Thursday, February 28, 2013

Breakthrough in sight for cataract treatment

Feb. 28, 2013 ? A professor at London's Kingston University has made a discovery about the shape of the eye that could boost the effectiveness of human-made lenses used in cataract operations.

Research carried out by Professor Barbara Pierscionek and a team of fellow vision experts suggests that the way proteins are distributed in the lens of the eye may cause its gradient to be stepped rather than smooth as previously thought. The finding could give a new insight into the way the eye grows and lead to major improvements in synthetic lenses used in surgery to treat patients who have developed cataracts.

Artificial replacements did not currently match the quality of real ones, Professor Pierscionek said. "However this research could help give patients better vision if manufacturers use it to develop an improved lens able to change focus," she explained.

Professor Pierscionek, the Associate Dean of Research and Enterprise at Kingston's Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing, has devoted two decades to researching the eye's lens. Her work has explored its biochemical, optical and mechanical properties. Since the lens is one of the few organs in the body that does not replenish itself, it is a model for aging. "The lens is the key to a lot of things -- we just haven't unlocked its full potential yet. It has the capacity to tell us what has happened to a person throughout their life and their disease state," Professor Pierscionek said.

Cataracts can occur at any age, but often develop as people get older. In the United Kingdom, an estimated one in three people over the age of 65 is affected. Smoking and UV radiation are thought to be causes and they can also occur in people with diseases such as diabetes. The condition may gradually make vision more blurred and make it difficult to see in poor light. Treatment usually involves replacing the affected lens with an artificial one.

Professor Pierscionek carried out much of her most recent research at Japan's Spring-8 synchrotron facility -- home of the world's largest third generation synchrotron. It accelerates electrons close to the speed of light to generate X-rays and other beams. The electrons are injected into a storage ring 1.4km in diameter, with the resultant X-rays fed into experimental stations dotted around the site. "These X-rays can penetrate parts of the body and soft tissue better than other forms of radiation," Professor Pierscionek said. "This allows engineers and scientists to look deeply into anything from metal to bacteria." When taking measurements it was important to keep the sample as close as possible to its natural state, Professor Pierscionek said. "The synchrotron is so sophisticated that it allows us to measure the lenses while they are still in the eyeball."

Some of the research has been conducted in collaboration with scientists from the Spring-8 facility and Cardiff University. It is being funded by eye research charity Fight for Sight as well as grants from Spring-8, which has provided use of the synchrotron.

Further analysis is now being carried out in laboratories at Kingston University. Professor Pierscionek and her team are working with Dr Mehdi Bahram, a researcher funded by Fight for Sight, using ray tracing and mathematical modelling. The work involves projecting lasers of different colours through different parts of the lens to trace their paths. The information will then be used to help develop lenses with improved optical quality.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Kingston University.

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Is 30 minutes of physical activity enough? | Dr. Marc Tinsley - Health ...

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans say that adults need 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Seriously? You can?t stay healthy by being active 2% of the day.

You can?t even get out of shape in 30 minutes per day. There?s no way that you can get in shape in only 30 minutes per day.

Image courtesy of photostock/

Image courtesy of photostock/

Healthy people have ants in their pants. Humans are designed to move and move often.

We?re finding out that active couch potatoes?(people who are active enough to meet the PA Guidelines but sedentary much of the rest of the day) have just as much risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes as regular couch potatoes.

We need to be active every day, throughout the day.

When you cook sauce or gravy, you can?t stir the pot for 2% of the cooking time and then stop. You have to stir the pot throughout the process.

So if you want to stay healthy, stir the pot and keep moving throughout the day, every day.


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Suspect in restaurant robbery got out of prison two weeks prior ...


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- More than a week after a customer was robbed while standing in line at a Wilmington fast food restaurant, a suspect is in custody.

Wilmington Police say the US Marshals Task Force arrested Raheem Jamil Washington last night in Surf City. Washington is charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault by pointing a gun and two counts of second degree kidnapping.

The Department of Corrections website shows Washington served more than seven years in prison for multiple robbery charges. He was released from prison Feb. 3.

Just two weeks later, police say, Washington robbed a customer at gunpoint as they stood in line at the McDonald's at Long Leaf Mall.

Washington is back in jail under $750,000 bond.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.



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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Several killed in Swiss factory shooting, police say

By Emma Thomasson, Reuters

Three people, including the suspected assailant, have been killed in a shooting at a factory near the Swiss city of Lucerne, police said on Wednesday.

Seven others were injured in the attack, which happened just after 9 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) at a wood-processing company in the town of Menznau, west of Lucerne, the police said in a statement.

Emergency services were at the scene and the area had been cordoned off. A news conference had been scheduled for the afternoon.

Last month, a gunman killed three women and injured two men in the Swiss village of Daillon, stirring a debate about Switzerland's firearm laws, which allow men to keep guns after their mandatory military service.

There is no national gun register, but some estimates indicate that at least one in every three of Switzerland's 8 million inhabitants keeps a gun, many stored at home. Citizens outside the military who are 19 and over can apply for a permit to purchase up to three weapons. Sharpshooting and hunting are popular sports here.

A shooting in the Zug regional parliament in 2001, in which 14 people were killed, prompted calls to tighten laws, but the majority of Swiss citizens rejected a proposal in 2011 for extra measures such as mandatory locked storage of guns not in use.


Three women killed after gunman's drunken rampage in Swiss village

Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.


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Shoppers steer clear of frozen burgers - Kantar

LONDON (Reuters) - Grocers have seen sales of frozen burgers and ready meals plummet in the wake of a scandal over the discovery of horsemeat in beef products, according to industry data published on Tuesday.

Market researcher Kantar Worldpanel said in the four weeks ending February 17, frozen burger sales were down 43 percent year-on-year and sales of frozen ready meals declined by 13 percent.

The issue, which broke on January 15, has only affected the products consumers buy rather than where they actually do their shopping, said Edward Garner, director at Kantar Worldpanel.

The horsemeat scandal has spread across Europe since tests in Ireland last month revealed some beef products sold there and in Britain contained equine DNA.

Tesco, Britain's biggest grocer, saw its share of the grocery market fall to 29.7 percent in the 12 weeks to February 17.

Garner said it would be wrong to attribute this decline to the horsemeat scandal as in the same period last year Tesco had promoted heavily, offering consumers a 5 pounds voucher when they spent 40 pounds.

"Not repeating this offer will have adversely affected its share," he said.

In the 12-week period, only No. 3 grocer Sainsbury's increased its share, with a sales rise of 4.6 percent.

No. 4 player Morrisons was the only major grocer to post a sales decline.

Upmarket grocer Waitrose and discounter Aldi delivered all-time record market shares this period of 4.8 percent and 3.3 percent respectively indicating that market polarisation is continuing.

The total grocery market grew 3.7 percent, lagging behind grocery price inflation of 4.3 percent.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mike Nesbit)


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Second SpaceX space station resupply flight ready to go

Feb. 25, 2013 ? The second International Space Station Commercial Resupply Services flight by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is set for liftoff at 10:10 a.m. EST on March 1 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Carried by a Falcon 9 rocket, the Dragon spacecraft will ferry 1,268 pounds of supplies for the space station crew and for experiments being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The Falcon 9 and Dragon were manufactured at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., and arrived at the Florida launch site by truck. The rocket, topped with the spacecraft, stands 157-feet tall.

The two-stage rocket uses nine engines to power the first stage, generating 855,000 pounds of thrust at sea level, rising to nearly 1,000,000 pounds of thrust as Falcon 9 climbs out of Earth's atmosphere. One engine powers the second stage to complete the climb to space. The 14.4-foot-tall Dragon spacecraft is capable of carrying more than 7,000 pounds of cargo split between pressurized and unpressurized sections.

On March 2, Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA are scheduled use the station's robot arm to grapple Dragon following its rendezvous with the orbiting outpost. Ground commands will be sent to attach the spacecraft to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module where it will remain for a few weeks while astronauts unload cargo. The crew then will load more than 2,600 pounds of experiment samples and equipment for return to Earth.

Dragon is scheduled for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California on March 25.

This SpaceX flight is the second of at least 12 missions to the space station that the company will fly for NASA under the Commercial Resupply Services contract.

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Nick App: Binge on Spongebob For All Eternity

Slime on your TV, slime on your tablet. Nickelodeon just launched a fun new iPad app. More »


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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wirecard, Vodafone form mobile payment partnership

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German payment systems provider Wirecard said on Monday it had been chosen by Vodafone to introduce the British mobile operator's mobile payment system.

The Vodafone payment service will be rolled out internationally from this year, Wirecard said in a statement.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz)


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Monday, February 25, 2013

Types of Dental Treatment - Bimbo's Health and Fitness Reviews

dental careOne of the popular in the world of health care is dental treatments. Healthy teeth and good will give more value on someone?s face. Healthy and beautiful teeth will make people more confident to smile and communicate. Dental problems can not be separated from performance problems. Dental care is also not cheap, so you should definitely choose a good and reliable care that your money is not wasted and the results obtained also satisfy you.

Some of the popular dental treatments are:

1. Teeth Bleaching
This is the most popular type of treatment because many people use this type of treatment. This type of care aims to get teeth whiter and brighter. If you have a dull and stained teeth, maybe you could try curing it.

2. Root Canal Treatment
This is dental care for the well-known healing where infected or damaged pulp (core) of a fallen tooth. In this method, after removing the infected pulp, pulp chamber and root canals filled and sealed.

3. Scaling
Scaling is used to remove calculus or tartar and plaque that attach to the tooth surface. The rest of the food there on the sidelines of the teeth, if left alone, and not in the clear then the bacteria will digest the food, which will lead to cavities. Tartar on the teeth which can only be in the clear with scaller, or extractor tool by dentists.

4. Dental Implants
This is the kind of care for the treatment, in which an artificial tooth root placed into the jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants are also a great choice for people who have lost their teeth due to injury, accident or any other reason.

5. Dental Bridges
This is a method commonly used by dentists to fill the gap created by a missing tooth (or teeth). The method is also quite a lot of treatments used by people who have lost their teeth and not likely to grow back teeth.

The five methods of dental care above are some of the many treatment methods that exist in the world of dentistry. You can choose the type of the method according to the condition of your teeth. But you should consult with your dentist first before deciding to use dental care methods that you will choose.

By : Medical Tourism in Lithuania


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Appnet goes gratis, announces invitationonly free accounts

Since its inception, has been working hard to improve its growing platform, giving all of its paid users a 10GB bucket of cloud storage and opening up its File API so devs could use the data stored there. Today, folks wanting in on the fledgling social platform can do so without paying the $36 annual fee -- provided you can score an invite from a paying member. And, there's something in it for paid accounts who refer folks. Both the inviter and invitee get an extra 100 MB of storage (up to 2GB) if the invitee subsequently follows 5 people and authorizes a third-party app.

Should you be lucky enough to score an invite, you won't have the same level of access as your paid brethren, however. Free accounts can only follow up to 40 users -- paid accounts have no such restriction -- and get a 500MB cloud locker. Also, while paid accounts can upload 100MB files, gratis accounts are limited to 10MB uploads.

We got to speak with Dalton Caldwell, CEO of about the shift to a freemium model and he told us that the move has been in the works for some time. The reason it took awhile to do so is that wanted to ensure that it had a market for its paid services and that it had enough of an app ecosystem to make appealing to free users as well. Caldwell also informed us that in order to keep the number of free accounts manageable, paid members will get a limited number of invites to start -- with more invites appearing as the company finds it prudent to do so.

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AT&T flips the switch on LTE in seven more cities

AT&T flips the switch on LTE in seven more cities

AT&T continues the rollout of its LTE network, today adding seven more cities across the US.

  • Tunica, Mississippi
  • Athens, Tennessee
  • Lafollette, Tennessee
  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • Salinas and Monterey, California
  • Lawrence, Kansas

AT&T continues its steady rollout of LTE, doing its best to catch up to Verizon. If you live in one of these cities, come on over to the iPhone 5 forums and show off your LTE speeds.

Source: AT&T, via Android Central


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The Comics Reporter Video Parade

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Southwest Florida Food & Wine Fest in full swing

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Video: Cause of fire that destroys Eagle's Pointe golf cart shed still undetermined

The cause of a fire that incinerated 80 golf carts at Eagle's Pointe Golf Club late Friday remained undetermined a day later.

Despite a steady rain overnight and most of the next day, the ruins still smoldered Saturday afternoon. Charred golf balls were strewn around the perimeter of a burned rectangle about the size of four school buses, and a forest of blackened metal rods poked through mounds of melted plastic and wood.

Brent Carlson, general manager of the club in the greater Bluffton community, said he does not yet have an estimate of the damage. The course was closed to golfers Saturday but will reopen today . About two dozen temporary replacement carts have been provided by Textron Financial Corp., the company that owns the Eagle's Pointe and Crescent Point clubs.

"We're going to be operating as normally as possible," Carlson said. "(The company's) support group is sending as many carts as they can as soon as they can."

Both courses have been for sale since 2009, according to news reports.

Meanwhile, the Bluffton Township Fire District and the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office are investigating the fire's cause.

"They have not determined the origin or the cause yet," fire district Capt. Randy Hunter said, adding the Sheriff's Office's participation in the investigation does not automatically indicate the fire is considered suspicious.

Attempts Saturday to contact Sheriff's Office officials were unsuccesful.

Eagle's Pointe resident Deigo Mahecha said he and his wife were going out to dinner at about 7:30 p.m. Friday when he noticed a flame that "looked like a campfire" near the back of the golf cart shed. Mahecha called 911 to report the flames, and about two minutes later, the entire building exploded, he said Saturday.

"The fire was the size of the entire building. ... The tops of the trees caught fire," he said. "It was like a movie."

Mahecha said he and his wife watched as the flames destroyed the building and its contents within a few minutes.

Mahecha said firefighters arrived at 5 Eagle's Pointe Drive less than five minutes after he dialed 911. More than a dozen of them worked more than three hours to put out the fire.

The fire at Eagle's Pointe was the second at a golf cart shed in southern Beaufort County since November.

Fifty-two carts were destroyed when a shed at Bear Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head Plantation burned Nov. 26. The fire was set by an arsonist, authorities have said.

Follow reporter Anne Christnovich

Related content:

Fire at Bluffton course destroys dozens of golf carts, Feb. 22, 2013


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Stocks rally to close near session highs

Stocks finished near session highs Friday, recovering from a two-day slump, lifted by upbeat economic data from Europe and after comments from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard that the central bank's aggressive easy money policy will stay for a "long time."

The Dow eked out a slim weekly gain, avoiding its third-consecutive weekly decline. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 posted its first weekly loss this year, snapping its seven-week win streak.

Read More: Pros: Is Market Bouncing or Turning Higher?

"We're seeing some signs that the weekend anxiety is not that heavy," said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services. "We have the Italian election coming up [this weekend] and a sign that I look at is the U.S. dollar?it was higher this morning on some anxiety and there was a bit of a flight to safety in Treasurys, but that's abating and that's telling me that [the market's] not too concerned about the weekend so that's why we're having a good rally."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied more than 100 points, led by Hewlett-Packard and Home Depot, while UnitedHealth dragged. Interestingly, the blue-chip index has so far posted a gain every Friday of this year, matching the Friday win streak from July through September of 2012.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also finished near session highs. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded below 15.

All key S&P sectors closed in positive territory, led by materials and techs.

Meanwhile, traders said leaked reports that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been downplaying worries that quantitative easing has spawned asset bubbles also helped lift markets.

Bernanke is scheduled to testify before lawmakers next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Earlier, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said the Fed remained committed to aggressive easing measures in the form of its $85 billion a month bond-buying program.

Read More: Pimco's Gross: Fed Not Vigilant Enough

"It's true that the committee is thinking about how are we going to handle this later this year, but that's a natural thing for the committee to be talking about," Bullard told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "Fed policy is very easy and it's going stay easy for a long time."

Uncertainty about the future of the central bank's bond buying program weighed on the stock market in the last two days.

Minutes from the Fed's meeting in January, released on Wednesday, showed policymakers were growing concerned about the impact of quantitative easing, suggesting the central bank may taper off its $85 billion per month purchasesearlier than expected.

Read More: Don't Exit Market Due to Fed: Brown

Among earnings, Abercrombie & Fitch posted earnings that easily beat expectations, while revenue fell slightly short of estimates and the company handed in full-year 2013 earnings guidance that missed expectations. Meanwhile, the firm increased its quarterly dividend to 20 cents a share from 17.5 cents a share. Shares tumbled to lead the S&P 500 laggards.

Hewlett-Packard soared to lead the S&P 500 gainers after the computer hardware giant easily topped Wall Street expectations and handed in current-quarter and full-year earnings guidance that topped forecasts. At least three brokerages lifted their price target on the company.

Read More: Expect HP Revenue Growth in 2014: Whitman

Texas Instruments jumped to lead the Nasdaq 100 gainers after the chipmaker raised its dividend by 33 percent and boosted its stock buyback program.

Darden warned it expects to see third-quarter earnings of between $1 a share and $1.02 a share, against current Wall Street expectations for $1.12 a share, hurt by economic headwinds, including rising gas prices and higher payroll taxes.

European shares ended broadly higherfollowing positive economic news from Germany and ahead of Italy's general election this weekend.

German business sentiment jumped at its fastest rate since July 2010 in February, suggesting the country is rebounding after its weak fourth quarter.

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington. Abe is expected to seek support for the hyper-easy monetary policies he has instigated to revive Japan's ailing economy.

? 2013 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved


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Adele, 'Les Miserables' cast sing on Oscar stage

Adele arrives at the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Adele arrives at the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

A seating placard of actor Hugh Jackman for 85th Academy Awards are seen inside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. The Academy Awards will be held Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Actor Hugh Jackman arrives for the screening of the film Le Miserables at the 63rd edition of the Berlinale, International Film Festival in Berlin, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/ AP)

From left, actors Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne pose during the photo call of the film Les Miserables at the 63rd edition of the Berlinale, International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

Actors Hugh Jackman, left, and Anne Hathaway pose during the photo call of the film Les Miserables at the 63rd edition of the Berlinale, International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

(AP) ? It was an extra starry, musical day at the Dolby Theatre.

Adele took the stage first Friday, followed by the cast of "Les Miserables," singing together of the first time.

Oscar nominees Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, along with co-stars Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham-Carter, Sasha Baron-Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit and Samantha Barks rehearsed their performances on the Oscar stage. They were backed by members of the musical's stage productions from London and Broadway.

"Les Miserables" director Tom Hooper sat in the front row of the theater as his cast sang.

Moments earlier, Adele dazzled the tiny audience of show workers with her performance of the James Bond theme "Skyfall."

"I need a lot more reverb on me," she said after her first run. "You might need to get a new reverb machine."

The 24-year-old multiple Grammy winner arrived wearing a black tunic, black leggings and flats, with no makeup and her hair in a ponytail.

"I'm going to have very high heels on the night, guys," she announced from the microphone, sipping tea between verses.

"Do you need the dresses?" she asked, and a team of stylists brought out the gowns Adele is considering for her Oscar performance.

The dress producers favored? "It's very heavy ? I mean I struggle to stand in it," Adele said. "Come and feel how heavy it is, so you don't think I'm a wimp!"

She performed her Oscar-nominated song five times before leaving the theater. "It's been good, yeah?" she asked producer Neil Meron, who nodded in approval.

Just after Adele wrapped, the star-studded "Les Miserables" cast took the stage. Hathaway chatted with Bonham-Carter as Jackman sang a capella. Then Hathaway checked her microphone with a quick verse.

"Ooh, that was flat," she said.

The entire cast assembled for a final run-through when Jackman spontaneously began singing "My Bonny Lies over the Ocean."

"My bonny lies over my daddy," the ensemble responded, breaking into laughter.

Other stars rehearsing Friday included Jennifer Hudson, who is set to perform a song from "Dreamgirls" at Sunday's ceremony.


AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is on Twitter: .



Associated Press


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Insight: Spiral of Karachi killings widens Pakistan's sectarian divide

KARACHI (Reuters) - When Aurangzeb Farooqi survived an attempt on his life that left six of his bodyguards dead and a six-inch bullet wound in his thigh, the Pakistani cleric lost little time in turning the narrow escape to his advantage.

Recovering in hospital after the ambush on his convoy in Karachi, Pakistan's commercial capital, the radical Sunni Muslim ideologue was composed enough to exhort his followers to close ranks against the city's Shi'ites.

"Enemies should listen to this: my task now is Sunni awakening," Farooqi said in remarks captured on video shortly after a dozen gunmen opened fire on his double-cabin pick-up truck on December 25.

"I will make Sunnis so powerful against Shi'ites that no Sunni will even want to shake hands with a Shi'ite," he said, propped up in bed on emergency-room pillows. "They will die their own deaths, we won't have to kill them."

Such is the kind of speech that chills members of Pakistan's Shi'ite minority, braced for a new chapter of persecution following a series of bombings that have killed almost 200 people in the city of Quetta since the beginning of the year.

While the Quetta carnage grabbed world attention, a Reuters inquiry into a lesser known spate of murders in Karachi, a much bigger conurbation, suggests the violence is taking on a volatile new dimension as a small number of Shi'ites fight back.

Pakistan's Western allies have traditionally been fixated on the challenge posed to the brittle, nuclear-armed state by Taliban militants battling the army in the bleakly spectacular highlands on the Afghan frontier.

But a cycle of tit-for-tat killings on the streets of Karachi points to a new type of threat: a campaign by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and allied Pakistani anti-Shi'ite groups to rip open sectarian fault-lines in the city of 18 million people.

Police suspect LeJ, which claimed responsibility for the Quetta blasts, and its sympathizers may also be the driving force behind the murder of more than 80 Shi'ites in Karachi in the past six months, including doctors, bankers and teachers.

In turn, a number of hardline Sunni clerics who share Farooqi's suspicion of the Shi'ite sect have been killed in drive-by shootings or barely survived apparent revenge attacks. Dozens of Farooqi's followers have also been shot dead.

Discerning the motives for any one killing is murky work in Karachi, where multiple armed factions are locked in a perpetual all-against-all turf war, but detectives suspect an emerging Shi'ite group known as the Mehdi Force is behind some of the attacks on Farooqi's men.

While beleaguered secularists and their Western friends hope Pakistan will mature into a more confident democracy at general elections due in May, the spiral of killings in Karachi, a microcosm of the country's diversity, suggests the polarizing forces of intolerance are gaining ground.

"The divide is getting much bigger between Shia and Sunni. You have to pick sides now," said Sundus Rasheed, who works at a radio station in Karachi. "I've never experienced this much hatred in Pakistan."

Once the proud wearer of a silver Shi'ite amulet her mother gave her to hang around her neck, Rasheed now tucks away the charm, fearing it might serve not as protection, but mark her as a target.


Fully recovered from the assassination attempt, Farooqi can be found in the cramped upstairs office of an Islamic seminary tucked in a side-street in Karachi's gritty Landhi neighborhood, an industrial zone in the east of the city.

On a rooftop shielded by a corrugated iron canopy, dozens of boys wearing skull caps sit cross-legged on prayer mats, imbibing a strict version of the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam that inspires both Farooqi and the foot-soldiers of LeJ.

"We say Shias are infidels. We say this on the basis of reason and arguments," Farooqi, a wiry, intense man with a wispy beard and cascade of shoulder-length curls, told Reuters. "I want to be called to the Supreme Court so that I can prove using their own books that they are not Muslims."

Farooqi, who cradled bejeweled prayer beads as he spoke, is the Karachi head of a Deobandi organization called Ahle Sunnat wal Jama'at. That is the new name for Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a forerunner banned in 2002 in a wider crackdown on militancy by Pakistan's then army ruler, General Pervez Musharraf.

Farooqi says he opposes violence and denies any link to LeJ, but security officials believe his supporters are broadly aligned with the heavily armed group, whose leaders deem murdering Shi'ites an act of piety.

In the past year, LeJ has prosecuted its campaign with renewed gusto, emboldened by the release of Malik Ishaq, one of its founders, who was freed after spending 14 years in jail in July, 2011. Often pictured wearing a celebratory garland of pink flowers, Ishaq has since appeared at gatherings of supporters in Karachi and other cities.

In diverse corners of Pakistan, LeJ's cadres have bombed targets from mosques to snooker halls; yanked passengers off buses and shot them, and posted a video of themselves beheading a pair of trussed-up captives with a knife.

Nobody knows exactly how many Shi'ites there are in Pakistan -- estimates ranging from four to 20 percent of the population of 180 million underscore the uncertainty. What is clear is that they are dying faster than ever. At least 400 were killed last year, many from the ethnic Hazara minority in Quetta, according to Human Rights Watch, and some say the figure is far higher.

Pakistani officials suspect regional powers are stoking the fire, with donors in Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-dominated Gulf countries funding LeJ, while Shi'ite organizations turn to Iran.

Whatever factors are driving the violence, the state's ambivalent response has raised questions over the degree of tolerance for LeJ by elements in the security establishment, which has a long history of nurturing Deobandi proxies.

Under pressure in the wake of the Quetta bombings, police arrested Ishaq at his home in the eastern Punjab province on Friday under a colonial-era public order law.

But in Karachi, Farooqi and his thousands of followers project a new aura of confidence. Crowds of angry men chant "Shia infidel! Shia infidel" at rallies and burn effigies while clerics pour scorn on the sect from mosque loudspeakers after Friday prayers. A rash of graffiti hails Farooqi as a savior.

Over glasses of milky tea, he explained that his goal was to convince the government to declare Shi'ites non-Muslims, as it did to the Ahmadiyya sect in 1974, as a first step towards ostracizing the community and banning a number of their books.

"When someone is socially boycotted, he becomes disappointed and isolated. He realizes that his beliefs are not right, that people hate him," Farooqi said. "What I'm saying is that killing them is not the solution. Let's talk, let's debate and convince people that they are wrong."


Not far from Farooqi's seminary, in the winding lanes of the rough-and-tumble Malir quarter, Shi'ite leaders are kindling an awakening of their own.

A gleaming metallic chandelier dangles from the mirrored archway of a half-completed mosque rising near the modest offices of Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslemeen - known as MWM - a vocal Shi'ite party that has emerged to challenge Farooqi's ascent.

In an upstairs room, Ejaz Hussain Bahashti, an MWM leader clad in a white turban and black cloak, exhorts a gaggle of women activists to persuade their neighbors to join the cause.

Seated beneath a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Shi'ite cleric who led the 1979 Iranian revolution, Bahashti said his organization would not succumb to what he sees as a plan by LeJ to provoke sectarian conflict.

"In our sect, if we are being killed we are not supposed to carry out reprisal attacks," he told Reuters. "If we decided to take up arms, then no part of the country would be spared from terrorism - but it's forbidden."

The MWM played a big role in sit-ins that paralyzed parts of Karachi and dozens of other towns to protest against the Quetta bombings - the biggest Shi'ite demonstrations in years. But police suspect that some in the sect have chosen a less peaceful path.

Detectives believe the small Shi'ite Mehdi Force group, comprised of about 20 active members in Karachi, is behind several of the attacks on Deobandi clerics and their followers.

The underground network is led by a hardened militant codenamed "Shaheed", or martyr, who recruits eager but unseasoned middle-class volunteers who compensate for their lack of numbers by stalking high-profile targets.

"They don't have a background in terrorism, but after the Shia killings started they joined the group and they tried to settle the score," said Superintendent of Police Raja Umar Khattab. "They kill clerics."

In November, suspected Mehdi Force gunmen opened fire at a tea shop near the Ahsan-ul-Uloom seminary, where Farooqi has a following, killing six students. A scholar from the madrasa was shot dead the next month, another student killed in January.

"It was definitely a reaction, Shias have never gone on the offensive on their own," said Deputy Inspector-General Shahid Hayat.

According to the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee, a Karachi residents' group, some 68 members of Farooqi's Ahle Sunnat wal Jama'at and 85 Shi'ites were killed in the city from early September to February 19.

Police caution that it can be difficult to discern who is killing who in a vast metropolis where an array of political factions and gangs are vying for influence. A suspect has yet to be named, for example, in the slaying of two Deobandi clerics and a student in January whose killer was caught on CCTV firing at point blank range then fleeing on a motorbike.

Some in Karachi question whether well-connected Shi'ites within the city's dominant political party, the Muttahida Quami Movement, which commands a formidable force of gunmen, may have had a hand in some of the more sophisticated attacks, or whether rival Sunni factions may also be involved.

Despite the growing body count, Karachi can still draw on a store of tolerance. Some Sunnis made a point of attending the Shi'ite protests - a reminder that Farooqi's adherents are themselves a minority. Yet as Karachi's murder rate sets new records, the dynamics that have kept the city's conflicts within limits are being tested.

In the headquarters of an ambulance service founded by Abdul Sattar Edhi, once nominated for a Nobel Prize for devoting his life to Karachi's poor, controllers are busier than ever dispatching crews to ferry shooting victims to the morgue.

"The best religion of all is humanity," said Edhi, who is in his 80s, surveying the chaotic parade of street life from a chair on the pavement outside. "If religion doesn't have humanity, then it is useless."

(Editing by Robert Birsel)


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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Texas tightens rules on troopers' aerial shooting

By Paul J. Weber
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas ? Nearly four months after a Texas state trooper in a helicopter fired on a pickup truck speeding along the U.S.-Mexico border, killing two Guatemalan immigrants, state officials said Thursday that troopers are now forbidden from aerial shooting unless they're under fire.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw announced the policy change while facing questions from lawmakers about the deadly high-speed pursuit near La Joya in October. The truck was mistakenly thought to be carrying a drug load, and DPS says a trooper opened fire to disable the vehicle because it was barreling toward a school zone.

McCraw continued to defend that shooting, even while rolling out new rules that would now forbid it.

"I'm convinced that now, from a helicopter platform, that we shouldn't shoot unless being shot at, or someone is being shot at," McCraw said.

According to the revised policy later released by DPS, "a firearms discharge from an aircraft is authorized only when an officer reasonably believes that the suspect has used or is about to use deadly force by use of a deadly weapon against the air crew, ground officers or innocent third parties."

A suspect driving aggressively or recklessly does not constitute use of a deadly weapon, the new policy states.

The American Civil Liberties Union quickly applauded the move.

"We are relieved that Texas is ending this extreme practice, which no other Southwestern border states have ever allowed," said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. "We hope that this decision is a step, if only a small one, toward ending the culture of violence that pervades enforcement of border security in Texas."

Criminal prosecutors in Hidalgo County still are investigating the shooting, which caused the truck to crash into a ditch. Two illegal immigrants died, and a third was injured. Authorities said the wounded immigrants were among six hiding under a blanket in the truck's bed.

"I'm a firm believer they did exactly what they thought they needed to do," McCraw said Thursday.

The incident began with a chase after Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens spotted a red pickup near La Joya and the U.S.-Mexico border, about 250 miles south of San Antonio. The wardens requested help, and the DPS helicopter joined midway in the 14-mile, high-speed pursuit of what authorities said they believed was a "typical covered drug load."

In the days following the incident, civil rights groups and the Guatemalan government expressed concerns that DPS essentially was investigating itself because the Texas Rangers, who were leading the investigation, fall under the DPS umbrella. A week after the incident, McCraw said he had asked the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to investigate and would turn over the Texas Rangers' report.

Associated PressCopyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

copyright 2013 Associated Press


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US home sales rise to 2nd-highest pace in 3 years

In this Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, photo a home is for sale in Glenview, Ill. U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose in January to the second-highest level in three years, a sign that the housing market is sustaining its recovery and helping bolster the economy. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

In this Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, photo a home is for sale in Glenview, Ill. U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose in January to the second-highest level in three years, a sign that the housing market is sustaining its recovery and helping bolster the economy. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

(AP) ? U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose in January to the second-highest level in three years, a sign that the housing market is sustaining its recovery and helping bolster the economy.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales rose 0.4 percent in January compared with December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million. That was the second-highest sales pace since November 2009, when a temporary home buyer tax credit had boosted sales.

The median price for a home sold in January was $173,600, a 12.3 percent increase from a year ago.

Analysts say purchases would be higher if more homes were available. The supply of homes for sale dropped to nearly an eight-year low in January.

The 1.74 million previously owned homes for sale at the end of January represented a 4.2-month supply at January's sales pace. That's the lowest supply since April 2008.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors, said sellers normally begin listing homes in February in advance of the spring buying season. But he said this increase might not be enough to alleviate the tight supply.

The inventory of homes for sale is 25.3 percent below the level a year ago, when there was a 6.2-month supply of unsold homes.

In December, sales declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.9 million from 4.96 million in November, according to revised figures released Thursday. The December drop was linked, in part, to the tight supply of homes.

For all of 2012, sales rose to 4.66 million, according to revised estimates. That was 9.4 percent more than in 2011 and the most since 2007. But even with the gain, sales were below the 5.5 million that economists associate with a healthy market.

Analysts foresee further gains this year. Steady hiring and near-record-low mortgage rates have helped boost sales and prices in most markets. Still, sales are being held back by the low supply.

First-time buyers, who are critical to a housing recovery, made up only 30 percent of sales in January, unchanged from December. That's well below the 40 percent typical in a healthy market.

And since the housing bubble burst more than six years ago, banks have imposed tighter credit standards and required larger down payments. Those policies have left many would-be buyers unable to qualify for super-low mortgage rates.

The average U.S. rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is 3.56 percent. That's near the 3.31 percent reached in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971.

Rising demand for homes is encouraging builders to step up production. In January, builders started construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000 homes. That was down from December but was still the third-highest pace since mid-2008 and nearly 24 percent above the level a year ago.

And applications for building permits, a sign of future construction, rose in January to their highest point since June 2008.

Sales rose in January in all parts of the country except the West, the region that's being hampered the most by the shortage of homes for sale. In the West, sales fell 5.7 percent. Sales rose 4.8 percent in the Northeast, 3.6 percent in the Midwest and 1 percent in the South.

Associated Press


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Sarah Jessica Parker and 5 Other Celeb Photoshop Fails

Sarah Jessica Parker loves fashion, but fashion magazines don't always return the favor. The 47-year-old actress, who has a history of being aggressively airbrushed for magazine covers, is now the victim of a cringe-worthy Photoshop hack job in Harper's Bazaar China. On the cover of the March 2013 issue, Parker's face has been strangely elongated and unnaturally smoothed, lending her a seriously alien appearance. We're pretty sure whoever retouched that photo needs to be sent back to their home planet.


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Friday, February 22, 2013

2013 Sorauren soccer and t-ball registration starts March 6 ...

Due to an error, the Sorauren kids? soccer, t-ball and t-rex ball programs at Sorauren Park this spring were not included in the Toronto Fun Guide. HAVE NO FEAR: the great sports programs are happening this year, beginning in May as usual.

Registration starts Wednesday, March 6 (Sorauren is in the Toronto and East York district). On March 6 and afterwards, you can register online, by telephone (automated or through an operator), or in person at the Parkdale Community Recreation Centre in Parkdale PS on Lansdowne Avenue.

Make sure you have your City Client number and Family number prior to registering. Call a customer service representative from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday, at 416-338-4386 to set up your account today if you don?t already have one.

Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation handles all registration, while local volunteer parents provide coaching and fundraising for t-shirts and trophies. Volunteering is a great way to support your kids and connect with the community.

We?ll publish more details on this new Sorauren Park Sports Association website as the season progresses.

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Robin Roberts returns to 'Good Morning America'

NEW YORK (AP) ? Robin Roberts made her return to ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday, five months to the day after receiving a bone marrow transplant and a year since she started feeling symptoms of the ailment that has sidelined her since August.

Roberts looked thin and didn't bother to cover her hair loss with a wig. She wore a wide smile in taking her seat next to co-host George Stephanopoulos on TV's top-rated morning show.

"I have been waiting 174 days to say this," Roberts said. "Good morning, America."

The bulk of the ABC show turned into a celebration of her return as she's recovering from MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease. President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and basketball star Magic Johnson all sent taped greetings.

At the studio, ABC boss Anne Sweeney, news division President Ben Sherwood and Katie Couric all stood in the wings watching. When Roberts thanked her nurses on the air, all of the show producers in the control room a floor away stood and applauded. Sherwood delivered a champagne toast on the set after the show went off the air at 9 a.m.

"Can I go home now?" Roberts said, before delivering a tearful thank you to her colleagues.

Bottles of hand sanitizers were kept nearby for people who come into regular contact with Roberts, who must try to avoid contact with others as her immune system builds back up. The plan is for Roberts to work two or three days a week initially and her health will be closely monitored, said Tom Cibrowski, the show's senior executive producer.

Roberts said after the show that she wasn't tired and was working on adrenaline. But the bright studio lights affected her eyesight. She said she started having trouble seeing the teleprompters midway through the show.

She has a tough schedule her first week back. She's expected to co-host the show Thursday and perhaps Friday, tape an interview with first lady Michelle Obama on Friday and fly to California. She'll participate in Oscars coverage and make an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's post-Oscars show. Even her doctor, Gail Roboz, while clearing Roberts' return, said, "we didn't exactly have in mind an interview with Michelle Obama and the Oscars this weekend."

Roberts said her doctors are watching her closely, and they told her to cool it two weeks ago during an appearance in New Orleans.

"I'm not worried about having to be here, or the need to be here," Roberts said. "I want to be here."

The return date was important psychologically because it was during Academy Awards coverage last year that Roberts said she felt bone-tired, almost unable to work, and went to the doctor shortly afterward for the blood test that turned up her disease.

She said her hair stylist came up with a wig for her to wear with bangs similar to Michelle Obama's. But Roberts said viewers had already seen her on the air with her thin layer of hair and she thought a wig would be too distracting.

"It's freeing, it really is," she said.

Amy Robach and Elizabeth Vargas largely filled in for Roberts during her absence, although there were occasional celebrity "guest hosts" like Charlie Sheen, Stephen Colbert and Jessica Simpson. The show didn't miss a beat, not losing a single week to NBC's "Today" show while she was gone, a development Sherwood admitted was a surprise. An unintended consequence was that her absence enabled an ensemble that also includes Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer and Sam Champion to grow stronger and become more familiar to viewers, he said.

The "Today" show sent a gift basket that "Good Morning America" displayed in its studio, and gave Roberts an on-air welcome.

"She's looking and feeling great," said NBC's Savannah Guthrie. "And I know we're all really happy for her."

The return of Roberts, which Sherwood called "a day that we all rejoice," could also give ABC new momentum in the contest for morning television dominance. NBC's top anchor, Matt Lauer, is on vacation this week.

"Having Robin back is going to take us to new levels, to new heights," Cibrowski said.


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Tribe Gaming Community Recruiting

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Disney discovers Mickey Mouse sketch from 1938

"Mickey's Toothache," from 1938 shows the famous mouse being chased by a dentist's chair and nemesis "Pete" during??

More than 80 years after his creation, Mickey Mouse continues to surprise.

The Disney archives have released a newly discovered sketch from 1938, ?Mickey?s Toothache,? part of an incomplete cartoon that was part of an effort to make Mickey a more complete character.

In ?Mickey?s Toothache,? created in April 1938, artist Ferdinand Horvath has the newly adventurous Mickey experiencing something akin to a psychedelic nightmare. In the words of Disney Archives Director Becky Cline, Mickey has traveled to the dentist and fallen under the influence of too much laughing gas. The overdose sends Mickey into a ?nightmarish world inhabited by living teeth, dental floss, a psychotic dentist?s chair and a vengeful pair of dental pliers," said Cline.

Mickey?s then-nemesis Pete also makes an appearance in the nightmare scenario. It culminates with Mickey being put on trial led, of course, by a judgmental wisdom tooth, who charges Mickey with tooth neglect.

The previously forgotten piece of artwork was discovered by the Disney animation research department in a folder lost for more than 74 years. It was unearthed just a few months ago.

?Mickey has been a superstar from almost the beginning. He was immediately popular,? Cline told Yahoo News. ?By 1938, he was just about to step into a finished version of himself. He was boyish and impish. During this period of his growth he became larger than life in some ways.?

Cline says the artwork showcases the transformation of America's favorite mouse from popular fad to American icon. It's one that can be seen as well in released cartoons of Mickey engaging in various adventures in locales including the deepest jungles of Africa, or in the 1936 cartoon ?Through the Mirror.?

?Mickey was kind of growing and stretching. He left the barnyard, and he started to become more adventurous,? Cline said.

Though most people think of Walt Disney himself in relation to his most-famous individual creation, Horvath was a significant part of the early Disney years. Born in a Russian concentration camp in 1891, he taught himself to draw before immigrating to America on Armistice Day 1921. He worked for the studio from 1934 through 1944, producing between 70 and 80 animated shorts along the way and working on the production of "Snow White."

?Mickey?s Toothache? is just one of several unveilings being planned as part of this year?s D23 anniversary celebration, an event that began last year as a way to include members of Disney?s official fan club in some of the company?s milestone events. The Horvath image will be included in a 90-minute presentation showcasing some of this year?s other major Disney anniversaries.

Last year, we brought you the story of a newly discovered, 85-year-old Oswald the Rabbit sketch, ?Harem Scarem.? Since then, Disney has pushed forward with efforts to bring Oswald, a Mickey prototype of sorts, back into the Disney fold.

So, will we ever see a complete version of ?Mickey?s Toothache??

?It?s possible,? Cline said. "The animation research library still goes back and refers to those older cartoons. ... Even though we?re still discovering some of this material for the first time in decades, they?re not lost.?


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It's not just amyloid: White matter hyperintensities and Alzheimer's disease

Feb. 19, 2013 ? New findings by Columbia researchers suggest that along with amyloid deposits, white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) may be a second necessary factor for the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Most current approaches to Alzheimer's disease focus on the accumulation of amyloid plaque in the brain. The researchers at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, led by Adam M. Brickman, PhD, assistant professor of neuropsychology, examined the additional contribution of small-vessel cerebrovascular disease, which they visualized as white matter hyperintensities (WMHs).

The study included 20 subjects with clinically defined Alzheimer's disease, 59 subjects with mild cognitive impairment, and 21 normal control subjects. Using data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative public database, the researchers found that amyloid and WHMs were equally associated with an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Amyloid and WMHs were also equally predictive of which subjects with mildcognitive impairment would go on to develop Alzheimer's. Among those with significant amyloid, WMHs were more prevalent in those with Alzheimer's than in normal control subjects.

Because the risk factors for WMHs -- which are mainly vascular -- can be controlled, the findings suggest potential ways to prevent the development of Alzheimer's in those with amyloid deposits.

"White Matter Hyperintensities and Cerebral Amyloidosis" was published online February 19 in JAMA Neurology.

The other authors are Frank A. Provenzano, MS (CUMC and Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences); Jordan Muraskin, MS (CUMC and Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences); Guiseppe Tosto, MD (CUMC); Atul Narkhede, MS (CUMC); Ben T. Wasserman, AB (CUMC); Erica Y Griffith, BS (CUMC); Vanessa A. Guzman, BA (CUMC); Irene B. Meier, MSc (CUMC); and Molly E. Zimmerman, PhD (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY, NY).

The research was supported by NIH (U01 AG024904, P30 AG010129, K01 AG030514, AG029949, and AG034189).

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Columbia University Medical Center.

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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