Taliban reject direct negotiations with govt

first_imgKabul: An Afghan official said Sunday that the government would hold its first-ever direct talks with the Taliban within two weeks, but the insurgents quickly denied any such meeting was planned and reiterated their opposition to negotiating with government representatives in their official capacity. The Taliban have been holding peace talks with the United States for nearly a year but have refused to recognize the Kabul government, viewing it as an American puppet. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USAbdul Salam Rahimi, Afghanistan’s state minister for peace affairs, said that a 15-member government delegation will meet with the Taliban in Europe, without elaborating. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said “there has been no agreement on such a meeting and that has not been coordinated with Taliban.” He said that once the insurgents reach an agreement with the US, they would be open to intra-Afghan talks, but any government representatives would have to participate in a personal capacity. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsUS envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently visiting Kabul, appears to share that position. He tweeted that another round of “intra-Afghan” talks would occur “after we conclude our own agreements.” He said it would include the Taliban and “an inclusive and effective national negotiating team consisting of senior government officials, key political party representatives, civil society and women.” Sunday marked the first day of campaigning for presidential elections scheduled for September 28. President Ashraf Ghani is seeking a second term on promises of ending the 18-year war but has been largely sidelined over the past year as the US has negotiated directly with the Taliban. The two sides are aiming for an agreement in which American forces would withdraw in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan will not be a launch-pad for international terror attacks. The Taliban, who effectively control around half the country, have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces. A Taliban suicide bomber killed four police early Sunday in an attack on a police station in the eastern Ghazni province, according to Ahmad Khan Serat, a spokesman for the provincial police. He said 10 other police were wounded. Elsewhere in Ghazni, a roadside bomb killed three civilians and wounded three others, Serat said. No one claimed the attack, and civilians are often killed or maimed by bombs targeting security forces.last_img read more

Rep Chatfield announces June office hours

first_img09Jun Rep. Chatfield announces June office hours Categories: Chatfield News State Rep. Lee Chatfield invites residents of the 107th House District to join him during local office hours throughout the month of June.“In addition to traveling across the district every week, I am committed to holding monthly office hours in order to stay accessible to anyone who has a concern, question or problem they are encountering with state government,” said Rep. Chatfield, R-Levering.Since taking office, Rep. Chatfield has consistently held monthly office hours in every county he represents.His June office hours schedule is:Friday, June 12thChippewa CountyFrank’s Place123 W. Portage Ave. in Sault Ste. Marie9 -10:30 a.m.Monday, June 22ndCheboygan CountyPurple Tree Coffee336 N. Main St. in Cheboygan9-10:30 a.m.Emmet CountyLegs Inn6425 N. Lake Shore Drive in Harbor Springs1:30-3 p.m.Monday, June 29thMackinac CountyHawk’s Landing720 W. Huron Drive in Pointe aux Pins (Bois Blanc Island)2-3 p.m.No appointment is necessary and there is no cost to attend. Anyone unable to attend may contact Rep. Chatfield’s office by calling (517) 373-2629, via email at leechatfield@house.mi.govor through his website at www.RepChatfield.com.last_img read more

The UKs Royal Television Society RTS has opened

The UK’s Royal Television Society (RTS) has opened entries for its Young Technologist Award 2014.The award is open to early career engineers in the broadcast or related industries and judges will look for applicants who can demonstrate how the award would enhance their understanding of technology’s role in television and its allied fields, and how they will share their understanding.The winner will receive a trip to the IBC conference and exhibition in Amsterdam in September, plus free entry to the RTS London Conference 2014: ‘Power, Politics and the Media’.Candidates have until June 16 to submit their applications. read more

Modern Times Groups soontobespunoff TV and st

first_imgModern Times Group’s soon-to-be-spun-off TV and streaming arm Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) has acquired the exclusive Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish media rights to 50 tennis tournaments from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).The deal means that Nordic tennis fans can now follow players such as Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki and Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson live on NENT’s streaming service Viaplay, with selected matches also broadcast on NENT Group’s TV channels.NENT Group’s coverage of WTA events begins with this month’s WTA tournaments in Shenzhen, Brisbane and Auckland, and concludes with the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen between October 27 and November 3 2019.NENT also holds the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian media rights to the men’s tennis ATP World Tour Masters 1000 series and ATP World Tour Finals; and the Danish media rights to the ATP World Tour 250 and ATP World Tour 500.Kim Mikkelsen, NENT Group SVP and head of sport said: “We continue to broaden and deepen NENT Group’s unrivalled sports portfolio and bring the very best experiences to every fan in the Nordic region. Now we’re serving up another ace in 2019 with no less than 50 WTA tournaments, which together with our fantastic ATP coverage mean we offer some of the world’s most compelling and competitive tennis.”Micky Lawler, WTA president said: “Our sport continues to grow and inspire new fans around the world, thanks to broadcast opportunities such as these. We’re extremely pleased with NENT Group’s dedication to bring women’s tennis to new audiences and look forward to building our fan base in the Nordic region through our exciting WTA Premier and International events.”Separately, Sky Deutschland has extended its agreement for exclusive rights to ATP men’s tennis in Germany, .Austria and Switzerland.Under the terms of its latest deal with ATP and ATP Media, Sky will continue to broadcast he Nitto ATP Finals, all ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, most of the ATP 500 tournaments and selected ATP 250 tournaments from 2020 onwardsThe pay TV broadcaster will have the rights to air coverage of the  2020 Nitto ATP Finals in London from 2020 to 2023 and wherever the final series will be held in the following years, the nine ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, most of the 13 ATP 500 tournaments and can also provide live coverage of selected tournaments of the ATP 250.last_img read more

The scene in Strabane following the bomb attack la

first_img The scene in Strabane following the bomb attack last monthTWO men arrested over a murder bid on police officers last month have now been freed, say police.The men, aged 46 and 48, who were arrested in Omagh and Strabane on Tuesday (11 April) by detectives from PSNI’s Terrorist Investigation Unit.They were detained under section 41 of the Terrorism Acit by detectives investigating the attempted murder of police officers in Strabane on March 21. ShareTweet strabaneTWO MEN RELEASED OVER BOMB MURDER PROBE ON POLICE OFFICERScenter_img Police say the men, who were being questioned at the serious crime suite at Musgrave PSNI station, have now been released unconditionally.During the attack, the device exploded as a police patrol car passed Townsend Street in the town.Detectives say the officers cheated death in the attack, saying the device had been triggered by command wire from a vantage point overlooking the road.TWO MEN RELEASED OVER BOMB MURDER PROBE ON POLICE OFFICERS was last modified: April 13th, 2017 by John2John2 Tags:last_img read more

Exercises and swimming goggles may reduce adverse effects on eye during long

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 19 2019Astronauts on long missions at the International Space Station can experience changes to their eyes and vision that can last for years. This study included 20 men who on three separate days at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston completed exercises while on their back and tilted back head-first (to simulate the effect of exercise in space); 10 of the participants wore swimming goggles.Researchers found exercise was associated with decreases in pressure in the eye, while the addition of swimming goggles was associated with modestly increased pressure, which could reduce some of the adverse effects on the eye of long-duration spaceflights. These findings need to be replicated in spaceflight to determine whether increasing eye pressure with swim googles is safe and effective. Source:https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmologylast_img read more

Oral steroid use in patients with inflammatory diseases increases risk of infection

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 24 2019Oral steroid use in patients with the inflammatory diseases polymyalgia rheumatica and/or giant cell arteritis significantly increased the risk of infection, and the risk increased with higher doses, found a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).In a large study of almost 40 000 adult patients with polymyalgia rheumatica or giant cell arteritis in England, researchers found higher absolute risks of infection when patients were taking oral steroids than when they were not taking them. The mean age of patients in the study was 73 years. Steroids included prednisolone, prednisone, hydrocortisone and cortisone. The risk of infection increased with higher doses and was elevated even with low daily doses of less than 5 mg of prednisolone. In periods with prescribed medication, patients’ risk was 50% higher than when it was not prescribed. Increases in risk ranged from 48% for fungal to 70% for bacterial infections.”Dr. Mar Pujades-Rodriguez, Leeds Institute of Data Analytics, at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, with coauthors Related StoriesRetina can restructure itself following gene therapyNanoparticles used to deliver CRISPR gene editing tools into the cellNANOLIVE‘s novel CX-A defines a new standard for live cell imaging in 96 well plates for continuous organelle monitoring in cell populationsMore than half of patients (22 234, 56%) had infections during 138 412 person-years of follow up, with the most common infections being lower respiratory tract infections (27%), conjunctivitis (9%) and shingles (7%). More than one-quarter (27%) of patients were admitted to hospital and 7% died within a week of diagnosis of infection.”Patients and clinicians should be educated about the risk of infection, need for symptom identification, prompt treatment, timely vaccination and documentation of history of chronic infection (e.g. herpes zoster),” write the authors.They suggest that estimates of dose-response (i.e., the magnitude of risk related to steroid dosing) can be useful for policy-makers in assessing new glucocorticoid-sparing drugs for patients with these inflammatory diseases.”Incidence of infections associated with oral glucocorticoid dose in people diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica or giant cell arteritis: a cohort study in England” is published June 24, 2019. Source:CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)last_img read more

Scientists study immune molecules inside mycetoma grains

first_imgMMP-9 expression in M. mycetomatis (A), S. somaliensis (B) and A. 639 pelletieri (C). Stromal expression (i.e. connective tissue parenchymal) of MMP-9 640 was negative in all the areas which contained thick bundles of collagen fibers 641 (arrow head) (X 10). This figure is composed of representative pictures from 642 single patients. Differences among individual patients were noted, however we 643 chose pictures which correlated with the majority of each group of patients. Credit: Emanuel Siddig (CC BY 4.0) Related StoriesVirus employs powerful strategy to inhibit natural killer cell functionMathematical model helps identify determinants of persistent MRSA bacteremiaIncreasing awareness about visceral leishmaniasis could help reduce fatalities, disease transmissionMycetoma is caused by any of 56 different microorganisms and is endemic to many tropical and subtropical areas. It usually affects young adults and children and is most common in farmers and other workers who deal directly with soil. Mycetoma appears as a slow-growing tumor-like mass that gradually increases in size. Previous research has revealed that there are three zones of inflammatory cells surrounding mycetoma grains. However, the immunopathological mechanisms involved in the chronic inflammation of mycetoma have not been well understood.In the new work, Ahmed Hassan Fahal of the University of Khartoum, Sudan, and colleagues studied surgical biopsies from 100 patients with confirmed mycetoma. They measured expression levels of two immune proteins—interleukin-17 (IL-17) and matrix metalloprotein-9 (MMP-9)—in cells from each zone in the mycetoma grains.  While IL-17 was mostly found in Zones I and II of the grains, MMP-9 was present primarily in the more outer Zones II and III. Levels of the two immune molecules corresponded with each other, and were associated with the disease duration and lesion size. Moreover, levels of MMP-9 also varied by the causative agent of mycetoma. In experiments in mice, animals deficient in IL-17 , granuloma formation was impaired, suggesting an importance of the molecule in early infection.“The observations presented here are the first step and indicate that IL-17A and MMP-9 are present within the grain,” the researchers say. “The functions of IL-17A and MMP-9 in the formation of the grain will be studied in future studies.” Source:PLOSJournal reference:Siddig, E.E. et al. (2019) Interleukin-17 and matrix metalloprotease-9 expression in the mycetoma granuloma. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007351. Jul 12 2019Mycetoma is a common neglected disease caused by either fungi or bacteria which organize themselves into grains—areas of inflammation surrounded by a collagen capsule. Now, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have studied two immune molecules inside these grains and discovered patterns to where the molecules appear.last_img read more

More seniors are dying in falls Doctors could do more to reduce

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 27 2019Older adults worried about falling typically receive general advice: Take an exercise class. Get your vision checked. Stop taking medications for sleep. Install grab bars in the bathroom.A new study suggests that sort of advice hasn’t proved to be very effective: Nearly three times more adults age 75 and older died from falls in 2016 than in 2000, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.In 2016, 25,189 people in this age group died from falls, compared with 8,613 in 2000.  The rate of fatal falls for adults 75 and older more than doubled during this period, from 51.6 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 122.2 per 100,000 people in 2016, the report found.What’s needed to check this alarming trend, experts suggest, is a more personalized approach to preventing falls, more involvement by medical practitioners and better ways to motivate older adults to take action.Elizabeth Burns, a co-author of the report and health scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it’s not yet clear why fatal falls are increasing. Older adults are probably more vulnerable because they’re living longer with conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease and taking more brain-altering medications such as opioids, she noted.By 2030, the CDC projects, 49 million older adults will fall each year, resulting in 12 million injuries and more than $100 billion in health-related spending.The steep increase in fatal falls is “definitely upsetting,” especially given national, state and local efforts to prevent these accidents, said Kathleen Cameron, senior director of the Center for Health Aging at the National Council on Aging.Since 2012, the CDC has tried to turn the situation around by encouraging physicians to adopt evidence-based fall prevention practices. But doctors still are not doing enough to help older patients, Burns said.She cites evidence from two studies. In one, published in 2016, researchers found that fewer than half of seniors who were considered high risk — people who’d fallen repeatedly or sought medical attention for falls — received a comprehensive fall risk assessment, as recommended by the CDC and the American Geriatrics Society.These assessments evaluate a person’s gait, lower-body muscle strength, balance, medication use, problems with their feet, blood pressure when rising from a sitting position, vision, vitamin D levels and home environment.In another study, published last year, Burns found that physicians and nurse practitioners routinely failed to review older adults’ medications (about 40% didn’t do so), recommend exercise (48% didn’t) or refer people to a vision specialist (about 62% didn’t) when advising older patients about falls.Physicians’ involvement is important because older adults tend to take their doctors’ advice seriously, said Emily Nabors, program manager of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence at the University of Southern California.Also, seniors tend to underestimate their chance of falling.”It’s very easy for people to look at a list of things that they should be concerned about and think, ‘That doesn’t apply to me. I walk just fine. I don’t have trouble with my balance,'” said Dorothy Baker, a research scientist at Yale School of Medicine and executive director of the Connecticut Collaboration for Fall Prevention.What’s the alternative to giving seniors a laundry list of things to do and hope they pay attention? We asked experts around the country for suggestions:Get a fall risk assessment. Doctors should ask older adults three questions about falls: Have you fallen in the past year? Do you feel unsteady when walking or standing? And are you afraid of falling?If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you’re probably a good candidate for a comprehensive fall risk evaluation.Dr. Muriel Gillick, a geriatrician at Harvard Medical School, believes older patients and their families should “clamor” for these assessments. “Tell your doctor, ‘We’re really worried about falls. Can you do this kind of evaluation?'” she said.When you join Medicare, you become eligible for a “Welcome to Medicare” prevention visit, during which doctors should evaluate your chance of falling. (This is a brief screen, not a thorough examination.) Subsequently, seniors are eligible each year for a Medicare annual wellness visit, which offers another chance for a physician to assess your fall risk.If your doctor doesn’t offer these services, ask for a referral to another medical practice, said Leslie Allison, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy. Physical therapists can provide an in-depth review of walking, muscle strength and balance, she noted.The CDC’s “Stay Independent” brochure lists 12 fall-related considerations for those interested in doing a self-assessment. Pay attention to the last one, about depression, which alters attention, slows responses and is often overlooked in discussions about falls.Get a personalized plan. A fall assessment should identify risk factors that are specific to you as well as ways to address them.”The goal is to come up with personalized recommendations, which older adults are far more likely to take up than generic non-tailored approaches,” said Elizabeth Phelan, a researcher of falls and associate professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Washington.Related StoriesTop four things seniors need to know to have a safe and healthy summerFive ways to help keep senior citizens safe during summerSocial Security error jeopardizes Medicare coverage for 250,000 seniorsTake programs that address balance, for example. Some are designed for older adults who are frail, some for those who are active, and still others for those in between. “If a senior goes to a program that doesn’t meet her needs, it’s not going to work out,” said Mindy Renfro, associate professor of physical therapy at Touro University Nevada.The single most important intervention is exercise — but not just any kind. Notably, simply walking — the type of exercise most older adults get — won’t help unless seniors have previously been sedentary. “If you’re walking, by all means, don’t stop: It’s good for general health and well-being,” Phelan said. “But to prevent falls, you need to focus on strength and balance.”Exercise such as tai chi or the Otago Exercise Program could improve strength and balance, advises Cameron of the National Council on Aging. She suggested asking an area agency on aging, senior center, YMCA or YWCA about classes. The center also has formed fall prevention coalitions in 43 states. Look for one near you here.A national directory of resources that can help older adults make home modifications is being expanded through a new program led by USC’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Occupational therapists can evaluate homes and suggest changes to reduce your chance of falling. Ask your physician for a referral.Your doctor’s guidance will be needed to review medications that can contribute to falls. Using three or more psychotropic medications such as opioids, antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines (such as Valium) and “Z” drugs for sleep (such as Ambien) puts seniors at substantial risk, said Dr. Donovan Maust, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School.Be careful during transitions. Older adults coming home from the hospital or starting new medications should be especially careful about falling, because they may be weak, deconditioned, exhausted and disoriented.A new paper from researchers at the University of Michigan and Yale University highlights this risk. They looked at 1.2 million older adults readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged in 2013 and 2014. Fall-related injuries were the third most common reason for readmissions.In other studies, Geoffrey Hoffman, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, has asked seniors and caregivers about their experiences during discharge planning. None remembered receiving information about falls or being advised that they might be at risk.Hospital staffers should discuss fall prevention before older patients leave the hospital, Hoffman said, calling it “a time when it’s critical to intervene on fall risk.”Consider the message. In research studies and focus groups, older adults report they don’t like negative messages surrounding falls such as “You can hurt yourself badly or die if you don’t watch out.””Telling older adults what they need to do to be safe feels patronizing to many people and raises their hackles,” Hoffman said.Instead, seniors respond better to messages such as “taking these steps is going to help you stay independent,” Burns of the CDC said.We’re eager to hear from readers about questions you’d like answered, problems you’ve been having with your care and advice you need in dealing with the health care system. Visit khn.org/columnists to submit your requests or tips. This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.last_img read more

How social networking sites may discriminate against women

Explore further Citation: How social networking sites may discriminate against women (2018, April 20) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-social-networking-sites-discriminate-women.html Now, using the photo-sharing site Instagram as a test case, Columbia researchers demonstrate how two common recommendation algorithms amplify a network effect known as homophily in which similar or like-minded people cluster together. They further show how algorithms turned loose on a network with homophily effectively make women less visible; they found that the women in their dataset, whose photos were slightly less likely to be ‘liked’ or commented on, became even less popular once recommendation algorithms were introduced.By working out the math of how this happens, the researchers hope that their work, to be presented April 25 at the Web Conference in Lyon, can pave the way for algorithms that correct for homophily.”We are simply showing how certain algorithms pick up patterns in the data,” said the study’s lead author Ana-Andreea Stoica, a graduate student at Columbia Engineering. “This becomes a problem when information spreading through the network is a job ad or other opportunity. Algorithms may put women at an even greater disadvantage.”The researchers scraped their data from Instagram in 2014, after Facebook bought the company but before automated prompts made it easier to connect with friends-of-friends. Though women outnumbered men in their sample of 550,000 Instagram users (54 percent to 46 percent), the researchers found that men’s photos tended to be better received: 52 percent of men received at least 10 ‘likes’ or comments compared to 48 percent of women. Social media and the sharing economy have created new opportunities by leveraging online networks to build trust and remove marketplace barriers. But a growing body of research suggests that old gender and racial biases persist, from men’s greater popularity on Twitter to African Americans’ lower acceptance rates on Airbnb. As expected, homophily played a role. The researchers found that men were 1.2 times more likely to ‘like’ or comment on other men’s photos rather than women’s, while women were just 1.1 times more likely to engage with other women.When they used two widely used recommendation algorithms—Adamic-Adar and Random Walk (friends-of-friends)—the researchers found that the percentage of women connected to, or predicted to be recommended to, at least 10 other Instagram users fell from 48 percent in the original dataset, to 36 percent and 30 percent respectively. As predicted in a series of mathematical proofs in the paper, the researchers also found that the disparity was greatest among Instagram’s super-influencers—people like Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, whose popular posts and 1.5 million followers put him in the top tenth-of-one percent for engagement. A network effect known as homophily may reduce women’s visibility on social media when recommendation algorithms are added, says a new study. Above, a selfie from study coauthor Ana-Andreea Stoica’s Instagram account. Credit: Ana-Andreea Stoica A majority of hyper-influencers in the researchers’ sample were women, but when the Adamic-Adar recommendation algorithm was introduced, men were three times more likely than women in this exclusive group;to be suggested as a new contact to others on the network. Credit: Ana-Andreea Stoica When algorithms were turned loose on this exclusive network of ultra-engaging individuals, women’s visibility plunged. Though women in the top .1 percent for engagement (with at least 320 connections) outnumbered men (54 percent to 46 percent), the men were far more likely to be suggested to new users and expand their networks rapidly. Just 26 percent and 28 percent of women in the top .1 percent were likely under the Adamic-Adar and Random Walk algorithms respectively to be recommended at least 23 times and 12 times, the researchers found.”Algorithms pick up subtle patterns and amplify them,” said the study’s senior author, Augustin Chaintreau, a computer scientist at Columbia Engineering and a member of Columbia’s Data Science Institute. “We’re not asking that algorithms be blind to the data, just that they correct their own tendency to magnify the bias already there.”The study is the latest to show that recommendation algorithms, in addition to filtering content, may influence the long-term structure of a social network. “It’s remarkable that a simple assumption of homophily leads algorithms to amplify disparities in social status,” said Amit Sharma, a researcher at Microsoft Research India who was not involved in the study but recently spoke at Columbia about his own work exploring recommendation engines and social influence.Algorithmic interventions that balance convenience with ethical goals may be one way to address the problem, he added. “Through studies like this, we’re learning that the practice of optimizing a single metric exclusively, for example, number of new friends added, is not the right way. Unfortunately, the alternative is unclear. We are still scratching the surface of understanding how algorithms affect long-term human behavior.” More information: Ana-Andreea Stoica et al, Algorithmic Glass Ceiling in Social Networks, Proceedings of the 2018 World Wide Web Conference on World Wide Web – WWW ’18 (2018). DOI: 10.1145/3178876.3186140 Snapchat challenging Facebook among US youth: survey 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. Provided by Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science read more