Warning Shots Fired Towards North Korea

By Paris Finnie

The United Nations has met and spoken over the  recent conduct of North Korea. In simpler terms the northern  region of Korea does not want to play ball with the rest of the world. Recently South Korea fired warning shots at a North Korean boat that crossed its boarders. The tactical response stirred international waters, as this has not been the first suspicious act committed by the North Korean Country. The United Nations believes it is time to address North Korea with a little more force in order to protect global peace.

Source: Washington Post 

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JOHNSON & JOHNSON, VIACYTE TESTING POSSIBLE DIABETES CURE

Compliments of AP 

Johnson & Johnson, continuing its long quest for a Type 1 diabetes cure, is joining forces with biotech company ViaCyte to speed development of the first stem cell treatment that could fix the life-threatening hormonal disorder.

They’ve already begun testing it in a small number of diabetic patients. If it works as well in patients as it has in animals, it would amount to a cure, ending the need for frequent insulin injections and blood sugar testing.

ViaCyte and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen BetaLogics group said Thursday they’ve agreed to combine their knowledge and hundreds of patents on their research under ViaCyte, a longtime J&J partner focused on regenerative medicine.

The therapy involves inducing embryonic stem cells in a lab dish to turn into insulin-producing cells, then putting them inside a small capsule that is implanted under the skin. The capsule protects the cells from the immune system, which otherwise would attack them as invaders – a roadblock that has stymied other research projects.

Researchers at universities and other drug companies also are working toward a diabetes cure, using various strategies. But according to ViaCyte and others, this treatment is the first tested in patients.

If the project succeeds, the product could be available in several years for Type 1 diabetes patients and down the road could also treat insulin-using Type 2 diabetics.

“This one is potentially the real deal,” said Dr. Tom Donner, director of the diabetes center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “It’s like making a new pancreas that makes all the hormones” needed to control blood sugar.

Donner, who is not involved in the research, said if the device gives patients normal insulin levels, “it’s going to prevent millions of diabetics from getting dangerous complications.”

People with Type 1 diabetes no longer produce insulin, the hormone that converts sugar in the blood into energy, because their immune system has killed off the beta cells in the pancreas. Those cells make insulin in response to rising blood sugar levels after a meal.

Over years, excess sugar in the bloodstream damages blood vessels and organs. Without effective treatment, diabetics suffer severe complications: blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, amputations, even premature death. On the other hand, too much insulin can cause very low blood sugar, which can kill patients, particularly young children.

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, including 1.25 million with type 1 diabetes. The number with Type 1, or insulin-dependent, diabetes is growing steadily. Meanwhile, the number with Type 2 diabetes, whose bodies make some insulin but don’t use it efficiently, is increasing exponentially due to the global epidemic of obesity and sedentary lifestyles.

Many patients can’t control it well because treatment is exhausting, requiring a strict diet, frequent exercise, multiple daily insulin injections or other medicines and several finger pricks a day to test blood sugar. Also, some patients can’t afford the expensive medicines.

ViaCyte Inc., based in San Diego, has been researching its treatment for a decade, partly with funding from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is a major ViaCyte investor and has been conducting parallel research for about 13 years, said Diego Miralles, J&J’s head of global innovation.

“We wanted to hedge our bets to make sure we would win in this space … that is so transformational,” Miralles said.

He wouldn’t disclose financial terms of the deal with ViaCyte.

The privately held company began the first round of patient testing a year ago, implanting its product, dubbed VC-01, in a dozen people with Type 1 diabetes, said Paul Laikind, ViaCyte’s CEO and president. They received a small dose of insulin-producing cells inside their devices and are being closely monitored for two years to see insulin production and other effects.

After 12 weeks, the device had properly attached to nearby blood vessels, their new insulin-producing cells were still multiplying and no side effects were seen. Another dozen planned patients will soon get the same cell dose in capsules to be implanted in them.

If that goes well, in the next round of testing a few dozen patients will get devices holding a full dose of the cells implanted, likely in the second half of this year. Further testing may be needed before the product can be approved by regulators.

“We do believe that it will need to be replaced periodically,” Laikind said.

Earlier testing in thousands of mice over years showed the lab-created insulin-producing cells matured and produced the needed hormone inside the mice for as long as they lived, about a year, noted Laikind.

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Swiss bank cooperates with US as 2 ex-bankers plead guilty

Compliments of Associated Press 

Swiss bank Julius Baer, facing a criminal charge, has agreed to pay $547 million and cooperate for three years with American authorities to shut down accounts that enabled wealthy Americans to evade taxes, authorities announced Thursday.

Before lawyers for the bank appeared in Manhattan federal court to confirm a non-prosecution deal, two of its former bankers pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and agreed to cooperate. Cooperation for the bankers was expected to bring leniency at sentencing on a charge that carries a potential penalty of five years in prison.

The bank’s agreement calls for it to share documents and provide witnesses at any U.S. court proceedings until February 2019. The bank will forfeit $547 million in penalties and restitution within a week and close any U.S. accounts established to evade taxes. In return, U.S. authorities will defer a conspiracy charge against the bank with the expectation that it will be dropped after three years. A bank lawyer pleaded not guilty to the charge.

“Bank Julius Baer not only turned a blind eye to tax avoiders but actually conspired with them to break the law,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a news release.

Internal Revenue Service chief Richard Weber said the court appearances send “a strong message to the international banking community as well as U.S. taxpayers who think they can outsmart the system by hiding their money in these international banks.”

Prosecutors said the bank from at least the 1990s through 2009 helped many of its U.S. taxpayer clients evade taxes by filing false federal tax returns with the IRS and otherwise hide accounts at the bank from the agency.

The court appearances came more than four years after ex-bankers Daniela Casadei and Fabio Frazzetto were charged with conspiring to help American clients hide more than $600 million in offshore accounts and avoid paying taxes on the money. They had not appeared in court until Tuesday, when they entered not guilty pleas to charges.

As part of their guilty pleas Thursday, they agreed to cooperate after admitting they knew they were helping Americans evade U.S. taxes. They also said they believed their work was consistent with the bank’s practices.

Prosecutors said Casadei and Frazzetto opened and managed accounts for U.S. taxpayers, sometimes linking them to fictional names, to relatives living abroad or to sham companies created to hide the true owners.

The IRS has stepped up efforts to collect taxes on Americans’ income stored overseas since 2009, when Swiss banking giant UBS AG agreed to pay a $780 million fine and turn over details on thousands of accounts suspected of holding undeclared assets.

The agency has said it has collected billions of dollars in taxes as tens of thousands of Americans have come clean under programs that offered reduced penalties and no jail time to people who voluntarily disclosed assets.

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France To Set The Trend For Processing Unsold Food In Markets?

By Paris Finnie 

As of recent a new law has passed, banning all supermarkets in the country from trashing unsold food. Instead they will be required to donate the food to charities and food banks.

The law unanimously passed by French senate on Wednesday 02/03/16 will allow food shelters to donate millions more food to those in need from the support of the the French supermarkets. A resolution sought after  by the championing  grassroots shoppers and anti-poverty campaigners. The movement started as a campaign, but grew to a petition lead by the councillor Arash Derambarsh. From the councillors hands the movement grew into a bill brought into the national senate by former food industry minister Guillaume Garot. The pressure is on France and their campaigners to persuade the rest of the EU to adopt the practice. If they manage to influence the other countries, perhaps France can be the ripple effect to push this legislative measure across the world. Before they do however, there must be some kinks worked out in the shifts to the new practice.

Supermarkets in the past have been found guilty of deliberately spoiling food in efforts to detour people from rummaging through the store’s waste bins. Some of those markets were guilty of dousing their waste bins in bleach allegedly to prevent food poisoning, while others put their waste bins in locked warehouses only to be opened by refuse trucks. With the passage of the law to no surprise many supermarket managers have divided opinions. Especially with the potential of fines reaching $75,000 or two year imprisonment if they do not sign donation contracts with charities. Although many are frustrated on the other side of the coin there are many with high hopes for French future.

The signed contracts will allow for higher quality food access to all french citizens. Increased donations from the supermarkets will allow up 10 million more meals to reach the citizens in need. Food banks will be forced to renovate their storage spaces to guarantee safe donations. France intends for the new laws to push the citizens forward adding another level to their resilience  as a nation.

Source: The Guardian

 

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Guinea Worm Just Short of Extinction

By Paris Finnie 

The invasive and painful Dracunculus Medinensis (Guinea Worm) has reached the coda of its lifespan. The Guinea Worm is a parasite that is contracted by drinking water containing water fleas. Those fleas contain worm larva that make their ways through the digestive track to the hosts lower limbs. The larva then resides dormant for about a year until it breaches the the outer layer of skin.  During the course of a couple weeks the adult worm exits its host through a blister commonly found on legs or feet. Symptoms include an exuberant amount pain and burning sensation and those infected whether it be domesticated dogs or humans find relief by submerging the open sore under water, commencing the vicious cycle anew.

The worm has a despicable track record of 3.5 million victims in over 20 countries throughout Asia and Africa, but thanks to the efforts of former president Carter, the number of current infected has dwindled to 22 people. 30 years of effort and one life pledge later Carter has mobilized thousands of volunteers to educate citizens in effected countries on ways to prevent the dissipation of the parasite. Donations of water filtration resources and filtered straws have had tremendous impacts of prevention. However, these victories did come before comprehensive research for president Carter was wise in choosing this formidable enemy.

Unlike swine flu or avian flu, The Guinea Worm attaches to,  as previously understood, to two hosts: humans and domesticated dogs. Studying those targets sets made it much easier for contingency. As of recently however, it was discovered that the remaining 22 people plagued by the parasite contracted the worm from eating raw fish. Throwing a wrench into machine of extinction. The worms of these last hosts have since died and Africans have been educated to properly dispose of fish entrails and cook any fish they plan to ingest. To guarantee the title of extinction there must not be any new reports of outbreaks for three years. If his efforts present themselves successful Carter, now 91 years young, will hopefully be meeting his goal of outliving this vicious parasite.

Source: The Economist 

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Heroine Overdose Antidote To Be Administered Over The Counter

By Paris Finnie 

A report shows that citizens in Ohio are more likely to die from a Heroin overdose than a vehicular accident. ” If we lose them to an overdose, we have lost a chance of a productive life in the future.” Says Peggy Anderson COO of the Aids Resource Center in Ohio . As many as seven to ten times instances a day EMS workers are called to save the lives of these opiate victims, but even those who make it are the select few lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

 

The frightening statistics of life lost to overdoses has pushed the state of Ohio to allow the drug Naloxone (Narcan) to be sold over the counter in participating pharmacies one of them being  CVS. Naloxone works by reversing the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system caused by opioids. In some instances multiple administrations of Narcan may be needed to save an individual but a second chance at life is becoming readily available to the citizens of Ohio.

Source: Wlox 

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Out of a Rare Super Bowl I Recording, a Clash With the N.F.L. Unspools

Compliments of Times New Roman 

Troy Haupt is a 47-year-old nurse anesthetist here in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. He has a secret to reveal about Super BowlI: He owns the only known recording of its broadcast.

CBS and NBC, which televised the game, did not preserve any tapes. But the copy that Haupt owns — of a broadcast that launched the Super Bowlas an enormous shared spectacle that attracts more than 100 million viewers — might never be seen on any network. The N.F.L. does not want to buy the tapes and has warned Haupt not to sell them to outside parties or else the league will pursue legal action.

Unless the league and Haupt make a deal to resolve the financial differences that have privately divided them since 2005, the tapes will stay in storage in a former mine in upstate New York.

“This year had to be the year, with all the hype of Super Bowl 50,” Haupt said.

The tapes are a bizarre heirloom that, for decades, sat largely ignored in the attic of his family’s three-bedroom house in Shamokin, Pa., deteriorating from shifting temperatures.

Haupt’s father, Martin, taped the game. Haupt never knew him. Haupt and his mother, Beth Rebuck, say they have no idea what he did for a living back then. They also don’t know why he went to work on Jan. 15, 1967, with a pair of two-inch Scotch tapes, slipped one, and then the other, into a Quadruplex taping machine and recorded the Green Bay Packers’ 35-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He told his family nothing about his day’s activity.

It would take another eight years for Martin Haupt to tell his wife what he had done. By then, they had divorced and both had remarried.

He was sick with cancer and handed her the tapes.

“He said maybe they could help pay for the kids’ education,” she said. And she put them in the attic, where they accumulated dust and intrigue.

Martin Haupt died soon after, leaving behind the odd inheritance of a Super Bowl I recording, made on a professional two-inch machine in the era before the videocassette recorder industry exploded and networks and leagues began to cherish their archives of old games.

Fortuitous Phone Call

The story might have ended with those two tapes deteriorating in Shamokin if not for a phone call from Troy Haupt’s childhood friend, Clint Hepner. In 2005, he read that Sports Illustrated had described a tape of Super Bowl I as a “lost treasure” because CBS and NBC had not saved copies of their broadcasts. The magazine estimated that a tape, if found, would be worth $1 million.

“He said, ‘Remember when we were 10 and in your mom’s attic playing board games and saw this box with metal cases in it that said Super Bowl I?’” Haupt said. “I had no idea what he was talking about and he said, ‘Talk to your mom,’ and Mom said, ‘Yeah, they’re up in the attic.’” She added: “I remarried. The kids grew up and we talked about the tapes once in a while. But my husband was skeptical about what was on them.”

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Lettuce Arigato Mr. Roboto: Japanese Robot Farms in Full Force

By Paris Finnie 

Japan is on the verge of opening an almost entirely robotic run farm. The mechanic agricultural farm will be growing lettuce for the Japanese market. Human involvement aside from initial construction is reserved to planting the seeds and everything after; Watering, trimming, re-planting young seedlings, and harvesting will be automated.

Before you jump to a visual of a bipedic crash dummy look a like, let us describe the farm as followed: The lettuce will be transported by conveyer belts, and with custom made robotic arms the heads are able to be transferred to shipment buckets or new soil without harm. The factory then using LED lighting and water that is 98% recyclable, Expect to boost lettuce production from 21k to 50k heads a day in the first few years. Spread, the company behind the technology foresee that after roughly five years in application to boost that number from 50k to 500k.

Many fear within the induction of robotic technology that jobs are expected to dwindle. However, the firm has been very animate about their intentions to stimulate mutualism with robots and humans. Especially as the working farmer demographic raises to an average age of 65 years of age. Other companies have sought to address the dwindling work force by creating “Muscle Suits” for aging care workers and farmers. The suits will help the farmers in their craft, but perhaps having the technology responsible for the busy work can add efficacy to production. Shibuya Seiki a robotic firm was able to build mechanisms that could pick ripe strawberries at the rate of one per every eight seconds. Panasonic has been using cameras and image sensor to determine ripe tomatoes and pick them at a rate of one every twenty seconds. The future of farming is upon us.

Within the controlled environment and logarithms to determine infinitesimal inaccuracies, there is a huge expectation for success as Japan spearheads this new venture.

 

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Switzerland Will Be The First Country in The World to Vote on Having a National Wage of £1,700 a Month

Compliments of Independent 

Switzerland is set to vote on a proposal that wants to pay everyone 2,500 Swiss francs (£1,700) a month regardless of whether people are working or not.

If the plans go through, it will become the first country in the world to provide a basic unconditional monthly income, and they are already the first country to vote on the matter.

The idea, which has been put forward by a group of intellectuals who insist people will still want to work and get jobs, has not received positive interest from either left and right sided politicians.

The federal government approved to vote on the intiative in June.

The rationale behind the scheme is to break the link between employment and income, where people will have guaranteed income regardless whether they are in employment or not.

The committee’s proposal is absed on a survey, carried out by Demoscope Institute, which reportedly showed the majority of Swiss residents would carry on working, or still look for a job, even if the guaranteed income was approved.

The survey also said only two per cent of people were likely to stop working, while eight per cent said they “could envisage this possibility depending on circumstances,” reported the Local.

In a statement, the committee said: “The argument of opponents that a guaranteed income wouldn’t reduce the incentive of people to work is by this largely contradicted.”

The initiative also wants to give each child 625 francs a month (£430).

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Scientist Get Another Green Light to Play God by Genetically Modifying Genes

By Paris Finnie

Fast forward  three decades and all those Sci-Fi plots from the 80s and 90s are becoming a reality. The United Kingdom has given their scientist the ability to genetically modify genes. There are still restrictions, for no scientist is able to implant a genetically modified embryo into a Female carrier, however the controversy still arises. Should a group in a lab be able to manipulate the very foundation of Life?

Europe was second to cross the controversial waters behind China. The population giant was able to snip a gene in our DNA strand which causes a blood disorder. Since their discovery chinese scientist continue to experiment in efforts to combat genetical malice. In new sciences it often seems that laws and regulations  trail behind new discoveries. Within the new venture of gene manipulation it is very unclear as to how far science is able to impede on our DNA. Prof Robin Lovell-Badge Fertility Regulator in the UK adds, “China has guidelines, but it is often unclear exactly what they are until you’ve done it and stepped over an unclear boundary.” Europe claims they have implemented strict regulations, the first of their kind in fact, and their meticulous approval system will provide contingency for future experimentation.

How It Works

Scientist are to receive donated embryos and in a window of seven days after the cell is fertilized entering the Blastocyst stage. The researchers will study how particular cells contribute to the development of the embryo, the yolk sac, and the placenta. Further research will allow for manipulation of these cells but current science solely allows for strict observation. After the window of observation is passed the embryos are destroyed.

Source: BBC

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