A reservoir of briny liquid buried deep beneath an Antarctic glacier supports hardy microbes that have lived in isolation for millions of years, researchers report this week in the journal Science.The discovery of life in a place where cold, darkness, and lack of oxygen would previously have led scientists to believe nothing could survive comes from a team led by researchers at Harvard University and Dartmouth College. Their work was funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and Harvard’s Microbial Sciences Initiative.Despite their profound isolation, the microbes are remarkably similar to species found in modern marine environments, suggesting that the organisms now under the glacier are the remnants of a larger population that once occupied an open fjord or sea.“It’s a bit like finding a forest that nobody has seen for 1.5 million years,” says Ann Pearson, Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). “Intriguingly, the species living there are similar to contemporary organisms, and yet quite different — a result, no doubt, of having lived in such an inhospitable environment for so long.”“This briny pond is a unique sort of time capsule from a period in Earth’s history,” says lead author Jill Mikucki, now a research associate in the Department of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth and visiting fellow at Dartmouth’s Dickey Center for International Understanding and its Institute of Arctic Studies. “I don’t know of any other environment quite like this on Earth.”Chemical analysis of effluent from the inaccessible subglacial pool suggests that its inhabitants have eked out a living by breathing iron leached from bedrock with the help of a sulfur catalyst. Lacking any light to support photosynthesis, the microbes have presumably survived by feeding on the organic matter trapped with them when the massive Taylor Glacier sealed off their habitat an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million years ago.Mikucki, Pearson, and colleagues based their analysis on samples taken at Antarctica’s Blood Falls, a frozen waterfall-like feature at the edge of the Taylor Glacier whose striking red appearance first drew early explorers’ attention in 1911. Those “Heroic Age” adventurers speculated that red algae might have been responsible for the bright color, but scientists later confirmed that the coloration was due to rust, which the new research shows was likely liberated from subglacial bedrock by microorganisms.Because water flows unpredictably from below the glacier at Blood Falls, it took Mikucki a number of years to obtain the samples needed to conduct an analysis. Finally, in the right place at the right time, she was able to capture some of the subglacial brine as it flowed out of a crack in the glacial wall, obtaining a sample of an extremely salty, cold, and clear liquid for analysis.“When I started running the chemical analysis on it, there was no oxygen,” she says. “That was when this got really interesting. It was a real ‘Eureka!’ moment.”The fluid is rich in sulfur, a geochemical signature of marine environments, reinforcing suspicions that the ancestors of the microbes now beneath the Taylor Glacier probably lived in an ocean long ago. When sea level fell more than 1.5 million years ago, the researchers hypothesize, a pool of seawater was likely trapped and eventually capped by the advancing glacier.The exact size of the subglacial pool remains a mystery, but it is thought to rest under 400 meters of ice some 4 kilometers from its tiny outlet at Blood Falls.Mikucki’s analysis showed that the sulfur below the glacier had been uniquely reworked by microbes and provides insight into how these organisms have been able to survive in isolation for so long.The research answers some questions while raising others about the persistence of life in such extreme environments. Life below the Taylor Glacier may help address questions about “Snowball Earth,” the period of geological time when large ice sheets covered Earth’s surface. But it could also be a rich laboratory for studying life in other hostile environments.Mikucki and Pearson’s co-authors are David T. Johnston and Daniel P. Schrag at Harvard, Alexandra V. Turchyn at the University of Cambridge, James Farquhar at the University of Maryland, Ariel D. Anbar at Arizona State University, John C. Priscu at Montana State University, and Peter A. Lee at the College of Charleston.
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In a not so surprising move, the Union Cycliste International (UCI), in conjunction with the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), announced today that disc brakes will be allowed in a limited capacity within the context of professional road racing beginning in August for this year, with plans for continued testing moving into 2016. The goal is to extend the introduction of disc brakes at every level of road cycling, though disc brakes are already allowed within USA Cycling road events with the exception of UCI qualifying or UCI events in the United States. Get the deets after the jump. The decision comes after “numerous consultations with different stakeholders” and testing will consist of professional road teams being able to utilize disc brakes in two race events, in August and September of 2015 and is planned to continue through the 2016 season. If testing is successful throughout the duration of testing, the technology will be allowable for the 2017 UCI WorldTour and, eventually, will be allowable at all levels.Many manufacturers have been developing, or have ready in the wings, elite level disc or disc-compatible road product to introduce to the public in anticipation of such a policy change. However, there remain challenges of neutral and team support wheel and technical infrastructure in the case of mixed brake fields, just as there remain questions of safety of a mixed braking capability field- or of hot rotors cutting through racers’ arteries like a hot knife through butter in a mass crash scenario.The decision isn’t being taken lightly. From Brian Cookson, UCI President: “Although disc brakes have been used for around a decade in mountain biking and for the last two years in cyclo-cross, their introduction to road cycling must be carefully studied in collaboration with all those who are directly concerned. That includes riders, teams and manufacturers. This step is part of the UCI’s desire to encourage innovation in order to ensure cycling is even more attractive for spectators, riders, bike users and broadcasters.”The manufactures represented by Robbert de Kock, Secretary General of the WFSGI, look forward to the opportunity that the new technology represents, stating, “The industry is delighted by this news and also thanks the UCI for the very positive collaboration. This decision will further develop innovation and create new possibilities for the bicycle industry as well as additional performance for the riders. There is still some fine tuning to do on detailed requirements for the procedure, but it is very exciting to finally have reached this decision. The remaining open topics such as neutral race support or the UCI and Teams protocol will be tackled soon.”For the full press release, and for further UCI news, visit the website.UCI.ch
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont,Vermont Business Magazine Business Resource Services (BRS) announced Monday that over 80 percent of businesses covered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont’s (BCBSVT) Blue Edge Business health plans are on track to earn money back on their 2020 premiums.Blue Edge Business health plans officially launched in January 2020, and are available to Vermont businesses with as few as 5 enrolled employees. These plans, available only through BRS, allow businesses to access a health insurance product that provides the potential for a business with good claims experience to share in that success. Reporting data as of October 2020 indicates that the vast majority of businesses may receive refund checks in 2021. “Reducing the burden of health care costs, and sharing the financial reward that comes from supporting a healthy workforce, is truly a win-win for businesses right now,” remarked Mitch Fleischer, President of BRS. “We are pleased to continue our partnership with BRS. During this difficult time, ensuring Vermont businesses can offer a number of health care coverage options to their employees is critical,” says Don George, President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont. “Our Blue Edge Business products are designed to offer a lower cost alternative to traditional insurance while promoting the health and wellness of Vermont employees.”BRS is currently accepting applications from businesses for Blue Edge Business coverage effective January 1, 2021.BRS has been providing business solutions to members for over 30 years. More information about Blue Edge Business health plans can be found at www.brsvt.com/blue-edge-business/(link is external)Source: South Burlington, VT: Business Resource Services 10.19.2020
Related On Friday evening, October 25, 2019, at the pre-race welcome dinner for the XTERRA World Championship, Helena Karaskova Erbenova of the Czech Republic was the 13th inductee into the XTERRA Hall of Fame.For the last nine seasons Karaskova Erbenova dominated the European Tour, collecting 34 wins in 13 countries and an unprecedented five XTERRA European Tour Championships.XTERRA adds that ‘Since her first win at XTERRA France in 2012, she has been a model of excellence and consistency, winning at least three races in eight straight years. On Sunday, she said her brilliant elite racing career has come to an end.’ “It’s the greatest celebration I could have imagined,” she said after the race.Talk about leaving on a high note, Karaskova finished third at the XTERRA World Championship on Sunday, and she was in the top three at all eight races in Europe this year including wins in Denmark, Italy, Germany and Luxembourg.Now Karaskova turns her attention to family, her daughter Maja, and the next generation of XTERRA greats that she will be coaching.www.xterraplanet.com
2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by. Kristen GramignaCustomers say they want convenient payment options, but how do you get them on board with making mobile payments? Make it a value-added benefit that simplifies and improves their retail experience. Here are three the main things customers want from mobile payments, and how to deliver them.Lighten their load. According to a recent Accenture study on mobile payments, customers are far more likely to convert to regular mobile payment use once they’ve made that first transaction. How do you get them to give it a shot? Give them a reason to believe that mobile payment transactions offer a benefit traditional methods of payment cannot. For example, Starbucks, one of the leaders in the mobile payment revolution, has given customers tangible reasons to use the mobile app: It eliminated the need to take anything to the coffee shop except for a smartphone, and provided a better method than traditional swiping. Because the point of sale register (not the user) “scans” the barcode associated with the mobile payer to complete the purchase, a behavior (handing a card or cash to the person behind the register) hasn’t just been replaced — but eliminated. Whether that process is actually faster is unknown, but because Starbucks has provided a value-added convenience with its mobile payment apps, it’s emerged a leader in the technology, and consumer adoption of it.Reward them in a meaningful way. Credit cards have done a great job incentivizing customers to use their products more frequently to pay for everyday purchases by offering rewards for use. Perhaps even more importantly, they’ve made it simple to redeem those rewards for things the customer actually wants, in their preferred format — allowing the choice of a statement credit, a paper check, a gift card or cash deposited to a bank account. Retailers can leverage the appeal of mobile payments by piggybacking on that notion, and giving users the opportunity to earn rewards, track their earning progress and redeem rewards seamlessly, without the need for additional “loyalty program” elements like a keychain card or punch card. Further, the message of the retail rewards value must be communicated overtly to create a perception of advantage: When customers use mobile payments (which may be connected to an existing rewards credit card), for example, they can maximize the earning power of their transactions.Make them feel confident. Consumers have come to expect certain things from the checkout experience: presenting payment at the point of sale, signing a receipt, and at the end of the transaction being offered a proof of purchase, via hard-copy receipt or email. Because the Accenture study revealed that security and privacy issues associated with mobile payments remain a major barrier (45 percent of respondents to the survey said they don’t use mobile payments because of security concerns), the mobile payment process should feel familiar and non-threatening — especially to new users. continue reading »
Bar academy aims to develop young leaders and inspire lawyer unity Bar academy aims to develop young leaders and inspire lawyer unity Senior Editor and Megan E. Davis Associate EditorA new Leadership Academy to train future leaders of the Bar and the profession has won approval from the Bar Board of Governors. Applications for the first class of 40 “fellows” will become available March 1, with an application deadline of April 1.The academy will hold its initial session at the Bar’s Annual Convention in June.The board voted at its February 1 meeting, a day after its Program Evaluation Committee, which has been reviewing and tweaking plans for the academy for several months, gave the idea its unanimous support. A goal of Bar President-elect Eugene Pettis, the academy’s mission “is to enhance the skills of a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers selected from across the state that will enable them to become effective leaders throughout the Bar, our profession, and the greater community.”Pettis said, “As I set out to determine what the focus of my administration was going to be, I thought an area we could really advance was developing strong leadership across the Bar. The focus is not to groom leaders necessarily for the Board of Governors or to run for president, but to groom leadership throughout all areas of our profession, including the local levels, to create ambassadors for the legal profession as a whole.”At the PEC meeting January 31, board member Jay Cohen, who headed the subcommittee that reviewed the academy plans, said the idea has met with enthusiastic support from various Bar groups.“We investigated, we surveyed, we tweaked, we listened, we did everything we could to come up with answers to questions [about the academy],” he said. “They came up with a very, very viable program that impressed the subcommittee without a single vote in opposition. At the end of the day, based on all of the information we heard. . . not one single group, not one single committee, not one single section of this Florida Bar is in opposition to this Leadership Academy. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Every group, every section supports overwhelmingly this Leadership Academy.“That’s our constituents, that’s who we respond to. They found that the program’s goals will enhance The Florida Bar; enhance the membership; enhance our opportunities for the future; and it incorporates so many of the programs and principles that we stand for, including our path to unity and inclusion.”Complete details about the Leadership Academy, as well as more information about the nomination/application process for fellows, will be in the March 1 Bar News. Basic information stipulates that the first class of fellows will have approximately 40 members, with future academies dependent on the demand. The academy will have two branches. The “Northern Branch” will consist of the geographical jurisdictions of the First, Second, and Fifth district courts of appeal. The “Southern Branch” will be from the Third and Fourth DCA jurisdictions.“Florida is such a diverse state,” Pettis said. “We want to allow the fellows to develop a comprehensive understanding of the Bar and its resources, and to develop a skill set that will enable them to serve as effective leaders in their chosen path.”Fellows will be selected based not only on ethnic and gender diversity, but also diversity of firm size, geographical location, practice areas, and other factors.The academy will meet six times throughout the year, at the Bar’s Annual Convention in June, the Fall Joint Meeting in September, the Tallahassee meeting in January, and three sessions in the regional branchesEach session will begin at noon on a Friday and run until noon Saturday with various speakers and topics, such as collaborating with different workplace personalities; balancing personal, volunteer, and work life; motivating others and delegating; conducting effective meetings; effective leadership styles; and public speaking.The program also will educate participants about the Bar’s divisions and sections, strategic plan, and history.Throughout the year, fellows will put what they’ve learned into practice by creating and executing public service projects.Pettis said the continuity of a Bar’s strategic plan throughout the state is sometimes lacking.“While every bar should have an opportunity to have its unique agenda, I think we, as lawyers, should have some common agenda that can strengthen our profession,” Pettis said. “Hopefully, unified leadership training — providing core skills that all leaders need — will create a unifying focus on common goals we all must share.”Networking and mentorship will also be focuses of the academy, Pettis said. Fellows will be matched with mentors based on their specific interests and needs. Pettis said he’s already seen a buzz of excitement from various Bar and legal organizations interested in having their members participate.“I believe the demand will be great and the experience will be priceless,” Pettis said.A Leadership Academy Committee will be formed to oversee the program and receive help, especially with curriculum, from the Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism and Diversity Initiatives Manager Arnell Bryant-Willis.Scholarships will be available to help some fellows pay hotel and transportation costs.Pettis said it’s important that cost not be an obstacle to participation.“Total inclusion must be our goal,” he said, adding some sections and divisions are already considering providing scholarships if their members are among those chosen for the academy.Former Young Lawyers Division President Reneé Thompson has worked with Pettis to develop plans for the Leadership Academy and will serve as the academy’s first chair.“When President-elect Pettis first mentioned the concept of creating an academy for our Bar, I knew that our Bar and the legal profession would benefit from this initiative for years to come with the leaders it will help foster and develop,” Thompson said. “It is an exceptional program, and he is putting together an all-star team to make it a reality for our members. I am proud to see our Bar investing in our future leaders and am truly looking forward to the launch of The Florida Bar Leadership Academy.” February 15, 2013 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News
Adams anf Reese donate $2,000 to All Faiths Food Bank January 15, 2014 Regular News ADAMS AND REESE, as part of its annual holiday giving initiative to philanthropic agencies across the firm’s footprint, donated $2,000 to All Faiths Food Bank. Adams and Reese Sarasota office partner in charge Jason Gaskill presented a check to Sandra Frank, executive director of All Faiths Food Bank. In total, Adams and Reese donated to 14 food banks across seven states for the 2013 holiday season.
A new study led by neuroscientists from the University of Chicago brings us one step closer to building prosthetic limbs for humans that re-create a sense of touch through a direct interface with the brain.The research, published October 26, 2015, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that artificial touch is highly dependent on several features of electrical stimuli, such as the strength and frequency of signals. It describes the specific characteristics of these signals, including how much each feature needs to be adjusted to produce a different sensation.“This is where the rubber meets the road in building touch-sensitive neuroprosthetics,” said Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago and senior author of the study. “Now we understand the nuts and bolts of stimulation, and what tools are at our disposal to create artificial sensations by stimulating the brain.” Email Share on Twitter Share on Facebook LinkedIn Share Pinterest Bensmaia’s research is part of Revolutionizing Prosthetics, a multi-year Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project that seeks to create a modular, artificial upper limb that will restore natural motor control and sensation in amputees. The project has brought together an interdisciplinary team of experts from government agencies, private companies and academic institutions, including the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the University of Pittsburgh.Bensmaia and his colleagues at UChicago are working specifically on the sensory aspects of these limbs. For this study, monkeys, whose sensory systems closely resemble those of humans, had electrodes implanted into the area of the brain that processes touch information from the hand. The animals were trained to perform two perceptual tasks: one in which they detected the presence of an electrical stimulus, and a second in which they indicated which of two successive stimuli was more intense.During these experiments, Bensmaia and his team manipulated various features of the electrical pulse train, such as its amplitude, frequency and duration, and noted how the interaction of each of these factors affected the animals’ ability to detect the signal.Of specific interest were the “just-noticeable differences” (JND), or the incremental changes needed to produce a sensation that felt different. For instance, at a certain frequency, the signal may be detectable first at a strength of 20 microamps of electricity. If the signal has to be increased to 50 microamps to notice a difference, the JND in that case is 30 microamps.The sense of touch is really made up of a complex and nuanced set of sensations, from contact and pressure to texture, vibration and movement. By documenting the range, composition and specific increments of signals that create sensations that feel different from each other, Bensmaia and his colleagues have provided the “notes” scientists can play to produce the “music” of the sense of touch in the brain.“When you grasp an object, for example, you can hold it with different grades of pressure. To recreate a realistic sense of touch, you need to know how many grades of pressure you can convey through electrical stimulation,” Bensmaia said. “Ideally you can have the same dynamic range for artificial touch as you do for natural touch.”The study has important scientific implications beyond neuroprosthetics as well. In natural perception, a principle known as Weber’s Law states that the just-noticeable difference between two stimuli is proportional to the size of the stimulus. For example, with a 100-watt light bulb, you might be able to detect a difference in brightness by increasing its power to 110 watts. The JND in that case is 10 watts. According to Weber’s Law, if you double the power of the light bulb to 200 watts, the JND would also be doubled to 20 watts.However, Bensmaia’s research shows that, with electrical stimulation of the brain, Weber’s Law does not apply–the JND remains nearly constant, no matter the size of the stimulus. This means that the brain responds to electrical stimulation in a much more repeatable, consistent way than through natural stimulation.“It shows that there is something fundamentally different about the way the brain responds to electrical stimulation than it does to natural stimulation,” Bensmaia said.“This study gets us to the point where we can actually create real algorithms that work. It gives us the parameters as to what we can achieve with artificial touch, and brings us one step closer to having human-ready algorithms.”
The first report from a World Health Organization (WHO) surveillance network covering parts of Eastern Europe and western Asia indicates that consumption of antimicrobials varies widely across the region, with Turkey the heaviest consumer.The report assesses antimicrobial consumption in 11 non–European Union countries, all members of the WHO Antimicrobial Consumption (AMC) Network, from 2011 through 2014. Also included in the report is Kosovo, which declared itself independent from Serbia in 2008 but is not universally recognized. (The AMC Network consists of 17 countries in the region, but some did not participate in the report.)The authors conclude that the variation in consumption may not be explained by differences in population health or disease burden alone and say that more investigation is needed. In a statement, the WHO’s Europe office said, “The quantitative data provide a starting point for better understanding the use of antibacterials in clinical practice.”Hans Kluge, MD, MPH, director of the Division of Health Systems and Public Health at WHO Europe, commented, “The assembling and sharing of data from the AMC Network is . . . a sign that national governments are taking antimicrobial resistance seriously as a public health issue.”The report includes a chapter on each of the 12 jurisdictions that contributed data: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.Fourfold difference in ratesThe report focused on antimicrobials for systemic use. Consumption, measured in defined daily doses per 1,000 people per day, ranged from 8.54 in Azerbaijan to 40.4 in Turkey, a more than fourfold difference, the authors found. The mean consumption for all 12 jurisdictions was 24.4 doses per 1,000 people per day.In August 2016, a group of global health experts proposed that, to counter the rise of antimicrobial resistance, countries should aim to limit their antimicrobial consumption to 8.54 defined daily doses per person per year, which they described as the current global median amount.For comparison, basic math shows that the consumption reported in the AMC Network study ranges from 3.12 doses per person per year in Azerbaijan to 14.75 doses per person annually in Turkey, with a mean of 8.91. (This was derived by dividing the AMC dose numbers by 1,000 to find the dose per person per day and then multiplying by 365 to get the annual amount.)The report also showed great variability in the use of injectable systemic antimicrobials, from 4% of total consumption in Turkey to 69% in Azerbaijan.Beta-lactams used most oftenThe most commonly used class of antimicrobials was beta-lactams, whose share of the total ranged from 35.4% in Belarus to 65.6% in Azerbaijan, the report says. Cephalosporins accounted for between 6.1% (Azerbaijan) and 30.3% (Turkey) of total consumption, while the share for quinolones ranged from less than 0.1% in Uzbekistan to 17% in the Republic of Moldova.The report notes that cephalosporins and quinolones are broad-spectrum antibiotics and are considered second-line drugs in many prescribing guidelines. The two groups combined accounted for 10% (Azerbaijan) to 38% (Moldova) of total consumption.In other findings, “The relative consumption of amoxicillin and the broader-spectrum amoxicillin and clavulanic acid varied widely,” the authors said. “Amoxicillin was the more consumed agent in most datasets—the exception was Turkey, where only 11% of consumption of these two agents was amoxicillin.”Data used in the report were collected by national experts from sources including import and customs records, sales records, and estimates of local manufacturing. The authors said the findings have a number of limitations and should be interpreted cautiously.”Despite this, the levels of [consumption] reported, and in some cases the choices of antimicrobial agents used, confirm the need for action,” they concluded. “A commitment to ongoing collection, analysis and use of consumption data is essential: it is a central element laid out in the Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance adopted during the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly in May 2015.”See also:May 1 WHO Europe statementFull text of WHO AMC Network report (148 pages)Aug 19, 2016, CIDRAP News story on proposed global targets for cutting antimicrobial use