Hero Rat That Sniffed Out Landmines Dies

Cambodia’s landmine-sniffing rat Magawa, who found more than 100 landmines and explosives during a five-year career, has died at the age of 8.

Cambodia’s landmine-sniffing rat Magawa, who found more than 100 landmines and explosives during a five-year career, has died at the age of 8.

Magawa will be remembered as a hero in Cambodia, where landmines still pose a threat nearly two decades after the end of the country’s civil war.

The rats are trained by the Belgian NGO APOPO, which has been working in Cambodia since 2016.

Magawa was hailed as a hero rat because of his extraordinary ability to sniff out landmines and other explosives. He is estimated to have found more than 100 of these devices during his five-year career, which helped clear over half a million square meters of land in Cambodia.

In recognition of his achievements, Magawa was awarded the PDSA Gold Medal, which is the animal equivalent of the George Cross, in 2018.

APOPO said that Magawa’s death was “a great loss” but that his legacy would live on through the other rats in its training program.

Cambodia is one of the most heavily-land mined countries in the world, with an estimated 4 to 6 million landmines still buried in its soil.

These remnants of the country’s civil war pose a serious threat to civilians, with around 20 people still killed or injured by landmines every year.

HeroRATs Program by APOPO trains rats to save lives

APOPO has been working in Cambodia since 2016, training HeroRATs. The program not only helps to save lives, but also provides employment opportunities for local people.

HeroRATs detecting landmines

Magawa was the first HeroRAT. Born in 2012, he began his training with the Belgian NGO APOPO in 2013.

HeroRATs are rats that have been trained to detect landmines and other explosives. The rats are able to use their keen sense of smell to locate these devices, which helps to clear landmines from areas that are too dangerous for humans to enter.

To date, the program has trained over 30 rats, which have helped to clear more than half a million square meters of land in Cambodia.

HeroRATs detecting tuberculosis

In addition to their work in landmine detection, HeroRATs are also being trained to detect tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis is a serious health problem in Cambodia, with around 3,000 new cases being diagnosed each year.

The rats’ sense of smell is so keen that they can detect the disease in its early stages, when it is most treatable.

HeroRATs in research and innovation

HeroRATs are also being used in research and innovation projects.For example, they are being trained to sort recyclable materials, such as plastic and glass.

This is important work because it can help to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

Magawa: The Hero Rat’s Legacy

Magawa’s death is a great loss, but his legacy will live on through the other HeroRATs that are continuing his work.

These rats are making a huge difference in Cambodia, helping to make the country safer for its people.

Amazon Continues Jobs Expansion Across U.S.

Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy told Reuters that Amazon plans to hire up to 55,000 people in technology and corporate roles globally. That figure is almost equal to Facebook’s entire staffing and represents one-third of Google’s current workforce.

Jassy released this news during his first press interview after becoming Amazon’s CEO in July 2021. The company’s new bet on launching satellites into orbit, currently called Project Kuiper, is expected to generate even more opportunities.

Since the pandemic has altered or displaced numerous employment opportunities, many people are thinking about pursuing new or different jobs. The new hires will eventually represent a 20% increase in those staffing areas.

What is it like to work for Amazon?

When looking for employee reviews of what it is like to work for Amazon, Indeed has 75,000+ submissions that deliver a 3.5-star rating. 

Amazon receives the highest scores in pay and benefits, while the lowest ones are in management and job security. 

Most people like that Amazon helps them have a clear sense of purpose with their work. They celebrate the ability to meet personal goals while offering a fair compensation package. If you’re not motivated or have some health issues, many of the jobs could be a bit problematic.

The problem with an Amazon job is that the company doesn’t always deliver a sense of belonging. That issue leads to a lack of trust within the ranks, especially since people report that they don’t receive a lot of manager-based support. 

With many jobs offering wages well above the minimum, this growth opportunity could deliver significant economic contributions in the places where jobs get offered. 

Latest Amazon expansion points to continued growth at Austin’s ‘second downtown’

With plans to lease more office space at The Domain and add 2,000 more jobs in the Austin area, Amazon’s latest announcement points to more growth in Austin’s “second downtown.”

The bustling area in north Austin is already home to hundreds of other Amazon employees in two office towers.

“They’ve got a huge presence up at the Domain already,” said Paul Thompson, Assistant Managing Editor of the Austin Business Journal.

Their latest announcement reveals plans for another 330,000 square feet, in an office currently being developed by Cousins Properties.

“So they are hoping to move into this new building in 2024,” he said. “It is currently under construction.”

There’s no indication whether the jobs will be full-time, as opposed to part-time or contract — which Thompson said was a “fair question,” given another recent announcement about the company hiring for 3,000 seasonal jobs in the Austin area.

“The kind of roles we are looking at are operations technology, retail from a business side, and Amazon Web Services. So these are kind of your more white collar-type jobs. You’d expect to see a higher salary, perhaps,” he said. “Positions that should be attractive to a lot of people. 

Now, that means you might get folks coming from California and elsewhere. I don’t think you can say with any degree of certainty there are going to be local Austinites taking those roles but they are certainly going to be competitive.”

Thompson noted that Amazon might soon be creeping up into the ranks of the largest employers in Austin, which include H-E-B, Ascension Seton, Walmart, and Dell Technologies.

The announcement also points to the massive growth happening in this part of north Austin.

“Even as you have all these other areas popping up around and really expanding exponentially, you have more housing units going up in the Domain than anywhere else,” Thompson said, pointing to a report on which census tracts saw the most people moving to different areas added over the last decade.

This month, KXAN reported on recent construction at another development, across Burnet Road from The Domain, called “Uptown ATX.” The project, developed by Brandywine Realty Trust, will feature 7 million square feet of office, residential, retail and hospitality spaces. The Austin Business Journal calls it “one of the biggest redevelopment projects in Austin’s history.”

Japan Holds Military Drills as Tensions in Region Rise

In recent times, Russia and China have commenced military coalition with the purpose of countering the US-led bloc of Japan. The increased naval undertakings of China have turned out to be the most significant worry for Japan and this has forced the capital city of the nation to increase missile and troop deployment defenses across the southern parts of Japan.

The military drills organized by Japan involve around 1,300 troops and amongst them, approximately 550 soldiers are participating in the actual drills. The main intention of this drill will be to improve the speed as well as precision of the soldiers in shooting targets that appear randomly from a 300-meter range. 

Recently, Japan has shifted its emphasis on forces from the northern part to the southern part of the country. There has been a reduction in the number of heavy combat tanks on the island of Hokkaido since defense priorities consist of several tech dimensions such as cyber and outer space. 

However, Hokkaido continues to be a crucial training ground for the military in Japan. The main tank exercise grounds of Japan are in the close vicinity of Mount Fuji besides the northern island. 

A group consisting of 4 tanks fired machine guns and shells at targets intended to represent the missiles of the enemies, armored humans, or automobiles as 100s of fellow soldiers waved the unit flags and cheered on the sidelines. 

According to Fumio Kishida, the PM of Japan, he would be taking into account all the available options including perhaps pursuing preventive striking abilities to boost the defense power of the country, which, as per the opponents breaches the pacifist constitution of Japan.  

Olaf Scholz Replaces Angela Merkel After 16 Years

Following her tenure spanning 16 years, Angela Merkel will be replaced by the ninth post-war chancellor of Germany, named Olaf Scholz. In fact, the new chancellor succeeded in winning the support of as many as 395 lawmakers and his 3-part coalition will be holding 416 seats in the parliament’s lower house. 

The main objective of the new government will be to modernize the nation while combating changes in climate too. However, its first task in hand will be to take care of the most difficult period of the nation caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Scholz, who is 63 years of age, held the post of the vice-chancellor of Germany as well as the finance minister since 2018. He needed the support of a minimum of 369 lawmakers in the lower house of the parliament in order to become the chancellor. 

Meanwhile, Angela Merkel received a standing ovation from the lawmakers once the session opened. 

The aim of the newly formed government will be to take adequate measures when it comes to the expansion of the usage of renewable energy, combating the challenges of climatic changes, and bringing the exit of the nation from coal-fired power ideally from 2038 to 2030. It is likewise planning to modernize the nation such as enhancing the poorly-equipped Internet and mobile networks. It is also aiming to permit the marketing of cannabis for the purpose of recreation as well. 

Besides this, the newly appointed chancellor has given signals of continuing the foreign policy declaring that the authorities will be nurturing the trans-Atlantic coalition while standing up for a more powerful European Union as well.   

Sweden Reimposes COVID Restrictions as Rates Climb

For over two years, the world has been in survival mode. Health and personal energy have been depleted. Mitocore by Ortho Molecular provides micronutrients, phytonutrients, and herbals for increased mitochondrial energy.

There has been an increment in the rise of COVID cases in Sweden recently. For this reason, this Nordic country is going to control this outbreak by taking some measures such as the usage of masks, social distancing, and so on. 

As per Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, there has been a quick spread of infection in this country in spite of being at low levels right now. It will be imperative for the residents of Sweden to work together in order to curb the spread of the virus. 

There have been as many as 11 cases where the Omicron variant has been observed which are quite less than that of the adjoining nations of Denmark and Norway. As a matter of fact, there had been an end to almost all types of restrictions imposed by the authorities with the introduction of vaccinations during the last few months. However, this proved to be rather futile since there has been an upsurge in COVID cases since then although at a slow rate. 

In Sweden, approximately 85% of the total populace (12 years or older) have received a minimum of 1 dose of vaccination while 80% have received 2 shots or even more. 

According to the authorities, people would be informed to refrain from going out to work in case they are showing symptoms. For this, they would be provided with financial assistance by the government. 

A COVID-19 commission appointed by the government has strongly criticized the way in which Sweden is taking steps for controlling the outbreak of the deadly virus as well. 

Biden’s Climate Pledge Keeps Getting Pushback

Biden’s White House continues to receive pushback from unexpected sources on the climate change issue. Although there’s an expectation that most Republicans will oppose issues like clean electricity, carbon reduction, and other environmental policies, moderate Democrats are not getting on board with the idea.

Senator Joe Manchin III, a Democrat from West Virginia, can table any environmental effort in a 50-50 Senate when all GOP members are against the proposal. That headache is what the Biden Administration is currently trying to manage. 

Manchin’s district focuses on coal production and what he sees as more sensible solutions to the climate crisis

The Fight Is Over the Clean Energy Performance Program

Democrats hope the Clean Energy Performance Program helps utilities increase their clean energy supply.

By rewarding the agencies that make 4% improvements annually, the goal is to consequence those that don’t achieve that outcome. It was included originally in a tax-and-spend package to achieve the broader economics that Democrats want to see for the United States moving forward.

Biden pledged to cut emissions by half by the year 2030. This promise inspired some last-minute policy changes right before global leaders initiated some of the most critical conversations about the climate in the past 25 years. 

One of the newest initiatives is to create a voluntary emissions trading system while providing federal funding to stop pollution. These structures would impact the steel, concrete, chemical, and aluminum industries. 

Since the talks are still in the early stages, no one knows how the programs would be structured. A significant gap still exists between the progressives and moderates in the Democratic party, which means there might not be enough votes to proceed.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Pioneer Passes Away at Age 100

Dr. Aaron Beck changed the world with his unique approach to therapy. His concepts that became the foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are helpful in the treatment of psychological disorders, psychiatric problems, and even depression.

CBT’s goals are to focus on the specific thinking processes and behaviors that lead to potentially unhealthy choices.

Beck is credited with altering how mental health gets treated throughout the world by taking a cognitive approach. His daughter reported that he passed away at home peacefully at the age of 100 in 2021. 

CBT Leads to Significant Functioning Improvements

Numerous research studies on CBT’s processes found that it significantly improves a person’s quality of life while creating functional gains. It’s often as effective, if not more so, than some psychiatric medications or other forms of psychological therapy.

Beck was initially trained as a psychoanalyst. His studies of depression through this lens led to the eventual development of cognitive therapies in the 1960s.

According to the American Psychologist Journal, Dr. Aaron Beck is one of the five most influential psychotherapists of all time.

Over his lifetime, Beck authored more than 600 published works. He received more than 50 academic awards for his contributions and research in mental health fields, including the Albert Lasker Award and the Heinz Award in 2006 and 2001, respectively.

Beck’s work continues to live on through the providers that offer CBT services, talking to people about thinking errors, negative patterns, and other issues that can lead to mental health concerns. He will not be forgotten.

Astronauts Grow Green Chiles on ISS to Make Tacos

Down here on Earth, it’s a novelty to eat freeze-dried space food. Most of us prefer the Neapolitan ice cream, but you can find everything from beef stroganoff to asparagus available to eat.

Freeze-dried foods don’t weigh much, which is an essential quality for blasting materials into space. Every extra pound equates to thousands of dollars in support work.

You’d then take a product like NutriDyn to ensure a complete nutrient profile is available when you’re in a zero-G environment. 

NASA astronauts were recently able to have their own Taco Tuesday with some hatch chiles they grew in space.

Both Red and Green Chiles Were Available to Eat

The recipe for the space tacos was relatively straightforward. Astronauts took some dehydrated beef, added some rehydrated artichokes and tomatoes, and mixed in the fresh chiles grown on the International Space Station.

Once the mix was complete, they stuck everything into a tortilla to have a special treat.

Astronaut Megan McArthur tweeted a picture of the unique tacos with the caption that they were the best ones she’s made since being in space. 

Although the fresh peppers were a treat, they came about because of some serious science. Studying how microbe and plant interactions occur in space makes it possible to grow nutritious food in limited spaces.

The fresh Hatch chiles join Chinese cabbage, kale, and lettuce as crops that astronauts could grow in orbit. With the more prolonged germination and growth times, the peppers are one of the most complicated plant experiments completed successfully.

Henrietta Lacks Estate Sues Thermo Fisher Scientific for Using Stolen Cells

The estate of Henrietta Lacks alleges that a biotech company, Thermo Fisher Scientific, made conscious choices to sell and mass-produce the living tissues of Lacks despite the lack of her consent. 

Those cells are given the nickname of the HeLa line, clearly indicating that they came from Henrietta Lacks. They’ve been one of the most utilized tools in modern medical research, responsible for advances in everything from gene mapping to the polio vaccine. 

The lawsuit seeks the total amount of the biotech company’s net profits from selling the HeLa cells. It also asks the company to stop using them without the estate’s permission.

Thermo Fisher Scientific estimates annual revenues at $35 billion. 

Who Was Henrietta Lacks?

Lacks was a poor tobacco farmer and a mother of five. In 1951, she arrived at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore with a bleeding issue. Doctors diagnosed her with cervical cancer, but even with treatment, she passed away at the age of 31.

Cell samples were retrieved and sent to a tissue lab. The hospital states that this practice was standard at the time.

Unlike other cell samples that died in the lab, Lack’s doubled about once per day. That made them exceptionally valuable to researchers. 

The lawsuit from the estate alleges that the HeLa cells embrace a legacy of American racial injustice. When viewed in light of the events of the Tuskegee study, which started in 1932 when 600 rural black men from Alabama had syphilis and were never told their diagnosis or given treatment, it’s another black eye for the United States.

Results of the lawsuit are still pending. 

China Faces Energy Shortages as Government Enacts Environmental Goals

Power outages have been affecting China since at least September. It’s a problem that is shutting down factories, eliminating jobs, and causing candle sales to skyrocket.

In Jilin, the state-owned water utility sent messages to customers warning that power cuts could happen of “indeterminate length” without plan or warning. They told people to be prepared for this problem to last until March, although it was later deleted – or censored. 

With all the confusion of what is to blame, many commentators are turning to China’s carbon dioxide emission reduction targets. Their concerns are creating fears for environmental advocates that a return to high coal consumption will continue. 

China Says That Rising Prices Are the Problem

COVID-19 has caused numerous supply chain shortages across multiple industries. China says that the problem isn’t that, but the cost of coal combined with higher electricity demands from factories.

Reduced mining activities have happened in China because of recent safety problems. The government also imported coal from Australia, but those purchases have been blocked since 2020 over diplomatic issues.

The coal-fired power plants refuse to operate at a loss, and they’ve been below their total capacity for several years.

That means supply and demand is likely the primary problem driving the energy shortages. Even then, some government statements suggest that the choice is between economic growth and hitting emissions targets

Many of the goals were set years ago. No recent enhancements have been made. If anything, the problem is that China became a carbon-intensive economy while it was working to make cutbacks.