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Tag Archive: University of California


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NBC NEWS
News
Dec 14 2015, 4:51 pm ET

Algae Causing Sea Lion Brain Damage in California, Study Shows

Image: ENVIRONMENT-US-RESEARCH-BIOLOGY-NATURE-ANIMAL-FILES

In this September 11, 2013 file photo, a sea lion scratches himself on Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, California. DON EMMERT / AFP – Getty Images

WASHINGTON — A toxin produced by marine algae is inflicting brain damage on sea lions along California’s coast, causing neurological and behavioral changes that can impair their ability to navigate in the sea and survive in the wild, scientists said on Monday.

Brain scans on 30 California sea lions detected damage in the hippocampus, a brain structure associated with memory and spatial navigation, in animals naturally exposed to the toxin known as domoic acid, the researchers said.

Domoic acid mimics glutamate, a chemical that transmits nerve impulses in the brain, and leads to over-activation of hippocampus nerve cells and chronic epilepsy, according to Emory University cognitive psychologist Peter Cook, who worked on the study while at the University of California-Santa Cruz.

“The behavioral deficits accompanying brain damage with domoic acid are severe, and may negatively impact foraging and navigation in sea lions, driving strandings and mortality,” Cook said.

Hundreds of sea lions annually are found stranded on California beaches with signs of domoic acid poisoning such as disorientation and seizures. Thousands are thought to be exposed to the toxin.

 

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UC Davis Home Page

September 24, 2015

 

Man holding a big fish to the camera in a fish market with baskets of fish in the background

UC Davis researchers found plastic and fibrous debris in 25 percent of the fish sold in Indonesian and California markets. (Dale Trockel/photo)

Roughly a quarter of the fish sampled from fish markets in California and Indonesia contained human-made debris — plastic or fibrous material — in their guts, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and Hasanuddin University in Indonesia.

The study, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, is one of the first to directly link plastic and human-made debris to the fish on consumers’ dinner plates.

“It’s interesting that there isn’t a big difference in the amount of debris in the fish from each location, but in the type — plastic or fiber,” said lead author Chelsea Rochman, a David H. Smith postdoctoral fellow in the Aquatic Health Program at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “We think the type of debris in the fish is driven by differences in local waste management.”

‘Waiter, there’s some plastic in my fish’

The researchers sampled 76 fish from markets in Makassar, Indonesia, and 64 from Half Moon Bay and Princeton in California. All of the fragments recovered from fish in Indonesia were plastic. In contrast, 80 percent of the debris found in California fish was fibers, whereas not a single strand of fiber was found in Indonesian fish.

 

 

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democracynow democracynow

Published on Feb 21, 2014

http://www.democracynow.org – We speak with a University of California scientist Tyrone Hayes, who discovered a widely used herbicide may have harmful effects on the endocrine system. But when he tried to publish the results, the chemical’s manufacturer launched a campaign to discredit his work. Hayes was first hired in 1997 by a company, which later became agribusiness giant Syngenta, to study their product, Atrazine, a pesticide that is applied to more than half the corn crops in the United States, and widely used on golf courses and Christmas tree farms. When Hayes found results Syngenta did not expect — that Atrazine causes sexual abnormalities in frogs, and could cause the same problems for humans — it refused to allow him to publish his findings. A new article in The New Yorker magazine uses court documents from a class-action lawsuit against Syngenta to show how it sought to smear Hayes’ reputation and prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from banning the profitable chemical, which is already banned by the European Union.

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First Posted: Oct 29, 2013 10:56 AM EDT
Ocean

It turns out that it doesn’t take much to turn our planet’s ocean waters into something that’s toxic to life. Scientists have taken a closer look at a massive extinction event that occurred 93.9 million years ago and have found that it didn’t take as much sulfide as previously thought in the ocean waters to cause this major climatic perturbation. (Photo : Flickr.com/Jim Epter)

It turns out that it doesn’t take much to turn our planet’s ocean waters into something that’s toxic to life. Scientists have taken a closer look at a massive extinction event that occurred 93.9 million years ago and have found that it didn’t take as much sulfide as previously thought in the ocean waters to cause this major climatic perturbation.

In order to examine this particular extinction, the scientists examined the chemistry of rocks deposited during that time period. This revealed that oxygen-free and hydrogen sulfide-rich waters extended across roughly five percent of the global ocean. That’s far more than today modern ocean’s at .1 percent, but far less than previously thought.

“These conditions must have impacted nutrient availability in the ocean and ultimately the spatial and temporal distribution of marine life,” said Jeremy Owens, one of the researchers, in a news release. “Under low-oxygen environments, many biologically important metals and other nutrients are removed from seawater and deposited in the sediments on the seafloor, making them less available for life to flourish.”

 

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The Daily Galaxy

EcoAlert –Toxic Hydrogen Sulfide-Rich Oceans Led to Major Extinction 93.9 Million Years Ago

 

Deadsea1_2

“Today, we are facing rising carbon dioxide contents in the atmosphere through human activities, and the amount of oxygen in the ocean may drop correspondingly in the face of rising seawater temperatures,” said said Timothy W. Lyons, a professor of biogeochemistry at University of California (Riverside). “Oxygen is less soluble in warmer water, and there are already suggestions of such decreases. In the face of these concerns, our findings from the warm, oxygen-poor ancient ocean may be a warning shot about yet another possible perturbation to marine ecology in the future.”

Oxygen in the atmosphere and ocean rose dramatically about 600 million years ago, coinciding with the first proliferation of animal life. Since then, numerous short-lived biotic events — typically marked by significant climatic perturbations — took place when oxygen concentrations in the ocean dipped episodically.

The most studied and extensive of these events occurred 93.9 million years ago. By looking at the chemistry of rocks deposited during that time period, specifically coupled carbon and sulfur isotope data, a research team led by UCR biogeochemists reports that oxygen-free and hydrogen sulfide-rich waters extended across roughly five percent of the global ocean during this major climatic perturbation — far more than the modern ocean’s 0.1 percent but much less than previous estimates for this event.

The research suggests that previous estimates of oxygen-free and hydrogen sulfide-rich conditions, or “euxinia,” were too high. Nevertheless, the limited and localized euxinia were still sufficiently widespread to have dramatic effect on the entire ocean’s chemistry and thus biological activity.

 

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The New York Times

 

Luke Sharrett/The New York Times

Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Department secretary, with President Obama in 2010.

 

 

 

WASHINGTON — Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, announced Friday that she was stepping down, setting off a search to fill one of the most challenging positions in government at a time when the Obama administration is struggling to get a team in place for the president’s second term.

 

A Sweeping Portfolio

As secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano oversees a department with an array of high-profile responsibilities.

 

 

Multimedia

 

 

 

Ms. Napolitano, a former Arizona governor who for four and a half years shaped the administration’s response to hurricanes, terrorist attacks, illegal immigration and a catastrophic oil spill, will leave in September to become president of the University of California system. Ms. Napolitano had her eye on becoming the next attorney general, but now is taking herself out of the Washington arena.

Her departure deprives the administration of one of its most prominent voices on immigration even as it is in the throes of pushing Congress for an overhaul that would provide a pathway to citizenship for most of the 11 million foreigners who are here illegally. Ms. Napolitano said she decided to leave only after concluding that her absence would not affect chances for the immigration legislation, a person close to her said, but confirmation of a successor could become wrapped up in the larger immigration debate.

Her move west creates an opening that could be hard for President Obama to fill. The secretary of homeland security presides over a sprawling department that was created after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by combining nearly two dozen agencies as varied as the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Aides said the president had made no decision about who would take her place, but jockeying began instantly. Some lawmakers even began campaigning for preferred candidates.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, called Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, to recommend Raymond W. Kelly, the New York police commissioner, a choice also promoted by Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York. Senator Thomas R. Carper, Democrat of Delaware, chairman of the homeland security committee, made a case for Jane Holl Lute, the department’s former deputy secretary.

Other names mentioned as possible candidates included FEMA’s administrator, W. Craig Fugate; John S. Pistole, the T.S.A. administrator; William J. Bratton, who has headed the Police Departments in New York, Los Angeles and Boston; Adm. Thad W. Allen, a former Coast Guard commandant; and Jane Harman, a former Democratic congresswoman from California.

Ms. Napolitano, 55, a New York native, is one of Mr. Obama’s favorite cabinet secretaries, and was one of his finalists for the Supreme Court. After Mr. Obama’s re-election, when Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. considered stepping down, her associates said she was interested in succeeding him. But Mr. Holder stayed and has not said when he might leave.

The homeland security job put Ms. Napolitano in the middle of volatile issues ranging from the Boston Marathon bombings to Hurricane Sandy and the BP oil spill. She presided over the extensive deportation of illegal immigrants while enacting a policy intended to allow some to stay if they were brought here as children.

Republicans were often critical, saying she selectively enforced the law.

“Secretary Napolitano’s tenure at the Department of Homeland Security was defined by a consistent disrespect for the rule of law,” Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, said Friday. He added that her successor “must disavow these aggressive nonenforcement directives, or there is very little hope for successful immigration reform.”

 

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Testing is already under way in China <i>(Image: Han Suyuan/Color China Photo/APt)</i>

Testing is already under way in China (Image: Han Suyuan/Color China Photo/APt)

New Scientist

THE US government has declared that H7N9 bird flu “poses a significant potential for a public health emergency”, and has given “emergency use authorisation” for diagnostic kits for the virus. This means tests can be used that haven’t gone through the usual lengthy approval process by the US Food and Drug Administration.

They are right to be concerned. H7N9 could be a tough adversary: New Scientist has learned that it provokes a weaker immune response than most flu, making vaccines hard to produce.

Although H7N9 is not, so far, transmissible between humans, it does cause severe disease in people, is easier to catch than other bird flu strains, and may need only a few mutations to go pandemic. The UK has already given doctors instructions on when to test people for H7N9, and how to manage any with the virus.

The US’s emergency authorisation will allow the use of a kit that looks for flu genes using a polymerase chain reaction test, which has been made specific for H7N9. The kit has had preliminary tests but would normally need more exhaustive tests to be approved. Innovative new diagnostics should eventually be authorised too, says Charles Chiu of the University of California in San Francisco.

This kind of fast, high-throughput screening for pandemic flu, possibly at borders, might allow early cases to be treated with antiviral drugs, potentially slowing the spread of the virus while vaccines are made.

The next emergency authorisation is likely to be for immune-stimulating chemicals called adjuvants to put in those vaccines. These were used in vaccines in Europe and Canada during the 2009 pandemic, but adjuvants suitable for flu are not currently approved in the US.

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CDC: Current China Bird Flu Strain Can’t Cause Pandemic

Pedestrians wearing medical masks walk on the street outside National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, April 26, 2013. A 53-year-old Taiwan businessman contracted the H7N9 strain of bird flu while travelling in China, the first reported case outside of mainland China.

Pedestrians wearing medical masks walk on the street outside National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, April 26, 2013. A 53-year-old Taiwan businessman contracted the H7N9 strain of bird flu while travelling in China, the first reported case outside of mainland China.

 Reuters

May 06, 2013

NEW YORK — The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the current strain of bird flu that is causing illness and deaths in China cannot spark a pandemic in its current form – but he added that there is no guarantee it will not mutate and cause a serious pandemic.

In an exclusive interview at the Reuters Health Summit in New York, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said more than 2,000 people have been in contact with infected individuals, and only a handful have become ill.

Virtually all of the rest have had direct contact with poultry, the identified cause of the virus.

FILE - Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, is shown at the agency's headquarters, Sept. 3, 2009.
FILE – Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, is shown at the agency’s headquarters, Sept. 3, 2009.

“This particular virus is not going to cause a pandemic because it doesn’t spread person-to-person,” Frieden said. “But all it takes is a bit of mutation for it be able to go person-to-person.  I cannot say with certainty whether that will happen tomorrow, within 10 years or never.”

The new strain of bird flu known as H7N9, which began infecting people in February, has so far sickened at least 127 people and killed 27. According to the latest CDC estimates, the flu kills about 20 percent of the people it infects.

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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Type 1 Diabetes

 

ScienceDaily

 

A study led by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has found a correlation between vitamin D3 serum levels and subsequent incidence of Type 1 diabetes. The six-year study of blood levels of nearly 2,000 individuals suggests a preventive role for vitamin D3 in this disease. The research appears the December issue of Diabetologia, a publication of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD).

 

“Previous studies proposed the existence of an association between vitamin D deficiency and risk of and Type 1 diabetes, but this is the first time that the theory has been tested in a way that provides the dose-response relationship,” said Cedric Garland, DrPH, FACE, professor in UCSD’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

This study used samples from millions of blood serum specimens frozen by the Department of Defense Serum Registry for disease surveillance. The researchers thawed and analyzed 1000 samples of serum from healthy people who later developed type 1 diabetes and 1000 healthy controls whose blood was drawn on or near the same date but who did not develop type 1 diabetes. By comparing the serum concentrations of the predominant circulating form of vitamin D — 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) — investigators were able to determine the optimal serum level needed to lower an individual’s risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Based mainly on results of this study, Garland estimates that the level of 25(OH)D needed to prevent half the cases of type 1 diabetes is 50 ng/ml. A consensus of all available data indicates no known risk associated with this dosage.

“While there are a few conditions that influence vitamin D metabolism, for most people, 4000 IU per day of vitamin D3 will be needed to achieve the effective levels,” Garland suggested. He urges interested patients to ask their health care provider to measure their serum 25(OH)D before increasing vitamin D3 intake.

“This beneficial effect is present at these intakes only for vitamin D3,” cautioned Garland. “Reliance should not be placed on different forms of vitamin D and mega doses should be avoided, as most of the benefits for prevention of disease are for doses less than 10,000 IU/day.”

Garland’s co-authors from UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Naval Health Research Center include Edward Gorham, PhD; Sharif Mohr, PhD; and Heather Hofflich, DO; Alina Burgi and Kenneth Zeng of the Naval Health Research Center, and Camillo Ricordi MD, of the University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute.

The study was supported by a Congressional allocation to the Diabetes Research Institute of the University of Miami through the Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, California.

 

 

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of California, San Diego Health Sciences.

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


Journal Reference:

  1. E. D. Gorham, C. F. Garland, A. A. Burgi, S. B. Mohr, K. Zeng, H. Hofflich, J. J. Kim, C. Ricordi. Lower prediagnostic serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration is associated with higher risk of insulin-requiring diabetes: a nested case–control study. Diabetologia, 2012; 55 (12): 3224 DOI: 10.1007/s00125-012-2709-8

Crossroads News : Changes In The World Around Us And Our Place In It

Activism : Human Rights – Freedom – Excessive Use Of Force – Police Brutality

UC Davis Protestors Pepper Sprayed

$1 million settlement: Pepper-sprayed students, alumni pleased

UC Davis students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed by campus police during a protest 10 months ago were pleased with the nearly $1-million settlement the university system has agreed to pay.

Each of the 21 students and alumni will receive $30,000, the University of California announced Wednesday.

The agreement, which must still be approved in federal court, also calls for UC to pay a total of $250,000 to the plaintiffs’ attorneys and set aside a maximum of $100,000 to pay up to $20,000 to any other individuals who join the class-action lawsuit by proving they were either arrested or directly pepper-sprayed, a university statement said.

PHOTOS: UC Davis pepper spray incident

The settlement also calls for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to write a formal apology to each of the students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed or arrested.

Fatima Sbeih, a plaintiff in the lawsuit who was pepper-sprayed, said in a statement the incident created a divide between students and campus police.

“Since Nov. 18, students have been afraid of the police. The university still needs to work to rebuild students’ trust and this settlement is a step in the right direction,” said Sbeih, who recently graduated with a degree in international studies.Another protester, Ian Lee, who is entering his sophomore year at the school, said in a statement that he participated in the demonstrations because of the “privatization of the university” and rising tuition costs.“I felt like the university silenced me,” he said in the statement.

A video released online, showing an officer spraying seated students directly in their faces at close range during an Occupy rally, had triggered outrage.

And UC’s own investigations and a shake-up at the UC Davis police force put the university in a weak position to argue against the students’ lawsuit.

The preliminary settlement, which was approved by the UC regents in a closed-door meeting earlier this month, will be paid through the UC’s self-insurance program, which officials said has about $600 million in reserves.

In April, a UC task force headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso found that UC Davis police had violated policy and that campus administrators mishandled the November 2011 campus protest.

In May, a separate draft report about campus responses to civil disobedience across UC urged administrators to use mediation instead of confrontation in most cases, although it said pepper spray might remain a necessary tool of last resort. A final version was released this month with no major policy changes.

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— Stephen Ceasar

Emotiv brain-computer interface

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With a chilling hint of the not-so-distant future, researchers at the Usenix Security conference have demonstrated a zero-day vulnerability in your brain. Using a commercial off-the-shelf brain-computer interface, the researchers have shown that it’s possible to hack your brain, forcing you to reveal information that you’d rather keep secret.

As we’ve covered in the past, a brain-computer interface is a two-part device: There’s the hardware — which is usually a headset (an EEG; an electroencephalograph) with sensors that rest on your scalp — and software, which processes your brain activity and tries to work out what you’re trying to do (turn left, double click, open box, etc.) BCIs are generally used in a medical setting with very expensive equipment, but in the last few years cheaper, commercial offerings have emerged. For $200-300, you can buy an Emotiv (pictured above) or Neurosky BCI, go through a short training process, and begin mind controlling your computer.

Brain hacking accuracy

Both of these commercial BCIs have an API — an interface that allows developers to use the BCI’s output in their own programs. In this case, the security researchers — from the Universities of Oxford and Geneva, and the University of California, Berkeley — created a custom program that was specially designed with the sole purpose of finding out sensitive data, such as the location of your home, your debit card PIN, which bank you use, and your date of birth. The researchers tried out their program on 28 participants (who were cooperative and didn’t know that they were being brain-hacked), and in general the experiments had a 10 to 40% chance of success of obtaining useful information (pictured above).

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DARPA's CT2WS threat detection system

After more than four years of research, DARPA has created a system that successfully combines soldiers, EEG brainwave scanners, 120-megapixel cameras, and multiple computers running cognitive visual processing algorithms into a cybernetic hivemind. Called the Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CT2WS), it will be used in a combat setting to significantly improve the US Army’s threat detection capabilities.

There are two discrete parts to the system: The 120-megapixel camera, which is tripod-mounted and looks over the battlefield (pictured below); and the computer system, where a soldier sits in front of a computer monitor with an EEG strapped to his head (pictured above). Images from the camera are fed into the computer system, which runs cognitive visual processing algorithms to detect possible threats (enemy combatants, sniper nests, IEDs). These possible threats are then shown to a soldier whose brain then works out if they’re real threats — or a false alarm (a tree branch, a shadow thrown by an overheard bird).

DARPA's CT2WS 120-megapixel camera

The soldier is linked into the computer system via an EEG (electroencephalogram) brain-computer interface that continually scans his brains for P300 responses. As we’ve discussed previously (see: Hackers backdoor the human brain), a P300 response is triggered when your brain recognizes something important. This might be a face of someone you know or the glint of a sniper scope — it doesn’t matter. P300 responses are very reliable and can even be triggered subconsciously.

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Crossroads News : Changes In The World Around Us And Our Place In It

Activism – Fundamental Rights :  Government –  Legislation – Retaliation

Prosecutors decide against charges for police officers who pepper-sprayed UC Davis protesters

  • Article by: Associated Press

DAVIS, Calif. – The University of California, Davis police officers who doused students and alumni with pepper spray during a campus protest last November won’t face criminal charges, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The chemical crackdown prompted widespread condemnation, campus protests and calls for the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi after videos shot by witnesses were widely played online. Images of an officer casually spraying orange pepper-spray in the faces of nonviolent protesters became a rallying point for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

But the Yolo County District Attorney’s office said in a statement that there was insufficient evidence to prove the use of force was illegal.

A task force appointed by the university concluded in April that the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying was “objectively unreasonable” and could have been prevented.

In reaching their conclusion, prosecutors said they relied on facts included in the task force’s report. Among them was the finding that the officers perceived they were dealing with a hostile mob and needed to spray the protesters to clear a path to safety.

John Pike, the police lieutenant who was shown in the videos pepper-spraying the protesters, told The Sacramento Bee (http://bit.ly/PrqZ1V0) he was relieved by the DA’s decision.

Pike was fired on July 31 by the campus police chief who took over the university’s police department after the chief who was in charge last fall stepped down.

The University of California’s governing board last week reached a proposed settlement with 21 current and former students who sued after being hit with pepper spray. The terms of the settlement have not been publicly released because a federal judge still needs to approve the deal.