Akosombo dam faces shutdown

The water level in the dam as of Friday, Dec. 11 stood at 243.55ft

The easing electricity crisis in the country may relapse as the Akosombo hydro generating plant faces a possible shutdown due to a drastic drop in the water level.

Water levels in the Volta Lake which supplies the dam keeps dropping drastically due to the harmattan season. As of Friday, December 11, the water level in the dam stood at 243.55 feet and a further drop of 3.55 feet will mean a total shutdown of the plant.

The minimum operating water level for the dam is 240ft, and at this level, authorities are required to shut the turbines to save the plant, TV3’s Odelia Ntiamoah Boampong reports.

A shutdown of the turbines could compound the electricity crisis which Ghanaians have been looking forward to it to ease, especially as they prepare for Christmas.

Meanwhile, the Power Minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor has assured Ghanaians the current load shedding would be over by the end of December due to the various interventions on the ground but many Ghanaians doubt that could happen.

The dam experienced its maximum water levels of 276.41 on November 2, 1974 and the lowest water level ever recorded was 235.76ft June 12, 1984. The Akosombo dam has been a major source of electricity power for the country over the last four decades.

Ghana’s generation mix now has 52 per cent hydro, 36 per cent thermal and 0.1 per cent solar. Independent Power Producers generate 12 per cent of thermal power.

Source: tv3network.com

YAHOO ADDS GMAIL SUPPORT TO MAIL APP

finger on keyboard with email icons floating out of monitor

Yahoo is looking to pull a whole lot of new users into its new Yahoo Mail app by adding support for Google‘s popular Gmail.

Yahoo, which has been in turmoil lately, launched its Mail app this past October, adding support for email services like Outlook.com, Hotmail and AOL Mail.

What the app didn’t have was support for Gmail.

Yahoo is trying to rectify that omission now.

“All the features you need and love in Yahoo M

“All the features you need and love in Yahoo Mail — powerful search, smart contacts, rich compose features and Yahoo Account Key for password-free sign-in — are now available with Gmail,” wrote Shiv Shankar, Yahoo senior product manager, in a blog post. “You can now search across your entire history of emails, from day one, for all connected mailboxes,” — not just the most recent emails, “which is how it’s done in many apps today.”

Multiple mailbox support for Gmail within Yahoo Mail is available everywhere today in the Yahoo Mail app and on the desktop browser, according to Yahoo. To connect a user’s Gmail account, she simply needs to go into her Account Settings.
Shakar also noted in the post that when someone is using Yahoo Mail and composes an email, she can send it from any account she’s connected to.

Every action, like moving and deleting emails and marking emails as read, is synced across all mailboxes.

Other Yahoo Mail features that can be used across Gmail emails include signing in on the mobile app with a Yahoo Account key, instead of a password; easily adding photos, videos and GIFs to emails and searching all connected mail boxes.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said this is a good move for Yahoo and it’s a good move for Yahoo Mail users, as well.

“Yahoo has been trying to get a bump in the number of users for its mail application,” he told Computerworld. “Adding Gmail will certainly do that as Gmail is one of the most widely used mail platforms by consumers and businesses. The issue is there are other mail platforms that support Gmail, so, in my opinion, this is just table stakes. What moves it beyond others is Yahoo’s ability to search across all of a user’s history of email.

“That’s where it becomes great stuff,” said Kerravala.

Yahoo’s email news comes the same week that the company announced it is spinning off its core Internet business.

The company initially had talked about spinning off its stake in Chinese retail giant Alibaba, but largely because of fears of extensive tax liability, the board instead decided to hold onto Alibaba and spin off nearly everything else.

Maynard Webb, head of Yahoo’s board of directors, said this week that the firm is not actively looking for a buyer for the Internet business but that the firm would consider any serious offer.

Kerravala noted that Yahoo’s mail announcement coming out the same week that the company announced the spinoff just shows that there are still multiple projects in the works.

“Innovation hasn’t stopped just because the Internet business is being broken out,” he added.

This story, “Yahoo adds Gmail support to Mail app” was originally published by Computerworld.

Source: IT News

How eating herbs could boost your brain

Adding a sprig of thyme or a pinch of parsley to your next home-cooked meal may do more than boost its flavor – it could boost your brain, too. New research reveals how a substance present in such herbs – apigenin – triggers formation of human brain cells and boosts connections between them.

[Parsley]

Researchers found the flavonoid apigenin – found in parsley, thyme and other plants and herbs – triggered the formation of human brain cells and strengthened their connections.

Lead author Stevens Rehen, of the D’Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), and colleagues publish their findings in the journalAdvances in Regenerative Biology.

The team says their findings suggest apigenin – also found in red pepper, chamomile and many other plants and herbs – shows promise as a treatment for numerous neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease andschizophrenia.

Previous animal studies have shown that substances from the same flavonoid group as apigenin may benefit memory and learning, and other research has demonstrated that flavonoids have the potential to preserve and boost brain function.

For this latest study, Rehen and colleagues set out to gain a better understanding of how apigenin affects human brain cells, or neurons.

The team applied apigenin to human stem cells – cells that have the ability to develop into different cell types – in a laboratory dish.

They found that after 25 days, these stem cells transformed into neurons – an effect the researchers say was not seen in the absence of apigenin.

[Apigenin-treated neurons]

The team found apigenin-treated neurons (right) developed stronger synapses than untreated neurons (left).
Image credit: Rehen et al.

 

What is more, the researchers found that the connections that developed between the newly formed neurons – known as synapses – were stronger and more sophisticated. “Strong connections between neurons are crucial for good brain function, memory consolidation and learning,” notes Rehen.

Further investigation revealed that apigenin boosts neuron formation and connections by binding to estrogen receptors (ERs), which influences the development, progression, function and plasticity of the nervous system.

While studies have shown the hormone estrogen may delay development of Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, depression and Parkinson’s, among other neurodegenerative conditions, Rehen and colleagues note the use of estrogen therapy is hampered by the risks of tumor growth and cardiovascular problems it poses.

However, the team says their findings suggest apigenin could offer a promising future treatment alternative for a number of neurodegenerative disorders.

“An alternative approach would be to mimic estrogenic-mediated positive effects by modulating specific ERs with other estrogenic compounds, such as some flavonoids classified as selective ER modulators (SERMs),” they explain.

In addition, Rehen says their study suggests the possibility of a simple brain-boosting strategy we can all adopt:

“[…] Flavonoids are present at high amounts in some foods and we can speculate that a diet rich in flavonoids may influence the formation of neurons and the way they communicate within the brain.”

Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting some further benefits of plant-derived compounds; researchers discovered compounds present in herbs such as rosemary and oregano may help fight type 2 diabetes.

Source: MNT

Parkerville bushfire: Legal action launched against elderly power pole owner

Fire action hits court

An elderly Perth woman who owned land where a fallen power pole sparked a bushfire which razed 57 homes is being taken to court by affected property owners.

The fire in Perth’s hills in January 2014 started when the wooden pole, on land belonging to Noreen Campbell, fell over in gusty winds and ignited dry grass.

More than 80 residents have started legal action against Western Power, alleging the power pole was used by the utility, which therefore had a responsibility to maintain it.

The residents are also suing contractors Thiess, arguing that when its workers inspected the pole in July 2013, they did not detect it was extensively damaged by termites and fungal rot, and that it should have been repaired or replaced.

Both Western Power and Thiess are defending the legal action, maintaining they were not responsible for the pole because it was on private property.

Today at a directions hearing in the Supreme Court, the residents’ lawyer, Lachlan Armstrong, said Mrs Campbell, as the owner of the land, was being added as a defendant in the case.

He said it was being alleged that Mrs Campbell had an obligation to maintain the pole.

“It’s alleged that as a result of her breach of duty of care, the pole fell down and the bushfire started,” he said.

Mrs Campbell was not in court for the hearing, but she was represented by a lawyer.

The case has been adjourned until a further directions hearing in March next year.

Source: ABC

Energy drink addict almost died of heart attack after downing eight cans of caffeine-laced beverage

Martn Bowlng, 28, collapsed at a pub in Romford, Essex, after becoming so hooked he was spending £75 a week on high-energy sodas – now he calls them “death in a can”

MARTIN Bowling

An energy drink addict almost died of a heart attack after downing eight cans of caffeine-laced beverages.

Martin Bowling, 28, an insurance worker from Essex, became so hooked on the high-caffeine drinks he was spending £75 a week on them.

But his seven-year dependency nearly had a disastrous effect after he collapsed at a pub in Romford and was rushed to hospital.

Medics later confirmed he had suffered a heart attack and is now recovering following treatment at a specialist chest hospital in London.

Martin now calls the energy drinks, “death in a can”.

He said: “There was no warning signs, I don’t know if it hurt, I just remember hitting the floor and waking up in hospital.

Read full article here

Paris attacks: ‘I would have killed him,’ Bataclan bomber’s father says

A shaken father told reporters Wednesday that he never knew his son had returned to France after a stint in Syria.

If he’d found out, Said Mohamed-Aggad said he wouldn’t have let his son join the ranks of attackers who unleashed carnage at the Bataclan theater in Paris last month.

“I would have killed him beforehand,” he said in an interview with French media that aired on CNN affiliate BFMTV.

Instead, Foued Mohamed-Aggad, a 23-year-old from eastern France who traveled to Syria two years ago, blew himself up.

His name was first reported Wednesday by CNN affiliates BFMTV and France 2, who described him as the third gunman who stormed the Eagles of Death Metal concert as part of a series of shootings and explosions in Paris on November 13. The attackers sprayed gunfire and slaughtered people inside the concert hall for 20 horrific minutes. Ninety people were killed.

Read full article here

Student dies from allegedly falling off a building at All Nations University

Student dies from allegedly falling off a building at All Nations University

A first year student of the All Nations University in Koforidua was found dead Wednesday morning at a unisex hostel on the school’s main campus, with claims he fell from the three-storey building.

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Scientists create infertile mosquitoes

mosquito

UK scientists say they have reached a milestone in the fight against malaria by creating a genetically modified mosquito that is infertile.

The plan is to wipe out the insects that spread malaria to people via bites, Nature Biotechnology reports.

Two copies of the mutant gene render the malaria-carrying female insect completely barren.

But one copy is enough for a mosquito mum or dad to pass it on to offspring.

This should perpetually spread the infertility gene throughout the population so the species dwindles or dies out.

However, the Imperial College London team say more safety tests are needed, meaning it will be a decade before the mutant mosquitoes can be released into the wild.

Cheating nature

The mutant mosquito can still carry and transmit malaria to people via bites.

But their genetic make-up means they should breed with and replace other malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Any offspring with one copy of the gene would carry on passing the trait to future generations, while any female offspring that inherits both copies would be unable to reproduce.

mosquito eggsImage copyrightSCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Image captionMosquito eggs

In this way, the host of the malaria parasite should eventually become extinct.

In the Imperial team’s experiments with Anopheles gambiae – a breed of mosquito that is rife in sub-Saharan Africa where the bulk of human malaria deaths currently occur – the mutant mosquitoes were kept with wild-type ones so they could mate.

The gene for infertility was transmitted to more than 90% of both male and female mosquitoes’ offspring across five generations, thanks to technology called gene drive, say the researchers Dr Tony Nolan and Prof Andrea Crisanti.

Normally, one copy of a recessive gene has a 50% chance of being passed down from parents to their offspring. Gene drive – a DNA cutting and pasting machine that can manipulate genetic code as it is passed from parent to offspring – boosts this inheritance rate.

Wipe out

Some experts fear that wiping out mosquitoes may upset the natural balance of the environment.

mosquitoImage copyrightSPL

But Prof Tony Nolan said their method should not make a big dent in the overall mosquito population – just the ones that transmit malaria.

“There are roughly 3,400 different species of mosquitoes worldwide and, whileAnopheles gambiae is an important carrier of malaria, it is only one of around 800 species of mosquito in Africa, so suppressing it in certain areas should not significantly impact the local ecosystem.”

Prof David Conway, an expert in malaria at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the work held promise: “The key achievement here is that a novel genetic drive mechanism can force these modifications to be passed on, using a trick that would not occur in nature.”

But he said more work was needed to check that the mosquitoes don’t evolve resistance to the genetic modification.

Source: BBC

Penis transplant plans for wounded US veterans

file picture of veteran

Surgeons are set to carry out the first penis transplant in the United States, in a bid to help wounded war veterans.

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New cases of bird flu in south west France

New cases of bird flu in south west France

France reported three more cases of highly pathogenic bird flu in the southwest of the country on Monday, just as the demand for foie gras is set to peak for the festive season.

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