Monday, January 14, 2013

Remains of the Day: New Chrome Beta Brings Voice Commands to Web Apps

Remains of the Day: New Chrome Beta Brings Voice Commands to Web AppsGoogle releases the next Chrome beta, Netflix scores some Cartoon Network hits, Audiobooks.com changes its subscription plan, and a Pulse update lets you read a little bit more than the news.

  • Hello Browser Today Google released the beta version of its next Chrome browser update. The beta comes with a Web Speech API that will enable developers to incorporate voice commands for web apps, allowing you to do things like dictate emails. The beta will also automatically disable some extensions on Windows that may have been added by third parties without user permission. You'll be notified if anything is disabled, and have the option to restore any disabled extensions. [Google Chrome Blog]
  • Netflix Signs Multi-Year Licensing Agreement With Turner Broadcasting And Warner Bros. Television Netflix's latest TV deal will bring episodes from several Cartoon Network shows to the Netflix Instant stream. Adventure Time, Regular Show, Robot Chicken, and Childrens Hospital are among the shows that are included in the deal and will be available March 30th. [TechCrunch]
  • In Battle for Listeners, Audiobooks.com Switches to Audible's Pay-by-the-Book Model Audiobooks.com announced that they are switching from a $24.95 unlimited stream to a cheaper subscription plan of $14.95 for one audiobook a month and $22.95 for two audiobooks a month. These price points are identical to Amazon's Audible.com subscriptions?and Amazon has a much larger library. The primary difference between the two now is delivery: Audiobooks.com offers streaming audiobooks, while Audible is download-only. [PaidContent]
  • It's Social Week On Pulse! Pulse, one of our favorite newsreader apps, just received an update that will include all of your social media feeds in addition to your favorite blogs. Also new is a cleaner photo and video viewing interface. [Pulse blog]

Photo by photastic (Shutterstock), a2bb5s (Shutterstock), and Feng Yu (Shutterstock).

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/lifehacker/full/~3/eUtwzXcfKW4/remains-of-the-day-new-chrome-beta-brings-voice-commands-to-web-apps

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Kaepernick, 49ers run away with it

S.F. beats Green Bay 45-31 to reach NFC title game; 181 rushing yards playoff record for a QB

By JANIE McCAULEY

updated 4:06 a.m. ET Jan. 13, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO - The unproven kid thoroughly beat the former Super Bowl champion and reigning MVP.

With a strong arm that allowed him to pick the Packers apart from the pocket and speedy legs that helped him break free for big gains, Colin Kaepernick did a little bit of everything in a record-setting, sensational playoff debut - and Aaron Rodgers just couldn't keep up.

Kaepernick passed for 263 yards and ran the San Francisco 49ers right back to the NFC championship game with a 45-31 win over Green Bay in an NFC divisional game Saturday night.

Kaepernick rushed for a quarterback playoff record 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes to Michael Crabtree. Next up for the Niners: a game on Jan. 20 for a spot in the Super Bowl, against the winner of Sunday's game between the Seattle Seahawks and Falcons at Atlanta.

"It feels good. We're one step closer to where we want to be," Kaepernick said. "I feel like I had a lot to prove. A lot of people doubted my ability to lead this team."

And what a playoff debut it was by the second-year pro making just his eighth NFL start. No doubting Jim Harbaugh's big midseason gamble switching quarterbacks now.

Rodgers never got in sync for the Packers (12-6), finishing 26 of 39 for 257 yards with two touchdowns.

Kaepernick ran for scores of 20 and 56 yards on the way to topping the rushing mark of 119 yards set by Michael Vick in 2005 against St. Louis. Crabtree caught TD passes of 12 and 20 yards in the second quarter and wound up with nine receptions and 119 yards for the Niners (12-4-1) in the NFC divisional matchup.

Kaepernick, sporting a burgundy beanie partially covering his head, was greeted at his locker after the game by former 49ers quarterback John Brodie.

San Francisco had 579 total yards with 323 on the ground, scoring its third-most points in the franchise's storied playoff history.

"Our offensive line did an amazing job today," Kaepernick said. "They shut everybody down inside. Our receivers, our tight ends, blocked great outside, and our running backs were running hard, so it made it easier on me."

Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon each added 2-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter for the No. 2 seed NFC West champions, slim favorites on their home field in a rematch of Week 1. They added to their memorable night by setting a franchise postseason record for yards rushing, 119 of those by Gore to complement Kaepernick.

Rodgers, the former Cal star passed up by San Francisco with the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, never got going. Rodgers rooted for the Niners as a kid in Northern California.

This was another early exit for the Packers, who lost in the divisional playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants a year ago and were denied a chance to defend the title they won after the 2010 season.

Those Green Bay road stars of two years ago - they won three away from Lambeau Field on the way to the Super Bowl - didn't have it this time against San Francisco's stingy defense and a no-fear, second-year quarterback who would not be denied. A kid who was born in Milwaukee and grew up a big Green Bay fan until the day he was drafted in 2011 out of Nevada.

"I didn't know how fast he was," Green Bay defensive back Charles Woodson said. "Coming in I really never paid attention to it. But he is fast."

San Francisco advanced to back-to-back NFC title games for the first time since reaching three in a row following the 1992-94 seasons, with 1994 their last trip to the Super Bowl.

With the sellout crowd at Candlestick Park waving red flags reading "Quest for Six" - a sixth Super Bowl title, that is - Kaepernick did his part and then some to deliver in the first key step. Even after an early interception that gave Green Bay all the momentum in a hostile road stadium.

Kaepernick topped Vick's mark with the 56-yard keeper on an option play in the third quarter. That gave Kaepernick 163 yards on 12 carries, also setting a 49ers franchise record for the postseason.

"The execution for the 49ers on the read option was excellent, but our issues were bigger than that," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "We did not a very good job of keeping him the pocket. He was able to get out of the pocket for a number of big conversions."

Kaepernick joined Jay Cutler in 2011 and Otto Graham in both 1954 and `55 as the only players with two rushing and two passing touchdowns in a playoff game.

David Akers kicked a 36-yard field goal moments before halftime to give San Francisco a 24-21 lead at intermission after Green Bay tried to ice the struggling veteran by calling timeout before his kick.

Mason Crosby's 31-yard field goal tied the game at 24 midway through the third quarter, then Kaepernick took over again. San Francisco's defense handled the rest.

Kaepernick had 11 carries for 107 yards rushing by halftime.

Pick six, no problem.

The strong-armed Kaepernick brushed off the interception he tossed on the fourth play of the game that Sam Shields ran back 52 yards for a touchdown, then took control with his pinpoint passing to his favorite go-to guy - Crabtree - and with his quick-burst ability out of the pocket.

"He does a great job of responding," Harbaugh said. "He has done that any time there has been an interception he has thrown, a safety or a turnover, he's responded with a scoring drive. That's rare. I think that's a rare quality. So far he's shown that he's got that ability to come back."


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Source: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/50445495/ns/sports-nfl/

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

France ups terror threat level after Mali strike

PARIS (AP) ? The French president says the country will raise its domestic terror threat level after military action in Mali and Somalia, promising to increase protection at public buildings and transportation networks.

President Francois Hollande said Saturday he had ordered increased security after the French military operations in the two African countries against Islamist forces.

France has some of the world's most recognizable monuments and a wide-ranging national transportation network; like the U.S., it also has an organized government response if there are specific fears of a terrorist attack.

French aircraft and troops are backing soldiers in Mali who are trying to push back Islamist offensives; in Somalia, French commandos launched a failed raid to rescue an intelligence agent held hostage there for three years.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/france-ups-terror-threat-level-mali-strike-181117166.html

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BBK Vivo X1 hands-on

BBK Vivo X1 handson

Even though we focus a lot of our CES coverage on the biggest (read: flagship) products announced at the show, we revel in the opportunity to find the little gems scattered in various corners of Las Vegas that may not receive quite as much attention. One such product is the BBK Vivo X1, a phone that was recently launched in China but hasn't seen any time on this side of the Pacific. Up until this week, this particular piece of circuitry was the title holder for "world's thinnest smartphone," measuring in at 6.55mm thick. (The Alcatel Idol Ultra now claims this title at 6.45mm, although it's technically not on sale yet.) Despite the small package, it also professes to pack a hefty audio punch, boasting a pair of Beyerdynamic MMX 71 iE earphones and Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC.

We weren't able to test the audio prowess of the device in our brief interaction, but it felt reasonably good to hold in our hands overall. The Vivo X1 is one of the more sleek phones we've played with recently, but there's one piece of baggage that comes with that statement: it's slick. Our small concern with smartphones this thin is how well we can hang onto the ¥2,498 ($400) handset without dropping it on a regular basis, and its incredibly light chassis combined with its smooth plastic back add to that worry. At the very least, the 4.7-inch frame is easy to grip despite its slippery material.

Spec-wise, you aren't looking anything out of the ordinary: a dual-core 1.2GHz MediaTek MT6577T processor and 1GB RAM help the phone get stuff done; it's powered by a non-removable 2,000mAh battery (rather large for such a slim phone) and offers a qHD IPS display, 16GB internal storage, a 3.5mm headphone jack, 8MP rear-facing camera and 1.3MP front cam. This device is geared primarily for China, so it's quite likely that we won't see it in many other parts of the world. But if you fancy a closer look at the Vivo X1, take a look at our extensive gallery of images below.

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Source: http://feeds.engadget.com/~r/weblogsinc/engadget/~3/99bvFCZox64/

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DARPA Wants To Seed the Ocean With Delayed-Action Robot Pods

I don't get it.

http://www.benthos.com/undersea-acoustic-release-modem-SMART-SM75.asp

The article must be glossing over what makes this unique. Do they want a factor of 10 reduction in price? I've been working on the problem of cheap deep water electronics for nearly a decade so this is relevant to my interests(honestly who in the field of oceanography hasn't? Nobody wants to pay a ship to go un-fuck a $100 science project and mass production of gizmos is not the core competency of scientists in most cases).

DARPA is essentially throwing up their hands at the problem of locomotion and saying it's cheaper from an energy standpoint to just pepper the ocean with lots of sensors than to transport a single sensor over lots of territory pushing water out of the way of its course. "Sensors" is a pretty broad catch-all for payload and can vary in price significantly, impacting the truth of that assertion.

Changing batteries isn't cheap so disposable is desirable. Why not just embed a cell phone in a block of epoxy or polyurethane? It is cheaper to drop ballast than it is to displace 100ATM of water, so they might as well settle on a solenoid fired shear pin or electric door strike type mechanism. Syntactic foam and you can do the whole thing with a cheap prepaid, a pic processor, and a solar cell. Battery life scales with price so that is a matter of mission endurance priorities.

Source: http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdotScience/~3/rph3o0ycvio/story01.htm

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Source: http://juhansingh.blogspot.com/2013/01/self-improvement-personal-growth-self.html

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Flu means extra precautions for older people

Jan. 11, 2013 ? We've all read about the severity of the current flu season. Boston declared an emergency, hospitals are seeing patients in tents outside their emergency departments and we all probably know someone who has been laid up for a week with fever and aches and generally feeling lousy.

But the flu could be especially severe for the 39.6 million older adults in the United States. Defined as 65 years or older, the group makes up almost 13 percent of the total population. Add to that the number of people who care for an aging person -- patient, parent or friend -- and the impact on older people is even greater. What's an older person or a caregiver to do?

The three biggest rules, according to Andrew Duxbury, M.D., associate professor in the Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine, are:

? Get a flu shot -- it's not too late and it could help reduce severity of an illness

? Wash your hands regularly

? Avoid crowds

All human immune systems weaken with age, says Duxbury, also a member of the UAB Center for Aging. "So when older people get the flu and get knocked down further they are more likely to get other infections, such as pneumonia. Just being knocked into bed for as little as three or four days can, in a very frail older person, make it so they lose the ability to walk and do for themselves. It can cause a spiral in disabilities and increase chances of falls and injuries."

If you or an older person you know has flu symptoms, Duxbury says, "Pay more attention to things like staying hydrated. Appetite and thirst mechanisms are different for older people; they can tip over to dehydration in less than a day if they don't keep fluids up."

Older people also need to get out of bed at least a minimal amount and sit up. "It's better for lungs and helps avoid pneumonia," he says.

Call your doctor if you have a productive cough, fever higher than 101 or if you're feeling short of breath.

Caregivers are an important link to the outside world for older people, which means they could also be vectors for the flu virus. "Caregivers need flu shots just like older people do," Duxbury says.

Now is a good time for caregivers to create a Plan B," Duxbury says. "One way to make yourself sicker and make an illness last longer is to try to push through it," he says. "Caregivers may feel obligated, but it's a good time to think about your plan B. If you can't do it for a few days how's it going to get done?"

This flu season is the worst in recent memory, Duxbury says, but it's not bad enough to be called a pandemic. And while older people are more susceptible, they've already lived through worse flu seasons.

"The current elder population lived through 1957 and 1968 pandemics. They've seen a lot. Even the baby boomers lived through it," he says.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/top_news/~3/QdonMC4KnqU/130112195730.htm

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Large pet reptile found guarding Calif. pot stash

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ? Authorities in Northern California made a snappy discovery during a routine probation check: An alligator-like reptile named "Mr. Teeth," who was apparently protecting a stash of marijuana.

When Alameda County Sheriff's deputies entered the Castro Valley home on Tuesday, they not only found 34 pounds of marijuana valued at an estimated $100,000, but also the 5-foot-long caiman inside a Plexiglas tank guarding it in a bedroom.

Caimans are usually found in the wetland regions of Central and South America. They're considered close relatives of alligators.

"We get guard dogs all the time when we search for grow houses and people stashing away all types of dope. But alligators? You just don't see that every day," Sgt. J.D. Nelson said Thursday.

The reptile's owner, Assif Mayar, was arrested Tuesday and later charged with one count of possessing marijuana for sale. Mayar, 32, did not enter a plea during his arraignment in Alameda County Superior Court. He is being held in jail on $20,000 bail and is due back in court on Jan. 15.

He could also face citations from the California Fish and Game Commission, including possession of an exotic animal without a permit.

Mayar told deputies he got the creature to commemorate rapper Tupac Shakur's 1996 death.

"We have come across alligators before, but nobody can remember one this big and situated in such close proximity to act sort of as a sentry to the marijuana," Nelson said.

Officials at the Oakland Zoo said Mr. Teeth died Wednesday, a day after it was seized by county animal control officers.

The caiman was very sick when it arrived at the zoo's veterinary hospital, zoo spokesman Nicky Mora said Thursday.

"The veterinarian said he came in with a poor prognosis and was unresponsive when he arrived here. He passed away overnight," Mora said.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/large-pet-reptile-found-guarding-calif-pot-stash-201606728.html

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Biden seeks video game industry input on guns

President Joe Biden, accompanied by Attorney General Eric Holder, gestures as he speaks during a meeting with Sportsmen and Women and Wildlife Interest Groups and member of his cabinet, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. Biden is holding a series of meetings this week as part of the effort he is leading to develop policy proposals in response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden, accompanied by Attorney General Eric Holder, gestures as he speaks during a meeting with Sportsmen and Women and Wildlife Interest Groups and member of his cabinet, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. Biden is holding a series of meetings this week as part of the effort he is leading to develop policy proposals in response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden, second from right, gestures as he speaks during a meeting with Sportsmen and Women and Wildlife Interest Groups and member of his cabinet, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. Biden is holding a series of meetings this week as part of the effort he is leading to develop policy proposals in response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden, accompanied by Attorney General Eric Holder, gestures as he speaks during a meeting with Sportsmen and Women and Wildlife Interest Groups and member of his cabinet, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. Biden is holding a series of meetings this week as part of the effort he is leading to develop policy proposals in response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks during a meeting with Sportsmen and Women and Wildlife Interest Groups and member of his cabinet, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. Biden is holding a series of meetings this week as part of the effort he is leading to develop policy proposals in response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden, center, gestures as he speaks during a meeting with Sportsmen and Women and Wildlife Interest Groups and member of his cabinet, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. Biden is holding a series of meetings this week as part of the effort he is leading to develop policy proposals in response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(AP) ? Looking for broader remedies to gun violence, Vice President Joe Biden is reaching out to the video game industry for ideas as the White House seeks to assemble proposals in response to last month's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

Biden is scheduled to meet with video game representatives Friday as the White House explores cultural factors that may contribute to violent behavior.

The vice president, who is leading a task force that will present recommendations to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, met with other representatives from the entertainment industry, including Comcast Corp. and the Motion Picture Association of America, on Thursday.

Friday's meeting comes a day after the National Rifle Association rejected Obama administration proposals to limit high-capacity ammunition magazines and dug in on its opposition to an assault weapons ban, which Obama has previously said he will propose to Congress. The NRA was one of the pro-gun rights groups that met with Biden during the day.

NRA president David Keene, asked Friday if the NRA has enough support in Congress to fend off legislation to ban sales of assault weapons, indicated it does. "I do not think that there's going to be a ban on so-called assault weapons passed by the Congress," he said on NBC's "Today."

In previewing the meeting with the video game industry, Biden recalled how the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York lamented during crime bill negotiations in the 1980s that the country was "defining deviancy down."

It's unclear what, if anything, the administration is prepared to recommend on how to address the depiction of violence in the media.

White House press secretary Jay Carney last month suggested that not all measures require government intervention.

"It is certainly the case that we in Washington have the potential, anyway, to help elevate issues that are of concern, elevate issues that contribute to the scourge of gun violence in this country, and that has been the case in the past, and it certainly could be in the future," Carney said then.

In a statement, a half dozen entertainment groups, including the Motion Picture Association of America, said they "look forward to doing our part to seek meaningful solutions."

On gun control, however, the Obama administration is assembling proposals to curb gun violence that would include a ban on sales of assault weapons, limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines and universal background checks for gun buyers.

"The vice president made it clear, made it explicitly clear, that the president had already made up his mind on those issues," Keene said after the meeting. "We made it clear that we disagree with them."

Opposition from the well-funded and politically powerful NRA underscores the challenges that await the White House if it seeks congressional approval for limiting guns and ammunition. Obama can use his executive powers to act alone on some gun measures, but his options on the proposals opposed by the NRA are limited without Congress' cooperation.

Obama has pushed reducing gun violence to the top of his domestic agenda following last month's mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman slaughtered 20 children and six adults before killing himself. The president put Biden in charge of an administration task force and set a late January deadline for proposals.

"I committed to him I'd have these recommendations to him by Tuesday," Biden said Thursday, during a separate White House meeting with sportsmen and wildlife groups. "It doesn't mean it's the end of the discussion, but the public wants us to act."

The vice president later met privately with the NRA and other gun-owner groups for more than 90 minutes. Participants in the meeting described it as an open and frank discussion, but one that yielded little movement from either side on long-held positions.

Keene told NBC there is a fundamental disagreement over what would actually make a difference in curbing gun violence.

Richard Feldman, the president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, said all were in agreement on a need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But when the conversation turned to broad restrictions on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, Feldman said Biden suggested the president had already made up his mind to seek a ban.

"Is there wiggle room and give?" Feldman said. "I don't know."

White House officials said the vice president didn't expect to win over the NRA and other gun groups on those key issues. But the administration was hoping to soften their opposition in order to rally support from pro-gun lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Biden's proposals are also expected to include recommendations to address mental health care and violence on television, in movies and video games. Those issues have wide support from gun-rights groups and pro-gun lawmakers.

As the meetings took place in Washington, a student was shot and wounded at a rural California high school and another student was taken into custody.

During his meeting with sporting and wildlife groups, Biden said that while no recommendations would eliminate all future shootings, "there has got to be some common ground, to not solve every problem but diminish the probability that our children are at risk in their schools and diminish the probability that firearms will be used in violent behavior in our society."

Several Cabinet members have also taken on an active role in Biden's gun violence task force, including Attorney General Eric Holder. He met Thursday with Wal-Mart, the nation's largest firearms seller, along with other retailers such as Bass Pro Shops and Dick's Sporting Goods.

The president hopes to announce his administration's next steps to tackle gun violence shortly after he is sworn in for a second term. He has pledged to push for new measures in his State of the Union address.

___

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/3d281c11a96b4ad082fe88aa0db04305/Article_2013-01-11-Obama-Gun%20Control/id-05789d35e6ac4296ba0799f80c0f1638

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Swiss lab chief disputes USADA claim on Armstrong

Martial Saugy, head of the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses (LAD) of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, CHUV, speaks during a press conference after accusations by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart, in Lausanne, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. Tygart told the television program ?60 Minutes Sports?? on Wednesday that Saugy acknowledged to him giving Lance Armstrong and cycling team manager Johan Bruyneel, ?the keys to beating EPO tests'' before the 2002 Tour de France. (AP Photo/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron)

Martial Saugy, head of the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses (LAD) of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, CHUV, speaks during a press conference after accusations by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart, in Lausanne, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. Tygart told the television program ?60 Minutes Sports?? on Wednesday that Saugy acknowledged to him giving Lance Armstrong and cycling team manager Johan Bruyneel, ?the keys to beating EPO tests'' before the 2002 Tour de France. (AP Photo/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron)

FILE - In this July 10, 2010, file photo, Lance Armstrong throws out his water bottle in the last kilometers of the climb toward Station les Rousses, France, during the seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race. The New York Times reported Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, that Armstrong, who has strongly denied the doping charges that led to him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, has told associates he is considering admitting to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong attorney Tim Herman denied that Armstrong has reached out to USADA chief executive Travis Tygart and David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski, File)

FILE - This combination image made of file photos shows Lance Armstrong, left, on Oct. 7, 2012, and Oprah Winfrey, right, on March 9, 2012. According to a release posted on Oprah's website on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, Armstrong has agreed to a rare televised interview that will air next week and will address allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career. (AP Photos/File)

Martial Saugy, head of the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses (LAD) of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, CHUV, speaks during a press conference after accusations by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart, in Lausanne, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. Tygart told the television program ?60 Minutes Sports?? on Wednesday that Saugy acknowledged to him giving Lance Armstrong and cycling team manager Johan Bruyneel, ?the keys to beating EPO tests'' before the 2002 Tour de France. (AP Photo/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron)

(AP) ? The head of Switzerland's anti-doping laboratory described as "nonsense" claims by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart that he helped Lance Armstrong avoid being caught for doping.

Lab director Martial Saugy called a news conference Friday to answer accusations by Tygart that he provided Armstrong with information on how to avoid detection for use of the blood-boosting drug EPO.

Tygart told the U.S. television program "60 Minutes Sports" on Wednesday that Saugy acknowledged to him that he gave Armstrong and his team manager, Johan Bruyneel, "the keys to beating EPO tests" before the 2002 Tour de France.

"The answer is clear: It's 'No,'" Saugy said Friday, adding he was "surprised" by the claim. "I would like to ask him (Tygart), really personally, why did he say that, because personally it was not the case."

Saugy suggested that Tygart had "deficiencies" in his recollection of their discussion in Moscow in 2010 soon after U.S. federal investigators opened a probe into Armstrong and doping in cycling.

"I don't really understand the interpretation on that part of the discussion," Saugy later told The Associated Press in an interview. "For me, it is a nonsense."

In the TV program, Tygart said he asked Saugy: "Did you give Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel the keys to beating EPO tests?"

"And he nodded to say 'Yes,'" Tygart said. "He explained to them, just the two of them. As far as I know, it's unprecedented. It's completely wrong to meet an athlete with a suspect result and explain to him how the test works."

Saugy acknowledged his respect for Tygart, with whom he worked on a previous case involving Armstrong's former teammate Tyler Hamilton. Tygart's determination to build a case against Armstrong for using EPO and other performance-enhancing drugs was crucial after the federal case was dropped early last year.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from the sport for life after USADA released a report last year detailing widespread doping by the American rider and his teams.

"Travis Tygart is a key person in the fight against doping," Saugy said. "He knows the rules. He knows we must be transparent in order to respect the right of the defense. We need also to respect all the other athletes."

Saugy said he followed the International Cycling Union's request to meet with Armstrong in Luxembourg before the 2002 Tour started.

The Swiss official denied suggestions he had made an error or was naive in meeting the rider to discuss anti-doping strategy ? a decision now being criticized by Tygart and World Anti-Doping Agency officials as a clear conflict of interest.

"I have absolutely no regret. I would repeat it," Saugy told the AP, explaining that Armstrong and other riders at that time had a right to information about false positive results in the relatively new EPO test. "They wanted to know what is the basis of the fight against doping."

He denied that meeting Armstrong was connected to the Texan's sample with suspicious levels of EPO taken at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.

"For us, it was a closed affair," said Saugy, insisting that the EPO test was the sole reason. "No. 1 in the peloton is very influential, so we need to meet him to explain that we are not doing a bad job."

The UCI has said other riders and teams were given the same information from Saugy's lab in 2002 that Armstrong and Bruyneel received.

"This was clearly part of my job," Saugy said. "I do not interpret or understand the way I was producing this information as a key to escape from doping controls."

Saugy dismissed a suggestion that the dispute hinted at a rift with Tygart over how his lab, which manages the UCI's biological passport program, worked with USADA on the Armstrong case.

"I don't know what is behind it," Saugy told the AP. "Of course, (there) was some discussion between USADA and our laboratory because we were one of the laboratories working for UCI analyzing some of the samples, but no real difficulty."

Armstrong will give his first television interview since the sanctions were imposed when he speaks with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/347875155d53465d95cec892aeb06419/Article_2013-01-11-CYC-Saugy-Armstrong/id-b331cf87aebe4c80bd268d43a9aa2d1a

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Case-Mate at CES 2013 gallery

Case-Mate really is undergoing a renaissance at at CES 2013. We already showed you the video of their new crafted collection, so here it is now, captured by Derek Kessler, in fine photographic form. The manufacturing is incredible, the materials beyond premium, the accents perfectly matched, and the overall look takes the product from something meant to protect your iPhone to something with an intrinsic value all it's own.

Take a look and let us know your favorites.

More: Case-Mate



Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheIphoneBlog/~3/Qx2wgj6bf4s/story01.htm

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Weight-control experts stress education, commitment

Jan. 9, 2013 ? Genetics, economics, environment, psychology and government policies have all played roles in why, as a nation, the United States has for a generation been getting heavier. No surprise then, that controlling weight needs to be about much more than just diet and exercise.

"My job is to build a specialty program that deals with medical weight management, providing a long-term care model to treat obesity as the disease it is,'' said Dr. Jamy Ard, co-director of the new adult Weight Management Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and leader of two non-surgical weight-control programs.

Ard's approach is shared by the leaders of other weight-control programs at Wake Forest Baptist, including those for children and older adults. All of these programs stress education -- not just for the people facing weight issues, but for their families, too -- and long-term commitment to changed habits in addition to healthier diet and exercise practices.

Some people view bariatric surgery as a quick fix for obesity, but at Wake Forest Baptist more is expected of patients than just showing up for the procedure.

Patients are encouraged to lose weight or at least stay "weight neutral" in the month or so before undergoing bariatric surgery, which reduces the size of the stomach or limits its capacity to process food. By adopting new habits during this period, most patients lose a significant amount of weight before the operation, said Dr. Adolfo "Fuzz" Fernandez, co-director of the Weight Management Center and head of its bariatric surgery program. "The goal is making those lifestyle changes,'' said Fernandez, who was a classmate of Ard's at Duke Medical School. "Obesity is a disease. Surgery is the most successful treatment, but without life modification -- portion control, healthy choices and exercise -- even surgery will not be successful in the long term."

In other words, patients who have undergone bariatric surgery can put weight back on if they haven't changed their habits.

"We offer a monthly post-op support group -- group therapy so to speak -- and most of those patients do really well,'' Fernandez said. "We don't see a lot of recidivism."

Susan and Allen Fletcher had bariatric surgery at Wake Forest Baptist after years of following diets that only worked for brief periods. She was 288 pounds at her heaviest and now weighs about half that. She started by losing 50 pounds before having the surgery. Her husband is down to 180 pounds from a high of 450.

The benefits, she said, "have been life-changing."

When she had a work conference in New Orleans and her husband went with her, she said, they immediately discovered the pleasure of being able to fit comfortably in airplane seats. Better yet, she said, during conference down time they were able to explore.

"New Orleans is just the most amazing city," Susan Fletcher said. "Every day after I finished classes we would walk for a couple of hours, just exploring. There's so much on that trip we would have missed if we had not lost the weight."

When it comes to young people with weight problems, Dr. Joseph Skelton believes giving parents tools to raise healthier children is just as critical as working with the children themselves.

"You improve those parenting skills, you can improve the children's weight," said Skelton, director of the Brenner FIT (Families in Training) program at Wake Forest Baptist's Brenner Children's Hospital.

So the Brenner FIT program includes teaching parents and children about the importance of moderation (such as buying and eating a single-size cup of ice cream rather than a pint or half-gallon), showing how low-calorie snacks can be tasty and better for everyone in the household and pointing out the benefits of choosing diet sodas over sugary drinks. Tammy Stegall said she and her husband, Mike, decided they needed help for their overweight son, Michael, when he was 13 and had started to bully his younger brother, a sign that he himself was being bullied at school.

"There are so many misconceptions about what is best, what you eat and what you don't eat," she said. "I needed some guidance. And I wanted something safe for my child."

Change went slowly for the Stegall family at first. After a few months, said Michael Stegall, now 15, "I looked in the mirror and said, 'That's not who I wanted to be.' And so I thought, 'Let's try to make a change.'"

Brenner FIT was a good match, he said, because the program preaches "one step at a time.'' He wound up losing 50 pounds, and has kept the weight off.

Weight problems may be different but are no less critical for older adults, according to Barbara Nicklas, Ph.D., who leads weight-management efforts for seniors through the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest Baptist.

"We believe there are specific challenges to older folks that we need to address in our programs, different motivations to start with," she said. "Why would a 70-year-old want to lose weight?"

Among the motivators for seniors, Nicklas said, are improving their physical abilities in grip (to carry groceries, for example), strength (so they can walk or rise from a chair without difficulty) and stamina (walking further, being able to play with grandchildren, etc.).

A 24-week Sticht Center program called My Turn teaches seniors about their habits and how to make positive changes. The classes are held at a YMCA and a retirement community in Winston-Salem.

Calvert Jeffers, 72, said that although he was not grossly overweight, vanity became an issue.

"My granddaughter kept teasing me about my belly. I said, 'OK, I'm going to get that under control,'" he said. "These things become a matter of how one goes about just simple day-to-day activities. I continue to exercise, things I've always been doing, but I do it with a little more purpose in mind and a little more discipline as a result of My Turn."

Judy Freeman, who at 75 requires a walker, has lost 50 pounds midway through her second series of My Turn classes. She said she initially hoped that her arthritis pain would be reduced through the program, something that hasn't happened.

But paying more attention to healthier habits is helping her to get "involved with things that are not necessarily physical," she said.

"There's writing class, the book club and all kinds of things like that," she said. "It may not be that I am free of pain, but I do have more energy."

Wake Forest Baptist's weight-management efforts are aimed at people of all ages because of changes in behavior toward food and nutrition, especially in the past 20 years.

Ard points to the proliferation of fast food and processed foods, larger portion sizes, agricultural policies that support production of unhealthier foods and a decline in active lifestyles as some of the reasons behind the high rates of obesity in the United States -- approximately 36 percent among adults, 40 percent among seniors and 17 percent among young people age 2 to 19.

As obesity rates have soared, so, too, have related health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Consequently, Ard and his colleagues fear that the next generation may have a lower life expectancy than the current generation.

"But you can't stop the forces of innovation and capitalism and entrepreneurship," Ard said. "As long as people are going to be incentivized to make money with new technologies and labor-saving devices and new food products, you're going to have these things and they're going to keep coming faster and faster.

"So our job is not to say, 'Hey, we can't have any sugar-containing beverages because we think those are bad.' Food is around to be enjoyed. We have to be able to adjust, to come up with new strategies to deal with the new environment that we're in and new policies to help us navigate these new challenges, leading to a healthier population overall."

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, via Newswise.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/health_medicine/nutrition/~3/kcDNscx1fzs/130109185659.htm

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Samsung Launches Galaxy S II Plus for the Budget-Minded

Stan Schroeder

Samsung has launched Galaxy S II Plus, a new smartphone that is essentially an update to the now very dated Samsung Galaxy S II.

The 4.3-inch phone sports a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 480 x 800-pixel screen resolution, an 8-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel one on the front. It also offers 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage memory that can be expanded with microSD cards.

The S II Plus runs on Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), and supports HSPA+, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and an option for NFC.

Exact pricing and availability of Samsung's Galaxy S II Plus have not yet been announced, but given the middling specs, we assume the price will be on the cheap end of the spectrum.

What do you think of the S II Plus? Tell us in the comments below.

Topics: Android, Galaxy S II Plus, Mobile, samsung, Samsung Galaxy S II Plus, smartphone, Tech

Source: http://mashable.com/2013/01/10/samsung-galaxy-s-ii-plus/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter

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CES 2013 : Nuance ve ZTE i?birli?i, ses uygulamalar?n? Android cihazlara getiriyor

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Ses tan?ma ve dikte teknolojilerinde uzmanla?an ve Siri dijital asistan?n?n arkas?ndaki isim olarak g?ndeme gelen Nuance firmas? ile ZTE, bir ortakl?k yaparak ses uygulamalar?n? bu y?ldan itibaren Android cihazlar?na getireceklerini duyurdu.

Uzun vadeli olacak bu ortakl?k ZTE telefonlar? ve kullan?c?lar aras?nda etkile?im kurma imkan? do?acak. ZTE uygulaman?n ilk ?rne?ini ara? i?i cihaz ileti?imi sa?layan Car Mode yaz?l?m?nda kullanacak.

25'ten fazla dil destekleyen Car Mode uygulamas?, kullan?c?lar?n ses ile komut vererek sesli g?r??me kabul etme veya reddetme, metin mesajlar?n? okuma, m?zik eri?imi, hava durumu bilgisi edinme, navigasyon uygulamalar?n? ba?latma gibi i?lemler yapmas?na olanak tan?yor. Sesli ileti?im i?in Siri'deki gibi internet ba?lant?s?na gerek yok. Uygulama atanm?? bir kelimeyi telefona s?yleyerek ba?lat?labiliyor.

Car Mode uygulamas? firman?n 2013 y?l?nda pazara sunaca?? Android cihazlar?nda ?n y?kl? olarak gelecek. Sonraki d?nemlerde ise daha fazla uygulama ve dil deste?i ZTE modellerinde t?keticiye sunulacak.

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Source: http://www.donanimhaber.com/CES_2013__Nuance_ve_ZTE_isbirligi_ses_uygulamalarini_Android_cihazlara_getiriyor-38833.htm

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Receiving All The Materials Required For Electric Cigarettes

Ladies although cigarette smoking have a typical issue in them the ash of standard cigarette sometimes falls on the dresses and often burns them. Properly with Electrical Cigs, you do not have to fear about the dresses and ash. Over all, you do not have to operate out of the shopping mall for cigarette smoking, during looking. Is not this cool that you can now smoke anywhere you like without the need of staying pin pointed and excused.

Carr claims that this is not the situation. His idea is that, about one particular hour immediately after every single cigarette, the body gets into a condition of nervous distress as the mind craves for a new "hit" of nicotine. When the entire body offers in to the need to have for another cigarette, in purchase to administer the nicotine to the bloodstream, the distress disappears, which generates a pseudo calm feeling of well-remaining. This pseudo comfortable feeling, nevertheless, is only the body's turning from its earlier craving distressed state to its standard state.

I preserve seeking to stop, but very little looks to operate. The patch worked for my mate, so forty five bucks afterwards I have a patch stuck to my arm. I snuck out driving my home and hung the patch on the wall when I smoked a cigarette. 1 cigarette that I purchased at the retail store for fifty cents. I figured that the arm was not delicate to the nicotine, so I stuck it on my tummy. 50 % hour afterwards I am ripping my clothes off to get that patch off my skin. Not easy when you are driving down the freeway at seventy five miles per hour. I pulled off and bought a pack of cigarettes.

Also, the eradication of smoking as a habit from my private daily life, has been so in the long run effective, I have never thought of chatting or composing about it right up until now! It was something that grew to become so neutral' and so uninteresting' that it just failed to enter my head! It became simply some thing that many others engaged in with no will need to preach or discuss! It is only by way of a prompt from a brother of mine (who does not smoke) who recommended composing about how it was that I realized this target that so many other folks chase!

electric cigarette

Though the effects of digital cigarette smoking cigarettes are not as perilous as these of typical cigarettes, the possibility of getting addicted to even electronic cigarettes is no substantially less as nicotine vapors are anyway infiltrating in the entire body. So your lungs may get considerably less weakened and live additional, but finally, there are electronic cigarette wellbeing dangers.

Aside from the monetary reward, electric powered cigarettes are also claimed to be very good for health and fitness. The use of e-liquid in them cancels out the release of any carcinogens not like with smoking cigarettes traditional cigarettes. Extra than that, it is also mentioned that the system can assistance stop smoking cigarettes. It does so as the e-liquid utilised in it can be of different degree of nicotine from large to medium to very low. And so, it primarily gives you the management to the quantity of nicotine you take in.

check out their website does not cause health perils or side effects to the smoker as it does not have any of the chemicals present in a traditional cigarette like Tar, Carbon monoxide and tobacco etc! Meanwhile savoring the flavor and inner thoughts of a regular cigarette No poor breath or stained teeth it does not bring about second hand health and fitness risks and facet effects. It is not a fire hazard. It is cheaper saving your income than the standard cigarette in the medium to lengthy run. It can be smoked wherever like motels, pubs, casinos and places to eat Can help in stop using tobacco.

QuitKey is an additional easy system that requires a very little bit of willpower but it a great unit that assists you together the way. It's a compact compact minimal laptop life product that eases you off smoking steadily. Your initial step with QuitKey is smoke like you usually do and report every single time you smoke, this details is then applied to develop a personal quitting plan that is developed just for you. From there QuitKey will change you when you are authorized to smoke and when you are not authorized to smoke. This form of technique would seem to perform the very best since every single working day you smoke less and substantially less and gradually minimize the sum of nicotine in your human body this aid your overall body put together to give up for very good with no relapsing.

I hope that this is aiding some people in the direction of psychological independence from the illusion that cigarettes had been enjoyable. After absolutely free from this strange brain-trick, you are then completely ready to shift on and be truly cost-free.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Scientists use Pap test fluid to detect ovarian, endometrial cancers

Jan. 9, 2013 ? Using cervical fluid obtained during routine Pap tests, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a test to detect ovarian and endometrial cancers. In a pilot study, the "PapGene" test, which relies on genomic sequencing of cancer-specific mutations, accurately detected all 24 (100 percent) endometrial cancers and nine of 22 (41 percent) ovarian cancers.

Results of the experiments are published in the Jan. 9 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The investigators note that larger-scale studies are needed before clinical implementation can begin, but they believe the test has the potential to pioneer genomic-based cancer screening tests.

The Papanicolaou (Pap) test, during which cells collected from the cervix are examined for microscopic signs of cancer, is widely and successfully used to screen for cervical cancers. However, no routine screening method is available for ovarian or endometrial cancers.

Since the Pap test occasionally contains cells shed from the ovaries or endometrium, cancer cells arising from these organs could be present in the fluid as well, says Luis Diaz, M.D., associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins, as well as director of translational medicine at the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics and director of the Swim Across America Laboratory, also at Johns Hopkins. The laboratory is sponsored by a volunteer organization that raises funds for cancer research through swim events. "Our genomic sequencing approach may offer the potential to detect these cancer cells in a scalable and cost-effective way," adds Diaz.

Cervical fluid of patients with gynecologic cancer carries normal cellular DNA mixed together with DNA from cancer cells, according to the investigators. The investigators' task was to use genomic sequencing to distinguish cancerous from normal DNA.

The scientists had to determine the most common genetic changes in ovarian and endometrial cancers in order to prioritize which genomic regions to include in their test. They searched publicly available genome-wide studies of ovarian cancer, including those done by other Johns Hopkins investigators, to find mutations specific to ovarian cancer. Such genome-wide studies were not available for the most common type of endometrial cancer, so they conducted genome-wide sequencing studies on 22 of these endometrial cancers.

From the ovarian and endometrial cancer genome data, the Johns Hopkins-led team identified 12 of the most frequently mutated genes in both cancers and developed the PapGene test with this insight in mind.

The investigators then applied PapGene on Pap test samples from ovarian and endometrial cancer patients at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the University of S?o Paulo in Brazil and ILSbio, a tissue bank. The new test detected both early- and late-stage disease in the endometrial and ovarian cancers tested. No healthy women in the control group were misclassified as having cancer.

The investigators' next steps include applying PapGene on more samples and working to increase the test's sensitivity in detecting ovarian cancer. "Performing the test at different times during the menstrual cycle, inserting the cervical brush deeper into the cervical canal, and assessing more regions of the genome may boost the sensitivity," says Chetan Bettegowda, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins and a member of the Ludwig Center as well.

Together, ovarian and endometrial cancers are diagnosed in nearly 70,000 women in the United States each year, and about one-third of them will die from it. "Genomic-based tests could help detect ovarian and endometrial cancers early enough to cure more of them," says graduate student Yuxuan Wang, who notes that the cost of the test could be similar to current cervical fluid HPV testing, which is less than $100.

PapGene is a high-sensitivity approach for the detection of cancer-specific DNA mutations, according to the investigators; however, false mutations can be erroneously created during the many steps -- including amplification, sequencing and analysis -- required to prepare the DNA collected from a Pap test specimen for sequencing. This required the investigators to build a safeguard into PapGene's sequencing method, designed to weed out artifacts that could lead to misleading test results.

"If unaccounted for, artifacts could lead to a false positive test result and incorrectly indicate that a healthy person has cancer," says graduate student Isaac Kinde. Kinde added a unique genetic barcode -- a random set of 14 DNA base pairs -- to each DNA fragment at an initial stage of the sample preparation process. Although each DNA fragment is copied many times before eventually being sequenced, all of the newly copied DNA can be traced back to one original DNA molecule through their genetic barcodes. If the copies originating from the same DNA molecule do not all contain the same mutation, then an artifact is suspected and the mutation is disregarded. However, bonafide mutations, which exist in the sample before the initial barcoding step, will be present in all of the copies originating from the original DNA molecule.

Funding for the research was provided by Swim Across America, the Commonwealth Fund, the Hilton-Ludwig Cancer Prevention Initiative, the Virginia & D.K. Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research, the Experimental Therapeutics Center of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Chia Family Foundation, The Honorable Tina Brozman Foundation, the United Negro College Fund/Merck Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowship, the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award for Medical Scientists, the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance and the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute (N01-CN-43309, CA129825, CA43460).

In addition to Kinde, Bettegowda, Wang and Diaz, investigators participating in the research include Jian Wu, Nishant Agrawal, Ie-Ming Shih, Robert Kurman, Robert Giuntoli, Richard Roden and James R. Eshleman from Johns Hopkins; Nickolas Papadopoulos, Kenneth Kinzler and Bert Vogelstein from the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins; Fanny Dao and Douglas A. Levine from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Jesus Paula Carvalho and Suely Kazue Nagahashi Marie from the University of S?o Paulo.

Papadopoulos, Kinzler, Vogelstein and Diaz are co-founders of Inostics and Personal Genome Diagnostics. They own stocks in the companies and are members of their Scientific Advisory Boards. Inostics and Personal Genome Diagnostics have licensed several patent applications from Johns Hopkins. These relationships are subject to certain restrictions under The Johns Hopkins University policy, and the terms of these arrangements are managed by the university in accordance with its conflict-of-interest policies.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal References:

  1. I. Kinde, C. Bettegowda, Y. Wang, J. Wu, N. Agrawal, I.-M. Shih, R. Kurman, F. Dao, D. A. Levine, R. Giuntoli, R. Roden, J. R. Eshleman, J. P. Carvalho, S. K. N. Marie, N. Papadopoulos, K. W. Kinzler, B. Vogelstein, L. A. Diaz. Evaluation of DNA from the Papanicolaou Test to Detect Ovarian and Endometrial Cancers. Science Translational Medicine, 2013; 5 (167): 167ra4 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004952
  2. S. N. Westin, G. B. Mills, A. P. Myers. Repurposing the Pap Smear: One Step Closer to Gynecologic Cancer Screening. Science Translational Medicine, 2013; 5 (167): 167ps1 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3005411

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/health_medicine/genes/~3/x2dUzbmVpAk/130109151122.htm

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Union of Shadows: Children of the Dark Gods Interest Check

Okay, so I haven't exactly started an RP on this site before, but here's my idea for...well I guess it would be a Dark Fantasy story before I actually buckle down and hammer something out plotwise.

The Roleplay itself would be carried out on the continent of Maera, which itself is something similar to medieval Europe if there were land bridges connecting modern day Spain to Morocco, Italy to Libya, and Greece to Egypt, uniting it with Africa. Weather-wise, it's a bit different, with everything north of the Land Bridges, i.e. Maera proper, having a generally temperate, nearly idyllic climate. This area is populated almost exclusively by Humanity, with a small smattering of Elven communities tossed in for variation.

South of the land bridges are the Lands in Shade, spanning an area roughly the size of Africa, but with a climate much closer to that of the more northerly parts of Eastern Europe and Russia, cold, arid steppes at the best of times, frozen wastelands at the worst. Despite the surplus of land, the climate makes it extremely difficult to farm anything of use, and thus despite it's size, the Lands in Shade, when they can gather armies to raid up into the North, usually fields a force not much larger than that of the defenders. The Lands in Shade are populated somewhat more sparsely by what the Maerans call "The Darkling Races", races traditionally viewed as evil in Fantasy. Trolls, Goblins, Ogres, Gargoyles, Gnolls, Minataurs, Slimes, Giant Spiders, Sentient Insect Colonies, and more inhabit these lands, though in much smaller numbers by race than the Humans. Yes, even (sigh) Orcs and Dark Elves. But no Lycanthropes or Vampires. No Lycanthropy of any kind. Chimera, sure. Sphinxes? Why not? But no friggin' Were-anything and no friggin' Vampires.

To the East of Maera proper are the Godspine, an impassible mountain range populated and defended by the Dragons, who while sentient, tend to stay out of the wars between the other two groups out of a sense of unassailable superiority. To the East and West of the Lands in Shade is the Great Ocean, which is also West of the Maera Proper.

Religion in Maera is fairly elemental. The Humans and few Elves worship The Light, a pantheon of Good-Aligned Gods who, like most good Divine Characters tend be fairly human despite their Divinity, coming down on occasion to have a dalliance or two with the native mortal folk and producing offspring capable of superhuman feats. Those races of the Lands in Shade that are sentient worship the The Shadows, Dark Gods who are equal in power to The Light, yet are a bit less human in their Divinity. This isn't to say they aren't sentient, just a bit more...off than the good Gods. They don't often speak, and when they do it tends to be terse. They more often communicate mind to mind, which has caused the death or insanity of more than one Darkling. They too have been known to come down and have their way with a mortal or two.

Interestingly, each Dark God tends to mirror and Good One. For instance, Okkun is the Shadow of Irruk, God of Order and Master of the White Flame. Orkkun, for his part, is the Dark God of Order and Owner of the Black Flame. The differences between the two are hard to find in some places, a bit more obvious in others. Each is worshipped by Craftsman working with flame, so Smiths and Metalworkers are big fans, and each is often depicted with a hammer and anvil. Irruk represents Order through Courageous Leadership, and so favors rulers that care for their people and set a good example for them. Orrkun represents Order through Strength, Power, and Fear, so he tends to favor Leaders that enforce their rule with an iron fist and a will of steel.

Their flames are wildly different. The White Flame can only burn dried lumber from the Whitewood Tree, Irruk's chosen plant. It's smoke is a purifying agent, and can cleanse any ailment or disease. Only Craftsmen handpicked by the wisest Priests of Irruk are allowed to work with the White Flame. The products worked by these artisans are always pure white, regardless of the metals used. The White Flame is not hot to the touch, in fact anyone can touch the open flames and not be burned, although any wounds will close if held in the flame long enough. The Black Flames can burn anywhere there is fuel, so long as a spark can be struck, the Black Flames will burn. And they do burn. Only Ogres, the Chosen Race of Orkkun, can work the Black Flame, and their works are always misshapen-looking and black. Even Ogres dare not touch the Black Flame, though. If caught fire, any creature dies almost on contact, transformed instantly into a merrily burning blaze. The Black Flame does not corrupt, does not purify, does not heal, and does not wound outside of horrific burning death. It does, however, whisper. This is how Orkkun communicates to his followers, where Irruk's priests have to hold lengthy ceremonies to draw a few words from the purest oracles they can find.

The seat of the Light is the High Cathedral, massive temple complex built atop a mountain at the center of Maera Proper, so...if you were looking at a map of Europe maybe around Vienna or Prague. The Shadows were worshipped in a massive underground complex simply called The Cavern, the entrance of which is located once again at the foot of a mountain in the Eastern part of the Land of Shade. If you're looking at a map of Africa, it'd be around Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia.

The Kingdoms, Queendoms, Empires, Baronies and Duchies of Man, collectively known as the Holy Compact are at the time of the Roleplay just reaching the zenith of their power, having only a few generations back completed their greatest military triumph, the complete destruction of The Cavern, the Exile of the Shadows from Maera, and the destruction of the Union of Shadows, the grand council of the Lands in Shade. How did this happen when both groups are supposedly balanced? I'm glad you asked, here's how.

Originally, the progenitors of the Light and Shadows, reluctant to see any of their creations dispossessed or destroyed, organized a system for the creation of demigods, lest one side grow too numerous and crush the other with an army of superbeings. This was the First Treaty. All Deities were prohibited from touching the world directly outside of creating the allowed amount of children, and each side was allowed an equal amount of demigods, a child for each Deity. Not to say that any of the Gods were that big on following the rules, which is why a pair of militant organizations were created to regulate the births of any new demigods. The Black Brotherhood scourged the North for prohibited births and executed any second child born to the Light they could find. The White Legion scoured the South in similar fashion, destroying any second children born to the Shadows. No mortal was happy with this arrangement, but Holy Decree protected each group, provided no innocent blood was spilled without reason. And this was the undoing of the First Treaty.

Surprisingly, it was the North that schemed it's way past the Treaty, probably because the Light tend to be a bit more forgiving than the Shadows when it comes to sinning against the Gods. Some decidedly unscrupulous Priests, no one is sure whose, decided to substitute an average mortal child, manufacturing the signs and portents required to mark the infant as a Child of the Light. The Black Brotherhood did it's duty and ended the child, thus providing an excuse for the members of the Holy Compact to begin an all out war against the regulatory body. Having been alerted to the situation, the various armies of the Compact were quick to find and crush the Black Brotherhood. Years passed as the Gods quarreled about the situation, years in which the Light was quick to birth it's army, even as the Union of Shadows was held at bay by the regular armies, though the fighting was fierce. The White Legion continued it's duties in the South, destroying any children they found, as the South was slow to attack, unsure of their Gods intentions while the arguments of the deities consumed most of their attention.

Twenty-five years after the breaking of the First Treaty, the Army of the Light swept down in the Lands in Shade, a whole host of demigods quickly slaughtering the remainders of the armies protecting the Land in Shade and striking deep into enemy territory in a lightning campaign to end the war. Almost before the Dark Gods could take notice, the entire Army of the Light was in the Cavern, slaughtering various priests and toppling individual temples with ease.

Nara, Dark Matron, Spirit of the Void before Existence, and Naru, the Holy Father, Spirit of the Spark of Creation, were horrified at what their children had wrought. Nara because of the injustice done to the children that took after her, The Shadows, and Naru because the Light had not taken steps to rectify the situation before it had gotten so far out of hand. As one, the two Progenitors reached out and collapsed the Cavern, sinking the mountain foot after foot into the ground until it was half as tall as it had been. The Army of Light was crushed. Across the world, demigods simply stopped living, falling to the ground as dead as if they had been murdered.

The Progenitors forbade the creation of any more demigods, and forbade any other excursions into the South for a century, hoping that would be enough time for the various races to repopulate, as neither wanted to see the extinction of a sentient race. The penalty for breaking this order, they said, would be the destruction of the Gods in question, as well as the world they had all made. If they could not obey the rules, the need for the rules would be removed.

And so the Gods went apart from the world, simply watching and occasionally offering advice, though even that became seldom, and then the Gods grew silent as they become involved in other pursuits. No one wanted to be the reason for the Death of the World. Eventually the Gods grew tired, and finally decided to sleep for a time, just to be on the safe side, millenia of creating children was tiring. Naru left to supervise the stars as they expanded ever outward, making sure thier light was cast evenly about in the darkness. Leaving Nara, the Void, watching the world.

Nara had a plan, though. When they had touched Maera, she had also touched the rulers of the Holy Compact, planting in them the seeds for new demigods, though not of the Light. Somewhere down the line, new Children would be born to the Shadows, but they would need guidance, and so she herself seeded a ruler, ensuring that her Child would be born first, then fashioned a bit of the void into living creatures, creating a handful of Void Wraiths to guide her future child to her destiny.

So...that's that's the world. The idea is that we'll roleplay said future children, though at the outset none will have any special abilities or powers. Each demigod needs to be baptized in the Temple of their Shadow by that Dark God's chosen race. So most of the story will be the characters traveling through various towns, away from the families of their birth and towards being reunited with their divine parents, at least in spirit. Each child is a disappointment to their human parents in some way, be it through physical deformity or some major character flaw related somehow to their Dark God.. For instance, Orkkun's child will be fairly weak physically, yet will be able to lift the heaviest hammer in the Forge with ease.

Baptism usually involves a ceremony involving the parent God's element. So Orkkun's son would be cast into the Black Flame. Which yes, would burn him, but only the human part of him. During the baptism each child will come into contact with their divine parent's sleeping mind, and since the Dark Gods tend to communicate through images, dreaming will allow them to communicate effectively.

What I don't have and need: The rest of the Pantheons. The names and borders of the nations of the Holy Compact and the Lands in Shade. Names of rulers. Genders of the rulers. Types of rulers. Specifics of each nation (dress, speech, general style). And most importantly, people to play the other Children.

I figure we can develop the plot more once we've worked out the aforementioned kinks.

So....who's interested?

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RolePlayGateway/~3/D1hl5wIsZlE/viewtopic.php

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