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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Doctors hope for blindness cure after restoring patients' sight

Treatment for common cause of blindness could be available within five years, scientists say

Sarah Boseley Health editor
Mon 19 Mar 2018 13.22 EDT

A treatment for the commonest cause of blindness could be available within five years, scientists believe, after revealing the first two patients given a revolutionary stem cell therapy have regained enough vision to be able to read.

The two patients have advanced AMD – age-related macular degeneration – which destroys the central vision. Both were losing their sight. They were, said their surgeon, unable to see a book, let alone the printed letters.

But an implanted “patch” of stem cells over the damage at the back of the eye has restored the central vision enough not only for reading but to see faces that used to be a grey blur.

In the future, the scientists behind the breakthrough anticipate the procedure could be as common as cataract surgery, helping large numbers of the 600,000 to 700,000 people in the UK who are losing their sight because of AMD.


Copspeak: When Black Children Suddenly Become Juveniles

MARCH 19, 2018

As FAIR has noted many times before (7/10/16, 1/30/18), one of the primary goals of “Copspeak”—broadly defined as the media internalizing police verbiage to sound Cool and Official—is to dehumanize those officers have detained, harassed or killed.

One popular iteration of Copspeak is when reporters refer to children or teenagers as “juveniles.” This works to criminalize and dehumanize a distinction—being a child—we would otherwise view in a sympathetic light, by using the dry, scientistic language of an anthropological study. “Police shoot fleeing juvenile” impacts us far less than “police shoot fleeing child” or “police shoot fleeing teenager,” which is why it’s the preferred term of the police, and thus police-aligned local reporters doing their best Copspeak impression.

. . .

For centuries, societies have made a distinction between crimes committed by children and adults, with an understanding that, developmentally, they have different notions of guilt and responsibility. Blurring this distinction with “juvenile” turns children into criminals, instead of what they are: children.

Often, the term “juvenile” is coupled with “male” to maximize the dehumanization. This works in conjunction with other elements of Copspeak (FAIR.org, 1/30/18): Instead of a “boy” or “teenager killed,” we have a “dead juvenile male” dying “after” an “officer-involved shooting.” The normal language of human interaction is replaced with Borg-like jargon: Chests become “torsos,” boys become “juvenile males” and—by design—humans become cadavers.


World's Happiest Country Also Has No Carbon Emissions The small kingdom of Bhutan could be a model

The small kingdom of Bhutan could be a model for countries on the front lines of climate change.

Bhutan is one of the world's remaining biodiversity hotspots. Approximately 72 percent of Bhutan is covered by forests. The country's government has a mandate that 60 percent will be protected for all time. Despite their environmental commitment, Bhutan's glaciers are retreating and melting, causing dangerous floods and resource scarcity.

By Sarah Gibbens
Photographs by Ciril Jazbec

Picture of the mountains of Bhutan
Bhutan is one of the world's remaining biodiversity hotspots. Approximately 72 percent of Bhutan is covered by forests. The country's government has a mandate that 60 percent will be protected for all time. Despite their environmental commitment, Bhutan's glaciers are retreating and melting, causing dangerous floods and resource scarcity.
By Sarah Gibbens
Photographs by Ciril Jazbec

National Geographic produced this content as part of our partnership with Rolex, formed to promote exploration and conservation. The organizations will join forces in efforts that support veteran explorers, nurture emerging explorers, and protect Earth’s wonders.
Bhutan is small, about the size of Switzerland, and similarly mountainous—though more geographically remote. To the south, Bhutan is landlocked by India, and to the North, it's buffered by the mighty Himalaya. Before 1974, Bhutan was completely closed off to tourists and most outsiders, and even now, only a few fee-paying visitors are allowed in at a time.

The small mountain kingdom is home to a thriving, ancient culture, as well as stunning natural beauty. What many believe is the world's highest unclimbed peak, Gangkhar Puensum, soars nearly 25,000 feet into the clouds. Without a sizeable wallet, or an outsized sense of adventure, few people will actually get to visit this unique kingdom.

Slovenian photographer Ciril Jazbec is one of the lucky few who have visited Bhutan. He recently toured the country, visiting small villages, exploring vast forests, and meeting local people. His resulting work is an intimate look at the small nation that few foreigners ever see.

His photos range from traditional pastoral scenes to what may surprise outsiders as modern lifestyles. But because it's Bhutan, striking glacial mountains flanked by deep, green forests are often in the background. The overall impression is one of a special place that hangs in the balance. It's a blend of history and change, old and new, impact and resilience.


Surreal Photos of India's Living Root Bridges

These intricate living structures take 15 to 30 years to complete.

A group of children cross a living root bridge in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. The bridges are essential for rural connectivity in a vertical landscape.

During monsoon season in northeast India, rainwater gushes through the emerald valleys and deep gorges of Meghalaya, the“abode of the clouds.” The mountainous plateau between Assam and Bangladesh is one of the wettest places on Earth, and the Khasi tribes who inhabit these hills have developed an intimate relationship with the forest.

Long before the availability of modern construction materials, the Khasi devised an ingenious way to traverse the turbulent waterways and link isolated villages: living root bridges, locally known as jing kieng jri.

Tree trunks are planted on each side of the bank to create a sturdy foundation, and over the course of 15 to 30 years, the Khasi slowly thread Ficus elastica roots across a temporary bamboo scaffolding to connect the gap. A combination of humidity and foot traffic help compact the soil over time, and the tangle of roots grows thick and strong. Mature bridges stretch 15 to 250 feet over deep rivers and gorges, and can bear impressive loads—upwards of 35 people at a time.

A double-decker root bridge in Cheerapunji is one of the main attractions in Meghalaya. The growing tourism in the region supports the local economy.

Unlike modern building materials like concrete and steel, these structures typically become more resilient with age and can survive centuries. They regularly withstand flash flooding and storm surges that are common in the region—a low-cost and sustainable way to connect remote mountain villages scattered throughout the steep terrain. The exact origin of the tradition in this region is unknown, but the first written record appears more than a hundred years ago.


Fantastic Florida Cuban-American legislators back in the news!

Rubio and Diaz-Balart have ($$) ties to Miami’s collapsed-bridge builders
Álvaro Fernández • March 16, 2018

Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart are beholden to their political benefactors first and foremost. And people are dying because of it.

For example, they’d rather protect the gun industry at the expense of… even children. It is a known fact both Rubio and Diaz-Balart are major supporters of the National Rifle Association. Some say they are owned by the NRA, who over the years has showered them both with money. Nobody in Florida has received more money than these two from this gun lobby that believes the 2nd Amendment and the right to shoot people carries more weight than the life of a 14-year-old in Miami or for that matter a six-year-old in Sandy Hook Elementary.

But it’s not the NRA that has me up in arms today!

By now most everyone around the country and other parts of the world know that a 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed over Tamiami Trail on Thursday afternoon in southwest Miami-Dade killing at least six people. More dead are expected. As of Friday (March 16), workers were still digging out the site of the tragedy looking for bodies.


Gross rejects Trump plan to launch task force into Cuban cyberspace

Emilio Paz • February 5, 2018

Remember Alan Gross, the elderly American who tried to smuggle electronic equipment into Cuba to start an unauthorized Internet system, was arrested in 2009 and spent five of 15 years in prison for his troubles?

Well, his plight made quite a splash in the U.S. media. In his defense, he said that he was simply a contractor for USAID, the Washington-based Agency for International Development. Many in Cuba still believe that USAID is an agency for espionage and disruption.

Be that as it may, Gross is again in the public eye on the topic of Cuba and the Internet. Surprisingly, this time on Cuba’s side.

Two weeks ago, on Jan. 23, the U.S. State Department said it was convening a Cuba Internet Task Force “to promote the free and unregulated flow of information in Cuba. The task force will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding Internet access and independent media in Cuba.” The short announcement gave no details.


More than 800 businesses in Colombia tied to death squads: report

by Frank Cardona March 16, 2018

More than 800 businesses sponsored paramilitary groups that committed tens of thousands of human right violations in Colombia, in most cases without consequence, according to a recent report.

The report was published by Colombian think tank Dejusticia, Oxford University and other investigators after a two-year research into corporate Colombia’s extensive ties to paramilitary groups.

According to the investigators, “a total of 439 cases of corporate complicity were mentioned in 35 … sentences handed down by Colombian courts until 2015.”

These cases would implicate 17 business associations, 862 businesses and 347 businessmen.

In the 1980s, those who created the Puerto Boyaca paramilitary groups were businessmen defending their businesses (Ronderos 2014), so the economic interests shaped the paramilitary project. Then, the second generation paramilitary groups that emerged in the 1990s continued this tradition, using local and national socio-economic elites to operate in the territories and ensure their impunity.


Outspoken Rio councilwoman who fought for the marginalized is shot to death; thousands mourn

MAR 15, 2018 | 3:45 PM

Marielle Franco, a hard-charging City Council member, had become the face of resistance in Rio de Janeiro as she defended the city's marginalized communities, stood up for human rights and railed against a police force she believed was overly aggressive.

She was at it again Wednesday, urging supporters at a rally she'd organized to push for better treatment of black women

Hours later, she was dead, gunned down along with her driver as they traveled through the city's downtown.

Franco's death reverberated across the city and beyond as thousands of people gathered at rallies, expressed their outrage on Twitter and wept openly in public. Several human rights organization suggested the shooting was political and was an attack on those who push for improved rights in Brazil. Activists urged authorities to investigate the slaying as an assassination.


Meet Steve, a Totally New Kind of Aurora

Canadian citizen scientist photographers spotted a fleeting type of aurora not seen before, dubbed “Steve,” and scientists have started working out what’s causing them.

Steve seen with the Milky Way over Childs Lake, Manitoba.

By Ramin Skibba

While the northern and southern lights have dazzled watchers of the night sky for millennia, vigilant citizen scientist photographers found another type of aurora over the past few years: a short-lived shimmering purple ribbon of plasma. Their intriguing discovery drew the attention of space scientists, who have just begun to study them.

“Dedicated aurora chasers, especially from Alberta, Canada, were out in the middle of the night, looking north and taking beautiful photos. Then farther south they happened to see a faint narrow purple arc as well,” says Elizabeth MacDonald, a space physicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. There’s different physics behind those purple aurora, she says.

MacDonald led a team who observed the aurora by sending one of the European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites through it. The results suggest they’re a manifestation of accelerated and heated charged particles coming from the sun that interact with a particular part of the Earth’s magnetic field in the ionosphere. The team published their findings in Science Advances Wednesday.

The citizen scientists weren’t sure about what they’d seen, so they called the strange aurora structure “Steve.” The name caught on, and MacDonald and her team kept it, proposing the backronym Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE). While scientists had known about lower-latitude currents of charged particles for decades, they had no idea that they could produce auroras visible to the eye. But now that people have smartphones and digital cameras more sensitive than what scientists had back then, they can pick out these rare aurora, which last only about an hour.


Bolivian women weave devices to patch holes in hearts

MARCH 13, 2018 / 4:34 PM / UPDATED 8 HOURS AGO

Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health) - A team of Bolivian women are using indigenous Aymara weaving patterns to craft devices that can help repair heart defects, doctors involved in developing the device report in JAMA.

The device is woven from a nickel-titanium alloy that can be collapsed and delivered within a catheter to the heart, where it’s then expanded to repair a hole. Traditional Aymara weavers repeat an Andean cross or chakana symbol up to 120 times to craft the device, called Nit-Occlud ASD-R.

“To my knowledge, it is the first time metal weaving is used for medical devices in Bolivia,” said lead study author Dr. Alexandra Heath of Kardiozentrum in La Paz, Bolivia in email to Reuters Health.

“It is surprising, that these women, after a training, can assume the task brilliantly,” said Heath, who has received consulting fees from the device manufacturer PFM Medical.


Curiosity led me to look for an Andean cross. This image is found in ancient temples:

Ancient temple wall discovered, shaped like Andean chakana
June 8th, 2009

Ventarrón, a 4000 year old ceremonial site with spectacular murals painted by ancient peoples who lived during the dawn of civilisation, has given up another stunning prize.

It had already made news when the site, once used by locals as a garbage dump, was found to be home to a temple complex with the oldest murals yet found in Peru.

Now, thanks to the work of archaeologist Ignacio Alva Meneses, son of the famed Walter Alva who discovered of the tomb of the Lord of Sipán, the 4000 year old temple has revealed another stunning secret.

To the side of the temple, one of a series of rooms has been discovered that is shaped like the ancient Andean symbol called the Chacana – also known as the Andean Cross, or in Spanish, the Cruz Andina. As one of the oldest examples of this important cultural symbol discovered, it may eventually help provide more insight into its origin.


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