Ambassador Sulunteh Identifies with Victims in Bong

first_imgShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States, Canada and Mexico, Jeremiah C. Sulunteh, has donated 300 bags of 25kg rice to be distributed among Ebola-affected families and quarantined households in Bong County.Taylor-Town in Yellequlleh District and Barleketela in Salala District which were obstructed by the leadership of Bong County almost two weeks ago to control the spread of the deadly virus, received the bulk of the donation with one hundred bags of rice going to each of the affected districts.The Friends of Sulunteh leader in Bong County, John O. Flomo, asked representatives of the towns to convey Ambassador Sulunteh’s heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones to the disease.He said, though Amb. Sulunteh was far away and could not meet with the people on the ground, he however could hear their loud cry for support during this very difficult time.“Ambassador Sulunteh would have loved to be in Taylor-Town and speak directly to his people, but it is not possible now,”Mr.  Flomo said.He disclosed that since the outbreak of the virus in Liberia, Amb. Sulunteh has been looking critically at areas where he could intervene adding that the plight of Ebola affected families is one of those situations which almost moved him to tears.He said that recent media reports which brought to light the sufferings of Ebola suspects in some parts of the county  who went without food supplies for days and who are rationed four-cups of rice to each household a day when it is available regardless of their number, was key to his decision to get involved and assist.Mr. Flomo expressed the hope that the Ambassador’s intervention will draw the attention of the international community to the plight of those Ebola affected families and quarantined households in the county. He noted that people in quarantined homes left to starve will have serious implications for the Ebola fight. Flomo called on the international community, particularly WFP to focus on the feeding of Ebola affected persons and quarantined households.He pleaded with chiefs in the district and the county task force to urge the people of Taylor-Town and Barleketela to not only take maximum care to prevent infection, but to move vigorously to eradicate the Ebola virus entirely from their various communities.The disease, he lamented, has disrupted normal economic and social activities throughout the country and called on all Liberians to adhere to the Ebola key prevention messages to save lives and maintain the dignity of our country.Flomo, on behalf of the Liberian Ambassador, expressed the hope that the remaining one hundred bags of rice will go to Ebola affected families and quarantined households in other affected districts like Jorquelleh, Sanoyea, Salala and Fuamah maintaining that Sulunteh was also considering support to other vulnerable groups in the near future.Responding, the Town Chief of Taylor-Town, Peter Flomo, registered on behalf of the people of the area his profound thanks and appreciation for the timely intervention of Ambassador Sulunteh which he said would go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the people.He said the people of the area are not surprised at such intervention, noting that Sulunteh has always come to the rescue of the suffering people not only in Bong but Liberians generally.He assured Sulunteh that the people of Taylor-Town deeply appreciate the gesture which he said is coming at a time when it is needed the most and assured him that the donation will be used for the intended purpose.Yellequlleh District Commissioner Annie Reeves also expressed thanks and appreciation, saying that the people of the district consider Ambassador Sulunteh as one of their sons. Similar sentiments were expressed by Salala District Commissioner Karmon Kanneh.The donation is Amb. Sulunteh’s second intervention since the Ebola outbreak in March.It can be recalled that in September Amb. Sulunteh provided over three hundred bags of rice, an undisclosed amount of United States Dollars worth of disinfectants and cash donation to community residents and various taskforces in Bong, Margibi and Monsterrado Counties.last_img read more

Lab instruments may leak valuable information finds study

first_img Source: Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Feb 25 2019Lab instruments are important tools throughout research and health care. But what if those instruments are leaking valuable information?When it comes to biosecurity, this could be a very real threat, according to a group of researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and the University of California, Riverside. By simply recording the sounds of a common lab instrument, the team members could reconstruct what a researcher was doing with that instrument.”Any active machine emits a trace of some form: physical residue, electromagnetic radiation, acoustic noise, etc. The amount of information in these traces is immense, and we have only hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can learn and reverse engineer about the machine that generated them,” said Philip Brisk, a UC Riverside associate professor of computer science who worked on the project.In a paper presented at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, the group showed they could reconstruct what a researcher was doing by recording the sounds of the lab instrument used. That means academic, industrial, and government labs are potentially wide open to espionage that could destabilize research, jeopardize product development, and even put national security at risk.The researchers wondered if it was possible to determine what a DNA synthesizer was producing from the sounds its components made as it went through its manufacturing routine.DNA synthesizers are machines that allow users to build custom DNA molecules from a few basic ingredients. Researchers commonly construct segments of DNA to insert in the genome of other organisms, especially bacteria, to make new organisms. Sometimes these living systems are used to make valuable new pharmaceuticals or other products.Brisk and UC Irvine electrical and computer engineering professor Mohammad Abdullah Al Faruque and his doctoral student Sina Faezi; along with John C. Chaput, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at UC Irvine; and William Grover, a bioengineering professor at UC Riverside, set microphones similar to those in a smartphone in several spots near a DNA synthesizer in Chaput’s lab.All DNA is built from just four bases, adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T), arranged in almost infinite combinations. The specific patterns, or sequences, can be read as a clue to what kind of DNA it is.Related StoriesOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapySchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchDNA synthesizers contain components that open and close to release chemicals as they manufacture each of these bases, along with the tubes and chambers through which they flow. These mechanisms make distinctive sounds as they work.After filtering out background noise and running several adjustments to the recorded sound, the researchers found the differences were too subtle for humans to notice.”But through a careful feature engineering and bespoke machine-learning algorithm written in our lab, we were able to pinpoint those differences,” Faezi said. The researchers could easily distinguish each time the machine produced A, G, C, or T.When the researchers used software to analyze the AGCT patterns they acquired through the recordings, they identified the correct type of DNA with 86 percent accuracy. By running it through additional well-known DNA sequencing software, they boosted the accuracy to almost 100 percent.Using this method, a knowledgeable observer could tell if the machine was making anthrax, smallpox, or Ebola DNA, for example, or a commercially valuable DNA intended to be a trade secret. The method could help law enforcement prevent bioterrorism, but it could also be used by criminals or terrorists to intercept biological secrets.”A few years ago, we published a study on a similar method for stealing plans of objects being fabricated in 3D printers, but this DNA synthesizer attack is potentially much more serious,” Al Faruque said.The researchers recommend that labs using DNA synthesizing machines institute security measures, such as strictly controlling access to the machines and removing innocuous-seeming recording devices left near the machine. They also recommend that machine manufacturers begin designing machine components to reduce the number of sounds they make, either by redesigning or repositioning the components or swaddling them in sound absorbent material.Almost all machines used in biomedical research make some kind of sound, noted Brisk and Grover, and the hack could conceivably be applied to any machine.”The take-home message for bioengineers is that we have to worry about these security issues when we’re designing instruments,” Grover said.last_img read more

Supplements provide no additional health benefits conclude researchers

first_imgBy Lois Zoppi, BAApr 9 2019Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)A new study has found that using dietary supplements such as calcium and vitamin D do not prolong life expectancy, and may even lead to an increased risk of cancer.Umpaporn | ShutterstockThe study, which was published on April 9th in Annals of Internal Medicine, used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey from 1999 to 2010, which was linked to mortality data from the National Death Index. The sample comprised data from 30,899 US adults aged 20 years old and above.Nutrients obtained through the consumption of healthy foods can prolong life expectancy and reduce the risk of premature death. However, extracting such nutrients and consuming them in the form of dietary supplements confers no such benefit, according to the new study.Understanding the role that nutrients play is ‘important’Associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and senior and corresponding author on the study Fang Zhang explained the motivation for the study, saying it is “important to understand the role that the nutrient and its source might play in health outcomes, particularly if the effect might not be beneficial.”Certain supplements were identified to pose specific risks, such as excess calcium being associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality. Source:Association Among Dietary Supplement Use, Nutrient Intake, and Mortality Among U.S. Adults: A Cohort Study. Ann Intern Med. 2019. DOI: 10.7326/M18-2478. Our results support the idea that, while supplement use contributes to an increased level of total nutrient intake, there are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren’t seen with supplements. This study also confirms the importance of identifying the nutrient source when evaluating mortality outcomes.” Excess calcium intake in the context of this study was defined as doses exceeding 1,000 mg a day. The study was not only focused on the risk of cancer mortality, but also investigated links between supplement intake and all-cause deaths, including cardiovascular disease (CVD).The objective of the study was stated to be to “evaluate the association among dietary supplement use, levels of nutrient intake from foods and supplements, and mortality among U.S adults.”Measurements for the study included data on participants’ use of dietary supplements in the previous 30 days, along with their nutrient intake from food and supplements.The study recorded 3,613 deaths in the median follow-up period of 6.1 years. These deaths included 945 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 805 deaths from cancer. The study was based on 24-hour diet recall data from six cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey lasting two years each, through 2010.To calculate the daily supplement dose of each nutrient, the frequency and the product information for ingredient, amount of ingredient per serving, and ingredient unit were combined.Nutrients sourced from foods were monitored with 24-hour dietary recalls. Finally, to calculate mortality outcomes for each study participant, matches were made with the National Death Index through December 31st, 2011.Vitamin K and magnesium only effective when obtained through foodWhen comparing nutrient intake from food and supplements, researchers found there was a lower mortality risk when adequate intake of vitamin K and magnesium came from food instead of dietary supplements.There was also a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality when adequate intakes of vitamin A, vitamin K, and zinc were sourced from food over dietary supplements.Additionally, while calcium intake of at least 1,000 mg per day was linked to an increased risk of cancer mortality, no such link was found when calcium was sourced from food.When considering nutrient intake alone and the associated risk of death, researchers found that adequate intake of vitamin K and magnesium were linked to lower mortality risk, and adequate intake of vitamin A, vitamin K, and zinc were linked to a lower risk of CVD mortality. However, excess calcium was linked to an increase risk of cancer mortality.Vitamin D shown to increase risk of cancerIn individuals who had low levels of nutrient intake, dietary supplements did not affect their mortality risk. Those taking vitamin D supplements where no vitamin D deficiency was present showed a possible association with an increased risk of all-cause mortality, including cancer. However, this link requires further investigation to be definitively proved as a positive association.Patient-based answers may have limited the studyLimitations in the study were acknowledged, which included the duration of dietary supplement use studied, as well as the fact that the prevalence and dosage of supplements were self-reported, leaving the study open to recall bias. Additionally, the possibility that residual confounding may have affected the study’s results remains.Despite this, the researchers concluded: As potential benefits and harms of supplement use continue to be studied, some studies have found associations between excess nutrient intake and adverse outcomes, including increased risk of certain cancers.”Fang Zang, Co-authorlast_img read more

Booming electric car sales drive lithium rush in Portugal

first_img Explore further New generation of batteriesDemand for lithium, a silver-white coloured metal that is already used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries used in phones and laptops, has taken off with the rising popularity of electric vehicles, which need powerful batteries.”I honestly believe that lithium could be the new gold for Portugal,” said European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, who is responsible for energy policy in the European Union’s executive arm.”The reason for that is we expect that by 2025 there will be a market in Europe for batteries worth 250 billion euros ($290 billion) annually.” For almost a year now Sefcovic has been working on a project to build in the EU a new generation of “green” recyclable and reusable batteries.The first step requires reducing the bloc’s dependence on imported battery components. The EU imports 86 percent of the lithium it consumes, mainly from Chile and Australia.Portugal is already Europe’s main lithium producer, with a market share of 11 percent, but its output is entirely used to make ceramics and glassware. Demand for lithium has taken off as demand for electric cars surges He estimates it is 2.5 times more expensive to produce lithium extracted from Portugal’s granite rocks than from the brine fields of Chile.’White gold rush'”There is a white gold rush in various jurisdictions in the world. For continental Europe, home of the German and French car industries, the concept of having a European supply chain from mineral to electric vehicle is attractive,” says Howard Klein, investment adviser at New York-based RK Equity.The rush is already under way in Portugal. The projects at Boticas and Montalegre are expected to get the green light from investors and the authorities in the coming months.The government will launch calls for tenders for lithium prospecting rights at a dozen other sites to respond to “big investor appetite”, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Energy Jorge Seguro Sanches told AFP.Since 2016 Portugal has received over 40 requests for permission to look for lithium, he adds.But the government does not just want to collect royalties for lithium extraction.It also wants to “seize the opportunity to develop industrial sectors linked to the transformation of the mineral, to battery production, to the auto sector and renewable energy,” Sanches said.Savannah Resources wants to produce a mineral concentrate rich in lithium in Portugal for export.Lusorecursos’ project at Montalegre is even more ambitious as it wants to build a factory that can transform lithium before selling it to battery makers. Portugal’s lithium is currently used to make ceramics and glassware New high-capacity sodium-ion could replace lithium in rechargeable batteries Citation: Booming electric car sales drive lithium rush in Portugal (2018, September 13) retrieved 17 July 2019 from “It’s known Portugal has the most important reserves in Europe,” says Bednarski of Lithium Today, adding that the crucial step will be figuring out whether mining is “economically viable in a very competitive global market”. 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. “The more we drill, the more we find,” says David Archer as he stands at the foot of a drilling crane perforating the granite rock of mountains near Boticas in northern Portugal to measure its lithium content.The metal has become a form of precious “white gold” since demand for electric batteries has taken off.Archer’s British mining firm, Savannah Resources, expects to open “Europe’s most important lithium mine” in 2020 here in the remote highlands of Tras-os-Montes, Portugal’s poorest and least-known region.The company announced Monday that lithium resources at its Mina do Barroso project there were 44 percent higher than previously estimated.Just 25 kilometres (15 miles) away in the town of Montalegre, Portuguese firm Lusorecursos also claims to sit on Europe’s “most important lithium deposit” which it expects to begin mining in 2020, according to its financial director Ricardo Pinheiro.”The battery sector exploded and created a real appetite for lithium,” says Lucas Bednarski, managing director of market research site Lithium Today. Mining firms are racing to open new lithium mines in Portugal, already Europe’s biggest producer of the commodity, thanks to the surge in popularity of electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries. © 2018 AFP Portugal is Europe’s main lithium producerlast_img read more

Addressing cooling needs and energy poverty targets in the Global South

first_img Provided by International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis Citation: Addressing cooling needs and energy poverty targets in the Global South (2019, February 8) retrieved 17 July 2019 from 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. Credit: CC0 Public Domain More information: Alessio Mastrucci et al, Improving the SDG energy poverty targets: residential cooling needs in the Global South, Energy and Buildings (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.enbuild.2019.01.015 Apart from possible solutions such as the improved efficiency of indoor cooling technologies, the researchers encourage the use of passive building and city design strategies. Passive building design entails using building methods and materials that improve the energy efficiency of buildings and reduce their ecological footprint, thus reducing the amount of energy needed for space heating or cooling.”Affordable and efficient cooling technologies, passive buildings and improved city design, and the frugal use of air-conditioning should be promoted to ensure essential cooling for all with minimized environmental damage,” says Alessio Mastrucci, a researcher with the IIASA Energy Program and lead author of the study.The findings of this study are important in terms of supporting policy and strategies to reduce the number of people exposed to heat-related stress. According to Mastrucci, addressing the space cooling gaps is likely to have major implications for reducing the risk of heat-related deaths and dysfunction and improving the wellbeing of billions of people in the Global South.”Filling the cooling energy poverty gap requires integrated strategies beyond providing access to affordable, efficient and low-emitting air-conditioning under the Kigali amendment. Access to electricity and affordable, energy-efficient homes is of critical importance in this respect,” he explains.In addition to the above, the study also highlights important interconnections and potential synergies between filling the cooling gaps and reaching other SDGs, such as no poverty, good health and wellbeing, and sustainable cities and communities. Timely policies to make more efficient air conditioning technologies affordable and to improve the design of residential areas to reduce heat island effects could be a win-win for both the climate and development.center_img Health risks due to extreme temperatures have been growing worldwide, and a significant number of heat-related deaths are reported annually during the summer months in the northern and southern hemispheres, particularly among the elderly, the poor and in densely populated cities. Due to its high cost, air conditioning is considered a luxury, and only 8 percent of the 2.8 billion people living in the world’s hottest regions have an air conditioning unit. In addition, more than 1 billion people lack access to electricity and at least 1 billion live in slum conditions, both of which make access to space cooling challenging. The lack of access to essential indoor cooling is a major equity issue and is increasingly seen as a dimension of energy poverty and wellbeing that demands attention from policymakers.While a number of previous studies have looked at increases in energy demand due to the increased use of air conditioning, there is a dearth of research into the coincidence of adverse climate conditions and poverty. In this study, IIASA researchers for the first time spatially estimated explicit residential cooling needs in the Global South in combination with access to space cooling technologies to highlight the location of populations potentially exposed to heat stress. The results revealed large gaps in access to essential space cooling, especially in India, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, and provide a first estimation of the energy required to fill this gap.According to the researchers, the energy poverty gap is much larger than indicated by the electricity access indicator of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 when the need for essential space cooling is taken into account. The results indicate that covering this gap would require an energy demand growth of on average 14 percent of current global residential electricity consumption, primarily for air-conditioning, which would likely be accompanied by high costs and significant environmental implications. Achieving universal access to electricity (SDG7) and adequate and affordable housing (SDG 11) are prerequisites to accessing cooling technologies, making the provision of essential space cooling for all a challenge. Global demand for air conditioning to triple by 2050: report While most of the northern hemisphere is currently in the icy grip of one of the coldest winters ever recorded, record-breaking heat is the problem in the south. The results of a new IIASA study show that between 1.8 and 4.1 billion people require access to indoor cooling to avoid heat-related stresses. Explore furtherlast_img read more