Late Holocene changes in cyanobacterial community structure in maritime Antarctic lakes

first_imgDespite the dominance of cyanobacteria in polar freshwater aquatic ecosystems, little is known about their past biodiversity and response to climate and environmental changes. We explored the use of light microscopy of microfossils, high performance liquid chromatography of the fossil pigment composition and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of fossil 16S rRNA genes to study past and present-day differences in cyanobacterial community structure in response to climate changes in two adjacent maritime Antarctic lakes with contrasting depths (4 and 26 m) and light climates. Light microscopy was of limited use because of degradation of cell structures. Fossil cyanobacterial pigment concentrations were below the detection limits of our method in several sediment samples in the deep lake, but abundant and diverse in the sediment core from the shallow pond, probably as a consequence of increased light availability and/or a more diverse and abundant benthic cyanobacterial flora. Total carotenoid and chlorophyll concentrations were highest in both lakes between ca. 2,950 and 1,800 cal yr BP, which coincides with the late Holocene climate optimum recognised elsewhere in maritime Antarctica. Cyanobacterial molecular diversity was higher in the top few centimeters of the sediments in both lakes. In deeper sediments, the taxonomic turnover of cyanobacteria appeared to be relatively small in response to past climate anomalies in both lakes, underscoring the broad tolerance of cyanobacteria to environmental variability. This, however, may in part be explained by the low taxonomic resolution obtained with the relatively conserved 16S rRNA gene and/or the preferential preservation of particular taxa. Our results highlight the potential of fossil DNA in lake sediments to study colonization and succession dynamics of lacustrine cyanobacteria and warrant further investigation of the factors that affect preservation of cyanobacterial DNA.last_img read more

Sandwich awards to recognise best in the field

first_imgThis year’s annual British Sandwich Industry Awards are taking place on 15 May at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. The Sammies feature 12 different awards, including four sub-categories for British Sandwich Designer of the Year. Other awards include Bakery Sandwich Shop, Independent Sandwich Bar and New Sandwich of the Year. Around £5 billion is spent on approximately 2.7 billion commercially-made sandwiches a year, in an industry that employs over 300,000 people in the UK. The awards seek to recognise those who have excelled in their field, rewarding the independent retailer as well as large scale operations.last_img read more

Squeaky Clean

first_imgDirt and contamination kills. At least, it can do. That is why anyone involved in the retailing or manufacturing of food has a huge responsibility. Get it wrong and not only will you have sick customers and the risk of litigation on your hands, your business could be forced to close. So it makes sense to get it right.RisksRisks are both internal and external internal in that they could come from the poor environment in which you store and produce items, poor controls, an inadequate cleaning regime and from your own staff’s dirty habits. For hygiene in a shop or production facility is only as good as its dirtiest member of staff. How many people have you seen lick their fingers to separate paper bags before slipping in the Cornish pasties or bread, for example?And risks are external in the form of pests, such as rodents, birds and insects, which gain access to the inside of buildings or store-rooms. You may think your property is impervious to little furry creatures that can give birth to hundreds of other furry creatures in the blink of an eye, but your property will be unusual if not at risk.Access by all creatures great and small is made possible, for example, via door frames that have gaps, air-brick holes, gaps in perimeter building cladding, and doors and windows that are left open, says Paul Bates, managing director of pest company Cleankill. Hidden ledges on tables and recesses of trolley wheels can sometimes harbour moth larvae, and hoppers and central motor compartments, mixers and anywhere were flour leakage can occur will be a magnet to insects.Legal bitsThe Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice Baking Guide was produced to help operators comply with the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995. The up-to-date legislation is Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs, implemented by the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006, and the equivalent Regulations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.Richard Stevenson, technical and hygiene consultant to the National Association of Master Bakers says the Baking Guide can still be mostly relied upon today, although some minor updating would not be amiss.The British Retail Consortium’s Food Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice: Retail is more recent and came out in 2009. But Stevenson says the cleaning and disinfection section in the Food Standards Agency’s E.coli 0157 Control of Cross-contamination Guidance for food business operators and enforcement authorities provides the most current advice.”Small businesses are generally not always completely au fait with the properties of the different cleaning chemicals they are using and there is big confusion between the difference between disinfectant, detergent and sanitiser,” Stevenson says (see panel, left).Andrew McLeod, a key account manager at Kimberley-Clark Professional, advises that, in both in retail and preparation areas, a colour-coding system should be used to segregate tasks to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination. This should also be implemented across the different tools used, from cloths and wipers to utensils, mops and buckets, to minimise the risk of items transferred from one zone to the other. He says appropriate sanitisers should be used to ensure all areas are clean and free of bacteria. And the use of dispensers to hold wipers and clothes is important to ensure they are protected and kept hygienic.Stephen Clifford, marketing controller of Country Choice, which supplies a range of non-food products that helps retailers to keep control of food hygiene and safety in-store, says bakers should follow a documented hygiene programme to provide a safe and hygienic environment for both customers and staff (see panel) regardless of size.Bakers’ approachCooks The Bakery, in Crawley, West Sussex, cleans everything daily in accordance with the cleaning schedule. But everything that comes into contact with food is cleaned as they go along. Wendy Longmate, manager, says the schedule is printed so everyone knows what they need to do to meet the satisfaction of environmental health officers (EHOs). “EHOs understand your floor cannot be spotless all day when you are cutting bread and rolls, but there is a limit they accept.”It hires a company to undertake random audits and Ecolab monitors for pests and environments that might attract them.Beaney’s bakery, based in Strood, Kent, requires staff to clean up as they go along. They are responsible for their own areas and the girls mop down at the end of the day and clean downthe shelves in the shop. A pensioner comes in at lunchtimes and his first job is to clean the black trays ready for the next morning. He also washes the floor every day once everyone has gone home to avoid slips and trips.A couple come in more periodically and do the jobs that are required less frequently, such as washing the walls, and a Saturday boy helps with cleaning some of the big machines that staff cannot get to during the week. The racks are taken out in the yard monthly or bimonthly and steam-cleaned.Owner Chris Beaney says he uses bleach, but not on the tables, and a strong floor cleaner with antibacterial properties. “If we use water, it is hot and has antibacterial cleaner added to it. We buy light industrial chemicals from a cash and carry that do a good job for us.”Greggs has a strict cleaning regime for each area of its bakeries, including regular audits to ensure compliance, and keeps comprehensive records of all cleaning processes. It conducts regular reviews when physical changes to the buildings or equipment are made. Each bakery has its own technical team, supported by centrally-based technical food safety experts, who advise local management teams in the shops and bakeries and updates them on any impending changes to food safety law.Greggs uses in-house personnel for its regular process cleaning, but it occasionally hires external contractors to help with specialised areas of cleaning in the bakeries such as overheads and flour silos, for example. It also hires external contractors for high-level and deep cleans in the shops. Every member of staff is trained in all hygiene duties carried out in shops and bakeries through the company’s formalised training procedures.Internal food safety auditors regularly audit the sites and shop managers carry out daily standards checks, in which hygiene is key and staff training records are regularly checked. Hand-wash stations are prevalent throughout all production areas in the shops and bakeries and segregation is in place within all bakeries to separate areas of differing hygiene requirements from each other.Greggs says reminders of standards the company upholds are evident throughout all the production areas in both shops and bakeries covering issues such as the correct wearing of protective clothing and accessories such as hairnets and jewellery and the correct hand-washing procedures.Hygiene tipsl Clean hands are essential when handling or preparing foodl Hands need to be thoroughly washed before and during food preparationl Use liquid hand-soap rather than bar soapl Use paper towels for drying hands rather than clothes or tea towelsIncorporate a hygiene programme including safe use of chemicals that includes:a) Documentation to show that cleaning tasks have been completedb) Documented information on how to clean each piece of equipmentc) A breakdown of daily, weekly and monthly cleaning proceduresd) The appropriate cleaning solutions including dosage and safety information for the user.Source: Country ChoiceKnow your cleanersl Detergents are used for general cleaning. These do not have disinfectant properties and, if used on their own, are not able to destroy harmful bacteria such as E.coli 0157.l Disinfectants are capable of destroying harmful bacteria when applied to visibly clean surfaces at a specified dilution and contact time.l Sanitisers combine a disinfectant and a detergent in a single product. The same product can be used to provide a visibly clean surface and it must be used a second time to disinfect the surface.Source E.coli 0157 Control of Cross-contamination Guidance for food business operators and enforcement authorities (Food Standards Agency).last_img read more

Press release: UK astronomers open new window on the Universe

first_imgThe detailed information of this census of over one billion stars, which comes from the Gaia mission, allows their positions and distances to be mapped to unprecedented precision giving us a 3-dimensional map of our Milky Way Galaxy.This new release of information shows us 600 times more stars than previously available, covering a volume 1,000 times larger than Gaia’s own first data release two years ago, with precision some one hundred times improved. These results allow improved study of almost all branches of astronomy: from traces of the formation of the Solar System; through how stars evolve; through the current structure, the assembly and evolutionary history of the Milky Way; to mapping the distribution of Dark Matter in the Galaxy; to establishing the distance scale in the Universe; to discovery of rare objects.This second data release allows progress in all these studies by providing not only distances and apparent motions across the sky for 1.3billion sources, but also very precise measurements of brightness and colour for an even larger catalogue of 1.7billion sources. Seven million stars have their line of sight velocities measured, providing full 6-dimensional – three space positions, 3 space motions – information, determining full orbits for those stars in the Milky Way. This is the information needed to weigh the Galaxy, and determine the distribution – and perhaps the properties – of Dark Matter, the mysterious substance which dominates the mass of the Galaxy and the Universe. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPACThe mission is reliant on the work of UK teams at the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leicester, Bristol, the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) at UCL London and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL Space facility, all of whom are contributing to the processing of the vast amounts of data from Gaia, in collaboration with industrial and academic partners from across Europe.Professor Gerry Gilmore from the University of Cambridge, UK Principal Investigator for the UK participation in the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, and one of the original proposers of the mission to ESA, said:“The combination of all these unprecedented measures provides the information for astronomers to take the next big steps in mapping the formation history and evolutions of stars and our Milky Way Galaxy. There is hardly a branch of astrophysics which will not be revolutionised by Gaia data. The global community will advance our understanding of what we see, where it came from, what it is made from, how it is changing. All this is made freely available to everyone, based on the dedicated efforts of hundreds of people. There are so many exciting things to do better with the exquisite Gaia data we anticipate new science papers appearing every day after this release.”UK participation in the European Space Agency mission itself has been funded by the UK Space Agency and scientists and engineers from around the UK played key roles in the design and build of Gaia.The UK Space Agency has already contributed £15 million to Gaia and is committed to spending a further £4 million on processing and analysing the data.Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:“We’re working with industry and academia to support cutting-edge science that will lead to new discoveries about our Galaxy.“The UK involvement in this exciting mission shows that our academics and engineers are world leaders in the space sector. As part of ESA we will continue to be at the forefront of research and deeply involved in missions such as ExoMars, with its Airbus-built rover, and the BepiColombo mission to Mercury.”One of the new aspects of the Gaia data released today are radial velocities derived from Gaia spectra. Gaia releases radial velocities for some 7million stars, many times more than have been measured in the history of astronomy up to now, with vastly more to come in future releases.Professor Mark Cropper leads the team at Mullard Space Science Laboratory/UCL that made the UK contribution to this spectroscopic processing effort and said:“Spectra provide the critical information to complement Gaia’s astrometry, providing line of sight (radial, Doppler-shift) velocities and precise measures of stellar chemical element abundances. Gaia measures huge numbers of individually low-signal spectra – nearly 20 billion separate spectra to date – which must be carefully combined to deliver their full value. This demanding process is worth the effort! The remarkable map of the changing average radial velocity as we look around the sky is direct evidence of the rotation of our Galaxy.”Dr Floor van Leeuwen from the University of Cambridge has been Project Manager for the UK and European photometric processing work, and is a leading co-author on the example science papers illustrating Gaia’s impact on our knowledge of star clusters and satellite galaxies in the outer Milky Way. Speaking of the new findings he said “Groups of dwarf galaxies, including the Magellanic Clouds, can now be observed to be moving around in very similar orbits, hinting at a shared formation history. The accurate observed motions and positions of the globular clusters and dwarf galaxies provide tracers of the overall mass distribution of our galaxy in a way that has not been possible with this level of accuracy before.”STFC helped the set-up of the data applications centre for the project and STFC’s current support involves the UK exploitation of the scientific data that is now being yielded from the mission. In addition the photometric data processing software to which STFC contributed, as part of the UK-led team, offers the ability to precisely measure the brightness of the billion objects that Gaia is observing, while contributions from the rest of Europe are charting the positions, distances and movements of those one billion stars.Professor Ian McCrea, Space Physics and Operations Division Head at STFC’s RAL Space said:“Four years into the Gaia mission and it is incredible to see that our work in the UK on developing the photometric data processing software, that precisely measures the brightness of the billion objects that Gaia is seeing, is now successfully giving us comprehensive and detailed information that helps us better understand our true place in the Milky Way, our home galaxy. With this new data release and those that will follow, I am excited to see what new celestial objects, such as extra-solar planets, brown dwarfs, supernovae, asteroids, and of course, things that we have not even imagined have now been recorded.”Gaia orbits the sun at a distance of 1.5 million kilometres from the earth and was launched by the European Space Agency in December 2013 with the aim of observing a billion stars and revolutionising our understanding of the Milky Way. During its expected five-year lifespan, Gaia will observe each of a billion stars about 70 times.A special aspect of the Gaia mission is that the teams involved do not keep the results for their own science interests. Instead the Gaia data is released with free access to everyone for analysis and discovery.last_img read more

Press release: New UK aid funding to tackle violence against women and girls in Syria

first_imgOn Syria: Baroness Sugg will today (Friday 24 May) call for urgent action to prevent gender-based violence in humanitarian crises – as she announced new support to tackle the issue in Syria.The International Development Minister will speak at the UN’s first ever conference on Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Humanitarian Crises in Oslo.She will say that while internationally agreed commitments to protect women and girls have been made, meeting them should be a priority right from the start of humanitarian crises.The new UK aid funding will aim to prevent violence against women and girls in Syria, by tackling its root causes, and provide safe spaces and support for survivors. The programme will also train midwives and medical professionals to treat and care for survivors of sexual violence.International Development Minister Baroness Sugg will say: The UK aid funding announced today will support a UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) programme.It will tackle the causes of gender-based violence through community programmes in schools and mosques, which will challenge harmful attitudes towards women that normalise violence, including child marriage and denying women and girls their independence. It will also raise awareness of the physical, social and legal consequences of violence.Since the beginning of the crisis in 2011 women and girls have made a million visits to UK aid-supported safe spaces in Syria. Here, they can access sexual and reproductive health services, including voluntary contraception and menstrual health products, psychological support, counselling and medical treatment.Notes to editors: UK aid is committing £7 million this year to support UNFPA’s humanitarian operations within Syria to reduce the risk of gender-based violence (GBV) for those most affected by the crisis This builds on UK aid’s existing support to safe spaces in Syria run by the UNFPA. UK aid and UNFPA’s previous programme (2016-2018) saw UNFPA create 137 women and girls’ safe spaces. These non-residential centres are at the centre of UK aid and UNFPA’s strategy to tackle GBV. They serve two purposes: to allow survivors to enter into a safe space with others where they may speak openly about their experiences, and to provide a gateway to other GBV services, including case management, psychological support and counselling, and referrals to health centres for rape survivors. No girl or woman should live in fear, yet one in three women globally experience sexual or physical violence. In humanitarian crises, this can rise to more than two in three, and even then the evidence tells us that the most dangerous place for women and girls is often within their own homes. However, UK aid research shows that this violence is preventable. Violence against women exists because gender inequality exists and because society can have damaging assumptions of what it means to be female. Failure to address this problem during crises undermines our humanitarian support for the very people it is designed to help. While the international community has made strong commitments on gender-based violence in crises, tackling this problem remains underfunded. Minimum standards are not in place and there is a lack of urgency given to preventing violence against women and girls. Preventing and responding to gender-based violence is everyone’s responsibility. We need to prioritise the protection of women and girls from the outset of humanitarian responses. We must take a ‘no regrets’ approach to responding to violence. And we need to make sure that women and girls have access to the support they need in crisis settings, including vital sexual and reproductive health services. We must also stand strongly against the rollback of women’s rights. That’s why I’m proud UK aid will continue to champion, defend and support access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services for the world’s poorest women and girls and those affected by humanitarian crises. Telephone 020 7023 0600 ENDS If you have an urgent media query, please email the DFID Media Team on [email protected] in the first instance and we will respond as soon as possible. The UK is a global leader in efforts to eradicate violence against women and girls (VAWG) in all its forms including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), and child, early and forced marriage. The UK is a world-leading investor in research on the prevention of violence against women and girls (VAWG). An estimated 26 million women and girls of reproductive age are living in emergency situations. Women and girls are affected disproportionately by conflicts and crises and are at increased risk of all forms of violence, sexually transmitted infections, HIV and unintended pregnancy. Humanitarian crises heighten the risk of violence against women and girls, but even during emergencies the most dangerous place for women and girls is often within their own homes. For example, UK aid’s ‘What Works to Prevent Violence’ programme found that in South Sudan, intimate partner violence was the most common form of violence reported by women and girls. It’s critical we tackle the multiple forms of violence women and girls face. General media queries (24 hours) Email [email protected]last_img read more

Patisserie Holdings reveals £25m plan to save business

first_imgPatisserie Holdings is launching a share offer and has admitted it needs a £20m capital injection to avoid calling in administrators.The crisis-hit company is hoping to raise £15m through the offer and is also set to enter into a new £10m loan agreement with chairman Luke Johnson. It said that, based on current information, this would enable it to continue trading in its current form for the foreseeable future.Update 5.45pm  12  October: Patisserie Holdings has reported that the share placing has raised £15.7m before expenses. The business, which operates more than 150 Patisserie Valerie sites and around 50 sites under other brands, has been conducting an emergency investigation after becoming aware of serious accounting issues this week.Finance director Chris Marsh was suspended from his role on Tuesday, and has since been arrested and bailed.In a statement issued to the Stock Exchange this afternoon (12 October), Patisserie Holdings said it has a net debt of around £9.8m, adding that “historical statements on the cash position of the company were mis-stated”.“The board believes the current financial position of the company is such that it requires an immediate cash injection of no less than £20m, without which there is no scope for the group to continue trading in its current form and would therefore need to appoint administrators,” it stated.Based on current information, it expects annual revenue of £120m and EBITDA of £12m in the year ending 30 September 2019 but warned these figures are based on the investigative work performed to date. They could not be verified until further work is conducted including a re-audit of the company’s financial statements and the 30 September 2018 year-end audit.Investigations into the financial irregularities were at “very preliminary stage”, and will be subject to further review in the “weeks and months to come”. %%Quote_40%% “At this stage, the directors cannot predict the outcome of those investigations with any degree of certainty,” it stated, adding that further findings of financial irregularity could result in more losses for the company, its shareholders and wider stakeholders.The company’s shares remain suspended from trading on AIM and this is expected to continue until the financial position is clearer.Patisserie Holdings is now looking to raise around £15m through the issue of 30,000,000 new ordinary shares. Luke Johnson is to loan the business £10m under a three-year term on an interest-free/fee-free basis, and will also provide a £10m bridging loan of up to £10m to be paid back from the share offer.The company said that, based on current information, it will be able to continue trading in its current form for the foreseeable future on completion of the fundraising.“Shareholders should be aware that without the loan, the bridging loan and the proceeds of the placing the group would need to immediately secure alternative financing,” it stated.“There can be no guarantee that alternative financing will be available to the company in the required amounts or on acceptable terms for the ongoing working capital requirements of the group and therefore the group would likely enter into immediate administration.” Patisserie Holdings crisis timeline10 October (AM): Share trading suspended as company launches investigation into serious accounting irregularities. Chief financial officer Chris Marsh suspended.10 October (PM): Winding-up petition filed at the High Court relating to £1.14m owed to HMRC by Stonebeach Limited, the company’s principal trading subsidiary.11 October: Patisserie Holdings reports it cannot continue to trade in its current form without immediate cash injection.12 October (AM): Chris Marsh arrested by police and released on bail.12 October (PM): Business announces plans for £15m share offer and £10m loan, admitting it needs £20m to avoid calling in administratorslast_img read more

Beale Street Music Festival Announces 2019 Lineup: Dave Matthews Band, Gary Clark Jr., Cardi B, Big Boi, More

first_imgToday, Beale Street Music Festival has announced the lineup for their 2019 event, set to go down on May 3rd–5th, 2019 at Tom Lee Park in Memphis, TN.The stylistically diverse lineup will feature performances by Dave Matthews Band, The Killers, Cardi B, Khalid, G-Eazy, OneRepublic, Charlie Wilson, Shinedown, Gary Clark Jr., India.Arie, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Lord Huron, Flogging Molly, 6lack, CVRCHES, Trippie Redd, Lil Dicky, Big Boi, Good Charlotte, Dirty Heads, In This Moment, MoneyBagg Yo, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Moon Taxi, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, BlocBoy JB, Simple Plan, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, The Suffers, Southern Avenue, Guitar Shorty, and many more.Beale Street Music Festival 2019 – Lineup Announcement VideoYou can grab your tickets to the 2019 Beale Street Music Festival here. For more information, head over to the festival’s website.last_img read more

Defending Snowden

first_imgOn Tuesday, as Ben Wizner ’93 was discussing his work as counsel to Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor’s 2013 revelations about the scope of U.S. domestic and foreign surveillance programs continued to resonate.The day before, The New York Times had reported President Obama’s plan to overhaul the way the National Security Agency collects phone records through legislation that would stop the agency’s bulk collection of such data.The shift, confirmed by the Obama administration on the morning of Wizner’s visit to Harvard Law School, was a direct result of the massive leak of classified documents by Snowden, who was charged under the Espionage Act and has spent the last several months in Russia, where he sought asylum.“These documents have been our tickets to have our traditional oversight mechanisms actually function the way that they were intended to function,” Wizner said.Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, has for years worked on behalf of clients to challenge the government’s secretive “enhanced interrogation techniques” and its detention and rendition programs. In years past, he said, Washington routinely blocked such efforts in the courts, calling the programs “too secret to be litigated,” claiming defendants were immune from prosecution, or arguing the plaintiffs had no legal standing to even appear in court. Snowden’s revelations, Wizner said, changed everything.“Precisely because the very same programs that were approved in secret are now being challenged, withdrawn, questioned, once the public has been brought in, explains why it is that Snowden needed to do what he did.”The pair who broke Snowden’s story in The Guardian on June 5 — filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald — are longtime friends of Wizner. He had known they were in touch with a confidential source who described himself as a senior intelligence official, but a month passed before he met Snowden. It happened in Moscow, with the asylum request pending. Wizner remembers being struck by one of Snowden’s first questions.“He said, ‘Do you have standing now?’ And I was very moved by that question, because it showed that what he was interested in doing was not undermining our systems, but revitalizing them.”Snowden did not foresee the impact of the disclosures, Wizner said — never imagined that only months afterward there would be bipartisan legislation in Congress to “impose the first meaningful restrains on intelligence surveillance since the 1970s,” or that the president would call for an executive review committee.Last month, Professor Cass Sunstein discussed his work with the five-person advisory panel created by Obama to carry out a sweeping review of surveillance activities. The panel shared a “unanimous belief that reforms are highly desirable,” he said.Asked to detail his work with “Team Snowden,” Wizner said that he acts largely as a gatekeeper, handling the dozen or so daily media requests and consulting with colleagues, including a human-rights lawyer in Russia, about how and when Snowden should speak publicly. (Snowden issued a statement Tuesday calling Obama’s proposal a “turning point.”) The team also has discussed whether their client should investigate the possibility of asylum outside of Russia.Connecting with Snowden can prove challenging, said Wizner, who does his best to keep their conversations secret. “He is awfully good at security … he certainly knows the NSA’s bag of tricks, but because he knows it, he knows he can’t be sure that our communications are secure.”Still, Wizner said he has received no pressure from any government agency in the United States, and that he feels “free to do the work.”“It is still, in remarkable respects, a free country to do the kind of work that we do. The debate that we have had these past nine months we should have had before, but it is a real democratic debate.”The chances of congressional action on the president’s proposal, and significant reform, are likely, he said. “And anybody who thinks they would have happened had Snowden not done something dramatic … I don’t really know how to respond to that.”Wizner’s talk was sponsored by the HLS ACLU, the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, the National Security and Law Association, the Harvard National Security Journal, the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Unbound, and the HLS American Constitution Society.last_img read more

Migraines in women linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke

first_img Read Full Story Women who get migraine headaches may face higher risk of stroke, heart attack, or the need for heart surgery than women without migraines, according to a large long-term U.S. study.Migraines—intensely painful and often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound—have previously been linked with increased stroke risk, but the new study found that they were also linked with other cardiovascular problems.The study, involving researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and colleagues, followed more than 116,000 U.S. women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II from 1989 to 2011. They found that women with migraines had a 50% greater risk for heart attack, stroke, or surgery to open blocked heart arteries than women without migraines. They also found that women with migraines had a 37% higher risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke during the study period.Although the study can’t prove that migraines cause heart attack or stroke, “Physicians should be aware of the association between migraine and cardiovascular disease and women with migraine should be evaluated for risk,” said lead author Tobias Kurth in a May 31, 2016 HealthDay article. Kurth is director of the Institute of Public Health at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and an adjunct professor of epidemiology at Harvard Chan School.last_img read more

Priest addresses HHS mandate

first_imgOn Wednesday night, retired priest Fr. Edward Ruetz spoke to Call to Action Michiana about the United States bishops’ stance on President Obama’s healthcare plan, insisting their handling of the issue is flawed. Call to Action is a nationwide Catholic group focused on altering the way the Church engages in the modern political sphere. According to its website, Call to Action demands Catholic political ideology first and foremost focused on “advocat[ing] for justice and building inclusive communities based on anti-racism and anti-oppression.” Ruetz traced the development of Catholic doctrine through history, concluding the bishops’ call for the repeal of the recently-revised Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptive mandate fails to abide by the 1965 Constitution on Religious Freedom. “I believe that the U.S. Catholic bishops have not read the 1965 document on the Constitution of the Church in the modern world and that if they did, they would take a different stance on the HHS mandate,” he said.   The bishops’ failure to abide by the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom is alarming, because this article is supposed to define the behavior of all Catholics, Ruetz said. “What I’m concerned about is that the bishops do not follow the Constitution on Religious Freedom … Even though the Church promulgated that this is what we should be living by, they are not abiding by it,” he said. The most important element of this Constitution is the way it supports social justice efforts in politics, which is maintained by allowing those of a different faith to adhere to their personal belief system, Ruetz said. “They are saying these actions are intrinsically evil, saying Catholic institutions would be violating their conscience in offering these services to people who are not Catholic,” he said. “However, they have a different conscience, and that’s where the conflict of personal rights comes up.” Ruetz said the Constitution guarantees the right of every individual to follow the dictates of his or her conscience, free of coercion.  Catholic institutions such as Notre Dame and the Church hierarchy should show respect for this right, he said.   “Every human being has the right of private conscience, and they’re trying to coerce that,” Ruetz said. “The right of private conscience within each human individual comes from their inherent human dignity. Therefore, the right of religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition, but in the very nature of the human being.” Problems arise when the Church presumes to moderate the consciences of non-Catholics because that infringes upon their religious freedom, Ruetz said. “[From the Constitution] it follows that he should not be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience … But let’s look at the other side. What if the conscience of a non-Catholic tells them it is inherently good to use these services?” he said. Members of Call to Action Michiana debated these issues, focusing on analysis of the gap between Church rhetoric and the expressed desires of the people. Call to Action member Tom Murray said he thought the bishops presumed too much when they expressed Catholics are against artificial contraception, and Catholics with a differing opinion should simply opt out of the artificial contraceptive services potentially provided by these insurance plans. “Though we know that 90 percent of Catholics practice artificial birth control if they are able to, if artificial birth control was to be paid for by this enacted insurance program, it seems to me that if Catholics don’t want to use it, they’re free not to use it,” Murray said.  “I don’t understand why the bishops are allowed to get away with the lie that they are speaking for all Catholics.” Hank Mascott, a member of Call to Action, said he hoped for similar attitudes to prevail in Indiana, following the pattern of the 18 states that have already accepted Obamacare.   “Catholic institutions in those 18 states have somehow worked out compromises with state arrangements, and it has not caused this ‘brouhaha,’” Mascott said.  “It would be interesting to go back and look at how the Church has negotiated its position within those states.” Call to Action Member Br. John Dolan said he also believed careful analysis of the framework of the discussion will lead to a more productive result. “There are arguments and logic and reasoning on both sides, but the truth is somewhere in the middle,” Dolan said.  “I thought the truth of this debate was that these sides are using overcharged emotional rhetoric.” Ruetz said he agreed with hopes for a compromise between the dissenting political factions and he thinks Notre Dame would likewise agree to potential arrangements. “I would hope that Notre Dame could agree with the compromises that have been made, that they would be able to compromise and accept the mandate like many colleges have done,” he said. “Social justice says that Notre Dame should look at the justice issue involved with offering these services to non-Catholic people who think the services are good actions.” The bishops’ stance on the health care mandate represents a larger trend within the Church of strictly adhering to established doctrine, which Ruetz said disconnects the Church from the concerns of the people it serves. “The hierarchy is losing touch with what is happening in the modern world … It is not willing to look at [certain] issues and confront them,” Ruetz said.  “It doesn’t want to bring them up because if they did they would have to look at women’s equality, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, married priesthood and the ordination of women.”last_img read more