesive Bandages

    ______ Tourniquets______ Gauze Pads, 4?x4?______ Gauze Pads, 2?x2?

    ______ Bandage tape_____ Disposable Rescue Blanket for shock

    Sickcall /First Aid items

    ____Band Aids____Salt____Pepper____Sugar____Ammonia Inhalents

    ____Tongue depressors____Tempa-dots Thermometers____Eyewash kit____Eye drops

    _____Eye pads_____KY-Jelly ____ Aspirin____Tylenol____Cough drops

    _____Cold Med.Tablets_____Nasal spray_____Immodium Tablets ____Anaphalaxis kit

    ____Anti-biotic Ointment______Antifungal cream______Iodine wipes._____Betadine wipes.

    _____Alcohol wipes._____Cleaning wipes. ______Anti-bacterial Soap solution

    Alcohol Bottle. ____Hydrogen Peroxide Bottle. _____Hand cleaning solution Bottle.

    _____Ice Pack______Heat Packs____Moleskin cover bandage

    Medical Supplies and their Skins

    Medical supplies for a first aid kit can be put inside of a various items that are all weather resistant, waterproof, durable, floatable, not previously had any toxic or corrosive materials stored inside of it, and clearly marked as a first aid or medical kit. Ziploc bags and plastic trash bags can give extra all weather protection and longetivity of items. The kit should also be easy to carry with straps or handles, have reasonable space or compartments for medical items, and easy to open or secure during an emergency. The size and type of first aid emergency kit may be based on varied factors such as the personal needs of the individual, group, or community, different hazards, ?medical training, number of sick and injured, terrain, response time, life cycle of disaster, use with vehicles, walking distance, evacuation, and weather.


    • Military Unfolding zippered Aid Bag M-3 & M-17
    • Military Chest with handles
    • Military Aid Station chest containers
    • Military hard plastic or metal containers
    • Nylon, Leather or Canvas Back Packs
    • Luggage with wheels and handle
    • Purse or designer bag
    • Lunch box
    • Square or rectangle storage containers
    • Tupperware containers
    • Plastic Ice Cream or used Food Containers
    • Hunting vests
    • Belt Pouches

    A well-stocked and well maintained list of items in the first aid kit should be kept up to date at all times by rotating and replacing items.? A best practice for maintaining the mitigation investment of life saving equipment is doing inventory and preventative maintenance checks before and after using the kit. It can take place on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly cycle. ?The outside and inside of the emergency kit should be inspected for damage such as cracks, tears or holes. Mitigations measures such as health safety inspections for spoilage and expiration dates of items are important also.? However, some questions have been raised about keeping items regardless of expiration dates because of future scarcity of items during extreme disaster periods. These questions should be addressed by medical authorities who are expert in disasters and laws of the land. ?In any case, some items can lose their shelf life, sterility, durability, and may become toxic because of the hot storage temperatures. Another temperature issue is freezing. ?Solutions can freeze causing the containers to crack and break causing contamination of other items or damaging the first aid container.

    The kit should work as expected: treat injuries and save life when you need it and cause no harm when it is not needed. It is vital to verify that the items consisting within the kit still function as expected, including the batteries in the medical equipment. The first aid kit should be stored in a place that is of the right temperature for medical supplies, in a safe location, away from pests, where no damage can occur, can be accessible to adults, but not to children or pets that can be poisoned and injured.

    In summary, disasters can happen at anytime and anyplace. The consequences of not preparing for them may be immeasurable. To minimize this risk, it is vital to mitigate these impacts by building an emergency first aid kit based on analyzing, reducing, and insuring against future risks. It would be wise to assemble an emergency first aid kit that is adaptable and maintainable for your needs, take first aid classes, get familiarized with medical ? legal laws, learn how to take protective measures in emergency situations, and establish mutual-aid and covenant partnerships well in advance of an emergency situation. All of these steps help reduce the impact of hazards associated with future events and improve the chances of winning the war over disasters.? Americans, must remember that everyone is a stakeholder in public safety, God given freedoms, continuity of civil government,?and protecting the critical infastructure and key resources of this nation.


    1. KJV
    2. ?

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