lundi 24 juin 2013

Nelson Mandela's Condition Becomes Critical

Nelson Mandela remains in a critical condition in hospital, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said.
Mr Zuma and ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa visited Mr Mandela in hospital on Sunday evening after the former president's health deteriorated.
They were briefed by Mr Mandela's medical team and told the 94-year-old's condition had become critical over the past 24 hours".
Mr Zuma said in a statement: "The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands."
The pair also met Mr Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, who has been by her husband's bedside since he was taken ill.
On Monday, Mr Zuma told a news conference in Johannesburg that he had no further updates on Mr Mandela's condition.
Mr Mandela has suffered repeated bouts of illness in recent months and has been admitted to hospital four times since December.
The anti-apartheid leader has been in intensive care since he was last admitted to hospital on June 8 for a recurring lung infection.
Mr Zuma appealed to South Africans and to the world to pray for Mr Mandela, his family and the medical team attending him.
In Sunday's statement, Mr Zuma also discussed the government's acknowledgement a day earlier that an ambulance carrying Mr Mandela to the hospital two weeks ago had broken down.
"There were seven doctors in the convoy who were in full control of the situation throughout the period. He had expert medical care," Mr Zuma said.
"The fully equipped military ICU ambulance had a full complement of specialist medical staff including intensive care specialists and ICU nurses.
"The doctors also dismissed the media reports that Madiba suffered cardiac arrest. There is no truth at all in that report."
Mr Mandela is seen by many around the world as a symbol of reconciliation.
He played a leading role in steering South Africa from the apartheid era to democracy, becoming the country's first black president in all-race elections in 1994.

jeudi 13 juin 2013

Court says human genes cannot be patented

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that companies cannot patent parts of naturally-occurring human genes, a decision with the potential to profoundly affect the emerging and lucrative medical and biotechnology industries.
The high court's unanimous judgment reverses three decades of patent awards by government officials. It throws out patents held by Salt Lake City-based Myriad Genetics Inc. on an increasingly popular breast cancer test brought into the public eye recently by actress Angelina Jolie's revelation that she had a double mastectomy because of one of the genes involved in this case.
Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the court's decision, said that Myriad's assertion — that the DNA it isolated from the body for its proprietary breast and ovarian cancer tests were patentable — had to be dismissed because it violates patent rules. The court has said that laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas are not patentable.
"We hold that a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated," Thomas said.
However, the court gave Myriad a partial victory, ruling that while naturally-occurring DNA was not patentable, synthetically-created DNA could be patented. The court said that synthetically created DNA, known as cDNA, can be patented "because it is not naturally occurring," Thomas said.
Patents are the legal protection that gives inventors the right to prevent others from making, using or selling a novel device, process or application. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been awarding patents on human genes for almost 30 years, but opponents of Myriad Genetics Inc.'s patents on the two genes linked to increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer say such protection should not be given to something that can be found inside the human body.
The company has used its patent to come up with its BRACAnalysis test, which looks for mutations on the breast cancer predisposition gene, or BRCA. Those mutations are associated with much greater risks of breast and ovarian cancer. Women with a faulty gene have a three to seven times greater risk of developing breast cancer and also have a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
Jolie revealed last month that her mother died of ovarian cancer and that her maternal grandmother also had the disease. She said she carries a defective BRCA1 gene that puts her at high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers, and her doctor said that the test that turned up the faulty gene link led Jolie to have both of her healthy breasts removed to try to avoid the same fate.
The court's ruling on synthetic DNA leaves the door open for future genetic patent work for companies like Myriad, lawyers said.
Thomas noted there are still ways for Myriad to make money off its discovery. "Had Myriad created an innovative method of manipulating genes while searching for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, it could possibly have sought a method patent," he said. And he noted that the case before the court did not include patents on the application of knowledge about the two genes.
Most biotech companies have already moved on from trying to patent isolated DNA, instead looking at synthetic options and other ways of protecting their multimillion-dollar investments, said Matthew McFarlane of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P.
"On a day-in and day-out basis, I don't see this changing that part of the industry," McFarlane said. "Isolated DNA itself is not something that companies seek to protect anymore."
Myriad's stock price jumped 10 percent after the ruling and was above $36 a share in early afternoon trading.
For its part, Myriad focused on what the ruling left intact.
"We believe the court appropriately upheld our claims on cDNA and underscored the patent eligibility of our method claims, ensuring strong intellectual property protection for our BRACAnalysis test moving forward," said Peter D. Meldrum, Myriad's president and CEO. "More than 250,000 patients rely upon our BRACAnalysis test annually, and we remain focused on saving and improving peoples' lives and lowering overall healthcare costs."
Myriad sells the only BRCA gene test. Opponents of its patents say the company can use the patents to keep other researchers from working with the BRCA gene to develop other tests.
"Today, the court struck down a major barrier to patient care and medical innovation," said Sandra Park, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union Women's Rights Project. "Myriad did not invent the BRCA genes and should not control them. Because of this ruling, patients will have greater access to genetic testing and scientists can engage in research on these genes without fear of being sued."
Companies have billions of dollars of investment and years of research on the line in this case. Their advocates argue that without the ability to recoup their investment through the profits that patents bring, breakthrough scientific discoveries to combat all kinds of medical maladies wouldn't happen.
But "genes and the information they encode area not patent eligible ... simply because they have been isolated from the surrounding genetic material," Thomas said.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia said "the portion of the DNA isolated from its natural state sought to be patented is identical to that portion of the DNA in its natural state."
The case is 12-398, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.

How to pronounce "-ed"

New diet craze offers five days of feasting for two days of famine

LONDON (Reuters) - Forget abandoning carbohydrates or detoxing. The new dieting craze sweepingBritain and taking off in the United States lets people eat whatever they like - but only five days a week.
"The Fast Diet", also known as the 5:2 diet, is the brainchild of TV medical journalist Michael Mosleyand journalist Mimi Spencer and allows people to eat what they want for five days but only eat 600 calories a day on the other two.
Their book, "The Fast Diet", has topped bestselling book lists in Britain and the United States this year and been reprinted more than a dozen times.
Mosley said the diet is based on work by British and U.S. scientists who found intermittent fastinghelped people lose more fat, increase insulin sensitivity and cut cholesterol which should mean reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes.
He tried this eating regime for a BBC television science program called "Eat, Fast, Live Longer" last August after finding out his cholesterol level was too high and his blood sugar in the diabetic range. He was stunned by the results.
"I started doing intermittent fasting a year ago, lost 8 kgs (18 pounds) of fat over 3 months and my blood results went back to normal," Mosley told Reuters.
Mosley said he had been amazed at the way the diet had taken off with a list of websites set up by followers of the 5:2 diet or variations of the eating regime to share their experiences.
Following the success of "The Fast Diet", Spencer joined forces with dietitian Sarah Schenker to bring out "The Fast Diet Recipe Book" in April which has topped's food and drink list with 150 recipes containing under 300 calories.
Eating a 600 calorie daily diet - about a quarter of a normal healthy adult's intake - could consist of two eggs for breakfast, grilled chicken and lettuce for lunch, and fish with rice noodles for dinner with nothing to drink but water, black coffee or tea.
Mosley put the diet's success down to the fact it is psychologically attractive and leads to steady drop in weight with an average weekly loss of 1 pound (0.46kg) for women and slightly more for men.
"The problem with standard diets is that you feel like you are constantly having to exercise restraint and that means you are thinking about food all the time, which becomes self-defeating," said Mosley.
"On this regime you are only really on a diet two days a week. It is also extremely flexible and simple."
Britain's National Health Service (NHS) initially expressed doubts about the diet and its longterm effects, saying side effects could include sleeping difficulties, bad breath, irritability, anxiety, and daytime sleepiness.
But as the popularity of the 5:2 diet has grown and become one of the most searched diets on the Internet, the NHS has started to look again at the diet and its effects.
On its website last month the NHS said the British Dietetic Association (BDA) reviewed a 2011 study by researchers at the UK's University Hospital of South Manchester that suggested intermittent fasting could help lower the risk of certain obesity-related cancers such as breast cancer.
"The increasing popularity of the 5:2 diet should lead to further research of this kind," the BDA said in a statement.
Schenker, a sports and media dietitian who works with football clubs and food companies, said it was a shame that the NHS had criticized the eating regime that had proved such a success with so many people.
"We are in the midst of an obesity crisis and you need to balance up which is worse - intermittent fasting of staying obese?" Schenker told Reuters.
Despite concerns raised by the NHS, the 5:2 diet has been widely praised by those who follow it.
Deb Thomas, 50, a management coach from London, said she has followed the diet for six months and dropped a couple of dress sizes. This has also inspired her husband to join her in fasting two days a week.
"It is such an easy diet to follow that fits into my way of life," Thomas said. "You have a tough day of not eating but you know the next day you can eat normally again, and that keeps you going."

Top Tips if you're travelling to New York this summer

Yellow Cabs vs Regular taxis
Sometimes yellow cabs are cheaper. They tend to charge a standard rate. However, make sure you look at the meter because once I went into a cab where the person was racist and tried to add $5 extra dollars to the fare. When I told him that I know how to read he started to say that is why he does not like Black people. Mind you the guy who was of another race was darker than us.

Non-yellow cabs don't always use a meter. They charge you based on how you dress and where you are going. If you look like you have money they will charge you alot. If you are going to an expensive neighborhood in Manhattan they may charge you more than those who are going to the Bronx which may be further out. 

Your best bet is to take public transportation during non rush hours 10:30am - 2:00pm, 4pm-4:30pm and 7pm-5am. If coming from airport take the shared van service, or one of the local buses or trains
Check your hotel's location
Our package's program said "Two nights in New York". We slept two nights not far from New York (in American scale, very far in Portuguese scale), but as a matter of fact, in New Jersey State. And, sleeping in New Jersey can be a good or bad solution, depending on your program. As you may see in my Newark page, I had a very good experience with that kind of solution, when I was coming from inland, needing to take a plane in Newark Airport and with a very short time to be in New York. 

However, this time, I was coming from Europe, expecting to have some free time in New York, and we didn’t. We followed the straight program of the package, and were moved more than 25km outside NY, to Saddle Brook, far from everything. Next time I’ll check it more carefully.
Beware with the Naked Cowboy!

A funy character in Times square!
You can take a pic with him for a tip. You have to leave the tip in one of his cowbow boots, the "pack" includes a picture with his "front" and a pic of his 'back" hahah.
He also has a legend, you can read it in his website, I just get to a conclusion: JUST IN NEW YORK......

Pickpockets and fake tickets

Always keep an eye on your money, and camera in the subway, pickpockets are good at taking your stuff without you noticing it in time.

and never buy tickets from a stranger on the street, and so you do not buy fake tickets, and never go fake cab

can be good also to read a bit about New York before traveling here.

mercredi 12 juin 2013

World's oldest ever man dies aged 116

The world's oldest person and the oldest man ever to have lived has died of natural causes aged 116, officials in Japan said on Wednesday.
Jiroemon Kimura, who was born in 1897, died in hospital early Wednesday morning "from old age", an official in Kyoto's Kyotango city said in a statement.
Kimura, who was from Kyotango, was hospitalised in early May suffering from pneumonia. A few days ago doctors noted that his condition was worsening,
Kimura was recognised by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living person in December 2012, after a woman from the United States died at the age of 115.
That month he also broke another record when he was verified as the oldest man ever to have lived, after reaching the age of 115 years and 253 days.
However, he was well off the all-time record set by French woman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122, making her the longest living person in history.
Kimura, who was born the same year as American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, celebrated his 116th birthday in April, receiving a pre-recorded video greeting from Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The centenarian had seven children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grand children and 15 great-great grandchildren, and worked at a post office for about 40 years. After retiring he took up farming which he continued to do until the age of 90.
He did not smoke and only ate until he was 80 percent full, the local official told AFP.
Kimura's motto in life was "to eat light and live long," the official added.

lundi 10 juin 2013

No fee AND no interest balance transfer card launched by Tesco

Tesco has stormed into the balance transfer market today with a market-leading 12-month 0% credit card with no fees.
The Tesco Clubcard with No Balance Transfer Fee has a 12-month 0% purchase period and whenever you use the card you’ll be able to earn Clubcard points.
This means you can transfer a debt over to the card and pay no fees or interest for a year.
No other balance transfer card offers the combination of no fee and a 0% period lasting as long as 12 months. The card is truly exceptional because it also has a 12-month 0% purchase period, which means you can buy items on the card during the year and not be charged interest.
There is also the added bonus for Tesco shoppers of collecting Clubcard points when using it. When shopping in Tesco or on Tesco petrol you’ll receive five points for every £4 you spend, and you'll get one point for every £4 spent elsewhere.

How does it compare?

When looking at the fees alone this is one of the best credit cards on the market.
The average fee for 0% balance transfer cards is around 2.5% so this is a much cheaper option. It’s also attractive thanks to the extended 0% purchase period and Clubcard points.  
If you want a longer interest-free period than 12 months, you can also upgrade to a card which offers 16-months 0% interest and nine months 0% purchases for a fee of 2.9%. At this rate you would pay £58 on a debt of £2,000, but for a smaller fee there are several cards available with longer balance transfer and purchase periods.
Our comparison tables show all the cards on the market but here are the top five with low fees.
Balance transfer card 
Balance transfer fee
0% period on balance transfers
0% period on new purchases
Fee paid on £2,000 balance transfer
15 months
15 months
15 months
3 months
13 months
6 months
13 months
6 months
1.28% (for June)
16 months
3 months
 Cards with a low fee typically have a much lower 0% period and are therefore suitable for those who don’t want to be stuck with a hefty fee for moving a debt over.
But if you need longer than 12 months to clear a debt, there are better options around. The market-leader, for example, from Barclaycard has a 27-month 0% period, but a fee of 2.98%.
Our comparison tables show the full picture but here I’ve listed the top five cards with the longest 0% periods.
0% period
Balance transfer fee
Fee paid on £2,000 transfer
Representative APR after 0% period ends
27 months
2.98% (for June)
26 months
26 months
26 months
25 months
2.04% (for June)

How to use a balance transfer card

When you take out one of these cards, the main aim should be to clear the debt in the 0% period. If you don't then you'll have to start paying interest when the 0% period ends. At this point it may be possible to transfer the debt onto a new card but there is no guarantee you’ll be accepted.
These cards have a higher standard interest rate than most credit cards and therefore interest payments can negate any savings you’ve made in the 0% period.
Missing a payment is also dangerous as it can cut the 0% period short, result in a fine or even leave a permanent mark on your credit score.

vendredi 7 juin 2013

Why now’s the time to JOIN the euro

Britain’s busy debating its place in Europe, but instead of leaving the European Union it might be the perfect time to actually adopt the euro instead.

While the focus in the UK is on ditching our EU membership, one country has just decided now is the time to step up integration instead.

Latvia, the Baltic state, this week agreed to ditch its Lats in favour of the euro. It will become the 18th member of the currency bloc on January 1st 2014. 

While there will be a huge amount of debate about why Latvia is stupid to join the euro at this stage – and the country’s population is far from convinced - we thought we’d look at whether or not the UK should follow Latvia’s lead and jump aboard the eurozone ship. 
Why would anyone want to join the euro now?

The chief reason for Latvia’s decision is economic, according the country’s prime minister. And it’s not what you might think: Latvia is not looking for hand outs or easy access to Merkel’s bailout fund, quite the opposite. 

After a torrid financial crisis where GDP contracted more than 17%, Latvia has climbed back to growth and managed to cut its debts and deficits at a pace even Germany would struggle with. In three years its fiscal adjustment was more than 15% of GDP. 

But although the recovery has been successful, the hard times were exacerbated by Latvia being outside the eurozone. When its crisis was in full swing its currency came under speculative attack, much like the attacks on Europe’s peripheral bond markets during the sovereign crisis. 

So rather than concentrate on boosting growth, the Latvian government had to spend precious foreign currency reserves to defend itself instead. When currencies come under attack the results can be disastrous, including a rapid rise in inflation eroding living standards and corporate profitability. 

By joining the eurozone Latvia gets rid of this problem. If it comes up against hard times in the future it does not need to worry about a speculative currency attack. 

Latvia’s euro membership could be positive for Germany too. Austerity has worked for Latvia and the prime minister has been a big supporter of it, even going so far as to criticise Nobel-prize winning economist and austerity-fan Paul Krugman. Germany might just have found its next poster child for austerity. 

Could Britain reap the same benefits?

Of course, if the UK joined the eurozone; it would not be the poster child of anything. Firstly, our austerity efforts so far have been meagre at best. Public spending is still unsustainable and our economy is still too reliant on the financial service sector. 

The export market revolution has yet to happen, which is hampering our economic turnaround. Perhaps this is where the UK could take a lesson from Latvia. 

We know that one of the reasons Latvia wants to join the eurozone is to eliminate currency risk. Since 2009 the pound is more than 12% stronger than the euro, which has hit the competitiveness of exports to our largest trading partner. 

Ok, maybe our currency hasn’t come under speculative attack like the Lats, but the UK is no stranger to currency crises (think back to September 1992 and Black Wednesday when the UK crashed out of the ERM), so we can’t rule one out in the future.

The pound has seen its standing in global foreign currency reserves slip in the past decade as currencies like the Aussie dollar and the Norwegian krone have been favoured by rich emerging market countries. Likewise, we’ve already lost our triple-A credit rating. While this has gone mostly unnoticed so far, it has weakened our long-term defences against an attack on the UK Gilt market or the pound. 

While there are many reasons not to join the eurozone – including the sovereign debt crisis and the fact it is a bit like a giant gravy train for MEPs paid for by taxpayers – Latvia’s decision poses an interesting question. 

The prime minister has addressed the eurozone crisis in recent weeks; however he sticks to his view that the sovereign crisis is not a crisis of the euro, but rather a crisis for the countries involved. The Latvian government is joining the currency bloc purely for the currency, and, at this stage, it is not worried about the lack of fiscal union. 

If they’d have us, that is...

Of course, while Latvia – with its stable budget and impressive economic turnaround – was given a resounding vote of approval from the EU executive, it’s not exactly clear that the UK would receive the same warm welcome.

So, for now, the sensible thing to do might be to get our own house in order before we decide to either embrace or divorce ourselves from the world’s largest economy.