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Microsoft Incorporates Virtual WiFi Technology into Windows 7

first_img( — Virtual WiFi will enable Windows 7 and future operating systems to see a single WLAN adapter as multiple WLAN adapters by the operating system. This feature is available in Windows 7 RC1, however because there are no hardware drivers to support this, the feature remains inactive. Citation: Microsoft Incorporates Virtual WiFi Technology into Windows 7 (2009, May 18) retrieved 18 August 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Some of you may wonder why you would ever need more than one WLAN adapter in your PC. There may be a few circumstances where multiple WLAN adapters would be needed. For instance, you may want to connect to one wireless network and use the virtual adapter to turn your PC into a hot spot so that other computers could connect to and share the internet access.Another example, for using virtual WiFi, may be where you’re connected to an existing wireless access point and want to connect to another network whether that is a separate access point or even set up an ad-hoc connection, Virtual WiFi will allow you to do just that.Virtual Wi-Fi is going to be a requirement for WLAN drivers sporting the Windows 7 certification logo, so drivers will be coming to add support for the feature. Windows 7 installs a virtual device if a Hosted Network capable WLAN adapter is present on the PC. This virtual device shows up in the “Network Connections Folder” as ‘Wireless Network Connection 2’ with a Device Name of ‘Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport adapter’ if the PC has a single WLAN adapter. This allows the virtual device to be used solely for performing software access point (SoftAP)connections. More technical information aimed at hardware vendors and developers is available at the WinHEC 2008 session, “Wireless LAN Enhancements in Windows 7.″© 2009 PhysOrg.comcenter_img Fundamental Shift in Embedded Wi-Fi Market Explore furtherlast_img read more

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Phone call emotion analyzer is a winner w Video

first_img( — An Israeli company, eXaudios Technologies, has developed a software application that automatically analyzes the intonation and volume of a person’s speech in real time and translates it into statements and graphics describing the speaker’s emotions. The system, dubbed Maginify, is likely to find its way into call centers to monitor calls, where it will allow the staff to identify callers who are becoming angry, and react to appease rather than inflate the anger. It will also enable supervisors to monitor the call center agents, and even step in if required, to try to turn the call around. Managers will be able to identify agents who are behaving in a way that tends to anger customers, and agents may be able to adjust their own behavior when they see their call statistics. Callers will also benefit because they will be able to leave a message when they call in, and the most upset or angry would be pushed to the front of the queue to speak to a live agent.The system identifies a range of emotions, but in the call center environment anger and happiness are the most important in terms of keeping customers, and the profits that often come with them. The speech analysis technology can also correlate with physical indicators, which according to eXaudios could one day make it useful for screening for Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and even heart disease. eXaudios also believes its product could find application in Homeland Security in the US. Play DEMOSpring 2010 video. The Maginify system is independent of the language spoken and analyzes the intonation of the voice. Its inventor and CEO of eXaudios Technologies, Yoram Levanon, said the system produces a statement of the speaker’s emotions in 10-15 seconds, with around 80% accuracy. Levanon said that for unknown reasons the technology is less accurate when the speaker has dyslexia.The first use of the technology will be installation in large call centers, but it will also be available as a software-as-a-service release. There will also be a low-end version that analyzes recorded rather than live calls and generates statistical analyses on them.The system was unveiled at DEMOSpring 2010 in Palm Springs, California earlier this week, where it won the People’s Choice Award of advertising to the tune of $1 million. Spy software used in call centers Citation: Phone call emotion analyzer is a winner (w/ Video) (2010, March 25) retrieved 18 August 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.center_img © 2010 Explore further More information: Company website: PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreenlast_img read more

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Research group develops more efficient artificial enzyme

first_img Though the artificial enzyme is still many orders of magnitude less efficient than nature’s way of doing things, it is far more efficient than any other artificial process to date, a milestone that gives researchers hope that they will one day equal nature’s abilities.The mimic, as the team refers to it, is made up of a three-stranded “coiled coil” protein that binds two metals: the active site is zinc, sitting inside the hydrophobic center, while the other site is made up of mercury metals that help to keep the whole works stabilized when introduced to a high pH environment. The team says that their metalloprotein isn’t necessarily an end product, but more of a way to prove that there likely does exist a path to creating artificial enzymes that can be every bit as efficient as those that occur in nature. The whole point being that if artificial ones can be created, they could be mass produced to exact specifications and used in large scale ways, such as sequestering carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and turning it to a harmless substance that would fall to the ground as bicarbonate.The next step in the research is to copy the so-called “’second sphere” part of natural enzymes that is missing from the artificial mimic. Its role is to stabilize the differing states during transition and to aid in transferring protons.It’s because the mimic was able to beat current efficiency models without the second sphere that the researchers are so optimistic about further improvements to their artificial enzyme. Figuring out how to add that second sphere may help the team gain a 100 to 500 fold increase in efficiency of their metalloprotein, which would make it nearly as efficient as Mother Nature, a feat that might yet lead to not only a tool to help combat global warming, but to all manner of applications in the medical field. Citation: Research group develops more efficient artificial enzyme (2011, November 28) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Explore further Shown are the main chain atoms represented as helical ribbons (cyan) and the Pen and His side chains in stick form (sulfur = yellow; nitrogen = blue; oxygen = red). Image: Nature Chemistry, doi:10.1038/nchem.1201 Tuberculosis researchers discover potential new target for treatments Journal information: Nature Chemistrycenter_img More information: Hydrolytic catalysis and structural stabilization in a designed metalloprotein, Nature Chemistry (2011) doi:10.1038/nchem.1201AbstractMetal ions are an important part of many natural proteins, providing structural, catalytic and electron transfer functions. Reproducing these functions in a designed protein is the ultimate challenge to our understanding of them. Here, we present an artificial metallohydrolase, which has been shown by X-ray crystallography to contain two different metal ions—a Zn(II) ion, which is important for catalytic activity, and a Hg(II) ion, which provides structural stability. This metallohydrolase displays catalytic activity that compares well with several characteristic reactions of natural enzymes. It catalyses p-nitrophenyl acetate (pNPA) hydrolysis with an efficiency only ~100-fold less than that of human carbonic anhydrase (CA)II and at least 550-fold better than comparable synthetic complexes. Similarly, CO2 hydration occurs with an efficiency within ~500-fold of CAII. Although histidine residues in the absence of Zn(II) exhibit pNPA hydrolysis, miniscule apopeptide activity is observed for CO2 hydration. The kinetic and structural analysis of this first de novo designed hydrolytic metalloenzyme reveals necessary design features for future metalloenzymes containing one or more metals.Project page: … /metallopeptide.html ( — A research group based out of the University of Michigan, and led by Vincent Pecoraro has successfully created a computer designed artificial enzyme that can serve as a catalyst for converting water and carbon dioxide into bicarbonate. In their paper published in Nature Chemistry, the team explains how their metalloprotein (a protein that contains a metal cofactor) mimics carbonic anhydrase and could conceivably lead to a means for removing some of the carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere that many now believe is contributing to global warming. © 2011 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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Researchers induce freezing tolerance in fruit fly

first_img © 2011 Insects that are able to withstand being frozen rely on one of two techniques. They either secrete substances that allow them to control the process of freezing, or they build up proteins that serve as a form of anti-freeze, which prevents their cells from freezing. In the experiment run by the Czech team, the subarctic fly, Chymomyza costata, was analyzed to see which techniques it uses to survive being frozen for lengthy periods of time. They found it actually used a two step process. First, the fly adjusts its hormones allowing it to stop all cell development, a process called a diapause. Then, it relied on the amino acid proline to help protect it from the effects of subfreezing temperatures.To see if they could coax another organism to use the same technique, the team turned to the common fruit fly, an insect that prefers warm climates and generally dies when exposed to freezing temperatures. And while the fruit fly doesn’t have the ability to go into a diapause, it does have the ability to ability to enter a quiescence state if subjected to a harsh environment. To make this happen, the team subjected some of the fruit flies to alternating near freezing and warmer conditions for several cycles, then subjected them to -5° C for a half hour. They found that going into the quiescence state alone allowed six percent of the fruit flies to survive.They then tried the same thing again with another group of fruit flies, but this time the flies were fed a diet of proline first. Doing that, the team found, improved the insects’ chances dramatically as they found that sixty one percent of the fruit flies were then able to survive the freezing test. And ten percent of those survived to adulthood and produced healthy offspring.This experiment doesn’t mean true cryogenics is just around the corner, of course, but it might lead to new advances in preserving cells for use in research or perhaps even help store tissue for later use. Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Drosophila melanogaster Citation: Researchers induce freezing tolerance in fruit fly (2012, February 14) retrieved 18 August 2019 from More information: Conversion of the chill susceptible fruit fly larva (Drosophila melanogaster) to a freeze tolerant organism, PNAS, Published online before print February 13, 2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1119986109AbstractAmong vertebrates, only a few species of amphibians and reptiles tolerate the formation of ice crystals in their body fluids. Freeze tolerance is much more widespread in invertebrates, especially in overwintering insects. Evolutionary adaptations for freeze tolerance are considered to be highly complex. Here we show that surprisingly simple laboratory manipulations can change the chill susceptible insect to the freeze tolerant one. Larvae of Drosophila melanogaster, a fruit fly of tropical origin with a weak innate capacity to tolerate mild chilling, can survive when approximately 50% of their body water freezes. To achieve this goal, synergy of two fundamental prerequisites is required: (i) shutdown of larval development by exposing larvae to low temperatures (dormancy) and (ii) incorporating the free amino acid proline in tissues by feeding larvae a proline-augmented diet (cryopreservation).center_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further The how and why of freezing the common fruit fly ( — Most of what is known about the ability of some cold blooded animals and several insects to survive having their body temperature fall below freezing has led to the conclusion that those organisms that can do it are unique to the extent that trying to emulate those same abilities or techniques in other organisms is just not feasible. But that may change now that a team from the Czech Republic has succeeded in partially freezing a fruit fly, and then resurrecting it, using, as they describe in their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a technique copied from a close relative.last_img read more

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Researchers propose gold and DNA based dark matter detector

first_img CRESST team finds new ‘evidence’ of dark matter More information: New Dark Matter Detectors using DNA for Nanometer Tracking, arXiv:1206.6809v1 [astro-ph.IM] Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) may constitute most of the matter in the Universe. While there are intriguing results from DAMA/LIBRA, CoGeNT and CRESST-II, there is not yet a compelling detection of dark matter. The ability to detect the directionality of recoil nuclei will considerably facilitate detection of WIMPs by means of “annual modulation effect” and “diurnal modulation effect”. Directional sensitivity requires either extremely large gas (TPC) detectors or detectors with a few nanometer spatial resolution. In this paper we propose a novel type of dark matter detector: detectors made of DNA could provide nanometer resolution for tracking, an energy threshold of 0.5 keV, and can operate at room temperature. When a WIMP from the Galactic Halo elastically scatters off of a nucleus in the detector, the recoiling nucleus then traverses thousands of strings of single stranded DNA (ssDNA) (all with known base sequences) and severs those ssDNA strands it hits. The location of the break can be identified by amplifying and identifying the segments of cut ssDNA using techniques well known to biologists. Thus the path of the recoiling nucleus can be tracked to nanometer accuracy. In one such detector concept, the transducers are a few nanometer-thick Au-foils of 1m times1m, and the direction of recoiling nuclei is measured by “DNA Tracking Chamber” consisting of ordered array of ssDNA strands. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and ssDNA sequencing are used to read-out the detector. The detector consists of roughly 1 kg of gold and 0.1 kg of DNA packed into (1m)^3. By leveraging advances in molecular biology, we aim to achieve about 1,000-fold better spatial resolution than in conventional WIMP detectors at reasonable cost. Citation: Researchers propose gold and DNA based dark matter detector (2012, July 3) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Dark matter, the theory goes, is all around us, but we can’t see it or detect it using conventional means. Scientists believe it’s moving though, from the center of the universe towards us. The best analogy is water, in a stream; we’re like an island in it as is the sun. Thus, because we orbit the sun, and because our planet spins, we ought to be facing upstream sometimes and downstream others. That’s the basis of any dark matter detector, to first detect the weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs as researchers call them, and then to measure the amounts of them over the course of a day, or year to see if they conform to theory.One way to build such a detector this new team says, is to dangle a dense forest of DNA strands from a thin sheet of gold. The idea is that when a WIMP strikes one of the gold atoms, its nucleus will be sent crashing down through the mass of DNA strands breaking the ones it strikes. Then, because each DNA strand would have a unique marker at its end, researchers could, by collecting the broken strands, figure out the trajectory of the nucleus though the strands and likewise that of the WIMP that struck it. Such a detector would go a long way towards proving that theories about dark matter are true.Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as all that, because building such a detector would be a feat in and of itself. Making DNA strands that would be long enough to work in such a detector, for example, would be a challenge as would getting them all to align in a meter square trap and to dangle straight down instead of curling up.On the other hand, the researchers say building such a detector would cost far less money than other efforts underway, and the detector once built would be far more accessible since it could be used at room temperature. Plus, if it worked, the team that built it would almost certainly go down in history as the scientists that finally proved that dark matter is real. ( — One of the precepts of scientific theory is that at some point, physical evidence should become available to prove it true. In physics this is an ongoing process in many areas of study, one of which is the detection and measurement of so called dark matter. Most astrophysicists agree it exists, yet no one has been able to definitively prove it though the presentation of physical evidence. While there are some ongoing projects attempting to do just that, the results have not been strong enough to offer proof. To overcome that problem a team of physicists and biologists have proposed a new type of detector based on a thin sheet of gold with many strands of DNA dangling below. The idea the team says in its paper uploaded to the preprint server arXiv, is to follow the path of a gold nucleus after being struck by a dark matter particle as it makes its way through strands of DNA, severing them as it goes. ssDNA/Au Tracking Chamber: A WIMP from the Galaxy scatters elastically with a gold nucleus situated in a thin gold foil. The recoiling Au nucleus traverses hanging strings of single stranded DNA, and severs any ssDNA it hits. The location of the breaks can be found by amplifying and sequencing the fallen ssDNA segment, thereby allowing reconstruction of the track of the recoiling Au nucleus with nanometer accuracy. Image: arXiv:1206.6809v1center_img Explore further Journal information: arXiv © 2012 Phys.Org This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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Research pair find 59 year cycle of oscillations in length of day

first_img Citation: Research pair find 5.9 year cycle of oscillations in length of day (2013, July 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from ( —A pair of researchers, Richard Holme of the University of Liverpool in the U.K. and Olivier de Viron of the University of Paris, in France has found that the length of Earth’s days follows a cyclic oscillation pattern every 5.9 years. As the two describe in their paper published in the journal Nature, the variations in day length were discovered as part of a study examining day-length over the past 50 years. The time it takes the Earth to spin once around its axis varies by milliseconds on any given day. This is due to the impact of weather patterns, ocean currents and other factors. But the Earth is also subject to other forces that can cause the length of day to vary over the long term or even for short “jumps” of time. In this new effort, the researchers looked at data from the past 50 years and then filtered out those short term forces that cause daily fluctuations in day-length. In so doing, they found what they describe as a ten year “decadally varying trend” a 5.9 year cycle of day-length oscillations and times when the planet seems to jerk, temporarily changing the length of the days that follow.Unlike the ten year trend (believed to be caused by changes in the Earth’s core) and the episodic jerks (scientists have detected 10 such events since 1969) the 5.9 year cycle was unexpected. Every 5.9 years, they claim, the planet undergoes a period of several months where the length of each day is longer or shorter than “normal.” The researchers don’t know what causes the cycle but suspect it has something to do with the core-mantle boundary. Scientists are also interested in learning more about the episodic jerks that alter day-length for several months at a time—this new research has revealed that during each event, the Earth’s geomagnetic field undergoes a similar effect. Scientists don’t know why either occurs, but suspect they are connected. Researchers studied the variations and fluctuations in the length of day over a one to 10 year period between 1962 and 2012. Going to Earth’s core for climate insights More information: Characterization and implications of intradecadal variations in length of day, Nature 499, 202–204 (11 July 2013) doi:10.1038/nature12282AbstractVariations in Earth’s rotation (defined in terms of length of day) arise from external tidal torques, or from an exchange of angular momentum between the solid Earth and its fluid components. On short timescales (annual or shorter) the non-tidal component is dominated by the atmosphere, with small contributions from the ocean and hydrological system. On decadal timescales, the dominant contribution is from angular momentum exchange between the solid mantle and fluid outer core. Intradecadal periods have been less clear and have been characterized by signals with a wide range of periods and varying amplitudes, including a peak at about 6?years. Here, by working in the time domain rather than the frequency domain, we show a clear partition of the non-atmospheric component into only three components: a decadally varying trend, a 5.9-year period oscillation, and jumps at times contemporaneous with geomagnetic jerks. The nature of the jumps in length of day leads to a fundamental change in what class of phenomena may give rise to the jerks, and provides a strong constraint on electrical conductivity of the lower mantle, which can in turn constrain its structure and composition.Press release Explore furthercenter_img Research into Earth’s day-length changes as well as studies seeking to better understand the true makeup of the planet are not just academic pursuits—gains in understanding are used by geologists and engineers in mining and exploration efforts. Journal information: Nature © 2013 The form of core motions giving rise to variations in Earth’s length of day. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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QR code security vulnerability found with Google Glass

first_img Explore further Google fixes APK nightmare-waiting-to-happen, sends patch to partners Google Glass, Google’s augmented reality headset runs Android, and because of that is able to run many of the same apps as smartphones, one of which allows for reading, recognizing and responding to QR codes. Such codes have been designed for that very purpose. In testing the feature with a Glass device, the engineers at Lookout Mobile Security found that they could cause the device to connect to the Internet using a previously rigged Wi-Fi hotspot. In so doing, they found they were able to monitor traffic between the device and the Internet, picking up message content and images that were transferred. They also found that they could cause the device to be routed to a web page they’d set up that allowed them to take control of the device using a previously known Android vulnerability. That allowed them to read messages stored on the device, control the camera and perform any other phone function.Rogers told the press that Google was notified of the vulnerability on May 16th and that the company has taken steps to head off the problem. A subsequent software update by Google shows that code has been amended to prevent the automatic relocation of a Wi-Fi hotspot when reading a QR code. Users are now asked if they wish to switch over. Engineers at Lookout Mobile Security have discovered a previously unknown security vulnerability with Google’s project Glass wearable headset. Marc Rogers reports on the company’s web site that engineers found that when pictures were taken of printed QR codes, the device could be routed to a hostile Wi-Fi access point, which in turn allowed for monitoring and capture of data flow to and from the device. They also found they were able to divert the device to a web page that allowed for taking advantage of a previously known Android vulnerability. Citation: QR code security vulnerability found with Google Glass (2013, July 18) retrieved 18 August 2019 from In response to publication of the discovery of the vulnerability, Google representatives reminded the press that Glass is still in a testing phase. Giving demo units to select users allows for finding and fixing vulnerabilities, they noted, as well as for spotting bugs or user issues before the device is made available to the general public. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2013 Phys.orglast_img read more

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Study results suggest wild birds suffer personality disorders due to ingestion of

first_img © 2018 Credit: Science of The Total Environment (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.02.191 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further A team of researchers from the University of Antwerp has found evidence of heavy metal ingestion by wild birds causing changes in their personalities. In their paper published in Science of The Total Environment, the group describes the multiple ways they studied bird behavior near a site known for emitting cadmium and lead, and what they found. Journal information: Science of the Total Environmentcenter_img Ingestion of heavy metals by humans can lead to a wide variety of physical and mental disorders, which caused the researchers to wonder what happens to birds that do the same. To find out, they set up and carried out a series of experiments meant to measure changes in personality in wild birds exposed to toxic metals.The experiments all involved birds living near the Umicore facility, near Antwerp—it is a smelting and metal refinery center notorious for emitting lead and cadmium into the area around it. For their experiments, the team chose to focus on great tits, a popular songbird—specifically on five populations living at different distances from the metal refinery. To begin the study, the team captured 250 of the birds from the chosen sites and brought them back to their labs for study. The researchers observed them and recorded behavioral traits. They report that those birds captured closest to the metal refinery were the least active, and were also less curious. They report also that those closest to the smelting plant had the highest levels of the metals in their eggs and feathers. In the second phase of the experiments, all of the captured birds were tagged and returned to the places where they had been captured. The team then monitored the behavior of all the birds in their natural environment and also when artificial factors were introduced, such as stuffed birds in nests to serve as an intruder, or recorded birdsong to mimic a competitor.The team reports that the males became more aggressive towards the decoys the closer they lived to the smelting plant. In a similar vein, the females became more protective of their nests—behaviors that are uncommon in birds not exposed to metal toxins.The researchers suggest that some of the changes in behavior they witnessed could prove deadly for the birds, making them easier for predators to capture. More information: Andrea S. Grunst et al. Variation in personality traits across a metal pollution gradient in a free-living songbird, Science of The Total Environment (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.02.191AbstractAnthropogenic contaminants could alter traits central to animal behavioral types, or personalities, including aggressiveness, boldness and activity level. Lead and other toxic metals are persistent inorganic pollutants that affect organisms worldwide. Metal exposure can alter behavior by affecting neurology, endocrinology, and health. However, the direction and magnitude of the behavioral effects of metal exposure remain equivocal. Moreover, the degree to which metal exposure simultaneously affects suites of correlated behavioral traits (behavioral syndromes) that are controlled by common mechanisms remains unclear, with most studies focusing on single behaviors. Using a model species for personality variation, the great tit (Parus major), we explored differences in multiple behavioral traits across a pollution gradient where levels of metals, especially lead and cadmium, are elevated close to a smelter. We employed the novel environment exploration test, a proxy for variation in personality type, and also measured territorial aggressiveness and nest defense behavior. At polluted sites birds of both sexes displayed slower exploration behavior, which could reflect impaired neurological or physiological function. Territorial aggression and nest defense behavior were individually consistent, but did not vary with proximity to the smelter, suggesting that metal exposure does not concurrently affect exploration and aggression. Rather, exploration behavior appears more sensitive to metal pollution. Effects of metal pollution on exploration behavior, a key animal personality trait, could have critical effects on fitness. Study shows urban birds with darker feathers may be better at removing metal toxins Citation: Study results suggest wild birds suffer personality disorders due to ingestion of heavy metals (2018, March 26) retrieved 18 August 2019 from read more

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Primal Fear Can Monkeys Help Unlock the Secrets of Trauma

first_imgPhillips’s notebook was full of empty tables. There were places for the monkeys’ ID numbers, which were tattooed on their chests and inner thighs, places for a description of their behavior, places for the time of day. There was a place for his own name, too, and he wrote it at the top of each page. Daniel Phillips is not a Puerto Rican name, whatever that means, but he was born here, in a big hospital in Fajardo. He arrived more than a month early and spent his first weeks in an incubator, but grew up to be a high school and college wrestler; as a biology major, he became interested in monkeys, and was invited by a primatologist from Duke University to take a job as a research assistant here on Cayo Santiago. Like humans, rhesus macaques possess advanced problem-solving skills and opposable thumbs and have been known to use tools. They have complex emotional and social lives. Although chimpanzees and a few other ape species are closer cousins to humans — we share approximately 93 percent of our DNA with macaques and 98 percent with chimps — macaques are easier to manage and less protected by regulations, which is partly why they account for 65 percent of research on nonhuman primate subjects funded by the National Institutes of Health. Read the whole story: The New York Times The monkeys were everywhere. Some were drinking from a large pool of stagnant rainwater; some were grooming each other, nit-picking; some were still gnawing on the plum-size pellets of chow that Phillips hurled into the crowd a half-hour before. Two sat on the naked branch of a tree, sporadically mating. They were all rhesus macaques, a species that grows to a maximum height of about two and a half feet and a weight of about 30 pounds. They have long, flexible tails; dark, expressive eyes; and fur ranging from blond to dark brown.center_img On Valentine’s Day, 2018, five months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Daniel Phillips stood at the edge of a denuded forest on the eastern half of a 38-acre island known as Cayo Santiago, a clipboard in his hand, his eyes on the monkeys. The island sits about a half-mile off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, near a village called Punta Santiago. Phillips and his co-workers left the mainland shortly after dawn, and the monkeys had already begun to gather by the time they arrived, their screams and oddly birdlike chirps louder than the low rumble of the motorboat that ferried the humans.last_img read more

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Elizabeth Warren Slams Student Loan Watchdog H

first_img… Elizabeth Warren Slams Student Loan Watchdog Hire As ‘… by NPR News Cory Turner 8.24.19 10:59am The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a new student loan watchdog, and his appointment is raising questions about who is safeguarding the interests of student borrowers.Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, who helped create the CFPB, sent a scathing letter on Thursday to the bureau’s current director. In documents obtained by NPR, Warren called the appointment of Robert Cameron “an outrageous slap in the face to student loan borrowers across the country.” Warren also sent letters to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and directly to Cameron, writing “your employment history presents an irresolvable conflict of interest that will prevent you from being able to serve as an effective Student Loan Ombudsman.”The watchdog job has been vacant since last summer, when the CFPB’s previous student loan ombudsman resigned in protest, arguing that the Trump administration was not doing enough to protect student borrowers.Cameron, the newly appointed ombudsman, is a U.S. Army veteran and a staff judge advocate for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. But here’s the part of his resume that has Warren so incensed: Before taking the long-vacant job, Cameron was a top lawyer for one of the country’s largest student loan servicers, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, known as PHEAA. There, according to the CFPB’s announcement, Cameron was “a high-ranking official responsible for litigation, compliance, and risk mitigation efforts.” PHEAA manages more than $400 billion of student loan debt, most of it for the U.S. government, and has been the target of considerable criticism, including for its handling of a troubled student loan forgiveness program and a grant program that hurt thousands of public school teachers.Jason Delisle, who studies higher education policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, says Cameron is in a no-win situation with his critics.”If you’ve got the experience, you know, shame on you,” Delisle says. “If you don’t have the experience, well, also shame on you.” He suggests it makes sense to have an industry veteran in such an oversight role.This fight, though, isn’t just about one man or his experience. It’s about the job itself.The watchdog post was created in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress’ sweeping response to the Great Recession. The law says the CFPB’s “private education loan ombudsman” — that’s the official title — should focus on students with private loans, like those you would get from a bank, as opposed to federal loans. This is an important distinction.Private loans issued by private banks account for a tiny slice of the overall student debt pie in the U.S. Most students with loans get them from the federal government, which then assigns them a servicer, like PHEAA, to manage their paperwork, answer their questions and field their frustrated phone calls. Much has been written in recent years about these companies’ struggles to administer the incredibly complex federal loan program that serves tens of millions of borrowers. When borrowers feel surprised or misled, it’s servicers that often take the brunt of their anger.During the Obama administration, the CFPB and its private loan watchdog regularly fielded borrower complaints and heard this anger. To help, they argued that they were within the law to oversee not only private loans but federal loan servicers, too. In fact, in late 2013, the CFPB issued a new rule, cementing this expansion of its oversight “to any nonbank student loan servicer that handles more than one million borrower accounts, regardless of whether they service federal or private loans.”Now, with Robert Cameron’s appointment, the CFPB under the Trump administration appears to be saying that the Obama-era CFPB overreached. In its announcement of the appointment, the bureau drew clear boundaries: “The ombudsman is responsible for receiving, reviewing, and attempting to resolve complaints from private student loan borrowers.” There was no mention of federal student loans or servicers. In short, the CFPB seems to be signaling that this ombudsman will no longer look out for the lion’s share of borrowers. The bureau did not respond to multiple requests for clarification or to hear from Cameron directly.The implication that the Obama-era CFPB and its student loan ombudsman may have exceeded their authority frustrates Seth Frotman, the previous watchdog who resigned in protest a year ago. This argument, he says, is “just not grounded in fact, and it’s just a very convenient way to not do the work that they are required to do under the law.” Frotman is now executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center.Jason Delisle at AEI says, even if this new ombudsman stops overseeing federal student loans and servicers entirely, other agencies have been and will continue to police them. “There’s the Department of Education. There’s Congress. There’s the [inspector general] at the Department of Education. There’s the Government Accountability Office … I don’t think we’re lacking for oversight.”The quality of that oversight is a separate question.Several states’ attorneys general have essentially given the Education Department’s oversight a vote of no confidence by suing loan servicers for allegedly mishandling the federal student loan program and misleading borrowers in their respective states. Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the department responded by trying to protect servicers, arguing that as contractors of the federal government these companies cannot be held accountable on a state-by-state basis. It even published this interpretation of the law in the Federal Register.Earlier this year, though, the Education Department’s own inspector general reviewed the agency’s oversight of federal student loan servicers, and investigators were not impressed. They found “a pattern of noncompliance” at Cameron’s former employer, PHEAA. And, overall, they worried the department’s office of Federal Student Aid was being lax. “By not holding servicers accountable,” the report said, the department “could give its servicers the impression that it is not concerned with servicer noncompliance with Federal loan servicing requirements, including protecting borrowers’ rights.” The department, for its part, disagreed with that conclusion.Believe it or not, Delisle at AEI and Frotman, the former student loan ombudsman, do agree on one thing. Delisle says the Obama-era CFPB raised some important red flags and that this new, private loan watchdog should not completely ignore federal loans.”I wouldn’t go all the way,” Delisle says. “I think it would be a mistake to completely move away from that role.”And Delisle is not alone. After cheering the new appointment, even the Consumer Bankers Association said in a statement, “it is clear the federal student loan program is not working and [Cameron] should also focus on implementing needed improvements there.”Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.center_img Bloomberglast_img read more