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Biologist Nick Bos tells Wikinews about ‘self-medicating’ ants

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Nick Bos, of the University of Helsinki, studies “the amazing adaptations social insects have evolved in order to fight the extreme parasite pressure they experience”. In a recently-accepted Evolution paper Bos and colleagues describe ants appearing to self-medicate.

I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented

The team used Formica fusca, an ant species that can form thousand-strong colonies. This common black ant eats other insects, and also aphid honeydew. It often nests in tree stumps or under rocks and foraging workers can sometimes be spotted climbing trees.

Some ants were infected with Beauveria bassiana, a fungus. Infected ants chose food laced with toxic hydrogen peroxide, whereas healthy ants avoided it. Hydrogen peroxide reduced infected ant fatalities by 15%, and the ants varied their intake depending upon how high the peroxide concentration was.

In the wild, Formica fusca can encounter similar chemicals in aphids and dead ants. The Independent reported self-medicating ants a first among insects.

Bos obtained his doctorate from the University of Copenhagen. He began postdoctoral research at Helsinki in 2012. He also runs the AntyScience blog. The blog aims to help address “a gap between scientists and ‘the general public’.” The name is a pun referencing ants, its primary topic, science, and “non-scientific” jargon-free communication. He now discusses his work with Wikinews.

((Wikinews)) What first attracted you to researching ants?

Nick Bos Me and a studymate were keeping a lot of animals during our studies, from beetles, to butterflies and mantids, to ants. We had the ants in an observation nest, and I could just look at them for hours, watching them go about. This was in my third year of Biology study I think. After a while I needed to start thinking about an internship for my M.Sc. studies, and decided to write a couple of professors. I ended up going to the Centre for Social Evolution at the University of Copenhagen where I did a project on learning in Ants under supervision of Prof. Patrizia d’Ettorre. I liked it so much there I ended up doing a PhD and I’ve been working on social insects ever since.

((Wikinews)) What methods and equipment were used for this investigation?

NB This is a fun one. I try to work on a very low budget, and like to build most of the experimental setups myself (we actually have equipment in the lab nicknamed the ‘Nickinator’, ‘i-Nick’ and the ‘Nicktendo64’). There’s not that much money in fundamental science at the moment, so I try to cut the costs wherever possible. We collected wild colonies of Formica fusca by searching through old tree-trunks in old logging sites in southern Finland. We then housed the ants in nests I made using Y-tong [aerated concrete]. It’s very soft stone that you can easily carve. We carved out little squares for the ants to live in (covered with old CD covers to prevent them escaping!). We then drilled a tunnel to a pot (the foraging arena), where the ants got the choice between the food with medicine and the food without.
We infected the ants by preparing a solution of the fungus Beauveria bassiana. Afterwards, each ant was dipped in the solution for a couple of seconds, dried on a cloth and put in the nest. After exposing the ants to the fungus, we took pictures of each foraging arena three times per day, and counted how many ants were present on each food-source.
This gave us the data that ants choose more medicine after they have been infected.
The result that healthy ants die sooner when ingesting ROS [Reactive Oxygen Species, the group of chemicals that includes hydrogen peroxide] but infected ants die less was obtained in another way (as you have to ‘force feed’ the ROS, as healthy ants, when given the choice, ignore that food-source.)
For this we basically put colonies on a diet of either food with medicine or without for a while. And afterwards either infected them or not. Then for about two weeks we count every day how many ants died. This gives us the data to do a so-called survival analysis.
We measured the ROS-concentration in the bodies of ants after they ingested the food with the medicine using a spectrophotometer. By adding certain chemicals, the ROS can be measured using the emission of light of a certain wave-length.
The detrimental effect of ROS on spores was easy to measure. We mixed different concentrations of ROS with the spores, plated them out on petridishes with an agar-solution where fungus can grow on. A day after, we counted how many spores were still alive.

((Wikinews)) How reliable do you consider your results to be?

NB The results we got are very reliable. We had a lot of colonies containing a lot of ants, and wherever possible we conducted the experiment blind. This means the experimenter doesn’t know which ants belong to which treatment, so it’s impossible to influence the results with ‘observer bias’. However, of course this is proof in just one species. It is hard to extrapolate to other ants, as different species lead very different lives.
At the moment it seems that sick ants mostly take care of the problem themselves

((Wikinews)) Where did the ants and fungus you used come from? How common are they in the wild?

NB For ants, see above about the collection.
This species of fungus does appear in Finland, but we chose to use a different strain from Denmark (with thanks to Prof. J. Eilenberg and the laboratory technician Louise Lee Munch Larsen from the University of Copenhagen). Animals can adapt to local strains (‘local adaptation’), and just to make sure we thought it would be good to use a strain of fungus that the ants definitely did not evolve specific resistances against. This means that the reaction of the ants (to self-medicate) is very likely to be a general response, and not just against their local fungal enemies.

((Wikinews)) Are there any ethical considerations around exposing ants to toxins and parasites?

NB Legally, no. Insects do not have any ‘rights’ as such regarding ethics. That said, we do take measures to not make them ‘suffer unnecessarily’. For example, dissections are done when the ants are anesthetized (either by CO2 or Ice), and when ants need to be killed, we do it in alcohol, which kills the ants in a matter of seconds. So while the ants do not have ‘rights’ as such, we still try to handle them with as much respect as possible (even though the experiment involves infecting them with a deadly fungus).
But even though the 12,000 ants in our study sounds like a lot (and it is), this is negligible in the ‘grand scheme of things’. It has been calculated that in the Netherlands alone, nearly a trillion insects die against just the licence-plates of cars every six months. I don’t own a car, so that means I’m excused right? 😉

((Wikinews)) This is the first evidence for self-medicating insects. How widespread do you think this phenomenon could be in reality?

NB It’s not actually the first evidence for self-medication in insects. Moths and fruit flies definitely do it, and there’s evidence in honey bees and bumble-bees as well. So it seems to be quite wide-spread in the insect world. I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented. Insects (and animals in general) seem to be quite good at taking care of themselves.

((Wikinews)) How might ants locate healing substances in the wild?

NB Very good question. This is something that’s important to know. If they would only do it in the lab, the behaviour wouldn’t be very interesting. We have some guesses where they might get it from, but at the moment we don’t know yet. That said, I plan to investigate this question (among others) further [in] the next couple of years.

((Wikinews)) For your PhD you researched ants’ scent-based communications. Could healthy ants perhaps tell other ants are infected and encourage this behaviour?

NB There’s not much known about this. There’s conflicting evidence about whether sick ants actually smell different from healthy ones or not. At the moment it seems that sick ants mostly take care of the problem themselves. Sick ants stop most interaction with nestmates and especially brood, and leave the nest to die in isolation. This is probably for reducing chance of infecting nestmates, but of course it also reduces the work load of their nest-mates, as their corpse doesn’t have to be dragged out etc.
So as an answer to the question, I would find it unlikely that such a behaviour would evolve, but it’s not known yet.

((Wikinews)) Ants generally avoided the peroxide if they were healthy, but in some circumstances might they try to build resistance against infection in advance?

NB Who knows? Also not known yet unfortunately. That said, there is a very interesting study about resin collection in ants. Wood ants collect tree-resin, which has anti-microbial properties. They collect this even if not infected, and when you infect them, they don’t collect more of the resin than normal. So basically it seems like they collect it in order to keep diseases out of the nest, so they stop the disease before it can actually infect them.

((Wikinews)) Are there plans to follow this research up? Might you research other species? Other substances?

NB I first want to find out where they get it from in nature. There might be many sources of medicine (recent evidence suggests that tobacco plays a similar role for bumble bees). Dalial Freitak, who is also on this paper is currently running tests with Ph.D. student Siiri Fuchs (who is also on the paper) with other substances to see if any have the same effect as H2O2 [hydrogen peroxide].
Once the behaviour has been well described in this species of ant, I might do a comparison with other species. For example, once we find the source of the medicine in nature… would species without access to this source also have evolved the same behaviour in the lab? And if so… where would they get it from?
Also… can ants medicate their friends? 🙂

((Wikinews)) What other research are you working on right now?

NB Phew…lots! 🙂
I still have some questions left unanswered from my Ph.D. work related to how ants recognize who is a friend and who isn’t. I also started collaborating with Prof. Michael Poulsen from the University of Copenhagen on immunity in fungus-growing termites, as well as their chemical recognition abilities. Furthermore we’re working on social parasitism in wood-ants (ants have lots of animals exploiting the nest for shelter and resources, which all somehow have to get in to the fortress without getting killed).

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Dec
06

Canadian Liberal MP expelled from caucus for supporting Conservative budget

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Canadian Liberal MP expelled from caucus for supporting Conservative budget

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Joe Comuzzi, 73, was ousted from the Liberal caucus today by leader Stéphane Dion.

The move was in response to Comuzzi’s intention to support the Conservative government’s second budget, tabled March 20, 2007. Comuzzi supports the budget because it has funding for a cancer research centre that will hire 300 people in his riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North in Northern Ontario.

“It’s for a single issue that’s of absolute critical importance to all the people in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario, and that’s the cancer research centre,” he said in response to his decision.

Following a March 21 caucus meeting, Dion told reporters “I spoke with him. He said that he will vote for this bad budget.” Dion explained that it was obligatory for his MPs to follow party direction on confidence measures, such as the latest budget. “He’s well aware, after 19 years in the House, of the consequences of what he’s doing,”

Comuzzi, first elected to the House of Commons in 1988, had resigned a junior cabinet position previously in 2005, in protest of Paul Matin’s then Liberal government’s support of same-sex marriage. He had held the Minister of State responsible for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) portofio.

Comuzzi will sit as an Independent and had previously said he will not run in the next federal election. He is now one of the two only Independent MPs in the House.

The move will leave the Liberals with 100 seats in the House. Out of all the 308 seats in the House, the governing Conservatives have 125 seats, the Bloc Québécois have 50, and the New Democrats have 29.

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Dec
01

Australia/2006">
Australia/2006

Contents

  • 1 January
  • 2 February
  • 3 March
  • 4 April
  • 5 May
  • 6 June
  • 7 July
  • 8 August
  • 9 September
  • 10 October
  • 11 November
  • 12 December

[edit]

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Nov
09

Chloroform spill forces evacuation of building at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York">
Chloroform spill forces evacuation of building at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York

Monday, August 11, 2008

Buffalo, New York —The Buffalo Fire Department and Police were called to a hazmat situation at Canisius College on Main Street after security reported that a one gallon glass container containing chloroform broke, spilling about a pint onto the floor of the college’s science building.

According to communications by firefighters, who arrived at around 8:20 a.m. (eastern time), the glass container spilled on the third floor in room 318. As a precaution the building was evacuated and East Delevan road between Main Street and Jefferson Avenues was closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic while crews worked to clean up the spill.

At about 9:15 hazmat crews entered the room and began to clean up the chemical “using kitty litter” and fans to air out the room. They then sealed the material in a five gallon container. At 9:23 a.m. firefighters stated that they no longer detected the chemical in the air and began to pack up their gear.

Officials for the college assessed the situation and decided to keep the building closed for the day. “At 8:22am this morning the Public Safety Department and Buffalo Fire Department responded to a report of a chemical spill on the third floor of the Health Science Center. As the building is cleaned, the Health Science Building will remain closed today and reopen tomorrow morning,” a college official said to Wikinews, adding they could not confirm the firefighter reports.

Firefighters believe the container containing the chemical was knocked over while someone working with maintenance was cleaning the floors.

There are no reports of injuries, but WKBW reports that the maintenance worker was taken to Sister’s of Saint Mercy’s hospital not far from the college for observation.

Chloroform is a common solvent used in chemistry laboratories. Minimal exposure can cause dizziness, headaches and fainting while prolonged exposure can cause liver and kidney damage. It is considered a hazardous material and environmentally unsafe. Banned as a consumer product since 1976 in the U.S., it was previously used in toothpaste, cough medicines and pharmaceuticals.

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Nov
09

Australian foreign minister tells inquiry it was the UN’s job to investigate Iraq kickback claims">
Australian foreign minister tells inquiry it was the UN’s job to investigate Iraq kickback claims

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Cole Inquiry

Alexander Downer, Australia’s foreign affairs minister, told the Cole Inquiry yesterday that it was not his department’s job to investigate claims that wheat exporter AWB was paying kickbacks to Saddam Hussein in the lead up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Mr Downer, who entered the inquiry via a back entrance to avoid the crowd waiting outside told the inquiry numerous times that he did not read a series of diplomatic cables which raised concerns about AWB in Iraq. Mr Downer admitted that he did not have the time to read diplomatic cables and the only time he did so was when he is “stuck on a plane” and has nothing else to read.

The claims are in stark contrast to a statement made to parliament in February where Mr Downer said “Of course I would have read them”.

When asked why the department of foreign affairs and trade did nothing about the allegations first received in 2000, he told the inquiry that his department couldn’t investigate AWB and responsibility for the oil for food program laid with the UN. ” The department does not have the legal authority to go into AWB and access their files” he said.

“They (the UN) also had people on the ground in Iraq because insofar as there could be infringements of the sanctions regime, those infringements could take place within Iraq and Australia had no access to Iraq during that period.” Mr Downer told the inquiry.

Mr Downer admitted that the department of foreign affairs and trade had dealt with each cable, despite he not reading them and that were satisfied with assurances from AWB that there was no substance to the allegations.

Mr Downer was also asked about an unassessed intelligence report, sent to the National Security Committee of cabinet which raised concerns about Alia, the Jordanian trucking company used by the AWB to transport wheat around Iraq. The document alleged that Alia may have been paying kickbacks to the Iraqi regime.

Mr Downer told the inquiry that the intelligence may not have been dealt with.”There is so much intelligence. It’s a very major challenge, to deal with intelligence” he said.

When asked by Terry Forrest, counsel for AWB executives what the point of sending intelligence to his department when it was never read, Mr Downer conceded that it was “physically impossible” to read it all.

Mr Downer was also questioned about a cable delivered in June 2003 from US army captain Puckett which claimed that every contract under the UN’s oil for food program contained a kickback. Mr Downer told the inquiry he didn’t see the cable as being important because the information was provided by “a junior officer in the US army”.

Mr Downer denied claims made by former AWB executive Andrew Lindberg that he had been told about the possibility that money may have been paid to Iraq by Alia. According to Mr Downer it is common practice in his department to have two advisors at such meetings, where one of them takes notes so there is a record of what is said. According to Mr Downer, no notes were taken during the meeting despite it being “the usual practice”.

Mr Downer told the inquiry that he had no idea why notes weren’t taken during the meeting, despite the meeting being quite important. He also told the inquiry that he couldn’t recall if he noticed that nobody was taking notes as he would have been “focused a little more on the meeting than on somebody taking notes”.

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Nov
09

In Vehicle Cell Phone Use Assessing Accident Risk

Click Here To Find Out More About:

By Gary Rothstein

Mobile phone use in motor vehicles has increased at a remarkable rate over the past 15 years. Yet it is undeniable that utilizing a cell phone while driving can affect driver performance as it relates to the overall safe operation of a vehicle. There are a number of things to consider in deciding whether the trade off in convenience is worth the potential risks associated with the distraction created by a cell phone. Given the fact that the individual driver (and/or business owner) ultimately pays for the resulting consequences associated with an auto or truck accident (financial, emotional and physical lose); it is prudent to seek out relevant and reliable information in making a decision. In doing so, consider the source, as well as the possible motivation behind the information provider.

Source: US Legislation

In the United States, there are currently no federal laws prohibiting driving while using a cell phone. In an earnest attempt to find a solution, some states (New Jersey, New York, the District of Columbia, Connecticut and pending in California) have passed laws barring hand-held cell phone use while driving. Typical fines range from $50 to $100 for drivers caught using a hand-held device. While these lawmakers have the public’s best interest at heart by levying fines, not all entities weighing in on this subject are likely to have the same incentive.

Source: Manufacturer Research

As the result of an independent study (found on their web site in the form of a press release), Plantronics, a manufacturer of headsets states, “71% of drivers steer more accurately when using a headset with a mobile phone”. They point out that the study was to discover if a person using a mobile phone improves driving if he or she uses a headset. Stephen Wilcox, Ph.D., Principal of Design Science (independent research firm) states, “Driving with both hands on the wheel is the safest option for motorists who use mobile phones, and headsets are tools to enable that improvement. Considering the source, is this statement characteristic of scientific research? Is it objective and free of marketing bias? Could it confuse individuals into thinking that cell phones are safe as long as you are hands-free? Additionally, found toward the end of the press release, is a comment by a senior director of product marketing. Beth Johnson states, “It’s important to keep in mind that our study is not intended to address the issue of whether or not it is safe to talk on a mobile phone while driving, but rather what type of technology is safest for drivers to use while talking on their mobile phones”. They also state their intent is to educate drivers on options for using mobile phones comfortably and responsibly while driving”. Given that the goal is safety education, is this research responsibly comprehensive to consider it a relevant and reliable source?

Surely, as you go about your own assessment the idea of freeing up both hands to control the steering wheel is a logical consideration. If a driver focuses exclusively on driving the vehicle, then two hands on the wheel is better than one. Unfortunately, this seemingly sensible approach can lead to a false sense of driver security (possibly increasing crash risk) as noted in various reports (http://www.vcu.edu/cppweb/tstc/reports/reports.html) by the Crash Investigation Team at Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Public Safety. Their findings illustrated that the cognitive resources required to carry on a phone conversation are equivalent to those necessary to drive. This is an important concern given VCUs history of transportation safety research, as well as other studies concluding this behavior (carrying on a phone conversation while driving), reduces both driver reaction time and driver attentiveness, especially as they relate to braking.

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Unlike a computer, humans have a limited capacity to process simultaneous information. If the software on your computer seems to slow down, you might consider increasing the memory or processor speed to compensate for delays resulting from an overload in computing capacity. We as humans have a similar limitation when it comes to processing too much information, but unlike computers, our resources are somewhat fixed. Given the inherent delays in our own thought response time when faced with increased load factors, is it practical or safe to hold a cell phone conversation while driving a motor vehicle?

Source: Government Transportation Safety Research

The US government employs many of the top transportation safety experts and funds a major portion of the world’s accident prevention research. Given the effects traffic accidents and related congestion have on US productivity, accident reduction is a top priority. Considering that distracted driving accounted for at least 6.4 percent of crash fatalities in 2004 (U.S. Department of Transportation), many researchers are looking closely at the distinguishing distraction caused by cell phone use in vehicles. Furthermore, of the many potential distractions in a vehicle, cell phones are considered equally or more dangerous than the other known distractions such as eating, reading a map or grooming while operating a motor vehicle. In light of the ongoing research for, and by, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.gov) we should at least consider their policy on using cell phones while driving that states The primary responsibility of the driver is to operate a motor vehicle safely. The task of driving requires full attention and focus. Cell phone use can distract drivers from this task, risking harm to themselves and others. Therefore, the safest course of action is to refrain from using a cell phone while driving.

Source: Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA)

According to the CTIA, there are currently more than 218 million subscribed cell phone users as of August 2006 (compared to some 4.3 million in 1990). Based on the extraordinary growth of cellular phone industry and the CTIA’s advisory role, it may be of value to think about their point of view on this topic. In doing so, you might consider a document found on the CTIA’s web site, entitled “SafeDrivingTalkingPoints2” (created June 6, 2006) that states “But for some reason, legislative efforts to prevent driver distractions have been narrowly focused on wireless phone use. According to government statistics and respected research studies, this approach is well off point.” Consider that, there are more than 220 million vehicles on the road and a similar number of cell phones subscribers. Based on the amount of time customers might potentially spend using their cell phones in vehicles, we would hope to find the CTIA an objective source. Given the magnitude of the revenue at stake, is a greater degree of scrutiny in order here? Would the CTIA hold a different position if they were liable, in part, for distracted vehicle accidents?

Source: Leading Universities & Independent Researchers

While there are a number of valuable studies on this subject, the following are extensive research projects provided by highly accredited organizations:

1) Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracked 100 cars and their drivers for a year; they discovered that talking on cell phones caused more crashes, near-crashes and other incidents than other distractions (100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, April 2006).

2) University of Utah researchers determined that motorists on the blood-alcohol threshold of being legally drunk were able to drive better than sober cell phone using drivers. A key researcher and author in this field, Psychology Professor David Strayer notes, Just like you put yourself and other people at risk when you drive drunk, you put yourself and others at risk when you use a cell phone and drive. The level of impairment is very similar. Also, consider they found motorists to be more accident-prone and slower to react when talking on cellular telephones. It did not matter if it was hands-free either because of “inattention blindness”, a syndrome that makes a driver less able to process visual information.

3) The George Institute for International Health (University of Sydney, Australia), Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (Arlington, Virginia) and Injury Research Centre, University of Western Australia (Crawley Australia) jointly presented research entitled “Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study”. The research consisted of 456 drivers aged 17 years who owned or used mobile phones and had been involved in road crashes requiring hospital attendance between April 2002 and July 2004. They concluded that a driver who uses a mobile phone (up to 10 minutes prior to a crash) has a four times higher likelihood of crashing and an increased likelihood of a crash resulting in injury. Using a hands-free phone is not any safer.

Eliminate the Risk & Keep the Benefits

If you are the head of a household, a guardian or the parent of a less experienced driver, your decision to allow any in-vehicle cell phone use carries a major emotional and financial risk. If you are a fleet manager or you employ individuals that conduct work-related conversations while driving, the risk of liability for distracted accidents could fall on you. Strongly consider the legal ramifications for the careless operation of an employee-owned or company-supplied vehicle before deciding to ignore the inherent danger created by a major cognitive distraction such as a cell phone.

Obviously, there are no easy or certain solutions without sacrifice of convenience. Remember that the benefit of having a cell phone (emergency use and times when you are not operating a vehicle) is not lost just because it remains off while driving. If you consider the facts presented by relevant and reliable sources, it really is not a matter of a trade off after all, but an opportunity to prevent an accident or possibly a fatality. In the mean time, until it is proven otherwise, think about instigating a life saving strategy NOW for the safe use of cell phones – limit yourself, loved ones and employees to use (personal and business) only when the vehicle is in park!

About the Author: Gary S. Rothstein is the President of Mobile Awareness, a company which designs and markets vehicle safety products. He has 25 years experience in high technology electronic systems.

MobileAwareness.com

, Cleveland, Ohio, 866-653-5036, gsr@MobileAwareness.com Copyright September 2006

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isnare.com

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Nov
05

New Jersey backpedals on proposed bikini waxing ban">
New Jersey backpedals on proposed bikini waxing ban

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Jersey has reversed its plans for a state-wide ban on bikini waxing after salon owners from across the state spoke out against the proposal.

The New Jersey Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling planned to consider a ban on so-called “Brazilian waxes” in response to two women who reported being injured during a wax.

But state Consumer Affairs Director David Szuchman, who oversees the board, asked them to abandon the ban in favor of reviewing and establishing safeguards for those who provide the service.

“Many commentators have noted that the procedure could be safely performed,” Szuchman wrote in a letter to state board President Ronald Jerome Brown, according to the Asbury Park Press. “I, therefore, believe that there are alternative means to address any public health issues identified by the board.

Salon owners from across the state expressed relief with Szuchman’s decision.

“It was an unnecessary issue,” spa owner Linda Orsuto told the Associated Press. “In New Jersey especially, where the government has been picking our pockets for so long, it was like, ‘Just stay out of our pants, will you?'”

Although millions of Americans get bikini waxes, which generally cost between $50 and $60 per session, the practice comes with risks. Skin care experts say the hot wax can irritate delicate skin in the bikini area, and result in infections, ingrown hairs and rashes.

Waxing on the face, neck, abdomen, legs and arms are permitted in New Jersey. Although state statutes have always banned bikini waxing, the laws are seldom enforced because the wording is unclear.

If the measure had passed, New Jersey might have become the only US state to ban the practice outright.

Although Szuchman’s letter was crafted more as a recommendation than an order, media reports said the ban would likely never be approved without his support because his office oversees the board.

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Oct
30

Dozens dead after bus accident in Cameroon">
Dozens dead after bus accident in Cameroon

Monday, May 31, 2010

At least thirty people are dead in Cameroon after a bus rolled over, reports say. The accident happened on Saturday near the city of Bafia, 135 kilometres or so north of the capital Yaounde.

The accident happened when the bus lost control, rolled down a hill into a ditch, and broke in half. Officials say the death toll may increase.

Traffic police official Fifen Idrissou told the Agence France-Presse news service: “At the scene we’ve identified around 30 bodies but the death toll could be much greater given that some of the injured evacuated before we arrived reportedly died. The bus lost control […] 200 metres further on the bus hit a ditch. It rolled over several times,” he said.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were aboard the bus when it crashed.

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Oct
18

Sony refreshes VAIO brand for business and entertainment">
Sony refreshes VAIO brand for business and entertainment

Thursday, July 31, 2008

From the middle of July, Sony Corporation refreshed their senior laptop brand VAIO from “Video Audio Integrated Operation” to “Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer”. According to Sony Taiwan Limited, this refreshment is an attempt to relocate the laptop consuming market for business and entertainment factors.

In the “VAIO Experience 2008” press conference in Europe, Sony promoted their new product series for different populations including BZ for business, FW for home entertainment, Z for ultra-slim, and SR for complex applications.

Different with past series, Sony added “Clear Bright” screening technology for high-definition display, and “full-carbon production” features. BD-burning and Intel Centrino 2 processing technologies will be featured in all the new models. For security issue, Sony also embedded fingerprint system to prevent personal data to be stolen. Continued from TZ series, innovative designs including “Green Power Button”, “Situational Switch” are also added in newly-launched series.

“Due to consuming market differences, Sony only promoted BZ series in Europe and America but not included Asia. Although the TICA Show in Taipei will be different, functionality will be the greatest issue when a consumers choose a notebook [computer] before buying.” addressed by executives from Sony Taiwan Limited, during the “VAIO Experience 2008” press conference in Taiwan.

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Oct
18

Virginians melee at used Apple iBook sale">
Virginians melee at used Apple iBook sale

Thursday, August 18, 2005

“Total chaos” is how many described the melee that resulted from a sale of used Apple iBook laptop computers at the Richmond International Raceway (RIR) by the Henrico County, Virginia school system.

Officials estimated nearly 5,000 people thronged the sale for the $50, four-year-old computers. Among them were 17 injured, four requiring hospitalization – one for a leg injury, and three for heat-related illness, said Henrico County Police. Reports of trampling in the stampede were not uncommon, and one driver reportedly tried to drive through the throng of prospective buyers.

Alice Jemerson, an elderly customer said, “They bum rushed the gates and I was knocked over, fighting for my life. All these people were on top of me.”

Shortly after 7am EST officials opened the gates and many residents ran hysterically toward the building where the sale was to occur at 9am.

At a post sale press conference, Henrico County Police spokesman Lieutenant Doug Perry told reporters, “A few bad apples found their way inside. It looked worse than it was.”

Apple iBooks are the preferred computer for Henrico County schools, and Director of General Services of Henrico County Paul Proto, said changes were made to the event after tremendous interest was generated, some as far away as Europe and California. Officials closed and moved the sale from the Henrico county school warehouse to the RIR, after residents complained that their tax dollars were used to buy the computers, and they ought to have first right to repurchase them. The Henrico County Board of Supervisors voted to amend the County Code so that only residents could purchase the laptop computers.

Although officials had prohibited camping out and overnight parking, some in attendance reported that people began arriving at midnight.

Henrico Police Chief H.W. Stanley, Jr. said five patrol officers were originally planned for the event, a customary presence for an event the size authorities had estimated. But by 6 am, an enormous crowd was assembled at the front gate.

Officials present before opening told the crowd that automobiles would be allowed to enter first, which prompted many to run to their cars. But while some were running back to their cars, others rushed the gate. The resulting confusion created much anger, and guards closed the gates shortly thereafter.

Long lines encircling the sale building were commonplace, and one observer noted, “They’re going to see themselves on the news tonight, and see what fools they are.”

Some citizens, however, considered their wait worthwhile. Hairstylist and mother of two Sheress Blunt was one of the first hundred to buy one of the iBooks; she came with her mother and said they sneaked into the raceway through a side gate.

Tonya Vaughan arrived at 5:30 a.m., also bought one of the first iBooks and said three people offered to buy it from her for as much as $200. She declined however, saying, “I told them no way! I had worked too hard for it.”

Lt. Perry said many officers were complimented on the way they handled the crowd, adding that police were seen letting children who had been pushed aside, into the building.

Mr. Proto said, “There are no plans right now to have another iBook sale.”

Henrico County Battalion Police Chief Steve Wood said no arrests were made and the iBooks were sold out by 1pm EST.

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