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Sunday, 1 January 2017

Can we blame delicious food for our holiday weight gain?

Most of us have heard the saying that "if it tastes good, it must be bad for you." Although commonly held, this old adage may not contain much truth after all.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Michael Tordoff, a physiological psychologist at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Pennsylvania, set out to test this belief in more detail. "Most people think that good-tasting food causes obesity," he explains.

Tordoff was unconvinced, and he therefore designed a range of experiments to see whether the theory held any water. His findings were recently published in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

Investigating flavor and weight gain
It has been established that if you feed a mouse cookies, chips, and cream, they will become obese. But is it the flavor of the foods that cause overeating? Or, could it be the nutrient density that promotes the gorging? After all, animals have evolved to seek out fatty and sugary foods as a matter of survival.

Previous studies that have drawn conclusions about good taste (in this context, meaning flavor and texture) and its effect on weight gain have been flawed. For instance, many did not take into account the impact of variety on feeding behavior; having a spread of different foods to choose from can cause one to over-indulge. A buffet is a prime example of this.

According to the authors of the recent research, only three studies to date have looked specifically at the influence of flavor on weight gain. None of these studies were conclusive, however. The reasons for this include sample size and, once again, the effects of variety.

The first phase of Tordoff's study involved establishing whether mice would prefer food with added oily or sweet ingredients that were non-nutritive. The mice were served two pots of chow - one standard, and one with either a sucralose sweetener or mineral oil (both of which are calorie free).

As expected, the mice preferred the mineral oil chow and sucralose chow. They virtually ignored the plainer fare. In fact, the mice thought so little of the standard chow that, according to the study authors, they "often defecated in the cup containing the plain diet."
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Myanmar farmers reap rewards from 3D printing

Whizzing across a blue-lit platform with a whirr and a squeak, liquid plastic emanating from its chrome tip, the 3D printer seems a far cry from the muddy, crop-filled fields that fringe Yangon.

But in an industrial park south of Myanmar's commercial hub, the advanced technology is now being used to design bespoke parts that are changing the lives of impoverished farmers.

Myanmar's manufacturing sector was gutted under five decades of isolationist military rule, forcing farmers to cobble together their own tools or use ill-adapted IMPORTS.

Poor equipment has only added to the hardships of growing crops in the disaster-prone country, where farmers account for nearly half of the economy's output despite being among the poorest producers in Asia.

But in one corner of Yangon, change is afoot.

Over at social enterprise Proximity Designs, cutting-edge 3D printer technology is being used to design specially adapted tools, in consultation with the farmers who use them.

"We want to create something that farmers find delight in," product designer Taiei Harimoto told AFP at their workshop, where robotic arms line the walls near benches littered with tools and mechanical parts.

The printer, a small, black, hollow cube with a needle inside attached to a computer, has already been put to use helping design parts for a sprinkler system and the internal mechanics for a solar pump
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Bird Conservation Nepal records 13,749 birds in Valley

Bird conservationists and researchers participated in the monitoring that was conducted by the Bird Conservation Nepal on January and June/July 2016.

This number accounts for a total of 102 bird species. Of them, 85 species of birds with 6,496 individual birds were recorded in winter and 63 species of birds with 7,253 individual birds were recorded in summer.

Researchers have said that the diversity of species had significantly decreased from rural to urban gradients.

“We found very low species diversity in urban areas that might be due to a lack of habitat and reduced food availability,” Krishna Prasad Bhusal, one of the participants of the monitoring and Conservation Officer of BCN told The Himalayan Times.

According to the monitoring report, the common pigeon was the most common bird species based on the number of individual birds recorded.

A total of 4,545 common pigeons were recorded, 2,339 in winter and 2,206 in summer. Similarly, the house sparrow was identified as the second most common bird in urban and adjacent areas with 2,327 individual birds of this species.

Likewise, 2,147 house crows were recorded, 827 common mynas, 765 cattle egrets, 426 Eurasian tree sparrows, 360 barn swallows, 308 jungle mynas, 243 red-vented bulbuls, and 159 black kites were recorded.

According to the BCN study, urbanisation has affected the distribution of birds in Kathmandu Valley. However, long term monitoring and analysis of different environment variables are still necessary to analyse the effect of urbanization in birds in the Valley.

Researchers recorded a higher number of resident bird species at 82 species, followed by winter migrant species at 16, and summer migrant species at 4.

Urban habitats can be monitored using birds as an ecological indicator. Different habitat enrichment, like presence of exotic plants, high human density, road, industry, and buildings make urban habitats more complex. There is a strong need of conservation activities to protect the existing biodiversity in urban areas.

Kathmandu is the most urbanised city in Nepal with a population of around four million people. More than 500 species of birds were recorded at Kathmandu Valley in 2008, while around 160 species are recorded only from the urban and its adjacent areas of Kathmandu Valley.

“The increasing human density is narrowing the habitat of urban birds in the Valley. Modern housing practices, environmental pollution, high tension lines, lack of fruiting trees, and other factors are contributing to the decrease in bird population in the capital,” the monitoring report reads.

The urban bird monitoring program divided Kathmandu into three gradients: urban, sub-urban, and rural based on core residential area to monitor the birds.
source: The Himalayan Times.
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ISIS 'planning mass attack in Britain' and 'has "no moral barrier" to using chemical weapons'

ISIS 'planning mass attack in Britain' and 'has "no moral barrier" to using chemical weapons'

ISIS is planning a mass casualty attack against Britain, with "no moral barrier" to using chemical weapons, a minister has warned.
Security minister Ben Wallace said the chemical threat was the potential realization of "everybody's worst fear."

Wallace said there were reports of IS using chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq, where it controls large areas, and that Moroccan authorities apprehended a cell in February which was harbouring substances that could be used to either make a bomb or a "deadly toxin".

Mr Wallace said: "Experts have warned that their ambition is a mass casualty attack and they have no moral barrier to using whatever means possible."

It came after he told the Sunday Times: "The ambition of IS or Daesh is definitely mass casualty attacks.

"They want to harm as many people as possible and terrorise as many people as possible.

"They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and if they could, they would in this country.

"The casualty figures which could be involved would be everybody's worst fear.

"We have certainly seen reports of them using it in Syria and Iraq (and) we have certainly seen aspiration for it in Europe."

Mr Wallace also warned about the threat from "the enemy within" as terror groups, Russia and cyber attackers were trying to plant "traitors" in the Government, the military and leading businesses.

"There are traitors. We have to be on our guard for the enemy within," he said.

"The insider threat, as we would call it, is real and it can be exploited and there are people trying to do that as we speak."

Security services throughout the Western world remained on high alert for a New Year terror attack after ISIS distributed new propaganda about how to carry out mass killings.

The US Army said on Friday the chances of an attack on American soil were low but "undeniable".

Heavily armed police guard Christmas nativity with soldiers drafted in for New Year as Britain fears Berlin-style attack

A bulletin said: "There are no indications of specific threats to the US Homeland.

"However the threat from homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) in the United States is undeniable."

A separate bulletin revealed that two recent issues of Rumiyah, an ISIS propaganda publication, did "provide information on conducting knife attacks and using vehicles to cause mass casualties in populated areas."

Such tactics were used in recent attacks on civilians in Nice, France, Berlin and in Columbus, Ohio.
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