100 household task benchmarks are like robotics 'North Star'

by Andrew Myers-Stanford, about 18 hours ago

Researchers are working to figure out how to judge success in household tasks like washing dishes and cleaning floors for future home robot assistants.

Biden brings a menorah lighting back to the White House, rededicating a Hanukkah tradition from the 20th century

about 19 hours ago

Ex-Trump Chief-of-Staff Meadows Cooperating with Jan. 6 Panel, for Now 

about 19 hours ago

The House of Representatives committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot said on Tuesday that Mark Meadows, who served as former President Donald Trump's chief-of-staff, has provided it with records and agreed to appear soon for a deposition.  "Mr. Meadows has been engaging with the Select Committee through his attorney. He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition," Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House select committee, said in a statement.  Thompson did not rule out future action against Meadows. Noting that the panel expects all witnesses to provide all the information requested that it is lawfully entitled to receive, Thompson said: "The committee will continue to assess his degree of compliance with our subpoena after the deposition."  Trump has urged his associates not to cooperate with the committee, calling the Democratic-led investigation politically motivated and arguing that his communications are protected by executive privilege, although many legal experts say that legal principle does not apply to former presidents.  On Jan. 6, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to prevent Congress from formally certifying his 2020 presidential election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. Shortly before the riot, Trump gave a speech to his supporters repeating his false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud and urging them to go to the Capitol and "fight like hell" to "stop the steal."  'An understanding'  Meadows' lawyer George Terwilliger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  Terwilliger said in a statement to CNN that the two parties had reached an understanding on how information can be exchanged moving forward, stating that Meadows and the committee are open to engaging on a certain set of topics as they work out how to deal with information that could fall under executive privilege.  Meadows was a Republican House member until he left in 2020 to join Trump's administration.  Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon already has been criminally charged with contempt of Congress, pleading not guilty, after defying a committee subpoena. The select committee is meeting  on Wednesday to consider seeking similar charges against Jeffrey Clark, who served as a senior Justice Department official under Trump.  Meadows was called to appear before the committee this month, but did not do so.  Agreeing to appear for a deposition does not guarantee that Meadows will provide all the information requested in the committee's subpoena. Clark appeared, but committee members said he did not cooperate with investigators.  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday that he expects the Democratic-led chamber to vote on Clark's contempt recommendation this week, if the panel approves it as expected.   

Healthy gorilla gut microbiomes don't all look alike

by Matt Shipman-NC State, about 20 hours ago

A "healthy" gut microbiome may differ from one gorilla to another. The discovery could help diagnose potential health challenges for gorillas in human care.

November 30, 2021

about 20 hours ago

A look at the best news photos from around the world.

German Court Convicts Ex-IS Member of Murder, Role in Yazidi Genocide

about 20 hours ago

A German court Tuesday convicted a former Islamic State member of the 2015 murder of a 5-year-old Yazidi girl. Taha al-Jumailly, an Iraqi national, was also sentenced to serve life in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity. He was ordered to pay the victim’s mother, who survived captivity, $57,000. It is the first genocide verdict against an Islamic State member. "This is the moment Yazidis have been waiting for," said lawyer Amal Clooney, who acted as a counsel for the mother. "To finally hear a judge, after seven years, declare that what they suffered was genocide. To watch a man face justice for killing a Yazidi girl — because she was Yazidi." German prosecutors said al-Jumailly bought the mother and child as slaves in Syria in 2015. He then took them to Fallujah in Iraq where he beat them and didn’t give them enough food.   In 2015, al-Jumailly chained the girl to window bars in a room where the temperature reached 50 degrees Celsius. The girl died. In 2019, al-Jumailly was arrested in Greece and extradited to Germany, where authorities took the case using the principle of universal jurisdiction. Al-Jumailly’s German wife was sentenced last month to 10 years in prison for her involvement in the case. She was a witness for the prosecution in al-Jumailly's trial. In 2014, IS rampaged through the Yazidi heartland in northern Iraq. In many cases, it forced young women into sex slavery. Many in the Yazidi community, which numbers more than half-a-million, were displaced. In 2016, a U.N. commission declared the IS treatment of the Yazidis inside Syria as a genocide. "We can only hope that [this case] will serve as a milestone for further cases to follow," Zemfira Dlovani, a lawyer and member of Germany’s Central Council of Yazidis, told The Associated Press, noting that thousands of Yazidi women were enslaved and mistreated by the Islamic State group. "This should be the beginning, not the end." Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 

Neonic pesticides can harm bees for generations

by Amy Quinton-UC Davis, about 20 hours ago

Bees exposed to neonicotinoids in both the first and second year had a 72% lower population growth rate compared to bees not exposed at all.

Building a better future in Africa and beyond

by ShareAmerica, about 20 hours ago

The U.S. is strengthening its partnerships in Africa, helping to fight COVID-19 and climate change, and supporting economic growth.

Can selfie software predict if you'll develop Parkinson's?

by Bob Marcotte-U. Rochester, about 21 hours ago

Researchers can use machine learning software to analyze videos of people taking selfies to spot indications of Parkinson's disease.

U.S. sends COVID-19 vaccines worldwide [November 2021]

by ShareAmerica, about 21 hours ago

The United States is donating billions in COVID-19 vaccine doses, funding for COVAX and medical supplies to countries all over the world.

IOM Says Despite Risks, Number of Migrants Crossing the Mediterranean Sea Has Doubled

about 21 hours ago

In search of a better life, many migrants try to cross what has been dubbed the “deadliest border in the world” - the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the risks, the International Organization for Migration says the number of people crossing has doubled in the first half of this year to an estimated 77,000. This reporter witnessed a crossing firsthand in the Mediterranean Sea in international waters off the Libyan coast in an inflatable rescue ship dispatched by the group SOS Mediterranee. Before him was a small wooden boat dancing on the waves. I was dark. He heard the desperate voices of what must have been more than 100 migrants onboard. It became palpable what it is like to be floating in the middle of nowhere without an engine and only the stars as a witness of your presence. The rescuers gave out life jackets in case the overloaded boat were to break. Then the migrants started to cross one by one into the rescue boat. Nobody was left behind. For them, this small step was a giant leap to a better life. Conditions at sea can be devastating, said a rescuer, who identified himself only as Tanguy.  “We have operations with people suffering from bullet wounds. Sometimes you have people that already died in the target because of suffocation, because of whatever. So, it’s very different all times,” Tanguy said. Propelled by the heavy dual engines, the rescue boat returned to the mothership Ocean Viking, which is chartered by SOS Mediterranee. Negotiating the rocky waves, the migrants climbed the ladder onto the ship. Onboard the Ocean Viking, those rescued received clothes and a place to sleep. Some migrants sat on the wooden deck, while others sought refuge in a container converted to a living space.  There was 40-year-old curtain maker Salim from Syria who fled his country to keep his son out of the army. They were playing dominoes. His son is called Mahmud. “I come with my father from Syria because I could go to the war (get drafted) after (reaching) 18 years (of age). So, I come with my father from Libya and from Libya to go to Italy.”   Father and son and the other more than 300 rescued migrants passed their time during the rescue mission, while enduring encounters with the Libyan coast guard that is known for pushing migrants back to Libya.  Rescue coordinator Anita said that the coast guard does not have jurisdiction. “I think they are coming to try and intimidate us to stop us going to their waters, which in any case we will never go inside Libyan waters,” she said. The International Organization for Migration attributes the rise of the number of new arrivals to a deteriorating human rights situation in Libya. The migrants from across Africa seek safety in Europe, like 32-year-old Nigerian Annabelle Philips, who came with her baby Clement. “Security of life that I couldn’t get in Nigeria. - And for your child? And for my child, because in Nigeria there is no security like here,” she said.     The Ocean Viking operates in a zone the size of Denmark, making the chances of spotting a migrant boat minimal.   Critics argue that rescue operations invite migrants to take deadly risks. But Clair Juchat, communications officer onboard the Ocean Viking, disagrees. “We can see clearly during COVID times as well, April 2020, when the pandemic outbreak paralyzed the world, people kept fleeing but we just learned more reports of shipwrecks,” Juchat said. After picking up survivors, the Ocean Viking set out for Italy. The migrants play and sleep through the days, until excitement ensues when a critically ill person is evacuated by the Italian Coast Guard to the port of Lampedusa. Then after four days the long sought-after moment arrives.  The assignment of a port of safety ends a journey that for some survivors took years.  The next step is to see whether they have COVID-19. Then they will be transferred to land, into centers where it will be determined whether they can be classified as asylum seekers, refugees, or not. The Ocean Viking arrived in the port of Augusta in Sicily. The gangway was lowered. For the migrants, a crucial moment arrived. Will they really step on land and be safe, after a perilous journey? Carefully they stepped forward, having been encouraged by SOS rescuers. A tap on the shoulder, a motivated last word whispered in the ear, and they entered a tent where authorities registered the arrivals. Then another journey starts. Being granted asylum can take years, and the unlucky ones may be sent back home, or disappear into Italy’s tough informal economy. 

Biden Heads to Minnesota to Promote Infrastructure Plan

about 21 hours ago

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday visits a Minnesota technical college to sell Americans on his recently approved $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which the administration says will train millions of Americans “for the high-growth jobs of the future” that will build the massive infrastructure Biden says the U.S. needs to compete globally. This is Biden’s first visit to the state known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" since he was elected president. He plans to visit Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minnesota, to speak to students about the legislation and how it affects them.  “The majority of jobs supported by the president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will not need a four-year college degree,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, ahead of the trip. “And the programs provided by community and technical colleges like Dakota County Technical College will provide the training and skill development needed to help workers access the jobs created.” The public, two-year technical college serves nearly 13,000 students across multiple disciplines, including construction and manufacturing. The White House estimates that under the new law, Minnesota will receive $4.5 billion for federal-aid highways; $302 million for bridges; $818 million for public transportation; $680 million to improve water infrastructure; and $100 million that aims to cover every resident with high-speed internet.  The legislation also will provide about $68 million to expand the state’s electric vehicle charging network, and Minnesota will receive a slice of the $50 billion the law allocates to strengthening infrastructure against the impacts of climate change.

Baby vaccination declined during the pandemic

by Gregory Filiano-Stony Brook, about 21 hours ago

New mothers who lost income during the pandemic and reported feelings of discrimination were less likely to take their infants for their first vaccinations.

Epstein Pilot Resumes Testimony at Ghislaine Maxwell Trial

about 22 hours ago

A longtime pilot for the late financier Jeffrey Epstein resumed his testimony at Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking trial Tuesday, saying that the British socialite charged with helping the financier find teenage girls to sexually abuse was "Number 2" in the hierarchy of Epstein's operations. Lawrence Paul Visoski Jr. is the first witness in the sex trafficking trial of Maxwell, 59, a woman who traveled for decades in circles that put her in contact with accomplished and wealthy people before her July 2020 arrest. Asked where Maxwell stood in the hierarchy of Epstein's world, Visoski said Maxwell "was the Number 2." He added that "Epstein was the big Number 1." The testimony supports what Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz told jurors in her opening statement Monday when she said Epstein and Maxwell were "partners in crime." Pomerantz said Maxwell recruited and groomed girls for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to at least 2004. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty and her lawyer says she's being made a scapegoat for Epstein's bad behavior. Visoski testified briefly on Monday before beginning Tuesday on the witness stand. Prosecutors have used his testimony to show jurors photographs of Epstein's homes and properties. Epstein killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 as he awaited a sex trafficking trial.  Maxwell has been held without bail since her arrest on charges alleging she recruited teenage girls for Epstein to abuse from 1994 to 1997. Earlier this year, the indictment against her was expanded to accuse her of continuing to aid Epstein's sexual abuse of teenagers from 1997 to 2004.

New 'monster' ichthyosaur had an arsenal of deadly teeth

by Shirley Cardenas-McGill, about 23 hours ago

A new 130-million-year-old fossil "shakes up the evolutionary tree" of ichthyosaurs, which were ancient animals that look eerily like living swordfish.

Italian Soccer Reporter Files Charges Against Man for Harassment on TV 

about 24 hours ago

An Italian journalist filed charges on Monday against a man accused of slapping her bottom on live TV after a Serie A football match just as the league was championing a campaign against violence towards women. Greta Beccaglia, of local broadcaster Toscana TV, was talking to fans streaming out of the stadium after Empoli beat Fiorentina 2-1 on Saturday. Footage shows a passer-by moving an open hand towards her bottom before, Beccaglia says, slapping her sharply. "You can't do that, I'm sorry," the visibly upset journalist says to the man in the video, which has been widely broadcast, drawing outrage on Italian social media. Anchorman Giorgio Micheletti then advises her from the studio: "Don't get cross" - a comment many branded as inappropriate. The incident came as Italy's top league was taking a stance for women, with all players wearing a red mark on their faces as a sign of solidarity against harassment. Police said Beccaglia had made formal charges, while Toscana TV said it would pay her legal costs.  'Slapped me violently' "First the man spat on his hand and then he slapped me on my bottom, violently," she told Corriere della Sera daily. Another man later also tried to touch her, she said, though this was not caught on film.  Police said they have identified the first man. Sexism and abuse of women remain big problems in Italy. Some 31% of women experience sexual or physical violence in their lives, according to National statistics institute ISTAT. Marco Talluri, chief editor of Toscana TV, said the anchorman's response was wrong. "We cannot let our guard down ... we have condemned any attempt to minimize this incident," he told Reuters. Micheletti said he was trying to defend Beccaglia and prevent something worse from happening. "I apologize for the unfortunate words I used in the frantic moment of Saturday's live broadcast," he said in a statement. "At that moment my only interest was to be of help to Greta."

Will omicron – the new coronavirus variant of concern – be more contagious than delta? A virus evolution expert explains what researchers know and what they don't

about 24 hours ago

Ugandan, DRC Forces Launch Airstrikes Against ADF Rebels in Congo

1 day ago

Uganda's armed forces say they have launched joint airstrikes with the Democratic Republic of Congo against Islamist militants that Uganda blames for suicide bombings this month in its capital.   In a tweet Tuesday morning, Ugandan Brigadier General Flavia Byekwaso announced that Ugandan forces, together with Congolese allies, had launched joint air and artillery strikes against camps of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF. She confirmed the attack to VOA. “Yes, it’s true, there’s a joint operation going on this morning on ADF positions.” Ugandan officials blame the ADF for recent suicide bombings in the capital, Kampala, that killed five people, minus the bombers. The ADF has been fighting the Ugandan government since 1996 and claims affiliation with the Islamic State militant group.  Earlier this month, while addressing the country on the security situation, President Yoweri Museveni said members of the ADF would be pursued wherever they are. Byekwaso told VOA that Tuesday’s airstrikes in Beni, in eastern Congo, were a long-term wish. “This has been a wish, actually for both presidents. Because ADF is not only a threat to Uganda, but a threat within the region and a threat to DRC itself. I think this has been something that we’ve been looking for, for quite some time," Byekwaso said. Prior to Tuesday’s airstrikes, Museveni said 12 ADF members had been killed and 106 arrested in Uganda since June.

Omicron Variant Was in Western Europe Days Before First Identified in Southern Africa

1 day ago

New evidence has revealed that the omicron variant of the coronavirus was already present in western Europe well before the first cases were officially identified in southern Africa. Authorities in the Netherlands said Tuesday that it detected the variant in test samples as early as November 19 -- a full week before the positive cases detected last Friday among passengers who arrived in Amsterdam on a flight from South Africa. Health officials in Japan and France also confirmed their first cases of omicron on Tuesday, joining a growing list of nations including Britain, Canada, Scotland, Australia, Austria, Spain and Sweden. The emergence and rapid spread of omicron has prompted Stephane Bancel, the chief executive of pharmaceutical giant Moderna, to warn Tuesday in an interview with The Financial Times that the world’s existing COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective against the new variant compared to delta and other earlier variants. Bancel’s prediction of a “material drop” in the effectiveness of the vaccines -- including the one developed by Moderna -- sent global financial markets plummeting Tuesday, with Tokyo’s Nikkei losing 1.5%, crude oil futures plunging more than 3% percent, and U.S stock futures losing between one-half and one percent. But scientists at the University of Oxford, which developed a two-dose vaccine in collaboration with drugmaker AstraZeneca, issued a statement Tuesday saying the current vaccines “have continued to provide very high levels of protection against severe disease and there is no evidence so far that omicron is any different.” The statement also said if necessary, it has the “tools and processes in place for rapid development of an updated COVID-19 vaccine.” Emer Cooke, the head of the European Medicines Agency, the drug regulator for the European Union, also attempted to sound a note of reassurance Tuesday, telling EU lawmakers in Brussels that the current vaccines are still able to deal with the omicron variant, but if need be, it will take up to four months to have new versions approved for use in the 27-nation bloc. Tuesday’s mixed messages come a day after Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the World Health Organization, told a special session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, “This pestilence – one that we can prevent, detect and treat – continues to cast a long shadow over the world.” “Omicron’s very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it is not done with us,” Tedros said. “We are living through a cycle of panic and neglect. Hard-won gains could vanish in an instant. Our most immediate task, therefore, is to end this pandemic.” The WHO said the overall global risk related to the omicron variant “is assessed as very high" although no deaths have been linked to it. The threat of the variant prompted both the United States and Britain to recommend Monday that all adults get COVID-19 booster shots. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously approved booster shots for all adults but only recommended them for those age 50 and older or those who were at high risk for the disease. Britain’s government expanded booster eligibility to people between the ages of 18 and 39 after previously offering it only to those over 40 or at high risk for the disease.  Omicron prompts travel bans Poland and Japan became the latest countries Monday to announce travel bans because of the variant. Poland said it was suspending flights to seven southern African countries while Japan said it would suspend entry of all foreign visitors beginning Tuesday. Israel and Morocco have also closed their borders to all foreign visitors. Other countries, including the United States, Canada, Brazil and some European Union nations, have barred or limited travelers from Africa’s southern region. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned about the isolation of southern African countries” due to the travel restrictions. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his country was “deeply disappointed” by the travel bans. “These restrictions are completely unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our southern African sister countries,” the South African leader said in a televised address Sunday. Dr. Unben Pillay, a South African general practitioner in the heavily hit Gauteng province, told the Associated Press that the sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases attributed to the omicron variant of the coronavirus is resulting in mostly mild symptoms. He said that most people are being treated at home and that those who are vaccinated are faring better than those who are not. Some information in this report came from Reuters and the Associated Press.

What will get clothes factories to comply with labor standards?

by Matt Shipman-NC State, 1 day ago

A new study details baseline actions apparel factories need to take to be compliant with labor standards. But will consumers agree to paying the extra cost?

Patients in rural ERs fare just as well as those in urban hospitals

by U. Michigan, 1 day ago

Despite closure threats, ERs at rural hospitals save lives at similar rates to their urban counterparts, new research shows.

Sports Heroes Who Served: Minor League Baseball Player Earned Distinction During World War II > U.S. Department of Defense > Story

by David Vergun, 1 day ago

Keith Bissonnette played minor league baseball before being drafted into the the Army during World War II. He was assigned to the Army Air Force where he flew more than 200 missions and earned several awards, including the Purple Heart Medal.

Will omicron – the new coronavirus variant of concern – be more contagious than delta? A virus expert explains what researchers know and what they don't

1 day ago

What the public doesn't get: Anti-CRT lawmakers are passing pro-CRT laws

1 day ago

Quitting your job or thinking about joining the ‘great resignation’? Here's what an employment lawyer advises

1 day ago

Who's in? Who's out? The ethics of COVID-19 travel rules

1 day ago

This Hanukkah, learn about the holiday's forgotten heroes: Women

1 day ago

It would pay to link eastern and western power grids

by Mike Krapfl-Iowa State, 1 day ago

Two new papers offer evidence that linking the two giant power grids in the US would offer benefits.

Barbados Becomes Republic, Cuts Ties to British Throne

1 day ago

Barbados became a republic Tuesday, cutting its colonial ties to the British throne and removing Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as the Caribbean nation’s head of state. Sandra Mason, who won election last month, was inaugurated as the nation’s first president, saying in her address that “Republic Barbados has set sail on her maiden voyage.” “We the people must give Republic Barbados its spirit and its substance,” Mason said. “We must shape its future. We are each other’s and our nation’s keepers. We the people are Barbados.” Dignitaries, including Britain’s Prince Charles, attended a ceremony to mark the change, which comes 55 years to the day since Barbados declared its independence from Britain. The heir to the British throne thanked officials for inviting him, and also used his remarks to acknowledge the long history of English settlers using the work of hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans on lucrative sugar plantations. “The creation of this republic offers a new beginning,” said Prince Charles. “From the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery which forever stains our history, people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.” Barbados will remain part of the 54-member Commonwealth. Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

1st French Omicron Case on Indian Ocean Island of Reunion

1 day ago

Japan and France confirmed their first cases of the new variant of the coronavirus on Tuesday as countries around the world scrambled to close their doors or find ways to limit its spread while scientists study how damaging it might be. The World Health Organization has warned that the global risk from the omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence, saying it could lead to surges with “severe consequences.” French authorities on Tuesday confirmed the first case of the omicron variant in the French island territory of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. Patrick Mavingui, a microbiologist at the island’s research clinic for infectious diseases, said the person who has tested positive for the new variant is a 53-year-old man who had traveled to Mozambique and stopped in South Africa before returning to Reunion. The man was placed in quarantine. He has “muscle pain and fatigue,” Mavingui said, according to public television Reunion 1ere. Japan on Tuesday confirmed its first case in a visitor who recently arrived from Namibia, a day after banning all foreign visitors as an emergency precaution against the variant. A government spokesperson said the patient, a man in his 30s, tested positive upon arrival at Narita airport on Sunday and was isolated and is being treated at a hospital. Cambodia barred entry to travelers from 10 African countries, citing the threat from the omicron variant. The move came just two weeks after Cambodia reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers on Nov. 15. The new version was first identified days ago by researchers in South Africa. WHO said there are “considerable uncertainties” about the omicron variant. But it said preliminary evidence raises the possibility that the variant has mutations that could help it both evade an immune-system response and boost its ability to spread from one person to another. The WHO stressed that while scientists are hunting evidence to better understand this variant, countries should accelerate vaccinations as quickly as possible. Despite the global worry, doctors in South Africa are reporting patients are suffering mostly mild symptoms so far. But they warn that it is early. Also, most of the new cases are in people in their 20s and 30s, who generally do not get as sick from COVID-19 as older patients. 

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