The coral connection

first_imgBy Cat HolmesUniversity of GeorgiaHow extensive is fecal contamination of water surrounding the Florida Keys and how harmful is it to humans and the environment? These are questions troubling both University of Georgia scientists and residents of the string of more than 1,800 tropical islands arcing off the southern tip of Florida.With few large, modern sewage-treatment plants in the area, most human waste is processed by small-scale waste water treatment plants, or more commonly flushed into thousands ofseptic tanks and cesspits ( holes in the ground covered with concrete slabs).Some homes, like most of the thousands of houseboats docked in the Keys, simply have waste pipes leading directly from toilets to the ocean. Older sewer lines also are known to leak untreated sewage into the groundwater.Microbiologist Erin Lipp is looking to the coral reefs surrounding the islands for some answers.“The [septic] fields are so porous that even the legal systems are not functioning,” said Lipp, who works with the University of Georgia Department of Environmental Health Science. A 42 percent increase in the population each spring, when tourist season arrives, adds even more strain to the islands’ inadequate waste treatment systems.Resulting human fecal contamination near shore is well-documented, Lipp said. “About 95 percent of the canals tested in the Keys tested positive for human viral pathogens like polio, hepatitis A and Norwalk.”How much wastewater is reaching the region’s coral reefs further offshore, and to what extent it may be affecting them and offshore water quality are big unknowns. UGA ecologist Jim Porter has found the reefs have been decimated. He has documented a 38 percent decline in living coral coverage in the Keys over the last seven years.Scientists suspect that there’s a connection between the contamination and the reef reduction, but offshore water testing hasn’t indicated the amount of human contamination that scientists suspect might be present, Lipp said.“In a recent study, 13 out of 15 coral heads had the RNA of viruses on them but only one water sample indicated fecal contamination,” said Lipp. “In fact, offshore water testing has hardly detected any fecal indicators.”Lipp thinks the corals themselves may hold the answer – that bacteria and viruses from human waste may be collecting on the reefs rather than floating around in the ocean.“These bacteria and viruses prefer sediment or surface,” Lipp said. “They will colonize before they’ll simply float around.”Furthermore, coral is a particularly hospitable environment for microbes. “Corals produce a mucus in response to stress,” she said. “It’s very sticky and a highly nutritional environment for bacteria.”If human viruses and bacteria are collecting on coral as Lipp suspects, then the reefs would be a more accurate indicator of human fecal bacteria and pathogenic viruses offshore than water sampling.Scientists have discovered bacteria indigenous to the ocean on the surfaces of corals that are two orders of magnitude higher than a few years ago, Lipp said She, along with co-investigators Dale Griffin of the U.S. Geological Survey in Florida and Joan Rose of Michigan State University will look specifically for human viruses and bacteria on the coral.“Coral may be a more efficient and effective bio-indicator versus sampling hundreds of liters of water,” Lipp said.With more accurate indications of human pathogens in near and offshore waters, scientists could create more accurate models to assess the risk of human waste to humans and the environment.In a separate study, Lipp is investigating the origins of white pox, a coral disease that has destroyed a large part of the population of elkhorn coral in the Keys. White pox is caused by a bacterium that is also a human pathogen – it’s a common source of hospital infections – which suggests there may be a link between it and human activities.Lipp, along with UGA researchers Kathryn Patterson Sutherland and Jim Porter, will use DNA fingerprinting to examine strains of this bacterium to determine the source.Cat Holmes is a news editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.last_img read more

6 things you need to know about your W-2

first_imgIf you’ve ever been somebody’s employee, you’ve probably noticed that every January or February, you receive a form with a lot of little boxes on it in the mail. It’s not a bill — it’s a W-2, and every employer that paid you at least $600 during the year has to send you one.The W-2 form, formally called the “Wage and Tax Statement,” details your compensation from an employer. Don’t confuse it with your W-4 — that’s the form you use to tell your employer how much tax to withhold from your paycheck every pay period. And notice the key word here: employer. Freelancers or contract workers get 1099s from their clients, not W-2s.The W-2 form is really important. For most people, the information on it determines whether they’re getting a refund or writing a check in April. Here are six things you need to know about how to handle it. continue reading » 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Team Trump wanted a James Baker to head their legal push. They got Rudy Giuliani instead

first_img– Advertisement – “For one thing, our whole argument was that the votes have been counted and they’ve been counted and they’ve been counted and it’s time to end the process. That’s not exactly the message that I heard on election night. And so I think it’s pretty hard to be against counting the votes,” Baker told The New York Times.“We never said don’t count the votes,” Mr. Baker added, calling it an indefensible position in a democracy.- Advertisement – Meanwhile, Trump’s twitter feed includes a steady refrain of “STOP THE COUNT!” Another aspect that makes this wildly different from 2000 is the fact that Trump would have to prevail in multiple lawsuits instead of just one. So even if he were to prevail in Pennsylvania, for example, and stop the count there, he would also have to deploy some pretty fancy legal jiu-jitsu to turn back the counts in Michigan and Wisconsin while also winning other cases he dreams up in Georgia and Nevada. Instead, so far, all we’ve seen is a lot of posturing by subpar legal talents, blindfolded and wildly swatting at a hollowed-out piñata. – Advertisement –last_img read more

Flu viruses can evolve in unsuspected ways, study says

first_img The conventional understanding of flu virus evolution in nonpandemic (interpandemic) periods describes it as a series of minor mutational changes in the dominant strain, mostly involving HA, the article says. In the process known as antigenic drift, the changes help the virus persist—and necessitate the creation of a new vaccine each year. But the new findings suggest that the conventional model is incomplete. Researchers report that three different groups, or clades, of influenza A/H3N2 viruses have circulated at the same time for the past several years. In 2002, two of the groups acquired a gene from the third. This “reassortment,” the authors say, probably gave rise to the Fujian strain of flu, which predominated during the 2003-04 flu season and was not included in the vaccine for that year. The gene trees for the viral genes all differed in ways that fit their respective clades, except for the gene for hemagglutinin (HA), the surface protein that enables the virus to attach to host cells. The HA gene tree grouped all the clade A viruses that emerged after 2002 together with the clade B and C viruses from the same period. Holmes EC, Ghedin E, Miller N, et al. Whole-genome analysis of human influenza A virus reveals multiple persistent lineages and reassortment among recent H3N2 viruses. PloS Biol 2005 Jul 26 (early online publication) [Full text] Jul 26, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – A large-scale study of genetic data on influenza shows that viruses of the same strain or serotype have more genetic differences than previously suspected and can exchange genetic material in ways that make them more infectious. The authors did an initial analysis of genetic sequence data collected under the National Institutes of Health’s Influenza Genome Sequencing Project. The analysis dealt with the genomes of 156 human H3N2 viruses collected in New York state from 1999 to 2004. Also included in the study were partial sequence data from other flu virus studies. The researchers grouped the isolates according to sequence similarities. They also traced gene trees (phylogenetic trees) for each of the virus’s eight genes, depicting the inferred relationships among them. They found that most of the genomes fell into one group, called clade A, but a few fell into two other groups, clades B and C. “These data, derived from the first large-scale study of H3N2 viruses, convincingly demonstrate that multiple lineages can co-circulate, persist, and reassort in epidemiologically significant ways, and underscore the importance of genomic analyses for future influenza surveillance,” says the report, published by the Public Library of Science Biology (PloS Biology). The authors further determined that the Fujian strain of H3N2 shared certain key amino-acid changes with the clade A reassortant strains and the clade B viruses from 2003-04. They concluded that the reassortment in which clades A and C acquired the HA gene from clade B was “central” to the rise of the Fujian strain and the resulting reduction of vaccine effectiveness in 2003-04. “These results indicate that different viral strains had circulated in the same populations until 2002 and then the clade A and C viruses acquired a common HA gene from clade B through reassortment,” says an article summary published in the same journal. The phylogenetic analysis also indicated that two other reassortment events involving two other genes occurred. The study was authored by Edward C. Holmes of Pennsylvania State University and colleagues from the Institute for Genomic Research, the New York State Department of Health, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. “We found that at least four reassortment events occurred among human viruses during 1999-2004 and that two of these involved a major change in HA,” the authors write. Citing another recent study that also provided evidence of the clade A-B reassortment, they add, “To our knowledge, these analyses are the first demonstrations of the emergence of a major antigenically variant virus derived by reassortment between two distinct clades of co-circulating H3N2 viruses rather than by antigenic drift.” They conclude that the finding has “major significance” for the task of selecting which flu strains to use in each year’s vaccine.last_img read more

Croatian investophobia

first_imgEvery now and then in our media we can read an article by one of our respected journalists, in which they attack an announced investment, which, according to their respected opinion, will destroy everything and anything.The term “protection against devastation” is regularly used as a mechanism of resistance to investment. I am somehow sensitive to this topic, especially when this protection applies to the islands, because I belong to a group of refugees from these Adriatic pearls of ours, who had to continue their lives elsewhere, regardless of the fact that they could and should have all the prerequisites to stay. In addition to the great heritage that the islanders have, many cannot afford to stay and survive, but are forced to leaveDevastation in our country, and especially on the islands, was mostly done on the population. The population is devastated. And that in a long process. Of course, the cause of the devastation of the population was the inability of that population to survive and to provide basic living conditions.More precisely, they were not allowed to do so.Because conditions need to be created. You need to invest. This has unfortunately not been done for decades. NOTHING is invested.Not only is there no investment, but the local population, which has great wealth in the form of land, is not allowed to use that wealth. Because that country is not construction land. It is not included in the plan. Not in the zone. And it’s worth nothing. She devalued herself. Someone didn’t let it become valuable. Or he just didn’t do anything. The result is mostly the same.So in addition to all that land, people like refugees decide to leave. They leave the pearls of the Adriatic, our islands, and the land and houses remain empty.And there are no journalists who would criticize this inaction of institutions, all so far in the last 100 years. There are no protectors and pastors who would go to those islands and be a little with these people. There are no ones to describe how these people live. Especially how they live in winter. How do they overwinter?But when someone tries to invest something on those islands, they jump. Here they are. They write great articles to protect the islands. Prevented devastation. Preserved for future generations.And I wonder for whom?For whom do we protect our grandfather?For those who will come when we are gone?For those who will buy our worthless grandfather for a kuna.For them?Instead of planning and enabling the local population to use their resources, according to all environmental laws and regulations and everything else, to be able to build and operate or sell only a piece of heritage, but at some decent price, the population is forced to sell their grandparents for nothing. And then that worthless heritage in someone else’s hands, through repurpositions and alterations, becomes valuable, and in many ways.Instead of doing everything in a planned way in advance to ensure the conditions under which investors could invest without any and all phobia of devastation, investors must dig up opportunities themselves. And when they finally dig them up, they come across “the protectors of our heritage”.They come across those who were silent when that heritage of ours was devalued and are still silent as it decays before our eyes.Those who are likely to shut up and give up protection if investors just push them a little into a shallow and cheap hypocritical pocket.Author: Miki Bratanić* The views and recommendations expressed in the author’s columns, advice and comments are exclusively the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of the portal,* The views and recommendations expressed in the author’s columns, advice and comments are exclusively the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of the portallast_img read more

UNWTO provided free access to its e-library

first_imgMore attached. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) was guided by the same thinking and provided free access to its e-bookstore for additional education. The UNWTO e-bookstore has hundreds of miscellaneous tourism publications, including ecotourism and sustainable development, tourism statistics, market research, innovation and new technologies and tourism policy, etc.… Also, before the emergency situation around the coronavirus pandemic, I had the honor of being a guest on Roman Bolković’s show 1 on 1. Take a look and feel free to come up with a common loud thinking, yet two heads are smarter than one. Cover photo: Janko Ferlic,, Illustration: We can use the current situation, which is unfortunately beyond our influence, for additional education. As difficult as the current situation is, we need to look at how to get something positive out of it. Read a book you have long wanted to read, while on the other hand the internet offers us an incredible number of sources for free education in various forms. PS One of my personal recommendations for free education are: Podcast Cruel passions (You can check out my guest appearance in Cruel Passions HERE ), TED or say Coursera. Side dish: UNWTO e-Libary last_img read more

These are the big sellers – where more than one house sells for every day of the year

first_imgSuburbs with a large number of new houses such as North Lakes, where this home at 40 Wallarah Pde, is listed for sale, are popular with buyers. Picture: Paradise chalked up 1589 unit sales – that’s the equivalent of 4.3 units a day – selling in the past 12 months.With a median unit price of $370,000 that means almost 800 of those buyers paid less than that to secure a property.Southport in second spot had a massive 987 unit sales, while Hope Island chalked up 619, Labrador, 578 and Biggera Waters, 511. Buderim, where this home is listed for sale at 1 Mayfair Lane is popular with house buyers. Picture: from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home6 hours agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor6 hours ago GET all the latest real estate news direct to your inbox here The suburb has a median house price of $465,500 and has numerous housing estates under development.Suburbs with a large amount of new housing development proved most popular with buyers, with 463 houses selling at North Lakes, north of Brisbane.The suburb has a median house price of $472,500.Further south Forest Lake chalked up 441 sales and had a median house price of $430,000 followed by Kallangur, to the north again, with 433 sales and a median house price of $367,500.In the unit market it was once again the Gold Coast and in particular Surfers Paradise which by far blitzed any other area. With views like this on offer at Buderim, it’s not hard to see why the suburb is so popular. Picture: term sea change has been around for some time now but buyers don’t seem to be tiring off it, with Buderim leading Queensland for the highest number of house sales in the past year.The Sunshine Coast suburb proved the most popular with house buyers with 571 changing hands during that period.With a median house price of $600,000 that means the suburb catered to a wide variety of buyers with half of the sales during the period for more than that and half for less.The second most popular suburb for house buyers as at Upper Coomera on the Gold Coast, with 518 houses changing hands in the past 12 months.last_img read more

Oil and gas industry heeding (some) investor demands on climate risks

first_imgThe oil and gas industry is responding to demands from investors about their climate change management and disclosure, although investors still have concerns and should step up their engagement, a director of Hermes’ stewardship and engagement arm has said.Tim Goodman, director, Hermes Equity Ownership Services, made the comments in connection with a report on the impact of climate-focused investor engagement with 10 large oil and gas companies in North America and Europe. The report was published by the four investor networks in the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change along with climate research provider CDP.According to those behind the report, investor engagement has had a discernible impact on board and executive decision-making with respect to disclosure and management of climate change risks – but there are still laggards and shortcomings that investors want addressed.One target for investors this proxy season, as it was last year, is ExxonMobil. A shareholder proposal co-filed by The Church Commissioners for England called on the company to carry out and disclose an analysis of how its portfolio would fare in a world where global warming is kept to a maximum of 2°C. Hermes’ Goodman said investors were using the 2017 proxy season to try to have their concerns addressed, but emphasised that they needed to become more ambitious about the direction of their stewardship strategies.“We need to apply significantly more pressure using all the tools available, from private dialogue about portfolio resilience and 2°C transition planning, through to more public comment on our expectations for the oil and gas industry,” he said.Shareholder resolutions requesting more company reporting in line with recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD) could in selected cases strengthen these efforts, he added.Investors should step up engagement with oil and gas companies beyond the North American and European majors, according to Goodman.“We must also acknowledge that the oil and gas industry is responding to demand and we need to ensure that we have similar dialogue with other sectors as well about how they are responding to the recommendations of the TCFD,” he said.Earlier this month, Hermes and Wespath Investment Management withdrew a climate change-related shareholder resolution for Chevron’s 2017 AGM, which will take place on on 31 May, saying that its filing had prompted the company to publish a report on how it is managing climate change risks. Although the report didn’t fully meet the proposal’s requests, Hermes and Wespath said the company should be given time to improve its disclosure.last_img read more

Steve Ferrol appointed new Secretary to the Cabinet

first_img Share LocalNews Steve Ferrol appointed new Secretary to the Cabinet by: – January 27, 2012 Retired Secretary to the Cabinet, Felix Gregoire. Ambassador and former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Steve Ferrol has replaced Mr. Felix Gregoire as the Secretary to the Cabinet.A press release from the Office of the Prime Minister indicated that Ambassador Ferrol’s appointment comes following the retirement of Mr. Felix Gregoire.Ambassador Ferrol the release states is a “veteran public servant who holds a Master of Laws degree in International Legal Studies”.The release further states that Mr. Gregoire has given the public service “many years of distinguished service and the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica thanks Mr. Gregoire for his years of dedicated service”.It also congratulates Mr. Ferrol on his new appointment.Dominica Vibes News Share Tweetcenter_img Sharing is caring! 336 Views   3 comments Sharelast_img read more

State police offer tips to avoid skimmers

first_imgBatesville, In. — Police have disrupted two extensive credit card skimming operations in central Indiana in the last two weeks.In Columbus, skimming devices found on an ATM led police to three suspects that had several stolen credit cards, cameras and skimming equipment. In Martin County police skimming equipment at a gas station in Loogootee.Here are some important tips to follow to keep from becoming a victim of credit card fraud:– Monitor your online banking and credit card accounts on a daily basis.  If you see a charge that you are not familiar with or did not authorize, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.– Protect your card, card numbers, and pin numbers (when you must enter them into a keypad) as if someone is watching over your shoulder.  Cover the keypad as you enter those important numbers.– Before using a card reader at a gas pump, for example, touch the opening of the card reader and try to wiggle it to see if it is temporarily placed in the machine.  ATMs and card readers are built solidly and should not have loose parts.– Aside from focusing directly on the credit card reader, check the machine or display as a whole.  Does it look like it was cracked or forced open?  Do decals appear to have been broken or misaligned?  Do labels or stickers not appear straight or look to be tampered with?  If so, report the machine to employees and use a different unit.– If you suspect that you have found a skimming device, take it into the location that the device was placed and notify employees.  Even though the place of business will likely call law enforcement, please feel free to report the incident yourself, as we want to make absolutely sure that it is reported.The Indiana State Police say it is safe to use credit or bank cards, but ask that you remain vigilant in an effort to protect your accounts and your finances.last_img read more