Tag Archives: world news

Brazilian Bikini waxes are eradicating pubic lice

As I’m sure nobody wants that guy up there crawling around in their pants, recent studies have shown that not only does shaving/waxing your “downtown city center” prevent the little bastards from sticking with you, but because the trend of removing the carpet and “sticking with hardwood floors downstairs” is becoming more and more common, pubic lice are well on their way to becoming an endangered species. So there you go people, do it for science, and for everybody who is going to be visiting you down there as well.

Waning infestations of the bloodsuckers have been linked by doctors to pubic depilation, especially a technique popularized in the 1990s by a Manhattan salon run by seven Brazilian sisters. More than 80 percent of college students in the U.S. remove all or some of their pubic hair — part of a trend that’s increasing in western countries. In Australia, Sydney’s main sexual health clinic hasn’t seen a woman with pubic lice since 2008 and male cases have fallen 80 percent from about 100 a decade ago.

“It used to be extremely common; it’s now rarely seen,” said Basil Donovan, head of sexual health at the University of New South Wales’s Kirby Institute and a physician at the Sydney Sexual Health Centre. “Without doubt, it’s better grooming.”

The trend suggests an alternative way of stemming one of the globe’s most contagious sexually transmitted infections. Pubic lice are usually treated with topical insecticides, which once included toxic ones developed before and during World War 2. While they aren’t known to spread disease, itchy skin reactions and subsequent infections make pubic lice a hazardous pest.

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One more reason dogs are better than cats; they can drive cars. Seriously, there’s video.

Two stray dogs in New Zealand went through an extensive 5-week training program where they learned how to shift and steer a car. This is real life. They started out on little “doggie go-karts” then upgraded to modified Mini Coopers.

For the four-legged competitors, two months of hard work – and a fair few treats – ensured they were raring to get on the racetrack. So when the big day rolled around, the only ones likely to get hot under the collar were any bystanders who spotted a Mini hurtling towards them with a dog at the wheel. Two mutts made history yesterday by driving a car down a racetrack. Ten-month-old beardie cross Porter put his paws to the pedals first, steering the Mini down the straight and then turning a corner.

He was followed by Monty, an 18-month-old giant schnauzer cross, who completed the same feat. As the Mail reported last week, the pair – along with one-year-old beardie whippet cross Ginny – had been taking driving lessons, which began with them learning to steer a wooden cart pulled along on a string by their trainers.

In just eight weeks, they progressed to driving a real car – a modified Mini in which they sat on their haunches in the driver’s seat. Their front paws were on the steering wheel, while their back paws were on levers attached to the accelerator and the brake.

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World Bank envisions a 4°C over normal future temperature. Call Kevin Costner so we can survive in the water world.

When scientists and politicians chat about the next century of climate change, the idea is that we can make enough changes and keep things together enough to see only a 2 degree Celsius rise in temperature from pre-industrial levels. Realistically however, even with electric cars on the rise and carbon offsets, we may still hit the dreaded 4 degree mark, which would cause the kind of catastrophic climate change and flooding that all those tree-huggers have been warning us about. And now, the World Bank is involved because if this does happen, it will completely change the entire global economic picture.

In a report released today, the World Bank analyzed the consequences of allowing temperatures to reach 4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. Even the well understood problems—up to a meter of sea level rise, winter months that are warmer than our current summers—sound pretty ugly. The report also notes the possibility of tipping points and synergies make some of the impacts much harder to predict.

The report itself is a collaboration between the Bank’s Global Expert Team for Climate Change Adaptation and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics. In addition to taking a different perspective on the problem of climate change, the report comes at a valuable time. It’s been five years since the release of the fourth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; the fifth isn’t due until late next year.

So, what are the chances of adding an extra 4°C by the end of the century? The report estimates that, even if all countries are able to meet their current emissions pledges, there’s still a 20 percent chance we’ll hit 4°C by the end of the century. The longer we wait to meet those pledges, the harder it will be in part because it means we’ve already built fossil fuel infrastructure that has a life span of decades.

What does a world that much warmer look like? To give a sense of how hard it is to imagine, the report notes some points in the last glacial period were only 4.5°colder than present temperatures—and there were ice sheets covering a lot of the Northern Hemisphere. We’ve already hit levels of CO2 in the atmosphere that haven’t been seen in over 15 million years. To reach 4°C, they’d have to roughly double again. And these changes would take place at a pace that probably has few geological precedents.

So, even the report’s authors admit that predications are a challenge. Still, they do their best to try to paint a picture, and boy, is it grim.

Sea level would rise by a half-meter or more, putting lots of coastal infrastructure and plenty of people at risk. The typical summer temperatures would be the equivalent of our worst heat waves. In fact, the specifically note that normal temperatures in Russia would be similar to those of its recent heat wave, which killed 55,000 people and caused massive property damage. Meanwhile, the baseline winter temperatures would be equivalent to our current summers in most areas. Temperatures over land will rise faster than they do over the ocean, and some regions will be especially hard hit. The authors predict that typical temperatures in the Mediterranean will be up by roughly 9°C.

Rainfall patterns would shift dramatically, with some river basins seeing a reduction of over 20 percent in water while others get additional rainfall. That will add to the stresses on agriculture, where many crops will already be pushing up against temperature limits in current growth zones. Meanwhile, the level of ocean acidification driven by our emissions may stop coral reef growth as soon as the 2030s. Acidification may also begin reducing reefs by the end of the century.

All of that sounds pretty awful, but that’s not the end of it. Even if atmospheric greenhouse gas levels were stabilized by the end of the century, it would take our planet time to reach a new equilibrium. Temperatures would continue to rise, with the global mean reaching 6° over pre-industrial levels. Sea levels would continue to rise, reaching somewhere between 1.5m and 5m above present levels. That later figure is higher than the storm surge that swept into Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In addition, the report raises the spectre of nonlinear events, commonly called tipping points, where a current equilibrium is shifted to a new state entirely. It points out there might be synergistic effects that could make a combination of tolerable impacts difficult to manage. For example, reduced rainfall, elevated temperatures, and saltwater intrusion from rising ocean levels could all have a negative impact on agriculture. At the same time, loss of port facilities to sea level rise could make importing crops from elsewhere a challenge.

If all of this is a bit shocking, then the report achieves its desired effect. “It is my hope that this report shocks us into action,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. “Even for those of us already committed to fighting climate change, I hope it causes us to work with much more urgency.” He said that the Bank’s goal of economic development and poverty reduction could be met without pushing against planned emissions limits.

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Brazil to begin cloning endangered species

Being that Brazil contains the Amazon River and the Amazon basin, it has a giant wealth of natural resources when it comes to various species. However, as the rainforests continue to disappear at an alarming rate, so do entire species of plants and animals. In an attempt to preserve some of that diversity, Brazil will being cloning some of its wildlife to ensure their survival.

Brazilian scientists have announced that they are moving ahead with plans to clone a number of endangered species, a list of animals that includes the jaguar, maned wolf, and black lion. The groundbreaking initiative is being conducted by the Brasilia Zoological Garden in partnership with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA. The researchers claim that they’re not looking to repopulate habitats, but to increase the number of captive specimens available. But in the event of extreme cases, they admit that they’re prepared to release these cloned animals into the wild.

Researchers at the Brasilia Zoological Garden have selected eight animals for the initiative, most of which are on the the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The genetic material required to clone these animals were collected over the course of the past two years, including the genomes of the bush dog, coati, collared anteater, gray brocket deer, and bison. The genomes were harvested primarily from dead animals native to the Cerrado, the vast tropical savannah biome that stretches across central Brazil. The researchers say they have already collected 420 samples which are currently being stored in their gene banks.

Now that this initial phase is complete, the next step will be to train the researchers at the zoo.

These animals will not be the first ones to be cloned by EMBRAPA; the government agency was responsible for the birth of a cloned cow in 2001. Since that time, various other animals have been cloned in Brazil, including other cows and horses.

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Serious Stuff: A Global bacon shortage is “unavoidable”

I hope you learn. I hope you see what you have done internet. I hope you Epic Meal Time loving, meme creating sons of bitches all get what is coming to you. Did you think that your constant references to bacon and consistent harassment of those who said they “Didn’t even like bacon” didn’t have consequences? Well now guess what, that’s right, we’re running real low on the good stuff. And I’ll tell you one thing, if you thought the things crack addicts did to get their fix were bad, wait until you see what an unbaconated American will do just to drink the grease from a fresh batch.

Britain’s National Pig Association said Tuesday that an international shortage of bacon and other pork products is now “unavoidable,” and expects higher prices for consumers soon.

Recent data shows Europe’s pig population declining at an alarming rate “and this is a trend that is being mirrored around the world,” the NPA said in a release. Every major pork-producing European nation has fewer pigs today than they did last year, even as demand for pork products has remained high.

A crippling drought in the U.S. farm belt caused the price of corn and soy, two staples of agricultural feed, to skyrocket. Retailers have been thus far unwilling to pass those costs on to consumers, and instead have been paying pig farmers less for each pig.

The problem is not limited to Europe.

The Canadian Pork Council confirms that the size of North America’s pig herd is shrinking, which will drive up prices as farmers start to limit supply.

“It’s because of the rise in the price of corn,” the agency’s public relations manager, Gary Stordy, told CBC News. “Producers are losing money right now and like any other business, when you’re not making money, you shut down.”

U.S. laws that mandate a certain percentage of the corn crop go into ethanol fuel for the transportation industry had lit a fire under corn prices even before the drought. The size of the continent’s corn crop has been rising for a decade, before falling precipitously this year.

When that happens, other corn buyers, including pig farmers, get hit.

“You can buy futures for some commodities, but not feed,” Stordy said. “Farmers can’t find a way to hedge their bets, so they have to pay the market price,” which has suddenly become unsustainable, he said.

The cost increases have made it no longer cost-efficient for farmers to raise pigs, NPA says. It recently warned that a fall of two per cent in the number of hogs slaughtered next year would push consumer prices up by 10 per cent.

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Australian billionaire wants to build a real Jurassic Park, lesson clearly not learned from the movies

We essentially have the technology to bring dinosaurs back to life already, it’s just not perfect. Some smaller species of ancient bacteria or plants have already been brought back to life with just a bit of their DNA. Now nobody is really pursuing this idea to bring back full-sized dinos because, well, it’s probably not the best idea. But now, billionaire and possible crazy person Clive Palmer is putting a hefty sum of money towards building his own Jurassic Park.

The controversial billionaire is rumoured to be planning to clone a dinosaur from DNA so he can set it free in a Jurassic Park-style area at his new Palmer Resort in Coolum.

Mr Palmer has, apparently, been in deep discussion with the people who successfully cloned Dolly the sheep to bring his dinosaur vision to life.

If Mr Palmer can resurrect the Titanic, what is to stop him from trying with another of his other alleged passions – dinosaurs?

This is just one of the rumours circulating about Mr Palmer’s plans for Coolum.

And while the concept sounds like a joke, it apparently comes from a source close to Mr Palmer’s inner circle.

It was the same source who provided the Daily with an exclusive peek at Mr Palmer’s plans to build towering hotels at the Palmer Resort with a 20-storey sky needle and a giant, London Eye-style ferris wheel.

Mr Palmer has not commented on this vision yet. Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson has said Mr Palmer was very serious about the plans.

It is also understood Mr Palmer intends to target the Middle East market for his resort.

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FDA approves the first drug to prevent HIV

I’ve posted a few stories on this site about the many breakthroughs in preventing HIV, but today I’m happy to write this post. Yesterday the FDA approved Truvada, the very first drug approved by the FDA for the prevention of HIV. It is a huge step in eradicating the world of one of the most horrifying diseases there is.

When taken daily, Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) reduced the risk of HIV infection by 42 percent compared with a placebo. That was in a clinical trial where HIV-negative individuals had unprotected sex with multiple partners, including some HIV carriers, according to the FDA. Another trial involving heterosexual couples where one partner was infected — and condoms were used routinely — found that Truvada reduced the risk of infections by 75 percent.

“The data clearly demonstrate that Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis is effective at reducing the risk of HIV infection acquired through sexual exposure,” said Dr. Connie Celum, a professor of global health and medicine at the University of Washington who led the trial involving heterosexual couples. “It is exciting to consider the potential impact of this new HIV prevention tool, which could contribute to significantly reducing new HIV infections as part of a combination HIV prevention strategy.”

Truvada is already approved to be used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV.

For prevention purposes, the drug should be used along with other prevention methods, the FDA said in a press statement, such as safe sex practices, risk reduction counseling, and regular HIV testing.

“Today’s approval marks an important milestone in our fight against HIV,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said in a statement. “Every year, about 50,000 U.S. adults and adolescents are diagnosed with HIV infection, despite the availability of prevention methods and strategies to educate, test, and care for people living with the disease.”

The most common side effects reported with Truvada included diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, and weight loss. In rare cases, the drug may cause kidney problems or bone toxicity.

As a condition of approval, the FDA is requiring Truvada’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, to study those who acquire HIV while taking Truvada to determine if anyone can develop a resistance to the drug. The company also needs to collect data on women who become pregnant while taking the drug since safety risks to the fetus remain unknown.

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FIFA finally approves the use of goal-line technology

This is the best news in the sporting world that I’ve heard in a long time. Now if the MLB would only follow suit and institute instant replay technology for close calls, the world would be almost perfect.

FIFA has unanimously voted to approve the use of goal-line technology in professional football – announcing it will be used at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

FIFA approved both the Hawk-Eye and the GoalRef systems at a meeting in Zurich, meaning technology can be introduced by the Premier League and the FA.

However, its introduction will not be immediate because each system will have to be licensed, installed and tested in each venue to ensure it is functioning properly.

FIFA intends to use the new technology at the Club World Cup later this year, with the Confederations Cup in 2013 and next World Cup also employing the technology following a series of controversies in recent tournaments.

Momentum towards goal-line technology increased ever since Frank Lampard was denied an equaliser for England against Germany in the 2010 World Cup when the ball hit the bar and bounced over the line but no goal was given.

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First dive to study a mysterious item buried at the bottom of the ocean only brings back more questions

 

A little less than a year ago some Swedish treasure hunters found an extremely mysterious item buried at the bottom of the Botnia sea with what appears to be a trail from a crash landing. Now that they have finally dove down and checked it out, well, they are even more confused.

And now that OceanX has sent submarines down to examine the object, even the most skeptical of the scientific crew is confused by what they’re finding. It doesn’t seem to just be a giant rock.

[Peter Lindberg, Treasure Hunter]: “We have experienced things that I really couldn’t imagine and I have been the team’s biggest skeptic regarding these different kind of theories. I was kind of prepared just to find a stone or cliff or outcrop or pile of mud but it was nothing like that, so for me it has been a missing experience I must say.”

The team were completely dwarfed by the mysterious object, which is about 60 meters in diameter and lying almost 80 meters down on the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

There are visible formations on top of the object, which are set at a 90 degree angle and look like passageways or walls, as well as something that looks like it could be a staircase.

The divers also found a hole about 25 centimeters in diameter, though it is not yet known where it leads.

In addition, they found circular forms of small rocks that appear to have been placed like a pearl necklace.

Geologists who follow their work haven´t been able to explain what it is yet.

Alongside the mystery, there were also many difficulties.

The most serious was the temperature of the water.

[Stefan Hogeborn, Professional Diver]: “We looked at our dive computer, the deep sea diver computer, and it said minus one degree that’s pretty cold for a diver it should really be impossible to have that cold water it actually turns into ice at zero degrees but that could be explained by the movement of the water.”

Also, some strange phenomenon occurred…

A main objective of the dive was to film the object, and yet the camera stopped working when they approached the object.

[Stefan Hogerborn, Professional Diver]: “Why isn’t anything working, anything electric out there and the satellite phone as well stopped working when we were above the object and then we got away about 200 meters and it turned on again and when we got back over the object it didn’t work so that’s kind of strange as well.”

Mr Hogerborn says he has never experienced anything like this during his 20 years as a professional diver.

Dennis Åsberg of the Ocean X team is one hundred percent sure after the first expedition that they have found something quite unusual.

[Dennis Åsberg, Treasure Hunter]: “I am one hundred percent convinced and confident that we have found something that is very, very, very unique. Then if it is a meteorite or an asteroid or a volcano or a base from, say, a U-boat from the Cold War which has manufactured and placed there, yes, or if it’s a UFO, well honestly it has to be something.”

Lab results will be forthcoming, and a second expedition is already planned to depart in two weeks.

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Why I love the internet (especially Reddit): The Story of Karen the bus monitor

On a school trip, a bunch of middle school students from Rochester, New York began verbally bullying the shit out of a 68 year old woman named Karen, who was brought along as a bus monitor to try and keep the hellions in line. But when most of the kids on the bus start hurling a torrent of insults at her, Karen loses it and breaks down crying, which only fuels the fire.

One of the students who wasn’t participating in the onslaught caught it on video, the video hit Reddit and Redditors got together to raise money for the woman to give her “the vacation of a lifetime”. Out of a goal of $5000, the internet has raised so far over $125,000. The donation drive was started by the student who shot the video, who says he’s working on transferring the money to Karen Klein.

The video is below, and it’s kind of hard to watch. The lessons here are a) teenagers can be some of the most evil, vile and hurtful hell beasts to walk the Earth, b) a few teenagers can actually be pretty awesome and c) don’t fuck with the internet.

You can donate here

Original Reddit thread here

UPDATE: They have now raised over $300,000.

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