Vawdon Cup – Round 1 Wrap

first_img2007 Vawdon Cup winners, the Canterbury Bulldogs, claimed the scalp of Penrith in the opening round of the Men’s Premier League with a 8 – 6 victory. Easts put eleven past Manly with Matt Garthon being the recipient on four occasions. Touchdowns to Jamie Stowe and Dean Wilbow was not enough for Parramatta with the Sharkies winning by one. Dylan Hennessey got off to a stellar start to the season with a hat-trick enabling his Hornsby Lions to half the points on offer against Wests.In the Women’s Premier League, Wests got their campaign off to a winning start over Wollongong. Manly got up by one over Cronulla while Easts defeated the 2007 State Cup Champs, Canterbury, 3 – 1. Wests had a win over Penrith in the newly created Mixed Premier League division. Menai and Parramatta could not be separated with a 8 touchdowns apiece. The Coasties threw the gauntlet down to the rest of the competition with a 10 – 1 victory over the Easts Roosters. The Berryman boys proved valuable additions to the Dolphins line-up with three touchdowns between them.Men’s Premier League ResultsCronulla Sharks – 3 (Mitchell Brown 2, Rhys Bevan) defeated Parramatta Eels – 2 (Jamie Stowe, Dean Wilbow)Wests Magpies – 6 (Robert Nakhla 2, Edwin Farrah, Michael Moussa, Cameron Nicholls, Adrian Tan) drew with Hornsby Lions – 6 (Dylan Hennessey 3, Michael Abood, Heath Cooper, Jonathan Palau)Easts Roosters – 11 (Matt Garthon 4, Michael Stone 3, Christian Frost, Jonathan Rooke, Hayden Ruawai, Elijah Van Der Kwast) defeated Manly Sea Eagles – 5 (Jono Bailey, Joe Biskup, Sion Cousins, Mark Leonard, Andrew Windsor)Canterbury Bulldogs – 8 (Joel Willoughby 3, Matt Prowse 2, Stuart Brierty, Mark Heiss, Stephen Roberts) defeated Penrith Panthers – 6 (Dean McKechine 2, Nathan Byrnes, Grant Harris, Shane Lee, Ben Moylan)Women’s Premier League ResultsWests Magpies – 7 (Bonjani Mali 2, Nicky Albery, Amanda Dodson, Stacey Lapham, Tara Mohi, Tini Mohi) defeated Wollongong Devils – 3 (Kylie Evans, Stephanie Jackson, Cara Zaremski)Manly Sea Eagles – 3 (Te Aroha Paki, Rebecca Laing, Phillipa Robinson) defeated Cronulla Sharks – 2 (Brandi Elliot, Justine Johnston)Easts Roosters – 3 (Alison Bradley, Peta O’Connor, Maribel Ziade) defeated Canterbury Bulldogs – 1 (Jennifer Winchester)Mixed Premier League ResultsParramatta Eels – 8 (Ricky Hetherington, Mark Kovacic, Liam Simbolon, 5 scoreres not listed) drew with Menai Bulls – 8 (Matthew Fairbirne, Mark Lancaster, Michelle Lane, Christopher Suter. 4 scoreres not listed)Wests Magpies – 8 (Teava Terangi 3, Kate Hilyard, 4 scorers not listed) defeated Penrith Panthers – 3 (Rebecca Jones, Kyle Joyce, 1 scorer not listed)Central Coast Dolphins – 10 (Peter Sanders 4, Putatau Berryman 2, Nash Beeby, Harry Berryman, Kimberly Irwin, Kate Podryhula) defeated Easts Roosters – 1 (Mika Tagelagi)The remaining divisions (Men’s Division 1, Women’s Division 1, Mixed Division 1, Men’s Division 2, Women’s Division 2, Men’s Senior, and Men’s Masters) commence this Friday, 18 July 2008.For more details, visit the NSWTA Vawdon Cup website – read more

9 days ago​Gilmour reveals Lampard advice before Chelsea debut

first_imgAbout the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your say ​Gilmour reveals Lampard advice before Chelsea debutby Ansser Sadiq9 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveBilly Gilmour has spoken about the advice that he received from Frank Lampard before making his Chelsea debut.The 18-year-old got his chance to shine with the senior side against Sheffield United in August. He came off the bench in the 2-2 draw.Gilmour has now revealed the words he exchanged with boss Lampard before the match.”The night before, the gaffer kept asking if my family were coming down and saying make sure they come,” the Scotland U21 international told reporters.”We were 2-0 up and I’m thinking ‘this could be good’, but it was 2-1 when I came on. “That shows you how much trust he has in the younger players to put you on in such a tight game.”It finished 2-2, which wasn’t the result I hoped for, but it made my dream come true of playing in the Premier League.” last_img read more

Elsipogtog regroups as chief ponders new antifracking leadership

first_img(Route 134 was again reduced to one lane Monday evening. APTN/Photo)By Jorge Barrera APTN National News ELSIPOGTOG FIRST NATION–The Mi’kmaq-led opposition to shale gas exploration in New Brunswick continued to regroup Monday, moving into a new phase which could also bring new leadership to the ongoing struggle.The movement was buoyed Monday afternoon after a Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled against a Houston-based energy company that was seeking an indefinite injunction against an encampment along Route 134 in Rexton, NB.The judge said the injunction was no longer needed because trucks belonging to SWN Resources Canada had been freed following an RCMP raid on the encampment Thursday.The encampment had been blocking the company’s trucks in a compound. The RCMP acted last Thursday, one day before an interim injunction was set to expire, sweeping onto the site with dogs and camouflaged tactical units, arresting 40 people and seizing three rifles, ammunition and crude explosive devices.At a press conference Monday morning, Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock said he is planning on appointing new leadership for the band’s role in the shale gas exploration opposition. Elsipogotog has been at the heart of the protest movement which has been raging since the summer.“I have three people in mind right now, but we have yet to sit down and discuss,” said Sock. “I do have a spiritual advisor that I turn to and he will be part of the process.”While Sock wouldn’t give details about the “logistics” of the next phase, it has emerged that there are discussions underway to move the encampment from its current location on Route 134 to a previous base within Elsipogtog’s territory used this past summer which sits just off Hwy 116.“We are planning on going to the 116 where the sacred fire was before and do our healing there and get ready for the next round,” said Elsipogtog’s War Chief John Levi.Levi is not connected to the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society.Levi said there is no longer any point to the Route 134 encampment after the raid freed the exploration trucks it was blocking.“There is no sense to being on the side of the road, it’s only a danger for our people,” said Levi.Levi was in talks with the RCMP to remove the burned-out remains of several RCMP vehicles that were torched in the aftermath of Thursday’s raid. He wanted the RCMP to ground their surveillance plane, which had been circling the community, before releasing the vehicles.On Sunday night, Sock and three friends removed the charred remains using three shovels, a half-ton truck and a local towing company. Sock said an RCMP sergeant was also involved in the removal.“I took it on my own personally, just being a good neighbour to the people of Rexton, NB.,” said Sock.The RCMP plane, which had been circling the area relentlessly, returned Monday.The Mi’kmaq Warrior Society was essentially in charge of the camp at the time of the raid. It remained unclear what role the society will play once new leadership is appointed.Mi’kmaq Warrior War Chief “Seven,” who was arrested during the raid but has since been freed, said he had no comment and would wait to hear more information.The Warrior Society has widespread support within Elsipogtog. Several of their key players remained in jail awaiting bail hearings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.Some at the site said they do not want to move the encampment from Route 134.Louis Jerome, from Gesgapegiag First Nation in Quebec, said the current encampment is better strategically because it sits near Hwy 11 which passes over Route 134. The encampment is about 15 kilometres northeast of Elsipogtog and 80 km north of Moncton.Over 100 Mi’kmaq and supporters blocked Hwy 11 for about an hour Saturday. Hwy 11 is one of the main highways in the province, running from Moncton north to Bathurst.“We are going to stay here,” said Jerome. “This is a place where we can battle…We can see traffic, what is going through.”Jerome said the plan is to move the encampment a few metres east from the current site to a field on an adjacent road where a teepee currently sits.Route 134 was again reduced to one lane by the Mi’kmaq Monday evening.Others said it didn’t matter where the camp was, as long as people were unified. Hubert Francis, from Elsipogtog, said confusion abounded following the raid.“I am hearing three or four different stories, from three or four different sources,” said Francis. “From day one there has been a lot of miscommunication…We really don’t have a direction on where we are going with this.”While Sock and the grassroots continue to sort out next steps on the ground, the Elsipogtog chief also has to prepare to continue talks with the provincial government.“I don’t think this is any longer between Elsipogtog and SWN. This is between Elsipogtog and the province,” said Sock. “That is where the battle is.”Sock met with New Brunswick Premier David Alward Friday and, while the two had been making progress before the raid, Thursday’s events changed the landscape.“When you have two opposing ideas, you just butt heads,” said Sock. “Right now we just don’t see eye to eye.”Sock said Elsipogtog doesn’t want shale gas exploration while the province sees it as a “money maker.” The chief said the Mi’kmaq see no benefit to the province developing shale gas deposits through fracking, or hydraulic fracturing.“We don’t want to be the ones at the end of the day, 50 or 60 years down the road, which is the average life span of a shale gas well, to be stuck with thousands of wells,” said Sock. “The province will have made their money and we are stuck with the refuse, the garbage.” read more

AsiaSat 7 the Hong Kongbased satellite operator

first_imgAsiaSat 7, the Hong Kong-based satellite operator’s latest satellite, is scheduled for launch on November 26 onboard an ILS Proton Breeze M vehicle from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.AsiaSat 7, with 28 C-band and 17 Ku-band transponders, will replace the AsiaSat 3S satellite at 105.5° East, and will deliver C-band services over the Middle East and central Asia as well as Australasia, with Ku-band coverage over East Asia and South Asia, as well as via a steerable beam.last_img

German cable operator Primacoms partent company M

first_imgGerman cable operator Primacom’s partent company Medfort has appointed Lutz Freitag, the president of housing group association Immobilien-Spitzenverbandes GdW to its board. Medfort chairman Harald Stöber said that Freitag’s experience in the housing industry made him an ideal addition to the board.Freitag said that Primacom had overcome earlier challenges and emerged as a provider of attractive and affordable products with a modern network. He said he wanted to support and strengthen the operator’s role as a reliable partner for the German housing industry.last_img read more

One third of all TV channels and videoondemand s

first_imgOne third of all TV channels and video-on-demand services in the EU specifically target foreign markets, according to a report by the European Audiovisual Observatory.According to the report, the relevant services belonged to 44 parent companies, 26 of which were of European origin, 15 of US origin, and three of ‘other’ origin.According to the European Audiovisual Observatory, the market power of these channels is significant in a number of cases. In seven European countries ­­– Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden, the French Community of Belgium and Denmark, the French-speaking part of Switzerland and Norway – the cumulated audience market share for targeted TV services was greater than 20% of the overall audience market share.The UK is by far the leading European hub for linear and on-demand audiovisual services targeting foreign markets. Other major hubs for both types of services include the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.The UK is home to 758 TV channels primarily targeting other markets, compared with 91 in the Czech Republic, the second largest source.The UK also houses 152 on-demand services primarily targeting other markets, compared with 64 in the Netherlands, the number two provider, and 30 in Ireland.The EU was home to 4,063 TV services and 2,207 VOD services, including catch-up services, last year. Half of these were concentrated in the UK, France and Germany. About one in 10 services was a public broadcast service, and about a third of services were in the HD format.Sports was the leading channel genre, accounting for 15% of services, followed by entertainment, accounting for 13% and film, accounting for 9%. Kids, documentary and generalist channels accounted for 7% of the total each.Among on-demand services, 17% were generalist; 17% were for film; 11% were kids; 9% documentary; 7% film and TV fiction; 7% entertainment; and 6% sport.One fifth of television services established in the EU were accessible via digital terrestrial television, and the rest via cable, satellite, or internet protocol television. The majority of television channels were pay and/or premium services while 30% were available free-to-air.Some 77% on-demand audiovisual services based in the EU were accessible via online access only, followed by access through set-top boxes at 14% and access through set-top boxes complemented by OTT applications, accounting for 9%.Catch-up TV and free-on-demand accounted for 71% of the total number of on-demand services.last_img read more

The launch of Netflix and the subsequent announcem

first_imgThe launch of Netflix and the subsequent announcement by BSkyB that it would roll out its own web-only subscription offering have thrown over-the-top services into the spotlight, especially in the UK. These services, along with so-called connected TVs from the likes of Samsung and Sony, and the forthcoming launch of YouView, could profoundly effect the way we consume video in the future. The impact is being felt across Europe, with regional and pan-regional players launching various forms of OTT.On the face of it, the various platforms offer similar services – movies and TV shows to connected devices – but business models, user experience and content deals vary widely. In some ways, OTT operators are fumbling around in the dark, hoping that their branding, content offerings and pricing models will win out. Some will fail, but for the winners, the prize could be substantial.The pay TV operatorIn light of the proliferation of OTT services in the UK, and in the case of Netflix and Lovefilm, backed by substantial marketing budgets, it is perhaps of little surprise that Sky is hitting back with an OTT service of its own. Whether it’s an offensive or defensive move is unclear, but the timing is notable.Sky has offered a form of OTT for some time, via its Sky Anytime online platform, which last year evolved into Sky Go, a service offering a number of premium channels and on-demand content on various devices including tablets, smart phones and games consoles. The difference, and perhaps game changing feature, of the yet-to-be-named platform is that it is being made available to people who don’t take a Sky subscription.“We’ve seen a rapid proliferation of internet connected devices and increasing demand from consumers to access video on multiple-screens, particularly through our own Sky Go service,” says Stephen van Rooyen, managing director of Sky’s sales and marketing group. “To build on our existing expertise and investments in delivering TV online and on mobile, we want to build out a new proposition which offers Sky content in new ways. The flexibility of internet delivery enables us to innovate in the way we package and price content, to appeal to those potential customers who may like the content that we offer, but who don’t currently subscribe to a pay TV service.”Sky’s announcement about the forthcoming OTT platform came as it revealed that the 2011 Christmas quarter was the first ever that it didn’t deliver the highest quarterly customer additions for the year – a sign that its subscription service is reaching saturation point. Sky will be hoping to use its new platform to mop up those customers taking free-to-air services who, while unprepared to commit to monthly payments for premium content, are prepared to pay for certain movies, TV shows and possible sports events.There is, of course, a risk for Sky that existing subscribers will churn in favour of a combination of free-to-air and occasional Sky OTT use, or that potential new subscribers will be swayed into choosing this option instead. But, according to Van Rooyen, the operator is placing an emphasis on offering as much choice to existing and potential customers as possible – a Sky customer taking any service is better than a non-customer. “By offering content in a more flexible and simple way, a distinct internet TV service enables us to offer more choice in how customers access Sky content,” says Van Rooyen. “Our new service will cater to those consumers who like what we offer but for one reason or another have decided to not to sign up to Sky for a satellite-based subscription.” By innovating in the way it packages its content, Sky is able to give those homes more choice over how they access pay TV, which will open up pay TV to even more UK homes, he says, pointing out that although more UK homes now take a pay TV service than don’t, there’s still significant headroom for growth, with 13 million homes relying only on free-to-air services. “As the content gap between pay TV and free TV continues to widen, we see internet TV as a complementary growth opportunity alongside satellite,” says Van Rooyen.While Sky will be competing with newer entrants to the market, it is confident that the brand recognition it has developed in the 20 years since launching, coupled with its strong content offering will bring success in the OTT space. While the platform will launch initially with movie content, it is likely to add TV series and sports. Van Rooyen says its experiences of innovating in platforms and services will also serve it well. “Sky’s success since launch has been founded on investment in content and innovation,” she says. “In practice this means making sure our customers enjoy access to high-quality, exclusive content first, supported by innovation that drives an even richer, more engaging experience. This is the same approach that we will take to our internet TV services, making sure that consumers understand the content and experience gaps between Sky and competitive services. Whether it’s having a better quality line-up of programmes or a better user experience, we’ll offer customers great value.”The CPE vendorOne of the new entrants to the UK’s OTT market is streaming device specialist Roku. The company launched in the US in 2008, offering access to then DVD rental company Netflix’s online service. It has since done numerous deals with content owners and has sold around 2.5 million devices.In the UK, Roku customers are not tied into a subscription; they need to buy one of the two available streaming devices – the XS at £99 (?118), which can be connected via Ethernet as well as WiFi and can display 1080p video, and the LT at £49, which displays 720p video.Rather than acquiring its own content like other OTT platforms, Roku acts as a host for any provider that meets its basic quality threshold to offer their own streaming services. While the company offers its own billing platform, once content owners have got carriage on Roku they can deliver and manage their own services, as is the case with Netflix.Roku expects its products to reach mass-market status in the UK, but, says Clive Hudson, Roku’s vice-president and general manager, it doesn’t intend to initiate a high profile marketing campaign until it has a wider range of content partners on board. “We’ll look to add more services and other film services as well. We will wait untill we have more content providers on board before we push out to other potential users,” he says. “Movies are what people are attracted to – and then in the UK you can add some of the catch-up services. We have seen a lot of interest in the Netflix launch.”While the UK version delivers fewer channels than Roku does in the US, it currently has deals in place with around 40 partners, including Netflix, Sony-backed Crackle and the BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service. Additional content comes from Euronews, CNBC, Yupp TV and Bollywood movies.According to Hudson, Roku aims to deliver a user experience that is simple to use. “You don’t need to be geeky to use it,” he says.Looking to expand the range of devices Roku can by used on, the company plans to introduce the USB streaming stick that it launched recently in the US in the UK market. The device can convert TVs that are compatible with the MHL standard into connected TVs, offering the same functionality as the set-top boxes. In the US, this product is bundled with branded TVs sold by the BestBuy retail chain.“People invest a lot of money in smart TVs but the actual screens have a five-year lifespan while the smart hub might have a much shorter replacement cycle,” says Hudson. The use of the stick can help future-proof the TV, he says.For now, Roku is not planning any further launches in Europe. “We will look at other markets but that’s not high on the agenda right now,” says Hudson. “Getting the UK right is the thing that’s important.”The pure OTT playerSweden-based Voddler launched in 2010 as an ad-funded streaming service. In the intervening two years, it has added a premium option enabling customers to skip the ads, launched transactional VOD, expanded onto smartphones and, most recently, began offering titles to download.The service is available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, where it has a cumulative total of over one million registered users, and in Spain. It offers content from 35 film studios, including five of the Hollywood majors, and numerous broadcasters.Scandinavia isn’t short of OTT services. Last year saw the launch of free and pay TV broadcaster Modern Times Group’s Viaplay service offering premium live sports coverage, thousands of blockbuster movies, TV series and catch-up services on various connected devices. But according to Anders Sjöman, Voddler’s vice-president of communications, Voddler is competing on technology and pricing models.“As with all good tech stories, it started with three guys in a basement,” he says, explaining how the platform was invented almost by accident as its founders were attempting to develop more efficient means of distributing large files over the internet. Today, Voddler uses a mix of content delivery networks and peer-to-peer technology to deliver very high-quality video in a cost-efficient manner. The network, called Voddler Net, is a decentralised distributed streaming system with centralised control. Voddler developed and patented  the network itself. It has taken elements from the ability of CDN networks to control content within the network, and from peer-to-peer networks where content is pushed as far out into the network as possible. “Pure peer-to-peer is chaos,” says Sjöman. “Anyone can put content into the network, and once it’s there you have no control over it. The difference with Voddler Net is that only we can publish content. We retain complete control over it and can decide how long it stays on the network.” New Voddler customers must download an app before they can begin using the service and agree to having some content stored on their hard drives. When another Voddler user streams a movie or TV show, rather than streaming from the company’s video servers, it comes from other Voddler users who have already seen it and still have some of it stored on their hard drive.“It means we can have a much higher bitrate, enabling us to deliver a better image than other services. We also save on delivery and storage costs,” Sjöman points out. “If a movie is well spread across the network, we might only have 3% of it being streamed from our servers, the rest comes from our users. It’s a perfect match of supply and demand – the more people watch a movie, the better the quality. On other platforms it would mean having to buy a new server.”Sjöman believes Voddler is also benefitting from the mix of pricing models it offers to customers, including TVOD and AVOD: “We are the only European-based video provider that is both your video store and your TV channel.” He says that about 60% of Voddler video views are for free content and 40% are for transactional content, although the revenue split is more evenly balanced. “There are fewer views with TVOD but a higher mark up. We’ll keep building both sides of the business,” he says. In terms of the free content, which comes with four to five minutes of pre-roll ads, Sjöman points out that the costs involved in using a third-party CDN to stream the ads rather than using its own network would cancel out the revenues generated from the ads.Voddler is actively seeking to expand outside Scandinavia. Most recently it launched in Spain, a decision that was made for business and practical reasons. From a technology point of view, it makes sense to distribute Voddler Net networks around Europe so they can be scaled more efficiently. “We wanted to launch in a large market but also in one that is far away from Sweden so we could install a network as far away as possible,” says Sjöman.There was also a business decision based, surprisingly, on the fact that Spain is one of the most prolific countries for illegal video file sharing, the idea being that there was a large potential market of customers who wanted to watch online services. “They are huge on piracy [in Spain] and that actually tells us that people have moved online to get their content. We believe that if you can find the right business model, the right pricing level and offer the right content, you can compete with pirates,” says Sjöman, adding that the country is not ruling out a launch in any European country. “It’s a question of timing because every time you go into a new market you have to renegotiate rights. But we are confident we can enter any market with a different proposition based on our technology and our quality.”The UGC serviceFor all the talk of OTT services transforming the TV landscape, some of the most successful and well-known internet services have made their name by offering video content for a number of years. Take Dailymotion, the second largest online video site globally with around 120 million monthly unique visitors. Founded in 2005, around the same time as YouTube, the video-sharing platform was instantly popular in its home market of France, before it started an international expansion programme.While sites including Dailymotion and YouTube are often associated with videos of people falling over, cute babies and grainy concert footage, they are starting to use their reach to deliver premium content. In the case of Dailymotion, the majority of content available on the site is user generated, which is offered for free but supported by ads with revenue shared between Dailymotion and whoever uploaded the video. However, Daniel Adams, Dailymotion’s head of international content says that as the site has developed, it has increasingly struck deals with premium content owners. “We have about five or six million premium content videos on the sight, working with broadcasters including Bloomberg, BBC World News and Euronews, for example. As well as news, music and sport do well,” he says.Taking things further, Dailymotion has begun to experiment with a pay model and has recently soft launched a TVOD service in France.Last year French telco and pay TV operator Orange acquired 49% of Dailymotion with the option to buy the remainder of the business in 2013. Orange has already offered some premium content on the platform, including the live streaming of a Coldplay concert that Orange had acquired the rights to. Adams believes more Orange content will be made available on the platform. “For Orange, Dailymotion can be used as an OTT offering to complement their other services and to perhaps distribute some of their premium content. It gives them huge scale straight away. There are all sorts of opportunities going forward,” he says.When it comes to striking pay deals with content owners, one thing clearly in Dailymotion’s favour is its scale. “We offer reach and we offer eyeballs,” says Adams. “If you are a movie studio or music promoter you need to find ways to access large enough audiences to make distribution on the internet worthwhile. We can offer that scale.”Unlike YouTube, Dailymotion’s service is heavily editorialised, rather than being focused on search. The company has teams of editorial staff in each of its markets that deliver a curated service to users. “The benefit is that we can drive our audience to content that we think they’ll like,” says Adams. It also means the company can push high-value content and strike deals with content owners. Ultimately, Adams believes that if an online platform offers relevant content in a welcoming environment and an attractive price, there is an opportunity to persuade them to pay for it. “It is appropriate for most of our content to be distributed as part of an ad-funded model but there is also a place for higher end content, including feature films.” As the OTT land-grab gathers pace, Graham Pomphrey gets the lowdown from various operators offering very different propositions.last_img read more

New review points to statistically small link between childrens screen media use

first_img Source: Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 4 2018There is a statistically small relationship between children’s screen media use and ADHD-related behaviors. This is the finding of an extensive literature review on this subject carried out by researchers from the UvA’s Center for research on Children, Adolescents and the Media (CcaM). The review also reveals several shortcomings. For example, the effects of program pacing and violent content on ADHD-related behaviour is still not clearly understood, and much remains unknown about how individual differences in temperament, development and social factors influence such behaviours. As a result, the researchers call for a systematic series of empirical studies on the relationship between screen media use and ADHD. Their results were recently published in the journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. Over the last four decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of children and adolescents diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This has led scholars and healthcare professionals alike to repeatedly attribute the increase to the violent, arousing and fast-paced nature of screen media entertainment. However, the degree to which screen media use and ADHD are linked remains a point of debate.Four decades of researchTo throw light on the current body of knowledge and to open the way for future research, UvA researchers Ine Beyens, Patti Valkenburg and Jessica Taylor Piotrowski decided to do a systematic review of four decades of scientific research on the relationship between children’s screen media use and ADHD-related behaviour such as hyperactivity, impulsivity and attention problems. The researchers used the so-called Differential Susceptibility to Media effects Model (DSMM) to systematically organize the literature, identify possible shortcomings and to point the way for future research.Related StoriesNew curriculum to improve soft skills in schools boosts children’s health and behaviorRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeThe scientific literature revealed evidence that points to a statistically small relationship between screen media use and ADHD-related behavior. It also showed that individual differences such as gender or aggressive traits can influence this relationship. On the basis of their findings, the researchers therefore recommend that future research on the relationship between screen media use and ADHD-related behavior focus on causality, underlying mechanisms and individual differences in susceptibility.Cause or consequence?’Up till now little attention has been paid to causality in the relationship between screen media use and ADHD. This makes it difficult to determine whether media use is the cause or consequence of children’s ADHD-related behaviors, or both’, says Beyens. ‘We also need to take a closer look at the role of violent media content and pacing (the tempo of media content) in the emergence of ADHD-related behaviour and examine associations of different types of media use with executive functioning skills, including working memory, inhibitory control and attention, that have been linked to ADHD-related behaviours.’ In addition, the researchers believe it is important to seek further evidence for possible differences in susceptibility to media-effects on ADHD by examining age differences, dispositional susceptibility and social sensitivity. The development of a child, his or her temperament, character and the social context in which the child is raised all have an influence on the type of media (and media content) the child uses and how he or she responds to it. Beyens: ‘Studying individual differences is crucial for determining who is or isn’t susceptible to screen media effects. Only by carrying out more empirical research will it be possible to better understand the relationship between screen media use and ADHD.’last_img read more

Scripps Research scientists reveal potential new approach to design HIV vaccines

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 26 2018A new candidate HIV vaccine from Scripps Research surmounts technical hurdles that stymied previous vaccine efforts, and stimulates a powerful anti-HIV antibody response in animal tests.The new vaccine strategy, described in a paper on November 23 in Science Advances, is based on the HIV envelope protein, Env. This complex, shape-shifting molecule has been notoriously difficult to produce in vaccines in a way that induces useful immunity to HIV.However, the Scripps Research scientists found a simple, elegant method for stabilizing Env proteins in the desired shape even for diverse strains of HIV. Mounted on virus-like particles to mimic a whole virus, the stabilized Env proteins elicited robust anti-HIV antibody responses in mice and rabbits. Candidate vaccines based on this strategy are now being tested in monkeys.”We see this new approach as a general solution to the long-standing problems of HIV vaccine design,” says principal investigator Jiang Zhu, associate professor in the Department of Integrative Structural and Computation Biology at Scripps Research.Copies of Env study the surface of HIV; their chief function is to grab hold of host cells and break into them to initiate infection. Since Env plays this crucial role in infection, and is the viral structure with the most exposure to the immune system of an infected host, it has been the main target of HIV vaccine efforts. The idea has been to inoculate people with the whole Env protein or subunits of it to stimulate the production of Env-binding antibodies, in the hope that these antibodies will prevent HIV from infecting host cells in future exposures to the virus.So far, of course, no HIV vaccine has been effective in large-scale clinical trials. Many researchers believe that an HIV vaccine can work if it presents Env proteins to the immune system in a way that closely resembles the shape of Env on a real virus before it has infected a cell. But presenting Env correctly has been a huge challenge.On an HIV virus, Env protrudes from the viral membrane in tight clusters of three, called trimers, and these complex structures adopt radically different shapes before and after infecting cells. HIV vaccine researchers, despite years and tens of millions of dollars of experimentation, have failed to find a broadly applicable method for stabilizing Env trimers in the desired, pre-infection shape.”The trimer-stabilization solutions that have been reported so far have worked for a few HIV strains but have not been generalizable,” Zhu says. “Env trimer ‘metastability’, as we call it, has really been a central problem for trimer-based HIV vaccine design.”Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairNovel vaccine against bee sting allergy successfully testedEven when HIV prevention drug is covered, other costs block treatmentZhu, trained as a biophysicist, sought a more general solution to the Env stability problem, and in a paper in 2016 he and his Scripps Research colleagues reported that modifying a short, springy section of Env called HR1 might do the trick–it allowed Env to stay in the pre-infection, “closed” shape.In the new study he and his team showed that this strategy does indeed work for Env trimers from diverse HIV strains circulating in different parts of the world. This “uncleaved prefusion-optimized” (UFO) approach, as they call it, yields Env trimers that are stabilized in the closed shape and can be produced efficiently, with surprisingly little need for purification, in the types of cells normally used in biotech manufacturing.”By now in my lab we’ve made this modification to Envs from 30 to 40 different HIV strains, and in most of the cases it has worked like a charm,” Zhu says.He and his colleagues further optimized their vaccine strategy by genetically linking their stabilized Env trimers, up to 60 at a time, to individual nanoparticles that mimic the globular shape of a whole virus. In this way the vaccine molecule, though artificial and lacking the genetic material for viral replication, seems to the immune system very much like a real invading virus and stimulates a stronger reaction.In mice, Zhu and his team found, a sample Env-on-nanoparticles vaccine, within just eight weeks, elicited antibodies that in lab tests successfully neutralized a naturally circulating HIV strain–of a type that prior candidate vaccines generally have failed against.”This is the first time any candidate HIV vaccine has induced this desired type of antibody response in mice,” Zhu says. Similarly unprecedented results were obtained in rabbits, demonstrating that the nanoparticle-based approach is clearly superior to the use of isolated Env proteins–it elicits a significantly stronger response and does so much more quickly.Further tests are now underway in 24 monkeys at the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Southwest National Primate Center in San Antonio, Texas.Zhu and Scripps Research have licensed their HIV vaccine technology to a startup company, Ufovax LLC, which is sponsoring the ongoing tests. “We’re now testing two candidate vaccines based on Env trimers from different HIV strains, plus a third candidate vaccine that is a cocktail of three Env-based vaccines,” says Ji Li, Ufovax CEO. “We think this new approach represents a true breakthrough after 30 years of HIV vaccine research.” Source: read more

Researchers find potential therapeutic strategy to treat Alzheimers

first_img Source: Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 20 2019Researchers from the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona (UBNeuro) have identified a potential therapeutic strategy to treat Alzheimer’s, according to a study published in Journal of Neuroscience. The study shows, in a model of the illness in mice, that astrocytes -a type of cells in the brain- are able to release proteins that favour survival of neurons. According to the researchers, these results are a step forward in the understanding of the physiology of astrocytes, and they bring the chance to use this type of cells in therapeutic ways to treat Alzheimer’s.The study is led by Albert Giralt, Ramon y Cajal researcher at the UB, and also signed by the experts Jordi Alberch, Laura López Molina, Anna Sancho-Balsells, Ana López and Silvia Ginés, from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and UBNeuro, and members of the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) and the Network Center for Biomedical Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIBERNED).Other participants in the study are José María Delgado García and Angès Gruart, from Universidad Pablo de Olavide, and other experts from Inserm (France) and Institut du Fer à Moulin (France).A promising strategy with important challengesAlzheimer’s disease is the most common dementia among people. Neurodegeneration in patients with this disease causes damage in memory and in other cognitive skills, sometimes combined with symptoms such as mood swings and personality changes. One of the most promising therapies against Alzheimer’s is the use of neurotrophic factors -a family of proteins favouring neuron survival- such as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). However, BDNF administration has important challenges, such as the lack of control of its release, which does not allow leading it specifically to the sick tissue nor releasing the proper amount of levels, mainly considering high doses can be neurotoxic.In this study, researchers studied BDNF generated by astrocytes, a type of star-shaped glial cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Astrocytes are affected by one of the neuroinflammation processes of Alzheimer’s, the astrogliosis, in which the glial fibrillary astrocytic protein (GFAP) and its coding gene are the most altered ones. In this context, researchers designed an experiment in which genetically modified mice suffer from Alzheimer’s and produce the BDNF protein depending on the GFAP levels. “With this design, from the moment neuroinflammation and pathology came up, the astrocytes could generate BDNF in the most affected areas of the sick brain. Therefore, the endogen reactions of the brain would regulate BDNF administration depending on the severity of the disease”, says Albert Giralt, member of the Consolidated Research Group on Physiopathology of Neurodegenerative Diseases of the UB.Effects of neuron formation and plasticityRelated StoriesNeural pathways explain the relationship between imagination and willingness to helpResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairMother calls for protein shake regulation after daughter diesThe study shows this method restores the production and release of the neurotrophin in the sick neuronal tissue when the pathology starts. Then, the BDNF generated by astrocytes regulates neuron formation in samples of in vitro neuronal cultures and has cognitive effects in transgenic mice models. “These results show for the first time that astrocytes, so far regarded as neuronal, can produce BDNF and have the necessary molecular mechanisms to release it in the areas of the diseased tissue which requires activity to favour neuronal survival”, says Albert Giralt.Researchers also note that “the singularity of the design of the experiment enabled the astroglial cells to ‘decide’ when, where and what amount to produce and give BDNF to altered brain tissues”. Therefore, “traits of the patient can mark endogenously and self-regulated the dose and other necessary therapeutic dynamics for a customized treatment”.Although the use of this therapy in humans is still far from taking place, researchers note the use of astrocytes out of induced pluripotent stem cells as a promising therapeutic strategy to be explored. “One possibility would be to derive induced stem cells from the skin of the patients, and then modify them genetically in vitro to express the BDNF under the GFAP promoter. Last, the last step would be to differentiate them and move them to the most altered brain regions of patients to boost survival and proper functioning of the existing neurons”, notes Albert Giralt.Viability in other neurodegenerative diseasesThis study using neuroinflammation processes makes it possible to apply them to other neurodegenerative diseases. “Our objective is, on the one hand, making this therapeutic approach plausible for the use in humans, and on the other, present similar approaches for neurodegenerative diseases in which neuroinflammation is a main symptom”, concludes the researcher.​ last_img read more

Experts Suggest Compulsory Measles Vaccination in Children Could Prevent Epidemic

first_imgMandatory immunization is certainly one way to try and increase coverage but it’s far from clear how well it works or whether it would work at all in many places.“If the reasons that the vaccine is not getting into the children relate to easy access, vaccine supply or clarity of information available to parents, then making it compulsory will do nothing to alleviate such obstacles.“If there is widespread mistrust of authority or of the motivation behind any such requirements, it could actually make things worse.”Professor Adam Finn, University of Bristol By Lois Zoppi, BAMay 17 2019Experts from an Italian study have suggested that compulsory measles vaccines before children start attending school may be necessary to prevent increasing disease incidence rates worldwide. However, not everyone agrees that compulsory vaccination would be an effective tactic to combat a resurgence of the disease. Professor Adam Finn of the University of Bristol explains that this approach may not be effective for everybody. Related StoriesResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeRevolutionary gene replacement surgery restores vision in patients with retinal degenerationChaos in the house and asthma in children – the connectionCo-author of the study Dr. Stefano Merler is confident about the conclusions made by his study.“Our results suggest that most of the countries we have studied would strongly benefit from the introduction of compulsory vaccination at school entry in addition to current immunization programmes.“In particular, we found that this strategy would allow the UK, Ireland and the US to reach stable herd immunity levels in the next decades, which means that a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease to avoid future outbreaks.“To be effective, mandatory vaccination at school entry would need to cover more than 40 percent of the population.”Smitha Mundasad, a BBC health correspondent said that vaccines “may have become a victim of their own success. Because they’re working so well and doing what they’re supposed to do, maybe people aren’t seeing the serious complications of […] measles anymore.”This may lead to people underestimating the seriousness of the disease and not believing vaccines are necessary.The fall in vaccination is also due to a study that was based on just 12 children drawing links between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, leading many people to be wary of vaccinating their children, despite this research being extremely flawed and later disproven and removed by the Lancet where it was first published.Social media is also helping to fuel anti vaccine debates through sharing low quality or inflammatory information.Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated that he was open to considering “all options” to help England raise its vaccination levels, which included bringing in compulsory vaccinations, although he said he did not necessarily want to reach that pointSources In recent years, we’ve witnessed a resurgence of measles cases even in countries where, according to World Health Organization guidelines, elimination should already have been achieved. This resurgence is due to suboptimal vaccination coverage levels.“In Italy, where measles incidence rates were among the highest, the government has made measles vaccination compulsory for children before they enter primary school.“We investigated the potential of this and other policies to reinforce immunization rates in seven high-income countries.”Dr. Filippo Trentini, First Author of the Studycenter_img Shutterstock | Kaspars GrinvaldsWhat is Measles?Measles is a viral disease that is highly contagious and is transmitted through droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of people infected with the disease. Symptoms of measles progress from fevers, white spots inside the mouth, and bloodshot eyes, to a rash on the face and neck that spreads across the body.Although the infection can clear within 7 to 10 days, it can cause life-threatening complications including blindness, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and pneumonia. Severe cases of measles are more likely to develop in malnourished, young children, or in people with suppressed immune systems like those living with HIV/AIDS or other diseases that compromise the immune system.Why is Measles an Issue?Despite the NHS stating that measles is now “uncommon in the UK because of the effectiveness of vaccination”, there has been a sharp increase in measles cases worldwide in recent years.Preliminary measles surveillance data for 2019 published by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed a “clear trend” in measles outbreaks, with outbreaks currently occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand, and Ukraine.It also states that in 2017, an estimated 110,000 deaths were caused by measles, and mostly affected children under the age of 5. This is despite approximately 85 percent of the world’s children having one dose of the measles vaccine by the age of one.Researchers in Italy have suggested that vaccines for measles should be made compulsory to combat the fall in vaccination rates in several countries, from the US, Ireland, Australia, but particularly in the UK. Researchers from the Bruno Kessler Foundation and Bocconi University expressed concern about the fall in vaccination rates worldwide. Using computer modelling, they have predicted how many measles cases could occur between 2018 and 2050, detailed in a study published in BMC Medicine.The projections made in the study suggest that by 2050, if vaccination policies remain the same, the proportion of the population susceptible to measles would range from 3.7 percent in the UK to 9.3 percent in Italy. read more

Is it time to regulate targeted ads and the web giants that profit from

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. If it’s free, you’re the productThis fundamental equation underpins an economic trade-off of free services in exchange for access to personal information and the right to display ads to users. Zuckerberg admitted that ads were not popular, saying “Even though some people don’t like ads, people really don’t like ads that aren’t relevant”. Zuckerberg didn’t rule out the possibility of paid, ad-free access to Facebook, but it was clear that its highly effective – and lucrative – business model was not going to be replaced any time soon.Saying that people don’t like ads is an understatement. There are very few people who like ads, relevant or not. In a survey conducted by consulting firm Deloitte in 2017, between 75% and 80% of respondents used at least one type of ad-blocking technology. This wasn’t just on a computer’s web browser or mobile phone, it was also using video recorders or smart TVs to skip ads on TV, or paying for music and movie streaming specifically to avoid ads.Even if ads do get through to social media users, their effectiveness is open to question – and it’s one that turns out to be difficult to answer. Advertising is used to achieve a number of different aims. For a business advertising to consumers, the aim may be to increase general “brand awareness” of the company and their products. Other ads may be trying to achieve a specific goal such as getting people to click on a website and buy a product or come into a physical store and do the same. Measuring the effectiveness of these ads will be different depending on the objective. The other factor is that social-media advertising is usually only part of an overall campaign that involves other channels such as YouTube, search-result ads, print, radio and TV. Again, picking out what benefits came from what specific activity further complicates the analysis. Citation: Is it time to regulate targeted ads and the web giants that profit from them? (2018, April 23) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Targeted advertising: good for Facebook and Google, not so good for you. Credit: Shutterstock In the wake of Facebook’s massive breach of personal data of 87 million users, CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered questions from US politicians over two days of congressional hearings. These questions mostly focussed on the tight link between Facebook’s business model of selling targeted personalised advertising and its need to capture, and exploit, large amounts of personal information from its users. Facebook CEO defends advertising-supported business model Provided by The Conversation Explore further This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Lots of bucks, little bangFor Facebook and Google, the key metrics are how many people clicked on an ad and what happened after: Did the person end up buying the product or creating an account? The percentage of users who see an ad on Facebook and then click it is between 1% and 2%. Of those people, about 9% will take an action as a result of clicking. This means that if the ad were shown to 1,000 Facebook users, 10 would be expected to click the ad and only 1 would take any action. The average cost of this 1 person would be about US$19.Of the more than 5 million advertisers who use Facebook, it is absolutely certain that large numbers of them derive no benefits from the ads they buy. Given that Facebook’s advertising income for 2017 was US$40 billion, this represents a massive amount of money that is essentially wasted.Some businesses have realised that Facebook advertising brings minimal returns at best. In one survey of small businesses, 62% said their paid ads on Facebook were “missing the target” and not getting to the users that mattered.Facebook has run into other problems with its advertisers. One of the largest, Proctor and Gamble cut its budget for advertising by US$750 million over the last three years. In part this has been in response to what the company sees as the problems with digital advertising that is controlled by only two companies, Google and Facebook. Together, they’ve cornered more than 70% of digital advertising in the United States.Facebook and Google have upset advertisers for other reasons as well. Facebook has been sued for misrepresenting over two years how long millions of users were viewing videos, exaggerating the time by 60% to 80%. Major advertisers such as Verizon and Walmart stopped advertising on YouTube last year after they discovered that their ads were running next to extremist and hate-speech content.Is it time for an outright ban?In an April 2018 article in The New Republic, author David Dayen strongly argued that targeted advertising should be banned outright:”The surveillance economy should die. This manner of advertising doesn’t serve the public and it’s not even clear it serves advertisers. It facilitates monopoly, as those with the biggest data troves receive all the ad dollars.”Given all of the evidence of Google’s and Facebook’s self-serving behaviour, it’s hard not to agree. The majority of their users dislike advertising and will go to some effort to avoid seeing it. At the same time, a large proportion of businesses are spending money on ads that provide no benefit to them. Instead, the billions of dollars of advertising revenue benefits only Google and Facebook, not the economies in which they operate. Based on the available evidence, it appears that Google and Facebook will stop at nothing to exploit the personal information of every human being in their pursuit of profit.It is only a matter of time before governments start tackling the issue. Google and Facebook not only control the majority of digital advertising, they already control 25% of all advertising globally. And when targeted ads using personal data influence economic, social, and political beliefs and actions, there is a massive problem. read more