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A 7th Shoe Found in the Shoe Mystery

October 28, 2009

Vancouver, BC (Canada) – The RCMP and the B.C. Coroners Service are investigating the remains of a right foot found inside a running shoe Tuesday on a beach in the city of Richmond, south of Vancouver.

The shoe was found near No. 6 Road and Triangle Road, close to the Massey Tunnel, which runs under the south arm of the Fraser River.

It is the seventh discovery of human remains in a shoe on the southern B.C. coastline since August 2007.

Another shoe was found containing similar material on a Washington state beach just south of B.C. in August 2008.

In this latest find, two men walking on the beach located what appeared to be a foot in a size eight and a half white Nike running shoe, according to an RCMP news release issued Wednesday.

Members of the Richmond RCMP, the Forensic Identification Section and the General Investigation Section attended the scene, and seized the shoe and its contents.

The remains were turned over to the B.C. Coroners Service, where a forensic autopsy was conducted and it was confirmed they were human, RCMP said.

One set of remains identified

The Police and Coroners Service use information on physical characteristics from exams by forensic pathologists and anthropologists, along with DNA analysis to build a profile to be used to determine identification.

Prior to this most recent discovery, authorities have been involved in the investigations of six feet in running shoes discovered along the B.C. coastline, police said.

This first was identified and associated to a deceased male. The two female feet found in Richmond were matched in December 2008. The two male feet found on Valdez Island and Westham Island were matched in July 2008, and the male right foot found on Gabriola Island in August 2007 remains unidentified, according to the RCMP release.

There has been no evidence to date to support foul play in relation to these discoveries, and it appears that all remains separated from the body through a natural process, police said. It isn’t clear how the bodies got into the water. (Source: CBC)

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Vaccine helps prevent HIV infection: study

September 24, 2009

89968768E6CC50C87586677FD45ECBangkok (Thailand) – For the first time, an experimental vaccine has prevented infection with the AIDS virus, a watershed event in the deadly epidemic and a surprising result. Recent failures led many scientists to think such a vaccine might never be possible.

The vaccine cut the risk of becoming infected with HIV by more than 31 per cent in the world’s largest AIDS vaccine trial of more than 16,000 volunteers in Thailand, researchers announced Thursday in Bangkok.

Even though the benefit is modest, “it’s the first evidence that we could have a safe and effective preventive vaccine,” Col. Jerome Kim said in a telephone interview. He helped lead the study for the U.S. army, which sponsored it with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The study tested a two-vaccine combo in HIV-negative Thai men and women ages 18 to 30 at average risk of becoming infected. Half received four “priming” doses of ALVAC and two “boost” doses of AIDSVAX over six months. The others received dummy shots. No one knew who got what until the study ended.

All were given condoms, counselling and treatment for any sexually transmitted infections, and were tested every six months for HIV. Any who became infected were given free treatment with antiviral medicines.

Participants were followed for three years after vaccination ended.

According to the results, new infections occurred in 51 of the 8,197 given vaccine and in 74 of the 8,198 who received dummy shots. That worked out to a 31 per cent lower risk of infection for the vaccine group.

The vaccine had no effect on levels of HIV in the blood of those who did become infected. That had been another goal of the study — seeing whether the vaccine could limit damage to the immune system and help keep infected people from developing full-blown AIDS.

‘Not the end of the road’

The institute’s director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned that this is “not the end of the road,” but said he was surprised and very pleased by the outcome.

“It gives me cautious optimism about the possibility of improving this result” and developing a more effective AIDS vaccine, Fauci said in a telephone interview. “This is something that we can do.”

Even a marginally helpful vaccine could have a big impact. Every day, 7,500 people worldwide are newly infected with HIV; two million died of AIDS in 2007, the UN agency UNAIDS estimates.

The Thailand Ministry of Public Health conducted the study, which used strains of HIV common in Thailand. Whether such a vaccine would work against other strains in the U.S., Africa or elsewhere in the world is unknown, scientists stressed.

“This is a scientific breakthrough,” Thai Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai told a news conference in Bangkok. “For the first time ever there is evidence that HIV vaccine has preventative efficacy.”

The study tested a two-vaccine combo in a “prime-boost” approach, where the first one primes the immune system to attack HIV and the second one strengthens the response.

They are ALVAC, from Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis; and AIDSVAX, originally developed by VaxGen Inc. and now held by Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases, a nonprofit founded by some former VaxGen employees.

ALVAC uses canarypox, a bird virus altered so it can’t cause human disease, to ferry synthetic versions of three HIV genes into the body. AIDSVAX contains a genetically engineered version of a protein on HIV’s surface. The vaccines are not made from whole virus — dead or alive — and cannot cause HIV.

Neither vaccine in the study prevented HIV infection when tested individually in earlier trials, and dozens of scientists had called the new one futile when it began in 2003.

Details of the $105 million study will be given at a vaccine conference in Paris in October.

This is the third big vaccine trial since 1983, when HIV was identified as the cause of AIDS. In 2007, Merck & Co. stopped a study of its experimental vaccine after seeing it did not prevent HIV infection. Later analysis suggested the vaccine might even raise the risk of infection in certain men. The vaccine itself did not cause infection.

In 2003, AIDSVAX flunked two large trials — the first late-stage tests of any AIDS vaccine at the time.

(Courtesy of CBC)

Pleasure Addicts

May 14, 2009

n83688292693_2125Toronto, ON (Canada) – Pleasure Addicts is a performance landscape, an all-female Carnival and a transmission from another media universe where an evening of channel flipping is compressed into a single space. Pleasure Addicts explores the inherently unstable push-pull and love-hate nature of mass media conceptions of femininity drawn from celebrity culture, reality television, lifestyle programming, and run of the mill prime-time TV. 

Pleasure Addicts was conceived by Brenda Goldstein after a year-long collaboration with: Jesika Joy, Leila Gajusingh, Heather Keung, Jenn Norton, Aubrey Reeves, and Claudia Wittmann.

One Night Only

Saturday May 16, 2009 4pm-12am

Toronto Free Gallery, 1277 Bloor Street West @ Lansdowne

Email: info@performanceart.ca

Tel: (416) 822-3219

Elizabeth Edwards Opens up to Oprah

May 8, 2009

Los Angeles, California (USA) – It’s so easy to judge these days isn’t it? What with Bristol Palin running around preaching against premarital sex and disgraced politicians attaching themselves to reality shows, it’s easy to surrender to our baser natures and moralize. It’s like they’re practically inviting our contempt, or at least some serious snarkiness. 6a00d8341c630a53ef011570769663970b-800wiSo Elizabeth Edwards goes on “Oprah,” or rather invites Oprah to her and John’s “dream house,” and we know exactly what’s going to happen. With her sympathetic eyes and soothingly familiar voice, Oprah will gently but firmly lead Elizabeth Edwards around the loud and crowded show ring, then through a modified obstacle course of public soul-baring. Elizabeth has a book to pitch, called “Resilience,” a fitting enough title for a woman who has lost a child, been diagnosed with incurable cancer and, last year, watched as her husband was outed as a lying adulterer by the tabloids.  No doubt she has much to say about the perils of mortality and life in politics but she’s been in the public eye long enough to know which of these is her media lead (hint: it isn’t the cancer).

Thursday’s interview was, unsurprisingly, much touted by Harpo Productions and, just as unsurprisingly, Elizabeth Edwards was immediately taken to task by some for bringing the whole sordid business back into the cultural conversation. As the interview began, that criticism seemed valid enough. It was all so tediously familiar. Oprah arrived in her big Oprah car, the whole family piled out and pretended to be happy that Mom was about to go on national television to talk about what must have been a fairly horrible year in the Edwards’ dream house. The house was duly admired, and John sheepishly agreed to “be around” before hustling the children away so the two women could get down to business. (Read the rest of this piece here)

What About "Gross National Happiness"?

May 7, 2009
King Jigme Singye Wangchuck

King Jigme Singye Wangchuck- Many countries look at their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of how strong their economy is and whether it’s expanding or contracting.

 Thimphu (Bhutan) – When Jigme Singye Wangchuck was crowned king of the Himalayan nation of Bhutan in 1972, he declared he was more concerned with “Gross National Happiness” than with Gross Domestic Product. This probably didn’t come as a surprise to the forest-laden country’s 810,000 to 2.2 million (estimates vary greatly) residents, most of whom are poor subsistence farmers. Bhutan’s GDP is a mere $2.7 billion, but Wangchuck still maintains that economic growth does not necessarily lead to contentment, and instead focuses on the four pillars of GNH: economic self-reliance, a pristine environment, the preservation and promotion of Bhutan’s culture, and good governance in the form of a democracy.

King Wangchuck’s idea that public policy should be more closely tied to wellbeing — how people feel about their lives — is catching on. “There is a growing interest in some policymaking circles in looking at these measures,” says Richard Easterlin, economics professor at the University of Southern California. “We have been misguided in dismissing what people say about how happy they are and simply assuming that if they are consuming more apples and buying more cars they are better off.” There are efforts to devise a new economic index that would measure wellbeing gauged by things like satisfaction with personal relationships, employment, and meaning and purpose in life, as well as, for example, the extent new drugs and technology improve standards of living.

The independent London-based think tank New Economics Foundation is pushing the implementation of a set of national wellbeing accounts that would tote up life satisfaction and personal development as well as issues such as trust and engagement. The accounts would also include liabilities, such as stress and depression. The logistics won’t be hard, says Hetan Shah of NEF, because much of the data is already captured by the government. In 2002, the Strategy Unit, an internal government think tank that reports to Prime Minister Tony Blair, conducted a seminar on life satisfaction and its public policy implications. Shah says Germany, Italy and France are also looking into the issue, one he predicts will become increasingly important as people continue to seek the good life.— By Nadia Mustafa With reporting by Helen Gibson/London

What About “Gross National Happiness”?

May 7, 2009
King Jigme Singye Wangchuck

King Jigme Singye Wangchuck- Many countries look at their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of how strong their economy is and whether it’s expanding or contracting.

 Thimphu (Bhutan) – When Jigme Singye Wangchuck was crowned king of the Himalayan nation of Bhutan in 1972, he declared he was more concerned with “Gross National Happiness” than with Gross Domestic Product. This probably didn’t come as a surprise to the forest-laden country’s 810,000 to 2.2 million (estimates vary greatly) residents, most of whom are poor subsistence farmers. Bhutan’s GDP is a mere $2.7 billion, but Wangchuck still maintains that economic growth does not necessarily lead to contentment, and instead focuses on the four pillars of GNH: economic self-reliance, a pristine environment, the preservation and promotion of Bhutan’s culture, and good governance in the form of a democracy.

King Wangchuck’s idea that public policy should be more closely tied to wellbeing — how people feel about their lives — is catching on. “There is a growing interest in some policymaking circles in looking at these measures,” says Richard Easterlin, economics professor at the University of Southern California. “We have been misguided in dismissing what people say about how happy they are and simply assuming that if they are consuming more apples and buying more cars they are better off.” There are efforts to devise a new economic index that would measure wellbeing gauged by things like satisfaction with personal relationships, employment, and meaning and purpose in life, as well as, for example, the extent new drugs and technology improve standards of living.

The independent London-based think tank New Economics Foundation is pushing the implementation of a set of national wellbeing accounts that would tote up life satisfaction and personal development as well as issues such as trust and engagement. The accounts would also include liabilities, such as stress and depression. The logistics won’t be hard, says Hetan Shah of NEF, because much of the data is already captured by the government. In 2002, the Strategy Unit, an internal government think tank that reports to Prime Minister Tony Blair, conducted a seminar on life satisfaction and its public policy implications. Shah says Germany, Italy and France are also looking into the issue, one he predicts will become increasingly important as people continue to seek the good life.— By Nadia Mustafa With reporting by Helen Gibson/London

Nollywood Surpasses Hollywood As World's 2nd Largest Film Producer

May 6, 2009

Lagos (Nigeria) – The Nigerian film industry has overtaken Hollywood and closed the gap on India, the global leader in the number of movies produced each year, according to a new United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report released today.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) survey, Bollywood – as the Mumbai-based film industry is known – produced 1,091 feature-length films in 2006. In comparison, Nigeria’s moviemakers, commonly known as Nollywood, came out with 872 productions – all in video format – while the United States produced 485 major films.nollywood-011

“Film and video production are shining examples of how cultural industries, as vehicles of identity, values and meanings, can open the door to dialogue and understanding between peoples, but also to economic growth and development,” said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura.

“This new data on film and video production provides yet more proof of the need to rethink the place of culture on the international political agenda,” he added.

The three cinema heavyweights were followed by eight countries that produced more than 100 films: Japan (417), China (330), France (203), Germany (174), Spain (150), Italy (116), South Korea (110) and the United Kingdom (104).

Key to Nollywood’s explosive success is Nigerian filmmakers’ reliance on video instead of film, reducing production costs, and, as the survey points out, the West African country has virtually no formal cinemas, with about 99 per cent of screenings in informal settings, such as home theatres.

The survey also revealed that about 56 per cent of Nollywood films are made in local languages, while English remains a prominent language, accounting for 44 per cent, which may contribute to Nigeria’s success in exporting its films.

According to the study, US movies continue to dominate cinema admissions around the world, and all of the top ten films seen in Australia, Bulgaria Canada, Costa Rica, Namibia, Romania, and Slovenia were US made.

For more information on Nollywood films visit http://www.nollywood.com.