На Хмельниччині вшанували загиблих «кіборгів»

Сьогодні у місті Деражня на Хмельниччині місцеві мешканці та волонтери привітали місцевих мешканців – учасників АТО, які боронили Донецький аеропорт, і вшанували пам’ять загиблих «кіборгів».

Як повідомила Радіо Свобода волонтер Тетяна Грубенюк, захід підтримала місцева громада, представники благодійного фонду «Мир і добро» та громадської організації «З країною в серці». З ініціативи голови цієї організації Юрія Маковія була розроблена і виготовлена іменна медаль для вручення бійцям 90 окремого аеромобільного батальйону десантно-штурмових військ України, зазначила Грубенюк.

Нагороду отримали близько 30 бійців, на церемонію приїхали ветерани та нинішні бійці 90 батальйону.

Бійці 90 батальйону брали участь в обороні Донецького аеропорту; у грудні 2015 року своїм указом президент Петро Порошенко присвоїв цьому військовому з’єднанню ім’я Героя України старшого лейтенанта Івана Зубкова, який у січні 2015 року, прикриваючи відхід свого підрозділу з аеропорту, викликав вогонь артилерії на себе. Зубков загинув унаслідок підриву бойовиками другого поверху нового терміналу ДАПу.




US Group: Eradication of Painful Guinea Worm Disease in Sight

A U.S.-based center says in a new report the eradication of the painful Guinea worm disease could be in sight.

The Carter Center, leader of the campaign to eliminate the disease, says there were only 30 identified cases of Guinea worm disease in isolated areas last year in Chad and Ethiopia – 15 in each country.

All the cases in Ethiopia occurred in migrant workers in the Oromia region who drank unfiltered water from a contaminated pond on an industrial farm.

Mali has not reported any cases of the disease in 25 months, while South Sudan, has not reported any cases in 13 months.  The Carter Center labels those achievements by the two African countries as “major accomplishments.”

There is no known vaccine or medicine to control Guinea worm disease.  It is eradicated by educating people on how to filter and drink clean water.

People with Guinea worm disease have no symptoms for about one year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says.  Then, a meter-long worm begins to emerge painfully and slowly from a blister that can form anywhere on the body. In 80 to 90 percent of the cases, the blister forms on lower body parts.

“It was more painful than giving birth,” a South Sudan woman told the Associated Press last year.  “Childbirth ends, but this pain persists.”

If the worm breaks during removal, it can cause intense inflammation as the remaining part of the worm degrades in the body.

The worm removal and recovery can disable people, sometimes permanently.

The Carter Center, founded by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, reports that in 1986 Guinea worm disease affected an estimated 3.5 million people in 21 countries in Africa and Asia.  The incidence of the disease has now been reduced by more than 99.999 percent “thanks to the work of strong partnerships, including the countries themselves,” the center said.


Bad US Flu Season Gets Worse

The flu season in the U.S. is getting worse.

Health officials last week said flu was blanketing the country, but they thought there was a good chance the season was peaking. But the newest numbers out Friday show it grew even more intense.

“This is a season that has a lot more steam than we thought,” said Dr. Dan Jernigan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One measure of the season is how many doctor or hospital visits are because of a high fever, cough and other flu symptoms. Thirty-two states reported high patient traffic last week, up from 26 the previous week. Overall, it was the busiest week for flu symptoms in nine years.

Hawaii is the only state that doesn’t have widespread illnesses.

This year’s flu season got off to an early start, and it’s been driven by a nasty type of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths than other common flu bugs. In New York, state officials say a drastic rise in flu cases hospitalized more than 1,600 this past week.

The flu became intense last month in the U.S. The last two weekly report show flu widespread over the entire continental United States, which is unusual.

Usually, flu seasons start to wane after so much activity, but “it’s difficult to predict,” Jernigan said.

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness, spread by a virus. It can cause a miserable but relatively mild illness in many people but a more severe illness in others. Young children and the elderly are at greatest risk from flu and its complications. In a bad season, there are as many as 56,000 deaths connected to the flu. In the U.S., annual flu shots are recommended for everyone age 6 months or older.

In Oklahoma and Texas, some school districts canceled classes this week because so many students and teachers were sick with the flu and other illnesses. In Mississippi, flu outbreaks have hit more than 100 nursing homes and other long-term care places, resulting in some restricting visitors.


Tax Cut, US Economy, Fair Trade on Trump’s Davos Agenda

U.S. President Donald Trump will be entering something of a lion’s den when he visits the elitist enclave of Davos next week, rubbing shoulders with the same “globalists” that he campaigned against in winning the 2016 election.

Aides said some of Trump’s advisers had argued against him attending the World Economic Forum in order to steer clear of the event, which brings together political leaders, CEOs and top bankers.

But in the end, they said, Trump, the first sitting U.S. president to attend the forum since Bill Clinton in 2000, wanted to go to call attention to growth in the U.S. economy and the soaring stock market.

A senior administration official said Trump is expected to take a double-edged message to the forum in Switzerland, where he is to deliver a speech and meet some world leaders.

Invest in US

In his speech, Trump is expected to urge the world to invest in the United States to take advantage of his deregulatory and tax cut policies, stress his “America First” agenda and call for fairer, more reciprocal trade, the official said.

During his 2016 election campaign, Trump blamed globalization for ravaging American manufacturing jobs as companies sought to reduce labor costs by relocating to Mexico and elsewhere.

“Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache,” he said June 28, 2016, in Pennsylvania.

Trump retains the same anti-globalist beliefs but has struggled to rewrite trade deals that he sees as benefiting other countries.

Merkel and Macron

Trump will be speaking two days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron take the stage in Davos.

Both ardent defenders of multilateralism and liberal democratic values, they are expected to lay out the counter-argument to Trump’s “America First” policies. Merkel and Macron have lobbied Trump hard to keep the United States in the Paris climate accord and Iran nuclear pact, only for him to distance himself from those deals.

Trump will meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Davos, the White House said.

Bark becomes bite?

There is acute concern in European capitals that 2018 could be the year Trump’s bark on trade turns into bite, as he considers punitive measures on steel and threatens to end the 1990s-era North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

He has backed off withdrawing from a U.S. trade agreement with South Korea and while he has threatened to terminate NAFTA, he has yet to do so.

Trump’s tax cuts are a source of concern in Europe, where policymakers are discussing steps to extract more tax dollars out of U.S. multinationals such as Google and Amazon. European governments now fear a “race to the bottom” on corporate tax rates and a shift to more investment in the United States by some of their big companies.

Trade war

In a Reuters interview on Thursday, Trump lamented that it is rare that he meets the leader of a foreign country that has a trade deficit with the United States.

Based on official data for the year to November, China exported goods worth $461 billion and the United States ran a trade deficit of $344 billion. Trump said he would be announcing some kind of action against China over trade. He is to discuss the issue during his State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress on Jan. 30.

Asked about the potential for a trade war with China depending on U.S. action over steel, aluminum and solar panels, Trump said he hoped a trade war would not ensue.

“I don’t think so, I hope not. But if there is, there is,” he said.

Trump and the U.S. Congress are racing to meet a midnight Friday deadline to pass a short-term bill to keep the U.S. government open and prevent agencies from shutting down.

Trump could still go to Davos next week as planned even if the federal government shuts down, senior U.S. administration officials said Friday, citing the president’s constitutional authority to conduct diplomacy.


Bankers Association Warns of Uncertainty Tied to Government Shutdown

The largest banking trade group in the United States says shutting down the government could hurt investor and consumer confidence, but would hit the overall economy indirectly.

Speaking as the American Bankers Association unveiled its annual economic forecast in Washington, Ellen Zentner, chair of the ABA’s advisory committee, said “no one likes the uncertainty of a government shutdown.”

Citing the most recent shutdown in October 2013, which lasted 16 days, Zentner said that while the economic impact might have been minimal, the effect on the American psyche went deeper.

“If we look back at October 2013, it’s very difficult to see that there was an impact,” she said. “Workers that were nonessential government workers that were furloughed were eventually sent back to work, and they were provided back pay. Where we did see a lasting effect, though, was on business sentiment and consumer sentiment.”

The 2013 shutdown is believed to have cost the United States about $2 billion in lost productivity, and hurt American voters’ trust in lawmakers.

A similar shutdown Friday would force the closure of nonessential government offices and furlough thousands of government workers. Consumer and business confidence has been rising, but the banking group says a prolonged shutdown could dampen that optimism.

From a local business perspective, Zentner says, the impact of a government shutdown is very real.

“It matters for businesses who serve those federal workers that report to work every day and buy lunch while they’re at work,” she said. “If those workers are furloughed, they’re not buying lunch each day, and so as a restaurant, that’s business lost.”

Barring a lengthy and disruptive government shutdown, the ABA is forecasting economic growth to expand 2.4 percent this year and for already-low unemployment to drop further to 3.8 percent by the end of the year.

Workers who have seen little or no wage growth since the recovery could see their paychecks rise by about 3 percent in 2018 and 3.5 percent in 2019, as employers compete for workers in a shrinking labor pool.


Christa McAuliffe’s Lost Lessons Finally Taught in Space

Christa McAuliffe’s lost lessons are finally getting taught in space.

Thirty-two years after the Challenger disaster, a pair of teachers-turned-astronauts will pay tribute to McAuliffe by carrying out her science classes on the International Space Station.

As NASA’s first designated teacher in space, McAuliffe was going to experiment with fluids and demonstrate Newton’s laws of motion for schoolchildren. She never made it to orbit: She and six crewmates were killed during liftoff of space shuttle Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986.

Astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold will perform some of McAuliffe’s lessons over the next several months. Acaba planned to share the news during a TV linkup Friday with students at her alma mater, Framingham State University near Boston.

Four lessons — on effervescence or bubbles, chromatography, liquids and Newton’s laws — will be filmed by Acaba and Arnold, then posted online by the Challenger Center, a not-for-profit organization supporting science, technology, engineering and math education.

The center’s president, Lance Bush, said he’s thrilled “to bring Christa’s lessons to life.”

“We are honored to have the opportunity to complete Christa’s lessons and share them with students and teachers around the world,” Bush said in a statement.

NASA’s associate administrator for education, Mike Kincaid, said the lessons are “an incredible way to honor and remember” McAuliffe as well as the entire Challenger crew.

Four of the six lessons that McAuliffe planned to videotape during her space flight will be done. A few will be altered to take advantage of what’s available aboard the space station.

The lessons should be available online beginning this spring.

Acaba returns to Earth at the end of February. Arnold flies up in March. NASA is billing their back-to-back missions as “A Year of Education on Station.”

The two were teaching middle school math and science on opposite sides of the world — Acaba in Florida and Arnold in Romania — when NASA picked them as educator-astronauts in 2004. The idea to complete McAuliffe’s lesson plans came about last year.

“As former teachers, Ricky and Joe wanted to honor Christa McAuliffe,” said Challenger Center spokeswoman Lisa Vernal.

McAuliffe was teaching history, law and economics at Concord High School in New Hampshire when she was selected as the primary candidate for NASA’s teacher-in-space project in 1985.

Her backup, Barbara Morgan, is on the Challenger Center’s board of directors. Morgan was NASA’s first educator-astronaut, flying on shuttle Endeavour in 2007 and helping to build the space station.


Anti-smoking Plan May Kill Cigarettes — and Save Big Tobacco

Imagine if cigarettes were no longer addictive and smoking itself became almost obsolete; only a tiny segment of Americans still lit up. That’s the goal of an unprecedented anti-smoking plan being carefully fashioned by U.S. health officials.

But the proposal from the Food and Drug Administration could have another unexpected effect: opening the door for companies to sell a new generation of alternative tobacco products, allowing the industry to survive — even thrive — for generations to come.

The plan puts the FDA at the center of a long-standing debate over so-called “reduced-risk” products, such as e-cigarettes, and whether they should have a role in anti-smoking efforts, which have long focused exclusively on getting smokers to quit.

“This is the single most controversial — and frankly, divisive — issue I’ve seen in my 40 years studying tobacco control policy,” said Kenneth Warner, professor emeritus at University of Michigan’s school of public health.

The FDA plan is two-fold: drastically cut nicotine levels in cigarettes so that they are essentially non-addictive. For those who can’t or won’t quit, allow lower-risk products that deliver nicotine without the deadly effects of traditional cigarettes.

This month the government effort is poised to take off. The FDA is expected to soon begin what will likely be a years-long process to control nicotine in cigarettes. And next week, the agency will hold a public meeting on a closely watched cigarette alternative from Philip Morris International, which, if granted FDA clearance, could launch as early as February.

The product, called iQOS, is a pen-like device that heats Marlboro-branded tobacco but stops short of burning it, an approach that Philip Morris says reduces exposure to tar and other toxic byproducts of burning cigarettes. This is different from e-cigarettes, which don’t use tobacco at all but instead vaporize liquid usually containing nicotine.

For anti-smoking activists, these new products may mean surrendering hopes of a knockout blow to the industry. They say there is no safe tobacco product and the focus should be on getting people to quit. But others are more open to the idea of alternatives to get people away from cigarettes, the deadliest form of tobacco.

Tobacco companies have made claims about “safer” cigarettes since the 1950s, all later proven false. In some cases the introduction of these products, such as filtered and “low tar” cigarettes, propped up cigarette sales and kept millions of Americans smoking. Although the adult smoking rate has fallen to an all-time low of 15 percent, smoking remains the nation’s leading preventable cause of death and illness, responsible for about one in five U.S. deaths.

Anti-smoking groups also point to Big Tobacco’s history of manipulating public opinion and government efforts against smoking: In 2006, a federal judge ruled that Big Tobacco had lied and deceived the American public about the effects of smoking for more than 50 years. The industry defeated a 2010 proposal by the FDA to add graphic warning labels to cigarette packs. And FDA scrutiny of menthol-flavored cigarettes — used disproportionately by young people and minorities — has been bogged down since 2011, due to legal challenges.

“We’re not talking about an industry that is legitimately interested in saving lives here,” said Erika Sward of the American Lung Association.

But some industry observers say this time will be different.

“The environment has changed, the technology has changed, the companies have changed — that is the reality,” said Scott Ballin, a health policy consultant who previously worked for the American Heart Association.

Under a 2009 law, the FDA gained authority to regulate certain parts of the tobacco industry, including nicotine in cigarettes, though it cannot remove the ingredient completely. The same law allows the agency to scientifically review and permit sales of new tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Little has happened so far. Last year, the agency said it would delay the deadline for manufacturers to submit their vapor-emitting products for review until 2022.

The FDA says it wants to continue to help people quit by supporting a variety of approaches, including new quit-smoking aids and opening opportunities for a variety of companies, including drugmakers, to help attack the problem. As part of this, the FDA sees an important role for alternative products — but in a world where cigarettes contain such a small amount of nicotine that they become unappealing even to lifelong smokers.

“We still have to provide an opportunity for adults who want to get access to satisfying levels of nicotine,” but without the hazards of burning tobacco, said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. He estimates the FDA plan could eventually prevent 8 million smoking-related deaths.

​’Smoke-free future’

Philip Morris International and its U.S. partner Altria will try to navigate the first steps of the new regulatory path next week.

At a two-day meeting before the FDA, company scientists will try and convince government experts that iQOS is less-harmful than cigarettes. If successful, iQOS could be advertised by Altria to U.S. consumers as a “reduced-risk” tobacco product, the first ever sanctioned by the FDA.

Because iQOS works with real tobacco, the company believes it will be more effective than e-cigarettes in getting smokers to switch.

Philip Morris already sells the product in about 30 countries, including Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom.

iQOS is part of an elaborate corporate makeover for Philip Morris, which last year rebranded its website with the slogan: “Designing a smoke-free future.” The cigarette giant says it has invested over $3 billion in iQOS and eventually plans to stop selling cigarettes worldwide — though it resists setting a deadline.

Philip Morris executives say they are offering millions of smokers a better, less-harmful product.

Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids still sees danger. He says FDA must strictly limit marketing of products like iQOS to adult smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit. Otherwise they may be used in combination with cigarettes or even picked up by nonsmokers or young people who might see the new devices as harmless enough to try.

“As a growing percentage of the world makes the decision that smoking is too dangerous and too risky, iQOS provides an alternative to quitting that keeps them in the market,” Myers says.

It’s unclear whether existing alternatives to cigarettes help smokers quit, a claim often made by e-cigarette supporters. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests about 60 percent of adult e-cigarette users also smoke regular cigarettes.

The case for lower nicotine

Experts who study nicotine addiction say the FDA plan is grounded in the latest science.

Several recent studies have shown that when smokers switch to very low-nicotine cigarettes they smoke less and are more likely to try quitting. But they also seek nicotine from other sources, underscoring the need for alternatives. Without new options, smokers would likely seek regular-strength cigarettes on the black market.

Crucial to the FDA proposal is a simple fact: Nicotine is highly addictive, but not deadly. It’s the burning tobacco and other substances inhaled through smoking that cause cancer, heart disease and bronchitis.

“It’s hard to imagine that using nicotine and tobacco in a way that isn’t burned, in a non-combustible form, isn’t going to be much safer,” said Eric Donny, an addiction researcher at the University of Pittsburgh.

A study of 800 smokers by Donny and other researchers showed that when nicotine was limited to less than 1 milligram per gram of tobacco, users smoked fewer cigarettes. The study, funded by the FDA, was pivotal to showing that smokers won’t compensate by smoking more if nicotine intake is reduced enough. That was the case with “light” and “low-tar” cigarettes introduced in the 1960s and 1970s, when some smokers actually began smoking more cigarettes per day.

Still, many in the anti-smoking community say larger, longer studies are needed to predict how low-nicotine cigarettes would work in the real world.

Legal risks

Key to the FDA plan is the assumption that the two actions will happen at the same time: as regulators cut nicotine in conventional cigarettes, manufacturers will provide alternative products.

But that presumes that tobacco companies will willingly part with their flagship product, which remains enormously profitable.

Kenneth Warner, the public policy professor, said he would be “astonished” if industry cooperates on reducing nicotine levels.

“I don’t think they will. I think they will bring out all of their political guns against it and I’m quite certain they will sue to prevent it,” he said.

In that scenario, the FDA plan to make cigarettes less addictive could be stalled in court for years while companies begin launching FDA-sanctioned alternative products. Tobacco critics say that scenario would be the most profitable for industry.

“It’s like Coke, you can have regular Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, we’ll sell you any Coke you like,” said Robin Koval, president of the Truth Initiative, which runs educational anti-tobacco campaigns.

But the FDA’s Gottlieb says the two parts of the plan must go together. “I’m not going to advance this in a piecemeal fashion,” he said.

When pressed about whether the industry will sue FDA over mandatory nicotine reductions, tobacco executives for Altria and other companies instead emphasized the long, complicated nature of the regulatory process.

“I’m not going to speculate about what may happen at the end of a multiyear process,” said Jose Murillo, an Altria vice president. “It will be science and evidence-based and we will be engaged at every step of the way.”


Українці асоціюють свою країну з поняттям «демократія», а Росію – з «агресією» – опитування

Українці найчастіше асоціюють свою країну з поняттям «демократія», а Росію – з «агресією», йдеться в результатах опитування, яке проводив Центр Разумкова спільно з фондом «Демократичні ініціативи» імені Ілька Кучеріва в грудні 2017 року.

Як йдеться в прес-релізі, у респондентів запитали, з чим на їхню думку, – з Україною чи з Росією – у них насамперед асоціюються такі поняття як «демократія», «добробут», «стабільність», «свобода», «агресія», «гуманність», «справедливість», «жорстокість», «диктатура», «повага до прав особистості».

Згідно з даними опитуваннями, з Україною респонденти найчастіше асоціюють поняття «демократія» (42%), «свобода» (40%) і «гуманність» (36%). Водночас близько 35% не асоціюють поняття «гуманність» ні з Україною, ні з Росією.

Як свідчать результати опитування, насамперед із Росією українці асоціюють поняття «агресія» (66%), «диктатура» (60%) та «жорстокість» (57%). Насамперед з Україною ці три поняття асоціюють лише відповідно 3%, 4% і 3% респондентів.

2% респондентів асоціюють насамперед з Росією поняття «демократія», 3% – «гуманність», 4% – «свобода», «справедливість» і «повага до прав особистості».

«Насамперед з Україною поняття «справедливість» (25%) і «повага до прав особистості» (21%) респонденти асоціюють частіше, ніж з Росією, але відносна більшість (47%) не асоціюють ці поняття з жодною з цих двох країн. Більше половини респондентів (51%) не асоціюють ні з Україною, ні з Росією поняття «добробут» (18% асоціюють його насамперед з Україною, а 9% – з Росією). 55% опитаних не асоціюють ні з Україною, ні з Росією поняття «стабільність» (12% у першу чергу асоціюють його з Україною, стільки ж – з Росією)», – йдеться в опитуванні.

Дослідження проводили з 15 до 19 грудня 2017 року в усіх регіонах України за винятком Криму та окупованих територій Донецької та Луганської областей. Згідно з релізом, дослідники опитали 2004 респондентів віком від 18 років. Теоретична похибка вибірки не перевищує 2,3%.