For diabetes, stem cell recipe offers new hope

first_imgDouglas Melton is as impatient as anyone for a cure for diabetes. His son developed the disease as an infant, and his daughter was diagnosed at age 14. For most of the past 2 decades, the developmental biologist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute has focused his research on finding a cure. This week, he and his colleagues report a potentially significant step toward that goal: a recipe that can turn human stem cells into functional pancreatic β cells—the cells that are destroyed by the body’s own immune system in type 1 diabetes patients such as Melton’s son and daughter. The cells the researchers produced respond to glucose by producing insulin, just as normal β cells do. And when implanted into mice with a form of diabetes, the cells can cure the disorder.“The diabetes research community has been waiting for ages for this type of breakthrough,” says Jorge Ferrer, who studies the genetics of β cells at Imperial College London. The lab-generated cells should be a valuable tool for studying diabetes and, Melton hopes, could eventually be used to treat patients.Throughout the day, the pancreas regulates the body’s blood sugar levels, responding to an increase in glucose after a meal by secreting insulin, which helps cells take up the sugar. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system mistakenly kills the β cells for still-unknown reasons, and the body is left without insulin. People control their diabetes by injecting carefully calibrated doses of insulin. But matching the precise insulin control achieved by the healthy pancreas is almost impossible, so researchers have hoped for decades to find a way to replace the missing cells.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)When scientists isolated human embryonic stem (ES) cells in 1998, hopes soared. ES cells are pluripotent, which means that in theory they can turn into any of the body’s cell types—including β cells. Indeed, one of the first things researchers tried to make from ES cells was pancreatic β cells. Later they tried with so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, made by reprogramming adult cells into an embryolike state. Either way, “it’s proved to be an extraordinarily complicated undertaking,” says Mark Magnuson of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who studies pancreatic development.Several teams have turned stem cells into precursors of β cells, which mature when placed into experimental animals. But the cells take 6 weeks to become fully functional β cells, and they can’t be studied easily outside the body. Nevertheless, a clinical trial started last month to test their therapeutic use in patients.In Cell this week, Melton and his colleagues report a complex recipe that can transform either human ES cells or iPS cells directly into functional β cells. The breakthrough is based on more than a decade of tenacious work in Melton’s lab. He and his colleagues have painstakingly studied the signals that guide pancreas development, applying what they and others have found to develop a method that turns stem cells into mature β cells. “There’s no magic to this,” Melton says. “It’s not a discovery so much as applied developmental biology.”The protocol “is reproducible, but it is tedious,” Melton adds. The stem cells are grown in flasks and require five different growth media and 11 molecular factors, from proteins to sugars, added in precise combinations over 35 days to turn them into β cells. On the bright side, Melton says, the technique can produce 200 million β cells in a single 500 ml flask—enough, in theory, to treat a patient. Melton says the protocol seems to work equally well with ES and iPS cell lines.Before the cells can be used to treat type 1 diabetes, researchers need to find a way to protect them from immunologic rejection. The same autoimmune response that triggered the disease would likely attack new β cells derived from the patient’s own iPS cells, and a normal immune response would destroy ES-derived β cells, which would appear foreign. (That has been a challenge for efforts to treat type 1 diabetes with received transplants of β cells from deceased organ donors.) Melton and colleagues are now exploring how to physically encapsulate their stem cell–derived β cells, as well as ways to modify the β cells to enable them to ward off immune attack.In the meantime, the cells should help the study of the autoimmune disorder. The technique “potentially provides ways to create model systems for studying the genetic basis of diabetes, or to discover novel therapies to enhance existing β cells,” Ferrer says. Melton says his lab has iPS cell lines from people with diabetes—both type 1 and type 2, in which the β cells are not destroyed—and healthy controls. They are generating β cells from those cell lines to look for differences that might explain how the different forms of the disease develop. They will also screen for chemicals that can stop or even reverse the damage diabetes does to β cells.  Melton says his son and daughter—now 23 and 27 years old—were pleased but unsurprised by his group’s progress. Reversing the parent-child role, they gently nagged him to “get going and solve the [immune-rejection] problem.”last_img read more

Older papers are increasingly remembered—and cited

first_imgAs Isaac Newton famously put it, today’s scientists are “standing on the shoulders of giants” by relying on the work of their predecessors. Scientists give a nod to those predecessors by citing their papers. But bibliometric researchers have debated whether older work is becoming obsolete more quickly, with scientists increasingly citing the recent work of their contemporaries. Now, the team behind Google Scholar has weighed in with a study of their own massive index of papers—and it appears that Newton’s aphorism is truer than ever.There’s no doubt that scientific papers become obsolete. Although some papers are continually cited and become immortal, the vast majority end up in the dustbin of scientific history. The question is whether the rate of obsolescence has been increasing or decreasing over time.A 2007 study published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology concluded that obsolescence has been slowing down since the 1960s as authors cite ever older work. But a 2008 study published in Science reached the opposite conclusion: Obsolescence has accelerated over the past 2 decades as journals have gone online, with authors tending to ignore older papers.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)For a study to mark Google Scholar’s 10th anniversary celebration, its researchers analyzed scientific papers published between 1990 and 2013. They divided the papers into nine broad research areas and 261 subject categories. Then they compared the publication dates of the papers cited in all those papers. (Google Scholar is universally acknowledged to index more scientific documents than anyone else, but as usual, the researchers are keeping the size of their data set secret.)The broadest trend in the Google Scholar data is clear: The fraction of cited papers that are at least 10 years older than the paper citing them has increased steadily, from about 28% in 1990 to 36% in 2013, the team reports today in a paper posted to the arXiv preprint server. The trend held in seven out of the nine broad areas and 231 out of the 261 subject categories. So in spite of the huge growth in the number of journals and the number of papers published each year, scientists’ collective memory is deepening. And as for the 30 categories where obsolescence held steady? “These are usually categories that have become major fields in the last 2 decades [such as] nanotechnology and AIDS/HIV,” says team leader Anurag Acharya. These fields don’t have enough history yet to cite.”I am obviously happy to see our results confirmed by Google using another data source,” says Vincent Larivière, a library scientist at the University of Montreal in Canada who co-authored the 2007 study that found the same trend. “However, I disagree on … the main cause.” The Google Scholar team suggests that obsolescence is slowing because digitization and online search engines make it easier to find older papers. But Larivière says that “the age of cited literature has been increasing since the [1960s and 1970s], way before the digitization of older papers.” He has a much simpler explanation. “In periods of exponential growth of science,” he argues, “the [average] age of existing literature, and thus of cited—or citable—literature, is always younger and younger.” The rate of scholarly publication exploded after World War II, growing 10-fold between 1945 and 1965, Larivière says, and pushing down the age of cited papers. These days, however, “science is growing at a lower rate than it used to, and this affects the age of what is cited.”Of course, there could also be a darker explanation: The average quality of published research may simply be decreasing, driving scientists to look further and further back in time to find papers worth citing. “But if this were to be the case,” Acharya wrote in an e-mail to ScienceInsider, “the quality of newer papers would need to suddenly start dropping starting in 2002 to 2004,” when the obsolescence rate turned down significantly and across nearly all fields of research. That would be truly depressing.last_img read more

Did Deepika Padukone break down on the first day of Chhapaak shoot?

first_imgDeepika Padukone is all set to return to the big screen with Meghna Gulzar’s film Chhapaak. The film revolves around the life of acid-attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. The shoot started a few months ago, and the team has wrapped up its first schedule.If reports are to be believed, it was an emotional roller-coaster for Deepika Padukone. A source told an entertainment portal, “The project is an emotional roller-coaster for Deepika. She broke down on the first day of the shoot. It happened when she was shooting for the first scene and having discussions with the filmmaker. However, Deepika was quick to regain her composure and the shoot proceeded nicely.”Laxmi was only 15 when she was attacked by a spurned lover. At an event, Laxmi Agarwal had said, “I have never won a medal in school. Who would have thought about a biopic being made on me? I am thankful to Meghna ji for considering my work worthy enough to be converted into a film. I am also elated that a celebrity like Deepika is playing me. I just want to say that this film will be a tight slap on that attacker who thought he has ruined my life and to the society who looked at me like a criminal.”With Chapaak, Deepika will enter into production as well. The film also stars Vikrant Massey and will release on January 10, 2020.Deepika was last seen in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, which crossed over Rs 300 crore at the box office. The actress is also expected to be playing Ranveer Singh’s wife in the sports biopic 83. Meanwhile, on the personal front, Deepika had a golden 2018 as she married Ranveer Singh after dating him for around six years.advertisementALSO READ | Katrina Kaif on attending Deepika Padukone’s reception: I felt like goingALSO READ | Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif hug it out at awards night, courtesy Ranveer SinghALSO READ | Chhapaak first look: Deepika Padukone transforms into acid attack survivor Laxmi AgarwalALSO WATCH | When Deepika Padukone wished Katrina Kaif a happy birthdaylast_img read more

Wriddhiman Saha shines as India A take lead vs West Indies A in 1st unofficial Test

first_imgComeback man Wriddhiman Saha and Shivam Dube shared 124 crucial runs for the sixth wicket after a top order struggle as India A took a 71-run lead in their first innings on Day 2 of the first unofficial Test against West India A here.After resuming on 70 for 1, India A added 229 runs at the expense of seven wickets as the visitors were placed at 299 for 8 at stumps on Day 2 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. India A had bowled out the home side for 228 on the first day.Saha, who was named in the Test squad for the West Indies tour next month after spending in the sidelines for more than a year due to an injury, was batting on 61 not out off 146 deliveries. He has hit six fours do far.The Bengal wicketkeeper batsman and Dube revived the India A innings after they were reduced to 168 for 5. After Dube was out, India A lost two lower-order batsmen in quick succession for the addition of just seven runs.Krishnappa Gowtham (6) and Shahbaz Nadeem (0) were out at the score of 299. The stumps were drawn when Nadeem was out in the 99th over of the India A innings.Earlier, opener Priyank Panchal (49) and Shubman Gill (40) added 46 runs for the second wicket before they were separated. Captain Hanuma Vihari contributed 31 runs off 80 deliveries while Srikar Bharat was out for a first-ball duck as India lost wickets at regular intervals.For West Indies A, pacer Miguel Cummins was the most successful bowler on the day with three wickets while off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall took two. Chemar Holder and Jomel Warrican got one wicket each.advertisementBrief ScoresWest Indies A: 228 all out in 66.5 overs.India A: 299 for 8 in 99 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 61 not out, Shivam Dube 71, Priyank Panchal 49; Miguel Cummins 3/36).Also Read | Sri Lanka eye winning farewell for Lasith Malinga in 1st ODI vs BangladeshAlso Read | Meet the 100-year-old fan who came to Lord’s to cheer IrelandAlso See:last_img read more

‘Croatia are a great test for Brazil’

first_imgBrazil v Croatia ‘Croatia are a great test for Brazil’ – Selecao prepare for friendly clash at Anfield Raisa Simplicio 00:09 5/30/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Luka Modric, Croatia Getty Brazil v Croatia Brazil v Switzerland Brazil v Costa Rica Serbia v Brazil Croatia Brazil Switzerland Costa Rica Serbia World Cup Friendlies With stars like Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, the Balkans outfit are sure to pose a few problems for Tite’s men when they meet on Sunday Brazil’s World Cup preparations continue this week as the Selecao prepare for a Brasil Global Tour friendly against Croatia on Sunday, the first of two matches scheduled prior to the main event in Russia.The clash against Croatia will serve as a warm-up for Brazil, who take on the Balkan nation’s neighbours Serbia during Group E of the finals. Boasting a midfield packed with talent, Croatia are a great test for the Selecao who will be taking on a side that are talented and will seek to take the initiative in attack throughout the game. Globo’s  Bruno Marinho believes that Croatia have the potential to cause problems for coach Tite and his charges. Editors’ Picks Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now Neymar Tite treino Seleção Brasileira 24 05 2018(Foto: Pedro Martins / MoWa Press / Divulgação)”Croatia is the perfect test for the national team, I think the Selecao are going to work on several key aspects of their play against a tough opponent, one which will pose Brazil several challenges in defence and attack. They may be a tougher prospect than any of the teams Brazil face in the World Cup group stage, players like [Luka] Modric may be somewhat tired but nevertheless they are a strong team.”It will be a decent indicator to see where the Selecao is at right now and how Neymar fits in as he returns to his best.”Gustavo Hofman of ESPN also believes that the clash will be a useful test for Brazil, while pointing out that Croatia have more to offer technically than Serbia.”They are a very technical side, they have a great midfield, Tite is a big fan of Modric for example, a confessed admirer of Real Madrid’s midfielder. The CBF’s hope in arranging a friendly against Croatia is to mirror the Serbia game, except that Croatia are more technical and Serbia are physically stronger. “I like the Croatia team a lot, they will make Brazil work hard. The Selecao is better than Croatia, but they are a time that will come out and attack more than Serbia, who are more defence-minded.”GFX Croatia Rakitic Mandzukic ModricWhile Modric is clearly the standard-bearer of the Balkans side, coach Zlatko Dalic can also call on talents like Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic to name just a few. Brazil take on Croatia on Sunday at 11am Brasilia time (3pm BST), in Liverpool’s Anfield home. The game is part of the Selecao’s World Cup preparations, leading up to their tournament debut on June 17.last_img read more

One day left submit your short film for a chance to win

first_img Twitter Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Advertisement How to submit your film.Entries must be under 30 minutes – the shorter the better. Drama, comedy, animation, documentary, sci-fi, horror, music video and experimental are all eligible but must be made by a Canadian writer, director or producer. The festival accepts films released after January 1, 2012.Tyler Parr, a previous winner of the Brian Linehan Actors Award for his work in the film Ironied, said about the NSI Online Short Film Festival: “What’s incredible about the festival is that they recognize precisely the commitment, time, expense and especially the passion that go into making a film. They have professional, dedicated jurors that come from a variety of backgrounds, so you know your film is being received with respect.”The NSI Online Short Film Festival is a year-round Canadian short film showcase with new films added every week. Since launching in 2008, the festival has programmed hundreds of films and awarded over $110K to Canadian media artists. Many of the films are available to watch in the archives.The NSI Online Short Film Festival is made possible through the support of Festival Partner Telefilm Canada; Supporting Sponsors Entertainment One, Super Channel, Corus Entertainment, Blue Ant Media, The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation and Breakthrough Entertainment; Award Sponsors A&E Television Networks, The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation and Blue Ant Media; and Industry Partner the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Advertisement $3,750 in cash awards are available to be won through the National Screen Institute’s Online Short Film Festival. Films are accepted exclusively through FilmFreeway until Wednesday, December 13, 2017.Films that meet award criteria are eligible for the $1,250 A&E Short Filmmakers Award and the $1,000 Brian Linehan Actors Award. These awards are presented four times a year. The $1,500 Blue Ant Media Documentary Award is presented twice a year. Read about the most recent winners.All NSI Online Short Film Festival winners receive a complimentary Friend membership for the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and non-acting award winners are qualified to be nominated for a Canadian Screen Award (if award criteria are met). Login/Register With:last_img read more

Russias hybrid mission

first_imgRussia has forayed into gene-editing technology with a 111-billion-rouble (more than Rs 12 crore) federal programme that aims to develop 30 gene-edited plant and animal varieties in the next eight years. The programme, announced in April, 2019 will focus on developing 10 new varieties of gene-edited crops — such as barley, sugar beet, wheat and potatoes and animals by 2020; and another 20 by 2027, according to a report in Nature, a science journal. Also Read – Hijacking Bapu’s legacyThe programme marks a welcome step for Russian researchers who were exempted from cultivating genetically modified (GM) organisms in the country by a 2016 law. While the 2016 law calls GM organisms as something “that cannot result from natural processes”, the new programme “describes gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR–Cas9 — which do not necessarily insert foreign DNA — as equivalent to conventional breeding methods”. The move would also help researchers get funding from private companies. Also Read – The future is here!Russia lags behind other major powers of the world in genetic research. In 2017, the country spent 1.11 per cent of its gross domestic product on research, compared with 2.13 per cent in China and 2.79 per cent in the United States. The programme is “a significant move” both for Russia and the world, and would encourage China to invest more in gene-editing technologies, and the United States to boost enthusiasm for such technologies, Yi Li, a plant scientist at the University of Connecticut, was quoted in Nature report. “For European countries, this can be a very interesting development in the light of the European court of justice ruling on genome editing,” he added. However, some researchers are sceptical of achieving the ambitious goals in the given deadline, and worry about excessive bureaucracy. “I am sure [the government] will spend the money and call the programme a huge success. I am less confident there will actually be any new varieties by next year — perhaps later,” Nature quoted a scientist, who wished to remain anonymous. The report also states that the projects to develop gene-edited versions of crops have already begun. “Scientists at Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) institutes in Moscow are developing pathogen-resistant varieties of potatoes and sugar beet. And gene-editing research aiming to make barley and wheat both easier to process and more nutritious is in progress at the Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry in St. Petersburg, and at the RAS Institute of Cytology and Genetics,” the report said.(The views expressed are of Down To Earth)last_img read more

Muslim man reported Orlando shooter to FBI

By Bryn MillerRabat –  Mohamed A. Malik, a Muslim man who knew Omar Mateen, negated Donald Trump’s accusations about the complicity of Muslim communities in terrorist acts by detailing Muslim efforts to inform the FBI about potential radicalization cases.In a speech last Monday night, Trump told a crowd in New Hampshire: “But the Muslims have to work with us. They have to work with us. They know what’s going on. They know that he was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death, and destruction.” Trump’s words have found an especially receptive audience in some critics of the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce. Malik attends this mosque, which was the former place of worship of Mateen and Moner Mohamed Abu-Salha, a young man who became the first American suicide bomber when he carried out an attack in Syria for an al-Qaeda affiliate in 2014.Since the Center’s group of worshippers has included two terrorists, some observers have concluded that it is radicalizing Muslim youth with the complicity of its members.Malik wrote an article for the Washington Post countering this narrative and condemning Trump’s rhetoric. Citing his own experience reporting Omar Mateen to the FBI, Malik asserted: “Trump is wrong that Muslims don’t do our part.”He recognized that many Americans believe that Muslim communities have knowledge of terrorist plots, but that this belief is a lie. “First, Muslims like me can’t see into the hearts of other worshipers,” he wrote. “Do you know the hidden depths of everyone in yourcommunity? Second, Trump is wrong that we don’t speak up when we’re able.I know this firsthand: I was the one who told the FBI about Omar Mateen.”Malik met Mateen in 2006 and attempted to support him as a mentor over the past ten years. He noted that Mateen was often frustrated by the racism and Islamophobia that he perceived in America.After fellow worshipperAbu-Salha carried out his attack in Syria, Malik called the FBI to provide them with as much information as he could about the bomber’s background. Malik also noted in his article that several of Abu-Salha’s friends had reported him to the FBI after he returned from a training mission in Syria and attempted to recruit them.Following Abu-Salha’s suicide bombing, the Fort Pierce community was shaken. Malik spoke with many community members about the attack and discovered that Mateen had been watching the same videos of Anwar al-Awlaki that had radicalized Abu-Salha. Malik reported Mateen to the FBI, who investigated him, found nothing, and closed his file.Countering Trump’s claims, Malik noted, “I am not the first American Muslim to report on someone; people who do that simply don’t like to announce themselves in to the media… I had told the FBI about Omar because my community, and Muslims generally, have nothing to hide. I love this country, like most Muslims that I know.” read more

US safety agency opens probes into Hyundai and Kia fires

DETROIT — The U.S. government’s highway safety agency has decided to open two new investigations into fires involving Hyundai and Kia vehicles after getting complaints of more than 3,100 fires and 103 injuries.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it granted a petition seeking the investigations from the non-profit Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group.The investigations would look into Hyundai and Kia separately and cover non-crash fires in almost 3 million vehicles from the affiliated Korean automakers, including the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe and the Kia Optima, Sorento and Soul. The complaints came from consumers and from data provided by both automakers.The agency had previously said it would incorporate the noncrash fires into an investigation it had already started on Hyundai and Kia engine failures.The Associated Press read more

Legally binding controls needed for private security contractors say UN experts

José Luis Gómez del Prado, the Chairman of the UN Working Group on Mercenaries, told a news conference at UN Headquarters that “the international community needs clarification on the jurisdiction” of such companies. Mr. Gómez said there is a legal “gap” between recognized international conventions on the use of mercenaries, and the control of private security companies that are often used by governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Working Group had already submitted proposed legislation to the General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva which were being discussed at the expert level. Mr. Gómez said that many countries had proposed self regulation and codes of conduct, but the panel is proposing a specific international instrument that would be agreed on by national governments. “What we are proposing is a binding instrument for States that is very clear” to include licensing, national and international monitoring of activities and civil and criminal laws regulating them. The instrument, he said, would also have measures specifically to deal with victims. Noting that four years after the killing of 17 civilians in Nissour Square in Iraq, the case against the alleged perpetrators is still pending in United States courts, he said “The victims don’t receive justice.”The panel visited Iraq last month and urged the Iraqi Government to prioritize the adoption of legislation regulating security companies that has been pending since 2008. “While US troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of the year, security contractors are there to stay. The urgency to regulate their activities couldn’t be greater,” he said today. Alexander Nikitin, a member of the Working Group, said the different methods of control for private security companies in Iraq and Afghanistan highlighted the need for international standards. The Group reports to the Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity. 8 July 2011A group of independent United Nations experts today called for the adoption of binding international regulations to control the activities of private security companies. read more

Former Navy spokesman Dassanayake further remanded

In 2015 the CID had questioned Dassanayake over allegations that some officers in the Navy were involved in the disappearance of several youth.Last year, former Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda also appeared before the CID to make a statement over the disappearance of the youth. (Colombo Gazette) Former Navy spokesman DKP Dassanayake, who was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) over the disappearance of 11 youth and remanded till today, was ordered to be further remanded till August 2nd by the Colombo Fort Magistrate.The youth had been reported missing between 2008 and 2009. read more

Regina taxi companies report losing drivers business to Uber since launch

BECKY KATZ DAVIS / AFP/Getty Images Co-Op Taxi president Daljit Singh says he’s lost over 100 drivers since Uber launched in mid-May, some to Uber itself and others to the trucking industry.“Nobody’s making money. That’s the problem,” said Singh in an interview Thursday. “If you’re not making enough money you’re not going to stay here.”Uber was launched almost three months after a ride-sharing bylaw was passed by city council in February.Taxi companies spoke out against the proposed legislation which imposes fewer regulations on ride-share companies than taxi companies, saying it created an uneven playing field and put rider safety at risk.The approved licensing system for ride-sharing companies does not include vehicle caps, mandatory cameras or minimum fares.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Glen Sali, owner and manager of Capital Cabs, says he’s lost drivers too, but wouldn’t say how many.“Everybody seems to be concerned about how it’s hurting us, it’s like people take pleasure in that,” he said in an interview Thursday.Of the drivers that have left Capital Cabs to drive for Uber, Sali said he’s heard from some that they aren’t making the kind of money they expected. He called the market flooded.“It’s an unfair system,” he said, adding there would be room for both industries in the city if the regulations were the same.While it may not be working for taxi companies, it seems to be working for customers.Twenty-nine-year-old Seth Armstrong has used Uber about a dozen times since it launched and described his experience as fantastic and right on par with all the other major cities he’s used the service in like Ottawa, New York City and Edmonton.“I can’t say enough good things,” said Armstrong in an interview Monday. “Every driver I’ve ever had has been extremely courteous and friendly.”Armstrong says no matter where in the city he is, he’s never had to wait longer than 10 minutes and most Ubers arrive in five minutes or less.And the price is right.“That’s the second biggest reason I use it. The first is the quality of service, but the second for sure is the price,” he said. “It’s so much more reasonable.”A ride that used to cost $30 in a cab, now costs him $15 with Uber, he said. Uber launched in Regina in May 2019. Forty-eight-year-old Leigh Kaufmann agreed, Uber is convenient and cost-effective.“I would say we would probably pick Uber over a cab for, well the top three reasons would be convenience, price and the vehicle cleanliness/appearance,” she said in an interview Monday.Kaufmann has only used Uber once in Regina, but has ridden in Ubers in San Fransisco, Houston, Toronto and Calgary. She said safety has not been an issue.“I’ve never felt unsafe in an Uber or necessarily in a cab either,” she said. “I would say as a woman taking transportation like that you have to be smart no matter what you’re taking.”Armstrong said he makes sure the car and the driver match the description sent to him by Uber, including the license plate, make and model of the vehicle and the photo of the driver, before getting in the vehicle.“It’s just been a great change because competition always to me breeds better service across the board,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to see another player come into town, shake some things up and get people caring again.”When asked what message he’d like to send to taxi companies losing drivers and business to Uber, he called on them to step up their game.“If someone’s doing something better than you, try and outdo them. Don’t rest on your laurels,” he said.Armstrong says on any given day he sees at least a dozen active drivers on the Uber app, and more in the evenings.Uber declined a request for an interview and wouldn’t specify how many drivers have signed up in Regina, but sent a statement by email.“We’re very pleased to see the ongoing interest for ridesharing in Regina,” said the statement. “In the months following our launch in the city, we have continually seen residents choose to use Uber as a safe and reliable alternative to driving.”Despite losing drivers, Sali said the business has been doing OK since Uber came to town.“We have a good charge-account business and stuff like that so we’ve been managing all right,” he said.“All I asked for was have regulations and stuff similar to the taxis and let us compete with it, but we’re not getting that.”He said safety is still a big concern and it’s only a matter of time until something happens.Safety is on Singh’s mind too. He repeated calls for mandatory cameras and city-issued ID’s in order to have more municipal oversight.As far as business goes, he’s not sure how long his will survive.“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Singh. “Business is slowing every day.”jackerman@postemedia.com read more

Ikea says its new Halifaxarea store will hold grand opening next month

by The Canadian Press Posted Aug 16, 2017 9:38 am MDT Last Updated Aug 16, 2017 at 10:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email HALIFAX – Ikea’s new Halifax-area store will open its doors next month.The Scandinavian furniture chain says the 30,000-square-metre store in Dartmouth Crossing will welcome its first customers at 9 a.m. on September 27.The store includes a showroom, market hall, restaurant and a children’s play facility.IKEA Canada president Marsha Smith said in a news release that half the jobs at the store will be full time, while part-time staff will have guaranteed hours each week.It’s the first location under Ikea’s plan to double its number of Canadian stores.The chain is planning to open a new store in Quebec City next summer. Ikea says its new Halifax-area store will hold grand opening next month read more

Niger UN and partners struggling to assist thousands newly displaced by Boko

“Our team in Niger describes the situation as very serious with acute shortages of shelter and non-food items for the displaced,” Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told journalists in Geneva today.These newly displaced include local villagers, internally displaced people (IDPs), people who have been displaced several times, and Nigerian refugees, according to a recent UNHCR team visit.“UNHCR is redirecting available resources to meet the urgent shelter and other assistance,” Mr. Edwards said, calling on donors for extra support to help this vulnerable population.The agency’s current Niger operation is about half funded with $24.9 million received against overall requirements of $51 million.While struggling to cope with the humanitarian needs, UNHCR and partners have conducted a more comprehensive registration to simplify needs identification, delivered food in south-east Niger’s Diffa region, and offered health care and sanitation. However, many newly displaced, who have sought shelter alongside Niger’s National Route No. 1, are without protection by the Niger army. Moreover, they do not have adequate access to water sanitation, shelter and school.“Providing assistance and shelter is all the more difficult because people are living in spontaneous sites rather than in a camp environment,” warned Mr. Edwards.The conflict in north-east Nigeria has forced more than 220,300 people to find refuge in neighbouring countries such as Niger, Cameroon, and Chad since 2013. In Niger, insurgent incursions had displaced an estimated 50,000 people within the country, according to UNHCR. read more

Expand The College Football Playoff

Ohio State’s national college football championship might seem to vindicate the playoff selection committee, which chose the No. 4 Buckeyes over two teams with similar resumes, No. 5 Baylor and No. 6 TCU. But there probably weren’t a lot of people in Waco or Fort Worth, Texas, celebrating the Buckeyes’ Monday night win. Instead, Baylor and TCU fans have every right to think their teams deserved the same opportunity.1The argument is particularly strong for TCU, which, after being leapfrogged in an unprecedented way in the committee’s final standings, went on to crush Mississippi 42-3 in the Peach Bowl. In fact, the Horned Frogs entered Monday with nearly the same Football Power Index rating (23.6) that Ohio State had (23.8).It has sometimes been stated — I’ve said it myself — that a four-team playoff is inherently flawed when there are five major conferences. The truth is a little more complicated than that. Sometimes a “Power 5” conference champion won’t have much of a beef with having been excluded from the playoff. In 2012, for instance, Wisconsin was the BCS representative as the Big Ten champion despite just a 4-4 conference record (and an 8-5 record overall). It was a wacky case — Ohio State and Penn State finished ahead of the Badgers but were ineligible for postseason play — but it’s not so uncommon to have an “ugly duckling” major conference champion.But pretty much every other contingency complicates the committee’s job and adds to the list of teams it might consider:Sometimes there will be an undefeated team from a “minor” conference, like Boise State.Sometimes independent Notre Dame or BYU will be undefeated or will have one loss against a strong schedule.Sometimes a second team from a power conference will have a powerful argument for being among the top four nationally. In 2011, for example, Alabama ranked No. 2 and was chosen for the BCS title game; its only loss had come against No. 1 LSU.In other words, this year wasn’t an outlier: A four-team playoff is liable to produce similar controversies more often than not. It may not be the particular controversy we had this year. But there’s liable to be some type of controversy.This is usually the point at which someone asserts the problem is infinitely regressive. With four teams in the playoff, there will always be an argument over Nos. 4 and 5. With six teams, there might be the a debate over Nos. 6 and 7. Or with 68 teams, you’ll have a fight over Nos. 68 and 69.I don’t find this case entirely convincing; you’re going to hit the point of diminishing returns eventually. In 2012, I participated in a mock NCAA basketball selection committee for media members. When filling out the last few slots in the 68-team bracket, we were presented with some incredibly unappealing options: For example, a team that went 1-6 against top 50 opponents against another that had a losing record in conference play. Neither team had a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming national champion.What you don’t want to do is exclude teams that can make a credible case for being the best team in the country. It’s hard to put this philosophy into practice, of course. In a perfect world, you could permit a flexible number of teams into the playoff. One year, a team might be so far ahead of the pack that you’d be tempted to crown it national champion and cancel the playoff. The next year, the top group might run a dozen teams deep. Unfortunately, the NCAA and our corporate overlords ESPN aren’t likely to tolerate that sort of uncertainty when they need to set schedules months or years in advance.So, we need to settle on a particular number of teams. The most important objective is to avoid “false negatives” — that is, to keep from omitting teams like Baylor and TCU, whose resumes are hard to distinguish from the teams ranked first or second in the country. The next priority is to avoid “false positives,” like a three-loss team getting into the playoff when it doesn’t belong there. It might help to break the teams into tiers:The first tier consists of undefeated teams from major (“Power 5”) conferences.2In the chart after this first bullet point, we’ve treated Notre Dame as a major conference team.The second tier includes one-loss teams from major conferences, along with undefeated teams from minor conferences.The third tier consists of two-loss teams from “Power 5” conferences and one-loss teams from other conferences.The fourth tier includes everyone else.The former BCS system, with its national championship game, seemed to be based on the hope that there would be exactly two top-tier teams. Unfortunately that almost never worked out. Only four times in the 16 years of the BCS were there exactly two major-conference undefeateds. The years in which there were three such teams, like 2004, were especially controversial. The more common problem, however, is that there was often just one of these teams or none at all.So reaching into the second tier is a necessary evil if you’re going to have any type of playoff. That being the case, I’d argue that you’d rather not have to make extremely fine distinctions within the second tier. Perhaps you’re OK omitting some one-loss teams with gross deficiencies on their resumes (like those that both played poor schedules and failed to win their conference titles). But you’d rather not have to distinguish the Baylors of the world from the Ohio States.The problem with a four-team playoff is that it will often require the committee to make exactly those distinctions, splitting the second tier right down the middle. Let’s look at some historical data. In the chart below, I’ve listed the teams since 1998 as they were ranked in the final AP poll before bowl participants were chosen. (This serves as a good proxy for how the playoff selection committee might have ranked the teams.)3You could use the BCS standings or the Coaches Poll as the reference point instead; they would lead you to pretty much the same conclusions. The teams are color-coded based on which tier they belonged to.As you can see, these tiers do a reasonable job of reflecting how poll voters think about the teams. Sometimes the tiers get mixed up around the margins, but these are usually relatively obvious cases involving teams with especially strong or weak schedules.But you can also see the problem. In an average year, there are one or two first-tier teams and four or five second-tier teams. A four-team playoff will wind up splitting the second-tier teams right down the middle.What if you’re willing to omit one-loss teams that didn’t win their conference championships? In the chart, I’ve also indicated whether a team won its conference title. (I’ve listed just one champion per major conference — the team deemed as the conference champion by the BCS in the event of ties.4In 2014, the BCS was no longer active. I consider Baylor to have been the Big 12 champion over TCU by virtue of its head-to-head victory against them. There’s special handling for teams from the former Big East conference, which no longer exists for football.5Big East teams are classified based on the conference they belong to currently. If a former Big East team ranked higher than the top team from the conference it now belongs to, it is considered the champion of its current conference. For instance, Miami is classified as the 2002 ACC champion, because it ranked ahead of the actual ACC champion that year, Florida State.) This gets you closer, but you’ll still run out of space fairly often unless you’re also willing to kick out undefeated teams from minor conferences.Besides, it’s not clear that a conference championship ought to trump everything else. It’s great when, for example, the No. 3 and No. 5 teams in the country square off in their conference championship, making it serve as a de facto play-in game. But this rarely happens. Often, the two best teams in the conference are in the same division and won’t play for the conference title. Or there are cases like 2003, when Kansas State, which had two conference losses, beat undefeated Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game. Would Kansas State really deserve to make the playoff ahead of Oklahoma? AP voters didn’t think so. (They ranked Oklahoma No. 3 and Kansas State No. 8 the next week.)What if we expand the playoff to six teams instead?Now we’re able to accommodate the clear majority of the second tier. One-loss major conference champions will just about always make it. One-loss non-champions from major conferences will make it about 80 percent of the time. Undefeated teams from minor conferences still struggle a bit, but overall this seems to strike a good balance. As a major conference team with just one loss, you’ll make the playoff unless there’s a lot working against you. With two losses, you’ll won’t make it unless you have a lot working for you. There are still some tough decisions to be made, but the committee won’t have to cleave the second tier in half, as it often will under a four-team playoff.If you expand the playoff to eight teams, you’re able to accommodate almost all of the second tier. However, about 75 percent of the additional teams you’d add with the seventh and eighth slots are from the third tier instead. This may be too tolerant, placing too little pressure on teams to perform and schedule well in the regular season.An alternative would be to include eight teams, but with automatic bids for major conference champions. (Technically you could do this under a six-team playoff, too, but it might not be advisable.6It provides for too little flexibility. What happens when in addition to the five major conference champions, there’s an excellent Notre Dame team and an undefeated Boise State? And by placing so much emphasis on the conference championship game, this system would serve to make the rest of a team’s schedule all but irrelevant.) Presumably, teams from outside of the power conferences would object to this, but you could accommodate them by guaranteeing a sixth slot to the best independent or minor conference team. That would leave two at-large positions.I’ve run the numbers on how this would work out — and it seems like another good option. By definition, we’re now including every major conference champion. While you’d have the occasional fluke conference champ like the 2012 Wisconsin team, that might be an acceptable price for reducing the subjectivity in the process. Non-champion teams from major conferences would sometimes make the playoff but would have a lot of pressure to schedule well and perform well. The majority of one-loss teams from major conferences would make it, but they’d be at risk if they fail to win their conferences. And taking a second loss would knock a team out the vast majority of the time.No system is going to end the debates; people still argue about which teams ought to be No. 12 seeds in the NCAA hoops tourney so they can lose to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. But expanding the football playoff to six teams — or to eight teams with some automatic bids — would do a better job of rewarding the most deserving teams while preserving the importance of the regular season. It would help to ensure the most important decisions of the college football season happen on the field and not in a conference room. read more