Winning the Paywall Debate

first_imgThough it may seem anti-climactic to you, given the rigorous discussion and testing around other publications’ paywalls, this is giant for us. We’ve finally moved from discussion to doing, and I, for one, could not be happier. Movement and experimentation, not standing still and hiding, is how smart business decisions are made.Previously, half of our content was behind a paywall that pushed people to subscribe. Now, the majority of our new content will be paywalled for at least a day or two, as it’s released. Editors will gradually rotate all pieces in front of the paywall during the week, so that every single piece will get its chance to circulate for free. This allows editors to better control the timing and PR strategy surrounding the release of content, but especially helps the efforts of the marketing team. Because our issues go live each week, the impact of our paywall is to encourage people to pay for instant access to our content.One of the most unanticipated pushbacks has been not from readers, but from writers who worry about cutting off eyeballs to their page. Our editorial staff has done a good job of communicating the necessity of testing, and I hope that my points below help other publications open a constructive dialogue about paywall strategy with their writers.1. Our financial vitality is necessary in order to further our editorial mission. Being a subscription-based publication, we rely on money from our readers in ways that other places do not. I’m not giving away free copies of The Nation at the dentist’s office; our basic annual rate for a printed magazine is $79 (a pittance compared to $138 for The Economist). We are not beholden to advertisers or a ratebase, leaving us to refreshingly cover what we want how we want. News media across the board have been fighting an uphill battle against free news on the web for years; The Nation is not immune. But I sense a shifting of the tides, and the industry has been teaching readers, little by little, that good, factual journalism costs something. Sending a reporter to Egypt or Russia or a photo-essayist to Detroit costs more than travel fees—these reporters are in Syria or Russia or Detroit, and readers should expect to have to pay people for the work that surrounds these issues. Believe it or not, solid, rigorous reporting isn’t done from a desktop or pieced together from a bunch of Wikipedia facts. Real journalism, like a crane operator or a chef, requires nuanced skill, time, and expertise. Writers know this. But it’s easy for them to lose sight of this in a vacuum—especially in an era we’ve created where we make clicks and pageviews count more than actual content, which practically demands a reversal. What needs to be reiterated is how, in order to avoid becoming a slogfest of half-truths and online “facts,” we need money to fund their work. If we’re not relying on advertising, then we need to rely on circulation. And in this day and age, a paywall is just another type of circulation.2. Our readers, not our advertisers, are our future. I liken our readers to Packers fans. Green Bay is the only community-owned sports franchise in the country. Cheeseheads are rabid about their Packers because they have a psychological stake in the team (no dividends are paid out; extra monies go to a variety of non-profits throughout Wisconsin). The structure is different, but the sentiment is similar: The Nation’s writers give readers a point of view they don’t often read. We need them both on board to continue our work. As long as we push affordable business initiatives to a new audience, we can build said audience with a greater psychological investment in our content provided by the writers. The readers and writers work in tandem, walking along a tightrope of limited funds, and without those funds, both will falter.3. Leverage the exclusionary aspect to inspire a bigger audience. It’s not rocket science: the glut of crap on the internet is astounding, and we all read it, but we don’t remember it (when was the last time you quoted a Yahoo News statistic at a meeting?). Everything has been’ed to the point where news has become trivia questions, not actual substance. But the writers can fight that, with their own followings and via their own audiences, by talking about their “exclusive” content on The Nation. It’s a way to leverage money for the paywall, but also for readers of their content. They want more eyeballs, not less; their resistance is to the general idea that a paywall will reduce eyeballs. This may be accurate on the outset. But the ownership is on everyone at the magazine—from the PR team to the writers’ own connections—to emphasize the importance of their pieces, offer teasers, and establish a firm stance that there is a reason we are asking you to cough up some money (in our case, $9.50) to read content. We’re like an exclusive club that costs next to nothing to join.4. Finally, this too shall pass. This is only temporary. This is only a test. Remember: it will either work or it won’t. If it works, then you’ve got the eyeballs, and we’ve got money to pay you. If it doesn’t, we experiment with something new and try a different angle. I promise you, it’s not in my interest to pour money into a continually failing strategy. Trust that your business staff is doing the best they can in your interest and in the publication’s, and that we won’t do something that will hurt the future of magazine. We’re doing something revolutionary at The Nation: we’re finally testing different paywall strategies. Sharing this is like dumping my purse on the table of a restaurant—it’s a mixed bag of embarrassment and pride. Why haven’t we done this sooner?It’s a little tricky, of course, being a subscription-based publication with a 150-year history of an audience allied to very strong editorial content. We have become increasingly forward-thinking with our approach to advertising, but at the core of it, our subscribers fund the magazine. At The Nation, Editorial Rules. We’ve been slower to test for all the reasons you think: less money; limited staff; an audience of truth-seekers who find paywalls a moral hindrance if nothing else; a founding prospectus that emphasizes our role to engage open, critical discussion of political and social issues; a staunch belief in the freedom of the press.last_img read more

9 great reads from CNET this week

first_img Tags Sep 1 • iPhone 11, Apple Watch 5 and more: The final rumors • 0 Aug 31 • Your phone screen is gross. Here’s how to clean it Aug 31 • iPhone XR vs. iPhone 8 Plus: Which iPhone should you buy? The end of the year is near, even if the news cycle doesn’t seem to have noticed. GoFundMe returned more than $400,000 after learning one of the site’s campaigns was a scam. Fortnite, the shoot-’em-up video game, is reportedly set to turn a cool $3 billion in profit this year. And Silicon Valley billionaire Reid Hoffman apologized for unwittingly funding an Alabama disinformation campaign. If you missed any of the action, now’s your chance to catch up. And don’t worry… there’ll be plenty more in 2019. You thought the net neutrality fight was over? Think againTime’s run out to restore the rules using a legislative loophole. The fight, however, is far from over. Sarah Tew/CNET From NASA to SpaceX, 2018 was a great year for space news The launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket headlined a year of marvelous space milestones. deyhrbkvqaau6kd Virgin Galactic Here’s why Cher’s was the must-follow Twitter account of the yearThe global superstar is the antithesis of all the wrong types of tweeters. "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" - UK Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals Samir Hussein/Getty Images From iPhone XR to Galaxy S9, we just had the best year for phones ever Phones were fast, powerful and brimming with exciting features. The 2019 crop will likely be better. i-phone-xs-i-phone-xs-max-1 Angela Lang/CNET Facebook Watch may have been the best part of the social network’s bad year But it wasn’t that great. Jessica Miglio Jessica Miglio Google employees found voice in protest this yearYou’ll likely hear more. Google Walkout Me Too Protest James Martin/CNET Google Home’s 2018 in reviewOwning the smart home. google-home-hub-9 Chris Monroe/CNET Fighting fake news on social media is going to get harderThe shift to messaging and ephemeral content will prove challenging. FRANCE-INTERNET-COMPANY-STOCKS-FACEBOOK Joel Saget / AFP/Getty Images The best cars we drove in 2018You’ll want to drive ’em all. 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring Steven Ewing/Roadshow ‘Hello, humans’: Google’s Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet. Infowars and Silicon Valley: Everything you need to know about the tech industry’s free speech debate. Aug 31 • Best places to sell your used electronics in 2019 Share your voice NASA Facebook Google Instagram Porsche Snapchat SpaceX Tesla Twitter Volkswagen Apple WhatsApp See All Apple reading • 9 great reads from CNET this week Tech Industry Post a commentlast_img read more

Randhir Kapoor finally declares Rishi Kapoor is almost cancerfree now

first_imgRishi Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor, Karisma Kapoor, Randhir KapoorInstagramAfter maintaining suspense around Rishi Kapoor’s illness for the last few months, Randhir Kapoor has finally confirmed that the veteran actor was indeed suffering from cancer while giving an update on his current health condition.None of the member of the Kapoor family had disclosed the kind of disease Rishi Kapoor has been suffering from until filmmaker Rahul Rawail shared that Rishi Kapoor is now cancer-free on his recent Facebook post.Validating Rawail’s statement on Rishi Kapoor becoming cancer-free, Randhir Kapoor told PTI, “He is undergoing treatment, he is much better. He is almost cancer free. He will take some time to come back as he has to finish his course. He will be here in the next couple of months. Very soon.”This is time that a member of the Kapoor family has disclosed the nature of Rishi Kapoor’s illness. Earlier, Neetu Kapoor has posted a cryptic message about Rishi Kapoor’s health in her Instagram post suggesting that the veteran actor has indeed been diagnosed with cancer.A few days ago, Rishi Kapoor too had broken his silence on his current health condition and said that he is much better now and looking forward to working again.Rishi Kapoor had left to the US along with his wife Neetu Kapoor in September, last year to undergo the treatment for his cancer. Randhir Kapoor too had said that they have been doing medical tests and will update the media about Kapoor’s current health condition without revealing the nature of the disease.And now that Rishi Kapoor has finally battled the deadly disease and has been announced cancer-free, his fans along with the industry people are waiting for his return to India.last_img read more

Yuvraj Singh expected to announce retirement today

first_imgYuvi is likely to end his international career todayOne of India’s most successful batsmen in ODI cricket and winner of the man of the tournament award in the 2011 Cricket World Cup Yuvraj Singh is expected to announce his retirement from international and domestic cricket later today. The all-rounder has arranged an interaction with the media today at a hotel in Mumbai, where he is expected to make this declaration. There has been speculation about Singh calling it quits for some time now and the prospect of participating in tournaments such as Euro T20 Slam, to be played in Ireland, and GT20, to be played in Canada, may have served as an additional motivating factor.Indian players are barred from participating in overseas T20 leagues and as long as Yuvraj remains an active player in the Indian circuit, he cannot ply his trade in T20 events outside the country. By retiring, he could not only play these tournaments but other popular leagues across the world as a freelancer.Yuvi’s exploitsYuvraj Singh started his international career with a bang in 2000 during the ICC Knockout Trophy in Nairobi. In only his second match and the first innings of his career, the left-hander struck a brilliant 84 to help his team defeat the world champions Australia. Yuvraj was a key part of India’s 2011 World Cup victoryINDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty ImagesHe then went through a patch of bad form which saw him losing his place in the team. But when he returned to the Indian side during the home series against Zimbabwe in early 2002, he reasserted his class by rescuing his team with an innings of 80* and taking it to victory. After that he became a regular member of the ODI team.In all, Yuvraj played 304 matches and batted in 278 innings to score 8701 runs with 14 centuries and 52 half-centuries. He also took 111 wickets with one five-wicket haul. He was one of the best fielders in the world at the beginning of his career and started the trend of good fielding in the Indian side.However, Yuvraj couldn’t replicate his success in the longest format and despite playing 40 Tests, only scored 1900 runs with an average of 33.92, though he did manage three hundreds with a highest score of 169. As a bowler also, he got just nine wickets in his entire Test career.In T20Is, a career of 58 matches produced 1177 runs and 28 wickets and included his brilliant performance in the inaugural World T20 of 2007 which India won. His record in the IPL is mixed and this year, his team Mumbai Indians kept him on the bench after the first four matches of the season. This may have further prompted Yuvraj to consider retirement as his prospects in the IPL also are not looking that bright.last_img read more

US to resume refugee admissions from Muslim nations NKorea

first_imgUS Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington. Photo: AFPThe United States will resume admissions for refugees from 11 countries identified as presenting a high security risk, but with extra vetting for these mostly Middle Eastern and African nations, senior US officials said on Monday.The changes came after a 90-day review of refugee admissions from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen by the State Department, Department of Homeland Security and intelligence agencies.The new rules are the latest changes to the US refugee program made by the administration of president Donald Trump to address what it sees as national security issues.Some of the administration’s actions, including an executive order to temporarily ban all refugees, have sparked lengthy court battles. Refugee advocates have said they see the administration’s actions as intended to reduce the number of refugees, particularly those from Muslim countries.During the review period, which lasted from late October to last week, admissions of refugees from those countries dropped sharply, according to a Reuters analysis of State Department data.The changes announced on Monday include additional screening for certain people from the 11 countries, and a periodic review of a list of countries identified as presenting higher security risks.The new guidelines were announced at a press briefing by senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They offered no details about which people from the 11 countries will be subject to the extra screening, citing security concerns.The list of “high-risk” countries was last updated by the Obama administration in 2015, the senior administration officials said.US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen would like officials to factor in risks to the United States other than terrorism, such as transnational organized crime, a senior administration official said.During the briefing, officials said refugees will not be barred from admission to the United States solely on the basis of nationality.“The big picture is that there is no longer a refugee pause on countries, including the 11 high-risk countries, with these measures taking effect,” one senior administration official said in a briefing with reporters. “We’ll be resuming admissions with the new security measures in place.”In an address at the Wilson Center on Monday morning, Nielsen spoke about the new security measures, saying they “seek to prevent the program from being exploited by terrorists, criminals and fraudsters.”“These changes will not only improve security but importantly they will help us better assess legitimate refugees fleeing persecution,” she said.Refugee advocates said they worry the new security measures will block refugees from the 11 countries from admission to the United States.“Adding yet more hurdles to an already overly bureaucratic process will burden those seeking safety for themselves and their families,” Amnesty International USA said in a statement.Since becoming US president, Trump has imposed numerous limits on the refugee program, including capping the number of refugees allowed into the country in the 2018 fiscal year at less than half the number set by former President Barack Obama for 2017. He also issued an executive order pausing the refugee program pending a thorough review, instituted stricter vetting requirements and quit negotiations on a voluntary pact to deal with global migration.For each of the last three years, refugees from the 11 countries made up more than 40 per cent of US admissions. But a Reuters review of State Department data shows that as the 90-day review went into effect, refugee admissions from the 11 countries plummeted.Since 25 October, the day the 90-day review went into effect, 46 refugees from the 11 countries have been allowed into the United States, according to State Department data.last_img read more

Rohingya presence makes coastal districts vulnerable PM Hasina

first_imgPrime minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the inauguration programme of a two-day Dhaka Meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation in a hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday. Photo: BSSPrime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday sought global leaders’ enhanced awareness about the climate change and their effective initiatives to negate its impacts.“I request all for their awareness and respective responsibility to fight the adverse impacts of climate change,” she said while inaugurating a two-day Dhaka Meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation in a city hotel.The prime minister also urged the world community to put more emphasis on research and investment on this issue as the climate change is fast affecting agriculture, life and livelihood.Marshal Islands president Hilda C Heine, former United Nations Secretary General and incumbent Global Commission on Adaptation Chairman Ban Ki-moon and World Bank chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva were present at the function.Speaking on the occasion, the three dignitaries highly praised prime minister Sheikh Hasina for her extraordinary leadership to lead the world to address the adverse impacts of climate change from the forefront.Hailing Bangladesh’s initiatives and strategies to fight the climate change impacts, Ban Ki-moon said, “Of Course we are here to learn from Bangladesh. When comes to adaptation, Bangladesh is the best teacher to learn about adaptation.”Wishing a complete success of the Dhaka Meeting of GCA, prime minister Sheikh Hasina said, “This is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our own strategies to adapt to climate change, build resilience as well as offer to share our knowledge and experience with you.”“We are eagerly waiting to see the recommendations of the flagship report next September at the time of the climate change summit called by the secretary general of the United Nations where I, on behalf of Bangladesh and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), have been invited to speak,” she said.Bangladesh is expecting to take advantage of the best adaptation practices, most cost-effective solutions and risk reduction with the help of the Global Commission on Adaptation, she said.The premier said that being a leading country of adaptation, Bangladesh deserves to have a Regional Adaption Centre in Dhaka.Highlighting her government’s frantic efforts to effectively fight the climate change, she said, “We are working relentlessly to overcome our vulnerabilities and create adaptation measures for the people. Over the last decade, we have spent on an average around US$ 1 billion annually for adapting to climate change impacts.”Furthermore, to achieve climate resilience, the government created a dedicated Climate Change Trust Fund in 2009 and so far, more than US$ 420 million have been allocated from own resources to the fund for both adaptation and mitigation programmes, she informed the meeting.“We have designed project titled ‘Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100’ for combating climate change,” the prime minister also said.Considering the adverse impacts of climate change, Sheikh Hasina said, her government is currently constructing more 378 Mujib Kellas, 3,868 multi-purpose cyclone shelters across the coastal districts and planning to build 1,650 more shelters gradually.She said, “Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman showed the path of climate adaptation by building 172 Mujib Kellas (cyclone shelters) in the coastal areas.”“We have taken initiatives to increase tree coverage from 22 per cent to 24 per cent in the next five years. So far Bangladesh has created 0.2 million hectares of coastal forests as shelterbelt to protect from tidal surges and calamities. Bangladesh is also successfully managing 601,700 hectares of Sundarbans Mangrove forest,” the prime minister said.Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen and environment, forest and climate change minister Md. Shahab Uddin also spoke on the occasion.Seeking more attention from the global community to repatriate Rohingyas quickly, the prime minister said, “It is the responsibility of the global community to do more to ensure their quick return to Myanmar as well as look after them while they remain in Bangladesh as we have shelter to 1.1 million evicted Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar.”She also said that their presence in Cox’s Bazar makes the southeast coastal district of Bangladesh vulnerable.Prime minister Sheikh Hasina talks to Marshal Islands president Hilda C Heine (C) and former United Nations Secretary General and incumbent Global Commission on Adaptation Chairman Ban Ki-moon in a hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday. Photo: PIDThe prime minister said Bangladesh has engaged in creating resilient forests in offshore areas to protect forest dependent communities and habitats of important forest biodiversity.“Besides, our scientists and farmers invented stress tolerant rice cultivation technologies which produced good results. Floating garden – a low input -low cost resilient family farming production system in the wetlands of the south-central coastal districts is another good example,” she said.Household Silo (HHS) is another adaptation practice in Bangladesh to ensure food security in disaster prone areas, she added.“Bangladesh, being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, is also at the forefront of learning on how to tackle the adverse impacts of climate change,” the premier said.The prime minister said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman initiated Cyclone Preparedness Program (CPP) in 1972 for effective cyclone preparedness in coastal areas and prepared 49,365 trained volunteers to this end.Referring to deaths in several catastrophic cyclone since 1970 which claimed around 1 million lives in Bangladesh, she said, “The impact of natural calamities have come down significantly due to the present government’s various timely and effective measures.”In this regard, she said at least 150,000 people died in the 1991 catastrophic cyclone, adding that Cyclone Sidr in 2007 caused deaths of more than 3,400 people.She also said Cyclone Aila hit southwest coast of Bangladesh in May 2009 claiming around 190 people while Cyclone Fani in May 2019 claimed less than 10 people.Referring to ADB’s climate and economics report for South Asia predicting that Bangladesh’s annual GDP loss will be 2 per cent, if temperature continues to rise at the current rate, Hasina said 19 coastal districts of the country will face consequence if the sea level rises.“Evidences suggest that Bangladesh has already 6 million climate migrants, a number that could more than double by 2050 due to changes in temperature, increased frequency and severity of floods, droughts, heat waves, cyclones and storm surges, sea level rise, and salinity intrusion,” she added.“These changes are seriously affecting agriculture, crops, livestock and fisheries and threatening the food security of Bangladesh. According to IPCC report AR4, rice production in Bangladesh could decline by 8 per cent and wheat by 32 per cent by 2050 due to climate change,” she continued.“In 2015 in Paris, we have been successful in creating a solid ground for a meaningful cooperation in combating climate change impacts. Like many others, we firmly believe that climate change is a global challenge and we have to resort to global solutions,” the prime minister said.The Paris Agreement is the most pragmatic and effective global deal towards the global solution, she added.last_img read more

Minnis father says exMPs wife behind Rifat murder

first_imgAysha Siddika MinniRifart Sharif was killed as a sequel to an altercation with Shamsunnahar Khuki, wife of Barguna Zila Parishad chairman and former MP Delwar Hossain, claimed Mozammel Hossain, father of Minni on Wednesday, reports UNB.Mozammel Hossain came up with the remark at a press conference at Barguna Press Club at 12 pm.Quoting a report from a national daily, he said a few days ago, before the murder, Rifat and his wife Minni went to a restaurant beside the house of chairman Delwar Hossain when his wife Shamsunnahar and Rifat locked into a quarrel over parking Rifat’s motorcycle in front of their house.At one point of the squabble, Rifat hurled abuses at Shamsunnahar while she threatened Rifat to teach him a good lesson, he said.Shamsunnahar complained against Rifat to her two nephews — Rifat Farazi and Rishan Farazi — who were seen at the forefront of the murder spot in the video footage of the killing.”Rifat Sharif’s father Dulal Sharif being instigated by local influential group demanded our arrest. I strongly protest it. Minni was arrested to cover up Rifat’s murder and now it would be possible to hide the masterminds of the killing if me and my wife are arrested,” he added.Minni’s husband Rifat Sharif, 22, was attacked with sharp weapons near the main gate of Barguna Government College. His wife Aysha Siddika Minni appeared to be trying to protect him during the broad daylight attack caught on surveillance camera.Police arrested Minni on 16 July after a daylong interrogation, suspecting her involvement in the murder.Police have so far arrested 16 people over the murder. Besides, main accused Sabbir Ahmed alias Nayon Bond was killed in a reported gunfight with law enforcers on 2 July.last_img read more

List of razakars to be displayed in every union Minister

first_imgLiberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Huq. File PhotoLiberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Huq on Friday said a list of razakars as well as freedom fighters will be published and displayed in every union parishad by December, reports UNB.He said this while speaking at a meeting on approving the design of Mujibnagar Parjatan Motel in Meherpur.The meeting was jointly organised by liberation war affairs ministry and the Meherpur district administration.Housing and public works deputy chief Asifur Rahman Bhuiyan showed the main design of the Mujibnagar Smrity (Memorial) Centre.Minister Huq said the construction will start before 17 April next year.He said the government also plans to name roads, bridges and culverts after freedom fighters.Farhad Hossain, state minister for the ministry of public administration, attended the meeting as the special guest.Meherpur deputy commissioner Ataul Gani, superintendent of police SM Morad Ali and liberation war affairs ministry secretary SM Arif-ur-Rahman were also present.last_img read more

Blacks and the Bush 41 Legacy

first_imgSubmitted to the AFRO by Raynard JacksonFormer British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill once said, “To every man there comes a time in his life when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a great and mighty work; unique to him and fitted to his talents; what a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the moment that could be his finest hour.”This was my first thought when my phone started to ring last Friday night around 11:15 east coast time as I heard about the death of former president, George Herbert Walker Bush, affectionately called by me, “Ole man Bush.”President Bush receives an award from former UNCF president Chris Edley, Sr.How do you explain the intersection of my life with the likes of someone like Bush’s?  I, from the hood of St. Louis, he from a wealthy Connecticut family; I, part of the baby boom generation, he, from the World War ll generation; I, a graduate of Oral Roberts University, he, a Yale University graduate.As if this connection wasn’t improbable enough, what are the odds of us being connected by Churchill’s words?Bush was tapped on the shoulder when he, against his father’s wishes, joined the military right out of high school; making him the youngest navy aviator in our country’s history.  His plane was shot down and he was rescued by his fellow soldiers.He was tapped on the shoulder again upon his completion of his studies at Yale University; and chose to give up the creature comforts of his wealthy upbringing and struck out on his own in the oil business in Odessa, Texas.Bush was tapped on the shoulder many more times in his life;  when he created a Yale chapter of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), gave royalties from his book to the UNCF, and had his brother Jonathan serve as chairman of the board of the UNCF in the early nineties; envoy to China, head of the CIA, chairman of the Republican National Committee, vice president, and president.I was tapped on the shoulder in September of 1987 when the Bush family asked me to chair the then vice-president’s upcoming campaign for president in St. Louis.  I had the great fortune to sit at the feet of the likes of President Bush, former Secretary of State James Baker, former Commerce Secretary, Robert Mosbacher, to name a few.  Now, Baker is the only one left for us to learn from.They were my introduction to politics and they instilled in me at every chance the value relationships.President Bush is the reason I am in D.C. today.But, I want to focus on the Bush family’s relationship with the UNCF and HBCUs.Most of the public has no idea that the Bush family has been involved with the UNCF and HBCUs for well over fifty years.  Every Black college president will admit that their schools tend to do better when Republicans are in power versus when Democrats are in power.  They are too afraid to admit it publicly.Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bush, both had a very close personal relationship with former Howard University (“the real HU”) president James Cheek.Cheek was a life long Republican and used his party ties to handsomely benefit his school.In his thirty plus years leading Howard University (1968-1989), the school’s budget went from $43 million to over $417 million; and the school’s federal appropriation went from $29 million to over $178 million annually.And it wasn’t just president Bush either.  His wife, Barbara, served on the Morehouse School of Medicine’s board of directors from 1983-1989.The Bush’s also established the George H.W. and Barbara P. Bush Endowed Professorship at Morehouse School of Medicine, which focused on neuroscience research and is still going very strong to this day.As a matter of fact, Dr. Louis W. Sullivan served as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during Bush’s term as president; making him the first “Morehouse Man” to serve in a U.S. president’s cabinet.Continuing Churchill’s words, what a tragedy that HU (“horrible university”) has not issued any formal statement of condolences to the Bush family, despite the years of support from this family.  What a tragedy that most of Howard’s alumni have no idea of what the Republican Party and Bush specifically has done for the school.You would think that the death of a great president and a great man would be enough for liberal bastions like HU to remove their blinders at least temporarily to honor our fallen president.But, unfortunately, this moment has found Howard University “unprepared and unqualified for the moment that could have been it’s finest hour.”Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 Super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party. BAFBF focuses on the Black entrepreneur. For more information about BAFBF, visit You can follow Raynard on Twitter @Raynard1223.The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.Send letters to The Afro-American • 1531 S. Edgewood St. Baltimore, MD 21227 or fax to 1-877-570-9297 or e-mail to read more

Wall carvings in Saudi Arabia appear to offer earliest depiction of dogs

first_imgRock art at Shuwaymis appears to show two dogs leashed to a hunter. Credit: M. Guagnin et al., Journal Of Anthropological Archaeology, 5, 2017 (—A combined team of researchers from Max Planck University and the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage has documented what might be the oldest depictions of dogs by human beings. In their paper published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology , the team describes the wall engravings and the means by which they attempted to date them. The researchers note that the dogs depicted in the rock bear a striking resemblance to modern Canaan dogs, which still live a feral existence in the area. They also acknowledge that a lot more research is required before a consensus can be reached regarding the age of the engravings. Prior research has suggested that humans first arrived in what is now Saudi Arabia approximately 10,000 years ago. Those first visitors were believed to be hunter-gatherers—researchers have found images of them carved into stone walls in the area. Prior research has also found evidence that people in the area domesticated animals and became herders approximately 7000 to 8000 years ago. They, too, have been depicted in stone etchings, and researchers have also found the bones of some of their livestock. Now, it appears that during the time between these two periods, people may have domesticated dogs and used them to hunt other animals for food. This new evidence is part of a collection of stone carvings the team has been studying at two sites in Saudi Arabia: Jubbah and Shuwaymis.The stone carvings depict hunters, armed with bows, surrounded by dogs, some of which appear to be tethered to the waists of their human masters. It is not currently possible to directly date stone carvings, of course, so the researchers had to use other types of evidence. They noted the weathering of the rock, for example, which can be used as an approximate aging test. But more importantly, they noted the location of the engravings and the sequence of engravings in the area. Those depicting tamed, leashed dogs appear to occur in a general timeline from approximately 8000 years ago. If the age of the engravings can be confirmed, it would push back the earliest depiction of leashed dogs by approximately 3000 years. © 2017 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Science Like humans, dogs found to have fitful sleep after negative experiences Citation: Wall carvings in Saudi Arabia appear to offer earliest depiction of dogs (2017, November 21) retrieved 18 August 2019 from More information: David Grimm. Oldest images of dogs show hunting, leashes, Science (2017). DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6365.854 Maria Guagnin et al. Pre-Neolithic evidence for dog-assisted hunting strategies in Arabia, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2017.10.003 , … ii/S0278416517301174 Explore furtherlast_img read more

Spott a Belgian secondscreen app that lets users

first_imgSpott, a Belgian second-screen app that lets users buy items they see on TV, has officially launched.The service will be available from today to VTM and RTL channel viewers, with the release following an 18-month trial period.Spott uses sound recognition to identity what programme a user is watching and makes content interactive by detecting various products featured in shows and movies and linking them to an online store.Using the Spott app and website, users can buy things they see on TV and create wish lists of products, with the service compatible with both live broadcasts and recorded content.“You can now actually buy the dress that Emily Thorne wears in Revenge while watching the series, or add it to a list for later,” said Michel De Wachter, one of the founders of Appiness, the start-up behind Spott.Appiness co-founder Jonas De Cooman said: “We believe Spott enriches the viewing experience of people who like to be inspired by what they see.”last_img read more

Celtic fans Orlaith Duffy Erin Slaven and Mikaela

first_img Celtic fans Orlaith Duffy, Erin Slaven and Mikaela McKinley met through footballSINN Féin group leader on Derry City and Strabane District Council Sandra Duffy is to bring a motion before the Council this Thursday calling on the Council to become the first in the North to support the “On the Ball” campaign.The aim of the campaign is to provide free sanitary products in as many sporting grounds and public buildings as possible to combat the ever growing issue of period poverty.Speaking prior to Thursdays full Council meeting Councillor Sandra Duffy said: “I have been campaigning on this issue locally for some time now and felt the next logical step was for our Council to become the first in the North to embrace the ” On the Ball” campaign to help prevent Period Poverty.“I have been inspired over recent months by the success of the campaign spearheaded by Orlaith Duffy, Erin Slaven and Mikaela McKinley to get Free sanitary products into Celtic Park football ground in Glasgow. “The “On the Ball” campaign has grown considerably with clubs right across Scotland and England now coming on board.“I believe we should also be taking the lead on bringing about such positive change and it should be the norm in schools, universities colleges, workplaces, football grounds, concert venues for free access to sanitary product provision.“I totally understand trying to bring in any new scheme that there will always be teething problems and working out the practicalities but I think it’s important locally we are looking at solutions not putting up barriers otherwise we will be left behind,” she added.Derry and Strabane council should be first in North to tackle Period Poverty – Duffy was last modified: September 26th, 2018 by John2John2 Tags: Celtic FCCOUNCILLOR SANDRA DUFFYDerry and Strabane CouncilDerry and Strabane council should be first in North to tackle Period Poverty – DuffyGroup leaderOn The BallPeriod PovertySinn Fein ShareTweetlast_img read more

As a science columnist for The New York Times Car

first_imgAs a science columnist for The New York Times, Carl Zimmer had reported extensively about genetics and the role gene mutations play in various ailments. After a while, he got to wondering about what secrets his own genetic code holds.”I wanted to know if there was anything I needed to worry about,” Zimmer says. “We all think back to our relatives who got sick and then wonder, ‘Is that in me?’ “So Zimmer worked with a genetics counselor to get his entire genome sequenced — an experience he describes as “very nerve-wracking.” He worried that he would discover a mutation that would put him on the path for a particular disease.As it turned out, the counselor told Zimmer he has a “boring genome.” Though Zimmer initially hoped for a more “exciting and exotic” assessment, the counselor reminded him “A boring genome is a really good genome.”Zimmer writes about the broader implications of genetic research and testing in his new book, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions and Potential of Heredity.Interview HighlightsOn how the new genetic editing technology known as CRISPR worksWhat happens with CRISPR is that scientists will design a molecule — think of it as a probe — and it will search around in the DNA in a cell until if finds a very specific short sequence. And it will grab onto it, and it brings on with it basically molecular scissors, which will then cut the DNA at that spot — kind of like cutting tape. And you can cut out a segment of DNA. And if you just do that, DNA will heal itself. Basically the two loose ends will stitch themselves together, and now that piece is just missing. Or you can add in a little piece of different DNA, and you can actually get the cell to put in that new piece of DNA where you just cut out the old one.On whether CRISPR technology could be used to treat diseases in humansWe’re just on the verge of human trials. They will be starting, hopefully very soon, for diseases like sickle-cell anemia. There’s actually a lot of research on muscular dystrophy as well. There are a few key diseases where scientists think these would be the best places to start. To basically inject CRISPR molecules into people’s bodies; these CRISPR molecules would then go to certain kinds of cells and repair one particular spot in their DNA. And that treats the disease.We shouldn’t look at this as a panacea. … There have been earlier kinds of treatments known as gene therapy, where you basically try to add an extra gene into someone’s cells. And that [seemed] like it was just a slam dunk, but then it turned out to not work very well for years and years. … So CRISPR could be even more exciting and truly revolutionary. We just have to wait and see what this first generation of human clinical trials show us.On his visit to an insectarium where a scientist is breeding genetically modified mosquitoes that are resistant to malariaFirst of all, you have to gown up before you go in there. … And then you go through an air lock, and then you’re in this room where there are mosquitoes living in all their different life cycles.So there’s a dark room where the female mosquitoes are laying their eggs, because they like to do it in the dark. And then the scientists pull the eggs out from these rooms and they inject DNA into them and then they put them in water, because that’s where mosquito larvae like to develop.And so you go into this other room where there are these tubs of water, and these snake-like things are slithering around in there and then they develop into adults. And the females need to drink blood; so [researchers] found that the containers for movie popcorn work really well. What they do is, they basically clamp a warm container of calves’ blood on top of them, and then the mosquitoes are underneath — on the underside of the plastic lid — basically poking through and drinking the blood and fattening themselves up. …You can tell that they’ve been genetically altered because they have red eyes, which is kind of spooky. But you look at that and you say, well, that means that these could be the cure for malaria. It really could happen. And hundreds of thousands of people die every year of malaria. We’ve thrown everything we can at it and this parasite is still knocking us down worldwide. So, maybe this could be it – so, that’s actually quite exciting.On how genetic testing was used in the Golden State Killer caseFor the Golden State Killer case, what somebody decided to do was take the DNA that they had from these crime scenes, and upload it to one of these open-access sites — not a commercial site — and then see if they could find any close matches. And they found that there were some people that looked like they were distant cousins of this person. And they went and did the genealogical research to figure out “Well, how would they be related?” And then said “OK, who are the possible relatives that this person could be, and where do they live?” And that actually helped narrow down their search until they made an arrest.On whether genetic testing companies will protect user privacyYou can choose different levels of privacy with a lot of these services. So, for example, some people will say “I want you to look at my DNA. I want you to tell me about my ancestry.” … For 23 and Me they’ll give you a few bits of information about your medical conditions, and that’s it. But they will try to get you to opt in to sharing your data for their own basic research. At 23 and Me, for example, there’s a whole team of researchers who are studying all sorts of … diseases, sleep patterns and so on. And then they will also go into partnerships with drug development companies who will take their data, looking at, say, 50,000 people with lupus and 50,000 people who don’t have lupus, and try to look for the genetic differences. Those could point the way toward possible drugs.Phyllis Myers and Seth Kelley produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz and Seth Kelley adapted it for the Web. Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.last_img read more

Editors note This piece discusses suicide If yo

first_imgEditor’s note: This piece discusses suicide. If you have experienced suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide and want to seek help, you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741 or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.In February 2016, Govin Munswami considered killing himself.He had just returned to his family farm after visiting his wife, Amanda, in the hospital.The morning before, she had showered and left home to visit her mother. As she approached her front gate, she realized she forgot her purse. She turned around, went back inside her house to retrieve it and attempted suicide.Her husband sat by her hospital bed for seven days as she lay dying. He listened as she apologized. She said that she had made a mistake and couldn’t explain her motive.Just six months prior, Munswami’s mother, Yvonne, took her own life after a fight with her husband, Munswami’s father, who succumbed to a fatal heart attack the next day.Before his mother died, Munswami was able to speak with her and ask her why she did it.”She said she didn’t know why,” remembers Munswami, a 31-year-old teacher with a sturdy build and solemn stare. He says that both women told him they had acted impulsively in a moment of despair and expressed regret for their decisions.Faced with these losses, Munswami felt compelled to take his own life. But then he thought about his wife. Before she died, she had asked him for two things: to forgive her and to finish his degree.”I’m still here,” he says. “Although life has been rough, every day is a new day of your life.”Munswami has begun to speak out against suicide in his rural community of Black Bush Polder, known by many as the “suicide belt” of the small Caribbean nation of Guyana. In a 2014 report by the World Health Organization, Guyana was cited as the country with the highest suicide rate in the world — 44.2 suicides per 100,000 deaths, four times the global average.(Editor’s note: A story we published on suicide in Greenland in 2016 stated that Greenland has the highest suicide rate in the world, but because it is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, it is not included in the WHO compilation.)The WHO report represented an effort to bring global attention to the issue of suicide. The goal was to encourage individual countries to take steps to prevent suicide, considering their specific culture and addressing local risk factors. In 2015, Guyana became one of only 28 countries to develop a suicide prevention plan in response to the report. The plan identifies factors that could contribute to the country’s high rate of suicide.’Factors Are Like Dominoes’There are many reasons for Guyana’s high rate of suicide, says Balogun Osunbiyi, president and co-founder of the Guyana Psychological Association, and a government psychologist. He agrees with the assessment of the National Suicide Prevention Plan issued by the Ministry of Health, identifying poverty, pervasive stigma about mental illness, access to lethal chemicals, alcohol misuse, interpersonal violence, family dysfunction and insufficient mental health resources as key factors.”All of these factors are like dominoes,” says Osunbiyi. “Sometimes it’s more of this, sometimes it’s more of that. But they are all factors on the table.”Guyana is one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean, with a per capita GDP of $4,240. Approximately 60 percent of Guyana’s approximately 800,000 citizens live in isolated villages on the coast, where jobs — and community resources like mental health facilities — are limited.In these agricultural villages, most men farm rice or cut sugar cane, still working with the same kinds of cutlasses used a century ago. The majority of women stay at home and tend to their families, according to the World Health Organization.Records that we requested from the Ministry of Public Security show that approximately 70 percent of the country’s suicides occur in these rural regions. Osunbiyi says that in these communities, many people turn to alcohol and self-harm to cope with feelings of hopelessness, poverty and economic despair.While there may not be clinics and social support networks in these villages, there are plenty of rum shops, says Caitlin Vieira, a Guyanese government psychologist and addiction specialist. “Sporting,” Guyanese slang for drinking, is a popular pastime, she says.”In these rural communities, there is nothing to do but drink,” says Vieira. “Alcohol is huge in the culture. In some regions families will drink like they would play monopoly with the family.”A 2010 study by the Pan American Health Organization reported nearly 80 percent of Guyanese adolescents had their first drink before the age of 14, and some children try alcohol for the first time in elementary school. And while the relationship between alcohol and suicide is vastly under-researched, studies suggest that alcohol use disorder is a likely contributor to suicidal ideation and attempts.According to Osunbiyi, family dysfunction and domestic violence also contribute to Guyana’s high suicide rates.That is the story that Natasha Houston tells. She is a survivor of domestic violence, and like Munswami, she has begun to share her story to help others avoid tragedies like her own. In 2013, after enduring seven years of domestic abuse, Houston took their two children and left her husband, Richard Lord. But Lord, a sugar-cane cutter with whom she had eloped when she was only 13, found them in a nearby town. In a deadly and drunken fit of violence, he took the lives of their children — along with Houston’s right arm and most of her left hand. He fled into the woods behind their home. Neighbors found him weeks later, dead from an apparent suicide.Houston says Lord experienced a pattern of abuse that began as a child. When he was growing up, he witnessed his father abusing his mother in a household where corporal punishment was commonplace. According to Houston, once they were married, Lord would regularly drink to excess and often physically abuse her.While Houston’s story represents an extreme example, stories of gruesome domestic violence were repeated to us often in these most rural regions of Guyana, especially in Regions 2 and 6, where suicide rates are highest. Dr. Sonya Grey, medical superintendent of Suddie Hospital in Region 2, says she treats two to three people who have attempted suicide and at least one domestic violence-related injury per week. While she suspects many of her patients are victims of domestic violence, few report the offenses to the police, according to Grey.The National Suicide Prevention Plan states that East Indians, who make up roughly 40 percent of the population in Guyana, accounted for over 80 percent of the country’s suicides between 2010 and 2013. That statistic has led some experts, including Osunbiyi and Gaiutra Bahadur, a Guyanese journalist and Harvard Nieman Fellow, to look to the past for clues.When slave labor was abolished in 1838, plantation owners in Guyana began to import indentured servants, mostly from the lowest castes of India. In the social hierarchy of Guyana, these East Indians were relegated to a status lower than the freed African slaves. Indentured women ranked even lower than indentured men, and, in many cases, became the only property an indentured man could claim.”Two struggles for power unfolded simultaneously,” writes Bahadur in her book Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture. “One between indentured men and the system that made such wild claims to ownership — a system that saddened, emasculated and induced suicide — and another between Indian men and their women.”Bahadur studied these dynamics through the history of her own family. Her great-grandmother had come to Guyana from India and became an indentured servant in 1903. She suggests that this history of violence and exploitation manifests itself in the lives of the Indo-Guyanese today. According to both Osunbiyi and Bahadur, power dynamics and claims of ownership between men and their wives still persist in these mostly agricultural communities, especially those with high populations of East Indians.As a U.S.-licensed lawyer, mental health advocate and former managing director of the Guyana Foundation for three years, Anthony Autar has traveled the country discussing mental health conditions and access to mental health with his fellow citizens. In 2014, Autar led the Guyana Foundation to launch the largest private mental health initiative in Guyana’s history to address the WHO report on suicide, which had led to the media calling Guyana “the suicide capital of the world.” During these research and advocacy efforts, he found that many of Guyanese citizens had become accustomed to the residual trauma of these cycles of violence and suicide.”They think it’s normal,” he says. Autar says he didn’t realize that he too needed to seek mental health services until he moved to the United States to attend law school.Various studies, while not specific to Guyana, have shown that untreated trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder contribute to suicidal behavior. In Guyana, Autar says that much of the population has witnessed or experienced traumatic events like suicide, intimate partner violence and abuse. Until Guyana can effectively address and treat these concerns, Autar and many others believe that suicide and domestic violence will persist.Starting From ZeroAutar, Osunbiyi and the National Suicide Prevention Plan all site stigma as an important part of the puzzle. Many who do share their struggles with issues like depression or suicidal thoughts fear that, in small towns where gossip is reportedly common, they will be stigmatized or shunned due to a lack of awareness surrounding mental health.A primary source of that stigma, says Autar, is an antiquated piece of mental health legislation dating back to 1930, which defines people with mental health challenges as “idiots” or persons suffering from mental “derangement.”According to Autar, many people do not reach out for mental health support because they are afraid they will be locked up for an extended period. Eighty-five percent of patients sent for treatment spend more than five years in long-term care in a psychiatric hospital, and there are no laws that protect the rights of patients to refuse services or leave the hospital on their own accord.Many people, then, might keep struggles with depression or suicidal thoughts quiet for fear of being locked away at the National Psychiatric Hospital, which many still refer to as the “Berbice Madhouse.” One of the country’s three newspapers ran a headline last year referring to an “escaped psychiatric hospital inmate.”Someone experiencing suicidal thoughts could call the national suicide prevention hotline, but attempted suicide is still illegal in Guyana, and the hotline is run by the police. The psychologist Caitlin Vieira says that very few callers, if any, have been punished or arrested since the hotline’s start. Yet the fear of prosecution prevents many people from using the service, says Autar.Distance is also an obstacle. Many families in remote areas must travel hours to Georgetown Public Hospital in the capital to seek psychological evaluation, which can be both logistically and financially challenging. Two rehabilitation centers serve those struggling with substance abuse, and many cannot afford their services. One center serves only men. The mental health professionals who are able to travel to rural areas are overworked and often only able to devote minimal time to each patient, say Autar and Vieira.”We have so few mental health professionals who are properly trained,” says Autar. “It’s not easy at this point for [patients] to get the follow-up support that they need.”While much progress has been made since the WHO report on suicide, mental health care is still limited. According to the Ministry of Health, increasing the number of mental health professionals is a critical first step. Guyana’s Suicide Prevention Plan focuses primarily on improving mental health services and raising awareness for underlying issues that can lead to suicide like depression, alcohol misuse, and access to poison, which, according to the government’s plan, accounts for more than 65 percent of suicide deaths in Guyana.That plan pledges to increase the number of mental health professionals as part of an overall effort to decrease suicide mortality and attempted suicide rates in Guyana by at least 20 percent by 2020.According to Osunbiyi, approximately 120 medical doctors have participated in training for “moderate-severe depression intervention” from PAHO and the WHO in the past two years and are deployed across the country at various health facilities. Since 2014, the number of practicing psychologists and psychiatrists in Guyana has more than tripled, from seven in 2014 to 27 today. Many come from Cuba and others returned home to Guyana after earning educations in the United States and Canada.Statistics offer evidence that these initiatives may be working. Despite the stigma, people have begun seeking help in Guyana. In the four years since the WHO report, Guyana’s suicide rate has dropped by 32 percent to 30.2 suicides per 100,000 deaths, according to the most recent WHO statistics, released in April 2017.But Guyana still has the third highest suicide rate in the world. For Osunbiyi and other mental health professionals, there is still a long road ahead.”Some of us, we’re working 14 hours a day. It’s hard work,” Osunbiyi says. “It’s because we’re starting from zero. There was absolutely no structure before.”‘Let’s Talk’ There is still a long way to go before Guyana’s mental health services are sufficient for those in need, especially in the most isolated communities.In rural regions like Black Bush Polder, individuals may go days without interacting with others outside of their family, says Osunbiyi.”These communities are enclosed communities,” he says. “You go to the farm at five or six in the morning, you work until about two or three, you come back home.”According to Osunbiyi, this isolation forces many people in agricultural communities to cope with trauma, mental health issues and family dysfunction alone.While increasing the number of psychologists and psychiatrists in Guyana is a high priority for the Ministry of Health and the Guyana Psychological Association, training cannot happen overnight. In the meantime, community-based lay counselors are providing support for those in need. Many are survivors of domestic violence. Others have considered or attempted suicide themselves.Miriam Roberts-Hinds is the head counselor at the Guyana Foundation’s Sunrise Center, a community counseling and training center focused on mental health conditions. She uses her experience to reach others who are dealing with issues like suicide and domestic abuse. She says she could have been of one of the many suicide stories that pepper local newspapers. She became pregnant when she was only 15 after her first sexual experience with a man, eight years older, who became her husband. And she says he physically abused her.According to Roberts-Hinds, young girls in Guyana learn maxims like, “if he doesn’t hit you, he doesn’t love you,” and, “better the man you know than the one you don’t.””What [many women in Guyana] have been introduced to as ‘love’ is what we would term abuse,” says Roberts-Hinds. “That’s what they think as being normal.”Roberts-Hinds, who is now studying to earn a master’s degree in psychology, credits the support of her parents for giving her the ability to leave her husband and seek help when she had suicidal thoughts. She says her parents helped her to realize she had purpose and “goodness inside of her.”Others aren’t as fortunate, says Roberts-Hinds. The social norm in Guyana is not to speak up about abusive or traumatic situations, that you’d be seen as weak, “crazy,” or dangerous. Communication barriers due to stigma and social norms cause those in abusive or traumatic situations to stay silent.Osunbiyi agrees that displays of affection and positive communication need to be a greater part of Guyanese family life. This is why, every day, he wears a pin on his shirt that says, “Let’s Talk.” The pin is a symbol of the Guyana Psychological Association’s efforts to combat the stigma that prevents many Guyanese from seeking professional help for mental health issues.The association is bringing its efforts into the schools. Teachers are being trained to instruct students to communicate about their won mental health issues and about sources of stress in their life, such as abuse at home, substance abuse, and risky sexual behavior. The Ministry of Public Health has sponsored a program called “Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Teachers in Schools” and, according to Osunbiyi, is looking to expand the program to more schools in the coming years.Breaching the silence is critical, Osunbiyi and others believe — especially with youth ages 15 to 24, for whom suicide is the second leading cause of death, according to the National Suicide Prevention Plan. He hopes that opening up lines of communication could help reduce the country’s high suicide rate and also give people in abusive situations the ability to see that there is a life beyond the violence.That’s the message that Natasha Houston sends when she tells her story. Speaking out about domestic violence, she addresses crowds as large as 200, urging those in abusive situations to seek the help they need before their situations escalate.”Everywhere I go, people say, ‘What a beautiful girl. I wonder what happened with her hand?'” Houston says. “But my experience, it helps somebody else out there. It might be advice for them, for people in the same situation I was in.”In November 2017, Govin Munswami graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Guyana-Berbice, fulfilling his promise to his wife. In his sixth grade classroom in Black Bush Polder, he uses his experience to relate to students who might be struggling.The goal for Munswami, Roberts-Hinds and many others in Guyana is to teach children to express their emotions and discuss their personal issues with family members, friends and teachers. They hope that if people are better able to cope with difficult situations, the country’s high rate of suicide will continue to decrease.”After I share my story with young people who think their life is messed up, they say that if I can make it, maybe they can make it as well,” says Munswami.Reporting for this story was made possible by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.William Campbell Rawlins graduated from Boston University’s College of Communications with a master’s in journalism in 2017 and now works in public relations in Washington, D.C. He was a Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Student Fellow in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @wmcampbellrMadeline Bishop is a writer living in New Hampshire. She graduated from Boston University with a master’s degree in public health in 2018, specializing in health communications and mental health. She was a 2017 fellow for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and for the Public Health Post. Follow her on Twitter @madelinelbishop Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit read more

The father of a man who took his own life after be

first_imgThe father of a man who took his own life after being found “fit for work” believes his son would still be alive if he had not been failed by the benefits system the government and its contractor, Atos.Stephen Carre, 41, from Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, died in January 2010, after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) confirmed its decision that he was ineligible for its new out-of-work benefit, employment and support allowance (ESA).His father, Peter, said his son had suddenly stopped working in July 2007, and then lived off his savings for two years until his money ran out in 2009. His parents then paid his mortgage until he finally began claiming benefits in April 2009.Stephen (pictured) had previously worked for the Civil Service and then various electronics and communications companies, including as a telecommunications consultant, with firms such as Cisco, Ericsson and Lucient, mainly on software installations which manage mobile phone charges.After he quit his job, he rarely left his home, refused to talk to friends and relatives, or answer the door or telephone, and often spent days on end in the same room, surrounded by his possessions.He finally began talking again to his father and step-mother, Frances, in early 2009, and in April 2009 they persuaded him to apply for ESA.Peter said his son had struggled to cope with his anxiety and depression, although he had a girlfriend he saw occasionally.He said: “He couldn’t go anywhere on his own for the first time. I had to go with him to his psychiatrist. He would only go to certain shops, and only on a certain day.”Peter even had to accompany Stephen to the assessment centre two or three times before he was comfortable with the idea of attending his benefits eligibility test on his own.ESA had been launched by the Labour government less than a year earlier, and concerns about the test, the work capability assessment (WCA), had not yet fully emerged.At his assessment, a doctor employed by the government contractor Atos Healthcare decided that Stephen failed to match any of the criteria for eligibility and awarded him zero points, when he needed 15 to qualify for ESA.The assessor concluded that there was “no evidence to suggest that the client’s health condition due to their depression, is uncontrolled, uncontrollable or life threatening”.When that conclusion was rubber-stamped by a DWP decision-maker, Stephen asked DWP to reconsider the decision, as he believed it “disagrees wildly” with the opinion of his GP, his community psychiatric nurse and his psychiatrist.On his appeal form, he wrote that the medical assessment “bears no relation to the medical I had”, and that the report was completed by the assessor eight days after the assessment took place.He found out early in January 2010 that DWP had agreed with its earlier decision, so he was ineligible for ESA.Although he began the next stage of the appeal process, he took his own life sometime in the next few days. His body was found on 18 January 2010.Frances said she believes Stephen had made a sudden decision to kill himself, as he had recently been shopping and there was fresh food in his fridge.Two months later, at his inquest, the coroner heard from Stephen’s GP and psychiatrist, who both said they had not been asked by the Atos assessor or DWP to provide details of his state of mental health.The coroner, Tom Osborne, announced that he would write a Rule 43 report, a letter warning of a risk of future deaths if changes are not carried out by individuals or organisations.In the letter, Tom Osborne said the evidence had shown that the “trigger” that led to Stephen’s decision to take his own life had been “the rejection of his appeal that he was not fit for work”.He added: “I feel the decision not to seek medical advice from the claimant’s own GP or psychiatrist if they are suffering a mental illness should be reviewed.“Both doctors who gave evidence before me confirmed that if they had been approached they would have been willing to provide a report of Mr Carre’s present condition and prognosis.”DWP were told of Stephen’s death by his father, but they failed to inform the tribunal service, so when Peter Carre attended the appeal on his son’s behalf, he brought Stephen’s ashes with him.Because of the inadequacy of the Atos assessment, the appeal had to be adjourned.The following year, the tribunal ruled that Stephen should have been eligible for ESA and that the form completed by the Atos assessor was “not a sound basis” on which to turn down his ESA claim because of the eight-day delay between the assessment and the completion of the form, while there had been “no indication how much [of the form] was completed”.The tribunal concluded that the Atos assessor’s report was “a suspect document”, because it did not appear to have dealt with the information provided by Stephen’s ESA50 claim form.Later that month, the manager of Stephen’s local benefit delivery centre, in Luton, wrote to Peter Carre and said she agreed with the tribunal appeal that Stephen should have been eligible for ESA.Peter wrote back, and told her there had been a “dismal failure” by both the benefits service and Atos and that he had attended Stephen’s tribunals on his behalf “to bring to notice the inept handling by the registered medical practitioner at Stephen’s medical review”.Peter Carre told DNS that Atos, its assessor and DWP had all failed Stephen.He said: “Anyone could have seen that Stephen was incapable of work. It is totally beyond me how they could have found him fit for work.“If they had gone to his GP or his psychiatrist, I have no doubt the result of his assessment would have been different and he would probably still be with us today.”In a written statement responding to questions from DNS, a DWP spokesman declined to comment when asked if ministers would apologise to the family of Stephen Carre.He said: “Suicide is a tragic and complex issue and there are often many reasons why someone takes their life, so to link it to one event is misleading. “Since this inquest took place under the previous government we have made significant improvements to the work capability assessment, including improving the process for people with mental health conditions.“The percentage of people with mental health conditions who get the highest level of support has more than tripled since 2010, and we will continue to ensure that those who are able to work get all the help they need to move into a job when they are ready.”He said improvements made since 2010 include “improving the opportunities people have to present medical evidence”.The DWP spokesman said claimants were “encouraged to provide all evidence that will be relevant to their case at the outset of the claim, including medical evidence supplied by their GP or other medical professionals, while WCA assessors are “expected to seek further evidence in situations where it would help them to place someone in the support group without calling a claimant in for a face-to-face assessment”.He said a DWP decision-maker will “assess all available evidence and seek more if required to reach their decision”.But he admitted that DWP was still in discussions with Maximus – which took over the WCA contract from Atos earlier this year – to “pilot new evidence-seeking processes for claimants with mental health conditions”.Atos refused to respond to requests for a comment.last_img read more

Vast majority of dementia cases may arise from spontaneous genetic errors

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 15 2018Only a small proportion of cases of dementia are thought to be inherited – the cause of the vast majority is unknown. Now, in a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by researchers at the University of Cambridge believe they may have found an explanation: spontaneous errors in our DNA that arise as cells divide and reproduce.The findings suggest that for many people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, the roots of their condition will trace back to their time as an embryo developing in the womb.In common neurodegenerative diseases, toxic proteins build up in the brain, destroying brain cells and damaging brain regions, leading to symptoms including personality changes, memory loss and loss of control. Only around one in twenty patients has a family history, where genetic variants inherited from one or both parents contributes to disease risk. The cause of the majority of cases – which are thought to affect as many as one in ten people in the developed world – has remained a mystery.A team of researchers led by Professor Patrick Chinnery from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Mitochondrial Biology Unit and the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge hypothesised that clusters of brain cells containing spontaneous genetic errors could lead to the production of misfolded proteins with the potential to spread throughout the brain, eventually leading to neurodegenerative disease.”As the global population ages, we’re seeing increasing numbers of people affected by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, yet we still don’t understand enough about the majority of these cases,” says Professor Chinnery. “Why do some people get these diseases while others don’t? We know genetics plays a part, but why do people with no family history develop the disease?”To test their hypothesis, the researchers examined 173 tissue samples from the Newcastle Brain Tissue Resource, part of the MRC’s UK Brain Banks Network. The samples came from 54 individual brains: 14 healthy individuals, 20 patients with Alzheimer’s and 20 patients with Lewy body dementia, a common type of dementia estimated to affect more than 100,000 people in the UK.Related StoriesNew app created to help people reduce exposure to anticholinergic medicationsCommon medications can masquerade as dementia in seniorsSlug serves as ‘command central’ for determining breast stem cell healthThe team used a new technique that allowed them to sequence 102 genes in the brain cells over 5,000 times. These included genes known to cause or predispose to common neurodegenerative diseases. They found ‘somatic mutations’ (spontaneous, rather than inherited, errors in DNA) in 27 out of the 54 brains, including both healthy and diseased brains.Together, these findings suggest that the mutations would have arisen during the developmental phase – when the brain is still growing and changing – and the embryo is growing in the womb.Combining their results with mathematical modelling, their findings suggest that ‘islands’ of brain cells containing these potentially important mutations are likely to be common in the general population.”These spelling errors arise in our DNA as cells divide, and could explain why so many people develop diseases such as dementia when the individual has no family history,” says Professor Chinnery. “These mutations likely form when our brain develops before birth – in other words, they are sat there waiting to cause problems when we are older.””Our discovery may also explain why no two cases of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s are the same. Errors in the DNA in different patterns of brain cells may manifest as subtly different symptoms.”Professor Chinnery says that further research is needed to confirm whether the mutations are more common in patients with dementia. While it is too early to say whether this research will aid diagnosis or treatment this endorses the approach of pharmaceutical companies who are trying to develop new treatments for rare genetic forms of neurodegenerative diseases.”The question is: how relevant are these treatments going to be for the ‘common-or-garden’ variety without a family history? Our data suggests the same genetic mechanisms could be responsible in non-inherited forms of these diseases, so these patients may benefit from the treatments being developed for the rare genetic forms.” Source: read more

Podcast KHNs What the Health Reading the tea leaves in blue waves

first_imgThis week, “What the Health?” panelists discuss, among other things, how the House Democrats’ leadership battle could affect the congressional health policy agenda.The panelists are Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Alice Ollstein of Politico and Anna Edney of Bloomberg News.As the post-election dust settles on Capitol Hill, the Democrats — soon to be in control of the House of Representatives — have begun the process of choosing their leadership team. How this shakes out will have a lot to do with how health policy agenda takes shape in the lower chamber.House Democrats nominated Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to retake the speaker’s gavel, but she still needs to win over more of her colleagues to secure the speaker post in January.But all the action this week wasn’t focused on Congress. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb unveiled a proposed overhaul of the FDA’s decades-old medical device approval process, and the Trump administration announced proposals it said would reduce Medicare prescription drug costs. Critics fear those changes could mean that some people with chronic diseases like AIDS or cancer might not have access to the drugs they need.Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast: House Democrats nominated Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to retake the speaker’s gavel this week along with the rest of its leadership slate, Reps. Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. This is only the first step, though. The leadership positions will not be filled officially until January, when they are voted on by the full House. Although Pelosi is still wrangling for the support needed to earn her the required 218 votes, most insiders expect the Democrat’s leadership team to look much as it did the last time Democrats ruled the House chamber in 2010, when the Affordable Care Act became law. That means the House will likely be laser-focused on the necessary steps to protect the ACA. There may also be hearings on single-payer health insurance — a concept that is increasingly gaining interest and support within the caucus, and especially among some of its newest members. In the background, the Texas lawsuit that could overturn the ACA’s protections for people with preexisting conditions is still pending. That decision could come any day. Keep in mind, though, that whatever the court rules, it is likely to be appealed immediately and move up the legal ladder. And, in the interim, House Democrats may still move forward with legislation to strengthen those ACA safeguards. Such a measure could get some GOP support because many Republicans seeking re-election this year said they wanted to ensure that patients with preexisting medical conditions would not lose coverage. The FDA unveiled a proposed overhaul of its decades-old medical device approval system. Among its provisions, the plan includes steps to ensure that new medical devices reflect current safety and effectiveness features. Critics of the current system say it has failed to detect problems with some implants — like hip replacements that failed prematurely or surgical mesh that has been linked to pain and bleeding. The changes, if approved, could take years to implement and some might require congressional approval. The Trump administration proposed a series of changes to reduce the number of prescription drugs that all Medicare drug plans must cover. The proposal focuses on drugs in six “protected classes” and involves medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotic medicines, cancer drugs and antiretrovirals to treat HIV/AIDS. Administration officials have said the proposal could cut costs for Medicare, but patient advocacy groups say it could reduce patients’ access for much-needed treatments. The proposed changes would not occur until 2020, and Congress could intervene to stop them. This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Related StoriesCancer incidence among children and young adults with congenital heart diseasePopular herbal tea causes high-blood pressure emergency in patientMany thyroid cancer patients have no choice about radioactive iodine, study revealsAlso this week, Julie Rovner interviews KHN senior correspondent Jay Hancock, who investigated and wrote the latest “Bill of the Month” feature for Kaiser Health News and NPR. It’s about a single mother from Ohio who received a wrongful bill for her multiple sclerosis treatment. You can read the story here.If you have a medical bill you would like NPR and KHN to investigate, you can submit it here.Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:Mary Agnes Carey: The New York Times’ “This City’s Overdose Deaths Have Plunged. Can Others Learn From It?” by Abby GoodnoughMargot Sanger-Katz: NPR’s “Rethinking Bed Rest for Pregnancy,” by Alison KodjakAnna Edney: The Washington Post’s “Overdoses, Bedsores, Broken Bones: What Happened When a Private-Equity Firm Sought to Care for Society’s Most Vulnerable,” by Peter Whoriskey and Dan KeatingAlice Ollstein:’s “The Science Is Clear: Dirty Farm Water Is Making Us Sick,” by Elizabeth Shogren and Susie NeilsonTo hear all our podcasts, click here.And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play. Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 29 2018last_img read more

Effective toothbrushing coupled with good oral hygiene can help prevent erectile dysfunction

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 12 2019Men who suffer from periodontitis, a disease characterized by inflammation of the gums and damage to the structures that surround and support the teeth, are at greater risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction. Effective tooth-brushing, coupled with good oral hygiene, can help prevent this type of male sexual impotence.That’s the message of a study conducted by researchers from the Department of Surgery and Surgical Specialties (Urology) and the Department of Stomatology at the University of Granada (UGR), Spain.Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability of a man to achieve an erection, due physical or psychological factors or a combination of the two. Periodontitis is a chronic inflammation of the gums, which progressively destroys the alveolar bone and the connective tissues that anchor the teeth in place. If left untreated, it can ultimately lead to tooth loss. The periodontal bacteria or inflammatory cytokines that originate in the infected gums harm the vascular endothelial cells. When this endothelial dysfunction occurs in the blood vessels of the penis, blood-flow is adversely affected, leading to impotence.Related StoriesDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this AugustInhibition of p38 protein boosts formation of blood vessels in colon cancerVirus killing protein could be the real antiviral hero finds studyThe UGR study was performed on a sample of 80 men, using 78 controls, among patients receiving treatment at the Urology Service of theClínico San Cecilio Hospital at Granada’s Health Sciences Technology Park. The participants provided their sociodemographic data, underwent a periodontal examination, and were tested for testosterone levels, lipid profile, C-reactive protein, blood glucose levels, and glycated hemoglobin.The researchers found that 74% of patients with ED showed signs of periodontitis. Those with the most severe ED presented the worst periodontal damage, while sufferers of periodontitis were 2.28 times more likely to present ED than patients with healthy gums. The biochemical variables associated with ED were triglycerides, C-reactive protein, and glycated hemoglobin.The study—the first of its kind to be conducted on a European population—was part of a Doctoral thesis project authored by dentist Amada Martín Amat and her thesis supervisors Francisco Mesa (Stomatology) and Miguel Arrabal (Urology).The results have been published in theJournal of Clinical Periodontology, the leading international scientific journal in periodontal research. Source: read more

IBM demonstrates new breakthrough in AI performance

Explore further IBM has demonstrated a new breakthrough in AI performance. By using machine learning on POWER9 with NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs, IBM technology can now predict the likelihood of a user clicking online advertisements 46x faster than previous published results. In a newly published benchmark by IBM Research, we demonstrated how Snap Machine Learning (AI technology) can be used to train machine learning models for massive data sets from financial records to weather forecasting to online marketing. The result for customers is lower cloud costs and faster time to insight.The insights derived from data are where real business value is—and getting those insights is a tall order when it is time- and cost-consuming to evaluate even relatively simply datasets. Speed is critical for scaling insights, and IBM is optimizing IT infrastructure to achieve that speed. Realizing the power of AI and the cloudAt Think 2018, we’re also introducing other first-of-a-kind capabilities that address both the biggest obstacles and the biggest opportunities with enterprise AI in the cloud, including data security and a technical skills shortage. In the last 12 months, 58% of enterprises have had at least one security breach, according to Forrester. To protect data in the cloud, IBM is introducing services with mainframe-level data protection for cloud databases, containers, and developer kits for Apple devices. The services are made possible by bringing IBM Z into IBM’s global public cloud data centers, giving enterprises secure data protection as they make progress on their AI journeys.Furthermore, to bridge the gap between the right hardware and the right skills, IBM will also be offering its POWER9 servers through the IBM Cloud. This includes the option to pre-install the PowerAI machine learning and deep learning software suite that’s designed to speed training in deep learning for data scientists. The POWER9 systems are purpose-built for data-intensive AI workloads and IBM worked with innovators like NVIDIA to boost performance by nearly 10x.The results are eye-opening. Tencent, a hyperscale datacenter provider, recently purchased a number of OpenPOWER-based systems to add to its growing enterprise data center. With its adoption of OpenPOWER technology, Tencent’s overall efficiency has improved by more than 30%, with savings of 30% on rack resources and 30% on server resources.”We’re betting on breakthrough technologies that are designed for cloud and AI workloads –and so are our clients,” says Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president, IBM Systems. “Whether it’s to accelerate customer insight and services delivery or provide data encryption across massive amounts of data, IBM Systems is uniquely differentiated for smarter businesses.” Provided by IBM Credit: IBM This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: IBM demonstrates new breakthrough in AI performance (2018, March 22) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Making container technology work for persistent microservices read more

60 million in virtual currency hacked in Japan

first_img Osaka-based Tech Bureau, which operates virtual currency exchange Zaif, said its server had been illegally accessed and money transfered.”We decline to comment on the details of how this illegal access occurred, as it is a crime and we’ve already asked the authorities to investigate,” Tech Bureau said in a statement.It added that the virtual currencies stolen were bitcoin, bitcoin cash and monacoin.”We will prepare measures so that customers’ assets will not be affected” by the hack, it said, adding it would receive financial support from major shareholder Fisco Group.The current management team will step down after returning the lost assets to customers, Tech Bureau said.Japan’s financial services agency on Thursday began on-site inspections into the company, Jiji Press reported.Japan is a major centre for virtual currencies and as many as 50,000 shops in the country are thought to accept bitcoin.Earlier this year, Japan-based exchange Coincheck suspended deposits and withdrawal for virtual currencies after it had been hacked, resulting in a loss worth half a billion US dollars of NEM, the 10th biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation.Japanese authorities later ordered two cryptocurrency exchanges to suspend operations as part of a clampdown following the hack. Japan penalizes several cryptocurrency exchanges after hack © 2018 AFP Explore further Bitcoin can be used for payment at 50,000 stores in Tokyo.center_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: $60 million in virtual currency hacked in Japan (2018, September 20) retrieved 17 July 2019 from Bitcoin and other digital currency worth around 6.7 billion yen ($60 million) has been stolen in Japan following a hacking attack, a virtual exchange operator said on Thursday.last_img read more