Governments are using the pandemic to crack down on digital rights, report finds

The Freedom on the Net 2020 report, an assessment of 65 countries released Wednesday, found that the pandemic has accelerated a decline in free speech and privacy on the internet for the tenth consecutive year, and accused some governments of using the virus as a pretext to crack down on critical speech.

“The pandemic is accelerating society’s reliance on digital technologies at a time when the internet is becoming less and less free,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, which is funded by the US government. “Without adequate safeguards for privacy and the rule of law, these technologies can be easily repurposed for political repression.”

Amid the pandemic, internet connectivity has become a lifeline to essential information and services — from education platforms, to health care portals, employment opportunities and social interactions. But state and nonstate actors are also exploiting the crisis to erode freedoms online.
Nowhere has
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Guidehouse Insights Report Finds Utilities Must Strategically Invest in Automation, Control, Visibility, and Resiliency Technologies

As the occurrence of natural disasters increases, grid hardening and resiliency technologies are critical to outage prevention and recovery

A new report from Guidehouse Insights discusses key grid hardening and resiliency technologies for deployment on transmission and distribution (T&D) networks.

The global electric grid is transforming from a unidimensional system of power producers and consumers into a multidimensional, cloud-enabled network. As such, it is more critical than ever for utilities and solutions providers to prioritize grid hardening and resiliency technologies. Click to tweet: According to a new report from @WeAreGHInsights, utilities must strategically invest in automation, control, visibility, and resiliency technologies.

“The frequency and scale of natural disasters increase year over year, and outages are simultaneously becoming less tolerable and more expensive to utility customers,” says Michael Hartnack, senior research analyst with Guidehouse Insights. “Increasing outages linked to natural disasters, wildfires, and other events is adding to the threat

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New survey by URI researchers finds rising sea level often not factored into maritime infrastructure design — ScienceDaily

A survey of maritime infrastructure engineers by University of Rhode Island researchers found that the rising sea level is often not factored into designs of ports, breakwaters, fishing piers and other coastal infrastructure.

“If we’re making decisions about infrastructure today and expect it to be serviceable for the next 50 to 75 years, we should be thinking about what the environmental conditions will be like towards the end of the infrastructure’s life,” said Austin Becker, URI associate professor of marine affairs, who studies how ports are preparing for climate change. “And we know that things are going to be very different along our coasts in the coming years.”

In 2019, Becker and graduate student Benjamin Sweeney surveyed 85 engineers at consulting firms, port authorities and government agencies with experience working on port infrastructure projects in the United States. They found that 64% do not have a policy or planning document

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Transformational coaches make players more independent, less reliant, study finds — ScienceDaily

Athletes increasingly relying on a coach over the course of a season may be a sign that they aren’t progressing in their development, according to new research from Binghamton University.

On the other hand, inspirational coaches will find that their athletes will become less reliant on them over time.

“Being increasingly needed by your athletes as time goes on is not a good sign,” says Chou-Yu Tsai, assistant professor of management in Binghamton University’s School of Management. “If your athletes no longer need your leadership and guidance as time goes on, that should be seen as a positive sign that you’ve helped them in their development.”

Tsai, who studies leadership in a number of contexts, including athletics, worked with a research team consisting of San-Fu Kao of National Tsing Hua University and Robert Schinke of Laurentian University. They set out to discover how a coach’s leadership style affected athlete evaluations

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Very low risk to newborns from moms with COVID-19, finds study — ScienceDaily

Mothers with SARS-CoV-2 infection rarely transmit the virus to their newborns when basic infection-control practices are followed, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. The findings — the most detailed data available on the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission between moms and their newborns — suggest that more extensive measures like separating COVID-19-positive mothers from their newborns and avoiding direct breastfeeding may not be warranted.

The study was published online today in JAMA Pediatrics.

“Our findings should reassure expectant mothers with COVID-19 that basic infection-control measures during and after childbirth — such as wearing a mask and engaging in breast and hand hygiene when holding or breastfeeding a baby — protected newborns from infection in this series,” says Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, MD, MSc, the Ellen Jacobson Levine and Eugene Jacobson Professor of Women’s Health in Obstetrics and Gynecology at

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But a supportive boss can make a difference, study finds — ScienceDaily

As COVID-19 cases surged this spring, the pandemic led some people more than others to ponder their own mortality. A new study in China and the United States suggests that these people were the ones who showed the highest levels of stress and the least engagement at work.

But the research also uncovered a bright spot: The right kind of boss helped reduce stress and increase engagement and pro-social behavior in their workers who were anxious about COVID-19.

“A global pandemic can lead some people to think about their own mortality, which will understandably make them more stressed and less engaged at work,” said Jia (Jasmine) Hu, lead author of the study and associate professor of management and human resources at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

“But business leaders who are attentive to employees’ emotional needs and unite them behind a common purpose made a positive difference

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Study finds fungal disease of snakes in 19 states, Puerto Rico — ScienceDaily

In a collaborative effort between scientists and personnel on military bases in 31 states in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico, researchers surveyed for an infection caused by an emerging fungal pathogen that afflicts snakes. The effort found infected snakes on military bases in 19 states and Puerto Rico, demonstrating that the fungus is more widely distributed than was previously known. The team reports the findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Ophidiomycosis — formerly known as ‘snake fungal disease’ — is an emerging infectious disease caused by the fungus Ophidiomyces ophidiicola,” said Dr. Matt Allender, a professor in the veterinary diagnostic laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who led the new study. “It has been documented in over 15 genera of wild and captive snakes. Infection with the pathogen causes a wide range of clinical signs in snakes, from difficulty shedding skin, to crusts and ulcers on the

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Exercise intensity not linked to mortality risk in older adults, finds trial — ScienceDaily

Exercise intensity appears to make no difference to risk of mortality among older adults, suggests a randomised controlled trial from Norway published by The BMJ today.

Physical activity has been highlighted as one of the most important actions people of all ages can engage in to improve health, and data from observational studies show that early death is significantly reduced in physically active compared with inactive individuals.

Yet high quality clinical trial evidence on a potential direct (causal) relation between current advice on physical activity levels and longevity is lacking.

So an international research team set out to evaluate the effect of five years of supervised exercise training compared with recommendations for physical activity on mortality in older adults (70-77 years).

The trial involved 1,567 participants (790 women and 777 men) living in Trondheim, Norway, with an average age of 73 years. In total, 87.5% of participants reported overall good

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Study Finds Preserved Brain Material In Vesuvius Victim

Brain cells have been found in exceptionally preserved form in the remains of a young man killed in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago, an Italian study has revealed.

The preserved neuronal structures in vitrified or frozen form were discovered at the archaeological site of Herculaneum, an ancient Roman city engulfed under a hail of volcanic ash after nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year 79.

Intact brain cells discovered in skull of man killed in Vesuvius eruption Intact brain cells discovered in skull of man killed in Vesuvius eruption Photo: Pier Paolo Petrone

“The study of vitrified tissue as the one we found at Herculaneum… may save lives in future,” study lead author Pier Paolo Petrone, forensic anthropologist at Naples’ University Federico II, told AFP in English.

“The experimentation continues on several research fields, and the data and information we are obtaining will allow us to clarify other and newer aspects of what happened 2000 years ago during

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Nitrous oxide emissions pose an increasing climate threat, study finds

emissions
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Rising nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are jeopardizing the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, according to a major new study by an international team of scientists.


The growing use of nitrogen fertilizers in the production of food worldwide is increasing atmospheric concentrations of N2O—a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) that remains in the atmosphere for more than 100 years.

Published today in the journal Nature, the study was led Auburn University, in the US, and involved scientists from 48 research institutions in 14 countries—including the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK—under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project and the International Nitrogen Initiative.

The aim was to produce the most comprehensive assessment to date of all global sources and sinks of N2O. Their findings show N2O emissions are

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