Police shot Stephon Clark six times in the back, an independent forensic pathologist says

An independent forensic pathologist on Friday said Stephon Clark the unarmed black man who was killed by the police was fatally shot six times in the back.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, who conducted an autopsy days after Clark was killed told reporters that his examination showed that Clark was hit by eight bullets, and all but one entered while his back was facing police. He added that the eight bullet that hit Clark on his left thigh came while he was on the ground and had already been shot multiple times.

“That he was assailing the officers, meaning he was facing the officers, is inconsistent with the prevailing forensic evidence” as documented in the autopsy, he said.

Sacramento police fatally shot Stephon Clark, 22, in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18, during their search for a vandal in the neighborhood. No weapon was found on him other than a cellphone phone.

This independent autopsy finding has raised new questions about Clark shootings. However, police have released videos showing the incident but urged the public not to take law into their hands until the investigation is complete.

“It’s very simple. The narrative that’s been put forth is they had to open fire because he was charging toward them,” said civil rights litigator Ben Crump, who is representing Clark’s family. Yet the autopsy shows, Crump said, “all of the bullets were from behind.”

Stephon Clark was buried on Thursday at a funeral attended by hundreds of mourners including Rev. Al Sharpton.


Twelve people killed as protesters and Israeli military clash in Gaza

A six-week campaign of protest in Gaza as resulted almost immediately into chaos and bloodshed with at least 12 Palestinians reported killed by Israeli soldiers in confrontations along the border fence.

The Israeli military reported Friday morning that Palestinian protesters were rioting in six different locations along the border, burning tires and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the fence and at Israeli’s soldiers beyond it.

By late afternoon, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said that 12 people had been killed by Israeli fire, while more than 1000 injured.

The area surrounding the Gaza Strip has long been declared a closed military zone by the Israeli military, and “responding with riot dispersal means and firing towards main instigators.” said the military. Israeli forces fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas.

The march tagged the “Great March of Return,” or the “March of the million” by the organizers have in attendance about 20, 000 Palestinian including women and children who have erected tents in recent days about 700 yards from the border with Israel. The organizers also provided portable washrooms, free food, water and Wi-Fi

Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, the chief spokesman of the Israeli military, described the protest organizers as “an organization in crisis” and accused its commanders of hiding behind women and children.

“This is not Scouts summer camp,” the said of the border encampment in a radio interview on Thursday. “It’s a battle zone.”





Study sheds light on developmental origins of ‘butterflies of the soul’

Interneurons, also referred to as the “butterflies of the soul,” play critical roles in transmitting information between sensory and motor neurons. And a new study sheds light on their developmental origins, according to

The Harvard Medical School team used single-cell analysis to track the behavior of interneurons, tracing their lineage from the earliest precursor states all the way into mature forms in mice. They found key genetic programs that determine the fate of developing interneurons, as well as when they are turned on and off.

“We knew more than 100 years ago that this huge diversity of morphologically interesting cells existed in the brain, but their specific individual roles in brain function are still largely unclear,” said Gordon Fishell, co-senior author of the study.

“Our study provides a road map for understanding how and when distinct interneuron subtypes develop, giving us unprecedented insight into the biology of these cells,” he said. “We can now investigate interneuron properties as they emerge, unlock how these important cells function and perhaps even intervene when they fail to develop correctly in neuropsychiatric disease.”

The findings were published in Nature.

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GoFundMe page for Andrew McCabe raises $187,000 and counting

A crowdfunding page for Andrew McCabe, the recently fired FBI deputy director, garnered more than $200,000 within a few hours of going live Thursday afternoon. The page, which is on GoFundMe and is authored by “friends of the former FBI deputy director,” says that it is raising money for legal bills that McCabe may face in months ahead.

The page initially set a goal of $150,000. After surpassing that amount in its first five hours, it set a new goal of $250,000.

“The support for Andrew #McCabe has been overwhelming, humbling & deeply appreciated,” Melissa Schwartz, a spokesperson for McCabe, tweeted Thursday. “Unfortunately, the need for a legal defense fund is a growing reality.”

McCabe was fired earlier this month less than two days before he was due to retire with full pension benefits. The reasons for his firing are under debate, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that McCabe displeased him by authorizing FBI agents to talk to reporters about an ongoing Hillary Clinton probe and lacking “candor” when internal investigators asked him about it.

The GoFundMe page says that it is not a retirement fund, however. It states that it is funding a legal defense team that will be headed by Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general.

The page says that the legal fees may pay for responses he may have to give to congressional inquiries and the Office of the Inspector General’s ongoing investigation, along with potential lawsuits that McCabe might choose to file. The Inspector General’s office had recommended that the FBI fire him, according to Sessions.


Uber’s cutbacks in motion sensors may have made driverless car more likely to crash

The self-driving Uber car that fatally hit a pedestrian in Arizona last week had fewer motion sensors and thus more “blind spots” than earlier driverless prototypes Uber was testing two years ago. The revelation came from five former Uber employees and four industry experts, who were speaking with reporters about the crash that hit and killed Tempe, Arizona, resident Elaine Herzberg while she was crossing a street with her bicycle.

The sources said that Uber had an early fleet of self-driving Ford Fusion cars that it retired in 2016 and replaced with new self-driving Volvo sport utility vehicles.
Each Fusion had a network of seven “lidar” sensors, which use laser light pulses to detect other cars, people, or obstacles in the Fusion’s path so it would dodge them. The new Volvos each had only one lidar sensor, and it was on the rooftop.

The lack of any side sensors caused the Volvo’s to have blind zones up to three meters distant all around them in which they could not detect a pedestrian, the sources said. Velodyne, maker of the lidar sensors, confirmed that the blind spots exist and said that the company will have to start putting more sensors on every car.

“If you’re going to avoid pedestrians, you’re going to need to have a side lidar to see those pedestrians and avoid them, especially at night,” Marta Hall, president and chief business development officer at Velodyne, told Reuters.

Velodyne documents stated that each lunar sensor can see in a 360-degree circle but only in a narrow horizontal band. It cannot see objects low to the ground and needs supplemental sensors and detectors to fill in this visual gap.

Business TECH_Social

Proposed bill would fine employers for requiring employees to respond after work hours

 A recently proposed bill would make it illegal in New York City for companies with more than 10 employees to require employees to respond to communications such as emails and text messages outside of the normal workday.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans work an average of eight hours per day.

The legislation, which would exclude government employees, would enact a monetary fine on companies and would also restrict employers from retaliating against employees for not replying.

The bill was introduced during the third week in March, 2018 by Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr. Espinal reportedly modeled it after a similar law in France.

Espinal’s proposal would require companies to establish a policy for ‘communications expectations’ once employees leave the office. It also includes exceptions for emergencies. Employers would still be able to contact employees, but not require a response.


“Sun-shield” could help protect Great Barrier Reef from bleaching

Though global warming has caused large amounts of stress to the Great Barrier Reef, scientists from the University of Melbourne and Australian Institute of Marine Science believe they have found a way to protect it.

The team has come up with a new “sun shield” that they believe could stop the sun’s rays from hitting the reef and keep it safe from the effects of global warming.

Past studies categorized the Great Barrier Reef — which is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world — as in a critical state. It is already on the brink of destruction, and will likely die out in the coming years if nothing is done.

The new sun shield hopes to solve this problem with a unique, film-like material that is 50,000 times thinner than human hair. The substance — created from biodegradable calcium carbonate — is designed to stop harmful UV rays from penetrating the reef.

Scientists from the Great Barrier Reef foundation officially announced the new project on March 27th, and early estimates show the shield can block up to 30 percent of sunlight.

“The surface film provided protection and reduced the level of bleaching in most [coral] species,” said Anna Marsden, managing director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, according to National Geographic

While the shield is by no means a permanent solution, it could be useful as a way to protect and save critically endangered areas of the reef system. However, more studies need to be run before anything can be put into practice.

“The concept needs more work and testing before it gets to that stage, but it’s an exciting development at a time when we need to explore all possible options to ensure we have a Great Barrier Reef for future generations,” added Marsden, according to Tech Times. 

Many studies have found that there is still time to save the Great Barrier Reef. Bleaching is much more common than it has ever been, but with enough efforts and new ideas, there is hope of the colorful ecosystem yet.


Mass fossil collection gives insight into ancient time period

A decade of fossil evidence uncovered and analyzed by researchers at the University of Washington sheds new light on the Triassic period, according to new research set to be published in the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

A mass extinction rocked the Earth roughly 252 million years ago. Shortly after, animals — including early mammals and the first dinosaurs — began to take over the land outside of the ocean. While researchers know the time period existed, they do not have a lot of information on it.

The team in the new study helped bridge that gap by uncovering fossils in Zambia and Tanzania, examining previously collected fossils, and analyzing specimens in museums around the world.

In all, the team published 13 papers looking at new fossils, geologic discoveries, and ecological findings in the Triassic period.

The group started their work in 2007, and has been diligently collecting research since that time. All of the sites they visited throughout Tanzania and Zambia have fossils from Triassic and other periods, but the goal of the project is to look across vastly different locations and find similarities between them.

“Most of what we know about the major mass extinction is from the South African Karoo Basin,” explained co-editor Christian Sidor, a professor at the University of Washington, according to Science Daily. “I was always interested in understanding, do we see the exact same pattern around the world, or do we not? The fossil record can be great to understand timing and sequence, but not always great at looking at things in a geographic context.”

Most of the papers discuss new fossils from species such as the lizard-like procolophonid, and an early dinosaur relative known as Teleocrater. The studies also shed light on non-dinosaur animals that lived during the Triassic period, giving scientists a brand new look into an previously undiscovered world.

“This was a time when dinosaurs were just stepping onto the stage, and they were not very big and not very remarkable animals then,” added Sidor, in a statement. “These papers really round out what dinosaurs were competing with before they became the dominant reptiles on land.”


Newly discovered organ could be largest in body

Researchers from the New York Department of Pathology have discovered what they believe to be a never-before-seen human organ, according to new research published in the journal Scientific Reports.

In the study, the team outlined their idea that the body contains a previously undiscovered network of fluid-filled pockets and collagen that sit beneath the skin and cover most internal organs.

Researchers accidentally discovered the proposed organ — known as the interstitium — while conducting a series of standard endoscopies. Though past endoscopies relied on cameras, newer techniques employ lasers that enable scientists to look into tissue at a microscopic level.

When the team behind the research studied a patient’s’ bile ducts, they expected to find the dense connective tissue that covers most organs. However, instead they found a mesh-like pattern of dark branching collagen bands around large, fluid-filled spaces.

After confirming their finding in other parts of the body, the team theorized that scientists had never found the interstitium because tissue samples caused the pockets to collapse and appear like solid tissue. After extracting bile samples, the scientists froze and studied them underneath a microscope. As expected, they found fluid pockets surrounded by bundles of collagen.

“This fixation artifact of collapse has made a fluid-filled tissue type throughout the body appear solid in biopsy slides for decades, and our results correct for this to expand the anatomy of most tissues,” said study co-author Neil Theise, a professor at New York University’s Department of Pathology, in a statement. “This finding has potential to drive dramatic advances in medicine, including the possibility that the direct sampling of interstitial fluid may become a powerful diagnostic tool.”

Researchers estimate that the interstitium contains up to a fifth of the body’s total fluids, and they believe the fluid is lymph — a colorless substance produced by the lymph nodes. Scientists are not sure why the interstitium exists, but they believe it could help absorb shock or act as an inner-body highway for white blood cells.

The team believes the system could foster disorders or certain diseases as well. For example, in some patients with cancer they found evidence the dangerous cells moved out of their initial site by hitching a ride along the interstitium.

The team needs to conduct more research to confirm their findings, but if they turn out to be true it would make the interstitium the first “new” organ discovered this year. It would also be the body’s 80th discovered organ, Gizmodo reports.

NWT_Biology SCI Science TECH

Viruses adapt through new evolutionary path, study says

Researchers from the University of California San Diego have discovered evidence suggesting that viruses utilize a new path of evolution. The findings reveal the speed at which organisms such as viruses adapt to their surroundings.

The team ran experiments that found that viruses can infect “normal” hosts, which is expected. However, they also found evidence that they can infect new hosts targets — a process never before seen in evolution. The data could help solve the mysteries surrounding the genetic acquisition of new functions and the manifestation of mutations that ease transmission between hosts.

“This research shows us that viruses are much more adaptable than previously anticipated,” Justin Meyer, senior author of the study, said in a press release. “By learning how viruses achieve evolutionary flexibility, we have new insight into how to set up road blocks to stop the emergence of new diseases.”

The team discovered the means by which viruses violate well-accepted rules of molecular biology using a previously unknown evolutionary path.

“We were able to capture this evolutionary process in action,” said Katherine Petrie, lead author of the study. “We found that the protein’s ‘mistakes’ allowed the virus to infect its normal host, as well as different host cells. This nongenetic variation in the protein is a way to access more functions from a single DNA gene sequence. It’s like a buy-one-get-one-free special for the protein.”

The new findings could help improve our understanding of viral diseases like Zika, Ebola, and bird flu.

The findings were published in Science.