Monday, June 29, 2009

MARIJUANA AFFECTS COGNITION

Marijuana enthusiasts go to the extent of calling it ‘Herbal’, insisting that it is not addictive and therefore not dangerous. Any drug abuse affects the brain, body and the mind, and marijuana in particular causes the user to develop an intense psychological dence, if not a physical dependence. The dependent become part of a restricted social circle, and a social sub-culture, since ‘weed’ is rarely smoked alone, the individual then gets dependent on that particular circle, and all other social relationships - work and family life become dysfunctional. It does not end there, abuse of the drug also affects cognition and memory— the power to grasp and process information weakens, and some individuals may also experience symptoms of paranoid psychosis, similar to those of schizophrenia. Studies have linked long term marijuana abuse to higher rates of suicide and inter-tissue fibrosis. The commonly abused pharmacy drugs include anabolic steroids, used for body-building and performance enhancing drugs that are taken to keep fit, or cope with a demanding job, sleeping pills, from the benzodiazepine group are indiscriminately, dependence. These drugs also cause severe physical popped and with effects similar to those dependence on alcohol.

CAVEMEN THERAPY

Depression is the bye product of a modern lifestyle...The only cure? THE ONLY CURE IS TO GO BACK TO PRIMITIVE WAYS OF LIVING. A new book suggests that cavemen therapy is the best way to beat depression. Dr Stephen Illardi in his book The Depression Cure says that ‘depression is a disease of modernity’. The only cure is to go back to the primitive ways of living and socialising“We are designed for a dif ferent time and place when people were physically active, were outside in the sun, spent facetime with their friends and loved ones, had a much different diet, got much more sleep, and less in the way of a relentless, stress-filled existence.

Exposure to the sun is something that an expert therapist recommends. “Look at some of the symptoms of depression — psychomotor retardation or general slowing down, social withdrawal, appetite disturbances, sleep disturbances, lack of interest in general which also prevents a person from wanting to go out. If on a regular basis one would take care of these aspects, the possibility of getting depressed gets reduced considerably. Another expert feels depression is nothing but suppressed rage “Suppression of anything especially rage is a ticking time bomb! Every person has their own threshold of pain and their own breaking points. Some people have developed better shock absorbers to cushion the bumpy road of life. Aspiring for things and leading a fast paced life is not bad if it brings happiness, and you have the necessary tools to cope. Yet another expert says philosophically,Depression is nothing but living in the events of the past. There is nothing depressive about the present or the future. What is done is done. Whatever will be will be. Long working hours, sedentary and isolated lifestyles are not the only reasons why people get depressed. Depression is something that also happens in rural areas. It’s not always a hectic lifestyle that can cause it. Many times it is relationship problems that are the cause. Connecting yourself with nature is a great way to attain bliss. There is no denying the fact that our current lifestyle doesn’t even allow us to notice what is happening around us. If we constantly try to push ourselves against deadlines we will only end up as nervous wrecks. Also, if we only work we will end up feeling very emotionally malnourished, isolated, and lonely. The modern humans should re-connect with primitive ways by eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, among other things. Most people neglect to rejuvenate, replenish and renew along the way. Yoga, exercise, a healthy dose of loving, cuddles and lots of laughter can make modern life exhilarating, not demanding! Isn’t it time then that we reclaim these protective features from the past?

MICHAEL JACKSON WILL BE REBORN FEMALE

O the world has ever seen, billions of fans of Michael Jackson find themselves unable to come to terms the day after the passing of arguably the greatest entertainer pop. And wishful thinking would have one believe that somewhere, sometime soon, another avatar of the musical phenomenon would be born who would emerge as an even greater musician that MJ himself. At least, that’s what Dr. Walter Semkiw would have you believe with the loss of the king. The occupational medicine physician has been actively involved in reincarnation research since 1996 and is the author of books like Return of the Revolutionaries, Born Again and Origin of the Soul. Walter who was in Chennai (India) to discuss these theories says that from one incarnation to the other, people retain a similar facial structure, characteristic traits, handwriting and even personal hobbies. He explains, “In his previous birth, Michael was born as Charles Dassoucy, a Frenchman who called himself the Emperor of Entertainers. This was during the 1600s. Similarly, in another incarnation of his during 1,000 AD, Jackson was born as a young soldier who got enlisted for battle during the Christian crusades. When he lost his life in one of those battles, his chance at boyhood was lost. Which is why in his subsequent birth Michael Jackson, always craved for the pleasures of being a child.” Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, US president Barack Obama and film stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan — all have walked the earth in their past lives. He says, “Although I do not know when, but MJ will certainly be born once again. In his re-incarnation, he could be even born as a woman.”

Friday, June 26, 2009

US TO REVAMP IMMIGRATION SERVICES, CUT RED TAPE...OBAMA
US President Barack Obama has vowed to revamp and ensure more transparency in the country's Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 90 days, using cutting-edge technologies, which will help Indian-Americans applying for Green Card.
Obama told a select bi-partisan group of Congressmen that the new system would be in place in the next 90 days, in which the USCIS will launch a vastly improved website. He said it will not only reduce the paperwork, but also the backlog and bring in more transparency into the system.
The changes would help thousands of Indian-Americans who apply for permanent residency or Green Card, citizenship or approach USCIS for various immigration issues, but have to experience an agonising wait.
Obama said the new website, will for the first time, allow applicants to get updates on their status of their applications via e-mail and text message and online.
"Anybody who's dealt with families who are trying to deal with -- navigate the immigration system, this is going to save them huge amounts of time standing in line, waiting around, making phone calls, being put on hold," Obama said in his remarks before a group of Congressmen whom he had invited to discuss immigration system.
It is an example of some things that we can do administratively even as we are working through difficult issues surrounding comprehensive immigration, he said.


US ADMITS IT NEEDS H-1B VISAS TO AVOID 'DISADVANTAGE'
In the first-ever indication of its stand on H-1B visas popular among Indian professionals, the Obama administration has informed a court that the US needs this scheme to avoid "competitive disadvantage" the American companies could face otherwise.
A submission in this regard was recently filed by Michael F Hertz, acting assistant attorney general, in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of three US bodies, nine individuals and two students challenging government's decision to extend from one year to 29 months the duration of foreign nationals with engineering, science and other technical degrees who can work in the US on student visas.
This was a policy decision by previous Bush government, which was challenged in a lower court in New Jersey last year and was summarily dismissed. The same petitioners approached the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia last month.
The Obama administration's view point was expressed in its submission before the Philadelphia court on March 23.
"The inability of US employers, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to obtain H-1B status for highly skilled foreign students and foreign non-immigrant workers has adversely affected the ability of US employers to recruit and retain skilled workers and creates a competitive disadvantage for US companies," the US government argued.
Defending the policy of the Bush administration on extension of work permit to foreign students with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by 17 months, the new government argued that this is necessary to retain these foreign students in America.
Otherwise, it said, they would have no other option but to return or go to other countries for employment. With there being great rush for H-1B visas, extension of work permit to those holding F-1 (student visa) is a justifiable way to retain this talent, it argued.
The extension of time simply allows these students to avoid the hardship of leaving the country to change their status and gives the employers ample time to file H-1B petitions on their behalf in due course.
The Acting Assistant Attorney General noted that had the government not extended the work permit of foreign students in STEM category, some 10,000 students holding H-1B visas for the fiscal 2009 would have had to leave the country within 60 days as required by law or extend their F-1 status by enrolling in another course of study.
"As indicated in the IFR (Interim Final Rule) there is an important economic interest for the United States in keeping STEM graduates from going to other countries that are providing increased opportunities to these students," the US government said in its petition.
"The IFR would help attract STEM students to the United States. Otherwise, United States will lose skilled technical workers in great need by high-tech industries."


US H-1B VISA RESTRICTIONS TO END IN TWO YEARS
The US government's controversial restriction on companies hiring skilled foreign workers with non-immigrant H-1B visas will continue for only two years, the immigration department has said.
As part of a stimulus package passed last month for revival of the economy, President Barack Obama signed a new law, named "Employ American Workers Act", which makes it difficult for the companies having received government bailout funds to hire H-1B foreign workers.
However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in a circular issued with its invitation of H-1B applications for the next fiscal, has now made it clear that the EAWA requirements are not permanent and would "sunset two years from the date of enactment."
EAWA, which prevents a company from displacing US workers when hiring H-1B specialty occupation workers if the company received stimulus funds, took effect on February 17, 2009 and it applies to any "hire" taking place before February 17, 2011.
The Act defines "hire" as an employer permitting a new employee to commence a period of employment; that is, the introduction of a new employee to the employer's US workforce.
USCIS has said that it would begin accepting H-1B visa applications from April 1 for the next fiscal and would subject the applications to various terms and conditions related to EAWA.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

GOOGLE GOES OFFLINE IN CHINA
Internet users in China were unable to access search giant Google Inc's main website or its Chinese service, and the company said that it was investigating.
The outage came after the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center last week accused Google of providing links to vulgar and obscene sites.
Google, based in Mountainview, California, said it would do more to stop users in China from accessing pornography. The outage began late Wednesday and affected Google's main site, its Gmail.com email service and its China-based site, Google.cn. On Thursday, all three were accessible from a computer in Beijing, but users in two other cities said they could not open Google's main site or Gmail.
"We are investigating the matter and hope the service will be restored soon," Google spokesman John Pinette in Hong Kong said.
The Chinese agency that oversees the Internet, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
China has the world's largest population of Internet users at more than 298 million. The communist government has the world's most extensive Web monitoring and filtering system, and it regularly blocks access to foreign Web sites.
While the government claims the main targets are pornography, online gambling, and other sites deemed harmful to society, critics say that often acts as cover for detecting and blocking sensitive political content.
Authorities launched a crackdown this year that led to the closing of more than 1,900 porn-related Web sites. Google has struggled to expand in China, where it says it has about 30 per cent of the search market. The company launched Google.cn with a Chinese partner after seeing its market share erode as government filters slowed access to its US service.

STRESS LEADS TO BOWEL DISORDERS

Have you ever wondered why you have severe cramps in your stomach when you are stressed? Or why specialists ask you to relax when you have an upset tummy? The gut and brain are closely connected. Doctors call gut the second brain because it has numerous nerve cells and direct nerve connections to the brain.
Patients who have bowel disorders are usually a disturbed lot. It should not be mistaken for a psychosomatic condition. Stress triggers bowel dysfunction. With an irritable bowel, a person is forced to stay put at home, away from the daily routine. Bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea or constipation (sometimes these alternate) could be symptoms of a bowel disorder.
The primary reason you should go to a doctor is to rule out problems like inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, colitis, Crohn's disease or colon cancer, after every other disease is ruled out, a diagnosis for irritable bowel is made. Even after treatment, the problem might resurface in a few months."
GUT FEEL
Gut is referred to as the human body's second brain. Scientists have shown that the brain and gut communicate back and forth via major nerves extending from the base of the brain to the abdomen.
With the nerve connection, they directly influence each other. This probably also explains why you have butterflies in your stomach before an exam or an interview. Or why you feel extremely low when you have loose motion or constipation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ASTROLOGICAL CURE FOR HEART DISEASE

Curing heart ail ments through astrology may sound bizarre, but Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi (India) has taken up such a project. After deliberations and a series of University interviews, University Grants Commission (UGC) has allowed them to start the project. They have finally received an approval letter.The project is on how to prevent and cure heart related diseases through astrology. Shatrughan Tripathi, a professor in the astrology department of Banaras Hindu University says "Astrology is a therapy too. In fact", he said, the ancient books are replete with mentions of diseases and treatments “Through astrology one can diagnose heart diseases in human beings, when it can happen, and during what situations it can happen. We are not doing anything new, all these diseases have been mentioned in our ancient holy books. We are trying to bring the same things to the people, but in a scientific manner,” he said. The University Grants Commission sponsored project is expected to revive scientific study of astrology and the “relation between ailments and planetary positions”.

SOOTHING THERAPY - Music helps keep your heart in perfect rhythm

Doctors claimed that it can help keep your heart in rhythm. Previous studies have shown that music reduces stress, boosts athletic performance and also enhances the motor skills of people with neurological impairments. Now, a team found that music affects the heart, arteries and lungs in ways which could be used to help patients with circulatory conditions. The study found swelling crescendos increase the listener’s blood pressure and heart and respiration rates, while relaxing passages of music do the opposite, leading British paper the Daily Mail reported. Lead researcher Luciano Bernardi said: music really have the power to heal? Scientists have found predictable change in the cardiovascular system.These findings increase our understanding of how music could be used in rehabilitative medicine.” Researchers who played random classical tracks to 24 volunteers found that music affected the participants’ bodies, during which their blood vessels dilated and heart rate and blood pressure reduced.

INDIAN FIRMS ACQUIRE 143 US COMPANIES, CREATE 30,000 JOBS

Indian companies made 143 acquisitions across various sectors in the United States over the last two years, bailed out many companies on the brink of closure and created some 30,000 jobs, according to a seminal new study.
In 2007-08 alone, 94 deals between the range of $0.8 million and $1,005 million were concluded with the disclosed value in 55 deals totalling $4,432 million, according to the joint study released by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Ernst and Young.
In 2008-09, Indian companies were involved in 49 US-bound acquisitions. Of these, deal values were disclosed in 24 cases and their value totalled $960 million. The size of the deals were in the range of $0.70 million and $172 million, the report noted.
Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar released the study titled 'India Contributes to Employment, Capital Growth and Tax Revenues in the US - Direct Investment by Indian companies in 2007-2009' at a function at the East West Centre here Tuesday.
Speaking of a transformation that the India-US bilateral relationship had witnessed in recent years, Shankar highlighted the complementarities and convergences in the relationship.
The US being the largest economy in the world was naturally a key economic partner for India, she said pointing out the growing two-way investment between both countries.
FICCI President Harsh Pati Singhania and Secretary General Dr. Amit Mitra also spoke about the developing economic ties between India and the US and the numerous opportunities for further cooperation.
The study shows that IT&ITeS (information technology and information technology enabled service), consumer products, pharmaceutical and manufacturing are the key sectors where companies are active in outbound acquisitions.
However, the IT&ITeS sector is the sector where a majority of the deals took place. The IT&ITeS sector, in fact, accounted for 50 percent of the total number of deals in 2007-08 and 40 percent of the total number of deals in 2008-09.
The report attributed the rise in Indian outbound investments to the US to strong economic growth, and easy availability of debt finance for companies.
Several Indian multinationals are still looking at acquiring US companies, despite the economic downturn which has raised the cost of overseas acquisitions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

PARENTS CAN SPY ON KIDS'S MOBILE PHONES
Parents will soon be able to “keep an eye” on their kids’ mobiles phones, thanks to technology already in use by American cops. Parents can receive alerts in the form of SMS and email every time their child gets a call from an “unapproved” number. My Mobile Watchdog, which is set to be launched in August for about $12 per month, will also let parents to view any text messages, emails, pictures and calls made to and from their kid’s mobile. The Colorado police were said to have nabbed more than 50 paedophiles with the technology since last year,and parents maybe expected to put it to same use. Mr Geoff Sondergeld, managing director Australian distributor of such “snooping” would indicate a failure of a good parenting job and would also violated children’s Direct Connections, said that it was intended at parents of kids between eight to 16 since they were “overwhelmingly unaware who was contacting their kids”“And they are worried the people contacting their kids could be bullies or sexual predators,”the Courier Mail quoted him as saying. But civil libertarians said rights to privacy.

MOST FEARFUL MEMORIES FADE WITH TIME
Debunking the traditional view that memories are difficult to erase, a new study shows that even our most fearful memories get erased over time.
Researchers at Montreal-based McGill University have discovered molecular mechanisms that regulate how a human brain recalls, restores and even changes old memories.
This process, called memory re-consolidation, provides clues into how memory works, said a university statement on Sunday.
The researchers also identified brain mechanisms that determine whether a memory will or will not undergo re-consolidation.
Led by Professor Karim Nader, the researchers found that even our most fearful memories, which initially don't undergo re-consolidation, get unwired over time.
"The old theory is that once a memory is wired in your brain, it stays that way. But our discovery shows that once you remember something, it doesn't stay wired in your brain, it becomes unwired and needs to be restored again - re-consolidation," said Nader who has previously proved that fearful memories (in experiments on rats) can be chemically erased.
The latest research sheds light on the molecular basis by which the brain controls which memories do and do not undergo re-consolidation.
Nader said: "These findings are very exciting because we have always known that not every memory undergoes re-consolidation. But there was nothing known about the mechanisms that determine when a memory does or does not undergo re-consolidation.
"These findings suggest a neurobiological principle that controls this process. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial because they tell us what has to happen on a neurobiological level in order to turn re-consolidation on and off.
"This is clinically important because in the clinic we want to be able to turn re-consolidation on and off if possible."
The re-consolidation therapy involves administering a common blood pressure drug, Propranolol, as a traumatic event is recounted. Propranolol partially blocks the re-consolidation of the fear associated with the memory.
The study was published Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT IS A MYTH
Think you’ve found “the one’’ after making eye contact with that random guy on the train or the girl you saw at the coffee shop? Well, forget them, suggests a psychiatrist and relationship expert who insists the myth of love at first sight is not only untrue but is to blame for many unhappy relationships and failed marriage. Gordon Livingston says encounter is enough to fall in love with someone. “It’s impossible to make those kind of judgements until you really know someone,” the Courier Mail quoted Livingston as saying“There’s certainly such a thing as attraction at first sight, and in retrospect you (may) have been right that this was the person, but often those initial chemical surges betray us,” he added. Livingston said that society and advertising portray a certain look as being “beautiful”, but this can mislead us and confuse our ability to make decisions about potential partners“We’re it’s “mindless” to think that sometimes the first drawn to (those deemed beautiful) on an almost instinctual basis but they may not have those inner qualities that make for a satisfying marriage. This is why it’s so important to know somebody,” he said automatically.

Friday, June 19, 2009

TOTAL US JOBLESS ROLLS DROP SHARPLY TO NEARLY 6.7M
The total number of people on the unemployment insurance rolls dropped for the first time since early January, the government said Thursday, while new claims for benefits rose slightly.
The Labor Department said the total unemployment insurance rolls fell by 148,000 to 6.69 million in the week ending June 6, the largest drop in more than seven years. The decline is a sign that layoffs are easing.
The drop also breaks a string of 21 straight increases in continuing claims, the last 19 of which were records. A dip in continuing claims several weeks ago was later revised higher.
The department also said initial claims rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 608,000 last week, above analysts' expectations. The four-week average, which smooths fluctuations, fell by 7,000 to 615,750. Continuing claims data lags initial claims by one week.
The drop in continuing claims could signal a slowing in the rise of the unemployment rate, which reached a 25-year high of 9.4 percent in May. Many economists forecast the rate could reach 10 percent by the end of the year.
Still, millions of Americans are receiving unemployment compensation under an emergency federal program authorized by Congress last summer and extended by the Obama administration's stimulus package.
About 2.36 million people received benefits under that program in the week ending May 30, an increase of more than 102,000 from the previous week. That's in addition to the 6.7 million people receiving benefits under the 26-week program typically provided by states.
Economists also are closely watching the level of first-time claims for signs the economy will recover by mid-summer, as many analysts predict.
"If the labor market is indeed stabilizing, we should see a marked decline in new unemployment filings in the weeks ahead," economists at Wrightson ICAP wrote in a note to clients this week.
The four-week average of claims has dropped by about 40,000 from nearly 659,000 in early April, its peak for the current recession.
But many economists want to see it fall further. Bruce Kasman, chief economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said Tuesday that a drop in the four-week average to 580,000 by next month would be sufficient to declare the recession over.
Kasman is chairman of the American Bankers Association's economic advisory committee, a group of economists for large banks that this week predicted the economy will recover in the third quarter. The Federal Reserve also expects the economy to begin growing again this year.
First-time jobless claims are a measure of the pace of layoffs and are seen as a timely, if volatile, indicator of the economy's health. Initial claims stood at 390,000 a year ago.
Consumers and businesses have cut back on spending in response to the bursting of the housing bubble and the financial crisis, sending the economy into the longest recession since World War II. Companies have cut a net total of 6 million jobs since the downturn began in December 2007, in an effort to reduce costs.
Still, job cuts are slowing. The Labor Department said employers eliminated 345,000 positions in May, about half the monthly average of jobs lost in the first quarter.


TODAY' 'IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF THE YEAR' 19 JUN 2009

Even if you don't have enough reasons to cheer, keep smiling, for a scientific study says that today is the happiest day of the year.
A British psychologist at Cardiff University has devised a formula to pinpoint the day when people are all most likely to feel the cheeriest, his complicated mathematic formula is: O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He.
In fact, he gave values to each symbol and added being outdoors(O) to nature (N) multiplied by social interaction(S), added memories of childhood summers(Cpm) simply divided by the temperature(T), and added excitement about holidays(He).
And, according to Dr Cliff Arnall, people should forget credit crunch worries because the secret of happiness lies with things which are free, leading British newspaper 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

Monday, June 15, 2009

DONATE BLOOD TO KEEPGOOD HEALTH

Donating blood is good for you. The feel-good factor of helping someone apart, studies have found that people who donate blood on a regular basis are at lower risk of having heart attacks. Donating blood regularly can improve blood circulation and prevent clogging of blood.Healthy individuals over 18 years old can safely donate blood every 4 to 6 months.


TAKING A BREAK FROM YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE? MAKE SURE YOU STAY FIT WITH THESE SUGGESTIONS.


WHEREVER YOU HAVE LOST WEIGHT LAST, THAT’S THE AREA WHERE YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT FIRST
Fitness is a way of life, so a break from your disciplined routine can make you pile on the kilos, especially on the hips, thighs and abdomen. But it’s hard to stay motivated 365 days a year — sooner or later, the enthusiasm fizzles out. So how do you keep the weight off in between? Dancers and fitness experts say you don’t need to hit the gym to stay in shape. Just follow these simple suggestions until you’re back in action. If you don’t follow through on your fitness routine, all the weight will come right back, he says. Here’s how you can avoid it: Surya Namaskar: “This is one of the best exercises ever invented by man,” . “It targets all the muscle groups and has the benefits of stretching, strength and stamina training. If you’re not on your regular routine, perform Surya Namaskars everyday.”

Take a stroll: “Walking should never be underestimated. Just taking a brisk walk for 15-20 minutes everyday can make a big difference,”
Play a game: Playing a sport is a good idea because it’s also a great stress buster. I like to get together with my friends and play footballYou can go for a game of tennis, basketball, or even swim a few laps instead.

Shake a leg: Just put on some fast music and move your body. You don’t have to be a professional dancer. Just have fun and enjoy the benefits of a good workout.

Eat healthy: When you’re taking a break, you might be tempted to indulge in unhealthy foods as well. Avoid them altogether by stocking your kitchen with fresh fruits, vegetables and juices, “You should never eat until you’re completely full. Opt for lighter meals and snacks instead. Often reach into your ridge for a bite and end up with an apple or something equally healthy.

Breathing exercises: Not many people realise this, but breathing exercises benefit the abdomen, which is one of the first areas to gain weight.Inhale through one nostril, hold your breath and then exhale through the other. Concentrate and practice 10 times.

Surya Namaskars, starting with 25 repetitions everyday.......Stay active and stay fit, even when you’re on a break.

THE ORIGIN OF SWINE FLU
A new research in London has revealed the origins of swine flu after scientists discovered that the transmission of the H1N1 influenza A virus to humans occurred several months before recognition of the existing outbreak.
World Health Organisation declared the outbreak as a pandemic.
In the new research, an international team, led by Oxford University, used evolutionary analysis to estimate the timescale of the origins as well as the early development of the swine flu pandemic.
According to the scientists, the virus was actually derived from several viruses circulating in swine, and that the initial transmission to humans occurred several months before recognition of the outbreak.
Lead scientist Dr Oliver Pybus said, "Using computational methods, developed over the last ten years at Oxford, we were able to reconstruct the origins and timescale of this new pandemic."
"Our results show this strain has been circulating among pigs, possibly among multiple continents, for many years prior to its transmission to humans."
The research highlights the need for systematic surveillance of influenza in swine, and provides evidence that new genetic elements in swine can result in the emergence of viruses with pandemic potential in humans.
The scientists concluded that "despite widespread influenza surveillance in humans, the lack of systematic swine surveillance allowed for undetected persistence and evolution of this potentially pandemic strain for many years."
The team included scientists from Oxford University, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Hong Kong and the University of Arizona. Their findings are published in the latest edition of the 'Nature' journal.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

FACEBOOK TO LAUNCH PERSONAL URL'S

Facebook, in what seems like a long overdue gesture, will finally roll out vanity URLs for its users from today. After a semi-dramatic countdown, the social networking site will start letting members set user names, instead of random numbers, to show up in their pages' URLs.
If you're a relative newcomer to Facebook, though, you should keep your shirt on, according to the Facebook Blog. In order to protect URLs from spammers and squatters, Facebook administrators are instituting a temporary ban from registration against anybody who has created a Facebook Page since May 31st or a regular profile since 3 p.m. EST Tuesday. That ban will be lifted at an as-of-yet unspecified time. If you're a long-standing Facebooker, though, you should have no problem in signing up a minute after the stroke of midnight (Eastern time) today.


Facebook claims that more will be done with user names in the future, which sounds just about right; the idea of having unique URLs -- which Myspace has featured for years -- is one that Facebook should have had a long time ago. So get ready for June 13th, at 12:01 a.m. [From: Facebook Blog, via DownloadSquad]

CHINA TO FILTER INTERNET
China has made it clear it was determined to implement the order requiring all new computers to be sold with filtering software even after protests from foreign computer makers and human rights activists, who regard it as a means to censor the Internet.
The government insists that the filtering software was meant to protect children from pornography and "other unhealthy content". The new rules specify particular software produced by a local firm be installed in all computers soft from July 1.
Government critics fear the software could work as a spy ware to keep tab on those who try to access political sensitive web sites and blogs run by scattered groups of dissidents and Tibetan activists. A vast section of Chinese youth to watch foreign television sites like BBC that are not available to them.
Manufactures of foreign brands have complained it would be very difficult for them to install new software at short notice as inventories are planned well in advance. Some experts have also opined that the government efforts would prove futile if consumers deleted the software or reformatted their hard disk after buying new computers.
"The software is designed to filter pornography on the Internet and that's the only purpose of it," Liu Zhengrong, deputy chief of the Internet Affairs Bureau of the State Council Information Office, said.
"The nationwide move is purely to protect the youngsters from Internet pornography and violence. The software has proved to be effective in trials in schools," he said.
The government has not effectively implemented rules made in 2003 and 2006 requiring Internet users and bloggers reveal their real names when logging on instead of the practice of keeping their real identities secret while using a user name. It is possible the government will move to strictly implement these rules once the new software is installed in new computers.
The producer of the recommended software, the Zhengzhou-based Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co. said the software can do nothing other than filtering nude pictures and other forms of pornography.
"Our software is simply not capable of spying on Internet users, it is only a filter," the official media quoted the company’s general manager, Zhang Chenmin, as saying. The government has spent $6.1 million on the software named "Green Dam-Youth Escort" filtering software.
"I think anyone who has a child, or would like one, could understand parents' concern about unhealthy content on the Internet," Qin Gang, spokesman with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said. He claimed the Internet had always been open in China.
"The Internet filter software is targeted at protecting youths from the spread of pornography and other unhealthy content," he said at a press conference Tuesday.

MOBILE PHONES TO CHECK STRESS LEVELS
With recession plaguing Japan, a local university and a company have jointly developed a “thermometer for the mind” which will alert people on their own stress levels on their cellphones and personal computersCalled the “Fish Bowl Index” of mental health, it alerts people to their own stress levels by representing their answers to a checklist of questions with visual imagery on their cellphones and personal computersDevised to help prevent suicides, the system uses images of red and black goldfish, a bowl and a cat to illustrate a person’s moodFor example, the red goldfish represents users themselves and gets more and more injured depending on the level of physical stress a user reportsThe black goldfish becomes more and more aggressive depending on the level of stress the user reports in relationships with othersThe cat indicates social stress and tries to eat the goldfish if its levels rise while the bowl shows stress at home and cracks if stress levels increaseIf the system judges the user is experiencing mental health problems, it indicates where to go for advice
Called the “Fish Bowl Index ” of mental health, it alerts people to their own stress levels by representing their answers to a checklist of questions with visual imagery on their mobiles and PCs

Thursday, June 11, 2009

TWO YEAR OLD'S IQ MATCHES BILL GATES

A two-year-old British girl may have the wits to match both geniuses Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates, based on her IQ scores.Karina Oakley scored an amazing 160 on her IQ test, the same result reached by the famed science author Hawking and Microsoft founder Gates. That number makes her one of the smartest children in the UK, according to a report in For more on this story, check out The Daily Mail.Oakley has the usual toddler interests of playing with toys and dressing up but she also has the intelligence and cognitive ability of someone well beyond her years, her mother said. "Quite a lot of people had said to me that Karina is quite smart, quite bright, quite clear with her speech and quick to pick things up," her mother, Charlotte Fraser, told the Daily Mail.Prompted by a television show on child geniuses, Fraser took Karina to see Professor Joan Freeman, an expert child psychologist in the UK.Freeman administered the Stanford-Binet IQ test, originally devised by Alfred Binet at the beginning of the century. Karina's score of 160 was arrived at by converting a single raw score for the entire test to a figure indicating mental age.She then used a formula to arrive at the IQ figure. An IQ of 100 means the child's chronological and mental ages match.Scores ranging from 90 to 109 are considered average and anything above 140 is considered gifted.Fraser is unsure whether her parenting or genetics are to thank for her daughter's advanced intelligence. "I have stayed at home with her for almost three years, I have always talked to her a lot, always tried to answer her questions, we do a lot of things, we go to the park and we are part of various groups, that must make a difference," Fraser told the Daily Mail. "I don't know whether it's that, combined with something that she was born with. I just think of her as Karina, I don't have anyone to compare her to." For more on this story, check out The Daily Mail.

EARTHQUAKE REDICTED
On 6th June around 5.45 pm, I observed the earthquake predicting clouds indicating the first warning signal. A disturbance was noticed in Ionosphere.”

Shakeel Ahmad, a cloud reader from Varanasi(India) has predicted earthquakes in Japan, China, Indonesia and some neighboring countries within the next two days.An earthquake is also likely in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand regions during this period.
Talking to this newspaper, Shakeel Ahmad said, “On 6th June around 5.45 pm, I observed the earthquake predicting clouds indicating the first warning signal. A disturbance was noticed in Ionosphere, which was due to condensation of clouds in WN-280 to NE-20 by magnetic compass from Varanasi and those clouds began to move towards east (ES-100) direction.” He also predicts heavy rains and flash floods — though not Tsunami — in the region.
Shakeel Ahmad, who makes cardboard boxes for a living and lives in the Chitanpura locality in Varanasi, is a self proclaimed cloud reader. “I developed the hobby of watching clouds and after some months I saw a peculiar and particular pattern developing before the earthquake or rains. I did a lot of self study and then started predicted the place and time of the earthquake with considerable precision. For several years, I found that my predictions came true and I saw on TV that earthquakes had taken place in areas where I had predicted,” he says.
According to Shakeel, the clouds form a particular mosaic pattern when an earthquake is round the corner.
Whenever a volcano erupts, an earthquake is bound to follow, and whenever and earthquake occurs, clouds appear in a particular pattern, particularly at the epicenter.
Ahmad has been regularly e-mailing his predictions to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction secretariat and the US Geological Survey but apparently no one there takes him seriously.
He is also the director of the Varanasi Ionospheric and Atmospheric Centre and Earthquake Information Centre that he runs from his home in Varanasi.


COMPUTER USERS NEED TO BE MORE CAREFUL

The number of severe injuries associated with computers is on the rise, according to a recent study.Researchers have found a seven-fold increase in computer-related injuries. These include head injuries due to computer monitor falls, tripping over computer equipment and other physical incidents. Children below five years had the highest injury rate of all age groups.
The most common cause of injury for those below five was tripping or falling. Children below 10 years most often had injuries to the head.
According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, over 78,000 cases of acute computer-related injuries were treated in the US emergency departments between 1994 and 2006.
About 93 per cent of injuries occurred at home, according to researchers at the Centre for Injury Research and Policy and The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospitals and the Ohio State University College of Medicine.
Injury mechanisms included hitting against computer equipment; trip ping or falling over computer equipment; computer equipment falling on top of the user; and muscle and joint strains. The monitor was the computer part most associated with injuries.
Lara McKenzie from Nationwide Children’s Hospital Centre for Injury Research and Policy said,” So, greater efforts are needed to prevent such injuries, especially among children.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

ARE YOU CURRENTLY ON AN H1B VISA?
You may be able to qualify for fast-track Canadian immigration under one of the Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP), such as the U.S. Visa Holder Category of the Strategic Recruitment Stream of the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP), or under the Federal Skilled Worker category of Canadian immigration.
Canada has always favoured immigrants with North American training and work experience. It makes sense because that's what Canadian employers prefer. The good news is that you do not require a job offer from a Canadian employer in order to qualify for a Canada Immigration (Permanent Resident) Visa. The even better news is that you can count on fast-track priority processing of your application.
Please note: The lists of eligible occupations under the various Provincial Nomination Programs and the Federal Skilled Worker category of Canadian immigration are subject to change without any prior notice or warning. If your occupation is currently on one of these lists, it is in your best interest to submit your application as soon as possible to ensure that you will be able to qualify.
Send us the details of your temporary status in the United States and we'll assess you to see if you qualify for one of these programs. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
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OBAMA'S "TAX DEFERRAL" TO AFFECT AMERICAN JOBS

President Barack Obama's proposal to give tax breaks to firms that set up shops at 'Buffalo instead of Bangalore' would dramatically affect American jobs and investment and leave US companies less competitive in global markets, a new economic report has warned.
As many as s 2.2 million American jobs could be affected by a repeal, or effective repeal, of 'tax deferral', warns the report authored by Robert J. Shapiro, a former Clinton Administration economic official, and Aparna Mathur, a Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
The report, commissioned by the Technology CEO Council, a Washington-based advocacy group of US American tech-companies, also found that besides affecting jobs, investments in the United States in plant, equipment and property could fall by as much as $84.2 billion.
Repealing or sharply limiting deferral would not generate large tax revenues, since substantial job losses, wage cuts and lower investments would reduce tax revenues, it said.
Congress is now considering legislation that would sharply limit the 'deferral' rules that protect US businesses from bearing much higher tax burdens on their earnings abroad than their foreign competitors in the same markets.
The key to these results is evidence showing that in modern global companies, new investment and job creation in foreign subsidiaries are closely linked to new investment and job creation by the parent companies in the United States, the report said.
These close linkages mean that while reducing or repealing deferral may be tempting politically, it would produce significant, negative economic consequences, it said.
The policy goal of changing deferral is ostensibly to make the United States a more desirable place for investment and job creation, but these changes would have the opposite effect of reducing domestic investment and jobs.
'The current proposal to substantially restrict 'deferral' would end up reducing American jobs and investment and could impair our economic recovery,' said Dr. Shapiro, who has advised former President Bill Clinton and British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as well as other leaders and private companies.
'The Obama Administration deserves credit for many initiatives to promote investment and innovation,' said Bruce Mehlman, Executive Director of the TCC, a group made up of high-tech CEOs focused on policies that strengthen American competitiveness.
'But we cannot expect to lead the world in high tech by marrying the world's best innovation infrastructure with the world's most confiscatory corporate tax structure.'
The report concludes that the Administration and the Congress should conduct a serious review of the tax code and identify broad reforms that take account of the actual dynamics of the global economy and the need to support the integrated operations and international competitiveness of American companies.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TURN TO VEGETARIAN FOOD AND SUPPORT GLOBAL WARMING



Turn veggie to beat global warming “ONE MILLION VEGETARIANS WOULD REDUCE AT LEAST 1.5 MILLION TONS OF CARBON EMISSIONS IN TAIWAN IN ONE YEAR”
J Brussels, with a population of around 200,000 has committed to taking a major step forward in environmental responsibility, setting an example for the rest of the world. Ghent has decided to go vegetarian.Renowned for its meats and fish, the city has nevertheless decided where its priorities lie. City officials have declared that meat intake is a major contributor to pollution and say that making one day a week meat-free “is good for the climate, your health and your taste buds.” Henceforth every Thursday will be a meat-free day in Ghent.
UFO"s SPOTTED
I noticed three lights floating past our house. Later, I saw big string of lights coming.There was no noise, but their height was constant until they disappeared.” Scott Boswell
Many people in Cambridgeshire claim they have spotted an armada of UFOs after dazzling orange lights flashed across the night sky.Onlookers claim they have witnessed up to 50 of the mystery bright beams in Huntingdon.
A former pilot from Hinchingbrooke says that he has photographed some of the lights. “I noticed three lights floating past our house, probably a couple of kilometres away, and thought nothing of it,” the Telegraph quoted Scott Boswell, 37, as saying.
“But then I noticed a big long string of lights coming from the direction of Brampton and heading over the Stukeley Meadows direction. This was about 11.30 pm and I got a couple of blurred shots. I’m pretty sure these weren’t aircraft.
“There was no noise, no navigation and their heading and height was relatively constant until they disappeared out of sight,” he added.
Auberon and Suzi Hedgecoe, who run the Braywood Guest House in Huntingdon, admitted seeing around 50 orange lights in the sky
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OWN A PET DOG.....AND INCREASE YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
E ach day brings a new stress in your life. The time we spend either escaping it or dealing with it takes a toll.When thinking of ways to reduce stress in life, usually techniques like meditation, yoga and journaling come to mind. But do they always help? Maybe, you want someone to be emotionally available for you and what better than looking for a new best friend? While people in your friend circle provide great social support and come with some fabulous benefits, let’s see how our “furry friends” — dogs — aid in fighting the deadliest of heart ailments.
Today, heart disease is considered to be the number one killer . We have to accept the fact that we are becoming a population crippled by laziness; elevator instead of stairs, driving instead of walkingbasically, showing a thumbs down to any form of exercise to keep us fit.
Despite the advancement of medicines, there is very little that medicine can do to keep this fatal ailment at bay forever.
This is simply because of a drastic change in diet as well as sleep and exercising schedules; they consume more of fast food, high calorie, fatty food and hence, run a higher risk at a young age.
Most heart attacks amongst men occur under the age of 50 years and 25 per cent under the age of 40, says a study.
With such alarming numbers, its best to look for safe options. Dogs can provide excellent social support, stress relief and other health benefits. For those who love animals, it’s almost impossible to stay in a bad mood when a pair of loving puppy eyes meets yours, or when a cuddly dog rubs softly up against your hand. It is estimated that there is a 30 per cent reduction in the risk of having a heart attack in households which have a dog.
According to an Australian study at the School of Population Health at the University of Western Australia, dog owners are 68 per cent more likely to achieve the recommended level of physical activity per week than non-dog owners. The study showed that 61 per cent of dog owners accumulated the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week, compared with 54 per cent of non-owners.Because exercise is good for stress management, owning a dog can be credited with increasing these benefits. Dogs will encourage you to exercise. Whether we walk our dogs because they need it, or are more likely to enjoy a walk when we have companionship, dog owners do more exercise than non-pet owners, at least if we live in an urban setting. When we’re out walking, having a dog with us can make us more approachable and give people a reason to stop and talk and increase our social network, which also has great stress management benefits. All these benefits can trim down the tension levels people experience related to isolation and lack of support from people.

Monday, June 1, 2009

IS HUMAN ERROR BEHIND H1N1?

The World Health Organization is investigating a claim by an Australian researcher that the swine flu virus circling the globe may have been created as a result of human error.
Adrian Gibbs, 75, who collaborated on research that led to the development of Tamiflu drug, said that he intends to publish a report suggesting the new strain may have accidentally evolved in eggs scientists use to grow viruses and drugmakers use to make vaccines. Gibbs said he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus’s origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint.
“One of the simplest explanations is that it’s a laboratory escape,” Gibbs said on Wednesday. “But there are lots of others.”
The World Health Organization received the study last weekend and is reviewing it, Keiji Fukuda, the agency’s assistant director-general of health security and environment, said in an interview on May 11.
Gibbs, who has studied germ evolution for four decades, is one of the first scientists to analyze the genetic makeup of the virus that was identified three weeks ago in Mexico and threatens to touch off the first flu pandemic since 1968.


INDIAN SCIENTISTS ISOLATE SWINE-FLU STRAIN
India has successfully isolated the deadly H1N1 influenza virus from the nasal samples of the country’s only positive swine flu patient in Hyderabad.
In a breakthrough, scientists from the National Institute of Virology (Pune) have also managed to grow the virus in both cell lines and chicken eggs — the first step towards developing an effective vaccine against the H1N1 virus.
Influenza viruses require a host cell to grow or replicate. If the virus successfully grows in the egg, which scientists in India have managed to do, they will be able to make multiple copies of the virus in the lab and then use it to create a vaccine against H1N1, better diagnostic kits for H1N1 detection and also test for anti-viral resistance.
Speaking to TOI, NIV director A C Mishra said by the first week of June, scientists will be able to accurately document all possible information about the virus — its transmissibility powers, virulence level, how similar is it to the virus that hit Mexico, Canada and US.
India confirmed its first H1N1 infection on May 16, when a 23-year-old student arrived in Hyderabad from the US with the infection.

IS BERMUDA TRIANGLE TO BLAME FOR AIR-FRANCE PLANE CRASH?

Bermuda, Miami, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico mark out a triangular region on the western part of the Atlantic. Also known as the Devil’s Triangle, this region has become notorious for the seemingly inexplicable disappearances of aircraft and surface-vessels.
There are theories galore “explaining” the disappearances but none that has been able to establish what happens conclusively. Some argue human error, others deliberate sabotage or powerful hurricanes. No merit in the innumerable scientific explanations offered. A sizeable section even pleads for alien abduction or other such paranormal activity beyond the scope of science.