Scientists and students from the University of Miami dove into the dark waters a few miles off the shores of Miami as part of an effort to develop hybrid reefs. The team from the Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science was on a mission to collect eggs and sperm from spawning staghorn coral, which they hope to use to fertilize other strains of staghorn corals in a lab. It's all part of a $7.5 million federal grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to help address security threats to the military and civilian infrastructure along vulnerable coastal regions in Florida and the Caribbean. The Miami-based project seeks to protect coastal bases from damaging hurricane storm surge using hybrid reefs. “Our mission is to develop hybrid reefs that combine the wave-protection benefits of artificial structures with the ecological benefits of coral reefs,” said Andrew Baker, a professor and director of the Coral Reef Futures Lab at the Rosenstiel School. “We will be working on next generation structural designs and concrete materials, and integrating them with novel ecological engineering approaches to help foster the growth of corals on these structures." They will also be testing new adaptive biology approaches to produce corals that are faster-growing and more resilient to a warming climate, he said. Coral spawns just a few nights every year, depending on water temperature and lunar cycle. Coral colonies simultaneously release their eggs and sperm into the water column, which fertilize one another to create baby coral. This article was provided by The Associated Press.
Sep 13, 2022
Norway’s central bank raised its key policy interest rate by half a percentage point, saying “inflation has been considerably higher than projected." The rate's increase to 1.75% was larger than expected as the bank takes aim at inflation that reached 6.8% in July. It noted that unemployment is very low, falling more than expected last month to 3.2%, and “activity in the Norwegian economy is high." “The rise in prices has been broad-based in recent months and may entail that inflation will remain high for longer than expected earlier,” Norges Bank said in a statement. “A faster rate rise now will reduce the risk of inflation becoming entrenched at a high level and the need for a sharper tightening of monetary policy further out.” It comes as central banks around the world are making big rate increases to tackle decades-high inflation. The U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of England and European Central Bank have all carried out hikes of a half-point or larger in recent weeks as they look to cool down the economy without tipping it into recession. The central bank in Norway, which is not a member of the European Union, noted that “persistent global price pressures will lead to a further acceleration in price inflation.” “On the other hand, the rise in interest rates and high inflation may cool down the housing market and curb household consumption faster than currently envisaged," the bank said. “There is also a risk of a sharper slowdown in global growth.” Based on the outlook and balance of risks, the bank said it will likely raise the policy rate further in September. This article was provided by The Associated Press.
Sep 12, 2022
Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen says he received death threats and an avalanche of abuse online after Liverpool's Darwin Núñez was ejected for headbutting him in a Premier League game on August 15. Andersen took to Instagram to share what he said was a sample of hundreds of abusive messages he has received since the 1-1 draw at Anfield. “Got maybe 300-400 of these messages last night,” the Dane posted to his Instagram story, which called on the league and Instagram to take action. Media reports said Andersen has also spoken to the police. Some of the screenshots called for the Palace player’s death, and many were full of expletives. Some messages threatened not just Andersen but his family as well. A Premier League spokesperson confirmed the governing body had been in touch with Palace to offer help, Britain’s Press Association said. The British parliament had been set to discuss new legislation in July that would have forced tech companies to take stronger measures to tackle abuse and hate on their platforms, but the bill was postponed until a new leader of the ruling Conservative party is chosen. Núñez was making his first competitive start for Liverpool. The club's big offseason signing lost his temper after jostling with Andersen off the ball and thrust his head into the face of the defender. He was sent off in the 57th minute. Andersen got a yellow card in the same incident. Núñez is facing a three-match ban for violent conduct. This article was provided by The Associated Press.
Sep 11, 2022
Airbnb says it will use new methods to spot and block people who try to use the short-term rental service to throw a party. The company said it has introduced technology that examines the would-be renter's history on Airbnb, how far they live from the home they want to rent, whether they're renting for a weekday or weekend, and other factors. Airbnb said the screening system that it is rolling out for listings in the United States and Canada has been tested since last October in parts of Australia, where it produced a 35% drop in unauthorized parties. The San Francisco-based company said the technology is designed to prevent a customer's request for reservation from ever reaching the host of the property involved. Airbnb said people blocked from renting an entire home might be able to book a single room because the host is more likely to be around. Airbnb has been under growing pressure to clamp down on parties since 2019, when a Halloween house party in a San Francisco suburb ended with five people dead in a shooting. The following year, Airbnb announced a worldwide party ban at its listings and banned people under 25 from renting an entire house near their home unless they had a record of positive reviews on the site. The party ban was initially cast as a temporary health measure during the pandemic but was made permanent in June. This article was provided by The Associated Press.
Sep 10, 2022
High up in the Tian Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan, the season for making the fermented drink known as kumis is in full swing. Connoisseurs of kumis, an important part of nomadic tribes’ diets for untold centuries, say the Suusamyr valley is home to the best version of the drink. In winter, the valley, which is 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level, is covered in meters-deep snow. When the thaw comes, the abundance of water feeds dense grass and herbs. By the end of summer, the valley is awash in a thick, emerald carpet of juicy blades of grass that horses eagerly devour. The grass and herbs lend a particular flavor to the milk that locals draw from the mares in the fields where they graze. The milk then is left to ferment, or sometimes churned to promote fermentation, until it becomes mildly alcoholic. Cows’ milk can also be used, but it is regarded as inferior. Mares’ milk has a higher sugar content, making it more amenable to fermentation. Rustam Tukhvatshin, a Kyrgyz medicines professor, says kumis promotes the growth of blood cells and detoxifies the body, among other benefits. He says he never misses coming to Suusamyr when kumis production is at its height. Tourists and people from other parts of Kyrgyzstan also are taking notice of the region’s kumis. Large wood-framed tents known as yurts have been set up along the road with tables where kumis is sold. With time to spare, a buyer can relax in the yurts while drinking the highly regarded beverage. This article was provided by The Associated Press.
Sep 9, 2022
As voting was already under way for Florida’s August 23 election, officials in the county where about one in four voters are Hispanic scrambled to fix a Spanish translation error that can't help efforts to raise more money for education. The Broward school district — the nation's sixth largest, serving 271,517 students — is asking voters to double the tax rate to help cover the costs of teacher raises and more school security staff and to bolster mental health programs. The proposal would increase a tax from one half a mill — which is about $50 per $100,000 in home value — to a full mill. But the Spanish version of that question translated “one mill" into “one million" and said the funding would pay for an administrative person who oversees resources, not for school police officers. It also wrongly translated “essential instruction” into “essential expenditures.” The issue came to light when a Spanish-speaking voter contacted the South Florida SunSentinel. More than 64,000 citizens had already sent in their Vote-by-Mail ballots by the afternoon of August 17 for the Aug. 23 election, the SunSentinel reported. Early voting at polling places began on August 20 in Florida. The school district sent a new translation to the Broward Supervisor of Elections. This language was posted at polling locations and early voting sites, and also appeared in Vote-by-Mail ballots, district spokeswoman Keyla Concepción told the newspaper. “The Supervisor of Elections Office has also placed the information on its website. The District will share the notification through all its distribution channels to ensure the public is informed about the revision,” she said. The “Secure the Next Generation Renewal” school district referendum comes as funding voters approved in 2018 for such initiatives is set to expire, the Miami Herald reported. If approved, this referendum would run from fiscal year 2023 to 2027. This article was provided by The Associated Press.
Sep 8, 2022
Johnson & Johnson is pulling baby powder containing talc worldwide next year after it did the same in the U.S. and Canada amid thousands of lawsuits claiming it caused cancer. Talc will be replaced by cornstarch, the company said. The company has faced litigation alleging its talcum powder caused users to develop ovarian cancer, through use for feminine hygiene, or mesothelioma, a cancer that strikes the lungs and other organs. J&J insists, and the overwhelming majority of medical research on talc indicates, that the talc baby powder is safe and doesn’t cause cancer. However, demand for the company's baby powder fell off, and J&J removed the talc-based product in most of North America in 2020. The company did so after it saw demand drop due to “misleading talc litigation advertising that caused global confusion and unfounded concern” about product safety, a company spokeswoman said. J&J said the change announced August 11 will simplify its product selection and meet evolving global trends. Last October, J&J said a separate subsidiary it created to manage talc litigation claims had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. J&J said then that it funded the subsidiary, named LTL Management, and established a $2 billion trust to pay claims the bankruptcy court determines that it owes. The health care giant also said last fall that it will turn its consumer health business — which sells the baby powder, Band-Aids and other products — into a separate publicly traded company. The part of the company selling prescription drugs and medical devices will keep the J&J name. Shares of Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, rose slightly before the opening bell August 12. The stock has performed better than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, of which J&J is a member, for most of the year. This article was provided by The Associated Press.
Sep 7, 2022
The European Union expressed concern that a new U.S. tax credit plan aimed at encouraging Americans to buy electric vehicles would discriminate against European producers and break World Trade Organization rules. Under the Inflation Reduction Act nearing final approval in the U.S. Congress, a tax credit of up to $7,500 could be granted to lower the cost of an electric vehicle. To qualify, the bill requires that electric vehicles should contain a battery built in North America with minerals mined or recycled on the continent. “The European Union is deeply concerned by this new, potential, trans-Atlantic trade barrier,” European Commission spokeswoman Miriam Garcia Ferrer said. “We think that it’s discriminatory, that it’s discriminating against foreign producers in relation to U.S. producers.” “Of course this would mean that it would be incompatible with the WTO,” she said. The commission is the EU’s executive branch, and part of its responsibilities is to conduct trade with the outside world on behalf of the bloc's 27 nations. The commission agrees that tax credits are “an important incentive to drive the demand for electric vehicles” and ultimately to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “But we need to ensure that the measures introduced are fair,” the spokeswoman said. The idea behind the U.S. requirement is to encourage domestic manufacturing and mining, build a robust battery supply chain in North America and lessen the industry’s dependence on overseas supply chains that could be subject to disruptions. Production of lithium and other minerals that are used to produce EV batteries is now dominated by China. The world’s leading producer of cobalt, another component of EV batteries, is the Democratic Republic of Congo. But the commission is deeply concerned about the domestic U.S. content and assembly requirements in the tax credit plan and claims this only favors certain mineral-rich countries, to the detriment of EU products exported to America. EU subsidy schemes, the commission said, are available for domestic and foreign producers alike. This article was provided by The Associated Press.
Sep 6, 2022
The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is returning ancient sculptures and other works of art that were illegally exported from Italy, the museum announced. The Getty will return a nearly life-size group of Greek terra-cotta sculptures known as “Orpheus and the Sirens," believed to date from the fourth century B.C., according to the museum. The sculpture group was purchased by J. Paul Getty in 1976 shortly before his death and had been on display for decades. However, the museum now believes they were illegally excavated and taken out of Italy, based on evidence uncovered by the Manhattan district attorney's office, the Getty said in a statement. “It’s just extremely rare and there’s nothing similar in our collection, or closely similar in any collection,” Getty Museum director Timothy Potts told the Los Angeles Times. “It does leave a hole in our gallery but with this evidence that came forth, there was no question that it needed to be sent back to Italy.” The fragile sculptures will be sent to Rome in September to join collections designated by the Italian Ministry of Culture, the Getty said. The museum also is working with the Ministry of Culture to arrange the return of four other objects at a future date. Those include a “colossal marble head of a divinity" and a stone mold for casting pendants, both from the second century A.D., along with an Etruscan bronze incense burner from the fourth century B.C. and a 19th-century painting by Camillo Miola entitled “Oracle at Delphi," the Getty said. This article was provided by The Associated Press.
Sep 5, 2022
France was in the midst of its fourth heat wave of the year on August 7 as the country faces what the government warned is its worst drought on record. National weather agency Meteo France said the heat wave began in the south and was expected to spread across the country. Overall, the southern half of France expects daytime temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and won’t drop at night below 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). The high temperatures aren’t helping firefighters battling a wildfire in the Chartreuse Mountains near the Alps in eastern France, where authorities have evacuated around 140 people. Meteo France said the heat wave from the week of August 7 would not be as intense as the one in July, when several regions experienced record-breaking temperatures. But the high temperatures came during the most severe drought ever recorded, according to the government. July 2022 was the driest since measurements began in 1959. Some French farmers have started to see drops in production especially in soy, sunflower and corn yields. Water restrictions in place range from daytime irrigation bans to limiting water usage to people, livestock and to keep aquatic species alive. The government said that more than 100 municipalities can’t provide drinking water through taps and need water truck supplies. The heat also forced energy giant EDF to temporarily cut power generation at some of its nuclear plants, which use river water to cool reactors. This article was provided by The Associated Press.
Sep 4, 2022