Anti-frailty Drug For Seniors

November 19, 2008 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Lifescape, Lifestyle | Leave a comment
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Aerial view of UVA Health System campus in Cha...

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An Anti-Frailty Pill for Seniors?University of Virginia Health System Study Shows New Drug increases muscle mass in arms and legs of older adults. Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System report that a daily single oral dose of an investigational drug, MK-677, increased muscle mass in the arms and legs of healthy older adults without serious side effects, suggesting that it may prove safe and effective in reducing age-related frailty.Published in the November 4, 2008 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, the study showed that levels of growth hormone (GH) and of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF- I) in seniors who took MK-677 increased to those found in healthy young adults. The drug restored 20 percent of muscle mass loss associated with normal aging.

“Our study opens the door to the possibility of developing treatments that avert the frailty of aging,” explains Dr. Michael O. Thorner, a nationally recognized researcher of growth hormone regulation and a professor of internal medicine and neurosurgery at UVA. “The search for anti-frailty medications has become increasingly important because the average American is expected to live into his or her 80s, and most seniors want to stay strong enough to remain independent as they age.

“Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the two-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled, modified-crossover study involved 65 men and women ranging in age from 60 to 81.The study drug, MK-677, mimics the action of ghrelin, a peptide that stimulates the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR). Drug developers are focusing on GHSR because it plays an important role in the regulation of growth hormone and appetite. They think it may prove to be an excellent treatment target for metabolic disorders such as those related to body weight and body composition.According to Dr. Thorner, the UVA research was a “proof-of-concept” study that sets the stage for a larger and longer clinical trial to determine whether MK-677 is effective in people who are frail and to assess its long term safety

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Indian Navy Battles And Destroys Pirate Ship

November 19, 2008 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
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The Sirius Star, a Saudi oil tanker now held by pirates, in an undated photo. The ship was anchored off Somalia on Tuesday

Published: November 19, 2008

NEW DELHI — Days after pirates seized a Saudi-owned supertanker carrying more than $100 million worth of crude oil, the Indian Navy said on Wednesday that one of its warships fought a four-to-five-hour battle at sea with would-be hijackers in the Gulf of Aden, sinking one suspect vessel in flames and forcing the pirates to abandon a second as they fled at high speed.

The New York Times

The drama on the night-time waters of the Indian Ocean late Tuesday underscored the growing international concern at the audacity with which armed pirates, mostly based in Somalia, range across vast areas of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, attacking at will.

In a statement on Wednesday, Cmdr. Nirad Kumar Sinha, a spokesman for the Indian Navy, said the INS Tabar, encountered a flotilla of three pirate vessels some 320 miles south west of the Omani coast in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday evening. One ship was apparently a “mother ship” used by pirates to extend their range, with two speedboats in tow. The suspect vessel matched the description of a pirate vessel issued by international anti-piracy authorities, Commander Sinha said.

He said the ‘“whole operation lasted four to five hours” and was “the first such incident in which the Indian Navy sank the pirate’s mother ship.”

When the Indian vessel tried to halt the ship, he said, “the vessel’s threatening response was that she would blow up the naval warship if it closed her.”

“Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers. The vessel continued its threatening calls and subsequently fired upon INS Tabar. On being fired upon, INS Tabar retaliated in self defense and opened fire on the mother vessel,” Commander Sinha said..

“As a result of the firing by INS Tabar, fire broke out on the vessel and explosions were heard, possibly due to exploding ammunition that was stored on the vessel. Almost simultaneously, two speedboats were observed breaking off to escape. The ship chased the first boat which was later found abandoned. The other boat made good its escape into darkness,” he said.

The Indian account suggested that pirates had attacked the Tabar, deployed to repulse pirates — equalling the brazenness of the hijacking on Sunday of the Sirius Star, a 1,080-foot supertanker with 25 crew on board.

At least eight ships have been hijacked in a vast expanse of ocean off east Africa in the past two weeks.

On the same day the Indian Navy engaged the pirates, a cargo ship registered in Hong Kong and loaded with 36,000 tons of wheat was seized in the Gulf of Aden, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. The vessel, with 25 crew aboard, was headed for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

That hijacking was followed by a report Wednesday, still to be confirmed by Greek authorities, that a Greek bulk carrier had also been seized in the Gulf of Aden. A regional maritime group based in Mombasa, Kenya, told Reuters 23 to 25 crew were aboard that ship. The Associated Press also reported that a Thai fishing boat with 16 crew members had been seized off the coast of Somalia on Tuesday.

International anti-piracy patrols, deployed since August, have had some success.

Last week, a British frigate, the Cumberland, launched speed-boats to intercept a hijacked dhow, exchanging fire with pirates before British naval personnel boarded it, the British Ministry of Defense said Tuesday. Eight alleged hijackers were captured and handed over to Kenyan authorities on Tuesday. Two people believed to be Somali nationals were killed in the operation, the ministry said.

On Wednesday, the fate of the supertanker Sirius Star, now anchored off the coast of Somalia, remained unclear. The ship’s owner said Tuesday it was working to free the 25-member crew. By Wednesday, there had been no reports that the hijackers had made known ransom demands.

The owner, Vela International, a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabia-based oil giant Saudi Aramco, said in a statement on Tuesday that the company was awaiting further contact from the pirates who seized the vessel about 480 miles off the coast of Somalia.The supertanker, about the same length as an American Nimitz class aircraft carrier, is the largest ship known to have been seized by pirates, and it was fully loaded with two million barrels of oil.

The crew members are citizens of Britain, Poland, Croatia, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia.

Lt. Nathan Christensen, deputy spokesman for the United States Fifth Fleet, said that the tanker had been anchored within sight of the coastal town of Xarardheere, 260 miles north of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, and part of a region known as a pirates’ sanctuary. .

While most of the hijackings have taken place in the Gulf of Aden, which separates Somalia from Yemen, the Saudi tanker was seized hundreds of miles to the south in open ocean as it headed toward the Cape of Good Hope.

“It is the first attack of its kind in which such a big vessel has been hijacked so far away from the coast,” said Cyrus Mody, of the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors global piracy. “It shows that the pirates now have the capability and capacity to sustain themselves in deep sea until the vessel actually comes by.” .

This year, at least 92 ships have been attacked in and around the Gulf of Aden, more than triple the number in 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau At least 14 of those ships, carrying more than 250 crew members, are still in the control of hijackers.

An estimated $25 million to $30 million has been paid in ransom to Somali pirates this year, according to a report released Tuesday by Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general. He said that piracy was weakening the Somali government, which has been outgunned and outmaneuvered by the agile pirates.

Many of the captured ships sit a few miles off a 230-mile stretch of Somali coastline between Xarardheere and the town of Eyl, residents of the towns say. A Ukrainian vessel that was hijacked in September, loaded with tanks and other military equipment and weapons, is not far from the Saudi tanker.

Multinational naval vessels have thwarted two dozen attacks since August. But the area includes 2.5 million square miles of sea, “and we can’t be everywhere at once,” said Lieutenant Christensen of the Fifth Fleet.

Hari Kumar reported from New Delhi. Alan Cowell contributed from Paris, Mark McDonald from Hong Kong and Sharon Otterman from New York.

See earlier post

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Feed Translator in Google Reader

November 19, 2008 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Lifestyle, Reviews | Leave a comment
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Google Reader screenshot, as of September 30 2007

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Is Your Web Truly World-Wide?

Monday, November 10, 2008 by Chrix Finne

The Reader team is happy to announce that another 20% project has come to fruition: automatic translation in Reader! Post by 20% volunteer and glottology expert, Brett Bavar.

TagsBelieve it or not, the web truly is world-wide. That means there is a lot of interesting content out there in languages other than your own. You might have missed out on this content in the past, but now, with automatic translation in Reader, you don’t have to miss a thing!

Next time you find an interesting feed in another language, just subscribe to it as normal in Reader. When you view the feed in Reader, check off “Translate into my language” in the feed settings, and (voila!) the feed will be immediately translated for you. Also, this setting will be saved so you can always view this feed in your own language.

Many thanks go out to the awesome engineers on the Google Translate team, who have provided the technology to make this possible. As they continue to make their translation systems better, you will get to reap the benefits automatically.

Have fun discovering all the great content out there on the truly world-wide web!

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Indian Navy Ship Sinks Somali Pirate Vessel

November 19, 2008 at 1:42 pm | Posted in Lifescape, Reactions | Leave a comment
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070905-N-1730J-163 INDIAN OCEAN (Sept. 5, 2007...

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Indian navy ship repulses attack by Somali pirates

Wed, Nov 19 11:13 AM

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) Indian Navy stealth frigate INS Tabar has
successfully repulsed an attack by pirates off the Somali coast and
sunk their ship, an official said here Wednesday.

The Indian Navy ship was fired at by pirates in the Gulf of Aden late Tuesday.

“The pirates fired at INS Tabar, which is patrolling the waters off the
Somali coast. The ship retaliated and sank the pirate vessel,” a navy
official said.

Last week, INS Tabar had staved off an attack by
Somali pirates on two merchant vessels – one from India and another
from Saudi Arabia.

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Gaming Consoles : A Feature Guide

November 19, 2008 at 12:21 pm | Posted in Games, Lifestyle, Reviews | 3 Comments
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A CES attendee plays ...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

By Frank Caron

The holiday season is always an exciting time for gamers. This is the
time of year when the best games are lining store shelves in mass
quantities, the console manufacturers are putting together the best
hardware deals of the year, and all the guns are ablaze in the glorious
console war. This year in particular is special, though, as both the
PlayStation 3 and Wii are two years old this month, and the Xbox 360 is
about to undergo a substantial refresh.

All three of the consoles have changed quite a bit since their
respective launches. More functionality is crammed into each one of
these boxes than ever before—and at lower prices, to boot. So
what exactly are you getting beyond the bullet points on the back of
the box? Let’s take a look at where the three consoles stand
feature-wise this holiday.

Microsoft Xbox 360

As the oldest console in the line-up, the Xbox 360 has had the most
time to mature and it shows. As far as sheer functionality and modern
conveniences go, the Xbox 360 is hard to beat, especially when you’re
connecting your system to the Internet. When the Xbox is made “Live,”
it becomes a treasure trove of downloadable content, online
multiplayer, and multimedia functionality. And the “New Xbox Experience,” which is coming tomorrow, only strengths that.

NXE is really the headlining feature of the Xbox 360 this year. This
new interface adds much more than just a coat of gloss to the aging Blades interface
that has been around since the console launched in 2005. Microsoft has
worked hard to make the interface simultaneously more attractive and
easier to use, and the company’s hard work has paid off: the NXE is a
big leap over the old interface, allowing users to install games to the hard drive, create parties of up to eight players with dedicated voice chat across all games, and more.

Other neat features of the interface include an improved game
collection, which makes traversing through a thick library of Arcade
titles a breeze; the new Avatars system, which allows users to create Mii- cartoon-like characters to represent themselves online; and the new Community Games initiative, which supplements the Xbox Live Arcade platform with games created by indie developers and moderated by the community rather than Microsoft itself. Expect to see tons of original games flooding the service soon.

But gaming isn’t the only area where the Xbox 360 excels. It’s also an excellent media playback device, as well. While the HD DVD add-on may have been a bust, the Xbox 360 is a very capable media center, with full support for Windows Media Center,
as well as support for just straight old network sharing of audio,
video, and picture files. The Xbox 360 can quickly and easily stream DivX movies
from your computer, provided the videos are encoded properly, or play
MP3s from your portable media player. And, with the NXE, American users
now enjoy the full roster of NetFlix content (in HD, no less) in addition to a huge array of purchasable and rentable content from the hearty Xbox Live Video Marketplace.

Feature-wise, the Xbox 360 is stacked. That makes it incredibly hard to believe that it is also now the cheapest console. At a $200 price point with a $20 hard drive from Microsoft directly, the Xbox 360 is the most well-rounded and well-priced console on the market.

Sony PlayStation 3

Though the Xbox 360 would seem to be the prime candidate for “most improved console,” Sony’s PlayStation 3 handily steals that title—albeit
thanks in large part to a rough launch. Some might say that the system
launched too early, but the fact of the matter is that today, on the
cusp of the holiday shopping season, the PS3 is a force to be reckoned
with. Just about everything you could want from your console, and more,
is ready and waiting in a newly-purchased PS3.

While the PS3’s online support isn’t up to par with the Xbox 360, the
system has greatly advanced over the last year. The long-awaited in-game Cross Media Bar support
arrived this year; this feature lets you access your friend’s list and
adjust all kinds of settings while you’re in a game, which makes it
much easier to organize games with your friends. The new official Bluetooth headset has also arrived alongside a VOIP-quality voice chat firmware upgrade, which makes chatting on the PS3 a pleasure.

The PS3 also offers some nice online applications. The Folding@Home client was updated this year to become Life With PlayStation,
which offers news from around the world, weather updates, and a
stunning HD overlay of the Earth, which begs to be left on your TV as a
screensaver of sorts. And a simple internet browser, which recently was updated with Flash 9, rounds out the package.

Like the Xbox 360, the PS3 is also a very accomplished media center.
Because of the roomy hard drive (and the ability to easily swap out the
preexisting one with any laptop-sized SATA disk), putting content on
your unit or streaming it across your network is a must-do. The PS3 supports DivX and Xvid as well as WMA
and a host of audio and picture files with DLNA server support, so most
of your video files should work fine. There’s also a growing
PlayStation Video Store for American users which features a ton of
great content already (though the DRM in place definitely needs some work).

One of the best features about the PS3 that few rarely discuss, and
that has gotten better over the years, is the system’s ability to
utilize virtually any third-party USB peripheral. Any old Bluetooth or
USB keyboard, headset, or what have you will likely work with the PS3,
and the firmware updates have quietly made it easier to identify what
accessories are plugged in and keep profiles of your devices for later

And, of course, you can’t talk about the PlayStation 3 without
mentioning Blu-Ray. The PS3 stands as one of the best Blu-ray players
on the market, thanks in large part to the online connectivity. Sony
continues to upgrade Blu-ray playback with support for further Blu-ray
features, including the recent addition of BD-Live functionality.

As far as high-class, all-in-one entertainment systems go, the
PlayStation 3 is at the top of the list. This is the Rolls Royce of
video game consoles: it’s the most expensive, but it’s also the most
luxurious ride if you can afford it. And with PlayStation Home on the horizon and a continued front of SDK improvements, Sony’s sleek system is aging like great wine.

Nintendo Wii

Though the system hasn’t changed as drastically as its peers,
Nintendo’s Wii has still come quite some way since its launch. As the
family-friendly system, there are some options that are painfully
missing to this day—such as media playback capabilities—but
there are a few surprises lying in store for those who otherwise just
wanted to play Mario Kart.

Online multiplayer really kicked into gear on the Wii this year, as
Nintendo moved forward with online play in its big first-party titles
and was matched by some third-party developers as well. Games like Madden 2009 and Medal of Honor: Heroes 2
have seamless systems which negate the clunky Friend codes used to
connect to others all together, while Nintendo’s titles like Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Brothers Brawl have made it much easier to get into games with random people without codes.

Voice chat has also come to the Wii, courtesy of Wii Speak and Animal Crossing Wii. A voucher bundled with the area microphone allows users to engage in voice chat with those on their friends list, while Animal Crossing itself features in-game voice chat when you invite others to your town.

Another area that the Wii really shines in is downloadable games. In
addition to the growing library of Virtual Consoles pooled from tons of
classic systems, Nintendo this year pushed out the WiiWare platform,
which gives smaller developers the chance to release new games
digitally. The service is already host to some amazing games, and it
continues to be updated each week with great content.

And for those who want a little more out of their consoles, the Wii isn’t as bad as some make it seem. The Opera Browser
has improved over the year, offering better performance and a more
stable online experience. And the News and Weather channels, which
offer real-time updates from around the world, were supplemented with the Nintendo channel, which keeps users apprised of all the Nintendo-related happenings.

While it may be short on some of the features of the advanced
high-definition consoles, the Wii is still very much a blossoming
system that shows more and more with each passing day that Nintendo is
finally embracing the internet and the concept that a console can be
for more than just games—even if it’s the strong first-party
games and the local multiplayer options that really make the Wii worth

Summing it up

So which SKUs should you buy and how much will they cost you? That’s
information that will have to wait until our Holiday Buyer’s Guide
arrives. For now, though, suffice to say that each of the consoles
offers some great gaming at suiting prices. No matter which console you
pick this season, you’re in for a treat. The Xbox 360 continues to
mature with a new interface and a robust video content offering, the
PS3 is finally coming into its own with peripheral support and sheer
functionality, and the Wii is gaining ground with a great downloadable
content platform and accessible implementations of familiar features
like voice chat. This is a great time to be a gamer, and it’s only
getting better.

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