Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Monkeys have accents too, researchers say - Yahoo! News

Monkeys have accents too, researchers say - Yahoo! News: "TOKYO (AFP) - To the untrained ear monkeys of a certain species may all sound the same, but Japanese researchers have found that, like human beings, they actually have an accent depending on where they live.

The finding, the first of its kind, will appear in the December edition of a German scientific journal Ethology to be published on December 5, the primate researchers said Tuesday.

'Differences between chattering by monkeys are like dialects of human beings,' said Nobuo Masataka, professor of ethology at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute.

The research t"

Discovery disproves simple concept of memory as 'storage space'

Discovery disproves simple concept of memory as 'storage space': "Even if you could get more RAM for your brain, the extra storage probably wouldn't make it easier for you to find where you left your car keys.

What may help, according to a discovery published Nov. 24 in the journal Nature, is a better bouncer – as in the type of bouncer who manages crowd control for nightclubs. The study by Edward Vogel, an assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Oregon, is the first to demonstrate that awareness, or 'visual working memory,' depends on your ability to filter out irrelevant information.

'Until now, it's been assumed that people with high capacity visual working memory had greater storage but actually, it's about the bouncer – a neural mechanism that controls what information gets into awareness,' Vogel said.

The findings turn upside down the popular concept that a person's memory capacity, which is strongly related to intelligence, is solely dependent upon the amount of information you can cram into your head at one time. These results have broad implications and may lead to developing more effective ways to optimize memory as well as improved diagnosis and treatment of cognitive deficits associated with attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 - Doing Well at Doing Good

A worthwhile read on charity giving (subscription required). If you would like to read the entire article let me know via email... - Doing Well at Doing Good: "Philanthropy advisers say that for small donations -- anything under $250 -- it's not necessary to do a lot of digging because you won't be able to direct where the money goes. It will get pooled with other small gifts for the charity's general use. At this level, most experts advise searching out a well-established local or national charity. They also say it's best to move up to a higher level of donations, even if it means giving every other year. This will help you to be able to designate how your money is spent -- and potentially save you from some hassles.
'It's much better to consolidate your giving,' says Charity Navigator's Mr. Stamp. He says charities often sell their lists of small donors to other charities -- resulting in more solicitations for the donors -- because they feel they won't get larger donations from them and can make money this way.
Most nonprofits and philanthropy consultants consider a major gift to start around $5,000 to $10,000. At this level, donors can start to designate their donations to support specific projects -- something that may not have gotten funding without their support -- and ask for specific information on how their funds were used. This can be the most gratifying form of philanthropy. And this is where having a strategy to analyze the nonprofit becomes essential."...

There are a number of ways to look into the financial health of a nonprofit. lists more than one million charities recognized by the IRS, including descriptions of their mission statements and programs, as well as scanned copies of the 990 forms they are required to file with the IRS. These forms show the organization's assets and liabilities, what it pays its top staff, how much money it gives away and how much it spends on overhead. analyzes key measures of financial strength, such as administrative and fund-raising expenses, for 5,000 cha
Many new donors become obsessed with the idea of a charity's overhead. But this figure isn't always an accurate measure of how effective a charity is. For one, some nonprofits -- such as relief groups that need to mobilize a lot of supplies and staff at short notice -- may have high overhead. "Do you know what the management overhead is for Lexus or Cadillac?" asks Mr. Thurman. "You don't care, because it's not why you buy the car. It's for maintenance or prestige or safety, and it's the same with charity."

In general, experts say that a reasonable range for all operating costs ideally would be about 20% to 30% of a charity's annual budget. But be careful of claims that a group is spending 100% of its money on the services it provides. Charities sometimes shift overhead expenses into services provided to make it look like they are spending less on administrative costs.

There are other measures to look for: How much money does a charity spend to raise money? How diverse are its fund-raising sources? How much does it have in the bank? How much does its chief get paid relative to heads of similar nonprofits? In these areas, "you're looking for your comfort level as a donor," says Mr. Stamp...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Focusing after the shot, the plenoptic camera: Digital Photography Review

Focusing after the shot, the plenoptic camera: Digital Photography Review: "Ren Ng, graduate student at Stanford University has developed a hand-held plenoptic camera which takes a shot first and allows you to make the decision about focus point in software after the event. The prototype camera is actually a Contax 645 with a modified Megavision FB4040 back (sixteen megapixel). The back has had an array of 90,000 microlenses mounted in front of the sensor (with a gap between the array and the sensor). These microlenses create a unique image on the sensor surface which includes not only the amount of light deposited at that location, but how much light arrives along each ray. The image is then reconstructed in software and a focus point can be chosen. Note that the final resolution is the same as the number of microlenses. "

New Scientist Breaking News - Invention: Landmine arrows

New Scientist Breaking News - Invention: Landmine arrows: "Landmine arrows

The modern military is borrowing an idea from Robin Hood to deal with unexploded landmines. Patents filed by US defence contractor Raytheon concede that current landmine clearance is ineffective, especially if mines are in sand or under water.
NS Forum
What do you think about these latest innovations? Give us your views today
Discuss this story >>

But the company has developed a shell containing hundreds of steel 'arrows' – 155 millimetres long and 15 mm in diameter – that can trigger landmines with a single shot.

Each rod has a flared rear end, like the feathers of an arrow, and hundreds can be packed into a single cylindrical shell. This shell can be lobbed into a mined area and just before impact a charge behind the arrows will fire them downwards. The metal flights will keep the arrows on a straight course so that they pepper the area at high velocity and at regular spaces.

Tests show that a shell containing hundreds of arrows can wipe out every mine in an area several metres square, even when the mines are buried under sand or under nearly a metre of water. GPS can also be used to guide the shells into overlapping patches in order to safely clear a wide area.

Read the landmine arrows patent here.
Smart dressing"

Onya--Redskins cheerleader and drug rep Posted by Picasa

Gimme an Rx! Cheerleaders Pep Up Drug Sales - New York Times

Gimme an Rx! Cheerleaders Pep Up Drug Sales - New York Times: "As an ambitious college student, Cassie Napier had all the right moves - flips, tumbles, an ever-flashing America's sweetheart smile - to prepare for her job after graduation. She became a drug saleswoman. "

Ms. Napier, 26, was a star cheerleader on the national-champion University of Kentucky squad, which has been a springboard for many careers in pharmaceutical sales. She now plies doctors' offices selling the antacid Prevacid for TAP Pharmaceutical Products.

Ms. Napier says the skills she honed performing for thousands of fans helped land her job. "I would think, essentially, that cheerleaders make good sales people," she said.

Anyone who has seen the parade of sales representatives through a doctor's waiting room has probably noticed that they are frequently female and invariably good looking. Less recognized is the fact that a good many are recruited from the cheerleading ranks.
Known for their athleticism, postage-stamp skirts and persuasive enthusiasm, cheerleaders have many qualities the drug industry looks for in its sales force. Some keep their pompoms active, like Onya, a sculptured former college cheerleader. On Sundays she works the sidelines for the Washington Redskins. But weekdays find her urging gynecologists to prescribe a treatment for vaginal yeast infection.

The New Rwanda - New York Times

The New Rwanda - New York Times: "Who says George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have nothing in common? Just as President Clinton did on Rwanda, President Bush is doing precious little to try to stop a genocide in Darfur. Indeed, this entire generation of world leaders has a dismal record at intervening in this kind of wholesale murder, and now they are failing to stop the elimination of entire African tribes in the Sudan countryside.
Obviously, most of the blame here can be laid squarely at the door of Sudan's government. Sudan has armed and supplied the militia groups who have been going from village to village, hut to hut, and systematically raping and murdering women, men and even children. "
The Times columnist Nicholas Kristof reports that last month, members of the janjaweed militia attacked the village of Tama in southern Darfur, killing 37 people, with another 12 still missing. In one particularly gruesome case, the marauders yanked 2-year old Zahra Abdullah from the back of her mother, Fatima Omar Adam, as Ms. Fatima tried to escape with her children. They bludgeoned the little girl on the ground in front of her screaming mother and sister. Ms. Fatima eventually escaped with two of her children, but was forced to leave Zahra to die at the hands of the janjaweed.

In another column, Mr. Kristof wrote that Arab men in military uniforms gang-raped Noura Moussa, saying, "We cannot let black people live in this land." Ms. Noura said the men called her a slave and added, "We can kill any members of African tribes."

The shocking fact is, apparently they can. The Sudanese government is enabling them, and the rest of the world isn't doing much to stop it. It's the same old Rwanda story, with the same indifference from the world's governments.

UNICEF - Press centre - Three million girls undergo female genital cutting every year

Only in Africa...

UNICEF - Press centre - Three million girls undergo female genital cutting every year: "GENEVA/FLORENCE/CAIRO, 24 November 2005 – An estimated three million girls in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East undergo genital mutilation/cutting every year, according to a UNICEF report released today.

Yet the study says that with adequate commitment and support, this millennium-long custom could be eliminated within a single generation.

“Real and lasting change is possible,” said Marta Santos Pais, director of UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, which Friday issued the report, Changing a Harmful Social Convention: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. “Change will happen when communities – including girls, boys, men and women – are empowered by knowledge to make choices that are healthy and empowering to individuals and societies.”

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a traditional practice believed to enhance a girl’s beauty, honour, marriageability, social status and chastity. Parents encourage cutting so that the family honour and the girl’s best interest are protect"

Gov't May Change Medicare Rules for Obesity - Yahoo! News

Only in America...

Gov't May Change Medicare Rules for Obesity - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - The government proposed on Wednesday expanding Medicare coverage of weight-loss surgery for the disabled, but eliminating coverage of such surgery for the elderly.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries may help people with extreme obesity. That is why the agency is proposing to make it easier for the disabled to get the surgery.

Currently, Medicare covers the cost if the surgery is recommended to treat other health problems. The proposed expansion would allow for the treatment of obesity before associated health problems set in."

This is Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Zimbabwe senate elections: “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference”

This is Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Zimbabwe senate elections: “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference”: "It’s election day in Zimbabwe today, and the fact that the general public doesn’t care is perhaps one of the saddest indictments of the state of democracy in our country."...

But the worst of zanu-pf’s skulduggery for me is the unspeakable cruelty. I was utterly disgusted (but completely unsurprised) last month when I learned that mugabe had decided to bar food aid distribution until after the senate polls were over. We all know that this means food is to be the zanu-pf campaigning trump-card....

There is a lot of information about the terrible effects of the food curfew which lasted throughout the early months of 1984. The embargo on food was total: stores were closed, drought relief food deliveries were stopped, houses were searched and food found was destroyed. The missions kept records of the situation and tried to feed people when they could, but this was difficult for them. They had to watch children fainting from hunger at school and know they were being beaten and detained as well. There was a real concern that people would begin dying in large numbers if the curfew continued.

Can you imagine how you would feel if you had survived that, only to hear the architect of that unspeakable act utter these words a couple of days before an election:...

Zimbabweans are not fools - we know all of this. And this knowledge explains why so many Zimbabweans see these senate elections as a complete non-event....

But it is Angelina Nkomazana’s voice that powerfully sums up for me how many ordinary poverty-stricken Zimbabweans feel:

The 26 November poll date holds no significance for Angelina Nkomazana, a communal farmer in a tiny hamlet in Matabeleland North province.

The day will be spent like any other, trying to make some money doing chores for her neighbours or collecting water for them from a distant dam with a donkey-drawn cart, while other Zimbabweans head for polling stations to vote in the country’s inaugural senatorial election...

I can’t help but be reminded today of the words of Elie Wiesel, winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference”. Perhaps mugabe should take note of our apathy and our disinterest and realise that Zimbabwean voters are further away from him and his policies than we ever have been before. Our anger and pain hasn’t translated into the support that he craves; instead, we’ve moved even further away towards indifference. He should be worried. - Vietnam and the WTO - Vietnam and the WTO: "Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of the World Trade Organization today is not the apparent lack of progress in reaching agreement on further liberalizing the global-trading system. Instead, it is how increasingly difficult it is for developing countries to join the organization at all.

When 148 of the world's trading economies gather in Hong Kong next month for the WTO's Sixth Inter-Ministerial Meeting, a further thirty countries will be waiting on the sidelines, hoping for news on their pending accession bids. Many, such as Vietnam, Russia and the Ukraine, have been seeking access for a decade or more. Now, they are expected to implement far more sweeping changes than previous entrants, including trade heavyweights such as China, before they are allowed to join. They are also expected to meet higher standards, and sooner, in the case of trade-distorting subsidies and quantitative restrictions on imports. Ironically, these standards are not being implemented by some of very countries who seek to impose them."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

New Scientist Breaking News - Holographic-memory discs may put DVDs to shame

New Scientist Breaking News - Holographic-memory discs may put DVDs to shame: "A computer disc about the size of a DVD that can hold 60 times more data is set to go on sale in 2006. The disc stores information through the interference of light – a technique known as holographic memory.

The discs, developed by InPhase Technologies, based in Colorado, US, hold 300 gigabytes of data and can be used to read and write data 10 times faster than a normal DVD. The company, along with Japanese partner Hitachi Maxell announced earlier in November that they would start selling the discs and compatible drives from the end of 2006"


The motto of the Meeting Point is "One Heart," which means "the heart of man has no race," Busingye said. "It moves to another human being wherever there is suffering."

A WEALTH OF COMPASSION: "The Kireka slum clings to a stony hillside above Kampala, Uganda, home to at least 5,000 impoverished refugees who live in hand-fashioned shelters bordered by outdoor latrines. The hillside is not only home, but work: Strip quarries line its face. Men dig out its larger rocks, while hundreds of women spend their days in stooped manual labor, pounding the rocks by hand into walnut-sized stones for sale as construction material. They earn about $1.20 per day.
So American aid worker Amy Cunningham could scarcely believe it when she was summoned to Kireka last month for a festive celebration in which dozens of women handed over nearly $900 in wages: their gift to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. "
"I was just completely blown away," Cunningham said. "At first I thought, 'This can't be true. These people are just scraping by.' But I went to the ceremony, and they were so happy to be able to send over this money.

"They were just overwhelmed with joy because they were able to do something to help."

The women turned over their money to AVSI, a Catholic Italian aid organization in Kampala, which will forward it to an AVSI office in the United States.

And that's not all. In a country where the average annual income is about $300, Archbishop John Baptist Odama raised $500 over several weeks among Catholics in northern Uganda in special collections for New Orleans relief, Aldrette said. In that part of the country, a 19-year civil war continues to disrupt life.

The charity of the Kireka residents is partly the story of Rose Busingye, a charismatic 36-year-old Ugandan nurse who founded Meeting Point International, a private relief organization that has embedded itself in Kireka to help the people who live there.

Cunningham said she marvels at women like Busingye, organizers whose compassion, strength and optimism draw women into tight-knit communities that sustain their members in the face of crushing circumstances.

Many of the women of Meeting Point International -- in fact, most of those who donated their work to New Orleans -- are infected with HIV, Busingye said.

"There are so many groups out there that would basically give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it," Cunningham said. "They are so empowering. These are very strong women who identify, in particular, with suffering.

"We would consider them disenfranchised, but they are just extraordinary. They just said, 'We can do this.' And they did it."

Before encountering Meeting Point, many of the women of Kireka were emaciated and abandoned to the march of their untreated illnesses.

"We help them bring back dignity and values that seem to be lost," Busingye said. "We give medical support. We support their children and provide education, food to those who do not have any.

"We do not spoon-feed. We do not want them to feel like beggars. We try to help them get some little income, to do some little business."

The motto of the Meeting Point is "One Heart," which means "the heart of man has no race," Busingye said. "It moves to another human being wherever there is suffering."

The women's plan

Weeks ago, the women breaking rocks on the hillside above Kireka heard the news of Katrina's devastation in the United States.

Busingye said their hearts had been touched last year, when they donated some of their earnings to victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia. But she said she did not have the heart to ask for another effort, so she asked only that the women pray for Katrina's victims.

But they wanted to do more. In a written account of their relief effort, Busingye told AVSI that one of the women, Akullu Margret, told her she knew she would die of AIDS. "When I die, my children will be left like those in America. Someone will have to care for them. I want to care for someone also. I want to give a lunch, or at least a malaria treatment."

Busingye said others agreed.

The women of Kireka believe that "those people who are suffering, they belong to us. They are our people. Their problems are our problems. Their children are like our children," Busingye said.

Soon 200 women pledged their work. They broke rocks for weeks and donated most of their wages to the Katrina pot. A few others turned over their revenue from selling bananas, necklaces and small chairs.

At a ceremony in Kireka last month, Cunningham and other officials were invited to receive the women's gift, which amounted to 1.6 million Ugandan shillings, or $800 to $900.

Cunningham said she was struck by the women's joy at being able to make the donation. There was dancing and seemingly endless testimonials as individual workers explained their motives for giving, she said.

Many are members of the Acholi tribe, driven out of the northern part of Uganda by a bloody, long-running civil war.

"One told me, 'We know what it's like to lose our homes,' " Cunningham said.

The celebration included a rock-breaking contest at the quarry in which the visitors were invited to match up against the chronically ill women.

The women of Kireka won. "I tried it; it was incredibly difficult," Cunningham said.

Donations still coming in

The Uganda money has not yet reached the United States. When it does, it will be combined with funds AVSI has collected from other donors.

In Washington, D.C., AVSI officials will send checks to families whose stories of want were gathered by Chris Vath, a former New Orleanian working as a music director in New York.

Shortly after the storm, Vath asked friends and relatives in New Orleans to describe families they knew who desperately needed help.

Vath fashioned the names into an ad-hoc Adopt-a-Family program. And because Vath has personal contacts at AVSI, the Italian agency is using his database to select families to help.

Twenty-eight families on Vath's list in Metairie, New Orleans, Chalmette and other communities have already received AVSI assistance from other donors, said Aldrette, of AVSI-USA.

The Uganda money will go out to additional families shortly, she said.

To this day, weeks after their check was handed over to AVSI-UGANDA, some women of Kireka still hand over a bit of money for the victims of Katrina, Busingye said.

"They are still excited, even now. Some do not want to be left out. They are so proud they can give something to somebody."

. . . . . . .

The e-mail address for AVSI-USA is Its Web site is

A Tolerable Genocide - New York Times

How Much Genocide is Too Much...?

A Tolerable Genocide - New York Times: "Who would have thought that a genocide could become worse? But after two years of heartbreaking slaughter, rape and mayhem, the situation in Darfur is now spiraling downward. "

More villages are again being attacked and burned - over the last week thatch-roof huts have been burning near the town of Gereida and far to the northwest near Jebel Mun.

Aid workers have been stripped, beaten and robbed. A few more attacks on aid workers, and agencies may pull out - leaving the hapless people of Darfur with no buffer between themselves and the butchers.

The international community has delegated security to the African Union, but its 7,000 troops can't even defend themselves, let alone protect civilians. One group of 18 peacekeepers was kidnapped last month, and then 20 soldiers sent to rescue them were kidnapped as well; four other soldiers and two contractors were killed in a separate incident.

What will happen if the situation continues to deteriorate sharply and aid groups pull out? The U.N. has estimated that the death toll could then rise to 100,000 a month.

It's true that a few hundred thousand deaths in Darfur - a good guess of the toll so far - might not amount to much in a world where two million a year die of malaria. But there is something special about genocide. When humans deliberately wipe out others because of their tribe or skin color, when babies succumb not to diarrhea but to bayonets and bonfires, that is not just one more tragedy. It is a monstrosity that demands a response from other humans. We demean our own humanity, and that of the victims, when we avert our eyes.

Our leaders still haven't found their voices, though. Congress has even facilitated the genocide by lately cutting all funds for the African Union peacekeepers in Darfur; we urgently need to persuade Congress to restore that money.

So what will it take? Will President Bush and other leaders discover some backbone if the killing spreads to Chad and the death toll reaches 500,000? One million? God forbid, two million?

How much genocide is too much?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Wanted: Rocker-Activist's Support

WASHINGTON – Rocker-activist Bono helped cajole world leaders into embracing African debt relief. Now, U.S. officials hope U2's lead singer can help salvage global free-trade talks.

Early this month, Trade Representative Rob Portman briefed the Irish singer and top staffers of his advocacy group on the U.S. agenda in talks taking place under the auspices of the World Trade Organization. The half-hour telephone call was the latest attempt to get the singer to help push for a deal. His organization, DATA -- "debt AIDS trade Africa" -- fights poverty and AIDS, particularly in the developing world...

The stepped-up American trade diplomacy has two aims. One is to build an expanding coalition of countries and advocates to join the U.S. in putting pressure on Europe to make steep cuts in farm tariffs. Europe's refusal so far is widely seen as the most significant factor in the stalled WTO talks.

The second, more modest goal is to prevent the Hong Kong meetings -- scheduled to start Dec. 13 -- from collapsing. The last major attempt to advance the Doha Round, in Cancún, Mexico, in 2003, fell apart when developing countries essentially revolted amid complaints that the U.S. and Europe weren't doing enough to ensure the deal would help poor nations.

U.S. officials have in recent weeks all but given up on the idea that the Hong Kong gathering would produce an ambitious framework deal. They had argued a framework was essential to ensuring the negotiations could be concluded in time for President Bush to submit a deal to Congress before his special trade-negotiating authority expires in mid-2007.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Bacteria Can Take Pictures of Themselves

SAN FRANCISCO - The notorious E. coli bug made its film debut Wednesday. That's when researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and the University of Texas announced in the journal Nature that they had created photographs of themselves by programming the bacteria — best known for outbreaks of food poisoning — to make pictures in much the same way Kodak film produces images....

Scientists in Israel made the world's smallest computer by engineering DNA to carry out mathematical functions.

_J. Craig Venter, the entrepreneurial scientist who mapped the human genome and launched the Rockville, Md.-based research institute named after himself, is attempting to create novel organisms that can produce alternative fuels.

_With a $42.6 million grant that originated at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Berkeley researchers are engineering the E. coli bug with genes from the wormwood plant and yeast to create a new malaria drug.

Even as they wrestle with scientific hurdles like controlling genetic mutations, thorny ethical issues are cropping up.

It's cheap and easy to buy individual genes online. They cost about $1 each, down from the $18 apiece charged just a few years ago. Researchers last year created a synthetic polio virus by simply stitching together these mail-order genes.

National security experts and even synthetic biologists themselves are concerned that rogue scientists could create new biological weapons — like deadly viruses that lack natural foes. They also worry about innocent mistakes: organisms that could potentially create havoc if allowed to reproduce outside the lab.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Freshman Republican Weathers Backlash

Freshman Republican Weathers Backlash: "Rep. Jean Schmidt flung the word 'coward' at a decorated war veteran from Pennsylvania last week, but the Ohio Republican's comments landed with a splat in her own Cincinnati district, where some supporters are backing away as she scrambles to explain what she meant."...

Many people are unsympathetic. NBC's "Saturday Night Live" lampooned her, the Cincinnati Enquirer's editorial page -- which endorsed her congressional bid -- said she was "way out of line," and the friend she claimed to be quoting on the House floor last week declared yesterday that he had said no such thing.

Schmidt, Congress's newest member, vaulted from obscurity with inflammatory comments during a House debate over whether to promptly withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, as has been proposed by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). Murtha is a 31-year House veteran and longtime military hawk who fought in Vietnam and Korea as a Marine.

Schmidt said in her brief speech: "A few minutes ago, I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

The chamber exploded in boos and catcalls from Democrats, and within minutes Schmidt had withdrawn her words and sent a note of apology to Murtha. But waters were still roiling when she went home Saturday to start a two-week congressional recess.

Chavez gives cheap oil to America's poor - JAMAICAOBSERVER.COM

Chavez gives cheap oil to America's poor - JAMAICAOBSERVER.COM: "Venezuela's state-owned Citgo said on Tuesday it had agreed with a US non-profit group to supply cheap heating fuel to Boston's poor, as part of president Hugo Chavez' anti-poverty plan for the Americas."

This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis - New York Times

This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis - New York Times: "Hypnosis, with its long and checkered history in medicine and entertainment, is receiving some new respect from neuroscientists. Recent brain studies of people who are susceptible to suggestion indicate that when they act on the suggestions their brains show profound changes in how they process information. The suggestions, researchers report, literally change what people see, hear, feel and believe to be true.

The new experiments, which used brain imaging, found that people who were hypnotized 'saw' colors where there were none. Others lost the ability to make simple decisions. Some people looked at common English words and thought that they were gibberish.

'The idea that perceptions can be manipulated by expectations' is fundamental to the study of cognition, said Michael I. Posner, an emeritus professor of neuroscience at the University of Oregon and expert on attention. 'But now we're really getting at the mechanisms.'

Even with little understanding of how it works, hypnosis has been used in medicine since the 1950's to treat pain and, more recently, as a treatment for anxiety, depression, trauma, irritable bowel syndrome and eating disorders.

There is, however, still disa"

Sudan's Department of Gang Rape - New York Times

Sudan's Department of Gang Rape - New York Times: "Kalma Camp, Sudan

When the Arab men in military uniforms caught Noura Moussa and raped her the other day, they took the trouble to explain themselves.

'We cannot let black people live in this land,' she remembers them telling her, and they used racial epithets against blacks, called her a slave, and added: 'We can kill any members of African tribes.' (Watch Ms. Noura in the Op-Ed special report, 'The Forgotten Genocide.')"

Ms. Noura is one of thousands of women and girls to be gang-raped in Darfur, as part of what appears to be a deliberate Sudanese government policy to break the spirit of several African tribes through mass rape.

This policy is shrewd as well as brutal, for the exceptional stigma of rape here often silences victims even as it terrorizes the entire population and forces people to flee.

That First Thanksgiving - New York Times

That First Thanksgiving - New York Times: "Depending on when and where you went to grade school, you've probably heard one of these versions of the first Thanksgiving:

1. After a kindly Indian named Squanto taught the Pilgrims to grow corn, the Pilgrims invited the Indians to a meal to celebrate their friendship and mutual desire to live in harmony."

2. The Pilgrims held a feast to thank God, the real hero of Thanksgiving, who had earlier arranged for Squanto to be kidnapped, brought to Europe, taught Christianity and then miraculously returned just in time to help the Pilgrims.

3. The Indians, vicious barbarians awed by the Europeans' technology, sought an alliance with the Pilgrims to get access to their steel tools and enjoy the protection of their guns.

4. The Native Americans, a peaceable people who practiced sustainable agriculture and lived as one with nature, innocently befriended the Pilgrims without realizing these imperialists would destroy their lands and wage genocidal wars.

The problem with all these versions, even the last one about the saintly Native American proto-environmentalists, is that they don't do justice to the Pilgrims' guests. One way or another, the Indians come off as primitive patsies embracing the powerful invaders.

These stories all suffer from a warped view of Indians as naïfs that afflicted the first settlers and persisted for centuries among historians. It's the fallacy dubbed "Holmberg's Mistake" by Charles Mann in his new book, "1491," an intriguing revisionist history....

A Model Fight Against Malaria - New York Times

A Model Fight Against Malaria - New York Times: "This month the rains come to southern Africa, and with them, death from malaria. In Zambia, though, where 30,000 people die a year of malaria, almost all of them children, things are about to change. With the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Zambia is embarking on a campaign to cut malaria deaths by 75 percent over three years.

Most of the money will come from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But the project was organized by the Gates Foundation, which has recently made several huge donations to speed the development of a malaria vaccine and better medicines and insecticides."

The foundation's donation to the Zambia program is only $35 million. But that is because there is no mystery and no enormous expense to fighting malaria. Everyone knows what is effective - providing insecticide-treated nets for people to sleep under, spraying the insides of houses with insecticide, giving drugs prophylactically to pregnant women, and replacing ineffective medicines with new ones that cure the disease. These things work, and they are cheap. South Africa has proved that with a business-financed project to eradicate malaria in selected regions. But Zambia will be the first test on a national scale.

The Gates Foundation chose it because it was already doing the right things, and malaria deaths have dropped in the last few years. But Zambia did not have the money and technical expertise to do it nationally. Success will be measured over a few years, but the next few months will tell whether the government is doing the job to reach its goal of covering 80 percent of the population - how many districts are being sprayed, and whether effective medicines are getting to people who need them.

If all goes well, Zambia will show the world how cost-effective fighting malaria can be.

Tszzzzzt! Electric fish may jam rivals' signals: Science News Online, Nov. 19, 2005

Tszzzzzt! Electric fish may jam rivals' signals: Science News Online, Nov. 19, 2005: "The brown ghost knifefish (Apteronotus leptorhynchus) generates a weak electric field that it uses to detect obstacles and to communicate with other knifefish. When confronting a rival knifefish, both males and females can raise the frequency of their own electric signals close enough to the other fish's to distort its electric field, reports Sara Tallarovic of the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. In previous experiments, such jamming blinded fish-guidance systems"

Tallarovic and Harold Zakon of the University of Texas at Austin recorded electric frequencies as one knifefish darted in an unfriendly way toward another fish or a dummy emitting an electric signal. The lunger often locked jaws with its opponent or snapped at its electric organ, as if trying to bite it off (view the video clips here).

Decades of experiments had shown that knifefish tailor their electric field frequencies to make them differ from those of a field applied by experimenters, so the idea of intentional jamming has been a surprise, says Tallarovic

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

BBC NEWS | Africa | Hunger kills '6m children a year'

BBC NEWS | Africa | Hunger kills '6m children a year': "o developing region is on track to meet the international goal of reducing the number of hungry people by half, a UN agency has warned.

Nearly six million children die from hunger or malnutrition every year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation says.

Many deaths result from treatable diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria and measles, the agency says.

They would survive if they had proper nourishment, the agency says in a new report on world hunger.

'Reducing hunger should become the driving force for progress and hope,' FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf wrote in the report.

At the World Food Summit in 1996, world leaders announced a plan to halve the number of hungry people by 2015.

But Mr Diouf says this promise is likely to be broken"

Monday, November 21, 2005

Gateway Pundit: Jimmy Carter Finds Angry Ethiopians Waiting for His Book Tour

Gateway Pundit: Jimmy Carter Finds Angry Ethiopians Waiting for His Book Tour: "thiopians came out in the cold Minnesota weather to protest Jimmy Carter last night at his book signing. The protesters are angry at his Carter Institute for certifying the faulty Ethiopian election this year before the ballots were even counted. (GP)

The ex-president Jimmy Carter signed books at an Edina, MN bookstore as angry Ethiopians protested outside:

Carter, who since leaving the presidency has worked to further human rights and democracy, was criticized by a crowd of at least 40 Ethiopians protesting outside the store for his involvement with that country's elections this year.

Carter helped monitor the elections, with his Carter Center staff authoring a generally favorable report of the process, though it singled out problems and condemned post-election violence. The protesters, many of them Ethiopian Americans, urged Carter to take a more aggressive stand against the leaders of Ethiopia.

After the election in Ethiopia and after Jimmy Carter had flown back to the states, several hundred Ethiopians took to the streets to protest for democracy. Police opened fire on crowds in Addis Ababa in June, killing at least 37 people and heralding a massive crackdown on the opposition. Fresh violence erupted on Tuesday, November 8, 2005, leaving at least 46 people dead.

Several thousand Ethiopians protested in Washington DC last week from all over the US. "

Beyond the Beyond

Beyond the Beyond: "

Young Britons flock east to answer India's call-centre crisis
In a remarkable reversal, the subcontinent's telesales firms are eagerly recruiting British labour to fill a skills shortage
By Stephen Khan
Published: 13 November 2005

An army of British workers is being recruited to staff India's vast network of call centres because of a shortage of suitable candidates on the subcontinent.

In a remarkable reversal of the outsourcing that has seen thousands of jobs lost in the UK, telesales operations are looking to fill a skills gap in the east with young Britons willing to work on Indian wages.

And they are eagerly taking up the challenge. Both recent graduates and those with experience of working in British call centres are flocking to sign up for jobs in Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore that pay just ¿350 a month.

It might not sound like much, but many are finding that they can earn enough to live on for six months or a year before heading off travelling. Indeed, a stint in the call centres followed by a period mellowing out on Goa's beaches or touring the palaces of Rajasthan is becoming the fashionable way for single young Britons to spend a gap year.

However, with surveys suggesting that India's telesales industry will be short of more than 120,000 employees over the next two years, many of the newcomers are expected to stay on.


The clamour for jobs in India has reached such a level that agencies have been set up to place them with Indian firms.

One is Launch Offshore, founded by Tim Bond. 'People are desperate to sample a slice of another way of life,' Mr Bond said. His firm has close to 100 workers in India and expects to place more than 200 next year. Those who sign up are given flights out and accommodation as well as Indian wages.

Among the first to land in the subcontinent was Kenny Rooney, a 28-year-old from Livingston in Scotland. He had worked in a call centre at home, but after nine months in India says he does not want to return. "This is an incredible country," he said, speaking from Bombay. "I have had a brilliant time and met people from all over the world."


Young Britons of Indian origin are also finding the jobs offer them a chance to rediscover their roots. Among them is Hasmita Patel, who is also working in Pune. "This has been the best thing I've ever done," said Ms Patel, from Leicester. "It has really allowed me to see the country and get to know people. I've learned so much about myself."

Wired News: Say Sayonara to Blurry Pics

Wired News: Say Sayonara to Blurry Pics: "A prototype camera made by a Stanford University graduate student could herald the end of fuzzy, poorly lit photos.

A computer science Ph.D. student at Stanford University has outfitted a 16-megapixel camera with a bevy of micro lenses that allows users to take photos and later refocus them on a computer using software he wrote."

The student, Ren Ng, ran out of patience with taking pictures the traditional way -- adjusting the distance between the camera lens and sensor or film before snapping each shot. So he created something that far surpasses Photoshop. A photograph can be modified after the fact even if nothing is in focus, he said.

"We just think it'll lead to better cameras that make it easier to take pictures that are in focus and look good," said Ng's adviser, Stanford computer science professor Pat Hanrahan.

Ng calls his creation the "light field camera" because of its ability to capture the quantity of light moving in all directions in an open space. It stems from early-20th-century work on integral photography, which experimented with using lens arrays in front of film, and an early-1990s plenoptic camera developed at MIT and used for range finding. By building upon these ideas, Ng hopes to improve commercial cameras' focusing abilities.

Traditionally, light rays filter through a camera's lens and converge at one point on film or a digital sensor, then the camera summarizes incoming light without capturing much information about where it came from. Ng's camera pits about 90,000 micro lenses between the main lens and sensor. The mini lenses measure all the rays of incoming light and their directions of origin. The software later adds up the rays, according to how the picture is being refocused.

Friday, November 18, 2005

WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: DNA, Behavior and Food

WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: DNA, Behavior and Food: "We're all familiar with the ways in which the chemicals in food can change our behavior, sometimes dramatically (as anyone who has been around me when I'm having a mid-day low blood sugar crash can tell you). But it turns out that ingested chemicals in the bloodstream can do more than change transient behavior -- they can change the way our DNA is expressed."

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Butterfly wings work like LEDs

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Butterfly wings work like LEDs: "When scientists developed an efficient device for emitting light, they hadn't realised butterflies have been using the same method for 30 million years.

Fluorescent patches on the wings of African swallowtail butterflies work in a very similar way to high emission light emitting diodes (LEDs).

These high emission LEDs are an efficient variation on the diodes used in electronic equipment and displays.

The University of Exeter, UK, research appears in the journal Science.

In 2001, Alexei Erchak and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrated a method for building a more efficient LED.

Most light emitted from standard LEDs cannot escape, resulting in what scientists call a low extraction efficiency of light."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Coma patient dies after ants eat away at eye in Indian hospital - Yahoo! News

Coma patient dies after ants eat away at eye in Indian hospital - Yahoo! News: "KOLKATA, India (AFP) - A coma patient whose left eye was eaten by ants as she lay in a state hospital, has died in eastern India.

'The woman had lost one of her eyes (to ants). She died this morning of post-surgery complications,' said S. Adhikary, acting superintendent of Sambhunath Pandit Hospital in the city of Kolkata.

'She was already on her death bed and this added to her problems.'

Gouri Rani Chakraborty, 54, a diabetic, was admitted to the hospital on November 7 with high blood pressure and post-surgery complications after undergoing a cataract operation in a private nursing home, the hospital said.

'She slipped into a coma soon after admission,' said Adhikary.

When Chakraborty's family visited her on Monday morning, they saw a dreadful sight.

'I saw red ants crawling on my mothers face when I came to visit her,' said Soumen, her son.

'I requested a nurse to remove the ants but she said it was not her duty before leaving the ward.'

The family told AFP they had complained to police about the staff.

Adhikary expressed regret over the incident but said it was not uncommon for ants to bite a diabetic patient because of their high levels of blood sugar.

A five-member committee will probe the incident, he added.

Most state hospitals in India tend to be overcrowded, not only with human beings but with dogs, cats and rats as well.

Two years ago rats gnawed off the fingertip of a patient at the cardiac ward of another Kolkata hospital."

New Scientist Breaking News - Meditation builds up the brain

New Scientist Breaking News - Meditation builds up the brain: "Meditating does more than just feel good and calm you down, it makes you perform better – and alters the structure of your brain, researchers have found.

People who meditate say the practice restores their energy, and some claim they need less sleep as a result. Many studies have reported that the brain works differently during meditation – brainwave patterns change and neuronal firing patterns synchronise. But whether meditation actually brings any of the restorative benefits of sleep has remained largely unexplored.

So Bruce O’Hara and colleagues at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, US, decided to investigate. They used a well-established “psychomotor vigilance task”, which has long been used to quantify the effects of sleepiness on mental acuity. The test involves staring at an LCD screen and pressing a button as soon as an image pops up. Typically, people take 200 to 300 milliseconds to respond, but sleep-deprived people take much longer, and sometimes miss the stimulus altogether.

Ten volunteers were tested before and after 40 minutes of either sleep, meditation, reading or light conversation, with all subjects trying all conditions. The 40-minute nap was known to improve performance (after an hour or so to recover from grogginess). But what astonished the researchers was that meditation was the only intervention that immediately led to superior performance, despite none of the volunteers being experienced at meditation.

“Every single subject showed improvement,” says O’Hara. The improvement was even more dramatic after a night without sleep. But, he admits: “Why it improves performance, we do not know.” The team is now studying experienced meditators, who spend several hours each day in practice."...

hey found that meditating actually increases the thickness of the cortex in areas involved in attention and sensory processing, such as the prefrontal cortex and the right anterior insula.

“You are exercising it while you meditate, and it gets bigger,” she says. The finding is in line with studies showing that accomplished musicians, athletes and linguists all have thickening in relevant areas of the cortex. It is further evidence, says Lazar, that yogis “aren’t just sitting there doing nothing".

The growth of the cortex is not due to the growth of new neurons, she points out, but results from wider blood vessels, more supporting structures such as glia and astrocytes, and increased branching and connections.

The new studies were presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, in Washington DC, US.

NPR : 'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey

I heard this spooky, compelling story last night while driving home from work. It is worth listening to...
NPR : 'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey: "All Things Considered, November 16, 2005 · On Jan. 17, 1946, a psychiatrist named Walter Freeman launched a radical new era in the treatment of mental illness in this country. On that day, he performed the first-ever transorbital or 'ice-pick' lobotomy in his Washington, D.C., office. Freeman believed that mental illness was related to overactive emotions, and that by cutting the brain he cut away these feelings.

Freeman, equal parts physician and showman, became a barnstorming crusader for the procedure. Before his death in 1972, he performed transorbital lobotomies on some 2,500 patients in 23 states.

One of Freeman's youngest patients is today a 56-year-old bus driver living in California. Over the past two years, Howard Dully has embarked on a quest to discover the story behind the procedure he received as a 12-year-old boy"

Mom Makes Teen Stand on Street With Sign

Mom Makes Teen Stand on Street With Sign: "EDMOND, Okla. -- Tasha Henderson got tired of her 14-year-old daughter's poor grades, her chronic lateness to class and her talking back to her teachers, so she decided to teach the girl a lesson.

She made Coretha stand at a busy Oklahoma City intersection Nov. 4 with a cardboard sign that read: 'I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food.'"...

In fact, Henderson has seen a turnaround in her daughter's behavior in the past week and a half. But the punishment prompted letters and calls to talk radio from people either praising the woman or blasting her for publicly humiliating her daughter

The OLPC $100 laptop unveiled at UN net summit - Engadget -

The OLPC $100 laptop unveiled at UN net summit - Engadget - "We’ve finally got some pictures of the new concept design for the $100 laptop that was unveiled at the UN net summit in Tunis. As mentioned before, they had to make some changes to increase the durability of the machine, which they have finally produced a partially functioning prototype for. Encased in rubber and sporting a 500MHz processor, mesh networking capabilities, and four USB ports, the incredible hype behind the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project only seems to be building — who are we to stand in it’s way?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Epoch Times | Pigs in China's Hunan Province Test Positive for Bird Flu

The Epoch Times | Pigs in China's Hunan Province Test Positive for Bird Flu: "Chinese officials revealed that pigs have tested positive for bird flu in Xiangtan County, Hunan Province, where a bird epidemic is raging and one human death, possibly from bird flu, has already occurred, reported Phoenix TV on November 10. Hunan Province Bureau of Agriculture officials tested samples of pig oral secretions to assess the possibility that bird flu was responsible for the death of a 12-year old girl on October 17th. The girl was cremated the same day that she died, and her ill brother is still in quarantine.

The deputy head of the Bureau of Agriculture in Hunan Province, Ou Daiming, said that this was the first time pigs have been tested for the virus in Hunan Province. The results have already been reported to the Ministry of Health, and random pig testing is taking place in nearby villages. So far, officials say they have found no other inflected pigs.

Zoology experts at Hunan Agriculture University say that since pig genes are similar to human genes, and that viruses of many animals can live and mutate in pigs, it becomes dangerous for humans once the virus has been found its way to pigs. Therefore, not only poultry, but pigs too, should be closely monitored in epidemic areas.


SAUDI ARABIA: TEACHER JAILED FOR MOCKING RELIGION: "Riyadh, 14 Nov. (AKI) - A Saudi secondary school teacher has been jailed for three years for mocking religion, and sentenced to 750 lashes, to be delivered - 50 a week - in the public market of the town of al-Bikeriya. Chemistry teacher Muhammad al-Harbi was charged with mocking Islam, favouring Jews and Christians and studying witchcraft, after a lawsuit was filed against him by a group of students and teachers from his school who he says were out for revenge.

A Daily Workout Could Add 4 Years to Life, Study Says

A Daily Workout Could Add 4 Years to Life, Study Says: "Sorry, couch potatoes -- the verdict is in: People who exercise regularly really do live longer.

In fact, people who get a good workout almost daily can add nearly four years to their life spans, according to the first study to quantify the impact of physical activity this way."

Friday, November 11, 2005

What Makes Someone French? - New York Times

What Makes Someone French? - New York Times: "PARIS, Nov. 10 - Semou Diouf, holding a pipe in one hand and a cigarette in the other, stood amid the noisy games of checkers and cards in the dingy ground-floor common room of a crowded tenement building and pondered the question of why he feels French.

'I was born in Senegal when it was part of France,' he said before putting the pipe in his mouth. 'I speak French, my wife is French and I was educated in France.' The problem, he added after pulling the pipe out of his mouth again, 'is the French don't think I'm French.'

That, in a nutshell, is what lies at the heart of the unrest that has swept France in the past two weeks: millions of French citizens, whether immigrants or the offspring of immigrants, feel rejected by traditional French society, which has resisted adjusting a vision of itself forged in fires of the French Revolution. The concept of French identity remains rooted deep in the country's centuries-old culture, and a significant portion of the population has yet to accept the increasingly multiethnic makeup of the nation. Put simply, being French, for many people, remains a baguette-and-beret affair."

Ancient Godzilla Posted by Picasa

Ancient 'Godzilla'-like sea creature discovered - LiveScience -

Ancient 'Godzilla'-like sea creature discovered - LiveScience - "A newfound ancient sea creature looks to be part crocodile, part T. rex, and 100 percent terrifying.

The 13-foot long beast, Dakosaurus andiniensis, had a massive 18-inch-long jaw with interlocking 4-inch teeth. It is a long-lost relative of the crocodile yet it had fins.

A digital rendering of the creature reveals the sort of thing typically reserved for horror movies."

Nature Helps Create Religious Adults

Nature Helps Create Religious Adults: "A study published in the current issue of Journal of Personality studied adult male monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins to find that difference in religiousness are influenced by both genes and environment. But during the transition from adolescence to adulthood, genetic factors increase in importance while shared environmental factors decrease. Environmental factors (i.e. parenting and family life) influence a child's religiousness, but their effects decline with the transition into adulthood. An analysis of self-reported religiousness showed that MZ twins maintained their religious similarity over time, while the DZ twins became more dissimilar. 'These correlations suggest low genetic and high environmental influences when the twins were young but a larger genetic influence as the twins age' the authors state."

Heredity May Be The Reason Some People Feel Lonely

Heredity May Be The Reason Some People Feel Lonely: "Heredity helps determine why some adults are persistently lonely, research co-authored by psychologists at the University of Chicago shows.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

On Gravity, Oreos and a Theory of Everything - New York Times

Interesting article on gravity and warping...
On Gravity, Oreos and a Theory of Everything - New York Times: "They began by drawing pictures and making crude estimates over ice cream and coffee in that ice cream parlor, which is now a taqueria. What they drew pictures of was a kind of Oreo cookie multiverse, an architecture similar to one first discovered as a solution of the string equations by Edward Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study and Petr Horava, now at Berkeley. Dr. Randall and Dr. Sundrum's model consisted of a pair of universes, four-dimensional branes, thinly separated by a five-dimensional space poetically called the bulk.
When they solved the equations for this setup, they discovered that the space between the branes would be warped. Objects, for example, would appear to grow larger or smaller and get less massive or more massive as they moved back and forth between the branes.
Such a situation, they realized to their surprise, could provide a natural explanation for the hierarchy problem without invoking supersymmetry. Suppose, they said, that gravity is actually inherently as strong as the other forces, but because of the warping gravity is much much stronger on one of the branes than on the other one, where we happen to live. So we experience gravity as extremely weak.
'You can be only a modest distance away from the gravity brane,' Dr. Randall said, 'and gravity will be incredibly weak.' A result was a natural explanation for why atomic forces outgun gravity by 10 million billion to 1. Could this miracle be true? Crazy as it sounded, they soon discovered an even more bizarre possibility. The fifth dimension could actually be infinite and we would not have noticed it." :: Columns :: Feminism's devolution from hoaxers to whores by Kathleen Parker

A response to Maureen Dowd's analysis of the evolution of the feminist movement (original article linked below)... :: Columns :: Feminism's devolution from hoaxers to whores by Kathleen Parker: "No one vets the culture with a keener eye than Dowd. Her identification of trends - especially the perverse evolution of liberated women from Birkenstock-wearing intellectuals into pole-dancing sluts - is dead on. But while she sees women clearly as they search for identity in a gender-shifting culture, she doesn't seem to know much about men.
Men haven't turned away from smart, successful women because they're smart and successful. More likely they've turned away because the feminist movement that encouraged women to be smart and successful also encouraged them to be hostile and demeaning to men. "

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 - Opening a New Front In the War Against AIDS

An exciting idea! - Opening a New Front In the War Against AIDS: "Today, world leaders in medicine, government, business, public policy and the arts will convene at the Global Health Summit in New York City to explore ways Americans can help solve global health challenges. During the opening discussions, they will also meet four young pediatricians who are dedicating the next year of their lives to a unique program designed to confront head-on what many consider to be the most formidable health crisis of our generation -- HIV/AIDS....

It is clear that doctors who know how to treat children -- pediatricians and family practitioners -- are desperately needed. And until there are adequate numbers to help the estimated 1.9 million children infected with HIV in Africa, the deaths likely will continue at the horrifying rate of more than 1,000 a day. This is nothing less than a scandal.

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Baylor partnered to establish the Pediatric AIDS Corps to focus our energies and resources on delivering specialized treatment and medical skills to children with HIV/AIDS in Africa. For each of the next five years, 50 specialist physicians will work in Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Uganda, Burkina Faso and Malawi, some of the countries hit hardest by the AIDS pandemic. They will devote at least a year -- and in some cases, two years -- to caring for children and training African health-care professionals on HIV management.

Some $22 million from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and $10 million from Baylor will pay the doctors' living and training expenses and cover the costs of medical school loans while they are in the Pediatric AIDS Corps. An additional $8 million commitment from the company will expand the network of pediatric treatment facilities throughout sub-Saharan Africa. These children's clinics, complete with medical teams, up-to-date equipment and antiretroviral medications, will serve as a new backbone of pediatric care in Africa. The Pediatric AIDS Corps will operate not just in these clinics, but also beyond, into the more isolated areas devastated by HIV/AIDS....

These four are among a cadre of medical specialists in the newly created Pediatric AIDS Corps. The worldwide war against AIDS is fought in many ways and on many fronts; this team of specially trained doctors is the medical equivalent of a commando unit. Commissioned in June by Baylor College of Medicine and Bristol-Myers Squibb, it will soon drop behind the lines in southern Africa, where the doctors will focus on saving the lives of HIV/AIDS's most vulnerable victims.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to barely 1% of the world's health-care work force, yet the region bears more than 60% of the world's burden of HIV/AIDS. That human-resources shortage affects the entire population, but it hits children especially hard. Because very few of the local health-care professionals have any training or experience in the care and treatment of HIV-infected children, they often view treating them as too complex and too difficult. As a consequence very few children on the continent have gained access to the treatment and lifesaving medicines commonly used in the U.S. and Western Europe. It is estimated that only one in 100 African children infected with HIV receives care of any kind. Simply put, too many children in Africa are dying of HIV/AIDS."

Press Release - 31 October 2005 University of Bath

Press Release - 31 October 2005 University of Bath: "Looking in a mirror at a reflection of their healthy hand could help people with persistent pain ease their symptoms and eventually overcome their problem, say scientists in the latest edition of the journal Clinical Medicine.

The treatment, being developed by researchers from the University of Bath and the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD), is based on a new theory about how people experience pain even when doctors can find no direct cause.

This ‘cortical’ model of pain suggests that the brain’s image of the body can become faulty, resulting in a mismatch between the brain’s movement control systems and its sensory systems, causing a person to experience pain when they move a particular hand, foot or limb.

Researchers believe that this kind of problem could be behind a host of pain-related disorders, such as complex regional pain syndrome and repetitive strain injury....

“We think it is the same system that is triggered when you are running down stairs, miss the last step and then feel a jolt of surprise.

“In missing that bottom step, you jar the prediction that your brain had made about what was going to happen, triggering an alert to the body that things are not as you expected, hence the feeling of surprise.

“This is because in most cases normal awareness and experience of our limbs is often based on the predicted state rather than the actual state.

“When the two do not match we think sensations are generated to alert the body that things are not as it thought – rather like an early warning mechanism.

“If the discrepancy is very large [like in the mirror experiment described below] then pain may be experienced, as pain is the body’s ultimate warning mechanism.

“We think that this system may be responsible for a range of disorders where patients feel pain for apparently no clinical reason.

“Somehow the brain’s image of the body differs from what it senses. When the patient moves their hand, foot or limb, they experience pain as a result.

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