Discussion in 'Current Events' started by StCatMouse, Jun 24, 2020.
Because not everything sucks
A Year In, 1st Patient To Get Gene Editing For Sickle Cell Disease Is Thriving
Like millions of other Americans, Victoria Gray has been sheltering at home with her children as the U.S. struggles through a deadly pandemic, and as protests over police violence have erupted across the country.
But Gray is not like any other American. She's the first person with a genetic disorder to get treated in the United States with the revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR.
And as the one-year anniversary of her landmark treatment approaches, Gray has just received good news: The billions of genetically modified cells doctors infused into her body clearly appear to be alleviating virtually all the complications of her disorder, sickle cell disease.
"It's wonderful. It's the change I've been waiting on my whole life," Gray told NPR, which has had exclusive access to chronicle her experience over the past year.
Sickle cell disease, a rare blood disorder that disproportionately affects African Americans in the U.S., can be difficult to treat effectively.
The last time NPR spoke with Gray — in November — her doctors had just gotten the first hints the treatment might be working. Now, after nine months of careful testing, the treatment shows no signs of waning, making her doctors more confident than ever the experiment has been a success.
"It's hard to put into words the joy that I feel — being grateful for a change this big. It's been amazing," said Gray, 34, who lives in Forest, Miss.
Further reading: NPR
Two hair stylists with the coronavirus wore masks. So did their 140 clients. Of those tested, none got sick
CLEVELAND, Ohio — In Missouri, two hair stylists who tested positive for COVID-19 after working in close contact with 140 clients and six coworkers. Local health officials feared it would be the start of a major outbreak.
But it wasn’t.
The reason? Employees and patrons at the Great Clips salon were required to wear masks, health officials said.
“The result appears to be one of the clearest real-world examples of the ability of masks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus,” the Washington Post wrote this month. Local health officials are studying the details of the Springfield, Missouri, incident, including what types of face coverings were used and what other precautions were taken.
The fact that none of the exposed people became ill “is something we need to think about,” said Dr. Claudia Hoyen, director of pediatric infection control at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
“There are definite lessons we can learn from this,” Hoyen said. “This is a good example of why we all should be wearing masks.”
Further reading: Cleveland.com
Well, that's a plus. Hopefully, one of these days stem cell research becomes more excepted by the public.
Fugaku, world's fastest supercomputer, searches for coronavirus treatment
Japanese machine can perform more than 415 quadrillion computations a second and has already worked out how breath droplets spread
A Japanese supercomputer that has been named the world’s fastest is using its extraordinary capacity to identify potential treatments for the coronavirus.
Japan this week regained the top spot for the first time since 2011, ending years of US and Chinese dominance on the TOP500 site, which tracks the evolution of computer processing power.
Its Fugaku supercomputer can perform more than 415 quadrillion computations a second, 2.8 times faster than the Summit system developed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, which held the title when the twice-yearly rankings were last published in November.
Developed over the past six years by the Japanese technology giant Fujitsu and Riken, a government-backed research institute in the western city of Kobe, Fugaku includes 150,000 high-performance processing units and can test thousands of substances a week.
Further reading: The Guardian
In LA’s pandemic moment, Sikh community taps an ancient specialty: Feeding the masses
A Sikh center was already serving food to thousands, including protesters and the homeless. A new partnership with the city of L.A. ramps up the giving, to help the disabled.
“Seva” is alive and well in Pacoima.
Every day it’s what fires up the giant cooking containers full of rice and pasta. It’s what powers the assembly lines of volunteers from all over Southern California who package meals — curry, thai, pasta and a sweet treat with a bottle of watter — atop rows of tables.
It’s what gets those meals to households from Palmdale to Long Beach to Pasadena and Los Angeles, where the pandemic still draping the region has crushed livelihoods, left families struggling and kept seniors and disabled isolated.
Seva — or “selfless service” — is happening at the Khalsa Care Foundation Gurdwara — a Sikh temple that’s served the area for 15 years.
The massive amount of food prepared and distributed every day here is nothing new for a community of faith whose tradition of selflessness goes back centuries. They know how to feed the world, and it’s happening from New York to India. Amid the chaos of COVID-19, and even among deep social pain and unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd, local Sikh Americans have found renewed energy, across the Southland and also just off Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the northeast San Fernando Valley.
One day, it’s preparing and serving up meals to waves of protesters on L.A.’s streets. The next, providing much-needed meals to struggling families in Palmdale.
And so on, every day of the week. No strings attached.
No proselytizing. No preaching. No preference for a person’s position in life. Just goodwill and a sticker on the lid of each meal’s plastic tray that reads: “Sikh Community Lending a Helping Hand.”
The goodwill was recently tapped by LA leaders, who teamed up with the Gurdwara (translated as temple) for a new goal. The center was already hosting a once-a-week drive-thru hot meal program, and since its beginnings 15 years ago it was preparing hot meals for homeless shelters and other non-profit organizations.
The center’s food pantry has gone from serving 75 families pre-pandemic to more than 400 amid the outbreak. They are really good at this.
Further reading: Daily News
Ontario's new math curriculum to introduce coding, personal finance starting in Grade 1
The Ford government’s new elementary math curriculum will introduce coding, computer storage measurements and personal finance terms starting in Grade 1, as part of a bid to improve sliding EQAO math scores.
Starting this September, students in Ontario public schools will begin learning mathematics with more emphasis on a “back to basics” approach, with certain concepts introduced in earlier grades and other concepts pushed into higher ones.
Throughout grades one to eight, children will learn concepts related to coding for the first time.
They will also learn about personal finance in each grade, and they will learn about measurements of data storage, such as a byte, kilobyte, megabyte and gigabyte, alongside the other units of measurement they learned previously.
Ministry of Education officials said teachers will be given professional development time through the summer as well as during the new school year to adapt lesson plans to the changes.
Continue reading: CP24
Boy, 10, sets Guinness World Record with fast math
June 26 (UPI) -- A 10-year-old elementary school student in England set a Guinness World Record for solving multiplication and division problems in one minute.
Nadub Gill, 10, a student at Longmoor Primary School in Long Eaton, England, spent some of his COVID-19 lockdown time practicing math on the Times Table Rock Stars app, and he ended up using the educational platform to set a Guinness World Record.
Gill answered 196 multiplication and division questions in one minute, averaging out to more than three answers per second, beating about 700 other young students who attempted the new record created by Guinness in partnership with the app.
The boy was issued an official certificate for the highest score achieved on Times Tables Rock Stars in one minute.
Inked Over: A Vermont Artist Covers Up Hate Tattoos for Free
A southern Vermont tattoo shop is offering a second chance to those having second thoughts.
Mountainside Tattoo & Piercing in Bellows Falls will cover up or remove anyone's racist or hateful tattoos, all for free. The shop announced the offer in a June 5 Facebook post.
"It's ok to have a change of mind about things and we want to be there to help," the post reads.
It's not a new offer, according to shop owner Alexander Lawrence, but the service has gained new attention in the wake of George Floyd's death on May 25 and the subsequent worldwide rallies and protests against racism and police brutality.
"Sometimes people make rash decisions when they're younger because of the influences they had at the time," said Lawrence, 49.
Lawrence, who also removes tattoos with a laser, said he's tried for years to help people. He offers free cover-ups of gang tattoos and self-harm scars. He recalled how he created a beach scene on one woman's arms, using her scars as fence posts.
"I took something negative and turned it into something positive for her," said Lawrence, who has 34 years of experience.
He also offers free face-tat removal and will get rid of any ink that someone finds impedes their ability to get a job. Lawrence, a Massachusetts native, said he understands how important a second chance can be. He dropped out of school in the seventh grade, was homeless at 14 and struggled with drug addiction. Lawrence got sober, obtained his GED and eventually earned an associate's degree in his thirties.
"Now I own a successful business that does really well," he said.
So, he's giving back. He's scheduled to cover up a client's bicep tattoo of a skull with a swastika on it.
"It's not even that well done in the first place," Lawrence said. "That's the funny thing about most racist tattoos — they're usually shitty!"
Source: Seven Days
Italy for 1st time sees single-digit daily deaths from coronavirus
Italy on Saturday reported eight more novel coronavirus-related fatalities – the lowest daily rise since the beginning of the outbreak in early March – bringing the country's death toll to 34,716.
The record low in daily deaths, however, contrasts with news of new clusters that recently emerged across the country, from north to south. Authorities and experts worry that the start of the summer season, with huge crowds of Italians traveling to holiday sites, could spark a second wave of contagion.
The slowing trend in death numbers and contagion rates has been now confirmed for two consecutive months, showing that the worst of the pandemic has been left behind.
The tally of active infections again fell on Saturday, with a decline of 802, bringing the total to 16,836.
Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, surging to 188,584, as more patients left intensive care.
The Italian government said on Friday that schools would reopen on Sept. 14, after more than six months of closure.
Continue reading: Daily Sabah
While coronavirus spread in the U.S., an Indian slum with 1 million residents contained it
MUMBAI, India —
When the first COVID-19 case was detected in Dharavi, a crammed labyrinth of one-room shacks in the heart of India’s financial capital, epidemiologists feared the disease would spiral out of control.
Inside one square mile live nearly 1 million people, many of whom survive on daily wages and share public bathrooms. Families sleep in eight-by-eight-foot rooms. People squeeze past one another in alleys. Social distancing is impossible.
But nearly three months later, authorities in Mumbai appear to have pulled off a miracle — or at least found an unexpected reprieve.
After recording 491 COVID-19 cases in April and 1,216 in May, Dharavi saw only 274 cases and six deaths in the first two weeks of June. Epidemiologists say one of Asia’s largest slums — best known as the setting for the Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire” — has contained the virus even as it surges elsewhere in Mumbai and across other parts of India.
How this happened — a story of dogged legwork, proactive thinking and even bravery by officials, doctors and volunteers — could offer lessons in managing the coronavirus for other poor, densely packed communities around the world.
Continue reading: Los Angeles Times
Parkinson’s gene editing breakthrough in mice offers hope for patients – their damaged neurons could be replaced
Scientists have discovered a “one-step strategy” offering hope for treating Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative illnesses after converting mice brain cells into functioning neurons, they reported this week.
The motor defects associated with Parkinson’s are largely caused by the loss of dopamine-emitting neurons – electrically active cells that communicate with others – in the brain. A team of US- and China-based researchers used genome editing to convert a different type of brain cell – glial cells called astrocytes, for their star shape – into neurons, slowing the loss of dopamine and restoring motor functions in injured mice.
Past attempts to treat neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s
have aimed to prevent or slow the loss of dopamine-emitting neurons, which do not naturally repopulate when they die or become damaged. The new technique simply aims to replace them through cell conversion, scientists said.
“We’re now rebuilding the whole pathway,” Xiang-Dong Fu, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, said. “That becomes a very promising approach to turn non neuronal cells into neurons to replace those lost ones.”
Continue reading: South China Morning Post
Mass. reports zero new coronavirus deaths for the first time in months
For the first time in months, state officials on Tuesday reported zero new deaths in Massachusetts due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic, an encouraging sign that stood in stark contrast with other states nationwide that have seen recent spikes in their numbers.
The Department of Public Health also said it was decreasing the official total of coronavirus deaths in the state due to “ongoing data cleaning which identifies and removes duplicate reports.” On Monday, the running tally of confirmed and probable deaths was 8,095; that number dropped to 8,054 on Tuesday.
A state official said the startling decline in the daily death count to zero was unrelated to the data cleanup.
The first Massachusetts death due to coronavirus was reported on Friday, March 20.
Continue reading: Boston Globe
Parents of newborns get four more weeks of paid parental leave in NZ, starting today
Kiwi parents of newborn babies will be getting an extra four weeks of paid parental leave from today.
The paid parental leave scheme in New Zealand is extending from 22 weeks to 26 weeks, taking New Zealand up to a full six months of leave for new parents.
The maximum weekly payment is also increasing by $20 per week.
The scheme applies to parents with children due on or after 1 July. It was last extended in July of 2018 from 18 to 22 weeks.
At the time of announcing the 22-week extension, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway said Government would be implementing a further extension in July 2020 to 26 weeks.
New Zealand sits ahead of Australia, which gives its parents 18 weeks, but even the latest update doesn’t go as far as some European countries.
The United Kingdom offers 52 weeks, and Sweden offers 16 months.
The Government has also announced a number of other changes that take place today, including its latest petrol tax increase, which will see prices at the pump raised by 3.5 cents per litre.
"For households with one vehicle travelling the average number of kilometres per year (11,500km) the increase on 1 July 2020 will add around $35 to $40 extra per year which equates to around 67 to 76 cents per week," states the Ministry of Transport.
The cost of a road user charges distance licence for a light vehicle (eg a car, van, ute) will be $76 (up from $72) per 1000 km, including GST, according to the Ministry.
Free apprenticeships in "critical industries", a pay rise for early childhood educators, and a lifting of the refugee quota also come into affect today.
Cambodia's Siem Reap province bans dog meat trade
A Cambodian province popular with tourists has banned the trade and slaughter of dogs for meat, saying canines are loyal and capable of protecting property and even serving in the military.
Siem Reap province, home to the ancient Angkor Wat ruins, is the first place to issue such a ban in Cambodia, where an estimated 3 million dogs a year are killed for meat.
Visited by more than two million tourists annually, Siem Reap has been identified as a dog meat hotspot responsible for large-scale sourcing and trafficking of Cambodian canines, according to animal welfare group FOUR PAWS.
Tea Kimsoth, director of the province's agriculture, forestry and fisheries department, described the trade as "alarming" and said demand was driven by foreigners.
"Dog meat has been a lot more popular following the arrivals of foreigners," the official said.
"They like it. That's why it led to restaurants serving it. So now we ban it."
Continue reading: ABC
New York City Reports No COVID Deaths in 24 Hours
New York City, once the center of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak, has had its first 24-hour period with no coronavirus deaths.
"This disease is far from beaten,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday, the first day without any reported COVID deaths since the first case was reported March 1.
“We look around the country and we see what so many other Americans are going through, so many other states and cities hurting so bad right now,” said de Blasio. “So, no one can celebrate, but we can at least take a moment to appreciate that every one of you did so much to get us to this point – 24 hours where no one died. Let's have many more days like that."
De Blasio says he is particularly concerned about the growing number of people in their 20s contracting the coronavirus. He urged them to wear masks and social distance.
“I understand for so many younger adults, it has been a really difficult time — cooped up, disconnected, away from loved ones ... and I understand that people are just yearning to break out from that,” said de Blasio, who added that young people have to realize that everyone is vulnerable.
Also Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an emergency health order that requires visitors from states with high rates of COVID-19 to provide information about their in-state accommodations or face a penalty of up to $2,000, “If you fail to provide it, you will receive a summons with a $2000 fine. We’re serious about enforcing quarantine,” the governor tweeted.
Continue reading: VOA News