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Biogen shares tank nearly 30% after pulling key Alzheimer’s drug trial

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 07:46

Biotech giant Biogen stock cratered 28% on Thursday, after the company announced that it would be pulling the plug on its ate-stage trial of its Alzeimer’s drug aducanumab.

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Cram a Turbo V-8 in a Geo Tracker and This Is What You Get

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 07:19

A 6.0-liter GM V-8 and a big turbo let this tiny truckster run 9.8-second quarter-mile times.

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Microsoft and University of Washington demonstrate automated DNA data storage

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 07:00

DNA data storage holds the promise of putting huge amounts of information into a test tube — but who wants to carry test tubes around a data center all day? Researchers from Microsoft ahd the University of Washington are working on a better way: a completely automated system that can turn digital bits into coded DNA molecules for storage, and turn those molecules back into bits when needed. They used their proof-of-concept system, described in a paper published today in Nature Scientific Reports, to encode the word "hello" in strands of DNA and then read it out. That may sound… Read More

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Residents told to shelter in place after Texas petrochemical plant fire

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 06:46

The three-day blaze at Mitsui unit Intercontinental Terminals Co (ITC) in Deer Park, Texas, was extinguished early on Wednesday. The City of Deer Park, 20 miles (32 km) east of Houston, issued a shelter-in-place advisory to its 34,000 residents after reports of "action levels" of benzene or other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within city limits, the municipality said on its website. Residents were advised to remain indoors, close all doors and windows and turn off air conditioning and heating systems.

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Biogen scraps Alzheimer's trial, shares skid

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 06:45

Shares in Biogen slid 25 percent to $81.60 in premarket trading. After dozens of experimental Alzheimer's drugs have failed in the recent past, there is a desperate need for a treatment that works. The disease is the most common form of dementia that affects nearly 50 million people worldwide and is expected to rise to more than 131 million by 2050, according to Alzheimer's Disease International.

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Relax, Things Really Aren't So Bad at Tencent

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 06:37

Okay, so maybe Tencent Holdings Ltd. did post its biggest net-income miss in, like, forever.(2) And operating profit fell off a cliff. First, monetization of games recommenced in December after the Chinese government gave the go-ahead for Tencent to actually extract revenue from eight new titles. Despite China's regulatory clampdown on new games, Tencent's 4Q sequential decline of just 2.6% in mobile game sales -- to 19 billion yuan, is better than market expectations.

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U.S. envoy blames Houthis for Yemen peace deal delays

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 06:31

The U.S. ambassador to Yemen blamed the Iran-aligned Houthi movement on Thursday for the stalling of a U.N.-led peace deal in the main port of Hodeidah and said the group's weapons pose a threat to other countries in the region. The Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Houthis reached a ceasefire and troop withdrawal deal for Hodeidah, which is under Houthi control, at talks in Sweden in December. "We are greatly frustrated by what we see as delays and stalling on the part of the Houthis in implementing what they agreed to in Sweden, but I have great confidence in the UN envoy and what he is doing," ambassador Matthew Tueller told a televised news conference in the southern port of Aden, where the internationally recognized government is based.

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Struggle for Algeria hits business community

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 06:22

Bouteflika's long-time strategic partners, from members of the governing FLN party to trade unionists, have abandoned the president, peeling away layers of his ruling elite. The 82-year-old president also relied on influential figures like Ali Haddad, who has made billions through public works projects awarded by the government and investments in the media. The forum for entrepreneurs has been hit by a series of resignations from members who have turned their backs on Bouteflika since the protests began on Feb 22.

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Solar and wind firms call the 'Green New Deal’ too extreme

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 06:00

WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. solar and wind power companies may have the most to gain from the Green New Deal, an ambitious proposal backed by several Democratic presidential candidates to end U.S. fossil fuel consumption within a decade. Representatives of America’s clean energy companies are withholding their support for the climate-fighting plan, calling it unrealistic and too politically divisive for an industry keen to grow in both red and blue states. It also underscores a new reality for U.S. solar and wind power companies long associated with the environmental left: As they have improved technology and lowered prices, their growth is shifting from politically liberal coastal states to the more conservative heartland, where skepticism of climate change and government subsidies runs high.

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Tencent Profit Drops on Higher Spending as Games Unit Stabilizes

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 05:19

Net income fell 32 percent to 14.2 billion yuan ($2.1 billion), missing the 17.55 billion-yuan average of estimates, on investments in content, cloud computing and financial technology. China’s social media leader is emerging from one of its darkest periods, as game approvals slowly resume and the country’s economic slowdown cools demand for advertising. “As it turns out the market was probably worried about the wrong thing,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Vey-Sern Ling said in an email.

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Mexican bankers, bosses line up to woo powerful president

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 05:06

Bank bosses have used the run-up to the banking convention in Acapulco beginning on Thursday to signal approval for Lopez Obrador's plans to tackle chronic inequality via welfare handouts, ramp up financial inclusion and lift economic growth. "The financial sector has been and will continue to be committed to Mexico's development, which is why he celebrate and go along with the measures ... announced by the Mexican government," Marcos Martinez, head of the Mexican banking association (ABM), said at a recent event with Lopez Obrador. Martinez and other bankers hope the president will meet pledges to tackle corruption and gang violence in Latin America's No. 2 economy, buttressing growth with the rule of law.

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The Sad Story of the B-58 Hustler: If Flown Too Fast Its Wings Could Rip Off?

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:51

That was a myth. Nonetheless, the plane was a total failure. And this is why.

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Ionity plans 400 electric car charging stations in Europe by end-2020

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:34

Ionity, the European electric vehicle charging joint venture of Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler and Ford, is on track to install 400 loading stations in Europe by end-2020 and has plans for more. Ionity, which is not yet profitable, aims to install the 400 charging stations by the end of next year, with each having about 6 individual loading spots. The group specializes in ultra high-speed charging along European motorways to try to address the issue of range, which along with price, is still seen as a reason for why demand for electric vehicles has been subdued so far.

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4 ways to fight climate change and also protect states that depend on fossil fuel jobs

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:00

We can't ask these communities to trade one crisis for another. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Joe Manchin of West Virginia can show us the way forward.

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The West accepts its drought-ridden future, slashes water use

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:00

Out West, the future is dry. Amid an unprecedented 19-year drought in the expansive Colorado River Basin — which supplies water to 40 million Americans — seven Western states have acknowledged that the 21st century will only grow drier as temperatures continue to rise. And that means less water in the 1,450-mile Colorado River. On Tuesday, water managers from states including California, Utah, and New Mexico announced a drought plan (formally called a Drought Contingency Plan), which cuts their water use for the next seven years — until an even more austere strategy must be adopted. Already, the drought has left water levels at Lake Mead — the nearly 250-square-mile reservoir that's held back by the formidable Hoover Dam — at their lowest levels in half a century. The water shortage has left telltale, white mineral "bathtub rings" around the basin, well over 100 feet high.  "This is a long anticipated step that clearly needed to happen," Brad Udall, a senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University who had no role in the plan, said in an interview.  "The bad news is we still have a lot of work left," added Udall. "As the climate continues to change and warm in the Southwest, all science shows that the river is expected to decline in the future." "We all recognize we’re looking at a drier future," Tom Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, said in a call with reporters on Tuesday.  Lake Powell, another massive, low Colorado River reservoir. Image: Shutterstock / GagliardiPhotography The Colorado River and its reservoirs — though certainly not yet low enough to imperil millions of Westerners — are gradually evaporating while the desert land grows ever drier. The West is still expected to see yearly fluctuations in extreme precipitation, though the region can't escape the consequences of a steadily rising thermostat. "We'll continue to see odd and unusual climate extremes, both wet and dry," said Udall. "But these warmer temperatures just add an environmental load onto the system in very harmful ways." Just how much are the West's rising temperatures and associated heat waves — so hot that they have grounded commercial jetliners in Arizona — drying out the winding Colorado River basin? A study coauthored by Udall last year found that climate change was responsible for half the Colorado River's flow declines over the last century (with other factors like less rain accounting for the other drops). Though, a 2017 study found this number to be a bit lower, at around one-third.  Either way, the climate effect is substantial and only expected to grow more potent: Over the last 40 years, Earth has experienced an accelerated warming trend and civilization's heat-trapping carbon emissions probably won't even peak for at least 10 more years. Already, the planet's carbon dioxide levels are likely the highest they've been in 15 million years.   "It's projected to continue to get warmer," said Ursula Rick, Managing Director of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Western Water Assessment, in reference to the Colorado River Basin.  SEE ALSO: The Green New Deal: Historians weigh in on the immense scale required to pull it off Accepting the reality of hotter climes, the latest drought plans will manage the total supply of water, so that levels at the two greatest reservoirs, Mead and Powell, don't drop to levels that would trigger automatic water restrictions and a takeover by the federal government. Lake Mead currently sits at around 1,089 feet. If it ever fell to 1,075 feet, water rationing would go into effect.  "They’re [drought plans] meant to avoid a crisis on the river," Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said in a Tuesday call with reporters. One important part of the plan allows upper basin states like Colorado to keep more water in Lake Powell (whose dam generates ample electricity for the region), rather than being required to send this water to the depleted Lake Mead — but only as a reward if upper basin states slash their water use. Meanwhile, lower basin states like Arizona and California are expected to cut their water use, too.  The Colorado River Basin. Image: USGS Today's water woes are a significant departure from the 1980s and 1990s, fruitful times when Lake Mead even reached its storage capacity. The lake's levels were nearly 140 feet higher back then.  "We've never seen 19 years like this. It's unprecedented," said Udall. "The old ways of managing water in the West aren’t working and won’t work in the 21st century." Although this latest drought contingency plan — which must now get approved by Congress — averts a near-term crisis, there's still a gaping hole in the scheme. California's thirsty agricultural Imperial Valley — which claims rights to a whopping 70 percent of all the Colorado River water the Golden State is afforded each year — did not agree to the plan. First, the Imperial Irrigation District wants $200 million in taxpayer dollars to fix the nearby environmental catastrophe that is the vanishing Salton Sea. (It's California's largest — and often stinkiest — lake, created by accident over a century ago, and is a long, winding water fiasco of its own.)  But in the future, with water only growing more limited, the powerful water district will almost certainly have to slash its ample share of water consumption. "They're going to have to contribute," said Udall.  Western state temperatures compared to the historic average between 2000 and 2015. Image: epa The fate of the West over the coming decades, however, won't only be determined by water cuts and humanity's efforts to stymie climate change. It's dependent upon how many people choose to settle in the often idyllic, sun-blanketed Western world. "The growth of the region is a big unknown," noted the Western Water Assessment's Rick.  What's more, the ability of water to sustain the region is dependent on how people will want to live, said Rick. "Will they want yards? Will they want their food to be locally grown?" she asked.  In a warmer world, the state and federal government can intervene like they're doing now to avert water crises and maintain societal desires. Though, at some point, water demand may be too great for a burgeoning, thirsty West. "They can reduce demand — but only to a certain point," said Rick.  Now, states are watching the drought intently. It's evident that water managers see a water-limited future, stoked by climate change. Back in 2003, Udall noted that when he gave talks on future climate impacts to the water management community, he was sometimes given "dirty looks."  But 10 years later, that changed. By 2013, the unprecedented drought caused Colorado River reservoirs to plummet. A truly unsettling drought had set in. And it hasn't gone away. "Somewhere around 2013 I think the light went on," said Udall, describing how many water managers began to accept the scientific realities of long-term drought and climate change. "The light went on that climate change is here, and now we gotta prepare for it." WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?

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Bernie Sanders Campaign Becomes 2020's First To Promise To Offset Carbon Emissions

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 03:45

Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign has become the first in the 2020race to promise to offset the planet-warming gases produced while travelingthe country.In

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Why anti-vaxxer mobs go after pro-vaccine doctors online — and what to do about it

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 03:00

In 2017, Kids Plus Pediatrics, an independent medical practice in Pittsburgh, posted a 90-second video on its Facebook page encouraging parents to have their children vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cancer.  For three weeks, the post garnered positive, higher-than-average interest and engagement from the page's followers. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the anti-vaccination attacks began. Thousands of comments from vaccine skeptics and opponents poured in from around the world. Chad Hermann, KPP's communications director, says he spent 18 hours per day, over the next eight days, combing through the remarks, individually banning commenters, and trying to remove dozens of negative Yelp and Google reviews left by strangers who'd never set foot in the practice.  "It's incredibly overwhelming," Hermann says, reflecting on the experience.  Now that incident is the subject of a new study published in the journal Vaccine.  Hermann and Todd Wolynn, a physician and CEO of KPP, partnered with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh to learn more about what drove the commenters to relentlessly harass the practice for days on end.  The team randomly selected a group of 197 individuals who commented on the post, then used coding and computer analysis to assess every publicly available post on their personal profiles over a two-year period from 2015 and 2017. The researchers logged and coded posts, for example, that addressed water fluoridation, genetically modified crops, and "chemtrails," topics that suggest broader views on the role of government and science in people's lives. They also evaluated how the commenters were connected to each other or to the same Facebook groups.  SEE ALSO: Facebook finally cracks down on anti-vaccination conspiracy theories Women who identified themselves as parents comprised the sample's majority. Of the 55 people who indicated a political affiliation, more than half supported Donald Trump and a handful backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The authors worked to verify that each account belonged to an authentic user by looking at a profile's posting history, friend relationships, and pictures of real-life events. (The commenters surely didn't expect to become part of a study in which researchers pored over their profiles. They weren't notified of the study, but the researchers anonymized their information.) The study found that the individuals clustered into four thematic subgroups: those concerned about "trust" in the scientific community as well as infringements on personal liberty; those focused on "alternatives" to vaccination, including homeopathic treatments; those interested in vaccine "safety" who also felt vaccination might be immoral; and, those emphasizing "conspiracy" on the part of the government, scientific community, or others to hide information about diseases and vaccines.  "By knowing and categorizing, we’re going to be able to tailor what we do much more specifically," says study co-author Brian A. Primack, director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  Portraying vaccines as triggering the body's natural immune system, for instance, could be an effective response to someone in the "alternatives" subgroup. Similarly, people worried about trust and liberty might be swayed by the argument that vaccines leave children free to pursue their lives.  This is happening everywhere - #antivaxxers attacking parents, doctors, & anyone speaking up for vaccines. It’s effective tactic but it shouldn’t be. We should continue to be vocal #vaccine advocates Her son died. And then anti-vaxers attacked her - CNN — Eve Switzer MD, FAAP (@kidoctr) March 19, 2019 The study arrives at a moment of reckoning for social media companies, particularly Facebook and YouTube, accused of letting misinformation about vaccines proliferate unchecked for years, potentially playing a role in measles outbreaks across the country and globe. Recent reporting also suggests that anti-vaxxers coordinate or participate in massive digital harassment campaigns designed to silence people who advocate for vaccinations, including physicians and parents.  Facebook announced this month that pages and groups disseminating false information about vaccines will receive lower rankings and won't appear in recommendations and predictions driven by the company's algorithms. Misinformation itself will not be removed from the platform.  "We have seen Facebook and other platforms making these adjustments, for lack of a better word, but our study provides an evidence base for the need for these policies," says study co-author Beth L. Hoffman, a research assistant at the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "We’re hoping to provide the science for regulators to make evidence-based policies."  Walter Quattrociocchi, head of the Laboratory of Data and Complexity at the University of Venice in Italy, wrote in an email that while the Vaccine study bases its conclusions on a small sample and "simple" analytics, it captures the "echo chamber" effect of social media documented in previous studies. Quattrociocchi, who was not involved in the new research, has studied vaccine misinformation on Facebook as well as echo chambers.   Naomi Smith, a digital sociologist at the Federation University Australia who has also studied the anti-vaccine movement on Facebook, agreed that the study confirms previous research but cautioned against generalizing its findings.  "I think this may be useful understanding flurries of anti-vaccination sentiment such as the one detailed in this paper," she wrote in an email. "However, it is difficult to make a broader statement from a single incident about the overall landscape of anti-vaccination activity on Facebook."  Wolynn, who is a co-author of the study and has worked on "vaccine confidence" programs for Merck and Sanofi, knows that some readers may learn about his involvement with pharmaceutical companies and dismiss the new research out of hand. But he's used to anti-vaxxers going after people who advocate for vaccinations and is more interested in is coming up with strategies to help the public make evidence-based decisions about vaccines.  I wrote a #vaccine promoting op-ed on Sunday and #antivax #harrassment began immediately. I now have a safety plan and can’t park my car in the same place. #VaccinesWork — Dr. Alyssa Burgart (@BurgartBioethix) March 19, 2019 The study co-authors collectively call for increased media literacy, using entertainment to convey pro-vaccine messages and storylines, developing interventions to target the subgroups with effective messaging, and looking at the role medical professionals can play online.  Both Hermann and Wolynn say they've spoken to physicians who've either been attacked after sharing pro-vaccine content or remain silent out of fear they'll be targeted, which is why Hermann is developing a social media and communications toolkit for physicians. He also wishes that Facebook would make it possible for professional pages to restrict or pre-ban members of private Facebook groups, which would make it easier to prevent members of anti-vaccination groups from mobbing a medical provider's page.  "One of the reasons we’re doing this is if [physicians] don’t post pro-science, pro-vaccine information, that leaves a gigantic void on social media," says Hermann. "And guess who’s going to fill it?"  WATCH: In the fight against measles, UNICEF has found an unexpected ally – mobile phones

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Reliance sends fuel from India, Europe to Venezuela to sidestep U.S. sanctions

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 02:28

NEW DELHI/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - India's Reliance Industries is selling fuels to Venezuela from India and Europe to sidestep sanctions that bar U.S.-based companies from dealing with state-run PDVSA, according to trading sources and Refinitiv Eikon data. Reliance had been supplying alkylate, diluent naphtha and other fuel to Venezuela through its U.S.-based subsidiary before Washington in late January imposed sanctions aimed at curbing the OPEC member's oil exports and ousting Socialist President Nicolas Maduro. At least three vessels chartered by the Indian conglomerate supplied refined products to Venezuela in recent weeks, and another vessel carrying gasoil is expected to set sail to the South American nation as well, according to the sources and data.

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Delivery App Outdoes Uber by Letting Saudis Bargain on the Go

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 01:58

Once the customer picks out items from a store or restaurant, couriers bid to run the errand, offering a delivery price within a certain range, which shoppers can reject if they find the quotes too expensive. “People like to conduct business by conversing with others,” said Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, chief executive officer of STV, a $500 million venture capital fund anchored by Saudi Telecom that recently took part in Mrsool’s first funding round. Created in 2015, Mrsool tapped into the quirks of the Saudi market while the economy went through a major transformation.

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