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America on Edge

"Boys Will Be Boys" Seems to be America's Campus Rape Policy

July 4th 2014

Woman

Before one even begins to discuss the root causes of rape-- the personal motivations, the sociocultural beliefs and practices that may attribute to the act; one has to realize and acknowledge that rape is a brutal act of violence. Rape, which can be defined as, penetration no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without consent of the victim (Per the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program), can affect victims for many years after initial contact, and after any physical wounds have healed. Many rape victims subsequently have to cope with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder referred to as post traumatic rape syndrome; and the hallmark of this disorder is that it is psychological reaction to being exposed to an event (a brutal act of sexual violence) which is outside the range of normal human experience. The assault and trauma impacts the brain in such a way that it often leave victim's with impaired verbal skills, short term memory loss, memory fragmentation, and delayed recall, which exemplifies why rape victims have a great difficulty functioning and responding to a line of questioning in a courtroom setting. The following symptoms are often present in Rape Trauma Syndrome: Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Facebook 'Messed with People's Minds,' FTC Sanctions Sought

July 2nd 2014

Eye biometrics

Facebook "purposefully messed with people's minds" in a "secretive and non-consensual" study on nearly 700,000 users whose emotions were intentionally manipulated when the company altered their news feeds for research purposes, a digital privacy rights group charges in a complaint filed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed the complaint Thursday, asking the FTC to impose sanctions on Facebook. The study violated terms of a 20-year consent decree that requires the social-networking company must protect its users' privacy, EPIC said. EPIC also wants Facebook to be forced to disclose the algorithms it uses to determine what appears in users' news feeds. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

Newborns Face Severe Infections

July 1st 2014

Newborn baby

A new study estimates that nearly 7-million newborns a year suffer life-threatening infections. Most go untreated. The infections include sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia.

The study, which appears in The Lancet, said most of the newborn infections – about three-and-a-half-million – occur in South Asia. Sub-Saharan Africa follows with more than two-and-a-half-million and then Latin America with 800,000.

Professor Joy Lawn, who oversaw the research, said, “These estimates aren’t just numbers. They’re guiding us to how many babies have these life threatening infections. And where are they and what should we be doing about it?”

Lawn is with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Save the Children. She said, “We know that almost three-million newborns die every year – so babies in the first month of life. And in trying to address those we need top focus on the biggest causes. And neonatal infection – or sepsis – is one of those main causes.” Read more ..


Education on Edge

A Creative Solution to Student Loan Crisis

June 30th 2014

As America's student debt crisis continues to worsen, researchers at the University of Michigan and Elon University believe they have a solution—let the federal government, rather than private banks, handle student loans.

"Evidence suggests that student borrowers have not been well-served by the current system," said Roland Zullo, assistant research scientist with the U-M Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy. "Sources have identified persistent problems with the performance of servicers, the extent and nature of which indicate serious structural shortcomings and conflicts of interests in the present contractual arrangement." Read more ..


The Brazilian Edge

Flash Mobs Dance in Rio for Locals

June 28th 2014

Brazilian football fans and flag

Not everything about the World Cup revolves around football. Sometimes an event like this can bring an extra bit of excitement to a host nation, and in Rio de Janeiro flash mobs are erupting spontaneously, to the delight of locals.

Parque Madureira is a quiet park about an hour away from Rio's touristy beach spots. And Praça XV, in the center of Rio, is a place where locals arrive by ferry from Niteroi, across the bay, to start the work day.

The Brazilian Ministry of Culture has organized five-to-ten-minute long flash mobs in each location. They are performed mostly for local citizens, not the tourists that have overtaken their city during the World Cup.

“Big Dance Brazil” flash mobs will take place in all twelve cities hosting World Cup matches. According to choreographer Carlinhos de Jesus, dance is the best way to unite Brazilians.  Read more ..


Nature on Edge

Liberians Flee Caterpillar Invasion

June 27th 2014

Hungry African Widow/Children

Thousands of people have fled their homes in northern Liberia following an invasion of caterpillars - which have overtaken houses and schools, destroyed crops and contaminated water sources. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says these attacks are becoming more frequent in Liberia and the government needs to put in place an early warning system to stop the invasions from reaching such catastrophic levels.

Residents of at least 25 villages and towns in the forested areas of Lofa and Gbarpolu counties have been fleeing en masse since early June to escape the trail of excrement that the caterpillars leave behind.

“We are afraid. You see here, the caterpillars are all over and there is nowhere to sleep. I am leaving with my children to a different community," explained Mary Tolbert who lives in Gbarpolu County. Jeremiah Toe, a nurse in one of the affected villages, says the caterpillars pose a serious public health problem. Read more ..


The Edge of Women's Rights

Men's Sports, Shorts Not For Women In Iran

June 26th 2014

Women's Rights Activists

Iranian women are free to love sports, as long as they do it in the safety of their own homes.

Female fans got a harsh reminder of this when they attempted to cheer for their men's soccer and volleyball teams this week.

Women attempting to attend World League volleyball matches being held this month in Tehran learned from the national police chief that their presence "was not in the public interest," while a female lawmaker argued that women at sporting events was a source of "disrespect and rape in society."

In an added slight, it was made clear that women and televised World Cup soccer matches were not a good match either -- at least not in public. The authorities made that clear by preventing public screenings of the game, which could result in mixed crowds, and putting pressure on cafes and restaurants to not show the games. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Starbucks Offers Wireless Recharging for Smartphones

June 25th 2014

“Wireless” will come to signify much more than the untethering of handsets from phone and Ethernet cables in the near future. Wireless charging spots for mobile gadgets are popping up at coffee and tea shops in select locations. Similar efforts to eliminate the cables that connect computers and monitors are not far behind, bringing with them the promise of virtually tangle-free living rooms and desktops.
 
Starbucks is putting wireless charging on the map through a pilot program to roll out wireless charging stations in its coffee and Teavana shops. Customers can recharge smartphones and tablets on tables and counters designated as Powermat Spots by placing their devices on a Duracell Powermat, developed by Procter & Gamble’s Duracell brand and Powermat Technologies, Ltd.  Some newer phones—including the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Asus PadFone X—have built-in receivers that enable them to draw power directly from these mats. Other devices must be placed in a special case or require a plugin receiver to take advantage of wireless recharging.

Read more ..

The Healthy Edge

Promising Treatment for Alzheimer's Found in Cocoa Extract

June 23rd 2014

A specific preparation of cocoa-extract called Lavado may reduce damage to nerve pathways seen in Alzheimer’s disease patients’ brains long before they develop symptoms, according to a study conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published June 20 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD).
Specifically, the study results, using mice genetically engineered to mimic Alzheimer’s disease, suggest that Lavado cocoa extract prevents the protein β-amyloid- (Aβ) from gradually forming sticky clumps in the brain, which are known to damage nerve cells as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

Lavado cocoa is primarily composed of polyphenols, antioxidants also found in fruits and vegetables, with past studies suggesting that they prevent degenerative diseases of the brain.
The Mount Sinai study results revolve around synapses, the gaps between nerve cells. Within healthy nerve pathways, each nerve cell sends an electric pulse down itself until it reaches a synapse where it triggers the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters that float across the gap and cause the downstream nerve cell to “fire” and pass on the message. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Why We Don’t Trust Technology Companies

June 22nd 2014

Oak Ridge Super Computer

Last October, T-Mobile made an astonishing announcement: from now on, when you travel internationally with a T-Mobile phone, you get free unlimited text messages and Internet use. Phone calls to any country are 20 cents a minute.

T-Mobile's plan changes everything. It ends the age of putting your phone in airplane mode overseas, terrified by tales of $6,000 overage charges. I figured my readers would be jubilant. But a surprising number had a very different reaction. “Why should I believe them?” they wrote. “Cell carriers have lied to us for years.”

That's not the first time that promises from a tech company have been greeted not with joy but with skepticism. When Apple introduced a fingerprint scanner into the Home button of the iPhone 5S, you might have expected the public's reaction to be, “Wow, that's much faster than having to type in a password 50 times a day!” But instead a common reaction was: “Oh, great. So now Apple can give my fingerprints to the NSA.” Read more ..


Crimea on Edge

Crimea's Methadone Ban Hitting Rehab Patients Hard

June 22nd 2014

Cocaine intercepted in Europe in rice sacks from Africa

As many as 20 people who were being treated for heroin addiction in the Ukrainian region of Crimea have died since the Black Sea peninsula was annexed by Russia in March.

Dozens more have left the region for other parts of Ukraine in a bid to continue methodone treatment. The heroin-replacement therapy, which is widely used in the West, is considered ineffective by Russian health specialists and is banned in that country.

Crimea's de facto authorities claim heroin addicts have been taken care of since Moscow took over."Nearly 700 people have been taken off replacement therapy and about 60 are being treated in health-care facilities," says Sergei Donich, a former regional health minister and currently deputy prime minister in the region's de facto government, says. Read more ..


The Battle for Ukraine

Ukraine's Refugee Crisis

June 19th 2014

Ukraine homeless

Lyudmila Denisenko endured weeks of deadly shootouts between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian insurgents in her home city of Slovyansk, the epicenter of the separatist conflict ravaging eastern Ukraine. But when a children's hospital was shelled two weeks ago, her patience finally snapped.

She and her family fled for the relative safety of Izyum, a small town 50 kilometers northwest of Slovyansk. "We came here with nothing," she recently said in Izyum's City Hall, where she was applying for temporary accommodation and basic supplies. "We could no longer stay. The children's hospital was bombed, the train station was bombed, the bus station was bombed. We hitchhiked all the way here."

Like Denisenko, thousands of people have fled eastern Ukraine in recent weeks. Amid the chaos, however, the scope of the refugee crisis remains unclear. UNHCR, the United Nations' refugee agency, estimates that there are currently more than 17,500 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Ukraine. Read more ..


Afghanistan on Edge

Will New Afghan Government Roll Back Women's Rights?

June 17th 2014

Afghanistan tortured girl

As Afghan women await the results of the second round of presidential elections which took place over the weekend, they are watching to see that the rights they have won and the advances they have made in the last decade are not compromised.

In the political landscape of Afghanistan today—and in stark contrast to its strongly conservative culture—women vote. They are members of Parliament. They serve in the Cabinet.  They hold positions in provincial councils.

Although the 2006 Afghan Constitution guaranteed women certain rights—including the right to vote, to be educated, and to hold public office—the women of Afghanistan have suffered some setbacks in the last seven years. The administration of President Hamid Karzai has paved the way for millions of girls to go to school and for women to work and has enshrined equal rights for the citizens. Read more ..


Crimes against Humanity

Guatemala, Genocide, and the Politics of Forgetfulness

June 16th 2014

When Judge Yasminn Barrios announced a guilty verdict that condemned the man who played a vital role in the state-led violence in Guatemala that torched over 400 villages, murdered more than 100 thousand people, and displaced an excess of 1 million citizens, indigenous communities present at judicial proceedings erupted into jubilee. The once untouchable General José Enfraín Ríos Montt had been sentenced to face the rest of his life in jail.

One week later, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Guatemala annulled the lower court’s guilty verdict. Shortly thereafter, Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, who had successfully prosecuted General Ríos Montt, was fired. Read more ..


Broken Borders

National Political Developments Delay Immigration Reform

June 14th 2014

Click to select Image

In new signs that prospects for immigration reform legislation are all but dead for now, developments in both state and national arenas have pushed a solution to the issue farther down the political tracks.

For starters, Texas Republicans readopted a tough stance at the party’s convention in Fort Worth last weekend. Drawing more than 7,000 delegates, the Lone Star GOP convention voted to remove a 2012 position statement known as the “Texas Solution” which backed a guest worker system for undocumented persons.

The party delegates came out against a guest worker program but held out the possibility of granting visas to workers in industries facing labor shortages, as long as “really secure borders” and a universal E-Verify employee eligibility system were in place. The new state party platform includes opposition to in-state college tuition for undocumented students, and supports prohibiting municipalities from taking measures against enforcing federal immigration law. Read more ..


Jewry on Edge

Jews of Marseille ‘Bunkerize’ after Brussels Museum Shootings

June 12th 2014

Place Charles de Gaulle

French police are guarding ninety synagogues and Jewish schools in Marseille after the shooting attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels killed four people last month, the UK Guardian reported on Wednesday.

Michèle Teboul, the leader of a regional Jewish organisation, was quoted as saying that Marseilles’s 80,000-member Jewish community had no alternative other than to “bunkerize.” The city has 850,000 people, a quarter of whom are Muslim.

The lead suspect in the Brussels attack, Mehdi Nemmouche, was arrested on May 30 at the Marseille bus station, but fear pervades the city, with the adjacent Saint-Charles train station evacuated during rush-hour last Friday after the discovery of a suspicious package. Read more ..


The Way We Are

How to Give Advice as Well as We Receive Advice

June 10th 2014

Click to select Image

Most of us find it easier to be wise about other people's problems than our own. But a new study identifies a simple way to close this gap.

The research, conducted by social psychologists Igor Grossmann at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and Ethan Kross at U-M, shows the solution is self-distancing — considering your problems from the perspective of an observer. The study appears in the current issue of Psychological Science.

Grossmann and Kross, an associate professor of psychology and a faculty associate at the Institute for Social Research, asked participants to reflect on a relationship conflict of their own or someone else's, such as a spouse's infidelity with a close friend. Participants were asked to think about this problem in the first-person and in the third-person, and offer advice on how to address the problem. According to Grossmann, the results clearly show that when people think about problems in the first-person, people are wiser when reasoning about others' problems than their own, a bias that the researchers term "Solomon's Paradox," after the Old Testament king who was known for his wisdom but who still failed at making personal decisions Read more ..


Hamas-PA Unity

Hamas Violence over Receipt of US-Funded Salaries

June 5th 2014

Hamas Terrorists

On Thursday, violent clashes broke out between Hamas and Palestinian Authority employees at ATM machines in Gaza. Unlike their PA colleagues, disappointed Hamas employees had discovered that they were not paid salaries from the new unity administration, which was officially inaugurated on Monday, according to a Reuters report.

Hamas public employees, who have not been paid in weeks, were hoping that the unity government under the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation pact would reinstate their incomes. A spokesman for the unity government stated that a committee had yet to vet the Hamas employees before they could be added to the payroll of the new leadership.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has been paying some 70,000 public employees in the Gaza Strip since the Hamas terror organization violently overtook the coastal enclave in 2007, forcing Fatah out. Hamas has 40,000 civil servants and security personnel on its payroll. Read more ..


The Edge of Murder

Why Is It So Hard To Stop 'Honor Killings'?

May 30th 2014

Pakistani honor victims

In some societies, it is common for men to think of wives and daughters as both assets and liabilities. So long as they are obedient to their fathers and husbands, they are a source of pride. But if they disobey and show independence, they become a source of shame and may even be murdered to protect the family's "honor."

Here are five things to know about "honor killings" and why they are so hard to stop.

How frequent are honor crimes?
According to UN statistics available, some 5,000 honor killings a year are reported worldwide. But many experts believe the real number is much higher because many honor crimes are often hidden from the police.

The hiding of honor crimes is possible because they often take place within a family. Leading members, including females, decide that the woman or girl who has compromised the family's honor must be put to death. The crime is kept secret through a code of silence.

Jacqueline Thibault, whose Swiss-based association Surgir protects potential victims of honor killings in the Middle East, says murders are often reported as suicides. In some cases, there is no "need" for a murder because the family pressure is so great that the victim commits suicide herself.

Are honor crimes unique to the Muslim world?
No, honor crimes are found in many parts of the globe and are not tied to any single religion. Countries where they take place are as diverse as Brazil and India, Pakistan and Albania.  However, they occur with the greatest frequency in the Middle East and South Asia and only sparingly in South America and Central Asia, as well as among some immigrant populations in Europe. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Pakistani Beats Wife to Death for Cooking the Wrong Meal

May 29th 2014

Click to select Image

A judge in Brooklyn NY found an elderly Pakistani immigrant guilty for the murder of his wife. Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Matthew D’Emic said he had considered a verdict of manslaughter in the gruesome case, but found that Noor Hussain, 75, had intended his wife’s death.

Hussain killed his wife, Nazar Hussain, 66, on April 2, 2001, by beating her to death because she cooked lentils even though he had “demanded that she make goat for dinner.” Defense attorney Julie Clark said in her closing argument on May 29, “He demanded that she make goat for dinner. She said, ‘No, I made gram,’ a traditional savoury dish. She continued, “He had told her he wanted a particular type of meat for dinner, goat meat, and she refused. So he took up a stick to discipline her for not making the meal he wanted.” Read more ..


The Hamas-PLO Union

The Devil in the Details of Palestinian Reconciliation

May 29th 2014

How -- and if -- Hamas and Fatah overcome formidable security, institutional, and political roadblocks should dictate the international response to their unity deal and joint government.

As rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah prepare to announce the names of ministers for a joint technocratic government as soon as this week, it remains unclear how the various provisions of last month's tentative reconciliation deal will be implemented in practice. On a wide array of issues -- security, public employees in the Gaza Strip, the dormant legislature, future elections, and the composition of the Palestine Liberation Organization -- uncertainty still reigns. How these issues are resolved -- assuming they are resolved at all -- should dictate U.S. and international policy toward Palestinian reconciliation efforts. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Teenagers Live Extraordinary Lives to Make a Difference

May 28th 2014

family with teenagers

While most teenagers in the United States spend their time juggling school, home and friends, there are a few who are choosing a different life. They are charting their own path to make a difference in the world. They recently gathered in Los Angeles to discuss their work and what makes each of them unique.

Fifteen-year-old Winter Vinecki has accomplished more than most people have in a lifetime. “I recently completed a marathon on all seven continents and became the youngest person in the world to do so. I really was doing this for my dad,” she said.

Vinecki’s father was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer when she was nine. He died 10 months later. ”When he was first diagnosed, I immediately knew I had to do something to help him. That’s when I formed Team Winter for prostate cancer research and awareness," said Vinecki. Read more ..


The Edge of Healthcare

Refugees in Jordan, Syria Denied Cancer Treatment for Lack of Funds

May 27th 2014

Syrian refugees

The U.N. refugee agency says hundreds of refugees in Jordan and Syria are being denied cancer treatment because of lack of funds.

UNHCR’s top medical expert, Paul Spiegel, told VOA that decisions on who gets treatment and who does not are made on the basis of cost. He said helping the largest number of people with the limited amount of money on hand is usually the determining factor.  

“For the colleagues themselves that have to deal with this, it is extremely difficult and we sometimes try to help them, to give them counseling," said Spiegel. "We have a standard operating procedure that can be shared with both the doctors and the refugees to say this is what happens, and we do this in order to help the most amount of people. But no matter which way you look at it, it is a horrible experience.”   Read more ..


Islam on Edge

The Fatwa: From the Middle East to South Asia

May 26th 2014

Koran and prayer beads

In early February 2014 Egypt's shadowy Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (the ABM, or Partisans of Jerusalem) were continuing their attack on government forces and institutions.  The Sinai-based Islamist intransigents, whose leadership appears tied to Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, first emerged in 2011.  In its opposition to Israel it has carried out attacks on the Sinai gas pipeline, and a series of explosions have in effect put an end to the sale of natural gas to Israel (and given a constant interruption in service to Jordan).  More recently, its assaults on Egypt's military forces have created widespread insecurity the length of the Sinai Peninsula.  Finally, in the last few weeks the ABM has begun to attack targets in the heart of Egypt. 

Egyptian experts claim the ABM is a mix of Sinai bedouin, former members of the terrorist Egypt Islamic Jihad and Gamaat al-Islamiya, and rebels who broke out of prison or were released following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.  They support a Morsy presidency and are determined to oust the de facto government of army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.  Given that unlikely scenario, they plan to destabilize the Egyptian polity and make it as difficult as possible for Sisi to rule, should he win the upcoming election to the presidency. Read more ..


The South African Edge

Entrepreneurship Seen as Solution to S. Africa’s Unemployment Crisis

May 25th 2014

Somali storekeeper

Unemployment remains stubbornly high in South Africa and is one of the greatest socio-economic problems currently facing the country’s youth.

Many are turning to entrepreneurship to make ends meet. But some have found it easier than others.

Job-creation was a leading goal of government policy during the first decade of democracy in South Africa following the end of apartheid in 1994. However, little success has been achieved in the struggle to create sufficient jobs.

South Africa’s unemployment rate stands at 25.2 percent, creeping up by 1.1 percent from last year. There are now more than five million people without work. However, the expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, is at 35.1 percent. 'I can't wait' Read more ..


The Fashion Edge

Disgraced Fashion Designer Makes Unlikely Comeback In Russia

May 24th 2014

fashion show

After shunning the spotlight since an anti-Semitic outburst put an abrupt end to this career three years ago, British fashion designer John Galliano is making an unlikely comeback.

The disgraced designer has chosen to reenter the public eye in Russia, a country itself under intense Western fire over its actions in Ukraine, swelling the ranks of prominent scandal-hit foreigners seeking a new lease of life in Moscow.

Galliano was formally consecrated as the new creative director of L'Etoile, a Russian cosmetics chain, during a lavish show held on May 22 in one of Moscow's most exclusive suburbs. L'Etoile announced Galliano's new job in a press release entitled "John is back."

The retailer said he would be responsible for developing its house cosmetics brand. Galliano's appointment has sparked mixed reactions. Some commentators have noted the irony of someone with an anti-Semitic record relocating to Russia, which has cast itself as a bulwark against an alleged resurgence of fascism in Ukraine and the west. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

NEul and BT Set Up Citywide IoT Network

May 22nd 2014

Minneapolis skyline

An open network for the Internet of Things is being built in Milton Keynes in the UK using the Weightless communications protocol.

The project will demonstrate the ability of a city-wide M2M infrastructure to cope with a large number of static and mobile sensors. Some of these will support use cases for Milton Keynes council, but the mission for the project is to attract many other innovators to use the infrastructure as a test bed for commercial applications, new products and services which need not be specific to Milton Keynes. The city is not one of the 10 where a rival IoT network will roll out later this year using technology from Sigfox in France and run by network provider Arquiva.

The Milton Keynes consortium includes the Connected Digital Economy Catapult, the Future Cities Catapult, the local council and The Open University. BT and Cambridge startup Neul will install a network of Weightless base stations to provide coverage across the city for low power, connected sensors. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

Millions of Newborn Deaths Reported

May 21st 2014

Newborn baby

Despite five-and-a-half million newborn and stillborn baby deaths each year, investment in newborn health remains very low. That’s one of the findings in a series of papers published in the medical journal The Lancet. The research also shows the vast majority of those deaths could be prevented.

Lead researcher Joy Lawn said the research is the most accurate estimate yet on the number of deaths of newborns and stillbirths.

“Every year there are two-point-nine-million babies who die in the first month of life -- and most shockingly a million who die on their birthday, the first day. And there are two-point-six-million stillbirths -- most shockingly, one-point-two-million who die while the woman is in labor. So together this is five-and-a-half-million babies,” she said. Read more ..


Destination the Holy Land

Pope Francis to Visit Holy Land

May 20th 2014

Pope Francis thumbs up

Pope Francis visits the Holy Land beginning this Saturday, May 24, on his second trip since becoming the head of the Roman Catholic Church last year. His first stop is in Jordan where he will visit the place -  at the Jordan River - many Catholics believe Jesus was baptized   and began his ministry. Pilgrims come from both sides of the river to renew their vows of faith.

This is an important stop during the pope’s upcoming visit to Jordan, according to local guide Baker al-Ziadat. “This is holy land. And the people come here to [be] baptized in the river and to visit the churches,” said al-Ziadat.

Lew and Leanne Kenah, from New Zealand, are on a weeklong trip to Jordan. “It’s something very special for us, very special. It’s a lot of historical and religious history. And we’re very surprised. I couldn’t believe that it was so small, the river.” Archeologists have uncovered 1,500-year-old foundations of ancient churches. They believe this to be the actual site of Jesus’ baptism before time changed the river’s course. Read more ..


The South African Edge

S. Africa's Black Hair Businesses Thriving

May 18th 2014

fashion show

In a continent of dramatically contrasting poverty and wealth, hair is a rare common denominator that cuts across class and culture groups in Africa. The black hair business is worth billions worldwide, and the Africa market is slowly picking up as consumers look for the best products.

Good Hair, the 2009 documentary by comedian Chris Rock, spotlighted the business of black hair, particularly the use of relaxers, weaves and hair extensions. Elements of his documentary ring true in South Africa, the dominant market on the continent for hair care products. According to researchers, black women are willing to spend at least double the amount on hair and beauty products that white women do.

According to estimates from Euromonitor International, the Middle East and Africa hair care market alone was valued at $4.2 billion in 2013. Zeenat Ebrahim, a senior analyst at Euromonitor, sees huge potential for the hair care market in Africa. Read more ..


The Automotive Edge

Talking Traffic Lights, Environment-Aware Vehicles

May 15th 2014

Highway

If traffic lights could speak, which language would the use to make sure that vehicles could understand them? An industry consortium of 31 companies, with automotive supplier Continental and aerospace research centre Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) among them is currently trying to find a solution. The project UR:BAN, designed to develop solutions for safe and efficient urban traffic, provided first insights into demonstration vehicles, simulators, and demo objects at the opportunity of the project's half-time event.

The goal of the project is developing solutions that provide context-sensitive, predictive and individual support to drivers of passenger cars and commercial vehicles in city traffic. Within this context, DLR is working on a specific aspect of car2x communications. The goal is to devise an instruction format that enables traffic lights to communicate with the cars regardless of make, type or manufacturer. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Pareidolia: There is Help for Those Who See Elvis in a Piece of Toast

May 13th 2014

People who claim to see “Jesus in toast” may no longer be mocked in the future thanks to a new study by researchers at the University of Toronto and partner institutions in China.

Researchers have found that the phenomenon of “face pareidolia”– where onlookers report seeing images of Jesus, Virgin Mary, or Elvis in objects such as toasts, shrouds, and clouds — is normal and based on physical causes.

“Most people think you have to be mentally abnormal to see these types of images, so individuals reporting this phenomenon are often ridiculed”, says lead researcher Prof. Kang Lee of the University of Toronto’s Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study. “But our findings suggest that it’s common for people to see non-existent features because human brains are uniquely wired to recognize faces, so that even when there’s only a slight suggestion of facial features the brain automatically interprets it as a face,” said Lee. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Parolees and Former Prisoners Resort to Emergency Rooms for Medical Care

May 13th 2014

Being released from prison or jail is a difficult time for the millions of Americans returning to their communities from correctional facilities. Add to the list of challenges a high risk of winding up in the emergency department or the hospital. That's according to a new study from the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, provides support for efforts to improve access to insurance and readily available health care for this vulnerable group.

"This study comes at a time when the Affordable Care Act is improving access to health insurance for the large population leaving the nation's prisons and jails," said study author Joseph Frank, MD, MPH, assistant professor at the CU School of Medicine. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Global Wi-Fi Deployments Proliferate by the Millions

May 12th 2014

LectureTools student user

Worldwide Wi-Fi deployments reached a total of 4.2 million hotspots in 2013, and will continue to grow at a CAGR of 15.0% between 2013 and 2018, to exceed 10.5 million. Among the global Wi-Fi hotspots, 68.6% of Wi-Fi is in Asia-Pacific, followed by 12.3% in Latin America, 9.0% in Europe, 8.7% in North America, and 1.4% in Middle East and Africa. The number includes Wi-Fi hotspots deployed by mobile and fixed-line carriers as well as third party operators.

“The mobile data growth has boosted the build-out of Wi-Fi hotspots, as it is expected that the global mobile data traffic will grow to 190,000 petabytes in 2018, from 23,000 petabytes in 2013,” comments Marina Lu, Research Analyst at ABI Research. “Wi-Fi helps to offload 3G/4G mobile Internet users to Wi-Fi networks, which is a more cost-effective method for both mobile carriers and mobile users.” Read more ..


Iran on Edge

Stealthy Unveiled Iranian Muslim Women Snap Photos for Facebook

May 10th 2014

Click to select Image

An unveiled young woman stands in front of a sign that reads: "Sisters, observe your hijab." Another with red hair and dark glasses stands next to the ruins of Persepolis, while two others, also sans hijab, dance happily on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

They are among dozens of Iranian women inside the country who have posted their hijab-less photos on a newly launched Facebook page (here) to share their "stealthy" moments of freedom from the veil.

The administrators of the page, titled "Iranian Women's Freedoms Stealthy," say they do not belong to any political group and that the initiative reflects the concerns of Iranian women who face legal and social restrictions.

The page is the brainchild of exiled Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, who says she's receiving scores of unveiled photos of young and old Iranian women who want to share their brief moments of freedom from the hijab with others Read more ..


The Ancient Edge

New Light Shed on Health in the Dark Ages

May 9th 2014

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A new study suggests that people who survived the medieval mass-killing plague known as the Black Death lived significantly longer and were healthier than people who lived before the epidemic struck in 1347. Caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, the Black Death wiped out 30 percent of Europeans and nearly half of Londoners during its initial four-year wave from 1347 – 1351.

Released in the journal PLOS ONE, the study by anthropologist Sharon DeWitte, of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of South Carolina, provides the first look at how the plague, called bubonic plague today, shaped population demographics and health for generations. The findings have important implications for understanding emerging diseases and how they impact the health of individuals and populations of people. "Knowing how strongly diseases can actually shape human biology can give us tools to work with in the future to understand disease and how it might affect us," DeWitte says. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Links between Nature and Child Spirituality Revealed

May 8th 2014

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Children who spend significant time outdoors could have a stronger sense of self-fulfillment and purpose than those who don’t, according to new Michigan State University research linking children’s experiences in nature with how they define spirituality.

In the study, published recently in the Journal of the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, children who played outside five to 10 hours per week said they felt a spiritual connection with the earth, and felt their role is to protect it.

“These values are incredibly important to human development and well-being,” said Gretel Van Wieren, assistant professor of religious studies. “We were surprised by the results. Before we did the study, we asked, ‘Is it just a myth that children have this deep connection with nature?’ But we found it to be true in pretty profound ways.”

For example, the children in her study expressed feelings of peacefulness and some believed that a higher power had created the natural world around them. They also reported feeling awestruck and humbled by nature’s power, such as storms, while also feeling happy and a sense of belonging in the world.
Read more ..


The Business Edge

Student Entrepreneurs Learn How to Avoid Start-Up Business Disasters

May 6th 2014

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Zach Hwang knows first-hand how hot it can get riding motorcycles under a summer sun—try it wearing a helmet and a leather jacket. The 24-year-old from New Jersey wanted to do something about it. After earning his bachelor's in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, he enrolled in the Master of Entrepreneurship program to develop FrostGear. The company is developing active cooling systems in helmets to prevent heat exhaustion and stroke.

The program, in its second year and offered jointly between U-M's Ross School of Business and College of Engineering, helped Hwang lay a strong foundation as he launches the startup with two other students. Read more ..


America on Edge

Victims of Bullying Carry Weapons to School with Increasing Frequency

May 5th 2014

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An estimated 200,000 high school students who are bullied bring weapons to school, according to research that was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on May 4.

Researchers also found that youths who have been victimized in multiple ways are up to 31 times more likely to carry a weapon to school than those who have not been bullied.

"Victims of bullying who have been threatened, engaged in a fight, injured, or had property stolen or damaged are much more likely to carry a gun or knife to school," said senior investigator Andrew Adesman, MD, FAAP, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.

Dr. Adesman and principal investigator Lana Schapiro, MD, FAAP, analyzed data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. The system includes a nationally representative survey of more than 15,000 U.S. high school students conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Students were asked if they had ever been bullied on school property in the past year and on how many days in the past month they carried a weapon on school grounds. Read more ..


The Edge of Health

Ebola Victims Face Stigma in West Africa

May 4th 2014

West Africa Domestic Violence

As medical experts work to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, survivors and their families say they are being stigmatized.  While some people are welcomed back into their communities after they recover, many are shunned due to fear of contagion.  Health workers say education is key.

Family and friends gathered in Lofa County, Liberia, last week to welcome home 48-year-old Joseph Taylor, who was falsely suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus.  Taylor’s wife died earlier this month after contracting the disease from her sister.

“People wanted to stone me, but I said I will fight this and I will make it.  So today, I am happy that I am among you again.  You can be around me.  You are my friends.  I forgive everybody,” said Taylor.

Liberia’s Ministry of Health presented Taylor and his family with a medical certificate at a community ceremony, confirming that he is Ebola-free so he will not be shunned by the community.

There have been at least 34 suspected cases of Ebola in Liberia.  More than 135 people have died in neighboring Guinea, where the virus first broke out in February.

Liberia’s chief medical officer, Dr. Bernice Dahn, said discrimination of Ebola survivors has been a serious challenge. “What happened to him [Mr. Taylor] has happened to many others, in other communities.  Today we can know, we can all know, that people who come in contact with infected people can actually be safe.  They can live in the community again and go about their normal duty,” she said. Read more ..



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