Category Archives: Education

Quit that smoking environment or your unborn baby dies

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Smoking while pregnant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


By Chioma Obinna


When Ngozi Ugonna’s blood laboratory test result revealed she was  pregnant, her joy knew no bounds. The smile on her face as the news was broken to her after three years of childlessness was infections. No one in her family needed a soothsayer to know that something extraordinary has happened in her life.

Her husband, Eddie, was equally elated.  Over and over again,he went through the lab result. He was happy that, at last, his yearning for a baby was being realised.  As weeks rolled by, the hope of the couple grew.

But, unexpectedly, Ugonna’s excitement was cut short. At precisely 20 weeks gestation, she lost the pregnancy. Findings showed that a major contributor to the loss was her smoking habits. Even before marriage, Ugonna had been  a heavy smoker.

She had had been smoking since her first year in the university. Efforts by her husband to make her drop the habit failed as she claimed she couldn’t do without  at least a stick of cigarette every day.

But little did she know that cigarettes contain dangerous chemicals, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar that can significantly increase the risk of pregnancy complications, some of which can be fatal for the mother and the baby.   Simply put, cigarettes and pregnancy don’t mix.

Ugonna’s woes began  one morning when she could not feel the usual movement of the foetus (baby). This prompted her visit to her doctor. The doctor listened to the baby’s heartbeat using a handheld ultrasound device called a doppler.   Sadly, there was no heartbeat. Ugonna was heartbroken.

The doctor recommended an ultrasound scan immediately.   Sadly, it was discovered that the baby had died. Ugonna had a stillbirth. Available statistics showed that about 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth.

According to the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, smoking raises the likelihood of both early miscarriage and stillbirth. The dangerous chemicals in cigarettes are often to blame and such was the fate of Ugonna’s  pregnancy.

Thousands of women are faced with the same challenge including women whose husbands are smokers or those who live in a smoking environment. Findings showed  that second-hand smoke is dangerous to the foetus. Grace Egbe, 32, whose husband’s addiction to smoking almost destroyed her life and that of her unborn child, is a classic example.

Grace, a mother of two, almost lost her life while she was pregnant for her third child, no thanks to “second-hand smoke”, also called environmental tobacco smoke.   Second-hand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers. Second-hand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer.

Harm from ‘show of love’

Just like most pregnant women, Grace had no inclination of the negative implications of the smoke she usually inhaled while her husband smoked until she had a preterm birth.

No doubt, every couple enjoys the company of one another. Grace’s case was no different. She was always at the beck and call of the husband as they usually sat together while her husband smoked.  Out of ignorance, Grace was enjoying his company even in pregnancy.   But little did she know that what she termed as ‘show of love’ could harm her and her unborn child.

Five months into her pregnancy, she was diagnosed of placenta previa. Smoking has been identified as a risk factor for placenta previa.   Placenta previa is when the placenta stays in the lower part of the uterus, partially or fully covering the cervix. When this happens, the placenta often tears, causing excessive bleeding and depriving the foetus of vital nutrients and oxygen.

In ideal situation, during pregnancy, the placenta normally grows in the uterus towards the top of the womb and this leaves the cervix open for delivery.   Unfortunately, Grace’s case was different.

Upon discovery, her doctors placed her on bed rest to see if the placenta will revert. While still battling with the problem, she developed placenta abruption, a condition in which the placenta separates from the uterus before childbirth.

At this point, Grace had severe bleeding and her life and that of her baby were threatened.   The doctors handling her case became worried.   Further medical investigations were conducted on her.   In the course of taking her history, it was discovered that Grace was a second-hand smoker.   While responding to questions posed by her doctors, Grace confirmed that his husband smoked in the house frequently.   Although, Grace was puzzled as to why that should be a factor in her case, the doctors made her to understand that although she was not a smoker, inhaling smoke from a smoker or staying in a smoking environment made her a second-hand smoker and it was dangerous to her and the baby.

Efforts to save her pregnancy proved abortive since there is no surgery or treatment to reattach the placenta.   With the development, the baby was no longer getting enough nutrients and oxygen to stay alive in the uterous because studies have shown that placenta is the lifeline structure that forms during pregnancy to provide the foetus with nutrients and oxygen.

Although, immediate medical attention may have helped increase the chance of Grace having a healthy birth despite placenta abruption, she was not lucky. She had preterm birth.

Her baby was born premature at seven months with low birth weight. As if that was not enough trouble for the family, her baby also had congenital heart defects.   Today, their baby is one of many children born with various birth defects due to ignorance about the dangers of cigarettes smoking.

Infant deaths

Smoking during pregnancy results in more than 1,000 infant deaths annually.   Second-hand smoke in adults can lead to coronary heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

Today, 10 percent of women report that they smoked during the last three months of pregnancy despite available evidence which showed that smoking during pregnancy raises the risk of babies being born with birth defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate as well as Attention  Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder  (ADHD),  one of the most common neuro-behavioral disorders of childhood.  About  one baby in 10 has the disorder.

It has been established that second-hand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

According to a  consultant cardiologist and Head, Paediatric Cardiology Unit, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Professor Christy Okoroma, studies have shown that 35 percent of pregnant smokers risk baby heart defect.

Okoroma explained that congenital heart disease is a major birth defect and the most dangerous because it can kill a child. “For every 1,000 live births, you have 8 to 10 children with congenital defects. The commonest is specifically the one known as hole-in-the-heart. The burden is huge if for every 1000 live births between 8 and 10 are affected, it is a major problem,”the consultant cardiologist said.

“Unfortunately, the heart begins to form early in pregnancy, sometimes even before the mother knows that she is pregnant.   You can imagine while the heart is forming and the mother is already consuming alcohol with herbs and other concoctions or inhaling cigarette smoke?”

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, DrJide Idris, during an activity to mark “World No Tobacco Day,” said women comprise 20 percent of the world’s one billion smokers and, in pregnancy, smokers are at higher risk of miscarriages, complications of pregnancy including bleeding during pregnancy, detachments of the placenta, premature birth and etopic pregnancy. “Low birth weight babies, congenital defects and still births are also common occurrences, “he added.

A  renowned cardiologist and President, Nigeria Heart Foundation, NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, also explained that   scientific evidence is available that nicotine, contained in cigarette smoke, is a health danger for pregnant woman and ‘developing’ babies in the womb and can damage the babies developing blood vessels, brain and lungs.

“Smoking can negatively affect the development of the placenta, because it could reduce the blood flow to the foetus from the mother; with less delivery of oxygen and nutrient to the foetus. Therefore, the foetus will not be able to grow fully, and develop. Such babies may also develop thickening of the blood vessels (arteries) in adult age with concomitant development of cardiovascular disease,” he stated.

To Akinroye, there are many risks from smoking before and during pregnancy, so it is important that women do not smoke before during and after their reproductive years.

According to the journal PLoS One, nicotine in cigarettes can cause contractions in the fallopian tubes. These contractions can prevent an embryo from passing through. One possible result of this is an ectopic pregnancy. This happens when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, either in the fallopian tube or in the abdomen. In this situation, the embryo must be removed to avoid life-threatening complications to the mother.

Health watchers say for people who are concerned about smoking in pregnancy, the hard truth is that although quitting smoking can be hard, it is one of the best ways a woman can protect herself and her baby’s health.

What you should know about smoking in pregnancy

*Smoking makes it harder for a woman to get pregnant.

Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than other women to have a miscarriage.

*Smoking can cause problems with the placenta—the source of the baby’s food and oxygen during pregnancy. For example, the placenta can separate from the womb too early, causing bleeding, which is dangerous to the mother and baby.

*Smoking during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born too early or to have low birth weight.

* Smoking during and after pregnancy is a risk factor for SIDS.

*Babies born to women who smoke are more likely to have certain birth defects, like cleft lip or cleft palate.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by Vanguard and was retrieved on 01/08/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views, ideas, materials, and content of the article remains those of the author. Please cite the original source accordingly.


 

Your Pot Habit Is Making Climate Change Worse

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Photo Credit: stdesign/Shutterstock

Community Broadcaster: Using Big Data for Community Radio

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Written by: Ernesto Aguilar. October 14, 2016


Amid 170,000-plus attendees and 2,700 sessions, it is hard to not be awed by the sheer spectacle that wasDreamforce, the annual conference hosted by customer relationship management tools developer and service provider Salesforce.com But beyond rumors it will buy Twitter, why should Salesforce.com and CRM matter to small and local community radio, and what can radio learn?

Whether it is Tony Robbins or U2, Dreamforce attracts big names and marquee corporations. For good reason — Salesforce.com has made a tremendous name for itself across many industries, from finance to retail to every sector of technology imaginable. Some of the world’s biggest nonprofits use it to manage donor relations.

“All good,” you say, “but who cares?”

Hear me out. The noncommercial media space, including community radio and public media, has much to learn from successful nonprofits using data and technology to grow. The analytics revolution that Salesforce.com and competitors have ushered into modern life is also a chance for community radio and public media to assess what is most important. It matters because contributors have new expectations. It also matters because technology can help stations focus less on paperwork and more on the relationships with their supporters.

Three key things at Dreamforce struck me.

Community radio can use technology to grow what people expect of it. At Dreamforce there were so many instances of nonprofits using data, mobile and service to engage supporters in ways that press community radio to consider how it can inspire members and underwriters, and expand its own service. One UK nonprofit takes public concerns for the homeless to smartphones by allowing geolocation of people in need to service providers. Black Girls Code and Code 2040leaders shared stories about how they made alliances with businesses work best for their constituencies. Discussions like this are incredibly instructive for community radio, which often fancies itself as a voice for localism and subcommunities. Technology gives a chance to realize these ideals in a new, dynamic and creative way.

Community radio needs to embrace the new normal of data. Community radio collects all manner of information — recordings, volunteer information, etc. — but is missing a golden opportunity to do what it does better. More and more nonprofits are seeing how important it is to use data to show donors they care. Others still struggle. On the corporate side, Apple can tell you what a customer prefers and what they buy. Similarly, more and more nonprofits can track what a donor supports most, their average gift and when they’re most inclined to give. This level of tracking is eschewed in some circles as invasive. However, the reality is that more people, particularly those who give to charity, are those who organizations need to value more. In my public media work, I’ve talked to many members who feel the fact an organization doesn’t know their giving habits equates to not caring about them personally. The world today has conditioned most people to expect connectedness as never before. They expect to give out an email address and assume an organization has their billing information and giving history on file. Yet a 2014 study indicates catering to the new expectations of customers is among the lowest priorities. Community radio would benefit by switching it up.

The touch always matters most. Among the tiny and massive nonprofits at Dreamforce, the objective of all of these cool gizmos was clear: to make each organization’s people more effective at what they do, and to enable them to have the most information possible for quality contacts with donor-members. Staff change, addresses change, but all nonprofits know their communication needs to be consistent and smart. The longtime supporter should have assurances that even new people know their importance to an organization, their history and what matters to them. A new donor should have regular, but unobstrusive, contact and a smooth ride into an organization’s world. As community radio leaders are well aware, it is tough to raise money and convert the casual observer to active giver. Technology can only enhance the contact, but it’s that moment that matters most.

Community and public radio, and, really, all nonprofits, have some common cause in how your average business relates to a consumer. Where a business is trying to sell you an aesthetic, such as trust, a community radio station wants you to give money out of a higher ideal: mission, culture or a contribution to the commons. Community radio outlets are special snowflakes all, but we share the same challenges. Dreamforce demonstrates but one example of ways to tackle our biggest puzzles.


Ernesto Aguilar is membership program director of theNational Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at radioworld.com.


 


Article Disclaimer: This article was published at the Radio World and retrieved on 10/15/2016 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views, ideas, materials, and content of the article remains those of the author. Please cite the original source accordingly.


 

Using Big Data to Predict Terrorist Acts Amid Privacy Concerns

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By | October 13, 2016


Before Ahmad Khan Rahami planted bombs in New York and New Jersey, he bought bomb-making materials on eBay, linked to jihad-related videos from his public social-media account and was looked into by law enforcement agents, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If only the authorities had connected the dots.

That challenge — mining billions of bits of information and crunching the data to find crucial clues — is behind a push by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies to harness “big data” to predict crimes, terrorist acts and social upheaval before they happen. The market for such “predictive analytics” technology is estimated to reach $9.2 billion by 2020, up from $3 billion in 2015, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.

It’s the stuff of a science-fiction movie like “Minority Report,” in which Tom Cruise played a Washington cop who used technology to arrest people before they carried out crimes. It’s also a red flag for privacy advocates already fighting U.S. spy programs exposed by Edward Snowden and the FBI’s demands that Apple Inc. help it hack into encrypted mobile phones.

The idea is to make sense of the vast and disparate streams of data from sources including social media, GPS devices, video feeds from street cameras and license-plate readers, travel and credit-card records and the news media, as well as government and propriety systems.

‘Fundamental Fuel’

“Data is going to be the fundamental fuel for national security in this century,” William Roper, director of the Defense Department’s strategic capabilities office, said at a conference in Washington last month.

For the first time, the White House released a strategic plan on Wednesday to advance research and development of artificial intelligence technology, including to predict incidents that may be dangerous to public safety.

Weeks before Rahami allegedly carried out the attacks in September, he bought circuit boards, electric igniters and ball bearings — all of which are known bomb-making materials, according to charging documents from the FBI.

In previous years, he was flagged by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the FBI after he made trips to Pakistan and after his father told police he was a terrorist, before recanting the remark.

Law enforcement agents could have been tipped off that Rahami was moving toward an attack had all of those data points been culled together in one place, said Mark Testoni, chief executive officer and president of SAP National Security Services Inc., a U.S.-based subsidiary of German software company SAP SE.

“This is a big data world now,” said Testoni. He said his company has developed a computer platform for doing predictive analytics that is being used in a limited way by a Defense Department agency and by a national security agency. He declined to name the government customers or specify what they are doing.

The technology to predict events is only in its infancy, Testoni said. National security and law enforcement agencies also have different rules when it comes to obtaining and using data, meaning there are walls between what can be accessed and shared, he said. U.S. law enforcement agencies, for example, need a court warrant to access most data.

Big Brother

Privacy advocates express concern about the “Big Brother” implications of such massive data-gathering, calling for more information and public debate about how predictive technology will be used.

“There’s often very little transparency into what’s being brought into the systems or how it’s being crunched and used,” said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel to the National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “That also makes it very hard to go back and challenge information that might be incorrect.”

Computer algorithms also fail to understand the context of data, such as whether someone commenting on social media is joking or serious, Levinson-Waldman said.

Testoni’s company and others such as Intel Corp. and PredPol Inc. are among a handful of firms pioneering the use of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence for clients from local police departments to U.S. national security agencies.

More than 60 local police departments in the U.S. have started making use of a service sold by PredPol, which calls itself “The Predictive Policing Company,” to forecast where crimes might occur based on past patterns, said co-founder Jeff Brantingham.

What, Where, When

Its system, developed in collaboration with the Los Angeles Police Department, uses only three types of data: what type of crime occurred, when and where, Brantingham said.

Then, a software algorithm generates the probability of crime occurring in different locations, presented as 500-foot-by-500-foot squares on a computer display or a printed map. With that insight, police departments then can make decisions about how best to apply their resources, such as sending cops to a high-risk area, or which security cameras to monitor, Brantingham said.

PrePol’s system doesn’t make predictions about who will commit a crime, so it stops short of a system that might identify a terrorist in the making.

“Interdicting places is, by and large, an approach that is more in line with protecting civil liberties than interdicting people,” Brantingham said.

Even with such limits, privacy and civil liberties groups oppose the use of predicting policing technology as a threat to the Constitution’s promises of equal protection and due process.

‘Fortune-Teller Policing’

“This is fortune-teller policing that uses deeply flawed and biased data and relies on vendors that shroud their products in secrecy,” Wade Henderson, president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Instead of using predictive technology to correct dysfunctional law enforcement, departments are using these tools to supercharge discrimination and exacerbate the worst problems in our criminal justice system.”

eBay, Amazon

Vast databases that companies have created for online commerce and communications could help law enforcement and national security agencies build predictive systems if they are allowed to tap into them. Technology companies have terms of service that set out how much personal information can be kept and sold to outside companies such as advertisers, and most resist handing over such data to the government unless a court orders them to do so.

Predictive analytics are already being used by companies like eBay Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and Netflix Inc. to crunch their users’ Internet activity to forecast what they might be interested in. Companies like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. have access to over a billion social-media accounts. The storehouse of data on Americans will only grow with digital feeds from Internet-connected appliances and wearable devices.

Social media, in particular, is a valuable tool in tracking potential terrorist attacks, said Eric Feinberg, founding member of the Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Center, which is a private company. His firm has patented technology that can scan for hashtags across different social media platforms and in different languages for communications that indicate terrorist planning.

“Our software is about pattern analysis,” Feinberg said. “We focus on the communications stream.”

‘Open Source Indicators’

The U.S. government is working on initial efforts to gain insight into global social and political trends.

A program under the intelligence community’s research arm called Mercury seeks to develop methods for continuous and automated analysis of intercepted electronic communications “in order to anticipate and/or detect political crises, disease outbreaks, terrorist activity and military actions,” said Charles Carithers, spokesman for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

The agency also previously funded the Open Source Indicators program, which “developed methods for continuous, automated analysis of publicly available data in order to anticipate and/or detect significant societal events,” such as mass violence and riots, mass migrations, disease outbreaks and economic instability, Carithers said.

CIA Forecasts

The CIA draws a distinction between using technology to anticipate events, versus predict them. The agency is using sophisticated algorithms and advanced analytics, along with publicly available data, to forecast events. The initial coverage focuses on the Middle East and Latin America.

“We have, in some instances, been able to improve our forecast to the point of being able to anticipate the development of social unrest and societal instability to within three to five days out,” said Andrew Hallman, the agency’s deputy director for digital innovation.

In its annual report in June, the Defense Science Board said, “Imagine if national leaders had sufficient time to act in emerging regional hot spots to safeguard U.S. interests using interpretation of massive data including social media and rapidly generate strategic options.”

“Such a capability may soon be achievable,” the board said. “Massive data sets are increasingly abundant and could contain predictive clues — especially social media and open-source intelligence.”

Poindexter’s Legacy

If U.S. intelligence agencies develop an advanced system to predict terrorist acts they might call it “Total Information Awareness.” Except that name has already been used, with unhappy results.

Retired Admiral John Poindexter created the “Total Information Awareness” program for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2002 to find and monitor terrorists and other national security threats using data and technology.

The program became so controversial, especially over concerns that privacy rights would be violated, that Congress canceled funding for Poindexter’s office in 2003.

Having been there and done that, Poindexter now says predicting terrorism is possible but would require a lot of data, such as banking information, analysis of social media, travel records and classified material.

The system also has to include strong privacy protections that the public can review, said Poindexter, who said he was working on such a “privacy protection application” when his program was canceled.

“You have to develop public trust in the way this is going to work,” said Poindexter, who continued developing the technology after leaving government through Saffron Technology Inc., a cognitive computing company that Intel bought in 2015 for an undisclosed price. Intel declined to comment.

“The government’s priorities should be to solve the privacy issue and start ingesting massive amounts of data into memory bases,” Poindexter said. “You have to get the public on board with the idea that we can collect and search information on terrorist planning that doesn’t have an adverse impact on innocent people.”


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by Insurance Journal and was retrieved on 10/15/2016 and posted here at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views, ideas, materials and content of the article remains those of the author. Please cite the original article accordingly.


 

Guns, Violence and Roses in America: The Seven Years of the Obama’s Administration

Americans, we’ve come a long way. We have passed through stages and decades of exploitation, physical violence, annihilation, war, racial slavery, hate, racial segregation, power and control, military industrial complex, divide and conquer, The Industrial Revolution, exceptionalism, isolationalism, The Wall Street, NRA, Tea Party, Republican, Democrat, Federalist, Constitutionalist, The Bush’s Wars, The Clinton’s mayhem, The Occupy Movement, Police Violence, and now Trumphism. Americans are good people and we should not forget that. Some would correctly argue that we are still dancing to the drums of some of those periods or events listed above. But as a nation, we’ve come a long way and yet to make this nation great.

Yet, there are those among us willing to do significant harm to others and I don’t think religion is fundamental to that process unless we are spoon-fed with information by the media powered by political motives and selective bias in news reporting to influence us to think how “they” want us to think, act and behave. Humans by nature like to cast blames on others for their errors. If you are a christian we see that from the very genesis of the biblical account of our origin.

We create the images of the violence we see in our streets and in our neighborhoods of our towns and cities each day. A society breeds what we put into it just like a computer processes what we input into the system. If we input trash, we get trash out. Violence breeds violence!! Hate breeds hate. Yet, we can conquer violence with non-violent acts.  Society shapes us and we also shape society.

Today, we have more guns in America than any other time in our history and on planet earth. Guns are now cheaper than food and now proponents see guns as a fundamental human rights contextually contradicting the original intent of the Founding Fathers. Are we “more Americans” with a gun? Or should I say, do we feel more safe with a gun?” Certainly, gun does not make us more American or any safer either. The more guns we have the more it is likely for gun-related crimes to be committed. Guns by itself do not kill people, but people use guns to commit crimes. You could say well I possess gun not to kill anyone except someone who traspasses on my property or someone who breaks into my home, etc and I am within my legal right to defend myself, my family and property. That is a valid point. However, with the number legally own guns and those that are unknown out there our society is doom to see guns-related crimes each and every day!

Guns are now available everywhere and even a little toddler can easily access one from his or her parents. Our obsession with guns and violence are reinforced by video games, movies and the violence that we see in the streets of our cities and towns. Today, we think we are safer when we have guns. Guns don’t make people safe. It is people who make people safe.

More guns mean someone will be shot and killed. More guns means more violence and more violence means insecurity, mayhem, total anarchy, deaths, and injuries, which has physical, economic, social, health, and emotional consequences.

Today in America, mass shooting has become the new normal. We hear about it almost each month somewhere in this country. America is the only industrial country in the global north and east where the obsession with guns breed violence, more violence begets deaths and deaths beget pain and pain begets sorrow, while sorrow begets anxiety of individuals and society. Today, society has become immune to guns, violence and deaths using each to justify the other. Whether guns breed violence or violence is a consequence of our obsession with guns is yet to be answered. However, we need to change this paradigm.

As the news of mass shootings flood the various media outlets in this country both offline and online, one thing is assure….individual and public fear, total trepidation, nervousness, unease, fright, disquiet, dismay, consternation, anxiety, and the most effective emotional state of all “ALARM.” The media in a way reinforce all these aspects and yet waiting for the next hot spot for another mass shooting coverages of all sort.

Right on all of that, we have a very ineffective political system that is bought by lobbyists of all sorts who drag their feet to make decisions on guns control.

We cannot make America great again by allowing our children to be killed. It is our right to defend our country and home and that is why we have military experts for that. Today, one-in-nine Americans has anything between 2-3 guns at home. This excludes illegal guns possessions.

Regretfully and somewhat appreciated for the sake of victims of mass shootings, the President of this country has spend more time giving speeches after the event of a mass shooting than any other issue. It now looks certain that Obama or any other president after the November 2016 election will give some sort of funeral-related speech of a mass shooting or visit those affected areas and families, which is a good thing. However, the frequencies of these trips and speeches seem to be the new normal from the White House.  What we need is not an emotional 30 second tear from a President and the so-called moments of silence for the victims, but action on guns control and an end to it!!! It almost appears certain that our president is ready to give another speech each month as mass shootings become “normalized.”

“We shouldn’t kill people who killed people to tell them that killing people is wrong.”

President Obama has had hard time trying to nail a deal with congressional leaders and those of the house to put some very “tight jeans” on guns.

During the first seven years of the Obama’s administration, we have had 22 violent mass shootings events accomplished cross 14 US States, which include Washington D.C. During this period, we had 240 confirmed deceased (including the perpetrators) with 280 injured.

Understanding this simple principle and rule of life promotes a peaceful world, love and stability. Violence can be defeated by love and love overcomes violence. Love breeds love and not hate. Violence is a product of hate and other bunch of stuff.

Frankly, the violence we see today are not so much about guns control as much as those violence are indications that we as a nation have to come together and really heal our wounds.

Figure 1: Location or Place of Mass Shootings

Figure 2: US States in which Mass Shootings Occurred in the current 7-years of Obama’s Administration

Figure 3: Mass Shootings by States [including D.C.]

Figure 4: Mass Shootings by US Cities

Carbon emissions from 2015 fires in Southeast Asia greatest since 1997: New study

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MEDIA ADVISORY


Carbon emissions from 2015 fires in Southeast Asia greatest since 1997: New study

28 June 2016 – A new study of the forest and peatland fires that burned across maritime Southeast Asia in 2015 has found that the carbon emissions were the largest since 1997, when an even stronger El Niño also resulted in extended drought and widespread burning.

Using a pioneering combination of regional satellite observations, on-the-ground measurements in Kalimantan, Indonesia, and the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) modeling framework, the study’s authors determined that the daily carbon emissions released by the fires in September and October 2015 were higher than those of the entire European Union (EU) over the same period.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, was carried out by a team led by Vincent Huijnen of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and Martin J. Wooster of King’s College London and the NERC National Center for Earth Observation, and included Daniel Murdiyarso and David Gaveau from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Read about the study on Forests News here.  Access the full paper here.

In September and October 2015, dry conditions and the delayed onset of seasonal rains contributed to extensive landscape fires, with the resulting smoke strongly impacting air quality in the region and the health of millions of people.

This research team is the very first to have measured the ground-level smoke composition from active peatland burning in the region. They combined that data with satellite information to derive the first greenhouse gas emissions estimates of the 2015 fires, finding that 884 million tons of carbon dioxide was released in the region last year – 97% originating from burning in Indonesia. The corresponding carbon emissions were 289 million tons, and associated carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions 1.2 billion tons.

Satellites provided data on the heat output being radiated by the fires, as well as information on the amount of carbon monoxide present in the surrounding atmosphere. From this, the total carbon emissions were calculated by combining those measurements with the newly determined emission factors of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane measured at fires burning in October 2015 outside of Palangka Raya in Central Kalimantan province – one of the hardest-hit fire sites.

“There have been some isolated studies before where people artificially set fires in the lab to try to understand the chemical characteristics of peatland fire smoke in Indonesia. But no one had done this on natural fires, and especially not on the kind of extreme fires seen in 2015. We are the first people to do that,” said Wooster.

The results indicate that regional carbon dioxide emissions from landscape fires were 11.3 million tons per day in September and October 2015, exceeding the EU’s daily rate of 8.9 million tons. Further, 77% of the regional fire carbon emissions for the year occurred during that time – at the peak of the fires.

The scientists also compared their results to those of the 1997 El Niño-related fires in the region.

“In 1997 the drought lasted longer, the fires were more severe and a lot more forest burned. In 2015, fires mostly burned on degraded peatland covered with shrubs and wood debris,” said CIFOR scientist David Gaveau.

The study’s results have wide implications for future research, whether it is in respect to studies of landscape burning or the impacts of fire emissions on climate and public health, and they contribute to better understanding the need for fire prevention and improved landscape management.

“What is important is the applicability of a study like this in helping policy makers to use more accurate fire emission factors to design policy and act to prevent further fires and greenhouse gas emissions,” CIFOR scientist Daniel Murdiyarso said.


For more information about this article, please contact:

Contacts:
Martin J. Wooster
King’s College London and NERC National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO)
Email: martin.wooster@kcl.ac.uk

Daniel Murdiyarso
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia and Department of Geophysics and Meteorology, Bogor Agricultural University, Bogor, Indonesia
Email: d.murdiyarso@cgiar.org; Tel: +62-251-8622622 (Office)



Article Disclaimer: This article was published at CIFOR on 26th June 2016 and retrieved on 7th July 2016 and posted at INDESEEM for educational and information purposes only. The views, thoughts and findings in the article remains those of the authors. Please cite the original source and INDESEEM appropriately.


 

Go Fund: Ekxang Community Resource Center

Site A plots and beds a go!!
Site A plots and beds a go!!

Jenkins M Photo Credit: Hansila S.

 

You can fund this project by making your kind donation at:

Ekxang Community Resource Center

Introduction

In 2013, I (Jenkins Macedo) was privileged to have won a research grant from the Center of Global Food Security at Purdue University  to undertake a field research project in Laos in collaboration with the International Water Management Institute  in Vientiane, Laos.

In the photo: Georeferencing one of the sites of the project located 100 meters from the school site. In the photo is the Ekxang village Chief in the army fatigue, Mr. Tom and his daughter, one of our project farming family with the Hawaiian shirt, Ms. Khandala [to my right] Faculty member of the Department of Water Resource Engineering at the National University of Laos, Ms. Chantha [to my left] District Agricultural Extension Officer. Photo Credit: Hansila S. IWMI’s Staff

The awarded grant was used to facilitate the implementation of my field research project in Laos towards the Master of Science degree at Clark University in Environmental Science and Policy . Thus, this fundraiser is intended to contribution back to the community in the form of a development project of some of their most urgent needs.

If you are interested in some of my works and those completed in Laos during my time there, please visit my website at INDESEEM and select “Field Trips” from the Category dropdown menu.

Jenkins conducting visual soil testing with Ms. Khandala and the farmers.Photo Credit: Mixay S. NUOL

During my work in Laos from December 2013 through July 2014, I was fortunate to work with farmers and other local stakeholders in Ekxang Village located 62 kilometers from Vientiane capital. The village has about 2000 people mostly from Hmong ethnic group who were settled there about 100 years ago. Ekxang is situated in the Vientiane Province, which is mostly lowlands where paddy rice farming is the main source of income and livelihoods support system. The village neighbors about six other villages in the Phonhong administrative district.

Welcome to Vientiane Province. Photo Credit: Jenkins M.

Ekxang village as many villages in Laos has few public facilities and infrastructures, such as a government-funded primary school, which is poorly furnish, a community health center with one paid nurse who is rarely accessible by the villagers, no library and educational materials for students and teachers are scarce if even available. Access to educational materials is a major challenge for both teachers and students. Teachers, students and their parents struggle to acquire the necessary local specific educational materials and supplies.

Newly constructed 6 classroom school building. Photo Credit: Bournmee M. IWMI’s staff.

Parents who are mostly farmers have to struggle between providing school fees and educational supplies for their children against the decision to buy farm supplies for the next farming season. With the risk of farming pose by climate change in the forms of severe droughts, flooding and poor yield, parents and farmers at Ekxang and nearby villages are face with the same struggle each day.

A panoramic view of Ekxang village market. Photo Credit: Mixay S. NUOL

It was always great buying and selling locally. Photo Credit: Jenkins M.

The provincial and district extension officers are doing their optimal best to reach out to local farmers with whatever limited resources that are available at their disposal to address some of the technical and non-technical issues farmers at Ekxang and other nearby villages continue to experience. During my work in Laos, I worked closely with the District Agricultural and Forestry Extension Officer (DAFOE).

Their centralized office located in the town KM52, in Phonhong district serves over thousands local farmers in villages and small towns. Their office has nothing, but wooden chairs, tables, empty closets with few stacks of papers, few postal boards of some of the common plants and farm animals diseases prevalent in the province. Anything beyond those has to be accessed from Vientiane, which takes several weeks or months to materialize.

We provided water for our neighbors, but that wasn’t enough.

One interesting experience and challenge working with our farmers at Ekxang village was also trying to gain the trust of their cattle. Most farmers own livestock, but not everyone has cattle. The monetary value of cattle far surpass those of small livestock and crop combine. Unfortunately, both of our project sites ( A and B) were directly on the route the cattle take each evening. As such, we had to be herdsmen ourselves why hoping our green fields in the middle of a totally dried landscape didn’t elevate the appetite of cattle.

Study site A usually surrounded by cattle late evenings.

We tried, but eventually failed  when one afternoon I got a call while in Vientiane from the farmer (Ms. Tamda) that the cattle grazed our field to the point only the shoots of the water spinach were left in the soil. At least with the shoots still in the soil, we trimmed the field and reinforced the fence and the regrowth was amazing.

Lesson? Never underestimate hungry cattle because they will do anything to get over the great wall of China to get fresh and green leaves, if they have to.

The Project Overview

Objective:

The main objective of this fundraiser is to help raise $80,000.00 dollars from now to July 2017, which will be used to build the Ekxang Community Resource Center in Vientiane Province at Ban (village) Ekxang for use by the villagers at Ekxang and their neighbors in the Phonhong administrative district.

It is against this background and from my conversations with all the stakeholders that were involved in the project in Laos. The establishment of the community resource center (first of its kind in the province) will not only contribute to their resilience to climate change, but also contribute towards providing opportunities for their children to be empowered with skills and knowledge essential to preserve their cultures, enhance their knowledge and to engage with others from other communities. The community resource center will be a shared facility, which provides multiple services to the people.

The Ekxang Community Resources Center would be equipped with a computer lab with access to the internet, a library which contains textbooks in Lao language and other local languages as necessary and a section  with English and French textbooks. A section of the facility would be the Farmers’ Seeds Bank, which will be managed by the local farmers’ group at Ekxang, which actively works with the agricultural extension officers. Initial plans is on the way to create a business model for the seeds bank. The seeds bank is very important because farmers at Ekxang and other villages always purchase seeds from agricultural stores in the cities. Most of the seeds purchased from these stores are imported from abroad and are very expensive, not tolerant to environmental stressors, such as high temperature and are mostly linked to low yield varieties.

If the farmers are provided with the needed training, skills and materials, they can produce their own seeds year round without spending a dime saving a significant amount of money that can be used for other household needs or as savings.

An office for the district agricultural extension services would be made available and equipped with a computer, a printer, and basic field tools to conduct on-site soil tests, temperature measurements, soil sampling and processing tools, georeferencing equipment and training, etc. for farmers in Ekxang and nearby villages. The office will be equipped with two microscopes and associated materials to enhance their work in the field while at the center.

The Ekxang Community Resource Center will also have at least two conference or meeting rooms each equipped with a media control system, which will include a projector, a computer, speakers, microphone and flat screen television sets for presentations and videoconferencing.

The facility will also have two office spaces for the local Lao Women’s Union and both offices will be fitted with office furnitures, computers, and a printer.

Lastly, the facility will include a playground for children. The primary school at Ekxang doesn’t have a playground. We are hoping to use part of the funds to develop the open field at the school with a football pitch, a basketball court and a playground fitted with fun games for children between the ages of 1-15 years old.

Two generators will be purchased as a stand energy source.

The facility will also have a local staff office, kitchen, separate toilets for both gender, a community access room fitted with educational games and other resources. An office space will be provided for the local Chief at Ekxang to be used for his administrative work in the village, which will provide a form of security for the center.

Note. A complete breakdown for the budget will be provided shortly. 

I strongly believe that the Ekxang Community Resource Center, if funded and developed will bring more light to the farmers and their children and those of the neighboring communities. This will create an active environment, which foster engagement, learning and sharing.

Laotians are sharing, loving and hardworking people who believe in their national identity and diverse cultural heritage. The resource center, if funded and developed, will continue to add to these essential values.

The farmers at Ekxang village are amazing! I believe and trust that with your generous donations or contributions, and the eventual establishment of the resource center, that the people of Ekxang and the surrounding villages will be happy.

The full contributed amount would be used to acquire the needed construction materials and the equipment to furnish the building.

Land Acquisition Contribution

The local government would be able to provide land for the project.

Facility Leadership & Governance 

Ekxang Community Resource Center will be under the direct supervisory leadership of the local farmer’s group at Ekxang village, which will include team members from neighboring villages to form part of the supervisory team. The head supervisory role will be rotated annually by general consensus of team members.

Sustainability 

Sustainability is at the heart of this project A “Commons Access” fee will be designed base on consensus and with both the short and long term goals in mind.