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Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 21 October 2020

This month’s Quadrilateral Security Dialogue foreign ministers meeting in Tokyo signals that so-called Quad has arrived as a global diplomatic combination. The Quad is already an Indo-Pacific military power.

For Beijing, the Quad's formation and solidification is a nightmare -- and China's communist government has only itself to blame.

In 2007, the Quad, at the behest of Japan, held its first informal meeting. At that meeting, Japan said all four nations regarded China as a disruptive actor in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

This common concern should spur close cooperation to confront it.

For several reasons, India downplayed the initial meeting. Many Indians valued their nation's Cold War-era "non-alignment" policy. Tight military cooperation with the U.S. might betray that legacy. Australia, the U.S. and Japan have long-term bilateral and trilateral defense relationships. Indian and Australian military contacts are close, but India prized strategic autonomy and was suspicious of mutual defense commitments.

Moreover, in 2007, India carefully avoided the appearance of actively countering China. Economic cooperation with Beijing had potential benefits. Plus, New Delhi and Beijing were trying to peacefully resolve their border disputes in the Himalayas.

What a difference 13 years make, especially a baker's dozen scarred by Chinese imperialist territorial expansion, intellectual theft, military buildup and lawless behavior. China's fake South China Sea islands bristle with weapons and violate the Philippines' and Vietnam's maritime zones. Beijing recently announced its new hypersonic missiles can smash Guam, a sovereign American territory. Human rights organizations accuse Beijing of genocide against Turkic Uighurs and ethnic Tibetans.

That border settlement in the Himalayas? Today, Indian and Chinese military forces clash in the mountains as China builds a transportation network capable of supporting a sustained ground offensive driving south into the subcontinent.

In the last 13 years, it looks as if India's leaders have learned that China's dictators interpret avoiding the appearance of opposing them as recognition of their power and a form of appeasement.

But the U.S. had a learning curve. American optimism regarding China's future has turned to pushback pessimism. The militarization of the South China Sea and the demonization of the U.S. by Chinese military leaders soured the U.S.-China relationship. The last straw: Beijing's deceit allowed COVID-19/the Wuhan virus to become a global pandemic.

Which takes us back to this week's Tokyo conference, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo representing the U.S.

In his in initial remarks, Pompeo said the Quad's democracies have chosen to cooperate. Then he bluntly rebuked the Chinese Communist Party for covering up the epidemic's outbreak. "The regime's authoritarian nature led its leaders to lock up and silence the very brave Chinese citizens who were raising the alarm. ... As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP's exploitation, corruption and coercion. We've seen it in the south, in the East China Sea, the Mekong, the Himalayas, the Taiwan Straits."

Today, Indian military forces routinely participate in Quad military exercises in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. Indian naval forces enter in the South China Sea. Indian ships have exercised with Japanese air and naval forces in the East China Sea between Japan's home islands and Okinawa. Much to the chagrin of Chinese admirals, Indian, U.S., Japanese and Australian forces conduct coalition exercises in the Indian Ocean.

In December 2018, then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told Indian media that the U.S. and India had "overcome hesitations of history" and made it "clear there is no contradiction between strategic autonomy and strategic partnership."

India knows it confronts a powerful, hostile China that seeks domination. One against one, India is at a disadvantage. But as a combination, the Quad can penalize Chinese economic and criminal mischief, and punish Chinese military adventurism.

 

sm no smile face with sunglasses

Published in Politics

 

 

 

The banyan fig tree Ficus microcarpa is famous for its aerial roots, which sprout from branches and eventually reach the soil. The tree also has a unique relationship with a wasp that has coevolved with it and is the only insect that can pollinate it.

In a new study, researchers identify regions in the banyan fig's genome that promote the development of its unusual aerial roots and enhance its ability to signal its wasp pollinator.

The study, published in the journal Cell, also identifies a sex-determining region in a related fig tree, Ficus hispida. Unlike F. microcarpa, which produces aerial roots and bears male and female flowers on the same tree, F. hispida produces distinct male and female trees and no aerial roots.

Understanding the evolutionary history of Ficus species and their wasp pollinators is important because their ability to produce large fruits in a variety of habitats makes them a keystone species in most tropical forests, said Ray Ming, a plant biology professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign who led the study with Jin Chen, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Figs are known to sustain at least 1,200 bird and mammal species. Fig trees were among the earliest domesticated crops and appear as sacred symbols in Hinduism, Buddhism and other spiritual traditions.

The relationship between figs and wasps also presents an intriguing scientific challenge. The body shapes and sizes of the wasps correspond exactly to those of the fig fruits, and each species of fig produces a unique perfume to attract its specific wasp pollinator.

To better understand these evolutionary developments, Ming and his colleagues analyzed the genomes of the two fig species, along with that of a wasp that pollinates the banyan tree.
"When we sequenced the trees' genomes, we found more segmental duplications in the genome of the banyan tree than in F. hispida, the fig without the aerial roots," Ming said. "Those duplicated regions account for about 27% of the genome."

The duplications increased the number of genes involved in the synthesis and transport of auxins, a class of hormones that promote plant growth. The duplicated regions also contained genes involved in plant immunity, nutrition and the production of volatile organic compounds that signal pollinators.

"The levels of auxin in the aerial roots are five times higher than in the leaves of trees with or without aerial roots," Ming said. The elevated auxin levels appear to have triggered aerial root production. The duplicated regions also include genes that code for a light receptor that accelerates auxin production.

When they studied the genome of the fig wasp and compared it with those of other related wasps, the researchers observed that the wasps were retaining and preserving genes for odorant receptors that detect the same smelly compounds the fig trees produce. These genomic signatures are a signal of coevolution between the fig trees and the wasps, the researchers report.

Ming and his colleagues also discovered a Y chromosome-specific gene that is expressed only in male plants of F. hispida and three other fig species that produce separate male and female plants, a condition known as dioecy.

"This gene had been duplicated twice in the dioecious genomes, giving the plants three copies of the gene. But Ficus species that have male and female flowers together on one plant have only one copy of this gene," Ming said. "This strongly suggests that this gene is a dominant factor affecting sex determination."

University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign

Published in Outdoor

Dear Doctor:

I was recently diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and was told to follow something called the low-FODMAP diet. Honestly, this is all so new that it's stressful and confusing. Can you explain what's going on?

Dear Reader:

First, you're not alone in feeling overwhelmed by a new and unexpected diagnosis. Not only are you getting a crash course on an unfamiliar medical state or condition, you're also being asked to master the details of a new treatment regimen. This can easily add to your stress.

Your diagnosis means that your medical history, along with the symptoms you've described to your health care provider, match those of a chronic disorder known as IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms typically include recurrent abdominal pain, which is accompanied by bloating, cramping, gas, constipation or diarrhea. Many people living with IBS find that episodes of diarrhea will alternate with periods of constipation. IBS is a chronic condition, which means that it is managed rather than cured. The cause is unknown. However, recent research points to a gut-brain connection. 

Diet is a first line of defense in managing IBS. The FODMAP diet your doctor recommended is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. The "ODMAP" of the acronym are certain sugars, contained in some foods. (Not all carbohydrates are considered FODMAPs.)

For people with IBS, foods with these types of sugars are either not completely digested or are incompletely absorbed. The sugars also cause the foods that contain them to be osmotic, which means that they attract water. These factors can cause these foods to be fermented -- that's the "F" in FODMAP -- by bacteria in the digestive tract, leading to the gastric symptoms of IBS.

Foods to avoid include those with fructose, which means fruit, honey and anything made with high-fructose corn syrup. Stone fruits like peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries and apricots also contain polyols, a carbohydrate known as a sugar alcohol, which is directly referenced in the FODMAP acronym. Also, avoid dairy products that contain lactose. Low-lactose milk products such as aged cheeses and lactose-free yogurt are usually OK. Other high-FODMAP foods include wheat products, onions, garlic, lentils, beans and legumes, including soy and soy products. Some artificial sweeteners also contain polyols, and should be avoided.

Because each person's body responds differently to specific high-FODMAP foods, the diet is broken into two phases. The first phase asks patients to eliminate all high-FODMAP foods from their diet for a period of four to six weeks. In the second phase, the eliminated foods are gradually reintroduced. This allows problem foods to be identified.

Fine-tuning the FODMAP diet so that it is varied, interesting, nutritious and high in fiber is challenging. We suggest working with a registered dietitian nutritionist or certified nutritionist to craft a diet that is both effective and sustainable.

Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, and Elizabeth Ko, M.D.,

Published in General/Features

Researchers from the University of Iowa may have discovered a safe new way to manage blood sugar non-invasively. Exposing diabetic mice to a combination of static electric and magnetic fields for a few hours per day normalizes two major hallmarks of type 2 diabetes, according to new findings published Oct. 6 in Cell Metabolism.

"We've built a remote control to manage diabetes," says Calvin Carter, PhD, one of the study's lead authors and a postdoc in the lab of senior author Val Sheffield, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics, and of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the UI Carver College of Medicine. "Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) for relatively short periods reduces blood sugar and normalizes the body's response to insulin. The effects are long-lasting, opening the possibility of an EMF therapy that can be applied during sleep to manage diabetes all day."

The unexpected and surprising discovery may have major implications in diabetes care, particularly for patients who find current treatment regimens cumbersome.

The new study indicates that EMFs alter the balance of oxidants and antioxidants in the liver, improving the body's response to insulin. This effect is mediated by small reactive molecules that seem to function as "magnetic antennae."

Serendipity and Collaboration

The initial finding was pure serendipity. Sunny Huang, Carter's co-lead author and an MD/PhD student interested in metabolism and diabetes, needed to practice taking blood from mice and measuring blood sugar levels. Carter offered to let her borrow some of the mice he was using to study the effect of EMFs on brain and behavior in the animals.

"It was really odd because normally these animals have high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes, but all of the animals exposed to EMFs showed normal blood sugar levels," Huang says. "I told Calvin, 'There's something weird going on here.'"

The finding that these mice had normal blood sugar levels after EMF exposure was doubly strange because the mice had a genetic modification which made them diabetic.

"That's what sparked this project," Carter confirms. "Early on, we recognized that if the findings held up, they could have a major impact on diabetes care."

The findings held up. Carter and Huang, working with Sheffield and UI diabetes expert Dale Abel, MD, PhD, chair of the UI Department of Internal Medicine, found that the combined wireless application of static magnetic and electric fields modulates blood sugar in three different mouse models of type 2 diabetes. The team also showed that exposure to such fields, approximately 100 times that of the Earth's, during sleep, reversed insulin resistance within three days of treatment.

EMFs and Redox Biology

EMFs are everywhere; telecommunications, navigation, and mobile devices all use them to function. EMFs are also used in medicine, in MRIs and EEGs, for example. However, very little is known about how they affect biology. On their hunt for clues to understand the mechanisms underlying the biological effects of EMFs on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, Carter and Huang reviewed literature from the 1970s investigating bird migration. They found that many animals sense the Earth's electromagnetic field and use it to orient themselves as well as for navigation.

"This literature pointed to a quantum biological phenomenon whereby EMFs may interact with specific molecules. There are molecules in our bodies that are thought to act like tiny magnetic antenna, enabling a biological response to EMFs," Carter says. "Some of these molecules are oxidants, which are studied in redox biology, an area of research that deals with the behavior of electrons and reactive molecules that govern cellular metabolism."

The team collaborated with Douglas Spitz , PhD, and Gary Buettner, PhD, UI professors of radiation oncology, and Jason Hansen, PhD, from Brigham Young University, all internationally recognized experts in redox biology, to help probe the action of an oxidant molecule called superoxide, which is known to play a role in type 2 diabetes.

Their experiments suggest that EMFs alter the signaling of superoxide molecules, specifically in the liver, which leads to the prolonged activation of an antioxidant response to rebalance the body's redox set point and the response to insulin.

"When we remove superoxide molecules from the liver, we completely block the effect of the EMFs on blood sugar and on the insulin response. The evidence suggests that superoxide plays an important role in this process," Carter adds.

Aiming for Human Studies

In addition to the mouse studies, the researchers also treated human liver cells with EMFs for six hours and showed that a surrogate marker for insulin sensitivity improved significantly, suggesting that the EMFs may also produce the same anti-diabetic effect in humans.

Carter and Huang are energized by the possibility of translating the findings to human patients with type 2 diabetes. In terms of safety, the World Health Organization considers low energy EMFs safe for human health. The UI study also found no evidence of any adverse side effects in mice.

The team is now working on a larger animal model to see if the EMFs produce similar effects in an animal that has a more similar size and physiology to humans. They also plan to conduct studies to understand the redox mechanism underlying the effects of EMFs. Their ultimate goal is to move into clinical trials with patients to translate the technology into a new class of therapies. With that goal in mind, Carter, Huang, and Carter's twin brother, Walter, have created a startup company called Geminii Health, with help from the UI Office for the Vice President of Research.

"Our dream is to create a new class of non-invasive medicines that remotely take control of cells to fight disease," Carter says.

University of Iowa
Health Care

Published in General/Features

The first is the ‘Trump Train Parade around Cape Coral’ This is Non perishable food drive for a local charity. They ask that you bring non perishable food donation to the event and help us fill the back of the Truck!

Fly your flags on your trucks, jeeps, decorate your cars, suvs. Wear your trump shirts on your motorcycles. All vehicles welcome. This event is Sunday Nov 1st. Election day is 2 days after on Tuesday so lets show Cape Coral our Trump pride! Parade route posted in event!

Meet at Cape Coral Post office. start lining up and decorating vehicles at 11am. Wheels rolling at 12 (noon)

 

trump boat parade

Also the same day is the Trump Boat Parade:

STARTING: Downtown Ft. Myers, Caloosahatchee River between the Edison and 41 Bridges starting at 10 am till 5pm ENDING: TBD (Possible FTM Beach, Picnic Island, Cayo Costa)

**The LAST Trump Boat Parade before the November 3rd Election! Let's do one more huge show of support and gather thousands of boats in the river to celebrate!!

Published in News Around The Bay

Absentee ballots have already been distributed to Floridians. And on those ballots – along with several federal, state and local offices – are six amendments to the state constitution. Proposed amendments require 60% voter approval to pass, thus permanently changing the state's constitution.
Legalese can be cumbersome, so before you cast your vote – just as we have in previous elections – we are breaking down the six constitutional amendments in Florida, letting you know who supports or opposes them and what they mean for you.
Here’s a look at the constitutional amendments up for a vote this election cycle:

AMENDMENT 1: Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections

What it says: “This amendment provides that only United States Citizens who are at least eighteen years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election.”

A YES vote means: You support changing the text of Florida’s Constitution from “every citizen” to “only a citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.”

A NO vote means: You support the current text of the constitution, which states “Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.”

ARGUMENTS AGAINST: There is no clear opposition to the amendment, most likely because it has no legal impact on the voting process in Florida since noncitizen voting is illegal in Florida.

ARGUMENTS FOR: Anonymous donors are funding a group called Florida Citizen Voters, who got the amendment on this year’s ballot. According to the group’s chairman, John Loudon, the group believes the amendment is necessary to ensure noncitizens can’t participate in elections.
AMENDMENT 2: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage

What it says: “Raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30th, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30th, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting September 30th, 2027.”

A YES vote means: You support the amendment to the state’s constitution that would increase Florida’s minimum wage in increments until September 2026 when it would reach $15, or a full-time annual salary of around $31,200.

A NO vote means: You believe Florida’s minimum wage of $8.56 per hour, which would be a full-time annual salary of $17,120, should remain unchanged.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST: According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the new minimum wage could result in job losses and reduced hours for employees.

ARGUMENTS FOR: Well-known Florida Attorney John Morgan helped fund the Florida For a Fair Wage initiative, which argues the rising cost of living in Florida is more than those making the current minimum wage can handle. They argue that the increased minimum wage would give the working-class more disposable income to spend, boosting the state’s economy.

AMENDMENT 3: All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet

What it says: “Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. Two highest vote getters advance to general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and winner is determined in general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot as provided by law. Effective January 1, 2024.”

A YES vote means: You support changing the Florida Constitution to allow an open primary in elections for state legislators, governor and cabinet officials, regardless of party affiliation. Meaning a Republican or Democrat registered voter could vote in a primary helping to choose who his candidate runs against in the actual election.

What a NO vote means: You do not support the change and want the state to continue with its current closed system, which only allows registered voters to vote within their own party during a primary to decide who will represent them in a general election.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Both Democrats and Republicans in the Florida Legislature oppose this amendment saying that an open primary could have two top candidates from the same party, leaving one party without representation.

ARGUMENTS FOR: A South Florida businessman who was the finance chairman for former governor Rick Scott largely funded the initiative called All Voters Vote. It would also allow independent voters to participate in the state’s primary elections.

AMENDMENT 4: Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments

What it says: “Requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the state constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections, instead of one, in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current 60% thresholds for passage to each of the two elections.”

A YES vote means: You support changing the voting process to Florida’s constitutional amendments to be approved by 60% twice. It is hard to get 60% approval once... let alone twice.

A NO vote means: You’re fine with the current amendment process, which only requires an amendment to garner a 60% vote in one election.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST: The League of Women Voters of Florida says this amendment would end citizen-led constitutional amendments, adding another layer of cost and participation to the process.

ARGUMENTS FOR: A group called Keep Our Constitution Clean, funded by a nonprofit connected to Florida Power & Light, ran a petition stating that the process to amend the constitution should have an additional layer to the process.

AMENDMENT 5: Limitation on Homestead Assessments

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution, effective date January 1, 2021, to increase, from 2 years to 3 years, the period of time during which accrued Save-Our-Homes benefits may be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead.”

A YES vote means: You support extending the two-year deadline for residents to transfer their “Save Our Home” benefits, which range from $25,000 to $50,000 in homestead exemptions, to three years.

A NO vote means: You support the current two-year deadline for transferring the “Save Our Home” benefits and do not believe it should be extended.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST: According to the League of Women Voters, putting this legislation in the Florida Constitution limits local governments’ ability to manage their budgets, which are funded mostly by property taxes, to best respond to the needs of their communities.

ARGUMENTS FOR: The Legislature placed Amendment 5 on the ballot. Homestead exemptions take effect on Jan. 1. Therefore, the sale of a home late in the year would effectively reduce the portability from two years to little more than one year and a few days under the current rules. So Amendment 5 would help those homeowners.

AMENDMENT 6: Ad
Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain
Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities

What it says: “Provides that the homestead property tax discount for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities carries over to such veteran’s surviving spouse who holds legal or beneficial title to, and who permanently resides on, the homestead property, until he or she remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the property. The discount may be transferred to a new homestead property of the surviving spouse under certain conditions. The amendment takes effect January 1, 2021.”

A YES vote means: You support a change to the state’s constitution that would allow spouses of disabled or deceased veterans receive a Homestead Property Tax discount.

A NO vote means: You don’t support the amendment and don’t believe property tax discounts should be transferred to the spouse of a disabled or deceased veteran.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST: The League of Women Voters believes the amendment would take away tax revenue that supports law enforcement, schools and infrastructure.

ARGUMENTS FOR: Florida lawmakers unanimously approved putting this amendment on the ballot in an effort to help the spouses of deceased veterans.

 

Published in Politics

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