Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Immune protein could stop diabetes in its tracks, discovery suggests

May 20, 2013 ? Melbourne researchers have identified an immune protein that has the potential to stop or reverse the development of type 1 diabetes in its early stages, before insulin-producing cells have been destroyed.

The discovery has wider repercussions, as the protein is responsible for protecting the body against excessive immune responses, and could be used to treat, or even prevent, other immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Professor Len Harrison, Dr Esther Bandala-Sanchez and Dr Yuxia Zhang led the research team from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's Molecular Medicine division that identified the immune protein CD52 as responsible for suppressing the immune response, and its potential for protecting against autoimmune diseases. The research was published today in the journal Nature Immunology.

So-called autoimmune diseases develop when the immune system goes awry and attacks the body's own tissues. Professor Harrison said CD52 held great promise as a therapeutic agent for preventing and treating autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.

"Immune suppression by CD52 is a previously undiscovered mechanism that the body uses to regulate itself, and protect itself against excessive or damaging immune responses," Professor Harrison said. "We are excited about the prospect of developing this discovery to clinical trials as soon as possible, to see if CD52 can be used to prevent and treat type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases. This has already elicited interest from pharmaceutical companies."

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that develops when immune cells attack and destroy insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Approximately 120,000 Australians have type 1 diabetes and incidence has doubled in the last 20 years. "Type 1 diabetes is a life-long disease," Professor Harrison said. "It typically develops in children and teenagers, and it really makes life incredibly difficult for them and their families. It also causes significant long-term complications involving the eyes, kidneys and blood vessel damage, and at great cost to the community."

Professor Harrison said that T cells that have or release high levels of CD52 are necessary to maintain normal balance in the immune system. "In a preclinical model of type 1 diabetes, we showed that removal of CD52-producing immune cells led to rapid development of diabetes. We think that cells that release CD52 are essential to prevent the development of autoiummune disease, and that CD52 has great potential as a therapeutic agent," he said.

CD52 appears to play a dominant role in controlling or suppressing immune activity in the early stages of the immune response, Professor Harrison said. "We identified a specialised population of immune cells (T cells) that carry high levels of CD52, which they release to dampen the activity of other T cells and prevent uncontrolled immune responses," Professor Harrison said. "The cells act as an early 'braking' mechanism."

Professor Harrison said his goal is to prevent and ultimately cure type 1 diabetes. "In animal models we can prevent and cure type 1 diabetes," Professor Harrison said. "I am hopeful that these results will be translatable into humans, hopefully in the not-too-distant future."

This research was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and the Victorian Government.

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/top_news/top_science/~3/iaYlvvEkaNs/130520104932.htm

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Myanmar Muslims jailed for killing Buddhist monk

MEIKHTILA, Myanmar (AP) ? A Myanmar court sentenced seven Muslims to prison ? one of them to a life term ? in the killing of a Buddhist monk amid deadly sectarian violence that was overwhelmingly directed against minority Muslims but has produced no serious charges against the members of the country's Buddhist majority.

At least 44 people were killed and 12,000 displaced, most of them Muslim, in more than a week of conflicts with Buddhists that began March 20 in the central Myanmar city of Meikhtila. A dispute at a Muslim-owned gold shop triggered rioting by Buddhists and retaliation by their Muslim targets, and the lynching of the monk after the gold shop was sacked enflamed passions, leading to large-scale violence.

While the violence is now contained, questions are arising over whether minority Muslims can find justice in overwhelmingly Buddhist Myanmar. Hundreds more Muslims have been killed, and tens of thousands have been made homeless, in violence across the country over the past year.

The issue of ethnic strife marred this week's Washington trip by President Thein Sein, which was otherwise filled with praise for the first leader of Myanmar to visit the White House in 47 years.

President Barack Obama praised Thein Sein on Monday for his efforts to lead his country back on the path to democracy, but also said he expressed concern to his counterpart about violence against Muslims in the country. "The displacement of people, the violence directed toward them needs to stop," he said.

Thein Than Oo, a lawyer defending the men sentenced Tuesday, said one of his clients, Myat Ko Ko, was given life in prison for murder. Myat Ko Ko was also sentenced to an additional two years for unlawful assembly and two for religious disrespect.

Of the remaining defendants, one received a two-year sentence while the others received terms ranging from six to 28 years. Four of them, including a minor tried in a separate court, were convicted of charges including abetting murder. Two were convicted only on lesser counts. Mandalay Advocate General Ye Aung Myint confirmed the sentences.

The lynching of the Buddhist monk enflamed passions in Meikhtila, especially after photos circulated widely on social media of what was purported to be his body after he was pulled off a motorbike, attacked and burned. Entire Muslim neighborhoods were engulfed in flames, and charred bodies piled in the roads.

The government declared a state of emergency and deployed the army to restore order, but the unrest later spread to other parts of central Myanmar.

In parliament in Monday, Religious Affairs Minister Hsan Hsint gave the official figures for casualties and damage from March 20 to 28: 44 people killed, 90 injured, 1,818 houses, 27 mosques and 14 Islamic schools destroyed. He said 143 people were arrested in connection with the violence, out of which 47 have been formally charged. Parliament on Tuesday formally approved the state of emergency.

The gold shop owner and two employees, all Muslims, were sentenced in April to 14 years in prison each on charges of theft and causing grievous bodily harm.

Hsan Hsint did not break down arrests and charges by religion, but no major cases involving Buddhist suspects have been announced.

Asked why only Muslims have been charged in Meikhtila, Ye Aung Myint, the advocate general, said the courts were starting with the initial incidents that triggered the violence, and those involved in later incidents would be charged subsequently.

"There is no discrimination in bringing justice. We dealt with the first two cases and 11 more cases involving Buddhists will be dealt with very soon," he said, adding that about 70 people will face charges for murder, arson and looting.

Thein Sein's administration, which came to power in 2011 after half a century of military rule, has been heavily criticized for not doing enough to protect Muslims or stop the violence from spreading since it began with clashes between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya in western Myanmar last year. Mobs of Buddhists armed with machetes have razed thousands of Muslim homes, leaving hundreds dead and forcing 125,000 people, mostly Muslims, to flee.

In a speech Monday at a university in Washington, Thein Sein vowed to ensure an end to the violence and justice for the perpetrators. He also called for a new era in U.S.-Myanmar relations.

Rights groups have criticized Thein Sein's U.S. visit, saying human rights injustices are still rampant in Myanmar despite progress made in freeing political prisoners, and in granting more freedom to political opponents and the media, among other changes.

U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights released a report Monday detailing a gruesome massacre carried out by Buddhist mobs who hunted down and killed at least 24 Muslim students and teachers from an Islamic school as Meikhtila descended into anarchy in March. The report, based on interviews with survivors, accuses state authorities and police of standing idly by while the killings were carried out.

Richard Sollom, the report's lead author, called for Thein Sein to support an independent investigation into the killings and speak out more forcefully against anti-Muslim violence.

The violence has tarnished the image not only of Thein Sein but of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The Nobel Peace laureate has been criticized for failing to speak out strongly in defense of the country's Muslims despite her long commitment to human rights.

___

AP writers Aye Aye Win in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, and Matthew Pennington and Nedra Pickler in Washington contributed to this report.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/myanmar-muslims-jailed-killing-buddhist-monk-063258699.html

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunshine vitamin 'may treat asthma' | Health and Fitness News

The amount of time asthma patients spend soaking up the sun may have an impact on the illness, researchers have suggested. A team at King's College London said low levels of vitamin D, which is made by the body in sunlight, was linked to a worsening of ?

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Source: http://www.16g.org/sunshine-vitamin-may-treat-asthma/

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Frogs, salamanders and climate change

May 18, 2013 ? By day, insects provide the white noise of the South, but the night belongs to the amphibians. In a typical year, the Southern air hangs heavy from the humidity and the sounds of wildlife. The Southeast, home to more than 140 species of frogs, toads and salamanders, is the center of amphibian biodiversity in our nation. If the ponds and swamps are the auditorium for their symphonic choruses, the scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey's Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative, or ARMI, have front-row seats.

Amphibians, which rely on water for part or all of their life cycle, must adjust to often atypical weather. Some years bring heavy deluges, such as the region's notorious hurricanes, and others bring the transformations that come with drought. Amphibians around the world seem to be experiencing the worst declines documented among vertebrates. While habitat loss is the number one reason for population declines, research suggests that disease, invasive species, contaminants and perhaps other factors contribute to declines in protected areas.

And then there's climate change, another stressor for amphibians to contend with. Climate change projections indicate that rainfall will increasingly come in pulses, with greater deluges and longer periods of drought. Scientists have long suspected that climate change is an important factor in amphibian declines, and resource managers are asking whether conservation measures might help species persist or adapt in a changing climate. Three recent U.S. Geological Survey studies offer some insight into the issue.

Why amphibians?

Amphibians, which are declining throughout the world, play an important role in ecological systems. They eat small creatures, including mosquitos, and they are food themselves for larger creatures, such as birds and snakes. Because amphibians are the middle of the food chain -- and sensitive to environmental disruption because of their aquatic or semi-aquatic lives -- their existence is often used as an indication of ecosystem health.

Scientists in ARMI, a program started by Congress in 2000 in response to concerns about amphibian declines, have been working to unravel the ups and downs of amphibian populations to support effective conservation and resource management decisions. To do this, ARMI scientists and field crews monitor the status of amphibians, research the causes of declines, and scientifically evaluate projects undertaken to sustain these species and their habitats across the country.

Pond life -- it's not easy being green!

ARMI scientists looked at a range of amphibian species found in the Southeast and posed the question, "What will happen to their populations under a scenario of changes in rainfall patterns -- more deluges alternating with droughts -- which is being predicted by current climate models?"

It turns out that understanding how climate affects amphibians requires "thinking like the ponds" in which they live. Amphibians have unique life cycles -- most alternate between living in water as juveniles, to maturing and dispersing on land, then returning to water again as adults to mate and lay eggs.

When USGS scientists reviewed what was known about amphibian responses to rainfall, it turned out that both extremes in rainfall -- drought and heavy rainfall events -- can decrease the number of amphibians. The amphibians' response depends on a balance between these two key factors. If ponds dry up while aquatic juveniles are developing, survival of the next generation is lowered. However, if a deluge occurs at that time, nearby pools that often contain fish will be physically connected with the pools containing juvenile amphibians, and the fish will eat the juveniles.

In essence, the study showed that extreme rainfall events are key to predicting amphibian responses to climate, because such events affect the amount and timing of water in ponds that they depend on. The full review of species' responses was published in March 2013 edition of the journal Biology.

Drought and declining salamanders

Knowing that each species responds to droughts and deluges based on the particulars of their biology, scientists set out to test just how these dynamics played out in the southeastern U.S. by looking at larval mole salamanders in small isolated ponds in St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge, Florida.

Larval mole salamanders have a similar life cycle to the flatwoods salamander, a federally threatened species found on the refuge. Because it is difficult to study the flatwoods salamander directly, and mole salamanders are ecologically similar, scientists study the mole salamander instead, knowing that whatever affects them will likely impact the flatwoods salamander as well.

In the four years of the study, drought consistently decreased salamander occupancy in ponds. To support young salamanders, rain has to fill a pond during the breeding season and then the pond has to stay filled long enough for larvae to transform into the next life stage. Therefore, scientists confirmed that drought did indeed cause short-term declines in mole salamanders -- suggesting that the listed flatwoods salamander may face a similar fate under climate change.

The results of the mole salamander study are published in the April 2013 edition of the journal Wetlands.

Can habitat conservation make a difference for frogs and toads?

To answer this question, USGS scientists examined whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service Wetlands Reserve Program was helping address the problem. The Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary USDA program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. To assess the potential benefit of WRP restoration to amphibians, in this case, frogs and toads, USGS scientists surveyed 30 randomly selected WRP sites and 20 nearby agricultural sites in the Mississippi Delta in northwest Mississippi.

The scientists found that WRP sites had more kinds of species and was home to more numbers of amphibians than the agricultural sites studied. The restoration of wetland hydrology appeared to provide the most immediate benefit to the animals.

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/~3/RA1SWvRza9A/130518153747.htm

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Speculation Of A Nexus Q Replacement Swirls After An Unannounced Google Media Streamer Hits The FCC

h2g2-42-fccGoogle is prepping... something. An announced Google media streamer was recently found in the FCC's testing database. Details are nearly nonexistent as most are held under a confidentiality agreement for the next 45 days. However, the documents released to the public call the device several times a "media player" and that it features WiFi connectivity.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/07AzQHUJO5E/

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French president signs gay marriage into law

PARIS (AP) ? France will see its first gay weddings within days, after French President Francois Hollande signed a law Saturday authorizing marriage and adoption by same-sex couples and ending months of nationwide protests and wrenching debate.

Hollande's office said he signed the bill Saturday morning, a day after the Constitutional Council struck down a challenge to the law and ruled it in line with France's constitution.

Hollande, a Socialist, had made legalizing gay marriage one of his campaign pledges last year. While polls for years have shown majority support for gay marriage in France, adoption by same-sex couples is more controversial.

The parliamentary debate exposed a deep conservatism and attachment to traditional families in France's rural core that is often eclipsed by and at odds with libertine Paris.

But mostly, it tapped into deep discontent with the Socialist government, largely over Hollande's handling of the economy. Months of anti-gay marriage protests became a flashpoint for frustrations with Hollande, and occasionally degenerated into violence.

In addition, gay rights groups reported a rise in attacks on homosexuals as the parliamentary debate was under way. Protest organizers distanced themselves from the trouble-makers.

The opposition isn't ready to give up. It plans a protest May 26 that aims to parlay the success of the anti-gay marriage movement into a broader anti-Hollande one. Among those expected to attend is Jean-Francois Cope, the leader of the opposition UMP party, riven by divisions and struggling for direction since Nicolas Sarkozy lost the presidency last year.

Hollande warned that he wouldn't accept any disruption of France's first gay marriages.

One couple signed up Saturday to tie the knot on May 29 in the gay-friendly southern French city of Montpellier.

"We're very happy that today we can finally talk of love after all the talk of legislation and political battles," one of the future newlyweds, Vincent Autin, said on France-Info radio.

According to French law, couples must register to marry in city hall and wait at least 10 days before holding a ceremony so that anyone objecting to the union ? such as an existing spouse ? has time to intervene.

Marketing whizzes are already preparing lesbian and gay cake toppers, his-and-his wedding bands, and other services for France's gay weddings.

Despite the protests, the law passed easily in both houses of parliament, which are dominated by Hollande's Socialists. And the Constitutional Council said, "Marriage as a union between a man and a woman cannot be considered a fundamental principle."

France is the most populous country to have legal gay marriages, and the 14th country worldwide. In the United States, Minnesota became the 12th state in the country to legalize same-sex unions on Tuesday.

In neighboring Belgium, thousands of people took to the confetti-covered streets of Brussels to take part in an annual gay pride march on Saturday. Trucks blasting music and carrying dance floors made their way through cheering crowds. Belgium legalized gay marriage 10 years ago and permitted adoption for same-sex couples seven years ago.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/french-president-signs-gay-marriage-law-081553190.html

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Drinks-On With the World's Biggest, Baddest Bartending Robot

At the Google I/O after party the other night, there was one bartender in particular that stood out. It wasn't the drink he made, or the friendly chatter. It was more than he weighed several tons and could break you with the flick of the wrist. Meet the Makr Shakr.

It's Friday afternoon, you've made it through the long week, and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Do Androids dream of the perfect Manhattan?

Makr Shakr was designed at MIT's Senseable City Lab and produced and implemented by Carlo Ratti Associati in Italy, where it was built. Incredibly, this massive project went from concept to full implementation in roughly three months. The full rig weighs between five and six metric tons and made the voyage across the sea in a rather densely packed shipping container. It is simply the most advanced robot bartender we've ever seen.

Users download an app (at I/O they had a tablet with a scaled-back version of the app pre-loaded) and log in. From there, they can either take a drink template that already exists, or they can start from scratch. Makr Shakr partnered with Bacardi and Coca-cola, so there are roughly two dozen spirits and liqueurs, and over a hundred non-alcoholic mixers to choose from (Fanta Peach, anyone?). You pick your ingredients and the quantity of each that you want in it. You an also add solid ingredients such as a salt and pepper mix, granulated sugar, lemon slices, or even mint leaves. Your total drink will be up to 200ml (roughly 6.8 fluid ounces), when all is said and done.

Then you choose how the drink should be prepared (shaken, stirred, muddled, blended), name the drink, and submit it. Then the magic starts.

How It Works

Once you submit your drink order, that information is sent to a web server, which sends it back down to a local server on the Makr Shakr. That information is then split into two parts. One is the visualization system, which, along with the app, was made with partners from Pentegram and super ?ber. On the large screen behind the robotic arms you can see exactly what's going into your drink when and what's being done to it as it happens. You can also see how many people are ahead of you and what the wait will be like. The other half of the data goes into the robotics systems.

Most prominent are the three robotic arms. These are Kuka KR 16 robots, a pretty iconic symbol of the industrial revolution. You typically see these puppies in paint factories. They can lift 16 kilograms, they are unnervingly quick and incredibly precise (accuracy down to 1/10th of a millimeter). The two robots on the outside have cocktail shakers for hands (with lids that can close), while the one in the middle has a hand that holds and delivers the cups.

Behind the arms are a large network of taps, each of which are automated. Each spirit is housed in its own nitrogen-pressurized tank. Once the shaker is placed under the tab, an actuator opens the valve, and a pre-determined amount is dispensed. The Coca-Cola products are distributed in basically the same way. Ice, and other dry ingredients all drop in as they should. Behind the screen are two blades which hold and cut lemons into uniformly thick slices, and then drop it into your drink. It's incredibly sophisticated. There is also an immersion blender and muddler, for making drinks like pi?a coladas or mojitos.

Once all of the ingredients are in, the robot closes the lid on the shaker and either shakes it vigorously (and with a pretty good approximation of a human arm movement), or swirls it gently to give it a stirred effect. Truth be told, they make a bit of a mess, but hey, they're only three months old. They then pour the drink into the cup the middle robot is holding. That robot adds garnish as necessary, and then places the finished drink onto one of five conveyor belts, which delivers the drink to the awaiting imbiber. The shaker is then rinsed off with a blast of water, and the process begins again.

There are some interesting things the software can do, too. "We want to make sure people use the Makr Shakr to drink responsibly," says Alessandro Incisa, Project Manager from Carlo Ratti Associati, who managed implementation. "It keeps track of the alcohol by volume of each drink it serves you. It could limit the number of alcoholic drinks each person has in a night." But because it's keeping track of percentages, it would be a dynamic number. For example you might be allowed 5 drinks that were 12 percent ABV over a given period of time, but only two drinks that were 40 percent. It can also count your calories, and if people punched in some vital statistics, the Makr Shakr could even estimate your blood-alcohol content (BAC) throughout the night.

At Google there was a limited subset of features, just because I/O was such a huge event and they wanted everyone to get a taste. In the app's full implementation you can filter by elements of the drink. This not only helps you discover a drink you might like, but it gives you a genealogy of that drink's creation. So, say you're looking for a drink with whiskey, and you discover a drink I created. You can see not only how my drink was made, but you can see the previous iterations of it and read my notes, ?I liked it, but I think I made it a little too sweet this time.? You can adjust it to further refine it. When you do, I'll get a notifications that the drink I've been working on has had another iteration. Maybe I want to try it. I go to the back and further refine it. Even if we never actually meet at the bar, and we don't know each others' names, we've created something together. It's about a participatory, democratized design.

Why It Matters

The Makr Shakr is not, as one might suspect, trying to replace bartenders. The drinks I sampled were, in general, decent. Or as decent as the person that created them envisioned them. But bartending is more art than science, and crafting flavors is still best done with a human touch. The MIT guys know that, and they don't want to change that. They aren't trying to make a better drink. Instead, the Makr Shakr is meant as an example?a microcosm, really?of some of the principals of the Third Industrial Revolution.

Industrial technology has progressed to incredible places, obviously, but according to Yaniv Jacob Turgeman, the project leader from the MIT side, we've been somewhat alienated from it. With Makr Shakr, they are using these incredible robotics?symbols of the industrial revolution?but they are made accessible. "Part of the idea is that anyone can control this powerful technology with something in their pocket," said Turgeman.

Carlo Ratti, the father of Makr Shakr who runs the MIT Senseable City Lab, agreed. This is intended to be an example of the new way things are 1. Designed, 2. Made, and then 3. Enjoyed. They chose drinks because within just a few minutes, people can go through the whole cycle. It's a fast and clean example, but of course that's just a small example.

?It could be designing a sandwich," said Ratti in our phone interview. "Or it could be designing a city or desiging a building." He thinks that's a day we will see in our lifetimes. Something like a public square would be especially ripe for this philosophy, since so many people use it, it would make sense that more people could design together. That's exemplified in the Makr Shakr, too. Part of it is about social creation and consumption.

It means more to us when we participate in the creative process. It makes our drink (or house, or public square) not just more personalized to our tastes, but there's a sense that it belongs to us, because it's something that we created. When you apply these philosophies to production?a world we've come to think of as robotic?suddenly it becomes human again, because we can see ourselves in it.

Or maybe they'll just enslave us all using alcoholism.

Huge thanks to Carlo Ratti, Alessandro Incisa, and Yaniv Jacob Turgeman for their time.

Makr Shakr: Project concept and design by MIT Senseable City Lab; Implementation by carlorattiassociati | walter nicolino & carlo ratti; Main partners - Coca-Cola and Barcardi. Technical partners - Kuka, Pentagram, SuperUber; Media partners - Domus, Wired; Top video by Brent Rose/Michael Hession; YouTube by MyBossWas; Event in collaboration with Meet the Media Guru, and endorsed by: Comune di Milano, World Expo Milano 2015 ? Energy for Life. Feeding the Planet. Full credits available at www.makrshakr.com

Splash Photo Credit: Max Tomasinelli

Top Video: Michael Hession/Brent Rose

Source: http://gizmodo.com/drinks-on-with-the-worlds-biggest-baddest-bartending-508259499

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HTC overcomes supply issues, will double HTC One production capacity this month

HTC overcomes supply issues, will double production capacity this month

After months of supply issues and courtroom wrangling, HTC might have finally put its hardware woes behind it. The company's North Asian president, Jack Tong, let slip that production capacity for the HTC One will double this month and continue to increase in June to meet "strong demand." Tong also casually dropped into conversation that the J Butterfly saw its own sales double in Japan when it became free on contract -- so perhaps those second-quarter financial results won't make for such depressing reading.

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Via: ZDNet, Android Beat

Source: Focus Taiwan

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/05/17/htc-doubles-one-capacity/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget

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Charges filed against man in Nevada killing spree

The killings of an elderly couple shot dead in their northern Nevada home ahead of Mother's Day apparently went unnoticed until days later, after the 25-year-old suspect had also killed a newspaper deliveryman and another couple nearby, charging documents allege.

Jeremiah Bean was arraigned Thursday on 19 counts, including first-degree murder, arson and burglary. He was assigned a public defender and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Tuesday.

The victims were discovered Monday in and around the rural town of Fernley. The timeline laid out in court documents depicts a killer whose first two attacks came May 10 and went undetected, giving him the opportunity to kill three others.

"I'm pretty much in shock. It hasn't really hit me," said Gary Dolling, 60, who realized something was wrong when he saw flames leaping 20 to 30 feet in the air from his neighbors' house Monday morning. "It's just terrible. It's just a horrible thing."

Prosecutors say Bean entered the home of Robert and Dorothy Pape on the Friday before Mother's Day and shot them. He also took hundreds of dollars in jewelry from the 84-year-olds, the charges state.

Three days later, authorities say, Bean took the Papes' pickup truck to an exit along Interstate 80, toward the Mustang Ranch brothel.

After the pickup became disabled or stuck, Bean shot and killed a passer-by, stole his truck and left his body in a ditch, according to the Lyon County sheriff.

The 52-year-old victim, Eliazar Graham, worked as a backup deliveryman for the Reno Gazette-Journal. He had been delivering the newspaper at the time of his death, according the paper's circulation department.

Bean also broke into the home of Angie Duff, 67, where he fatally attacked her and her boyfriend Lester Leiber, 69, with a gun and a knife, charging documents say.

Duff had recently started dating Leiber about four years after her husband died of cancer, according to Gina Gaglione, a fellow volunteer at the Fernley senior center.

Gaglione became concerned when Duff didn't show up to volunteer Monday, so she sent another woman to check up on her. The woman noticed a smashed back door at Duff's house and called police, Gaglione told the Gazette-Journal.

Duff's home is around the corner from the Papes and two houses down from where Bean had been staying from time to time.

The string of killings first came to light early as smoked billowed from the Papes' home, which is set away from other homes on a large, grassy lot that Robert Pape was often seen tending.

Bean had poured gasoline in the garage, according to court documents, and had somehow used Graham's stolen truck in the arson.

Bean was found and arrested in the neighborhood where the two couples were killed.

Officials from the Lyon County sheriff's office were not available to comment on the crimes Friday. No motive has been offered, and neighbors said they didn't hear gunshots or notice suspicious activity over the weekend.

Dolling said he spoke briefly to the Papes' son after the grisly discoveries, and the son recalled that he was unable to reach the couple on Mother's Day.

Dolling also said he saw a white truck and a person standing outside the Papes' home Monday morning. Without his glasses, Dolling said he assumed it was Robert Pape; he now believes it was the killer.

Sheriff Allen Veil has said that the attacks were on a scale he hasn't seen in his three decades in Lyon County, historically a small farming community that has grown significantly in the last decade as a bedroom community for people who work in Reno.

"I think there probably should be a sense of relief that we believe we have the person responsible for this in custody," Veil said at a news conference Wednesday. But he added that residents needed to be vigilant and aware that crime happens even "in little Lyon County."

Bean has a previous felony conviction related to burglary and attempted grand larceny. He finished his parole in December. Authorities say he has also acknowledged gang ties.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/charges-filed-against-man-nevada-killing-spree-163859382.html

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Friday, May 17, 2013

EA to end Online Pass program, cites player disapproval

EA to stop charging used game buyers for multiplayer access, cites player disapproval

Remember EA's Online Pass program? If you've ever purchased one of the company's games used, it probably rings a bell. The system was devised in 2010 as a way for the company to collect revenue from used game sales, requiring players of second-hand software to pay an additional fee to unlock multiplayer content. Now, EA says the program has run its course. "Many players didn't respond to the format," the company told GamesBeat. "None of our new EA titles will include that feature." The industry still isn't completely sure how to handle used game sales, but at least this unpopular program is at an end.

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Via: Joystiq

Source: GamesBeat

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/05/16/ea-to-stop-online-pass-program/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget

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Glasgow 2014 unveils ticketing ambitions for accessible and family ...

Two-thirds of tickets to experience the action and thrills of the Commonwealth Games will be priced at ?25 or less, it was revealed today.

Announcing a family-friendly ticketing strategy focused on delivering packed stadia and a ?Games for Everyone?, the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee unveiled that access to sporting events at one of the world?s greatest multi-sports Games will start from just ?15 for adults.

Half-price concessions will also be available for children ? a Commonwealth Games first ? and the over-60s.

The price of a ticket includes access to public transport in the local area on the day of your event.

At a launch briefing in the city today attended by Olympic and Commonwealth athletes, Glasgow 2014 promised a simple and accessible ticketing process and pledged that at least 70% of all tickets to all sporting events would be available to the public.

The Games Competition Schedule was revealed for the first time and it gets off to a flying start with 12 sports on Day One, including Swimming and Track Cycling. The first weekend will be very busy with both Rugby Sevens and Weightlifting expected to attract peak audiences.

It was also announced that the ticketing process will launch on August 19, 2013 and ticket applications can be made online with debit or credit cards. A postal application service will also be available.

Commonwealth and Olympic Scots athletes David Carry and Rhona Simpson backed the Ticketing Programme and joined Olympic, Commonwealth and World champion triple-jumper Jonathan Edwards at the launch this morning.

Announcing the Ticketing Programme, Glasgow 2014 Chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin, said:

?This is a big day for Glasgow 2014 and one that has taken a substantial amount of planning. This isn?t just about selling a million tickets. It?s about making the Games accessible to all. We have spent many months designing a Ticketing Programme that reflects the vision and values of Glasgow 2014. Today?s the day we set out our stall.

?We have listened and learnt from previous Commonwealth Games as well as the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We?ve also conducted our own research. We?ve thought long and hard about the pricing, the process by which you?ll buy tickets, but also the way we communicate.

?This is a Games for everyone. And by that I mean success not just for the Organising Committee and our partners, but also for the people of Glasgow, Scotland and the Commonwealth.?

Glasgow 2014 Deputy Chief Executive, Ty Speer, said:

?Our focus in developing a Ticketing Programme for Glasgow 2014 has been to make these the most family-friendly, accessible and inclusive Games we possibly can. That means having a simple, straightforward application process, a pricing structure which is accessible and methods of payment which do not exclude anyone.

?Glasgow 2014 presents the opportunity to enjoy a festival of world-class sport. We want to have our venues packed with people who can experience the excitement and action of elite sporting performances at first hand and be part of the action.

?We want to be a good host and give the warm and passionate welcome that we owe to our athletes and which they deserve. Our Ticketing Programme is designed to make sure that happens.?

Three-time Olympian and double Commonwealth champion swimmer, David Carry, said:

?Having experienced the spine-tingling and unforgettable atmosphere of London 2012 and the passion of crowds at previous Commonwealth Games, I have no doubt that the athletes hoping to take part in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will have something incredibly special to look forward to.

?Having packed stadia and enthusiastic crowds is what absolutely makes for an electric atmosphere at competition time ? and that can really impact positively on performance. I know Scotland?s swimmers will enjoy the home advantage of a Scottish crowd shouting, screaming and supporting.

?I also know that Scottish supporters will make the Games a warm, welcoming and once-in-a-lifetime experience for all the athletes. It will be a really special time for them and for Glasgow. It is great that the ticketing policy at Glasgow 2014 is making it as accessible as possible for people to be part of making Glasgow 2014 the wonderful celebration of sport that I know it will be.?

Everyone will have the opportunity to apply for the tickets they want over a four week period when the ticketing process opens later this summer.

An allocation of tickets has also been earmarked for special distribution to identified groups and communities. More details will be announced this summer.

Note to Editors

1. The Commonwealth Games is an international, multi-sport event involving 71 teams of
athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930 and takes place every four years. Glasgow 2014 will be the 20th Commonwealth Games and will be held from 23 July to 3 August. It will feature 17 sports in 11 days of competition with 261 medal events on show. The Games will play host to 4500 athletes and sell 1,000,000 tickets with the event aided by an army of 15,000 volunteers. Glasgow 2014 Ltd is the official name for the Organising Committee tasked with delivering the Games in partnership with the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and Commonwealth Games Scotland.

2. Glasgow 2014 family of official sponsors is Longines, SSE, Emirates, Harper Macleod, Search Consultancy, Ernst & Young, Atos, Dell, Toshiba TEC, A.G. Barr, NVT Group, RGS, Trespass, Riedel and Ticketmaster.

3. The first phase of ticket sales will be open from 19 August to 16 September. It makes no difference whether you apply on the first or last day of this four-week window. For high demand sports and sessions that are oversold ? such as the 100m final ? an independent and computerised draw will select the successful applications.

4. You apply for the tickets you want. It?s not a lucky dip ? there is absolutely no chance of requesting tickets for, say, Netball and being given tickets for Table Tennis. Similarly, if you ask for four tickets, you will either be successful or unsuccessful in your application for four tickets. You will not be offered one, two or three tickets.

5. A minimum of 70% of tickets for every sport session will go to the general public. This is different to most sporting events that use a general average ? so some events might be as low as 30% public tickets, where others are 95%. For Glasgow 2014, whether it?s a preliminary session on the first day or the 100m final, a minimum of 70% of sport tickets will be available for general sale.

6. A pricing example is the 100m final: Tickets for this start at ?20, and go up to ?30, ?40, ?60, ?70 and top price of ?90. A half-price concession ticket of ?15 applies to the ?30 ticket. Take an earlier round of the Athletics competition, and the prices look like this: prices start at ?15 (remember, this is the entry price for EVERY SPORT), and then ?20, ?30 and ?40. Half price concessions apply across all these prices. (Concessions are available at all sporting events, but are limited for the medal sessions).

7. For Athletics, there are six price categories, but for most events we?ve just gone for two or three price bands to keep it simple.

8. For example Rugby Sevens and Rhythmic Gymnastics prelims have the same prices: ?15 (?7.50 concession), ?20 (?10 concession) and ?25 (?12.50 concession); Weightlifting final would cost you ?20 (?10 for kids) or ?25.

9. Only 8% of tickets are set aside for sponsors. Our sponsors pay for tickets like everybody else.

10. Prices for the Opening Ceremony start at ?40 and the Closing Ceremony at ?30.

11. Ticket applications will be accepted online or with a Ticket Application Form (available within the Ticketing Guide which is published on 23 July).

Source: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/eslb/2013/05/16/glasgow-2014-unveils-ticketing-ambitions-for-accessible-and-family-friendly-games/

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

State and Local Public Finance: Budget Practices in Law Enforcement

Public safety is a major primary function of local government. ?Keeping residents and visitors safe while they go about their daily lives requires a police force that represents and understands the populations it serves. ?Unfortunately, police departments of all sizes come with a hefty price tag and are a major line item for city budgets. ?

According to the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, local police department operating budgets totaled $55.4 million in 2007, across 12,575 local jurisdictions in the U.S. ?The average tax cost per resident is $260 annually?a number that shoots as high as $385 per resident in cities with over one million residents.

LAW ENFORCEMENT IN MINNESOTA

Within the state of Minnesota, there are 450 distinct law enforcement agencies, ranging from state agencies such as the State Patrol to tribal police to county sheriff?s offices and local police departments.
Minneapolis is the most populous city in the state (387,753 residents in 2011, according to the US Census Bureau) and serves as the economic engine for the region. ?The city?s annual expenditure budget totaled $1.22 billion in 2012, with the majority of its $1.17 billion in revenues (77%) from four main sources: local property taxes, sales taxes, service fees and a general grant from the state called Local Government Aid.
The Minneapolis Police Department?s (MPD) total budget in 2012 was $135.4 million, with salaries and benefits account for the majority of the budget--$105.3 million, or 78%. ?At the time of budget preparation (fall of 2011), the department projected to have 967.8 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, both sworn and civilian. ?According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the MPD?s budget exceeds the BJS 2007 average of $93 million for departments serving between 250,000-499,999 residents and also exceeds the per-employee average cost by 15%. This may be for several reasons, including the fact that Minneapolis is a strong pro-organized labor city and the vast majority of the MPD?s employees have union representation. ?Research from the BJS states that jurisdictions that are unionized start officers at a salary that is $10,900 higher than those departments that do not have organized labor. ?The MPD?s union, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis (?Federation?), is a strong union that has traditionally been able to negotiate competitive wages and benefits, although MPD officers are far from the highest paid in the state. ?In 2008, the Federation successfully negotiated wage increases to bring officer salaries into the top third of the highest paid departments among metro-area suburbs with 25,000+ residents and the city of St. Paul.

The table below compares similarly-sized jurisdictions and similarly-populated cities:

CITY

POPULATION (2011 estimate)

NUMBER OF FTE?s

2012 POLICE BUDGET (in millions)

PERCENT OF GENERAL FUND

Minneapolis

387,753

987

$135.4

37.8%

St. Paul

288,440

777

$77.8

36.5%

Madison, WI

236,901

579

$60.7

25.2%

Cleveland, OH

393,806

1736

$172

34%

Tulsa, OK

396,466

875

$78.1

32%

There are multiple factors that may influence the size of the police department and its budget, such as the amount of crime, other jurisdictions in the area (such as the University of Wisconsin Police Department that operates in Madison) and political and community circumstances. ?Ensuring public safety is essential, but also highly political--and highly scrutinized. ?For these reasons, the budgeting process for a police department is particularly difficult.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS:

2. ?Utilize Volunteers. ?While it is not uncommon for many police departments to have a police reserve unit comprised of unpaid volunteers, how departments utilize those services varies greatly. ?In Minneapolis, reserve officers are greatly underused--they are typically called to action for major special events such as parades and races. ?By contrast, the Ramsey County Sheriff?s Office has approximately 400 active volunteers that assist with water patrol, traffic control, and non-enforcement activity such as aiding officers on vehicle tows. ?Using volunteers in this manner saves the sheriff?s office money and frees up deputies to conduct other enforcement activities. ?In Minneapolis, reservists could be activated for traffic control for sporting events such as Twins baseball games, assisting on DWI?s by waiting for tow trucks while officers process the arrestee, and helping with crowd control at special events--tasks currently done by paid officers at considerable expense to the department.

Source: http://pa5113.blogspot.com/2013/05/budget-practices-in-law-enforcement.html

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Hagel informed Obama of latest sex abuse case

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a joint news conference with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, Monday, April 29, 2013, at the Pentagon. Hagel said the U.S. and its allies are still trying to figure out details of Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons against its own people, also saying U.S. and allied intelligence agencies are "continuing to assess what happened, when, where and so on." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a joint news conference with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, Monday, April 29, 2013, at the Pentagon. Hagel said the U.S. and its allies are still trying to figure out details of Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons against its own people, also saying U.S. and allied intelligence agencies are "continuing to assess what happened, when, where and so on." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(AP) ? Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informed President Barack Obama of the latest sexual assault allegations against a soldier who was assigned to prevent such crimes ? the second soldier involved in similar accusations ? and the president made clear he wants that behavior stopped, officials said Wednesday.

Hagel spokesman George Little told reporters that Hagel's staff is working on a written directive that will spell out steps aimed at resolving a problem that has outraged lawmakers.

"The president has made very clear his expectations on this issue," Little said, adding that Hagel told Obama on Tuesday about the allegations facing an Army sergeant first class at Fort Hood, Texas. The sergeant is facing allegations involving three women, including that he may have arranged for one of them to have sex for money, according to a defense official.

The accused soldier, whose name has not been made public, was assigned as a coordinator of a battalion-level sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood. He has been suspended from all duties but has not been charged with any crime.

Little said Hagel and Obama see the sexual assault problem in the same light.

"They expect prevention measures at all times, and when prevention isn't achieved, then both expect accountability," Little said. He said those are the "core principles" of Hagel's approach to resolving the problem within the military.

The allegations at Fort Hood are only the latest in a string of cases. A defense official in Washington said it was not yet clear if one of the three women was forced into prostitution.

The official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said that the sergeant is also being investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting one of the other two women. The allegations involving the third woman were not known.

The case, along with another one involving an Air Force officer, highlights a problem that is drawing increased scrutiny in Congress and expressions of frustration from Hagel. Lawmakers said it was time for Hagel to get tough with the military brass.

"This is sickening. Twice now, in a matter of as many weeks, we've seen the very people charged with protecting victims of sexual assault being charged as perpetrators," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said. "It's an astonishing reminder that the Pentagon has both a major problem on its hands and a tremendous amount of work to do to assure victims ? who already only report a small fraction of sexual assaults ? that they are changing the culture around these heinous crimes."

"Secretary Hagel needs to act swiftly to re-examine sexual assault services across the department to ensure that these disturbing betrayals of trust are ended," Murray said.

Hagel said he was directing all the services to retrain, re-credential and rescreen all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters, spokesman Little said after Tuesday's announcement that the Army sergeant was accused of pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates.

The soldier was being investigated by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. No charges had been filed, but officials say they expect them fairly soon.

Little said Hagel was angry and disappointed at "these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply." He said Hagel had met with Army Secretary John McHugh and ordered him to "fully investigate this matter rapidly, to discover the extent of these allegations and to ensure that all of those who might be involved are dealt with appropriately."

The Fort Hood soldier had been assigned as an equal opportunity adviser and coordinator of a sexual harassment-assault prevention program at the Army's 3rd Corps headquarters when the allegation arose, the Army said.

"To protect the integrity of the investigative process and the rights of all persons involved, no more information will be released at this time," an Army statement said.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., said in a statement he was "outraged and disgusted by the reports out of Fort Hood."

McKeon, noting he has a granddaughter in the Army, said he saw "no meaningful distinction between complacency or complicity in the military's latest failure to uphold their own standards of conduct. Nor do I see a distinction between the service member who orchestrated this offense and the chain of command that was either oblivious to or tolerant of criminal behavior. Both are accountable for this appalling breach of trust with their subordinates."

He called on Hagel to conduct a review of the military and its civilian leadership "to determine whether they continue to hold his trust and his confidence to lead in this area."

Just last week an Air Force officer who headed a sexual assault prevention office was himself arrested on charges of groping a woman in a Northern Virginia parking lot.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his panel was considering a number of measures to counter the problem, including changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and will act on them next month.

"Tragically, the depth of the sexual assault problem in our military was already overwhelmingly clear before this latest highly disturbing report," Levin said.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she intends to present new legislation on Thursday to overhaul the military justice system by removing chain-of-command influence from prosecution of sex abuse crimes.

"To say this report is disturbing would be a gross understatement," Gillibrand said.

"The sad thing is that this is not a unique case," Anu Bhagwati, former Marine captain and executive director of the Service Women's Action Network, said in an interview. "Week after week, we're hearing of cases across the branches of military leaders taking advantage of their positions of authority."

The Pentagon is struggling with what it calls a growing number of sexual assaults across the military. In a report last week, the Defense Department estimated that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year, based on survey results.

Of those, fewer than 3,400 reported the incidents, and nearly 800 of those simply sought help and declined to file formal complaints against their alleged attackers.

There also is an ongoing investigation into more than 30 Air Force instructors for assaults on trainees at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, as well as the recent arrest of the Air Force's head of sexual assault prevention on charges of groping a woman.

An Arlington County, Va., police report said Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman's breast and buttocks in a parking lot earlier this month. The woman fought him off and called police, the report said. A judge has set a July 18 trial date for Krusinski.

Such cases and two recent decisions by officers to overturn military juries' guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases has precipitated a storm of criticism on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is holding up the nomination of Air Force Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, tapped to serve as vice commander of the U.S. Space Command, until McCaskill gets more information about Helms' decision to overturn a jury conviction in a sexual assault case.

___

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor, AP Radio correspondent Sagar Meghani and AP Radio editor Mike Gracia contributed to this report.

___

Follow Robert Burns on Twitter: https://twitter.com/robertburnsAP

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/89ae8247abe8493fae24405546e9a1aa/Article_2013-05-15-Army-Sexual%20Assault/id-6ee6b34c2e1b4e8496cd961f108dfa6d

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Veteran Chavez powers Snakes past Braves

Associated Press Sports

updated 7:25 p.m. ET May 15, 2013

PHOENIX (AP) - Tim Hudson threw Eric Chavez a steady diet of cut fastballs and sliders Wednesday and the Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman feasted.

Chavez drove in three runs, Paul Goldschmidt hit three doubles and the Diamondbacks beat Hudson and the Atlanta Braves 5-3.

With the Diamondbacks trailing 3-1 with one out in the fifth, Jason Kubel pinch-hit for Kennedy and walked. Gerardo Parra reached on an infield hit and Didi Gregorius followed with an RBI single.

Hudson struck out Goldschmidt looking and had two strikes on Chavez before his one-time Oakland Athletics teammate doubled to left, scoring Parra and Gregorius to make it 4-3.

"He was throwing me a lot of sliders today," Chavez said. "I'm not really sure why. I don't know if they picked up something on film. "He told me that was a really good at-bat and I told him I was (mad) because he broke two of my bats. It was just good old fun. I love Huddy like a brother."

Hudson agreed he may have gone to the cutter one time too many.

"I thought I made some good pitches to Chavez, especially the last one," Hudson said. "But he stayed with it and hit it the other way. I felt like I really had him where I wanted him. Looking back, we might have gone back to that cutter a little too much in that at-bat."

Cody Ross added an RBI single to cap the fifth as the Diamondbacks won the final two games of the series after a 10-1 loss in the opener.

Ian Kennedy (2-3) yielded three runs and five hits in five innings. He struck out seven and walked three for his first win since Opening Day.

"It's been awhile since it was a win," Kennedy said. "I'll take any one. After a while, it does get frustrating. I want to get my innings up but I didn't have my best stuff."

Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his sixth save in eight chances.

The Diamondbacks finally responded with runners in scoring position. After going 5 for 56 of its past eight games, Arizona was 5 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

"We hope it gets much better," said Arizona manager Kirk Gibson. "I saw better approaches as well."

Hudson (4-3) had been 7-0 in nine career starts against Arizona before he got tagged. He allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings - he's given up 11 runs over 8 2-3 innings in his last two starts.

Freddie Freeman doubled twice and singled for the Braves.

The Braves put runners on first and second against David Hernandez in the eighth but Jordan Schafer flied out and Goldschmidt fielded a hard shot by Andrelton Simmons to first base to end the inning.

After cruising through the first two innings, Kennedy was undone partially by a botched defensive play in the third.

Schafer reached on a two-out infield single and Simmons followed with a line drive toward third base. Chavez jumped, but the ball bounced off the palm of his glove and fell to the ground as Simmons sprinted to the bag for an infield single.

Kennedy then walked Justin Upton on five pitches to load the bases, then walked Freeman on four pitches to score Schafer for a 1-0 lead.

Freeman hit a two-run double in the fifth that put Atlanta ahead 3-1.

"For losing two of three, you feel like we won a couple of those games the way we hit the ball," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "It's just the way it goes sometimes. I don't know how many times I felt like the ball was going to go through the infield and it was a line drive at somebody."

Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the first when Goldschmidt doubled and Chavez singled.

NOTES: Chavez has hit safely in six of his past seven games and is 9 for 18 in that stretch. ... Upton went 1 for 3 with a pair of walks to finish his first series back at Chase Field 5 for 10 with a home run. ... Goldschmidt's 11 doubles make him the first NL player with at least 10 doubles and 10 home runs. ... Freeman has 14 RBIs in 21 games since coming off the disabled list on April 22. ... Both teams have off days on Thursday. ... Diamondbacks RHP Trevor Cahill (2-4) will get the start Friday at Marlins Park against Kevin Slowey (1-3) and Miami. Braves LHP Paul Maholm(4-4) faces Hyun-Jin Ryu (4-2) and the Dodgers at Turner Field on Friday. Cahill was allowed two runs or fewer in four straight starts.

? 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Jays finding their groove?

HBT Daily: The Toronto Blue Jays are in the midst of a four-game winning streak, slugging the ball better this week than any other this season. HBT?s Craig Calcaterra thinks the Jays may be busting out of their slump, but also credits their success to an underperforming Giants pitching staff.

Source: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/51897943/ns/sports-baseball/

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Prince Harry tours Jersey Shore to see Sandy recovery

By Victoria Cavaliere

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, New Jersey (Reuters) - Prince Harry toured the rebuilding efforts underway at the Jersey Shore on Tuesday amid crowds gathered for a glimpse of the young royal, and to say goodbye to a popular roller coaster - a symbol of Superstorm Sandy's destruction.

Chilly sea breezes carried the scent of fresh-cut lumber, as the newly repaired boardwalk, still covered with sawdust, quickly filled up with people. There were about 100 spectators - and even more reporters, photographers and TV crews - awaiting the prince and his escort, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

"It's great exposure for the Shore," said Roger Gibson, 27, a manager of a boardwalk staple, Jimbo's Bar & Grill. "It lets people know we are open and ready for business."

Crowds pressed against metal barricades draped with the red, white and blue British Union Jack. Visible in the ocean behind them was the towering frame of the Jet Star roller coaster, washed out to sea by Sandy.

Crews will start work on Tuesday to dismantle and remove the Jet Star and other amusement park rides submerged nearby.

"We are here to say goodbye," said Kim Stone of Bayville, New Jersey.

Her husband, Mark Stone, said the sight of the Jersey Shore landmark stranded in the ocean would certainly leave an impression on Prince Harry. "I'm sure he doesn't want to see it like that," he said.

Casino Pier, which owns the amusement rides, said the removal would take about 48 hours.

Sandy slammed into New Jersey on October 29, ravaging the coastline, causing $30 billion in damage. Prince Harry and Governor Christie began their tour in Mantoloking, a narrow barrier island community between New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean, where all 521 houses were affected.

When Jersey Shore residents were evacuated, most expected they would return after a few days and were stunned when the devastation turned out to be so extreme that it would be months before they could go home.

The storm killed more than 130 people throughout the U.S. Northeast.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/prince-harry-tours-jersey-shore-see-sandy-recovery-155835111.html

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Microbes capture, store, and release nitrogen to feed reef-building coral

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Microscopic algae that live within reef-forming corals scoop up available nitrogen, store the excess in crystal form, and slowly feed it to the coral as needed, according to a study published in mBio?, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Scientists have known for years that these symbiotic microorganisms serve up nitrogen to their coral hosts, but this new study sheds light on the dynamics of the process and reveals that the algae have the ability to store excess nitrogen, a capability that could help corals cope in their chronically low-nitrogen environment.

"It was a great surprise to find the nitrogen-rich crystals inside the algae," says corresponding author Anders Meibom of the ?cole Polytechnique F?d?rale de Lausanne, Switzerland. "It all makes perfect sense now. The algae suck up the ammonium and nitrate like a sponge when the concentration of these molecules increases, then store this nitrogen as uric acid crystals for later use."

Like all reef-forming corals, the species they studied, Pocillopora damicornis, is actually a symbiosis of two different organisms: the coral provides protection to a species of photosynthetic algae called dinoflagellates, which, in turn, provide sugars and nitrogen to the coral host. The symbiosis allows the coral to thrive in clear, tropical waters that are naturally nutrient-poor. In many places, however, coral reefs are suffering from an excess of nutrients - pollution from sewage and fertilizers that impacts the symbiotic relationship and the health of coral in unknown ways.

To better understand these exchanges of materials and to determine how an excess of nutrients might affect the balance, the researchers exposed pieces of coral to varying concentrations of isotopically-labeled nitrogen-rich compounds. Using the facilities at the Aquarium Tropicale Porte Dor?e in Paris, France, the scientists applied a relatively new analytic technique called nano-scale secondary ion mass-spectrometry (NanoSIMS) to follow the path of the nitrogen. NanoSIMS enabled them to visualize and quantify the uptake, movement, and accumulation of this labeled nitrogen within the coral.

When supplied with nitrogen in the form of ammonium, nitrate or aspartic acid the dinoflagellates responded by rapidly storing the nitrogen as crystals of uric acid within its cells. But the dinoflagellates don't hang onto the nitrogen for long. Starting at about six hours after exposure, the microbes begin translocating nitrogen-rich compounds to the coral host, where the nitrogen is used in specific cellular compartments all over the surface layers of the coral.

This storage and release process helps explain how these corals get through the ups and downs of nitrogen concentrations, says Meibom. "This gives the coral-algae symbiosis a very efficient way to deal with strong fluctuations in nitrogen availability," writes Meibom. "When the nitrogen availability suddenly becomes high, the algae can take-up large amounts of nitrogen on a timescale of a few hours, store it into crystals inside the algae cells and then release this stored nitrogen for metabolic processes and growth when the nitrogen levels become normal again."

To follow up on this work, Meibom says he and his colleagues are now studying how carbon-based nutrients are taken up and distributed in the same coral-algae symbiosis.

###

American Society for Microbiology: http://www.asm.org

Thanks to American Society for Microbiology for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.

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Source: http://www.labspaces.net/128246/Microbes_capture__store__and_release_nitrogen_to_feed_reef_building_coral

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US senator probing why IRS revealed mistakes at lawyer meeting

By Patrick Temple-West

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The decision by the IRS to reveal to a small room of tax lawyers last week that it had targeted conservative groups is now itself the subject of a Congressional inquiry.

In a letter Tuesday to Steven Miller, acting commissioner of the IRS, Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley asked for all records relating to the decision to reveal its mistakes at a meeting on Friday of an American Bar Association committee instead of to Congress.

Lois Lerner, the IRS director of Tax Exempt Organizations, "revealed this bombshell" at a lawyers conference "prior to informing Congress, despite multiple Congressional requests for information about these practices," he wrote.

"An IRS official apologized for activities the IRS previously denied," Grassley said in a comment released by his office. "She explained the activities in a detailed way. Why now and why at a conference instead of to Congress?"

Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland also criticized the agency on Tuesday for failing to disclose the news to the Appropriations Committee she chairs before "news outlets began reporting" about it.

On Monday, an agency statement said the IRS specifically wanted to reveal the information in that forum because it knew a report from the IRS Inspector General was about to be released.

"The ABA Tax Section conference was an important meeting for a key part of the Exempt Organization community" and it was "important" for members to "hear first-hand that we made mistakes in handling the process."

Lerner revealed that the agency had singled out Tea Party and conservative groups for scrutiny of their tax-exempt status in a windowless room at a Washington hotel on Friday in response to what appeared at first glance to be a casual question from a member of the ABA Tax Section's Committee on Exempt Organizations.

It allowed the news to get out in a friendly setting of professional colleagues who did not have a chance to follow up instead of in a rowdy news conference or a hostile Congressional committee-room.

But it later turned out to be not as casual as it seemed.

The agency had three press officers on hand to field questions from a handful of reporters who were present.

The question itself came from a long-time professional colleague of Lerner's, Celia Roady, a Washington tax lawyer at the firm of Morgan Lewis who served on the agency's Advisory Committee on Tax-Exempt and Government Entities for a two year term starting in 2010 and has attended numerous professional conferences with Lerner.

In a brief telephone interview Monday, Roady said she was "as stunned as anybody to get a response" to her question.

But she declined to comment when asked how it was she happened to ask the question in the first place, referring Reuters to the IRS, which also declined to elaborate.

While the agency statement said that officials knew a critical Inspector General's report on the subject was due for release, most likely the following week, Lerner's answer to Roady's question made no mention of an inspector general's report.

It took the form of an apology, ultimately generating a first round of headlines that said "IRS apologizes."

Since then, members of Congress from both parties condemned the agency practice and have called for investigations and resignations. President Barack Obama on Monday called the practice "outrageous."

Given the Congressional backlash that ensued, any hope by the IRS to mitigate damage with its tax conference roll-out flopped, said Eric Dezenhall, who has been a crisis public relations specialist in Washington for almost 30 years.

"They made a bet that this would be the quietest way to roll it out," he said of the IRS strategy. "It didn't work."

The IRS's approach put it in a weak position to fend off Congressional criticism, said Scott Talan, a communications professor at American University.

To mitigate damage going forward, IRS officials need to "explain what was going on and what corrective actions will be taken ahead," he added.

(Editing by Fred Barbash; Reporting By Patrick Temple-West. Editing by Andre Grenon)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/us-senator-probing-why-irs-revealed-mistakes-lawyer-212310017.html

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