June 12

When media bosses censor their own journalists

first_img Help by sharing this information RSF’s 2020 Round-up: 50 journalists killed, two-thirds in countries “at peace” News Organisation Follow the news on Honduras RSF_en May 13, 2021 Find out more to go further 2011-2020: A study of journalist murders in Latin America confirms the importance of strengthening protection policies Receive email alerts Reporters Without Borders condemns the censorship of Suelte la lengua (Talk freely), a programme that Canal 6 TV has not broadcast since 15 May without any explanation from its CEO, Paul Misselem. Presented by Jorge Burgos and Emy Padilla, the programme is openly critical of President Juan Orlando Hernández’s government.“We call on Canal 6 to resume broadcasting Suelte la lengua without delay,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk. “Pressure from the authorities cannot justify depriving Hondurans of a programme that is in the general interest.”Burgos and Padilla have repeatedly been censored by Canal 6’s own management. Their programme, which has often linked banks and commercial enterprises to corruption, has upset some of the TV station’s shareholders.Padilla reports that, in the middle of recording one programme, she was passed a note from the Canal 6 production staff ordering her not to mention a certain subject. Suelte la lengua often has guests who involved in human rights, especially the heads of NGOs and grass-roots organizations.This climate of censorship affects other independent journalists as well. Ricardo Guerra of Actualidad Porteña, a programme broadcast by Teleport Cortés, a regional TV station based in the northern city of Puerto Cortés, has described the problems in this region to Reporters Without Borders.“We are censored by the heads of the media groups,” he said. “This is a new phenomenon. We cannot cover all subjects. Some are off-limits because they jeopardize the economic interests of these media as regards certain companies. Independent journalists who propose a story about the Puerto Cortés authorities are often told ‘We don’t cover that’.”Guerra also said he often received threats or insults by telephone that are directly linked to what he has reported on the air.Honduras is ranked 129th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.Logo: Ricardo Guerra, Teleport Cortés Slideshow: Jorge Burgos and Emy Padilla, Canal 6center_img Reports HondurasAmericas April 27, 2021 Find out more May 28, 2014 – Updated on January 20, 2016 When media bosses censor their own journalists RSF begins research into mechanisms for protecting journalists in Latin America News HondurasAmericas News December 28, 2020 Find out morelast_img read more

June 12

Relief at release of Fox News journalists but dismay at Israeli air strike on Reuters vehicle in Gaza

first_imgNews May 28, 2021 Find out more RSF_en Help by sharing this information August 27, 2006 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Relief at release of Fox News journalists but dismay at Israeli air strike on Reuters vehicle in Gaza PalestineMiddle East – North Africa Reporters Without Borders voiced relief at the release today of Fox News journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig in Gaza City after nearly two weeks in captivity but condemned an Israeli missile attack on a clearly-identified Reuters press vehicle in Gaza that seriously injured a local news website journalist. Receive email alerts May 16, 2021 Find out more June 3, 2021 Find out more Israel now holding 13 Palestinian journalists News RSF asks ICC prosecutor to say whether Israeli airstrikes on media in Gaza constitute war crimes News to go further WhatsApp blocks accounts of at least seven Gaza Strip journalists PalestineMiddle East – North Africa Organisation Reporters Without Borders voiced relief at the release today of Fox News journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig in Gaza City after nearly two weeks in captivity but condemned an Israeli missile attack on a clearly-identified Reuters press vehicle in Gaza that seriously injured a local news website journalist.“The release of the two US network journalists is very good news but the Palestinian authorities must still take concrete measures to protect media workers,” the press freedom organisation said. “As for the journalists targeted today by Israeli aircraft, we call on the Israeli military to carry out a thorough investigation to find out who was responsible for this blunder – unfortunately far from the first of its kind – and how it happened.”Centanni and Wiig were kidnapped on 14 August in Gaza City by a previously unknown group called the Holy Jihad Brigade. Shortly before freeing them today, the group released a video in which their hostages said they had converted to Islam. After being set free, the two journalists said they had made these statements at gunpoint. Ten journalists have been kidnapped in the Palestinian Territories in the past 12 months.“Hostage-taking is becoming more and more frequent in Gaza, and the hostages are being held for longer periods,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We expect the Palestinian authorities to seriously tackle this problem before one of these adductions ends tragically.”Palestinian website reporter Sabbah Hmaida was injured in the leg and Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana briefly lost consciousness when Israeli aircraft fired two missiles early this morning on their armoured Reuters vehicle as they were following an Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip. Reuters said signs on the roof and sides clearly showed it was a press vehicle. The Israeli military told the Associated Press the journalists were not targeted intentionally but “they should not have been there” during the operation. “There was no sign on the vehicle, at least we didn’t see any,” an Israeli military spokesman added.Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly condemned the poor judgement shown by the Israeli military during their operations. An Israeli tank seriously injured Palestinian public TV journalist Ibrahim Atla on 26 July.“We propose that the Israeli government should involve third parties – human rights NGOs or the news organisations concerned – in the investigations into this type of blunder because, despite our repeated appeals, no serious investigation has ever been conducted into the many mistakes made by the Israeli army on the Palestinian Authority’s territory,” the organisation said. News Follow the news on Palestinelast_img read more

June 4

Mortgage problem won’t go away – Dr Kinsella

first_imgEmail ECONOMIST Dr Stephen Kinsella of University of Limerick, has warns that the mortgage problem won’t go away, because we do not have an effective debt resolution system.“People are individually confronting the problem, unfortunately, the court doesn’t seem to be able to come up with a reasonable solution.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up Advertisement WhatsApp “One of the biggest problems we have is that we don’t have a debt resolution system”.The economist feels that we need to see a change in Irish bankruptcy laws.“It seems to me to be a no brainer. We need to bring it in line with International best practice.“Now we are seeing businessmen flying to the UK to become bankrupt. If someone is bankrupt in one member state, it covers the entire EU”.He believes that if there is another increase in interest rates, more people will slip into arrears.“Mortgage holders are under huge strain and the banks don’t feel like being forthcoming or co-operating.“As interest rates rise in the coming year, more people will be driven into arrears.“There are 44,000 people in arrears and what we’re seeing now from the regulators figures is people moving from interest only, to arrears, to eventual default.“The banks have the Irish borrower underneath their boot and there is no real reason for them to change that’.He is economics adviser to the New Beginning group, a representative group defending mortgage holders.“There has been an overwhelming response, we are receiving hundreds and hundreds of calls.“They are down at the Four Courts everyday providing a really good service. There are very few moments in your life where you are as vulnerable as you are when you face losing your home”.Dr Kinsella described the banks as “very bust” and said that the biggest problem is the time horizon.“Children born now are still going to be dealing with this mess in 15 to 20 years.“For now we need to focus on Europe and hope that debt levels are addressed”. Twitter Facebook Print NewsLocal NewsMortgage problem won’t go away – Dr KinsellaBy admin – April 6, 2011 684 Linkedin Previous articleKnock, knock…this is your Census enumeratorNext articleMunster name squad for Amlin Trip adminlast_img read more

June 4

Damages awarded to Limerick family of woman who died of overdose

first_imgLinkedin Cahermoyle House, Ardagh, LimerickTHE family of woman who died after a suspected drug overdose at a County Limerick nursing home in 2013 have been awarded damages at Limerick Circuit Court.Kathleen O’Doherty (63) died a number of days after she was admitted to University Hospital Limerick suffering from what was believed to be an overdose of medication at the Cahermoyle Nursing home in Ardagh.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up Ms O’Doherty was found in a “groggy state” lying on the ground in an outdoor smoking area at the nursing home on January 23, 2013.Nurse Maria McLoughlin told the inquest into Ms O’Doherty’s death that she was giving out medication to patients and that Ms O’Doherty was in the dining room area when she was given her medication.However, Nurse McLoughlin was called away to attend another patient who was wandering on the corridor. She locked the medical cart before she left and covered the two tablet pods that she had left on top of the tray with a box of disposable gloves.After tending to the patient, Nurse McLoughlin was told that Ms O’Doherty had fallen in the smoking area and was conscious but groggy.ShannonDoc was called and it was then that Nurse McLoughlin learned that two medicine pods were missing from the cart.During the early hours of January 23, 2013, Ms O’Doherty’s family was told by nursing home staff that she was being brought to hospital after a fall as a precautionary measure.Almost an hour later, Ms O’Doherty’s family was told that she was in a critical condition and they should come to the hospital.Ms O’Doherty died four days later.The inquest jury recorded an open verdict after it was revealed that the empty medicine pods were never found.Limerick Coroner, Dr Tony Casey criticised the hospital for not notifying his office about the suspicious death.Five days after Ms O’Doherty’s funeral, he was notified by HIQA, the health information and quality authority, of her death, despite the hospital’s legal obligation to notify him of any suspicious death.This meant that an autopsy was not carried out.At Limerick Circuit Civil Court on Tuesday, Judge Francis Comerford was told that the nursing home had offered a damages award of €25,000 to Ms O’Doherty’s family.Counsel for the O’Doherty family, Ciara Daly said that while the nursing home had a duty of care to Ms O’Doherty, it was accepted by the family that the empty medication pods were never found and that her admission to hospital was on “the belief” she had ingested the prescription drugs.Legal costs and costs for the inquest were also awarded to the family and Judge Comerford ordered that €500 be paid to each of Ms O’Doherty’s grandchildren to be used for their benefit and that the balance of €21,500 be paid to her son. WhatsApp Predictions on the future of learning discussed at Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival Limerick Ladies National Football League opener to be streamed live Limerick’s National Camogie League double header to be streamed live Facebook Email TAGSArdaghCahermoyle Houselimerick Printcenter_img Previous articleRugby – Munster’s Goggin and Wootton in Irish 7s squad for MonacoNext articleThomond Park hosts gaming convention this weekend Staff Reporterhttp://www.limerickpost.ie NewsDamages awarded to Limerick family of woman who died of overdoseBy Staff Reporter – June 15, 2016 2469 RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Limerick Artist ‘Willzee’ releases new Music Video – “A Dream of Peace” Advertisement Twitter WATCH: “Everyone is fighting so hard to get on” – Pat Ryan on competitive camogie squads Billy Lee names strong Limerick side to take on Wicklow in crucial Division 3 clashlast_img read more

May 24

‘Spoon Lady,’ Chris Rodrigues receive standing ovation

first_imgSkip Troy falls to No. 13 Clemson But, Dye said it was Abby Roach’s story that he found so inspiring.“Hearing her talk about riding the rails, about being a traveler, and how she considered that to be her only option after a series of terrible mishaps, made me think that by the Grace of God, there go I or any of us,” he said. “But Abby Roach decided that was not all she wanted out of life. She took the humble spoon and, with it and a creative spark, turned the spoon into an orchestral instrument. Together she and Chris Rodrigues make a wonderful duo of musicality. And they share a story of perseverance and hope and of overcoming adversity.”After eight years of riding the rails and living in hobo camps, Abby the Spoon Lady has made a name for herself all around the world and Dye said what a blessing her story is. Print Article Book Nook to reopen Latest Stories Pike County Sheriff’s Office offering community child ID kits ‘Spoon Lady,’ Chris Rodrigues receive standing ovation Sponsored Content Published 8:39 pm Monday, April 15, 2019 Dr. David Dye was the first to stand.The ovation was spontaneous and so richly deserved, he said.“How could anyone take two spoons and create a rich life for herself?” said Dye, former dean of the Troy University College of Communication and Fine Arts. “Standing ovations should only be given for something extremely special. I stood because my heart and mind had  been so touched. Abby Roach is an inspiration.” Amanda Smothers, lead vocalist for The Lighthouse String Ensemble, said seeing Abby play the spoons was a unique experience and hearing her play the handsaw was something she might never witness again.“Chris writes many of their songs and he mostly sang gospel folk and blues with a message and shared about his faith,” Smothers said. “The stories Abby shared about living homeless and learning to value people and relationships over the abundance of stuff in our lives rang very true. She emphasized that every person, whether rich or poor has infinite worth.”Smother said she loves that Brundidge has a unique venue where real roots music is played and great memories are made.Jacob Fannin, City of Troy Risk Management coordinator, was the first to buy a ticket to the concert.“I went for the music and it was amazing,” Fannin said. “I had seen Chris Rodrigues and Abby the Spoon Lady on YouTube but that’s nothing like seeing them in person. They are genuine and they are amazing.  Their concert was a unique experience all around.’Fannin said even though he went for the music, it was the stories that  really made the concert an even more unique experience.“We have perceptions of the homeless community but hearing Abby’s story you realize you should never judge people unless you know their circumstances.” Fannin said he was proud of the opportunity to see Chris Rodrigues and Abby the Spoon Lady in concert “and right here in Brundidge.”Cathie Steed, ticket chair for the event, said tickets were sold as far north as Cullman and as far south as the Panhandle.“We were excited to have Chris Rodrigues and  Abby the Spoon Lady at the We Piddle Around Theater,” Steed said. “We had many more request for tickets than we could fill. We look forward to having them back in the not-to-distant future.” Remember America’s heroes on Memorial Day Around the WebMd: Do This Immediately if You Have Diabetes (Watch)Blood Sugar BlasterIf You Have Ringing Ears Do This Immediately (Ends Tinnitus)Healthier LivingHave an Enlarged Prostate? Urologist Reveals: Do This Immediately (Watch)Healthier LivingWomen Only: Stretch This Muscle to Stop Bladder Leakage (Watch)Healthier LivingRemoving Moles & Skin Tags Has Never Been This EasyEssential HealthGet Fortnite SkinsTCGThe content you see here is paid for by the advertiser or content provider whose link you click on, and is recommended to you by Revcontent. As the leading platform for native advertising and content recommendation, Revcontent uses interest based targeting to select content that we think will be of particular interest to you. We encourage you to view your opt out options in Revcontent’s Privacy PolicyWant your content to appear on sites like this?Increase Your Engagement Now!Want to report this publisher’s content as misinformation?Submit a ReportGot it, thanks!Remove Content Link?Please choose a reason below:Fake NewsMisleadingNot InterestedOffensiveRepetitiveSubmitCancel By The Penny Hoarder By Jaine Treadwell Penny Hoarder Issues “Urgent” Alert: 6 Companies Are… You Might Like Troy man fatally stabbed A fatal stabbing in Troy Friday night will be presented to an upcoming grand jury session according to police. Troy… read more Email the author Dye, perhaps, like most of those who packed the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge Friday night, came to hear Chris Rodrigues, the one-man band, and Abby the Spoon Lady in concert.And they did not disappoint, Dye said, “Chris Rodrigues was amazing. He played the harmonica, the guitar and the suitcase drum and bells all at the same time,” Dye said. “And he was just as amazing as a singer. Abby played the spoons, the bells and the handsaw and she turned them all into orchestral instruments.” Plans underway for historic Pike County celebrationlast_img read more

May 18

Missing University of Utah student last seen when Lyft driver dropped her off at park

first_imgFamily Photo(SALT LAKE CITY) — One week after a University of Utah senior mysteriously vanished, police say she was last seen when her Lyft driver dropped her off at a Salt Lake City park. At 2:42 a.m on June 17, Mackenzie Lueck, 23, took a Lyft from Salt Lake City’s airport to Hatch Park in north Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City Police assistant chief Tim Doubt said at a news conference Monday.The Lyft driver told police that an individual met Lueck at the park and the 23-year-old did not appear to be in distress, Doubt said.No information has led police to believe she was harmed, Doubt said.Lyft officials and the driver have spoken to police and have cooperated with the investigation, authorities said.Lueck, from Southern California, had gone home for her grandmother’s funeral, and when she landed in Salt Lake City early that morning, she texted her mother to say she had arrived safely, ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV reported.The family reported her missing on Thursday afternoon, said police.The college senior has missed a midterm exam, Doubt said. She was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Sunday, June 23, but wasn’t on the flight, Doubt said.“The University of Utah is deeply concerned about the well-being of Mackenzie ‘Kenzie’ Lueck and her family,” university officials said in a statement. “Mackenzie is enrolled part-time as a senior and is majoring in kinesiology and pre-nursing and minoring in health. She has been enrolled since fall 2014.”The university is cooperating with the police, according to the school statement.“The university’s dean of students has spoken with Mackenzie’s family to offer support and to express the campus community’s shared hope for her safe return,” the statement said. “The dean’s office is also talking with and providing support to Mackenzie’s classmates.”Doubt called this case a “high priority” for the department and ask anyone with information to call the tip line at 801-799-4420.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

May 7

France’s Total calls off plans to buy Occidental Petroleum’s assets in Ghana

first_img Total’s acquisition of assets in Ghana was conditional upon the completion of the sale of the Algeria assets. (Credit: WhisperToMe/Wikipedia) French oil major Total has called off the deal to acquire Occidental Petroleum’s assets in two African countries.The deal was part of an $8.8bn agreement signed between Total with Occidental in 2019 whereby the French firm agreed to buy Anadarko’s assets in Mozambique, Ghana, Algeria, and South Africa.Since the signing of the deal, Total has acquired Mozambique and South Africa assets from Occidental.As per the terms of the deal, Total will acquire the Ghana assets subject to the completion of the acquisition of the Algeria assets from Occidental.Algerian authorities block Total’s acquisition of Occidental’s assets in AlgeriaHowever, as part of an understanding signed with the Algerian authorities, Occidental is not positioned to sell its interests in Algeria assets, Total noted.In a press statement, Total said: “Given the extraordinary market environment and the lack of visibility that the Group faces, and in light of the non-operated nature of the interests of Anadarko in Ghana, Total has decided not to pursue the completion of the purchase of the Ghana assets and, as a consequence, to preserve the Group’s financial flexibility.”Total chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said: “This decision not to pursue the completion of the purchase of the Ghana assets consolidates the Group’s efforts in the control of its net investments this year and provides financial flexibility to face the uncertainties and opportunities linked to the current environment.”In August last year, Occidental acquired oil and gas assets in Africa as part of its purchase of Anadarko Petroleum in a $55bn deal.The Anadarko’s assets in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa together represent about 1.2 billion boe of 2P reserves. Total’s acquisition of Occidental Petroleum’s assets in Ghana was conditional upon the completion of the sale of the Algeria assetslast_img read more

May 4

HMAS Anzac Remembers Australian Navy Sailors

first_imgBack to overview,Home naval-today HMAS Anzac Remembers Australian Navy Sailors HMAS Anzac Remembers Australian Navy Sailors September 9, 2015 View post tag: Asia-Pacific During their five month NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 deployment, the crew of HMAS Anzac participated in more than a dozen commemorations, paying respects to members of the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Defence Force who died in the past century.Anzac’s Commanding Officer, Commander Belinda Wood, highlighted the special role of the commemorative aspects of the deployment.This was a special deployment for Anzac and her crew, with several core goals including international engagement and building interoperability with the navies and armed forces of the various nations we visited.During the Centenary of Anzac period, however, none of our roles was more important than that of paying respects to those sailors and officers of the Royal Australian Navy who have gone to sea and never returned home.Each of the commemorative events differed in their style and audience, including a large scale service onboard Anzac for the AE2 , hosted by Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, a dawn sail-past of Anzac Cove on Anzac Day and the multinational D-Day service at the Bayeaux Cathedral in Normandy, contrasting with the smaller grave-side services in various Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries.Anzac successfully concluded her NORTHERN TRIDENT mission commemorating the Centenary of Anzac, building interoperability with allies and strengthening Australian links to international communities.Image: Australian Navy Authoritiescenter_img View post tag: HMAS Anzac View post tag: Australian Navy Share this article View post tag: sailorslast_img read more

April 20

Nice work if you can get it: Maryland seeking taster

first_imgMaryland Cookies is on the hunt for a cookie connoisseur to become an official taster for the brand.The recruit will be paid £350 for the task of eating their way through Maryland’s entire product range, as well as yet-to-launch bakery items, and sharing their verdict.They will also be given the chance to create their own cookie and see it produced when they attend the day-long tasting session at the Maryland Innovation Centre in Edinburgh.“It’s really important to us that we are constantly innovating and ensuring Maryland Cookies remain the best tasting cookies on the market,” Rachael Rayner, brand manager at Maryland said.“Consumer feedback is vital, so we are excited about inviting the successful candidate into our bakery to taste our range and create their very own cookie right before their eyes. It really is a cookie-lover’s dream job.”The news comes as Burton’s Biscuit Company prepares to enter the chocolate biscuit bar market for the first time later this month when it launches its Maryland Chocolate Cookie Bars.Set to roll out in mid-July, the £1.39 eight-bar sleeves have been developed in response to the growth of biscuit portion packs, the firm said.last_img read more

March 1

Rewarding remarkable studies

first_img Three climate change-related projects among recipients of Star Family Challenge grants Star-Friedman Challenge for Promising Scientific Research will double to include HMS, HSPH faculty Star Family Challenge backs big ideas in language, health, and astronomy Related Funding the future Created by a gift from James A. Star ’83, the annual Challenge funds high-risk, high-reward research that is unlikely to be funded through other programs — creative pursuits with the potential to contribute to radical new understandings of the world.“The Challenge sits at the center of who we are as a scientific community,” said Randy Buckner, professor of psychology and neuroscience and chairman of the faculty review committee that selects the projects. “As a scientific community we aspire to take risks … What is needed to achieve those aspirations is often simply the means to begin.”“The Star Family Challenge provides innovative projects and new collaborations the chance to test if their ideas are going to work at the very beginning,” he said. “The Challenge is important for the specific projects it is able to fund, but also because it tells the community what we stand for. We value innovation. They highlight that we take risks, and when we cross traditional boundaries the discoveries in one field can have a dramatic impact and change the course of other fields.”Importantly, next year the Challenge’s ability to fund such projects will expand.,With support from Josh Friedman ’76, M.B.A. ’80, J.D. ’82, and Beth Friedman, the Challenge will double in size and expand to include faculty at both Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The expanded program will also get a change to its name, becoming the Star-Friedman Challenge for Promising Scientific Research. Related Expanding support for leading research Related Innovative faculty research receives support Star Family Challenge supports cutting-edge research projects It’s been said that scientists see the world differently than most people.For the faculty selected to receive funding through the Star Family Challenge for Promising Scientific Research, sharing their vision means finding ways to make the invisible visible, from the physics of the early universe to the microbes that surround us to the telltale signs of an asteroid strike that changed Earth’s climate. Inquiring minds rewarded Related “Our main result was the detection of this platinum anomaly in the Greenland ice cores, but the nature of it remains uncertain,” Jacobsen said. “Most likely it’s extraterrestrial … but the Antarctic samples will test whether these results are global.”Matt Nock, Samuel Gershman, and J.P. Onnela“Suicide has been around since the beginning of recorded history,” said Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology  Nock. “Since there has been history, humans have been perplexed by this problem, and we haven’t gotten very far.”Despite decades of work to understand suicide and self-harm, Nock said, suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and the second leading cause of death among people age 15‒34.“Over the past 100 years, deaths from conditions like gastritis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and even cancer, … as we make advances in science and medicine, we’ve seen these causes of death drop,” Nock said. “The same is not true for suicide. The rate is literally the same in 2017 as it was in 1917. We just haven’t made any noticeable progress.”One reason for that, Nock said, is that most studies have the wrong focus.,Though research has shown that the risk of suicide skyrockets in the first month after discharge from hospitalization, Nock and colleagues showed that just 0.1 percent of all studies have centered on that timeframe.“We now have the ability to get some real traction here … because, for better or worse, we have all become digital cyborgs,” Nock said. “We all have these digital appendages we’re walking around with that are collecting data on each of us.”Using data collected from smartphone and wearable sensors, Nock said, researchers can develop “digital phenotypes [that] capture very fine-grained data … about how someone’s thoughts and feelings and behavior change when they move into a depressive episode or a manic episode or a suicidal episode. As part of this year’s program, the researchers selected for awards — Cora Dvorkin; Karine Gibbs, and Colleen Cavanaugh; Peter Girguis and Aspen Reese; Stein Jacobsen; and Matthew Nock, Samuel Gershman, and J.P. Onnela — made short presentations about their work to a crowd in the Faculty Room of University Hall.Here’s what they’re working on.Cora DvorkinA fraction of a second after the Big Bang, the universe underwent a period of exponential expansion — known as inflation — that produced gravitational waves. Those waves left telltale signatures in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background, or CMB, a radiation that permeates all of space.If researchers can “read” those patterns, said Dvorkin, assistant professor of physics, it would offer an important window into the physics of the early universe.“About 380,000 years after the Big Bang, protons and electrons combined to form hydrogen, in a process known as recombination,” Dvorkin said. “Today, we detect the photons (that travel towards us freely since then) at microwave frequencies. What we measure in the sky with telescopes all over the world and satellites in space is the temperature fluctuations of photons in different positions. By assessing the statistical properties of these fluctuations, we can infer the physics from the very early universe.”Cora Dvorkin presents her project on separating galactic foregrounds from primordial gravitational waves using machines learning techniques.“A detection of primordial gravitational waves would constitute our most direct probe of the energy scale of the very early universe, and would transform our understanding of fundamental physics,” Dvorkin said. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerMaking sense of the polarization patterns of the CMB, however, is easier said than done. Foreground contamination from our own galaxy makes it difficult to isolate background signals.“How do we know if a measurement is primordial?” Dvorkin asked. “We have a potential sign coming from gravitational waves, but we have these galactic foregrounds … which have a signal that is very similar to the signal we are expecting to see.”While researchers have made progress filtering out those foreground elements by using complex statistical methods, Dvorkin, undergraduates Sebastian Wagner-Carena ’18 and Max Hopkins ’18, and graduate student Ana Diaz Rivero hope to use newly developed learning algorithms to improve the process.“A detection of primordial gravitational waves would constitute our most direct probe of the energy scale of the very early universe, and would transform our understanding of fundamental physics,” Dvorkin said. “In addition, it would tell us something about the quantum nature of gravity, since the signal is originated in the quantum fluctuations of space time.“It would also give us a unique window into the highest energy we have ever probed … we could be measuring energies at the level of the grand unified theory model, or 1012 times higher than those probed at the Large Hadron Collider.”Karine Gibbs and Colleen Cavanaugh“When you think of microbes, you can think of them as being divided into three groups,”  Gibbs, associate professor of molecular and cellular biology, told the audience. “There are things that are found in the environment, in the soil, or on plants. You can think of microbes as being commensal — organisms that are found in or around us. But when we think of microbes, we also often think of virulence. If you have ever had food poisoning, that is the result of a foreign microbe coming into your gut and taking over.”Karine Gibbs presents a project with Colleen Cavanaugh (not pictured) on determining the switch to virulence in endogenous members of the gut microbiome. “The goal is to ask, for commensal bacteria … are only some strains in some people virulent, or is the case that any strain at any time can become virulent?” Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerWhile it is tempting to think that the solution would be simply to identify all the microbes with the potential for causing illness, Gibbs said the uncomfortable truth is that there is evidence that, for some microbes, every strain may have the potential for virulence.To explore that question, she and Cavanaugh, the Edward C. Jeffrey Professor of Biology, plan to study a common microbe found in the gut, Proteus mirabilis. While typically harmless, the microbe can become virulent and cause a variety of infections.“This is a great model, we believe, to test this hypothesis,” Gibbs said. “The goal is to ask, for commensal bacteria … are only some strains in some people virulent, or is the case that any strain at any time can become virulent?”To get at that question, they will combine expertise from Gibbs’ lab with research from Cavanaugh’s lab to look at how bacteria interact.“Using deep genomic sequencing, the isolation of single strains, sequencing of whole genomes, and characterization of phenotypes, we want to ask specific questions,” Gibbs said. “In a healthy person, which bacteria are usually present? When you look at an infected person, do you see different strains, and are there characteristics of these human-associated pathogenic strains that are different?”Peter Girguis and Aspen ReeseIt’s natural to be concerned about the potential impact of microbes on human health. But Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Girguis told audience members that, on balance, we needn’t be.“The good news is the vast majority of microbes in our biosphere are doing good things for us,” he said. “They produce half the oxygen you breathe, and they fix nitrogen, making it available for living organisms to use. Microbes are the stewards of our Earth … Without them, our biosphere would come to a halt.”Yet despite the importance of microbes, Girguis said researchers know frustratingly little about many of them. Most cannot be cultured in the lab, and in many cases relatively little is understood about their metabolism.,While technologies such as high-throughput sequencing have made it possible to study closely the microbes living today, Girguis said there is still a great deal to be learned by studying microbial populations of the past. To find them, he and Aspen Reese plan to turn to Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology and its thousands of samples — some more than a century old — preserved in formaldehyde and ethanol.The Challenge, said Reese, a junior fellow in the Society of Fellows, is that these “wet” specimens were prepared with an eye toward preserving morphology, not genetic material, “which is a problem because we need to get DNA to identify which microbes are present.”Using techniques developed to “unfold” proteins, Reese and Girguis plan to extract DNA from specimens stored at Harvard and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and analyze their genetic sequences to see how microbiota may have changed over the last 100-plus years.“For the first time, we’re going to be able to see what microbiomes looked like before 1990, when we started actually doing sequencing analyses,” Reese said. “Secondly, we want to start asking what we can do with museums to help us learn about microbiomes in the future — can we change the way museums take in animal specimens to allow us to ask better questions in the future about how these communities are actually changing over time?”,Stein JacobsenThe end of the last Ice Age marked the start of a millennia-long warming trend on Earth, but approximately 12,000 years ago the process mysteriously reversed, with the planet suddenly returning to near-glacial conditions for more than 1,000 years. Known as the Younger Dryas period, the era is associated with the extinction of creatures like mammoths and mastodons, as well as the end of the Clovis culture, believed to be the first human civilization in North America.What’s not known about the period, said Professor of Geochemistry Jacobsen, is whether the sudden cooling was part of the global climate cycle or was caused by a natural disaster, like an asteroid strike.Stein Jacobson presents his project on solving the Young Dryas mystery. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerIn an attempt to answer that question, Jacobsen examined ice cores collected in Greenland and uncovered an anomaly: Unusually high levels of platinum were trapped in the ice at the start of the Younger Dryas.“Platinum concentrations are very low in crustal rock, but relatively high in meteorites,” he said. “There’s so little of it that all the platinum that has ever been mined would easily fit in this room. But what we want to know is whether this platinum anomaly is global.”To do that, Jacobsen worked with other researchers to obtain new samples from Taylor Glacier in Antarctica, which he plans to test using a pair of new, more precise mass spectrometers.“We are prepared to do a much better analysis than we were able to do before,” Jacobsen said. “The mass spectrometer we already have set up in the lab is more sensitive than the last instrument we used by a factor of about 30, and our other new instrument allows for very high prevision isotope ratio measurements. “That allows us to test existing theories using ecologically valid data,” Nock said. “That can help move us toward the Holy Grail of being able to intervene before people become suicidal. If we get good enough at identifying people when they’re most at risk, we can then beam them interventions to their smartphone or social media that can drive down that risk.”Nock, Assistant Professor Gershman of Harvard’s Center for Brain Science, and Onnela of the Harvard Chan School have developed a plan to use smartphone monitoring, wearable sensors, and real-time tests to measure suicidal thinking and collect massive amounts of data on 100 adolescents after their discharge from Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton, Mass. The hope, Nock said, is that the pilot project might lead to future funding for larger, similar efforts.“Our goal here is to use this information to provide a much richer digital and computational phenotype of … what happens during suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” he said. “The upside here if we succeed is potentially huge. This will not only give us a better understanding of what suicidal episodes look like for the first time, it will also help us improve our ability to predict when people’s suicidal thoughts may worsen and when people may actually engage in suicide attempts … and hopefully decrease the loss of life due to suicide.”last_img read more