Tag Archives: summer

Germ Warfare – Zip06.com

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:47 am

This particular column is brought to you courtesy of the man in front of me at Stop & Shop who open-mouth coughs then wipes his nose with his hand before touching anything and everything. Thanks for sharing, Bud.

Mid-winter is a tough time to go out in public. Its cold, its usually sleeting, and germs are lurking on every surface. Or at least it seems that way. I hibernate like a possum each winter, digging into my burrow of blankets and only come out when I have to come out. My alarm assaults my ears each morning, forcing me to leave my nest and enter the world. I cant afford my burrow of blankets if I dont earn my paycheck after all.

I get out of bed in the dark, creaky as an old ship. I am the Mayflower at the end of its long journey across the sea, listing to the right with sails askew and my timbers shouting and bulging in a riot against the elements. What is going on? Its raw and Im another year older, but Im not a hundred years older? Why is it so difficult to move in the morning? And why do I have arthritic pain like the old crone in Snow White must have had? Why do my hands feel like they should look like hers as she thrust out that apple, her tortured fingers wrapped like vines around the fruit? Im not an old crone yet. Really, Im not. I call my doctor and get checked out. Turns out I have Lyme disease. Ive had it before and it always manifests itself in joint pain rather than a bulls-eye rash.

Im sick but not contagious, so I get antibiotics and keep working. I probably contracted the disease over the summer, but since I never got a rash or found a tick, I had no idea. Its not until my joints start behaving like they belong to a centenarian that I take notice.

Im the only one in the office with Lyme disease, but Im not the only one whos ill. The office is one big ol petri dish. All offices are at this time of year. One person has bronchitis and a sinus infection, as if having either one isnt bad enough. Others have colds and at times theres a chorus of hacking like frogs in a pond who smoke too much. Those who have children get the dreaded Stomach Bug. I will capitalize because this is the most feared of all office ailments. The Most Feared. No one is afraid of my Lyme disease because its not communicable. Were all vaguely concerned about the bronchitis and the colds, but figure we can take careful steps to avoid contact with the afflicted.

As for the Stomach Bug, the idea of contracting it and having it come on like the Acela Express train while Im at work and then having to drive all the way home hoping my system stays in control long enough for me to get to my very own Bathroom of Solitude (I capitalize again), is not good at all. Being ill at work is bad enough, but being that kind of ill is mortifying.

And so we all Purell bomb our hands at every chance. Lysol is sprayed like Agent Orange over the desk and phone of the latest victim who has declared absence due to Stomach Bug. Even the persons chair gets a Lysol shower. You cant be too careful. Antibiotic washes and wipes are our swords and shields. Let the battle begin!

My antibiotic pills are like little soldiers in my bloodstream, brawling with the enemy that is Lyme. As for the flu and the Stomach Bug, antibiotics wont help. So I will do my best to fight them through those days and nights when everything is locked up tight as a barrier against the chill and germs are bouncing off the walls. I will fight them off like a Jedi until spring, also known as allergy season. Or should I say, Allergy Season?

Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at jeepgribbs@hotmail.com. Read more of her columns at http://www.zip06.com/shorelineliving.

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Germ Warfare – Zip06.com

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The New Gambia: What’s on and off the aid agenda – Devex

Posted: at 4:46 am

President of The Gambia Adama Barrow and European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica during a bilateral ceremony. Photo by: European Commission

BANJUL, The Gambia The smallest nation on the African continent has a lot on its plate. Newly elected President of The Gambia Adama Barrow faces an insolvent economy, two decades of documented human rights abuses, reserves of only two months worth of imports, more than 40 percent youth unemployment, and a capital city that, according to environmental impact assessments, will slip into the Atlantic in less than 45 years.

Barrows inauguration tomorrow is billed as an end to 22 years of oppression and isolationism under the ousted Yahya Jammeh and a rebirth of The New Gambia.

As the world waits to discover how and when Barrow will carry out his promise to completely reform the fragile West African nation, aid donors are already crowding in, eager to get a read on Barrows agenda.

The new president is aware of the challenges he faces, and tries to remind the crowds of jubilant Gambians that its not going to be easy.

We had a dictatorship against governance, with human rights abuses, bad policies and violations of the rule of law. A dictatorship that cost us our friends; a dictatorship whose conduct deprived us of development and aid; a dictatorship that was against its citizens, he said at a press conference on Feb. 9 in the capital Banjul.

His predecessor, Jammeh, implemented a four-year freeze on the receipt of foreign aid from what he referred to as neo-colonial institutions, and political oppression was rifeunder his rule.

As a new government, what we have inherited is an economy that is virtually bankrupt, and in need of immediate rescue, said Barrow.

Despite the unflagging enthusiasm of Barrows followers, his plan for The New Gambia so far is vague. It consists of a self-imposed three-year deadline to achieve real economic, political and social reform, including job creation to keep Gambians in Gambia, infrastructure development, legislative and institutional reform, and good governance.

But he has a clearer vision of the role of international aid and investment. My view of our dire economic situation is that what The Gambia critically needs at the moment is immediate budget support, in order to rescue our economy from the brink of collapse, he said.

The country is experiencing high levels of unemployment and high fiscal deficits. Interest payments on public sector debt absorbed 40 percent of government revenues in 2015, according to the African Development Bank. And its economy is vulnerable to external shocks, such as the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which severely damaged its tourism sector.

Donors including the European Union, the World Bankand the International Monetary Fundhave confirmed more than $275 million in support since Barrows unofficial inauguration in Dakar, Senegal, two weeks ago. However, most of these funds are project-based, and most are dedicated to reactivating and expanding the scope of current small-to-medium scale initiatives such as shoreline erosion prevention, school-based nutrition and womens economic empowerment.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also confirmed to Devex during a meeting in Serrekunda The Gambias largest town that more funding announcements are expected from the U.K. government. A source close to the Foreign Office added that these will include a new package from the Commonwealth, which Johnson said The Gambia will rejoin in a matter of months. Other funds will come from the Foreign & Commonwealth Offices share of official development assistance as part of the U.K. governments commitment to spend more aid through departments other than the Department for International Development.

However, regardless of which department sends aid to The Gambia, the U.K. government no longer offers general budget support because of concerns around accountability and transparency.

In other words, the aid Barrow wants is not flowing at least not yet.

When it comes to budget support, we have more precise criteria and more precise benchmarks that we follow and monitor and are the basis of each and every tranche, European Commissioner for International Development Neven Mimica told Devex in Banjul.

Mimica said that in addition to the 150 million euros packageannounced last week half of which will be available immediately to expand current projects and those suspended under Jammeh the commission will be announcing an additional 50 million euros in budget support most probably this summer. All in all, the increase so far will quadruple aid to The Gambia in less than four months, up from about 75 million euros for the full 2012-2016 period.

Now we have to discuss and negotiate the legal framework, the state building contract as we call it, to decide on the conditions of this budget support, Mimica said.

Barrow, who is under pressure to demonstrate results while his public remains largely enthusiastic, is keen to expedite the process. So is Mimica: The Gambia represents a possible linchpin for his controversial 2 billion euros EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, which uses traditional development assistance combined with private sector tools, security-related measures and repatriation packages to stem and reverse the flow of African migrants to Europe. The Gambia is small, but is the source of more migrants per capita to Europe than any other African nation. Gambian migrants typically men aged between 18 and 30 have fled the country for political and economic reasons. Investing early in Barrows economic reform agenda could mean early wins for the fund, setting an example for implementation in the rest of the region.

Still, budget support is among the most difficult modalities for donors to track. As a result, offering it is the clearest vote of confidence a donor can send to an aid recipient, in terms of its institutions and capacity to manage funds. Although Mimica insists the funding will be subject to all the human rights, governance and accountability conditionalitiesthe EU has placed on this type of funding, it begs the question: can a regime as untested as Barrows demonstrate this level of effectiveness in its first four months?

The new president often refers to his pledge to bring The Gambia in line with international conventions on human rights. For example, he has released many of those imprisoned without trial, including two of his newly appointed government ministers, and says he will release them all. But the extent of Barrows human rights agenda remains unknown most prominently, his stance on what is known as the aggravated homosexuality law, which can carry a penalty of life imprisonment. The Gambian legal system does not define homosexuality, but specifies that serial offenders and those infected with HIV who are deemed to be gay or lesbian may be prosecuted. An act of homosexuality is in some cases punishable by death or life imprisonment, a point of discord with international conventions that Barrow has yet to address, despite criticism from local media.

Asked during a Banjul press conference whether he intended to repeal or amend the laws, Barrow said: Homosexuality is not an issue in The Gambia.

He clarified that he felt homosexuality was a personal matter, and added again that it is not an issue in The Gambia.

Asked what she thought Barrows statement meant, Minister of Employment Dr. Isatou Touray, who is also a human rights activist and a former presidential candidate, told Devex that Barrow believes homosexuality is not an issue and people have a right to have whatever orientation.

Its their personal life and we are talking about the inclusivity of rights, and the indivisibility of rights. Of course everyone has a right to exist, she said.

Yet Barrows stance on the legislation is unknown, and will play a key role in the commissions decision to offer budget support, Mimica told Devex. He said that it was the previous administrations poor record on human rights that led to the EUs suspension of budget support to The Gambia in 2013.

We discussed that briefly with the president. He put it in the context of the overall democratic process, that its very important that the political agenda that he came with was democratic, that whatever reforms or changes he would make would stem out of this democratic agenda, Mimica told Devex.

In a word, we do hope that this part related to aggravated homosexuality will at least be under discussion for the changes here in the legal framework, so we are to discuss it again within the political dialogue of the Article 8 [of the Cotonou Agreement]. The article of this partnership agreement between the EU and 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific of which The Gambia is a signatory includes addressing areas of discrimination.

Another public concern that appears even less frequently in Barrows statements is climate change. The Gambia remains among the top 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change, due to its low-lying topography, reliance on subsistence agriculture and poor drainage systems. A study conducted by Columbia University found that sea-level rise could drown more than 8 percent of the countrys land area in as little as 15 years, including the coastal capital city Banjul.

Coastal erosion, meanwhile, continues to wear away at the countrys beaches, the main draw for tourism to The Gambia and lifeblood to the economy. Tourism is responsible for around 40 percent of the countrys economic output.

Despite the adoption of a national climate policylast year under the previous regime, Barrow has yet to take ownership of his own climate change agenda. But his supporters feel certain he will prioritize the issue, particularly in Banjul, which is flooded annually and still relies on machinery built during the British colonial presence in the late 1950s.

He lived in Banjul for 22 years [so] I know he will make it a priority, Tunis Jammeh, a ward councillor, told Devex during a visit to the often nonfunctional colonial era pump.This is the city, where the government ministries are and his palace and its sliding into the sea. How can he not?

Still, as the city warms up for Saturdays inauguration, its hard to imagine Banjul plastered with photos of a smiling and youthful Barrow under any kind of threat. The 49,000 people who fled fearing unrest around the election are trickling back over the borders, and as people celebrate in the streets in 85 degree heat, only the occasional and sudden chilly breeze marking the cold months serves as a reminder: its still winter in The Gambia.

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Vineyard Power vying for offshore wind farm – Cape Cod Times (subscription)

Posted: at 4:38 am

Doug Fraser @dougfrasercct

CHATHAM This June, the state will solicit bids seeking offshore wind farms to produce 400 megawatts of electricity. Its the first of four phases of what state officials hope will be 1,600 megawatts of offshore power; 15 percent of what the state uses annually, enough power to replace what will eventually be lost when Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station shuts down.

Submitting a bid in June will be the first tangible step for a group of Marthas Vineyard residents who started the Vineyard Power energy cooperative six years ago in response to a lot of the things they didnt like about the nowdefunct Cape Wind project. It has 1,400 members and claims the cooperative represents 5,000 people on the island.

Richard Andre, president of Vineyard Power, said their prospects improved dramatically when Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation in August that required that powerutilities solicit and contract for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power as part of their energy portfolio by 2027.

Then, we knew we would have a buyer for our power, Andre said.

Vineyard Power representatives came to the headquarters of the Cape CodCommercial Fishermens Alliance in Chatham on a stormy Wednesday to get feedback from fishermen.

Perhaps it was fitting that there werent many fishermen in the audience, because Andre said that unlike Cape Wind, which was sued by Vineyard fishermen and hotly contestedby many Cape fishermen, they havent received any negative feedback.

We identified our site in 2009 as an area with the least amount of fishery conflicts, Andre said.

The process was helped considerably by the federal government in 2009 when theBureau of Energy Management mapped out areas of the ocean with good wind and relatively few conflicting uses or environmental concerns. John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermens Alliance, was part of the team that helped to eliminate large areas that were valuable for fishing, shellfishing or for fish habitat.

This zone was much larger. We shaved a huge piece out of it primarily because of scallops, Pappalardo said.

At over 500 feet tall, the 40 to 70 turbines that would be constructed in the first phase would be spaced more than a half mile apart. Andre told the audience there would be no reduced speed or areas closed to navigation or fishing. It has not been determined yet whether there could be anything like a kelp or mussel farming operation using components of the turbine. There would be money available to reimburse fishermen displaced during construction work.

By locating them 12 miles offshore, Andre said the turbines would only be visible on extremely clear days and, even then, would be far off in the distance.

We wanted a different model than Cape Wind. We wanted there to be local benefit, local employment, and local input into the project, Andre told the audience. Weve met with over 20 fishing groups since March of 2016.

Vineyard Power partnered with Vineyard Wind, which holds the lease on the 260 square miles of ocean 12 miles south of the island. Vineyard Wind is a subsidiary of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, a Danish company that invests pension funds from NorthernEurope. It has $3.5 billion in assets, Andre said, and is primarily focused on renewable energy projects. CIP has managed and invested in over 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbines currently being built in Europe, according to its website.

Three companies, Deepwater Wind, another Danish company, Dong Energy, and Vineyard Power hold the three federal leases in federal waters south of the Vineyard that were designated as appropriate for offshore wind through an ocean zoning process. In September, the three companies signed letters of intent to use the state-run $113 million New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, which had been built in anticipation of the ill-fated Cape Wind offshore wind farm being constructed.

This December, Eversourceacquired 50 percent ownership of the offshore wind farm proposed by Dong Energy.

All three offshore wind companies could be submitting bids this summer, Andre said. Price is the primary consideration, and he anticipates the winning bid will be in the mid-teens per kilowatt hour as compared with Cape Winds prices, which were over 20 cents. Each subsequent bid phase is required to start at a lower price than the previous ones as improved technology and economies of scale reduce costs. Europe, where they have been producing such power for decades, has seen offshore wind drop to 10 cents, Andre said.

The area south of the Vineyard has been rated the best or second best on the East Coast for the strength and consistency of its wind, Andre toldthe audience.

Vineyard Wind ships were out on Nantucket Sound this summer and fall doing seismic and sonar testing on the sea bed to determine what type of foundation would be required for the turbines.

Environmental studies of impacts on birds and marine life, and permitting, will continue for another two years. Construction could start as early as 2020 and take two years. It will take about 2,000 construction workers for the first phase, and Andre said the plan is to employ a lot of local workers.

The company with the winning bid would also have to get state permits to run cables, which will be buried 6 feet deep in the sea bed, to the mainland.

Follow Doug Fraser on Twitter:@dougfrasercct

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Plum Geek Robotics: Breathing life into robots – Vancouver Business Journal

Posted: at 4:19 am

When Kevin King and his two kids decided to start a just for fun family project of building a robot, they didnt necessarily anticipate creating a new company. Yet, here they are, three years later with a team of three to five people, building educational and hobby robotics under the name Plum Geek Robotics in Vancouver. The best part: theyre having a blast doing it.

King and his kids started their endeavor by building a small programmable robot they named Ringo. With a prototype in hand, they launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to see how things would go. In just three weeks, they raised more than $80,000. Now, their pint-sized robots are used in many schools and they continue to be popular with hobbyists of all ages.

The company is based out of a 2,000-square-foot shop near Pearson Airfield and everything happens there design, prototyping, manufacturing and shipping. Having a shop where everything is completed under one roof allows the team to be flexible and operate with minimum overhead.

Were all about designing tools to help educate others in understanding electronics and programming and enabling them to apply this knowledge to their own projects and further higher learning, said King.

Recent projects

The company recently completed a campaign to fund their newest line of miniature robots, known as Spirit Rovers. Affectionately named after the NASA rover thats now on Mars, Plum Geek raised $170,000 on Kickstarter in three weeks. A bit larger than a credit card and running a full Linus operating system, these robots are scheduled to ship in March or April of this year.

This robot is easy to understand and grow with as students and hobbyists learn to build and program a complex robot, said King. Users will learn to do simple things like driving around a desk while sensing and avoiding edges, or more complex things like control and program over the internet, or recognize objects with the vision system.

Beyond the Spirit Rover line, the company has also worked on revising their popular Ringo and Wink robots. Wink includes free open-source lessons that are geared for students ages eight and up to learn written programming code, which makes them popular in the classroom. The Ringo has been popular with high school and college classes, and the University of Oregon has recently integrated them in some of their coursework.

The future

The technology industry is continuously changing and Plum Geek Robotics plans to be right in the midst of it.

Weve got a few new ideas in the pipeline for this summer, King said. We do well with niche products so wherever we see a need in the education, robotics and Maker Space markets, well be there.

King went on to explain that part of the fun at Plum Geek Robotics is not having a fancy five-year plan, but instead making things up as they go.

I like to keep options open, he said. When one of us has a good idea, we produce it and see how it does.

So far, that concept has proven very successful.

King and his team love what theyre doing and theyre open to outside projects as well as collaborations with others, especially those in the educational community. He says, I see a lot of growth for small businesses like ours going forward. Its an exciting time.

Plum Geek Robotics 229 E. Reserve St., #102 Vancouver Founded 2014 http://www.plumgeek.com


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Mild winter helping crews make significant progress on East End Connector – WRAL.com

Posted: at 4:06 am

Durham, N.C. As work continues on the East End Connector in Durham, a project decades in the making that will ultimately link Interstates 40 and 85, some in areas around the construction are worried it will make traffic worse.

When the connector opens to traffic in the summer of 2019, it will tie the Durham Freeway to I-85 with big, freeway-style interchanges. It’s designed to get traffic off secondary roads.

North Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Abbott says a mild winter is helping crews make progress.

“It’s a very big deal for Durham because, once it is finished, that’s going to get a direct connection to basically the East Coast,” Abbott said.

“A lot of the work right now is bridge work. This project is going to involve construction of about 16 bridges. We’re even building a detour bridge for a railroad.”

Engineers say that, once it happens, it should help relieve congestion on local roads.

Cheyne Burwell says he’s worried that might not be the case.

“People coming in from Granville County, from Wake Forest, are going to continue to use these secondary roads that are not built for this bandwidth of traffic,” he said.

“Sherron Road is really difficult. There are times I can barely get out of my home to get to work, and there have been days where I’ve had to turn around and just work from home.”

Burwell says he’s hopeful that the DOT will expand other roads on his side of town.

DOT officials said they believe the East End Connector will go a long way to solving many of the area’s traffic troubles.

As work continues over the spring and summer, crews will keep travel lanes open in the evening when the Durham Bulls play home games.

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Woolly mammoth on verge of resurrection, scientists reveal – The Guardian

Posted: at 3:50 am

Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), a model of an extinct Ice Age mammoth. Photograph: Andrew Nelmerm/Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley

The woolly mammoth vanished from the Earth 4,000 years ago, but now scientists say they are on the brink of resurrecting the ancient beast in a revised form, through an ambitious feat of genetic engineering.

Speaking ahead of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston this week, the scientist leading the de-extinction effort said the Harvard team is just two years away from creating a hybrid embryo, in which mammoth traits would be programmed into an Asian elephant.

Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo, said Prof George Church. Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. Were not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.

The creature, sometimes referred to as a mammophant, would be partly elephant, but with features such as small ears, subcutaneous fat, long shaggy hair and cold-adapted blood. The mammoth genes for these traits are spliced into the elephant DNA using the powerful gene-editing tool, Crispr.

Until now, the team have stopped at the cell stage, but are now moving towards creating embryos although, they said that it would be many years before any serious attempt at producing a living creature.

Were working on ways to evaluate the impact of all these edits and basically trying to establish embryogenesis in the lab, said Church.

Since starting the project in 2015 the researchers have increased the number of edits where mammoth DNA has been spliced into the elephant genome from 15 to 45.

We already know about ones to do with small ears, subcutaneous fat, hair and blood, but there are others that seem to be positively selected, he said.

Church said that these modifications could help preserve the Asian elephant, which is endangered, in an altered form. However, others have raised ethical concerns about the project.

Matthew Cobb, professor of zoology at the University of Manchester, said: The proposed de-extinction of mammoths raises a massive ethical issue the mammoth was not simply a set of genes, it was a social animal, as is the modern Asian elephant. What will happen when the elephant-mammoth hybrid is born? How will it be greeted by elephants?

Church also outlined plans to grow the hybrid animal within an artificial womb rather than recruit a female elephant as a surrogate mother – a plan which some believe will not be achievable within the next decade.

We hope to do the entire procedure ex-vivo (outside a living body), he said. It would be unreasonable to put female reproduction at risk in an endangered species.

He added that his lab is already capable of growing a mouse embryo in an artificial womb for 10 days – halfway through its gestation period.

Were testing the growth of mice ex-vivo. There are experiments in the literature from the 1980s but there hasnt been much interest for a while, he said. Today weve got a whole new set of technology and were taking a fresh look at it.

Churchs team is proposing to rear the embryo in an artificial womb which seems ambitious to say the least the resultant animal would have been deprived of all the pre-birth interactions with its mother, said Cobb.

The woolly mammoth roamed across Europe, Asia, Africa and North America during the last Ice Age and vanished about 4,000 years ago, probably due to a combination of climate change and hunting by humans.

Their closest living relative is the Asian, not the African, elephant.

De-extincting the mammoth has become a realistic prospect because of revolutionary gene editing techniques that allow the precise selection and insertion of DNA from specimens frozen over millennia in Siberian ice.

Church helped develop the most widely used technique, known as Crispr/Cas9, that has transformed genetic engineering since it was first demonstrated in 2012. Derived from a defence system bacteria use to fend off viruses, it allows the cut and paste manipulation of strands of DNA with a precision not seen before.

Gene editing and its ethical implications is one of the key topics under discussion at the Boston conference.

Church, a guest speaker at the meeting, said the mammoth project had two goals: securing an alternative future for the endangered Asian elephant and helping to combat global warming. Woolly mammoths could help prevent tundra permafrost from melting and releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

They keep the tundra from thawing by punching through snow and allowing cold air to come in, said Church. In the summer they knock down trees and help the grass grow.

The scientists intend to engineer elephant skin cells to produce the embryo, or multiple embryos, using cloning techniques. Nuclei from the reprogrammed cells would be placed into elephant egg cells whose own genetic material has been removed. The eggs would then be artificially stimulated to develop into embryos.

Church predicts that age-reversal will become a reality within 10 years as a result of the new developments in genetic engineering.

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Biologists Plan to Bring the Woolly Mammoth Back to Life by 2019 – Futurism

Posted: at 3:40 am

In Brief

Prof George Church and his team at Harvard University have been studying the DNA from frozen mammoths found preserved in the Arctic. Specifically, theyve been looking for genes that separated them from elephants.

Since elephant species are currently on the brink of extinction, the team is attempting to splice mammoth DNA into the genome of an elephant embryoin order to create a mammoth-elephant hybrid. The goal is to eventually grow a mammoth embryo within an artificial womb, as to not compromise the reproductive system of a healthy elephant.

Professor Church stated, Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant/mammoth embryo. Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. Were not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.

As awesome as playing Ice Age Jurassic Park sounds, there are also other preventative applications for this technology. According to Dr. Edze Westra of the University of Exeter, One can also use this technology for engineering the DNA of rapidly declining species or those that are becoming too inbred to increase their chance of survival.

Prof Church said the mammoth project has two main goals: securing an alternative future for the endangered Asian elephant and helping to combat global warming. Chruch explains that the animals could, keep the tundra from thawing by punching through snow and allowing cold air to come in. In the summer they knock down trees and help the grass grow.

Any of these possibilities are well worth the continued research. Technology is allowing for the impossible to become reality. Just a few years ago, we couldnt have dreamed of an extinct animal brought back, and now we could be within a few years of actually seeing that.

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Ethiopian Athlete Who Made Anti-government Gesture in Rio Reunites With Family – Voice of America

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:47 pm


Feyisa Lelisa, the 27-year-old Ethiopian silver medal winning marathoner, reunited with his wife, Iftu Mulisa, and two children, 5-year-old daugher, Soko, and 3-year-old son, Sora, on Tuesday at the Miami International Airport after being separated from them for six months.

It’s been tough living alone, he said speaking to VOAs Afaan Oromoo Service over the phone in his native Afaan Oromoo. Back home, I had a lot of support. It hasnt been easy, but that’s part of the struggle. You don’t give up, he said.

Lelisa has been given a U.S. special skill visa with the help of his lawyer and has settled in the U.S. state of Arizona in Flagstaff. His family entered the country on immigrant visas. The distance runner made headlines around the world when he crossed his wrists above his head, making a symbol for protests in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The anti-government gesture at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro put the runner at grave personal risk, and possible retribution toward his family.

Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa, rear, of Ethiopia, hugs his wife Iftu Mulia, his daughter Soko, right, 5, and son Sora, left, 3, while picking up his family at Miami International Airport, Feb. 14, 2017.

Shortly after his refusal to go back to Ethiopia, his wife said that she was scared for the familys safety but wasnt surprised by what he did. He was burning inside when he saw on social media all these dead bodies; people being beaten and people being arrested. So I was not surprised because I know he had a lot of anger inside, she told Reuters when she was back home.

Ethiopia is currently under a state of emergency after a wave of protests persisted in the Oromia region starting in November 2015 and continued throughout 2016 spreading in the Amhara region. The anti-government protesters initially were about land related issues. However, protesters demands shifted to demands for basic human rights and political representation. Since then, security forces are accused of killing hundreds and detaining tens of thousands of protesters, according to Human Rights Watch.

Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa, of Ethiopia, carries his son Sora, 3, and pulls along his daughter Soko, 5, after picking up his family at Miami International Airport, Feb. 14, 2017.

One of many restrictions under the current state of emergency is the very political gesture that Lelisa is famous for. I didn’t make the decision to protest because of my family, he said speaking about his decision to continue protesting. I did so to shed light on the oppression, imprisonment, killing and displacement of my people.

At the time of his protest in the Olympics, the Ethiopian information minister, Getachew Reda, congratulated the athlete, then and assured him that he is safe to return home. Lelisa, however, decided to stay abroad.

Lelisa has no regrets and he pledges to continue working for the betterment of his people back home. I actually don’t think I have done enough for my people. I am still young and have some time to help, he said. I would do it all over again. And I am prepared to do all I can and do my part until the Oromo people win their freedom. It remains my biggest preoccupation.

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Ethiopian Athlete Who Made Anti-government Gesture in Rio Reunites With Family – Voice of America

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Schorr, Lee make elite team – Saipan Tribune

Posted: at 9:39 pm

The CNMIs Robbie Schorr and Carol Lee earned slots on the Pacific Oceania Team that will compete in the 2017 Asia Oceania Pre Qualifying Zone of Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup in New Delhi, India next week.

Schorr will play in the Junior Davis Cup for the first Pacific Oceania Team entered in the annual tournament. Lee, on the other hand, is on her second tour of duty with the Pacific Oceania Team that will be seeing action in the Junior Fed Cup after debuting in the same competition last year.

I am deeply honored to be selected on the team. I am very excited to play and will do my very best in every game, Schorr said in a telephone interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday before he played a scrimmage against former CNMI National Team member Bobby Cruz at the Pacific Islands Club court.

Its a great opportunity to play against the top junior players in Asia, the 14-year-old player added.

Schorr will team up with one player each from Vanuatu and Tahiti and the Pacific Oceania bets will join the representatives of the 15 other participating countries in the Feb. 20-25 tournament. The Top 2 teams in the qualifier will join 12 Asian countries, Australia, and New Zealand in the Final Qualifying that will also be held in India next month.

Schorr got a slot on the squad for his impressive showing in the Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in the last few years and for dominating his age group in the CNMI tournaments and the North Pacific Regional Championships.

The hard work he has put in during the tournaments in Fiji (POJC) in the last four years has been noticed by the people from ITF, which is sponsoring the team to the Junior Davis Cup. I am proud that he has shown a lot of improvement in the last four years and despite his busy schedule playing tennis here and outside Saipan, he has maintained high grades and is keeping up with his school work, said Robbies father, Robert, who also thanked Saipan International School for its understanding and allowing his son to compete in off-island tournaments.

In New Delhi, CNMI Junior National team coach Jeff Race said Schorr should expect a high-level competition from Asian players.

It will be a great experience for him to play against these high-level teams. I am very excited for him. Its nice to put in your resume that you had once played in the Junior Davis Cup, Race said.

As for Lee, Race said its another feather in the formers cap, as she has been competing and doing well in a lot of off-island tournaments since 2015.

When she debuted in the 2016 Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Asia/Oceania Final Qualifying, which also took place in India, Lee gave Pacific Oceania its lone win against Southeast Asia powerhouse Thailand. The Commonwealth player swept Watsachol Sawatdee in the second singles match, 6-4, 6-4. Lee and company also dueled Australia in the final qualifying and scared then world No. 46 Baijing Lin by winning the first set, 6-2, and giving the Aussie a tough time in the second before losing, 5-7. Lin eventually escaped the upset axe of Lee after prevailing in the deciding set, 6-1.

Lee is currently in Fiji, working out at the ITF/OTF Regional Training Center in Lautoka.

Its an honor to be selected on the team again. Im really eager to compete in New Delhi and represent Pacific Oceania, said Lee, who spent the first two months of the year competing in three ITF Juniors world ranking tournaments in New Zealand.

Lee, as of Feb. 13, is ranked No. 347 in the world and achieved her best ranking at No. 341 last Feb. 6 after making it to the semifinals of the singles event in the 2017 Tecnifibre Tennis Central Championships in Wellington and advancing to the quarterfinals of the singles contest in the NZ ITF Summer Championships 2017 in Auckland.

Lee will leave Fiji for New Delhi today, while Schorr will head out of Saipan tomorrow.

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Russia Proposes UIGEA-Like Legislation to Block Online Gambling – Casino.Org News

Posted: at 12:41 am

News Legislation Russia Proposes UIGEA-Like Legislation to Block Online Gambling

Russia is taking a page out of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), the 2006 United States federal statute that blocked financial institutions from facilitating online transactions related to internet gambling.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to make it harder for his citizens to gamble online, and is seemingly doing so by utilizing language from UIGEA, the US law that prohibits the digital transmissionof moneyfor use at internet casinos. (Image: Mikhail Metzel/Reuters)

Russias Ministry of Finance unveiled a piece of legislation this week that seeks to implement regulations on banks to curtail the countrys growing illegal online gambling problem. The nations government estimates that its citizens are spending roughly $3 billion annually playing internet casinos.

Should the statute become law, a blacklist would begin tracking both domestic banking groups that continue to processonline transactions for gambling, as well as international casino sites marketing their games to Russian citizens.

The proposal will receive additional consideration by the Finance Ministry later this week. The legislation was reportedlyrequestedby President Vladimir Putin.

Russias government and Putin have long opposed most forms of gambling. However, the worlds largest country in geographical terms, did relax some of its casino laws in recent months regarding land-based gaming.

Since 2009, gambling has been confined to four special zones: Azov City in the Krasnodar region; Primorye near the Pacific port of Vladivostok; Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea coast; and Altai in Siberia.

Earlier this year, Russias newest casino, the Sochi Casino and Resort, opened under the Krasnodar gambling blanket. The venue was authorized by the Kremlin to help the Black Sea resort city offset continuing expenses incurred from hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Sochis humid subtropical climate made it the warmest host city for a Winter Olympics in history. Though the nearby mountains provided plenty of snow-covered terrain, the 2014 spectacle became the most expensive Olympics (Summer or Winter), with total costs exceeding $50 billion.

Putin was initially against allowing Sochi to host a casino, instead preferringto keep the summer vacation spot more family friendly. The ruler changed his stance in order to help revitalize the local economy.

While Putin is letting up slightly on brick-and-mortar casinos, he remains against online gambling.

The Finance Ministrys proposal is eerily similar to UIGEA.Like the US law, Russia would make it a crime for a bank to transfer money on behalf of a customer to an online gambling platform.

Of course, when UIGEA was signed into law in 2006, not everyone adhered to its regulations.

The most infamous offenders were of course PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. The two online poker networks continued allowing players in the US to access their interactive rooms until the domains were seized by the US Department of Justice in 2011 on what became known as pokersBlack Friday.

The online poker companies were accused of engaging in bank fraud and money laundering in order to process financial transactions for patrons.

UIGEA is notorious in America for providing a fantasy sports exemption. The loophole has been the legal arguing basis for daily fantasy companies like DraftKings and FanDuel.Slightly similar, the Russian anti-online gambling measure would provide a carve out for payment transactions relating to the limited number of approved online sports betting platformsin Russia.

However, should the Russia UIGEA bill become law, banks might be understandably apprehensive in approving any such activity associatedwith internet betting.

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Russia Proposes UIGEA-Like Legislation to Block Online Gambling – Casino.Org News

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