Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Brain Skills decline due to Obesity...Should have had a V8

Being overweight in later life puts you at higher risk of brain decline, research suggests.

A high BMI was linked to lower
cognitive scores
A study of 250 people aged between 60 and 70 found those with a high body mass index (BMI) and big waists scored more poorly in cognitive tests.

The Alzheimer's Society said the research, in the journal Age and Ageing, added to evidence that excess body fat can affect brain function.

Lifestyle changes can help make a difference, it said.

The Korean study looked at the relationship between fat levels and cognitive performance in adults aged 60 or over.

The participants underwent BMI - a calculation based on a ratio of weight to height - and waist circumference measurements, a scan of fat stored in the abdomen and a mental test.

Both a high BMI and high levels of abdominal fat were linked with poor cognitive performance in adults aged between 60 and 70.

In individuals aged 70 and older, high BMI, waist circumference and abdominal body fat were not associated with low cognitive performance.

The lead author of the study, Dae Hyun Yoon, said: "Our findings have important public health implications. The prevention of obesity, particularly central obesity, might be important for the prevention of cognitive decline or dementia."

A spokesperson from the UK Alzheimer's Society said: "We have all heard how a high BMI is bad for our heart but this research suggests it could also be bad for the head.

"Although we don't know whether the people in this study went on to develop dementia, these findings add to the evidence that excess body fat could impact on brain function.

"One in three people over 65 will die with dementia but there are things people can do to reduce their risk.

The obvious

"Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked can all make a difference."

BBC News Health

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Elections Gone Wild...DR of Congo's killing spree last election

Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo carried out killings and arbitrary arrests after elections last year, according to a UN report.
Opposition UDPS supporters run through a cloud of tear gas outside N'Djili airport in Kinshasa
The aftermath of the election was
characterisedby violence

The UN Joint Human Rights Office documented the killing of 33 civilians in Kinshasa by members of the army, police and the elite Republican Guard.

The country's justice minister has rejected the report's findings.

International observers say last November's disputed elections, won by President Joseph Kabila, were flawed.

The report focuses on the period between 26 November and 26 December 2011 in Kinshasa - seen as an opposition stronghold.

It says that during this month, at least 33 people were killed - including 22 by gunshot - and at least 83 others were injured, including 61 who were shot.

At least 16 people remain unaccounted for, it said.

Dumped in river

It said it had documented the arrest of at least 265 civilians, most of whom had been detained illegally or arbitrarily.

Many of these, the report alleges, were detained due to their affiliation with the UDPS opposition party or because they came from the home province of its leader, Etienne Tshisekedi.

It blames the bulk of these acts of violence on the Congolese Republican Guard and officers of the National Congolese Police and its specialised units.

Witnesses are quoted as saying some of the bodies were dumped in the Congo river, while others were buried in mass graves.

The report calls on the Congolese authorities to conduct independent investigations into all the cases of human rights violations committed in the capital to bring those guilty to justice.

It also recommends that illegal detention facilities in the capital should be immediately shut down.

The November elections were the first Congolese-organised polls since the end of a devastating war in 2003, which left some four million people dead.

President Kabila has admitted that there were mistakes in the electoral process, but said no poll was 100% perfect and rejected concerns that the results, criticised by Western observers, lacked credibility.

So next time you complain about how bad our election process is, understand that it could be wose and appreciate the freedoms and privileges we have in this country...because THAT guy said it!

BBC News Africa

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A new way to erase photocopied ink in the works! MINDBLOWING!!

Close-up of an "unphotocopied" sheet of paper

A close-up image of a sheet of "unphotocopied"
paper reveals most of the toner has been removed

A process to "unphotocopy" toner ink from paper has been developed by engineers at the University of Cambridge.

The process involves using short laser pulses to erase words and images by heating the printed material to the point that they vaporise. The researchers say it works with commonly used papers and toner inks and is more eco-friendly than recycling. However, they add that more research is needed to bring a product to market.

"When you fire the laser, it hits the thin toner layer and heats it up until the point that you vaporise it," the team's lead author, David Leal-Ayala

"Toner is mostly composed of carbon and a plastic polymer. It's the polymer in the toner that is vaporised."

In their study, published in the Proceedings of The Royal Society A journal and reported by New Scientist, the engineers acknowledge that they are not the first to have thought of the idea.

But they say that others who have tried to solve the problem have found that they damaged and/or discoloured the paper in the process, or required specially formulated toner. Toshiba already markets a laser printer which can erase ink, but notes that the machine is dependent on its own "e-blue" ink to function.

Green pulses

Mr Leal-Ayala and his colleagues tested a range of ultraviolet, infra-red and visible lasers at different speeds. They eventually found that the best setting was green laser pulses, lasting just four billionths of a second in duration, which removed all but a hint of the print.

Test "unphotocopied" paper

Tests reveal only a faint outline
of erased text were left behind

They say that curling, bending and accelerated-ageing tests carried out on the resulting "unprinted" paper suggested it had not sustained significant damage and was "comparable to blank unlasered paper".  A gas extraction system was used to capture nanoparticles and "mostly harmless" gases produced by the process.

Replacing recycling

Having demonstrated the technique in a lab setting, the engineers now plan to develop a prototype device suitable for an office.

They concede that most businesses would still find recycled paper a more cost-effective solution, but add that the price should fall if it went into production thanks to economies of scale.

"When you recycle paper you use a lot of resources," Mr Leal-Ayala said.

"You use electricity, water and chemicals, and to be honest when you print something the only reason that you don't re-use the paper is because there is print on it.

"The paper is still in good condition and there is no point in going through all the heavy industrial process if the paper is still perfectly fine."

BBC Technology

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Texas court shooting leaves one confirmed far

MapA man has opened fire outside a court in the US state of Texas, leaving at least one person dead and three injured, say police.

The alleged shooter tried to escape in a vehicle after the attack in the city of Beaumont, about 80 miles east of Houston.

One victim was hit by the suspect's lorry as he tried to get away.

The suspect had come to court with family members, but police did not say why he was there.

In a news conference, deputy police chief Zena Stephens confirmed the suspect was injured by police returning fire outside the courthouse. One person ran into the courthouse for safety after being shot, she said. After abandoning the lorry in a nearby street, the suspect ran into a nearby building and took hostages.

Local and county police surrounded the building and contacted the suspect by telephone. He then handed the gun to people inside and gave himself up to police. The alleged shooter was then brought to a nearby hospital.

Police say they will not release the identity of the person shot dead until the family is notified.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Case on Rare Earths Exports filed against China by the US, Japan and European Union

President Obama: "If China would simply let the
market work on its own, we would have no objections''

The US, Japan and the European Union have filed a case against China at the World Trade Organization, challenging its restrictions on rare earth exports. After discussing the Afghanistan situation, US President Barack Obama announced the filing at the White House, accusing China of breaking agreed WTO rules.

Beijing has set quotas for exports of rare earths, which are critical to the manufacture of high-tech products from hybrid cars, to flat-screen TVs. It is the first WTO case to be filed jointly by the US, EU and Japan. They argue that by limiting exports, China, which produces more than 95% of the world's rare earth metals, has pushed up prices.

Environmental concerns?

"We've got to take control of our energy future and we cannot let that energy industry take root in some other country because they were allowed to break the rules," Mr Obama said in a Rose Garden press conference.

What are rare earths?

  • Despite their name, rare earths are not particularly rare
  • The term refers to 17 elements, most of which are fairly abundant in nature
  • Rare earths are a collection of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table: scandium, yttrium, and some 15 lanthanides
  • Some are as common as copper or zinc, while even the rarest occur in greater quantities than gold or platinum
  • They are essential in the manufacture of many electronic goods

"If China would simply let the market work on its own we would have no objections."

In the press conference, Mr Obama also said his new trade enforcement unit - which he established last month, with China the primary target - was ramping up its operations. China has denied the allegations in the WTO case, saying that it had enforced the quotas to ensure there was no environmental damage caused due to excessive mining.

"We think the policy is in line with WTO rules," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin. "Exports have been stable. China will continue to export, and will manage rare earths based on WTO rules," he said.  The 17 metals are used in electrical products, as well as many renewable energy devices. There have been concerns that Beijing has implemented the quotas in a bid to ensure that prices remain low within China, which would give its manufacturers an advantage.

But Ivor Shrago, chairman of the mining services firm Rare Earths Global, said the US was in trouble because it took the wrong decisions in the past.

China controls almost the entire world supply of rare earths

"They took a deliberate decision about 20 years ago not to develop [rare earth mining] and instead to buy the completed products," he told BBC News. "Because of the deliberate decision that was taken, in China we have developed skills and expertise that the others do not have."

Welcoming Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping to the White House last month, Mr Obama warned that China must play by the same rules as other major powers in the world economy.

BBC News Business