A Short Meditation on Fear

first_imgFear is a powerful foe. It creates a dangerous form of complacency.A fear of conflict prevents the kind of candid conversations that allow you to identify and overcome obstacles. You don’t want to bring up the uncomfortable issues that might anger your clients or alienate your prospect. So you say nothing, knowing that nothing will change and your problems will only worsen.You fear asking for commitments because your prospective client may refuse your request. You also fear that the commitment you need will somehow be perceived as bothersome or inconvenience your client. So you don’t ask for the commitments you need and opportunities are lost.You fear that other people will think less of you, so you go along with the crowd. You don’t buy the company line because the cool kids, the cynics, will tear you apart. You fear your sales manager will think you’re weak if you ask for help. You fear your prospect will think your not sharp enough if you tell them you don’t have the answer to their question. So you allow fear to paralyze you.Fear is your enemy. You’ve been fighting fear your whole life. You’ve retreated from many battles, allowing fear to take ground without a fight. But you’ve fought fear and won many times, the times when what you were fighting over was important to you, when the stakes were to high to allow fear to win.Your battle with fear continues. Each day you are faced with the choice to engage fear, face it, overcome it, and take back the ground that was stolen from you. You decide whether or not you have the conversation that needs to be had or allow the problems to worsen. You decide whether or not to ask for the commitment that you need and that you know will move you closer to your goals. And you decide whether or not you will let the opinions of others determine the quality of your life and the quality of your results.Fear is a powerful foe. Until you face it. In the moment you face it, fear is dissipated, vanquished, and destroyed.last_img read more

Enquiry sought into Bastar fake encounters

first_imgThe alleged fake encounter deaths of two tribals in the restive Bastar region of south Chhattisgarh has snowballed into a political issue in the State as all the Opposition parties have threatened a protest if an impartial inquiry is not conducted into the case.Chhattisgarh Police claimed to have killed “two Maoists” in an alleged encounter in the Purungal-Dokapara area near the Dantewada-Bijapur district border on January 29.The alleged Maoists were identified as Bhima Kadati and Sukmati Hemla. The police also claimed to have recovered a rifle and some other weapons from them.However, local villagers alleged that both the deceased were “common civilians”.The villagers approached the tribal activist and Aam Aadmi Party leader Soni Sori and other political parties for support and refused to bury the bodies.“Sukmati was Bhima’s sister-in-law. Both of them went to meet Bhima’s brother Baman Kadati in Kirandul (a town in Dantewada) on January 28, and on the way back they were picked up by the security forces. They were killed on January 29. The villagers told me that both of them had no connection with the Maoists. Both the bodies are yet to be buried. The condition of Sukmati’s body suggests that she may have been raped before being killed,” Ms. Sori told The Hindu.The Congress party, led by Dantewada MLA Devati Karma, also jumped into the villagers’ protest and appointed an inquiry team to probe the matter.Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s led a protest march by the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress to Chief Minister Raman Singh’s residence in Raipur on Saturday.last_img read more

Nagaland CM Shurhozelie Liezietsu fails to turn up to face floor test

first_imgNagaland’s political turmoil explained Nagaland Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu on Wednesday failed to turn up to face floor test in Assembly. The House was adjourned sine die.A special session of the State Assembly had to be convened on Wednesday after the Gauhati High Court on Tuesday dismissed Mr. Liezietsu plea to stay the Governor’s directive to him to seek a trust vote.Former Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang, leader of the rebel NPF MLAs, was present in the House along with his followers.The motion to prove the majority of the chief minister could not be taken up as he was not present and the House was adjourned sine die, Speaker Imtiwapang said.The Speaker said, he will report the proceedings of the House to the Governor.Efforts to contact legislators of the Liezietsu camp turned futile as they did not take calls.Governor P.B. Acharya on July 18 directed Speaker Imtiwapang to summon an emergent special session of the State Assembly at 9.30 a.m. for the Chief Minister, who is facing a rebellion from his party MLAs, to seek the confidence vote.  Mr. Acharya on July 11 and July 13 directed Mr. Liezietsu, who is facing rebellion by 43 ruling Naga Peoples Front MLAs led by former Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang demanding change of leadership in the present house of 59, to seek vote of confidence on or before July 15.Mr. Zeliang, who was forced out of office in February following large scale protests over holding of urban local bodies election with 33% reservation for women, had staked claim to form the government saying he had majority support in the House.Four BJP legislators and Nagaland BJP president Visasolie Lhoungu on Tuesday called on the Governor and submitted a letter supporting Mr. Zeliang.BJP is an alliance partner of the NPF and a constituent of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government in the State. The Liezietsu faction, however, has severed ties with BJP. (With inputs from PTI)last_img read more

Report on desecrations untrue: CM

first_imgChief Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday that a church-backed fact-finding report into serial desecrations in Goa was part of a conspiracy hatched against him ahead of the bypolls. On August 21, the Council for Social Justice and Peace, an NGO affiliated to the Goa Catholic Church, had released the report on a series of cases of alleged desecration of Christian and Hindu religious symbols in South Goa.Mr. Parrikar said, “All methods were tried — legal, media, social media and scurrilous publicity. Even to the extent that two days before elections, some organisation released an untrue fact-finding report. I am calling it untrue, you will realise why in the coming days after details of the police investigation.”The report, co-authored by the Mumbai-based Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, has demanded a court-monitored probe into the cases of desecration. It has accused the Goa police of colluding with the State administration in covering up the investigation into the cases and so far arresting only one person. Earlier, a Church-run magazine had severely criticised the BJP governments at the State and Centre. The article compared contemporary India to Nazi Germany and implored Catholics to vote against communalism.last_img read more

Ambala gets ready to host Rafale jets

first_imgThe Indian Air Force has initiated a major infrastructure upgrade at its frontline base here for the deployment of the first squadron of Rafale jets, which will start arriving in September 2019.The government has sanctioned ₹220 crore to set up 14 shelters, hangars and maintenance facilities at the 78-year-old base for the fighter jets, a senior IAF official said.The Rafales will give India greater “potency” to fight Pakistan as they can carry nuclear and other missiles. The strategically located Ambala base is just 220 km from the border. “We are creating facilities keeping in mind the infrastructure requirement for the Rafale jets for the next 40 to 50 years,” the official said on condition of anonymity.Currently, the base has two fighter squadrons of Jaguar and and one of the MiG-21 Bison.Several teams from Dassault Aviation, the French manufacturer of Rafale, have visited the base and finalised the requirement for the first squadron.The IAF is carrying out an infrastructure upgrade at its Hasimara base in West Bengal, which will house the second squadron, the official said.In September last year, India signed a €7.87-billion (approx ₹59,000- crore) deal with the French government for buying 36 Rafale jets in flyaway condition. Half of them will go to Ambala and the rest to Hasimara.“We are planning to put in place all required infrastructure for Rafale squadron by the end of next year,” the IAF official said.Training under wayThe two bases will have simulator-based training facilities for the air crew. The IAF has selected a batch of pilots to fly the jets and they are being trained by Dassault Aviation in France.The Rafale squadron to be deployed in Ambala will be known as Golden Arrows, which was originally based in Bhatinda and disbanded two years ago.last_img read more

De-radicalised 86 people in last two years, Maharashtra anti-terror squad

first_imgThe Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) de-radicalised 86 people in the last two years as part of its efforts to wean away misguided youth from the path of extremism in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, a senior official said on Sunday.Those who had strayed in the name of ‘jihad’ and brought into the mainstream include well-educated people like an aeronautical engineer and an IT professional, he said.Radicalised onlineHe said all these people, including eight women, had come in contact with their handlers via social networking sites and were radicalised online.They were on the verge of joining the IS or planning to work for it, but the law-enforcement agencies monitored their activities and successfully brought them back to the normal life, he said.The ATS approached the family members of these people and also roped in their community’s spiritual leaders and counsellors. After continuous efforts, all these people had been brought back into the mainstream, he said.The ATS, with the help of the government, offered training for suitable jobs and small loans through banks to start their own business, the official said.“It is our duty to bring them on the right track by counselling and all other efforts of de-radicalisation,” Maharashtra’s ATS chief Atulchandra Kulkarni said.last_img read more

Assam scribe threatened for exposing moral policing incident

first_imgA freelance journalist in Assam has been threatened for exposing a case of moral policing that saw a couple being forced to marry after a trial by a kangaroo court for an “immoral” act.Monowar Hussain, who freelances for a news portal, a TV channel and an Assamese daily, filed an FIR with the Rangjuli police station on Saturday saying he had been threatened with dire consequences.Rangjuli, about 95 km west of Guwahati, is in Goalpara district. People of Kheropara village near Rangjuli had on June 17 tried a married man and a divorcee woman for alleged illicit relationship, caned them in public and made them marry two days later.Mr. Hussain had shot the video of the kangaroo court’s trial and uploaded it on social media that local TV channels picked up.The journalist said he stopped venturing out of his house after receiving the threat from one Abdul Qader of the village. “I filed a case as I fear for my life. I was present when the couple was being tried by the villagers. The organisers had warned everyone against filming the trial, but I thought taking a video was my duty as a journalist,” Mr. Hussain.Bhabesh Biswas, the officer in-charge of Rangjuli police station, confirmed the threat that the journalist received. “We are looking for Qader, the accused who deals in tractors,” he said.The police have so far arrested three people in the moral policing case. They include Kurban Ali, who was the “judge” of the trial court.last_img read more

Maharashtra to set up cyber varsity

first_imgThe Maharashtra Government has taken the first step towards setting up a varsity dedicated to mitigating cyber threats. It has set aside ₹80 crore for the first round of its funding and the proposal for the project will be tabled in the State cabinet’s consideration in the first week of October, sources said.The new Cyber University will train 3,000 professionals to fight online space cyber attacks, internet crimes, and conduct cyber forensics. It will also impart training in 15 other Internet of Things (IoT) areas such as Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). A team of senior government officials recently visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), which monitors cyber attacks in real time, to acquire technical knowhow. CSAIL’s latest system correctly predicts about 85% of the world’s cyber attacks using machine learning and AI. “At the lab we saw in real time that the majority of the world’s cyber attacks are directed towards Russia, Japan and India,” an official said.Cost of coursesThe varsity, officials said, will provide for and prepare internet professionals on the lines of the Microsoft Certified Professional Program. The courses will cost less than ₹5 lakh for courses in data analytics, cloud computing, blockchain, AI, cyber forensics and cyber investigations.Skill gap“The current supply of cyber professionals in the country is about a lakh while the demand hovers around 30 lakh. A cyber attack is taking place every 10 minutes as opposed to 12 minutes previously. The varsity will remedy this,” an official said. The government will provide different levels of training and enable affiliated colleges to impart certification for the 15 courses. The State will also supply infrastructure for training and education. A 2015 skill gap analysis for Maharashtra by the consultancy firm KPMG had pointed to a gap of 1.5 crore professionals in 10 sectors. “Of these, there was a greater shortfall in the IoT and Cyber Forensics sectors. The new varsity will bridge this skill gap,” the official said. Maharashtra is already in the process of setting up its version of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to ward off external cyber threats. In 2016, the State had even appointed a consortium of M/s C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) and Railtel Corporation of India for the ₹838-crore project. The consortium in its analysis used the same technology as GARUDA, India’s national grid computing initiative, and the Graphics and Intelligence Based Script Technology, officials said.last_img read more

HC indicts Goa govt. over failure to set up District Mineral Foundations

first_imgThe Bombay High Court at Goa this week slammed the Goa government over its failure to register the District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) as trusts and failure to change the rules to operate funds of the DMFs in consonance with section 9B of the Mines and Minerals(Regulation and ) Act.It also criticised the State government for failing to bring this lapse to its notice.In its interim order on a Public Interest Litigation filed by Goa Foundation, a Goa-based environmental NGO, the High Court indicted the State government for failure to put in place and make operational a website of the DMF. It directed that the website be made functional within two months from the date of this order. The order said the website should contain all necessary details relatable to the task of the district. In any district Section 9B of the Act thus mandates the State Government to establish a trust, as a non-profit body, to be called the District Mineral Foundation(DMF) to work for the district affected by mining.The object of the DMF shall be to work for the interest and benefit of persons, and areas affected by mining-related operations in such manner as may be prescribed by the State Government.The Goa Advocate General gave an undertaking to the Court that the State is in process of amending/ framing the rules governing the constitution and functioning of the DMF to bring it in consonance with the MMRD Act, 1957 and to form a Trust.The court observed that it was clear that the present DMFs established for North and South Goa districts cannot be said to be in consonance with the rules framed by the State itself as well as Section 9-B which contemplates the establishment of trust. “Admittedly there is no such Trust. Such ad hoc assemblage put together by the State of Goa, under the banner of DMF, hardly has any legal sanctity. To make matters worse, the entire corpus of ₹180 crores is handed over in custody of such assemblage,” the court order said.The court further noted that it was concerned about the credentials of these two groups as the petitioner had made a grievance that the ‘Foundations’ have far too much representation from the mining industry in the State which is hampering the rehabilitation work. “We are shown the bio-datas received from the members of the North Goa Foundation. Perusal of the bio-data placed before us shows that this apprehension cannot be said to be unwarranted,” said the court, adding, “ It is clear that these randomly put together groups, operating without legal sanctity, cannot be entrusted with the public funds of ₹180 crore.”The High Court directed the District Collectors of both North and South Goa to forthwith take charge of the funds of the DMFs in their respective jurisdictions and directed that till further orders it will be the task of both Collectors to supervise the work of the Mineral Foundations. Further, it said that the Secretaries of the DMFs, who are ex-officio members of the State government, will co-ordinate with the District Collectors to achieve the objects of the foundations laid down in the Rules of 2016 and as contemplated in MMDR Act, 1957 and to spend the amounts available with the District Mineral Foundations. The High Court deferred the hearing till October 31.last_img read more

Children in slums most vulnerable to abuse: study

first_imgAt an advocacy on child rights earlier this week by Children’s Rights in Goa (CRG) and Arz, an organisation working for victims of trafficking, presented a study of four slums that identified children and adolescents residing in these areas as most vulnerable to sexual abuse.Advocate Sushma Mandrekar alias Chodankar, Chairperson, Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (GSCPCR) on Friday said that the organisation has taken note of the study presented by director of Arz, Arun Pandey, and she will take appropriate action after consulting various stakeholders. She said that many of the issues will be addressed once their State Action Plan of was implemented in the near future.She said that GSCPCR was mandated to look into all children’s issues. “As per the Goa Children’s Act, we need to work with every department related to children, it cannot be only be Directorate of Women and Child Development.”Ms. Mandrekar further said,“My first task when I joined the Commission was activation of village child committees but most of them did not respond.”Mr. Pandey said that they conducted the study in the port taluk of Marmugao in south Goa. Through questionnaires, focus and group discussions, they researched sexual abuse of children in the age group 10 to 18 years and develop skills and suggestions to address it. They found that boys were sexually abused in jungles and houses when their parents were not there and girls were molested and eve teased.It also found that child marriage still existed among migrants who have settled in Goa for many years. In Baina girls are married as early as 12 years, Mangoor 14 to 17 years, Birla 14-15 years and Zarre 13 to 14 years.These children were not aware of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. They were only aware about penetrative sex and nothing else. Mr. Pandey identified some unsafe places such as in Baina, burial grounds, toilets, railway stations, Vasco bridge, and named certain bars and hotels. In Mangoor, the jungle, construction sites, toilets, and named a school, bars and hotels and a prayer place. In Birla, it was paan shops, a public hotel and some bars, hotels; for Zuari, public toilets, laundry, narrow lanes, and four slums areas.Arz said that suggestions from the children in these areas included police patrolling near bus stops, installing CCTV cameras, taking away license from bars, separate entry for toilets, government constructed toilets inside the house, proper street lights, setting up an outpost, a women’s helpline and sensitisation programmes with the police. Arz shared the suggestions with various authorities in Vasco, Verna, BDO, Chief Officer and Mormugao Municipality but no change was seen. He said that the State must play a pro-active role in safeguarding children by providing timely human resources and infrastructure.Father Maverick Fernandes, member of GSCPCR, said that from June a Child Help Desk was set up on Margao Railway Station by Childline in south Goa, where child and human trafficking used to take place.Children are most vulnerabe to drugs, he said. Because of the cost, the children even sniff whiteners. Authorities are aware of this but are helpless as the law is not stringent enough for children and are often misused. In north Goa beaches, children were found selling blowing objects late at night. Teenage pregnancies in schools are also on the rise.Snehal Salgaonkar from CRG said that they conducted a survey of children in Kharaswaddo and Calangute and found problems of corporal punishment, truancy, Balika Manch not functioning, inadequate toilets, no provision to throw sanitary pads, loud music and eve teasing.last_img read more

Congress united under Rahul Gandhi leadership: Ashok Gehlot

first_imgThe Congress is united under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said on Thursday adding that the party’s fight against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not personal, but ideological.“[Congress President] Rahul Gandhi’s message to the people of India is clear: the fight against the BJP is not personal, it is ideological and based on differences in policies. We do not want the BJP to stop existing,” he said. The newly-elected Rajasthan Chief Minister was speaking in Nanded district where he was invited by the State Congress unit led by MP and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan to inaugurate the statues of trail-blazing reformers Savitribai Phule and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule to mark Savitribai’s 188th birth anniversary.“There is no place in democracy for hatred and violence. Politics based on hate is not permissible,” he said. This was his first public programme since assuming office as Chief Minister of Rajasthan after the Congress victory in the November Assembly elections..“Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule have become immortal through their work and both Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi respected them. The social revolution that they brought about, from ensuring women’s education to working against child marriage, needs to be carried forward by us,” said Mr. Gehlot, adding that the respect towards these legendary reformers was palpable across Maharashtra where there was an educational institute named after them in every town and village.Earlier, Mr. Gehlot was welcomed at Nanded airport by Mr. Chavan. Praising Mr. Chavan’s leadership in Nanded, Mr. Gehlot said that the Congress’ victory, winning 73 of the 81 seats in the Nanded Municipal Corporation in October 2017, was a clear sign of the public’s yearning and acceptance of his leadership.last_img read more

Waking Up Tired? Blame Electricity

first_imgOur internal clocks are drifting out of sync, and indoor lighting may be to blame. A new study suggests that just a few days in the great outdoors puts us back in tune with the solar cycle, and reconnecting with the sun could make us less drowsy.Electricity has given us the freedom to choose our bedtimes; staying up after dark is as easy as flipping a light switch. But we pay a price for this luxury, says integrative physiologist Kenneth Wright of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who led the new study. People with later bedtimes and wake times are exposed to more artificial light and less sunlight, he says, which means their bodies aren’t getting the natural cues humans once relied on.To understand how falling out of sync with the sun changes our body’s internal clock—or circadian rhythm—sleep researchers look to the timekeeping mechanisms in the brain, particularly how we regulate the hormone melatonin. Released about 2 hours before sleep, melatonin makes us feel drowsy as we wind down for rest, Wright says. It then decreases as we become alert in the morning. The mechanisms driving our clock are complex and hard to measure, but the daily spike and drop in melatonin are like its chimes. “Melatonin tells us what time it is in the body,” Wright says.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)And when we keep strange schedules, our melatonin goes haywire. Turning lights on at night can delay melatonin release and shift the timing of our internal clock, says sleep physiologist Derk-Jan Dijk of the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the work. But it wasn’t clear just what would happen in modern, electricity-adapted humans if all artificial light were suddenly taken away. “This is the first time that somebody has done the obvious but important experiment,” he says.Wright and his colleagues outfitted eight subjects with activity-tracking watches that carry light intensity detectors and motion sensors to keep tabs on sleep and wake times. For the first week, the participants went about their lives, spent mostly in artificially lit buildings. They then spent 24 hours in a lab, where the researchers periodically tested the melatonin levels in their saliva. In the second week, the group went camping in the Colorado Rockies, where they could sleep and wake up whenever they wanted but had no access to TV, cell phones, or even flashlights. Their world was illuminated only by sunlight and campfires. The group returned from their excursion for another stint of saliva sampling.Data from the watches showed that subjects got about the same amount of sleep in the two settings. But the shift from artificial to natural light, which nearly quadrupled their total light exposure, also tinkered with their internal clocks. After camping, the subject’s biological cycles had shifted to align with the sun. Their bodies released melatonin right at sunset—2 hours earlier than under artificial light conditions—and shut it off again just after sunrise, the team reports online today in Current Biology.“When we expose ourselves to only natural light, we are in sync with that light-dark cycle quite strongly,” Wright says. The natural night owls in the group saw an especially dramatic shift in their melatonin cycle and became more similar to the early birds. The team suggests that artificial light had been exerting a particularly strong influence on the internal clocks of the night owls. The subjects weren’t asked to report whether they felt less drowsy after the change in lighting.Observing changes in human rhythms in a natural environment represents a “breakthrough,” says Marie Dumont, a chronobiologist at the University of Montreal in Canada. “I think we forget most of the time that the knowledge that we have comes from laboratory and artificial conditions,” she says. Dumont cautions, however, that few conclusions can be drawn from this small group of individuals. Changes in physical activity during the camping trip and the social interaction subjects had also likely influenced the retiming of their internal clocks, she says.But the work may offer clues about the tiredness that plagues many night owls. Other studies have shown that our low point in alertness, when melatonin production is shutting off in the morning, tends to occur about 2 hours after awakening. “We wake up, but then our clock still promotes sleepiness, and we don’t feel well,” explains Dijk, whose research group first described this unfortunate paradox. After the week of camping, participants’ melatonin shutoff occurred before they awoke instead of after. Wright says that the discrepancy between our melatonin cycle and our sleep-wake cycle could account for our morning sleepiness—an explanation Dijk calls “an interesting suggestion” that needs more thorough study.Because we’re not going to abandon our electrified existence anytime soon, Wright says that certain habits can counteract our estrangement from the sun. He recommends letting plenty of light into your room in the morning, exposing yourself to more natural light throughout the day, and dimming the lighting in your home a couple hours before bed. Now have a good night.last_img read more

RIKEN Makes Verdict on Two Problematic Stem Cell Papers Final

first_imgTOKYO—RIKEN has decided against reopening an investigation into two stem cell papers that concluded that the lead author, Haruko Obokata of RIKEN’s Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, engaged in research misconduct. The institute has yet to decide whether Obokata will be punished.RIKEN launched an investigation after claims of image manipulation and plagiarism surfaced regarding a research article and a letter published online in Nature on 29 January that described a new, simple way of creating stem cells called STAP, for stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency.An investigating committee found numerous problems with the papers and concluded in a 31 March report that two of those, both in the article, constituted research misconduct. Obokata maintains that her main finding of a new way to create stem cells is valid but admits making innocent mistakes in handling images and text in the papers. She filed a formal appeal on 8 April, asking that the investigation be reopened and the misconduct judgment reconsidered. In a 21-page report dated yesterday, the same investigating committee rebutted the points of her appeal one by one and concluded “that there is no need to re-investigate the results of the committee’s investigation issued on March 31, 2014.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In a statement released today, RIKEN President Ryoji Noyori said that the institute “has decided not to re-investigate the allegations of research misconduct.” He said that Obokata has been advised to retract the one paper which was found to be affected by misconduct. Obokata’s lawyer, Hideo Miki, told The Japan Times that he was “extremely displeased” with the decision.Noyori’s statement also mentions that several of the committee members are themselves facing allegations of research misconduct in relation to previous publications. “[W]e believe the committee has nevertheless carried out its investigation appropriately and have concluded that the allegations do not affect the committee’s findings concerning the STAP cell papers,” Noyori said, adding that the allegations would be investigated separately.The next step will be for a separate committee, established today, to decide on disciplinary measures against Obokata, RIKEN Executive Director Minoru Yonekura said this afternoon at a press conference. He said the committee could reach a decision within about a month. Separately, Kenneth Ka-Ho Lee, an embryologist and stem cell researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who live-blogged about his futile attempts to reproduce STAP cells, today published all the details of his efforts online at F1000Research. So far no one has reported reproducing Obokata’s results.last_img read more

DARPA awards $40 million to restore memories

first_imgLast fall, Geoffrey Ling, a top biotechnology research official at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), challenged neuroscientists to do something extraordinary: Develop an implantable device that can restore memory loss in vets with traumatic brain injuries. Offering up to $40 million in short-term, high-stakes funding, Ling said, “Here’s the golden ring—who’s brave enough to step up and actually grab it?”Today, DARPA announced two academic teams that will spend the next 4 years attempting to meet that challenge as part of President Barack Obama’s roughly $110 million Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), will receive up to $15 million to develop a memory-restoring prosthesis that focuses on the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus—brain regions key to memory formation. A second team at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) will receive up to $22.5 million to develop a device that can monitor and modulate many different brain regions involved in memory formation and storage.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Some researchers, however, are skeptical that the efforts will make major headway on such a complicated problem.Both the UCLA team, led by neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried, and the UPenn team, led by neuroscientist Michael Kahana, will start out by studying neuronal activity in people with epilepsy, who are often recruited for brain stimulation studies because they were already treated through open-brain surgery. Fried will build on his earlier work in epileptic patients, which has shown that stimulating the entorhinal cortex improves performance on a computer game that requires players to quickly learn and remember where to drop off taxi passengers in a virtual city. Next, he will use data from those studies to build computational models of how the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus work together to convert daily experiences into lasting memories.Kahana also aims to develop a computational model of memory formation, but using a different approach. By searching the brains of epileptic patients for electrical “biomarkers” of memory retrieval and storage, he hopes to build a program that can detect when memory goes awry and instruct a device to help repair it.The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the device manufacturer Medtronic will also contribute to the efforts, aiming to build neurostimulators at least 10 times smaller than previous devices. Contractual agreements about rights to the technologies are still under way, according to DARPA officials.If successful, the researchers ultimately hope to conduct the first clinical trials of deep brain stimulation in people with traumatic brain injury. That’s a “very achievable and realizable” goal because the teams are building on solid existing research in people and animals, says James Giordano, a neuroscientist at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who serves as a neuroethics adviser to DARPA’s BRAIN-related efforts.The viability of the DARPA effort will depend greatly on what kind of memory loss people with traumatic brain injury actually have, says Roger Redondo, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Memory loss can result from problems with either storage or retrieval, he notes. In the case of a storage problem, the connections that form a memory were either never formed to begin with, or were destroyed, he says. In such cases, “no implantable device is going to help.”On the other hand, if a traumatic injury produces a retrieval problem, in which most of a memory is there, but simply difficult to access, stimulation could potentially be useful, he says. “It is going to be extremely hard,” however, to determine which cells contain the memory and precisely tune electrical stimulation to drive its retrieval, he says. “The complexity of the brain, and the hippocampus, is such that any change in voltage that a microelectrode or chip can apply, even in a tiny area, will affect multitudes of neurons in uncontrolled ways,” he says.Relying too heavily on epilepsy as a model for traumatic brain injury could also be problematic, says neuropsychologist James Sumowski of the Kessler Foundation in West Orange, New Jersey. Although some people with such injuries go on to develop epilepsy, most don’t show the same patterns of abnormal electrical activity or areas of atrophy that epileptic patients do, he says. “They are very different disorders.”On the bright side, such challenges define the kind of “blue-sky, high-risk” project that DARPA is uniquely positioned to take on, Redondo says. Given the 270,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, nothing less than a major scientific leap is required, says Justin Sanchez, program manager for DARPA’s memory restoration program. As things stand, the options for injured service members “are very few.”*Correction, 11 July, 12:10 p.m.: A previous version of this story attributed the final quote by Justin Sanchez to Geoffrey Ling. The story has been corrected.last_img read more

Ebola survivor II, Nancy Writebol: ‘We just don’t even have a clue what happened’

first_imgEbola nearly killed Nancy Writebol in July—and it also made her famous, which helped broadcast to the world that it needed to respond more aggressively to what had grown from a small outbreak into an out-of-control epidemic.Writebol, a clinical nurse associate, became ill with the disease while working for the missionary group SIM in Monrovia. She and her husband David spoke with Science on 24 September about a topic that has yet to receive much attention: How do health care workers who are trained to protect themselves nevertheless become infected with the Ebola virus? The Writebols also discuss how the outbreak grew into an epidemic, as well as the treatment she received both in Liberia and then at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.Q: Any idea how you became infected?Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)N.W.: I don’t know how I became infected and how I contracted it. There are some thoughts about how I might have gotten it. Nobody is really sure, least of all me. I never felt like I was unsafe and I never felt like I walked into a situation where I was being exposed. I was on the low-risk side of things. I never was in the crisis or the Ebola center. I was always on the outside. I made sure doctors and nurses were dressed properly before they went in, and I decontaminated them before they went out. We kept a close check on each other about whether people felt safe.We had an employee who was doing the same job that I was doing. He got sick and I didn’t know he was sick. He didn’t tell anybody. He actually thought he had typhoid. The day that I started having symptoms, at least a fever, was the last day I saw him. He did have Ebola. He did not survive.I never remember touching him, although it’s possible he could have picked up a sprayer to decontaminate someone, and I could have picked up the sprayer. Or we touched the same thing. I never touched him.Q: You were educated about Ebola transmission?N.W.: Oh my goodness, yes.Q: Did you have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE)?N.W.: Yes, we did. It was my responsibility to make sure they were dressed properly in PPEs before they ever went into the isolation. I didn’t want any of our doctors or nurses getting infected. I mean, I saw people dying of Ebola. We had PPEs and followed every single protocol that [Doctors Without Borders (MSF)] had in their manual—and we had been trained by MSF.Q: Were you wearing PPE in your job, disinfecting doctors and nurses? N.W.: No, I was wearing gloves and a disposable apron. There were times I had a mask on. I was behind a line where I did the disinfecting. They were on one side of a line and I was on the other side. I never crossed those lines. We just don’t even have a clue what happened.I’ve often wondered if I was back there now, having been through the experience, what would I do differently. The only thing is I took temperatures of family members who would come to see patients. I never had to turn anybody away because they had a temperature, but it’s possible I might have come in contact with somebody on the outside who had Ebola and maybe shook a hand? Although we weren’t really shaking hands with anybody. Most people had a fear of even us. They felt like to be involved with Ebola, you had it.Q: On what date did you start feeling symptoms?N.W.: Tuesday, 22 July. That afternoon I started running a fever. I felt like I had malaria. I contacted an SIM doctor. We did a malaria test and it was positive. I had malaria medication at home, and I went home and I stayed home. I was weak. I had the headache. Had the fever. Those were my symptoms. I took malaria medications but was just not shaking the fever at all. On Saturday, our doctor came over and she said, “We’re just going to do the Ebola test to relieve everyone.” I was just thinking still malaria. They did another malaria test and it showed negative, because I had taken the medication. Then they did the Ebola test that Saturday morning, and Saturday night the result came back that I was positive.Q: Do you think you had malaria coincident with Ebola?N.W.: I did. I tested positive for it.Q: What happened next?N.W.: They left me at home for the next 10 days.Q: Was David there?N.W.: Yes. It’s just the grace of God that David did not come down with Ebola. For the whole 4 days that they thought it was just malaria, David did the cooking at our home. I just didn’t feel good. We were still sharing our bedroom. Our doctor was exposed and she had dinner with us the night she told us I had Ebola. I’d had malaria once that year. I knew what it felt like and it was so similar.D.W.: They isolated me after that. For a few days, I went in to see Nancy in a PPE. Our home became an isolation unit. Then they said, “We can’t let you do that anymore because you can’t get back to the United States by commercial aviation.” They kept me out.N.W.: Thankfully there was a window near where my bed was and David could stand outside and talk to me.Q: David, did you check your temperature every few hours?D.W.: Yep. I got close to 99.2° [37.3°C], but I realized after I took my temperature that I’d just had a cup of coffee.Q: What happened with Kent Brantly?N.W.: I got sick the 22nd and Kent on the 23rd. Kent was actually much sicker to begin with, and then I took a turn for the worse. Kent went out on Saturday the 2nd. I left August 4.Q: You and Kent Brantly both received ZMapp. Do you think it helped?N.W.: It’s given at three different times. I had two of the doses in Liberia, and the third at Emory. I don’t know that I can say when I was given the ZMapp it made a dramatic difference in how I was feeling. I think I was very, very, very sick, critically sick. I’m not saying it didn’t help—I do think it had some benefit to it—but it wasn’t this huge, dramatic “I had this ZMapp and now I can sit up and take a shower.”They give ZMapp via IV and they give it slowly and then turn it up a little. When they turned it up on me, my hands started itching terribly and then they turned it back down so I wouldn’t have a reaction to it. That’s the only thing I remember about the ZMapp.Q: Were you very ill when you left Liberia?N.W.: I didn’t know whether I would survive the flight.D.W.: I wasn’t sure either. She had to be carried into the aircraft. She didn’t walk in or walk off.N.W.: I was in PPE the whole trip back. And I was dehydrated. They were having a terrible time in Liberia finding a vein in which to run fluid. At one point they decided to try and do an IV into the bone. That was very painful. They don’t really know what happened, whether the needle bent when it went into the bone, but once they tried pushing fluid, it was excruciating and they decided to stop. When I got to Emory they just put a central line in.Q: Would you go back again and work in an Ebola treatment unit?N.W.: I’ve done some reading on that and talked to doctors at Emory about that. My doctors at Emory are not sure how long immunity would last. It’s not been studied. I’ve read that even if a survivor was willing and able to help with the care for Ebola patients, because there are so many strains of Ebola, it would still be very wise and necessary to operate in PPEs and not just assume you’re immune.Q: What do you think of your own role in this epidemic and the fact that it wasn’t until you and Kent Brantly became ill that the world began to take notice that something was seriously amiss?N.W.: Never in my life would I have dreamed this would happen. We’d been in Liberia for a year and had a doctor come into the country in March or April who laid out a graph of other Ebola timelines and how the disease had gone along in Congo and Uganda, and how it was just this steady little disease working its way along—and then it spikes and spikes again and grows into a mushroom. He overlaid where Liberia was on that graph. He made the observation that we had not seen the worst of it yet.D.W.: People were calmed down and thought it was over. In early June, Monrovia started getting the multiple cases from Foya [a town in the north that borders both Sierra Leone and Guinea, the two other hard-hit countries].N.W.: We hadn’t started to hit the mushroom at all. And then Samaritan’s Purse had an epidemiologist who came into the country who sat with us and said, “I went to Foya. You have not seen the end of this. It’s going to get bad.”D.W.: All along, we were concerned there was not a larger response. It’s the publicity that was generated from Nancy’s story and Dr. Brantly that woke things up. That was astonishing.Q: You knew it was wildly out of control?N.W.: I would have never predicted the numbers WHO [the World Health Organization] and CDC [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] are predicting now. I looked at that and thought, “Oh my goodness”; we had no clue it was going to go to that extent. You’re talking a half-million in Liberia alone.Q: What did you think of the media coverage of ZMapp?D.W.: Initially it seemed a bit sensational: This is the magic bullet. That’s what they do, they gravitate toward that, but they’ve also backed off that and had a more balanced approach. It’s promising, but don’t put too much hope into it until more studies are done.N.W.: I think they understand, too, that nobody really knows how much it helped. Because there were so many other things playing into it. There were blood transfusions. The other care given to us.Q: Did you have a blood transfusion?N.W.: I did. I had blood transfusions in Liberia and Emory. Neither was convalescent serum, though. There wasn’t a match.Q: How’s your health now?N.W.: I’m recovering. I’m regaining my strength. When I left Emory, I could hardly walk up steps at all. I have some neuropathy in my feet. While I was in Emory it was excruciating. They couldn’t even put sheets or blankets on my toes. That’s much better.I wear out easily. And of course there’s just the emotional side of it. I was on that job from the 11 June case, that first patient we had, to 22 July, and I saw about 40 people and we saw one survivor during that period of time. To watch the rest of those people die was difficult. I was dealing with some of their families and trying to encourage them and pray with them. To watch families watch their loved ones die, that’s hard, too.For a story about Ebola’s infection risk for health care workers, click here.*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.last_img read more

Scaling the Sharing Economy: New York to Topeka & Beyond

first_imgShortly after Leah Busque and her husband turned their distaste for having to fetch dog food for their 100-pound yellow Labrador into what would become TaskRabbit, an online marketplace for locally outsourcing small jobs and errands, the Great Recession of 2008 went into in full swing.It was an interesting time to launch a technology company, recalled Jamie Viggiano, TaskRabbit’s head of marketing. The site’s founders had expected its earliest errand providers to be students. Instead, in what became a critical influence on the company’s direction, they found that many participants were out-of-work lawyers and bankers.“We were having highly skilled professionals using the service because they were simply unemployed or underemployed,” Viggiano said. “And that actually continues to today. The economy is back on the uptick, unemployment is [lower], but people are finding this to be a really interesting way to make a living, a really interesting way to build a career in the context of your life. We’re seeing our TaskRabbits really embracing the lifestyle of freelancing, just picking up jobs when they want to. So, from an employment perspective, I certainly think that people are seeing these new models of work as here to stay.”The shared economy, perhaps best known for crowd-powered marketplaces such as travel accommodation site Airbnb and transportation-focused Lyft, blossomed as the recession set in. At the same time, social platforms were establishing broad footholds. Collaborative consumption, made more feasible by evolving technology, offered consumers ways to personalize their experiences without having to own their own cars, vacation homes and items that may be out of reach financially. It also presented fresh streams of income for people with something to spare or share.The public’s broad openness to shared-economy models, Michael Taormina, chief financial officer and co-founder of CommonBond, which connects student borrowers and alumni investors to crowd-sourced loans said, is due less to a technological transformation than to a mental and regulatory transformation — “a mental willingness on the part of consumers to participate in something like this, whereas, in the past, maybe they wouldn’t [have tried it]. Maybe they wouldn’t have let a stranger into their house. But they’ve heard this is something that is acceptable. There is also an increased tolerance, I think, on the part of regulators to allow for activity like this to take place.”The success of companies like Airbnb, J.R. Reagan, chief innovation leader for the federal practice at Deloitte Services, noted, seems to hinge on trust. “We could have been sharing our houses and cars a long time ago,” he pointed out. “Why now? What is the difference now, especially with the trust — how does that scale? Are we going to be able to trust everyone as we get up the ladder?”Why Now?Viggiano noted that TaskRabbit’s founding coincided with a growth spurt among social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. “People were sharing updates, sharing personal information — and it was a little uncomfortable,” she said. “What we then tried to do was say, ‘We’re going to connect you guys online, then you’re going to take it offline. You’re actually going to have an interpersonal experience.’ And that was an additional barrier that we had to get over.“Trust and safety was always our No. 1 priority,” Viggiano added. “[All users are] background-checked; everybody is fully vetted. I think as people become more comfortable transacting online, the evolution is toward taking things offline.” The sustained success of companies that facilitate face-to-face meetings, Viggiano said, depends on such an infrastructure.Steve Webb, director of communications at RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car-sharing market, noted, has to be especially attuned to such concerns. “If you’re convincing someone to rent out their second-most-valuable asset [i.e., a vehicle], obviously trust and safety is a huge thing. When the company was founded in 2008, it took us two years before we [officially] launched. The reason why is because we had to create an insurance product.”Taormina and his colleagues at CommonBond, meanwhile, witnessed in the wake of the financial crisis the trend of banks exiting the college financial aid space en masse. “Securitization markets were drying up,” he noted. “There was a reluctance to lend warehouse lines, which are the lifeblood of the traditional student-loan model. The lack of trust cut both ways — a lack of trust in the banks to provide what we believe is a fair lending rate to student borrowers, and then banks not treating borrowers like anything more than a loan.”The goal of CommonBond, he added, was to “create a [lending] platform [for] people who price risk accordingly and are willing to lend at fair rates that reflect the underlying credit fundamentals … and that’s what has proven out so far.”Models of ScalePeer-to-peer sharing, Reagan pointed out, implies individuals doing business with other individuals. “So where do the large corporations fit into this?” he asked. “Do they have to go down this road? Is there a place for them? Or are we having two separate worlds here that are sort of colliding?”Among the investors in RelayRides are General Motors and Avis. That might seem counterintuitive, Webb said, given the shared economy’s tendency to disrupt industries, “but I think that big companies — in our space, at least — have seen the potential for this peer-to-peer model.”He added that, in many respects, the company isn’t competing directly with such firms. “We’re not competing with GM directly because GM’s average car owner is 50 years old, and they see RelayRides as an opportunity to expose more young people to GM cars,” he pointed out. “For Avis, while it’s easy to compare RelayRides and Avis, we’re a marketplace and they are fleet managers. The way that they make the majority of their revenue, I believe, is through after-market sales. Big companies are getting involved to see how they can make this work for them, but I don’t think that they feel it’s going to erode the business.”From the beginning, Viggiano and her colleagues noticed that people were leveraging TaskRabbit to build businesses. Small start-ups, she said, were tapping into the site’s population when they otherwise might have consulted a temp agency, because they could do so “without the bureaucratic clutter” that often comes with using the latter.The effects of the shared economy on the financial services industry, Taormina noted, are a more difficult read. CommonBond’s three co-founders each had come from a large financial institution — Taormina had been a vice president at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Such firms are “not set up to nimbly apply what we were learning in collaborative consumption to [build] a model like ours,” he said.Viggiano sees the shared-economy model as adding value to the marketplace: “We’re making the pie bigger,” she noted. “We’re creating more efficiency, which means we’re allowing people to focus on the things that they’re best at.”RelayRides initially was meant to emulate Zipcar, Webb said, referring to the popular membership-based car-sharing club. Webb’s company found, however, that both owners and renters preferred long-term rentals. Many renters own vehicles, he noted, and they turn to RelayRides for unique purposes, such as when traveling.People in San Francisco, for instance, might own a relatively compact Prius for navigating the city’s narrow streets. When they drive to Lake Tahoe, however, they might prefer an SUV that can hold more luggage and supplies. The sharing economy creates new opportunities, he noted, and “forces these existing players to be more efficient.“Our supply [of vehicles] now, especially in major metropolitan areas, is big … and the key for us has been constantly evolving our product to make sure that people are seeing the different types of vehicles and the different uses,” Webb noted. “And I pretty shamelessly admit that we like to emulate Airbnb in this sense. They create an experience around a destination, and the house [users rent] is part of that, and that’s what we’d like to do with our product, as well.”Supply and DemandCollaborative consumption, of course, depends on access to the supply. A successful company, broadly speaking, will find ways to tap more far-flung locations, beyond population centers like New York City or a San Francisco.“We’re very cognizant of our launch strategies,” Viggiano said. “We start in those urban areas where there is a concentration of people. But what you naturally see are the concentric circles outside the major metropolitan area, and people adopting the service [there]…. The suburbs are not necessarily the early adopters, so you may have to wait a couple of years, but gradually, we will be there.”Webb noted that RelayRides, though a small company, has grown tenfold during the past two years. Its marketplace includes vehicles in 1,900 American cities. “There are cars in the Aleutian Islands that are closer to mainland Russia than to RelayRides’ headquarters in San Francisco,” he said. “This peer-to-peer model creates something that traditional, fleet-based car-sharing doesn’t.”There is no capital-intensive investment, for instance, in a fleet of vehicles requiring certain utilization rates. The owners of cars participating in RelayRides, Webb said, aren’t necessarily trying to reap profits or meet such rates. “That’s what’s enabled us to be in Topeka or the Aleutian Islands.”Reagan pondered which industries might not be suitable for the shared economy. Viggiano imagined conditions in which the unemployment rate was near zero: “That’s an experiment we haven’t run, when everything is just so rosy,” she said. “But, frankly, we haven’t seen anything not work yet.” Related Itemslast_img read more

George Harrison’s Estate Launches Label Featuring Works of Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan

first_imgThe estate of The Beatles member George Harrison has launched a new record label, called HariSongs, featuring Indian classical and world music. The label will use archives from the Harrison family, including the musician’s performances with some famous Indian maestros like Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan.The first two projects of HariSongs will be reissues of two recently out-of-print records: Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan’s In Concert 1972, and Shankar’s collaboration with Harrison, Chants of India. Both albums were released on April 27.Harrison and Shankar’s collaboration Chants of India was originally released in 1997 via Angel Records. Harrison produced the album, which was recorded by Shankar in Chennai and Henley-on-Thames in the United Kingdom. Shankar had drawn inspiration from sacred Sanskrit texts, including the Vedas and Upanishads. The audio for this reissue was sourced and remastered from the original digital master tapes.The new record label also released a short documentary about the making of the album, which features archival interviews with Shankar and Harrison. Shankar can be seen discussing the deeply personal and spiritual nature of the mantras that comprise the album, and what it took to adapt them into songs for the public.“I was in a terrific dilemma not knowing whether I’m doing the right thing,” Shankar said. “You’re not supposed to utter these mantras for everyone. They’re you’re personal thing… I worked very hard and that’s why it took me the longest ever to do [this] record, but in this I had to do a lot of self-evaluating,” he adds.In Concert 1972 was recorded on Oct. 8, 1972 by Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan at New York City’s Philharmonic Hall. The duo performed three ragas in the jugalbandi style, a duet of two solo musicians. Shankar played sitar and Khan played sarod, while Alla Rakha provided tabla accompaniment. The concert was also a tribute to Khan’s father, Allauddin Khan, who had died a month earlier. He was a musical mentor to both his son and Shankar.In Concert 1972 was first released in 1973 by The Beatles’ Apple Records. Harrison produced the record alongside Zakir Hussain and Phil McDonald. The new digital version of the record was sourced and remastered from the original analogue master tapes. It can be streamed and downloaded at https://harisongs.lnk.to/In-Concert-72.Harrison, who visited India in the 1960s, fell in love with the the sitar and Indian classical music. He met sitar maestro Ravi Shankar in the mid-1960s and was taught by him to play the instrument.“It is strange to see pop musicians with sitars. I was confused at first. It had so little to do with our classical music. When George Harrison came to me, I didn’t know what to think,” recalled Shankar. “But I found he really wanted to learn. I never thought our meeting would cause such an explosion, that Indian music would suddenly appear on the pop scene,” Shankar said, according to a Wall Street Journal article. Related ItemsMusicRavi Shankarthe beatleslast_img read more

Journalist unions concerned over ‘anti-NRC’ dossier

first_imgThe Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU) and its affiliate Journalists’ Union of Assam (JUA) have expressed concern over the “propaganda” under the “NRC authority logo to malign journalists from across the country as anti-nationals” for their critical reports on the ongoing National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam.A dossier listing “anti-NRC” journalists and human rights activists has been doing the rounds on social media for about a week now. The office of State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela issued a statement saying it has nothing to do with the creation and circulation of the dossier.“The IJU views this as a hate campaign and crass intolerance against opinions and reports by professional journalists,” the union’s president and Press Council of India member Amar Devulapalli said in a statement on Wednesday. ‘Hate campaign’He termed the “hate campaign” as an attack on the right to free speech and expression.JUA president Geetartha Pathak, also the IJU vice-president, said the dossier was a mischievous attempt to intimidate journalists and discourage them from reporting on and analysing the ground reality in Assam.The IJU and JUA also asked the NRC authority to investigate the origin of the dossier since it has been prepared in their names.last_img read more