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Possible progress against Parkinson’s

first_imgHarvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at University-affiliated McLean Hospital have taken what they describe as an important step toward using the implantation of stem cell-generated neurons as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease.Ole Isacson and colleagues reported that dopamine-producing neurons derived from the skin cells of primates survived for more than two years after implantation into one of the animals, and markedly reduced its Parkinson’s symptoms. The primate did not require immunosuppression, the scientists reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell.Penelope J. Hallett, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS) who works at McLean with Isacson, is the first author on the paper.Such positive results were only seen in one animal because the experimental protocols evolved and were improved over time. Originally, the experiments were conducted using neurons derived from embryonic stem cells, which required using immunosuppressive drugs in the animals, and did not produce results that were as positive.The current experiments used induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, which use a patient’s own skin cells to create the stem cells and then the neurons, so the patient — or in this case, the primate — does not recognize the new dopamine-producing neurons as foreign and reject them.“It’s very difficult to get cell survival in primates,” said Isacson, who has been refining his experiments for more than 15 years. “This is a very high bar to clear.” Isacson is an HSCI principal faculty member, an HMS professor of neurology, and director of the Center for Neuroregeneration Research/ Neuroregeneration Laboratories at McLean.Isacson said the conclusion of this experiment marks “the first time that an animal has recovered to the same activity level he had before.” He noted that the animal was “able to move as fast around its home cage” as an animal without Parkinson’s, and had normal agility, though individual motions were still slowed by the disease.In this latest experiment, the neurons were implanted into only one side of the animals’ brains, and the improvements were seen on the opposite side, as would be expected.Parkinson’s, which may affect as many as 1 million Americans, is caused by a depletion of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. The disease causes a range of symptoms, from mild tremors to dementia and death, and can include slowed movements, muscle rigidity, tremors, changes in speech, loss of autonomic movement, and related issues. Current treatments include medications, electrical implants in the brain, and, in a limited number of cases, fetal neuron transplants.Isacson stressed that there are a number of technical hurdles to be cleared before his team will be ready for its first clinical trial. He said he and Kevin Eggan, another HSCI principal faculty member working on neurological diseases, as well as other Harvard clinicians “will have to establish a protocol we believe will be safe and desirable from a clinical standpoint.”“Conservatively, I’d say we’re three years” from requesting the go-ahead from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a Phase 1 clinical trial, Isacson said.“Our next year will be dedicated to making cells” free of contaminants, creating a matrix on which to grow cells that “is free of any animal proteins,” and establishing a cell-freezing protocol, which will be necessary for transporting and storing the cells. Additionally, he said, the researchers need to perfect cell-sorting technology.The current experiments were funded by HSCI and the Harvard Miller Consortium.last_img read more

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The story of a museum and of America

first_img Light, camera, access These became his tenets when he left the Chicago Historical Society, where he had been president, for the NMAAHC in 2005. Considering that he had only one employee, no funding, no collection, and — at first — no key for his office, the realization of the museum was far from a given. There wasn’t even a site yet, even though the museum had been established by an act of Congress in 2003. Bunch’s first fight was to get what would become its eventual location — the last major spot on the National Mall — but other options, farther away, were also being considered by Congress, which had the final say.While waiting for the decision, he prepared two speeches. One, to be given if the museum was denied the Mall site, would announce his resignation. “I cannot be there when you disrespect the African American community,” he planned to say. Fortunately, that speech wasn’t necessary. “Once we got land on the Mall, I knew we would pull it off.”That was only the first challenge. The original design called for a single floor of historical galleries. When that was expanded to three tiered floors, plans for the foundation needed to be changed. “We had to go down 80 feet, and we had water at eight feet,” he recalled. “I thought the project was dead. I’d be known as the man who built the largest swimming pool on the National Mall.”In desperation, he reached out to engineers from the Netherlands, which has long dealt with water-table issues. To his relief, “they found a way to get rid of the water.” Laughing about it with Gates, Bunch remarked, “That was a time I despaired. I really thought it wouldn’t work.”Fund-raising and building the collection itself brought their own stories; the museum now houses nearly 40,000 objects. Pressed, Bunch acknowledged two as his favorites. These include relics of the Portuguese slave ship São José, which include shackles, a visceral evocation of slavery. Writing black lives Du Bois Medal recipients celebrate black excellence and opportunity Persistence, courage take the dais The other is the coffin of Emmett Till, donated by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, after the 14-year-old lynching victim was disinterred and reburied. Meeting with Mobley not long before her death in 2003, Bunch said she told him that “for 50 years she carried the burden of Emmet Till, and now it was my turn.”At that point, he said, “I realized that the story wasn’t Emmet; it was Mamie. It was the courage of this woman to use the most painful moment of her life to reinvigorate the Civil Rights movement.”Visiting that display, he recalled, became his morning ritual, and it still inspires him in his role overseeing the entire Smithsonian Institution. “There is no way you can tell this story without shining a light on the dark corners.”The livestream will remain on the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture (HMSC) Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/harvardmuseumsofscienceandcultureA recording of the program will also be available on the HMSC Lecture Videos page approximately three weeks after the lecture. https://hmsc.harvard.edu/lecture-videoscenter_img Brickson Diamond’s mission: To promote African American writers, producers, directors, and executives in the film and television industries Related The story of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is one of persistence, courage, and hope. In other words, as the museum’s founding director, Lonnie G. Bunch III, explained to a capacity crowd Wednesday evening at the Geological Lecture Hall, it is the story of America.“This is understanding America through an African American lens,” said Bunch, a 2019 W.E.B. Du Bois medal recipient. It is also a much more inclusive and complete vision of our nation’s story than had previously been presented at the other Smithsonian museums, like the National Museum of American History. “Part of changing the narrative is embracing much more of African American history,” he said.In conversation with Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Bunch, who this year became the 14th secretary of the Smithsonian, talked about the 90-year history of the project as well as his own role. The story is detailed in his new book, “A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump.”The incredibly popular museum, which has drawn more than 4 million visitors a year since its Sept. 24, 2016, opening, “has become a pilgrimage for generations to understand not only their own history but how history shaped prior generations,” said Bunch. Exploring that history, no matter how painful, is important, he said, noting that addressing topics such as lynching are crucial. The museum’s straightforward, nonjudgmental approach, he said, allows “people to be comfortable to be able to explore things that are often uncomfortable.”Before broaching the creation of the museum, the academics — old friends — discussed their personal journeys. Prompted by Gates, Bunch recalled the racist assumptions of his primarily white, New Jersey high school. “They told me I should work in a print shop; that was the best I could be.” Whenever he pointed out that both his parents worked for area schools, his teachers would assume they were janitors. “That must be nice,” they would say. “It’s a steady job.” They were, in fact, teachers and administrators.From his parents, he said, he learned two principles that carried him into his career as a historian and museum director: “How central education was to your future, and the notion that nothing should stand in your way.” “This is understanding America through an African American lens. Part of changing the narrative is embracing much more of African American history.” — Lonnie G. Bunch III In Radcliffe discussion, biographers reflect on their art last_img read more

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Panama and Colombia Cooperate to Control Airspace

first_imgBy Yolima Dussán/Diálogo April 04, 2017 Colombia and Panama signed in 2012 a bi-national accord to develop a joint interdiction and interception strategy to prevent the use of their airspace for illicit trafficking of arms and drugs. Those were difficult times. Since the beginning of the 2000s, both nations had faced an onslaught from criminal groups transporting illicit drugs by the ton. In 2003 alone, the Colombian Air Force (FAC, per its Spanish acronym) detected 635 illegal flights in the two countries’ airspace. Today, five years after formalizing their accord, that number has dropped by 99 percent, a stunning figure that reflects the successful outcome of the bi-national strategy. That strategy has enabled them to ratify mechanisms for transferring information for combating criminal organizations, leverage electronic intelligence, and reinforce the legislation on which the accord is based. Anti-crime strategies Driving these results are policies the Colombian and Panamanian governments adopted that allow for tough, coordinated action in these control operations. “We’ve managed to neutralize the threats in our airspace to the point that criminals have had to change their modus operandi,” Colonel Iván Darío Bocanegra, director of FAC Air Defense, told Diálogo. “Now we are cracking down on other forms of drug trafficking but we have virtually undisputed control over the airspace. So far this year, we have identified just a single illegal flight at the border with Panama.” The strategy is effective and involves a monumental joint effort between several Colombian and Panamanian agencies, as well as the steadfast support of the U.S. government. To clamp down on drug trafficking on its borders, Colombia has signed bilateral accords with several countries. “Memoranda of understanding, known as Current Operation Procedures (POV, per their Spanish acronym), were drafted to make these cooperation strategies possible. They allow us to set up mechanisms and protocols for quickly exchanging information in real time so we can keep the illegal transit of aircraft in check,” Col. Bocanegra remarked. Colombia has established POVs with nine countries, including Brazil and the United States. Communication, the cornerstone of bi-national strategies “This strategy of bi-national cooperation for control of our airspace is built on communication. The success of an operation depends on the act of transferring targets once they are detected and effectively transferring that information to the authorities in countries that partner with us on air interdiction and interception,” Col. Bocanegra said. “That is achieved through effective communication procedures that use modern radiotelephone equipment with set and verified frequencies, and with clear leadership guidelines.” Under its POV with Panama, the FAC can provide authorities in the neighboring country with information on flights identified as illegal by their systems, and it can scramble a chase up to the location where Panama’s Air-Naval Service will take over the operation and prevent the flight from continuing. “This strategy with Panama allows us to work more effectively because our aircraft have permission to enter their airspace in hot pursuit of a target, as part of a joint exercise with the Panamanian security services,” Col. Bocanegra added. Traffickers moved from air to land and sea With such effective results neutralizing illegal flights, the air control strategy between Colombia and Panama has now reached a turning point. “As we tweak our operational procedures, criminal groups also change their modus operandi,” Lieutenant Colonel Andrés Niño, deputy director of FAC Air Defense Operations, told Diálogo, regarding this new stage of development in the POV with Panama. “We are now facing an increasing number of speedboats heading out from Colombia’s coasts and stopping off in Panamanian villages in order to distribute the drugs they are transporting. Since they can no longer operate by air, they are now trying to move by land and sea, using countless small and varied routes.” Cracking down on the increasing number of illegal watercraft is not the FAC’s bailiwick. That task falls to the Colombian Navy. Their experience, well-suited equipment, and partnership with the United States make the FAC’s involvement in the Navy’s operations vitally useful. For that reason, both service branches have signed an agreement known as Support to Suppress Illicit Trafficking by Sea, which works in tandem with the joint strategy with Panama for detecting boats departing from Colombian shores. It is this state of affairs that has led to the need to develop new surveillance and enforcement protocols. PANCOL II, for updating procedures With the goal of combating the new methods used by organized crime on the border with Panama, the bi-national PANCOL-II exercise will be held from April 17th to 21st. The aim of the exercise is to refine control procedures designed to ensure the exchange of information needed for successfully interdicting targets by air or at sea. The drill will take place in Rionegro, Antioquia department, located in northwestern Colombia. “This type of exercise is very important because it is a chance to practice actions taken in real-world operations in order to test the effectiveness of our communication channels with the Panamanian authorities,” Col. Bocanegra remarked. Nearly 100 people will participate in PANCOL-II at the bases where the exercises are conducted and also at forward operating bases on land. “It’s an air defense interaction involving Colombia and Panama,” Col. Niño reported. “All the details of working frequencies, aircraft flight altitudes, the procedure for handing over targets, and so on will be hammered out.” The future: Uniting the nations in the region “The political will of the Panamanian authorities to work jointly with us is rock solid. They are familiar with what it takes to work in a coordinated way. They have very good resources, with a modern fleet of helicopters and well-defined procedures,” Col. Bocanegra affirmed. These strategies are not the effort of a single nation or a single organization. It’s a joint, combined, interagency effort because drug trafficking is a transnational threat. Our vision for the future is to get our countries to unite — from Mexico all the way to Chile — to create a system or organization that will fight this scourge on a regional level and set out a common framework, with shared legislative ties among nations so the threats of transnational crime can be more effectively quashed,” he concluded.last_img read more

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Talk of the towns

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

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OffshoreEnergyToday.com brings livestream from Offshore Energy in Amsterdam

first_imgWith contributions from: Tuesday 10 October | 10.30 – 13.002 nations, 1 basin – same challenges. Optimizing value from the Southern North Sea 10.30 – 12.00 Open discussion12.30 – 13.00 “ON AIR” talk-show with Maarten Bouwhuis, BNR Nieuwsradio Stijn van den Heuvel, Director Public & Regulatory Affairs, NUON and Board Member, NVDE, Dutch Association of Sustainable EnergyMarjolijn Vencken, Senior Advisor, Shell / Transitie CoalitieJelte Bosma, Partner, DARELEwald Breunesse, Manager Energy Transition, Shell With contributions from:Fraser Weir, North Sea Director, Centrica E&P and Chair of the Southern North Sea Rejuvenation SIGKathy Heller, Development Manager Southern North Sea, NAMJulian Manning, Director – Europe Africa Russia Caspian, Process and Pipeline Services, Baker HughesSimon Gray, CEO, East of England Energy GroupRoger Esson, Chief Executive, Decom North SeaRob Hastings, CEO, Indigo Power With contributions from: Wednesday 11 October | 10.30 – 13.00Deep dive into digitalization 14.00 – 15.30 Open discussion16.00 – 16.30 “ON AIR” talk-show with Maarten Bouwhuis, BNR Nieuwsradio Tuesday 10 October | 14.00 – 16.30Reshaping North Sea energy infrastructurecenter_img 14.00 – 15.30 Open discussion16.00 – 16.30 “ON AIR” talk-show with Maarten Bouwhuis, BNR Nieuwsradio Wednesday 11 October | 14.00 – 16.30Capitalizing on decarbonization Unni Ulland, Chief Information Officer, ENGIE E&PBarthold Schroot, Program Lead Advice and Innovation, EBNThomas Friedman, Head of Project Development and Programs, Siemens AGRob van der Spek, Director of Knowledge Management, DNV GL Oil & GasJoost Lasschuit, Managing Director, Rolloos 10.30 – 12.00 Open discussion12.30 – 13.00 “ON AIR” talk-show with Maarten Bouwhuis, BNR Nieuwsradio Ante Frens, Development and Technical Manager, NAMRené Peters, Director Gas Technology, TNOArnold Groot, General Manager, Circular EnergyIan Fozdar, Decommissioning Infrastructure Manager, OGAJoris Koornneef, Strategy Consultant – Sustainable Geo Energy, TNO The Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference in Amsterdam will again host Community Square at the exhibition floor of the Amsterdam RAI next week.Community Square – this year at the front of Hall 2 – will offer an exciting free to attend program of ON AIR talk-shows and Knowledge Café meetings on industry transformation.As before, Offshore Energy Today will be there and will be recording and live streaming the talk shows through our website, and through social media channels.A wide range of stakeholders of E&P companies and utilities, supply chain companies, NGOs, academia and government will share and discuss new ideas and solutions on energy transition, the future of the North Sea and new forms of collaboration transforming our industry and our economy.Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect on Tuesday and Wednesday. More details will be shared next week, ahead of the sessions on Community Square. For more details on the full program of Community Square, follow the link https://bit.ly/2wC1cialast_img read more

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Exploiting nature ‘drives outbreaks of new diseases’

first_imgThere are strongindications of a wildlife source and a link to trade. “As natural habitatis diminished, wildlife come into closer contact with people,” ChristineJohnson of the University of California, Davis, US, told BBC News. Wild animals at riskof extinction due to human exploitation were found to carry over twice as manyviruses that can cause human disease as threatened species listed for otherreasons. The same was true for threatened species at risk due to loss ofhabitat. Coronavirus isthought to have originated in bats, with other wild animals, possibly pangolins, playing a role intransmission to humans. Seized ivory in Malaysia waiting to be destroyed. GETTY IMAGES “Disease emergencethat occurs anywhere can affect us all and we need to all understand the impactwe are having when we interact with wildlife, realize that disease emergence isan environmental issue, and find more sustainable ways to co-exist.” Wild animals on the edge of extinction are few in number and generally pose alow risk of passing on infectious diseases, Johnson said, except where humanexploitation and habitat loss puts them in close contact with humans. Scientists have longdrawn attention to human diseases that have originated in animals, includingSARS, MERS and Ebola. In the wake of coronavirus, there is growing awarenessthat human health is linked both with animal health and the health of theplanet as a whole. In the latest study,researchers trawled scientific papers for reports of diseases that have crossedfrom animals to humans, then combined this data with information on extinctionrisk compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “Exploitation ofwildlife, which has caused once abundant wildlife to decline in numbers,through hunting and trading in wildlife, have endangered species survival andalso put humans at risk of emerging infectious disease,” she said. Close contact withwild animals through hunting, trade or habitat loss puts the world at increasedrisk of outbreaks of new diseases, said scientists. NEW evidence hasemerged of a link between human exploitation of nature and pandemics. A wide range of organizations are calling for curbs on wild animal tradeto reduce risks to human health. Johnsonsaid wild animals sold in busy markets where animals and people mix present anopportunity for diseases to jump between species that would normally never cometogether in the natural world. “Wildlife also shifttheir distributions to accommodate anthropogenic activities and modification ofthe natural landscape. This has hastened disease emergence from wildlife, whichput us at risk of pandemics because we are all globally connected throughtravel and trade.” The research ispublished in the journal Royal Society Proceedings B.(BBC)last_img read more

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Cricket News IPL 2019: Sunrisers Hyderabad aim to overcome knock-out blues

first_imgSunrisers Hyderabad won the 2016 IPL title by beating RCB.David Warner missed the 2018 edition of the IPL due to the ball-tampering scandal.Sunrisers Hyderabad lost in the 2018 final to Chennai Super Kings. For all the Latest Sports News News, Cricket News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps. New Delhi: Sunrisers Hyderabad – a team that shows plenty of brilliance in the league stages only to fritter their advantage in the knock-out stages. The team, which is considered as the best bowling unit in the IPL, has had their moments but only one title in the last six editions is not an impressive resume for a team that has the potential to match the capabilities of top sides like Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders. Sunrisers did not have too much to ponder in the 2018 auction where they bought just three players in Martin Guptill, Jonny Bairstow and Wriddhiman Saha. However, the squad will see a welcome boost in David Warner, who missed the 2018 edition due to the ball-tampering scandal in the Newlands Test against South Africa.Warner’s addition to the side not only gives them power at the top but it also gives them a solid leadership potential, provided Sunrisers Hyderabad choose Warner. With Shikhar Dhawan going to the Delhi Capitals, Sunrisers need some solidity in their batting. The likes of Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar give them depth along with Wriddhiman Saha. highlights If Sunrisers Hyderabad need to go the distance in the IPL, then they will have to bank on their bowlers. In the previous edition, the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Siddarth Kaul efficiently controlled the flow of runs in the death overs. The bowling though, is boosted by Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan, who is without doubt one of the best spinners in the Twenty20 format. His brilliance in the middle overs and also at the death makes him a valuable asset. It is this bowling composition which makes Sunrisers Hyderabad potent as compared to the other teams.Sunrisers Hyderabad squadMartin Guptill, Yusuf Pathan, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Sandeep Sharma, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Mohammad Nabi, T Natarajan, Kane Williamson, Abhishek Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, David Warner, Vijay Shankar, Khaleel Ahmed, Manish Pandey, Billy Stanlake, Deepak Hooda, Basil Thampi, Ricky Bhui, Sreevats Goswami (wk)Backroom staffHead coach: Tom MoodyMentor: VVS LaxmanBowling coach: Muttiah MuralitharanAssistant coach: Simon HelmotIndian players to watch out forManish Pandey: The right-hander has not played an ODI for India since September 2018 in the Asia Cup. Even in the Twenty20 against West Indies in October, he did not impress. A solid performance in the middle order in this edition could potentially see him go to England for the World Cup as the back-up to India’s No.4 conundrum.Siddarth Kaul: The Punjab pacer is an effective option in the death. In the tour of England, Kaul did not impress much but he can be a wonderful asset in the death in the company of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Although the Indian bowling composition is settled for the World Cup, a good performance might boost his inclusion.International players to watch out forDavid Warner: He missed the 2018 IPL due to the sandpapergate scandal and now he is back. The Australian’s addition is a welcome boost to their batting fortunes. In addition to his leadership skills, Sunrisers will be banking on him to repeat his 2016 heroics.Martin Guptill: For most editions of the IPL, the New Zealand opener has been ignored during the auctions only to be included as a replacement for a player who is injured. A good performance in the IPL is the right boost for this aggressive player and he could be in the right frame of mind heading into the World Cup for New Zealand.  Past record2013: Fourth (Eliminator)2014: Sixth2015: Sixth2016: Champions2017: Fourth (Eliminator)2018: Finallast_img read more

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Dornsife hosts presidential election conference

first_imgDornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences hosted the “2016 Presidential Election Conference” on Tuesday, bringing notable strategists, political consultants, journalists and professors to campus to sum up and debate the outcomes of the 2016 presidential election. The last panel of the conference featured Joel Benenson, a pollster for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign strategist in the 2016 race; Alex Castellanos, a political consultant for President-elect Donald J. Trump; Mike Murphy, a Republican political consultant for Jeb Bush’s campaign; Bill Carrick, a political consultant and strategist; and professors of political science and communication Diana Mutz and Lynn Vavreck, who teach at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles, respectively.Discussion focused on the strengths and flaws of the candidates and their campaigns, as well as concerns regarding the future of political parties, Congress and the presidency as a whole.“People tend to vote for what they perceive they did not get the last time because every four years they get to pick something,” Murphy said. “The biggest driver is partisanship; most of the people who voted for Trump did so because he was the Republican.” Murphy said that they did the same for Clinton because she was a Democrat. He also said the divide between the politicians in Washington, D.C. and the people who felt that their wages were stagnating contributed to the election of Donald Trump.“A guy comes along who’s famous for being on television and getting stuff done. A guy who wrote a book called The Art of the Deal,” Murphy said. “A guy totally divorced from politics. President Obama was perceived as gridlocked, and by many voters [this was seen as a] weakness.”Benenson emphasized the flaws of both political parties and the need to modernize the system post-election through taking into account the needs of the citizens, strengthening democracy and the economy.“There was something very different at work in this election. Democrats, as a party, even though we won the popular vote six out of seven times, can’t just be a presidential party,” Benenson said. “We have to do more work in some states where we actually have a much better message for economically disadvantaged people, including white voters and voters of color.”Benenson added that the Republican party was also going to be tested, especially with a future Trump presidency and Republican-majority House of Representatives and Senate.“They are going to be under a microscope. [Trump’s] going to have to show leadership in a way he has not done so at all in his campaign,” Benenson said. “He needs to speak out earlier and sooner.”Castellanos discussed the lack of civilian trust in the government. “What are people actually dissatisfied with? Maybe it’s the product they’re buying with their votes that’s not working to the degree that they have paid for and invested in,” Castellanos said. “What if big structures can’t keep up with a dynamic and changing society, and what if we need others tools in our toolbox to govern ourselves other than the big factory in Washington?”Mutz echoed Castellanos’ sentiments, citing evidence from her population-based survey experiments.“What people are responding to is not political differences, issue differences, ideological differences; what they’re responding to is the tone,” Mutz said. “They are mad that nothing is coming out of Washington because nobody can agree on anything.”last_img read more

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DPS Chief John Thomas wanted to change the police, so he joined them

first_imgPhoto from USC NewsJohn Thomas’s office captures every significant experience in his life. His shelf teems with the awards and honors he earned as a police officer. A framed photo of him shaking hands with former president Barack Obama hangs near the door. The walls are decorated with black-and-white photos of Los Angeles Police Department figures, reflecting his passion for history.Thomas is the chief of the Department of Public Safety, where he is responsible for overseeing more than 300 personnel who work 365 days a year. Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, he was no stranger to USC when he joined DPS back in October 2006. Prior to that, he served in the LAPD for 21 years.He considered attending law school after college, but felt compelled to join the LAPD because he believed it was the best way to make a tangible, everyday difference in people’s lives. He said that his own negative encounters with the police also contributed to his desire to improve the dynamics of police interactions with members of minority groups.“I used to get stopped commuting for school between Westwood and South Central,” Thomas said. “I remember clearly an officer telling me that I had no business being anywhere west of La Cienega.”During his time with the LAPD, Thomas was a part of the department’s Gang Enforcement Detail in South Los Angeles, and completed undercover narcotics enforcement assignments. He was tasked with infiltrating drug rings, purchasing narcotics and organizing search warrants. One of the locations he monitored in East Los Angeles was a hub for heroin, which he said exposed him to how deeply crime could damage communities.“The worst thing I saw was the impact [of drug crimes] on kids,” Thomas said. “The kids would have to walk to school surrounded by heroin needles.”Thomas thought that universities could be doing more to address the social issues linked to crime and help at-risk youths by providing them with opportunities and resources. To this end, Thomas retired from the LAPD as a lieutenant and decided to pursue a career in campus policing. After retiring, he became the deputy chief of police for the University of the District of Columbia for a year before moving back to Los Angeles He said that his role with DPS is very different from his previous role with the LAPD.“We’re constantly educating the transitory student population,” Thomas said. “I think we do more educating than enforcing.”   However, for Thomas, the job of DPS chief comes with dark and difficult moments. In recent years, certain crimes — such as the 2014 murder of Chinese graduate student Xinran Ji — have caused USC’s administration to augment security measures around campus. Thomas said he takes any tragedy that happens personally, and says he’ll never forget when he had to speak with Ji’s parents.“No parent sends their kid to any university and expects that. Instead of coming to a graduation, they’ll be coming to make funeral arrangements and claim the body,” Thomas said.After that incident, Thomas realized that DPS shouldn’t practice a “one size fits all” approach to educating students about crime. He understood that the department should account for differences in students’ cultures and mindsets. Thomas emphasized that this mentality is especially important now, amid tension around President Donald Trump’s new administration. Thomas’ priority is to ensure that each individual student feels safe and that their constitutional rights are being protected.Going forward, Thomas’ goal is for USC to be recognized as the safest urban campus in America. He believes the best way to achieve this is by improving relationships between DPS and USC students, DPS and the local community and USC students and the local community. He is a big proponent of programs like the Neighborhood Academic Initiative and the DPS Cadet Program because he believes that any area’s level of safety depends on its inhabitants having a good quality of life.“We need to make sure that everybody who lives around USC feels like they have a stake in USC — that there’s something special about being part of this campus community,” Thomas said.last_img read more

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Nobel laureate visits Dornsife’s speaker series

first_imgNobel laureate Vernon Smith, commenting on society’s most basic structural elements, said that “the rules of property and modern conventions have ancient origins.” Commerce has existed since prehistoric times, and even primitive tribes increased their economic wealth through methods like specialization.Smith, a professor of economics and law at Chapman University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, gave a lecture to students and faculty on Monday at the University Club. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and has taught at several prominent universities, including Stanford University, Brown University and California Institute of Technology.Smith’s discussion centered on Adam Smith’s theory of moral sentiments as an explanation for various game theory models that have confounded economists since the 1990s. Hosted by the USC Dornsife Institute for New Economic Thinking, the talk is the first in this semester’s series.Smith began by exploring the underpinnings of the Enlightenment, noting that prominent economist Adam Smith may have been profoundly influenced by Isaac Newton’s theories.“I like to think of people in the Scottish Enlightenment as applying Newtonian thinking to social, political and economic life,” Smith said, relating Adam Smith’s theory of the “invisible hand” to Newton’s theory of the invisible force of gravity.“There are all kinds of order out there in our social, political and economic life. Where does this order come from?” Smith said. “Part of it is that we’re influenced by things that we’re not aware of. We learn things without even realizing we are.”He then explored several fundamental ideas behind the theory of moral sentiment, including that humans may not be completely rational actors and are instead prone to altruistic behavior. Smith showed this by examining the results of his tests on game theory.Smith’s lecture ultimately explained an alternative way of viewing economic phenomena, saying that modern economists tend to explain the results of their studies by superficially altering predictive economic functions. His theory, however, harkens back to Adam Smith’s 18th century thesis, prescribing a deeper cause as the root of our capacity for altruistic actions.Viren Rupani, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said that attending these events gives him the opportunity to hear about cutting-edge economic theories.“I’ve always been really fascinated by economics,” Rupani said. “Usually in class you get to learn about classical textbook theories, but when you come to lectures like these you get to see what new developments are happening in the field and learn new insights.”Rupani also commented on how basic structures of human interaction can be applied to economics through Smith’s theory.“I found the synthesis between Adam Smith’s theory of moral sentiment and the basis for human interaction to be very interesting in how they potentially relate to the realm of economics,” Rupani said. “You can synthesize these fields and see how they come together to provide a much more comprehensive view of how human interaction takes place in the marketplace.”last_img read more

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